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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

oh. my. that is absolutely beautiful. the outdoors. the indoors. your eloquent way with words, painting pictures for us. it's raining, again, here in omaha. however, you bring a bit of sunshine. thank you, alicia. thank you.

Happy midsummer Alicia! You describe the life with a toddler so well, it makes me laugh a lot!! You should try Elizabeth Mitchell as for children music: http://youaremyflower.org! I love her so much !! I love hearing her sweet voice and her daughter too !! Mimi is so cute in her little handmade dress !! Have a good day!

I remember when my youngest was a baby and I would drive a loop through several towns, listening to Norah Jones while my Tess slept. Whenever I hear "Come Away With Me" I am right back in the driver's seat and I tear up. "Little Tess" is 11 now! But, the endless picking up never stops. I still go into her room and find endless tissues everywhere, drawers always left open, (closet door too), pencils, markers, fabric, bits of felt, sewing box lid up, sketch pads everywhere... It's the same only eleven instead of two.
And it's still a sweet balm to my heart.
D

Oh my, that portrait of Amelia above the fireplace is precious. It captures her and that moment in time like no photograph can.

Love the sewing in progress with the rick-rack too. I've been toying with the notion of doing same with some nice ribbon, since a new kitten of my daughter's recently discovered it and called it to my attention by unreeling it from its formerly orderly place on a rod on the wall.

Kittens and toddlers - such delightful disorganization. The stuff life is made of.

Boots/shoes-put a permanent marker dot on the medial part of the sole of the shoe near the heel. She will learn to put the dots together and they will be on the correct feet!! Music-Fred Penner!! You can listen to Fred for hours and not feel like throwing up. He had a lovely TV show and we used to go to his concerts in Canada when we lived in Michigan. Look up: Fred Penner, Poco to get an idea of what he is like. LOVE HIM. I remember those days, so hard but so wonderful.

Ariana W says: June 18, 2015 at 10:46 AM

Oh your blog is so precious and inspires me to make life beautiful! I so enjoyed this post as a mama - always interested in how you make life with a little one seem so sweet and simple. (laughing - this blog post shared that things can get a bit messy with you too!) Although I'm still anxious to learn (as a mama whose children can never fall sleep easily) how you get your little one to sleep seemingly almost anywhere! Is the secret really all those quilts??!!

Kristen from MA says: June 18, 2015 at 10:57 AM

It tastes like every single dream I ever had, all come true at once.

You slay me, Alicia. <3

Happy Midsummer to you, also! I love this time, and don't like to let it get away from me. Which can happen. Elizabeth Mitchell is wonderful, but I think you need some children's music that's not going to make you cry, but is still good. Try Caspar Babypants. My three favorites: Bad Blue Jay, I Heard a Bird, and Baby Bear.

Her hair must be waist lngth almost when wet now! I remember my girls in the bathtub;)♥
I love that painting of her over the fireplace..spot on..did you do it?

You have a way with words like few others. Thank you for letting us share these magical moments with you, and for reminding us that our own prosaic moments with little ones are magic.

Jennifer B says: June 18, 2015 at 11:14 AM

I still sneak a listen to great kid's music on occasion, and my "little one" is about to turn 14!

Not that you need lots of suggestions here, but can recommend Pete Seeger's Children's Concert at Town Hall, Justin Roberts, Ralph's World, John Lithgow, Caspar Babypants, and Trout Fishing in America as your daughter gets (a little) older and is ready for more sing-along type music.

Troy Louise says: June 18, 2015 at 11:22 AM

Reading your blog is like a breath of fresh air & a big hug! Thank you.

Taryn D. says: June 18, 2015 at 11:25 AM

Describing life at home with a toddler? You nailed it! Also, oh my gosh about children's music. I had no idea as well. It gets to my husband too. When my daughter was between 1-3 she enjoyed Elizabeth Mitchell (and I did too!!), but now she's all about Caspar Babypants. He's got this unusual way of telling stories about small everyday things (bluejays, ladybugs, dust bunnies, mud in pockets just in case). I love to hear her sing the words.

Also, best thing about having my child? The way she so deeply loves me. She loves everything about me. It's weird and wonderful. She says "I love how you have squishy fat on you because it's cozy" and "I love how you smell just like mom." She reminds me everyday how good it feels to be loved and to love, doesn't it?

Live the portrait!

It's so lovely that you do all this for her. It also seems to me that Amelia is bringing you back to yourself. Happy days, long may they continue!

Thank you for telling us about Elizabeth Mitchell. I'm always looking for children's music, for MYSELF. It's this granny's favorite!
You have such good taste, such a heart for goodness.

Oh my that portrait! Did you commission that, or did someone paint it from a photograph for you? I would LOVE to get that done from some old photos of my children.

Yama ernastine says: June 18, 2015 at 12:02 PM

Beautiful pics, beautiful girl. Warning: Don't listen to the song in the Philly airport if you are also prone to tearful breakdowns over children's music! The looks, they are awkward 😊.

I love your site! Have for years and years. Do you make your own garlands in the photos?

Yes! Elizabeth Mitchell! There is a chance I enjoy her music more than my littles. :). And that blue tin with the flowers is so pretty! Where is it from? I just love your blog and your sweet pictures. I am thinking of teaching myself to embroider. Your handiwork is amazing!

Because I work full time, it's rare that I get a day just her and me. I had one a few weeks ago, and she fell asleep in my lap, which she never does these days expect when she's sick. She wasn't sick, but there she was sleep, taking advantage for a rare mom-lap nap, and I just stared at the little curls at the back of her neck and her little fingernails with dirt under them for what must have been 30 minutes or more. I took a photo that still makes my heart stop whenever I look at it (https://instagram.com/p/3woUVUSgRT/?taken-by=mscleaver)

Enjoying that breath of silence before the cacophony that comes when she wakes up. Getting more independent, more demanding, more two-sy. And then she does something that melts my heart all over again. The yin and yang of being a child, of being a parent.

alisson krauss, "baby mine". THAT makes me cry! lovely to see miss clover.

I have never commented before, thought I have followed for years. This piece struck me. What a wonderful treatise on the exquisite tedium and immense love of early parenthood. I am living it with you and things like this make me realize how wonderful it really is.

I have cried to Free To Be You And Me. Big, fat mama tears. Xoxo.

Looking at the pictures I thought: how beautiful!! what a beautiful girl, pictures, dress, outdoors.... and then reading you... what can I say..I have no words...big thank you!!

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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.