Giggle Giggle Toot Roar

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


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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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10 Things To Expect from ZUMBA® Instructor Training

Last weekend was a whirlwind of fun packed with a bachelorette party and wedding shower for a friend, my nephews’ 3rd birthday party (twinsies), and a full day of training to become a ZUMBA® instructor!

I’ve been working out ZUMBA® style for about eight years and I’ve had becoming a ZUMBA® instructor on my bucket list for almost as long. It is such an amazing workout and it makes me happy (and laugh at myself).

When you do something you absolutely love for eight straight hours in one day AND check a major thing off of your bucket list, it is just so uplifting; you almost want to cry! Seriously, I was filled with joyful tears while dancing last Saturday many times and had to bite them back, so people didn’t think I was a weirdo!

If you haven’t tried ZUMBA® or you haven’t heard of it, it a “Latin-inspired, dance-fitness class that incorporates Latin and international music and dance movements, creating a dynamic, exciting, exhilarating, and effective fitness program.” (From ZUMBA® instructor’s manual.)

Put simply, it is an amazing dance-exercise party guaranteed to make you smile and sweat!

ZUMBA Training

If you’ve been considering becoming a ZUMBA® instructor and you’re apprehensive, because you aren’t sure what to expect, allow me to share some highlights from my training. Do it! Check it off your bucket list!

10 Things to Expect from ZUMBA® Training (Basic 1):

1.) You will meet other people that love ZUMBA® as much as you do! One of the things I love about ZUMBA® is that anyone can do it, regardless of your fitness level or dance experience. I was nervous for the training, because I thought I might be the sole dance-duckling in a sea of beautiful Latin ballerina-swans. Even in a small class, there was an eclectic group of ZUMBA® enthusiasts with a wide range of ages, dance experience, personality types, fitness levels, and plans of what to do after the training. It was great to meet and network with other future instructors and make new friends. Make sure to exchange emails and phone numbers, so you can keep in touch after the training.

2.) You will get inspired and crush your fears! One of my favorite parts of the entire training was the hour master ZUMBA® session we started the day with. What better way to start a ZUMBA® training than with an AMAZING ZUMBA® class taught by an amazing trainer! We worked up quite the sweat! About four songs in, our instructor motioned to another gal and me to join her up in the front. I almost peed my pants and shook my head no; I was not ready for that, I didn’t even know the song! BUT we got up there and for the first time, ZUMBA®ed a totally different way, as an instructor. It was the most non-threatening way to be eased into this and a moment I’ll never forget. Fear had been crushed!

3.) You will learn the history and “formula” to ZUMBA®. You’ll love ZUMBA® even more once you learn who and how it was birthed and grown into an international sensation. Also, once you learn the basic “formula” of how to place steps and songs, building your own playlists and classes feels less daunting!

4.) You will learn steps and practice them. I’ve been doing ZUMBA® for years, but I feel much more confident having been taught the basic steps and all of the variations. I was doing many of the steps correctly, but I definitely had a few adjustments to make to my moves! We also had fun practicing the steps in small groups and making up our own choreography!

5.) You will learn cueing. This was the toughest part to get used to, because I’m used to being a student and following cues, but I’ve never had to cue myself. ZUMBA® instructors are encouraged not to talk during their classes, so giving non-verbal cues to let the class know what moves are coming, how many repetitions, and in what direction we’re moving next is vital.

6.) You will practice the instructor role. When you are driving and following your GPS, you don’t always pay attention to exactly what roads you are turning on to and how many miles you’ve gone, you just follow whatever Sally the GPS lady tells you (or whatever you’ve named your GPS, you know you have!). That’s how it can be as a ZUMBA® participant. You might think you know every move of a song, but really you might be totally lost if the instructor wasn’t cueing you. Practicing the instructor role versus the participant role was eye-opening and a real confidence builder.

7.) You will learn the benefits of ZIN™. Once you complete the ZUMBA® training, you are considered a ZUMBA® instructor for a year or forever as long as you become an active ZIN™ member (there’s a monthly fee). ZIN™ membership provides you with an online account that gives you access to the latest music, choreography, clothing discounts, a personal website, and so much more. ZUMBA® instructing without ZIN™ would be like a steak dinner without the steak!

8.) You will learn about the different kinds of music used in ZUMBA®. ZUMBA® music is Latin and internationally inspired. You’ll learn how to build your playlist, so it flows well during your class and contains a diverse selection of songs. Salsa has always been my favorite, but an hour of only Salsa music isn’t a ZUMBA® class, it is a Salsa class!

9.) You will learn about logistics. I just want to dance, workout and help others feel the ZUMBA® party! Before this training, I didn’t think much about some of the logistics that are key to ensuring your ZUMBA®party is safe and a success. In training, you will discuss things like participant waivers, insurance, CPR and group exercise certification.

10.) You will come to understand every instructor has a different style. What if people come to my class and leave half way through? What if people with a ton of dance experience come (and are better than me)? I really want to teach like so-and-so. It is so important to BE YOURSELF as a ZUMBA® instructor. One of the many beauties of ZUMBA® is that every instructor has their own style. You will have people love your style and others that don’t. You have to learn to be at peace with that. You can’t please everyone. I know I will build a group of people that love “Natasha’s class” and others won’t and that’s okay! Be confident that “your” people will be there!

If you’ve had it on your mind and heart to become a ZUMBA® instructor, do it! Push your fears aside and dive in, because it really does have the potential to change your life!

Oh, and you might want to bring several changes of clothing with you to the training, just saying!

Good luck! ZUMBA®!!!

Natasha

 

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No, We ARE NOT Chasing Butterflies

It is Farmer’s Market season here again! There is no way I’d rather spend my Saturday morning than waiting in line at our favorite bakery, praying there will be at least one ginormous scone left, grabbing a freshly dripped cup of coffee from a local roaster and then strolling through the booths of fresh spring goodies.

It is also so much fun to see people headed back to their cars with their Farmer’s Market score of the day. Everyone seems so happy already thinking out where they are going to hang those massive flowering baskets, or what on earth they will bake with 5 pounds of fresh rhubarb, or convincing themselves how wise they were to spend $30 on pastries and bread alone.

I find the Farmer’s Market so refreshing! It’s great to get ultra fresh foods, support local families, be outdoors, and spend time with family.

One of my favorite parts of our Farmer’s Market is the bright orange food truck that serves some of the most creative, fresh, and flavorful food in town. Usually, I visit the food truck at the end of our Farmer’s Market visit to put a few more minutes between the breakfast I’ve already eaten at home, the enormous (I’m sure calorie-free) scone I just downed and whatever I’m about to order and pretend is lunch even though it’s only 10:15am.

Recently as the boys and I were waiting for our food truck treasure, I noticed a mom with her three young children sit down at a nearby bench. Mom left the kids and walked just a few feet to order from the food truck. The kids quickly got up off the bench and started being kids. When mom noticed they had left the bench she yelled at them and all I heard was, “NO, WE ARE NOT CHASING BUTTERFLIES!”

Butterfly

Do you ever find yourself in one of those extremely rare “My kids are being perfect angels today! Best day ever!” bubbles? I was in one of those bubbles at that moment. It was a beautiful sunny day, we scored the last two “candy cookies” (M&M cookies) from the bakery, I was about to indulge in an awesome orange food truck sandwich, and the boys were being awesome! Sweet, precious, happy bubble moment!

So, when this mom yelled, “NO, WE ARE NOT CHASING BUTTERFLIES!” to her kids, I’m not going to lie, I road my happy bubble for a few seconds and was thinking, “Whoa, settle down lady, they are just being kids!” And then I laughed, because I remembered how quickly the happy bubble can pop and how the “No Chasing Butterflies” mom could easily be me in the next minute when my toddlers start being, well, toddlers.

Have you had a happy bubble moment?

Have you had a judge-y mom moment?

Anyway, this incident reminded me of how easy it is to say crazy things to our kids in the heat of a moment. In reality, I’m sure that mom absolutely wants her children to chase butterflies! I mean, people have entire Pinterest boards filled with images and quotes about how we should chase butterflies and all that jazz.

What have you said to your children in the heat of the moment that didn’t really make sense?

Have you said something crazy to your kids and then had a good laugh later after thinking about it?

At mass on Sundays the priest uses this big brush-like thing (fancy name: aspergillum*) to sprinkle (MONSOON) us with holy water. My boys have really been into recreating this moment at home. They build holy water sprinklers out of tinker toys and then run around the house flicking them at each other and singing the “Come to the Water” song we sing on Sunday. It really melted my heart the first dozen or so times it happened. One day, during the boys’ at home holy water blessing, I realized that they were actually dipping their holy water sprinklers into their milk glass. I came into the kitchen to find milk splattered over the floors and walls and a full cup of milk tipped all over the floor.

This was a bubble pop moment for me. This was my recent, “quit chasing butterflies” moment! It was just so cute until there was milk everywhere. I started mopping up the milk with towels and yelled, “WE. DO. NOT. DIP. Our Holy Water…Thing-ies…IN. OUR. MILK!” Then I gave them each a towel to help me clean up and quietly laughed at the ridiculousness that just came out of my mouth. And later I made a point to look up what those Holy Water thing-ies were actually called; see above*).

Have you had a bubble pop moment?

Here are the lessons I was reminded of at those times:

  • If we don’t cry over spilled milk, then we don’t yell over spilled milk either, Momma!
  • Words and the tone of our words are so powerful, especially to our children!
  • We need to encourage our children (and ourselves) to chase MORE butterflies.
  • Don’t judge other moms, because it could be you in the next minute (or second)!
  • Enjoy the happy bubble moments and laugh more when they pop.

Love,
Natasha


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Chronicle of a Serial Kisser

Does anyone else have a super affectionate toddler?

One of my little guys asks me about ten times a day for a “bik-ug,” aka big hug. Every single time he asks me, even if I’m wrist deep in raw chicken prep for dinner, I stop what I’m doing, get down to his level and give him his big hug (okay I wash my hands first if I have to). And then he goes off on his merry way until the next time.

I made a promise to myself when the hug phenomenon began several months ago that I would always immediately stop what I was doing and give him a hug when he asked, because let’s face it, he probably won’t be asking me ten times a day for a hug for very long.

I pray for my children that they will be able to show affection and be able to express their feelings, so hopefully he’ll be able to carry at least some of this sweet affection of his into his future.

Chronicle of a Serial Kisser

One day, grandpa took the boys to the park, so I could have a little precious “me time.” Later, he filled me in on the day and said they had a blast together, but mentioned that my little guy had to hug every mom at the park before he left. Yes, little man can be quite the charmer. I can just imagine my dad (grandpa) with shocked and nervous laughter trying to collect the little one and quietly put the hugging to a rest. I had a good laugh at the story and bookmarked in the back of my mind that I need to somehow teach him not to hug strangers.

Well, fast forward to today, we were in a cute local store and I was ogling their tea selection when a little old man that worked there came over and started chatting with the boys.

Well, it didn’t take long for my hugger to run arms opened wide toward the little old man and be swept up into his arms. He proceeded to give the man a huge hug, I’m talking the arms around his neck and head on his shoulder kind of hug.

I’m usually pretty cautious about stranger danger; I especially hate when strangers touch the boys’ hair (they have very cute curly/afro hair). I’m 75% certain that I might pat the head of the next person that pats their heads, just to show them how weird it is to pat a stranger’s head, even a toddler’s.

But, anyway, I digress, the below situation felt “controlled,” so I wasn’t too crazy about it…

I was about to collect my affectionate bear cub when he suddenly tried to give the old man a kiss. Now, the little old man was clearly from a different generation, one where he likely never even kissed his father or son, so imagine his great surprise!

The man finally figured out why the little dude was squirming so much, it was because he was trying to kiss him on the lips, of course the cheek wouldn’t do! AHHHHHH!

I grabbed the bear cub out of the man’s arms, threw the man a smile and said, “Honey, we do not kiss strangers. We only kiss mommy and daddy and brother and Grammie and Grandpa.”

Then I secretly laughed all the way to the cashier.

I know we need to teach our kids about stranger danger and all of that and I certainly don’t want my toddler kissing and hugging strangers….but I wish you could have all been a fly on the wall in that room to see the little comedy show I witnessed today.

Sweet little old man squirms in horror as he realizes overly affectionate toddler boy is attempting to kiss him…on the lips. The serial kisser strikes again.

Let’s maybe not go kissing strangers, but let’s learn to show affection to our loved ones as freely and openly as our kids do.

Does anyone else have an overly affectionate toddler?

How did you teach him who to kiss and who not to kiss!?

Love,

Natasha

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5 Reasons Adults Need to Climb Trees

You have probably heard this story from the Bible found in Luke 19:3-5. Jesus was passing through the city of Jericho and a large crowd had gathered.

Zacchaeus, a tax collector could not see Jesus through the crowd, so he climbed a nearby tree for a better view. Zacchaeus “was seeking to see who Jesus was; but he could not see him because of the crowd, for he was short in stature. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree in order to see Jesus, who was about to pass that way. When he reached the place, Jesus looked up and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, come down quickly, for today I must stay at your house. And he came down quickly and received him with joy.” -Luke 19:3-5

PicsArt_1417215605808When I was a little girl, I used to disappear for hours up in a tree on the side of our house. In retrospect, it probably wasn’t the safest climbing or lounging around tree. It was an old pine tree planted snuggly between two houses with scraggly branches that were of questionable width to hold a child of my size. Most days I’d only climb up a few branches, just high enough to hide from my parents and more importantly my little sister. I guess I needed my alone time even back then!

Some days I’d just sit there and revel in my “me time,” sometimes I’d bring a book, sometimes I’d pray or people watch, and sometimes I’d use my fingernails to carve my initials, a heart and the initials of my latest crush into the tree trunk. Other days I’d climb that tree much higher than I should have (high enough to see into my bedroom windows on our second floor). I’d have a heart attack if I found my kids up in a tree that high (sorry mom and dad)!

While I’m not necessarily recommending everyone runs into their backyard to literally climb your trees, I do believe we can learn something from the story of Zacchaeus and childhood tree climbing.

1.) Climbing trees gives us a better view.
Zacchaeus wanted to see Jesus, so he climbed a tree for a better view! This seems like an obvious solution to the problem, but he was the ONLY one that figured it out. He had a problem: the crowd was thick and he wouldn’t be able to see Jesus when he passed by. He could have just stayed in the crowd contently, but he found a solution!

Do you ever find yourself bogged down in your problems (large or small) and that’s where it ends (you are frustrated and sulky)?

Climb a tree and find a solution to your problem!

Recently one of my little guys had been waking up every morning in a puddle of pee. As I entered his room every morning, I was greeted by “all wet mommy.” This led to me not only washing his bed sheets and mattress protector daily, but also the two blankets and slew of stuffed animal buddies he insists on sleeping with. One day, I was telling a friend about our potty issues and she said, “have you tried those overnight diapers.” I was like, “huh, nope.” Well, we ran out and got those magic overnight diapers and sure enough, no more “all wet” issues.

This is a small example of “stuff” in our lives; I was so bogged down in the problem and what I thought was the solution (loads of laundry) that I never really took time to consider a better solution. I needed to climb a tree on that one!

2.) Climbing trees gives us a fresh perspective.
I was standing in line a few weeks ago waiting for a voting booth to open up. There were dozens of people in front of me in line patiently waiting and from my angle I could clearly see there were at least five voting booths open at the very end. Everyone was just standing there, waiting for a safe booth to open up near them. I ended up motioning to people the entire time I was standing in line, letting them know when the booths at the end opened up.

How many times do we unintentionally and blindly follow the crowd?

You always hear that “when God closes a door, He opens a window.” Well, I’ll add that sometimes you might need to climb a tree to be able to see that open window.

Climb a Tree

3.) Climbing trees gives us time to reflect.
A few nights ago, I was sitting at our table eating dinner with my lovely little family. The radio was on in the background, the boys were jabbering (probably whining) and my husband was talking with me about our days. I had a moment of sensory overload! Suddenly everything just seems so loud, even the lights seemed to be yelling at me. Does that ever happen to you? Let’s just say I had to excuse myself and regroup in my tree (dark bedroom) for a few minutes.

We live fast-paced, loud, constant ON, ON, ON lives!

Sometimes we need to climb our tree for a little regroup, alone time.

It helps to get some quiet (even if it is a few seconds). Sometimes I’ll sneak sock-footed into our freezing cold garage just for 10 seconds of quiet. I can still hear the boys screaming behind the door, but it does seem like quiet comparatively. I’ll send up a quick prayer, eat a piece of chocolate and re-enter the house as super mom.

4.) Climbing trees allows you to be uniquely you!
We wait in an agonizingly long bathroom line at a sporting event or theater show only to find out there have been 5 stalls open the entire time. Look for feet people! Or everyone snails through one open door in a long line instead of opening a few more doors and starting new paths into the building. All of the doors work people!

It isn’t always that we want to blend in (although sometimes we do); we are just going about our lives doing what people do. It’s easy to slip into the habit of thinking the right thing to do is the thing that everyone else is doing.

Can we really be the best versions of ourselves if we ALWAYS play it safe by keeping our feet firmly on the ground and by neatly following the person ahead of us in line?

I don’t think so. I think we are being called to do more. Zacchaeus wasn’t afraid of what other people were going to say or think about him when he climbed that tree, he just did it.

What is holding you back in life from being YOU?!

I had a pedicure recently with a dear friend. She had a wedding to go to and she was agonizing over what shade of nail polish to pick. She didn’t want people to judge her or comment on her toe nails if the shade of pink didn’t perfectly match her dress. I didn’t know what to say, because I’m pretty sure I was getting mine painted dark blue or purple! Anyway, this is just a small example of how much power we let other people have over our decisions and lives.

Back on toes, if you love the color mauve on your toes (Mom), then rock out mauve every time. BUT don’t choose the safe choice because of fear. Don’t let others keep you from being uniquely you. Climb that tree and paint your nails up there!

5.) Climbing trees helps us be goofy.
We are way too serious! I heard recently that adults laugh fewer than 15-20 times a day (compared to a child who laughs about 400 times a day). How sad is that! I’ve been talking about climbing figurative trees in our lives, well, if you have a good climbing tree…climb it literally too. Or do something else child-like and do it until you…giggle, giggle, toot.

Side Note: I feel like I should put something lawyer-y in here about tree climbing. So, if you climb a tree and hurt yourself, Natasha and Giggle Giggle Toot Roar will not be held responsible for any injury or consequences resulting in your tree climbing/falling.

Love,

Natasha        


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50 Things I Never Want to Forget About My TWO Year Olds

People are always sharing this quote, especially when they find out you have young children: “The days move slowly, but the years fly by.” I couldn’t agree more. There are so many days that I look at the clock in shock that it is only 10am. How is that possible? We’ve eaten breakfast, read books, played outside, had a snack, watched Veggie Tales, had a bath…how is it only 10am! And how am I going to make it 3 more hours until naptime?

The “years fly by” part has never been more real to me than now as my boys are nearing the two and a half years mark. There are just so many signs now that they are growing up. Communication and language are huge parts of this as they say new words and longer sentences every day. It seems like yesterday they were pointing at their dresser drawer and today they are picking out a shirt saying, “Yellow shirt on Mommy.” It seems like yesterday they were dancing as I sang the ABC song and now they try to sing along and can identify A, B, C, G, O, and S. Wasn’t it just yesterday that I was reading them books and now today they can identify every kind of truck in their truck book (I’m talking complicated trucks like big rig, airport fire truck, giant excavator, combine harvester, concrete mixer!)?

Of course we are so proud of our kids as they learn and grow and we know it is necessary, but there is a teensy bitter sweetness that leaves us grasping for their childhood like sand through our fingertips. These days I find myself stealing as many hugs and full on (usually snotty) mouth kisses as I can. I let my lips linger a few extra seconds on their delicate foreheads as I say a quick prayer for their protection. I force myself to slow down and enjoy the gentle grasp of their tiny hands as I help them down the stairs. I know these tender moments won’t last forever, but I just don’t want to forget them!

So, I decided to write down a few things that I never want to forget about my sweet two year olds. You don’t have to read them all, but I thought it might be a nice reminder for you to write down some of your favorites!

What do you absolutely not want to forget about whatever stage your little ones are at currently?

PicsArt_141574237063950 Things I Never Want to Forget About My TWO Year Olds

1.) Riding your bikes around the driveway, your little legs pumping so fast.

2.) Roo asking mommy for help, “A-Bu-Gee Mommy” (Help me please mommy).

3.) Tigger climbing into my chair when I’m not looking and then smiling that sneaky smile when I come back to sit down.

4.) Reading books together, both of you in my lap.

5.) When you put your arms around my neck for a “hard hug” .

6.) Kisses on the mouth.

7.) Tigger’s love of all things blue, Blue Thing (stuffed animal), blue socks, blue hat, etc.

8.) Your Shrek and Frozen movie obsessions.

9.) Roo’s fixation with Legos, a green block you call your phone, and a certain pink piece of plastic.

10.) Driving tractors with trailers up and down the hallway and all around the house with Daddy.

11.) You shoving your faces into deep into the corner during timeouts.

12.) The first time you said each other’s names.

13.) Tigger’s love of all things fire truck/fire fighter related.

14.) Roo and Baxter our dog = best bugs, Roo giving Baxter hugs.

15.) Feeding Baxter, one scoop each. And the time you nearly decapitated the dog by shutting the sliding door on him prematurely.

16.) You “helping” Daddy do dishes.

17.) You “helping” Daddy stir the pancake batter every Saturday.

18.) You both finding “Jesus crosses” everywhere.

19.) When you ask for Grammie and Grandpa, especially when mommy says no to something, “Grandpa!!!”

20.) Over and over, asking for your cousins, “Abby and Hannah, Abby and Hannah,” again, usually when you are mad at mommy.

21.) Running all over the house 15 minutes before bedtime, every night.

22.) Your preference for “blue jeans”

23.) Tigger, when you wake up to a potty accident and say, “Diaper all wet”

24.) Giving you one fruit snack after one lap around the driveway, for a whole pack of fruit snacks.

25.) Enjoying our grocery shopping trips together thanks to the huge free cookies from the bakery.

26.) Your first time trick or treating as a Chicken and a Duck.

27.) Roo’s obsession with all thing garage door, “garage door up,” “garage door down,” “garage door Mommy!”

30.) When missing daddy, “More Daddy go home,” “Daddy home”

31.) Hill running at Grammie and Grandpa’s house.

32.) “Helping” fold clean laundry. Mommy gave you one sock at a time to run to daddy in another room, daddy made the pairs, you ran the pairs back to mommy.

33.) The new winter Olympic sport you created: Olympic Snow Tricycle Riding

34.) Tigger being able to name all of the trucks in the big truck book.

35.) Helping us set the table.

36.) Sprinting to the bathroom in excitement when it’s time to brush teeth.

37.) Roo helping Daddy put your tricycle together.

38.) “Daddy up” & “Mommy up”

39.) Magically appearing in a room out of thin air, “Ello Mommy” (terrifying at times!)

40.) The magic of redirection.

41.) Packing your “valuable” toys in Mommy’s gym bag, so I can protect them.

42.) You using your mattresses as trampolines every morning. Happiest way to wake up ever!

43.) Squirting each other with water from plastic toys in the bathtub.

44.) Putting your “supplies” in the back of your tricycle baskets before you ride around.

45.) Tigger trying to carry two jeeps, two fire trucks, and two Legos around everywhere and insisting on bringing them all along when we leave the house.

46.) Roo’s love of oranges, “More ooonge please”

47.) Little butts in the air sleeping style.

48.) Tigger’s need to have TWO blankets for bed.

49.) When we tried to sneak out of church early and Tigger yelled, “Bye Jesus” (Mommy did the same when I was little!).

50.) When you try to put your winter hats on yourselves and they are all crazy with your little ears sticking out every which way.

It’s the small stuff right!?

Here’s to remembering what’s important.

What do you want to remember???

Love,

Natasha


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Joy in the Junk of Life

Joy is pretty awesome right? I mean, I’ve always loved the idea of joy. I know there are times I definitely feel joyful. I enjoy pinning joyful reminders to my inspiration board with thousands of other joyful Pinterest users. I always covet those shabby chic signs made out of barn wood and hand-painted with joyful messages.

“Choose Joy!”

“Joy is a choice you make every day.”

“Got Joy?”

To me, joy has always kind of been in the same category with grace. Both, super awesome. Both, have a God connection. Both, would leave me stuttering for a few seconds if someone put me on the spot asking me to define them.

How do you define joy? What is the first thing that pops into your head?

Many people define joy by quoting instances in which they feel joyful. Joy is being with my family. Joy is a great conversation with a friend. Joy is giving back to my community. I feel joyful when I do X. But, that isn’t really defining joy, it is just stating when you feel joy.

A quick dictionary search of the word joy returns defining words such as delight, elation, glee, bliss, and jubilation. Certainly those words describe joy to some extent, but all of those words are feelings. So, they aren’t really defining joy either, but rather they describe the feeling you get from joy.

Is joy a feeling? Maybe, but I’ve always felt joy is more of a state of mind or even better, a state of heart.

I recently heard Kay Warren speak at a Women of Faith conference. She shared that on the absolute worst day of her life, the day she found out her son had committed suicide, she still managed to choose joy. I thought, if she could choose joy while in the midst of a mother’s worst nightmare, what does that mean for the rest of us?PicsArt_1414758402715 We all experience challenges, stresses, and sadness in our lives. Choosing joy in those tough situations, doesn’t mean we are celebrating them. It doesn’t mean we’ll proclaim from the roof tops if we hate our job, “I love my crappy boss!” We won’t sing and dance with joy if our car gets totaled or our water heater quits working. We won’t high five strangers if we get robbed. We won’t knuckle bump our waiter if our order comes out wrong or if our food is cold.

Joy is not a feeling you feel in a happy moment that just goes away; true joy is a state of being.

Joy is rooted in your belief that God is in control.

To have joy, is to have confidence that God’s got your back.

Joy is a lack of anxiety, because you are at peace, fully trusting in the Lord.

PicsArt_1414758945807

When I asked my husband if he bought into the idea that joy is rooted in our relationship with God rather than merely a feeling, his response nailed exactly what I had been trying to describe. Leave it to my wise hubby!

He said,

“When you are right with the Lord, it’s like armor, you will still get hit, but you will be more resilient.”

The morning after I wrote the majority of this post, I opened my bible to the reading for the day and God delivered the perfect verses.

“Draw your strength from the Lord and from his mighty power. Put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the devil.” Ephesians 6:10-11 

“In all circumstances, hold faith as a shield, to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Ephesians 6:16-17

Things happen in life. We will have bad days. We will have sad moments. But, I truly believe if we have a spirit of joy in the Lord, it is like armor protecting us, helping us to not be totally consumed by darkness. If you have joy, finding joy in the “junk” of life is easier.

Sometimes your spirit of joy gets widddled away from years of junk or from one terrible junk filled year. I’ve heard that many people  gain two to three pounds over the holiday season and then don’t lose that weight. In one year, two pounds doesn’t seem like a big deal. But if you multiple two pounds times 30 years that means in 30 Christmases I’ll be 60 pounds heavier. Pass.

I’ve definitely had my joy widdled away in the past. A year in an awful job, years of infertility, the death of my sweet father-in-law, and an awful, traumatic experience a few months ago…while I’ve been able to have happy moments and see my many blessings through it all; these things have left my joy lack-luster and me worn out.

These things test us, they pile up, and widdle away our joy. We can’t let them. We need to remain close to our Lord especially in our darkest, most lonely moments. If you feel joyless, try working on your relationship with God. I’ve really been focusing on my relationship with God and I can honestly say I feel like I’ve finally gotten my sparkle back. Sure, I still have moments when I want to scream or cry, because my boys won’t stop screaming or crying. But, I feel that sweet armor around me, I feel rooted in His joy.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13 “The Lord is my strength and my shield, in whom my heart trusted and found help. So my heart rejoices; with my song I praise my God.” Psalm 28:7

Love, Natasha