Fireworks and Flowers

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Slow day, today. Meems and I have decided to just stay home, which we don't often do. I think it can be stressful to stay home all day. I'm not sure why, exactly. It always surprises me. Parenting an only child can be seriously bonkers sometimes. You don't get much of a break. My days are long — Andy is gone from 6:00 a.m. until almost 9 p.m. three or four days a week, so I'm on my own a lot. It's a lot. When he's home he's super hands-on, but we also then, all three of us, do a lot of stuff together. So I don't get much time to myself. Most of the time it's fine, but sometimes, when the days have really stacked up, by Day Four I'm fried, no lie. The cooking and cleaning gets old, too. Mimi is easy to feed — veggies, rice, fruit, chicken, yogurt, tofu. Granola. More fruit. But during the day, we eat out a lot. Self-care, Alicia-style, I guess. We eat a lot of simple Thai food out. She's been ordering for herself since she could talk and, aside from spilling entire glasses of water almost every time they don't have lids, she is pretty great in restaurants. And I like to just sit and catch my breath. I frequently read my book while we eat lunch together. People think that's weird, but what can I say. Introvert mothers gotta do what we gotta. She draws, I read, someone else cooks, we eat, someone else cleans up.

Today, apparently, we're going to bake a cake. Vanilla with vanilla frosting and flowers, I'm told. She's downstairs watching Secret Life of Pets. I'm procrastinating watering the garden but I will do it, because I really am sticking to my resolution. It's been nice. My silly little garden, bringing me so much joy. We got the giant, 100-foot-long hose, which makes it easier to take care of things. The weather has STILL been cool and cloudy and occasionally rainy and, yes oh yes oh yes, just plain glorious. When it's so nice like this you can actually go to a park and play right in the middle of the afternoon. It's amazing! It's not 95 degrees! It's 75! Life-changing. No exaggeration. I’m so sorry for those of you sweltering in heatwaves right now. It’s so hard.

I made the sweet little romper for the @knit.beyond.borders auction that's running right now to benefit @raices.texas . It's from the Billie romper pattern from Strikdet. It is 100% merino and has sweet little buttons on the back. I used snap tape, hand-sewed in, on the crotch. I love these little rompers and I wish I had made more for Amelia when she was little. I have a lot of knitting projects going on right now, and a future lot going on in my head. I just sent off the last batch of new-doll knitting patterns to Laura, my tech editor, so there will be probably ten or so new knitting patterns for dolly sweaters, skirts, stockings, cowls, and other things coming out this fall when the dolls are launched. All of the knitting and new sewing patterns (also coming) will fit all of my animal softies, as well; they all, dolls and animals, have the same bodies. After I sent off the tiny samples, I started thinking about what Amelia needs for fall. First up was a new ballet sweater. I've made this one and this one so far, and she wore neither of them, claiming both were too itchy. New sweater is being knit off of the same pattern, which is perfect. But this time I'm using very soft acrylic yarn because 1) cheap and 2) soft. Cheap and soft are now my guiding priorities when knitting for Amelia. It's a relief, on some level, to finally realize how much going Cheap-and-Soft is increasing my joy in knitting for this kid, at least for stuff like this which is worn close to the skin! I had two coupons for 50% off two separate items at JoAnn's, so we wound up spending $4.99 on the yarn, total. The sweater is black (she's moved up to the next class, so black-leotard dress-code) so choosing pretty colors, which a lot of acrylic yarns, I've found, do not come in, at least in my opinion, was not a problem here. The yarn is also washable and anti-pill. The best is, though, that knitting with it is not as annoying as I was worried it would be. Acrylic notoriously doesn't stretch or give or feel that nice to knit with. But this really is not so bad! I'm quite pleased. I need to find the yarn label to see what the yarn is called because I can't remember. But I will post a picture here and details on Ravelry when I'm done (and I'm almost done). I have a lot of things to put on my projects list, I think. I'm behind with that.

At night I knit and knit and watch episode after episode of Gardener's World and Monty Don (on Acorn TV, I think?). It is literally the most relaxing television show in the history of the world. I love it so much.

54 comments

Betsy Blodgett says: July 18, 2019 at 06:46 AM

I agree wholeheartedly that Gardener's World is the MOST relaxing show. Monty Don is the most soothing character alive who also totally motivates me to go out and get those garden chores done! Do you ever watch Big Dreams Small Spaces on Netflix? That is the show that introduced me to the Don - they also have some specials where he goes around the world and looks at beautiful gardens. So good!

Like so many others commenting, your 'introvert mothers' remark really hit a chord! Even now, when they are 12 and 15 (perhaps more so...).

And Monty Don; what can I say? So reassuring. You might enjoy his book (co-written with his wife /sadface/): The Jewel Garden: a Story of Despair and Redemption
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Jewel-Garden-Story-Despair-Redemption/dp/034082672X

I totally get the introverted mom thing, especially when your husband/partner works long hours. I had that with my two kids growing up, too. I don't know which would be more difficult - one child always vying for your attention or multiple kids squabbling a lot. A couple of suggestions: trade playdates with a friend. You drop Mimi off at a friend's house to play for a few hours while you have alone time (either at home or going somewhere by yourself) and then return the favor. Have an established quiet time every afternoon. She stays in her room and reads/draws/plays quietly (no TV, no electronics) while you have quiet time, too. I would just rest in my bed for awhile, reading and/or lightly dozing.

If you love our Gardeners World, you may also like The Beechgrove Garden, a programme made in Scotland. Also, I agree with Vicki Jane up there, Escape to the Chateau is wonderful, a lovely family renovating in France.

Beautiful photos!! I like the idea of acrylic yarns. That doll house is very cute! If you can, share where you got it. I have been looking at your older posts a lot to check little dresses for toddlers. My granddaughter is now 17 months and I would love to make something for her. Thank you for this lovely post! May Summer continue to be magical for each one of you!

I just love these posts. The quality of your photos really conveys the magic and wonder of childhood. I was just in Portland to see the roses, do you guys ever go out out to the Bing Mi cart?! Truly an amazing and completely original food cart. Never feel guilty or weird or whatever about modeling being a reader, what greater gift could you give to your child?!

Oh yes, I feel this when it comes to introverted mothering. People take for granted that a mother becomes a "set" with her children. Need an introvert day? Stay home! Easy. Friends sometimes forget though, that there are always two people with me, on me, needing my attention and care. It's a blessing and a privilege, caring for these two sweet people and keeping their company, but sometimes I do just need to be alone, which is tricky when husband is gone from 7-7 or 8, 5 days a week. It's just this phase of life I suppose.

Very excited to see the new patters for softie clothing! I'm working on a new kitty softie with some improvised stripes added and the whole crew will need some new clothes too, I think.

Had an only child for 10 years.....and it is hard. You are their everything. Then another little one came along 10 years later, and now I'm a mother to two only children.

The blue and white striped romper on Amelia is so cute. Reminds me of my 80's childhood.

So glad your summer is not heating up!

Lovely photos as always! And the bonus photos of your adorable pets! :-)

I've been reading your blog for a few years already. I've never been to the US, but your summer photos remind me of the town and ambience in the Dandelion Wine by Bradbury. So peaceful and there's some kind of, I don't know - magical realism, maybe:)

Susan Molinari says: July 19, 2019 at 10:10 AM

Thanks for linking the Ballet sweater pattern! I’ve been knitting my 5 year old granddaughter one every year since she was born. She loves them. So does her mommy. I don’t use any type of wool though. I didn’t really like last year’s pattern, so I welcome a new one. 😃

I completely understand the long days and eating out to maintain your sanity (my words, not yours). I too am an introvert. I am so exhausted by the end of the day, home with 4 kids. Just the amount of time people are talking to me wears me out - ha!. I just checked out a book called Introverted Mom, Your Guide to More Calm, Less Guilt and Quiet Joy by Jamie C. Martin. Not far enough in to know how good it is but perhaps you would find it interesting also.

Another introverted mom here and mom of an only child, so I know where you are coming from. My daughter is such a dear, but oh my goodness is she a talker - it can be a bit exhausting at times. I'm loving your Self-care, Alicia style!

Monty Don and knitting. A match made in heaven! :)

Eating out, reading, kid drawing sounds bliss I have to admit. I never ate out much when my kids were small, i just found it so stressful but maybe it was just me and my expectations versus reality. I wouldn't be surprised. Your talk of dolls and forthcoming patterns makes me want to make more animals. I have no one to make them for so i might just make them for myself. On a gardening note do you follow Laetita Maklouf on instagram? I think you would like her and her 5 min gardening tips. Happy anniversary to you and Andy i hope you have a lovely weekend x

I love using acrylic yarn. it's soft, warm, hard-wearing and has many more colours than wool. I love wool also but for a scarf I would choose acrylic as it doesn't stay wet and nasty or get all distorted like wool does. Also often wool pills like crazy. I saw a pod-caster complaining about pilling that was happening on some extremely high end yarn she was knitting it up. I like Stylecraft or rico baby. I also like king Cole Majestic dk which I think is lovely and is a wool and acrylic mix and is pretty soft but hard wearing - at least I find it so. I mean to try out some acrylic and cotton blends too. There are some very nice commercial yarns around.

I always loved to go out for coffee with my daughter and more rarely a pizza. An only daughter is a treasure to be sure, I was a single parent for all but the first three years. She is all grown up now but still my joy. I used to read a paper (but don't buy one now), while it was my daughter who would be reading a book with her little round owl glasses on. Those books went everywhere.

Emma Rossiter says: July 20, 2019 at 11:59 AM

Love Monty Don, he lives near to us too! Gardening is such a peaceful pastime; along with knitting of course 😊

I love reading your posts - they take me to another (lovely!) place - you’re so good at seeing the beauty in everything. Now, I’m going to make you jealous - I live in the UK, in the same town as Monty Don!! There is a big cathedral (Hereford) which has a cafe inside and I often see him there. He’s quite involved locally with MIND, a mental health charity, as he himself suffers from depression, especially in the winter. Hope you continue to enjoy your summer with your gorgeous girl!

I love reading your posts - they take me to another (lovely!) place - you’re so good at seeing the beauty in everything. Now, I’m going to make you jealous - I live in the UK, in the same town as Monty Don!! There is a big church (Hereford) which has a cafe inside and I often see him there. He’s quite involved locally with MIND, a mental health charity, as he himself suffers from depression, especially in the winter. Hope you continue to enjoy your summer with your gorgeous girl!

I'm loving the weather too but kind of on edge,waiting for the heat. I'm also the mom of an only child & get it. Luckily mine is an introvert so she's always loved to play alone for a bit. And Monty Don? Dreamy! I concur with another reader who recommended watching his French Gardens (the Italian Gardens too!) On Netfix.

You should seriously look at Stylecraft special dk for acrylic yarn. I swore I'd never knit or crochet with acrylic yarn but this stuff is superior PLUS it comes in a TON of colors.

Denise P Weldon says: July 22, 2019 at 11:12 AM

Thank you for being so candid about your life. I think of you through your photographs and say to myself how ideal your life looks and that I wish my life was like yours. To read about your challenges and unmet needs is refreshing for me. I too am an introvert and criticize myself for it. I love that you accept yourself and your life and just live it. This post is fabulous!

Monty Don TV is the very best. I am instantly so happy when I hear his voice, and see his rumpled British self wandering around gorgeous gardens. Also, as a parent of an only child (a 7 year old girl): yes! It is no joke. We may not be breaking up fights constantly (my understanding of life with the same age children with siblings) but it's a different kind of exhausting.

Just discovered Monty Don this spring. I'm crazy about that show!! It's just nuts how relaxing it is to watch other people labor over their gardens and how beautiful they are. It's made me be much more intentional about watering all of my flower boxes and pots this year! Ha ha

'She draws, I read, someone else cooks, we eat, someone else cleans up.' That sounds like utter perfection in my book. (:

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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.