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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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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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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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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Book Worm Wednesday: Naked Parenting by Leah DeCesare

No this is not a book about how to parent while wearing less clothing. Sorry if that disappoints you! I’m not judging. Okay, I am judging, ya weirdo. Just kidding. Okay, not just kidding.

Anyway, this is a quick, easy read with some great advice on raising confident kids.

Here are my top ten favorite tidbits from the book.

Book Worm Wednesday: Naked Parenting: 7 Keys to Raising Kids with Confidence
by Leah DeCesare

1.) “Nothing you can do or say will make me stop loving you.”

I definitely want me children to know this throughout their lives! No matter how upset Mommy gets, no matter how naughty you act, nothing you can do will change how much I love you! Yes, there will be consequences to your actions, but they do not change my unconditional love for you.

“Make sure they know they are loved! “Douse them in kisses. Let the ‘I love you’s’ flow. Smoosh them in hugs and be present.”

2.) “Building in free time, family time and unstructured time is just as important as providing opportunities for kids to gain new experiences and build their skills in sports, music and other enrichment activities.”

This is so difficult to remember in our society today. It seems like sports and extracurriculars jam-pack our kid’s schedules and are always more important than family time together. We want our children to have as many opportunities as possible to help them grow and to become well-rounded individuals. Let’s not forget that dinners together, game nights, and family road trips are important sports too!

3.) “Be honest in your praise and assessment of your children’s strengths and weaknesses.”

We just want to encourage our kids and see them succeed right!? I’ve never subscribed to the every child gets a medal philosophy. Doesn’t an award for 25th place teach our kids that they will be rewarded for mediocrity in the future? It doesn’t teach them the truth that they will fail in the future. Sure, I’m not going to tell my two year that he stinks at basketball. It’s too soon to know if he stinks at basketball. BUT, I am careful not to congratulate him and cheer after every awful shot he takes. I cheer after the baskets he makes and when he misses one by a mile, I say something like, “Oops, that one didn’t go in, try again.” Just an example, but you get it.

4.) “Children should know they can get honest answers from their parents about anything. Questions are opportunities to share values and beliefs….Through open communication, kids know they can come to you for honest answers and they know you respect their questions and won’t laugh at them.”

Please Lord, help my kids to always feel comfortable to come to mommy and daddy with ANY questions about ANYTHING. Please Lord, help mommy and daddy prove through our behavior and communication that we welcome ANY questions about ANYTHING from our children. Please Lord, don’t let my children learn about the “important stuff” from the media or from other children.

Naked Parenting5.) “Notice how often you speak for your kids instead of letting them talk….By encouraging kids to communicate their own needs and questions, you’re letting them know you believe in them and they’re learning self-sufficiency and independence; qualities that will serve them throughout life.”

6.) “Teaching kids how to set goals, and map out mini-goals along the path, is giving them the tools to really be anything they want to be.”

I think we forget this part sometimes as parents. We encourage our kids to dream big and tell them that they can be whatever they want to be, but we forget to teach them the tools to turn their dreams into reality.

7.) “If you don’t want to take it away, don’t say you will. If you say you’ll take it away, then you must follow through.”

This quote is from the “Naked Discipline” chapter. This one is tough! In the heat of the moment, sometimes we blurt out consequences that later we wish we wouldn’t have. If we say it, we really have to follow through or else we are teaching our kids that they can get away with stuff and that we don’t keep our word.

8.) “Don’t rob your child of the accomplishment, of the success after the hard work, because you don’t want him to feel frustrated. Let him feel the tough emotions, stand beside him to support him and love him, but he must go right through the crummy stuff to get to the good stuff.”

So true, but so hard. We don’t want our little people to suffer in any way, but we have to remember we won’t always be immediately by their side to protect them from everything.

9.) “When our oldest was a baby, we began the tradition of taking a fresh cut from our Christmas tree and writing the date and a special memory of that year’s celebration on the wedge. We now have a basket full of tree trunks and it’s a wonderful time each year when we pull them out and read them.”

I just love this idea! I think we’ll start this tradition!

10.) “Let kids in on aspects of the family finances at age-appropriate levels.”

You obviously aren’t going to overwhelm your four year old with how many bills mommy and daddy have to pay every month. BUT teaching your kids about money, how to earn it, save it, share it, and how much things cost not only teaches them about finances, but also about gratitude.
Hope you enjoyed my top ten tidbits from this book!

Love,

Natasha


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Book Worm Wednesday: The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

Book Worm Wednesday Happiness ProjectThis book idea came about when the author, Gretchen Rubin was contemplating her life one day. Sure, she was happy, but could she be even happier? The Happiness Project is “an approach to changing your life.” It is a year’s worth of monthly themes to help you focus on pumping up your happiness in those specific areas. The book feels relevant especially because of the extensive research and random facts Rubin shares throughout.

While reading, I couldn’t help but feel she is a kindred sista of sorts, because we have many things in common, such as our obsessive note taking and list making. While I love her “12 Commandments” of life and her “Secrets of Adulthood,” if I ever met her I’d remind her not to get too bogged down in rules and lists! Sometimes the very things we hope keep us organized and on track are the same things that keep us stiffly in our box.

Book Worm Wednesday: Top Ten Tidbits
The Happiness Project
by Gretchen Rubin

1.) De-clutter High:
I don’t know about you, but when my house is a mess, I feel stressed. I’m not talking about the kids toys are all over every room, kind of mess. That’s just life with kids. I’m talking about the ketchup fell out on my foot again, the pantry is puking half eaten packages of crackers at me, and when are those lazy laundry elves going to come and tackle these piles, kinds of messes. Rubin dedicates a whole section of her happiness project to tossing, restoring, and organizing. If you need a quick happiness high, try cleaning out a junk drawer! It seriously works and you’ll crave more!

2.) “Give proofs of Love”: 
Rubin appropriately selects to “Remember Love” in the month of February. One of my favorite goals in this section is to “give proofs of love.” It’s wonderful to share the words “I love you” with our loved ones, but it’s even better to prove it through our actions. I’m not talking about showering someone with lavish gifts here, but rather how we can simply show love to our family and friends. Leave your spouse a love note. Bring a pregnant friend dinner. Offer to babysit. Ask someone if they are okay. Just do anything that says you thought of them and care!

3.) “Enjoy the fun of Failure”:
I nearly broke out into hives in this section, because I hate failing! Failure… fun?!!?? Come on Gretchen, you’ve got to be kidding me. I think we all know deep down that we learn from our failures and that we try not to make the same mistake twice and that our failures make us stronger and all that jazz. BUT failing makes you vulnerable and yuck, who wants to be that?  Okay, I’m being a little silly here, clearly we want to raise kids that know “sometimes we fall down, but we always get back up.” It’s healthy for them to learn that everything in life won’t always be perfect and that that is okay. So, let’s do like Rubin and know: “If you’re not failing, you’re not trying hard enough” AND that there’s a time to “nudge myself out of my comfort zone into my stretch zone.”

4.) “Sing in the morning”:
Rubin has the advice to “sing in the morning” in her “Lighten Up” parenting chapter. I say, life’s a musical, why not sing…all day long, like one big crazy Glee-athon?! I may not have my brother-in-law’s amazing Josh Groban-y voice, but I can seriously rock out some Jesus Loves Me and Baby Beluga (okay, and secretly some Patsy Cline). One of my littles, chants for the “ray-o, ray-o” (radio) to be turned on during breakfast. Music has amazing mood altering abilities, so don’t be afraid to sing and dance crazy with your kiddies. Even if you really stink at it, they probably think you’re the most talented singer/dancer they’ve ever seen and they will try to copy your every word/move (I have two year olds, I’m guessing if you tried this with teens they would think you’re cray-cray).

5.) “Take time to be silly”:
Is there anything better than your child’s laughter? “Taking time to be silly means that we’re infecting one another with good cheer…”

6.) “Master a new technology”:
I told my husband before we had kids that he better stay up on all of the latest technology, so he can be “cool” to our kids and know what the heck they are up to. Now look at me, I figured out blogging. In fact, I’m so saturated by social media that I occasionally take fancy breaks like thousands of other mommy bloggers. We can these breaks “social media vacations” or “social media fasts” or “I quit Facebook.” Anyway, mastering a new technology does make me happy (ish) or at least like my kids would think I’m cool if they were teenagers.

7.) “Stimulate the mind in new ways”:
In Rubin’s mindfulness section she says, “As I looked for ways to become more mindful, I realized that using my brain in unfamiliar ways would enhance my experience of the present moment and my awareness of myself.” I like the idea of using the mind in different ways; it’s gotta help keep you young right?! Just try something new: yoga, drawing, dancing, comedy club, join a gym, go for a hike, volunteer…something out of your normal routine.

8.) “Laugh out Loud”:
We are so serious. A speaker I heard on the radio the other day reflected that when crazy things happen to us we say, “some day we’ll laugh about this.” She countered, “why not laugh now?!” Laughter has the power to calm boiling point moments. In those moments, it could either get ugly or get funny. I bought those disposable sippy cups with a straws for my boys. They really like drinking out of straws. I can’t tell you how much milk has been donated to my counter, floor, and face since I bought those darn cups. Just this morning, I carefully secured the cover only to have milk shoot up from the straw into my face. In that moment, I had a choice, I could throw a mommy tantrum (and I felt my blood boiling) or I could laugh it off. Luckily, laughter won that round.

9.) “One of the best ways to make yourself happy is to make other people happy; one of the best ways to make other people happy is to be happy yourself.”

10.) “The days are long, but the years are short.”
Amen!

Thanks for reading.

Love,

Natasha


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Blue Thing, Lego Snuggles, & Protecting Your Relationship with Him

Blue Thing, Lego Snuggles, and Protecting your relationship with HimSome toddlers build a bond with snuggly things like their special blanket or favorite stuffed animal. They drag it all over the house and yard, bring it along on outings, and snuggle it close during nap time and bedtime. One of my little guys has a favorite stuffed animal named “Blue Thing.” Blue Thing was once a giraffe, but in a fit of new motherhood, I snipped off the giraffe’s horns (I left the ears) for fear my son might bite them off and choke on them. Because Blue Thing is so loved, we secretly have four of them that get rotated on a cleaning schedule. Two of them were purchased a few months further into my motherhood than the first two; they both still have their horns.

My other little guy, despite my best efforts, prefers to cuddle with hard plastic objects, usually Legos. The Lego color depends on the day, but it always has to be the one with eight bumps. He also enjoys snuggling with a small toy ambulance and one night when I went in to rock him back to sleep, he was clutching his small blue plastic drill.

The other obsession at the moment is anything that looks like a cross. They loudly and enthusiastically yell out, “Gigi cross!” (Jesus cross) anytime they see anything that remotely resembles a cross. It could be the medical cross on the side of a clinic, two popsicle sticks that happened to fall just right across each other, and even the letter T (which I thought was quite profound for two year olds; St. Francis would be smiling).

So, can you imagine how crazy it got here today when mommy started to build crosses out of…wait for it…Legos?! (Oh, I know, your skin is just tingling.)

I built my little Lego snuggler a Gigi cross out of Legos and he immediately put it safely in the basket of his tricycle. My boys just started actually using the pedals of their bikes last week and I’m amazed at how fast those tiny little legs can pump those bikes to warp speeds. We’ve had a few tumbles, many brotherly crashes, and they’ve ended up stuck in the rocks or grass more than once. They haven’t quite mastered the slowing down bit yet.

So, the Lego snuggler has his Lego Gigi cross in his bike basket. He’s zooming around, lovin’ life, and then I look up from a sip of coffee and he’s totally flattened out face first under his bike. From a far, it looks like quite a crash, so I’m expecting some scratches. I move the bike off of him, give him a hug (no blood), and he pops up and with his most concerned voice, yells, “Giiiigiiii!!!” He runs to the wreckage to find his Lego Gigi cross broken into three pieces. I quickly pop the Legos back into place, he grabs the Gigi cross, puts it back into his bike basket, and is back on his merry way.

I was of course very happy my little boy wasn’t hurt and impressed he got back up and tried again (“sometimes we fall down, but we always get back up”). As I thought about the incident more, I was struck by something else.

What if when we fall down in life, our primary, most urgent concern was Jesus and our relationship with Him? 

My soul clings fast to youWhen difficult things happen in life, we run to God, we pray, and we might even beg for His help. We struggle, we cry, at times we might even doubt His presence. Things aren’t going how we wanted them to go. We might get angry with God for not listening to us, for not answering our prayers. We have clearly clung to God, but it’s been all about us.

What if in our adversity, we instead chose to cling to God just to cling to God?

What if we screamed “Jesus!” at the top of our lungs?

What if our first concern was to protect our precious relationship with Him?

What if instead of begging and making deals, we just demanded to stay close?

When we fall down, let’s lovingly cling to Him. Let’s warmly call out to Him and make sure we do everything we can to pop back together any broken pieces of our relationship. Let’s protect our relationship in the bike basket of our hearts.

We will still travel through difficult times, but with a renewed faith and fortified relationship with God.

“My soul clings fast to you; your right hand upholds me.” Psalm 64:9 

Love,

Natasha