Wildwood Walk

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***T H A N K  Y O U  so, so much for your kind words and the Dovegray Doll orders!*** I am so excited about these and we are working to get everything organized and starting to assemble the parts and pieces of the kits. The pattern has been sent off to the printer and now we are just waiting for supplies to be delivered. We are on track to start shipping in November and I will keep you posted on our progress! I will refund excessive shipping costs after we ship; I have my eye on this and will adjust. Also, I had a question about skill-level needed to make these dolls. You do need a bit of hand-sewing and machine-sewing experience to make these dolls and clothes. I would not say they are beginner projects, though it depends on your determination, of course. I had plenty of people tell me that one of my little animal dolls was the first thing they had ever made and it went just fine — but they really wanted to make it! :) So it just kind of depends. Practice makes perfect, as they say, and it's true here, too. Doll clothes ARE a bit tricky because they are small and can be annoying! But if you're in the right mood, they can also be really, really fun. You just kind of settle in with it and take your time. The pinafore is the hardest part of any of these projects but it is quite fancy and needs some patience. I'm always here to answer any questions you have if you get stuck, so just email me and I will always help you if you run into problems!

We have a super busy month coming up and things are buzzing around here. I'm spinning plates and juggling at the same time. Mimi has her "friend" birthday party here next weekend and then her family birthday party the weekend after. She has invited ten kids to her friend party and the house is small. I don't know most of the kids or their parents, because, new school, new friends, etc. EXCITING! Mildly terrifying. Small house. She wants to play Pin the Tail on the Donkey and Bozo's Buckets (she's never played either of them, I don't think), have a pinata, and decorate cupcakes. Any advice on having a kid party at home GRATEFULLY RECEIVED. Tell me everything. All I care about is that she and the kids have fun. I'm going to try to get the parents to drop off, first of all. Does that seem rude? I have no idea. I just literally don't know where they will stand. . . .

The photos above are from a walk we took last weekend on the Wildwood Trail. They re-routed my favorite little part of the walk (the beginning, by the archery course) but it was still just so nice. Mimi wore her Shimmer cowl that I knit a few weeks ago. This is the third time I have knit that cowl and for some reason I never enjoy knitting it. I love having them, but I don't enjoy knitting them. I think it's because I find it almost impossible to count my rows when I'm doing cables if I forget to put one on the counter. I just can't figure out how many rows go in the cable. I don't know why.

After the walk we stopped at Vista Spring Cafe and this is one of my very favorite places for a Saturday-afternoon lunch in Portland. I had this lasagna and it was literally the best lasagna I have ever had besides my mother's in my life. I could only even finish half of it. I highly recommend it after a lovely autumn afternoon in the woods. You may even get to watch the guys washing the firetruck at the tiny little fire station right across the street as we got to one time. I love that place.


This was good. ↑


Ah, I remember these days- what fun! You have great advice already- agree, keep it two hours and yes, yes, okay to list this as a drop-off. :) For our girls (even in their teens) we would have a beginning activity that's so simple but fun: Fill a small mason jar with something like m&ms or gummy bears. Decorate top with a ribbon or something and have a paper with lines for each guest to guess how many thingamajigs are in the jar. Towards the end you can announce whoever is closest gets to take it home!

We love pinatas too- the energy level really gets revved up here. Designate a line kiddos have to stand behind when someone is blindfolded and swinging- have a responsible person man the line until it's over. I've see some close calls with kids inching up closer.

And, yes, organize so everything is ready to go by the time everyone arrives. It will get fast and energetic and you won't have time to do much once things are underway. Enjoy!

Oh, so many good suggestions here! When my daughter had her 5th birthday party, she asked me to put on the invitation for everyone to come dressed as their favorite princess. Totally made the party. Have a great time!

Happy birthday to Mimi! No, it isn't rude - parents will be thrilled to do a drop off. I would have an activity or two ready for them, especially one to start out with to sort of break the ice, but don't be surprised if in the end, once they get into the swing of things, they just want to free play. Activities are good for when things get too out of control, or if they lag, but for the most part, I've found the kids are just happy to play together. Have fun!

Hi, I'm sure your party will be lovely - I would say, have a very basic craft project for them to do - I did paper plate bunnies, it is just one paper plate chopped in half for ears and stapled on to a full paper plate = bunny. Plus crayons or chopped up paper etc to stick on. Or peg dolls, or decorated wooden spoons. The kids seem to feel comfortable doing something familiar. Google loads of simple party games, they will love them and have them all ready to go. I have always found pass the parcel to be a bit stressful...argh! Dancing games with music, you could have glow sticks and turn the lights off for a disco in the dark, pin the tail on the donkey, musical statues where they dance to music and you stop it suddenly. I have also found that spending too much time on very cute party food is a bit lost on them apart from the cake. I do like party bags and it sends them off well, but you could do a lucky dip at the end with inexpensive gifts. It is SO FINE not to have the parents. Good luck I bet it is a success. Defo the chilled wine :)

Sounds like you have lots of great ideas for a birthday party! I can see why you would want to keep the parents away, but there might be good reason for some of them to want to stay. My son has ADHD and parties are really stressful for him. Lots of fun, but lots of stress. If he is to go to a birthday party his father or me need to tag along, to help him. We can tell if he has a fit coming and needs a breather, for example. I always contact the birthday boy/girls parents beforehand and tell them I’d like to accompany my son and why, but others might not be comfortable doing so.
I would also suggest, like others before me, to have LOTS of activities planned. Otherwise the kids might turn the house upside down if left to their own devices.
With that said, I hope Mimi gets a fantastic day!

Dearest Alicia,

I am always delighted to read your blog and see that you are up to good things!

Re: the birthday party. When I taught primary, I LOVED using YouTube videos for action-song “brain breaks.”

TheLearningStation and GoNoodle are great resources for these. (MooseTube, via GoNoodle, was a favorite! Their “wishy washy washerwoman,” “purple stew,” and “boom chicka boom” are guaranteed winners.)

These would be great to use for fun transitions/time fillers during a party. I suggest checking them out beforehand, then bookmarking, and showing on a tablet (or phone, but tablets are easier to see).

Wishing you all the best, and happy birthday to Amelia!


I would have a scheduled list of activities (secretly - don't be reading from it :-)) Musical statues, musical bumps (sitting down when music stops); pin the tail on the donkey (or something similar but a fun theme); cupcake decorating; pass the balloon along the line not using hands. Keep things moving and have help to run the party. I would have a box of small sweets for the ones who are knocked out of games to choose from, and a small toy for the winner of each game. There's a good game whereby the kids sit down in a line and take turns to throw a dice. When they throw a six, they rush to a chair set a little away which has a coat (large, adult sized, bulky); a hat, scarf and gloves (again all adult sized for comedy effect) on it. They have to put the clothes on before they can break off a square of chocolate one at a time from a bar. Meanwhile, the other kids are still throwing the dice back in the line. If another kid throws a six, the first kid has to stop breaking off the chocolate, quickly take off the clothing and return to the line to continue to dice-throw in turn. Sometimes it takes ages for kids to throw another six, sometimes there might be three in a row but even if a kid only has one arm in a coat and another kid throws a six they have to stop to give over to the newest six-thrower, but they can go straight back to the dice-throwing line for another go. I'm always amazed by how much kids really enjoy this game - it's the excitement and the fast pace of it as much as getting the chocolate! Lots of enthusiasm and a commentary from the adults helps get the atmosphere going.
Other tips: LOTS of enthusiasm when welcoming kids on arrival; LOTS of water/juice etc (kids get so thirsty at parties - but make a rule drinks stay on the table by the sink or whatever... or lots of mopping up to do!); have suitable party music ready (triple check tech/CD/speakers work properly) and don't forget to check dietary requirements in advance. Hope she has lots of fun!!!

Oh and PS - a craft activity like making and decorating their own crowns is a good absorbing activity to calm them down before the food bit. Have plenty of long strips of coloured card, sparkles, gems, stickers, paper glue, stamps and inks, craft feathers, glitter pens etc. set out and help them make and decorate their own crowns to wear to the tea table.

Jenifer Higgins says: October 01, 2019 at 02:22 PM

I miss the days of little kid parties! Such a sweet time. In my experience, parties that had a lot of structured games, activities, and crafts were best for minimizing chaos. I would just move the children from one thing to the next without a break until cake, strategically planned near the end of the party to avoid sugar crazed children! After cake we always did presents and then allowed a bit of free play right before parents came to pick up their kids. As far as how to get the parents to drop off, it seemed like the younger the children, the more likely the parents are to want to stay. I always let them know that they were welcome to stay or come back in a bit. One thing I always did was include on the invitation, due due space limitations, we are in able to accommodate siblings. Some parents will bring their other children to parties they haven’t been invited to. I found that it just worked better. No little ones getting into crafts intended for eight year olds, no eleven year old boys bored to tears or annoying little girls, etc. Not only did this help space wise, it encouraged parents to drop off since they couldn’t ake their other children. At first I thought it might offend someone, but I realized, my house, my rules, my budget ( adding extra party favors, crafts, and so on can get expensive!) and if they were offended, they didn’t have to come.

Gee, it was a lot of years ago but I do recall one particular bday party. I had read SO MANY things about planning. One guideline said to plan an activity for every 10 mins. of the party. As each child arrived we gave a name tag, alternating blue and red. The name tag colors formed teams for games. There were coloring pages & crayons for them as everyone showed up. One of the guests initiated a game of "telephone" while they were sitting at the table eating their pizza & snacks. (Telephone: one person whispers a message to neighbor, who turns to their neighbor and the message is passed on and announced at the end to see how it's morphed compared to the original message.) Also played a relay game outdoors - each team had a suitcase containing adult size clothing - a tee shirt, Hawaiian shirt, HUGE ladies underpants, cargo shorts, hat, sunglasses & gloves. The first child ran out to a chair with the suitcase, put on each of the items, ran back to their team and put the items back into the suitcase and passed it on the next team member to repeat. We had a pinata - the first kiddo broke it wide open!

Lisa Ohrstrom says: October 01, 2019 at 07:54 PM

Activities will go much faster than you expect! That doesn't necessarily mean you have to plan more. We always played the cotton ball game. Blindfold one player, dump out cotton balls, given them a soup pot and a spatula. See how many make it into the pot. It was always fun to yell like hell, OH MY GOSH you got so many, when they had one....

Do you know Oh Joy! ? I love her tips for birthday parties. https://ohjoy.blogs.com/my_weblog/2016/11/tips-for-throwing-a-kids-party.html
Especially how she handles gifts.

I have had many parties at home since I have three girls, and you've been given some good advice! I keep mine to about an hour and a half, and schedule every minute, and have two or three extra things. We NEVER get to it all, but things go faster than you think sometimes!

I will also say...I actively use my parties as a chance to get to know parents. When we've moved to a new place, I invite everyone in class and have someone else in charge of starting them on the "wait until everyone gets here" activity so I can meet moms. You learn a lot about other families from drop off. I am extremely cautious about where my kids go and parent drop off helps me know who is likely to keep a close eye on my girls and be intentional, and who isn't. Not that they CAN'T go somewhere else....but I'm more cautious if I'm unsure of the level of attention, or big dogs that aren't well trained, or (for my tween) older brothers who she'll think are cute. It's good to know those things. Just from one girl mom to another.

I agree with everything so far. Best ever games that last from 4 years old and up: white powdered sugar mini donuts tied on string - one for each child - tied along a clothesline (see cookie version above.) Kids hold hands behind their backs and all start at once to try to eat the donut. They find it hilarious if an adult tries first. Kids are adorable and it's a super cute photo opp. Best party for my 4 yr old daughter (now 21) was when I created activity stations. It really wasn't difficult. The kids loved moving around in twos or threes, complete independence, a few adults helped: make candy bead bracelets, paint a mural (butcher paper, water colors, big brushes), the clothespin drop, pin the tail on a silly picture, etc. And, I completely agree with free time with appropriate to your yard toys - it's amazing what you can do with hula hoops. Also, another hilarious game that quieted everyone down but had us all giggling was making up a customized Mad Lib. You write a very short story with all of her favorite characters, ask the group for the words (keep super simple for 5 year olds) and make sure the story is ridiculous. And, just enjoy. There will be tears, giggles, treats and candid comments (gotta love 5 year olds!) and a ton of fun.

Jacqueline says: October 03, 2019 at 06:08 AM

For October parties we always did Pin the Wart on the Witch and the kids loved it. I would draw a witch on foam core and color it in - it’s not supposed to be pretty, so there’s lots of leeway. I would use dry pastel and then hairspray to seal it. Use a blob of poster putty (cause it comes in all those warty colors) and you’re set. Be aware that some kids may not want to be blindfolded - it can scare them a little. I always made them the helper in turning the kids round and round, keeping track of the wart, etc. have two blindfolds so you have the next kid ready to go. Another game that was a big hit was making mummies - some cheap toilet paper from the dollar store (one roll per kid) and then pairing off to wrap each other. They love breaking through it at the end and scattering it. Then jumping in it like leaves. Then a frantic rush as I timed them to pick it all up and put it in a bag. Seriously have never seen so much fun with a pack of TP! Best advice is to keep it short, keep it simple, don’t worry about the house being small because they are small people. My daughter didn’t want to leave anyone out so we invited 20 one year - it was fine!

Hi Alicia - when I hosted many parties (3 kids all under 4) so multiple parties every year - it's a blurr, they're in their 30's now! So we all survived it at least!! I bought a (then) cassette tape that had loads of party games on it - it was brilliant and I used it over & over! What's the time Mr Wolf, Musical Chairs (cushions) etc etc. I'm sure they're still about - well worth the couple of £s it cost.

Kids parties. I do a lot of them here at home and just know that kids tend to SPEED through events. Two games and decorating cupcakes is probably 45 minutes worth of activities. They invariably end up in the playroom, but depending on size of the house, number of kids, and your tolerance for noise and chaos this can work, or not.

If you feel comfortable letting the children roam around your house, I highly recommend a treasure hunt with clues written ahead of time and then tucked in interesting spots around your house (and/or in the yard, weather permitting). Toward the end of the hunt, you can leave the "treasure" in a box on your front porch and have someone bang on the door and run away so the kids think it's a gnome or some other mysterious being leaving the box. Inside I had individually bagged party favors to distribute and then the party was over! The kids LOVED it. Another year my uncle came and played banjo and sang silly songs with the children. That was another hit. I love simple friend parties with lots of home-spun fun. My kiddos are now grown so I miss this kind of celebration! Hope it's nothing but joy for you and yours.

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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 aliciapaulson.com




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.