We at the leap have been awoken by spring. The first bright buds of green returning to the garden brought huge hope and excitement, and now hedgerow flowers have begun to greet me on my walks around the lanes with Emily. It is high time the leaphouse blog also came out of hibernation.
Here’s a little of what happened over winter…
Our first Leap House craft fair!
Our stall was set up in the head housekeepers room of Castle Ward Sately Home in Strangford, County Downe. It was a great weekend by the sea and a very encouraging. We sold out of stock and enjoyed meeting the other makers.
A rather bigger project that involved heavy machinery…grrr!
and some manpower too…
(This is one of our new favourite corners of garden, known affectionately as ‘perriwinkle path’(!) it also has the added reward of a lovely native primrose at the top, nestling at the foot of one of the trees.)
Our First Christmas at the Leap
A new working guest arrived yesterday. This week his job is to get on top of some of the weeds. He’s on secondment from similar employment up the road at Evelyn’s. This is Hutch and we’re delighted to have him.
I never managed to post to show the finished article, but here it is! I did complete the changing station and have changed many a nappy on it since! I’m pretty chuffed with it as an item of babyware, it makes our lives easier and Emily really seems to enjoy a good kick about in it when we give her ‘air-time’!
I am blessed with a Mega-Mum. She arrived from over the water during the at home phase of my labour and remained with us for the ensuing week of joy, wonder and sleeplessness. Sadly Daddy had to stay behind this time as he was recovering from his own surgey. Get well soon, Dad, I love you!
Mum is an unstoppable machine of love, encouragement, creativity and hard work. She found and undertook countless jobs around the house and garden while she was with us and somehow still managed to exude a contageous peace, calm and reassurance.
Here are some of the projects Fenella made great progress with on our behalf in between giving lovely Granny-cuddles…
We inherited with the house a practical, quite sweet, but very dark, shiney round table which I had been trying in vain to de-varnish using a hand sander and paint scraper…in a matter of hours Mum had made about 50 times the progress I had made in several days, due to her possession of insider knowledge passed on from our family in the antiques trade. Broken glass makes the most effective of varnish-scrapers. Nothing like choosing the right tool for the job…
Before Emily arrived I had made a little further progress with the baby changing station but it wasn’t finished before we needed to change her first nappy, and at that stage I had neither the time nor the agility to continue. So I swallowed my pride and gratefully accepted Mum’s assistance (she is a [retired] design technology teacher after all)…Making a start on the fabric hammock part. Working around the bump…
I found that my joints were not the rock-hard joinery I had hoped and opted for safety over aesthetics, securing them with stronger glue, screws AND brackets…well this is my baby we’re talking about!Post baby, Mum then fixed the cross pieces at the correct distance apart with more of the tape while I sat on the sofa with my baby and my wound and directed/admired…
I notice that our last post was on the expected date of our baby’s arrival. Well, to our amazement, our little one did begin to make moves towards her birth right on cue. We had set up our sitting room as a little birthing paradise with the sofa bed pulled out on one side, the inflatable pool, bought on ebay, pumped up like a giant paddling pool on the other, a big silver exercise ball rolling around between them and the boxes of midwifery equipment and slightly disconcerting emergency oxygen cylinders.
There’s a folklore among medics and midwives that the more detailed the birth plans, the more complicated and not-to-plan the eventual delivery, there is another which says that midwives and doctors always have the most difficult and interventionist labours and births. I am not superstitious and I have great faith in women’s innate ability to deliver their children…so I was not put off!
On Thursday 16th June, I began to experience the first signs of labour and did all I could that day to encourage it’s progress. By the evening I was having strong regular contractions and summoned my colleague and great friend Hannah to come to mine – and Kenny’s – aid. We had a really positive evening together and I began to use the pool for some relief and support.
I’m not going to go into all the details, cathartic though it may be, but suffice to say our little girl did not arrive that night in the pool but 4 days later by cesarean section! Still, cliched as it may sound, the only thing that mattered to us ultimately was that she arrived safe and well, and thanks to the good old NHS and it’s fantastic staff, she did on the 19th June. Praise the Lord!
So we have a totally fantastic and awesomely beautiful Emily, and indeed, our lives are changed. You cannot prepare for love like that.
Welcome Emily. We love you.
We have tried quite hard not to buy more baby gadgets than we absolutely need. For financial, aesthetic, environmental and feng shuitic reasons is seems sensible to wait and see what hand-me-downs may appear in due course and to try to keep gaudy plastic paraphanalia to a minimum (we can dream, it’s our first)…Its really hard to know before the little one is actually present, sharing (ruling?) our lives, which will turn out to be the must have items…other than a pair of breasts, lots of sicky-cloths and something to keep the baby warm.
That said, one item that some of our siblings/in-laws seem to find very practical is a kind of portable, fold-away, keep-everything-in-it, save-your-knees-and-back baby changing station. I conceded that this may be quite a boon but was too stingy to buy one…so I rashly claimed I could make one.
One day, while Kenny was out visiting a local maker, I got out my tool box and made a mess of the living room. I had such a great time. Here are some pictures that illustrate the process and progress so far:
I’m always so excited to get out the tools (was quite shocked at the cost of a few bits of wood, though).
It should gradually become clear. I took the measurements from the one my sister-in-law, Sarah, has.
Me and the bump sawing…
..and planing (possibly my favourite, I love it – even the mess is pretty.)
I was just shaving the corners off the lengths of wood to make them feel a bit nicer really.
I couldn’t find a 12mm drill bit or 10mm dowelling so had to wiggle the bit as I drilled and then sand down each piece of dowel!
Sawn, planed and sanded, then fixed together with dowel and glue.
The cross pieces are held together with little nuts and bolts. It’s ready for the fabric now which will be slung across the top bars to make a hammock-like changing surface and have lots of pockets hanging down each edge for nappies and wipes and all that jazz. Are you proud, mum?