Kindness “Rocks” with My Daughter

“I have some ideas of where to put mine, Mommy,” my daughter excitedly told me as she continued painting. “How about the park? Plenty of people, especially kids go to the park!” While on social media, I saw a post from my township encouraging citizens to place “kindness rocks” around town in public places for people to find, and I thought it would be a perfect activity for my daughter and me to not only bond but to spread some kindness and positivity.

To get started, we selected rocks my husband had for a landscape project and then decided on colors for our rocks. Quinn wanted pink, her favorite color, a light blue that’s like the sky because it makes her happy and a mixture of pink and blue to look like a “space” rock. I used royal blue, one of my favorite colors, green, orange and a nice bright yellow.

“I already know what I want one of my rocks to say, Mommy! Be yourself because some people are afraid to be themselves, but they should be proud of who they are!” Quinn informed me. I was very impressed by the wisdom of my seven year old because even adults (including me) sometimes struggle with simply being themselves and being happy with that. I decided on, “You are special” for one of my rocks because oftentimes we must remind ourselves that we “are” special, and it’s a message I want to make sure my daughter always remembers.

People locating our rocks around town really fills both Quinn and me with joy. We’re both hoping they attract those who’ll benefit the most from our positive notes and that they will possibly decide to create their own kindness rocks for Quinn and me to find on our daily travels!

All the best,

Tanya

An Absolute Treat: Making Ice Cream Cupcakes with My Sweet Girl

Making Ice Cream Cupcakes
Ice Cream Cupcake Results

Ever since a few weeks ago when my daughter saw an article on our Echo Show on how to make your own ice cream cake, she’s been dying for us to give it a try. It was for a strawberry crunch reminiscent of the Good Humor ice cream treats and caught my attention too considering that it’s been quite some time since I’ve had one. With her school year coming to a close and having hot and humid days all last week, I thought it would be a nice way to celebrate.

A few days ago, Quinn then saw another advertisement of a Reese’s ice cream cake and wanted to try that one too, so I figured why not do both of them on a smaller scale as cupcakes? After doing a little searching on Pinterest and checking out alternative recipes that were not too involved, I found the perfect recipes.

For the strawberry crunch recipe, we used golden Oreos, butter, vanilla ice cream, strawberry ice cream, cool whip and freeze dried strawberries. For the Reese’s cup treat, I just followed the strawberry shortcake recipe using Quinn’s ideas for the modifications. We used regular Oreos, butter, vanilla ice cream, Reese’s chocolate and peanut butter hard shell, chocolate ice cream, cool whip and mini Reese’s cups and pieces. Making the ice cream cup cakes was actually not as difficult as I thought it would be, but waiting overnight for them to set before getting to try them was for my seven year old.

As soon as we finished dinner yesterday, she said, “I’m so excited to try our ice cream cup cakes!” Since this was my first time trying to make them, and I modified the recipe slightly since I was doing cupcakes and not a cake, I wasn’t sure on how they would turn out. To my surprise, they were delightfully delicious! My husband and I both had the strawberry crunch ice cream cakes, and the golden Oreo and freeze dried strawberry crumble on top really did taste just like the Good Humor bar if not better! Quinn thoroughly enjoyed her Reese’s ice cream cup cake, and I’m tempted to try one for next time.

Summer isn’t officially here yet, but I’m eager to make many more treats with Quinn as these are sweet moments I will always hold dear.

All the best,

Tanya

Spinning My Wheels for the Past Three Months: Mirroring Hope, Persistence and Gratitude through My Daughter

As we biked down the road, Quinn said, “It’s so nice today. I love doing outdoor activities with you, Mommy!” It’s been nearly three months since the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted our way of life, and even though the transition to online learning for her and finding different ways to have fun while practicing social distancing has been going smoothly, hearing the happiness in her voice and giggle as we sped down the hill let me know how much she misses regular outdoor activities and outings.

Though it was hot yesterday, neither one of us cared because we were both just happy to be outside doing something more than a walk around the neighborhood. The light breeze, the beads of sweat forming as we pedaled in over time to get up those hills with the trailer bike, and whizzing down a hill or two were all greatly appreciated and sought after.

When we got home, Quinn eagerly asked if we can go for a bike ride again tomorrow and then said, “Even if we can’t do a lot of outdoor activities like last year, we can still have a fun summer.” This statement made me think about how resilient my seven year old has been throughout this entire ordeal. She’s went with the flow, is full of energy, which helps to keep me going when I’m feeling depleted, and she demonstrates hope for when “things get back to normal,” as she often says.

We all may find ourselves “spinning our wheels” longing for normalcy, but for now, I’m trying my best to mirror the hope, persistence and gratitude my daughter often displays.

All the best,

Tanya

I’m Game for Building Connections With My Daughter!

Fun with Checkers and Connect Four

Yesterday, my daughter and I played a few rounds of checkers and connect four. Both games were my favorite to play when I was younger. I’d always excitedly say, “Smoke before fire!” There was something about going first that made me feel like I had an extra edge to win the game.

“You didn’t see that jump?” I asked my seven year old as we played checkers. “Aww man, I see it now,” she said as I jumped over her piece and removed it from the board. From that point on, Quinn put on her game face and was ready!

As we continued to play both checkers and connect four, I saw how serious Quinn became. Her lips curled slightly, and she squinted a little as she looked at the board determining her next move. She reminded me of myself.

In thinking about the concept and strategies of both games, a big part of them is keen observation. This made me think about life and how “it” will happen whether we’re paying attention or not. Overlooking one move or piece on the board can cause the entire game change course.

As the Coronavirus lockdown continues, I’m trying my best to be observant and focus on the positive side of life. I must be mindful of my moves not just for me but my daughter too.

All the best,

Tanya

Happy “Lucky Number Seven” Birthday to My Sweet Girl! “Virtually” the Best Celebration!

Today is my daughter’s seventh birthday, and I feel so lucky to be her mother. I know everyone says it about their own kids, but Quinn really is a good child. She listens, is respectful, extremely caring, works really hard and tries her best in school, even with it not being online, at home, and always thinks of others. I want her to feel special everyday but especially on her birthday, so since the plans to celebrate with friends and family at Painting with a Twist were postponed as a result of the Coronavirus lockdown, I baked her a unicorn cake, which was a first for me that she absolutely loves, But I still wanted to do something more. Then the idea came to me: a surprise virtual party would be perfect, and it was!

First, I made arrangements with parents her closest friends to attend her unicorn themed, virtually fun, magical party using Zoom. Instead of the children just chatting, asking random questions or showing their favorite toys, I decided to give it a “real party feel.” So I sent out invitations, made virtual party bags with light-up unicorn headbands and rings, a rainbow scratch unicorn mask, a unicorn bracelet and chain and even a little note card for selecting their unicorn names. I also baked cupcakes and delivered them early in the morning along with the party bags to the doorstep or porch of each child in keeping with social distancing.

When the party started, we had Kidz Bop music playing in the background to set the mood, and before I knew it the girls had their light-up unicorn horns on and were having a great time showing off their most impressive dance moves. I was so happy watching Quinn beam with excitement. After dancing to a couple of songs and doing “freeze dance,” they all worked on their unicorn masks and were eager to display how they decorated them. Then, we did a unicorn version of “Simon Says,” which they all enjoyed doing and wanted to keep playing. Just like most birthday parties, we wrapped up with singing happy birthday and having cupcakes. Of course, we ended with a last dance, and I even joined in the fun too.

Though it wasn’t the party I’d planned for my daughter, it was still a fun time for all. She even said, “I still feel like I had a birthday party because I got to have fun with my friends, Mommy!” Hearing Quinn say that brought tears of joy to my eyes. I just love how she always goes with the flow, is grateful for what she has and makes the best of situations. Quinn may only be seven years old, but she’s my unicorn: special, magical and rare. I am so lucky to have her as my daughter.

All the best,

Tanya

Coronavirus Lockdown: Mother Daughter Weekend Edition!

b965bb0b-889b-470d-a3c5-423d6f87eace“I really wish this weekend didn’t have to end,” my six year old said. I told her, “We don’t need to set aside a special day to spend time with each other and that I enjoy being with her.” Last week, Quinn asked if we could have a mother and daughter day so that we can have extra fun together, and I said, “Why not make it a weekend!?” She wrote out a list of  five activities she’d like to do and asked when our weekend would start. When I told her Friday at 3:30pm, it couldn’t come fast enough for her. She was absolutely ready for our day to commence and let me know when it was a 3:29pm.

On Friday, we used the cotton candy maker from my childhood along with the new flavor sugars I ordered. She went with cherry, and I had blue raspberry. Though I did give mine to my husband since I knew I’d be having a weekend filled with tasty treats.

Bright and early on Saturday after breakfast, I attended a dance party lead by Quinn and learned some new, cool dance moves to Kids Bop songs. My Fitbit watch even noticed how hard I was dancing because it logged me for nearly a half hour of an aerobic workout. We even drew pictures together and used the free app Happy Color to do color by numbers and made it a competition to see who could get done their picture first. We played Mario Kart Tour using the app (another free game) and even got my sister and niece to join in from their home for a virtual race. It was so much fun and brought back memories of when I was younger playing race car video games.

After having some pizza delivered from Papa Johns, I rented the new “Trolls World Tour” movie through Amazon Prime video. We were able to watch on our big screen in our basement, along with my husband, giving it that movie theater feel as a special surprise.  We made our own ice cream sundaes, had popcorn and just a really good time together. Honestly, I didn’t want the fun to end either.

Though many of us are now having even more time with our children as a result of the lockdown, how much of that is “fun” time together? Yes, these are serious times, but it felt so good to just laugh, be silly, play games and enjoy each other’s company. Quinn gave me such a big hug and kiss yesterday and told me, ” I love you so much, Mommy! I can’t wait to have a mother daughter day again!” To which I responded, “Me neither!”

Coronavirus Lockdown: Growing Veggies Together with My Little Girl

766945bc-81f3-4cb8-9ef6-63303d7f1480“You know what, Mommy, if we start growing our own veggies, we won’t need to order them from the store or worry about leaving the house to get them,” my six year old said. A few days ago for our home school science project was planting green peppers and tomatoes in our indoor green house. At first, Quinn wasn’t very interested but then shortly after we started that it was more fun that she thought it would be and how she can’t wait until our veggies grow.

We do projects quite often, but I’m willing to admit that we might not have gotten around to attempting to grow veggies if we were not experiencing this Coronavirus lockdown. For the past couple of days, Quinn has looked at our little green house trying to see if anything has sprouted as yet. I told her it will take a little time. Even still, she’s actually encouraged me to plant more vegetables outside. Though it would require quite a bit of work with preparing the soil and an areas to prevent squirrels, rabbits and other little critters from eating what little we grow, I think this will be an excellent opportunity for Quinn and me to grow together and continue to strengthen our bond.

All the best,

Tanya

My Wish Has Been Granted! Another Year of Halloween Costume Fun with My Daughter: Aladdin Style!

 

For the past five years, my daughter and I’ve been dressing up for Halloween in “matching” costumes. When Quinn was two, she was Doc McStuffins, and I was Lambie. At three, she was an astronaut, and I was her rocket. At four, she was Snow White, and I was the Evil Queen. Just last year, she was a magical fairy princess, and I was a magical princess mermaid.

This year, we decided on two costumes. The first one, that we wore at Sesame Place and Boot at the Zoo, was dressing up like her American Girl doll, Luciana, which was a lot of fun. Our second set of costumes were inspired by the Aladdin movie. Quinn dressed as Princess Jasmine donning a beautiful fuchsia outfit we purchased at Target in the kids clothing section back in May, not the Halloween costume section, along with a long flowing ponytail with gold clips that we got from Amazon for $19.99. For her footwear, she already had a pair of gold sneakers for comfort.

At first I was going to be Princess Jasmine’s mother, but then Quinn suggested that I dress up as the genie, which I thought was a fantastic idea. Though it was tricky finding the costume, since the genie is a male character, I was able to locate one from Amazon that I really liked. It looked good on me, but was very thin.

So I decided to use my creativity and piece together my own costume. I ordered royal blue harem pants from Amazon for $15.99. They are actually good quality and have a comfortable fit. The light blue wrap shirt also came from Amazon for $15.99 as well, and it is nice enough to wear regular, not just for a costume. Since it is a little thin for this time of the year, I paired it with a royal blue tank top I already had to wear underneath. For the gold wrist cuffs and red satin sash, I actually purchase fabric from Joanne Fabrics and got to work using my sewing machine. Believe or not, it took my less than a half hour to do both. Then, I topped it off with a dark blue ponytail wig I also purchased from Amazon for $22.99 since I figured it would be a bit too much to paint my face and body blue. I actually like the way it looks and find it to be good quality and not like the wigs one might find at a local Halloween or party shop. I can see myself using it for other events in the future.

Having “matching” costumes with my daughter is something we both look forward to and makes one of my wishes come true. It strengthens our mother/daughter bond and puts smiles on both of our faces as we have a great time together. Though Halloween won’t be here for a few days, we’re already looking forward to what we’ll be for next year.

All the best,

Tanya

 

My Pumpkin is a Beautiful Unicorn!

Taking a family trip to Shady Brook Farm’s pumpkin patch is one of our favorite activities this time the year. Another one of the activities we thoroughly enjoy is deciding on how we will decorate our pumpkins and then sitting down and doing them as a family. Though it can get messy with paint, we love taking the trip to Michael’s to get all of our supplies and then helping each other out as we go through the process of giving our pumpkins character.

This year, my six year old was inspired by my unicorn I created last year and decided to do her own. She painted white all by herself. I helped her a little with cutting the felt pieces and using the hot glue gun to adhere them to her pumpkin. She then drew on the eyes after consulting a few pictures we found on the internet. My pumpkin was inspired by Aladdin, specifically Princess Jasmine. So after painting it a turquoise and fuchsia she wears in the movie, I blinged it out with pearl and gold trimming. My mother even got into the act with her pumpkin and made a cat using felt for the ears and painting on the face.

Now, our pumpkins sit on display on the buffet in our dining room for all visitors to see and admire. My admiration comes not just from the pumpkins but the memorable moments I share with my own mother and my daughter, who will always be my sweet little pumpkin.

All the best,

Tanya

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,

Tanya