Green and Thrifty

My green and thrifty projects this week are mostly things I meant to do, but didn't quite - make the last of the basil into pesto. Pick the last apples and rhubarb to stew. Make sourdough, sew on buttons, freeze some warrigal greens before the weather does it for me. What actually happened was school holidays.

Ah, school holidays. Over the Easter break we have done.. nothing. A whole lot of lovely, lovely, thrifty nothing. This is how our days unfold. I get up at dawn and go to the gym. When I get home I hop back into bed (in my gym clothes. Yes, I am a slattern), and read my book. When I get up the children may be playing cards. When I have finished my shower I may find children on my bed playing their flutes (why on MY bed girls? Go away). They may be cooking brownies, inviting friends over, cooking cupcakes, watching movies, painting eggs, painting over last year's canvasses (there goes their eminently collectable juvenilia..), learning canasta, playing spoons, watching endless ABC3, getting to Level 132 of the fruit game. Posy learns how to lay and light a fire. She does this every day, except she prefers not to go out in the rain and get muddy.. 'Look, the rain is letting up Mummy. You and The Girl should have enough time to go and get wood now before it rains again..'

The entire dining table disappears under painting detritus. Posy and her friend are painting an entire farm. They paint the backdrop, then paint all the individual elements and animals on separate pieces of paper, then cut them out to stick on the back drop.. then lose interest. Rosy is painting sunsets. The Girl is painting still lifes for her Year 12 art study.

There are sleep overs. The whole downstairs family room is turned into a giant fort with all the sheets, mattresses, cushions and blankets in the house. A teddy club is formed. Sleeping bags disappear into the fort where the 'sleep over' (ha) commences. There is hilarious dancing to loud music. There is home made pizza for dinner, and home made waffles for breakfast with whipped cream and this divine chocolate sauce. There are marshmallows toasted on the fire. Small girls disappear into the outside cubby between rain showers to spy on the boys next door (the ones they despise and loathe). The girls pull out the stash of Grandma Hazel's fabulous costume jewelry, and load themselves down with pearls and marvellous 70s clip-on ear rings. Then they get out all their beads and make their own jewelry. I happen to know what several mothers are getting for Mother's Day this year.

The absolute favourite and best thing to do in school holidays though, is to wear pyjamas all day and use an old foam mattress to slide down the stairs.

Let me warn you though - cheap and thrifty fun in the school holidays can be made to sound idyllic in a blog post, but mainly creates a whole house of mess. There is also a fair amount of yelling (both parents and children), some crying (ditto), door slamming, food embedded in soft furnishings, and similar prices to pay for cheerful mayhem. It is not for the faint hearted. Tell me about your black-belt parenting school holiday experiences..


What a lovely snapshot in time! I loved the description of the abandoned art project. My house is like that for much of the time...
Jo said…
Oh, abandoned projects! My house is like a creative graveyard! Where art comes to die..
Anonymous said…
I want to come and play at your house. (Except for the early gym session. You committed girl, you!)

My boys are all grown up and thus stay in bed past midday, leaving me to read blogs and newspapers, and drink cups of tea, and think about doing something useful and worthy of my time. Though I think I might tempt one to play Miss Marple Cluedo soon.
Jo said…
One day Lucinda... I did actually have a cup of tea in bed the other day, but juggling tea and book caused me to spill tea all over the white doona cover. Leaping up to wash bedding under hot water and stuff it into the washing machine, then tote quilt outside to dry in the sun was not the quiet start to the day I was hoping for. So clearly I am doomed never to experience the relaxing life even without children. I just don't have the coordination for it..
Jen's Busy Days said…
My school holidays were noisy. I forgot how loud three extra boys at home can be, and then add on several neighbourhood boys... Oh boy!

Of course we had great fun with our annual egg hunt (somehow never find them all so someone gets a bonus later when they tidy books or use the vacuum). This year though I only spent $35 on eggs and the rest of my Easter budget went on new games. Dobble is a good one if you are a visual person who can spot details quickly and fun for any age. Scavenger Hunt from Kmart was fun and filled all the phones with cameras with silly photos. After all who wants to put your finds back when the game is over. Rat a tat cat has only just been played but I can see my dh beating me in that easily. We made a new rule that no electronic games were allowed even by visitors until a card or board game was played. One little guy visited every day after Easter trying to beat me at Dobble. He definitely got better at it. Lol

Glad to hear you had an "easy" holiday. B-)

Best wishes
Jen in NSW
Tanya Murray said…
So nice to hear from you again and find all still "situation normal". Miss you but you are a good mum and that is the most important thing you'll ever do. Hope the nest fledgling is doing well too.
Jo said…
Mmm, Jen, board games drive me crazy. They are only marginally better than sports in my opinion. They still require you to perform pointless tasks to 'win' at something, but at least you don't have to run around..
Tanya, yes, situation normal and chaotic. The nest fledgling is travelling well with only the normal hiccups of newly adult life. Yes, being a good mum, sometimes I kind of want to do something else too..
Hope you are enjoying grannyhood :)
Anonymous said…
It does sound idyllic! What I remember is my kid's friends (in teen years, 12+) visiting after dinner and then finding out they, coincidentally, didn't have a drive home, didn't have a house key and weren't sure when an adult would be home (!) so could they stay overnight, please? And chauffeur them home sometime the next afternoon? Was always trying to set limits and establish PLANNED sleep overs!
Unknown said…
When you have children you go through so many different stages and they all have their own wonderful, memorable challenges don't they? I remember your stage so well, then I blinked and my girls were 16 and 19... and now it's so totally different but still entirely wonderful! Love your Blog x
Jen's Busy Days said…
Jo, who said you have to play!? O:-)
Although I must admit to choosing card games more often. Easily packed away and no little houses to lose. I also try to buy games with learning skills in mind. So usually memory skills, observation skills... Also I get games that can be easily adapted for my age range of 10 years across 4 children. Blokus wasn't a good choice in hindsight, little pieces, Batleship neither. Live and learn!

Best wishes
Jen in NSW
Judy said…
Ahhh.....abandoned art projects! Mine have never tried mattress sledging down the stairs yet though, although they used to try all kinds of boxes and skateboards down our old slide. I love the adventure of giving kids space to just be, free from society's standards and expectations. They are just so full of energy and imagination. Thanks for reminding me of some wonderful memories :-)
Hattie said…
Ha - I read all the way through this blog post thinking "Oh my god! This sounds like heaven..." and then read your disclaimer at the end! Still sounds wonderful to me nonetheless, even though I do appreciate your honesty!
Jo said…
Dar, teenagers seem to have their own reality, a parallel universe just a bit different to ours!
Wee Wendy, lovely to have you here - yes, some days you blink and they seem to be years older, some days seem to last for about five years!
Jen, clever girl, that's the reason we have so many children and invite the neighbour kids around!
Judy, the skateboard down the slide is giving me a nervous tic. I am keeping very, very quiet about that one!
Hattie, I am sure there is nothing you don't know about whole house mess caused by small children. However I will make you jealous now - I can sneak away and read and drink tea nowadays while they are creating havoc. They can all take themselves to the loo, feed themselves, and they know where the bandaids are. Thank God toddlers don't last forever, adorable though they undoubtedly are :)
Stewart M said…
Sounds like a whole lot of doing nothing is a rather a good way to spend time!

Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne
Anonymous said…
Hopefully they aren't cooking brownies and painting eggs or canvasses in your bed?! That would take "slattern" to a whole new level ;). We love school holidays as well because as we are AT school (per-se) its time off for us from boring studies. Does ANYONE care about the inner machinations of a digital camera?! "THE FRUIT GAME!" yes...understanding one with the mindless vacuous gamers (but not willing to admit it quite yet ;) )... Happy Mother's Day for Sunday by the way...looks like you will be spending it cleaning up after the school holidays ;)
i was thinking to myself, oh yay, people who do 'nothing' - and then look what you have done! but it all sounds like fabulous family time. okay, maybe except the yelling and crying. and my tailbone hurts just at the thought of thudding down the stairs with only a foam matttress for cushioning :-) but then i am many years older than your gals!
Anonymous said…
Hi Jo,
Have just found your blog via a comment you made on Free our Kids and have been riveted to my laptop for days, reading your archives. You have such a lovely community of bloggers who leave such interesting comments too! Your housekeeping posts have been particularly inspiring, as I too am a SAHM with both kids at school. The difference is that my husband works from home and is here almost ALL THE TIME. It really puts me off doing anything productive and I get so much more done when he's on his regular work trips to Melb (we're in SW country Victoria). Mind you,he's away now, and it's 11am and I'm in my dressing gown on my laptop reading blogs so maybe I'm just a lazy cow. Sometimes I feel if I READ about cleaning the bathroom it might get done magically. I live in hope.
Love your description of the school holidays. Mine was very similar. Got to have lots of pyjama days and baking, with the requisite yelling and tantrums!
Jen's Busy Days said…

I love your way of describing your life. I sometimes hope that just making lists of things to do will magically get it done. So far no luck! Lol

Hope you keep visiting. Jo does have a nice community of friends here.

Best wishes
Jen in NSW
Jo said…
Stewart, I just love doing nothing, and the children do seem to enjoy themselves, although the 13yo did complain recently that even lobsters have more interesting parents than she does (this is because we didn't take her to the Gold Coast for the school holidays. Apparently EVERYONE ELSE'S nice parents were taking them). So yes, we are all about boring here.
e, I did practically none of the above, although I am in the throes of getting food out of the carpet etc now. I mainly dealt with the yelling, doing a little myself, and whipped up waffles and chocolate sauce. The great thing about my girls is they are self-starters (though not always finishers. That may be genetic).
Loretta, you are so welcome. As Jen says, I do have lovely blog friends, please join us! And I do love Hattie's site, she is such a blast, and I have enormous admiration for her enthusiasm and energy. And yes, I am still waiting for those bathroom fairies to come and visit as well. Where are they??
Jen, yes, yes and yes :)

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