Piecing it Together With My Daughter During These Puzzling Times

Working on a 500 piece puzzle!

With some Kidz Bop music playing in the background, my seven year old and I sat at the table quietly sorting through all of the puzzle pieces, 500 pieces to be exact! Since I can remember, I’ve always liked doing puzzles, and Quinn is the same way.

Though we both enjoy doing puzzles, we have different techniques for getting started. I tend to focus on the edges and piecing together the frame of the puzzle, and she prefers to sort through the colors looking for similarities. Though my strategy yielded quicker results, leaving Quinn a little frustrated with her progress, I reassured her that once the frame was done, I too would be following her technique.

While we’re just getting started, this activity is perfect to constructively pass time as we continue to practice social distancing. It also made me think about how there’s so many things to piece together during these puzzling times. Just like working on this 500 piece puzzle, it can initially be overwhelming, but we must be patient and work together diligently. Over time, everything will start to come together and be clearly presented. Then, we’ll be able to admire our hard work and Pat each other on the back for working together as a team.

All the best,

Tanya

I’m Game for Building Connections With My Daughter!

Fun with Checkers and Connect Four

Yesterday, my daughter and I played a few rounds of checkers and connect four. Both games were my favorite to play when I was younger. I’d always excitedly say, “Smoke before fire!” There was something about going first that made me feel like I had an extra edge to win the game.

“You didn’t see that jump?” I asked my seven year old as we played checkers. “Aww man, I see it now,” she said as I jumped over her piece and removed it from the board. From that point on, Quinn put on her game face and was ready!

As we continued to play both checkers and connect four, I saw how serious Quinn became. Her lips curled slightly, and she squinted a little as she looked at the board determining her next move. She reminded me of myself.

In thinking about the concept and strategies of both games, a big part of them is keen observation. This made me think about life and how “it” will happen whether we’re paying attention or not. Overlooking one move or piece on the board can cause the entire game change course.

As the Coronavirus lockdown continues, I’m trying my best to be observant and focus on the positive side of life. I must be mindful of my moves not just for me but my daughter too.

All the best,

Tanya

Treasuring Life, Moments & Positivity by Accident with My Daughter

It happened within a few seconds. Yesterday, a car speeding down the highway hit my car and kept going. With my six year old in the back seat, I was shocked, flustered and upset but at the same time grateful, grateful that we were okay and that I was able to handle our car and not lose control. Quinn immediately focused on the positive saying, “Maybe we can catch them. Maybe there’s no major damage.” She even wondered if it was a male or female driver based on how reckless they were. Luckily, we have a dashboard camera, Garmin Speak, (I highly recommend having a dashboard camera) which caught the entire accident along with the driver’s license plate because as residents right outside of Philadelphia coming from Delaware, and I was a bit shaken and really just wanted to get home.

As I contemplated on the drive home, I thought about how our lives could have changed within seconds if the hit was a more serious accident. I thought about how we could have potentially hit another car if we were hit hard enough to be forced into another lane or a car in close proximity.

But rather than focus on the negative or allowing this incident to set the tone for 2020, I’m rejoicing in knowing how important it is to not only treasure life but the moments we have with our loved ones. Though my car has some cosmetic damage, I am so grateful that my daughter and I walked away with no scratches just treasuring life, moments, family and friends as we move forward in 2020.

All the best,

Tanya

Life Lessons: The Big Monopoly on Fun & Games

The other day, I overheard someone saying that “Monopoly” is one of the worst board games ever. I responded jokingly, “How dare you!? That’s one of my all-time favorite games!” “It’s just too long of a game,” the person replied. I said, “But that’s the whole point. It’s just like life and is all about strategizing.”I used to play Monopoly for hours with my sister and brother. Luckily, my six year old feels the same way as me and can’t get enough of Monopoly Junior. I asked her what she likes about the game, and Quinn said, “I like buying properties and collecting rent, but I have to be smart so that I don’t run out of money paying other people rent.” What great life lesson some adults are still learning!

One time when we were shopping we saw an LOL version, and she asked me how many different Monopoly games are there. After doing a quick search, I was amazed to find out that there are 1,144 different versions! There’s a Fortnite version, Stranger Things, a Pizza version, Cheaters edition, the classic version, and the list goes on and on. Who says video games and electronic devices have the monopoly on fun? Some kids do like good old fashioned board games. It’s a great way to have family time, talk, sharpen those critical thinking skills and to address the importance of not being a sore loser or an overly gloating winner for both the kids and the adults.

All the best,

Tanya

Life’s Not So Dark with the Colorfulness of Children

Even though babies are not born knowing how to see, then only in black, white and gray before eventually seeing in color months later, it’s amazing how they add so much color to the darkest of lives and moments. This occurred to me as I watched my daughter use her rainbow scratch and sketch book we purchased as the Franklin Institute last week. What I love about the book is that it’s not just black pages with rainbow colors underneath, but it gives suggestions and inspirational ideas to bring forth the color.

As a child and even as a young adult, there’s been times when I’ve been swallowed up by darkness, felt depressed, lonely and struggled to find the “color” or rainbow. But now, I try to focus on knowing that the color is always there if I scratch deep enough below the surface.

It also doesn’t hurt that the colorfulness of my little girl fills me with joy and hope whenever I find myself headed towards a dark place. It’s so easy to focus on the darkness coming from people, places and circumstances. But as my six year old told me, “Isn’t it so cool that underneath the black there’s all of these beautiful colors!”

All the best,

Tanya

It’s All Downhill from Here! Life Lessons from My Little Girl.

 

“You know what the best part about going up a hill is, Mommy? Getting to have fun going down it really fast!” my little girl informed me as we traveled the neighborhood on our bike ride. You know what else, if I’m using my scooter, I can just put both of my feet on the board and save my energy. When we’re on the bikes, we don’t have to pedal as much either! While this may seem obvious to most adults and even some older children, what’s not so obvious is the deep rooted lesson my soon to be six year old shared with me.

How often do we focus on the difficulty of  a task or how it’s going to be an “uphill battle” to achieve our goals? As we climbed a very steep hill on our bikes, Quinn was already thinking about the fun part of coasting along and enjoying the ride down the hill we managed to climb. One hill was extra steep, and I struggled with my sweet girl hooked up to the bike trailer to get us up the incline. I even asked her, “Are you pedaling back there, Quinnie?” “I sure am mommy! We’re almost up that hill. Then we get to go down!” she said happily.

Then, we made it! It seemed like we’d never get up that one hill, but once we did, a weight was lifted, and we both were eager to speed quickly down the hill with the sun shining and breeze blowing in our faces.

Upon making our way home, she couldn’t wait to inform her dad about our struggle. She chuckled and said, “Mommy could barely make it up one hill, Daddy! But we made it. Then we got to go down the hill really fast. It was so much fun!”

Most of us have heard the phrase “Life is filled with hills and valleys.” However, most people view the valley as a negative place and the hills as the positive climatic moments in our lives. I’d like to think that the hills give us that challenge we need to thrive and be successful, and the valleys or declines from those hills give us the wind in our faces, time to rejuvenate and to simply enjoy the coast.

All the best,

Tanya

Life Lessons of Winning & Losing: Fun & Games with My Little Girl

“Let’s play a different game!” my five year old insisted as she started putting away the “Connect Four” pieces. “Why?” I asked. To which she quickly replied, “You won the past two games!” Yesterday, we spent a few hours playing games from Hungry Hippos (a classic for me), Disney’s Surprise Slides, which is a variation of Shoots and Ladders, Who Shook Hook, Guess Who and a few others.

I can easily recall when I was younger having game day with my mom and my siblings. Though I enjoyed this family time, I often struggled with being a sore loser when we played “Sorry” or “Old Maid,” which I always seemed to be. It might have been the feeling that I’d never win, the hope that my mom would just let me win or even the occasional taunting from my siblings, but there were times when my eyes would fill with tears, and I’d utter those famous five words, “I don’t want to play anymore!”

Now that I’m older, losing isn’t necessarily easier to accept, but I am able to look at it through a different lens for the sake of my daughter. Though she handles losing much better than I did at her age, I can tell that it still upsets her. As we play games together, we laugh, have fun and hi five, there are also opportunities to discuss life as it correlates to games.

I told her that we all need to learn how to lose and win gracefully. We also discussed how we all can improve with practice, as she did with “Connect Four. When we first started playing when she was around three years old, she was still learning the concept of the game of getting four in a row, and diagonal was definitely tricky. Yesterday, she was really strategizing by making sure to block me and really gave me a run for my money. She legitimately won quite a few times without me going easy on her and just needs to balance blocking me while keeping an eye out for how she can get four in a row simultaneously.

Quinnie’s technique actually made me think about how people, sometimes focus so much on blocking others from winning that they still wind up losing because they aren’t paying attention when the opportunities for them to win present themselves. We went over how her strategy will continue to improve and played a few more rounds before moving on to “Hungry Hippos.”

I am so proud of her for her willingness to keep playing even when she was not winning. She even learned with Disney’s Surprise Slides that it’s not over until it’s over. She was far ahead on the board, and I managed to catch up with her. She then kept saying with each turn, “I don’t think I’m going to win!” But she still kept playing. I was on her tail, when she spun the red Mickey Mouse to win the game. A big smile was plastered on her face as she said, “I can’t believe it! I won! I thought I was losing for sure!” That’s when I told her, “Sometimes that’s how it goes! You think you’re going to lose, but you still win. That’s why you always keep trying your best!” We learn so much from life but sometimes more from games reflecting how life works.

All the best,

Tanya

Mommy’s Monday Moments: “Skating” Along with My Little Girl

“If I practice, I’ll get better and better and be able to do some skating tricks?” my three year old inquired. “Yes, you sure will,” I assured her.”She followed up, “Then I won’t need you, and I’ll be able to skate by myself?” “Yes” I paused, “you will!” While I’m so proud of the many milestones my little girl has reached, hearing her actually say that she won’t need me anymore makes me feel so uneasy. About a year ago, I did a blog entry about Quinn skating for the first time, and now a year later she is feeling more confident and even wanted to let go of my had a few times when we were at the skating rink for her cousin’s birthday party this past Saturday.

Skating, just like walking, requires the ability to balance, but the risk of falling, going too fast or crashing into someone or something is much greater. So of course I’m both looking forward to and dreading the day that my daughter no longer needs to hold my hand while skating. At this point, something that offers me solace, not just with skating but with all of the different skills Quinn’s mastering, is that she understands the importance of practice. She even said, “If I work really hard, I’ll get really good at skating !” With this in mind, maybe she will know when she is ready to step out on the skating rink floor by herself, and it will just be up to me to be willing to let her hand go.

All the best,

Tanya

Mommy’s Monday Moments: You Steer. I’ll Pedal.

Today, my little girl and I went to the zoo, and we did the swan boat which requires the riders to pedal and steer. It wasn’t until we got on that my daughter realized that her three year old legs would be unable to reach the pedals. “I want to pedal, mommy!” she pleaded. After informing her that her legs just are not long enough, I asked for her help with steering. Of course, this was tricky because she’s still learning how to steer her little bicycle, so I had to help her out some, and she repeatedly told me, “I can do it, Mommy! I want to do it by myself.”

In this moment, I thought about how there will be times when I will want to take the wheel but must step back and let her steer the course of her life with minimal interference from me. For now, my job is prepare her for the many obstacles on the course and to give her the necessary training for driving herself in the right direction throughout her life. It’s amazing how a fun activity left me in a pensive state over my daughter steering the course of her life. But then again, I’m glad that her well-being is always on my mind and pray that I am currently providing her with the necessary lessons to eventually steer herself.

All the best,

Tanya

Life Lessons from My Little Girl at the Park #2

Quinn Walking Down the Slide

Quinn Walking Down the Slide

At least four to five times a week during the summer, my two year old daughter and I go to the park, and at least four to five out of these times we visit the park, I learn a life lesson from her. Yesterday, I posted a blog entry on the bravery it takes to cross bridges. Today, it’s all about the power of the sliding board, which my little girl enjoys. Sometimes she zips down quickly. Other times she purposely inches down little by little, trying to make the trip down the slide last as long as possible. Lately, she takes pleasure in being a dare devil: walking down or up the slide and sneakily trying to slide head first if I don’t stop her first. As I told her one day, “Quinn, slide down the right way. You’re not supposed to walk on the sliding board,” the memory of me  having fun, walking up a sliding board immediately flashed in my mind. How dare I deny my child her fun? Is it always about following the rules or using something solely for its initial purpose. Climbing up the slide instead of taking the stairs might seem like merely a shortcut, but it forces her to exert herself more as the incline, slippery slide and gravity are the forces pulling her down as she tries with all of her might to go up. There are times when the slide of life or what appears to be fate is pulling me in a certain direction. As most people will say just go with it and slide on down, I still have choice. When I looked at Quinn’s face as she made it back up the slide, I saw her sense of accomplishment which far outweighs the joy she gets from actually going down the slide. Who knew such a big lesson could come from my little girl? Thanks so much sweetheart! I hope others will benefit from your lesson.

All the best,

Tanya