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."


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.


Nickie Gorsky says: September 12, 2018 at 01:38 PM

So very always. Amelia is a beauty and her first day of school (sigh) outfit is perfect! I too am an ebay shopper! Is there a recipe for the donuts somewhere on your blog? I looked but was not successful. I just got a baked donut tray and am anxious to try it out. Looking forward to your winter goodies! Yay Fall!!!

Barbara Prime says: September 12, 2018 at 01:47 PM

My kids love the Story Pirates and Wow in the World podcasts. They'll listen to their favourites over and over, and many of them make us laugh too!

I love the picture of Amelia on her first day of school... she is darling! I'm in NC and your thoughts and prayers are very much appreciated.

Jennifer Wilson says: September 12, 2018 at 02:35 PM

Professional organizer located in Hood River - Megan Spears. Disorder2Order is the name of her biz. I am related to her, but I also think she is amazing. She wants to work with people to find the system that works for THEM.

Goodness, they do grow up so fast. Time is fleeting & so very precious.
Love the watercolor of Miss Em, those freckles are precious.
I've not had a professional organizer, but I can say it's not all that difficult. Just don't fret over trying to get it all done at once. Try taking it one bite at a time.
Thank you for the Doughnut recipe reference. I might try making them with pumpkin spices & cream cheese glaze. Mouth is watering already!
Loving your Advent plans! Plus the genius idea to release them in small increments, PERFECT!

About the impending Advent Calendars ~ Will you be announcing their release here and on Instagram?

Love Amelia’s first day of kindergarten picture.
Blouse, skirt, lunch bag/backpack, cute little polka dot container, new shoes . . .
Love her patient, pensive look . . .
Reminds me of my first years of teaching kindergarten . . .
And your watercolor of her . . . oh my! Spot on!

And extra time in your days . . . WONDERFUL for you!

Taking any pre-orders for the Advent calendar ; )

Your convo sounds so drove me crazy when I’d ask my nephew what he did at school and he didn’t remember any of it. It gets better.

the magic treehouse, a series

Anything you can find audio book wise from JIM WEISS - go go go! My daughter LOVED his audio books at Mimi's age! He has an animal stories CD that was her favorite. He is SO GOOD at doing voices. We also had a Fairies story CD from Barefoot Books that we LOVED. We also had a Uncle Wiggly's Storybook CD, also from Jim Weiss.

Ohhhhh, audiobooks! My favorite! Some of the very best memories with my children are listening to audiobooks. Chinaberry used to have to very best selection but of course they were cassette tapes and cds then. Maurice Sendek’s audiobook of Where the Wild Things Are, Outside Over There and other Stories is the absolute best (only available on cassette, I actually bought a car with a working cassette player to be able to listen to it, I love it so much). When she’s a bit older, Harry Potter, Artemis Fowl and Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy are excellent to listen to (honesty my boys all started these by age six but totally depends on the kid). I can’t wait to order your new products!

My nephew's wife was an organizer and she was good at it, but you really have to be willing to let someone else make decisions for you. It is something I couldn't do even in the small arena of selling the excess from my mother's house and organizing it to sell. I had to leave and trust her to get it done.

I enjoyed the fall-ish-ness of all your photos in this post. Mimi looks so grown up in her first day of kindergarten school photo!! Did you get lots of rain today? We did out here in Corbett. Finally. We had planted a new little orchard in our pasture and so many didn't make it due to the unrelenting heat and lack of water. I'm looking forward to seeing your new things. Enjoy your free time.. I remember when my 3rd child finally went to school.. I was ecstatic! ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

how lovely! so autumn! and your daughter is so adorable!

Thanks for your thoughts and prayers. We're not on the coast but expecting lots of rain and wind. Just hoping the big old oaks around our house don't come crashing down!

My kiddos are 27 and 32 but I found what worked then and sometimes still today is to ask "What was the best thing about today? " and then What was the worst thing about today?" I always asked in the car on the drive home or as they grew older as soon as they walked in and I handed them something to eat. If you wait -forget it , they're on to something else.

It works for lots of conversations like when mine were dating "what did you like about him/her" "what didn't you like" You get the idea.

Your conversations with Amelia are identical to the ones we're having with our twins (who are also in kindy - but we're in Australia, so are well into the third term)! I'm so curious about their day and to them it's ancient history as soon as they walk in the door. Our trick is to say "Tell me about something that made you really happy today?" or angry, or sad, or that was silly or made them laugh... We also 'overreact' to any snippet of a potential story with 'No way!', 'Really?!', 'Wow!', and similar - that really gets them going. There are some good tips in a book called 'How to talk so kids will listen and listen so kids will talk' by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish. Good luck - it is a wonderful year..

I have always loved audio books and so did my kids. Wind in the willows is great as is the just William books also the just so stories by rudyard Kipling. Now for me I love a good murder mystery Agatha Christy or ngaio marsh sort of a vintage vibe to my choices but the language is great for little kids. My son hated reading did in the end but his language skills were great because of all the stories he listened to or had read to him.

Love the back to school outfit!
And so excited about the fall kit. I am nearly finished with the spring one, and can't wait to have them all framed and up on the wall, although I've not done winter or summer yet, ha.

Having time when children are in school is fabulous. I remember it well, it feel great. It's about priorities though and I don't suppose you will ever regret prioritising Amelia for these few years and will treasure them. I see a lot of resentment in the crafting community around children (i.e. they get in the way of what they really want to be doing), but the time passes by pretty quickly and it is the most valuable and happy investment of your time. There are still evenings and nap times until more time is available.

I love second hand clothes and that is what my own clothes mostly consists of. I love to see the clothes you make for Amelia as my daughter is now 'vintage' age herself and I recognise some of the patterns, or going back to the seventies for myself. It sounds like a lot of fun searching out clothes for children in this way. I suppose that it is only possible because other people do buy new though.I would love to make clothes again, but do it rarely as it is expensive. I have a bag of clothes I made her, which I keep for sentimental reasons.

I will be honest and say that hand-dyed yarn advent calendars are not much on my wave length. They are so expensive and seem an indulgence at a time of year that is already expensive. (I've also seen so many on podcasts I'm all yarned out really though.) The only one I have been tempted by is 'little box of crochet' as that is for actual projects. Not signed up though as not within my budget.

I saw the painting on instagram and thought immediately how well you had captured a good likeness to Amelia's little face. It's really lovely!

I learned very quickly to ask specific questions about school, like "what letter did you learn about today?" "Are still talking about Pocahontas in class or did you learn about something new today?" And even, who did you eat lunch with? That usually sparked a lot of conversations.

Our twins are right about the same age as Amelia. I keep a Pinterest page of the books we've read out loud together or listened to as audiobooks with their reactions and ours. .
Some of the biggest hits to date:
- The Henry and Ribsy books by Beverly Cleary. My kids have preferred these to her Ramona books or her Mouse and the Motorcycle series, though they're all good. It's worth going in order since they follow him by age and they started to go a bit over our kids' heads around Henry and the Paper Route.
- "Just So Stories" by Rudyard Kipling. Such fun quirky language!
- E.B. White books. My kids and I liked The Trumpet of the Swan best but of course Stewart Little and Charlotte's Web are classics.
- Anna Hibiscus series. I really love that these are set in Africa (a Nigeria-like location) by an African author. It's hard to find great diverse books!
- Thornton Burgess books. Natural history in story form. My kids particularly liked The Adventures of Reddy Fox. Fair warning that their older books so a couple of the characters (possum and vulture, I think?) speak with dated stereotyped black speech.
- "The Bears on Hemlock Mountain" by Alice Dalgleish
- The Mercy Watson books. These are super short, barely chapter books, but our kids think they're hilarious.
- Roald Dahl books. Fantastic Mr. Fox was the biggest hit so far.
- The Chronicles of Narnia
- "Owls in the Family" by Farley Mowwat (still delightful as an adult)
- the Paddington Bear books.
- The Wizard of Oz. I've heard the audiobook read by Anne Hathaway is great.
There are lots of others on that Pinterest page but these were some of the biggest hits with our crew.

Grace Thompson says: September 13, 2018 at 05:02 AM

Twig by Elizabeth Orton Jones
About a little girl who creates an imaginary story in her backyard with an empty soup can and a few other things she finds. This is the best book I know you will love it!
The Betsy Tacy books by Maud Lovelace about two girls who are neighbors and friends and all the adventures they have in their neighborhood.

I absolutely LOVE the watercolor of Amelia! Enjoy the amazing quiet and peace of having a child at school for the day---ahhhh.

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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