my personal jewellery storage + rusted chain giveaway

I love a house of order and I even like to keep my jewellery in order. As collecting beautiful jewellery is a passion of mine, I have worked hard to find a good jewellery storage system to keep it all organised and a practical way to make it easy for me to work out what jewellery I want to wear. Below is how I keep it all organised and make it work:

The first place that I use to store my jewellery is on my bedroom drawers. This is my quick go to area for jewellery. To let you know what I have here, I firstly have a large white container where I store my headbands and flower brooches as I love wearing them and I have a smaller white container {I purchased the containers at IKEA} where I store beauty products I am testing out at the moment. I am currently trying some Olay and Garnier products and loving both of them!

I have a white earring stand I picked up in Target that I hang my high turn over earrings on and I find it is great to use as I can easily see what choice I want to wear. I use a silver platter to store other smaller earrings and watches on and I find with a platter it is easier to see what you have available instead of using a bowl.

I use a small silver paper towel holder to store my high turn over bracelets and I picked up this wooden tree to hang my necklaces on at a craft store. I really need to get around to painting it white to finish off the look of the area better. 

To store larger, chunkier necklace and other jewellery I use a large jewellery storage unit I picked up in Target. I love being able to see easily what I have available to wear and you really do not want to know how many layers of necklaces I have piled on top of each other in this unit! I have been collecting jewellery for a long time is all I will say :)

The last place I store jewellery is in my wardrobe. I use several clear hanging storage packs to keep more delicate necklaces in to stop them from getting tangled and so that I can easily see what I want to wear. It is nice to pick out clothes and have jewellery right there as well to pick from when getting ready for my day.

I know it seems like I have a lot of jewellery and I really do. Some people spend extra dollars on craft, on photography, on decorating, on shoes etc. I spend it on collecting jewellery and most of the jewellery I own I picked up for a bargain price. I rarely spend over $20 for a necklace and most of my purchases were under $10. I try to keep my passion for collecting jewellery alive but also work it into our budget so it is not a strain on the family. Plus, having a blog has been wonderful to help add to my jewellery collection :)

One new addition I have to my simply beautiful jewels collection is a sweet necklace from The Rusted Chain. Beki creates hand stamped custom jewellery and I love what The Rusted Chain represents:

We are about simply inspiring jewelry.
We are about supporting local businesses.
We are about honoring God.
We are about living simply and sweet tea.
We are about fresh cut flowers.
We are about thrift stores, yard sales, and antiques.
We are about bare toes in green grass.
We are about big red barns and mason jars.
We are about savoring small moments in life. 
We are about daisies, peonies and fields of sunflowers.
We are about supporting an underdog and giving to charities.
We are about friends, family and fun.
Beki has a great range of necklaces, earrings and bracelets available to order. I love The Rusted Chain collection and I have my eye on one of the camera necklaces she makes. I know a few Instagram addicts who would love to have it as well. Adorable!

I was lucky to receive a Two Tabs necklace which I LOVE!!! I already own a necklace with all of my cherubs names on it, so it was lovely to have a necklace that represents the wonderful relationship that Matt and I have together. So special.

Beki has also very generously donated a $50 voucher to a Seven Cherubs reader. You can use this voucher to purchase anything from her collection and store. To enter follow the guidelines below:

Giveaway open worldwide
Giveaway closes 11th October 2012
If you have facebook please use rafflecopter to enter below
If you don't have facebook please leave a comment below and tell me:

What is your favourite jewellery item?

{Make sure you have your email linked to your profile or leave it with your comment below}
{If winner doesn't make contact via email within 48 hours a new winner will be chosen}

in love with motherhood

{7 kids in 9 years - proof I love motherhood!]

After surviving 2 weeks of sickness in our home, life has been returning to normal. The time of sickness has given me an appreciation and gratefulness for our version of what normal is in our home. It has helped me feel more thankful for the opportunity to be a mother and how much I love motherhood when my children are healthy and our routine is buzzing along nicely. 

I still loved motherhood when all my children were sick as I was able to serve them and help them by small acts but it is so much nicer and fun when everyone is happy and healthy. I know I am lucky to have children who have good health.

Now that we are on school holidays I am enjoying the relaxing mornings. As I leisurely wake each morning I count my blessings and love to greet each day with a 'good morning' and hug from my cherubs. The fact that I get to do this with seven children each day makes my heart burst. 

We watched some family video's over the weekend and we laughed and cried over how much our children have grown. Part of my heart ached as I saw my children so young and I longed for those days to return again, where the biggest problems of my day were running out of nappies and milk and a broken ornament around my home.

But as I looked around our rumpus room at my children now so much older and mature, I felt my heart swell with how proud I am of how well they have grown, who they are as individuals and the new adventures and challenges we face as a family.

I don't know what is in store for our little large family, I don't know what the future will challenge us with but one thing I do know is that I love motherhood and all the trials and challenges and heart bursting moments it provides. I love my cherubs more than I could possibly say in this blog post and I hope that love is what will carry us through the years and keep our family strong.

Mensa Academy Wii Game Giveaway

Purchasing a Wii console was a BIG decision for our family. I knew that it was going to be a big distraction from books in our home and from that moment on I would have to deal with children asking constantly to play it. With this in mind we set some really clear rules on when the Wii could be played, only Friday night and Saturday, and what type of games we would allow to be purchased and bought into our home.

I personally like Wii games that have an educational focus and not a strong killing focus. As a mother to young children I take it very seriously what type of influence media and games have in our home. So I was pleased to be able to try out the new IQ brain training game Mensa: Academy Wii game.

So here is what you will want to know about the game:

* It is designed in close collaboration with the official Mensa institute and includes genuine Mensa level questions to help players in area's such as memory retention, image identification and rapid judgement.

* Although more serious in nature it is still a fun game and if you have competitive children, like I have, this one is great to really test them out. 

* It offers 100 levels and more than 80 different challenges across five different areas such as Numeracy, Literacy, Logic, Memory and Visual. If you have children like mine who like to complete a whole Wii game, this will keep them busy for a while!

* When you first start playing the game you will be shocked how fast the games run and how little time you have to answer the questions. Once you get warmed up though you find yourself being able to keep up and feeling great at how clever you are when you get the answers right. Great game for building your self esteem. Especially for Mum's at home who feel like they are out of the loop as far as education is concerned!

* There are different modes of playing the game. You can play a solo game, get some coaching or take a practice session, take a test or even play in party mode with 4 different players for a Brain Race or Brain Fighter. With different age groups of children and abilities it is a little hard for the younger ones to keep up in party mode. Although, I have to say I was surprised with some area's that my younger children did so well and even at a young age they have great talent in Memory and Visual skills.

P.S: The music in the game is cool. Check out the trailer below:

So the Mensa: Academy game is the ultimate in kids geek Wii games. It is available on Wii, 3DS and PC. We love to embrace our inner geek in the Seven Cherubs house and really enjoyed the game. We loved it so much we are giving away 2 copies of the Wii version of the game. To enter to win follow the guidelines below.

Giveaway details:
Open to Australian residents only.
Giveaway closes on 28th September at midnight.
Most creative answer wins.
Leave a comment to enter and tell me:

In what area of your life are you a brain training expert?

{Make sure you have your email linked to your profile or leave it with your comment below}
{If winner doesn't make contact via email within 48 hours a new winner will be chosen}

Congratulations to Wattleview and Emily. Enjoy x

Lisa King: cherish your cherubs interview

The next family I am sharing in my Cherish your Cherubs interview series has a special place in my heart. Through the wonders of the internet we have been able to develop a wonderful friendship. Lisa loves being a Mum, loves photography, going to the gym and recording family memories on her blog. She started her blog a few years ago after her second son Noah was born to record as many memories as possible because he was not going to live very long.

She is so grateful to have those memories recorded as her son Noah and husband Aaron recently passed away within three months of each other. I am delighted that Lisa was willing to share a little about how she now chooses to cherish her family and is moving forward with her life. I hope you enjoy what she has to share...

1.  Tell us a little about yourself as a mother. 
I have four boys – Jalen is 12, Noah was 10 when he passed away in October last year, Harrison is 7 and Kobe is 4. I always knew I wanted to have kids, but I am not the kind of person to ever get clucky. My dream was to have the perfect family – in my eyes that was two boys and two girls, not necessarily in that order. After our third son Harri was born, we were a little disappointed he wasn’t a girl, and were then very happy to have three boys, and we hoped that our last child would also be a boy. We love having four boys and couldn’t imagine having a girl at all.

Our son Noah had a condition called hydranencephaly which meant he was missing most of his cortex (two sides of the brain) and was severely mentally and physically disabled. He relied on us for everything and was at the stage of a three month old baby, even when he passed away. If I ever imagined being told I would have a child like that I would wonder how I would ever cope, but having Noah was a huge blessing in our lives. It was very hard at times to care for Noah as he had a lot of medical and physical needs, but I feel very blessed that I was able to be his Mum.

When my husband Aaron and I were married we wanted to wait for a little while before having kids, but having a family together was what we were excited about right from the beginning. I knew that once I did have kids, that being a Mum would be my main priority, therefore we made the decision for me to be a SAHM full time once we did have our kids, even though I loved my job as a teacher.

I had my first child when I was 25 years old. Aaron and I had been married for four years before having our first son and we loved that time together, but we then felt it was time to add to our family and loved being parents right from the start. My husband Aaron recently passed away from a suspected heart condition. I’m feel very blessed that I was able to spend so much time with my boys as a SAHM for twelve years, while he supported the family financially, and am so grateful that he supported me and encouraged me in my decision to be a SAHM. I have just gone back to paid work part time this year, and feel like working part time works well with the ages my boys are right now, although I often feel like I never have enough time to do anything.  

As a Mum I found having a newborn very hard work. My first two sons were very irritable babies, which I found very stressful. Because I knew no different, I thought that’s just what all babies were like, so when our third son Harri was a lot more settled and slept through the night from three weeks old, I felt like I was in Heaven!  

2. What is your favourite part about being a mother?
My favourite part of being a mother is watching my boys grow and develop. I love every stage that they go through. Aaron and I used to have a little joke together because I would always say ‘I love this stage, this is my favourite stage’ at whatever stage the boys were at whether it be three months old, twelve months old, three years old etc. Aaron would always then remind me ‘but you loved it when he was three months old!’ when I would again say ‘this is my favourite stage’ as each boy got older.  

It’s exciting to see my boys do different things as they develop. I love Jalen’s age (12) because he is growing up to be a very funny but sensitive young man. I love to just sit and talk to him about life and things that he is experiencing right now. I love that we can talk about things that make us laugh together, like certain TV shows or things we have seen on YouTube.  

I love Harri’s age (7) because he’s so enthusiastic about life and everything that it involves. He wants to learn at school and is excited to come home and tell me everything he has done. He also asks hundreds of questions a day (most of the time which I’m not sure of the answers to and tell him to ‘google’ it!) and is so curious about everything.  

I love Kobe’s age (4) as he’s just starting to learn things and is really starting to get his own personality. He’s still at that really cute stage where he makes you laugh with things he does and says and is so fun to be around. I always say that I wish I could just stop time right now as I love each stage that my boys are at, but I hope that I can continue saying that as they get older (although I’m starting to wonder if I’ll survive the teenage years!)    

3. Who inspires you as a mother?
To be honest there isn’t just one person, who inspires me as a mother but there are a lot of people, and most of them are friends or family. I love watching other mothers with their kids and I notice different things that I think they do well. Observing other Mums, inspires me to change something I think I could improve on, or to continue doing something I think I’m doing well. I wish I could take all the different things that I love about certain mothers and be that person, but I know that’s not possible.  

4. Why do you think it is important to cherish your children?
Because everyone should feel loved. It lets them know that they are important as an individual, and hopefully it will help them to develop their self worth. I think being a Mum is a privilege and something that shouldn’t be taken for granted. I made the choice to bring my boys to earth, and therefore I feel like I have a huge responsibility and privilege to not only raise them, but to cherish them always. Having our son Noah taught us that more than anything. We didn’t know how long we would have with him as his condition was life threatening so we cherished every single moment of every day with him. We appreciated the little things and made us cherish our time together as a family, as we knew that we wouldn’t always be together like we were a year ago (we just didn’t realize exactly how different things would be).  

5. What do you do to show your children you cherish them? 
I try to make time for each of them, even if it’s just a few minutes in the day when I wish I could be doing something else. I often hear myself saying ‘in a minute’ or ‘later on’ or ‘when I’m not busy’ and then regret it later on when I realized that I’ve missed an opportunity to do something with one of my boys that would’ve meant so much to them if I just took some time out to do it. Now if one of my boys says ‘can you come and help me with this’ or ‘come and watch this Mum’ or ‘can you read me a book’ I am trying more to stop what I’m doing and say yes (if possible). Since losing Noah and Aaron it makes me realize even more how precious every moment with our families are, and I don’t want to have any regrets in the future as you never know what may happen. We’ve always been big with our boys in saying ‘I love you’ and showing physical affection. My boys love cuddles and I hope as they get older that doesn’t stop.    

6. What do you hope your children feel or learn from you cherishing them? 
I just hope my boys know and feel that they are loved as an individual and that they are important. A lot of our time was taken up with caring for our son Noah, but our other boys never complained but I was always aware of how much time they missed out on with us. I always wanted them to know that although we didn’t necessarily get to spend as much time one on one with them as we did with Noah, they were in no way less important or less loved than he was.    

7. What is your favourite activity to do with your children and how does it help you to cherish them? 
I love doing things with the boys where all of us are able to participate and have fun together, like going to the pool together or playing the Wii together. It’s can sometimes be hard because of the age difference between my boys to do something that everyone loves, but just simple things like mucking around in the pool together or playing a dance game on the Wii is always lots of fun and everyone can get involved. I love just being able to stop everything and just have some fun together. Life is tough, and sometimes I think it’s important to just stop and have fun, just because we can.      

8. How do you make time for your children in your schedule? 
When our son Noah was still alive we were very aware of how much time we had to spend caring for him, so we made a conscious decision to spend time with the other boys on their own. My husband Aaron and I loved having a ‘date’ with just one of the boys while we arranged a babysitter for the others – even if it was just for an hour.

The dates were nothing special – sometimes they were just going window shopping in the toy aisle at Kmart as they thought about what they wanted for their birthday and grabbing an ice cream on the way home. Other times it was a bit more special and we would go somewhere for dinner, but the boys loved being able to go on a special date with us on their own and talk about it all the time still.  

When Noah was alive I felt like most of my time was spent caring for him and now that I’m a single Mum I feel like I have even less time. Because I feel so busy I now try to spend time with them around the activities of the day. For example while Harri is at his swimming lesson, I jump in the pool with Jalen and Kobe and we have a play together in the pool while we are waiting for Harri, and Harri joins us after his lesson is over. It’s a time when we could just be wasting time sitting on the side of the pool, but instead we use it as a time to have some fun together after school (even though half the time I actually wish I was sitting on the side of the pool!) If it’s a busy day the boys may just sit up at the bench while I’m cooking dinner, so we can chat about their day, or I love just chatting to the boys in the car while we are driving as it’s a place we are uninterrupted and I have their whole focus, and they have mine.  

9.  How does it make you feel as a mother when you know you are cherishing your children? 
I know I’m always happier when I’m cherishing my boys. I know that when other things that I love doing, start taking over my life more (like photography or going to the gym) I feel very stressed and unhappy because I’m so torn between things. When I recognize that my life is out of balance and I cut things back so I can focus more on cherishing my boys, then things at home are much happier for everyone. It doesn’t mean that I have to give up the things that I love, but it just means that I have to shift the balance of things for a little while.  

10. What advice would you give to other Mums about cherishing children? 
Don’t put yourself down and don’t compare yourself to others. It’s so easy to compare yourself to other Mums, and think you could be so much better than you are. Being a Mum is the hardest but best job ever, and no one can be the perfect Mum.  

I’m constantly wishing that I was better at things. I wish I baked homemade treats to put in the boys lunch boxes for school, but half the time I’ve ran out of fruit for them to take to school! I always think I should be taking them to more activities after school, and wonder whether I’m letting my boys do enough or too much.

I often look at other Mums (especially on blogs) and wish I was more like them. Instead I try to remind myself that no one is the perfect Mum, even if they seem that way on their blog or in public. I am trying to be the best Mum that I can be for my boys right now and I think that’s what is most important.

There were times in my life when I had more time to do certain with them, but right now all they need is lots of love. As a family we have been through a lot of trauma with Noah and Aaron passing away and all my boys need right now is love, hugs, reassurance and understanding and hopefully I am giving them that, it doesn’t matter if they don’t get homemade treats in their lunchboxes.

I also think it’s important to believe in yourself. You know your children better than anyone else and you should trust your instincts. With my own boys I have had a lot of advice about what I should or shouldn’t be doing since Noah and Aaron passed away. I have learnt to trust myself and to do what I believe is right for my boys and that has been the best thing I could’ve done.   I don’t think that cherishing your children is necessarily about spending more time with them (because not everyone is blessed with a lot of time) but more about what you do with the time that you do have.

Thanks so much Lisa! You can also read more about Lisa's journey on her blog:

designing a personalised seven cherubs necklace

I recently teamed up with the lovely Kath from LOVEnCHERISH to design my own Seven Cherubs necklace. I have been blessed to receive some of her gorgeous jewellery before when she sent me a special necklace with the names of all of my children around it. I adore it and wear it all the time. So I was really excited to work with her on creating my very own personalised blog necklace.

In designing my personal necklace I wanted to keep it a simple design and I also wanted it to symbolise how I feel about my blog. Below are the pieces I chose to represent my blog and the finished design.
First of all, I wanted a simple font that was easy to read and pleasing to the eye. I next chose to add angel wings as to me they represent how angelic cherubs/children are and how blessed I am to have seven healthy children when I know so many women who do not have that opportunity in this life. 

Then I added a heart with the number seven as when I am writing on my blog I love to write from the heart about being a mother and having a large family. Seven is my number and I hold all of my children close to my heart each day.

Then to finish it off I added a pearl as I adore pearls and to me white represents purity. I like the reminder to write pure thoughts, to write with clarity and to stick to my heart and not be distracted. 

Kath is wonderful to work with and if you are looking at getting a personalised necklace I highly recommend contacting her.  She doesn't have her own website but you can contact her through her facebook page or email her at: lovencherish {@} gmail {dot} com 

I am now the super spoilt and blessed recipient of two necklaces from Kath and I absolutely adore both of them! It was so much fun to design my own blog necklace and to put it together and now when I write I have an extra special motivator and talking piece to share with people to help introduce my blog.

Anyone else have a personalised necklace they adore? 

end of year goals

With the end of the year is fast approaching, {where did the year go?}, I decided to sit down and set some end of year goals. After reading the book from Shannah and feeling motivated to simplify my life more, I thought about what I would like to achieve before the new year starts. I thought about how far have I come this year already and looked at if I achieved any of the goals I set at the start of the year. So far this year for me has been a real rollercoaster. Many high's and many lows. It was not how I thought it was going to be at all and I have really learned a lot on the journey.

So after some pondering, here are the five goals I have set for the end of the year:

1. Improve my health: I have been so busy lately that I have not been taking care of my health as much as I would like. I need to slow down a little, change my schedule so I can fit exercise in more and take the time to plan the type of food I am eating. I also want to work on a new running goal and plan. 

2. Declutter and Simplify: I generally keep a clutter free home. I love it because it allows me more free time and with so many people in my home it reduces mess. In setting a goal to declutter stuff from my life, I want it to be more like commitments that I am not enjoying, saying yes to things I really want to say no to and being more protective of my time so that I can spend more time being creative and nurturing myself. I need to simplify my life so I can do more of what I really want to do.

3. Save for happiness: I believe that the best things in life are often free but sometimes the best things you want to do require money. Sometimes dreams and happiness goals require that you plan and save to make them happen. I want to spend the last part of this year planning and saving towards some happiness goals I have. This one is a hard one for me because I get distracted with wanting immediate happiness instead of happiness I can see in the long term future. I need to commit myself to looking ahead and focusing on that goal. 

4. Read more: This is kind of crazy coming from me as I read so much already, but I really do want to read more the last part of this year. I find it helps me with my writing, it motivates me to be better, keeps my mind active and inspires me to change my heart. There are so many good books available to us today and so many wonderful writers sharing insightful ideas that I want to just read as many of them as I can. I love to learn and reading is one of the fastest ways I can do so as I am busy taking care of my family. 

5. Sparkle: This goal is an important one for me and I decided to give it a fun name to motivate me. In the next couple of months I want to sparkle more. I want to look and feel happier. I want to spend more time playing with my children, I want to connect with my family more, I want to feel lighter, to be stress free and to generally feel like I am radiating good feelings. I know not every day is going to be this way but I want to work on my attitude more to be positive and sunny :)

So that is what I plan on focusing on to keep me busy in the next couple of months as we count down to the end of the year. As a family we are working on being healthier together and are still refining what our specific goals will be. They are however, always connected with our family mission statement and our family saying, 'Zealous to be an Ellis!'. 

simplify + structure = family success

Every parent I know wants to feel they are being successful in their home. That the effort they are putting in to raise happy children is making a difference and what they are doing will continue to influence generations to come. Of course the definition of success is different for every family and for our family it involves keeping life simple and staying true to our values and structure to find family success

I have been working on simplifying our lives and adjusting our family routine recently and to help inspire me I have been reading, Simplify Structure Succeed, by Shannah Kennedy. It is a book that includes practical tools, tips, templates and case studies to encourage you to develop life strategies for optimal living in a modern, fast paced world. I really enjoyed going through this book and it helped me to work out some goals that I want to work on for the rest of the year. I am going to share them with you in a blog post tomorrow. For today, I wanted to share with you some great tips I discovered on each of the three topics in Shannah's book.

I have always loved the word simplify. To me as a mother of a large family it is essential for my survival and sanity. At times in my life though it has seemed out of reach and lately it has been something I have been craving more and more. Shannah helped me to see what is draining me in my life, what I am allowing to suck energy and why I am feeling mentally cluttered. You know that feeling when you can't even think properly because your mind is so full of information and even deciding what to wear seems to much of a decision! 

After reading this book I have come to see that simplifying my life is necessary, as simplifying = clarity.  I need clarity in my life to see the big picture, to see clearly what goals I want to achieve and to get a vision of where my family needs to go to find happiness and success. 

Creating structure or routine in our family lives is important to provide a balanced life. A routine has given our family peace of mind and provided our children with a sense of security in knowing we have a set routine to follow each day. It also allows us to take advantage of opportunities that come our way and to be spontaneous. I was reminded from Shannah to use my time wisely, to protect it and to plan time in my schedule to look ahead, to dream big and to schedule in moments to achieve my goals. 

It is easy to feel like creating a structure or routine is too hard with a large family and it is easy to blame others for not being successful at it. When we take responsibility for our family situations we can then commit ourselves to working out a plan that will work for our family happiness.

Once we have worked out how to simplify our lives and what structure we feel is best for ourselves and our family we can plan in how we are going to be successful in making it happen. This will be individual and different for each person and family. There is no right or wrong answer in how we go about achieving this. That is the beauty of it, our vision is unique and will be different on how we want to move forward in our lives.

Finding success as a family often means getting out of our comfort zone, trying new experiences and pushing ourselves, but not so much that we all fall apart in the process! Shannah encourages us to celebrate our journey, our achievements and to not be afraid of failure. Planning our own strategy is the fun part and working out own recipe for success can be inspiring and unifying as a family.
One of the things I really enjoyed about Shannah's book was the layout. Bright images throughout the book, plenty of room to take notes and inspiring quotes to help you ponder as you are reading. I loved her encouraging attitude and simple, useful tips. To read more about her new book out you can click on her website: Shannah Kennedy: Life Coaching

So after reading Shannah's book, I have now worked out my personal goals I want to achieve and I am also refining our family goals we can work on until the end of the year. There were not too many changes I felt we needed to make as a family but more a few little parts of our life that we have let slip that need to be focused on some more. Looking forward to sharing some of them with you tomorrow. 

Are there any changes you think your family needs to make to find family happiness?

*I was given a free copy of this book to read and was not paid to write this blog post. I am writing and sharing it because I really enjoyed the book and believe it will help others if they read it.

singing to stay sane

We have had a nasty vomiting bug hit the Seven Cherubs house. It has been living here all week.
To keep myself sane I have been doing a lot of singing.

Crazy, delirious sleep deprived singing.
 It kind of goes like this:

Wilson Phillips {Hold on} : I know that there is tummy pain, but Naomi hold on for one more day and break free from the spew buckets, Yeah, I know this is painful but hold on for one more day, and vomit free days will come your way.

Sir Mix A Lot {Baby Got Back}: I like small chunks and I cannot  lie, you other mother's can't deny, that when a child throws up with a small chunk spew it totally makes your day!

Cee Lo Green {Forget you}: I see you sitting around with your bucket and I know you will spew and I'm like forget you, clean your own bucket because I don't want to spew, forget you.

Mariah Carey {Always be my baby}: You'll always be important to me, I love you indefinitely, boy please don't throw up on me, Ooh darling cause you'll make my washing pile crazy, and this sickness will linger on.

Adam Martin {Lonely Boy}: Oh, oh-oh I got sick kids that keep on spewing, Oh, oh-oh I got a washing pile that keeps on growing, I'm a washing Mum, I'm a washing Mum, Oh, oh-oh I got a sick kids that keeps on spewing!

Foster the People {Pumped up kicks}: All of my kids with the spewed up chunks, you'd better run, better run, straight to the toilet, All of my kids with the spewed up chunks, You'd better run, better run, faster than a bullet.

Cupid {Cupid Shuffle}: To the bucket, to the bucket, to the bucket, to the bucket. To the toilet, to the toilet, to the toilet, to the toilet. Now puke, now puke, now puke, now puke. Now clean out your bucket, now do it by yourself!

As you can tell I am not myself. I think I need some serious help!
Thanks for reading this far. Really.
I am going back to singing as I have four kids home today.

Do you want a polite answer or do you want the truth?

Today is R U OK? Day. 

It is a national day dedicated to inspiring people to ask each other regularly, 'Are you OK?'. The day aims to prevent isolation by empowering people to support each other through life's ups and downs. As someone who has suffered depression and loves to talk about how I really feel, I love that there is a day set aside to motivate and encourage other's to show greater love and care to all people.

I have had my share of interesting experiences over the years with people asking me if I am OK. We all know there are people in our lives who are simply acquaintances and regularly ask us how we are and if we are good. For this type of people in my life I always smile and reply, yes..I am good. Simply because I know when they ask me how I am, that they want a polite answer. They stop to say hello because they like you, they care and they want to quickly touch base with you. The polite answer is all they have time for and a lot of the time a polite answer is all I want to give them!

There is nothing wrong with having polite answer people in your life. They can be great for your self esteem, make you feel like someone is thinking of you and make you smile. You can share a quick hug, a quick kiss on the cheek and even a quick laugh. What we need more of in our lives though are people who are willing and open to hearing the truth of how we are really going. Who when they ask you if you are OK, are actually prepared to hear what you have to say, are prepared to show some extra love if needed and who are not afraid of what will come out of your mouth. They ask you if you are OK because they really truly care and want to support you. 

So for me, when I am having a bad day, {which happens on a regular basis because being a mother to seven cherubs sure is full on some days!} and someone happens to asks me if I am OK...I often look at them and reply:
"Well, do you want a polite answer or do you want the truth?". 

People respond in three ways to this. 
1. They make a joke and laugh and leave. 
2. They tell me everything will work out fine because it always does and leave or 
3. They stop, they ask me again how I am really going and listen.

Words can't describe how much I appreciate those people who listen. Often all I need is to ramble out what is bothering me and then I can move on. Sometimes you just need to tell someone, you just need to say the words out loud and you really are not looking for any advice, you just want to say it to get it off your chest! 

All of us have struggles in life, we all have challenges, we all need support. What we all need more of is people who are prepared to hear the truth. Who will give a hug, give a listening ear, who will rub an arm, who will look at you with kind eyes and who will tell you that you are not alone with how you are feeling. Feeling alone is one of the worst feelings ever! We are never, ever alone with how we feel!

Now one last thing I want to say on this topic. 

One of the things I have seen a lot of in my time are new Mum's shell shocked after having a baby. I see them smiling and pretending to be alright, surrounded by other women who are smothering the baby with love but forgetting about the mother. Sure they tell her she is looking great, that her baby cherub is super cute and she has done a wonderful job in creating such a gorgeous baby but I don't see enough people actually asking the mother if she is OK. 

It doesn't take much to say, "Are you alright? I mean really alright? How did the birth go? How are you coping? Are you getting enough sleep? Are you feel depressed?"

Women need to talk about childbirth. It is often a traumatic event. We need to know we are not alone with what we just went through. We need people to talk to about how bad we can actually be feeling after having a baby and I am sure that if more people asked new mothers how they really were and they had someone to talk to, we would not have so many women with post natal depression. 

For me, I have done what I just described so many times. I have stood there dazed, in pain and pretended all is well. I have put on my fake face and pulled it off many a day. Many people asked me how I was but few actually asked me how I was really going. To those who did ask me I would reply, "Well actually, if you want the truth, I have sanitary pads stuffed in my bra as I am leaking so much milk, I think I have mastitis, I have so many stitches down below I have lost count and I think after all that pushing I have hemorrhoids...ummm...Yeah! I am totally fine!!"

Now I know not everyone needs to know this information and you don't want to tell it to everyone you know but it is important to have several people you can tell it to, to laugh about it, to ask advice from and to have tell you that you will heal and things will improve...eventually!

You don’t have to be an expert to support someone going through a tough time in life. You just need to be able to listen to their concerns without judgment and take the time to follow up with them on how they are going at a later date. If you really don't know where to start in asking someone if they are OK, there are some great tips HERE.

Also please, please do not be afraid to tell people you are not OK. We all have times and season's in our life where we are not OK. There is nothing wrong with that. It doesn't mean you are weak or crazy or stupid. It means you are real and that you feel. I also have to say that it is common sense that if you want people to ask you if you are OK, you also need to ask other people if they are OK. It works both ways. Nobody likes someone who is always dumping on them but is never available to listen when they need it. Be the type of person you would love to have in your life and you will attract people who will be loving and kind back. 

This post kind of turned out a lot longer than I thought and I really could go on about this topic for a lot longer but my main message today is that please take the time to ask people if they are really OK and it may surprise you just how many people around you are struggling and feeling the same way you are.

So, tell me if you want...Are YOU OK?

planning with kids: cherish your cherubs interview

If you have a blog and children, you know Nicole from Planning with Kids. She runs one of the most popular blogs in Australia and is a well known speaker on all things blogging and raising children. Nicole is also lovely in person and is passionate about helping others. I admire her organisational skills and mother heart. She is the mother of five children. Here is how Nicole cherishes her cherubs.... 

1. Tell us a little about yourself as a mother.  
I had my first child when I was 26. We always thought we would have a few children and I was pretty sure I would like motherhood, but I was totally surprised by how much I loved being a mum. I had planned to go back to work after three months with my first child, but the minute our son was born, I knew that I would not want to leave him so soon. I ended up going back to work when he was nine months old. We went on to have four more children, so we now have five beautiful children aged 13 to 3. 

2.What is your favourite part about being a mother? 
Being a mother has made me a better person. Through my kids, I have grown, matured and become more conscious about the way I live my life. That is such a powerful gift my kids have given to me. And nothing beats feeling the warmth of a good morning hug from little people straight out of bed! 

3. Who inspires you as a mother? 
I don’t really have one individual who inspires me as a mother, but I observe, learn and am motivated by many women like author Celia Lashlie and her respect for boys, my friend Katie who has eight gorgeous kids and parents them with grace and currently my youngest sister who has had her first baby six months ago. It is inspiring to see someone love being a mum and doing everything possible to make sure they take on this role the best they can.

4. Why do you think it is important to cherish your children? 
I see my kids as a gift which I am incredibly privileged to have. I want them to know that. I want my children to grow up to be well rounded, kind, independent and respectful adults. For them to have a chance at being that, I think they need to know they are cherished.

5. What do you do to show your children you cherish them? 
For me cherishing involves all the senses. It is hugging them, holding their hand or resting my hand on them. It is talking to them and letting them know how I feel about them, it is listening to their stories with interest, even if it is not really at all interesting! It is cooking food they love and nourishing them. 

6. What do you hope your children feel or learn from you cherishing them? 
Children learn so much more from actions than they do words. I hope through my behaviour they learn how to treat people they love – with kindness, respect and generosity.

7. What is your favourite activity to do with your children and how does it help you to cherish them? 
Outdoor games where we run, chase and wrestle. Four out of our five children are boys. They love this sort of physical touch and love it even more if it is with mum and dad. My daughter also loves this and it is something we can easily do all together. It is very much an active gesture to my kids that I am prepared to meet on their terms and take part in their favourite activity where they make the rules. I am showing them I am interested in what they like and am prepared to have fun with them.

8. How do you make time for your children in your schedule? 
I work from home and am lucky enough to fit my work around my kids’ schedule the majority of the time. I go to the gym in the early mornings before they are awake. When I am cooking and cleaning, I give them opportunities to be involved if they wish. I also make sure that through out the week there is time for each child to have individual time with me.

9. How does it make you feel as a mother when you know you are cherishing your children? 
I was once told that a mother is only as happy as her saddest child. I completely agree with that. Cherishing my kids and seeing them happy and confident in themselves, makes me feel that I am doing a good job as a mum. 

10. What advice would you give to other Mums about cherishing children? 
There is no right way to cherish your kids. All families are unique and you need to do what feels natural and comfortable to you. Kids can sense when they are being appeased or placated in an instant. Cherishing your kids doesn’t mean you are absolutely devoted to them. It means that you have found a way to express your love for them and to appreciate the wonder they are.

Nicole Avery is a Melbourne mum to five beautiful kids aged 13 to 3. She is slightly addicted to spreadsheets, Diet Coke, and running. Nicole is the author of the Planning With Kids Book and Blog, which is one of Australia’s most popular parenting blogs.

protecting family time

I love an ordinary day. A day of sunshine, backyard playtime and a clear schedule.
While these days don't happen very often in our home, they sure bring us happiness.

Lately, I have been more protective of our time. Our family time.
With a busy husband and children, I see it as my role to supervise and protect this time.

Often it means saying no to extra events and activities which is hard to do.
But when I do say No, it allows a more simplified life, which means a happier family.

Our children have adjusted well to keeping life more simple.
At first they were bored and complained. 

Now I see them gather together in groups, creating games and having fun together.
It makes me smile and confirms to me that family time is worth protecting.

I am guardian of our home in many ways.
Guarding our family time is a responsibility that I take very seriously.

Family relationships are worth investing in.
 The more time we spend together, the more we love each other.

a new family tradition for date nights

Matt and I have started a new tradition. We have started having date nights with our children. Previously, we would have date nights with each other as a couple and try our best to have one on one moments with our children whenever we could. As our children are growing older fast, we have decided it is time to set up working on our relationship with our children. We have always been mindful of our children growing up in a large family and try hard to make time in our schedule to prioritise our spending time with them. It was from this thinking that we decided to start date nights with each of our children.

Our new tradition is that once a week, Matt and I take out a child on a date. Just one child with both us together. We arrange a babysitter to come over for 2 hours at the same time every week and during those 2 hours we take out a child. For our date nights we go where that specific child would love to go, we keep it simple and we talk. Really talk to them. For those 2 hours they have our undivided attention. Every child in our family knows that they will get their turn and they look forward to going out with us. So therefore, each child in our family get's a date every seven weeks.

Some of our dates have simply been out to get an iced chocolate, a trip to the playground and we have even had a few visits to the Sushi Train. We talk to them about school life, home life, how we are going as parents, how they are feeling about themselves and give them an opportunity to ask us any questions. We have loved all of our dates with our children and love the chance to have a deeper chat with them without any interruptions from other children!

We have been reminded on these dates just how wonderful, talented, incredible and amazing our children really are. They are clever, kind, loving and funny each in different ways. I can't help myself when I go out with them, I just want to hug them and kiss them the whole time we are out! 

Since we have been focusing on having date nights with our children, I have also been looking for more opportunities to have date days with them as well. I took Nathan with me on a date day to Sydney during the week to attend a Skylanders Giants blog event. We flew down in the morning and spent the day in the city walking around together. We had a lovely time walking, talking and taking in the sites. The weather was gorgeous and Nathan was such wonderful company.

Our favourite part of the day was checking out the Sydney Opera House. It is just so unique. Nathan was really excited to see it now that he is a little older and it has been many years since we lived in Sydney. After spending several hours playing tourists we headed off to the blog event to learn a little more about the new Skylanders Giants game coming out soon. Nathan was in Skylander Heaven and I loved the large Spyro they have in the Activision Office!

Danielle and I put our game faces on and finally had a chance to play the Skylanders game ourselves. We were even spoilt to try out the new Skylanders Giants game that is coming out in a couple of months. With 12 children between us, it is hard to get a chance to have fun on these games when your children are always hogging it! 

We finished up our day with a flight home and were delighted to be back with the rest of our family again. Since starting these date nights and date days, Matt and I have noticed that our children come and talk to us more, they talk positively about spending time with us and chat to each other about what new idea's they can come up with to spend time with us as parents. I don't know how long we will keep this new tradition up for, but for our family right now, this is a tradition that is bringing greater happiness to our home.

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speaking the unspeakable

I am a little emotional and fired up today. Which normally is a sign I should not publish anything on my blog but I am the type of person who likes to make mistakes, who likes to take risks and who likes to follow my emotions and heart. 

So publish I will and consequences I will face. 
Whether they be bad or good.
Deep breath.

I am a little passionate about an unspeakable topic: child sexual abuse. 
As today is White Balloon Day I felt it was appropriate to write about.

I have shared a few deep thoughts about abuse on my blog before... from victim to survivor to thriver...I also have the crazy personality where I love to speak about the unspeakable. I have a passion for telling it as it is, saying what other's would not dare to say and speaking up for those who can't speak for themselves. 

I normally hold myself back a lot on my blog for fear of backlash that comes from this and I try to keep it as a positive place for people to visit...BUT...and this is a big BUT, if I were to leave this Earth anytime soon I would regret not speaking up more about what I know in my heart to be important and helpful.

I ask you: What is the use of having a gift or experience and keeping it to yourself? Surely these gifts and experiences are to be shared, to be spoken of and to be used for good. My difficulty and problem is that my gift and experience comes under the category of speaking the unspeakable. A topic that people flee from, shudder when think of and close their minds, ears and hearts to.

See my struggle?

So I previously would tuck my thoughts away. I kept quiet for fear of offending, of making other's uncomfortable and of being a trigger for those who feel the same way. But not today. Today I open myself and stand in the sun, I let the warmth encourage me to grow, to share and to write about that unspeakable topic to help others, even that one person who may need to read this. That they will know they are not alone, that speaking up is worth it and that there are people who will listen.

White Balloon Day is a day of awareness. To encourage others to speak up about abuse they may be suffering. Too many children suffer abuse in silence, cowering in fear for the consequences that may come if they speak out. They are often manipulated, controlled and emotionally tricked into believing that harm will come to them and to others if they speak out. Sadly, in some cases this is really true. 

Others are simply told nothing. No explanation, no consideration for how they feel and are given no help in trying to recover, to heal and to move forward.

Here is why I am so passionate and writing about speaking out:

When I was young and was abused I innocently did what maybe not many other children may have done.
I spoke up. I spoke the unspeakable.

I immediately told someone what happened.

Maybe it was the way I said it, maybe it was because I had no idea what I was really talking about or maybe it was because what I was saying should not have come out of the mouth of someone so young. 

But here is the wanted to know.

Nobody wanted to listen.
Nobody wanted to act.

The consequences if they did were frightening and the impact would be horrific.

I was told off for saying such things.
Told to apologise to my abuser and that was that.

Life went on.
For them...but not for me.

I was stuck in the moment, frozen in that time of...
What? I have to was my fault and I was the one who did something wrong!

Speaking out when I was younger did not help me in any the time.
But with my personality and my you think I stopped there?

No! Speaking out later on in life helped me to heal, helped me to off load heavy burdens and to let go of the past.

I know this is personal and probably too private for sharing on a blog. I however, am not worried about what people will think of me. I know that my past doesn't define who I am but it has helped shape me into who I am today. 

The main reason I am writing this to say - please, please, please...if a child comes to you and tells you that they have been abused in any way...believe what they have to say!

Children do not make up these stories.
They just don't!!

Sure what they are saying is scary, is shocking and will leave you speechless and often heartbroken but what they are saying is true. I don't care how awesome the person is that the child is talking about, how much you love them and how much you admire them, if your child says they have abused them...they really did!

Most abusers are super nice...they have to be to manipulate. Some are just downright scumbags and we all know that...but if I can share my story and help one person really listen and believe a child who is suffering and being abused then it makes it all worth it. I really hope in my heart that I don't have to help in that way and that anyone reading this is being hurt but I know that child sexual abuse is too popular for that to happen. 

Child sexual abuse is evil. There is no other way to describe it.
The affects are devastating and crushing.

I know it is not a pleasant topic and very different from what I normally write about but it needs to be addressed. People need to be uncomfortable, they need to face that this is reality and it needs to be promoted. 

We need to put a stop to this horrible act. 
I am so passionate about that!

Speaking the unspeakable needs to happen more often.
From my heart to yours: please, please, please be someone who is willing to listen and believe.