Unicorn Fun: Sleepovers Are Magical with Nana!

Imagine unicorn decorations, unicorn cookies, unicorn cereal, unicorn pudding, cake pops, cotton candy, dance parties, games, treats, you name it! No this isn’t a birthday party; it’s a magical sleepover at Nana’s! For the past few years, my mother arranges a sleepover and invites the granddaughters to spend the week with her.

While some children dread spending the week at their grandparents’ home and think it’ll be boring, my six year old always looks forward to this event where she gets to spend time with her cousins and her Nana too while having tons of fun. When my little girl came home, she was eager to tell her father and me about all of the activities she did and treats she had. She even mistakenly called me “Nana” a few times. 😂

I’m so grateful that I have a mother and Quinn has a Nana who is so generous and willing to put in so much time and energy to make sure her granddaughters feel loved and have togetherness. What a wonderful way to end the summer before starting off the new school year!

All the best,

Tanya

Sweetness in the Making: Fun at Hershey’s Chocolate World with My Little Girl

 

Imagine making your own special candy bar from start to finish? Though the main ingredient, chocolate, is established, you still get to make it your own by adding other ingredients for that one of a kind taste. My family and I had this wonderful experience at Hershey’s Chocolate World. As I observed my sweet little girl totally captivated with the process from start to finish, it made me think about my role in “creating and manufacturing” her sweetness.

Just like the candy bar, her main ingredients, or DNA and personality, are already established, but as her parent, it is my job to determine what other ingredients, or environmental factors and reinforcement, will bring out her “yummy goodness.”

It’s amazing how there’s so many steps in the process of creating and making a chocolate candy bar that one may not be aware of or even consider. One in particular that stood out to me was the cooling period which is approximately ten minutes. This makes me think about how my six year old has and will go through so many different milestones. She’ll go through hot and cooling phases, so it’s essential for me to be in tune with her needs and operate the machinery with care in an effort to yield the best life-long production.

Take a look at our fun making candy bars. Though the tasty treats may not last long, the memories will last a lifetime. In the words of Hershey, it’s “A Tale of Determination, Delicious Chocolate and Lasting Goodness!

All the best,

Tanya

Another Lesson from My Little Girl: Humans Need Nature

Yesterday, my friend and her family were kind enough to host us at their lake house for the day, and there were so many magical moments and memories made. One in particular is when my six year old, holding her hand behind her back said, “I got something for you, Mommy!” It was a bright yellow flower, one I’d never seen before. “I got it when we were near the lily pads,” she informed me with a smile. I smiled back and said, “Thank you, Quinnie! It’s beautiful!”

As I admired this interesting little flower, I noticed something. There was a little insect inside making its way out. I called Quinn over to take a look with me, and she was fascinated by the little creature too. Once it was out, we actually discovered that there was another inside. I snapped a few pictures of it and thought to myself, humans need nature. I may not be fond of creepy crawlers, but I found myself entranced. There’s something endearing about observing children be their natural selves exploring nature. I truly am grateful for the ability to simply slow down and enjoy nature with my daughter and friends. It may not be the “norm” for most in 2019, but it feels so natural.

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

Thankful for a Kind & Loving Daughter

“I have something for you, Mommy,” my little girl told me. It wasn’t Mother’s Day, not my birthday nor Christmas. What could it be, I thought? Probably a picture she drew or a craft she made at camp. “You have something for me?” I asked. “For you and Daddy,” Quinn responded. It was a special note she wrote that said, “For Mom and Dad.” Inside, it read, “You are kind an loveing. love Quinn.” While the English professor in me was tempted  to tell her she spelled loving incorrectly, I was just so moved by the kind gesture of my six year old.

I inquired, “Did your camp counselor ask you all to write notes to your parents?” Quinn quickly said, “No! I just wanted to write you and Daddy a note to thank you for being kind and loving.” Even though we’ve both been keeping gratitude journals since the start of the year and often talk about the importance of expressing gratitude and thanking people for their generosity and kindness, I was still pleasantly surprised to get such a lovely note from Quinn. She truly is a loving and caring daughter for which I am grateful.

All the best,

Tanya

The Beautiful, Fun Nature of Children Exploring

 

“I just love nature! Don’t you, mommy? What do you think we’ll see?” my daughter asked when she found out we were going on a nature hike with our cousins. “Did you ever go on nature hikes when you were younger, Mommy?” Quinn asked. “Yes, I did, and I really enjoyed them,” I told her. “Now, you get to go on a nature hike with me as an adult. Isn’t that cool?”

Even though Quinn and I regularly go for walks, it’s been quite some time since we explored nature together surrounded by thousands of trees, so this was a real treat for us both. We met up with our cousins at the Wissahickon Valley Park Trail in Philadelphia at Bells Mill entrance, and my six year old and her five year old were eager to get hiking. There were no iPads, tablets or technology to stimulate them, yet they were both intrigued by just about everything from the rocks, to the streams, to the trees to the insects, to the animals to the actual leaves on the trees.

It didn’t take long for the girls to want to take a back trail climbing over fallen trees and mountainous rocks. My cousin and I were impressed with how well they did. They were mindful of their surroundings wanting to stop frequently to take in the sights. Both Quinn and Ellie walked carefully so they wouldn’t lose their footing and were very brave when we came across steep, narrow and rocky areas on the path.

They had fun simply playing with sticks, racing to catch up with me and interacting with the butterflies, chipmunks and worms too. One of the highlights was feeding the geese bread. Though the birds eventually became a bit aggressive in pursuit of more bread, the girls were absolutely tickled and ran off squealing as they were chased by the geese. “That was fun and gave us exercise too,” Quinn said.

As we headed back to our cars after three hours of walking and exploring, Quinn asked, “Mommy, do you think we can come back here again to explore? Maybe next time with Daddy?” To which I responded, “Definitely!” I can’t wait to go on the next hike with Quinn. This will certainly be one of our go-to activities together.

All the best,

Tanya

Red Carpet Celebration: My Little Girl’s a Super Star Reader!

The luxurious Escalade SUV limo was parked. The plush, red carpet was rolled out, and the “fans” patiently awaited their arrival. One person shouted, “I think I see them!” People positioned themselves with cameras and cell phones ready to take pictures and videos. Then the door opened, and they all came parading out wearing their finest clothes and accessories.

The cheers from the crowd would make you think they were all singers being recognized at the Grammy’s or actors and actresses being recognized at the Emmy’s. But they were all being celebrated for something even more notable: kindergarten through fourth graders who read 100 or more books in a little less than three months!

My little kindergartener was among this small group of children who accomplished this wonderful goal! She read well beyond the 100 book minimum, many on her own with little assistance from me. Fancy Nancy, Pinkalicious, Thelma the Unicorn, Princess Truly and If You Give a Mouse an iPhone were some of her favorites to read. I am so proud of my six year old’s accomplishment and happily cheered her name as she walked the red carpet with the other children and went into the limo.

Afterwards, all of the children were lead by the school librarians and paraded through the halls of the school, along with the parents, where the other children and teachers were all lined up in the hallways to give hi-fives and cheer on the kids for reading so many books. Ending in the library, they were all then celebrated with cake and sparkling apple raspberry cider. I thought it was a wonderful event and an awesome way to reward children for reading. Quinn, along with the other children, all looked and felt like superstars! She’s so excited to keep reading and can’t wait to do the challenge again when she’s in first grade.

All the best,

Tanya