Having a Happy Kwanzaa with My Little One: Umoja (Unity)

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Quinn Demonstrating Umoja by Becoming a Part of the Ceremonial Dance

Kwanzaa is a week long celebration which celebrates and honors African heritage in African American cultures, and it pleases me that this is the third year my two and a half year old has attended a Kwanzaa celebration. Though my daughter initially clung to my husband and me this evening, she was a shining example of Umoja the first day of Kwanzaa, which means unity.

Part of the evening involved gaining some historical knowledge about Kwanzaa along with different aspects of African heritage. One of the people offering insight also performed a ceremonial African dance with roots from Mali. My daughter was captivated by the woman’s movements, so when she extended her hand to Quinn, she surprisingly took it without hesitation, even with the huge crowd of onlookers. Perhaps she could feel her positive energy and knew she would not do her harm. Maybe she was just moved by the familial setting and togetherness of so many people.

The woman remarked on how brave Quinn was and how we can all learn from her. In knowing how shy my daughter can be, I was astonished at how she stepped out of her comfort zone to unite with someone she did not even know. My little one actually played a significant role in getting some of the adults out of their seats to actively participate in the celebration. Quinn reinforced the importance of how bravery is sometimes essential to establish unity among people. Sometimes extending a hand with a welcoming smile is enough to make a person want to unite. It worked for Quinn!

All the best,

Tanya H. Franklin

On the “Actual” Day of Christmas My Toddler Gave to Me…Christmas Fun with My Little One

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Quinn Enjoying Her Christmas Present: Lambie from Doc McStuffins

On the “actual” day of Christmas, my toddler gave to me joy selecting a Christmas tree,  memorable moments decorating, festive and fun goofing aroundpartying all night, excitement while visiting Santa Clauscounting down the dayshappiness at Sesame Place, bonding time making our own tree, befriending Santa’s elf on the shelfcreating a chocolate cookie candy trainreceiving messages from the North Polebaking cookies for Santa Claus and witnessing the happiness in my daughter’s eyes!

This Christmas day, my two and a half year old woke up at 6:37 am, which is around the time she usually wakes up, but today she knew it was Christmas and asked, “Did Santa come, Mommy?” I told her, “Let’s go see!” “Wow, look at all these presents, Mommy! How did Santa get them here? Where did he get them from? Did he go to the store?” My inquisitive little girl was full of questions. “May I open one please, Mommy?” With each gift she opened, the excitement continued to build, and when she finally got to the one gift she asked Santa for when she visited and took a picture with him, she was so happy. “Mommy, Santa got me Lambie! I asked for Lambie when I talked to Santa!”

What made me a proud mommy is that with each gift Quinn opened, she thanked her father and me and asked if she could thank Santa too. She also gave me the opportunity to be a big kid and play with some of her gifts with her. After a morning filled with fun and what felt like never-ending playtime, we both took a nap and then had a wonderful time with our relatives. Watching Quinn interact with her cousins was reminiscent of the fun times I had with my siblings and cousins.

Before she dozed off on the car ride home a little before 11:00 pm, my husband and I asked her how was her Christmas, and she said, “It was great! I got Lambie, saw family (she actually named everyone) and had a good day!” What a wonderful way to spend the Christmas holiday. Here’s to many years to come counting down the days of Christmas with my little girl!

Happy Holidays,

Tanya H. Franklin

On the Twelfth Day of Christmas My Toddler Gave to Me…Christmas Fun with My Little One

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Quinn is Ready to Bake Cookies for Santa

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my toddler gave to me joy selecting a Christmas tree,  memorable moments decorating, festive and fun goofing aroundpartying all night, excitement while visiting Santa Clauscounting down the dayshappiness at Sesame Place, bonding time making our own tree, befriending Santa’s elf on the shelfcreating a chocolate cookie candy trainreceiving messages from the North Pole and baking cookies for Santa Claus!

One of my favorite Christmas activities since I was a young child is baking Christmas cookies for Santa with my siblings and mother. Now, it feels wonderful to continue that tradition with my two and a half year old daughter. Even though I do like preparing the cookies from scratch, sometimes Quinn loses interest when we are baking, so to ensure that it was a fun and quick activity for her, we used the pre-made Pillsbury sugar cookies and a cookie pan with the shapes already cut out.

To make baking cookies for Santa memorable for my little girl and to establish our own Christmas Eve tradition, we used a special plate just for Santa that Quinn’s auntie purchased for her, and I gave her a little red apron that says, “Santa’s Little Helper” to make her feel special and like a real baker.

Quinn’s favorite part, which was mine too when I was younger, is putting sprinkles on the cookies and, of course, having a cookie or two to make sure they are perfect for Santa.

Happy holidays,

Tanya H. Franklin

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Quinn Making Sure Santa’s Cookies Are Tasty

On the Eleventh Day of Christmas My Toddler Gave to Me…Christmas Fun with My Little One

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Quinn with Her North Pole Message Machine

 

On the eleventh day of Christmas, my toddler gave to me joy selecting a Christmas tree,  memorable moments decorating, festive and fun goofing aroundpartying all night, excitement while visiting Santa Clauscounting down the dayshappiness at Sesame Place, bonding time making our own tree, befriending Santa’s elf on the shelfcreating a chocolate cookie candy train and receiving messages from the North Pole!

When I was younger, I was not only fascinated with Santa Claus but the North Pole as well. What I wouldn’t give to be granted a special trip to Santa’s Workshop in the North Pole. Though the likelihood of this happening is slim for me, especially as an adult, there is still a glimmer of hope for my daughter. While she is only two and a half and still learning about Christmas, Santa, where he lives and how he knows if she’s been naughty or nice, she does look forward to the communication she receives from her North Pole Message Machine.

Clementine, one of Santa’s head elves, Mrs. Claus, a few other characters and even Santa himself share little facts about what goes on in the North Pole from December 1st through December 25th. At this point, my eight year old niece, who has been spending some time with us for the past few days, does appreciate the North Pole messages a bit more than Quinn. But my daughter already has been able to make the distinction between the voice of one of the male elf’s and Santa. When I think she is not paying attention to the message, she perks up when Santa’s voice comes on and says, “That’s Santa talking from the North Pole! Hi, Santa!”  As Quinn gets older, I have a feeling that she will look forward to the messages more and more. I may be an adult, but I enjoy listening to them as they have added to the Christmas spirit and give us something special to look forward to after breakfast.

All the best,

Tanya

On the Tenth Day of Christmas My Toddler Gave to Me…Christmas Fun with My Little One

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Quinn and Her Big Cousin Decorating Their Train

On the tenth day of Christmas, my toddler gave to me joy selecting a Christmas tree,  memorable moments decorating, festive and fun goofing aroundpartying all night, excitement while visiting Santa Clauscounting down the dayshappiness at Sesame Place, bonding time making our own tree, befriending Santa’s elf on the shelf, and creating a chocolate cookie candy train!

When I was younger, I loved making gingerbread houses out of frosting and candy with my siblings. Today, I still enjoy this activity, but I had the opportunity to do it with my daughter and my niece, who Quinn admires and looks up to as though she is her big sister. Now, there are so many constructions and sizes from which to choose. Initially my two and a half year old selected the Hello Kitty gingerbread figure. Then she chose a house, but after she locked eyes with the chocolate cookie train kit, her mind was set; that was the one she wanted.

This is an activity where I’m glad my niece was able to join us because Quinn is still developing her pincer skills, and she tends to take her big cousin’s lead on activities rather than having me, her mommy, direct her every move. While this was a fun activity, I must admit that it was difficult at times for me not to step in with my “type A” personality and say how “we” should design the train, but I held back and was able to simply appreciate the togetherness and bonding of cousins. I’m sure they both appreciated it as well. What’s funny is that I while I was deciding on an area where we could display the train, they both were thinking about what piece of candy or frosting they were going to eat first. They were, however, kind enough to design a caboose just for me, and Quinn eagerly offered a piece of candy from her train to her daddy. But if I want one for display next time just for Christmas, I guess I better get one for them and one for me.

All the best,

Tanya

On the Ninth Day of Christmas My Toddler Gave to Me…Christmas Fun with My Little One

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Quinn with Elf on the Shelf Friend

On the ninth day of Christmas, my toddler gave to me joy selecting a Christmas tree,  memorable moments decorating, festive and fun goofing aroundpartying all night, excitement while visiting Santa Clauscounting down the dayshappiness at Sesame Place, bonding time making our own tree and befriending Santa’s elf on the shelf!

At two an a half years old, this is the first Christmas where my daughter truly knows who Santa is and was very excited to see him. Initially, she associated the red and white suit with Santa, so when I purchased the Elf on the Shelf for her, she thought the elf was Santa. When I explained that the Elf was coming to our home to help out Santa and to make sure she was behaving while he was busy preparing for Christmas, Quinn somewhat got the idea. Really, I just think she likes having a friend in the house who knows Santa. She even asked if her elf friend could come to her room to spend the night. I know this is not exactly how the elf is to be used, according to the story, but since Quinn is still young, I am going with the flow. Since she is an only child and is not in school, I occasionally hear her telling her elf friend, “Can you tell Santa I want Lambie for Christmas? I’m going to be good and listen to Mommy and Daddy.” My hope is that she will look forward to having her Elf on the Shelf friend watch over her on Santa’s behalf in the years to come.

All the best,

Tanya

On the Eighth Day of Christmas My Toddler Gave to Me…Christmas Fun with My Little One

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Quinn is ready to get started!

On the eighth day of Christmas, my toddler gave to me joy selecting a Christmas tree,  memorable moments decorating, festive and fun goofing around, partying all night, excitement while visiting Santa Claus, counting down the days, happiness at Sesame Place and bonding time making our own tree! I’ve always loved doing special art projects in school, and though my two and a half year old is not in day school, I want to ensure that she has the experience of doing special art projects for the holiday. Since she loves the Christmas tree, having her make one herself was a perfect idea. I had a vision of what I wanted us to create together, and we were able to get most of the materials from Target: green tissue paper, green shredded paper, colorful pom pom balls in multiple sizes, puffy red garland and a gold bow. We already had the construction paper,  Modge Podge matte finish and scissors.

We used an 11 x 17 green construction paper. I folded it in half and cut the paper on an angle to make the triangular tree. I thin folded and cut up the tissue paper in rectangular pieces. Then, Quinn took over the project by applying Modge Podge to the tree a little at a time with her sponge then placing the tissue paper on top. To give the tree some texture, we added the shredded green paper with a little more Modge Podge Glue. After allowing the tree to dry, we then added the red garland with glue and taped the backs to make sure it was secure. Then, we added the pom pom balls as ornaments. Once everything was dry, we put the tree on red construction paper as a backing and then added the gold bow as the star. This was a fun project for us both, and now we have two trees for Christmas!

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Our work is displayed on Quinn’s special frame for all to see.

All the best,

Tanya

Here’s a slide show of our project below:

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