End of Summer

comments: 24
















The end of summer is so bittersweet, even for a winter-lover like me. Dahlias, these exquisite state-fair square-dancing skirts, are the perfect finale. We went to their festival on a red-hot blue-sky day a few weeks ago. I'd never been before and had always wanted to go. It was too hot to be in an open field, but oh, my, it was so worth it. What a voluptuous display of summer's finest bounty, these petal-heavy beauties. We grew a few of them in our little parkway raised beds this year and I am well and truly hooked. Andy and Amelia and I started making a list of our favorites and then we just gave up; there were too many to love.

School started last week and it has been life-changing for all of us. The first day was much anticipated and was a great success. The teacher was amazing and the playground is fantastic. The school garden is teeming with fruits and vegetables and plenty of places to hide and shade and play. The parents are awesome. The kids are great. It's just all been — astonishingly and unexpectedly, in some ways — great. We are really appreciating everything about it, even the things that I thought would be really hard about it. The playground has a picnic shelter, right in the midst of everything, so you can actually hang out there and linger, and linger we do. Every day after school, even though it's been some of the hottest weather we've had all summer, Amelia runs and jumps and hangs and swings and slides and chases, everywhere and on everything, racing around, making friends, wiping out, getting upset, working it out. And this is just brilliant compared to last year, where, at our old school, there was zero playground culture; literally zero. People didn't do it, because it was a commuter school with a locked campus. I didn't know how important it would be, and it turns out it is super important to her and to us. Some kids go right home. Our kid has always, always wanted to stay, no matter where she is or who is there or what's going on or whether it's pouring rain or blazing sun. Even in preschool, we had some epic leave-takings. They still make me shudder. I can't find that one post where I wrote about her tearing through the rose bushes in the play-yard as if on fire when it was time to leave school, a small ball of pure fury. I still remember what it was like to stand there, catatonic, totally out of tricks, utterly unable to convince her to leave by any rational method, watching her throw handfuls of pine needles at me from the top of her hill, breathing flames like a tiny dragon. Oh my lord. It cracks me up, now. At the time I remember thinking, "I literally have no idea how to get this child off of that hill. At least this place is mostly fenced." It can still be very hard for her to leave. I still feel a mild pang of panic every time it's time to go. However: this, yesterday, to her younger friend (kindergartner), who was having her own hard time leaving: "I know it's really hard, and sometimes you get really cranky when it's time to go. I do that, too." And then she tried to aggressively wipe her friend's face with some kind of paper towel (she pulled from out of nowhere) while her friend ran circles around her mother to get away. (Ack.) But THEN she (Mimi) pulled herself together and proudly marched right out of the playground, as if remembering she was going to try to model some good behavior for the littles. And good lord, it was JUST SO HOT. I stood there melting in the late-afternoon sun, carrying backpack, lunch bag, water bottle, my bag, hoping they would both just depart without drama. And then . . . wow . . . hugs . . . goodbyes . . . they did!

First Day Iphone2a

Got lucky there. But the first week of school has just been really great. I couldn't be more proud of her, or happier to be exactly where we are. (Her first-day-of-school dress was made from Butterick pattern #4833, from probably somewhere around 1977.)


The stories and images from The Bahamas right now are just so incredibly tragic. My heart is breaking for everyone there who is suffering these most unimaginable losses. I’ve donated to MercyChefs.com. If you have good suggestions on how else to help, please let me know. 


Kelli Kennedy says: September 06, 2019 at 02:21 PM

Ah, parenting....exhausting, frustrating and absolutely glorious. And to be able to crack up now thinking about that one time in the past when you were out of tricks. This is the glory of it all. They grow, change, and show us over and over again how very human they are, strong minds and all. Glad the year is off to a great start. I spent some time with a bunch of dahlias in a community garden here in Seattle, and boy, oh boy, what heavy show off flowers they are! I didn't know one flower could weigh very much.

Last night I put on a sweater because I went out. That felt good.
Enjoy it all, every second of it, as soon your girl will be off to University, and you will think, wow. She was just a kindergartener. But each stage is glorious. Challenging, but wonderful. I think the best parenting advice I ever got was to enjoy and embrace each season.Cheers!

Oh your front porch is divine!

Oh gosh, well I'm fangirling a little because my kid has that same stripey dress, but in an 18mo size probably. It's so sweet. One day she hated it and just wailed and cried big actual tears until I took it off. A week later she loved it...ok hon.

I love that you call it a parkway. I call mine a hellstrip, and woe to any dahlia I might plant there, but then again maybe some simple raised beds would help direct foot traffic. Once I get my backyard in order a bit, I may try that approach. Your entryway is so dreamy! I'm spending a couple days in Portland in October and really hoping it's a bit wetter/greener looking up there than it is in California this time of year.

I remember that post about Mimi up on that hill. That was intense!

I'm glad the new school is working out well. I think I remember that post several years ago about Amelia not wanting to leave. If I recall, at your wit's end, you threatened "no more Einsteins" in front of the non-tv-viewing Waldorf parents. LOL.

I remember your posting about the "meltdown" and thinking to myself. Mimi will come around. We all grow and learn, little by little we find our way in this world. She will do better and better, so hang in there Mom. You're doing a great job.

Such beautiful dahlia's.

well... just ever-so-lovely, your Posting, Alicia.

What comes to my thoughts with her first day of school is "one small step for mankind, one giant leap for Meme and your lil' family" as a whole. Life has it's stations and we master them one way or another. You do quite well, I must say, along with devouring the way step-by-step. I admire you being so "conscience" of each and every even small thing. That is so important. Don't leave anything out, keep those eyes open for everything.

So many memories churn up out of the corners of my mind while reading your Posts. Like the ever-so-pretty school dress from a pattern from 1977... it sounds like such eternities ago. Where was I back then? ...long living here in Europe (since '74) already with my first child of one year of age. How time has flown! Very good advice, Kelli... to "embrace and enjoy", not only the seasons. Life is so precious!

Xs and Os

I love your posts, and have been reading them for a few years now...Never comment though, but I thought I would today...
My boys also had a hard time leaving anything, especially when they were playing, I sort of saw that the leaving was sprung on them.....(when most often the adult will know when you want to go....) but I soon found a way that helped me......
A short while before you want to go, call the child over and tell them you're leaving in 5 or 10 minutes or so....Mine didn't know how long that was, but it gave them an idea they would soon need to go....
I hope this helps.....
Thank you for sharing your stories!
Best wishes from Holland, Nicoline

Julia Thelen says: September 07, 2019 at 05:01 AM

Watching Amelia grow, brings back so many memories of my Amélie, now 16 ( also adopted, also nicknamed Mimi ). It went by in a flash. Don’t blink.

Marsha Gibbons says: September 07, 2019 at 05:08 AM

I adore reading your posts and your photos are beyond beautiful. My grandchildren have provided me with plenty of meltdown experiences, so I feel your terror!!! I am a painter and I would love permission to use one of your flower photos as a subject for a painting. I suppose that is not allowed, but I thought I would ask. My sad little backyard flowers do not hold a candle to the beauties you've photographed!! I'm in Dallas, and hot summer days are the norm. I'm not sure if Dhalias would grown here. I think not. I hope your school year continues to be the best!

I remember the "hill story" so well from last school year ☺. But this year is a brand new one with all new happenings! I graduated in 1977 and probably had a dress similar to that one. I did alot of sewing for myself in high school. I find it a tragedy that there are not sewing machines in schools anymore where home-ec classes are held and that shop class is a thing of the past too. LOVE,LOVE,LOVE the dahlias!!!

Mine are teens and older now, and for the ones who live at home I *still* give the fifteen, ten, and five minute head's up for leave-taking!!

Gorgeous dahlias, just dreamy. And, so glad to hear the new school is going so well! Hurrah for that. :-)

I'm so pleased that the new school is working out so well for Mimi and you, too. What a relief as I know you agonized over the change so much. She is getting prettier by the day. I love your First Day of School photo! We've gone to the Dahlia garden many times but haven't so far this year. We may have to take a jaunt over there! It's finally cloudy here in Corbett, I am going to enjoy the day by myself as Dayle has gone fishing with our son and grandson. I think I'll crochet on my shell blanket for my granddaughter!
Have a lovely weekend. ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

Transitions are hard sometimes. Your darling sweet girl. I love all this.

OOPS... you write it "Mimi"!
I apologize for spelling that wrong!

I have three grown sons and I can remember "first days" of all of the things they have done and are still doing...those memories don't fade. However, my days are now filled with taking care of my two granddaughters and I am so blessed to be a part of their "first!" My oldest, I have had since she was 5 months (she will be 4 in October), has experienced "first" day in 3 year old preschool, dance, and learning how to spell and write. My youngest, I have had since she was 2 months (she will be 1 in a week), is experiencing her "first" steps, teething, and talking. It all goes so fast, but every moment is precious and a blessing to be a part of...quoting, "The days are long, but the years are short!" Enjoy your Mimi, she will soon be on her own and you will have a "Empty Nest," (which will be a new experience for her and you).

Also, I love your front porch...so cozy looking!

Amazing Dahlias!! Whau! Those colors are incredible! Glad to hear Amelia is doing well in school! I join the people who said your front porch is beautiful! Indeed it's lovely. Thank you for the link to the gorgeous little dress you made for Amelia first day of school!! May you all have a wonderful Autumn!!

Lyndia from Northern Ca. says: September 08, 2019 at 04:11 PM

You adorable girl! You are such a wonderful mother. Our world is a better place because of parents like you and Andy. I worked at a public school for years. There is a special energy and great resources that are sometimes missed by parents shopping for a school. What a special treat to go to a school in your own neighborhood and be apart of your own community. Amelia will maintain relationships that will follow her through her school career. She is growing up so fast. Talk about bittersweet. Proud of her abilities and self assurance, but then "where's my baby?" Right? Thanks for such a lovely blog. I love it.

Oh well done to all of you for choosing a school that is nearby and for raising Mimi so well. It sounds great. Lucky girl. Your front porch is one of the nicest places I've seen. Happy new school year to you all!

Dear Alicia,
I am 48 years old and I still struggle with transitions - not the leaving (as a deep introvert I am always the first sprinting for the door) but I struggle with needing a lot of time to warm up for whatever is on the schedule for the day. People who are "bright-eyed and bushy tailed" make me wary. I've learned to build hours into my morning so I don't feel rushed and can do all the things that allow me to slowly be ready for greeting my workday with cheer. It will be interesting to see how Amelia grows and adapts with this aspect of her disposition. Your description of her fierceness made me smile. You are a gifted observer of details which you convey so well in your writing. Thank you for continuing to blog even as you manage the swells of parenting. Here's to a happy new rhythm to your days!

This first day photo is amazing, she looks so tall and old. Wow. And I an DYING over the throwing pine needles on top of the hill story. DYING. As a mother of a 12 year old boy I am about to enter the next phase of WTF do I do with this situation but it is mostly behind closed doors unlike the toddler/preschool game which is always in public and ON DISPLAY. But it is amazing, those parenting moments where you really don't know what the next move should be. I witnessed a total breakdown in Trader Joe's with a mom and her young son and infant. I just wanted to hold her and tell her- it gets better! This will be funny!
PS-I am so glad that the new school is working out. Yay to the playground and the new commute.

Hello Alicia,
Thank you for the beauty. That is all.

I see that someone beautiful is growing up..xoxo

In re the Bahamas, Red Cross and Salvation Army are really controversial and I avoid them.
Direct Relief sends medical techs and supplies ASAP and is rated as one of Charity Nav's 10 best every year. They did a great job in Haiti and Puerto Rico and were already on the ground in the Bahamas hours after the hurricane moved on.
Equally important, no water and thousands of bodies means cholera epidemics for the survivors. Water Missions International provide the means to produce potable water and was instrumental in avoiding worse cholera epidemics than there were already in Haiti. Another one with Charity Nav top rating.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


post a comment

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 aliciapaulson.com