The First Day of Spring Brings a Roar at the Zoo

The past year most certainly has been quite different. Many of the traditions my daughter and I look forward to have either been canceled or modified beyond recognition. Though there was no free Rita’s water ice for the first day of spring yesterday, we still had a wonderful time spending a day at the zoo with our cousins.

We were pleasantly surprised to see that many of the animals were our and about and quite vocal too. We’ve been going to the zoo since Quinn was a baby, but yesterday was the first time we saw and heard the lion roar. In some weird way, it offered us comfort in knowing that the lion was claiming the day and was ready for spring to get underway. While we are still navigating these new norms, seeing the animals, being in the fresh air and feeling the sun as we casually walked around was a wonderful way to bring in the spring.

Lion Roaring at the Zoo

All the best,

Tanya

Sugar Rush Family Edition: Baking Flower Cupcakes

Sugar Rush Zoom Family Edition

Yesterday was our third a “Sugar Rush” Zoom bake-off with my sister and niece, and my seven year old and I are having a blast while honing our baking skills. She actually picked the theme of spring since it’s just a couple of weeks away, and after giving it some thought, we settled on flowers because they’re not only beautiful and fragrant, but they truly are a sign that spring has spring or is on its way.

This time around, we used a yellow cake recipe courtesy of my grandmother who shared it with me years prior to her passing away. This made them extra special. We just had to cut the recipe in half because was meant for a three layer cake. Our frosting was a simple vanilla buttercream, but for the first time, I ordered and used Russian piping tips to make our cupcakes look like beautiful flowers and the Wilton leaf tip to enhance it.

Though I can use a bit more practice with the new piping tips and am eager to see how creative we can get, our cupcakes were a delight to make, and they made us smile as we look forward to seeing blossoming flowers and the hope and new life that spring brings. We can’t wait to do this again in April!

All the best,

Tanya

Sugar Rush Family Edition: Beach Theme Cupcakes

The beautiful, warm, sunny beach with the sand between our toes and the ocean beckoning us to come in to cool off is exactly where we’d love to be. But since that’s not an option right now, a “Sugar Rush Beach Theme” Zoom bake-off with my sister and niece is a place my daughter and I thoroughly enjoyed. This actually makes our third bake-off. The first was a carnival theme. We made cotton candy cupcakes. The second was an animal theme. We made cupcakes in the likeness of our adorable puppy Zack. With our beach theme, the inspiration was my wedding in the Dominican Republic and the picnic reception, which were nearly ten years ago. Though Quinn was just a twinkle in our eyes then, we hope to take her there one day. Also, the cupcake is a reminder of the wonderful time my sister and I had on that beautiful day at the beach.

Our cupcake is almost as refreshing as that magical day with a simplistic, moist vanilla cupcake, a frosting containing lemon zest tinted aqua to represent the ocean and topped with an edible sugar seashell displaying its beauty.

All the best,

Tanya

One Amazing Girl Plus One Sweet Pup Equals Happy Valentine’s Day

Happy Valentine’s Day is a phrase some people may utter to a significant other, but for me, especially since my daughter was born, I look forward to displaying love to all of my family and friends, especially my seven year old. This is our puppy’s first Valentine’s Day, and we both were excited to share some extra love with him too. Though being surprised by Quinn with Reeses’s Cups, one of my favorite candies, made me happy, there’s nothing like getting big hug kisses from my daughter and kisses and snuggles from our puppy Zack to put a huge smile on my face. Of course, my husband is my valentine as well, but those two have a special place in my heart. I am grateful for the love I receive from the both of them.

All the best,

Tanya

Ready for the New “Old” School: Transitioning to Hybrid Learning

First Day of In-Person School

The big day went from Monday to Thursday due to snow, and I was just as nervous and excited as I was when my daughter started kindergarten. Three months as a first grader and her entire experience as a second grader have been all virtual, and she would be returning to school in-person after learning virtually since March 2020.

Though her school was thorough in providing virtual information sessions, materials and videos regarding the procedures, I didn’t know how many children opted to remain virtual and how many would be in person. I feared Quinn being all alone I. Her classroom with just the teacher. As tempted as I was to email her teacher midway through the first day, I held back, and her teacher kindly sent an email with a few pictures of the children in the classroom.

It’s a small group, just four girls, and one of them was in my daughter’s kindergarten and first grade classroom. This put my mind at ease some. When Quinn walked through the door from school, our puppy was so happy to see her, as was I, especially hearing the smile in her voice.

“I had an amazing day, Mommy!” Quinn told me. I listened intently as she told me all about her day and how everything was set up. Though we have a long road ahead of us with the Covid-19 restrictions and vaccination process, I’m so happy that Quinn is getting more socialization with children her own age.

All the best,

Tanya

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Snow Day Memories with My Daughter

“A snow day! For what?! School is online!” are some of the posts I’ve seen on social media. My husband even said it when our daughter got a snow day yesterday and today. I, on the other hand, find myself empathizing more with my daughter and think most children are deserving of a snow day or two.

Many, including my seven year old, have been enduring and adapting to these ever-changing COVID-19 restrictions like champs, but that doesn’t mean they’re not under stress like some parents may be. Though I loved school at her age and beyond, I loved getting that message that school was closed and I could play in the snow all day if I wanted.

“Do you want to build a snowman?” wasn’t something Quinn asked me to do but something I asked her if she wanted to do. This Monday was actually supposed to be her first day back in person on a hybrid schedule, so I felt this was nature’s way of saying make the best of these last days of having her home full-time. I’m glad we did, and we’re both happy with our snowman, “Chilly.”

We got to have some fun with our puppy, Zack too!

All the best,

Tanya

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Quinnie’s Fun House: Watching My Daughter Blossom on YouTube

Just a little over a year ago, my daughter did her first YouTube video for her channel, Quinnie’s Fun House. I recall her being excited yet nervous. I too was excited and a little nervous too. I told her if she’s uncomfortable or wants to stop, just let me know. So far, that day has yet to come. With each video, she’s become more comfortable and has so many wonderful ideas. It’s brought us even closer together as I share my input, record and edit her footage. Sometimes, I just watch the videos as they chronicle her growth over the year.

I’m so glad this has been a good experience for her. It is truly Quinnie’s Fun House, and I am grateful to be a part of the experience!

All the best,

Tanya

Sugar Rush Family Edition: Baking Puppy Cupcakes

About a month ago, my daughter and I have a fun time having a “Sugar Rush” Zoom bake-off with my sister and niece, so since we all had off today, we decided to do it again, and it was just as much fun if not more! Our theme was animals, so of course we immediately knew what we wanted to create: cupcakes that look like our eight month old puppy, Zack!

He’s been with us since August 7th and is such a wonderful addition to our family. After looking at various ideas on Pinterest, we decided on a chocolate cupcake with a caramel center. We tinted our buttercream frosting and used star piping to mimic his coat. For his eyes, we used black sixlets. After giving some thought, we decided on halves of milk duds for the nose, which turned out better than we expected. For his cute little tongue, we used Starbursts by heating it a little to remold it, cutting it into fourths, reshaping it and using a toothpick to give the line in the tongue. For his floppy ears, we used Werther’s soft caramel creams.

Our cupcake is almost as sweet as our puppy. We can’t wait to do this again in February!

All the best,

Tanya

Partner Yoga: The Flexibility & Balance of Parenthood

“Look at us, Mommy! Daddy and I are doing partner yoga!” Quinn excitedly told me. I quickly went and got my phone to take a picture because I just couldn’t help myself. As my husband and our seven year old balanced together, it made me think about how flexible we try to be as parents. As a child, I didn’t have much say and just did as my parents told me. Though this parenting technique may work for some, I am finding that the more in tune we are with our daughter, the stronger our bond becomes.

Of course, it’s necessary to have balance, just like with partner yoga. But some of the best decisions we’ve made are from being flexible and open to listening to our daughter rather than automatically discarding her thoughts or telling her to just do what we say with no explanation. I look forward to doing partner yoga with Quinn as well and plan on being there to guide, protect her and to offer balance.

All the best,

Tanya