At the Table

comments: 38






















Oh, man. What a week. It's been challenging, guys. Thank you to everyone who wrote in and asked how we were doing. I'm so sorry it's taken me so long to get back here and update you. School is taking a lot of time and I haven't quite figured out how to balance all the things I have to do now.

For almost two weeks, really up until last night when we had a thunderstorm and a bit of rain, we've been dealing with the effects — emotional and physical — of the Oregon wildfires, specifically the Riverside fire, burning just southeast of Portland. That particular fire started on September 8 and now encompasses over 137,000 acres. There are several other very deadly fires burning in Oregon, and as I'm sure you know they have incinerated entire towns. Gone. These fires are unusual because they are burning in places west of the Cascade Mountains that are usually wet. No longer. Forests are going up like tinder, and even the southern Portland suburbs were a Level 1 evacuation zone (we are couple of miles from the southern edge of the city, and yeah, we got our papers together in case we had to evacuate). The heartbreak of the local news cannot be underestimated. The smoke that has clogged our lungs and the skies of our state is awful. Truly awful. (Imagine being afraid to open your front door; indeed, we barely have opened it in over a week.) But the human losses of the fires have broken our hearts every day. I pray for rain, more rain than today's brief storm, as much as it was appreciated.

This poignant essay pretty much utterly sums it up for me.

Meanwhile, the house here revolves around our darling daughter's days. And I mean, literally revolves around. Her schedule is dizzying. She goes to the morning meeting with her class from 9:00-9:30, then we do Oak Meadow from 9:30 until 11;30. Then we have lunch and play with the kitten. Then she reads out loud to her grandmother every day on FaceTime. Then she goes to Zoom math class at 1:00 until 1:30. On Wednesday she goes to P.E. at 1:15 and on Thursday she goes to music (but I'm going to have her drop both of those; she does Zoom ballet through her ballet school for two hours a week, and we're learning to play recorder through our Oak Meadow curriculum.) In the afternoons we usually do art at the table or play games. Then she's free, and I clean everything up and go make dinner. I'm exhausted. Very happy with it all, but I won't lie, I am tired, and, just, TGIF. I'm ready for the weekend!!! We've been at the table a lot and I'm ready to go outside.

Things of Autumn kits (and PDF) are coming soon. I have all of the materials to assemble kits in hand and we've literally just been waiting for the smoke to clear (because it was in the house for a week — really awful feeling, let me tell you). But now that it's raining I think we can open the boxes. So I will be back with an update on this soon!

Good recipes for you: Really fudgy and delicious brownies; the best orange chicken I've ever had, let alone made, I must say; curried shepherd's pie from The New York Times; and Jamie Oliver's chicken tikka masala. All very, very good!


Julie Zilkie says: September 18, 2020 at 07:11 PM

I would love to know where you got all the supplies in the muffin tin that Amelia is making into beautiful designs. Or maybe you sourced those yourself. Would love to purchase if you could provide a link!

The loss from the fires is just heartbreaking. I pray it will lessen and get better VERY soon. I love your pictures, your life with your lovely daughter and all of the beauty. God bless and keep you!!!

Just sending hugs & love from MN!!!

I just have to say that I think you are giving your daughter a much more comprehensive and organic education than she'd ever get in a regular school situation. She is so lucky and you are such a magnificent mom. Bravo. ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

Somewhere I read a sentence that went something like, "What is the price of a summer afternoon with the sun slanting through the window and both you and your daughter are young?" Your post reminded me of that. And I loved her Jolly Robin story and picture! I'll be thinking of you...and praying for rain.

I live in Norther CA and we are dealing with the same issues. It's sooo sad and my heart goes out to anyone that has lost a home or loved one, the firefighters, and even all the animals. These "fire storms" these past several years are definitely the worst nightmare and fire season is still here for several more weeks. Soon there will be nothing to burn! You are doing an amazing job with Amelia - be proud of yourself and find a few minutes (when you can) for yourself. Your days are busy to say the least. So glad you share with us and love seeing a glimpse of your week. The recipes sound yummy too and can't wait to see your new kit. Remember to cover fabrics - they pick up that smoke smell and may not wash out. xo

I feel for you with the fires. Im in Canberra, Australia where the fires burnt at christmas, we couldnt go outside for months and even when we did we had to wear masks (which came in handy this year anyway). Really praying for none this year, dont think we could handle that again! Home school sounds like so much fun but i found it challenging back in April when we were on lock down so good luck!

I can't imagine what it's like to live with the threat of the fires - and my heart goes out to those who have lost so much. It's kind of like, really... this? On top of all the other horrible parts of this year? Shakes one to the core. I hope you and your family are able to stay safe while staying put. Thank you for posting such lovely photos. I come here for beauty and the bit of peace your blog posts put out into the world...

I have been thinking of you and the entire west, engulfed in flame and smoke and more . . .
I cannot imagine . . .

Loving the photos of your dear one, imagining her learning growing creating . . .
Such joy to see your pictures.

Keep safe, well, happy ...

Prayers for your family that the fires stay away from your town and home. And of course for the entire region that rain will pour from the skies. This is beyond what anyone should have to endure. Your homeschooling is beautiful to behold, if exhausting to pull off! What a treasured time for your daughter. As usual, the photos are gorgeous!! Where, oh where did you get that kitty? I used to have cats. Now just a precious pup. But I would get another kitty if it could be like yours. I will add the chicken to the rotation. I'll try to avoid the brownies. But probably won't!!

I love to see your artwork and Amelia's progress. She is growing into a beautiful and talented young lady! I know it is hard and time consuming, but one day you will look back on this time you had together and be so glad that you did take the time. It goes so fast and then you wish it was back. My twins have just started college and I miss them so much, but so happy that they are growing into the people they are supposed to be. Keep sharing and enjoying your time together. It is so worth it and she (and I would also say, you too) are learning a lot.

Oh my. It's just SO much. Hang in there... Thank you for sharing a glimpse of your sweet life. I loved all the photos - especially 'in ballet class'. ❤️

All the way over here, feeling tremendous relief for the rain that finally arrived for Oregon. Hopefully, more rain, fog, and calm days are coming, for all of the West Coast.
What beautiful glimpses of meaningful, happy school time. You are bringing back good (and tired) memories of homeschooling. I found it was always easy to start with LOTS of good ideas and ambitious plans, and over time it becomes apparent that we can't do it ALL. You'll find the balance.

I'm so sorry to hear about all of the smoke and fires. We live in Carson City, NV, and although we haven't had any fires here, we've been battling the smoke from California. These last couple days the smoke has eased in California, so we adventured to Sacramento and Tahoe, which was a lovely respite. We're homeschooling our six year old and I took your Oak Meadow recommendation and purchased the first grade curriculum. Unfortunately, our curriculum is still on route and very delayed because we ordered it a couple weeks ago; we were planning on doing virtual learning, but we realized that was not going to work as our six year old had to sit two and a half hours a day, with no breaks, at the computer. I'm glad to hear your school offers flexible distance learning options. As always, your house and family are lovely. Sending lots of rainy thoughts your way.

I am reminded of the phrase in "You've Got Mail" - 'A bouquet of newly-sharpened pencils' - I love your schoolroom! It amazes me how resilient children (and their parents and caregivers) are, we all just adapt to this new normal. Crazy times! You're doing an amazing job xx

Please remember if you have to pack to leave because of the wildfires to take amelias favourite toy have it ready with your papers or know where it is children can cope so much better when they have their favourite toy with them.they will normally in the long run cope a lot better than adults as it is all an adventure to them if put that way.hopping you do not have to leave but be prepared.


Are the handwriting sheets part of the Oak Meadow Academy curriculum?

Best wishes


Praying for the whole west with these terrible fires!! It's just a nightmare. I'm so sorry you are all going through this on top of everything else.
Don't feel Amelia has to spend as much time at school work in the home as she did in school. Homeschooling is different in so many ways, one of which is how long it takes compared to school. Most families experience is roughly the same - you can cover the same amount of work in about 2-3 hours in the home. It sounds like you are starting to drop some stuff, so that's good - you will figure it out as you go along, I'm sure. It takes a while to find your own particular family rhythm. For instance, when I started my children in kindergarten, my son was all enthused first thing in the morning, but my daughter was a complete wreck - throwing pencils across the kitchen, sobbing. I assumed she was just too young to start and despaired over that because I had wanted to start them at the same time (she was 4.5, he 5.5). After two weeks of struggle, we had a doctor appt in the morning and didn't start homeschool until after lunch. Imagine my surprise to find her perched in her chair with a beatific smile, holding her pencil and waiting to begin! Turns out she needed her mornings to herself, to play and lose herself (or find herself!) in imagination. We have started late ever since. It just works for our family, now especially since we have a flock of ducks to care for in the mornings. Monday - Thursday, we start at 11, break for an hour around 12:30-1, then do our afternoon subjects. We are usually done by 2:30. On Fridays they have gymnastics and art classes only. This schedule works for us, but every single homeschool family finds their own particular schedule. I am sure you will settle into one that makes you both happy, and not exhausted.

This is only my second time commenting on your blog. Many years ago when I first found your blog, I used to look at it with my then, gosh maybe 10 or 11-year-old, son. We were captivated with Clover Meadow and would watch for her in all of your posts. I still watch for her, in sort of a Where's Waldo sort of way, and am so happy whenever I see her. It reminds me of those days when my son was younger. I am also totally in love with Agatha now, and think that perhaps I might have a little bit of "cat person" in me after all! :)

I have been a huge fan of your blog for eons and I'm so glad you haven't dropped it in total favor of Instagram as many of the old guard have done. It truly brings me joy.

What a lovely family and home life you have created, and what an amazing home school experience your daughter is getting.


I am so happy school is going so well for Amelia. I have been thinking about you and your family and the fires in Portland. Thankful to hear you are out of harms way. Prayers to you and your family for continued safety and health.

M. Michael Payne says: September 21, 2020 at 04:01 PM

Larry and the kids, grandkids et al, went to Silver Falls the day before the fires began. it was busy on the trails. He got home around 5 and we ate takeout. That night I kept getting whiffs of a smoke smell. Smelled like campfire to me, it wasn't bad but as I lay in bed with the window open it kept getting worse so I got up and closed the window and I'm glad I did. Next day the air was so heavy with smoke the sky was orange, the dark rust and the sun became a red moon. People up the Mackenzie were being told to get ready to evacuate. We had looked at a house in Vida when we were first thinking of moving down here but the house was sold out from under us and I guess it was a good thing because there isn't much left of Vida. Hwy 126 is still closed and according to those who are in control it'll remain closed for several months.
We got rain, deluge, and lightning Thursday night. One loud BOOM was nearly overhead. Flashes and rumbles lasted for over 2 hours and it was quite a light show. We prayed that rain hit the fire but I guess we were the lucky ones and not much hit the fires. They're still only about 16% contained to the east of us. And it is very close to Springfield. Vida is only about 45 minutes away on 126 and it's eaten it's way to within 20 miles of where we are so it came pretty close to us here. The rain did wash the air clean and I'm back out walking again which is great but those people are still without homes, still refugees and still living in tents and's going to be a hard winter.
Our oldest heads off to college this next week and the high schoolers only just started up with classes today. 1/2 day, online. And although Nae will be living in a dorm room (alone) she will still be doing classes in her room on a computer...except labs. It is going to be weird for her.
We are all adjusting but this is going to be a landmark year for certain. No one my age forgets where they were when President Kennedy was killed. No one will forget what they were doing when the Towers went down and none of us will forget this year. Grandma Payne

Julie Smith says: September 21, 2020 at 04:11 PM

She's as sweet as can be. Everything else in this world is entirely exhausting and overwhelming.

Sara Arblaster says: September 22, 2020 at 07:16 AM

I love how Clover is taking the ballet class also. So sweet.

SYLVIA HILDEBRANDT says: September 22, 2020 at 09:32 AM

So love the photo of your girl in her ballet togs with her matching doggie right behind her. Precious. And so color-coordinated.

I am loving the school photos, I want to be in that school in your cozy and beautiful home doing ballet with the dog, drawing nature and working on my letters. As a mom, I know the chaos behind it can not be captured in photos but for her it looks glorious.

I have been thinking about you with the smoke, thank god it cleared out up here in Washington. Hoping it is the same down South in Portland. We have good friends in Portland who were ready to evacuate and come up to us in their van. Smoke was absolute misery but we were far enough away from actual fires.

For those not from the PNW- this is NOT NORMAL, please listen when we say this is climate change.

Please, please keep us up to date via photo of this challenging and wonderful school year. I have a 14 year old 8th grade boy on a lap top and he is at the shoulder shrug school is boring phase so I am enjoying seeing Amelia's school activities.

Hang in there!

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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