The Best Tick Protection For The Worst Tick Season

I’m going to start this off by admitting something shocking. I’m not super into the essential oil trend. My friends swear by oils, and swear by and and love the results oils have brought to their lives. But I’m definitely going to reach into my medicine cabinet for ibuprofen when I have a headache. Just how I roll. I roll without a rollerball. Get it? Essential oil mixers know what I’m talking about! 😉

Anyway… this is actually about ticks. This spring (having only seen one tick previously in my lifetime), I have tweezed a tick embedded in my knee, removed a tick crawling in my youngest’s hair, and have seen 4 additional ticks — in my yard, on my picnic blanket, on my back deck. MY DECK YOU GUYS! My deck is supposed to be my safe way to enjoy nature without being all up in the nature. But those creepers are encroaching on my safe space. I HATE THEM!

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They are out there in huge numbers thanks to climate change, a huge acorn season in 2016, and other reasons you can read about here in this Huffington Post article. I hadn’t ever used tick spray before, so I did what any other freaked out mom would do after tweezing a tick out of my knee, I turned to Facebook for commiseration and advice. I got responses ranging from essential oils to sprays with DEET to tick tubes.

Was I surprised when countless friends suggested I use peppermint oil and lemon oils to keep ticks off my kids? Nope! Not at all! Was I about to consider that advice? Actually, YES! I will happily and proudly lather my kids in anything from pepermint oils to DEET if it will protect their bodies and developing brains from Lyme disease which could really take a toll! (See signs and symptoms here). But I settled on this spray — not because of the ingredients, but because it was determined to be the most effective protection against mosquitos and ticks per Consumer Reports research and ratings. Sold!

tick safety tips, tick checks

I’m also looking into getting our yard treated. Because these girls LOVE to play outside. I was talking to some parents at pre-K about all the ticks and someone understandably said she was hesitant to treat her yard and spray her kids because chemicals determined “safe” now may be determined to not be so safe later on. I get it. But I’m going with our safest option now. And aside from never letting them go outside this spring and summer, which I really really wish was a real option, that means spraying and yard treatments to help keep ticks at bay.

Ticks prevention

But we’re all different and that’s why all these different options are available. Whatever you choose to do to battle ticks this summer — move to a new state, never leave the house, spray, tick tubes, essential oils, pants tucked into your socks — I do recommend that you incorporate a daily tick check into your day if you live where ticks might be. I just strip and check the girls immediately upon entering the house. Especially checking behind their knees, behind their ears, armpits, bathing suit areas, and hair. So far the spray seems to be keeping the ticks off of us. OMG! Did I just jinx it?

embroidery in nature

I’ll let you know how our tick drama progresses. Real talk, I’m one more tick encounter away from becoming a shut-in.

PS. If you are not yet on the shut-in tick protection plan, check out our carry-all pouches for toting toys, snacks, and art utensils, even first aid, while on-the-go this spring and summer!

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How I Saved Hundreds of Dollars This Spring (And My Sanity) By Opting Out

I have taken my first child to a lot of activities in her 4.5 years. Sing-alongs, playgroups, toddler hikes, gymnastics, park meet-ups, ballet. She’s never voiced disinterest in these activities, but she’d spend most of the time … in her head. That is the best way to describe it. Sort of in a world of her own. Which was fine with me (usually sometimes). At least I told myself that she was getting introductions to new activities and new people and that was the whole point! Right? Maybe? I don’t know!

fabric kids crown

But this past December, during my 4 year-old’s second semester of ballet, I decided we needed to step away from the activities. I remember the exact moment. It was like any other week of ballet that had come before… After a few bites of snack and a few turns with the waiting room toys, my 1.5 year-old got bored and wanted to join the ballet class her older sister was in. So there I was, wrestling my toddler who was DYING to be a part of the dance class — sweating, apologizing, shushing, cursing inwardly. All while my 4 year-old was pretending to nap while everyone else danced. Yes. I remember thinking, “This is insane. And we’re done with this.” It wasn’t just ballet. Everything we had signed up for was in the way of the the private activities my eldest was engaged in in her mind.

I thought, “What if we took a semester off and just let her find HER THING? Let her explore the world in her own way and on her own terms. Let her lead the activity and be the director of her own fun.”

The answer: Honeybees.

bee blog

She has been researching honeybees for months. We’ve been reading books about honeybees. She watches videos on YouTube — beekeeping, how bees make honey, where beeswax comes from, why are honeybees dying, how do people harvest honey, how to care for bees.

She’s been asking about honeybees…

Do honeybees poop and pee like me? Does it come out of their bottom or their stinger or somewhere else? And what does it look like? Is it brown like my poopy? Or a beautiful color? And where do they poop? On a flower pillow or in the hive? I don’t know!

Then we look it up! We answer all her questions about bees and she’s *so* into it! She tells her dad about bees when he tucks her in at night. She has a running tally of all the equipment we’ll need for the honeybee colonies she is certain we are going to be keeping in our backyard. Um…

For the record, bees poo and pee at the same time-like birds. It comes out of a hole in their bottoms close to their stinger. It is mustard-like and they leave the hive to poo on flowers. In part to rid themselves of waste but also to let other bees know that they’ve visited that flower. So thoughtful!

Being a ballet school drop-out is working out for her. I’m so proud of my honeybee researcher! And I’ve loved being her research assistant!

Ballet Class Dropout Turned Honeybee Researcher
Self-directed play of a honeybee researcher

 

PS. Do you have a little one with a big imagination too? Fuel that imagination with one of our fabric crowns. Our crowns are double-sided, so basically two crowns in one! And I find that the different patterns spark different play! With the crown on one side, my little one is a pirate princess. On the other, you guessed it, the queen honeybee! 🙂 Shop kids fabric crowns HERE!

That Hole In Your Shirt… Show it Off!

Have you heard of Mend It May? I hadn’t until I stumbled upon My Make And Mend Life last year. It totally opened my eyes to how wasteful I am.

I was always taught that a hole in a garment was a reason to throw it away. But I’m learning about the value and beauty in restoring items.

  • Toe sticking out of a sock? Darn it! (As in mend it. Haha!)
  • Shirts with hole? Patch that up!
  • Crack in the laundry bin? That’s why duct tape was invented!

If you want to make a statement while you mend, try some simple embroidery to highlight a hole in your shirt and bring attention to the value and beauty in restoring clothes rather than pitching them! Here’s how I did just that…

Materials:

  • Cute shirt with hole in it
  • Piece of fabric (I used leftover jean fabric from cutoffs I made)
  • Embroidery hoop
  • Embroidery floss
  • Crewel needle

Stitches:

  • Satin Stitch – to reinforce the edges of the hole and prevent future fraying
  • Running stitch – to reinforce the jean patch and highlight the mend
  • But you can do anything you want!

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What do you have that can use some mending? Let me know and I can help you figure out how to mend it. I’ve started a board on Pinterest called Mend and Restore just for mending garments and restoring items.

Follow the board and send me a message and I’ll add you as a collaborator and you can add pins related to the items you want to revive! Let’s work together and produce less waste!

PS. Speaking of making less waste, have you checked out our CLOTH NAPKINS? They’re the perfect size for tucking into your lunch bag or bento box! Use, wash, and reuse! Plus, I just added some cool new ones– mermaids, superheroes, and astronauts, oh my! Check them out here: SHOP CLOTH NAPKINS

Meet Aya at the pen&thimble playdate!

It’s time for another pen&thimble playdate! Today we’re going to meet Aya! I’m so excited that Aya agreed to share her Q&A here because Aya represents one of those awesome moments in handmade business–when a customer becomes a friend! Thank you, Aya!

Also, I’m afraid of birds too. I wish someone had invented video phones when I was at Piazza San Marco in 2001. Me + Hundreds Of Pigeons = Lots of Silent Screaming (because I didn’t want to be that obnoxious American but totally was).

Let’s Meet Aya!

image2Name: Aya K. 

Region: Midwest

Age of kids? 1.5 and 4

What do you do? Full time mom, freelance journalist and educator

What is your hope for your children? To grow up to love and respect everyone around them regardless of faith, belief, race, socioeconomic background.

What is your biggest fear for your children? That they’ll face discrimination or bigotry.

What is your favorite activity to do with your kids/family? Going to the park, reading and baking.

What is your biggest challenge being a mom? Lack of sleep. Life would be easier if they slept well.

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Self-care: What do you do to relax/decompress? Netflix, going to the gym, and talking to good friends.

What, if anything, do you wish people knew about you? I have a fear of birds and escalators.

How did you become a pen&thimble customer? I came across the  Instagram page a couple of years ago and never looked back.

What is your favorite pen&thimble product? The bibdanas for sure!

Raising caring kids
See some of Aya’s work here: http://muslimgirl.com/author/ayakhalil

PS. To score some of the bandana bibs that Aya loves CLICK HERE!

PPS. Did you meet Carly at our first pen&thimble playdate? Meet this military mama HERE!