The Little Things Make a Big Difference

While scrolling though my Instagram feed, I came across a picture of a familiar girl in a setting that’s been unfamiliar to her for nearly a year. It was my daughter in her second grade classroom posing for Reading Across America Superhero day. Though her mouth was hidden behind her required face mask, due to Covid-19 restrictions, I could see her smile through her eyes. It was a smile of joy to be back in the classroom simply doing a classroom activity. A smile may not seem like much, and being in the classroom certainly would have been considered a regular occurrence last year. But after missing seeing her teacher and classroom in person, I know Quinn and her other three classmates, who are in-person on a hybrid schedule, consider these little moments to be a big deal. I know I do!

All the best,

Tanya

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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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

Breathe and Just Be: My Daughter, Barbie and Me!

“Repeat after me. I am strong!…I am loved…I am unique.” These are positive affirmations we all can benefit from, especially children. While I’d like to take credit for sharing these with my daughter, it was her new “Breathe with me Barbie” leading my seven year old in a brief meditation.

Watching Quinn close her eyes and repeat these words made me think about how powerful words can be and how important it is for us all to take a few moments to relax, relate and release any negative feelings whole letting in positive ones. Though we’ve meditated together on a number of occasions, we haven’t really included positive affirmations. I think I’ll be taking Barbie’s lead and making sure we include them in ours in the future.

All the best,

Tanya

Sugar Rush: Family Edition! Baking Cotton Candy Cupcakes with My Sweet Girl

Sugar Rush: Cotton Candy Cup Cakes

“Just ten minutes bakers!” My husband yelled out and startled me as my daughter and I raced to put the finishing touches on our cotton candy cupcakes. Being cooped up in the house can be real downer at times, but it also is a wonderful opportunity for some family time. A few weeks ago, my sister came up with a terrific idea for us to have a Zoom Sugar Rush competition against her and my niece just like the Netflix show. Both Quinn and I were both on board with this idea, and once all settled on the carnival as our theme, we knew immediately that we wanted to do cotton candy cupcakes, so I ordered us matching aprons for the theme.

The only problem is that I never made them before! So I scoured Pinterest and YouTube looking for ideas and piecing together recipes we both felt comfortable using. We baked cotton candy cookies. I found this perfect and simple recipe using cotton candy sugar. I also ordered cotton candy flavoring for the buttercream frosting and simply swapped out the vanilla extract for the cotton candy flavoring. Lucky for us, we already have a cotton candy machine, so it was able to be freshly spun. The cupcake itself was a yellowcake recipe I learned from my grandmother.

Both Quinn and I agree that while it was a lot of fun, the pressure was on to put together a tasty treat, especially with my sister and niece on the Zoom call making delicious funnel cake cupcakes! It was such a fun experience that we all agreed to do it again. Our next theme is animals, so stay tuned!

All the best,

Tanya

On the Sixth Day of Christmas Jib Jab gave to me…A Fun Video with My Daughter and Our Puppy

Christmas in Hollis!

On the Sixth Day of Christmas Jib Jab gave to me…A Fun Video with My Daughter and Our Puppy!

I’ll never forget the excitement I had when I saw Run-DMC’s “Christmas in Hollis” music video. My siblings and I would rap and dance along, and my mom, who’s never been a huge fan of rap, even enjoyed the song too. So when my sister texted me a link to a Jib Jab video she created with her, my nephew and niece, I couldn’t resist creating one with my daughter and “puppy son” too.

Though I’ve played the song around Christmas time, Quinn didn’t really know the words, especially considering that it debuted when I was just ten years old, three years older than she is now. But as result of creating our video, she just loves the song and wanted to create more Jib Jab videos including the entire family. I do too!

All the best,

Tanya

Never Tabling a Montage of Memorable Moments

I enjoy spending time and doing projects with my daughter. I especially love when those projects are meaningful and double as DIY home projects. Most recently, we worked on repurposing her old table by doing a Mod Podge of colorful pictures. We talked, laughed and reminisced as we prepped pictures, cut them, decided which ones we wanted to go where and adhered them to the table. It took a few hours, but the finished product is perfect and a constant reminder of what matters most.

Family, friends, joy, love, togetherness: a montage of memorable moments over the years will never be tabled. Thankful Quinn and I will always have our project to remind us of what’s most important.

All the best,

Tanya

“Rememory:” Stories to Remember with My Little Girl

“The cards are a secret, parent and night. Ooh, I got a good story for this one!” my six year old exclaimed. A little bit before the coronavirus lockdown was enforced, I came across the game “Rememory” and thought it would be an excellent way to strengthen my family bond.

Each evening for dinner, Quinn enjoys opening that little box, filled with hundreds of cards. Little did I know she would have so many stories to share that I would be hearing for the first time. I look forward to not only reminiscing but sharing my memories with my daughter and husband too.

Actually, Rememory has offered me comfort in knowing that this lockdown will one day be a distant memory and story that we will share with our future generations.

Until then, I’m enjoying the stories and memories I am currently sharing and building with my daughter.

All the best,

Tanya

Celebrating School: My Daughter’s 100 Days Smarter!

“Guess what, Mommy! Mrs. Moore said that we’re all 100 days smarter,” my first grader told me upon getting home from celebrating the 100th day of school. I have a sharp memory, and I do not recall ever celebrating the 100th day of school, just maybe the last day when everyone was eager to start summer break. While some parents may think the projects and hoopla is overboard, as a professor and parent, I think it’s awesome!

There’s so many goals students must complete and achieve. For some, it may be a cinch, while for others it may be overwhelming or extremely difficult. Either way, showing up and trying one’s best must be acknowledged too. It helps keep up morale and motivation. It also allows both parents and teachers to reflect on how far their students have come without it necessarily being about a grade or milestone that must be achieved.

Within that 100 days, Quinn hasn’t only gotten smarter intellectually but socially and emotionally. She’s gotten a little taller, developed new interests and even decided that she might want to be a teacher as her profession instead of a dancer. Indeed, I do anticipate more changes to come in the next 100 days, but I’m glad we both had an opportunity to rejoice in the time that’s passed thus far: she with her teacher and friends, and me as her proud mother.

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