Tag Archives: Christmas shopping

Presents for my almost four year old

The unschooling diaries: week forty-five

Christmas has been creeping in determinedly to our house this week.


We spied a little tree when we were out and about last weekend, which Arthur and I decided would be perfect for my study – we spend so much time there after all, writing and playing by the fireside, that it’s nice to make it festive.


It was there Arthur wrote his very first letter to Santa this week. Well, I say wrote – he dictated, and I scribed the words. He added pictures too – the bow and arrow and the spaceship, and a little self-portrait with a woolly hat.


He very rarely wants to draw – it’s one of the things that niggles at my brain as I worry that he should be doing it more often. It was lovely to see him pick up a pencil for something other than scribbles, and he was so proud of his pictures that I think he might just be tempted to do it more often…

We actually made another tree too, this time for Arthur’s bedroom. Again it’s somewhere he spends a lot of time – often playing there for at least an hour in the mornings before he emerges to start the day. There was a large cardboard box waiting to be recycled in the kitchen, so we decided to put it to better use.


So far it is decorated with a fairy and some glow stars, but creating some sparkly baubles is top of our list for the week to come.


Alongside all this, my mind has been mulling over presents. it’s not just Christmas we have to prepare for – Arthur’s birthday is only three days later, so I need to get myself organised for that too!

I’m really keen to add to his inspiration bank at home – it feels especially important because he spends so much time there. His interests have flourished over the past couple of months, so he’s given me lots of ideas.

These are just a few of them…

A book of poems

Arthur is developing a real love for poetry, which began with listening to poems read by Daddy during his bedtime baths.

I love the idea of this book, which has a wonderful selection of classic poems, one for every night of the year.

A little friend

Whilst Arthur’s social skills are coming on in leaps and bounds, he is also very happy to play alone. Recently, though, he’s enjoyed chatting away to his dolly – a Waldorf doll I made him for his first birthday.

I think he’s going to love this Finn doll, from the makers of the child-friendly Lottie. Especially because he’s small enough to not only play with at home, but also to come out and about with us on our adventures.

A marble run

Arthur discovered marbles a couple of months ago, and we’ve experimented with making marble runs from cardboard and networks of tubes in the garden.

This set from Hape looks incredible though – giving him the tools to create his own structures to send his marbles whizzing round. He’s really into building too, so I think he’ll relish the challenge.

A lego community

This love for building has recently exploded with the discovery of ‘grown-up’ lego. He still enjoys his duplo, which we’ve moved to his room to keep him entertained for those early-morning wake-ups, but he will spend literally hours piecing together tiny bricks to give shape to the forms in his imagination.

His selection of mini figures is essential to the process too, inspiring him to create new structures for them to inhabit. I reckon this set of community figures would be a brilliant addition to his kit, and give him all sorts of new ideas about what to build.

A kid-safe knife set

Arthur is always keen to help in the kitchen, especially if it involves cutting things. We bought him a child’s knife last year, but the blade is really not sharp enough to be much use.

This chef set, which includes a peeler too, looks much more effective. And might just have the added bonus of him taking over peeling the potatoes!

I know that too much of a focus on ‘stuff’ isn’t healthy, but I really do take pleasure in selecting gifts for Arthur which he will enjoy and which will help him learn.

(And I’m sure I can help Santa find a fire engine and a spaceship and a bow and arrow too).

I can’t wait for the start of December so Christmas can begin in earnest: choosing and decorating our main tree, and putting up Arthur’s advent calendar!

I do love this time of year.



Word of the Week: Organised

I’ve been getting organised on so many levels this week, sorting out a whole bunch of things I’ve been meaning to do for ages – it’s been properly exhausting! I’d built up an epic to do list (mainly in my head) over the past few months of novel-writing, and with that in a bit of a natural lull and Christmas and Arthur’s birthday fast approaching it was time to tackle it.

It started last Saturday with an afternoon in Totnes for Christmas shopping and a long-overdue haircut. I don’t actually think I’d been to the hairdresser since Arthur was born – and my hair went from this:


To this:


Not bad huh? And infinitely more manageable…

The Christmas shopping was pretty successful, though generally rather than getting gifts I was looking for materials… I decided a while ago that I really wanted to try to make most of my presents this year, and though it seems like a bit of a crazy idea I haven’t been able to shake it. So we were trawling charity shops and craft shops and haberdashers for bits and pieces I thought I might be able to use. We did come across one thing we absolutely had to have – I’m making Arthur a doll for Christmas and we came across this gorgeous vintage pram in Oxfam:


You may remember that he rather likes prams, and I imagine this one will be used to push all sorts of things around!

By Monday I had a list of present ideas, a bunch of crafty bits and bobs, and various other things I still had to get online. With the help of Ebay and Etsy (and a little bit of Amazon) that proved to be fairly easy to solve, but there was a bigger issue looming, one which I just couldn’t ignore any longer: the mess.

When we moved into our house it needed top to toe renovation, and the work was finally finished (well, almost) about a week before Arthur was born. We did a reasonable job of getting ourselves sorted, but there were still bags and boxes I hadn’t really touched since the move and Arthur’s arrival obviously added a whole other layer of stuff. Two rooms were really suffering: our bedroom, which the three of us have basically shared since Arthur was born and which was full of piles of his clothes despite him having a perfectly good room of his own, and my study – this is where all the untouched piles had ended up, because after all I only need my desk and computer to write, right?

But suddenly I had a whole host of fairly ambitious craft projects to tackle. I needed somewhere to put my materials where they weren’t going to get sucked into the mess, and I am going to have to set my sewing machine up somewhere.

So I’ve blitzed this room. I’ve thrown out and filed and rehomed and I now actually feel like there’s room to breathe in here. In the process I’ve come across all sorts of interesting things. A whole stack of notebooks for example, from diaries full of teenage angst to teaching planning to gloriously empty pages waiting to be filled. I’d thought I’d lost them all somewhere along the way, so I was very pleased to see them.


There were other things too, piles of papers that I’m very glad I hadn’t just thrown away as hiding in between what looked like rubbish were letters and cards from old friends that I’d forgotten even existed (the letters, not the friends). All safely stashed away now, but not before I reread them all. There have been some very late nights this week…

And of course then there was Arthur’s room. This wasn’t so essential on a practical level, but there were too many things niggling away at me that really needed tackling at some point that I figured I’d just get it done whilst I was feeling efficient.

So I’ve been through all the piles of clothes that I haven’t streamlined since before Easter, putting away two big bags that don’t fit him any more and tidying the rest into his room. I moved some of his toys up that had spilled into the lounge too – in particular his Ikea circus tent which is now a gorgeous little reading nook with cushions and bears and lots of stories. As I was doing all this, the unfinished family trees on the walls were taunting me, so I finally got round to finding some photos to put in them.


Arthur loves them, especially at night when he says goodnight to everyone as part of his bedtime routine. He’s definitely very ready to be spending a bit more time in his room. I’m sure he’ll still come in with us for part of the night, and his play will of course continue to spill out to wherever I am, but there’s something very lovely about him having his own special place too.

And in the midst of all of this I somehow managed to snatch some time to start organising my ideas for my next novel too. It involved coffee, and a beautiful notebook. Bliss.


So all in all an extremely productive and organised week! Now I’d best get on with making those presents…


The Reading Residence