Chuck E. Cheese’s, the Place Where a Kid Can Be a Kid? Kind of…

For a while, my daughter had been asking to go to Chuck E. Cheese’s, so we finally went this past Wednesday on the “All You Can Play” in an hour day. I can vividly recall being so excited to go to Chuck E. Cheese as a child hoping to win tons of tickets to get that prize I longed for so much. Though I was happy to see that smile on my six year old’s face as she  won tickets in hopes of claiming her prizes too, as an adult, I had a different perspective.

Actually, I struggled a little with this all being “good fun” for kids. It was like a casino for kids. The atmosphere was full of pings, pongs and musical sounds as several children were glued in front of the gaming machines. Their eyes were entranced by the flashing lights and tickets spewing out of those machines for them to collect. “How many tickets do you think I have, Mommy?” Quinn asked me. “I’m not sure, but you have quite a lot,” I said.

When our hour of playing was up, Quinn eagerly headed to the ticket counting machine with no hesitation, but I observed some children who begged and pleaded with their caregivers or parents for more time or had tantrums if they couldn’t play longer.

I thought to myself, is this teaching young children how to gamble or planting that gambling seed, or is it just all in fun? Maybe I’m just too far removed from my fun days at Chuck E Cheese. I know I always had fun and loved the pizza too. Either way, I was happy to see my daughter having a good time and want to make sure she has fun just being a kid without me projecting my adult perceptions.

All the best,


Life’s a Bike Without Training Wheels: Gotta Have Confidence & Balance!

My little girl and I’ve gone bike riding quite frequently, either on her bike with training wheels or her trailer bike attached behind my bike. But yesterday was a major milestone. We went out for her first practice ride with one missing training wheel and then with both taken off. Quinn told me, “I’m excited but nervous, Mommy. Do you have any advice?” I immediately said, “A big part of riding a bike without training wheels is having the confidence that you can do it, and another part is being able to balance!”

We spent about an hour at the neighborhood park’s lot for a flat surface: a half hour with just one training wheel attached and the other half with no training wheels attached. Without me coaching her, she repeatedly said, “I am confident, I am confident…” as she tried to balance, pedal, steer and look where she was going. There were times when her father or I was along the side or in the back and even a few instances when she was able to ride with minimal assistance.

While she  managed to get accustomed to just the one training wheel, no training wheels definitely proved to be more arduous. I could see the frustration starting to seep in as she tipped to the side when she pedaled a short distance, and I didn’t want her to feel defeated. I shared with her that I didn’t learn to ride a bike in just one day and that it may take some time.

Right next to the park’s lot we could see a couple of teens practicing tricks at the skate park, and I  asked, “Do you think they learned how to skate board or do those tricks in one day?” Quinn said, “No.” I responded, “Exactly! They probably practice a lot, and the more you practice the better you will get at riding your bike with no training wheels.”

This made me think about how so many tasks and activities in life require confidence and some level of balance in order to succeed.  Everything from bike riding to skate boarding to roller skating and even walking needs these features. If you think about it, the people who lead the most successful lives tend to be confident and well-balanced.

I also feel confident in saying that most would say this isn’t something that happens over night. Parents, teachers, mentors and many other people and “helpers” may be our “training wheels” in the early stages of life. Sometimes, people don’t need them at all, others need them for a little while, and some need them longer than others. I’m not sure how long it will take my daughter to confidently balance without training wheels, but I plan to be right by her side encouraging her that she can do it not just with riding a bike but with anything in life.

If you have any tips for riding without training wheels, please feel free to share.

All the best,


Sweetness in the Making: Fun at Hershey’s Chocolate World with My Little Girl


Imagine making your own special candy bar from start to finish? Though the main ingredient, chocolate, is established, you still get to make it your own by adding other ingredients for that one of a kind taste. My family and I had this wonderful experience at Hershey’s Chocolate World. As I observed my sweet little girl totally captivated with the process from start to finish, it made me think about my role in “creating and manufacturing” her sweetness.

Just like the candy bar, her main ingredients, or DNA and personality, are already established, but as her parent, it is my job to determine what other ingredients, or environmental factors and reinforcement, will bring out her “yummy goodness.”

It’s amazing how there’s so many steps in the process of creating and making a chocolate candy bar that one may not be aware of or even consider. One in particular that stood out to me was the cooling period which is approximately ten minutes. This makes me think about how my six year old has and will go through so many different milestones. She’ll go through hot and cooling phases, so it’s essential for me to be in tune with her needs and operate the machinery with care in an effort to yield the best life-long production.

Take a look at our fun making candy bars. Though the tasty treats may not last long, the memories will last a lifetime. In the words of Hershey, it’s “A Tale of Determination, Delicious Chocolate and Lasting Goodness!

All the best,


Another Lesson from My Little Girl: Humans Need Nature

Yesterday, my friend and her family were kind enough to host us at their lake house for the day, and there were so many magical moments and memories made. One in particular is when my six year old, holding her hand behind her back said, “I got something for you, Mommy!” It was a bright yellow flower, one I’d never seen before. “I got it when we were near the lily pads,” she informed me with a smile. I smiled back and said, “Thank you, Quinnie! It’s beautiful!”

As I admired this interesting little flower, I noticed something. There was a little insect inside making its way out. I called Quinn over to take a look with me, and she was fascinated by the little creature too. Once it was out, we actually discovered that there was another inside. I snapped a few pictures of it and thought to myself, humans need nature. I may not be fond of creepy crawlers, but I found myself entranced. There’s something endearing about observing children be their natural selves exploring nature. I truly am grateful for the ability to simply slow down and enjoy nature with my daughter and friends. It may not be the “norm” for most in 2019, but it feels so natural.

All the best,


Life’s Not So Dark with the Colorfulness of Children

Even though babies are not born knowing how to see, then only in black, white and gray before eventually seeing in color months later, it’s amazing how they add so much color to the darkest of lives and moments. This occurred to me as I watched my daughter use her rainbow scratch and sketch book we purchased as the Franklin Institute last week. What I love about the book is that it’s not just black pages with rainbow colors underneath, but it gives suggestions and inspirational ideas to bring forth the color.

As a child and even as a young adult, there’s been times when I’ve been swallowed up by darkness, felt depressed, lonely and struggled to find the “color” or rainbow. But now, I try to focus on knowing that the color is always there if I scratch deep enough below the surface.

It also doesn’t hurt that the colorfulness of my little girl fills me with joy and hope whenever I find myself headed towards a dark place. It’s so easy to focus on the darkness coming from people, places and circumstances. But as my six year old told me, “Isn’t it so cool that underneath the black there’s all of these beautiful colors!”

All the best,


Life: Fun, Messy, and Good Like an Ice Cream Sandwich. Just Ask My Little Girl!

“Hurry, Quinnie! You need to move quickly,” I warned my daughter as the vanilla ice cream turned started dripping everywhere. A few months ago, I gave my six year old an American Girl cookbook full of tasty desserts. Yesterday, she picked a cool, refreshing treat which we both thought would be perfect to make with the series of hot days we’ve been having with temperatures above 90 degrees: ice cream sandwiches!

Before getting started, we made sure we had all of the ingredients and purchased some extra sprinkles, mini chocolate morsels and mini M & M’s to decorate our frozen treats. This recipe actually called for creating our own soft chocolate cookies for the ice cream sandwiches: a first time for me. So I told my daughter ahead of time that it’s okay if they aren’t perfect because we’re learning together. Preparing the cookies went rather smoothly, and she practically did everything from start to finish with the exception of operating the oven.

It wasn’t until we started making the ice cream sandwiches that it became tricky or should I say messy. I absentmindedly followed the directions of the recipe and let the ice cream sit out for ten to fifteen minutes to soften it up not taking into account how hot it’s been, especially in the kitchen. Needless to say, the ice cream turned to mush in a matter of minutes. We were both racing the clock to apply the ice cream nice and neat between the cookies, decorate them with sprinkles, mini morsels or M & M’s and get the wrapped up in press and seal to be left in the freezer for at least two hours. Though they didn’t quite turn out like the picture in the book, in the words of Quinn, “It wasn’t an epic fail because they still tasted good!”

Baking cookies and making ice cream sandwiches with my little girl on a hot summer day made me think about life. Sometimes you have all of the ingredients you need, along with a few extras, follow the instructions, and it might not turn out as you had hoped. It might actually get quite messy! But that shouldn’t take away from the fun memories created while you were collecting the ingredients and following the instructions. Even as an adult, I’m still constantly being reminded that sometimes I need to modify the ingredients or instructions based on the circumstances. Also, it’s necessary to get past the messiness to simply enjoy that mushy yet tasty ice cream sandwich, especially in the summer heat.

All the best,


Thankful for a Kind & Loving Daughter

“I have something for you, Mommy,” my little girl told me. It wasn’t Mother’s Day, not my birthday nor Christmas. What could it be, I thought? Probably a picture she drew or a craft she made at camp. “You have something for me?” I asked. “For you and Daddy,” Quinn responded. It was a special note she wrote that said, “For Mom and Dad.” Inside, it read, “You are kind an loveing. love Quinn.” While the English professor in me was tempted  to tell her she spelled loving incorrectly, I was just so moved by the kind gesture of my six year old.

I inquired, “Did your camp counselor ask you all to write notes to your parents?” Quinn quickly said, “No! I just wanted to write you and Daddy a note to thank you for being kind and loving.” Even though we’ve both been keeping gratitude journals since the start of the year and often talk about the importance of expressing gratitude and thanking people for their generosity and kindness, I was still pleasantly surprised to get such a lovely note from Quinn. She truly is a loving and caring daughter for which I am grateful.

All the best,