When all your children are at school

Well, it is really happening. I thought this stage of my life would never arrive. Soon I am to become a mother who has all of her children at school. This week I took Liberty to the 'big school' for an orientation meeting and play in the 'big classrooms' and tour of the 'big school grounds'. I was half in tears and half excited beyond belief about this new stage of her life and my life. Liberty however was not showing any sign of tears at all and was jumping up and down with excitement!

The teacher doing the orientation just happened to be a wonderful lady who has taught three of my children in Prep and was very understanding of my mixed emotions. We had a lovely chat about Liberty and how she will adjust to school life and we both felt confident that she will transition well considering she has 6 other siblings at the school.

I on the other hand am finding myself in a stage of life now that I never thought would come. You know how it is when you have young cherubs, you know they are going to grow older and get bigger, but most days it seems like you are stuck in the same Groundhog Day doing the same thing over and over again and they really are not growing older or bigger at all. Well, let me tell you it really does happen. They really do grow older and leave your home and go to big school and you are left with an empty house. Sob! Yay!

I am finding now that I need to mentally and emotionally prepare myself for this next stage of life. I need a plan of action. I do plan on relaxing, on reading and writing more...maybe even get some work involving writing and getting my home in more order and generally keeping up with the kids. I however don't want to spend my days at home feeling sad and depressed and missing my kids every day. I need to find things to do to keep myself busy. 

So I am asking you to help me out...what did you do when your children all went to school? 
Or what do you plan on doing when they go to school? 

I would love to hear how you felt and how you dealt with it all.

Tara Wolf Chakra Bracelet

I adore jewellery that has sentimental value or a special meaning associated with it. It makes wearing the item more significant and increases my happiness factor when I own simply beautiful jewellery that touches my heart. Recently, I added a Tara Wolf piece to my simply beautiful jewels collection. Tara Wolf jewellery encourages you to: Be Healthier, Be Happier and Be Stronger. You can tell why I thought they were a good fit for me and my blog now can't you? The jewellery in this range is created with a design and focus on Chakras and Zodiac's. For me personally I am not into Zodiac's but I love the idea of a Chakra to wear to remind me to enjoy and enhance my life's journey. 

In the range there are seven different Chakra bracelets to choose from and I was lucky enough to pick out my own bracelet from the Tara Wolf website. As a blogger I could not go past The Throat Chakra: Self expression, Communication and Confidence. I loved the idea that Chakras are energy centres in the body and focus on the flow of energy through our system. Each energy centre represents an emotion or psychological state and each is linked to a colour. Along with a variety of colour choice for the cords that come with your bracelet, there is also the choice of a sterling silver or gold vermeil covering disk depicting the symbol of each chakra. I decided to go with a silver symbol as I tend to wear more silver bracelets these days and I could not go past the blue silk cord as it is my favourite colour!

I really love that the Chakra bracelet is light to wear, is simple in design and very elegant. The silk cord is soft against your skin and it is easy to put on with the fastener at the back. It looks lovely worn by itself or even stacked up with other bracelets. Here is how I am currently wearing my Chakra bracelet:
These Tara Wolf bracelets would make a great gift for a family member or friend as a lovely reminder to appreciate ourselves, our thoughts and our aspirations. You can view the complete range of Zodiac bracelets and Chackra bracelets at: http://www.tarawolfchakra.com.au. My bracelet is $89 and a great reminder to be confident, to listen to my inner voice and to continue to write from my heart. Jewellery that inspires me to write...I am one happy lady :) 

unwritten blog etiquette

Every so often I love to write a blog post about being a good blogger. It is a hobby that I love to do and along the way I have made many mistakes and discovered many shortcuts. When you first start a blog it can be hard to know what the unwritten rules of blog etiquette are in relation to linking to other bloggers and sharing ideas that you have found and love on your own blog. I recently received an email from Emma asking me to share what I know about blog etiquette so here is what I have learned over my time as a blogger and my number one tips for finding success in this area.

1. Blog Etiquette For Pictures or Images
One of the most confusing aspects of blog etiquette is in relation to pictures and images. This has become even more difficult to understand since the introduction of Pinterest where it seems like people are taking other people's images from blogs and business' all the time. Basically when it comes to pictures or images you want to share on your blog, all you need is some common sense and respect for those who originally took or created them. 

The best way to share images as a blogger is to simply use your own. It takes a little more effort to take your own pictures but it is worth not getting in trouble with anyone else for! If you want to use an image from another blogger the best way is to firstly check what copyright they have on their blog and to always ask permission first. Some people are happy for you to use their images to help promote what message they are trying to share and other's are fiercely protective of images the have on their blogs. 

Also understand that amongst bloggers there are people who do take images without asking first and just because they are doing it, it does not mean it is the right thing for you to do. If you really have to use an image from someone else, always link back to them and give them credit for the image. But, be prepared to remove the image if they see it and are not happy that you shared it. 

If I use an image that I have found on Pinterest I always try to find the original source and link back to the owner as a thank you for creating it. I use a permalink underneath the image with the direct link to the blog post that it was taken from. You can also include a link in your blog post directing people to the blog to check out an image without taking it and sharing it on your blog.

I always try to keep in mind how I would feel about someone else taking pictures of my children and sharing them on their blog. I would not like it at all and therefore try to be respectful and careful when using images.

2. Blog Etiquette in linking to other blogs
Every blogger I know loves it when other people link to their blogs. One of the questions I am asked the most is if someone can link to my blog or if it is alright to link to other bloggers. The answer to this question every single time is a big fat YES! If you see a blog post that you love and feel ties in well with something that you have written on your blog, by all means link it up in your blog post. Don't be afraid to send people away from your blog to read something new or to discover something or someone else. They will return to you and be thankful for the new information or site that they have discovered because you share it. 

One benefit of sharing a link to another blog in your blog post is that is helps to share blog traffic. Everyone loves to receive more traffic to their blog and sharing links to other blog posts is a great way to do this. If you are known as someone who shares the blog link love, people will more likely share your blog posts and links as well.

Most bloggers are also really busy people and do not get to see every time someone links up to them. There is nothing wrong with sending them a quick message if you want to, to share that you loved what they had to say but don't expect a comment or thank you just because you linked up to them. Do it because you loved what they had to say and not because you are seeking some praise from them. 

One thing I will say on this topic is that please remember to be kind and respectful and only link to another blog because you think what they have to say is worthwhile and good and not because you want to criticise and make fun of them. As I have mentioned already, use common sense and be respectful and have fun linking to other bloggers. We all love to have some link love and extra traffic. You are most welcome to link up one of my blog posts at any time!

3. Linking in Blog Comments
One lesson that I learned early on as a blogger is not to leave my blog address as part of my blog comment when commenting on blog posts. When I first started my blog I saw people do this all the time and thought that it was the way to leave a blog comment. Much to my surprise I stumbled across a blog post written by a respectable blogger about how annoying it is to have people leave comments like this: "Great post! www.sevencherubs.com"

Most bloggers will not click on those links and it can often come across as rude when you do so. It is seen as the only reason you are commenting is to promote yourself and to not really add a kind or thoughtful comment to the blog post at all. If bloggers want to find you or your blog they can simply click on your profile and be directed to your blog from there.

There is nothing wrong with leaving a link in a blog post comment if you have written a blog post similar to the one you are reading. I appreciate it when my readers leave a comment directing me to something they have written very similar to myself as I love to read another take on the same issue. But be careful how often you do this as it can be seen as spamming a blog.

4. Be original with content
My number one tip for blog etiquette is to never, ever, ever copy and paste content from another blogger or blog or website and post it on your blog as your own content. I understand that most of us are just rehashing the same message over and over again as bloggers and there is nothing wrong with being inspired to write about a similar topic but please make sure it is your own words, thoughts and ideas that you are sharing.

There is nothing worse as a writer and blogger than finding out that someone has copied your thoughts, word for word. It is frustrating, seen as the lowest of low as a blogger and if you think you can get away with it, believe me you won't. Bloggers are very protective of content, they read a lot of blogs, learn to know the writing style and voice of other bloggers and they know if someone else has copied another blogger.

Most bloggers write because they have an opinion, they want to be a voice and know they have a voice and an audience. If you are copying someone else's work, be prepared to be attacked and receive the strong opinion and voice of many other bloggers that will not be nice. They will use their voice to put a stop to it and you will regret ever copying that content.

I understand that some times we share blog posts that can be similar at the same time as bloggers and if that happens, simply link up the other blog post and promote them as well. There is a difference between writing about similar topics and similar thinking compared to straight, copy and paste. Readers and bloggers know the difference.

Now that I have shared a few things that I have discovered about blog etiquette, I want to add that I am in no way trying to come down hard or preach how other bloggers should conduct themselves. How you chose to run your blog and conduct yourself as a blogger is up to you. I am simply sharing a few tips I have learned along my blog journey and I would love to hear if you have anything else you would add to what you have seen is unwritten blog etiquette.

Living a 'should' free life

'Should' is a word that drives me crazy.
I find myself saying it in my mind all day.

I should be a better mother, I should eat healthier...etc.
It is a word that makes me feel guilty.

So I took a run on the treadmill, thought about it, got off and recorded this vlog.
I have running hair, I am a bit of a mess but I hope you can with connect what I am saying.

I am working on living a should free life.
Are you?

This year I need to learn how to be better at recording vlogs.
This could possible be the worst one I have recorded to date, quality wise!

You can check out my other two vlogs here:

Anyway, hope you enjoy it xx

V8 Racing Super Car Combo Package + Father's Day Giveaway

We love living life in the fast lane here in the Seven Cherubs house, so it was with this in mind that RedBalloon and I decided to give Matt a V8 Racing Super Car Combo Package for Father's Day. After all he is a Super Dad to our seven children, knows how to quickly catch a child when needed and is used to living life with his foot to the floor with a family of nine to take care of. Surely speeding around a race track would be a walk in the park compared to some of the crazy moments he has endured as a wonderful father to our cherubs and especially twin boys!

The Gift
For the race package that Matt took part in he was treated to 8 self-drive laps around the circuit and then 3 laps in the hot seat as a passenger with a professional driver taking him around the track at full speed.

The Training
We headed out to Willow Bank Raceway {Brisbane} and as soon as we arrived Matt was guided over to Pit Lane and given his racing suit. Once he was dressed and ready to race he headed into the Orientation Room to receive training. This was where Matt thought he might view a safety video but was delighted to be given some training by an experienced driver on car handling, how to take the corners, braking and general information about the track. Basically, he was given knowledge and skills on how to get the most out of his racing car driving experience.

The Experience
Once he was trained and suited up he was ready to go! Before jumping in the car you get to choose to drive a Holden or Ford V8. The line up in the Holden section was packed and the Ford section was empty so Matt chose to jump in a Ford so he did not have to wait longer, even though he really wanted to drive a Holden. Once it is your turn to drive, you are strapped in tightly, introduced to your personal in-car coach and then ready to take on the track! 

Matt started off feeling very cautious but loved having a coach to show him the fastest way around the track and to give him tips when he was driving. The in-car coach really helps you to push the car you are driving further and Matt described the whole experience as exhilarating and exciting. He mentioned it was a surprise to hear the coach say, 'Floor It' and it took a second for him to register that yes, he could really floor it! 
As a spectator I thought it was fun to stand on the side of the tracks watching a family member speed around. I loved the noise and imagining the nerves and thrill of those driving at high speeds. Often when the cars returned to Pit Lane the brakes were smoking and everyone jumped out of their cars with a big smile on their faces. We found booking through RedBalloon a wonderful, smooth experience and look forward to future adventures we have planned in the next six months.

As an extra option you can also chose to have your experience recorded for a small fee and above is a screenshot of the example you receive. A recording of you driving and the track at the same time. Matt loved showing it to the kids and talking them through the experience.

About RedBalloon
RedBalloon is the ultimate place for gift experiences, with over 2,500 different gifts available to chose from all over Australia. They are passionate about changing the way people feel about giving gifts and the experience of receiving them. They believe gifts should be amazing, reflecting the uniqueness of the individual and that no other gift comes close to a RedBalloon experience. They have so many choices available that there is something for everyone!

The Giveaway
Just in time for Father's Day, RedBalloon have put together a great list of suggestions of Father's Day Gifts that will cater to every Dad's needs. They would also like to offer a Seven Cherubs reader, the chance to win a $200 Voucher to put towards the experience of your choice. You can pick out a gift for your husband, for your father-in-law or even a son...or you could keep it for yourself! The Voucher is valid for 12 months from date of issue so you will have plenty of time to plan that special experience and adventure. 

How to Enter:
To enter to win a $200 Voucher fill in the Rafflecopter form below and leave a blog post comment telling me what RedBallon Father's Day Gift you would like to win. Giveaway is open to Australian residents only. Winner will be notified by email and if no response is made in 48 hours a new winner will be chosen. Giveaway closes 1st September, 2012.

Reader Discount: For Seven Cherubs readers if you spend $129 or more on any RedBalloon experience, you can receive $30 off. To redeem visit www.redballoon.com.au and enter the promotional code: REDMUM02. This offer is valid until 31/12/2013. The promotional code can only be used once per person. All purchases are subject to RedBalloon's T&C's. Full details here: http://www.redballoon.com.au/help/terms-conditions

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Disclosure: Thanks to the team at Digital Parents Collective for inviting me to be a part of the Red Balloon Experience Program. I will be sharing my awesome experiences with you over the next 6 months. Stay tuned! As always, all opinions are my own however the experiences are complimentary. 

finding a gold, silver and bronze lining

On our trip home from Adelaide we were delighted to find a surprise gold, silver and bronze lining in our day. Upon arrival at the airport we were not happy to discover that there was no plane waiting for us to travel home on. With the recent rain and bad weather we had to wait for a plane to arrive for us to fly on. This held us up for around an hour and a half. Now normally I would not be so upset about this but on that day we needed to have a flight on time as we were meeting our oldest daughter Chelsea at the airport, at a scheduled time to pick her up as she was travelling home from a school trip to Melbourne.

I was beginning to get worried that we would not be able to meet her in time and eventually knew that we would have to organise other arrangements when the time started to drag on. By the time the plane arrived, I was not feeling much love towards the airline or the weather in putting us out so much. I was not in a bad mood, just sad that we did not get to meet our daughter, who I was missing terribly and really wanted to see at the airport.

So you can imagine our delight when we discovered that we were on the same flight with a group of Australian Olympian athletes. Legends even! They were travelling to different places around Australia for the parades that were taking place in each state to celebrate the achievements and medals they had won. Matt and I were also delighted to be sitting in the same section of the plane that they were all seated in. How awesome!

Much to our excitement, the athletes passed around a gold, silver and bronze medal for people to look at and feel. The first thing I can tell you when you hold as Olympic medal is that it is a real surprise just how heavy the medals are. They are quite large and solid. They are also very beautiful.

Gold and silver medals.

Holding the Bronze Medal. It is a little hard to have too much fun with it in the small space provided on an airplane. I can tell you that Brittany Broben who won a silver medal for diving was on our flight, Jessica Fox who won a silver medal for kayaking was on our flight, Anna Meares who won a gold for cycling was on a flight and a bunch of others who were just sensational to watch at the London Olympics.

I really, really wanted to get a picture with Anna but when she got off the plane she was welcomed by friends and I did not want to interrupt the big hug session that was happening so I just followed and stalked her instead :) So after the experience of having our plane delayed it was just such a surprised to have find a silver lining and the opportunity to hold a gold, silver and bronze medal. How many people can say that!

A quick trip to Adelaide: Mount Lofty House and Challenge Hill

This week Matt and I took a quick trip to Adelaide for a work conference. I was able to accompany Matt and it was wonderful to be able to spend some time together with just the two of us. It had been a while since we had visited Adelaide and we felt spoilt to stay at the lovely Mount Lofty House and to also have some awesome fun taking on Challenge Hill at Woodhouse. 

A few snaps I took of Mount Lofty House.  I loved the large rooms, high ceilings, gorgeous artwork and delicious, healthy food. It was a wonderful conference venue and would also be a great place to have a wedding reception.
Mount Lofty House is set high up in the Adelaide Hills and has a gorgeous view. Even though it was freezing cold we could not get enough of the scenery. I loved the rolling green hills and view of the clouds. Love my clouds!
As part of the work conference activities, we went to a place called Challenge Hill at Woodhouse. It comprises of a variety of different physical challenges for you to attempt and challenge yourself on. Woodhouse is a great place for school camps and whilst we were there they also had three separate school groups enjoying the activities.
To make Challenge Hill a little harder, I had to help Matt get through the challenges with his eyes closed! Matt did a great job and I think I did a great job helping him as well, except when I got a little distracted taking pictures of the scenery.
A lot of the activities involved balancing on logs, using ropes to steady yourself, squeezing through tight spaces and climbing over walls. Matt is not going to like this but above is my favourite picture. I mean seriously how could I not share it - what a cute butt!
I decided to take on this small tin contraption above called the Mouse Trap. Inside this is a maze, a very tight, dark maze. Lucky for me I am short and it was easy to work my way through it to get to the end but it sure is dark and scary in there!
We had a wonderful time taking on challenges and having fun supporting each other. It was a great team building activity for us as husband and wife and it was great to just get outside, to participate in some physical activities, that were held in such a fun environment. It was a memorable trip and we loved every moment of it.

how my children see me as a parent

Often I wonder how my children see me as a parent and a mother. I wonder how I come across to them, what look I give them without even realising it and if what hopefully good impression I am giving them is actually what they are receiving. I wonder, do they see me as happy? Do they see me as stressed out and too busy for them? Do they see me as loving and kind? 

It was with these thoughts that I was delighted to find a picture that one of our sons took of us, see above. It was taken when he was talking to us and just to let you know this is a natural picture, we did not try to pull this look or face. When I found this picture it made me laugh and in a small way answered my questions. This is the perfect example of what my children see from of us as parents when they talk to us. 

We come across as parents who are intently listening, sometimes worried before we even know the story and as generally concerned parents! I always wondered what we look like! My poor children.

Of course they often see us a serious and there are times when that is needed and appropriate but I also feel comforted with the knowledge that they also see us having fun and laughing together as husband and wife and also with them as children. See below. Alright, I have to admit it is only me laughing in this picture and Matt is not laughing at all as he was wearing suspenders and I of course had to flick them!

Do you ever wonder how your children see you as a parent?