Happy Birthday, Natalie! 4 reasons we love NatMo

June 6, 2012 at 8:48 AM ET

TODAY's own Natalie Morales turns 40 today. The eternally energetic and ever-poised anchor enjoyed birthday best wishes from her friends and colleagues at TODAY, and a surprise visit from her kids! We here at TODAY.com would like to join in on the "Happy Birthday" chorus.

Here are four reasons (because we don't have room for 40) why we love Natalie and wish her a happy birthday: 

1. She loves dogs. When a fluffy shelter dog named Zara visited TODAY last fall, Natalie fell in love. A few days later, Zara joined Natalie, her husband and her two young sons as part of the family. It wasn't always easy. The affectionate puppy was loving but totally untrained, and Natalie and her family worked with a trainer to make sure that Zara had found her forever family. (And her trainer has been answering TODAY.com reader questions, too!)

2. She celebrates her roots. As an "Air Force brat," Natalie was born in Taiwan and spent much of her childhood living overseas, in Panama, Brazil and Spain. Her dad is Puerto Rican and her mom is Brazilian. She took TODAY along when she returned to her childhood home in beautiful Rio de Janeiro, even roller-skating and singing "Xanadu" (see No. 3). And she remembers her roots in more profound ways, too; in her first "Modern Mami" column she wrote movingly about connecting with her mother, who was "given up" by her own mother at age 2.

3. She doesn't take herself too seriously: Whether it's trying a ridiculously hard new workout or competing in a "news off" with The Onion's fake news anchor, Natalie's always up for something new and she's never afraid to put herself out there. When she was promoted to the news desk, her TODAY colleagues raved that she's the consumate good sport, up for anything -- even when it means wiping out on national television. Or making googly eyes at Thor. Let's just say it's not hard to find video of Natalie laughing.

4. She's a great (not perfect) mom: As a hard-working mother of two sons, Natalie has the same challenges as any other mom. She's not afraid to share her challenges and try TODAY Moms' advice on topics like bedtime routines. She shares her failures, too -- tearing up as she watched her son "fail" a Dateline "stranger danger" test. She's a mom, she's human, and she's doing the best she can: Three cheers to that.

Happy birthday, Natalie!