And Now, School

comments: 81

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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.

81 comments

hiya - I remember the feeling of my boys going to preschool and then infants school - its a wonderful time of lots of mixed emotions. My two are still quite young (7 and 9) so its still unsettling waving them off to class after the school holidays!
I can't recommend audio books for the Amelia (unless of course she likes Dr Seus!), but may I suggest a set of podcasts for you? Bare with me - it sounds very dry and tedious - but its actually very interesting and absorbing.... A History of the World in a 1000 objects. It was a collaboration with BBC Radio 4 and The British Museum. https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00nrtd2/episodes/downloads. I'm not sure if you'll be able to download in the states - possibly - but if you can I highly recommend it. In fact, there are loads of interesting podcasts on the Radio 4 website covering hugely diverse topics. Well worth a browse!
Hope all continues to go well with Amelia (and by the way - her little conversations with you are lovely and just like my boys - its like they go into a vacuum and can't even remember whether they ate lunch!)
H. x

Shelly Lambert says: September 14, 2018 at 01:03 PM

Okay, I have to know who did the water color??? I love it and I need one of my kiddos!

1) Please don't ever give up on your blog because your pictures have been making me so happy for nearly a decade.
2) The BEST shade of pink in the entire world is the pink of ballet slippers.
3) My friend (on the east coast with me) is a professional closet organizer for clothing. She does a brisk business and she literally changes people's lives--her daily life involves witnessing one mind-blowing epiphany after another as people get their closets in gear for the first time ever. People cry. A lot. (Because they're happy.) Hire an organizer if you're really ready and you get a good recommendation--worth every penny.

Delightful! Sigh, I remember when Amelia was born; time flies. Just you wait, some day she will drive herself to school and you will have so much time on your hands you will invent a new career for yourself!
As for podcasts, there are not many episodes, but I love "this movie changed me". I also swear by anything 99%invisible puts out.

I love all the little clothes you’ve made! You could take them to a consignment shop. We have a number of consignment shops for kids clothes on the Seattle are and they are all very convenient and often run by really great people.

Those doughnuts look sooo good!

Our kids loved The Boxcar Children series; we'd listen to them on cassette tapes on our long drives in the car.

Did you do that watercolor? It's gorgeous! Just wanted to say that my kids (ages 4 & 6) love the podcast The Alien Adventures of Finn Caspian. Podcasts for adults that are great: Modern Love, Judge John Hodgman, The Moth, Selected Shorts, Ted Radio Hour, Fresh Air, Snap Judgment, Unladylike, Hidden Brain, By the Book, Invisibilia, Serial, Spontaneanation... I could go on, but there are so many out there for every interest & genre.

I have been putting off checking your blog because I knew this day was coming and I wasn't ready for it. :-) Your dear girl going to school....my heart hurts a little. The shoe store pic is killing me. Takes me back to Fred Toenges shoes circa 1970. Anyhoo.....enjoy this time. I just dropped my one and only girl at COLLEGE. It's just me in the house. I can't even! Where did the time go? I am fortunate that she is only 45 minutes away and I get to take her to brunch tomorrow, but this is unreal. Hugs to you all!

Hi Alicia:
I'm a professional organizer (but I'm in the SF Bay Area, not Portland). Obviously, I'm definitely in the hire an organizer camp. There are different ways that organizers work. I work super closely with my client almost the whole time. My spaces come out neat and tidy, but not magazine-ready because I help my clients make their own decisions and people actually live in those spaces! I'm not entirely sure how other organizers work, coming in and making decisions for their clients... hopefully nothing important gets thrown out! Anyway, I would recommend searching Yelp or similar for your area, and then having a quick phone call with a few different people to see if you can find someone who has the right mix of working with you and working for you. I would not recommend having a friend or family member help you. It seems to cause a lot more stress and embarrassment.


Good luck!
Meredith

There is an interesting series of podcasts by a professional organiser working here in the UK.
They are specifically aimed at creative people and how to keep your seeing space clear. Also contains some interviews. http://clearthedecks.co.uk/about-me/

Marijke Kluiters says: September 16, 2018 at 03:26 AM

Hello
you are knitting a lovely sweater ,wht is the pattern.
Where can I fined that .
I love your site.
greatings

Great post, packed with exciting news. The clothes you made for her are adorable!! Recycling kids clothes is a super great idea! We used some from cousins when our kids were little. Wonder who did her watercolor portrait. Looks lovely!! May she have a wonderful new school year. Looking for forward to see all the things you are creating.

Beautiful post, as ever! I wanted to recommend a wonderful podcast my little and I enjoy: Little Stories for Tiny People. They’re very sweet, short stories about animals, and we love them. They’re rather short for a long drive (10-20 minutes) but good for short attention spans. We usually listen to one and then fill up the empty spaces with Raffi songs when we feel like it.

I just love reading your blog. It's one of the few I continue to read and it has this amazing calming effect on me. Something about it slows me down, in a good way. I love your approach to life. Thank you.

The sweet watercolor of Amelia is so, so precious. Did you paint it? I would love to know if there's someone who can do such a precious painting from a photo possibly? Or even an app? I love watercolors and time is flying by with my youngest - 16, and getting so close to leaving home.

Thank you for documenting your life here for us. And I definitely want to get one of your few Advent calendars!

Professional organizers are great. I work with a lot of them. A great resource to find one is the NAPO website. You can search by zip code, check the individual websites of the organizers to determine each one's level of experience and slant on organizing. Some have organizing teams, and different organizers specialize in different types of organizing... offices, home offices, business, home with children, school children households, homeschool household, closet systems, families with special needs... etc etc. Some are NAPO certified, some are not. National Association of Professional Organizers is what NAPO stands for. It's a great resource. I am a professional photo organizer/manager. Photo organizing is a niche market within professional organizing. The photo organizing industry is boosted by its organization - APPO (The Association of Professional Photo Organizers). APPO organizers typically deal mostly with photo and family memory preservation and storytelling. Some photo organizers are also residential organizers. Even if you just use an organizer for a body double or accountability to get a small job done, you will benefit. Typically, big cities on the east coast are looking at hourly wages around $70-$100/hour for certified professionals. Hope that helps you.

I second "wow in the world" podcast. Please let me know where you got the cute cat lunch box. my son has been asking for one and that one looks great!

Those donuts!!!! and that portrait!!!

I have saved up...and am ready for that Advent Calendar :)

My little guy has similar conversations with me. I'll ask him what he did in school that day, or what he learned, or what book they read, and I just get "I don't know!"

After three years of trying to get info about school out of my son the most effective questions are not "what did you do?" but "What was the most fun thing you did today?" "Did anything funny happen?" "What game did you play at recess?" etc.

Hello, I adore your darling blog and have been visiting you for years.
I highly recommend Blossom the Possum as an audio book. It was such a charming and witty story.
Also the Little House on the Prairie Series is wonderful in audio format. I had high hopes of our reading them all but when that wasn't happening we listened to all of the audio books.

I love shopping for used clothing on www.thredup.com. It's an online consignment store and it is amazing!

After a 2-year absence of a house helper, I believe I've found a jewel! She loves to clean and can do things that hurt me now! (Lol, but not really funny). This leaves me time to work in my sewing room, do some deep drawer and cabinet cleaning and not hurting myself. I can see she's going to be a huge help. As always, love your beautiful photos and life-stories. You're an inspiration.

I love your posts. I check in with you when I need a deep breath and it always helps! My to do list is way too long and my life is happy with crazy choas, but I appreciate how you help me slow down and take a long happy look around as well as I can commiserate on everything you say - yes drawers too full, yes to do list too long, etc.

If you ever are looking for a place to donate some of Amelia's outgrown clothes you might look at the Northwest Children's Outreach.

Jane M Scherer says: September 24, 2018 at 05:57 PM

Ummmm, Alicia? Is that poison ivy you're taking photos of? I'm mildly conserned. Anybody itchy?

Jane

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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.