Life is Like Skateboarding : A Lesson from My Daughter

As I quickly snapped a picture of my eighth year old before she started her skateboarding lesson, it occurred to me that life is a lot like skateboarding.

Some of us may be eager and even excited to embrace all that it offers, but others may be nervous about getting hurt or self conscious if they’re not as skilled to handle the skateboard as others may.

Even still, we kick and push through, learning to balance, to move faster, to take corners and hills. We learn special tricks along the way not to simply show off our skills, but to help us maneuver and get through “life.”

When I arrived a few minutes early to pick up Quinn, I observed her focusing and listening carefully to the instructor just as life often requires us to focus and learn from others. Now, if only I can get up the might to take an actual skateboarding lesson as my daughter hopes I will in the near future.

All the best,

Tanya

Family Togetherness: A Good Harvest & Great Meal

This past Wednesday, my friends invited my daughter and I to visit their community garden. This was such an exciting experience for Quinn because it was her first time at a garden growing vegetables and fruits in addition to plants and flowers. My mom had a garden when I was a little girl, and seeing Quinn happily harvest tomatoes, green peppers, egg plants and herbs as well has made me want to start a beginners garden for us to grown organic veggies and fruits together.

The fun didn’t stop there though. Quinn immediately wanted to wash the vegetables and begin looking up what we could make. Yesterday, my eight year old couldn’t wait to start cooking. She settled on eggplant parmigiana, and I decided to add a side dish with green peppers and tomatoes from the garden along cauliflower rice and broccoli topped with marinara sauce. Though she asked that I hand,ev the knife while cutting the eggplants, tomatoes and green peppers, she did an awesome job preparing the eggplants with the Italian breadcrumbs and arranging them on the baking sheet.

There’s something special about cooking together, but what’s going to make it extra special is growing and harvesting our own vegetables and fruit next year around this time then preparing a meal together with those fruits and veggies.

All the best,

Tanya

What’s “in” About Cooking Out? Family Togetherness

As the unofficial end of summer nears, we decided to have an intimate cookout with our family yesterday. Of course, spending time with family is always nice, especially with spending mor time than usual apart as a result of restrictions for over a year.

But what really made cooking out “in” this time around was the eagerness of my eight year old. Without hesitation, she went and grabbed her apron and insisted on helping prepare some of the food. She smiled at me and said, “Mommy, I love baking and cooking food with you. It’s so much fun.” Hearing her say this and want to help without me nudging her really made my day.

I snapped a few pictures of her in action, and she decided to snap a few of me as well. The icing on the cake is feeling like all hope is not lost with our future generation. While many kids of 2021 may not know how nor have interest in cooking, other than popping something in the microwave or air fryer, my Quinn will have baking and cooking skills.

All the best,

Tanya

Look Out Third Grade! Here She Comes!

“I don’t know why, but I think this is the most excited I’ve been to start school! Maybe it’s because we weren’t in person when we started school last year,” my third grader told me. A few days ago, I shared with my daughter that third grade was one of my favorite school years. I loved all that we learned and thought my teacher was the best.

Quinn told me that she has a feeling that this year is going to be great for her too. So far, her teacher sent a lovely welcome letter addressed to Quinn, called us at home to speak with my husband and me and to welcome Quinn and had a smile in her voice and eyes when we met her in person today. Though the school is set up for social distancing, I am hopeful that all will go well and that Quinn will come home with a smile on her face and eager to learn and make friends throughout the school year.

Seeing her happy face and excitement has actually helped me feel less nervous as I start my new semester teaching in person for the first time since March 2020.

Here’s to a fun, productive and wonderful school year!

All the best,

Tanya

The Beauty of a Perfect Beach Day Before the End of Summer Break

In just two days, I’ll be going back to work after a great summer break doing activities with my daughter. So I decided, why don’t we take a trip to the beach one more time before it’s back to work and school. My niece was happy to join us as well.

The weather forecast changed quite a bit with a hurricane coming up the coast over the weekend, so we had our fingers crossed that the rain would move out for us to have some fun. Just like magic, the rain stopped and the sun even made an appearance once we got on the beach.

I’m not sure if it’s because this may be our last time coming to the beach before summer ends or the joy from the rain moving out, but our smiles were bigger, as were the waves, and our laughter was louder. There was something so beautiful about the beach today! It certainly was spending it with my daughter and niece too.

All the best,

Tanya

A Few Days as an Empty Nester: Enjoying Adult Time But Missing My Little Girl

Yesterday, while walking my dog, I came across a neighbor who was walking her dog. We stopped and chatted for a bit as our dogs “chatted” too. Then she asked, “Where’s your daughter? Is it too early for her?” When I informed my neighbor that Quinn was having fun at a granddaughters’ sleepover my mom puts together every year and how excited she was to go, my neighbor smiled and said, “I’m sure you’re excited too! You get a few days to yourself!” I nodded, but I wasn’t as excited as some parents may be.

Yes, we’ve spent so much time together as a family, especially with the restrictions and home schooling of 2020 and half of 2021, and while I do enjoy having some time to myself to just relax or maybe watch shows that may not be age appropriate for my eight year old, I really do enjoy her company. Also, I don’t know how many more years I have for if and when she decides that she doesn’t want to hang out with me. Even if I’m lucky enough for that day to never come, at some point she will go to college or venture off on her own, and I won’t see her as much, so I want to take advantage of the moments we have together.

My mom has been sending me pictures for the past few days of their activities, and it’s clear that Quinn is having a wonderful time with her cousins and Nana, which I’m more excited about than me having time away from her. She’s a great kid with a bubbly personality, and I’m excited to have her home in the next few days.

All the best,

Tanya

Life One Year Later as a Dog Mom

I never thought I’d be gathering up toys, preparing meals and excitedly sharing stories and pictures a second time as a “mom.” But when Zack became a member of our family a year ago, I immediately fell in love. There was so much to learn as a puppy/dog mom, and though I’m sometimes frustrated when my little guy decides to be sneaky and steal a sock or bacon from the dining room table or tired when I have to take him out to go potty or for a walk when it’s raining or cold, it’s all been worth it.

He’s brought an abundance of love to our family, and seeing him play with his big sister always puts a smile on my face, even when I have to admonish one of them for not playing nicely. He’s also helped Quinn become more responsible. Even my husband who initially claimed he belonged to Quinn and me has come to love Zack and enjoys having him around.

I truly am so happy that we decided to become a dog family and am proud to be his dog mom.

All the best,

Tanya

The Great Adventure with My Daughter on the Jersey Devil

This was it! There was no turning back. I was locked in place. My eight year old was seated right in front of me, but I couldn’t really see her. The clink, clink sound got louder as my heartbeat seemed to match its pace feeling like it was coming out of my chest. We were at Six Flags Great Adventure on the Jersey Devil roller coaster.

After quickly asking Quinn is she was ready and okay, all I could do was close my eyes tightly and prepare to scream at the top of my lungs, struggling to believe that I was about to experience this crazy ride. I used to love roller coasters, but since having Quinn and being older, I just can’t handle them like I used to and was just grateful that I didn’t have any food on my stomach.

Why on earth would I get on the ride? Two words: for Quinn! Though she said it was okay if she didn’t get on the ride since everyone was too scared, when I looked at her face and heard the inflection in her voice, I knew I had to get on even if it meant I would feel like I was experiencing an out of body experience.

The ride lasted a few minutes, but I know my willingness to get on the Jersey Devil just for Quinn, especially since she knows my “tummy gets funny,” will stay with her for many years to come. That makes it all worth it!

All the best,

Tanya

Playing it Cool, and Celebrating National Ice Cream Day with my Sweet Girl

There seems to be a national holiday for just about everything from chocolate to spaghetti to pizza day, so National ice cream day is certainly no surprise. Though I recall celebrating it a few years ago with my daughter at the Please Touch Museum, I lost track of the day until it came up in my photo memory.

What made it extra special this year is that I purchased an ice cream maker, and it just so happens that we made our own ice cream together! I have fond memories of ice cream socials when I was younger. My mom would allow my siblings and me to pick out toppings at the store and our favorite flavor ice cream.

What made eating ice cream special was not just picking what we wanted but socializing and experiencing togetherness as a family. That’s exactly how I feel when having ice cream with my husband and daughter. Making it together just adds the cherry on top.

All the best,

Tanya

Reconnected: The Bond of Cousins

“It’s been over a year and a half, mommy! Do you think she’s taller?” my daughter asked about her little cousin. “Yes, I’m sure she’s taller,” I responded. This past Wednesday, Quinn and her cousin got to spend time together in Sesame Place after being apart for well over a year and a half.

As we waited for my sister-in-law and niece to arrive, Quinn watched closely looking for anyone who resembled them. When she finally spotted them, her smile widened, and she excitedly told me, “Here they come!” When my niece got closer, I could see the happiness on her face as well. Seeing these two reconnect after being apart for what probably felt even longer, considering that they’re both young children, really made my day.

It actually reminded me of the scene in “The Color Purple” when Celie and Nettie reconnected after being separated for years. Though I played it cool, there was this surge of emotions as I took a picture of them with their big, happy smiles. After being under restrictions for so long, I have an even greater appreciation for spending time with family and friends.

All the best,

Tanya