Hi, I’m Danica.

I guess I’m a lot of things: a wife, a mom, a daughter, a sister, a crafter, a cook, a reader, a writer, a homemaker, a pianist, and probably a lot more too. But at the end of the day, I’m just a Christian trying to find and obey God’s will.

full days, full heart. Jun 28

Don’t let him fool you. My boys call for me every night to come tuck them in (even though they already have their quilts up to their chins) and kiss them good night. The arms that lock around my neck are strong and wiry and all boy. I love my boys.

I love/hate that every meal would look like this if I let it. I can tell if the book I assigned them is good by how long it takes them to get hungry for lunch. Poor Beatrice. She can’t wait until I teach her to read so she can be part of that world, too. They love to read.

And I never get tired of watching them together. ALL DAY LONG. They love each other so deeply. They are such opposites, and already, I can see iron sharpening iron. They’re learning how to interact through differences, how to point out weaknesses in an encouraging way. I wonder what their future together holds. Maybe just a deep connection each time their paths cross? Or will they be shoulder to shoulder, pursuing Jesus together?

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We’ve had a few PJ morning walks, when my little sidekicks wake up before I can slip out of the house. Are they the cutest? I really think so. And isn’t summer all about fresh mornings spent in pajamas?

She sings. All the time, everywhere. Her favorite theme is “When the storms come, You will be there.” Yesterday, as we drove to do errands, her chatting turned to, “When I’m a big girl, I’ll sit up next to you.” I smiled and nodded, imagining trips together and long conversations and a life of having that wonderful person for a friend. She chatted on about, “And I will fill up the car with gas for you! And go into the store and buy the things. And I will order the bagels!!” Apparently ordering bagels is quite the milestone in her eyes.

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I know it’s almost July, and I’m still trying to realize summer has started. I’m surprised to look at my gardens and not just see daffodils — in my mind, that’s where we still are. But no. A sea of evening primrose, the start of lilies, baby gooseneck loostrife ready to pop, delphinium waving tall and proud (unless this current rainy day does them in.) And yarrow. Deep, sunshine-yellow yarrow. I’ve never fully appreciated how many perfect little flowers it takes to form one of those beautiful heads of gold.

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And food. The food tells me it’s not April anymore. We will eat lots of salad, in place of winter’s pb&j. Along with our CSA’s generous shares of greens, I also planted plenty of kale this year. I hope it does well, because I can certainly eat my way through a LOT of kale in a week.

She enjoys it all as much as I do. She’s a bottomless pit! While the boys sit and read, she quietly eats all of the food. ALL of it.

Sautéed garlic and spring onions, baby kale, lemon juice, and heaps of fresh basil and parsley. It makes my mouth so happy. I forget what fresh herbs taste like!

Making pretty food does something for me. Nothing fancy, just pretty. Edible sweet pea flowers, golden yellow eggs, deep red strawberries, ta-da. Even with a fridge that is bare, it feels like we’re eating like kings.

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Growing.

Suddenly, last week, overnight, I went from feeling round and lumpy to being quite clearly pregnant. Funny how that happens. Ryan, the boys, my friends tell me it’s true as their eyes widen and they exclaim, “Hey! Your belly!”

Sixteen weeks of baby growing in there. Already! It’s flying by. Maybe that’s why I’m so surprised to suddenly not fit in my clothes? Perhaps pulling out some stretchy-waisted pants will help me remember: there’s a baby coming.

(I love getting a peek at what this avocado-sized baby looks like. Astounding.)

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Even more astounding is realizing ten years of marriage has come and gone. June 25 ten years later was a much more temperate day. It also came and went with much less fanfare, but a quiet shared remembrance that Hey, today is special. This covenant is special.

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And this man is special. He’s talented in a hundred ways that I am not (and therefore am all the more impressed by.) He grows. Stagnant and stubborn is not his style. He wants to grow. There is always a sense that we are moving towards eternity as we live life together, because he just wants Jesus. Sometimes it’s hard, this calling to build something that is so here, but with our eyes continually lifted to then, but he crunches numbers hard because it’s faithfulness, and he treats each person like they’re deeply important because they are, and he comes home and gets smothered by adoring children because he needs space but they need love and they’re the most important to him.

He makes the most of life’s moments. He’s not a “at 7pm every night, we’ll have devotions in this particular format” kind of guy. He grabs the teaching moments and sits down right then and helps them learn how to hear from the Lord, and how to process life by His word.

So he grabs paper as soon as he walks in the door and draws a diagram to teach about executive, legislative, and judicial branches, their powers, and the breaches thereof. He talks about the American Constitution. But he talks mostly about kingdoms rising and falling, and our God reigning forever. About living lives that are sown in death and raised to life. This is “home schooling” at its best.

April, May, a bit of June. Jun 9

I’ve never been two months behind in this record of our lives. I’m thankful for a real journal that continues to give glimpses into what’s going on in my heart, and for pictures, capturing days that just pass too quickly.

Today, June 9, is one of the first real rainy summer days. The green of still-new leaves on trees glows in the strange combination of sun and cloud. The scent of freshly cut peonies fills the kitchen, and a vacuumed floor helps make a cozy spot. We happily read and play and research as the sound of rain quiets. When the sun appears, the children will all run outdoors as though they’d been trapped inside for years, but for now, they all are happily content with a hemmed-in day.

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Two months of highlights (in no particular order) looks sort of like this:


FedEx dropping off an anticipated box.


Watching Papa Bruce assemble the basketball hoop.


Special stories with just my baby, after the big kids went to bed.


The start of William’s first baseball season.


Freedom, after months and months of record breaking lows.


Breaking out the mower for the first go-around, and loving that exhilarating feeling of wide open spaces.


Lots of baseball practices, many of which were wet and freezing cold.


Finally resuming my early-morning walks. So, so much better than indoor workouts!


Watching baby grow to girl right before my eyes.


The perfect colored peonies that were deep-down joy to me for many days.


Boys and hoses. Laughing and shrieking and having so much fun.


Missing front tooth.


Watering baby plants.


Fiona leaving my bed behind and learning to share a room with Beattie.


Beautiful baby.


Watching this one discover the outdoors for real.


Walks about town, just because.


Marvels.


Ice cream, just because.


Hot sun, lawn mowers, swim suits and hoses.


My gardens sort of accidentally grow by 6 inches every year. Gotta keep up with those spreading perennials!


God likes HOT pink, too. A lot.


Lunch for two girls at William’s restaurant.


An excursion with the whole family with an end goal of business, but that included a picnic and walk in the woods, too.


Church wipes me out, too.


This, almost every day. Because #5, you know.


Setting out taco stuff (98% of which required me to open a package and stick in a spoon) resulted in, “We get to make our own??! You’re the best Mom EVER!”


Picking out paint colors at Lowes, because that’s way better than being bored.


Exulting in a finished year!


Loving to spend time with these happy kids.


Breath taken away by how lovely and unique this girl is.


And how old this one is getting.


Loving this one’s enthusiasm for whatever it is he’s doing.

Best of all?





Incredibly special moments making known what happens in a quiet, child-like way every day, all day.

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Easter Apr 6

Another month, gone.

March flew faster than I had time to even realize. According to photos, there were innumerable sick days, basketball games, watching wildlife from the windows, dinners consisting of comfort food, boys performing, and… that’s pretty much it.

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And this past week, there was the Resurrection to celebrate.

Food,

Reflection,

The boys’ first Seder,

Clothes and table,

Fiona’s first basket of goodies,

Family time after church.

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A truly special celebration. An annual hard-stop that my soul really benefits from. We push pause on whatever devotional track we’ve been on and just read along with Jesus’ activities during Holy Week. “Keep the kids quiet for a bit” meant working on their Holy Week coloring books I assembled (which they didn’t begin to finish, but that’s okay.) We talk about crucifixion, more than just the passing, “Jesus died for us,” that is our habit the rest of the year. This year, we sang the same two hymns every day, and can I tell you how wonderful it is to have two children old enough to follow along in their hymnals? And when we sang one of those hymns at the Good Friday service, and their eyes lit up with the pride of, “Hey, Mom, that’s our song!”, I just smiled. Treasures tucked into hearts. And for me, treasure unearthed and dusted off and reevaluated — and found to be even more precious than ever before.

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Monday is sometimes hard for me after Easter. I wake up and realize the laundry is not miraculously gone and replaced by eternally-clean robes quite yet. My hair is nappy and I stink after exercising, since my body is subject to entropy and wear and tear. Kids get on my nerves by simply appearing too early, proving that I am still living quite firmly in the Not-Yet, needing sanctification. And these, I know, are small potatoes (embarrassingly small) when compared to the trials being experience by brethren around the world — even just down the street! But they are real, and they clue me in to this: I am yet groaning along with creation, looking for Jesus to come and make all things new. (Best, best, best promise ever.)

So this morning, as rumples appeared by the myriad in my soul, I thought about the stories following that wonderful Resurrection. I thought about this promise: “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you.”

Today, rumples and wrinkles, bumps and bruises, trials and temptations: TRUE.

But, even more true, and far more amazing: POWER of GOD to be a witness in the midst.

POWER of GOD in this very, very normal, nothing-special kitchen. This very earthly pile of crusted breakfast dishes. This list of not-very-Books-of-Acts-ish duties.

POWER of GOD. IN ME.

take them by the hand Mar 8

Hi!

Another whole month has slipped by. I thought of doing a photo dump, and then realized a month of photos gets a tad long.

(Lunch gets a tad long sometimes, too.)

There are lots of pictures over at flickr. Click through for a glimpse of the month:


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“Take them by the hand…”

In the busyness of a day with four children, all of whom need different kinds of training and teaching and attention, and all done all together all day long (which requires a house keeping plan I have yet to quite master), this little phrase grabs me.

I write the plan and herd them along with the best of intentions: to nurture their talents and expand their minds and plant the Word of God deep in their hearts — but the leadership model shown by Jesus was not a “come on, hurry up, slow pokes,” sort of model. No, we’re to come alongside and walk with these young disciples.

And yes, that’s a nice concept and philosophy, but often I find I need to literally obey this verse. Take them by the hand. Not just the wobbly toddler who needs help down the stairs. That nearly-independent 8yo boy, too. The quiet 6yo who doesn’t seem to really need much. Go out of my way to take them by the hand. Invite them to sit in arm’s crook during read-aloud. Give those shoulders a hug while issuing next instruction. Hold their hand in the parking lot, and squeeze it twice (our special “I love you” code.)

The confrontation of sin and shortcomings can seem continual. How much easier the walk through confession and repentance when led by the hand.

what I’ve been up to Feb 4

Bible Study

Last year, I purposed to memorize 52 verses. I made a plan, wrote out fresh 3x5s, and got to it. Near the end of the year, I was feeling a bit…wandering. You know that feeling? Like you pull out your Bible and sit down with your coffee and just — BLANK. But you know what? God wants to speak to me. He wants me to hear His voice. He wants to strengthen me according to His Word. The inspiration may ebb and flow, but taking in truth is never in vain.

All that to say, in November, when I read this post by my sister, something about it was alive to me. I took that as the Holy Spirit speaking, and those verses became my study plan. I wrote them down in several versions. I chewed on each part. I determined to not just gloss over super-familiar verbiage and instead leave no rock unturned in my search for food. It really was the Lord speaking to me!

Since then, I’ve done a few short reading programs using YouVersion’s app on my phone. I bought a cheap composition notebook and have been copying down verses I’m memorizing and meditating on (besides my usual journaling, which is just a must in my life!) I’ve kept several different Bible translations at my fingertips, eager to hear familiar passages in new ways. God has been speaking.

MuTu

I’ve mentioned here before that after Fiona’s birth, a nagging issue of diastasis recti became impossible to ignore — or, at least, detrimental to ignore. I have no idea how long the problem had been growing, but after her delivery, it was painfully obvious that my muscles were no longer doing their job of protecting and holding my insides. It was time for a game plan.

For four solid months, beginning immediately after her birth, I began following a program developed by Julie Tupler. I wrapped my stomach day and night and faithfully did the best I could do check off my daily exercise. The awareness and strength I developed during those four months was very significant. The simple tips she gave — how to get out of bed, how to stand, how to simply breathe — in ways that would help and not hurt me were extremely valuable.

Four months later, having done the same thing day in and day out with not much change in sight, I decided to try out another program that my friends had begun, MuTu.

For anyone suffering from a very severe diastasis recti, I would highly recommend beginning with Tupler. It is gentle, it is clear, and it is healing in a very deep, steady way (in my personal experience; I have absolutely no professional expertise!) However, beginning MuTu was just what I needed to keep me on the straight and narrow: variety, activity, and consolidated to one chunk of time each day. Some of the exercises I skip, because thanks to Tupler, I could immediately sense too much strain on my connective tissue. I went through MuTu’s 12 week program and finished last spring. Throughout the summer, I kept up a bit of exercise each day, although I fell completely off the wagon in August, due to our lives’ busyness. No worries: the beginning of a new school year meant finding a new place for my 30-40 minutes of exercise to fit, and it’s been working since. I feel strong and I know that starting the morning with a high-intensity workout means more energy for the rest of the day.

Vitamins!

At the end of the summer, articles started flying around the internet about super-flus and viral epidemics. I was glad for the reminder to beef up our vitamin intake! I asked a friend for some recommendations, and we’ve been taking Vitamin C, Vitamin D, and a probiotic each morning (with extra C as needed for a boost!) This past week, a few kids were down with a fever, so it certainly isn’t a guarantee for no sickness (but then, nothing is!)

Reading

I finally made myself a reading list for the year. I have until September to complete it, and I’m way behind, but I’m more on track than I would have been! I like to read. But it takes effort. Half the effort, for me, is just having a book to read! So far, lots of books not listed have made their way into my chair-side stack, but I’ve crossed off a few. My favorite read in a very long time? John Adams. Fascinating. Challenging. Inspiring.

What are some of your favorite books?

Netflix

And the only reason more books aren’t crossed off is because I’m also completely into
tp://www.cbs.com/shows/blue_bloods/”>Blue Bloods. I’ve skipped a few episodes here and there, due to content I wasn’t digging, but for the most part, I really enjoy this show. I like the characters and stories and just the strong Dad and family vibe. Yay for a portrayal of men who love integrity.

(You know I write this with fear and trepidation. Because, of course, after telling the world I like this show, you just watch — it’s going to all take a dive and turn into something I’m embarrassed to have ever seen. Ha!)

Easy Cleaning

E-cloths and Norwex enviro-cloths: pretty much the only thing I use anymore for anything. Throw in a toilet brush and vacuum cleaner, and you’ve pretty much summed up my entire cleaning arsenal. Stains on carpets, fingerprints on glass, grease on stovetop, grime on walls… So simple and easy. And not dangerous. However, I did finally try out my friend Renee’s dish wand trick for the shower, and I’m a convert. Dawn dish soap, white vinegar, and tada — you can scrub your shower while taking a shower. Works for me!

What have you been up to?

some favorite children’s books Feb 3

Reading is a really special thing. Learning, loving — it all happens so rapidly when there’s a little one tucked in the crook of my arm with a book in front of us. It’s a favorite thing to do at our house! I was asked about some of our favorite titles, so I wandered our house and checked the bookshelves this afternoon. These are some that caught my eye — books that have made frequent appearance in the last 8 years, or were enjoyed immensely and are already being asked for again (chapter books!)

Thanks to the internet, libraries are so much easier for a stay-at-home mom to use. I always have running lists of books to borrow, and max out my “hold” permission regularly! So I hope that after reading my list here, you’ll leave some titles for me to try out!

with my babies…

Good Night Moon

Litte Fur Family

Moo Baa Lalala

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt

Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear

Mommies Say Shhh

for winter days…

The Hat

Bear Snores On

Flannel Kisses

Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening

Owl Moon

just for reading…

Caps for Sale

Ten Red Apples

Little Bear’s Trousers

Beatrix Potter’s books

Frog and Toad

The Biggest Bear

Hairy Maclary stories

The Brave Cowboy

Papa Small

Patsy Scarry’s Big Bedtime Storybook

James Herriot’s Treasury for Children

A Glorious Days

A Children’s Garden of Verses

A is for Annabelle

favorite just-for-fun read-alouds

Little House books

All-of-a-Kind Family

Moffatt books

Chronicles of Narnia

Rascal

The Saturdays

for devotion and inspiration

The Jesus Storybook Bible

The Children’s Bible in 365 Stories

Hero Tales

With Daring Faith

Shadow of the Almighty (making our way through!)

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Would you like to share a list of your favorite titles? Comment here, or on Facebook, or leave a link to your blog post! I love new books!