Giggle Giggle Toot Roar

Striving to answer the call to motherhood and wifeyhood with joy, Jesus, and crazy dancing.


On Noticing Defining Moments & Failure

In fourth grade I had a defining moment. Not some big scary thing that happened to me, but an experience that formed me for years to come. It probably passed other students by and was forgotten forever, but it stuck with me.

For the first time in our young lives we had a 4th grade student council. There were the tradition roles like President and Vice President and then there was the PR role (public relations), which basically meant you were in charge of making posters for different events throughout the year. THAT was the position that made my eyes sparkle! I wanted to be the PR chair!

We were told to select which position we wanted to run for and then we were tasked with putting together a speech to deliver in front of the class and campaign posters to hang throughout the classroom and hallway.

On noticing defining moments.jpgI was all over it! I remember practicing my speech over and over with my parents. I remember my dad giving me advice to emphasize that phrase a bit more or use a little more enthusiasm when you say those words. I remember my mom reminding me to smile during it. I remember coming up with what I thought were insanely clever slogans again with the help of my parents, “One for all and all for Holl,” and “She’s one Holl of a candidate.”

There were two open PR positions, three people running, and with every bone in my body and every fiber of my being, I believed I was going to win one of those positions. I had this in the bag! I actually don’t think I was even aware of the competition, because I just assumed I’d win the position of my dreams.

And then voting day came. And then the results were in. And then Kurt and Emily won. And I lost. I remember being shocked. I remember thinking about how people picked two other people over me. Did people not like me? Were my slogans not cool? Was my speech not good? I remember this as my first real loss. My first real failure.

I know I was disappointed with the loss, but I was blessed to have parents who told me constantly they were proud of me, so that helped in the recovery. I didn’t stay in a dark hole about the loss for long. I moved on and it wasn’t something I remember caring about much the rest of that year.

BUT as I look back and think about formative experiences from my childhood, this one will always stick out to me as probably the first moment I experienced failure AND it formed how I viewed failure for many years to come. Basically, avoid it at all costs!

If you think back to your childhood, is there an experience that impacted you in a positive or negative way well into your adulthood? Maybe you aren’t even yet aware of how deeply something impacted you.

Did you have a defining moment, a moment that taught you to start living or doing things a certain way?

This experience taught me FAILING = TERRIBLE. Don’t fail. Don’t come in last. Failing is bad. Failing is scary. Failing is embarrassing.

This probably helped me in some ways, by developing my attention to detail, my drive and determination, and my attitude to want to win and strive to be the berst. It also caused me to play it safe, be overly cautious in trying new things, and to carry a bit of perfectionistic stress. This just may be one of the reasons I was too terrified to ever go out for basketball and why until late high school I only ran for “safe” positions like secretary or treasurer instead of president.

Fast forward 25 or so years later and I have quite a different view of failure that I’ve learned over many years of just living life, from reading many leadership books, and most recently through the amazing things I’m learning from my network marketing business. I no longer fear failure. I don’t play it safe and I don’t avoid trying new things. I am so much less concerned about what other people think of me and I strive to not let other people’s opinions of me have impact on how I see myself. This is a much more freeing and exciting way to live life. As long as you are striving forward and learning through your fails, then failing in a way is a blessing.

So, this got me thinking about how one small grade school experience impacted my life for so long. My children will in 4K next year and I think about them and their future experiences. I wonder what experiences will have the greatest impact on them both positively and negatively. Will I notice those experiences when they are here? How can I support them through those experiences?

You better believe I’ll be on the lookout for those moments for them! They will have to learn their way through things on their own. I know that’s part of growing up. BUT as their momma, I can help by listening, answering questions, sharing from my experiences, and offering advice when needed.

And I hope that I’m a good example to them on dealing with and not fearing failure.

So…..

Be on the lookout for those defining moments!

&

Fail forward. Learn from it. Without failures, we cannot have the hero moment! No one wants to read a book or watch a movie when someone just fails or when someone just wins all the time. People love the hero moment; the moment when we overcome and emerge victorious!

God bless our children!

Love, Natasha

 

 


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How to Mother from YOUR Strengths

How to Mother from your TalentsMy favorite cookie cutter shape is the circle with the smaller circle in the middle. It looks like a little donut and you can pop out the middle circle to create another tiny circle cookie. Two sugar cookies are better than one right!? I have fond memories of duking it out with my sister for Grandma’s few precious tiny circle Christmas cookies. The silly adults were fighting over the peanut squares, but the tiny circles were the true gold. Okay, the peanut squares are ridiculously good too.

Santa blogWhat’s your favorite cookie cutter shape? Come on, this is a very serious and important question! Don’t even tell me your fave is the weird Santa Claus one that when frosted looks like a strange little blob. (But if you did pick the Santa Claus one that is totally cool, be you….but really, the blob? That’s what you picked? No really, it’s cool.)

Anywho….

Just like the many shapes of cookie cutters, so are each of us unique as moms. Did you like that segue (I know, I had to look up how to spell segway correctly too, don’t worry). We have all been blessed with a unique combination of strengths and experiences that allow us to mother just as we were meant to.

“God’s design is perfect. He created us. Does it make us perfect? In a sense, yes. We’re who He uniquely chose to mother our children. We can’t improve on God’s design. Yet often we try to squeeze ourselves into molds of motherhood that don’t fit.”    -From Mothering from Scratch by Melinda Means & Kathy Helgemo

Imagine how much less stressed we’d be if instead of trying to become the kind of mother that we clearly are not, we would just mother from our strengths.

What does it mean to mother from our strengths?

It means embracing our strengths and using them as a mom. I’d say one of my strengths is creativity and when I’ve mothered from my creativity the boys and I have had days that have shined! One of my favorite memories is taking my boys around our yard and finding different things in nature to make “Jesus crosses” with. We had so much fun exploring that day and they learned how to create, about Jesus, and had fun outdoors. Those kinds of activities are in my wheelhouse!

One of my weaknesses is probably interior decorating. I’d say I have a unique sense of style, I know what I like and I can pin for hours exactly what I’d like my house to look like, but I just can’t seem to translate it onto our walls! The boys are three and still the walls of their “nursery” are bare except for a small cross and their little footprints, which we made at the local clay art store. Previously, I’d see how beautiful some of my friend’s nurseries and kids’ rooms were and I’d get a little down and stressed comparing. I felt like I was lacking as a mom, because my children didn’t have rooms as pretty and well put together.

This is one of those weaknesses that to me isn’t worth stressing over. Instead of comparing, I’ve grown able to admire my friends’ talents in this area, compliment them, and be content that my kids’ rooms probably won’t look as perfect. And that’s okay, because they don’t seem to miss it. Some weaknesses are not worth your stress!

Cookie cuttersThere are some weaknesses that are worth working on! I hate yelling at my kids. I noticed when they became toddlers, I become a yeller. That is not a behavior that I wanted them to see from their mother and certainly not one that I wanted them to pick up. I remember my boys fighting and screaming at each other and I’d eventually get upset and scream back at them, “STOP SCREAMING NOW!” Hmmmm, now in a child’s brain, I’m sure that really made a lot of sense to them. Mommy is screaming at us and telling us not to scream. This is a behavior that I’ve prayed out of me and worked really hard to change. I hid a lot in the laundry room or in my closet to cool down (eat chocolate) and then emerged again with my super mom cape. Some weaknesses are worth working on!

Here are some ideas to mother from your strengths:

1.) Identify your super powers: Do you know what your strengths are? Where are you thriving in your life? Where you are thriving is probably where you are strong. Share your strengths with your kids! If you don’t know your strengths, ask a friend who you trust or take a personality inventory. Where are my fellow ENFJ’s at (Myers Briggs)?

2.) Choose the right crew: If you have good momma friends, you know how blessed you are! Schedule regular time with them. Good momma friends are the ones you can be yourself with. Always be on the lookout to build your crew! You can never have enough awesome momma friends; you learn something from all of them. Also, recognize if a friend is causing you consistent stress or drama and be content that it may be time to let them go.

3.) Banish comparing: Comparing yourself to other moms causes unnecessary anxiety, stress and increases your insecurities. If you are confident in your strengths and content with your weaknesses, you’ll be better able to compliment and build your friends up for their strengths rather than tear yourself down because of comparing.

4.) Increase your box: Like I mentioned earlier, some weaknesses are just not worth worrying about. Figure out which weaknesses you are just going to be content with, because they really don’t impact your family in important ways. Then figure out which weaknesses might just be underdeveloped strengths. Those are the ones worth working on. We are always told to think outside of the box. Well, I think it’s okay to think inside the box as long as you’re always expanding your box. As moms and in life in general, constant learning keeps our minds young and helps us be our best self.

“Instead of fighting God’s design, let’s start recognizing and honoring our unique, God-given personalities! After all, it’s the message we’ve given to our children their entire lives: You’re special. God made you like no one else in the world. However, many moms believe the complete opposite about themselves. We create in our minds an image of a “good mother” and judge ourselves on whether we live up to it.” -From Mothering from Scratch by Melinda Means & Kathy Helgemo

Enough!

Love,

Natasha

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Same Playground, Such Different Lives

We’ve probably all experienced similar “fun” on the playground. Rowdy big kids plowing over smaller kids. Kids fighting over swings or their turn down the slide. Kids throwing rocks. Maybe it’s your kids that day clogging up the slide by running up instead of sliding down or jumping on the wobbly bridge to nearly knock little ones off just for kicks.

We have grown to just expect this stuff at the playground. Generally, there is a parent or guardian nearby eventually encouraging their little people to “take turns,” “let that little boy go next,” “stop eating sand,” “not walk in front of the swings,” or whatever it may be.

Same Playground, Such Different LivesI keep a pretty close watch on my little guys when we venture to the playground, but as they get older, I try not to hover! Playground play is a great way for them to learn how to interact with other children. I want them to be able to use the “taking turns” skills I’ve taught them. I want them to try to work out their playground problems by themselves. I want them to see and play with children of different ages, races, and sizes. I want them to explore and discover new secret spots beneath the bridges and slides. I want them to find bugs and pretend rocks are cupcakes and chicken nuggets!

Every once in a while however, you’ll have that playground experience that makes your blood boil! I had one last night.

The boys and I were enjoying the beautiful weather at a local park with several play areas. At the first playground we played for a few minutes in glorious solitude and then almost like they were craving other children to play with, they demanded we move on to the next playground that had three older kids using it. They were rowdy and throwing around a plastic bubble gum container that nearly hit us several times, but we were all unphased. The parents called out the occasional, “settle down” or “don’t hog the slide.” Nothing out of the ordinary here!

Our last stop was to the toddler playground. When we arrived, there were four little boys (ages 5 and younger) already there playing; their parents were nearby. I watched in awe as they flying squirrel-spider monkeyed it all around the playset. They were standing up on the steering wheels, climbing on top of the tunnel slides, walking across the top braces of the bridges, back and forth, climbing higher and higher and then back down again. Geesh, I’m exhausted just remembering it.

It became clear to me the moment we arrived, we were fresh bait and two of the kids came circling around us immediately. Picture me, a crazy Pac-man momma going from slide to slide to the stairs and back to the slides, everything we decided to do, the little spider monkey boy purposely raced in front of us to get there first and then wouldn’t move out of the way to give the boys a turn. He didn’t have shoes on, so he had really good grip and could really climb and move fast!

We gave up on the slides and they went up on the bridge instead. That’s when I met the five year old. I know he was five, because he told me. His exact words were, “I’m five, but my grandpa says when I’m 18 I can go in the alcohol and cigarette stores.”

Then he got really frustrated that his blue slushy drink was out of liquid and wanted me to take the cup and fix it for him. Again, I sent a stare to the parents; seriously, help your kid! He threw a tantrum that I wouldn’t take his cup and mustering up all the helpfulness I could, I told him, “Honey, you just have to shake it up or you might have to let it melt a little.”

Meanwhile, 3 year old ninja continued to nearly knock my kids off the bridge and block them from using anything on the playground. I could tell my boys were getting frustrated, but they were still playing it cool.

We went over to a smaller tunnel slide and my son got half way down when the little ninja climbed up the slide and tried to climb over my son to the top. My little guy was stuck in the middle with his leg bent back and I couldn’t get to him, he was screaming. I didn’t want to touch spider monkey, because let’s face it, you just don’t do that today and because his parents were right there… still doing nothing. I eventually got my little guy out and with authority, he and his brother raced to the other slide to try to get a turn. Nope. This time the little ninja actually just crawled over their bodies.

That was it. I calmly grabbed him under the arms and gently took him off my kids. Then, less calmly I said to the parents, “I’m sorry, but is this your kid?!”

They said no.

Me: “You’re kidding right?”

Them as they are leaving: “No, they aren’t our kids.”

Me a little worried that these young kids are unattended: “Well, where are their parents?”

Them pointing to an old man sitting what felt like a mile away, “Maybe him.”

Me: “No?”

Then I asked the 5 year old, “Where is your dad?”

He said, “I don’t have a dad.”

Me: “Where is your mom?”

Him: “She’s working. I might get a stepdad though if my mom gets married to Todd.”

Me pointing to the man sitting with his back to the playground a mile away: “Is that your grandpa?”

Him: “Yes.”

While we had this conversation, little ninja continued to harass my boys, so I finally just scooped them up and started walking to the car. The entire walk my boys were chanting, “Mommy, naughty boys don’t get ice cream.” I thanked them for being so patient and reminded them how it’s nice to share and take turns when we’re at the playground. When we got home and they got ice cream.

The experience was actually pretty blood boiling intense as you’d expect when strangers get aggressive with your kids!

I broke into tears though that night as I retold the story to my husband. The kids were nearly the same ages as our children. They were basically alone, unwatched, and uncared for at the playground. I don’t know the details of their lives, but I suspect they aren’t really “naughty boys,” they are just little boys that need more attention, affection, and direction.

The five year old’s words replayed in my head, “I don’t have a dad.” I cried again, why do some little boys grow up with the most amazing dad ever and other little boys don’t get one?

I remembered that little boy desperately begging for my help with his blue slushy; it felt like a desperate plea for attention or a kind, motherly moment.

Three and five year olds shouldn’t be worrying about cigarettes and alcohol; they shouldn’t be figuring out how to terrorize the next kids that show up on “their” playground.

We play on the same playground, but we live such different lives.

Please send up a prayer with me for our children; for the world’s children. Keep them safe Lord. Help them know you and guide their sweet little feet.

Love,

Natasha

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5 Ways for a Control Freak to Survive the Adoption Process

Adoption has been an amazing gift in our lives. If you or someone you know has gone through the adoption process or if you are in the midst of it, you know that it isn’t always easy. There are many moving parts, almost all of which you have absolutely NO CONTROL over. If you are someone (like me) who likes to control and organize every aspect of your life, the adoption process could potentially leave you gray or without any hair at all!

The adoption process will be less stressful for you, fellow control freak, if you enter into it knowing you’ll have to relinquish the reins during much of the crazy ride and instead embrace the few small pieces you can control.

Control Freak adoptingHere are 5 tips that helped this control freak be at peace with the adoption process:

1.) Understand that you cannot control birthparents or their decisions.

You cannot control who picks you to be the forever family for their baby. You cannot control when you get matched. You have no control over a birthmother who changes her mind and decides to parent and you have no control over birthfather situations. When you are matched, you have no control over a birthmother’s hospital plan or any last minute changes she makes to it!
If you go into the adoption process thinking you are going to control birthparents, you will come off pushy and demanding and that will not make a good first impression. It’s better to take a deep breath, be yourself, and lean on your agency for guidance and communication with birthparents. After that all you can do is pray for your future baby and his or her birthparents. You can pray for their safety and that birthmom makes wise decisions during her pregnancy. You can pray for the baby’s protection and that you are united soon!

2.) When first embarking on your adoption journey, relish the parts of the adoption process that you CAN CONTROL.

The good news is that there are pieces of the process that you CAN CONTROL! You get to select the adoption agency you want to work with. You determine how quickly you complete your paperwork and home study materials. You define what types of birthparents and/or children you open to. You get to customize your birthparent letter and portfolio. If being in control brings you peace and comfort, I suggest you rock out these pieces and control the heck out of them!

3.) Talk to your agency about what to expect during the wait!

As a control freak, excellent communication and updates from my agencies on progress is huge. The reality is that you are probably not going to get weekly or even monthly updates from your agency (there may be exceptions). Adoption agencies are busy, out there working with potential birthmoms and that’s exactly where we want them putting their time and effort! They do not have staffing or time to keep everyone on their wait list updated on their every move. Frankly, we probably wouldn’t want to know their every move, because they are likely graciously sparing us from the emotional rollercoaster they deal with on a daily basis. You can however set communication expectations with your agency. You can select an agency that welcomes you calling in occasionally to talk with them, get updates, and express your antsy-ness during the wait. Both of our agencies send monthly emails to everyone on their waitlist. The emails honestly never say much, except that they are working hard for us, but just getting those emails makes me feel connected and like things are moving.

4.) Get prepared for when you do receive “the call!”

While you have no control over when you receive “the call,” you can have control over how prepared you’ll be when you receive it. While you are waiting, you can get the nursery and baby supplies ready. While we were waiting for our first child, I felt like there was a fine line between being prepared for baby and driving myself nuts. I wasn’t sure I wanted to walk by a fully stocked, empty nursery every day, but I knew I wanted something ready! We decided to paint the room, set-up a crib, and get a changing table. We also stocked a “GO” diaper bag with some basic supplies. We kept it in the closet, but knew we could grab it when we got “the call.” You might feel secure having even more done in the nursery; it is really personal preference.

You can also control your travel plans if you have to travel to pick-up baby. Start discussing now if you will drive or fly. Look up flight costs and what airport you will fly into. Get your packing list ready!

5.) You Can Control Your Attitude!

You can either wait around doing nothing and drive yourself crazy or you can keep busy and enjoy the life you’ve been blessed with now. Get yourself together if you aren’t! This baby will not finally make you whole; you need to already be whole before baby arrives, so you can be the parent he or she deserves.

You have no control over when you will be matched, but rather than waiting with anxiety, you can begin to pray for your child and your child’s birthparents.

Life will change dramatically when baby comes. I strongly suggest planning a getaway or trip with your spouse; when your miracle arrives, it might be quite awhile before your next vacation. Also, you might want to consider getting trip insurance (“cancel for any reason” insurance) if it’s a major trip, because planning a trip pretty much ensures you’ll get “the call!” Heehee.

—  —  —

Control freak friends, I suggest rocking out the parts of the adoption journey that you can and just letting go of the rest! Most of it isn’t in your hands and trying to hang on to it will make you very unhappy…and you want to be happy and at peace when your little one finally arrives. Give it to God; he won’t make a mistake; he already knows exactly which little one is yours!

God bless your journey.

Love,

Natasha

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Mini Van Got Keyed; How Shall I Survive?!

Does anyone ever feel like they are called to something greater?

First, I am in no way saying that being a mother isn’t the greatest. It is a wonderful gift and perhaps the most important job in the world.

But sometimes, as a mom, you get bogged down in all of the poo and boogers and start to fixate and worry about really silly stuff and miss the “something greater.”

VanAs we left church recently and began to load up the van, my husband mentioned that it looked like someone had keyed the side of our van. I ran over to his side and sure enough, there was a long line across the side. I was fuming! In the church parking lot, really!? As I investigated further, I nearly broke out into hives as I noticed not only one long line, but an almost artful crazy keying of the entire side and front of our van. Circles, squiggles, lines….on the door, by the handles, on the hood…it was all over! I was so angry at the thought that someone would ruin someone else’s property so deliberately, but I also felt kind of creeped out, because I felt like we were targeted. Was this vandalism personal? Was someone watching and laughing from the bushes at my obvious anger?

When we got home, I jumped out to evaluate the destruction further, spouting things like, “You just can’t keep anything nice these days!” and “What is wrong with people; who would do this?!” Then using my best detective skills, I suddenly noticed that all of the lines were mysteriously only at a height where my toddlers could reach. The memory of the little airplanes with wheels I bought them last week slammed into my head with mocking laughter. “Mahahaha, silly woman, it was your own kids that art-worked your van when they used it as a landing strip for their airplanes, not some scary stranger.”

Well, I was still really ticked off, but much less so when I had identified the alleged little vandals. I thought, “Ugh, now I not only have to drive a minivan, but I have to drive a keyed-up ghetto cruiser!” I was brought up to respect your property, keep it up and in good shape, so this was hard for me to swallow. I know dad, you are probably sweating just thinking about this, but maybe you can help me buff out the scratches!

Scratches in a van, annoying for sure, but still so very arbitrary.

My brother-in-law has been in the hospital for weeks; my super star mother-in-law and her team of helpers have been with him every second. I’m sure she is just beat. I just learned that a dear friend has been suffering from major depression for months. How did we not know? A friend from my mom’s group just asked for prayers for a mother of four who was diagnosed with a stage four rare skin cancer. She has four children!

I’m sure you could come up with your own list similar to the above.

In the midst of all that dark, heavy, sadness, here we are, spending precious time being annoyed at something someone posted on Facebook, stressed about the toddler meltdown that happened at the grocery store, anxious about the future or finances, tired because the kids aren’t sleeping well, crabby because we don’t get enough date nights, and just complaining and worried all the time about silly things. Silly, joy draining things.

If Facebook annoys you, take a break and be thankful you even have a computer and fingers to type with.

If your toddler has a crazy meltdown, take a deep breath, feel solitude in the fact that thousands of moms around the world experienced a similar tantrum today and send up a prayer of thanks that you have been blessed with children.

If you are anxious about the future or finances, do whatever you can to set yourself up for success and spend the rest of your time on your knees asking for guidance and strength. Thank God you are healthy and even have a future to care about.

If you are tired because the kids aren’t sleeping well, again, know you aren’t alone and remember those little ones won’t fit in your cuddle spot for long. Hold them tighter, even if it’s 3am and the third time that night you’ve come to their rescue.

If you are crabby because you haven’t had a date night, schedule one, even if it is cuddling on the coach when the kids go to bed. Be thankful you have a significant other to miss and to love.

If you are a worrier or complainer (aren’t we all sometimes), let it go. Quit allowing anxiety to steal your joy, your life, your something greater.

Life is hard. Being a parent is hard. The little snags and stresses we experience are real. But there are things that are harder and more stressful than the little stuff we blow up into fake big stuff.

Maybe the feeling we feel sometimes – the feeling that we are called to do something greater – will push us to change the world in significant ways! Or maybe this call to something greater is really just a call to be a “greater” mom, wife, sister, daughter, friend (dad, hubby, brother, son, grandparent, etc.) wherever life finds us right now.

We can be greater if we stop focusing on our arbitrary problems, live lives full of gratitude and instead reach out to the people in our lives that are suffering from the real stuff.

If we all did this, it would change the world in significant ways too.

This is not a 30 day challenge; it is an every second of our lives challenge!

Fight first world problems with gratitude!

Love,

Natasha

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Adopting? 10 Tips To Help You Get Started

Adoption Journey AwaitsI’ve had so many people shared with me lately their decision to adopt. It is such an exciting time, but is often quickly overshadowed by the feeling of being completely overwhelmed.

I remember that feeling so well; the first time I did an internet search for “adoption agencies,” I almost started crying when the results returned thousands of agencies.

And choosing an agency is just one of the many things on your “to do” list once you decide to adopt. Where do I start?!

Here are my TOP TEN TIPS to help you get started with your adoption journey.  This list is specific to my domestic infant adoption experience and assumes that you’ve already done some general homework about adoption.

1.) Start an adoption notebook and folder: You are about to get hit with a ton of paperwork and to do tasks!  You can use your notebook as a journal to keep notes on each agency you research, to track your to do list, and to keep record of adoption finances.  You can use your folder or binder to organize brochures from different agencies and to keep receipts and copies of the home study paperwork that you have submitted.

2.) Find a home study agency: The agency that helps you complete your home study may also be the agency that you adopt through. However, since we live in a smaller city, we chose to complete our home study through a local agency (check with agencies like Lutheran Social Services or Catholic Charities) and then we selected a different out of state agency that we actually adopted from.  We also sat on the local agency’s wait-list just in case!

3.) Decide what kind of child you are open to: That might sound a bit gruff, but the reality is the agency will ask you very specific questions about what type of baby and birthparents you are open to. This part is tough! I felt like I was saying no to little baby Jesuses as we said no to certain things we weren’t open to. Are you open to a child of any race? What if baby has a clef palate, birthmark, heart defect, is potentially blind, or was born severely prematurely, etc.?  What if the birthmom used drugs or alcohol a little?  A lot?  Start thinking about these questions now, so you aren’t blindsided by them later.  The reality is that the more selective you are, the longer you will wait for your child.  Pray on it and remember the end goal is a precious little one to love.

4.) Organize your questions for potential agencies: Gather a list of 5-10 questions that you intend to ask each agency.  The answers to these questions and the conversations you have with agency workers are crucial to helping you select the agency that is right for you.

5.) Call and question domestic adoption agencies: Gather a list of agencies that you want to call.  Then call them all and track the answers to your questions in your notebook.  Keep track of who doesn’t call you back after two tries and cross them off your list! Write down specific notes to remind you about your conversations.  I remember writing things like, “I really clicked with this woman, very positive attitude, she spoke about placing “God’s children.”

6.) Ask for references: Don’t be afraid to ask your top agencies for references.  It is valuable to talk to people that have had successful matches through that specific agency.  This is also a way to make some great adoption connections and friends that understand what you are going through!

Adopting7.) Call your top three agencies back. Go with your gut. Eventually, I ended up with 3 agencies that were more or less the same in fees and wait time and I just picked the one I had the best connection with over the phone. Pray on it! Remember the longer you wait to select your agency, the longer you are taking to get on that wait-list!

8.) Choose an agency: Select your agency. Confirm with them next steps. You’ll fill out an application and send in your application fees and other potential fees. Confirm what number you are on their wait-list! Celebrate! You now adoption pregnant. It might be longer or shorter than 9 months, but allow yourself to be excited!

9.) Learn what it will take to complete your home study: There will be tons of fun next: paperwork, home visits, fingerprinting, blood tests, sharing of your detailed finances and even what medications you are on! Keep copies of everything you send to your agency in case something gets misplaced.

10.) Take it easy on yourself! There will be times you are likely annoyed at the invasive questions you are asked and you’ll probably say to yourself or your spouse, “If everyone had to go through this “rig-a-mo-roll” to be a parent, we’d have fewer sad parenting stories.”  Keep your focus on the end gift, the precious child you have been waiting for.  It is all worth it in the end. It will all finally make sense when you hold your little one for the first time.

I hope you’ve found these suggestions based on our adoption experience helpful. God bless you on your adoption journey!

Sincerely,

Natasha

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10 Ways to Share Holy Week & Easter with Toddlers

It’s never too early to start teaching our children that Easter is about more than candy, eggs, baskets, and bunnies. Holy Week carries with it heavy themes enough to make us as adults cry, so I obviously don’t want to scare my two and half year olds by sharing the week with them. However, kids always amaze me with what they understand and soak in, so I knew my boys would benefit from hearing about the events of Holy Week and Easter at least in a little lighter, kid friendly way. Below are some great activities we tried together and a few more favorites from the web.

I hope you enjoy and I’d love to hear how you share the real meaning of Holy Week and Easter with your family!

Here are 10 ways to share Holy Week and Easter with your Toddlers:rainbow feet 2

1.) Rainbow Feet: This activity helps you talk with your children about how Jesus washed His disciples’ feet. For set-up, I taped a large sheet of white paper to the floor and poured out onto the paper a bunch of finger paint. I asked the boys to sit down, take off their socks, and roll up their pants. Then I did my best to describe how Jesus washed His disciples’ feet in toddler terms of course:

  • Did you know that Jesus washed His disciples’ feet?
  • Where are your feet? How many feet do you have?
  • Jesus got down on His hands and knees and washed His disciples’ feet. Why do you think He did that?
  • He washed their feet, because he loved His friends so much and He was setting an example for them. If Jesus can wash His friends’ feet that means that we can wash each other’s feet too.
  • Now, let’s get our feet dirty in the paint, so we can wash them like Jesus did.

Rainbow feet 1Then they proceeded to have so much fun running and jumping on the sheet of paper making little footprints all over. Be careful, it can get a tad slippery. You will be left with a beautiful piece of foot painting art! I couldn’t help but be reminded too of the Footprints prayer.

2.) Check out this classic Jelly Bean prayer from Catholicmom.com.

3.) Foot Washing Sink Style: This activity is to demonstrate how Jesus washed His disciples’ feet. After the foot painting, I filled up our bathroom sink with warm soapy water and got a towel ready. Then, with the help of my hubby, we carried the kiddos into the bathroom and let them put their feet in the sink. They of course got a kick out of this. Again, I tried to talk with them about what we were doing:

washing feet

  • Remember how we talked about Jesus washing His disciples’ feet? Well, Mommy and Daddy are going to wash your feet now.
  • As we scrubbed the paint off of those sweet little toes, we sang a verse of The Servant Song.

“Will you let me be your servant, let me be as Christ to you. Pray that I may have the grace to, let you be my servant too.”

4.) Check out these Resurrection Sets from Catholic Icing using toilet paper rolls and printable characters.

Bread5.) Baking Bread Together: This is a great family activity to do while discussing The Last Supper. Find your favorite bread recipe or try a new one. I picked one with simple, straight-forward ingredients and one where we didn’t have to wait for the dough to rise, because let’s face it, the boys’ attention span wouldn’t last that long (I used Deborah Madison’s, Irish Soda Bread with Bran and Oats). Have the kids help you get all of the ingredients together and measure everything out per the recipe. While you are making or kneading the bread, take the opportunity to talk about The Last Supper.

  • Who do you think was at The Last Supper? Jesus and His friends, we call some of His friends disciples.
  • What do you think they ate at The Last Supper? Good guess, but not chicken nuggets, they ate bread at The Last Supper. That is why we are making bread together.
  • What do you think they drank at The Last Supper? They might have had milk, but they for sure drank wine at The Last Supper.
  • What do you think Jesus said in His prayer before they ate? He told the disciples the bread and wine were His body and blood and He was sharing Himself with all of them. He blessed the bread and wine and gave it to His disciples to eat.
  • When Mommy and Daddy go up to get communion at church, we are receiving Jesus just like the disciples did. Some day you will get to receive Jesus this way too.

Then we marked a cross on the bread and I let them touch the loaf before I put it in the oven. They got a kick out of playing with the leftover flour on the counter. Once the bread was done, I fully expected to break the bread and share it with the boys in “a moment,” but by that time of the night, I was so exhausted I stood in the kitchen by myself slathering slices with butter and honey. Yum. They eventually saw me and helped themselves to several bites too.

6.) Check out this paper plate Cross Craft from Glitter Magic.

praying hands7.) Praying hands: For this activity, I traced the boys’ hands on paper and then cut the outline out and folded it in half. We marked, “My Praying Hands” on them and now keep them at the kitchen table as a reminder to pray extra hard this week.

  • We talked about how Holy Week is a special week for us to remember and pray about Jesus. The praying hands help us remember to pray, just like Jesus prayed in the garden before His death.
  • I reminded the boys that they can always pray to Jesus when they need help, if they are scared, or if they just want to say thank you.
  • Then we folded our hands and said a little prayer together.

8.) Stay Awake Flowers: This activity recalls when Jesus was praying in the garden and His disciples could not stay awake to pray with Him. To make the flowers, we used clothes pins that we colored with markers, paper to make the flower’s face and stem, and a plastic cover recycled from one of those little margarine containers, to give more support to the clothes pins. As the boys colored the clothes pins and pinned the clothes pin petals onto the flower, we talked about:

  • stay awake flowersJesus was praying in the garden and He asked His disciples to stay awake and pray with Him, but His disciples kept falling asleep.
  • This is going to be our “stay awake” flower. Our flower helps remind us to pray and to stay awake for Jesus.
  • We do not know when Jesus will come back to earth, but we need to make sure we are ready for Him. That’s why we need to try to be really good boys every day.

9.) This one is a classic. Check out these Empty Tomb Rolls from The Girl Who Ate Everything.

Res Reminders10.) Resurrection Reminders: This activity is a chance to talk with your kids about Jesus’ resurrection. Supplies include colored popsicle sticks and pipe cleaners. Twist the pipe cleaners around the popsicle sticks until the crosses are secure. Super easy! Make several and have your little ones hand them out during your family Easter celebration to remind people of the real meaning of the day. While making the crosses I told the boys: Jesus died for us on the cross, but He is risen, Alleluia!

What is your favorite Easter tradition?

How do share Holy Week and Easter to your children?

Have a blessed Holy Week and Easter!

Natasha

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