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

A Little Styling Goes a Long Way: Hair Salon Fun With My Daughter

Photo Credit: Muse Hair Studio (Tracie Stroman)

“I love it! I absolutely love it!” My soon-to-be eight year old exclaimed as she looked at herself swaying her head from side to side. This truly made my day! For the past couple of years, Quinn has been dying to wear her hair straight, so I thought what better way to kick off her birthday by taking her to a hair salon to have it professionally styled. Then I thought, why stop there? Why don’t I treat myself too since it’s been years since I’ve been to a salon or even worn my hair straight. Plus, this was a wonderful opportunity for us to bond together.

As we pulled up to Muse Hair Studio and I revealed the surprise to Quinn, she could barely contain herself. She was excited to go through the entire process. She sat in the booster added to the salon chair like a pro, and I couldn’t be prouder as I looked at her and snapped a few pictures sitting in the adjacent salon chair. The stylist, Tracie, and her assistant were, in Quinn’s words, “Amazing!” They treated Quinn like a little lady and even made her feel special by taking before and after pictures. (I felt extra special too!)

I asked her what she liked about the experience, and she said, “Everything!” Getting her hair washed with a massage, sitting under the dryer with the deep conditioner, getting her hair blow dried, flat ironed and styled were all of her favorites. I enjoyed this experience so much and even observed a couple other pairs of mothers and daughters, older than Quinn, getting their hair done or making appointments to get their hair done too.

I didn’t realize how much I missed having my hair done professionally until yesterday. It reminded me that self-care and just relaxing and having someone take care of me is needed, and I want Quinn to feel special and to embrace feeling good and taking care of herself as well as she gets older.

Photo Credit: Muse Hair Studio (Tracie Stroman)

All the best,

Tanya

Anticipating Celebrating My Daughter’s Birthday!

In a little over a week, my daughter will be eight years old! Time is flying by! It’s actually been about a year and a half since she did her first YouTube video on her channel, Quinnie’s Fun House. She’s created so many cool, fun and educational videos that children and some adults may enjoy and even learn from,and I am so proud of her! We’re both so excited that she has a little over 90 subscribers, and she is hoping that she will reach 100 very soon. Want to wish Quinnie a happy birthday? Subscribe today to make it extra special!

Sugar Rush Family Edition: 80s Theme PAC-Man Edition

Yesterday was our fourth “Sugar Rush” Zoom bake-off with my sister and niece. Our theme was 80s, and upon my sister seeing our matching t-shirts, she knew that for the first time we both had the same idea: Pac-Man! Quinn initially picked Pac-Man because she’s familiar with the game and enjoys playing it even though it was out way before she was born. We went through a few different ideas, like a boom box radio, roller skates, Adidas and a cassette tape, but Pac-Man was our final decision.

This was a tricky one because we incorporated fondant, and this was our very first time using it. After watching plenty of Sugar Rush episodes, I decided that we could give it a try. Since fondant is an acquired taste, we made the ghost out of it and made the star of the cupcake, Pac-Man, out of lemon buttercream frosting. To make his both stand out, we thought about black frosting, but in knowing that it’s not our favorite, we got creative and used crushed Oreos to cover part of the lemon cupcake. We also had plenty of leftover black Sixlets from when we made puppy cupcakes, so we were able to use them for the eyes.

Though I can use a bit more practice with fondant, we both agreed that the cupcakes turned out better than we expected. Though my sister won’t be able to join us for a few months, we definitely look forward to continuing this fun activity in the future!

All the best,

Tanya