Tag Archives: Tanya Harris

Smile? I’m a Natural Born Frowner:

3 Aug
Baby Quinn Smiling

Baby Quinn Smiling

Hurry, grab the camera! The baby is smiling again! I have been obsessed with seeing my baby smile for the first time and every time after that. Interestingly, little Quinn had absolutely no problem frowning or making a face to display discomfort immediately after birth accompanied with a piercing cry. But with eager anticipation, I waited about two months for that first “real” smile (Not from gas or in her sleep).

Why aren’t we natural born smilers? Is it that we have nothing to smile about at birth and are miserable? My husband and I discussed this, and he deduced that it is all about survival instincts, and smiling and laughing will not get a baby fed, but frowning and crying will. I’m sure he’s onto something because feral children who were severely neglected and had little to no human contact typically do not know how to smile and must be taught through human interaction.

Seeing my baby smile for the first time and now smiling each day has me thinking about what a major milestone it is. Imagine going through life and never smiling or not even knowing how to smile. I’m sure we all know someone (Hopefully you are not that someone) who always has a frown or sour look on his or her face or might even have a permanent frown upon reaching a certain age from constantly putting a frown on his or her face in the past. When you were a little baby, someone’s face lit up upon seeing you smile or hearing you giggle, so why not make a more conscious effort to smile as adults? Some people may say, “I don’t have anything to smile about.” But having the ability to smile should be reason enough.

Though I was not always a smiler, especially during that awkward adolescent stage from preteens to early adulthood, I have learned the significance of smiling, and seeing my little girl smile has reinforced that lesson. I always greet her by happily saying, “Good Morning,” and she usually responds with a big smile. This has confirmed for me that how we start off the day and how we greet others is very important for us as well as the people with whom we come in contact. Whether it is a big teethy smile at my students in the morning, a small one at a passerby during a morning walk or at the cashier as I pay for my items, my smile just might brighten up someone else’s day. Have you smiled today? If so, how many times? The more the better is my philosophy.

All the best,


P.S.  Keep Smiling : – )


Baby’s Got Nursery Designing Skills: DIY Tips

2 Aug

2013-06-03 06.55.47Putting together a baby nursery, especially for your first baby, can be a lot of fun, a bit overwhelming at times and potentially costly.  For me, I was eager to put my crafty DIY skills to work to save a little money. After completing my baby’s nursery, I received many compliments and figured I share some of what I did to help anyone out who is currently working on a baby nursery or will be in the future. For more longevity, I decided to select colors (cream, taupe and green with pink as the accent color) instead of a character, animal, alphabet theme, etc. Also, I chose many items that will grow with her and that I can get more use out of even once they are no longer a part of her room.

Many people want to personalize their baby’s nursery, but how personal is it really if it has been mass produced, and your child’s name is just inserted in a blank space? Even though I have no aversions towards mass produced items, I decided to do something simple yet different for baby Quinn’s nursery especially since I just could not find what I wanted for wall art.

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Canvas Project

I purchased blank white canvases from AC Moore, that were not only on sale but I was able to use a coupon too, acrylic green paint, a few small paint brushes and white wooden letters with her initials.  Then I applied thin painters tape to create the stripes.  I also did this with a paintable light switch I purchased through Amazon. (click photo to make larger)

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Bookcase Gift Wrap

Gift wrapping paper can be used for more than presents.  Just take a look at what I did with this bookcase spending just $3 at Home Goods and a little patience with precisely cutting the paper.(click photo to make larger)

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Crib with Handcrafted Green Bows

I decided against bumpers because some medical professionals stated that they can be dangerous, but most bumpers have those pretty bows I wanted for Quinn’s crib. So I created my own after watching a few Youtube videos and then used velcro to attach them so that they would not damage the crib. Click the  image to not only see the bows better but the stripe canvas wall art  and light switch too.

With one of the larger canvases I purchased for under $10, I added some fabric and ribbons diagonally for a few dollars to create a one of a kind photo board over the glider as seen in the photo below. (click photo to make larger)

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Fabric Canvas

As an English Professor, I could not resist including something in Quinn’s nursery to provide that solid foundation for reading and writing: the alphabet.  So using Adobe Photoshop, (I am sure other programs can be used) I created this wall art at 30 x 40 and sent away for it through easycanvasprints.com at 50% off of course.  (click photo to make larger)

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Personalized Alphabet Wall Art

Even though I enjoyed designing the nursery and made it a huge production, when Quinn was born, and I excitedly brought her to her nursery, I realized that none of what I did matters to her, at least not yet.  But my hope is that she will come to enjoy spending time in her nursery and that it will be a welcoming environment for her.  If you have any questions or feedback on what I did for Quinn’s nursery or on any items in the nursery, please let me know.  Part of my journey is not only trying to figure this motherhood thing out but helping other mothers (and fathers too) along the way if I can.

All the best,


Life Quickly Moves in Slow Motion

27 Jul

Tanya Harris FranklinWho hasn’t heard the phrase, “Life is too short” or “Time just seems to fly by?”  I’ve even uttered it myself on numerous occasions, but after setting up a dropcam for my baby girl’s nursery (Side note: this is an excellent gadget and can be used for far more than a baby’s nursery. It allows you to a view footage from anywhere on a wifi connection on your iPad, iPod, Android or computer) I have started to become a bit obsessed with watching the footage and question those very statements many of us say repeatedly.  There was one instance in particular when I was watching past footage of my husband and I getting our daughter ready for bedtime.  As he was putting a onesie on her, I was “quickly” straightening up the bathroom and putting her little tub back in its rightful place leaving my husband to fend for himself with our feisty little two month old.  What was actually forty-five seconds to a minute at best seemed like an eternity when I watched the footage. I questioned myself wondering if I was taking too long to straighten things up.  Why does it seem like it was much longer than it was?  I guess that’s why many of these “reality” shows have so much footage edited and removed because watching real life with no edits can be quite slow moving and even boring to some people.

As a result of watching random videos of my life going so quickly in slow motion, I have began pondering over rather life is indeed too short or if time is significantly flying by, or am I just not making every moment of my life count and simply wasting time on unproductive activities?  Why is it that life tends to move more quickly when we are active participants, whereas, it can move at a turtle’s pace when we are mere observers?  I am still figuring out the answers as I compose this blog post, but what I do know is that watching this footage has given me an epiphany: every hour, minute, second and millisecond of not just my life but the lives of those I love and care about matters, and I must sometimes slow down my pace yet be quick on my feet to enjoy life, the people and things that matter the most to me.   Please feel free to share any thoughts you have on one of my random musings.

All the best,


Mommy’s Going to Work it Out Baby!

27 Jun
Tanya H. Franklin & Quinn Franklin doing Happy Baby Workout

Happy Baby Workout: Lunges

In my previous post highlighting some tips and information that has been helping me as a new mother, I mentioned finding ways to exercise to get back that pre-pregnancy body or to get in even better shape.  I am almost 5 foot 11 inches, and my pre-pregnancy weight was 155 pounds.  I gained about 35 pounds and have since lost 22 pounds.  I am grateful that I can fit back into most of my summer clothes, but that “jelly belly” was left behind and needs to get toned.   Though baby Quinn and I go for walks and even light jogs most recently with me pushing her in the stroller (she will be eight weeks tomorrow), we’ve been experiencing a lot of hot and humid weather and thunderstorms where I reside, right outside of Philadelphia, PA. This makes it difficult to always go outside. Also, I need something more intense to get back in shape. I ordered “Hip Hop Abs,” which I am extremely excited about doing, but it is just not possible for me to stick to the workout schedule consistently and see results with the baby needing my attention, usually as soon as I want to start the workout or get really into the workout.

To not neglect baby Quinn, I searched for a workout program that would include her.    I ordered “Happy Baby Workout” through Amazon, and it is awesome!    We’ve been doing the workouts for the past two weeks, and though there are a few instances when we are doing floor work that involves her lying there while I do jumping jacks or push ups where she puts up a little fuss, she seems to be into the workout just as much if not more than I am.  Just because it is a mommy and me workout, do not let that fool you!  I definitely felt sore after working out for a couple of days and do get a good sweat going.

Actually, the baby taking part in the workouts is six months, basically four months older than Quinn, so I just modify some of the exercises to accommodate  her lack of neck an head control, and she seems to enjoy it.  Another plus is that when Quinn is a bit fussy throughout the day I try some of the exercises we do such as the dead lift, lunges and baby bench presses, and it usually calms her down immediately.

Below, are some pictures of the exercise routines Quinn seems to like and a few I enjoy doing with her to not only get in shape but to interact with her, give her tummy time and contribute towards her development. (You can see I was really breaking a sweat.  Yes, I’m wearing one of this waist slimmers in hopes of shedding that jelly belly! We’ll see how I do in the next few months.)

It would be fantastic to be able go to a mommy and me workout gym.  There is a Little Gym not to far from where I live in Jenkintown, PA, but Quinn needs to be a little older to participate.  If you know of any places in this area or the Philadelphia area, please let me know. Also, if  you have any other exercise suggestions or have tried the Happy Baby Workout, I’d love to hear about it!

All the best,


Tanya H. Franklin & Quinn Franklin doing Happy Baby Workout

Military Baby Lifts

Tanya H. Franklin & Quinn Franklin doing Happy Baby Workout

Baby Bench Press

Tanya H. Franklin & Quinn Franklin doing Happy Baby Workout

Push ups for Me & Tummy Kisses for Baby Quinn

Tanya H. Franklin & Quinn Franklin doing Happy Baby Workout

Baby Dead Lift Swing

Lucky Number: Seven Baby!

21 Jun

Tanya Franklin and Quinn FranklinSince my last post, I’ve embarked on the ultimate journey: motherhood!  On May 3, 2013 at 2:20 am I gave birth to a healthy 8 pound girl named Quinn Victoria Franklin which was just seven weeks ago.  Within that time, I have learned so much and attained a great deal of knowledge from the many baby websites.  Somehow, I made this connection to the movie “Wizard of Oz” and how Dorothy did not want to go on her journey in search of the wizard on her own, and happily invited the scarecrow, tin man and lion to accompany her.  I am grateful to have my husband, mother, sister and dear relatives and friends to accompany me on this journey and offer guidance, but I am fully aware that there will be times when I will need to figure it all out on my own.  Being a new mother is rewarding yet quite challenging and overwhelming, so I’d like to share seven things I’ve picked up along the way thus far to hopefully help others not stray from the “yellow brick road.”

  1. Sleepless nights: If you are bottle feeding with breast milk or formula, make the feedings closer together in the evening so that the baby will sleep longer.  My baby was feeding every two hours twenty four hours a day.  After increasing the amount  and spacing out the feedings during the day by three to three and a half hours and making the last two feedings in the evening two hours apart, she has finally started sleeping better throughout the night.
  2. Upset stomach and/or hiccups:  Gripe water, which is available at a local drug store or on Amazon, works wonders.  Quinn tends to get the hiccups regularly making it difficult for her to sleep, and after giving her gripe water, they disappear immediately.  It also helps to soothe her upset stomach.
  3. Diaper Explosions: Quinn has already had her fair share of diaper explosions or decided to go as I was changing her diaper.  Yes, she’s my baby, and I love her, but I do not love dealing with poo.  My husband is really good about handling those diapers for me.  Even though one might argue that it is not eco friendly, I have been using throwaway pads available through Amazon.  It makes the cleanup process much easier and less messy than cleaning cloth covers.
  4. Cabin Fever:  Though I am still suffering some from cabin fever, I’ve found that just sitting outside on the porch or deck is a great way for both the baby and me to get some fresh air.
  5. Exercise:  Prior to having the baby, I worked out regularly and went jogging almost everyday, so now that she is here, how do I get back into the rhythm of working out when she requires my attention.  Taking a brisk walk for two or three miles pushing her in the stroller has been invigorating, but what about when it’s raining outside?  Though I intend on eventually joining a mommy and me yoga or exercise class, what can I do when that is not an option or if I just want to workout at home?  I ordered “Happy Baby Workout” through Amazon, and it is awesome.  I definitely feel it working to help me get back that pre-pregnancy body, and it allows me to interact with Quinn and to stimulate her development.  Though the baby taking part in the workouts is six months, much older than Quinn, I just modify some of the exercises to accommodate  her lack of neck an head control, and she seems to enjoy it.
  6. Support: I am a “type A” personality as well as a perfectionist and tend to want to do everything on my own.  I learned very quickly that it is okay to ask for help, and it is essential to have a strong support system when raising a child, especially caring for a baby.
  7. Share: I have been learning to share my experience with others and to listen to the wisdom of  others which adds to the support and helps to make  this journey smoother.  You never know how many people are going through or have went through the same thing and can offer advice.

My home has definitely evolved with the presence of a baby, but I know I have the brain, heart, courage and support to  travel this journey of motherhood.  Please feel free to share any advice you have as we take this journey together.



Having Fun Like Squirrels Chasing Each Other Up and Down Trees on a Sunday Morning: Similes and Metaphors Exercise

23 Sep

If a person wants to be a body builder, it’s necessary to not only exercise but to eat healthy and to train properly when it comes to lifting weights.  If you to be a pro at any sport, you need to practice not just playing the game but different techniques and strategies that are going to play a significant role in how well you play the game.  Writing is definitely not an exception to the rule.  One of the exercises my practicum professor suggested that I do is to come up with similes and metaphors.  Even though it was fun, I must admit that I flexed some muscles I have not been using as frequently as I should.  I came up with thirty different similes and metaphors, and would like to share ten of them with you.  They may not all be the best, but it’s all in fun.

  1. Your love is a 366-day-old lottery ticket.
  2. You are the plucked gray hair no one will ever know about.
  3. Caught in your speed trap with an expired license.
  4. His words cut like a knife made out of play dough
  5. Cumbersome like Shaquille O’Neal walking a tightrope backwards in six-inch heels.
  6. I rise like a congratulations balloon escaping the grasp of a proud mother.
  7. Relieved like a rose escaping the snip leading to its wilting death.
  8. Count on me like an abacus.
  9. Hard as thirteen year old gum under high school desks
  10. Sorted out thoughts like a recycling center

If you have a fun simile or metaphor, please feel free to share.


All the best,


Tanya H. Franklin



The Ultimate Workshop: Discovering Me!

15 Sep

Tanya Harris Franklin aka AnonomzI just started an MFA program in Creative Writing for poetry, and a main component of one of the courses I am taking is participating in workshops where I provide feedback (I prefer the word feedback to criticism) on the work of my classmates, and they provide feedback, which I try not to take as harsh criticism, on my work.  Having someone look at my work, my heartfelt, overflowing-with-emotions work, has proven to be even more difficult than I expected.  I’ve always struggled with confrontation, shying away from it whenever possible, and in some weird way, I am being confronted about poems on which I have worked so diligently and hard to produce.  Last week, I submitted my first set of poems, and I am pleased to say the feedback was not as severe as I thought it would be; nevertheless, the differing opinions and suggestions and the picking apart of my poems line by line is a lot to process.  It has left me mentally depleted pondering over what feedback I should accept and which ideas I should discard.  Having a support system is wonderful, but how do I not lose my voice as a writer and not simply conform to what others think is best for my work or my writing style?

What’s interesting is that this dilemma has got me thinking about an ultimate workshop: discovering me.  An internal conflict I still struggle with in my everyday life is wanting the approval of others and upholding an image others deem appropriate or noteworthy.  My poems cannot and will not be everything to everybody.  Some people will be quite fond of them, and some people will loathe them.  Therefore, trying to figure out how I should revise my poems or if I should even revise them at all is a pinnacle moment leading to a huge turning point for me.  I am being forced to make decisions on my work, and there is no way around it.  As a result, I am discovering more about me and what I think is best based on other people’s insight.  This line of thinking extends well beyond my poetry, and with each passing day I am finding out a little more about myself, what I like and dislike and trying to figure out how to filter through the beneficial thoughts of others without getting caught up in what they think is best for me.  It will be a lifelong workshop, but I can already sense some growth occurring.

All the best,


The Tale of Too Many Goals

8 Sep

Tanya H. FranklinIs there such a thing as having too many goals?  Every year, I contemplate over what I would like to accomplish and what steps I will take to get there, but most recently I’ve started wondering if I have too much on my plate.  Is it best to focus on one goal exclusively or to have a few going on simultaneously that could potentially coincide with one another.  Last year, I found this wonderful app “Habit Factor,” and it focuses on how in order to reach goals in life, you must develop good habits that are in alignment with those goals.

For instance, I want to become fluent in Spanish, so I have been completing Rosetta Stone lessons, listening and repeating the audio on my drive to work or wherever, playing the games, even reading “Love Poems” by Pablo Neruda which has the Spanish on one side and the English on the other along with watching a few shows or movies in Spanish and conversing in Spanish when possible.

Learning Spanish is just one of my goals.  In improving my writing skills I have enrolled in an MFA Creative Writing Program which I just started, and it is certainly intense to say the least.  However, I know I will reap the benefits of blossoming as a writer by the end of the program.  Staying in shape is always at the forefront which involves more than just exercising but eating healthy, meditating regularly and channeling positive energy.

I’ve been married for a year now, and my husband and I moved into our new home a few months ago, and there are several DIY projects I want to tackle.  Starting a family is one of those projects.

Is this all too much while I am in my fifth and last year on the tenure track at my college preparing my portfolio and letter to be presented to the board?  Some people say, “I don’t know how you do it” or “When do you relax?”  I’m not sure if I am taking on too many goals, but I do it all not just for me but my family too, and I am excited about where these goals will take me in life.

I’ll keep you posted on my progress.

All the best,


The Journey Continues

1 Sep

Tanya Harris FranklinIt’s been a while since I’ve written a post, and I feel so guilty.  Even though I haven’t lost sight of my goals, I have allowed life to consume me.  The purpose of this blog is simply to share my musings, journey and whatever else strikes my fancy and to be able to possibly inspire others, and lately, I’ve had a lot of ideas, so I need to make more time to get them all down.   I’ll keep this post short, but I am eager to take you on my continued journey.

All the best,


Ten Things I’ve Got Planned for 2011: Mission Completed (January – December)

31 Dec

Tanya Harris' Vision Board1. Rome was not built in a day, and neither was the ideal body.  Therefore, I will keep working out four to five days a week to be nicely toned for the summer of 2011.
Since August, I’ve not only been using the “Perfect Sit-Up” at least six days a week, but I’ve also been completing cardio exercises with Wii Fit as well as “Your Shape Evolved” on Xbox Kinect such as yoga, step aerobics and kick boxing, which is a lot of fun. With the change in weather  (cold and rainy) as well as the days getting shorter, it has presented a bit of a hurdle with consistently  and walking and jogging six to seven days a week outside.  However, the Nike Plus program continues to keep me motivated , so I’ve been walking on the treadmill in the college gym or even walking the halls to cover mile miles which has been quite invigorating.  The app “Lose it” is still beneficial, and as a result of using it, I have become far more cognizant of what I’m eating.  The Active Women time release vitamin and adding flaxseed and wheat germ to my meals to get more nutrients has been helpful too.

2. My intellectual, spiritual and creative journey is essential for my well-being, and I will be sure to submit a blog entry at least once a week.  Stop by when you can to check out my new entries.
This is my 83rd blog submission. and even though I was shooting for at least 100 entries by the end of the year, I am satisfied with my achievement.  I often underestimate how busy I am going to be when the semester begins, and the balancing act begins from August through mid December.  I did, however, surpass my goal of 1500 by the end of the year by getting 2420!

3. I have many gifts, and writing poetry is one of them, so I will relentlessly assert myself to become synonymous with the spoken word and poetry slam circuit.  Who knows, I may complete enough poems to publish a chapbook or have some choice entries in major publications.
 Even though I have not been writing as much as I think I could have, I’ve still been working on ideas and writing down daily musings.  Check out some of my spoken word performances on You Tube.  You can find me under Anonomz.

4. People often say, “It’s a small world,” but many of us have yet to leave our own neighborhood, city, or state, let alone the country or continent for that matter.  I plan to travel more extensively this year and hope to visit outside of the country…perhaps for a destination wedding.  I haven’t done any traveling since getting married in the Dominican Republic; nevertheless, it was a memorable experience, and I’ am looking forward to traveling to a couple of places in the new year.

5. Everybody is busier than ever and cannot spare a moment for family and friends even though vast amounts of technology are supposed to help people get more done and have more time,.  I will make a more conscious effort to reach out to family and friends and demonstrate my appreciation and love for them the” Old fashioned” way: the occasional phone call, letters, visits and tokens of my appreciation.
As previously stated in August,  I’ve been channeling my energy into those whom I spend time with and see regularly and let them know how much they are loved and appreciated, and maybe one day the others will have time to fit me in their schedules.

6. I love writing and refuse to die with my many stories being left untold; as a result, I will begin working on and brainstorming about  other literary ventures such as colorful stories and children’s book ideas and see where it takes me…maybe to the best seller’s list one day!
I love writing, and have been incorporating it into my everyday schedule which has actually been rather busy these past few months.  I have a gratitude journal and occasionally jot down ideas throughout the course of the day.  I also purchased a few books which I’ve been reading to help me with the writing process.  Even though I know this goal will more than likely span into the next couple of years in order to have a completed project, I am fully immersed in the process.

7. Health is necessary for longevity.  To continue  improving my financial, physical and spiritual health, I will conduct research and keep working on the economical game plan, exercise regularly and meditate , and read and apply spiritual and motivational literature on a frequent basis.
Now that the wedding has come and gone, the saving begins with purchasing a house.  My husband and I are doing really well with the monthly contributions towards this goal, and I am hopeful that we will be ready to start looking for a house in the new year.  Also, I’ve paid off my car loan and am in a rally good place financially to get the occasional want, not just needs.   This year, I have been exercising regularly, eating lots of fruits and vegetables and taking vitamin supplements.  I am happy to report that I have not been sick all year, and I think my exercising and eating healthy foods has a lot to do with it.   I’ve also been doing more meditating, specifically transcendental meditation, two times a day for twenty minutes a piece, and I do feel more balanced and relaxed.   The brain exercises have certainly improved my mental acuity.  I’m also on my third set of lessons for Rosetta Stone’s Spanish courses and am enjoying the learning process.  I can honestly say that I feel fantastic!  

8. “You should be an actor!” is what family, friends and even my students tell me.  I used to act when I was younger and loved being on stage, so I will explore my theatrical abilities by taking a college level acting class in the spring 2011 semester staring January 10.  It’s going to be interesting potentially being in class with some of my own students, but it will be fun I’m sure.
My acting class went extremely well, and I finished the course with an “A!”  I learned a great deal from the experience and would love to take another course.  For my final, I actually performed in a scene as a drunk southern belle which is totally out of character for me.  You can check out my scene on You Tube under Anonomz.

9. As a person who  has finicky eating habits, family and friends jokingly say, “A fancy restaurant for her is a place that serves pizza, chicken or turkey burgers.”  I enjoy fine dining and feel guilty that people are limited in their restaurant selections when going out with me. In an attempt to break out of this habit, I will try at least one new food item every other month…once a month if the mood strikes me.
Out of my ten goals, I am extremely proud of achieving this one because it was initially the most difficult.  Interestingly, trying new foods has actually been much easier that I thought it would be.  Once I tried the fried calamari, the shrimp, eggplant, sushi and plantains, to name a few, the rest were no problem.  There’s something liberating about trying different foods.  Maybe it’s the ability to step outside of my comfort zone and to do something daring.  Perhaps trying new foods is just the beginning.  After this, I might feel more comfortable with trying different hobbies or activities that I would normally shy away from.  

10.  Lastly, in recent years I’ve learned that I cannot be everything to everyone, but year after year I still try to make family, friends, students, and colleagues happy sometimes at my own expense: monetarily, physically and emotionally.  To use an analogy, I love filling up their glasses of water, but I have to make sure my pitcher of water remains filled too in 2011.
I’m steadily improving in this area and have found that the more I say “no” or “I’ll think about it” so that I am not overwhelmed, the easier it becomes.  I still have to get over the guilt issues, but I’m happy with my progress..

I’ll keep you posted on my progress.

All the best,


What once was “the new year” is almost over in less than 24 hours.  Did you manage to stay on track with the things you had planned for 2011?  Please feel free to share.