What a Great Halloween Adventure!

Yesterday, my sister, niece, daughter and I all went to Six Flags Great Adventure for a good time. It was packed! The crowd was enormous! Even the Flash pass line had over an hour wait, but we didn’t care. We were there for some outdoor fun. Though we didn’t get on many rides due to the crazy lines, just walking around the amusement park, doing a little trick or treating in the kids’ section and enjoying the atmosphere was enough to put a smile on my daughter’s face. Sometimes, that’s all we need. 🎃😊

All the best,

Tanya

Back with My Pumpkin and Patching Up a Tradition

We’re officially in fall and October! It’s one of my favorite months to do activities with my family, especially my daughter. Last year, with the COVID restrictions, I broke tradition and headed to the nearest supermarket to pick out our Halloween pumpkins to decorate. Though we both were okay with this deviation from our usual monthly plans, knowing that we would be restoring our tradition and going to a pumpkin patch this year filled us with excitement. We were so happy to have my mom, Quinn’s Nana, accompany us as she’s done since Quinn was a toddler. This was just a another reminder of what we both missed last year to allow us to appreciate it even more this year.

For the past few years, we’ve gone to Shady Brook Farms and enjoyed ourselves, but we decided to try somewhere new, Kohler Farms. While they did not has as many activities, they were about a third of the cost. Also, it was still a fun experience as we enjoyed the sights on the hayride to the pumpkin patch, navigated our way through the corn maze and selected are precious pumpkins to decorate. Then with those savings, we dined at a nearby restaurant afterward and had some well-needed family togetherness.

Of course, I could’ve just stopped by a supermarket or Home Depot to pick up pumpkins again this year and maybe even had saved some money, but the family togetherness, smiles and happy moments with Quinn are totally worth it. Here’s to a great October building fun-filled memories with my family!

Best,

Tanya

Family Togetherness: A Good Harvest & Great Meal

This past Wednesday, my friends invited my daughter and I to visit their community garden. This was such an exciting experience for Quinn because it was her first time at a garden growing vegetables and fruits in addition to plants and flowers. My mom had a garden when I was a little girl, and seeing Quinn happily harvest tomatoes, green peppers, egg plants and herbs as well has made me want to start a beginners garden for us to grown organic veggies and fruits together.

The fun didn’t stop there though. Quinn immediately wanted to wash the vegetables and begin looking up what we could make. Yesterday, my eight year old couldn’t wait to start cooking. She settled on eggplant parmigiana, and I decided to add a side dish with green peppers and tomatoes from the garden along cauliflower rice and broccoli topped with marinara sauce. Though she asked that I hand,ev the knife while cutting the eggplants, tomatoes and green peppers, she did an awesome job preparing the eggplants with the Italian breadcrumbs and arranging them on the baking sheet.

There’s something special about cooking together, but what’s going to make it extra special is growing and harvesting our own vegetables and fruit next year around this time then preparing a meal together with those fruits and veggies.

All the best,

Tanya

Look Out Third Grade! Here She Comes!

“I don’t know why, but I think this is the most excited I’ve been to start school! Maybe it’s because we weren’t in person when we started school last year,” my third grader told me. A few days ago, I shared with my daughter that third grade was one of my favorite school years. I loved all that we learned and thought my teacher was the best.

Quinn told me that she has a feeling that this year is going to be great for her too. So far, her teacher sent a lovely welcome letter addressed to Quinn, called us at home to speak with my husband and me and to welcome Quinn and had a smile in her voice and eyes when we met her in person today. Though the school is set up for social distancing, I am hopeful that all will go well and that Quinn will come home with a smile on her face and eager to learn and make friends throughout the school year.

Seeing her happy face and excitement has actually helped me feel less nervous as I start my new semester teaching in person for the first time since March 2020.

Here’s to a fun, productive and wonderful school year!

All the best,

Tanya

A Few Days as an Empty Nester: Enjoying Adult Time But Missing My Little Girl

Yesterday, while walking my dog, I came across a neighbor who was walking her dog. We stopped and chatted for a bit as our dogs “chatted” too. Then she asked, “Where’s your daughter? Is it too early for her?” When I informed my neighbor that Quinn was having fun at a granddaughters’ sleepover my mom puts together every year and how excited she was to go, my neighbor smiled and said, “I’m sure you’re excited too! You get a few days to yourself!” I nodded, but I wasn’t as excited as some parents may be.

Yes, we’ve spent so much time together as a family, especially with the restrictions and home schooling of 2020 and half of 2021, and while I do enjoy having some time to myself to just relax or maybe watch shows that may not be age appropriate for my eight year old, I really do enjoy her company. Also, I don’t know how many more years I have for if and when she decides that she doesn’t want to hang out with me. Even if I’m lucky enough for that day to never come, at some point she will go to college or venture off on her own, and I won’t see her as much, so I want to take advantage of the moments we have together.

My mom has been sending me pictures for the past few days of their activities, and it’s clear that Quinn is having a wonderful time with her cousins and Nana, which I’m more excited about than me having time away from her. She’s a great kid with a bubbly personality, and I’m excited to have her home in the next few days.

All the best,

Tanya

The Great Adventure with My Daughter on the Jersey Devil

This was it! There was no turning back. I was locked in place. My eight year old was seated right in front of me, but I couldn’t really see her. The clink, clink sound got louder as my heartbeat seemed to match its pace feeling like it was coming out of my chest. We were at Six Flags Great Adventure on the Jersey Devil roller coaster.

After quickly asking Quinn is she was ready and okay, all I could do was close my eyes tightly and prepare to scream at the top of my lungs, struggling to believe that I was about to experience this crazy ride. I used to love roller coasters, but since having Quinn and being older, I just can’t handle them like I used to and was just grateful that I didn’t have any food on my stomach.

Why on earth would I get on the ride? Two words: for Quinn! Though she said it was okay if she didn’t get on the ride since everyone was too scared, when I looked at her face and heard the inflection in her voice, I knew I had to get on even if it meant I would feel like I was experiencing an out of body experience.

The ride lasted a few minutes, but I know my willingness to get on the Jersey Devil just for Quinn, especially since she knows my “tummy gets funny,” will stay with her for many years to come. That makes it all worth it!

All the best,

Tanya

Playing it Cool, and Celebrating National Ice Cream Day with my Sweet Girl

There seems to be a national holiday for just about everything from chocolate to spaghetti to pizza day, so National ice cream day is certainly no surprise. Though I recall celebrating it a few years ago with my daughter at the Please Touch Museum, I lost track of the day until it came up in my photo memory.

What made it extra special this year is that I purchased an ice cream maker, and it just so happens that we made our own ice cream together! I have fond memories of ice cream socials when I was younger. My mom would allow my siblings and me to pick out toppings at the store and our favorite flavor ice cream.

What made eating ice cream special was not just picking what we wanted but socializing and experiencing togetherness as a family. That’s exactly how I feel when having ice cream with my husband and daughter. Making it together just adds the cherry on top.

All the best,

Tanya

Reconnected: The Bond of Cousins

“It’s been over a year and a half, mommy! Do you think she’s taller?” my daughter asked about her little cousin. “Yes, I’m sure she’s taller,” I responded. This past Wednesday, Quinn and her cousin got to spend time together in Sesame Place after being apart for well over a year and a half.

As we waited for my sister-in-law and niece to arrive, Quinn watched closely looking for anyone who resembled them. When she finally spotted them, her smile widened, and she excitedly told me, “Here they come!” When my niece got closer, I could see the happiness on her face as well. Seeing these two reconnect after being apart for what probably felt even longer, considering that they’re both young children, really made my day.

It actually reminded me of the scene in “The Color Purple” when Celie and Nettie reconnected after being separated for years. Though I played it cool, there was this surge of emotions as I took a picture of them with their big, happy smiles. After being under restrictions for so long, I have an even greater appreciation for spending time with family and friends.

All the best,

Tanya

My Daughter’s Last Day of (Being) School(ed) with an Interesting Semester

It’s officially the last day of school for my second grader, and like many other children, she overcame the many unprecedented changes and hurdles that came with COVID-19 restrictions from virtual learning to hybrid to even receiving her learning materials in a different way. I’m very proud of the way Quinn rose to the challenge and just went with the flow, and I’m grateful that she eventually had an opportunity to interact with her main teacher and the teachers of special classes, like art, gym music and library, and some of her classmates.

While there’s no clear way of knowing what third grade will look like for her, I know if she could make it through this year with a smile on her face and still eager to learn that she’ll be just fine.

All the best,

Tanya

The Colorful Moments of Motherhood

Anyone who knows me will tell you that I’m a kid at heart. There’s a long list of activities that I enjoy doing with my eight year old. Coloring on the sidewalk with chalk is definitely one of them. We both discuss our ideas, work together as a team to bring it all together snd of course have fun admiring our work. Also, I love using multiple colors because it reminds me of how beautiful life and memories can be when they’re vibrant and lively, just like Quinn. When is the last time you used sidewalk chalk? Give it a try. It’s not just fun but relaxing too.

All the best,

Tanya