Nice try but I really, REALLY don't want a load of old baby clothes. Please don't send them here. Find another victim. Move along. I mean it. We're done.
Guess you're not planning any more either, if you're having a clear out. Good luck freeing up some space. Daisy's a year now, so you can palm off the steriliser to someone else and she'll have already outgrown the crib, the big pram, the baby bouncer and that crate of babygros you so kindly and 'amusingly' offered.
Honestly, don't even joke about it. If Sarah and I got cracking right now, Sprog4 would more than likely arrive on Marie's first day at school. Rather than getting to lie down for a well deserved rest, I'd be back to Nappy One. I don't have the energy for that. Merely contemplating the possibility is enough to trouble my sanity. Excuse me one moment while I pretend to be a turkey...
... gobble-gobble ...
It's probably best if I go back to thinking about stuff:
Yep, there are plenty of bits and bobs you can dispose off. If you're ruthless, you might be able to reclaim half a room. In contrast, I'm trying to work out which items I can eke out for another few months until Marie's through her current development spurt.
Take the buggy, for instance. It's been folded up for a month but I don't want to retire it completely because there may still be days where the weather is wet and cold and we have some distance to go. If Marie's tired on such an occasion, the buggy will come in handy... as long as the wheels don't fall off. Like so many things, we're not quite done with it yet but it's old and nearly spent. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it will hold out.
It's the same with paint. The boys stopped wanting to paint at home around the time they turned five and so I'm loathe to buy any new bottles, knowing that Marie might not use them much. Unfortunately, we've finished up several colours recently and we're now left with black, red, light red, blue, greeny blue, bronze, gold and evil purple.
This is not a particularly useful palette and the mixing potential is limited. It's hard to believe but she wanted some brown paint the other day and the closest I got was dark purple with metallic flecks. How is that possible? I always thought you could mix pretty much any selection of colours together and get brown. It certainly worked with the plasticine I had as a kid.
Which reminds me, all Marie's Play-Doh is decidedly dubious. It's kind of rubbery and a murky shade of green. She hasn't shown any interest in it since May, though. She's unlikely to play with it much now unless I get fresh tubs. There's no saying that she'll play with it much even if I do get fresh tubs, however. I might be as well giving up on the stuff entirely. We can always make biscuits if she wants to use cutters.
I've already given up on the large sheets of coloured paper she used to paint on. They were expensive and she's a prolific producer of works of art which could all be entitled Pink Spludge. It didn't seem worth it in the end. Worse still, she went through a monochrome phase where I would hand her a sheet of blue paper and she'd then proceed to paint every inch green (or, indeed, blue). Now she has to make do with cheap printer paper.
Out in the shed, we've got half a bag of sand left. Hopefully that's enough to bolster the muddy residue at the bottom of the sandpit and keep it in service one last summer. If not, I'll just empty the thing out and turn it into a water tray rather than cart a sack of powdered rock home from the shops simply to entertain the girl for three-quarters of an hour on the one sunny day next August.
When it comes to toys, I have no idea what we're going to get Marie for Christmas. The house is full of a huge accumulation of preschool stimulation as it is. Most of it she may never touch again. She'd rather make things with beads, play board games or take digital photographs of her brothers' ears. With a little careful rotation, the toys we have at the moment should keep her amused until she moves on to the next stage. What do school age girls covet anyway?
Bratz and make-up probably. Oh, great...
It's not all bad news, though. There are a few items in the household inventory we're not going to run out of any time soon. Chalk is one. We have several boxes of coloured chalk lying around but the kids have barely used three sticks worth. The problem is, once they've drawn a picture on the blackboard, they want to keep it. Forever. After six months, I can usually rub it off without them noticing, ready for another, but it doesn't exactly use up the chalk quickly.
We're also drowning in wax crayons. Every time we go to a restaurant, we seem to return home with three more little boxes of them. I'm thinking we should take a handful with us next time and leave them as part of the tip.
Oh, and if you want any stickers, we might be able to do you a deal. Goodness knows where they all come from.
When I was young, stickers were special. I maybe got a sheet of twenty every other birthday. I remember using them sparingly and then cutting up the bits of edging left on the sheet to salvage whatever I could. Now stickers come in boxes of a thousand and my kids simply don't know what to do with them. More than that, there's barely a day that goes by without one of them coming home from school with a sticker proudly stuck to their jumper for 'sitting nicely' or 'playing well' or 'working hard'. None of them has yet received a sticker for 'excellent work with stickers' but I'm sure it's only a matter of time...
Some supplies are running out slightly too fast, others will still be going strong when my grandchildren are done with them. There are a few things that are somewhere in between. For example, we have loads of felt-tips but hardly any of them work. It's the same with glue-sticks. I bought a stack of them not long ago but I can't ever seem to find one that has more than a millimetre of glue left and that isn't stained pink and encrusted with glitter. It's worrying. What have the kids been sticking?
Ho well, one day soon I'll be able to have a big clear out, pass plenty of stuff on and get the house back.
Then again, I used to dream blissfully about Marie getting older and not needing constant supervision at the swing-park. I imagined taking all three children along, setting them loose and then settling down on a bench to play my PSP while they entertained themselves. Unfortunately, Marie isn't quite at that stage yet and Fraser is already old enough to be easily bored by climbing frames. Now I suspect that I'll maybe manage to sneak five minutes of Lemmings some time next July. After that, I'll need to be playing catch or football with the boys whenever Marie's having a shot on the slides. I'm actually going to have to put in more effort.
I wouldn't get used to the extra space if I were you...
Yours in a woman's world,
PS Most of Marie's trousers don't reach down to her ankles any more. Sarah tells me that some of them aren't too small - they're not supposed to come down to her ankles. Which pairs are which is something of a mystery to me, so I'm thinking they'll all do until the New Year.
It's not skimping on essential clothing, it's fashion! Excellent.