Giggle Giggle Toot Roar

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


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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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Parenting Advice from my Lawn Mower

Man alive, I had a rough week last week with my recently turned 3 year old twin boys! They went from my sweet boys to what people call “three-nagers” overnight! I was pretty desperate to find some mommy inspiration anywhere I could this week and it turns out that inspiration came while mowing the lawn.

I’ve only mowed the lawn a handful of times in my life. It isn’t that I refuse to do it, it’s just that I’ve been scarred since I was a teenager when I tried to surprise my dad by mowing the lawn and ended up giving it a professional scalp job instead! Since then I’ve mowed the lawn a few times since I’ve been married and my husband (and neighbors) lovingly laugh at me while pointing out the very neat triangle patches of grass I seem to miss every time. Oh well, I tried! It really is funny; last time I even stopped the lawn mower and walked all over the yard inspecting my work. Perfect! Then, later that night, I realized I missed a whole side! Seriously, it probably just grew really fast right?!

Anyway, here’s what I learned about motherhood while mowing the lawn…

Parenting Advice from my Lawn Mower1.
Mowing the Lawn:
The perfect straight lines are lovely, but it gets cut even if you zig-zag.
Motherhood: Quit trying to be perfect, they are growing up to be wonderful kids even with your imperfections.

2.
Mowing the Lawn: You kind of want to do it for the tan and the exercise.
Motherhood: You kind of want to do it to make sure you’ve got someone to take care of you when you’re old. (Come on, I kid.)

3.
Mowing the Lawn: You plow over the weeds and they disappear…until they come back bigger and badder. (Please just let “badder” be a word today.)
Motherhood: You can only cover up bad behaviors in yourself and your kids for so long until they turn into real problems.

4.
Mowing the Lawn: You have to stop for an occasional water break.
Motherhood: You have to stop for occasionally often coffee breaks.

5.
Mowing the Lawn: On hot days, you sweat a gallon of sweat.
Motherhood: On most days, you sweat worrying about them, even though you’re trying your best not to be a mommy-hovercraft.

6.
Mowing the Lawn: Sometimes despite your best efforts, you miss a patch of grass.
Motherhood: You try to do everything, be everything, teach them everything, give them every opportunity; you can’t do it all, but you’re doing your best.

7.
Mowing the Lawn: Sometimes you get blisters on your hands and your upper body goes numb from the lawn mower vibrations.
Motherhood: Sometimes you feel beat up and numb from exhaustion, but you’ve got to fight back against the negativity your ego is trying to feed you, because you’re a great parent!

8.
Mowing the Lawn: You just keep pushing even when you’re exhausted, because you just want to finish the entire lawn.
Motherhood: You just keep pushing even when you’re exhausted, because you have little miracles that need you!

9.
Mowing the Lawn: Sometimes you run out of gas or need to change the oil. When that happens, I call my hubby to help.
Motherhood: Sometimes you run out of gas and need to immediately schedule a massage and a date with a good girlfriend.

10.
Mowing the Lawn: There are always obstacles in your way, but it’s kind of fun to run circles around the trees.
Motherhood: There are always obstacles that pop up, but rather than stressing that things didn’t go according to your plans, choose a positive attitude and make it fun!

11.
Mowing the Lawn: You get in a groove, like you’re on auto-pilot.
Motherhood: When you get in a groove, you are quickly shaken back to reality, because the “norm” doesn’t stay the norm for long. Seriously, how can they love Goldfish one week and hate them the next?! And how can 12:30pm be the naptime sweet spot for 3 weeks, but then they don’t want to sleep until 2pm the next week?!?

12.
Mowing the Lawn: When you’re finished, you have an awesome sense of accomplishment.
Motherhood: You’re never finished, but they’re always yours and you’re so proud of them!

Have a great week! Let’s keep in touch! Please connect via Facebook or Twitter.

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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Check this out over at Miranda Writes’ Coffee Chat link up.


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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


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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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Date Your Spouse: 5 Dates in 5 Weeks

Have you ever complained that your life is void of spontaneity? Have you grumbled that your spouse just isn’t as romantic as he used to be?

When my boys were just a few months old I read a book on baby sleep habits. One thing I’ll always remember from the book is, “sleep equals sleep,” which meant the more rest baby gets throughout the day during naps, the better baby will sleep at night.

I got to thinking; it is kind of the same with romance in a marriage. Romance equals romance, which means the more romance you put into your relationship, the more you will see reciprocated. This may not be true for every relationship, but it is for mine. When I go the extra mile to be thoughtful with my husband, it is always reciprocated in surprising and sweet ways.

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I’m not talking about anything extravagant, expensive, or complicated….it’s the simple things that really seem to add up in a relationship.

So, my challenge is, instead of complaining about how your marriage is lacking of romance, DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. Turn up your romance game!

PS: I’m generally not into cheesiness. I’ve been known to roll my eyes at Anne Gedde baby pictures and I only call my hubby things like “snuggly-umpkins-muffin-bear-sugar-lover-face” with strong sarcasm, BUT I also think a good dose of CHEEZINESS once in a while is good for the soul….and makes you feel flirty and like kids again!  Cheeeziness makes you laugh and don’t we all love to laugh!!

So, feel free to order extra cheese on these dates!

turn up the cheeseHere are 5 simple date ideas to try, one-a-week for the next five weeks. These are simple dates you can do when the kiddos go to bed and they won’t cost you!

  1. Week One: The Love Fort (Please pronounce “love” in a super cheesy voice….LUUUUUV):
    • Build a fort out of blankets in a spare bedroom or other room where your hubby won’t see it. Fill the fort with lots of blankets and pillows. (Kids can play in the fort by day!)
    • Send your hubby a text invite him to join you in the “Love Fort” at a specific time.
    • Before the “Love Fort” date, cut 10 small hearts out of paper. On each heart, write down something you love about your hubby. Write down the first things that come to your mind. Tell him you love his eyes or how hot he looks all dressed up for work! Be creative!
    • When date time arrives, retreat to the “Love Fort” with your heart notes to wait for hubby. Play some music on your phone and turn on your flashlight app for some mood lighting.
    • Share the 10 hearts with him and seal each one with a kiss! Embrace the cheesiness….it’s fun!

 

  1. Week 2: Dessert Picnic
    • Make or buy a favorite dessert; grab your fave adult beverage.
    • Lay out a blanket in a lesser-used place of the house. Light some candles.
    • Enjoy a dessert picnic after the kiddies go to sleep. Talk about your bucket list!

 

  1. Week 3: Breakfast Surprise
    • Have a date before the kids wake-up!
    • Get up a tad early and make coffee and breakfast. You could make something special or just have cereal together!
    • Put on some “pump you up for the day” music and light some candles. What the heck, sneak in a dance too.
    • Talk about 5 things you are each thankful for today.

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  1. Week 4: Redneck Dinner
    • Set-up a folding table and chairs in your driveway.  The neighbors really got a kick out of this when we did it.  My husband got home from work and slowly opened the door and asked with a smile, “Um, honey, why is there a table in our driveway?”
    • Prepare the table with a candle, plates, silverware, wine, and wine glasses.
    • I prepped all of the food inside and had it ready on a tray, which I took outside when my hubby got home.  Make whatever you want for food; I just made sandwiches with veggies and fruit on the side.
    • We had the kids eating with us too and they got a kick out of the change of scenery.  When they were finished, they played in the front yard and my hubby and I scooted closer and sipped our wine with smiles!

 

  1. Week 5: Time Capsule
    • Grab an old shoebox and fill it together with classic time capsule goodies.
    • Ideas to include: a current newspaper, a few photos of you together and with the kids, a little list of current things like stamp and gas prices, what your kids are into at this stage, where you are at in life (work, vacations, family happenings), etc.
    • Also write a little love note to your spouse, but don’t read each other’s!
    • Seal up the box and mark it with the “do not open until” date. Store the box somewhere you’ll forget about it for a while (or bury it if you’re feeling energetic)!

 

Good luck romancing! Just try something different; do something to get out of the funk of life and LAUGH LAUGH LAUGH!!

I look forward to hearing your ideas on other fun dates and your experiences from the above 5 weeks of romance!

Thanks,

Natasha

 

 

 

Shadow photos by Katie Frank.