Boring what we did updates

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It’s practically summer. We ate lunch and dinner in the garden. And for the first time in two years, E (5yo) wasn’t interested in planting food this spring, so we haven’t done ANY before today.

Today I did it myself; I planted courgettes, parsley, radishes, chives, basil, leeks and cauliflowers, and discovered that the tomato, spinach and something else seeds have all gone missing. I’ll have to buy more, at some point.

The most difficult thing with gardening this year is going to be water. I was able to re-use a lot of last year’s compost, and we can refresh it with our own compost, so that was free and ethical. We can feed things with the disgusting smelly liquid from the bokashi bins. But watering will be tricky; we’re in drought and although the hosepipe ban isn’t here yet, it’s obviously not good to waste water just because it’s still legal.

The garden is lovely; the narcissi are out on one side, and red tulips all blowsy and poppy-like on the other, and I can see that it will all be luscious and full of food soon. We do need to get a wiggle on with the potatoes though. If the children are truly uninterested I’ll just have to do it myself but that feels wrong somehow; we got them free as an educational resource. I suppose they’ll learn what a potato is anyway.

The baby is using sentences and verbalising complex concepts.

Today was horrible. I woke up and was moving around in plenty of time but the whole day was a total and utter washout. There was no food (why? why no food? house full of food, but I couldn’t turn any of it into things to eat) and I had to clean the kitchen before I could fail to make food happen. Breakfast was incredibly late. The children had reheated leftovers for dinner and I had nothing at all because I couldn’t face the enormousness of the mental effort involved in figuring out what to eat and how to make it.

Lunch was also a washout. I spent most of the day doing nothing useful; I got floors swept and books read to the children and I think I washed a load of laundry but I can’t find it now. At some point I chucked the kids out in the garden to play and edited blog backends.

I know they did reading and sums and playing outdoors, and the older two got into the attic and explored up there, and I definitely read books to the baby with lots of fake expression in my voice. But there was no joy in any of it.


Maybe tomorrow will be better.


  • Get everyone dressed.
  • Get two of three children outdoors for at least ten minutes (told them about babies dying of rickets).
  • Helped one child plant basil and bake scones.
  • Helped another work through a Marks and Spencer maths workbook. It has nice shiny stickers.
  • Cooked apple and cinnamon pancakes for lunch.
  • Dragged third child indoors covered in mud when the rain went from “heavy” to “torrential.” I love toddlers but I don’t want her to swim over the garden fence and away.
  • Combed plasticine out of one child’s hair, using oil to get the last bits out.
  • Put two children in the bath (we never have one person using a bathful of water, ever, I think)
  • Got kids to put their stuff away, a bit. Clean laundry, anyway.
  • Had toddler nap at a useful time.
  • Showed toddler “C is for Cookie” on YouTube.

Did not:

  • Do anything at all before noon.
  • Go out and pay library fines, deliver things to charity shops, collect prescription
  • (Related) did not take meds
  • Go out to home ed group, because we did nothing before noon because of all the after-midnight activity in this house
  • Defenestrate anyone

Altogether a win day, really.

I’d like, after the slog of illness, Christmas, New Year, more illness, DIY, etc, to get back into blogging.

I thought I’d start by getting a little more up to date.

This week, we started Monday by doing Bananagrams before breakfast; the seven-year-old (L) mainly sees words I don’t, and vice versa, and the five-year-old (E) was fascinated by how many words she could make by going through the alphabet and sticking each letter in front of AT. It all petered out before I won, which was good.

We did some sewing. It turns out that E is a natural at cross-stitch. She also made a dress for a wooden spoon doll, hemmed and all. I sewed a sort of dreadful buttonhole around the neckhole, which may or may not stop it from fraying. I can’t tell. I’m not a good sewer (er…)

We made a menu for their café, where they priced things very oddly, especially E. Thirty cupcakes for the cost of one piece of cake, whole raw peppers on the menu, that sort of thing. But it depended on what we had in the play food baskets, apparently, and that was that.

In the afternoon E invited N from two doors down over to play, and they played separately but in the same room for a longish time. Meanwhile L was doing jigsaws – she’s sticking to really, really easy ones, and I’m not sure what she’s doing with them, but it involves telling stories. L has grandiose animation feature film plans. We Shall See; she has roped an adult friend in to help, so you never know what could happen.

Today we got up and tidied frantically, which ended up being great. E got breakfast out for us, which was lovely because looking at the kitchen before I tidied it made me feel completely stopped. The children made lunch (potato salad and tuna sandwiches) and sort of cleared up afterwards. They got out the air-drying clay to make iceberg models (?!) and later did a lot with Lego. There was reading. And writing. I can’t remember which day they spent ages with L teaching E how to write “POO-BUMS” but it took ages and the lesson, well, stuck.

Part of our evening pickup involves gathering all the piles of paper, sorting them into used and unused, and returning the unused to the paper drawer. I’m not sure how long this will continue before I get completely tired of it. We did find E’s map of the Pacific ring, so that was nice.

And the 18-month-old (almost)? She’s fab. She’s talking, more and more, though I don’t think many people other than me and the other two children understand her, most of the time. She dances. She hides and makes jokes. She’s very good at stacking toys and shapesorters. She, like her sisters before her, likes to be naked and takes all her clothes off at every opportunity, leading to… well, I’m glad we replaced the carpets with laminate. Very glad.

And I’m still learning huge amounts. If I could learn how to go to bed at a sensible time and get enough sleep, instead of Internet FOREVER, I’d be golden.

We haven’t done much remarkable lately. The five-year-old is learning to read, fairly organically. The seven-year-old is reading voraciously, a mixture of Enid Blyton and non-fiction and things she finds lying around. The one-year-old can stand on tiptoe and almost jump.

Weirdly, I haven’t read to the older two for AGES. I’d like to, but I am not sure how to invite them to join me; they are always so BUSY. We’ve done a bit of cooking together, housework, adding up and measuring. I’ve been teaching the eldest the tricks of spelling and mental arithmetic, mainly when I’m too busy to go and help her “properly” but it all seems to help.

Biology continues to fascinate. I guess just having a body is interesting in itself. Certainly the one-year-old likes getting her clothes out of the way and having a good explore.

They’ve been interested to see how potplants revive when watered after a prolonged period of neglect. And how mould grows in damp places. Educational housework. Heh.

Days like today are so tiring. Things didn’t go the way I wanted, and I repeatedly wished I could just hand at least one child over to someone else for six hours a day, to someone who was at least being PAID to be at odds with her. If I could get rid of all of them for a while, at least I could stare at the wall and drink tea.

But of course that’s not the real right answer.

It’s tough right now. I have two school-age children with very different social and academic needs and preferences, and balancing them is extremely challenging. They go through emotionally difficult patches at different times, to different intensity levels, and part of my job is to keep one child’s traumas from having a serious impact on the other children, without neglecting the needs of the upset child, either. Meeting the enthusiasms of two people at once, while meeting the needs of an almost-toddler, is tricky, too. I’m not sure whether dealing with upset or interest is harder, actually. One of each is hardest, I think.

I’m beginning to think that I need to be more scheduled, because something in me says that a schedule makes everything easier. But will it? If I’m getting 5-6 hours sleep in 3-4 chunks on a good night, will scheduling my day really make that much difference?

I have a week of solo parenting coming up now. I might try to use the time to figure out where I’m going wrong.

I mustn’t forget to bring the cardboard mobius strip in from the garden, either. It’s huge, and it will rot in the rain.

Today was horrible and miserable and we did nothing we planned. I cried my eyes out in Hyde Park. But. They gathered magnolia petals and watched mandarin ducks, great crested grebes, coots, moorhens, and (mating) squirrels. One squirrel fell out of the tree, even.

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