Kitchen Sink Veggie Pasta

Our garden is just about done producing, so we are using up all of the veggies before they go bad. Last weekend I made this pasta without a recipe – I just sort of threw a bunch of stuff in that we had in the kitchen. It was super delicious and I made enough to have it for lunch three days this week! Plus, Liam loved it and ate a good portion for lunch the next day, even though it was cold.

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How I’m Really Feeling

It is the eve of the first day of school as I write this. Usually, this evening is spent looking over lesson plans and schedules for the first day, all while trying to quell the first day jitters that start creeping up. This year, it’s a little different. Because I’m not so much feeling first day jitters for myself, but rather for my very own Kindergartner embarking on his very own Kindergarten journey tomorrow.

As a Kindergarten teacher, you’d think I’d be less anxious about sending my own child off to Kindergarten…On the contrary, I think I’m more nervous than the average non-teacher parent. And it’s because I know how much we expect of our little Kinder Kids and it fills me with a mixed bag of emotions as I think about Lil’ CB heading off to bonafide big boy school.

All summer long, as we’ve been prepping for school, a thought kept popping into my head. I wondered whether the expectations I had for my students at the beginning of the year were too high, or if the expectations I had for Lil’ CB weren’t quite high enough. Because as I watched my sweet boy, I couldn’t help but think that he still seemed so little! And it’s silly, because my head kept comparing him to the Kindergartners I had just had, which, of course doesn’t make sense to do. I know that our beginning-of-the-year Kindergartners are vastly different from the almost-first-graders they transform into by June, but as hard as I tried, I just could not remember exactly what beginning-of-the-year Kindergartners are like! (Seriously, even after 12 years of teaching, I’m always surprised by how *little* they are!) In my heart of hearts, I know he’s ready. And he couldn’t be more excited. But me? I’m not sure how ready I am.

I kept thinking back to the hundreds of students I’ve taught and thought about how Lil’ CB would, before I knew it, be joining their ranks as a former Kindergartner. Melodramatic much? I know. But, really, I think that’s the hardest part about sending my little cowboy off to Kindergarten…it’s knowing what comes after Kindergarten!

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Montessori Style Art Activities to Rotate at 2-3 Years

We’re very happy to welcome back Kylie from How We Montessori as a regular contributor on Hellobee!

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One thing most Montessori families agree on is the benefit of rotating toys and materials. Sure, children have their favourites and these can be left out for as long as you like. However rotating materials is a great way to continually engage and challenge the child. We also apply this principle to our art materials.

Our art cupboard is in a tiled open-space area where the children are easily supervised. They have low, child-sized tables to work on. We usually have three to four art activities out at a time.

We also present most of our art activities on a tray, Montessori style. This makes it really easy for the child to see what is in the tray and helps them to select which tray they would like use. Using these little trays also makes it easy for the child to carry the activity to their table and to pack it away.

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Essentials for Starting Kindergarten

Last year I blogged about Charlie’s lunchbox essentials when he started public pre-k. Now that we have a whole year of school under our belt, we know what gear we need when he starts kindergarten next week!

1) Gap Junior Canvas Backpack (also available in black) – Charlie had a Skip Hop dog backpack that he received as a gift, but after a year of use it was filthy! So I decided to get him something darker that wouldn’t show stains as much, as well as something a bit larger. This backpack that we got from the Gap is perfect.

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Labour Day Sales

Before you head off on your labour day weekend (hopefully you have something relaxing planned), I wanted to send a quick post out with a list of some of the awesome labour day sales that are happening. If you are in need of some Fall attire or maybe back to school clothes are still in your sights, this is a great weekend to grab a few things you’ve been needing. Here is a quick run down of a few of my favorites from around the web, as well as links to more sales after the jump.

no.1 Loft (for mom) – no.2 Old Navy (toddler) – no.3 Old Navy (mom) – no.4 Osh Kosh (toddler) – no.5 Old Navy (for mom) – no.6 The Gap (for dad) – no.7 Old Navy (toddler) – no.8 Loft (mom) – no.9 Osh Kosh – no.10 Old Navy (for dad) – no.11 JCrew (girl) – no.12 JCrew (mom) – no.13 Old Navy (toddler girl) - no.14 JCrew (dad) – no.15 The Gap (toddler girl)- no.16 The Gap (toddler boy) – no.17 The Gap (mom) – no.18 Old Navy (toddler) – no.19 JCrew (boy) – no.20 Old Navy (dad) – no.21 The Gap (toddler girl)

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Getting Our Toddler to Go to Sleep

Chloe had been doing a really great job of going to bed on time, which we set at 8 pm, for months.  We were a bit worried about daylight saving time this spring, but both the time change and her new bed didn’t change her bedtime routine.  It wasn’t until this July, when she caught a cold, that everything went haywire. The entire month of July was a huge challenge for us. I was 8 months pregnant and in no mood for these bedtime battles. I was also exhausted during the day, and her sudden no-nap schedule was wreaking havoc on me. I thought for sure that she’d be exhausted by the end  of the day, but she seemed to have never ending energy that was driving me (and my husband) mad. We were lucky if she was in bed by 10pm and asleep by 11. This meant my husband and I had little to no time to ourselves or each other. It meant I wasn’t getting any sleep (because she was awake) and was cranky. Something had to give, and we didn’t know what to do.

What’s that phrase? Threenagers?  One night Chloe would not go to bed. After three hours of bedtime battles, my husband  threatened to take away her Mickey car. Chloe sat on the couch and said, “Go ahead. Take it!” This went on for 45 minutes. He took her car, her castle, random toys and the kicker… her birdie dress, her most favorite shirt in the universe. He said she could earn them back when she behaved at bedtime.  She sat on our couch, as smug as could be, and egged him on.  “Are you gonna take the big tv too, daddy?”  Ohh, we were seeing red. Nothing seemed to register with her… until the next morning when she realized all her belongings were gone. So she did what any normal 2.5 year old would do: She tore apart her room looking for her toys.

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Trying to avoid the comparison trap

Lately I’ve been thinking about ways that I can be a better parent by avoiding the comparison trap. And by that, I mean in all areas of parenting. Comparing my two daughters to each other… Comparing my kids to my friends’ kids… Comparing myself to other moms… Comparing the family I grew up in to my husband’s family… The list could go on and on!

In a word, it can be exhausting.

I don’t know if it’s just the time of year, with the start of school, and new transitions in our lives, but my own anxiety about my girls suddenly seems a little bit overwhelming. And now I’m beginning to realize that when my anxiety increases, so does my tendency to compare. I start to ask myself questions like, when will my older daughter be reading? Will she be able to make friends in her new class? Should I have signed her up for more extracurricular activities?

And yet, even as I do my best not to compare, I realize how much more relaxed I am with my younger daughter. It’s probably a combination of factors, not the least being that I’ve gone through most of the milestones at least once with my child, but also because of their opposite personalities. Here we are, the same parents in the same house raising two kids, and yet they couldn’t be more different from each other! Obviously, our situation is a little bit more complicated because HJ was adopted, but we are doing our best to show them that we love them equally and yet value their individuality, especially as they get older and start to show different preferences in terms of their interests.

When HJ arrived, and I think mainly because I was a first-time mom and HJ had some developmental delays, I kind of fell head-first into the comparison trap. First, it was why is she not walking? She was 15 months old and just learning to take a few steps. To me, that was a cause of endless worry. Then, it was why is she not talking? She was two years old and again only saying a few words. After that, it was why is she not sleeping through the night? Why is she still using her pacifier? When she turned three, it was why is she still not potty-trained? Why is she having such a hard time adjusting to preschool?

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