3 Adjustments to Soothe Your Back to School Transition

So, it's October now.

Do you feel settled yet in the back to school grind?

Kindergarten parents - I’m specifically sending you all the transition love in this new phase of life.

I remember our Kindergarten days being so inconsistent and so reactive. There were times when Lucas would ask me, "why do we just go to school, come home, eat and go to bed." Then there were days where he NEEDED to be active, but was too exhausted and after was a DISASTER! Nothing was ever consistent and I never knew the "right" thing to do for him or me.

It felt like being back with a newborn and having to figure out what he needed and nobody having the words to be able to communicate with each other.

Honestly, I was a little shocked by just how INTENSE it was.

I remember very quickly realizing that this year was going to be all about slowing down to a HAULT. Doing the bare minimum and just moving through this time of life.

We NEVER did after school activities.

We NEVER had playdates (well, maybe 2)

We ALWAYS had meltdowns on the sidewalk

We ALWAYS finished our day exhausted.

Fast forward a year and first grade is SO different. I learned a LOT as a parent and what it means to be a parent of a school aged kid through our first year of Kindergarten.

I learned how to navigate the school system, interpret my son’s needs within this larger system and how to adjust to do what’s best for our family while having to adhere to a bigger picture.

As always, I learned to chill out EVEN MORE as a parent and was reminded of what’s important and worth my focus. That’s something I am constantly learning in new phases of life.

I’d love to share those with you some KEY CHANGES that helped us along the way - because even though it’s October -

It’s never too late to make the right adjustments for your family and we still have 8 months to go! 🙂

Here are 3 adjustments to help soothe the rest of your school year:

 

A realistic and simplified morning schedule.

This starts the day off and will carry your child through the day with positive energy. A strong morning routine can look different for everyone, but consistency is KEY.

Once you’ve assessed the situation and come up with some potential solutions, have a conversation with your child about what’s not working. Ask them how they would LIKE to have their day look.

It is SO important that we open up the lines of communication with our kids and let them in on the discussion of making change in your days. Whether that is change in meals, change in schedule ect. TALK about what’s happening, what’s working and what’s not.

Playtime in the morning.

Once kids start school, they often don’t have enough time to just play freely. Play is how our kids learn, process and unwind. By giving them some time in the morning to wake up - they can engage with themselves and begin their day settled.

Some of you might be saying that - “If I let my kid play, he will never want to stop and it will be a mess.”

  • I get that and this will work better for some kids than others, but the CONVERSATION around this routine will ensure that this is something you are doing TOGETHER.
  • Adding structure to it will be KEY to success.

Make a plan & visuals to aide.

My morning routine with my kids looks like this:

  1. 1st alarm goes off at 6am. I wake up the kids and let them know it’s time to get up and they have 30min. to play (I go back to bed)
  2. 2nd alarm goes off at 6:30: This is there 5 minute warning that play is about to stop
  3. 3rd alarm goes off at 6:35: Time to start getting ready
  4. Go to our “Are you ready?” chart and start the routine. They have a choice to do the routine in whatever order they choose.
  5. If there is extra time, they can read or play some more. (be careful of the play some more piece here because that can be ard for kids to pull away from when it’s time to actually leave. (but remember a pllus - their shoes and all are already on.)

Ask yourself: What is my child's temperament?

Is your child an introvert - an extrovert - or a little of both?

This can be  really telling aspect of your child’s personality. Recognizing and honoring this part of your child’s personality will allow you to best support and understand them.

What is an introvert?

The definition of an introvert is someone who prefers calm, minimally stimulating environments. Introverts tend to feel drained after socializing and regain their energy by spending time alone. This is largely because introverts’ brains respond to dopamine differently than extroverts’ brains. In other words, if you’re an introvert, you were likely born that way.

What is an extrovert?

As with Introverts getting “filled up” by getting some alone time, Extroverts get “filled up” and energized by being around others.

If they finish a full day, sometimes the best way for them to ground is by being at a playground with friends. That’s relaxing and calming to them.

What is an introvert/extrovert?

Being introvert or extrovert is always on a scale and people are typically not just 1 or the other. Being an introvert/extrovert could mean that you do your best work with others, but than when you are tapped out, you need to be alone to recharge.

Paying attention to how your child reacts in different situations can give you clues to whether they have introvert or extrovert tendencies. This can help you better asses what they need after a long day at school.

So, what does my child need right after school?

  • Down time with minimal stimulation
  • Quiet connection with you or another person
  • Get out pent up energy from their day

Talk with them and find out!

Ask them what makes them feel calm? What makes them feel recharged? As always - don’t have this conversation in the moment. Have it during bedtime or on a weekend when you are just hanging around the house.

Eat Dinner Earlier.

Majority of kids internal dinner time is often at 4:30-5pm

  1. Pay attention to when your kids hungriest. When are they eating the most snacks
  2. Utilize that time to get healthy food into them at that time. Maybe it is a sit down and have dinner or maybe it’s a really healthy schmorgas board (cheese, olive, vegetables, grains)
  3. You can still have your sit down dinner at 6:30 if that is what works with your families schedule, but the pressure is off because you know they’ve eaten something healthy already.

This early fuel will give them the energy and ability to make it through the rest of the day and minimize the big feelings and tantrums.

Reminder: Don't forget to play with your kids! 

Our kids connect with us THROUGH play. Making 10 MINUTES of focused time to play together can make a huge difference in your after school. Set a timer - focus on play - move through the rest of the afternoon.

At the end of the day, everyone’s family works differently, but the more we can slow down and prioritize deep connection within our busy lives - the stronger, more grounded & capable we AND OUR CHILDREN will be.

Xoxox

Kim

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Kids crave consistency & Kids Cooking Classes provide just that!

kids cooking classes in the garden

I have some great news to share!

Because our kids cooking classes are not JUST kids cooking classes and provide your child with an immense toolbox of skills, these classes are also best when done consistently.
When kids are given constant and ongoing exposure to whole foods, they cultivate a strong relationship to their food and healthy eating in the long run.
That is the exact reason why I have decided to move from a series based schedule to a membership schedule for you all.

 

We are now offering monthly memberships to our Afterschool and Weekend Series.

These new membership options provide a financial savings for you.
It will give your child that constant exposure they want and need.
It will also allow your kids to continue to take a step deeper into their skills in the kitchen and garden every three months.

 

The most fun part?

The kids will get to celebrate their new skills and learning every three months with a dinner that they cook and present to you!
Kind of like a recital, but kitchen style! 🙂
And Tangy Sweet Photography will capture our kids cooking classes. This means you will have the option to purchase professional photo's of your child during their kids cooking classes.

 

So here are the details:

  • With the membership, you are able to cancel at any time, no charge (30-day notice is needed)
  • More flexibility - Our schedule is expanding to 6 days a week and you will have the ability to switch classes should when your schedule changes.
  • Monthly payments are auto-recurring. No more worrying about signing up in time and dealing with reminder emails or forgetting that discount code.
  • The best partYour kiddo gets to look forward to their weekly cooking class and continue to build their skills developmentally & cultivate this lifelong relationship of healthy eating.

New to The Connected Chef? Check out a Drop In Class of your choice at anytime to make sure it's a good fit!

How do you get started?

For ongoing students:

  • Register for the "Monthly Membership Program" via our scheduler
  • You will receive a confirmation email and contract from our client care coordinator, Maryann
  • Every month, there will be an automatic deduction in your account for the program.
  • Enjoy the benefits of a healthy, happy kiddo!

For new students: Try our classes before committing!

  • Sign up for a "New Student Drop In" class and choose a date/time that works for you.
  • Check out a class to make sure it's the right fit for you and your child.
  • Once you are ready - Register for the "Monthly Membership Program" via our scheduler
  • You will receive a confirmation email and contract from our client care coordinator, Maryann
  • Every month, there will be an automatic deduction in your account for the program.

I'm SO, SO excited to get to offer this to you all and look forward to seeing everyone the first week of March after our 2-week hiatus.

AND....

 

We would like to offer you a (10%) discount for our new spring offerings if you take advantage before March 7th.
Enter the coupon code MEMBERSHIP to take advantage of this exclusive offer!

 

P.S...
As you may know, we've hired 3 new teachers!

In addition to bringing their own specialties, including art & composting to our classes, our teachers will enable us to assist your child in sharpening their skills and allow new students to have the ability to go at their own pace.

Classes are beginning to take shape with 2 different levels; Those who have been with us for some time and then newer students.

This will give our veteran students a chance to be further challenged in their skill and work in the kitchen and garden.

We will also be offering a number of demonstration experiences that your kiddos will have a chance to sign up for monthly at various locations throughout the city this spring/summer season.
These demonstrations will allow your kiddos to show off their skills and build confidence in themselves and empower them to choose healthier food options.
AND they are free for membership students!

Bone Broth 101

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Bone broth, thanks to hipsters and crunchy folk, is trending now.

BUT...that doesn’t take away from the fact that it’s EXTREMELY good for you and tastes delicious!

If Bone broth has your attention because of its health benefits, great!

But you don’t have to just drink it from a cup.

After you check out the steps below on making a hearty, nutrient dense bone broth, you can use it to make a number of different dishes!

How you make a bone broth in 5 simple steps...

Step 1: Buy your bones from a local butcher

When I headed into my local butcher on afternoon, he asked me, “Where are the boys?”

My response, “Home sick. That’s why I’m here. I need some bones.”

He shook his head in complete understanding. “One second”, he replied.

A few minutes later I was handed a big bag of beef bones cleaned and cut.

FOR FREE.

I see my butcher every week. He knows my kids, knows what I like and makes sure that the quality of what I get is top notch. He also will let me pay with a credit card even if my purchase is under $20. 🙂

Creating a relationship with your local butcher will not only leave you with good quality products where you know the source, but it’s strengthening your community for yourself and your kids. Not to mention supporting a small business.

It also may come with the perks of free beef bones. (since the bones are scrap for them anyway)


Step 2: Roast Bones @ 350 degrees

Put your bones on a sheet pan and pop them in the oven until they are seriously brown. The more brown, the more flavor.

 

 


Step 3: Simmer with Aromatics & Skim the Fat

Aromatic vegetables include onion, garlic, ginger, lemongrass ect.                                        My traditional bone broth had:

  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Celery
  • Black Peppercorn

No need to be fancy. Just quarter the onions, cut the garlic head in half and rip the celery. Big pieces are good because they will be simmering for quite some time.

 

Then cover the bones and vegetables with water & simmer.

Simmering means small bubbles in your liquid that barly pop. Not big boiling bubbles. If you boil your stock it will be muddy in both look and taste. Gentle my friends. Give it your love.

As your stock simmers, the liquid level will drop and you can continuously add more water to keep it up.

When making your broth (or any stock), be sure to skim the fat off the top as it cooks. As your bone broth is simmering, the fat will naturally get pushed to the side. You can use a small ladle and gently dip it a centimeter in the liquid to collect the fat.


Step 4: Strain and cool quickly

After 15 hours of simmering and numerous times of adding more water to your pot as the levels decrease you want to strain and cool your liquid.

This is your end product:

That’s right...bone broth when cooled should look like jello. That’s all your collagen.

In the restaurant world, we sometimes have these contraptions that are basically giant plastic bottles filled with water. You freeze them and when you’re cooling stock, you put it inside the liquid AND put the whole container in an ice bath. It cools a giant vat of stock very efficiently.

At home, there is no such contraption. But, you can take a stainless steel bottle or silicone container and turn it into a giant ice pack.

I wouldn’t recommend plastic because I just don’t feel good about hot plastic in food.


Step 5: Repeat & Reseason

Finishing your bone broth is what will make all the difference in your end product.

Once you’ve strained your broth the first time, you’ll want to put the bones BACK IN THE POT with new water and aromatics for another round. 10-12 hours to be exact.

This step will extract all the minerals deep inside the bones and will pull out whatever extra flavor is left in there.

Then, you combine the 2 stocks you have.

Once you’ve done both rounds of simmering and your broth is done, you’ll want to season it. (Notice we didn’t put any salt in yet?)

I finish my broth with a splash of Apple Cider Vinegar and a good heap of salt. The vinegar cuts through all the fat and brightens the flavor. The salt enhances and brings out the flavors in the broth.

NOW COOK WITH IT!!

Bone broth is a great way to add flavor into other dishes. 

When I teach kids and adults to cook with their senses and without a recipe, we talk about adding flavor at every step.

What that means is this: When you’re cooking, things are broken down into steps. At each of those steps, you should be asking yourself, “How an I add MORE flavor into this dish.”

cooking whole foods = big flavor and lots of nutritional health.

Check out our recipes on The Connected Chef for some great Chili, soup & legume recipes to add your broth too!

 

Enjoy and stay warm!

New Traditions & Yule Holiday Celebration

This Winter season marks the celebration of YULE.

Yule is rooted in our connection to Mother Earth and her cycle.

Becoming familiar with Pagan traditions gives you an eye-opening view into the Earth’s cycles & seasons. Each holiday honors the stage in which the Earth is currently in, taking note of the season & lunar cycles and their effect on our land and crops. They honor all circles of life and allows us the space to look at our own growth and how it is relevant and connected the greater world.

The reconnection to our Earth and the creatures living here is vital to the progress of our society & the joy of our individual lives. It’s both intimate and grand.

What is Yule?

In short - The celebration of Winter Solstice.

The Winter Solstice marks the beginning of longer days to come.

During Summer Solstice we are in the longest day of the year. The sun hangs in the sky and gives us more light on that day than any other day of the year, but from that point on the days are getting shorter and shorter. The darkness is coming in.

The Winter Solstice is the shortest day of the year and the end of that move from lots of light to little light.

That means, it marks the BEGINNING.

The BEGINNING of the light coming back in.

From Winter Solstice on, the Sun will hang out in the sky a bit longer each day and slowly we will move toward much light.

 

So...What is Yule?

The celebration of this new light coming in our lives.

For many, it marks a new beginning, a rebirth...a fresh start.

 

It’s a wonderful holiday and can be acquired to mean so much for us personally.

For that reason, I’ve began a tradition in my home this year to celebrate the light to come.

 

I wanted to share this tradition with you --

The making of a Yule Log.

 

Traditionally making a Yule log consists of cutting & sawing wood and drilling hole. (You can read about the history and traditions of the Yule Log here.)

I, unfortunately don’t have the time or space for that. Here’s my lovely alternative...

Take a walk and let your kids collect All. The. Sticks.

If you’re like me, you regularly walk around with a stroller full of sticks, so this shouldn’t be hard.

Find 3 candles

They can be long and skinny, or short and wide. Traditionally, a green, red & white candle is used, but not necessary.

Find a flat surface in your home to keep the Yule Log

Talk to your kiddo(s) about the tradition of Yule and what it means. There are many great children's books about the coming light.

Bundle the sticks together

You will want to take your string & tie the sticks together a bit on either end. This will stop them from just being a pile of sticks. 🙂

This is where you can be creative. You can bundle them tight or lay line them flat or a combination of the two.

Position your candles

Place your 3 candles on top or in front of the sticks and position to your liking.

You can stick them in between the sticks or just lay them on top.

Be Creative

Decorate the “log” with other festive things and arrange on or around the log (Christmas tree trimmings, pine cones, berries, ribbon, ect)

 

This celebration and tradition is really fun and a wonderful way to talk to kids about seasons, life cycles and our own desire to move inward in the Winter months.

I hope you enjoy it and it brings smiles and joy to your home this month.

With Love,
Kim

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The secret to quick, healthy meals with your family…

Focusing on HOW you are cooking things as opposed to WHAT your recipe calls for is the beginning to freedom in your kitchen.

 

It not only opens up your creativity, but over time, it allows you to cook whatever. you. have. available. to make a kick ass, healthy meal in minimal time.

 

This mindset change has more implications than just quick, healthy meals too. It’s the beginning of your families new relationship with food. This relationship begins with quick, easy meals and ends with your ideal meal time on a regular basis.

 

But, right now your knees deep in shit to do around the house, work and making sure the kids still have what they need on a regular basis.

 

 

I get it, “your ideal relationship with food” is not top priority. And that’s ok. Parenting is hard and sometimes that means making hard choices that include putting your kids eating habits under making enough money for a roof over their head.

 

But it doesn’t have to be an either or situation

There is a way to provide your family with healthy meals that are quick and don’t take up all your time and mental space.

 

What if I told you that you don’t have to reread a recipe 10 times while making dinner, or measure every little thing because of your fear of screwing it up. Or that you can use whatever items you have in the fridge instead of going to the market for that 1 ingredient you’re only going to use ONE TIME.

 

It’s possible and I’ve seen people change their weeks around. How? They learn to cook with their senses and based on methods and techniques of cooking.

 

How do you cook with your senses?

By moving away from the question “WHAT do I cook for dinner?” and beginning to ask yourself “HOW am I going to cook dinner?”

 

Changing that one simple question will change your approach to cooking forever.

 

Thinking about the methods and techniques that you are using to cook is the beginning to freedom in your kitchen. Once you can do this successfully, you are well on your way to looking forward to dinner time and being able to even bring your kids in on the action.

 

And if you are already in a place of enjoyment in the kitchen, this will strengthen your skills and give you the foundation that will open up new flavor opportunities for you. Your creativity in the kitchen will blossom!

Stop Stressing About What's For Dinner!

Download 4 steps to quick, healthy meals as a family.

 

As a chef for David Burke in NYC, I was forced to focus on my methods and techniques of cooking. It was how I moved from a new line cook to executive sous chef in just a year.

 

As a parent, these methods & techniques have served me well in getting a yummy, healthy meal on the table FAST.

There are two rules to cooking with your senses:

  1. Season as you go: do not just season in the beginning or only at the end of your meal. When you are cooking, you are BUILDING FLAVOR. To layer flavors, you need to season (salt and pepper) throughout the cooking process.
  2. Taste as you go: Since the flavors of your dish are being layered, that means that they are changing as the cook. Tasting your food throughout the cooking process trains your palette and allows you to learn how flavors develop with time. (i.e. You might not need some salt in the beginning, but as time rolls on, things might call for more salt.)

 

Now, all of this is great information to change your long game.

BUT WHAT ABOUT TOMORROW NIGHT?

 

What can you do to get a quick dinner on the table for your kids tomorrow?

Many people love a One Pot Meal. These are great, but take a TON of prep time. Even if you have a crock pot or instapot, you have to generally do a lot of cutting and prep work to get your ingredients to that stage of cooking.

I’ve put together a checklist for you.

Here are the top cooking techniques & their how to steps that will start you on the path away from recipes and allow you the freedom and joy of cooking with your senses (with your family).

Stop Stressing About What's For Dinner!

Download 4 steps to quick, healthy meals as a family.

Free the ladybugs!

Ok, so I just opened a bag of 300 live ladybugs in my NYC living room this afternoon!

 

What the hell is wrong with me?

Yea, I didn’t think that one through too well.

So here’s what happened…

I am doing a whole gardening Semester with my K-1 kids and I started with Ladybugs. They’re “good” bugs and are helpful for your garden. They are also a great opportunity to talk to the kids about bug anatomy and insect life cycles.

Ladybug diversity is live and well!
Did you know ladybugs eat aphids?

Well, looking at pictures isn’t enough for my teaching taste. So, I ordered up some cute little ladybugs off of Amazon. 300 to be exact.

I did a bit (a very little bit) of research on how to care for ladybugs before you let them free in the garden. I read that I needed to use a plastic container, feed them some nectar and keep a wet paper towel in the container with them so they can hydrate.

Super simple, right?!?  I mean, they’re just ladybugs.

Today, they came in the mail.

I had ready, what I thought was a sealed container and some greenery. They arrived in a small bag with some wood chips and a damp cotton ball.

No threat, right?

WRONG!

Lucas passed me the scissors and I opened the little, inconspicuous bag of ladybugs and ALL. HELL. BROKE. LOOSE.

At first, we watched them crawl quickly out of the bag and into the box. I thought to myself, “Wow, these guys are faster than I thought. They really wanna get outta here.”

Then, I decided to help them. (Yea, still not thinking)

I dumped the bag out and 300 ladybugs came AT ME.

First of all, when I cut open this bag, there was another surprise…

I was welcomed by a large Earwig looking bug that I did not expect. It scared the crap out of me and got me pretty skeeved. It also didn’t help that that encounter was followed by a swarm of ladybugs trying their best to escape and run to freedom. These suckers are FAST!!!

Here’s the thing you guys… It doesn’t matter if a ladybug is a “good bug”.

It’s a FUCKING BUG.

And there is nothing you can do to get away from that instinct people have to be afraid of swarms of anything.

Just a little visual aide to help you begin to imagine the panic I felt.

You might ask, “But Kim, why didn’t you just close the lid to the box?”

I DID!

But, like I mentioned earlier, I only thought the box was sealed. It just so happened that ladybugs are like mice and can squeeze through holes that a normal person would think is too small for them.

As I watched these guys slowly leak onto my hardwood floor, I scrambled for the right container. Three options later, I finally managed to seclude the earwig and dump the rest of the ladybugs into a large, “under the bed” style plastic container.

No Dice.

Ladybugs were now crawling on my kitchen chairs & I couldn’t tell if they were IN the container or ON TOP of it.

“Here’s another mommy!”, says Lucas

“Ladybug? Hold it?” says Thiago.

Now, if these were just ladybugs for our pleasure, I would have had no problem just letting them go outside and having their fun in the wild. But remember, my K-1 class is waiting for them come Monday morning. We’ve already talked all about them, done various projects and I can’t let them down. There is no way I’m coming to class Monday morning without some live ladybugs.

I did the only other thing I had left to do…

Barefoot and without jackets; Lucas, Thiago and I ran downstairs to the garden.

After dropping off the container in the garden, we went back upstairs for shoes and I searched for a few quart containers. I poked some holes and we went back downstairs to do the transfer.

(mind you, my house now has piles of dumped crap everywhere from me commandeering every last plastic box I own.)

So, now under control, Lucas and Thiago were able to help me secure 3 quart containers with a handful of ladybugs each. The rest went free and some, unfortunately, sacrificed their lives for this years gardening semester.

There was a moment when, once outside, a bunch began to fly away and it was quite beautiful. (Although, I didn’t get any pictures because of the chaos)

All in all, it was quite the experience and one I was happy to share with my boys. When they grow up, I hope they remember these kinds of stories about how mommy opened a bag of 300 bugs in our NYC apartment. <3

 

The #1 message for your kids about food…

 

For those of you who don’t know me. My name is Kim. I’m a mama of 2 insanely cute, but crazy as hell little kids. I have a calm as fuck husband who balances us all out and deals with all our insanity. I’m from Long Island, NY and spent most of my childhood growing up in typical suburbia. I didn’t eat farm fresh food from a mom or grandma that spent hours in the kitchen. My mom was a single, working mom who did everything she could for my sister and I (and anyone else in the area who needed it).

We didn’t eat out much because we didn’t have the money. She cooked simple, quick food. Lot’s of pasta, meat and potatoes and frozen (and even canned) veggies. Her specialty was Roast Beef and Mash potatoes with gravy. I didn’t eat crappy food, but it wasn’t anything steeped in culture either.

I always loved to eat though. And thank god, I was never taught as a girl that eating too much was something to watch out for. It was always something that tapped into that primal part of my brain and made me feel good. The more I ate, the more I learned, and the more I wanted good quality food. Not snobby stuff, just the best of whatever it was I was having.

Thinking about it now, I think that came from my dad. He’s always had this little Italian grandma sense to him. Always making you eat more and always spending money on the “good stuff”. Granted, the good stuff to us was Red Lobster and the Sizzler. But hell, we were high end middle classers. The point was that he always attached good feelings to food. Food was fun — exciting and adventurous.

As I got older, I didn’t mind investing my time into making something I could enjoy. The result was worth the effort. “Fresh” mozzerella (it wasn’t actually fresh, now that I know better — just less processed), tomato and basil for an after-school snack as a teenager was normal.

I could have eaten just ice cream from a bowl, but I wanted to take the extra time to make a waffle to pair it with. Hell, who doesn’t want a warm Eggo waffle and mint chocolate chip ice cream. — See!? You want it right now don’t you? 🙂

I realize now that the most important thing I got from my parents around food was something they did mindlessly. They instilled in me that food was ok. Food was fun and indulgent and worth your time.

FOOD IS WORTH YOUR TIME.

That is a message worth passing on to our kids.

That’s the message I model to Lucas and Thiago when I carve out the time for cooking dinner as a non-negotiable, even though I’m tired from being up all last night nursing an almost 2 year old like he’s a newborn (damn teething) and haven’t stopped moving since 6:30am AND I know I’m going to yell waaaay before bedtime even starts.

We have our days of tomato sauce and pasta, of take-out and plenty of leftovers.

But the thing my kids see on a regular basis — 

Good Food is Important.

And that’s the message I want to pass on to you.

Sending you love and Red Lobster,

Kim

xoxox