And Now, School

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Amelia started kindergarten this week. This is her picture from just before we left the house on the first day. The mix of emotions on her face just melts me into a puddle of love and hope and excitement and pride. Oh, what an intense time! Everyone says this, and it really is, especially when you're starting a brand-new school. But it's been absolutely wonderful. I find myself smiling constantly. Partially because I have some free time now, I won't lie (it's amaaaaaaaaazing). But also and mostly because school is just thrilling. New people, new places, new routines, new activities, new opportunities (tap dancing!), new expectations. And not just for her, but for all of us. We have a new commute, too, and it's long; please recommend kids' audiobooks we can listen to on Libby, or podcasts for my drive home. . . .

So yes. Now that I find myself with more free time — like, exponentially more free time — than I've had in months, and actually even years, I'm outside in the yard with my camera, taking pictures of raindrops on apples. It's incredible what doing that does for the soul, and everything else. I've missed it. I've missed writing more often, too. But I honestly need quiet to write, and there just hasn't really been much quiet in my life. I have a lot of things I need to get organized around here. I remember this from last year, too. It felt like literally every drawer and every cabinet needed cleaning and reorganizing. The refrigerator and freezer need major emptying and scrubbing. The pantry looks like a jumble sale. Amelia's tiny dresser is stuffed, literally stuffed full, of clothes that don't fit her anymore under all of the new clothes that do fit her. The basket that holds all of the hats and mitten and scarves now also (I notice) holds five outgrown Amelia sweaters, and a couple of new ones.

Speaking of clothes, I don't know if I've mentioned that for the past two years I've bought almost every single thing Amelia owns (that I didn't make) used on eBay. For years before she was born, I sewed clothes for her like crazy (you knooooooooow that). But I only sewed up to about a size 4, because everyone warned me that she would start rejecting everything I made or picked out around then. Well, when she turned four, she still didn't care what she wore, and she basically had no clothes. I was still very picky but I didn't have time to sew like I had before she was born. So I started browsing eBay regularly. Occasionally I would go to kid's resale stores or Goodwill but I don't have a lot of time to do that, either. So I do spend a lot of my nighttime free-time in my nightgown surfing my iPad for stuff that I like that I know she will like and that is also very affordable. I'm pretty cheap. I make offers constantly, and they get accepted pretty regularly. I have a firm cap on what I will spend. I'll splurge on things like coats because for some weird reason I really care about coats, even my own coats. But in general, I look for the nicest clothing brands that make good quality clothes and I tryyyyyyy to find the absolute cheapest price that someone is willing to let it go for, plus postage. This is still generally so much more affordable than buying anything new (though not as cheap as Goodwill) and it keeps stuff out of the landfill for longer. I've always loved clothes, ever since I was a little girl, and for some reason I find browsing used clothes and vintage patterns extremely fun and relaxing. I was selling her baby clothes on eBay for a little while but it was a lot of work and I stopped pretty quickly after I started. I need to go through Amelia's clothes again and decide what to keep and what to do with the rest. The topic of clothing production and consumption is very fraught with tension and I'm trying to learn more about it and educate myself about the issues. I do want to get back to sewing more for Amelia again, as well. I did make her first-day-of-school outfit, above. The blouse was from Simplicity pattern #9091, circa 1970. And the skirt was a simple elastic-waist skirt from Simplicity pattern #8623, circa 1969. Both pieces were size 7 (though she's only going to be six next month) and made from vintage fabric and trim. She requested a shirt and a skirt and this is what we came up. Sweetest darling, ready for anything.

***

Typical conversation with Amelia Paulson:

Me: "Hi!!! How was school???"
Her: "It was great!!!"
Me: "Yeah? That's awesome! What did you do?"
Her: "I don't know!"
Me: "Oh! Well, did you play with someone?"
Her: "Kind of."
Me: "What was their name?"
Her: "I don't know."
Me: "Ah. Did you learn how to do something new?"
Her: "I don't think so. I don't remember."
Me: "Hmmm. Well, what do you do all day? What's the schedule? Like, what do you do in the morning? Do you have a rhythm to the day like you did in Waldorf school?"
Her: "Yeah, we have rhythm of the parrot, it goes squawk, squawk, squawk."
Me: "Okay."

Or:

Her: "I don't like school."
Me: "How come?"
Her: "Because it's too long of a day!"
One minute later:
Her: "Mom, why am I going home so early today??? [wailing] You said I could go to aftercare!!!"

***

As for me, I have so many new projects cooking and no assistant. Aaaaaaaaagh. Things keep not working out, and the girls keep moving out of state or getting other jobs. I'm mildly freaking out. Kelsey will start working with me this fall until her house sells and she moves back to Idaho. It's good, because in addition to launching the new fall cross-stitch kit (the last one in the seasonal series, and a bit bittersweet for me, I have to confess — I have loved these so much) and a new fall lotion bar, we ARE GOING to do a hand-dyed-yarn advent calendar. YES! I'm twitching. I am excited. It's going to be so pretty. It will also be pretty pricey, as there's a lot that's going into it, including lots of special treats. I will have more details for you soon. Because we are only going to do fifty of these, I might release them ten at a time, at all different times and on different days, so you have a couple of chances to order. I think we are also going to limit these to U.S. orders only, because the boxes will be pretty heavy and we will be shipping pretty close to December 1 (because there is so little time for me to work on these; but I really want to do them). Anyway, if these go well and people like them my plan is to do seasonal advent calendars, like "countdown to spring equinox,"  or "countdown to Midsummer," etc. But in a gentle, whispery way, not like a COUNTDOWN! [shouting] kind of way. We'll see. I have plans. Stay tuned. And watch for new cross-stitch kits and lotion bars in the next week or two!

Has anyone ever hired a professional organizer? I think I might need some help. I need to redo the storage and functionality of my office, and I'm feeling overwhelmed by where to start. I feel like a lot of what I'm storing in my office is stuff I used to use but am not using right now, though I do plan to use it in the future. I don't know. I just want to start this new phase of life with a bit less spatial chaos than I have right now. I feel like I've been totally jerry-rigging every process for a while.

Every thought and prayer is with North and South Carolina right now as you brace for a monster storm. . . .

***My new obsession: baking donuts from this recipe. Sorry I forgot to mention.

75 comments

Kelli M Kennedy says: September 13, 2018 at 05:41 AM

The Trumpet of the Swan or any of the Freddy The Pig stories are so fun to listen to. Enjoy your new found freedom, and, certainly, if you are able to afford it, pay someone to help you organize.

For kids audiobooks, there are a lot of picture books that get turned into audiobooks. My younger kid really likes the Mouse Cookies and More cd, as well as The Best of Fancy Nancy. Npr also does a kid podcast called Wow in the World.

The watercolor is beautiful, just like Amelia!
A quick thought about clothes. My granddaughter wears mostly hand-me-downs given to my daughter by friends. You might consider passing Amelia's clothes on to someone younger/smaller. My daughter gives the ones they don't like on to someone else. Seems like a good way to keep clothes circulating.

Oh man I’d love to be your assistant! I’m an eldest child Midwestern Virgo so organizing and efficiency is my jam. How do you feel about an occasional assistant when I have a week here and there off from my day job??

Congratulations! I know that first first day of school look! She seems like a confident girl though. This was our 26th year with a first day of school. My two youngest are in grad school...they will.not.leave.school!
Mouse on a Motorcycle was one of my kids’ favorite audiobooks. We used to listen to a lot of them and that one stands out.

Shelly Cheeseman says: September 13, 2018 at 08:58 AM

I hired an organizer in Vancouver to help me sort my mom's house after she passed away and it had sold. The craft room was overwhelming and the woman was amazing in helping me to decide what to keep, donate, and sell. I learned so much in just half a day that we were able to finish the whole very large house in just a week. She gave me so many great strategies, and I was able to apply them to my own home later. Worth the money (40 bucks an hour). Back to school photos all over the web are making my heart squeeze! Amelia is so sweet.

My husband's cousin, Tara Bussema, is a professional organizer in Portland. She's also a nutritional therapist, so that's what a lot of her website focuses on, but she does still offer organizing services independently of the rest: https://www.bodysoulhome.com/work-with-me/#local

If you're serious about it, you can email her at tara (at) bodysoulhome (dot) com.

Also, tell us about Amelia's shoes in that back-to-school picture! My girl is just growing out of soft-soled toddler shoes and I'm not sure where to go from here. Those look amazing!

Lovely as always! Thank you for the gift of beauty that you have given to us so often down through over the years.

Our local library has LOTS of books on CD for both kids and adults, so you might try that for a free resource. Ours (and probably yours) has a reserve on-line option, so you search on line, click “hold” for a specific title and they put the books, CDs, or DVDs on a hold shelf under your name. All you have to do is zip in, grab them off the shelf, check out and jump back in the car. Ours will even get materials from any of the member libraries in the area, so that we don’t have to drive around picking things up. As big as Portland is, I imagine they have a similar program.

A few specific recommendations would be the Frog and Toad series, Henry Huggins/Ramona series (You know Beverly Cleary was from Portland and the books were set there, right?), Charlotte’s Web, the Box Car Children series and the Encyclopedia Brown series. Also, a wonderful vintage series that few people are familiar with is the Freddie the Pig series by Walter Brooks. They are hilarious on two different levels (child’s understanding and adult understanding). She might be a bit young for a few of these but as an educator (5th grade teacher), I can tell you that children can listen to books above their level and gain much from them. They don’t have to be able to understand every vocab word and will still love them.

Your advent calendar ideas sound amazing and I'm really hoping I get one! As for organizing, have you read the book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo? It is an organizing book in a way, but more of an approach on how to look at things you need and don't need, how to let go, and how to know when it's time to let go! I read it and then bought the audible book and listened to it twice while I cleaned out my knitting room with it's mountain of stash. ( I was at the point of being overwhelmed by too much beautiful yarn and it was making me feel queasy.) The gentle book helped me to honor and gracefully give away (and sell) much of my beloved stash, all the while feeling good about it. I'm going to listen to it again and go through my clothes closets. It really is a life changing book.

A tip I read to trigger school-day stories is to ask, "Who got in trouble at school today?" I initially didn't like the emphasis on the negative, but they always remembered THAT when the other events of the day were more blurred, and it often got the ball rolling about other things. It led to great dinner-time conversations too and usually the stories were funny things (dancing on top of the teacher's desk; spitting their water by accident, etc). Of course they were NEVER the ones who got in trouble ;)

Goodwill shopping for clothing is so hit-or-miss that I just treat it as a fun little treasure hunt. I buy clothing from eBay, it's much easier to find what I want and chances are I can find it new and unworn as well.

Magic words: FALL LOTION BAR. Can't wait!

Happy First Day of School to both of you xo

what i wouldn't give to be your assistant! if i lived in portland you best believe i'd be internet begging :) if you ever move to brooklyn...

i can't wait for the advent calendars. staying VERY tuned.

Luanne Graham says: September 13, 2018 at 12:16 PM

We here in North Carolina (and I am confident that I speak for SC as well) appreciate your thoughts and concerns. Thanks. Hopefully, it won't be as bad as it has been predicted. Thanks for sharing your life with us. :)

Oh, Amelia and her outfit are so very dear! And you really did capture the essence of her in your watercolor.

As for audiobooks, I second the Jim Weiss recommendation. He doesn't read books; rather, he creates oral stories from myths, plays, history, etc. My kids are 25, 23, and 16, so we used cassette tapes and CDs, but look for them. They adored him for so many years. Some are for younger kids, while others interest older kids. He's not over the top, as some performers are, but has a great range of voices and a knack for telling a complex story in a way that works for kids but is still interesting for adults.

The Hank the Cow Dog series is also very funny!

My Ida LOVES the Frances The Badger stories on audiotape and also the Sparkle Stories podcast (so soothing). Locally in Portland I think Button Consignment (on N Interstate) is a real gem. They have a perfect children's section in the midst of a larger shop focused on women's wear and I have found so many amazing things for my girls there, including some really special handmade pieces. I've never tried shopping for them on ebay, but I do browse Instagram accounts that deal in used clothing. I love love love finding things used and try to make that (and handmade) the bulk of our wardrobes.

Our favorite audiobook has been "time of wonder" by robert mccloskey read by tracy lord from audio bookshelf. She does a wonderful job of reading it and we would listen to it over and over and over - the thing is, is that I think her version is only on cassette and out of print. So It might be worth searching for. well, it's definitely worth searching for. finding it and making it digital is another story! :)

as far as amelia's old clothes, I bet a lot of your readers would buy them - you should have a page on your shop where you list them there. easy for you, no auction and you already have your own system down for selling! or you could give them away in a contest like pioneer woman used to do while cleaning out her closet....


I bought the KonMari book (her second book) to get myself centered and organised. It has really changed my world. I took my sock drawers (3 small drawers) down to 1. I can actually find the socks I need now. I was so excited about my t-shirt drawer being organized in t-shirts folded like little boxes that I ordered new shirts utilizing all of the fall sales on line. I only shopped the higher-end shops and the sales for first time signing up for emails got me 75% off in total combined with the Autumn sales events...I am sick of the last 10 years of thrift store merchandise. Anyway, I think you would be a person who loves her method of only keeping what brings you joy. I did forget to thank the t-shirts I threw out, darn it. Last thing, there are all sorts of bloggers coming up with their own KonMari methods or copying hers and doing it the wrong way, so only watch the youtube videos of her: Marie Kondo. She doesn't speak English.

My children are grown now but they ADORED audio books growing up. Even though I read to them every night, they would still put on an audio book to fall asleep to afterwards.

Like others, we listened to Jim Weiss and recommend him, especially in the younger years.

I found the Barefoot Book CDs to be a wonderfully produced line: Knights, Pirates, Faeries, Irish tales...these were all delightful.

After I read the entire Narnia series to them, I was exhausted but they were not! So I got a wonderfully produced CD set on sale from Barnes and Noble with a different British actor reading each book. A huge hit with my kids.

Standalone books that were popular with them were Wolf Story by William McCleery and My Father's Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett. This is a delightfully silly, imaginative book that my grown children still talk about fondly.

My children were strong readers and I think exposure to these recordings in their younger years developed for them a love of stories and reading.

I wish you joy in your newfound free time!

Alicia - Why don't you consider putting photos of Amelia's outgrown sweaters on your website with an invitation for folks to send you a message regarding how much they would pay for one. Then, after a specified amount of time, you sell to the highest bidder? A bit commercial, I know, but you are a business woman, and have an online following of dedicated fans, many of whom do not knit and would love to have a Posie Original. Just sayin'. start a college fund for Amelia with the proceeds!

Trying to find out about kids school days is pretty well like pulling teeth but we still ask them in the hope that they'll offer up some tidbit. Your donuts look spectacular although I'm not sure I could eat one with eyes! They are cute though. xx Susan

I hire a professional organizer every January! I start the year out purging! I love it. They are wonderful because they are a stranger to your space and can see it in new ways you don’t because you are so used to it. They are also great at helping you to let go of stuff. One simple question: does it give you joy? If not, out it goes. I had kept things from my childhood because they were old but I would never display them because they were ugly (lol) and when she asked me if it gave me joy, it was so clear to see it did not and thus became so easy to purge!
Mine is also incredibly fast. She runs through my big list in a blink and what would take me hours or a couple days takes her but minutes. Pantry is functional, cupboards are functional. I can’t say enough good things about them :)

The donuts look amazing! Now I want some lol. Such a joy to watch Amelia grow up and see all the things you sew for her :)

Very sweet to read of this new chapter! Ah, kindergarten—a beautiful stage. And lucky you, getting your own projects back on track!

My advice about asking questions about school: keep it very simple. “Tell me something that made you happy today at school.” If you also ask a child what they didn’t like, they’ll learn you are interested in what’s wrong and they’ll focus on that more than may be accurate. Of course you can also ask a very open ended question with no value judgment such as “what happened that was interesting to you today?” If you get no real answer, be patient. Until a child is in Grade 1 or 2, their memory capacities are still not developed enough to be able to report very fully on the school day. Soon you’ll be hearing more than you bargained for!

So no more Waldorf school? It sounds like you’re doing something else I am sorry to think that.

So sweet! And bittersweet. All the best for this exciting new phase for you all! Amelia‘s outfit is absolutely beautiful and suits her soooo well! Your plans all sound great! Recently, I also am getting a bit more free time and have been rediscovering the joy of making clothes. Not only for the kids, but also for myself. It‘s fun and exciting and tends to snowball, since I like to use the fabric leftovers for kid‘s clothes. Plus, I really am in need of new clothes and the kids are growing, growing. Thank you for sharing! Xx

Tara Midgley says: September 14, 2018 at 02:47 AM

You must listen to the 'Dressed' Podcast! It's pretty new but SO very interesting! https://www.dressedpodcast.com/

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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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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.