Life Lessons: The Big Monopoly on Fun & Games

The other day, I overheard someone saying that “Monopoly” is one of the worst board games ever. I responded jokingly, “How dare you!? That’s one of my all-time favorite games!” “It’s just too long of a game,” the person replied. I said, “But that’s the whole point. It’s just like life and is all about strategizing.”I used to play Monopoly for hours with my sister and brother. Luckily, my six year old feels the same way as me and can’t get enough of Monopoly Junior. I asked her what she likes about the game, and Quinn said, “I like buying properties and collecting rent, but I have to be smart so that I don’t run out of money paying other people rent.” What great life lesson some adults are still learning!

One time when we were shopping we saw an LOL version, and she asked me how many different Monopoly games are there. After doing a quick search, I was amazed to find out that there are 1,144 different versions! There’s a Fortnite version, Stranger Things, a Pizza version, Cheaters edition, the classic version, and the list goes on and on. Who says video games and electronic devices have the monopoly on fun? Some kids do like good old fashioned board games. It’s a great way to have family time, talk, sharpen those critical thinking skills and to address the importance of not being a sore loser or an overly gloating winner for both the kids and the adults.

All the best,

Tanya

First Graders Unite: Quinnie V. Loves Reading Junie B. Jones!

I loved reading when I was younger. One of my favorites was the Ramona series by Beverly Cleary. I related to her because she had an older sister just like me. For my daughter, it’s June B. Jones, written by Barbara Park and illustrated by Denise Brunkus, who’s all the rave in my daughter’s first grade class and now in our home too. I’m not sure if it’s because I grew up reading Ramona, but Junie B. seems far more precocious than Ramona, yet she’s a witty little girl. I enjoy having Quinn read the stories to me and am impressed that she seldom needs help with a word. I also look forward to reading a chapter to her as part of her bedtime routine as it bringing me back to when I was in grade school.

When the second scholastic order form came home a few weeks ago, my daughter pleaded, “Mommy, can we please get the first set of Junie B. Jones’ books?”  We ordered ten books in September with Junie starting first grade and are still reading through the last few. Even though I initially suggested that we get through the ones she has first, Quinn convinced me to get the first series when Junie B. Jones is in kindergarten so that she can have the entire set and backstory. Plus, how could I possibly say no to purchasing books and encouraging my daughter’s love for reading.

This past Friday, the new series arrived at my six year old’s school, and she excitedly told me that her teacher said, “Wow, you have all of the Junie B. Jones books. I’m so jealous!” Book series surrounding a specific character is such a wonderful idea to engage children and even adults in reading. I too am eager to see what Junie B. Jones does in these series of stories. If you know of any other book series for young children please feel free to share.

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

 

Just Ask My Daughter, There’s Nothing “Wacky” About Learning Facts over Lunch!

My six year asked her dad, “Do you know what the dot over the lower case “i” is called?” With a pensive look on his face, he responded, “No, I don’t.” Quinn smiled, and enthusiastically said, “It’s called a tittle!” I teach English, and if I’m honest, I didn’t know it was called a “tittle.” Last year, when my daughter started kindergarten, I began including little notes in her lunch bag to not only let her know I love her or to offer her motivation but to give her an opportunity to practice reading.

I’m proud to say that she was a solid reader in kindergarten and eager to learn, so even though it’s only one year later, she is quite advanced in her reading. I still write little notes, but when we were doing back-to-school shopping prior to school starting, I stumbled upon something that caught my eye.

It was 101 Lunch Notes containing wacky facts and laughs. Some of the notes do contain big words where sounding them out might not help, but I’m amazed with Quinn’s ability to use the context clues of the other words to figure out what the one new word might mean. I also look forward to reading over the wacky facts myself finding that I’m learning new information too. One fact was about a snail and how many teeth it has. We were all so intrigued by the “wacky fact” of some snails potentially having 20,000 or more teeth that we decided to research it to see if it really was accurate. Even some of the jokes gave me pause, and I had to share them with others to get the punch line. For instance,

Question: What did Delaware?

Answer: A New Jersey.

If you are looking for a way to add a little something special or fun to your child’s lunch and possibly a follow-up conversation at the dinner table about the wacky fact or joke, definitely consider purchasing these note cards.

All the best,

Tanya

 

 

Spending Time with My “Boos” at the Zoo!

At least five Woodys! Plenty of super heroes from Iron Man to Spider Man to Superman, the Incredibles and anyone else you can think of! Plenty of princesses, unicorns and even a family dressed as the characters from Wizard of Oz. No, this wasn’t a costume party but the absolutely fun Halloween event held annually at the Philadelphia Zoo: Boo at the Zoo!

This makes the sixth year that my daughter and I have attended and the second year that we’ve met up with our relatives for some “cousin” fun along with my mother. We arrived at 9am (The zoo opens at 9:30am but allowed members to enter as early a 8:30am), and while the day started off rather chilly, the weather was perfect as the day progressed. The sun was shining the entire time, and we were even able to unbutton our jackets as the light breeze blew. In between seeing the lions, tigers, giraffes and plenty other animals (who were all out and about today), Quinn and her cousins eagerly ran to the different stations to trick or treat for tasty sweets and did different crafts while admiring the costumes of the other children and adults in passing.

Spending time with my extended family, seeing the smiles on the girls’ faces, hearing their laughter and simply feeling their joy truly puts a smile on my face. If you’re looking for a fun and safe event for your child or children and live near Philadelphia, “Boo at the Zoo” is perfect! You get to dress up, get sweet treats, and do fun activities all while seeing animals.

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

Hip to the Hop and You Don’t Stop: Dancing into a New Season with my Daughter

2c0bbea1-1927-4613-82df-7ebdfb711c16There’s something wonderful, perhaps even magical, about dance. It can put a smile on one’s face and even provide exercise. I even located a “Ted Talk”on why dance is just as important as math, science and language and may even help raise test scores. Last year, my daughter was eager to take jazz and tap. This year, after observing her big cousin and developing her own personal interests, she asked, “Mommy, can I take a hip hop dance class next time?” “Of course, I said,” but I had to find another dance school who offered hip hop classes for six year olds.

After doing some researching, I located a nearby dance school, Zero Gravity Dance Company, who offers a variety of classes, including beginner hip hop for children as young as five. Quinn was very excited as was I. Though I didn’t need to purchase any special “dance” shoes, she helped me shop for different dance class outfits along with “cool” sneakers to wear for hip hop class.

This past Tuesday, Quinn had her first class, which lasted an hour. Her teacher, Miss Dez, was not only personable but offered good instructions for children Quinn’s age to follow. My six year old followed along confidently and immediately told me after class that she can’t wait until the next one.

While Quinn has many more classes to go with the season ending in the late spring, I’m eager to see her growth as a dancer. I’m sure she’ll be able to teach me some moves. Actually, there’s an adult class offered, and I’m considering taking hip hop dance classes too. Maybe we can just have a fun time exercising and practicing together.

All the best,

Tanya