School Days

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Well, well. School has started and it has been wonderful. School days! All two of them so far! :) First day: All the parents and kids wait in the foyer for the classroom door to open. There is one moment . . . one quiet, worried moment . . . taking her boots off, hanging up her coat. I bend down close. I can see everything move across her face. Curiosity and courage win out. Twenty minutes later, when the door opens, she gives us our kisses and hugs, turns to wave, and walks right in, wide-eyed with delight. Reportedly, she was the first one out on the dance floor. At school they dance, play, sing songs, garden, bake bread, cook soup, go outside, make music, rest, eat lunch. Her teachers texted mid-morning to say she was doing great! I hadn't realized I'd been holding my breath. After school, at pick-ups, she shrieks with glee and runs down the hall toward me, carrying Foxie and swinging her lunch basket. I scoop her up — she's so big — and hold her close, her weight heavy and limp with relief and fatigue. She presses her cheek so hard against mine and says, "Mommy . . . Mommy. . . ." I hold her for as long as I possibly can. Oh, my overflowing, fast-beating heart! School is intense! Even for us parents! I can only imagine what it's like for the children. So many new spaces, new places to put your things, a routine you've never had, new kids, new parents. My big, brave, beautiful girl. She inspires me every single moment. I love her so and am so thrilled for her.

After drop-off the first day, Andy and I, shaky with nervous energy, stopped for breakfast. Sitting next to each other, ordering the exact same thing, giddy with freedom (though we can't stop talking about Amelia), we linger for the first time in years. At home, with newfound empty hours and a huge list of chores I've been desperately needing to do, I do nothing, circling the rooms in a daze and working on my hand puppet. Andy gets a long-overdue haircut. The hours go perfectly slowly. Three mornings, twelve hours a week. It feels  monumental. I actually sit at my desk and space out. I can't remember the last time it's happened. After school yesterday we walked through the neighborhood to mail her birthday-party invitations and her six chain letters. The sun was shining, the air was cool, the leaves were red. She cried — bawled — when we passed her old friend's house and her friend's car wasn't there, and we didn't stop by. Maybe tomorrow, I said. Lillian might be at school, too. A different school. The bitter-sweetness of it all moved me. And her.

Another neighbor was cleaning out some old spaces and brought over a puppet she made years ago. That's hers, with the yellow hair. Amelia took down the tension-rod curtains in my office and brought them out to the back yard, and Andy set them up on some chairs. I listened to the two of them do a show (which lasted about four minutes) and it made me want to make a puppet. I got a dowel and some Model Magic and sculpted a head, then covered it with papier-mache (I just used newsprint and flour-and-water paste). She's my first puppet. I can't believe I've never made a puppet before, ever, even as a child (that I remember, anyway). I started off saying I was making this one for Amelia but now I don't really want to give it to her because it took me about three hours to put her yarn-hair on and I know Amelia will quickly peel it off, even if she says she won't. I told her I'd give it to her when she's fifteen. Guffaw. I'm probably serious, though. Usually I'm not like that — I gave her all of the stuffed animals I made (and who even knows where they or their clothes are now), I really don't care that much about my furniture or walls (though they haven't suffered too much, I don't think), and I certainly don't care how she destroys her clothes when she's playing — but I'm pretty sure I should keep this puppet out of reach. Better make another, less-precious one.

Actually, she's sitting in my office right now, holding the puppet (that I accidentally left on my table) and touching her hair very gently and then giving me a tiny little wave when she sees me watching her. Maybe there's hope. . . . Maybe I'll give it to her when she's fourteen. . . .


I love your posts . . ,
Thirteen might be okay too!

Is not the first time I thank you for sharing these wonderful pictures. First day of school is intense yes. I remember, when I took my young son to elementary school (he had already been in kindergarten) the first day. I was old him very close to me and could feel his heart beat as a crazy drum against my arm. I belive my heart was the beating the same too... May I have your permission to use your 6th picture in my blog? I would like to say some words regarding the sweet quiet peace it shows with that cozy room and that sweet Amelia and her dog, looking so quiet. Would give the correspondent rights of course.XOXO

Amelia looks so sweet in her boots and carrying her basket. Your puppet is beautiful, and your talent limitless.

Have you ever seen Eloise Wilkins' drawings? She has done a lot of illustrations for the Little Golden Books, and I've collected most of them. Amelia, particularly in the 8th and 10th photos, looks exactly like some of the little girls in those books. "I Like Kindergarten," "We Help Daddy," and "We Help Mommy" in particular. Beautiful little girl!!!

What a lovely peek into the life of your family. Your beautiful words and pictures chronicle what becomes such a fleeting moment. It makes me remember these times with my two daughters and I wish I had slowed down to enjoy them more. Lovely!

Aren't 3s nearly 4s funny! My granddaughter carefully peeled the hats off the peg people I made for her to play with. Nothing can be in a container, buttons, hair clips, markers, she still dumps everything out. I'm getting to relive some of those wonderful times with her. Such a gift these little ones!

As always, your words and pictures being back a flood of sweet memories. My three girls were all different in their approach to life, but how we all anticipated the many first days of school! And yes, in handmade long as possible! My middle daughter, age 27, started a PhD. program this fall, far away in another state. And still, I waited all day for her to call with a report! And she did. And then I found out she had called my husband at 6:30 am that day for a pep talk! It is exciting to me how we are still keyed in to each other....years after she is married and living far away. These moments you are living build that.
Seeing another loaf of bread prompts me to ask if you have explored the Salad in a Jar Blog?
She has great advice on bread machines and terrific recipes. I do as she does...mix and first rise in the machine, and shape and bake in the oven. We use her pizza dough, and the Golden Egg bread is fabulous. I use dried cranberries, pre soaked in warm water to which I have added a bit of vanilla, and then I roll it up with cinnamon sugar. It is wonderful. Her sweet potato rolls are also great!

Such a wonderful time for you, Alicia, with Amelia leaving for school a few hours a week.
I can only imagine all the sewing and knitting you're going to accomplish.
And that precious time of day, when she comes flying down the hall into your arms - priceless!

This is exactly how it is when are little ones go to school. We are happy and lost at the same time. Cherished moments.

The puppets are amazing. What a great idea.

She is so cute lined up for school. It sounds like you choose the perfect place for her.

I loved it all---the photos, the words of everyday life and milestone moments, and all the lovely comments.

I love her clothes. The puppets are wonderful. It makes me think of Tasha Tudor. When you asked about names on Instagram I wanted to look in my Tasha Tudor books for a name but I was already in bed and was too tired to get up. So I went with Mary Anne because that is what she looks like to me.

I love reading your posts! My late-in-life baby arrived a few weeks after your Amelia, so I feel some sort of connection to your comings and goings, as different as they are to mine here in Toronto. So glad you all had a lovely week.

I do look forward to your posts. Our little grand daughter has just gone to live in New York. We hardly know what to do with ourselves and find we talk about her all the time. Maybe I'll make her a puppet! She has one of your rabbits that I made from the kit. I think it's kept safe on a high shelf for the moment.

This post! Excitement, then teary eyes and a lump in my throat and finally smiles. Life with children sure is a rollercoaster! I'm so glad Mimi likes her new school and your description of how you're using your new found freedom sounds very familiar to me. i hardly know where to start so sometimes I don't! I can totally picture your girl trying to impress you with how loving she is being to that new puppet. I bet it was hard not to fall for it! ;) She turned out so great!!

Oh my, such beautiful words and images. She is so precious!

We are going through the same thing with our 3 year old, though she's only doing two days a week ~ the 3 day class was already full! (So sad) She has an older brother too, so this is my first time-off in 6 years!!

Unfortunately on the 5 minute drive to school, she informed me that she'd wet herself at home without telling me, so I had to crack open the Ziplock of carefully labeled spare clothes before we walked in the door. Then, when I stopped to say hi to a mom friend, her teacher scooped her off into the classroom before I got a chance to say bye or get a hug. I was pretty frazzled after all of that! The 2nd day was much more enjoyable.

Oh how Mimi is growing up! In school already! And she looks like a storybook little girl ready for class. I'm glad she was so brave and independent. Our grandsons are in 2nd and 3rd grade.. amazing. Love your fallish images.. it's like that out on our farm here in Corbett, too. ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

I remember all my son's firsts... preschool, kindergarten, middle school, high school, college... my stomach hurt those first days each and every time. After two years at Oregon State he just transferred to USC... he's 20 years old and my stomach still hurts these first weeks of a new school/life for him. I believe that's called "love". Enjoy these times (I know you do even without the reminder).

Ha! Your last line made me laugh! I have a 15 year old, and he's not too gentle, but he's a boy. Surely A will be better than that at 14. ;) Happy First Week of School!!

Joan Lesmeister says: September 10, 2016 at 05:30 AM

I'm a great-grandmother now, but I remember those days, & love the way you've put those feelings into words! Now I call all the children on their 1st day of school - pre-school to college, so special! Your blog is beautiful, charming, sweet, and I do tears and smiles, reading! Thank you!

I remember how empty my house was when my youngest went to school. I had had at least one child at home with me for 15 years, and even so, I couldn't believe how fast the time flew by.

I so love your posts!! Enjoy these sweet, sweet days. My baby girl is 23 and just married! Already. Now she can play with my treasured toys I have made. Haha! Thank you for sharing your sweet thoughts with all of us. Makes me remember those fabulous days with my babies.

"When she's fourteen." Hahahaha! You're such a great writer! I love all your sweet posts about Amelia. Best wishes on such an emotional occasion--First Day of School.

I love the Fall! Full of colors and dreams! Great pictures!

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About Alicia Paulson


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