Toddler + Breakable Ornaments = ???

Mouse is one inquisitive dude. He is constantly exploring, testing, and problem solving. Train Guy is pretty positive he’s going to grow up to be an engineer because of the way he observes everything and then takes it all apart to see how it works. So it’s no surprise that he was absolutely enchanted by the Christmas tree, and by “enchanted” I mean “desperately wanted to figure out how that thing lights up and how all of those pretty ornaments feel in his hand.”

Bad cell phone pic of Mouse's creative problem solving

Like here’s an example of his problem-solving capabilities. We have some portable fencing that we use for our dogs on camping trips. We thought we would set up the tree all nice and pretty, and then surround it with the dog fence and make it Mouse-proof. It seemed like a great idea, and at first it totally worked. Mouse saw the tree, and after several rounds of “Wow! WOW!” he proceeded to conduct a very thorough investigation of the fencing to figure out how to get around it. Finding nothing, he quite simply resorted to hopping onto one of his ride-on toys and ramming the fence outright. I was laughing so hard all I could get was a crappy cell phone picture, but I had to admire his creativity.

I’m pretty damned proud of his sense of adventure and desire to learn and experience everything around him, but sometimes it’s not the safest course of action. Still, I wouldn’t change his natural sense of curiousity for the world.

Anyway, Train Guy and I collect Christmas ornaments and have gathered many from all over the world. Putting the truly breakable ones on the actual tree was clearly a bad idea, but I still wanted to display them.

From L to R: an antique ornament handed down from my grandmother, a Waterford crystal Snoopy, and a hand-painted ornament from Germany

Then I had a brainstorm. Why not buy a garland, string it up out of reach, and then hang our nice ornaments from there?

I headed over to Michaels to grab an artifical garland as well as a string of lights to make it all snazzy. Oh, an important thing to know is that I have these bursts of creating brainstorming quite frequently. A good 50% of the time they don’t work out at all. About an additional 25% they work, but not quite like I imagined them. I often run into several roadblocks along the way. This was no exception.

My first challenge was the fact that the garland was 9 feet long while the string of lights was only 7 feet. Yes, I could have purchased a longer string of lights, but these were on sale and I’m pretty cheap, so I bought two strings, thinking I could double up and make it all nice and pretty. Problem solved!

Back at home, I hit problem #2, which was that the two strings of lights I’d purchased did not, in fact, connect end-to-end to make one long continuous string. That would be the expensive lights I put back on the shelf thinking I was so clever by getting two cheaper strings. And since we only had one outlet to work with, I had to figure something out. I thought about cutting the end off the garland to make it shorter, but it’s made of this thick wire and I wasn’t sure where the wire cutters were in the first place (the garage, I presume, except the garage is sort of a hazardous area right now).

Voila!

But then it occurred to me to just bend the edges back, one foot on either side. And voila! A 7 foot garland to match my 7 foot light strand. Now I have to take the unused lights back to Michaels, but oh well. I worried about additional setbacks, but much to my delight, there were none! I managed to string the garland across two windows in our dining room, hang my nice ornaments out of reach, and they all looked quite good.

Go me!

So if you’re looking for a way to display breakable ornaments out of reach of toddlers, or just have extra ornaments you want to show off–here’s your solution!

'Tis the Season To Be Sick

‘Twas the night before Thanksgiving and all through the day, I’d been achin’ and chillin’ with no appetite.  I called up my hubby and asked him to please, bring home some Oscillo as fast as can be.  After taking as directed, third time the charm, Thanksgiving morning I was raring to go.

Now, I truly felt like the flu was upon me that day and I’m ever so thankful to have heard about Oscillococcinum while attending a vaccine workshop at Belly Sprout by Dr. Lauren Feder, a homeopathic M.D. Our Thanksgiving dinner may have turned into take-out otherwise. I took the Oscillo just as instructed, at the first sign of flu symptoms, and followed up with one dose every 6 hours. By the third dose (after a good night’s rest), I was in good shape and able to cook all day.  I was worried that it may taste funky but not at all. It was quite sweet actually. What I really like is that when my son turns 2 he will be able to take the same Oscillo dose. No need to purchase the children’s type. It works for the whole family which helps the pocketbook and storage space. I love how homeopathy helps my body do what it needs to do when I couple it with rest.

A week later, So Cal was bathed in heavy winds which seem to be the culprit of my family’s “sniffles” lately. God only knows what’s flying around in the air out there. I knew I was fighting something off when my throat came up sore. As this is the first line of defense, I took immediate action by gargling with full-strength Alkalol, a natural antiseptic and mucus solvent. I then got out my trusty Neti Pot and filled it with a mixture of equal parts Alkalol and lukewarm filtered (previously boiled) water, and flushed my nasal passages. My new drink of choice became tea with honey and I donned a scarf around my neck at all times. I broke out with the generic Emergen-C to help boost my immune system.  It is effervescent which I learned from a pharmacology seminar was the fastest way oral medication would reach your bloodstream; hence, why I like many homeopathic remedies as they are dissolved in the mouth under the tongue.

What's in your medicine cabinet?

When my throat would worsen (usually at night which is an indicator to rest), I would gargle with Alkalol again and eat a teaspoon of honey and let it coat my throat. My yoga instructor uses turmeric with raw honey but, I have yet to try this and I don’t know the measurements. I stay away from citrus as it dries the throat. Being a singer, you learn many hard lessons while singing and performing, so I’ve learned what works best for me. Tea shouldn’t be too hot either, you’re just trying to soothe it, not inflame it. The same goes for soup. Chicken soup is always a winner, but I changed it up this time with some albondigas (meatball soup) with an organic chicken stock base and lots of fresh veggies.

After a couple days of contending with my throat, the rest of this bug reared its head with sinus pressure, headache and cough. I continued with the above remedies and ran to Henry’s for some back-up. There, I found that Boiron, the makers of Oscillo, had a few other remedies in their arsenal, on sale to boot. I picked up some Chestal syrup for my cough (another product my son can take when he turns 2—KA-ching!) and Sinusalia for my sinus pain. Also in my shopping cart was Ricola sugar-free cherry drops to keep in my purse for cough attacks and ginger-peppermint tea for my sinuses.

If I had the luxury of an hour of alone time (remember I’m a mother of two children under the age of 2), I would steep a pot of this ginger-peppermint tea and run a hot bath with sea salts and essential oils. I tried this when I was single, and it really helped sweat out a sinus infection.  This time around, I would just have to settle for dressing warmly and lots of tea with honey. Oh, I almost forgot another key remedy in my bag of tricks, Save The Baby. It’s an old family favorite and hard to find. It’s like Vicks rub. We apply it at night to our chest, throat and upper lip. The vapors help soothe the cough, throat, and nasal passages.  During the day, I would take a whiff of some pungent aloe gel. This can be used similarly if Save The Baby is unavailable to you.

This might seem like a lot to you, but this is my drug-free way of letting my body work its magic and avoid the doctor’s office.

What’s in your medicine cabinet?

DISCLAIMER:  I received no compensation for any of the above products/entities mentioned. I am a consumer and the above statements were based purely on own my personal experiences and are no substitute for medical care. Keep in mind that I’m not a doctor and don’t let me dissuade you from seeking medical attention if and when necessary.

Kids and Veggies? It Can Be Done!

Guest contributor The Cooking Mama weighs in on kids and veggies!

It’s a hot and sometimes contentious topic, getting veggies into your children. Some moms are of the mind that hiding veggies is disrespectful and detrimental to the development of their palates. These moms argue that if a vegetable is prepared simply and deliciously, kids will enjoy it. That’s undoubtedly true for some lucky moms, but if the success of Jessica Seinfeld’s Deceptively Delicious books is any indication, lots of moms have found that their kids just aren’t ever going to eat that broccoli, whether it’s roasted with olive oil, fresh herbs, and a sprinkle of sea salt, or slathered with radioactive-orange cheese. If making a bunch of purees and stirring them into everything you make isn’t your bag, I can share a few ideas that are totally palatable to young, developing tastebuds, while retaining all the nutrients and some of the flavor and texture of the vegetables used to make them.

Baby Goose love broccoli

When Goose was starting solids, she loved veggies even more than fruit. We followed the practice of baby-led weaning, so she happily and noisily sucked and gnawed on stalks of steamed broccoli, roasted asparagus, and green beans to her little heart’s content. As her pincer grasp developed, she enjoyed peas and was absolutely crazy about black beans. I was so pleased, and maybe even a little braggy about my excellent little eater (because clearly my wonderful parenting was responsible, and not her naturally adventurous disposition). There was nothing Goose wouldn’t try. And then came toddlerhood. Suddenly the foods she once gobbled down were being pitched to the floor in a fit of disgusted rage. Black beans? BLECH! Spinach? I haven’t seen YOU eating any spinach, mother! Over the course of a couple months, vegetables became all but verboten to Goose. As she was growing well and I thought it was a brief phase, I happily offered more fruit along with the veggies, but when I realized she wasn’t eating ANY vegetables apart from sweet potatoes and the very occasional carrot cube from her peas and carrots, I realized I might have to get sneaky.

Make eggs, not war

Kids, generally speaking, like eggs a whole lot. Goose would eat them at every meal if I let her. Luckily for us, eggs are a perfect vehicle for veggie delivery. A quick peek at one of my favorite sites for baby and kid food ideas, weelicious.com, led me to the idea of mini frittatas (link to recipe: http://weelicious.com/2008/06/18/baby-frittatas/). The site’s author makes hers with roasted red pepper and asparagus, which sounds delicious to me but perhaps not the best way to introduce the concept to a truly picky eater. My first try included a small handful of cooked peas and carrots, and a dash of salt and pepper. Goose loved them! Next up was finely chopped steamed broccoli and a little bit of shredded cheddar (Goose is sensitive to dairy but can handle a very little bit of cow’s milk cheese). Verdict?

om nom nom

Yum, and her little toddler pal loved them too. These cute little handheld frittatas could take on all kinds of veggies, I’d bet. Why not try chopped, well-drained frozen spinach, finely diced squash (roasted or steamed), or seeded and finely diced tomatoes? If you’re pressed for time or don’t feel like heating up the oven, just mix your cooked, chopped veggies right into scrambled eggs before they are fully set. And when in doubt, add cheese.

Fry them up

Goose was never all that impressed when I offered steamed cubes or the mashed flesh of a baked sweet potato, but when I started cutting them in sticks or rounds and roasting them with a little olive oil and a pinch of cinnamon? She was over the moon for them. Now we have sweet potato fries with lunch or dinner a couple times a week. Goose does a dance in her highchair when she sees them and I feel good serving them because sweet potatoes are absolutely loaded with vitamins and fiber. And remember, good old Russet potatoes are a good source of vitamin C and fiber too, so oven fries are a good guilt-free indulgence. Just leave the skins on and go easy on the oil! Some other veggies that might be better received in oven fry form are turnips, zucchini, carrots, or even green beans. There are plenty of recipes on the net, breaded and not, so do some experimenting.

Dessert

If all else fails and your picky little one turns her nose up at everything, make some sweets. Mini muffins are an excellent way to hide vegetables – think finely shredded zucchini or carrot in a basic spice cake recipe – and once baked, the veggies are nearly indetectable. This time of year, canned pumpkin is plentiful (barring a shortage in your neck of the woods) so try adding a few spoonfuls to oatmeal or baking up some quick breads. I’ve even read about black bean brownies, which are supposedly really moist and yummy and not at all bean-y (though I admit I haven’t mustered up the courage to try them yet). Those mixed fruit and veggie squeezable pouches are getting rave reviews, too. And even if your little one isn’t getting as many vegetables as you’d like, remember that fruit, although higher in natural sugars, also packs a big nutritional punch when it comes to vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants.

gratuitous cuteness

Getting your kids to eat the right foods can be really stressful and difficult, and I’ve definitely let myself get worried over it as much as any other mama. One obvious, but invaluable piece of advice I’ve heard from many of my mom friends is to relax, because kids will eat when they feel like it. There’s no use fighting them and making mealtime unpleasant for everyone. With that in mind, our new MO has been to just keep offering veggies every day (some hidden, some not) and make sure that Goose sees us eating and enjoying them too.

Tips for Taking a Toddler on a Plane

This is a follow-up to the Scrivener’s blog about traveling with a baby.

Check out some air travel books from the library

Tough as it may be to take a baby on the plane, a full-fledged toddler is a whole different ball game. Not only do you have to worry about the crying, there is potential for all out tantrums. Toddlers are used to being mobile; sitting still is just not what they want to be doing. And they will let you know when they are bored or uncomfortable. In fact, all the passengers around you will know. Now they are too big to fit on the miniscule diaper changing tables found on airplane bathrooms. Does this all make you want to skip flying with a toddler altogether? Don’t lose hope. Here are some things you can do to make the ride a little smoother.

A few days before you go, talk to him/her about the thrill of flying and what to expect. Sell it to your toddler as a great adventure. Most kids feel more secure when they have some idea of what is about to happen. Explain the rules about the captain’s orders to buckle up when the light goes on, how the ride may get a little bumpy at times and that the flight attendants are there to help when you need them. You can do some playacting, read some books about planes and come up with a “plan” on how to combat those popping ears during lift off and landing. Basically, the child needs to be chewing or swallowing during this time. Let him come up with some ideas. Things are always better when you think it’s your idea. It’s the same with kids.

Buying a seat for your child is now a must because toddlers are too big to remain on your lap and are therefore not allowed. Bringing a car seat on the plane is a cumbersome thing. At this point I was really missing the much lighter infant carrier! I have found three ways to go regarding the car seat:

www.kidsflysafe.com

Child Aviation Restraint System

  1. Deal with the car seat which is usually only feasible if more than one adult is traveling with the toddler. After all, you will be carrying bags and probably handling the stroller as well. A small umbrella stroller that you can check at the gate is easiest. I learned after my travels that you can also get a stroller/car seat combo that will ease the burden a bit. Here’s a review of it. Cost is an issue. It runs about $250.
  2. Go without it and make your child buckle up. I struggled with this one because it is not the safest option but it was the most practical one at the time.
  3. Bring an FAA approved child restraint system you can buy for about $75. I wish I had found this earlier. Hopefully it’s not too late for you! Find out more at www.kidsflysafe.com.

Just as you did for baby, you must bring snacks. If there will be no meal served, bring lunch/dinner as well. Variety is key. Cheerios was always a good choice for my kid. Not only can your toddler eat them, you can bring a piece of yarn and kill time stringing them. Fruit, crackers, granola bars, etc. Water is better than juice to keep them hydrated. Kids enjoy having the power to choose what they want rather than being told what they have to eat. Beware of anything that might upset the stomach. McDonald’s may tempt you at the airport but you may regret it later. It will probably be a bad day as far as his diet goes but a happy kid is a happy traveler.

Unlike with baby, trying to wear my toddler out before getting on the plane only served to make him grumpy and less willing to try a nap. If at all possible, invest in or borrow a portable DVD player. Don’t rely on the airline to provide entertainment for your child. Again, give the child some choices as to what movies he wants to bring. Just by sitting and watching a movie, the lull of the airplane almost always put Rocky to sleep. This is golden! IMPORTANT: don’t forget to charge the batteries before you leave.

During those times when you can’t use any portable devices, bring some books/games/small toys along. It helps if some of these things are a surprise. We always purchased a new sticker or activity book ahead of time. Other good things to bring are silly putty (much cleaner than Play-Doh), cards, notepads and crayons, easy puzzles, and Wikki Stix. Check out any dollar store or the bargain bins at Target for more ideas.

If you are traveling far, switching planes is not a bad idea. This gives the child a chance to get up and stretch those legs between flights. Otherwise, you may need to let the kid roam the aisles when it is safe to do so. Try to visit the bathroom when you can to avoid messy clean up. If you need to change a diaper, this is also easier at the airport than on a plane.Make sure you always have at least two changes of clothes, just in case. If your toddler will tolerate it, having him/her wear a pull-up diaper will give you some peace of mind in case you are not able to get up when the child decides he needs to go NOW.

If you have room in your bag, bring along a small blanket and/or pillow.

Finally, try to stay focused on your child and not worry too much about what others think when things don’t go perfectly. I’ve found that most people genuinely appreciate that you are making an effort. If they don’t, it just has to be their problem and not yours. You’ve got enough on your plate already! Happy Travels!

***The Gen X Moms are no longer writing as a group (too many scheduling conflicts) but you can continue reading about my adventures with Rocky on my new blog at:

http://www.jedismama.com

The Librarian

Tips for Taking a Baby on a Plane

It’s travel season again! Here’s a repost of The Scrivener’s travel tips for taking your baby on a plane. Tomorrow we’ll repost The Librarian’s tips for traveling with a toddler, so don’t forget to check in tomorrow!

Train Guy and I love to travel and we try to go out and see the world as much as possible. And we certainly weren’t going to let something like having a baby slow us down. Mouse is a great traveler and has been to many exciting destinations including all the way to Europe before his first birthday. In total, Mouse has been on six different (one-way) plane trips, and we’re going on another one in a couple of weeks. I was completely paranoid about traveling before we did it, but with a little bit of pre-planning, the planes turned out to be one of the easiest parts of our trips (jetlag was the worst).  Here are a few travel tips for taking your baby on a plane:

Mouse is chillin’ on his way to Europe
  • Get Baby his own seat. Infants under 2 can travel for free as a lap baby, but that’s not the safest way to go, and if your squirmy wormy won’t sit on a lap, the plane ride will be agonizing. We always buy Mouse his own seat and bring his car seat onboard for him to sit in it. That also gives us his luggage and carryon allowance, which is very handy. I’ve also heard of people buying the window and aisle seats in a row of 3 and hoping the middle stays empty. If it doesn’t, people are always happy to switch a middle for an aisle or window.
  • Board first. Many airlines no longer allow pre-boarding. Be sure to ask at the gate (not at the ticket counter), even if you’ve already been told no. If they still say no, ask if you can board with the first boarding group, or the first coach boarding group, regardless of what your tickets say–especially if you have a car seat to install. If they still say no, then hang out at the front of the line and be prepared to hop into action. When your boarding group is called, stay very close to the stanchions and make sure you’re first in line.
  • Check your stroller and car seat at the gate, not the luggage area. Yes, it’s a hassle to haul them through the airport, but checking at the gate is as close as you can get to a guarantee that you’re going to get it back later, and also lessens the opportunity for wear and tear (although they still get beat up). When you arrive at the gate, immediately get a gate check ticket for your stroller and your car seat if you’re not carrying it onboard. That way you won’t have to scramble at the plane door at the last minute. Just fold up the stroller and board. If you’re checking your car seat, you want to make sure it gets banged up as little as possible. Sometimes the regular luggage handling can equal the forces of an accident on the seat. Make sure to inspect the seat carefully before you use it. Our car seat is a Sunshine Kids Radian 80, which folds and has a shoulder strap for carrying (love it!) but you can also get wheels to attach to your seat in the airport.
  • Wear the baby out before getting on the plane. A sleeping baby is a happy baby on a plane. Try to burn off as much baby energy as you can before getting onboard. We had a very difficult time with Mouse as a crawler because there isn’t room for a baby to crawl on a plane and he got so antsy. Crawl/walk them around like crazy before getting on the plane to maximize the chances of your little angel falling peacefully to sleep during the flight.
  • Bring baby headphones if you think your child will keep them on. Baby/child headphones are volume controlled and are sized for small heads. This is handy if your child sleeps to music like ours, or if they want to watch a DVD or play an electronic game (for older kids).
  • Pack 2-3 overnight diapers plus a small pack of wipes in a ziploc bag. This is your quick diaper change kit. Pack this at the top of your carryon, and when you get on the plane, immediately put this bag in the seat pocket in front of you. When you have to get up to change a diaper, just grab the ziploc bag and go. No need to get out the big diaper bag and try to rifle through it when you’re in the bathroom–make a mini diaper kit and be done with it. The extra absorbancy of overnight diapers give you that extra piece of security on a plane.
  • Drinks for takeoff and landing. The best way to help baby’s ears pop is by drinking during cabin pressurization. By law, you can bring any amount of formula or expressed breast milk, or milk or juice for a baby onboard the plane (through security) as long as it’s declared and scanned. You can also bring jarred baby food and other baby items. Pack a big ziploc with whatever drink you want for takeoff and landing and place that on top of your carryon (next to your mini diaper kit). When you go through security, place that bag in a plastic bin to be examined. When you get on the plane, put that whole bag in the seat pocket in front of you right by the diapers. That way you won’t have to dig for anything when you need it.
  • Unfortunately this sleeping thing lasted for all of 15 minutes

    Wait for liftoff with the drinks. The only time things have gone wrong for me with plane pressurization was when I jumped the gun on the bottle. Sometimes you sit on the runway for a loooooooooong time before taking off and if you gave the bottle too soon, you’re screwed. I keep the drink out of Mouse’s view (otherwise he flips if he sees it but can’t have it) and when we start to take off, I wait until I can feel the wheels leave the ground. Pressurization takes about 10-15 minutes so this guarantees that the drink won’t be gone before you need it.

  • Pack plastic trash bags in your carryon. Wad up a few plastic grocery sacks to use as trash bags on the plane. As above, take out at least one as soon as you sit down and put it in the seat pocket in front of you (with your diaper change kit and drink kit). That way you won’t have to wait for the flight attendant to collect the trash if you want to put your table up or down or get rid of a cup or have any trash to throw away. This is so convenient I do it when I’m traveling by myself too!
  • Pack plenty of snacks. You’re a mom–I don’t have to tell you that! Pack snacks that are not allowed at home, that are tried and true, or are new and exciting.
  • Look for the symbol of a baby being changed on the bathroom door. Planes often have only one stall with a changing table so make sure that’s the one you’re in line for.
  • Bring a lightweight, large blanket or sheet. You’ll see why in a second.
  • Entertain the baby during the flight. If you’re lucky and have timed things correctly, your baby will sleep on the flight. If you’re me, that never happens. Instead, keep things interesting for the baby. Physical exercise is great if you can get him or her to walk up and down the aisles. Sometimes a change of scenery helps tremendously. Use that lightweight blanket on the floor to create a safe space at your feet for baby to sit and play if you have room (the bulkhead seats are perfect for this). Some people bring safety pins to make a tent with a blanket for sleeping (Mouse never went for this). Get new toys the baby has never seen before, such as Happy Meal toys or dollar store toys, just for this trip. Wrap toys in wrapping paper for that extra few minutes of excitement (plus you have your trash bag for pieces later). Attach toys to a binky leash or other string to keep from having to pick them up a gazillion times. Institute a “one toy at a time” rule–put something away before getting something else out. Take advantage of in-flight entertainment with your baby headphones or just the images for baby to watch if you have your own screen.
  • Recommended toys: For the under 2 crowd, I recommend these toys. Play keys, always fun, nice to chew. Small board books for reading and for baby “browsing.” Play silk or other square of fabric, perfect for peek-a-boo, impromptu dressup, etc. Stacking cups are the ultimate travel toy. I keep mine in a small fabric pouch–they’re perfect for stacking, for taking in and out, for building like blocks, for banging together, for counting, etc. Seriously people, stacking cups are WHERE IT’S AT in the land of travel toys. Stickers, band-aids, or a roll of masking tape makes for fun sticking and unsticking on clothes, feet, fingers, etc. Finger puppets or small hand puppets are always fun. If you have a portable DVD player you can try that. Small cars or things on wheels to roll on the floor and up and down unsuspecting tummies. Anything new and exciting you think your baby might like. The idea is to keep things novel and exciting.

Planes really aren’t as intimidating as they seem. At the very least, whatever happens, it will be over soon. Don’t be intimidated–you can do it! Happy traveling!

The Scrivener

Click here for tips on traveling with a toddler.

WFMW: Easy Peasy Banana Peeling

You know, sometimes bananas are just hard to peel.

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tell your own banana joke

Like you start at the root (stalk? thingie that attaches it to its other banana friends?) and often you end up bending the peel instead of breaking it, and then it gets all mushy and gross and it’s quite frustrating.

Well here it is–frustration free banana peeling! Just start from the bottom of the banana. It’s very easy to stick your finger in, even if you just cut your nails because you’re afraid of permanently maiming someone accidentally, and you never squish the top.

Easy banana peeling–works for me!

Works-For-Me Wednesday

The Moms Love Red Ted Art

One of the best things about blogging is all of the wonderful people you get to meet along the way and all of the wonderful sites you get to see. Red Ted Art’s blog is devoted to “Bringing colour and art to children’s hearts,” and if you don’t come away from that site feeling inspired and excited about kids and art, I’ll send you $500. Okay, not really, but I do guarantee you’ll love what you see there. Maggy at Red Ted Art is an artist, a blogger, and a mom, and I recently got the chance to interview her. And now, dear readers, I’m thrilled to introduce Maggy and Red Ted Art to you!

Mum and Red Ted!

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your family

My name is Maggy and I am a mother of two – a little boy, who online we call “Red Ted” and a little girl called “Pip Squeak”. I am Austrian, married to an Englishman in the UK.

How did you get started in your art career? Do you have any formal training or are you self-taught?

I guess I would use the term “self taught”, as I never had any training. I have always been “crafty” and am passionate about creating things. Red Ted Art started off as a stay -at-home hobby business creating bespoke artwork for children. This was based on a set of three pop art teddies I made for Red Ted when he was born. I then started a blog to keep friends and family updated on my latest artwork news. From there “suddenly” an arts and craft blog was born. I realised that in order to attract readers, I couldn’t just talk about myself and my artwork, but would have to offer something. So I now offer book & game recommendations, crafts for children (2yrs-12yrs) and tutorials for adults (teens – no age limit!). Oh and a cheeky weekly photo that has nothing to do with anything, save for that I like photographs!!


Four Teds

How did you come up with the name “Red Ted Art”?

Our pet names for the children at home are “Little Bear” and “Little Mouse” (these sound the same in German: “ Baer” and “Maus”; as we are bringing them up bilingually). Combined with the original set of three teddies, of which one is red, a friend of mine in Australia came up with the “Red Ted Art” idea.

What inspired you to start blogging? When did you start?

“Officially”, I started 19 months ago, when I was ranting on about artwork and painting and talking to shops to sell them for me. In terms of what you see now “Red Ted Art”, the craft blog, I started that in February. So around 8 months ago.

Where do you get your ideas for your kid’s craft and stART projects?

The stART (story + art = great stART), is actually a term coined by Michelle over at A Mommy’s Adventure.  There is also a lady called Zoe who does crafts on her blog called Playing By The Book. I simply loved their idea of combining books with crafts, as I am passionate about both myself. So I did a series of stART projects – taking inspiration from books we were reading (e.g. “how can we make a watch” or “how can we make a penguin”). At some point the process changed round. I would see objects and things around me and “oooh, that could be a Giraffe” and then I find a book to go with it.  Which is partly why you will now find me calling those articles “Kid’s Craft” now. As it is more about the craft, than the book (though we still like to add a sneaky book if we can!). If I am stuck for an idea, I will go back to a favourite book for inspiration! Some ideas I ponder for weeks (like I am mulling something over for “Harry, The Dirty Dog” and the idea for Poppy Flower Husk Snowflake prints came to me month ago, as I was walking to a playgroup).

Super-Cute Monster Cards

What would you like to tell our Moms about children and art?

I am passionate about getting people to have a go. Crafts and art is such a special “childhood memory” time, as well as helping develop all sorts of skills such as motor skills and confidence. But for me fun is the primary goal and learning something that happens by the by.

Also, I would like to say, to just give it a go and not be “embarrassed” about your skills. Your children will love anything you draw or paint with or for them. They will not be judging you. If you say “you can’t” they learn to say “I can’t” from you. So instill confidence in your child by having a go together.

There are lots of easy crafts on my blog to get you going: like Loo Roll Watches (that’s toilet paper rolls for you Americans), Googly Eye Painted Stones and Monster Cards . Each take little time. Are fun and the kids LOVE the result!! I also do a monthly “Get Crafty” feature, where I bring together 25 odd craft ideas of all sorts of skill levels under one theme – you should usually be able to find something to get you inspired on there!

Thanks, Maggy! I’m going to go be creative now…