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

Piecing it Together With My Daughter During These Puzzling Times

Working on a 500 piece puzzle!

With some Kidz Bop music playing in the background, my seven year old and I sat at the table quietly sorting through all of the puzzle pieces, 500 pieces to be exact! Since I can remember, I’ve always liked doing puzzles, and Quinn is the same way.

Though we both enjoy doing puzzles, we have different techniques for getting started. I tend to focus on the edges and piecing together the frame of the puzzle, and she prefers to sort through the colors looking for similarities. Though my strategy yielded quicker results, leaving Quinn a little frustrated with her progress, I reassured her that once the frame was done, I too would be following her technique.

While we’re just getting started, this activity is perfect to constructively pass time as we continue to practice social distancing. It also made me think about how there’s so many things to piece together during these puzzling times. Just like working on this 500 piece puzzle, it can initially be overwhelming, but we must be patient and work together diligently. Over time, everything will start to come together and be clearly presented. Then, we’ll be able to admire our hard work and Pat each other on the back for working together as a team.

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

“Rememory:” Stories to Remember with My Little Girl

“The cards are a secret, parent and night. Ooh, I got a good story for this one!” my six year old exclaimed. A little bit before the coronavirus lockdown was enforced, I came across the game “Rememory” and thought it would be an excellent way to strengthen my family bond.

Each evening for dinner, Quinn enjoys opening that little box, filled with hundreds of cards. Little did I know she would have so many stories to share that I would be hearing for the first time. I look forward to not only reminiscing but sharing my memories with my daughter and husband too.

Actually, Rememory has offered me comfort in knowing that this lockdown will one day be a distant memory and story that we will share with our future generations.

Until then, I’m enjoying the stories and memories I am currently sharing and building with 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!”

Dancing Is Not Cancelled! Thanks to Debbie Allen Dance Academy!

81178884-6b8a-4572-9c16-b60a92780360My daughter excitedly asked, “When does dance class start again, Mommy?” She was ready in her comfortable workout attire eating for it to get underway. Yesterday, we got the chance of a lifetime to dance with choreographers from Debbie Allen Dance Academy live through Instagram. At first, Quinn was doing it by herself because it was advertised for three to seven year olds, but the dance instructor said, “Mommy’s and daddy’s join in too!” As I was watching from afar in the kitchen, “Quinn yelled out, “You can do it too, Mommy! Let’s dance together!”

Though I had on jeans, not the most comfortable for dancing, I quickly raced into the living room where I had the Instagram live feed mirrored to my TV. In knowing this was a once in a lifetime opportunity, I decided to record us dancing together. We moved, wiggled, giggled and even breathed heavily at times as we tried to keep up with the dance moves of the choreographer. Afterwards, my six year old said, “I think Kenzie (her thirteen year old cousin) could have done that dance too!”

We both struggled a bit trying to keep up with the fast paced African dance routine, but it really was so much fun. Plus it was great exercise too. Yes, now has been quite a trying time. There’s so many limitations on what we can do, so I’m so glad that Debbie Allen and her dance studio put together such a wonderful online event with thousands and thousands of people tuning in together. In times like this that we must remember the Zimbabwe African Proverb If you can walk, you can dance. If you can talk, you can sing. My daughter keeps me moving which in turns keeps my spirits up!

All the best,

Tanya

It Might Seem Like All Fun & Games, But Kids Are More “Clued” in Than We Think!

“It was Scarlet with the lead pipe in the garage,” my daughter asserted. We both love playing games. I especially enjoy how it not only gives us quality time together but improves not just her critical thinking but mine too.

Clue was one of my favorite games to play with my sister when I was younger. While I was eager to introduce it to Quinn, I was a bit apprehensive because of the premise of the game: find out who committed the murder, with what and where? According to the box, it’s for ages eight and up, but after giving it some thought and discussing it with my six year old, we determined that she could handle it without the game being too much for her. Boy, was I right!

Though there were newly added rooms, and I had to relearn some of the basic rules, it took Quinn no time to catch on to the concept of Clue. She strategically went to the different rooms to cross off what places the murder didn’t happen, and paid close attention as her dad and I did the same so that she could rule out suspects.

As I determined what cards were in the clue envelope and eagerly awaited my turn, Quinn solved the crime! I was always amazed at how “clued” in she was. A part of me was pleasantly surprised, but then again, she’s always been good at critical thinking. Some people think children are too young to understand certain concepts or lack basic critical thinking skills, but oftentimes it is us adults who are clueless for doubting or underestimating the abilities of children. Time and time again, Quinn reminds me of how adults can learn so many lessons from children.

All the best,

Tanya

Baking is Love, Especially When They’re Cookies From a Sweet Girl!

“I love baking with you, Mommy! Can we do it more often?” my six year old asked. “I don’t see why not,” I told her. I love baking, especially when I get to do it with my daughter. I get to guide her through the process. We get to talk, laugh and just be in each other’s presence. Also, I just feel the love. On Valentine’s Day, she was eager to bake cookies to give to people she loves and did it from start to finish. She even effortlessly used the cookie press after I demonstrated how to use it. I’m so grateful that displaying love is something that’s effortless for the both of us, not just on Valentine’s Day but everyday.

All the best,

Tanya

Lessons in Bravery from Two Six Year Olds: Ruby Bridges and My Daughter

On Friday, my daughter’s teacher posted pictures on Class Dojo about what the class is doing in preparation for Black History Month. My eye was immediately drawn to the picture of my six year old and a few of her classmates holding up their papers with the title: I am brave like Ruby Bridges. (Their faces have smiley faces since I did not time to ask permission to post the picture)

What really struck a chord with me is that my daughter, while she’s brave in many ways, doesn’t have the same struggle as Ruby Bridges did as the first African American to integrate an elementary school in the south. According to womenshistory.org, “She walked past crowds screaming vicious slurs at her.” The article goes on to say, “Ruby ate lunch alone and sometimes played with her teacher at recess, but she never missed a day of school that year.” I couldn’t imagine my sweet girl or any child having to endure that level of hatred just based in the color of their skin.

Though times have changed and people’s thoughts have evolved in positive ways, I know racism and discrimination does still exist 60 years later. However, I’m so grateful that my little girl attends a diverse school where she interacts and plays with children of different races, ethnicities, religions, you name it and considers all of her classmates to be her friends.

Sometimes, I’m hesitant to share certain details about our history as African Americans with my daughter because of the tragedies and injustices we’ve endured. So it’s wonderful that she has a teacher who was thoughtful and brave enough to share the story of Ruby Bridges, a child who was just like Quinn and her classmates: six years old, eager to learn and excited about school. 

Let’s all continue to acknowledge the past and how far we’ve all come so that we all may have a positive future, especially  for our children.

All the best,

Tanya