A New Chapter In My Life

I am happy to tell you that I had my first teaching experience as a sewist and it was great! But let me start from the beginning!

With two other Hungarian mothers we started a crafting group for kids. It is very new on the horizon, we only had three lessons so far but it is going very well! Our leader is also an artist: she is a great painter and she had this idea to create a group where we get together every week in order to teach our kids new skills or a crafting technique meanwhile they also practice their mother tongue. After a couple of months of preparation we started three weeks ago and we gathered eleven kids right away! We (the three mothers) take turns in teaching the kids: first was our leader responsible for the lesson, then I was up and I choose to start teaching the kids very basic sewing!
We start our lessons each week with a fairy tale related to what we are going to create. My idea was to sew a cloud pillow from felt, so I looked up a native American story about a monster who ate all the clouds and was defeated by a brave young boy. Finally the rain came, he saved his people and they weren’t starving anymore.
I had to figure out how this project was going to work for various ages because in our group the kids are from age 2 to 11 years old. It is a huge difference, right? I stitched the face of each cloud in advanced. For the little ones I cut out the shape and punched holes into the fabric for the needle to go through. The older kids had to cut out the pattern by themselves. Some of them were already good with the scissors but not old enough to handle a real needle so their fabric was punched as well and they continued like the little kids.


I even made them “kid friendly needles” from pipe cleaners. They were a big hit which is no wonder because they are fluffy, colorful and easier to work with for those little fingers!

But the kids age 5+ all got a bigger sized needle and they sewed along the edge very nicely. We helped them by marking the fabric where the needle should go through next.

Fifteen kids attended my lesson which is a lot but thank God the parents were there to help their kids. The kids were amazing and they all finished in the 50 Minutes we got! I was very proud of them!

I enjoyed teaching the kids so much that I can’t wait until the next lesson! I already know what the next project will be! Stay tuned! 😉

PS: Finally I got to use the beautiful zipper pouch from my Stitching Santa and the needle holder! Have you noticed them? 😉

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5 card board project for the kids

This summer we had some pretty long vacation time first in France then in Hungary. We came back to Aachen about a week ago and finally things start to get back to normal which also means that I will (at least try to) write posts regularly again.

First I would like to start with a collection of paper projects. The reason for this is that we tend to order more and more stuff online which brings us to a new problem: we have tons of boxes all the time. Mostly good quality card board boxes and I hate to throw them away although recycling in Germany is quiet good, I sometimes still try to find a second use for those boxes.

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1. Once I simply drew a map on the box for my son. But it wasn’t just any map, it was the house and garden of his grandparents! All the rooms in the house were there, the garage in the garden etc. Then we grabbed a couple of Duplo figures and started to play like we were visiting Grandpa and Grandma. My son even “went for a bike ride” with his Grandpa on the board. Then we switched to the other side of the board and the other side of the family: drew a map of the other Grandparents’ house, as well.

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I think if we played the same game with his favorite places, it will be also a big hit.

2. The other project was a doll house.

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I didn’t make it very girly, since I have a son but it still has a kitchen, a living room, a bedroom and a bathroom. And of course a garage.

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This house is called “Uncle Kalman’s house”. We named it after Kalman Kittenberger because my husband is related to him: he was a famous traveller and biologist in the early 1900s. He went to Africa six times and collected animals for Hungary’s zoo. We have a Duplo figure that we named Uncle Kalman and we sometimes play that he is travelling to Africa and catches elephants and other animals. My husband even tells family stories about “Uncle Kalman”, and my son once asked if  he was a real person. I think this is the way how to teach history at an early age.

IMGP91873. The third project would be a fire truck, unfortunately I didn’t take a picture of it. So you just have to believe me: we painted a large box red together, made wheels, lights and other important features. My son only played with it for a couple of weeks but it made him very happy.

4. The latest project was a Foosball table. To tell the truth, my son is not appreciating it as much as I hoped he would. My guess is that he doesn’t understand the concept just yet but he still tries to play sometimes with us.

DSC_0047For this project you can find a great tutorial on this site. I made a couple of details differently, as you can see and I only spent about 4€ on the wooden sticks and wrapping paper.

DSC_00505. The last project is actually four in one but it is not made of card board box. Around May there was a big sale on calendars in the local book stores and I found a great one. Of course we already had a wall calendar and we didn’t need an other one, so I cut this one up: The pictured part was used as a book. It’s kind of a “Wimmelbuch”. In German it means books like “Find Waldo”: tons of detailed picture on one single page. I didn’t even give this book to my son right away, instead I put it aside for when we are travelling by car.

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I cut down the actual calender part: we used the back side as twelve piece of beautiful drawing paper.
The big front page was put on my son’s wall above his little desk. Very nice room-deco for almost free.
The forth use of this calendar was the card board back. I cut out and created two shield for my little knight.

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“Get Well Soon” Card

In the last three months there were two accidents in our family: my father-in-law and my husband’s grandmother broke their legs. We have been sending them “Get well soon” cards, paintings of my two-and-a-half years old son, pictures etc. Once we traced our son’s hugging arms on a huge piece of paper and sent it to Grandpa which is still his favorite thing he received from us. But I felt like I am running out of ideas and our great-grandma is still in bed, so we would like to send her more things that will hopefully keep her spirit up. And then a couple of days ago I came across this idea on Pinterest and made a similar card:

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I think it turned out very nicely and my son could help me make it because he loves stickers. Fun for him and he knows it’s gonna be great-Grandma’s, so I think he made it with love. Such a cute idea, isn’t it?

(Unfortunately the link to the original card was a dead end, so I can’t share it.)

Tips on travelling with toddlers

I started to write this post almost a year ago but as the good weather is approaching, I feel like it’s time to finish it and give some tips to other parents who are planning a road trip with their toddlers.

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This post is not much about getting the car itself ready but preparing ourselves for traveling with a 21 month old toddler for at least 12 hours. And our son is quiet active, likes to run around and climb on things. No, he is not a girl who can sit and play quietly alone for twenty minutes… And we are totally against the electric baby toys, or giving our child an iPad, or letting him watch a movie or something on a screen. It feels wrong and unhealthy. Plus our last long trip with him was a disaster and we don’t want that happen again. We learned the lesson and this is why I prepare as many activities for him as possible. And I am pretty sure that there are many other families who happen to travel with toddlers and hopefully they will find this post very useful. My first advise would be to prepare everything in advanced (I started 2-3 weeks before traveling), do not think that these are last minutes projects! So here is my list:

1. I found many great posts and  tips online about the “travel tray”. Yes, it’s a real thing. You can buy one or make one, as you prefer.

2. The first thing on my list is BOOKS. Bring as many books as you possibly can. Beside running around reading books is the most beloved activity of my sons’. Before the road trip I bought a couple of new books, but also hid some of his favorite books a few weeks earlier. This way he will enjoy them more on the trip when he gets those back.

3. A few new and small toys. For example this wooden block puzzle seems very interesting because our son loves building and animals, as well. IMGP7204

Or these building blocks with buttons and small doors etc. On this picture you can also see the tray that we use: a plastic tray from IKEA called ANTILOP and costs about 4€. We cut the sides a bit shorter, made holes on both sides and added a belt, this way we are able to attach the tray to the seat. IMGP7272

4. Different kinds of drawing material. IMGP7212

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5. I read that many people use a baking sheet or some kind of a metal tray so the kids can play with magnetic toys. I wasn’t really convinced with the idea because in an accident a metallic try can be very dangerous for the little one. Instead we bring along our cake sheet and he can still play with magnets. And this one has a sheep on it and I think he will also like that. IMGP7195

Note: after our road trip I must say, this was our son’s favorite activity on the road. I would highly recommend it!

6. Crafting is also a good way to keep kids busy but at this age it might be a bit difficult. Still, there are options, like cutting out different shapes out of paper, color them and punch some holes in them. With colorful pipe cleaners and strings they can try to “sew” the papers. Our son loved the shoe shape and the shoe lace but he didn’t care much for the other ones. I think he did not understand why he should pull the wires through a flower or a sun. IMGP72007. Once again, I cut out a few animals out of paper and bought a bag of google eyes. We will stick the eyes onto the animals, or just create new “monsters”, as we go along. He liked this one also very much but I had to sit with him on the back seat and do this activity together. Still better then a board or crying kid. IMGP72038. Stickers. I think there is no explanation for this one. Only that it also requires some help. IMGP72069. Puzzles. We are going to visit relatives in Hungary, relatives that we haven’t seen for months. I thought my son would enjoy some puzzle games of his little cousins. And also fire tracks and ambulance car, since he is crazy about those. So I printed out a couple of pictures, glued them onto cart board and cut them in few pieces. Voila! But you can also buy or bring along puzzles, or if you have a metallic sheet, maybe use magnetic puzzles so the little pieces don’t get lost in the car!IMGP7196 10. Pompoms and a tube to stuck the pompoms into it. He loved it and still does although he is two and a half years old now. IMGP719811. CDs with children’s music and/or audio books. I read somewhere that you could also record your own voice reading a story, or ask grandma etc.

12. As I mentioned before our son is crazy about cars and the siren. He always wants to sit in front and pretend to drive. That’s why I decided to buy a toy steering wheel for him. It did not have batteries in when we bought it and as it turns out it plays not just car-noises, but also stupid children music. And it’s loud. So I am not sure about that but the little one loves it (of course). And it might be better to hear that for hours instead of crying. We will see… IMGP7214

Note: it wasn’t that bad because our son played with it for not longer than 20 minutes. I think his and our limit is set to the same… But if you can buy a steering wheel with a volume button.

13. Don’t forget to get ready for sleeping time. Bring everything what your child is used to sleep with. And maybe an extra blanket and a special pillow that is made for car-seats, like our one in the picture. IMGP720914. We do not like to play with puppets because our son loves it and he would demand on a show for hours which is exhausting. But we have puppets and lots of finger-puppets for traveling time. The finger-puppets don’t take up much place in your bag but if you have a bit of imagination they can provide hours of fun for your child. We also take them with us when we are flying. But to keep it real fun, we don’t play with them at home and it makes the whole game more fun on the road.

IMGP720715. Print out a sheet for toy cars and bring along a couple of smaller matchboxes.

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Pack up all the different activities in zip-lock bags and store them in a bag beside your child’s seat so he or she can reach in and seek for new adventures for him/herself.

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If you liked this post then you might find my other articles about “20 toddler activities for rainy days”  or “travel binder for the kids” interesting, too!

Frog costume for the little one

Although the holiday’s roots go back to the Celtic culture (Great Britain and Ireland), traditionally there is no Halloween celebrated in most of Europe. At least not in Hungary. But after Christmas time and before the lent starts (ash-Wednesday) there is a period when we celebrate carnival and it’s time to get dressed in costumes.  And it is the same in Germany where we currently live. 

As many people around us know, our son is in love with frogs. I think each kid has his/her own little toy that he/she is in love with. It can be a teddy bear, a doll, some kind of a soft toy and in our case it’s a frog. Our son wasn’t even one year old when he first got a soft toy frog. Not just any frog, for him it’s THE FROG. He still has it, sleeps with it, plays with it, we can’t travel without it. We even bought an other frog (the same kind) just in case if he loses his beloved frog.

The funniest thing happened when we were told that he will be in a group at the kindergarten called “Frog Group”. I couldn’t stop laughing… Soon he will be two and a half years old and carnival season is around the corner. And of course the Frog Group will celebrate it in the kindergarten, so it’s time for me to get creative and make the first costume for our son. I asked him what he wanted to dress up to and the answer was no surprise to me: frog. Although I hoped a little bit that he would say refuse collector or maybe firefighter… My second question was to him: what should mom and dad dress up? And he said: lions. That was surprising but I am kind of happy with it because we can have a great hat, a yellow sweater and no fuss.

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Then I started to search online for frog costumes and I was very disappointed. Again. Very few frog costumes are available in this small size and even they look horrible to me. Next I searched on Pinterest and I found a really great tutorial on this site. There is a free pdf pattern for the hat (which was a bit big for us!), a good description for the feet, and the rest I could figure out.

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Buying the fabrics plus two afternoon spent sewing: that’s all it took for me to finish my son’s frog costume. He loves it, so I am happy and proud of my work.

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He will wear this costume for the city carnival which is usually outside on the streets and I also up-cycled one of his green hoody and created similar frog-eyes on the hood. And he can wear that in the kindergarten which will have an indoor carnival party and his head won’t sweat under the hood.

And for ourselves I made the lion-hats. It was quiet easy to sew following the pdf pattern. Yesterday we tried on our costumes and had some fun taking pictures. My son was very happy and kept saying “Qaack!” and he pet the lion and the frog and lion became friends.

Karneval+JelmezekI can’t wait for the carnival this year!

20 toddler activities for rainy days

When we moved to Aachen, we did not realize that it will rain so much. Friends who already lived in the city warned us but we thought that we can used to this. I know the number of the rainy days per a year are not as high as in England but close to that, so you can imagine. The first thing that we noticed that if it rains just a little bit, people don’t bother pulling up their umbrellas. They just don’t care and it was strange to me. But after a year living in Aachen one day I noticed that I don’t bother anymore either when it rains a little. It was shocking: me becoming an “Aachener”. So after all it wasn’t that bad, only in wintertime when it rains and rains and no snow for weeks… And one day my son was born who started to walk in October of course, which means he was constantly moving somewhere and our apartment was too small for him. We had to go outside every single day except when it was raining cats and dogs: then I refused. I hate rain and i rather stay inside if I can but then of course I had to come up with some ideas for my son to enjoy the time spent indoors. And I thought it would be a good idea to share this with other moms who are struggling with indoor activities. Since then my son turned two, so some of the activities are for a bit bigger kids, don’t be surprised. So here we go.

1. My son’s number one favorite activity is READING.

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I know it’s an obvious activity but I am very thankful that he loves reading and I think it’s worth mentioning.

2. If you ran out of interesting children’s book, get on the bus (or in the car) and VISIT THE LOCAL LIBRARY! Or book store. Or exchange books with other families. In our case Aachen’s children’s library has a great playing area for toddlers, where you can find building blocks, puzzles, logical games on the walls etc. beside the millions of great books. Check out your local library, they might have something similar!

3. VISIT FRIENDS who might be also stuck at home and the kids can play together. Also obvious.

4. DO THE SHOPPING together. I know sometimes it’s more like torture to go shopping with your toddler but it might be just the right thing. You know your kids the best, see what he or she is in the mood for. My son would go shopping at least twice a day. It is not that fun for me but he can still enjoy the time we spend together. When leaving for shopping sometimes I tell my son what we need to get (for example milk, something easy for him to remember) and he would tell me at the store not to forget it. Awesome, right?

5. Searching pinterest for ideas I tried a couple of things and also came up with my own ideas. One of those was DIGGING GAME: I took a big and deep tray from the kitchen, pored some rice or occasionally lentils into it and let him play with his toy excavators.

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Sometimes I would hide small toys in it and he had to collect them. Other times he just played with the kitchen tools and dishes and cooked me from the rice.

6. BUILD A CLIMBING FORT! It works only with bigger toddlers who can already climb without falling down and of course enjoy this activity. My son for example can not sit in one place any longer then three seconds only if I read for him. So for run-around-boys this is a great activity.

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Make sure that the chairs don’t flip and put some extra pillows around your fortress.

7. PAINT! But don’t just paint with brushes, get creative and paint with toy cars, marshmallows, funny-shaped pastas, forks etc.

IMGP90508. Create things with PIPE CLEANERS!

IMGP8520Or for smaller toddlers just show them how to pull the pipe cleaners through a strainer and let them try.

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9. We were getting rid of a huge desk the other day and we saved the upper part for MAKING A SLIDE. We keep it now behind the sofa just in case and whenever we are stuck at home, we just pull it out and play with it. It also functions as a slide for the toy cars.

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But be careful: don’t let the kids play with it alone! As you can see on our picture, my husband is supporting the slide with his feet otherwise it would be a dangerous toy!

10. Around Christmas your child can BUILD his/her own CHRISTMAS TREE from mega blocks and decorate it to his/her taste!

11. DRAWING BOXES!

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I bet you also have some big boxes from buying all the diapers… Well, use them! Or any other big cardboard box would work. My son loved to sit into them as he was smaller (around one year old) and I gave him crayons or markers (made for small children!) and he drew inside the box. This was a great thing to do with him because he was sitting in one place at least for ten minutes and I could do something that needed to be done, like preparing for lunch.

12. Let your child stuff SMALL TOYS INTO A BOX. I used small wooden farm animals and a wipe box. My son loved this and he asked to open the box for him and do it over and over.

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13. STICKERS. Yes, you can play with stickers even with toddlers but of course you have to help him/her peal the back off and the he/she can try to stick it alone. Use your fantasy and get different themed stickers, different sizes, and there are the puffy stickers and google eyes. With those you can even make monsters: draw funny shapes or real animals and let your child put the eye wherever he/she wants!

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I made my son a sticker-book from colored papers, so he can even draw in it.

14. GIVE your child a simple CHORE. We were cleaning shoes for St. Nicolas as a tradition and he would bring some sweets and put them into the “good children’s shoes” on December 6th. But he was over two years old when we did this together, for younger kids I would not recommand this.

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15. CLOTHES PIN AND RUBBER BANDS. Somehow it seems like a good play: pretend hanging the clothes. My son would clip the pins onto the rubber bands. I don’t exactly understand why, but this is how he plays this game. Once he and daddy even built a guitar out of rubber bands and mega blocks. Check it out, isn’t it awesome?

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16. In summer time I froze ICE CUBES WITH TOYS IN THEM and let my son melt it by hand. He sat on a towel and tried to pull out the toys. It’s definately a good game with a smaller toddler.

17. MATCHING GAME. I found this great idea somewhere on pinterest: On a large paper put random things (toys, shapes, lids, kids’ scissor etc.) and draw a line around them. Then take away the objects in a hat or bag. Let your child pick one from the bag and search for its place on the paper. At first they might just look at you how this game works. Show them a couple of times. I thought I completely failed this one because my son didn’t want to do this at all. Then we went out and when we came back he went to the paper alone and put all the objects at their places.

18. BAKING TOGETHER. Just be sure to pick a recipe that requires no egg, this way it won’t be a problem if your child eats the dough.

19. VISIT THE TRAIN STATION! We used to d o that a lot when it was raining: get on the bus, go to the local train station and just look at the trains stopping and leaving. You can also explain your child where you can buy a ticket, wave to the leaving trains etc. Our monthly bus pass allows us to travel with train within the city limits. So last weekend all three of us went to the train station and we traveled by train to the east end of the town, then to the west end of the town, then back to the main station. I know, not every city or town has a train station but if your town does, then it is definitely worth a trip! Even in rain! And we went just to look at the trains when my son was just one year old and he loved it. It is never to early for a boy to learn about trains and other vehicles. 

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20. FISHING GAME: You will need a washbasin or a bigger bowl, some magnetic toys (I took the magnet letters from the fridge), a wooden spoon and a metal object to tie it to the wooden spoon. First I took teaspoon but it was simply too difficult to fish with, then I took an L-shaped  thing. This game seemed a bit difficult for my 28 months old son but afterwards he took the “fish” to his play kitchen, baked it, put it on a plate and “ate it” with a fork and knife. So it actually worked. Not the way I was planning it, but it did work and I am happy.

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I hope you found something that you can try with your child. I would be happy if you shared your ideas with me: what worked for you the best! Thank you for stopping by!