It’s been 4 years since we started ripping apart our house to put it back together again. When we first came to the house, we both fell in love with the huge wooden trusses in the roof…only to find that we needed to take them out to open up the space and create a room.
Since then, we’ve been drying out the wood with a plan to make a table from it. Paul had this at the top of his to-do list for a long time until we had a baby and he realised that making a table is a proper skill.
So, when an old friend of mine from School set up his new business Heartwood Furniture, we commissioned him to make us a table and bench from the trusses.
The wood was knackered, blackened over the years and cracked, but we had a lot of it so the guys cleaned it up beautifully and made it as light as possible for us.
After eating tea from a car boot sale table for four years, it’s amazing to have a proper dining table in our kitchen. It works a treat with our Kartell Masters chairs too.
We love it. It means a lot to us as even if we move on from this house, we’ll always have a piece of it.
There’s something lovely about a wooden toy isn’t there? The durability, colours and lack of flashing lights appeal to me. So whilst River has a Jumperoo relegated to the hallway and a handful of noisy plastic toys, I prefer her toy basket to have things in it that will last, especially as she has a penchant for chewing everything.
The best shops I’ve found for wooden toys are are TK Maxx (tbf best shop on earth), Ikea and believe it or not, Asda who do a great train set. Online faves include Babi Pur, Love to be Natural and Myriad where you can find some gorgeous ethical toys.
Here are our five current faves:
1. Grimms Rainbow
Best toy I’ve ever seen. Beautifully made, its concept is simple – a rainbow made out of curved pieces of wood. What you can do with it depends only on your imagination, I’ve seen marble runs, dolls houses and all sorts of sculptures. Granted, River at 9 months old is pretty much just into throwing each piece around but her older cousins (2 and 4) absolutely love it. Paul and I are loving it too!
Ours is the pastel version of the 10 piece rainbow and bought from Babi Pur.
2. Train by Orange Tree Toys
River’s grandparents bought her this beauty for Christmas. It’s a beautiful toy and is proudly displayed on our sideboard when not in use. River loves shuffling along with it and attempting to eat the animal heads. Again, it’s a good one because it can be reconfigured in loads of ways.
Train at Little Nut Tree Toys
The old ones are the best and a basic shape sorter is a great learning toy. I like Ikea’s house sorter but ours has an ingenious elastic bit to get the shapes out. Lovely patterns on each shape, and they’re numbered too for extra baby boffin points.
Bit of a find at M&S (cushions also M&S and can’t honestly say this is coincidental)
4. Name Block Puzzle
I’m a sucker for personalisation and this beauty didn’t disappoint when it arrived in its own felt pouch for safe storage. Choose your font, colours and add little illustrations if you like to form your own design. The blocks feel expensive and make a satisfying clinking noise when your baby once again, tries to eat them.
Personalised name block puzzle from TinyMe
We also have an alphabet block puzzle from ELC which is gorgeous too and many more letters for your buck!
Early Learning Centre Alphabet Puzzle
River is very into my guitar at the moment as I play her a song before bed (sounds very Little House on the Prairie but is really just a way to kill time) so a little instrument of her own was a lovely gift.
This small Xylophone from Hape toys is fab, each block bounces a bit and it isn’t too heavy for when it gets pulled out of the toy box and inevitably flung around the room. Modelled by my very old bear, Ted.
Xylophone from Cottage Toys
It’s been a year since I last blogged. I remember me, then. I was so green. Like so many first time parents before me, I was naive. A year “off” would give me time to paint the sideboard, do a bit of upcycling, blog during naps, maybe write a book. The reality has of course been unexpected, harder beyond measure, more joyful than ever imagined.
2016 has been my best and worst year.
The slow, unyielding end of pregnancy. I marvelled at my body but I felt as if every bit of me was being wrung out. Looking for signs the baby was on her way constantly. Ended up with a pretty clear sign – a gush of water in the middle of the night, like a movie. Except for the bit where the baby shows up 10 minutes later. 2 days for ours with the cord stuck around her ankle.
The most beautiful day – when River was born. The worst bit was when I projectile vomited reacting to the injection to get the placenta out. The best bit obviously when the baby came out alive. A rush of relief. Can’t remember the contractions but there’s only so much hypnobirthing can do…
Then, vulnerable. Both me and her. Paul too. No clue what to do, couldn’t figure out why she wanted to feed again and again and again. Keep going, just keep going. I’d have been lost without Paul and Sara. My champions and heroes while I was drowning, they propped me up. Them and sheer bloody mindedness. My girl feeding 40 times a day and so much bad advice. A baby tracking app that needs to die, don’t use one, new Mums, they make you bananas.
Constant commentary on why the baby is crying.
“She can’t be hungry” said over and over. Why not? I’m hungry pretty much 24/7 too.
“She’s just airing her lungs”. Victorian ideas also included whipping and a corset during pregnancy. Let’s leave those ideas back where they belong, pre-1901.
“She’s manipulating you”. Nope, doesn’t have the cerebral complexity.
“Oh you’re one of those hippy Mums who doesn’t want their baby to cry! harharhar” It’s good to cuddle crying people. Please hug me when I’m sad.
The sudden realisation that a boob nearly always sooths River and is a magical tool to be used day and night.
I’ve known monotony this year. Not leaving the house for a full week several times over. Scared to step out of the front door. Milk-stained slapdash fashion in the absence of doing washing. Accidentally flashing the postman. Feeling like I’ve lost who I am. Amish hair plaited and dreadlocked constantly. A permanently damaged nipple from the early days of feeding with a tongue tied baby. Anxiety that takes over my whole body. No more than two hours sleep in one go. Serious eye bags. The phrase ‘I can’t do this anymore’ said more times than I care to admit.
Then from somewhere, came strength. A fierce need to protect my girl who is every cliché- the best thing I’ve ever done, the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen, a new perspective blah blah blah. Through bleary eyes like so many parents before me, I’ve experienced joy that a baby brings. A wriggling, chirping, happy baby that I grew in my body, fed from my body, a lottery win miracle. So much bloody respect for single parents, parents of multiples and those, like my sister who keep popping them out like they’re born to do it. Heroes, all of them. (Especially my sis who did it again this year).
All-consuming love. Nothing like it.
What a year.