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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As Beautiful Today as the Day I was Born

It’s fun to build a group of gym buddies. You see these people, “gym buddies,” at the gym most mornings of the week. They notice when you’re absent from a class and when you return they ask if everything is okay. You chat casually about life and family with usually little commitment beyond the gym walls. It’s fun!

Recently, I learned that one of my new gym buddies used to be an actress. She spent years in Los Angeles and Las Vegas doing her acting thing for mostly print ads and commercials; she even had some small roles on a popular crime show and soap opera. So cool!

The other day, she brought in a collection of a few of her ads and head shots (at several people’s request). It wasn’t long before a little group of people stood ooo-ing and ahh-ing over her little scrap-book. Everyone was blown away by how beautiful she was “back then.”

You are as beautiful todayIt was fun looking through her photos and reminiscing with her, but something rocked me in the pit of my stomach. I wondered if my gym buddy new how beautiful she was right now.

I said something to her in passing like, “You know you are just as beautiful today as you were in those photos.” She brushed me off saying, “No, I look much older now.” My words felt hollow, but I really did mean them.

Now as gym buddies go, you generally find out the basics of each other’s life, but the connection wouldn’t likely be deep enough for me to stomp my feet, shake her, and scream, “You are gorgeous! Right now!” And she really is, even from the little I know about her. I know she’s a mom. I know she has an awesome sense of humor and a great personality that easily makes “gym buddies.” Really, that’s enough for me to know she’s a beautiful person and that her little girls think she is the most beautiful woman in the world (Anna and Elsa being super close seconds of course).

Do you know someone that needs reminding of how beautiful they are?

Is it you?

Our bodies’ age! We get laugh lines, and stretch marks, and a few extra pounds, and a “distinguished” hair color, and maybe uglier hands (Is that just me? What is up with these dry, gorgeously wrinkled hands?!).

As Martina McBride says in her song, This One’s For the Girls:

“Every last laugh line on your face, made you who you are today.”

For all of us, on the days we feel less beautiful than we did “way back when,” I offer this simple prayer…

Lord,

Please help me remember that I am Your precious child, made in Your image.
Help me remember that to You, I am as beautiful today as the day I was born.

Please help me be patient and gentle with myself, Lord.
Help me remember that the only label I wear that matters is that I am Your beloved.

Amen.

Please pass this on to someone that needs a reminder!

Love,

Natasha


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Book Worm Wednesday: 52 Simple Ways to Talk with Your Kids about Faith by Jim Campbell

52 Simple Ways to talk with your kids about faithThis is a great little book that is organized in a way that invites you to read it from cover to cover or to skip around by chapter based on your interest or where you want to strike up a conversation with your child. Each chapter is about three quick pages and is broken into helpful sections such as, “Natural Teachable Moments,” “Starting the Conversation,” and “To Help You Connect/Pray/Listen.” The author provides useful tips on how to talk with your child about different faith topics and backs them up with suggested Bible readings and prayers. Campbell does a great job of reminding parents to really listen to our children without judging or correcting them.

Below are some of my favorite quotes from the book. I’ll be keeping these close as my little ones grow up. Not only will these reflections help us drum up meaningful conversation, but they will also help me, as momma, reflect on the kind of parent and example I want to be to my little ones.

TOP TEN TIDBITS:

1.) As parents, you are “Serving as Your Child’s Image of God” (from Chapter 1)

2.) “Blessing Your Child” (from Chapter 2) We can bless our child wherever and whenever we feel it is needed; we don’t have to wait for Sunday for a blessing!

3.) “How can you nurture your child as the sacred person he is in God’s eyes?” (from Chapter 4)

4.) “If your child made a list today of what your family’s priorities are, where would God rank?” (from Chapter 6)

5.) Let you child know, “that prayer happens whenever she becomes aware of God’s presence and shares her own presence with God. God is everywhere, so she can pray everywhere. Prayer can involve words, but it does not have to. Prayer can also be silent listening, meditative reflection that uses the imagination, or simply the feeling of being embraced by God’s presence.” (from Chapter 17)

6.) Chapter 24 is an important reminder to take back Sundays (keep them about God and family). It is entitled “Beginning the Week With a ‘Family Sunday’.”

7.) Chapter 26 is about “Praying for Someone’s Needs.” Great reminder when teaching children about prayer, “Explain that in our prayers we don’t just pray for those in need, we pray about them. When praying for people, it’s possible to form an aloof separateness between those persons and yourself, but in order to pray about people, you must acknowledge your inherent connection with them and their meaning to you personally. We remember that, like us, those in need are children of God and deserve dignity, love, and respect.”

8.) I love this reminder from Chapter 42 about what it means to be holy, “A holy person is not always perfect; a holy person responds to God’s call to love him and serve others. Holiness means saying yes to God’s constant invitation to a deeper relationship with God in prayer, in church and the sacraments, and in our daily lives and relationships with others.”

9.) Practicing the Beatitudes as parents: “We are poor in spirit when we recognize that we are dependent on God for help. We mourn when we are saddened at the way people suffer in the world. We act with meekness when we are slow to anger and gentle with our children in difficult times. We practice mercy when we truly forgive them. We are pure of heart when we share with our children our commitment to promote justice in the world. We have many opportunities to be peacemakers in the way we love and restore harmony in our families and in our protection of the dignity of each person.” (from Chapter 43)

10.) Powerful reminders from chapter 50 for us to remember as we speak to our children: “Does criticism of our children come more easily than praise? Do we find ourselves quicker to critique a child’s accomplishments than to build his self-esteem?”

Blessings on your parenting journey!

Thanks for reading.

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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Finding Jesus Like a Two Year Old

My two year old boys are starting to put multiple words together and every time it happens you’d think they hit a grand slam, because of how excited I get! Single words were exciting; their first favorite words were: shoe, sock, milk, more, dada, car, caca (cracker), cheese. BUT double words are so cute and even MORE exciting; red car, blue door, dada home, go home, garage door, momma byes, more caca, more cheese.

Finding Jesus Like a 2 Year old

This morning I was standing in the kitchen, checking emails on my phone, when one of my little guys came up to me, pointed, and said, “blue gigi.” I honestly kind of ignored him until he kept pointing at me and saying “blue gigi,” “blue gigi!” Frankly, he was pointing at my waist area (and below) and I was thinking, “why are you pointing at mommy’s privates?” I ignored the weirdness of the pointing and answered, “yes, mommy is wearing blue jeans.” He persisted and got louder, “blue gigi,” “blue gigi!”

blue gigiFinally, I looked down there to figure out what the heck he was checking out. He was looking at the button on my jeans. The button was sewn on with blue string in the shape of a tiny cross. Then it clicked!  “Gigi” is how my boys say, “Jesus.” He was saying “Blue Jesus” in reference to the little cross on my jean button.

Geeesh! Thank goodness that is sorted out, because a gal can start to get paranoid when someone keeps pointing and yelling at your parts! A weird moment turned into a proud momma moment!

We’ve always taken the boys with us to church on Sundays, we pray with them before meals, before naps, and at bedtime, but frankly, I wasn’t sure anything was sinking in. During mass they are wiggle worms, they eat their weight in crunchy loud snacks, and they are packing up and saying “all done” before the final song starts. They fold their hands during the Our Father and point at “Gigi” up on the cross, but other than that I’m pretty sure they are really in it for the after mass donut hole (or two).

During bedtime prayer time they are usually riled up, jumping all over, running down the hallway and back, laughing, screaming, multitasking with toys, but we do it every night anyway.

Even though they appear to be oblivious to our attempts to bring Jesus to them, we remain consistent. And you know what…something has stuck with them, because they are finding Jesus in the smallest places…even on mommy’s jean button. That is a win!

On this same morning, we were reading a book about fire trucks, my little guy pointed to the medical cross on the ambulance and again said, “blue gigi.” Later outside, he pointed under his bike saying, “Gigi.” When I looked under his bike, I saw the pin holding the bike together was in the shape of a cross.

This little dude found Jesus three times in about an hour! I can go an entire day sometimes without seeing Him! How wise are our little ones!? How much more open are their eyes!?

sandbox jesusI snatched up the teaching moment and we embraced the beautiful fall-ish morning by building “Gigi” crosses out of things we found around the yard. We built crosses out of grass, rocks, in the sandbox. We even made crosses out of things that usually annoy me like the little helicopters that fall off of the trees and litter the lawn or the pine needles that blanket themselves over my landscaping. This was another reminder that Jesus is in everything (even the stuff/people we don’t like or that annoy us).

This is what usually happens to me. I seek to teach and am instead taught.

Thank you to my two year olds for finding “Gigi” all over the place! Thank you for teaching mommy to open her eyes to see Him better. Thank you for reminding mommy that He is not always where I want to find him, but He always is. Thank you for helping mommy see Him in nature, in people, and within.

Have your kids ever helped you SEE or caused you to have a Jesus moment?

Love,

Natasha

 


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The Adoption Call: One Call and I Was a Mommy

phone mommyI wanted to share the special story of receiving our adoption call for a few reasons, 1.) I just love to tell the story!, 2.) to share a wish that it brings hope to forever families waiting for their little ones, and 3.) to send a prayer to couples struggling with infertility and a gentle reminder that adoption is a beautiful option.

So, here is the story…
The story of how one call made us parents in an instant!

It was a normal day.  I was doing some last minute shopping, picking up candy and door prizes for my sister’s baby shower that my mother and I were hosting the following day.  My baby sister was pregnant, extremely pregnant…with twin boys.

I almost didn’t pick up the phone as I was in a hurry, but I saw the area code was from Alabama, the state of our adoption agency.  Generally, you don’t receive a call from your adoption agency unless something is up.  So, my heart was fluttering hard when I picked up the call.

It was Susan from our agency.  She asked what I was up to and I told her I was shopping.  Then she said she was calling about the list of “things to bring when you get the call,” I had asked for.  I was kind of annoyed!  I thought, “seriously, that’s why you are calling me, I asked for that weeks ago?!”

She asked if I had a few minutes to talk and I told her maybe tomorrow.  Then she said the words that I had waited for, the words that changed my life, and the words that instantly made me a mother.

She said, “Well, I better catch you now then….I have your baby boys and they are waiting for you to pick them up.”

Me: “What? What! WHAT?!”

Susan: “I have your boys, they are twins and healthy little miracles.”

Me: Sobs, cries, uncontrollable joyful tearful babble that she couldn’t understand.

Then I sat down on the bottom shelf in the middle of the candy aisle in Shopko. I grabbed a pen and scrap of paper from my purse and frantically wrote down everything Susan was telling me about my sons.  MY SONS!

I was in happy shock, shaking, crying, smiling!  Sweet ladies kept driving by me with their shopping carts, slowing to give the crazy person (me) a sympathetic, slightly worried smile.

Susan and I wrapped up our conversation and I asked her, “What do I do now?!”  She said, “Well, you’re going to want to call your husband!”

I left that store like Santa spreading Christmas cheer through a village, “I’m a mom!  I just got the call from adoption agency!”

My husband!  My husband was on his way out of town for a weekend of camping to celebrate a buddy’s bachelor party (he was the best man).  He was driving when I called him.  Here’s how I remember the conversation:

Me: Can you pull over?

Him: No, I’m on the highway.

Me: Okay, I’ll have to tell you then.  You’re a dadblabladaddyblah (insert uncontrollable sobs).

Him: What?  What’s wrong?

Me: You’re a dablahsobsobsobdaddy

Him: What?  What?  Okay, I’m pulled over.  What’s wrong?

Me: You’re a father….

Him: No way, no way!

Me: ….to twin boys!

Him: NO WAY! No way, no way!

And just like that we were parents.  I made plans to attend the baby shower the next day and he spent a sleepless night camping.  I was up packing and dipping marshmallows on sticks in chocolate and sprinkles for the shower until midnight.  That night I dreamt of finally holding my sons in my arms and exactly two days later….it happened.

My sister had her healthy twin boys about a month later.

Two sisters.  Two mothers.

Two sets of twin boys.  4 cousins born a month a part.

One mother lovingly carried them inside of her for 9 months.

One mother lovingly carried them in her heart for 5 years.

4 boys so loved.  2 mothers so blessed.

And that my friends, is “God stuff!”

Love,

Natasha