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!

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.


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:

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!

pen&thimble playdate: A New Meet-The-Moms Spotlight

Heyyyyyyy guyyyyys!! I’m so excited to be introducing pen&thimble playdate!! On the first Monday of every month, I will be sharing a mom bio with you! Will it be yours? Maybe! This will be a place where we can meet you and other friends of pen&thimble and share our parenting hope/fears, self-care ideas, and more! We may have different backgrounds, but we can relate to each other in so many ways–starting with being moms!

Let’s support each other. Celebrate each other. Laugh with each other. Moms coming together. That is what this is all about. I promised the first  round of moms that I would go first to get this party started! So here it goes! But the fun mom intros start next month!


Name: Gillian F

Region: Northeast, USA

Kids: 2 girls, ages 4.5 and 2.

What I Do: WAHM – children’s accessories maker

If you’ve followed me on Instagram or Facebook at all, you probably know me as the painfully punny maker of baby bibs, kids’ lunch accessories, and kids’ crowns. But my kids just call me “mama” or repeat snack requests to get my attention. When I’m not making things (bibs, placemats, snacks all day, dinner no one eats), I’m usually cleaning up a mess, trying to reclaim my rhythm at family dance parties, or drinking La Croix water. Yes, I am that mom. I just love those bubbles!

My biggest hope for my girls is to know their worth beyond looks and academic success. I want them to know the worth of creativity and kindness even if there isn’t much social currency in these things.

My biggest challenge is balancing my handmade business and caring for my family. And one of my related struggles is being okay with the fact that I don’t think screen time is as evil as everyone says. Am I allowed to admit that? I like screen time. There I’ve said it.

My self-care takes the form of sewing/stitching, but it is very separate from my business. When I need to decompress, I turn to quilting or embroidery. It is super relaxing because it is just for me! I’ve been feeling spread thin lately and being able to stitch through my worries or piece together a quilt block from scraps of fabric gives me a sense of control and coming-together I so desperately need right now. Also, downing a row of peeps helps too!


What do you do for self-care? Do you want to join our meet-and-greet? I want to hear from you! Join my email list here to be part of the next Q&A group!! Can’t wait to hear from you!