Pull String Backpack

My (almost) five years old son is totally crazy about firefighters. A couple of weeks ago one of his kindergarten friends invited him over for a play date but when I talked with his father, he proposed something very special for the kids: if it was ok with me, he would take the kids to a fire station on the play date. My answer was: “Can I come, too?” Of course he could take the kids and my son was really excited when he heard and was counting the days! (As it turns out the other dad used to be a paramedic at that fire station, that’s how he was able to arrange this for the kids.)
The kids went and my son is talking about it ever since. So you get the picture how crazy he is about firetrucks and all that.

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One week ago when we went to that fabric market, I also got him a great fabric with firetrucks print. And so far I made a pull string backpack for my son which was a very quick project: it only took my an hour to finish it, since I had everything at hand.

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The bag fits him perfectly and he loves it. He already tested it yesterday and no complaints.

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But I have a big piece (about 80cm) left from that fabric and don’t know yet what to do with it. If any of you have a suggestion, please let my know in a comment!

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What do think of this pull string backpack? I think it is perfect for the little one’s gym class or for swimming etc.

Travel Binder for the Kids

My very old post about traveling with toddlers seems to be a big hit and it made me realize that it might be a good idea to share an other travel tip with you. Our son is about four and a half years old now and we were recently having a longer road trip with him again. Before the trip I started to collect ideas for his age: what should I prepare for him this time? I needed something age appropriate for him (and we were able to use the old tricks with his little brother from my previous post). After much consideration I made my son a TRAVEL BINDER!
This travel binder was full with stuff that he enjoys now but I think something very similar would work for older kids, as well.

DSC_2727Firs of all, I let him choose the binder itself and he instantly got excited about the hole thing and was looking forward the trip.

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As you can see on the picture above, I added a plastic pouch to keep the pencils etc. together with the binder. I just cut two holes with scissors and it was good to go. It worked out very well throughout the road trip.

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Beside the pencils I bought two non-permanent markers for this binder because I thought he could use those on the plastic and solve the mazes and other worksheets with them without taking each sheet out. He even tried it but his hand ended up all dirty from the ink, so he rather took out the pages from the plastic and worked on the paper itself.

The very first page in the binder was a map of our route. I even marked the three places where we would stop and stay overnight. My idea was that he won’t be asking all the time how far we are but he still managed it although to be honest he asked this question a lot less, so my plan worked. And he also enjoyed drawing on the map: he added a couple of large islands to Europe and some ships in the sea.

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Next I printed out some coloring pages. Most of them were knight and castle related, or Easter related, since we were traveling to see our relatives for Easter.

DSC_2730Then I printed out a couple of mazes which he enjoys lately a lot.

DSC_2731His other favorite worksheets are the ones where he has to find the (5-10) differences on the pictures. Great stuff for a 4/5 years old kid! You can find those online, as well and just print them out.

DSC_2732I also added a few pages with pictures of family members to doodle on them. Although I showed him how doodles work prior to our trip, he didn’t bother to try it on the trip. Maybe in a couple of years it will be more fun for him.

DSC_2736What he loved most were simply stickers. This one never gets old, I guess.

 

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I stored the stickers in a buttoned folder at the end of the binder. I added this folder by punching two holes into it with the normal paper puncher.

DSC_2734I also added two worksheets: one where he had to check the vehicles if he saw one on the road (tracks, helicopter, fire truck, bus, etc); the other one was a color match game, but the same method.

DSC_2737We also had some fun with scratch off pages that I found in our local dollar store.

The last thing in the binder was an other folder to keep the plain white papers in and it also doubled as a tiny desk for drawing.

DSC_2740Look, he drew himself on the top of the walnut tree! He was climbing that tree during our stay at the Grandparents’ every single day!

DSC_2741We spent about 4-6 hours in the car twice, and after the vacation two whole days in a row on the way back. I think our son enjoyed the travel binder very much, maybe a bit less then I hoped but I am convinced that it was a good idea and we definitely enjoyed some quiet time in the front seats. We are traveling this week again and although it will be just a short, two hours road trip, we’ll bring the binder again and try to finish it all!
I hope you like this idea and find it inspirational. Please, let me know how do you occupy your kids on a road trip! I would love to hear more tips!

 

IKEA-Hacks in the hallway

It has been already six months since we moved in to our new apartment and a couple of things are still unfinished but one thing is done: our entry way/ hallway! I am very happy about that and also proud of it because everything works well in this room.

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What we absolutely love about the hallway that it is not in the middle of the apartment as it was in our previous place. We can take off the shoes and I don’t have to worry about our crawling baby playing with the dirty shoes or crawling through the mud on the floor. Although the entry way is still not completely out of the way and he sometimes does find the shoes very fascinating but luckily it doesn’t happen very often. So that’s already a big improvement for us.

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The other thing is that we needed a lot more space for our coats and we got it: I made two coat racks for us using IKEA shelf consoles (EKBY VALTER), some laths from the local “Home Depot” (Bauhaus/OBI) and a couple of hooks, also from IKEA (SVARTSJÖN). The smaller version now serves the kids and the bigger one is ours and for our guests. I also decorated the bigger coat rack by burning three flowers onto it following old traditional embroidery patterns from Hungary. Just a little touch of our background.

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The kids also got a bench. I actually wanted to buy a tiny bench for them but then we realized that we had this great hanging wardrobe from our previous apartment which we didn’t want to use anymore, so we just took that and put it on the floor. It’s also from IKEA and called GREVBÄCK.

The standing shelf is also from IKEA, called MOLGER and is originally a part of a bathroom series. The mirror is an older piece from IKEA, which they don’t sell anymore. You might wonder if we are crazy about IKEA or what is the reason for us to buy so many furniture from that store. Well, in Aachen there are other furniture stores, some of them offer a better quality and a lot higher price, others offer lower prices but also lower quality. There is nothing else in between. Those who know IKEA products, can tell, that most of their furniture are functional and last for 5-10 years. If you don’t plan to use them longer, then you’ll most likely be satisfied. Plus we also love assembling furniture!DSC_2033

I was searching for a good place in our home that we could use as art display for the kids, so I hang a string on the wall for a kids art gallery and we love it ever since.

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There was a huge built-in-wardrobe in the hallway as we moved in. We could to decide if wanted to keep it or have it removed but we kept it, although it looks very outdated and it is as old, as the building (about thirty years old) but as I said, it is huge and can hide so many thing like the vacuum cleaner, suitcases and more.

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An old chair also landed in the hallway. Originally I decorated it for the nursery but there was no need for it there anymore and it is perfect for putting on the shoes.
Hallelujah! Our entry way is done: looks nice and functions well.
How you deal with the muddy shoes if you live in an apartment and can’t leave them outside? I would be glad to hear your ideas!

Car Seat Organizer 2.0

As I mentioned in the previous post, I will work on more car seat organizer in the near future because I would like to sell them on the up-coming craft fair in Aachen. While working on the second piece, I realized that something important was missing from the first car-seat organizer: a cup-holder! I added one to the next organizer which wasn’t easy, so I will have to come up with an other design for the cup-holder. This one works perfectly but it took a bit longer time to make it and I can not afford this luxury. Check out the picture of the first and second car seat organizers!

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Which one do you like better?

And here is one picture of the second organizer with more details:

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I even added pencil-holders and made the upper hole better looking by hand-stitching it. I think it functions much better then the first one, but let the kids decide!

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!