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Days alone with a toddler are really hard to describe. I don't know why. They're some of the absolute most exhausting and absolute most sweet days I've ever had in my life. In between those two extremes are a lot of utterly prosaic hours — the taking off of boots that are on the wrong feet; the cleaning up of water that gets carried in a soap dish to the bed; the picking up of hundreds of thousands of barrettes, doll shoes, blocks, puzzle pieces, wooden dogs, sippy cups, pieces of tape, felt pancakes, tiny saucepans, wooden boats, baby sweaters, Matchbox cars, bunny stickers, little socks, plastic wolves, and ponytail holders; the pitting of cherries and slicing of apples; the changing of diapers; the braiding of hair that's halfway down her back; the practicing of arabesques on alternate legs; the learning to skip; the learning to spin; the strapping into car seat covered in crackers; the grabbing of soy sauce bottles as they're about to be flung; the grabbing of almost everything as it's about to be flung; the recapping of markers left on the floor; the wiping of chin; the drying of tears; the putting on of Hello Kitty Band-Aids; the smothering with kisses; the getting of hugs; the taking off of pants put on backwards; the washing of dishes; the popping in of Charlie and Lola DVDs when the sun starts to sink, and all I want is a half an hour to sit and stare at the sprinkler before dinner.

She's not a stay-at-home girl. Every day, we go somewhere: the library, the bookstore, the fountain, the park, the museum, the other museum, the mall, the pool, the playground, the river, the woods, the store, a friend's house, a restaurant. We go out. She's easy. She'll go anywhere, do anything. She likes places, and parties, and people. A diaper change in the back of the car, cold milk, and some dry clothes buy us hours. She sleeps on the way home. I listen to Elizabeth Mitchell radio on Pandora and try not to sob. Children's music. I had no idea. I can't even listen to this song without bawling. I've never cried more to any music than to children's music, usually in the car while she sleeps. I look at her face in the mirror. I drive slowly down through the woods. The sunlight flashes through the trees. The birds sing up above. I drive through downtown, with the buildings and people, then back over the shimmering river, and go through the Burgerville drive-through for a fresh strawberry milkshake. It tastes like every single dream I ever had, all come true at once.

Happy, happy, happy Midsummer to you. May it be filled with everything little and sweet. Xo

113 comments

Beautiful! Just Beautiful!

Oh, goodness, I cry to children's music too! Right now it's Elizabeth Mitchell's David's Mandolin. I can't handle it. I cry every time. <3

These are the days I wish could be captured and saved forever and ever.
They go so quickly - before we realize it they're a memory.

My daughter is 44 and I cry for those loving, innocent days again. If I could have just one day, just one sweet day to laugh again.

If I could pass on just one piece of wisdom it would be to cherish each moment.

Your reflections are beautiful.
It makes me happy to recall days like these you describe,
and sad, too, because it's fleeting. All of it. It makes me happy for you
that you understand this, that you take pictures, write notes, stop to watch the sprinklers, too, and speak from your heart of the wonder and awe that parenting is, that children share. However mixed up or frustrated I can be about things, I always find relief and affirmation, here in your blog. Thank you for this.
The portrait of your daughter... Goodness, it looks true, lovely and true.

Alicia...you have THE MOST exquisite way with words. i have been following along for years and years and years and always look forward to your posts. my daughter is 6 months younger than Amelia and the way you describe motherhood always makes me cry (in the best way, of course). this post is no exception. the arabesque, the Elizabeth Mitchell, the recapping of markers, the boots on the wrong feet, the flinging of soy sauce (lol), just everything.... thank you!!! xx

two things...the portrait of Amelia is just lovely! and thank you for the book recommendations. I read Love, Nina (per you) and loved it!! Laughed out loud! Can't wait to read this one.

Aww what a post, a lovely heartfelt post. Thank you for sharing your days.

Your writing, lady, wow.

What an enchanting post Alicia. Your writing is exquisite, you've captured your days so beautifully. I remember these toddler days very well. Exhausting and sweet as you say. Enjoy. CJ xx

LindaSonia says: June 18, 2015 at 02:09 PM

How are the furbabies faring during all this?

Aren't we truly blessed to have little people in our lives? My feet ache and I am dog tired at the end of the day, crawling across the floor tidying, but feeling happily worn out by the days activities. Happy midsummer to you too x

Lovely, lovely pictures!

What a beautiful dress. She looks so lovely.

how lovely!! such special days! I love seeing all the handmade beauty! and your lovely little one is so dear! kids music is so special!!!

It was the crumbs that always drove me nuts....the never-ending crumbs. Enjoy these busy days. My two are now 17 and 18 and it all flew by way tooooooo fast.

Oh my. Your words and photos just fill me up-- I always save your posts to read as a treat to savor. The painting of Amelia is perfect. It reminds me of all I love in Eloise Wilkin's illustrations. xo

The prosaic days of motherhood are the most beautiful poetry, I always think. <3

Well, Alicia, you've perfectly captured toddler days. When my twins were your daughter's age (actually even now that they're 10), people would ask me about my day or my weekend and I had nothing to say. Because nothing happened and yet a million things happened (many of which you've described). Connections were made and tears were shed, then consoled away, and laughter was shared and patience was nearly lost and then regained.

Oh, and Billy Joel's "Goodnight My Angel" kills me every time. Actually, your husband should listen to that one for Father's Day!

Michaelanne says: June 18, 2015 at 05:21 PM

Your pictures are ALWAYS a gift to me...I will ONLY read your blog posts on my laptop...in my comfiest chair..when I have time to really read your words..and see all the special details you capture! Even if I am tempted...I WILL not read them on my phone...because they are a gift...every time! As I slowly scrolled down through, when I came to the painting of Mimi..I instantly had a huge lump in my throat! What an absolute TREASURE! Whoever painted that captured every essence of that sweet little babe of yours! Then..Your words! Oh Alicia! Total bawl fest! Grab the Kleenex!!! I just LOVE you..and if every single baby could have a Mom and Dad like you and Andy..I cant even imagine what a wonderful world it would be...Thank you..as always..You leave me inspired...emotional...and ever grateful for the sweet blessings in my life...

My goodness, how I love reading your words. Thank you! Thank you so much for sharing your beauty.

I am tearing up! So beautifully put. My little girl, one day younger than Amelia, is flinging books as we speak while telling herself a nonsensical (to me, at least) account of Gerald and Piggy ( author: Mo Willems ... fantastically funny and fast page turners for preschoolers, if you haven't discovered them already!) I adore your writing, images, and sense of style. Through them, I am able to savor these delicious days even more. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Thanks so much for sharing your beautiful pictures and words. Just lovely.

Collette says: June 18, 2015 at 07:09 PM

We love Renee and Jeremy. I used to sing Night Mantra to my son every night, sometimes for 15 straight minutes. (Other choices were Favorite Things and Every Little Thing Gonna Be Alright.) He's 7 and he still asks for this sometimes when he's had a particularly bad day. It makes me cry too.

My mom took us hither and yon and we learned adventure and to enjoy life from her. Mimi is lucky to have you and Andy to show her the wonders of the world just a car ride away. I love your writing. We took Gracie and our son and grandsons on the Sternwheeler today.. then ice cream after under the Bridge of the Gods. Lovely day. ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

ChristineAnnWood says: June 18, 2015 at 11:43 PM

Oh these days can be exhausting but they are oh so wonderful! Who ever knew something as simple as sitting by the sprinkler could me such a refreshing moment? I would just add a glass of wine to that!

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About Alicia Paulson

About

My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at aliciapaulson.com

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Photography

Since August of 2011 I've been using a Canon EOS 60D with an EF 18-200mm kit lens and an EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro lens.