Thursday, September 29, 2011


(For The Friday Club)

I've been actively decluttering since before the first baby was born to this house.

You can't tell.

But actually, you can, if you used to know what it looked like before. Two adults filled three bedrooms, a living room, a dining room, a kitchen and a garden shed, and still kept a lot of stuff up in the attic. Now we are two adults and three children, and we have two bedrooms for family use, and a spare room for guests which has a place (only one, but a place) for them to unpack their stuff, if there isn't much stuff, and more room to move in the downstairs rooms than we used to.

It's partially because children NEED more space to move. Their time at home isn't spent sitting still in their house doing things, it's spent moving around their house doing things. They need space to run and dance and spread stuff out on the floor to glue, and enough room to open the front of the dollhouse, and they also need the same sleeping and wardrobe space the adults need, more or less.

So we have gradually decluttered, while never feeling in the least minimalist. We found FLYlady very helpful, if also very enraging, and FreeCycle (now Freegle) has also helped a lot -- we even decluttered the garden shed that way, and someone came to disassemble it. Someone with a phobia of spiders, unfortunately; I helped chase the big ones away. Now the playhouse lives on the foundations the shed used to rest on, and we have a small garden storage cupboard for all the other stuff - and we're about to get an even smaller one, and get rid of even more things. We don't garden enough to need proper grownup gardening kit.

We even got rid of books. Hundreds of books. Metres and metres of books. We went through a phase of leaving a box of books out on the footpath most weekends, a few years ago. Now we've filled the space back up with picture books, encyclopaedias, activity books, cookbooks, poetry books... children's books.

IKEA helps a lot. I might make a separate home-educating-the-IKEA-way post at some point. It's a bit silly how much IKEA stuff we have specifically for dealing with home ed kit.

We got an LCD type TV after reading about several children who were crushed by falling televisions, usually at Christmas; our old TV was a bought-in-his-youth one and weighed slightly more than he does, or as much as I did at the height of my most ginormous pregnancies. That freed up space in the room, and covering it with a big painting made it look visually freer, too.

Clothes with years of wear in them yet are harder. A lot of our clothes aren't quite good enough for a charity shop to sell, but much too good to get rid of. And don't fit. This is particularly true of the kids' clothes, but we have a sort of system of filing them in the attic in boxes labelled by age, and if I ever decide I've finished having babies, I'll give them away (and have another, I assume; that's how it usually works, isn't it?). We do haul them out as the younger two grow into them.

Another big clutter is artwork. The children's artwork is almost impossible to part with. Mine I can just sell or give away, but theirs... it's more difficult. The grandparent on one side has a total of 11 grandchildren, and a limited capacity to treasure art forever and ever and ever, and on the other side they like to take maybe two or three pieces every so often. That's not enough. We are still left with cases and boxes and envelopes of art, ranging from the magnificent to the developmentally interesting. I have a soft spot for keeping originals, too. How do I teach my heart to part with children's art?

And on that note I must depart. In a cart. Don't start...

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Not much to blog about

We've had a good time lately. We did lots with fractions - L has been adding fractions in her head for a while without being clear on how she did it, and we did it on paper so she could see what was going on. We finally made it back to the library and got some new books, and somewhere there's a diagram of clementine segment skins under a microscope. Pocketmoney maths is big but complicated.

And we had haircuts, to cover up the look of the most recent self-cutting attempts. I don't much mind them cutting their own hair, any more; my biggest objection was when one of them cut the other's hair, but since I cut my own hair, and theirs, I don't care much if they do it too.

But it's nice that I didn't have to, this time. And they all enjoyed the unaccustomed use of a hairdryer.

Monday, September 19, 2011


We did an oil-and-water experiment today. The children wanted to do something a bit structured, so we got the balance, found a couple of identical cups and weighed them, and poured equal volumes of oil and water into each one. Then we weighed them. Then we poured them together and mixed them up. And put a lid on and turned it over. And dyed it with food colouring. And got very excited about drawing pictures about it. And...

It was all such a success that we did the thing I read on Patch of Puddles about bowls of hot, body temperature, and cold water. They are still doing that, as far as I know; I have fled the splash zone myself.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Hunter gathered

The conkers were from the park and the figs are from the end of our road. We are assuming it's a fig tree; we haven't asked the homeowner whose tree it is, but online searches and asking friends seems to show it most likely is. We're not going to try eating them, though.

Stuff grows. This is constantly amazing to us.

Tomato plants

Emer is loving this - we eat blackberries and nasturtium petals straight away in the garden, but we bring orange tomatoes into the house and leave them on the kitchen windowsill to riped, and then we eat them with actual real live meals. Well, not live meals. But anyway. Yesterday we served some up in salad for her grandparents.

I call them "Emer's tomatoes" because she helped plant and water them and took a general interest in growing things, this year. We're all very impressed with how much better tomato plants did in their current location than in the previous ones we tried. We'll probably plant them there again next year, possible in the cold frame which we can just remove, unless I can figure out some way of building a greenhouse onto the end of the little playhouse.

Friday, September 09, 2011


I woke up grumpy today. Then I got grumpier, because there was water in the balance, under a teatowel, which spilt on the laptop. Then I got even grumpier because of all the poo I had to clean up.

Everything is a learning opportunity, however, and at lunchtime I had to write up the following sentences to explain what I'd just saidshouted:

I will probably be a lot nicer after I have eaten Linnea.

I will probably be a lot nicer after I have eaten, Linnea.

Turns out Linnea already knew the difference and could read them properly inflected, but she appreciated the joke, and it cheered us all up.

Briefly, because my headache didn't go away and I still had flat-pack to assemble. But.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Back to school

I almost got up and started in on housework this morning, but I heard the children playing a complicated game downstairs and forced myself to stay in bed until 10am. I drank my coffee and listened to the radio, though I can't now say what was on it, and re-read a Georgette Heyer very slowly. Then I got up and did housework and child-cleaning and got them out to storytime at the library and so on.

It turns out that the game they were playing this morning, and again after dinner this evening, was Homeschool, and they want me to correct their homework in the morning.

Rightio so.


The courgette isn't very big but if you click on the second picture you'll see that the plant all but dwarfs the apple tree... Emer is very proud and already looking forward to chopping them up!

From Who teaches whom?

Sunday, September 04, 2011

New term! September! New year! In an alternate universe, Linnea is in something like Year Three, I think, and Emer is starting Year One. Actually, they are nothing of the kind, but it sometimes helps to remember what we'd be doing if they were, sometimes. Linnea recently read her first Young Adult novel - a friend had just finished Anna Carey's The Real Rebecca and was going to lend it to me, but Linnea got there first. She really, really enjoyed it, and although it took her longer to read than most of her books - that is, more than one sitting - she persevered over little bursts of reading over several days, and finished it all. She hasn't told me what it's about or what about it she enjoyed, but she kept going back for more and wants us to buy it. Emer is getting more and more like a pre-reader, though I may have the technical terms wrong. She is reading some words and can recognise all the letters and write some things, but isn't reading sentences or anything yet. I've offered to do regular reading practice with her but she's not interested. Astrid can walk, and says all SORTS of things which we know are real words, and today Rob saw her spearing pasta with a fork and feeding herself with it. So that's nice. I wonder what we'll do this year?

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