Funny thing about childhood. Children grow and change, rushing towards new stages far faster than often you'd wish. But also they cling on - to what's past, to the childish things they seemed ready to put away.
It makes for the loveliest incongruity - witness Eldest's friend, turning up at the house with a bag containing both her Blackberry smartphone and a teddy bear with a vast range of outfits.
So what was I to do when Littlest wanted a reading corner, but I couldn't make it to the bookcase past the piles of soft toys she couldn't bear to give away? I've wrestled with this for a while. Every few weeks I pathetically type 'clever toy storage' into Pinterest with the hope of some new inspiration. And usually I get this pin, which never fails to call to mind a medieval dungeon.
Or what about this? Alarming. "Help us!" is the message in the toys' eerie, silent, and slightly squashed eyes.
Then I struck gold at Living With Punks, which has an unbeatable tutorial for a toddler's floor cushion. I had some fabric left over from the bedroom blind - so I added a zip, and sized up the pattern a few inches to accommodate an older child (you get to work out the measurements with pi! That Maths 'O' Level finally came in handy). For the price of a zip and a length of bias binding for fancy, it made a rather good seat stuffed with bears, rag dolls, puffins, dolphins and deer.
Sometimes the cushion is sumptuously stuffed; sometimes the cushion is a bit thin, with a stray reindeer hoof poking out into the material. It all depends what mood Littlest is in - how old she's feeling that day.
But it's not all about her. The other week, as I sniffled under my duvet with a bad cold, Littlest dug out some of the animals in her cushion and tucked them in around me. Thank goodness I never made her throw them out - we're never too old to appreciate a teddy bear's comfort.