One in the Books: The a First “Snowy Day” of the New Year

Crunch, crunch, crunch…”Look at my footprints in the snow, Mommy! It’s just like The Snowy Day book.” As my six year old continued to walk up the pathway to our house and asked, “Can I put on her snowsuit to come back out to make snow angels just like Peter?” “There’s not enough snow for that, honey, but I’m sure we will have some more snow before winter is over.” Though she was a little disappointed, she was still happy with the footprints she made, and I was happy that she recalled one of the books we both love to read which was actually made into a terrific cartoon movie on Amazon Prime videos. Hoping for enough snow in the future for Quinn to make her snow angel, just like Peter.

All the best,

Tanya

A Class Act App that Hits Close to Home

Last September, I posted about an app my daughter’s school is using: Class Dojo and how wonderful it is. I was so impressed that I even signed up for Class Dojo Beyond: a reward system where my six year old could earn points and rewards to use as a supplement for the star rewards chart we’ve been using since Quinn was a toddler.

For the past few months, we’ve been gradually using Class Dojo Beyond, and so far it’s been terrific. Even though Quinn my six year old enjoys reading, using learning resources and helping out around the house, earning points and rewards keeps her motivated and accountable. It’s been a great way to not only teach basic math but problem solving. She often strategizes and determines if it’s worth using a screen time reward or a reward to stay up a little later on the weekend. Whenever she cashes in points, the next question is, “How many points do I have left?” Without me suggesting it, she told me, “I want to make sure I always have at least 100 points, Mommy.” I think this is quite wise on her part.

We’ve found that Class Dojo Beyond is far more than a point reward system. There’s some fabulous bonus features. One day, I noticed a routines section which enhances the experience. Dinner chats presents random questions to get the conversation going and can certainly be used beyond the dinner table. The questions range from what cartoon character would you be to share a time when you were scared to if you only had one wish, what would it be and why? I love this feature, not simply because of the critical thinking but because of the bonding and sharing component.

If your child’s school uses Class Dojo, and Class Dojo Beyond as an option, it is worth the additional fee. Not only children, but adults can benefit from this resource. It helps instilling those core values that can make a solid and positive person.

All the best,

Tanya

Happy to See 2020, a New Year, with My Family, Especially My Little Girl

The crowd was immense, and the noise horns became deafening as we awaited that magical moment: the countdown to the new year. Well, actually, it was the countdown to noon, a kid-friendly celebration at the Franklin Institute to celebrate the ending of one year and beginning of another. My daughter and nieces were excited and ready with their horns as the timer approached zero, and the children and adults alike erupted with cheers, more horn blowing and even a huge nitrous oxide cloud (It is a fun science museum) making its way towards the entire crowd to top off the celebration.

In previous years, we’ve done the countdown til noon at the Please Touch Museum as a family, but what made this year extra special was not just that we were at a different location or that we even got selected to be interviewed for the news, but that last year we were at home still nursing Quinn back to health after she was hospitalized for nearly a week during the Christmas holiday, and yesterday was such a sharp contrast and treat to see that beautiful smile on her face and happiness in her voice as she shared what she hopes the new year will bring.

With this new year, I’m sure many people will reference the 20/20 analogy of 2020 in hopes of “seeing” life more clearly. Though I’m always evolving and learning, I truly am grateful for the vision and growth I’ve experienced as a mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend and just a person. Though she’s only six, I attribute a great deal of my growth to my daughter.

Here’s to family, friends and many blessings in 2020 and the years to come!

All the best,

Tanya

Mesmerizing Moments at the Philadelphia Zoo’s Luminature

The weather was perfect, and the view was absolutely mesmerizing with colors from just about every spectrum in the rainbow. Though my daughter and I, along with my friend and her daughter, were at the Philadelphia Zoo, we were magically transported into a spectacular world of lights reminiscent of scenes from the movie Avatar: Luminature!

Immediately upon entering the gates, I kept stopping every few feet to take pictures and admire the beautiful scenes while the girls were eager to get to the next light display. My six year old said, “You’re walking so slow, Mommy! You never walk that slow!” I couldn’t help myself. The lights had me totally captivated as though I was in a trance. Seeing the lights and displays, hearing the background music and the giggles from the girls and feeling the joy in the atmosphere truly touched my spirit.

It made me think about the power of light and the occasional necessity for darkness. In order to fully enjoy and see the beautiful lights, it needed to be dark. Then we could fully appreciate the illuminated pathways, trees and displays as we navigated through the zoo. Sometimes we may have dark moments in life, but a little light can give us a glimmer hope.

When I look at my daughter, I see her as a beautiful light. She often shines bright, especially when I may be experiencing a dark moment. While admiring the light, any darkness I was experiencing becomes a distant memory.

If you’re looking for a fun, beautifully captivating activity to do and live near Philadelphia, I strongly suggest Luminature which runs through January 5th!

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

 

Worst Case Scenario: Life Without My Family

Ever think about the worst case scenario? While we may all try to avoid it and hope it never happens, we’re all occasionally put to the test! Last week, the Franklin Institute debuted its new exhibit, “The Worst Case Scenario: Survival Experience,” and today, my daughter, sister, niece and I went and had a ball. Though it was a fun experience reading the tips and doing some of the activities, especially the rush we got from falling backwards into a pool of balls, there were some thought-provoking moments that made me think about the importance of valuing life and loved ones and not taking time or them for granted.

There was a huge blackboard where people could write down their “worst case scenario,” and without giving it much thought, the one that popped into my head was not being attacked by a swarm of killer bees nor being in the middle of an elephant stampede nor trying to escape from the ledge of a building but experiencing life without my family.

Sometimes we’re so busy with work or so self-involved that we don’t even imagine what our lives would be like if those who “matter” were no longer there or were taken away from us. I love my family, and my daughter has made such a huge impact on my life in the six years that she’s been in this earth. Of course, I don’t even want to imagine what my life would be like without her, my husband, mother, siblings and extended family. So instead, I try my best to create lasting memories with her and my family.

One of my “best case scenarios” is simply seeing smiles and feeling the love and joy of my daughter and family as we enjoy each other’s company. What’s your “best case scenario?”

All the best,

Tanya

Let the October Fun Begin: It’s Pumpkin Patch Family Time!

“I want one that’s not too small and not too big,” my six year old told me as we made our way through the admissions entrance of Shady Brook Farm. Picking the “perfect” pumpkin has become just as involved as selecting the right Christmas tree for us. It must have a long enough stem with a slight curve, have a nice round shape, be smooth with minimal to no blemishes, lumps or bumps. It all started five years ago when my husband and I brought Quinn to the pumpkin patch for a little family fun.

Now, it is a wonderful family tradition filled with fun activities, smiles and laughter. My mother has even joined us for the past four years, and we all come ready with our gardening gloves for handling the pumpkins, large bags for carrying them and keen eyes for finding the right ones for our pumpkin decorating projects.

While going to the pumpkin patch is the main purpose of our outing, we also enjoy the many activities available from the corn maize, play ground, moon bounces, entertainment and various games. Of course, we could easily get a pumpkin at the local Giant or grocery store, but I look forward to this family tradition and especially the family togetherness that comes from this day long outing at Shadybrook Farm. If you are local to the Bucks County, PA area and looking for a fall activity for your family, give it a try!

All the best,

Tanya H. Franklin