The Crew is Back for Some Boo at the Zoo Fun!

“I’m so excited! We’re all going to be back together again, Mommy!” My daughter said as we got ready this morning. When I informed Quinn that we’ve seen our cousins and her Nana (my mom), she said, yes, but this is the first time since the pandemic that we’ll be together. The last time was actually at Boo at the Zoo in 2019.

After many restrictions and adjusting to the many new norms, I felt a sense of joy knowing that we would finally be reconnecting with our usual crew too. We all came ready in our cool and creative costumes with smiles on our faces, occasionally behind our masks while in large groups, and had a great time trick or treating while strolling along and seeing the animals. There was a chance of not just rain but thunderstorms. Instead, the sun was shining, and it was unseasonably warm. We didn’t even need our sweatshirts and got ice cream to cool off.

I just love seeing Quinn with her cousins having a blast. We both missed these interactions so much and am glad we were able to have fun together this year at one of our favorite Halloween events.

All the best,

Tanya

An Extra Special Back to School Night!

As my husband and I entered our daughter’s third grade classroom with soft classical music playing, I was filled with joy, not only because her teacher reminds me so much of my third grade teacher but because this was the first time I was back in my daughter’s school, let alone classroom for over a year and a half!

Though Quinn did such a wonderful job adapting to virtual learning last year and never complained about not being in the classroom, when I read her “About Me” presentation that she put together for my husband and me, I came to the realization that she missed being in person more than I thought.

There’s something special about being in person. That interaction with classmates and the teacher is needed for most and allows them to thrive and socialize. Though knowing that the vaccine is not available for Quinn’s age group still makes me a bit nervous, I’m grateful that she was not robbed of another year of limited to know socialization with her classmates and teacher.

On top of that, she was selected as the student of the month for her classroom which makes me very proud. This truly is starting off to be a special “back to school” experience for my daughter and me as well.

All the best,

Tanya

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

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

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

Hip Hop to You Don’t Stop! Looks Like I’m an Official Dance Mom!

Most of 2020 into 2021 has been an interesting year, especially for children who are used to going to school in person and participating in extra curricular activities. One of those activities for my daughter is dance; it’s been a part of her life since she was a toddler. She was so excited to take a Hip Hop petite class two years ago when she was six, but with the initial closures and then restrictions, last year there was no recital, and this year, it was moved outdoors for safety reasons.

Today was the special day, and seeing all of the children from toddler age to teens ready to go off to college eager to dance for their family and friends was a lovely sight. What made even more lovely was seeing how confident and ready Quinn was to take center stage for her hip hop number with her dance class. Of course, most parents are proud of their children and will cheer them on, but as I saw Quinn on the stage, it confirmed that she has something special, not just the gift of dance and movement, but the ability to command the stage even at a a young age.

Next year, she will be joining the hip hop competition team, and though I admittedly am not looking forward to the time commitment and traveling that comes along with being a “dance mom,” I am willing to do what it takes to support my daughter and look forward to Quinn continuing to hone her skills as a dancer and to become even more confident not just on the stage but in all aspects of her life.

All the best,

Tanya

The Perfect Image: Twinning and Loving My Mini Me

After spending about four hours doing knotless braids on my hair for the first time, my daughter smiled and said, “Your hair looks amazing! Can you put my hair in braids just like yours please?” Now that Quinn is officially eight years old, I wasn’t sure if she would still like to “twin” with me, but after I did her hair, she requested that I put it in a bun so that we could look like twins.

It makes me feel good to know that she still looks up to me, and when given the choice, she wants to be seen in my image. This also reminds me that I must be mindful and try my best to put forth a positive image for her to want to model. I love my mini me so much and will always cherish these bonding experiences that bring us closer together.

All the best,

Tanya

A Little Styling Goes a Long Way: Hair Salon Fun With My Daughter

Photo Credit: Muse Hair Studio (Tracie Stroman)

“I love it! I absolutely love it!” My soon-to-be eight year old exclaimed as she looked at herself swaying her head from side to side. This truly made my day! For the past couple of years, Quinn has been dying to wear her hair straight, so I thought what better way to kick off her birthday by taking her to a hair salon to have it professionally styled. Then I thought, why stop there? Why don’t I treat myself too since it’s been years since I’ve been to a salon or even worn my hair straight. Plus, this was a wonderful opportunity for us to bond together.

As we pulled up to Muse Hair Studio and I revealed the surprise to Quinn, she could barely contain herself. She was excited to go through the entire process. She sat in the booster added to the salon chair like a pro, and I couldn’t be prouder as I looked at her and snapped a few pictures sitting in the adjacent salon chair. The stylist, Tracie, and her assistant were, in Quinn’s words, “Amazing!” They treated Quinn like a little lady and even made her feel special by taking before and after pictures. (I felt extra special too!)

I asked her what she liked about the experience, and she said, “Everything!” Getting her hair washed with a massage, sitting under the dryer with the deep conditioner, getting her hair blow dried, flat ironed and styled were all of her favorites. I enjoyed this experience so much and even observed a couple other pairs of mothers and daughters, older than Quinn, getting their hair done or making appointments to get their hair done too.

I didn’t realize how much I missed having my hair done professionally until yesterday. It reminded me that self-care and just relaxing and having someone take care of me is needed, and I want Quinn to feel special and to embrace feeling good and taking care of herself as well as she gets older.

Photo Credit: Muse Hair Studio (Tracie Stroman)

All the best,

Tanya