Seven years ago my parents moved from snowy Buffalo to sunny California. Sounds like an easy decision to make. I mean, who wouldn't like perfect comfortable weather every day with a view of the ocean from their balcony window.
Despite the view, I'm sure this was one of the toughest decisions they've ever had to make.
And for us, well... now we have the perfect excuse for yearly vacations. 😎
With 2,559 miles between us, it should be no surprise to hear that the Kreutinger's are well versed in video calls. Something that has become a sudden popular trend in the world due to unfortunate circumstances.
That said, there is nothing quite like sitting down in person and having a nice conversation. I had a really nice conversation with my Mom this past August. She was visiting when my daughter was born. We were talking one day so I migrated the conversation to my puppet workshop. My workshop also has a recording setup for when we make episodes of Puppet Tears Podcast.
These in person conversations were something that have been taken for granted for a long time...
but we shouldn’t anymore.
Many people have given me flack over the years for pulling out a camera and recording things.
“Can’t you just be in the moment?”
“You are not being present.”
They always say.
I couldn’t disagree with this more. In fact, it’s the opposite is true.
You would have to be hyper PRESENT to recognize you are IN a moment that is worth capturing.
When sitting back and reflecting on your childhood or family memories, I don’t think there are many people who think “Golly, I wish I didn’t have so many family photos” or I really wish I didn’t have that video clip of grandpa singing while cooking spaghetti.”
You always wish you had more. And so often the most routine and mundane things end up being the things we miss the most.
Don’t record everything.
However, if even for a second you have an urge to pull out your phone to capture a moment...
you will regret it.
Here is my interview with my mom. Well worth the watch. (CLICK HERE)
A kid who’s an outgoing playful goofball when they are at home... but becomes shy, nervous, or gets anxiety when in any other situation.
We have all seen children who are afraid to speak up when in a group of friends, or giving a class presentation, or even to simply raise their hand to answer a question. Whether this is your son, daughter, niece, nephew, grandchild, or student; I have a tip that might help, and that tip is puppetry.
Puppetry is empowering.
I see puppetry as an underused tool in education and early childhood development. Learning puppetry can help give kids a voice, especially if they are naturally shy, have trouble making friends, or seem to lack self confidence.
Puppetry can be a truly powerful confidence builder for three main reasons.
1: Eliminate Risk Using a puppet can eliminate the risk of feeling embarrassed when presenting in front of a crowd since technically they are not the one who’s presenting… the puppet is. It acts as a sort of “mask” which shields from feeling like the focus is on them. This starts to break down the barrier of public speaking. Once they are more comfortable presenting with a puppet, then they will be one step closer to doing a presentation on their own.
2: Play is Practice The “Eliminate Risk” reason above might seem like too big of a first leap, but in reality, the above example is not likely to be the first thing they do with a puppet. The first thing they will do is play. Play has always been part of development for kids, this is nothing new. But playing with puppets specifically develops the presentation and communications skills needed in building the confidence to become less shy and more social with peers. An extra benefit to puppetry as play is it can be done independently or more collaboratively. Making it easy to include friends when the opportunity arises. (During my Masters in Education I took a class called “Theory, Research and Practice of Play” and I am planning to talk more about it regards to puppetry in future posts. Stay tuned!)
3: Be an Expert There is so much one can learn about puppetry. When you dive in, you quickly find how wide and diverse the world of puppetry is. Anytime you study and practice an art or hobby, you start to gain knowledge that goes deeper than the knowledge of the general public. You start to become an expert in the eyes of the average person. Being a source of knowledge to your peers is a true confidence builder, especially to a kid.
All this is just the tip of the iceberg for what you can expect to gain from puppetry. I have seen it first hand over and over again with my students and with my family.
Maker Faire had reached out to me last year on Instagram, inviting me to the event. I WAS THRILLED, especially since they were adding a puppetry section to the faire. Rochester it is practically in my own backyard, being from Buffalo.
At the time I accepted I didn't know we were going to be bringing an infant. But our new family had a BLAST, especially baby Fred! You can see our experience first hand in the Vlog on Youtube.
Being so new to the Maker Faire experience, I wasn't sure of exactly what to bring. So we just stuffed the car with all I had until nothing else fit! I even ordered custom banners designed by Cameron Garrity, my co-host on the Puppet Tears Podcast . And I LOVE how it all turned out.
Over the course of the two days day Maker Faire I did puppetry demos for thousands of people. I showed them how the mechanical puppets work, performing techniques, as well as how to find free resources on my website to make your own puppets. I even taught how to make your own show!
I also met a ton of awesome people! Many of which we are planning to do collaborations with. I met Elijah Horland who was a host on Mythbusters Jr. We got to learn about his experience on the show and they invited us to go to his Maker Faire in Coney Island! Keep an eye out for it, I'm really hoping we can go!
We also met and got to see an awesome magic show by Mario the Maker Magician! He was awesome! We chatted a little about my old magician days, I'm hoping to build puppet for one of his projects coming up! Be sure to check out his YouTube Channel too!
I connected quick with my friends over at Thimble and we are hoping to make a puppetry themed box for their maker subscription kits!!!! Stay tuned!!!
Lastly, Kira and I are planning to co-design a line of puppets. I'm going to be creating a custom pattern exclusively for her shop! So if you like the design, the only place you will be able to get it will be atKira Arts!
The whole event was sooooo amazing! I am definitely looking forward to going back again next year and even to other Maker Faires!!
Seeing people around me give birth to sticky kids with ten perfect toes and cute little laughs honestly made me roll my eyes. I was so busy building my career as a teacher and performing on the weekends, creating lesson plans, characters on stage, dreaming of how to engage students while having them pass the NYS exams and figuring out how to make audiences laugh, the last thing I had on my mind was being nauseatingly pregnant and inspecting “What shade of poo?” diapers. If someone would have said to me a few years ago, “Maria, the most creative endeavor you will ever make would be Winifred Truly” I would have laughed.
I knew I wanted to be a mom, “someday”, but that “someday” wasn't exactly laid out for me. I was at a point in my life where everything had started to begin. I had dealt with an extremely heavy loss the previous summer, and with Adam had to make an extremely tough decision. The bond I had with my puppy, Ornacia was something I had truly never felt. The connection I have with my four dogs is something that is irreplaceable. With Ornacia, we were connected in a special way, though I am not spiritual in an astrological or tarot card way, I am 100% on board with fate. Fate brought us together, and what we hand was magic. And she taught me how to be a mother. As parents, Adam and I had to make a decision, one that broke me down, but made me trust my instincts. The day of her passing was the rebirth of my life.
Without Ornacia, the sweet summer went on, I still took great care of my other dogs, but had an emptiness that nothing could replace. I learned how to love with coping with loss, but took comfort in the fact that I had two years with my special pup. I started a brand new job as a third grade teacher, was performing a full season of Buffalo theater, and getting used to the fact that I was now a wife. There were so many changes I embraced, I couldn’t see myself taking on anymore.
It was always in the back of my mind I would be a mom, but could I handle it? Could I handle my biggest, deepest, darkest fear? Could I really host a small human in MY body? The thought irritated me, knowing something would be taking over and I would have no control of the situation. That I would let my body pretty much ride bike with no breaks and I would be speeding head on down the road with no choice other than to scream full voice, hair in the wind. “No” I told myself, I couldn’t possibly do it. How selfish. I thought.
But it wasn’t selfish, it was a real tactile feeling. I knew what it felt like to love something so much you’d do anything to make sure it was okay, even if it meant making tough decisions. I did that as a nanny, a teacher, a dog mom. But I still felt like something bigger was on the horizon, just waiting for me to teach me to see the world in a different way. I didn’t know it yet, but that thing was Fred.
The day we brought Fred home from the hospital, life was chaotic. There were friends and family coming in and out, bringing food and offering help while I slept through hospital exhaustion. When the nights were quiet, sitting with Fred, Adam beside me I looked at him out of nowhere and said, “ Isn’t it so weird that she’s here but nothing seems different, and yet everything has changed? It’s like she has been here all along.” That’s the only way I can describe the feeling. How is it that something so new in this universe is already an old soul? Meeting her wasn’t a first time encounter for me. It felt like, “How lovely to see you again.” Something much bigger than us in the universe brought her to me and Adam. It might be science or something from above, but before I knew I was pregnant I remember looking up at the stars one night, and feeling calm, and ready to let go, for the first time in my life. Whatever that feeling was or is, came back to me the second the nurse placed Fred in my arms. “I’m so glad you’re here.” Finally.
People who know us well are very familiar with the dresses I have made for my wife over the years. But now it's Fred's turn! This is officially the first outfit I made for her and she was only four days old.
The inspiration for this was a coincide in timing. Hasbro Pulse toy company was in the middle of promoting a campaign to have a life size cookie monster replica. They sent it to me for a few days so I could make a video giving an up-close look on my main channel. I was working with them to promote it to other puppeteers. Unfortunately, the campaign did not reach it's goal, but I was still glade that I was able to get an up-close look at it myself.
While I had the Cookie monster in my hands, I just had to take advantage of the opportunity to do something fun with Fred. My first idea was to make her a dress from fabric with chocolate chip cookie print and so a photo shoot to make it look like Cookie Monster was trying to eat her😂🤣.
But I was not able to find cookie print fabric under such short notice with such a fast turnaround.
So then I had the idea of a Cookie Monster dress with a headband that had big googly eyes (You can see the full making of the dress in this video).
Welcome! We have decided to start a blog to document milestones, special events, or just whatever the Kreutinger's are up to! Last year, we started a family Vlog on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/thewholekreu) but we wanted to add a blog as a way to expand on the videos and to share events that are only documented through photos.
A little about us.
We are proud Buffalonians!
We are both teachers. Maria is a 3rd grade teacher at St. Mark school in Buffalo and Adam is and art teacher at South Davis Elementary school in Orchard Park. We are heavily involved in the local arts and theatre scene of Buffalo. Maria is a singer/actress while Adam is usually more involved behind the scenes (but occasionally takes the stage) working on props, puppets, and costumes.
On August 9th we officially became the proud parents of Winifred Truly Kreutinger! (Fred for short) She is new to the Kreu but she fit right in.
Becoming a parent is surreal. Obviously, we knew we would love her but we didn't know that this would be such a different type of love feeling. No one can prepare you for it and it's impossible to explain. It's just remarkable how your life can become instantly so different than it was they day before and yet so the same.
There are a lot of interesting events to come. Pop in do the blog anytime for more formal updates. Feel free to follow social media for daily posts and photos.