Arts and Crafts

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Making tea and drinking it was WAY better than a temper tantrum.

And we began a balsa wood model, no photos by request, and painted with acrylic, and baked, and briefly looked at baking powder, water, vinegar and bicarbonate of soda. Oh, and fractions.



I’m most interested in the 6yo and the 2yo teaching each other to read. The 6yo really cares about the rules and gets cross when books do easy to read texts “wrong”.

We have loads of stargates in our house: they are in the children’s eyes

We went stargazing this evening. The eight-year-old wouldn’t keep quiet so we could point stuff out to the six-year-old, because Vega emits some hundred many times light more than the sun — five hundred? I wasn’t listening, because I was trying to show the 6yo the Big Dipper — and she thinks Altair is a really romantic name for a star.

We actually went out to show off the fig tree we planted yesterday. When we dug the old dead weeds out of the pot, we found an ants’ nest inside, and spent a little while watching them carrying eggs around (“Nah, I’ve seen ant eggs before, Mu-um,” “LARVAE, Mum, LARVAE,”) before emptying the soil out and replacing it with freshish compost. I think the ants will be able to rebuild their civilization in the old soil’s new location. Except for the ones which crawled onto us as we dig and met a sudden and untimely end.


went incredibly badly and I spent much of the day in other people’s foul tempers and some of it in my own. But towards the end, after I had read FOUR CHAPTERS of the scintillating intellectual treat that is £$%^& Noddy and eaten most of the chocolate cherry flan on my own because only one child wanted to help me, the 6yo started repairing a stool she picked up at the side of the road on Friday, and I forgave them almost everything.

I was glad to go stargazing though. A little enthusiasm after a day of negativity goes a long way.

And I have no idea at all what happened with the formatting for this post. Whu?

For ages twelve and up. This is our second attempt, since Emer is not quite six. It finished over an hour after bedtime.



A sense of scale



The children aren’t well enough to do the two-buses-each-way trip to the True Food Co-op, so they are making a viking longhouse in the garden. We have a box the sofa mattresses came in, and lots of paper.

Dishwasher maths – what’s nine and nine and three? Ten and ten minus one-and-one plus three… EIGHTEEN!

Checking up on the peas, carrots, mange tout, and berries – they are growing, hurrah!

Weeding with a hoe.

Playing in ever-changing groups of children aged under one to over eight.

Shopping for food.

Making toad in the hole.

Pronouncing de-sigh-zhuns, and other words which are interesting to read.

Running around yelling like mad.




Checking the post and using limited reading skills to hand it to the right recipients.

It’s been a busy day.


I’ve abandoned all my principles and it’s working. After the most awful week we’ve ever had, I think, I drew up checklists for the girls – make bed, brush hair, clean teeth, get dressed, do some literacy stuff, do some maths stuff – and made a 30-minute screen session conditional on a completed column of ticks.

And it’s working. And I’ve learned something.

Spelling isn’t awful or miserable for the seveneight-year-old (Oh my GAWD she’s EIGHT!) if I don’t combine it with writing. So if we use Bananagrams letters, it’s much easier. And if we use words that combine and form other words, it’s exciting and interesting. And if she chooses every second word, that’s good too. I haven’t worked out the limits yet, but we’ve had eel-heel-wheel, ape-cape-escape, and quick and queen, and pocket, paleontology, packet, polycarbonate, rocket, and things like that. I’m hoping that working on spelling will translate into reading more accurately, too, which will help her pronunciation of words like polycarbonate and paleontology so I’ll know what she means before she writes them down.

She’s extremely keen to play Settlers of Catan again and we’re going to do it as soon as she has cleared a space on the dining table and set up the board. Hopefully it will take less than two hours this time.

My own ticklist makes me take my pills and eat my meals, so that’s good too.

We’re trying to get up a pattern of painting on Mondays. We had three other children in yesterday, and one of mine and two of the visitors painted, so that was lovely. I might need a better source of very cheap canvas and boards or this could get expensive quickly. Any suggestions?

It’s here. Which is frankly weird, because it’s JANUARY, hello? But nonetheless…We had a busy morning, in that not very busy way; it was low key and unrushed, but people seemed to be getting a lot done.

Reading maths puzzle books. I like that they don’t need to be written in, so we can hand them on or lend them to others.
Using acrylic paint to colour air-drying clay. I have no idea what the shapes are supposed to represent.
Pick up that green shovel and DIG, woman!

So I pottered around the garden recording signs of spring.

No idea what’s going to surface here. Tulips and daffodils and crocuses and things. The thing is, it’s JANUARY and the place is bursting with little green shoots.
Fuzzy buds on the apple tree.
And on the fruit bushes. Fruit twigs, really.
JuniperJasmine berries. Wasn’t that a Body Shop fragrance?
I say again, January.



It was a hectic day. L woke about 3 am, as far as we can tell, so she was charming and delightful by noon. But we all had porridge and headed out to get sewing supplies. All three children, including the 18-month-old, walked the mile to town, and we got sewing scissors for their sewing kits, a pinking shears, some bobbins, and other bits and pieces. I allowed them to choose one fancy button each in the last shop we visited, so that was nice.

While we were out we went to M&S; for a snack, as we had a gift voucher. It was lovely. A is so chatty and communicative. I don’t think many people understand her, but the girls and I do, and she tells us all sorts of things. Actually, Rob understands most of what she has to say too. But she was able to tell us what things from the table she wanted, and when she wanted a drink, and all those good things.

We came home and L went straight back into the dinosaur book. She has a thing about the evolution of amphibians at the moment. And about not sleeping, but I can live with that. A was napping, and then we had a visitor who was pinned down and forced to read stories for about 90 minutes.

When the visitor left E and I did sewing machine practice; she’s learning to control the foot pedal, so I had her wind a bunch of new thread onto bobbins in our fancy new bobbin box. She was very impressed and excited about the sewing machines we saw while out – she checked each of them for a thread-cutter by the needle – and is delighted with the clever design that means the machine that sews can also fill up bobbins with which to sew. It’s lovely.

L messed about with old acrylic paint in the bathroom, pulling lumps apart with tweezers and melting them in hot water. She cleaned it up well and without complaint, so that was ok. She also did something with a book of animal stencils.

And then, just before bedtime, A climbed up on a bench, fell down, and hurt her mouth. She has badly hurt her mouth before, at least once. But she’s up again as soon as the bleeding stops, jumping around and trying to climb up the back of the wing-chairs. Tomorrow may well start with a call to the dentist and an emergency check-up. Her teeth are still firm but the gum looks… ugly.

I wish the child being happy was a reliable indicator of things being well.

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