Thursday, July 23, 2015

Motherhood and More: Youngest child starting school brings conflicting thoughts*

My youngest child, my daughter, is starting kindergarten in a few weeks.

I … don’t know how I feel about that.

I am relieved in so many ways. Being at home has been a daily struggle between responsibilities that have to be done and the fun that everyone wants to have. It feels like I have failed on all fronts.

So I am not sad that school is starting, that the kids will be intellectually and socially stimulated for many hours with no effort needed from me.

Except I am. I am sad. She’s not quite 5 yet, as she’s just squeaking by the age cutoff to start school this year. This is probably our last real summer together and I don’t think I’ve taken full advantage of it. But I feel that way every August when I see all the other children who have attended camps and vacations and whatnot.

We hung out at home. The kids watched too much television. We went swimming as many days as possible, we learned that coloring and Legos can occupy them for hours, we ate Popsicles and ice cream sandwiches and played video games.

But we didn’t seem to do anything especially memorable. And for that I feel guilty. It is my daughter’s last summer before starting the decade-plus journey of school. This is when she’ll start growing into her own person, figuring out what it means to be Adele.

She’s already one of the coolest people I know, strong in her convictions and opinions. She’s tough with a forceful personality and would just as soon punch you in the leg as give you the best hug of your life. She’s able to disarm just about everyone she meets while at the same time convincing them she is right, always, no matter what.

I don’t want her to lose that. As difficult as it’s been to parent such a wild child, that wildness is what makes her amazing.

School is hard on people, but especially girls. Maybe that’s because I am one, but I think we have so much more pressure to be a certain way or act a certain way. I don’t want my daughter to be influenced and pushed to be someone she isn’t, just because she feels like she has to in order to fit into a specific mold.

She isn’t a big Barbie person, but loves animals and bugs. She’s fearless in the water, swimming better than any 4-year-old has a right to, diving off diving boards and doing underwater flips. She loves dresses, but doesn’t know or care anything about makeup.

She keeps asking me to cut her long, thick, gorgeous hair as short as her brother’s, mainly, I think, because I force her to let me brush it at least every other day.

So I want her to be a leader. I want her to be who she is, to accept everyone else for who they are, to not be influenced by petty, mean-girl antics.

But that’s part of it, isn’t it? Almost all girls have experienced that part of navigating through friendships and relationships.

I can only hope that when she comes out the other side, when she becomes a full-fledged woman, that she retains that fearless, full-throttle attitude we all love in her.

Because she’s going to do incredible things.

*This column originally published in The News-Enterprise on July 22, 2015.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Things my daughter has destroyed today

1. My picture I colored my very own self

2. Her handmade dress that was an absolute bitch to sew. She chopped it up with scissors.

3. A dangling bead thing her friend made for her

4. Her dresser drawer. (I'm still not sure how that one happened)

5. Her brother's pack of blueberries that she dumped out into sand because he sat on the porch swing

6. Everything she colored on with the markers that are only supposed to be used on paper, including her face

7. The roll of toilet paper she threw all over the bathroom

8. My sanity

9. All that other stuff that I'm too tired to remember right now.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Motherhood and More: Overcoming sibling obstacles*

So I’ve gotten over my fear of taking my children out in public by myself.

Our summer hasn’t been that bad, actually. After a few very, very rough days full of bickering and yelling and bugging each other just for the fun of it, the kids settled down into a sort of truce.

They started playing together, actually, and seeking out each other’s company.

This is big. Super big.

I don’t know if it’s just a big brother thing or the fact that my daughter demanded much more attention from me, which cut into the attention he received, but my oldest always has just ignored his little sister. And he’s fantastic with younger children — always treating them just like kids his own age.

But with his little sister, he usually wants nothing to do with her. And I get it, I do. She has been known to rip things up that belong to him, that are important to him, just because she likes to watch him lose his mind.

Which, in turn, has caused him to lose his mind anytime she comes within two feet of one of his toys. That just makes her want to destroy it even more, of course.

With this dynamic, I’ve been worried they would never be able to be friends. And I’m not sure I’d call them that now. But I do catch him asking her to play with him, which, honestly, almost brings tears to my eyes every time I hear it.

I want them to like each other. I want them to be there for each other. Heck — I wouldn’t even be mad if they ganged up on their father and I just because it would mean they were collaborating.

This summer, they’re both a little older and my daughter doesn’t always want to spend her time actively annoying her brother, so I can see a bit of their relationship growing in a positive way.

That’s not to say they don’t have their moments, obviously. They’re just less frequent.

And I think they’ve had a really good summer, so far. They’ve had endless amounts of swimming and time with friends. We’ve been to the zoo and they attended Bible school and work picnics. They’ve watched a ridiculous amount of television shows and played an embarrassing number of video games. But my son has read a couple of big books, so I don’t feel so bad about the other stuff. Much.

I’m working from home, which means I struggle with finishing all those commitments while also being a fun mom. And a good mom. But I think we’ve done well.

We’ve kept busy. I’ve even taken them to stores without losing one or more of them. My daughter, the queen of wandering, was convinced of the importance of staying close to Mama, finally. And by “convinced” I, of course, mean “bribed.”

So we’re good. I have a couple of fantastic kids, full of energy and creativity. We’re almost halfway through the summer and it’s already been full compared to summers past.

It can only get better from here, right?

Jaime Thomas is a mother of two who lives in Elizabethtown. She blogs at and can be reached at

*This column originally published in The News-Enterprise on June 24, 2015.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Homemade Friday: A circle skirt fail? Maybe?

This mirror wasn't this dirty two days ago. Children are disgusting.
I can't decide.

I've been on a novelty print kick lately.



So as soon as I saw this material with the viewfinders, I kind of knew I needed to buy it.  And I knew exactly what I wanted to make with it: The Hollyburn skirt, by Sewaholic Patterns.

Not my photo.

I thought it was just enough retro, but also updated and classy and I thought the fabric and pattern would be fantastic together.

Unfortunately, in all my years of sewing, I apparently still haven't learned that you need to check the pattern for yardage requirements. I ordered two yards, sure that would be enough.  And it wasn't.

When I went to cut out the pattern I was pissed at myself.  It's such a silly mistake to make, you know?  But instead of finding a top I could make, I was determined to sew a skirt. I searched through all of my patterns and found a couple that probably would have worked. But I didn't love them, and I felt the fabric was so fun that I needed to use it on something I loved.  Plus I was on a retro vibe and none of those patterns fit that.

So I found a circle skirt tutorial, this one from Stylist, to be exact. It was actually fairly simple, once I resigned myself to math. I'm actually fairly good at math and use it regularly with the jewelry making and knitting and endless cooking in my life. So I jumped in.

I cut out the circle and waistband and sewed it all together.  The tutorial calls for a zipper, but since I can pull it on without one I'm thinking about just putting an elastic band in the waistband to keep it from stretching out and to hold it up.

The problem isn't with the pattern or the waist. I think it might be entirely too short. I haven't hemmed it yet, either, so it's just going to get shorter, though I can sew a tiny hem to keep it as long as possible.

I'm almost 34 years old. I try not to subscribe to fashion rules, especially about age. See my recent jumpsuit:

But I don't think I'd be comfortable wearing this because an errant breeze would swing it up, showing the entire world my underthings. So maybe it's a cooler-weather skirt to be worn with leggings. Or maybe it's a rip apart and sew into something for my 4-year-old daughter skirt.

What do you think?

I'm sassy. And it's early so you don't get to see my face.