DIY natural wooden baby gym

I'm not a woodworker and I'm not typically a DIY-er, but this was so fun. I'm not a woodworker because, although I enjoy it, I find that the simplest of all projects require oh so many tools. That's why for this project I walked down to my bother-in-law's house. He had everything I needed except for a 3/4 in bit which I purchased and left at his house as a token of my appreciation. I'm not a DIY-er because I'm a perfectionist. When my projects inevitably end up imperfect, I immediately throw them out before the failure consumes me. That's why for this project, I decided to chill out. Lucy is all of 2 months old now and I feel like she's going to be relatively forgiving if my project falls short of perfection. 

These baby gyms can be found online for anywhere from $80-$250. If I add up everything in the "materials you'll need" section, mine was around $55, but you can swap out every detail of this design for something cheaper or pricier depending on what you're looking for. 

So if you're down to give it a try, here's what you'll need:

Materials You'll Need:
4 oak boards (.5" x 1.5" x 36")
1 oak dowel (3/4" x 36")
leather cord
wooden beads
wooden rings
white paint (zero VOC)

Tools You'll Want:
sheet sander
table saw
small drill bit
3/4 spade bit
paint brush
frog tape

Step 1: 
Cut the legs down to your desired height. You can do them one at a time or you can clamp them together and go for it! I cut my legs 31" and my dowel to 34".

Step 2.
Sand every edge of the wood you purchased. This is the longest and most tedious step, but it's worth it! You're little ones will not be gentle with this toy and you don't want any stray splinters hanging around.

Step 3:
Add a curve to the edge of your four posts using your hand saw. 

Step 4:
Use your spade bit to drill a 3/4 inch hole through each of the 4 legs. I started with a pilot hole so that the bit didn't slip. 

Step 5: 
Drill three small holes through your dowel with a small drill bit that is slightly larger than the leather cord that you purchase. Place one hole dead in the center of the dowel and then two holes 6" on either side of the center hole.

Step 6:
Paint your white accents. I chose to have my white a the top so that it would be far from where Lucy would chew. I wrapped green tape where I wanted the white to end to give it a clean edge.

Step 7:
After the pieces have dried, assemble the baby gym structure.

Step 8:
Cut a 12" strip of leather and run it through the small holes on the side of the legs. Tie the leather off on either side with a double knot and cut off any excess. Repeat on the opposite side of the gym. This will help to keep the gym from over extending. 

Step 9:
Cut a 2' leather cord strip. Run the cord through a wooden ring so that the wooden ring is hanging in the center of the strip. Then run both ends of the strip through three beads. Then run both ends of the strip through the hole in the dowel and tie it off on the other side with a double knot. Do this for each of the three holes on your dowel. 

Step 10: 
This step can be left off if you don't like the look, but I wanted something soft with a little color for Lucy to bat at. Pick a fabric that you like and cut 1/2" x 6" strips. Tie them onto the wooden rings using a single knot. I had a pillow case from Nathan's great Aunt that I used for my strips. It was just the extra touch of love I was looking for :)

Let me know if you give this a try! It was super fun for me and I hope it's fun for you!

-Theresa Joy

We have made an additional child.

So, Nathan and I went ahead and got pregnant again :) All cards on the table, I was secretly pregnant when I started this blog. I was feeling more optimistic about writing in the beginning, but then pregnancy reared its ugly head. I must say, pregnancy is cooler than I thought it would be (pre-first little one), but it definitely kicks my butt. 

Now here we are in the second trimester and the optimism is BACK! I feel like I could take on the world! I have energy, I'm hardly ever puking anymore (except today when I cleaned out the drain...) and I'm even starting to show a little bit! Life is good. 

I'm excited to get back into it! On my to-do list for the next two weeks I have: a song for sing with me, an at home workout for dare yourself fit that literally everyone should do before they hop in the shower, a post about how we (and other families that we're close to) got our son to sleep through the night since he was 8 weeks old on mini me and, finally, a helpful marriage lesson that Nathan taught me on him and her.

See you in the next few weeks! I'M BACK!

one baby product worth splurging on

Registering for baby gear can be overwhelming. Especially if you aren't really a baby person. Baby companies prey on moms. They know we'll do anything for our little ones so they make up junk we don't need and make us feel like if we don't buy it, we're not putting our kids first. 

Before I went in to register, I consulted three moms that I trust. One was my sister. She and I share the same values and she's a very loving/no nonsense kind of parent. The second was my friend Kristi. She is weirdly similar to my sister in personality and in parenting style. She just had twins so even if she wanted to get into the mommy rat race, that girl had no time for it. The third person was my friend Rachel. She's the one I call when I just want something nonsensical from a store that charges and arm and a leg for a name on a tag. Sometimes you just need a cheerleader and girl knows how to SHOP! 

Kristi's advice was, "If you couldn't think of it, you probably don't need it." People have been raising babies for thousands of years. Long before wipe warmers, personal heart beat monitors and IPads people have been raising happy kids and sending them off into the world. 

With that being said, here is one product that I didn't know I wanted, but man, once I got it, I went nuts for it:



The Woombie. This little gem saved me from so much fear and stress surrounding this swaddle business. I was so freaked out about Teddy breaking free from his swaddle and getting smothered by his blanket! Not only is that just not going to happen with this stretchy-comfy-snuggle-bag, but it looks oh so unbelievably cute when you unzip your little nugget out of it. We had a few colors, but the green one was my favorite because he looked like a little pea pod :) 


Here's what you're getting into

On this page I'll be sharing some tips and tricks I've learned along the way. Our parenting decisions reflect what we value. With that in mind, here are some of the things I value/things you'll find in this blog: my faith in Jesus Christ, happy healthy marriages, friendships, giving, healthy eating, clear expectations, decisions backed by research, seeking wisdom from your community, balance, creativity, growth and joy.

I take a lot of what I've learned about parenting straight out of my sister's playbook, so if you really don't like what I have to say, her name is Beth ;)