Play Dates: Not Just for Kids but Parents Too!

“Please, Mommy! Can you give me another clue? Who’s coming over for a visit tomorrow?” my little girl pleaded. Quinn is an only child and does well playing by herself or even playing with her dad or me, but there’s no denying that there is something special about having time to play with children around her own age. Yes, she has an opportunity to play at recess or interact during gym and music, but an actual play date involving an activity or even just going to a family member or friend’s house or having them come to our house is a wonderful experience for us both.

While some parents may dread play dates or just don’t see the significance of them, I look forward to them just as much as my five and a half year old does. For the most part, she is a cheerful, easygoing child, but the smile that comes over her face when she has a play date let’s me know that it is something she enjoys immensely. Also, it gives me an opportunity to see how she interacts with children directly. Does she share, is she kind, is she a good sport if they are playing a game?

Yesterday, when my cousin visited with her daughter, Quinn did a wonderful job sharing and cared about her cousin’s interests by taking turns while helping to bake a princess cake. She also allowed her cousin to pick out her headband color first since she was our guest as they worked on their other crafty project. I also enjoyed being able to observe them and help them go through the process of preparing and baking their cake.

Something that impressed me was how the both of them were able to go with the flow when the fondant for the cake didn’t quite turn out as they hoped. It was a teachable moment that sometimes you may follow the directions, but the results may still not turn out as you anticipated. I was able to quickly whip up a buttercream frosting and match the pink of the fondant, and the girls were eager to decorate the dress. They commented on how pretty she looked and said, “We can’t wait to eat her for dessert!” This gave me such a chuckle!

From baking to crafting to playing games and eating together, it was fun for all. I’m so grateful we have family and friends to get together with for good-old fashioned fun!

All the best,

Tanya

My Little Girl’s Teaching Me to Think Inside the Box!

 

What adult hasn’t heard, “Try thinking outside the box” or some variation of this phrase? Whether it’s at work or at play, I’ve observed people encouraging others, including me, to “think outside the box” in hopes of coming up with new, innovative ideas to help their organization, relationships or just themselves in life. But last week, when my five year old was playing and having such a great time inside of a box, something occurred to me.

Is it always about thinking outside the box? Perhaps we need to take notes from our children and consider what we can do with the box. “I’m going to ship myself to Disney World,” Quinn said giggling. Moments later, she said, “I can make this into something special for Luciana (her doll). Maybe a closet or extra bed for her.”

A box is more than a box. It serves so many purposes, and it all depends on who’s using the box. While her dad’s inclination was to immediately break it down for recycling, my little girl had long term plans for her box. She was ready to decorate and color it to make it all her own.

In giving it more thought, I reflected on how Quinn loves watching the unboxing of toys on You Tube. I’ve watched some with her, and they can be quite informative by letting a person know what to expect in the packaging. It then occurred to me that maybe we adults are so concerned with thinking outside the box, a process that comes so easy for most children, that we often fail to admire what’s already inside the box or what the box is capable of becoming.

When is the last time you considered what’s inside the box? I am so grateful that my creative, forward thinking girl is helping me to think inside the box.

All the best,

Tanya

 

Fun with Legos: Build Bonds, Sparking Creativity and Practicing Patience with My Little Girl

 

“Mommy, may I have ten more minutes to keep working?” my daughter pleaded as dinner waited on the dining room table. I smiled and said, “Okay, honey.” She carefully concentrated as she canvased the floor for the next piece to continue constructing the Lego Friends Heartlake Summer Pool. For nearly three hours, she worked on this 589 piece set eager to complete it in one sitting. Occasionally, she came to me or her father for help finding a piece or to make sure she was constructing it properly, but for the most part, my five year old was completely content working solo.

I recall building with Legos when I was my daughter’s age for hours too. This was before the days of Lego Friends. At my grandmother’s home, I would separate the colors, get an idea of what I wanted to build, usually a house of some kind, and then get to work. One of the hardest parts of building with Legos was knowing that at some point my masterpiece would be disassembled, if not by me, certainly by one of my siblings or cousins or my grandmother.

In 2019, there’s so much emphasis on technology, and the toys children play with often do “something” to pique the interest of children, and I don’t totally see there being a problem with this. However, I love with Quinn chooses to play with toys and do activities that really help with her cognitive development and are still fun.

This morning, when I came back home from kickboxing, Quinn quickly opened the second door for me shouting, “I did it, Mommy! I finished building everything!” I was so excited for her and eager to take a picture of her smiling next to the finished product. There’s truly something so fulfilling about building or making something all by yourself and being able to admire your hard work after the patience and effort you employed to get you to that point. I am so proud of my little girl and glad that we both have a love for building with Legos as we continue to build our mother and daughter bond.

All the best,

Tanya

Reading for Fun(draising): My Little Girl Supporting the Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House

 

My daughter has loved leafing through books since she was a baby and looks forward to her father or me reading stories to her before she goes to bed, regardless of how tired she may be. Now that she’s five, she enjoys trying to read on her own, especially books about art, creativity, unicorns and princesses! So when she came home with a packet from her school to raise money, for the Read for the House Program, a service-learning project that raises funds to support the Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House, I thought it would be an excellent opportunity to not only raise money for a good cause but to encourage Quinn to read even more.

Throughout the entire month of February, Quinn eagerly read several books, many from the Fancy Nancy and Amelia Bedelia series. She’s only in kindergarten, but I am so amazed at how many words she can read by herself with little to no assistance from me or her dad. This was such a great experience for us both, and my sweet girl was able to exceed her fundraising goal with the generosity of family and friends. Even though the fundraising period is drawing to a close, the  fun times of reading together with my little girl will continue.

All the best,

Tanya

The Fear of Picturing Lost Moments with My Little Girl

img_0790-1“For how much longer will you be working on your class work, Mommy?” my five year old asked with a sense of urgency in her voice. This past Wednesday was a snow day for the both of us: no school! But that did not mean the work stopped for me. I had to send out an early morning email letting my students know how to proceed and started working on modifying the course syllabus as a result of losing a day of class. I also had to still work on reading and grading essays. It pained me that it couldn’t just be a “snow day” for my daughter and I to have some fun, and I had to explain to her that work sometimes still goes on, and work has to come before fun.

Though this was just one day, I am finding more and more that I am telling Quinn, “I need to do work first, and sometimes it takes much longer than I anticipate. She seems to understand, but there are times when I just feel guilty. Yes, we have fun together and do many activities that I even talk about on this blog. Yes, I know it cannot be all about having fun all of the time. My daughter knows this too. But when she looks at me with those brown eyes simply wanting my undivided attention and to spend time with me, I feel horrible wishing that I could just drop everything and enjoy everyday moments with her.

There are so many more years to go in her childhood, and I do fear the idea of picturing lost moments that I will never be able to get back. I don’t want to get in the habit of saying, “We’ll see. Maybe this weekend. Or give me twenty minutes that turns into sixty minutes or turns into maybe tomorrow.” Being a present mom, in general, is not easy, definitely while working full-time, but I’m going to continue to try my best to perform the balancing act and create as many memorable moments as possible with my little girl that we can both close our eyes and picture for years to come.

All the best,

Tanya

One Sweet Girl, One Cool Cat, One Fun Dad & One Loving Mom Trying to Find Her Place

For Christmas, we welcomed a new member into our family, Tori the cat! My five year old has been wanting a pet for a while and settled on a six month old rescue kitten  to shower with love. My husband just went along with the plan even though he was apprehensive about getting a pet since he still holds on to the memory of his pert cockatiel who he had for decades that passed away, while I excitedly went out to purchase all of the necessities for Tori’s arrival.

Actually, Tori arrived just a day after Quinn was came home after being hospitalized for nearly a week with bacterial pneumonia and the adenovirus. So we tended to her until Quinn was feeling much better and up for some cuddle time.

I imagined building a bond with Tori along with Quinn. Unfortunately, that’s not the way it went. Tori immediately bonded with my daughter but had limited interest in me. But for some reason, she absolutely adores my husband. Months later, she follows him around the house, wants to play and snuggle with him, and tends to avoid me whenever possible.

Sadly, it is bringing back those torn feelings I once had when I saw the special daddy and daughter bond Quinn and my husband have. Of course, we are close, which I am grateful for, but daddy can do no wrong. Now, the pattern continues with Tori. She plays games with my daughter and husband and is so sweet with them while I try to when her over day after day.

Interestingly, my five year old has been consoling me and has suggested that I keep trying. She’s convinced that Tori will eventually come around and want to be with me just as much as she enjoys being with Quinn and my husband. Her kind words and optimism gives me hope. I’m so grateful to have such a sweet girl and am glad that she is able to bond with Tori even if it’s going to take a little time for me to bond with her.

All the best,

Tanya

Magical Moments with Mommy’s Mini Me

“Mommy, are you going to wear the dress that looks like mine? You promised!” My five year old asked and informed me. Before my daughter was even one year’s old, we would often dress alike. I had a few reasons for this. It was a way for her to learn colors, I would always know what color she was wearing if for some reason she got separated from me, and let’s face it, I think it’s fun and cute for us to dress alike or at least in similar colors from time to time.

Yesterday, we attended a special dance hosted by her dance school. Quinn’s father was her initial plus one, but I was eager to come too so that I could take pictures of her at her first “dance.” When I let her know about the event, she excitedly told me, “I have an idea! How about if we both wear our special blue dresses that look alike. Then we can be twins!”

Even though Quinn spent most of the time dancing the night away with her dad as I snapped pictures, it made my day that she wanted us to be “twins.” I’m not sure how much time I have before she no longer enjoys dressing a like. Maybe it’s something she will always look forward to doing for many years to come. For now, I will just consider these moments with my mini me as magical memories I will hold near and dear to me heart.

All the best,

Tanya