Danica’s Annual Birthday Giveaway!


It’s that time of year y’all! My birthday is tomorrow and I’m excited to launch this giveaway – that’s right. I’m giving YOU stuff for my birthday. To be more specific, me and several of my friends are giving you stuff. This giveaway is bigger and more diverse than the last two years I’ve done it, and that makes me so happy. The world of blogging and social media and internet friends can be kind of weird to some people, but it has brought so many incredible blessings and friendships into my life.

For those reasons and more I’m feeling very blessed and happy to celebrate my 27th year, full of fun and friends and family and food and The Office and my Reese and more good things than I can ever deserve. Huge thanks to all of you, especially these queens participating in the giveaway today! Check out what we have to offer:

I’m offering two of my favorite things:


$5 Sodalicious Gift Card

$10 Cocoa Bean Gift Card


My book club boss Bonnie is offering $25 credit to her trendy and diverse jewelry shop Hey June


My TV kindred spirit Alicia is offering $25 credit towards her print shop Oh Lovely Day Design (CHECK OUT THE OFFICE AND PARKS & REC PRINTS can you tell why we’re friends?)


My friend Texas Tayler is offering a gift package including a purse, E.L.F. and Jaclyn Hill makeup


My stylist gal Ali is offering a tube of the famed Lipsense in your choice of color


My beautiful friend Chelsea is offering a free facial from her spa – CeeCee’s Spa & Lashes


My health guru friend Keisha is offering a cool H2Glow water bottle


My girl Sierra is offering a $15 Target gift card because she gets me.


My famous mother-in-law Kitty is offering $50 credit toward a cake order – wedding, birthday, smash cake, special event cake, cupcakes, etc!

As with last year – Each prize will have an individual winner (10 winners total!) so your odds of entering and winning something are very good! Please enter using the Rafflecopter below and share with friends for more entries! Giveaway will run through Tuesday night and winners will be announced on Wednesday!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks again guys. ILYSM. Good luck!

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Autumn Love


Ugh I just freaking love fall. One thing I really love about being a mom and being a SAHM is that I get to more fully partake in seasons and holidays. I can make bucket lists and plan fun day adventures and lay out outfits and make seasonal recipes. I mean, I could do that before, but I didn’t care as much and I was too busy. Having a kid makes you more aware of the passing of time. It makes seasonal activities more fun!

img_5155 I also wonder if, as Reese gets older, it will make seasonal activities more mandatory? For example, I hate carving pumpkins. I’m scared of/bad with knives. There’s something about cleaning them out that makes me gag. I don’t have an artistic bone in my body. It’s been nice to just ~not do it. But once she’s big enough, like, we’re gonna have to do it… right? That kind of sucks. Maybe I’ll hop on the trend of painting pumpkins and we’ll just do that instead. I wonder how many other holiday/seasonal traditions I’m going to hate but feel obligated to do with my kids.


But because we have Reese and because I’m not teaching I’ve been able to more fully appreciate fall this year. I’m extensively planning and brainstorming for family photos. I have my days free for beautiful, crisp canyon walks to enjoy the vibrant leaves. I went to a pumpkin patch! Which I would never do otherwise! I jumped in a corn pit! It was crazy!



We hit up Jaker’s Pumpkin Patch in Springville, which I’m sure you’ve heard about. If not – highly, HIGHLY recommend. It’s only $2 a person and includes a bunch of cute activities. Reese and her bestie Ruby loved the corn pit, animals, and baby maze. They had a pretty good variety of pumpkins and I brought home a few cute tiny ones for my porch.




I found corn in my shoes and Reese’s diaper for what felt like a week later, but it was worth it.




My best friend E snapped some pics of my outfit for me. No baby bump is getting in the way of my favorite plaid!





We also walked up the Provo River Trail last week and it was kind of perfect. Crisp but not chilly, leaves blowing across our path but plenty on the trees, colors ranging from green to yellow to orange to red to brown. I loved it. I remember thinking “If this week was all I had of fall, it would be enough.”

I also ate an entire bag of candy corn that week, so that’s part of it too. Fall, you are just the best. ILY.

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Prenatal Education From Your Couch

If you’ve met my husband you’ll know why attending an actual prenatal class was simply out of the question. There was absolutely no way of talking The Beard into a class where he’d have to hear the words “uterus,” “placenta,” “stitches,” or “blood” over and over. Forget about any videos or pictures.

I mean, I guess I could have gone by myself but that would just be depressing. Not to mention I was teaching at the time. I was exhausted and my weekends and evenings were so precious to me. I think a big part of me also thought I wouldn’t need a legit class because I was doing a lot of research on my own and planned to get an epidural ASAP as possible. It felt like the classes were for managing natural birth or people who didn’t want to read books about it. I know that’s not really the case, but that’s where my brain was at last time.

So the entirety of my prenatal prep happened from the comfort of my own couch! It was the best! If you’re like me and don’t necessarily want to practice weird breathing in a room with strangers, or you’re too busy, or too easily grossed out – I got you. Pull on your comfy leggings and get a big Diet Coke. Let’s talk prenatal education.

The Internetz

Before you think I went into this with no prep or just my self-righteous smug attitude, don’t worry. I ~also took an online prenatal class. It fit our needs perfectly – I was able to go through at my own pace, take notes, skip sections, and involve The Beard in a way that didn’t make him *that* uncomfortable. After completing the course myself, I had flagged sections to share with him. I knew I only had one chance, so I narrowed it down to one section about what happens in labor and how he could help. It took about 30 minutes and I only made him watch one video. I mean, he still hated it. But I think it helped us both.

There are a lot of options for online birth/prenatal classes. You can find some about basically any topic, birth plan, or specialty you want! Do some searching and comparison. It seems that $60-90 appears to be a pretty average cost for a full-length class with videos and activities. Mine was $70 and I felt it was worth it, especially because it came with two in-house classes of my choice.

  • This is the online course I did – it’s $70 and included 2 free in-person classes, which I planned to attend but never did. I was going to do the breastfeeding class and the coping with labor class, and the sibling class also looks amazing. This isn’t sponsored – I just really liked it!
  • Free Childbirth Class Video Series from Baby Center
  • Lamaze offers a catalog of classes that are all around $30 (or you can bundle for  a better deal). I am going to try their free class “Labor Confidence” and possibly buy the Labor Pain Management class if I like it.
  • A pricier option is the Birth Boot Camp online class, but I have heard good things from a friend who used it to prepare for her natural birth. I like the idea of videos + materials.
  • If you’re brave you can also find some good stuff on YouTube (I watched this whole playlist – a little boring but a helpful refresher)

Also – read as many birth stories as you can, as long as it doesn’t freak you out. Go find bloggers you like and search through their archives to read up on their last weeks of pregnancy, birth stories, and postpartum transitions. I found it so incredibly helpful to hear real-life stories. You see a variety of different experiences in a way that is not as abstract as a class or book.

TV & Movies

One joke I made constantly about pregnancy was that I learned everything I need to know from The Delivery episodes of The Office. And surprise surprise it was not really a joke. Of course Hollywood shouldn’t be your landing zone for ~all of your prenatal education, but I’m not kidding when I say I learned a lot through my Netflix and iTunes library. (I know there are TONS of movies & shows & documentaries out there – this is just a short list of the ones I personally enjoyed and learned from)

  • The Delivery (The Office) – This is how The Beard learned about contractions and when it’s time to go to the hospital. Thanks Jim Halpert!
  • Baby Mama – one of my favorite movies of all time, featuring two of my favorite actresses of all time. It’s hilarious and dad-friendly, with nuggets of pregnancy wisdom.
  • What to Expect When You’re Expecting – kind of cheesy, but I really liked how it showed so many different forms of pregnancy, motherhood, and fatherhood.
  • Juno – classic and witty, the perfect movie for elevating your cankles and being glad you’re not in high school anymore.


  • What to Expect When You’re Expecting – it’s a classic for a reason. Buy one if it’s your first pregnancy, or just ask around. Chances are someone has one you can borrow.
  • The Girlfriends Guide to Pregnancy – This one was lighthearted and real. It’s written from the perspective of your girlfriends all getting together to discuss the realities of pregnancy and birth over a girls’ brunch, which I liked.
  • Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth – I already reviewed this one, but I think it’s a must-read if you want to go natural.
  • Hypnobirthing – I just started this, so the jury’s still out. I’m kind of skimming and skipping around, but I think I’m also going to try the audio recordings to prepare if I go into actual labor this time.
  • Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child and On Becoming BabyWise – I definitely recommend reading a baby sleep book or two before your little nugget arrives. I got HSH,HC for free through my OBGYN/insurance stuff and kind of skimmed it, and then checked out Babywise from the library. I wish I had read them both more fully while I was pregnant!

My Usual Library Plug: Not only does the library have tons of pregnancy, birthing, baby, and parenting books that you can check out FOR FREE… you can also get access to online editions of magazines like Fit Pregnancy and Parents also FOR FREE. Please get a library card. Just do it.

As you go through your prenatal education, keep a note on your phone or a running list of your questions and concerns. Honestly a lot of the time I believe that’s your mom intuition/God trying to prepare you. I am THE WORST at remembering to ask my doctor questions when I’m there for appointments, so writing down the questions and then doing additional research on my own before appointments helped me to feel a little more secure and informed.

Finally, your best resources are probably texting you and liking your instagram pictures right now. There are SO many moms in your life. Talk to them. Ask them questions. Listen to their birth stories. FUN FACT: I guarantee any mom will drop whatever she is doing to share hers, because it’s just this precious and amazing thing we carry around in our hearts, waiting to share whenever anyone will listen. I will talk to you about it literally anytime (here’s Reese’s birth story and obviously I could go on and on and on about it even more!) I found it very helpful to talk to young moms my age as well as my trusted moms and aunts who did it 20+ years ago.

There’s no one right way to prepare for a baby, and as long as you are doing your best to get that baby here happy and healthy – you’re a good mom. <3


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Maternity Fashion Roundup

Pregnancy Style

It’s been really fun to take more pregnancy outfit pictures this time around. There’s something about not having to get ready every day that makes me more excited when I ~do get ready. Most days, yeah. It’s a tee and leggings and sneaks to Target. But a couple of times a week I spend some time browsing Pinterest or pregnancy hashtags on Instagram and come up with some ideas for new outfits to try. Today I’m teaming up with a few other pregnant blogger friends to share our favorite Maternity Style looks right now.
Maternity Style

Kimono: Nordstrom Rack, Tee: H&M Maternity, Leggings: H&M Maternity, Flats: Target

pregnancy styleOne maternity fashion staple I noticed cropping up all over my pregnancy style pinboard was loose & drapey kimonos or sweaters. Generally, I’m pretty minimalist in my outfits. I don’t like layers, especially when I’m pregnant because I feel constricted and hot and fat and claustrophobic. But I also catch sight of my muffin top and back fat so it’s kind of a toss up. I realized that’s why a lot of these stylish girls are wearing long and drapey layers and looking so good in them – they elongate as well as masking the weird side/back areas of pregnancy. If you’re one of those girls who can’t relate to this because you only put on a little weight in your bump then just don’t even talk to me.

The other nice thing about kimonos/sweaters/dusters/etc. is that you can buy and wear them non-pregnant. I’ve had this one since 2011! I’ve noticed a lot of maternity retailers offer sweaters and kimonos and stuff that are “maternity” but, like, if you don’t need to belt it over a belly… you don’t need it to be “maternity” ??? Seems like a racket to me.

Pregnancy Style

When I first found out I was pregnant in June I took to the internet for some maternity clothes shopping and it was awesome. Fall/Winter/Spring stuff was still on deep clearance, so I snatched up pants, sweaters, and best of all – some fly leather leggings. I know the concept of a pregnant girl in leather leggings is ridiculous but that’s part of why I just love it so much.

Pregnancy Style

Graphic teeeeeeeeeeees. I love them. But can we talk about how the options are so limited if you don’t want something that says “preggers” or an overdone joke about how it’s a ninja or a dinosaur or a watermelon? Is it too much to ask that a maternity graphic tee be just a regular graphic tee in a maternity cut? Please and thank you. (ASOS is best for this, just fyi.)

Pregnancy Style

Don’t worry, I’m getting my hair done this week. Eek. 

Reese is such a tornado these days that it’s practically like a Bigfoot sighting if I can get a picture of her where she is A. Looking at the Camera, B. Smiling, C. In the entire frame. Even with her cool Uncle Mitch helping with these photos she was still so distracted by Glen Coco and refused to move the lil baby pumpkin from in front of her face. (??) We have family pics in a couple of weeks and I’m just praying now that we can get some good ones of her. Lord Beer Us Strength.

Check out how the other pregnant ladies rock their maternity style:

Tayler from The Morrell Tale
Danica from Danikan Skywalker
Bonnie from The Life of Bon
Emma from Ever Emma


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Creative Retreat: How to Refresh & Reinvent

Creative Retreat

Can you handle two introspective, big picture, abstract writing posts in one week? Well buckle up because here comes another one. This goes hand-in-hand, right on the heels of Wednesday’s post. The ideas and thoughts and realizations of Wednesday’s post about molting really came to a head on a long drive through the canyon with The Beard right before General Conference. I think I started crying before we even got to the mouth of the canyon, and didn’t stop until we emerged from that autumn paradise. It was the good kind of cry, though. The kind that just releases everything, leaving you exhausted and clean and dry.

I talked through all my fears and realizations, and he listened and shared and helped. Do you ever realize something for the first time as it comes out of your mouth? There was a whole lotta that. Getting out of the house, seeing beautiful leaves and scenery, stopping for views and to breathe in fresh air, and being totally undistracted by phones and TV and a toddler (car naps ftw) just HEALED me. I still felt very brittle and fragile, but less messy somehow. More clear.

I emerged from General Conference even clearer, which was to be expected. I heard things I needed to hear. I felt things I wanted to feel. None of the immediate pressing issues that caused the breakdown were completely resolved, of course, but I finally felt equipped to face them again. I was going to emerge metaphorically with my head down and sunglasses on, but at least I wasn’t cowering in my room.

The next few days got lighter and brighter. I had plans. We made a schedule. I went slowly, carefully, so that I was aware of my feelings and thoughts. The molting process cannot be ignored, you see. And then suddenly it felt like I tore a really big hole in that tight, restrictive skin. I could breathe; I could see.


You know when Leslie is in a slump after the Harvest Festival? It goes SO WELL and then she can’t think of anything? She panics and stresses and blames others and freaks out and doesn’t sleep and tries to control everything. (Me as h*ll, by the way.) Finally, Ron locks her in a room and forces her to turn her brain off and sleep. When she wakes up she is refreshed, renewed, and returns with 1,000 great ideas. She’s rip roarin’ and ready to go.

That was me last week, and it felt like eating the most delicious bite of your favorite food – drawn out for several days. I felt a thrill. I felt satisfied. I felt comfortable and familiar. I felt excited and hopeful and fresh and valuable and best of all – I felt like Danica. I have the scribbled pages of legal pads and notebooks in every room of my house to prove it.

A few different things contributed to what I’m calling my Creative Retreat: the first was Reese having a nightmare at 4 am on Thursday morning. It’s rare and we were able to soothe her sad little nervous face back to sleep almost instantly, but for whatever reason I was just wiiiiiiiide awake. After trying unsuccessfully for about 45 minutes to go back to sleep, I decided to just get up and get some work done. The second inciting event was Reese puking the following morning. Terrified of the stomach flu that’s been making it’s vicious rounds in the community these last few weeks (including our extended family, with whom we’re basically always in contact), I immediately cancelled all my Friday plans and hunkered down for a day in bed.

I spent these two days as a sort of creative retreat. I spent a lot of time thinking about who I am and who I want to be. I took a lot of notes, made a shiz ton of lists. I browsed for ideas and inspiration. Created a new board. Texted friends and family about good and important things. Read and listened to uplifting things. I just completely retreated from the “real world” and used every second to think creatively.

Now, creative is not a word that has ever been used to describe me. I am a lot of things, but creative isn’t really one of them. But that’s the thing about molting – it’s creating a whole new skin, a whole new Danica. And I want to! I’m excited about it! Normally creating isn’t natural or easy for me, but this time it came naturally. It flowed, smooth and thick and strong.

I want to share this, even though it was very personal and humbling, because I really think it was a triumph. And because I wish I had done this a year ago. If you find yourself a burnt-out Leslie Knope, tired and disassociative and lost – maybe this creative retreat will work for you too. When you need to rejuvenate and restart and re-be-yourself – take a creative retreat.

My Creative Retreat

Get Ahead/Remove Daily Responsibilities

I think the biggest reason this was able to happen for me was because I made a strong effort to get ahead of all my work/chores/everything in preparation for General Conference. I had this strange epiphany that getting ahead makes it easier and more fun to ~stay ahead. My work was more fun when it wasn’t on a deadline. Chores felt like extra credit because I was doing them before they became gross or necessary. Removing the daily deadlines and requirements not only gave me the time I needed to dedicate to a creative retreat, but freed up so much mental space and energy. It’s hard to be creative when you just keep thinking about all the work you have to do. It’s easy to be creative when you suddenly have an entire day with nothing you ~have to do.

**If this means waking up early, staying up late, or saying no to plans or obligations – do it. Not for a whole week or anything, just a day or two will work. Get your hustle on to free up as much time as possible. It’s worth it.


For a creative retreat you are really going after some monumental change and vision. You’re not gonna get that if you do everything exactly as you’ve always done it. Ideally you will completely retreat from your life – physically, mentally, emotionally. If time, money, and toddlers weren’t factors I think the best possible situation would have been for me to go to a new city and get a hotel for a day or two or head to a cabin (but with wifi? idk). Obviously this isn’t a reality for most people, and that’s ok. My creative retreat literally took place entirely at home.

It’s more of a mental thing. By getting up at 4 am and “retreating” to my living room while the world slept around me, I was mentally removing myself from my normal, everyday life, even if it was unintentional at the time. Another thing I noticed from this creative retreat is that I resisted the urge to turn on the tv in the background. I spent time reading and listening to music and browsing Pinterest and reading blogs… I wasn’t bored. I just mentally committed to the tasks at hand. Yeah, Reese spent a lot of time watching Youtube on the iPad, too (hey! She was sick!). If you can set up some type of way to engage your kids or avoid plans, that’s how you can manufacture your own retreat.

Get Your “Molt” On

You kind of have to be ready and aware of what needs to “molt.” You can probably do that without having a month-long meltdown like me. Before you can think about your big creative remodel, you have to clear out all the crap. It doesn’t have to be negative, although it might be. Basically you need to know what you want to change. How does Point A look differently from Point B? Here are some things I thought about/made me feel awful/induced crying that also really helped me to launch into a productive creative retreat:

  • Things that I feel embarrassed about or ashamed of
  • Stuff I avoid – people, situations, obligations.
  • Reasons people don’t like me or don’t want to be my friend
  • Ways my blog doesn’t look, sound, or perform like I wish it did
  • Things I wish I could change
  • In what ways do you wish you were more like someone you admire?
  • Preventative measures that would preclude future breakdowns/mistakes
  • Areas that have remained unchanged for years – I truly believe everything should be improving most of the time, even if at an incremental pace
  • Criticisms I’ve received – constructive or otherwise (be gentle with yourself and don’t put too much stock in these. But usually they hurt because they’re slightly true and something to improve upon. Just use it as a starting point.)
  • When have you been your very best? How were you different then?
  • What keeps you from going after that dream? From achieving that goal? From losing that weight? Identify road blocks.
  • The Life Changing Magic of Tidying up helped SO MUCH. The fact that I did the KonMari method in the weeks leading up to this made my creative retreat possible.

This step should probably also include identifying and unfollowing people and accounts that make you feel bad, indulge the parts you want to “molt,” or otherwise don’t fit with who you want to become.

Find Your Mentor

I don’t mean your boss or a cool professor who you meet with once a month to review your personal progress. I mean someone who is equal parts inspiration and goals, who you can learn from on your own. Someone you genuinely admire, and who you’d like to be at least pretty similar to while still maintaining your own identity. You want to pick someone, or a small group of people, who you (secretly)(in your wildest dreams) think is your best self on steroids. Honestly this person should be either a “celebrity” or fictional, because I think it takes a lot of the comparison pressure off you. They don’t need to be perfect, and they shouldn’t be the exact mold of who you want to become. This world doesn’t need shot-for-shot remakes. This world needs YOU.

Pick a person or two with whom you really identify, and who you truly admire. Remember that they are either fictional (unrealistic) or a real person (not perfect) so you need to pick and choose the parts of them you want to emulate. Research them, follow them, learn about them, take notes! Figure out how they became that way. See how you can become more like them. If it’s a blogger – go through their archives, scour their site. If it’s a “celebrity” – follow them, read their books. If it’s a real life person – talk to them, email them, ask them questions. Write down or save the information you like – everything that makes you feel more creative and illustrates the picture of who you want to be.

For example, I spent nearly all of Friday watching videos and reading posts from The Alison Show. I’ve always been a casual fan and liked most of what she’s done, but this reinvention of myself has shown me how much I truly admire her and what she’s created. When I discovered her a few years ago it was abstract and not relatable to me, although entertaining. Now I find myself loving the idea of throwing parties and events, making courses, helping people feel awesome, and having a lot of unembarrassed fun. I think her dance videos and crafty stuff is cool, but that part doesn’t really apply to my reinvention, and that’s ok. I just tried to absorb as much of the stuff as I could that made me go “Yeah. H yeah. I want to do that. I want to be like ~that.”

Leslie Knope is my fictional one. She’s also helpful to me because many of her drawbacks are also mine – overbearing, steamrolling, overwhelming, obnoxious, self-righteous, etc. But the good stuff? Working SO hard. Caring SO much. Giving thoughtful and personalized gifts. Throwing kicka$$ parties. Having a reputation.

Find your “mentor.” Spend some time in your creative retreat dissecting this person and using them as positive inspiration. It can be things as simple as what they wear or as complex as how they’ve handled adversity. Whatever you want to emulate, notice.

Immerse Yourself in Inspiration

Reese was sick and sad, so I snuggled into bed with her on one side, my notebook on the other, and my laptop on my knees. I spent literal HOURS on the internet browsing basically everything. Pinterest is actually a super insightful window – I have spent years randomly pinning things I like. Friday I went through probably 75% of my boards. You start to notice trends of all types – things I didn’t realize I loved, things I tried hard to like because they were trendy, cool things that don’t really fit who I am, things I’ve outgrown. I edited ruthlessly and created an entirely new secret board which I creatively named “New Danica.” It has everything that looks and feels like the Danica I want to be, so there’s quotes, outfits, master bedrooms, artwork, product collages, makeup looks, everything. I also edited my boards ruthlessly, which felt awesome.

Create a new playlist with songs that make you feel like the ~you that you want to be. Cut things out of magazines. Online shop/browse. Check out a variety of different blogs. Google things. Search your Instagram Explore page and hashtags. I think I watched 30 different YouTube videos spread across 5 or 6 different topics. (Everyone should watch Alison’s How To Be Awesome series because it just really fit and directed my whole creative retreat vibe.) Follow blogs and Instagram accounts that inspire you!

You will know if you’re on the right track if you’re feeling super motivated to wear a cute outfit tomorrow or reorganize your pantry or call a friend or sew something. This step should make you feel energized and excited to be the new you.

Read a Self-Help Book

You had to know I was going to recommend that you read a book, right? I read #Girlboss in under 24 hours right before this creative retreat started. It spurred the whole thing, honestly. There are a billion self-help books out there. You just need to find the right one for you. My shift has gone from fashion and snark to helping people and building something useful – #Girlboss was the perfect book for me to read at this point. Do some research about self-help books. Ask around, read reviews, check Goodreads. Here are my recommendations:

Maybe you want to read something that will help you grow your small business. Maybe you’re in need of help in your marriage or with your kids. Maybe you’re experiencing a spiritual/existential crisis. Maybe you’ve lost your identity or confidence. I guarantee you there is a self-help book out there that could change your life for the better. Take the time to invest in yourself. Reading a self-help book is such a good way to have your own creative retreat.

Make an Improvement Plan that Excites/Scares You

It can’t stop here. Taking a day or two to sit on your couch and drink Diet Coke and browse Pinterest is literally the best. Despite Reese being sick, Friday was an incredible day for me. I took so many notes and wrote down power words and made a mood board and found inspiration for my blog design and style revamp. I felt like a completely new woman. But a Pinterest board doesn’t do all that much. You’ve gotta make a plan.

I found a few free ecourses to help me meet the goals I have for my blog. I subscribed to some podcasts that came highly recommended by creative and self-employed women I respect. I requested a few books and audiobooks to continue this reinvention. I wrote out some goals and tried to get as specific as I could about the steps and when I would accomplish them. I filmed a makeup video and started learning to use iMovie, even though the entire time my brain was screaming “YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT YOU’RE DOING!!!” I did it. It scared me and it was exciting. That’s how you know this creative retreat is working.

I have a long way to go. I don’t have all the puzzle pieces of that girl I want to be put together. Browsing the internet for an entire day can be a total waste of time, of course. But I’m here to tell you that after a hard year, a hard month, and a hard week all stacked on top of one another – I was ready to reinvent and rejuvenate. This so-called creative retreat allowed me the space and freedom to disengage for a while. Just long enough to catch a vision of what I want, what I can become.

I may not seem to be changing, or you may notice a revolution in me. But I have found a way out of this silly spiral and I’m emerging with fresh breath and renewed energy. I’ve got plans and ideas and a stronger sense of self-possession than I think I’ve ever enjoyed before.

Thanks for being there for me, guys. I really mean it. Your support, friendship, and kind words have meant more to me in these past months than you have any way of knowing. I love you guys and hope to become a better version of me that bugs you a little less. I’ll still bug you. Just… less.

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It’s not news to you guys that I’ve been going through a lot of stuff in the last few months/year. I don’t mean for it to sound like my world has fallen apart – no one is dying, no one is getting divorced, no one is being diagnosed with mental illness, nothing like that. Just your average adult human struggles, I imagine: relationships, insecurity, health, money, disappointment, comparison, loss, frustration, control, fear. It’s so weird to even write about challenges or struggles because it seems to somehow instantly amplify them just by typing them out (and sharing them with hundreds of people on the internet lol). By saying “I’m having a rough time” I worry that people think my life is a disaster that I’m trying to cover up, or that I’m a prissy little spoiled brat who is simply undergoing normal adult life and can’t take it. I’d say I’m probably just in the middle, like any typical person.

I hope you guys know I’m ok – I’m generally very, very happy. I don’t ever want to come off as ungrateful, entitled, weak, or wallow-y. I know I’m so so fortunate. I have a beautiful daughter, who is so much more than I ever expected or earned. I have a husband who makes me laugh, stands firmly in my corner, lets me fly, and is my rock of all rocks. Both of my families are the envy of everyone I know, with good reason. I’m surrounded by friends I do not deserve and can’t believe I have. I have a sharp brain, a perfect job, fulfilling skills, and a body I’m proud of (mostly). Overall it’s a pretty picture.

But it doesn’t mean I don’t still have hard things. And I’m learning, sometimes painfully, not to compare them to other hard things. Or good things. I’m just learning not to compare. Hard is hard is hard. Having good things happen doesn’t mean the bad things didn’t. Feeling sad for much of the last year didn’t mean I felt sad for ~all of the last year, or that I want those vibes to define 2016 as a whole. I’m allowed to have hard things that aren’t cancer or divorce or bankruptcy or death. I’m allowed to feel like my world is caving in when in reality everything has kept on spinning. The idea that I can’t talk about them because it’ll sound whiny or that I can’t feel hurt because it wasn’t third-world devastation is not productive or realistic.

I’ve been reading a lot of Brene Brown and self-help books, can you tell? I’ve always loved self-help books, but they’re even more self-helpful now for some reason. The month of September was clear and obvious. The message was “Danica. Get your ish together and learn the lessons you need to learn, become who you need to become, change what you need to change. Or else this crap will keep happening.” I think for the past year whenever weird or bad or painful or tough things happened, they all felt unrelated or only slightly in our control. And to some extent that was true. Sometimes ish happens. Sometimes other people make choices or say or do things that just make you want to set yourself on fire. Sometimes circumstances change beyond your control.  There was plenty of this going on.

But sometimes you mess up. Sometimes it actually IS your fault. Sometimes it’s consequences catching up to you, even if they’re from days ago, months ago, years ago. Sometimes you don’t see all of who you are through an accurate lens. There was also plenty of this going on.

I think either way – we are here to learn and be tested. We’re not here to progress on a predetermined track, although often it feels that way (especially to Type-A, planning, step-by-step people like me – we prefer it that way!). Whether it’s random stuff falling apart in your life or a stupid thing you said to someone or a personality trait that you never thought was bad… trials and challenges are created in our lives, and their purpose at the end of the day is to teach us. If, and it’s a big if, we will be taught.

Well, I wasn’t being taught. You’d think the teacher would have figured this out. When I look back at the last year it’s painfully obvious, but it didn’t feel that way at the time. It always felt like a sequence of weird, random, sucky events. Something weird would happen, I wouldn’t respond to it well, I’d ignore it, I’d treat myself and others poorly as a result, I’d sing songs and make lists and gloss over everything and push through, thinking eventually “this too shall pass.”

The danger in that is I refused responsibility. I omitted ownership. I dismissed direction. By blaming coincidence or other people, we become victims and that’s just not me. My favorite habit of the 7 Habits is be proactive, and I feel like for the most part I get it right. When this variety of tough things happened (and kept happening), I thought I was doing the right thing by saying “Ok let’s make lists. Let’s read scriptures. Let’s wake up earlier. Let’s distract ourselves with fun/good/productive things!” That’s all fine and dandy, except I rarely, if ever, stopped to say “Why is this happening? Maybe it’s me? What am I to learn from this? What am I to change?”

This week I was getting ready while Reese watched an episode of Octonauts (we are learning so much about the ocean, you guys), and they were talking about this creature who molts and grows a new skin. Obviously this isn’t a new concept to me, and I wasn’t really paying much attention, so I was surprised at how much I found myself thinking about when they were talking about why the creature had to molt – days later. They talked about how it can be really raw and uncomfortable to lose that skin and grow a new layer, and it has to be done so carefully. But the creature HAS to shed that outer skin because it’s too small. They’re growing, so the skin has become aged, tight, itchy, restrictive. The entire process of molting can be uncomfortable and quite gross. It takes time, and it isn’t pretty.

There have been a lot of times in the last year where I’d set up one side of the card castle that had collapsed, just as another side tumbled. There would be days or weeks or even a month where the whole thing stayed up, and that was awesome! But, come on, it was a card castle. I have talked often and repeatedly about going through a tough time or figuring something out; y’all have probably gotten sick of it. I know I have. It was just putting out fires and the recovery afterwards was real, but so small and short-lived. And I just know this one is different.

Because this one is molting. I’ve been tight and itchy and uncomfortable for almost a year. I think I’ve shed parts of the skin to free up breathing room, or else just rubbed them completely raw. Finally there is no more mistaking the discomfort. I’ve outgrown this skin, just as I was meant to. We’re all meant to. Just as the skin I’ll grow next will only fit for a certain period of time before another round of molting.

I don’t know why I’ve fought this molting so hard – it’s good. It’s happy. It’s a better, brighter coat ahead of me. I guess it’s because shedding the largest piece, the most restrictive piece, means admitting to mistakes and accepting a humbling reality of growth. Growth isn’t always learning cool new things and developing awesome skills. Sometimes growth is realizing you suck, and embracing it so you can suck less.

There’s still a lot of tight, uncomfy skin surrounding me, and I’ve got a lot of work ahead. But I’m going to get it all off. I’ll peel it off, bit by bit, with tears and help and hope and excitement. Because the new skin will be better. That new Danica is better.

Maybe she’ll even learn to cook. Who knows.


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Birthday Wishlist

chic birthday cake

The older I get the weirder this is, but I’m not stopping. I feel like I’m pretty easy to shop for – I like just about everything. And even better – I LOOOOOVE gift cards. Because not only do I get something, I will get something I really like, and the pleasure of shopping/researching/deciding/purchasing is almost as fun as the actual item I come home with.

But as you get older it’s not as cool to have things that you want, and often the things that you want become boring and practical. What I really want is a cleaning service to come to my house and deep clean it, top-to-bottom, or for a new dining set. Neither of those is exciting or practical.

I’m a big believer in birthdays. It’s a day to fill someone’s love tank and to celebrate life and personality. And as tacky and immature as it sounds, I really believe in celebrating my own birthday too. Somewhere along the line of growing up it becomes weird to celebrate or promote your own birthday, but I don’t really think it should. Why shouldn’t we be excited about another year of life? Why shouldn’t we take the opportunity to hang with the people we love most and eat tacos? These are my birthday mottos.

So I always spend some time online shopping, browsing the mall, traipsing through blogs during the month of October, thinking about my birthday wishlist because I’m 12. {Don’t worry, I also kind of throw my own birthday parties.} I’m actually really grateful that with age, The Beard and our families have kind of just decided to be more open and honest about what we want/need for holidays and special occasions. It’s just so convenient and nice! Yes, sometimes we think of something genius and thoughtful and surprising to get someone. But more often than not we’re scratching our heads and stressing about it – so when someone says “You know… I’d really like _________.” it’s just a win-win for everyone. Now the Beard and I just kind of keep a running list of good present ideas and share them with each other before birthdays, Christmas, Valentine’s, Mothers/Fathers Day, etc. Then when my mom or my MIL asks “What does Ryan want for his birthday?” I can shoot them a few links and he ends up with things he really loves. And now a month later hopefully he’s returning the favor. 🙂

Another reason I like to compile a “wishlist” is it really shows me where I’m at in my life. Some things have been on my wishlist for years. Some things will always be on my wishlist. Some of the things on my wishlists from years past make me laugh – or cringe. What you want or need at the time is a window into that exact period. I also think it’s a nice way to sort out your priorities – yes, most of the stuff on my wishlist is more expensive than I’m truly willing to spend, but I might weigh them and splurge on one or two and feel really ~really excited about it. I’m just justifying my worldliness and vanity at this point.

Without further pointless and prideful rambling – if I had a crazy birthday budget and wishlist – this is what it would be!



Chronicles of Narnia, boxed set: I stole the well-loved, well-worn paperback boxed set from my parents’ house, but I truly think we need a nice boxed set for my little family. The Venn Diagram of things The Beard and I both like is scarcely overlapping, but squarely in the middle are these books.

Prenatal Massage: no explanation necessary.

Leopard Coat: I’ve been secretly wanting one for years. I pin them nearly every time I see them and it took me a while to see the pattern. I know they’re loud and silly and I’m a mother, but I just feel this in my bones.


Black Beats: I love my pink Beats, but I saw a girl with huge black wireless ones just killing it at the gym and I was like “Dang. I need those.” Part of me really thinks I’ll work out more/harder if I have them. Part of me just loves how gangsta they look.

Illustrated Chamber of Secrets: These books are incredible. When I opened my Sorcerer’s Stone for Mother’s Day I literally started to cry.

Fitbit Alta: I really love the passive functioning of my Flex, and I think I’m ready for a few more features. Plus black and gold? Duh.


Encyclopedia of Me: Someone gave my mom this book and it’s just the coolest. I’m a crappy journal-er but I want to document more of my life (lol as I type on a blog where I write about my life 3x a week, but you know there’s a difference!). This gives you cool prompts and ideas, and it doesn’t have to be a daily or event-based thing, which I like

JCrew Pumps: The return of the classic pump kind of makes my heart flutter. With a broken toe and pregnancy and not teaching, my heels have been woefully neglected. But a classic beautiful pump like this? Man. That’s an investment piece I’d wear forever, even if just to church. The tweed! The patent leather cap toe! The rich green! I love them all.

Sephora (or Ulta!) Gift Card: I’m having another upswing of makeup obsession. It comes in waves, and this time I think it has lots to do with my inability to control the way my body looks so I might as well make sure my face looks good lol. I have a few products I’m really excited to try – Makeup Forever’s Ultra HD foundation, Becca champagne highlight, Anastasia Glow Kit, Too Faced Melted matte lipstick in a mulberry or nude color, the list is far too long.

refillable movie popcorn

One of my birthday wishlist items was already completed – my sister showed up last week with a full refillable bucket of movie popcorn! It’s only $3 per refill and it’s actually BIGGER than the buckets you buy at the movie theater. Yahtzee. I only live like a mile away from a Megaplex so suffice it to say this will get used whether I’m going to movies or not! #blessed

But what I really want and really look forward to for my 27th birthday are only two things: A delicious dinner with my two awesome families, and a Favorite Things party with all my favorite ladies to talk about the favorite stuff we love. Because in the end – who cares about shoes? (I do, but not as much as I care about my people.)

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20 Weeks – Looks, Thoughts, Lately

pregnancy style

Countdown Tee here pregnancy style
I remember celebrating 20 weeks last time at The Beard’s birthday dinner, and thinking “Oh geez. What have I gotten myself into? I’m ~only now halfway. I feel so fat. I AM so fat. How in the world am I going to do this for another 4.5 months??” But this time I was like “Whoa. Halfway already? Alright!!!”

I’m not sure what it is. Having a toddler to chase all summer definitely helped (last time I was an off-duty teacher just napping and reading pregnancy books, boo). It also helped that we didn’t announce quite as early. We’ve also been very distracted with about 1 billion good/bad/crazy things going on in our personal, social, private, and family lives. Not to mention the weird conditions and side effects I’ve had with this pregnancy. There’s just been… a lot going on. It’s been a weird few months.

What I am mostly feeling here at 20 weeks is grateful. Grateful to be entrusted with another little girl. Grateful that the bleeding stopped and wasn’t damaging. Grateful that the SPD “lightning crotch” hasn’t plagued me quite yet. Grateful for a library card, Netflix, and my incredible family & friends who have made being on light rest for much of this pregnancy actually bearable. Grateful for good doctors and modern medicine. Grateful for Diet Coke.

pregnancy style

pregnancy style

Mostly feeling grateful for these maternity sweatpants. There’s nothing particularly great or cute about this outfit – I just wore it for errands and lunch with my girls – but I had to talk about these pants. They’re from H&M (right here ON SALE!) and not only are they totally comfy, but they give more coverage than legging and THEY HAVE POCKETS. I think I need them in gray, too.

pregnancy style

Although 20 weeks did seem to sneak up on me, I still feel that “whoa. I have ~that far left to go?” It’s probably anxiety-inducing for most women. Especially if you already feel pretty big. About three weeks ago I thought I looked cute-pregnant. Little belly, normal legs, arms, and boobs. And now I’m looking in the mirror at this 20 week body and trying not to feel a little discouraged. I’ve gained less this time around, but it doesn’t feel that way now! Just look at my boobs Judas Priest. And I really just wish I could be working out and doing Zumba and lifting weights to feel like I’m ~doing something about it, but alas. My placenta wants me to be lazy, so Netflix it is.

My hips/sciatic nerve is much worse than I ever had it with Reese, although that’s a trade I’d make for the SPD pain any day of the week, please and thank you. I feel like I’m already waddling – is that just something subconscious and weird that you start doing because you’re body is like “Oh yeah I remember when we used to do this!!”??? Embarrassing.

I want baked potatoes with a mound of sour cream, as well as the salty french fries that were customary with Reese’s pregnancy.

I’m more dehydrated and congested than last time. Ugh why congestion? It’s the most random and stupid pregnancy side effect. At least hip and back pain make ~sense.

I’m already nesting hardcore, wayyyy more than I ever did at any point with Reese. Is this growing up? Is this baby just giving me more mom hormones?

I have pregnancy narcolepsy! Well not really obviously, but most nights I am falling asleep mid-conversation, with my glasses on, fingers still on Pinterest, or with a book on my face. It’s crazy! I’ve been used to my insomnia/nighttime anxiety for so long that this change is just so foreign!

I wouldn’t say I ~forget that I’m pregnant, but it just doesn’t occupy 92% of my brain like it did last time. It’s more of a back-burner situation this time. Autopilot. Sleepwalking.

I think I felt Reese kick/flutter much earlier than this babe, but once she started it’s been super consistent. The Beard was even able to feel her, albeit gently, on his birthday which was really fun.

She feels different, in many ways. I used to roll my eyes at stuff like that. “Really? A 4 oz blob in you ~feels different than a previous 4 oz blob in you?” And I can’t explain it, but she does. She seems more quiet, independent, stubborn, sassy, and on-her-own-terms. Time will tell if my intuition is just the Nutella-crazed ramblings of a pregnant mom. It’s funny to look back and see things from the womb that were just so ~Reese before I knew she was Reese – like how she was either happily bouncing or sleepy chill. That’s such a Reese way to be. So there’s at least something to this mom intuition thing.

I finally feel, at 20 weeks, like I have my ish together when it comes to this pregnancy. Literally since finding out I was pregnant again it has been a bit of a roller coaster. I’m ready to settle down, even if it means a slower 20 weeks. Rather than counting down and waiting until I can exercise or focusing on everything I think I can’t do, I’m feeling more at peace with it. Embracing it. Actually RESTING. Listening to my body and taking care of it. Turning my focus to more productive areas.

One thing that has particularly helped me lately is visualization. I use those insomnia moments at 6 am, the times I’m trying to nap and failing, the breaks I take from a pile of freelance work, to put my brain and body in a positive place. I visualize the rest of this pregnancy going well – through my birthday, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, last minute preparations, and then every step of labor and delivery. I’m trying to picture different labor & delivery scenarios and how I’ll handle them. I picture being healthy and happy. I try to relive that incredible, indescribable feeling of seeing Reese for the first time – but imagining it for this new little girl.

When things are feeling just too ~pregnant, or I’m getting cagey and restless, or the anxiety threatens to derail my day – it just really helps to put everything in perspective with a little visualization, wishful thinking, and sometimes buying some cute baby girl accessories online. This truly is a blessing, and one for which I am so excited and grateful. I’m grateful for these last 20 weeks and hopeful for the next 20(+!) to come.

Lord beer me strength.

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Books I Read: September

It was a pretty good month for books, even if I didn’t read or finish a few that I had planned for the month of September. Sometimes you just gotta know when to say when, ya know? Life is too short to waste time on books that aren’t ~speaking to you. I started to realize this month that there were SO MANY BOOKS out there that I was desperate to read, and when I really wasn’t enjoying the audiobook I was listening to (Devil in the White City – I think I just need to give it a try NOT on audiobook, because it was so confusing) I decided to move along to something better.

Don’t be a book martyr! Put down books you don’t like! Read stuff that makes you feel 100 emoji! Reading should be exciting and fulfilling!

I have 2 books waiting for me at the library and several more on hold lists – audiobooks, ebooks, and physical copies! And they’re all books I’m excited about reading! Sometimes it’s hard to find the balance with my “3 Books A Month” goal. I follow the book clubs of other people or read what sounds good or is available, but it’s so much better when I spend the time on books that are exciting, uplifting, engaging, or otherwise un-put-down-able. There are enough good books out there that we shouldn’t have to force ourselves to read meh books that don’t resonate with us. That’s my two cents. Here we go.

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up

book review

I’m not going to write another review here, because I already dedicated a whole post to it. Suffice it to say that I really REALLY enjoyed it, and look forward to continuing the process in my home. I also have Spark Joy on my shelf to read when I feel like it – probably when I think the process is “done.”

Career of Evil

book review

In this third installment of the Cormoran Strike novels, Strike and Robin become the targets themselves. A disgruntled figure from Strike’s past stalks and harasses the duo with ominous body parts to harm their business and eventually – them. Their personal lives are upended as the killer dominates their time and they spend every waking minute tracking down potential subjects from Strike’s past. Their professional and personal relationship strains and grows throughout the commotion, ultimately coming to a fever pitch as they close in to solve the murders. 

This book was by far my favorite from the series. Seeing from the killer’s anonymous perspective was chilling and fresh. The crime & mystery were yet again weird AF and original, continuing the theme of taking Strike and Robin into strange, unfamiliar territories to solve a case. Now I’m just pissed that there isn’t another one to read! But very excited about the BBC series that begins filming this fall to air next year. I really want more people I know to read this and talk to me about it!!!!


  • You get more depth and backstory to both Strike and Robin in this book, and it makes you like and understand them both so much more. It isn’t all forced or endearing, either. It just makes them real and much more part of the story.
  • The killer perspective was creepy and confusing, but in a good way that lent suspense and adrenaline to the reading.
  • The amputee side stories were so FREAKING WEIRD but just kept me coming back for more. Definitely original.
  • I have only listened to these books on audiobook, but they are SO GOOD to listen to! The narrator is amazing and they’re just the right amount of interest and ease to listen to when you drive, clean, workout, or do most of your daily tasks. I fly through them!
  • The ending! I found myself relieved and proud of Strike. I guess I like it more as time goes on and I look back on it. I’m so excited to read the next book ASAP AS POSSIBLE.

Less Good

  • The ending! I found myself confused at where this is going and why and what’s happening and DANG IT JOANNE WHY ARE YOU STILL DOING THIS TO ME
  • Still plenty of swearing, some violence, sexual stuff. I don’t think ~quite as much as the other books, but still there.
  • Some heavy stuff – child abuse, sexual abuse, etc. Definitely some triggers.

So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed

book review

Jon Ronson interviews people from all walks of life who have been publicly shamed – or a big part of publicly shaming others. He begins with a journalist who was caught plagiarizing, talks with the PR girl who jokingly tweeted about AIDS, and even those in the criminal justice system who deal with shaming on a daily basis (as well as many more). He looks into the dynamics of public shaming, including the history of public shaming, the role of modern technology, anonymity, and the way in which it affects people’s lives, jobs, families, and more.

This book was absolutely fascinating. I found myself giving The Beard the cliff notes version of each story and chapter because I wanted to talk about it more in depth. I began noticing trends of public shaming in my own life – stories I’ve followed, Twitter scandals, even anonymous bullying on my own blog. Just fascinating. It’s winding non-fiction, and pretty soft on the science, but definitely applicable and interesting to everyone in the social media world today.


  • It really did change my brain and views on scandals and public shaming. It forced me to think about how things truly do affect people, and the responsibility we must take for our actions. Just because someone ~did do something bad, doesn’t mean it’s our personal responsibility to judge and punish them for it.
  • I like that he balanced it, albeit only slightly, with the idea that sometimes we ~should feel bad! He interviews a notorious judge who uses public shaming as part of his sentencing, and the judge showed that it truly works in some situations. Mostly when people did something actually, truly wrong and the punishment was tailored to the crime.
  • It really made me think about how we punish our kids and students. He talks with people in the prison system who believe that incarceration is largely ineffective because shame is such a destructive force. Rehabilitation is more likely to happen when shame gives away to respect.
  • A lot of this fits in with Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly which I really really loved. Basically it’s the idea that shame is bad because it redefines our identity as bad. The internet does this so well – you say one thing, post one picture, make one mistake, and suddenly that’s your whole identity. That’s who you are now. Justine Sacco is the girl who tweeted a dumb joke about AIDS. She doesn’t deserve a job or a life or an identity outside that one 140-character tweet. Yikes. No.

Less Good

  • I kind of feel like Jon Ronson is a bit of an a-hole? Maybe that’s just me but his voice and the way he talks about certain things didn’t make me like him very much, although he is a good writer & journalist.
  • I fundamentally disagreed with a lot of the arguments he was trying to make. Sometimes people need to feel bad! Guilt is important – it’s a message from our feelings about our choices & consequences. I felt like he wanted to make out that shame/guilt was always bad and that it’s ok to tweet insensitive jokes about stuff, or to plagiarize, or to do super weird porn stuff. Let’s make it all normal and shame-free! Nope.
  • Oh yeah. There’s a weird chapter about pornography. It’s not as bad as I expected it to be, to be fair. But it *is* there so… fyi. And they talk about another guy’s weird sex scandal. Just be aware.
  • It just kind of… ends? No real resolution. No real conclusion. Yes, shaming is bad and destructive and unregulated. But what does that mean? What can we do? What should we do? Idk. Just all of a sudden the book was over and it left a sense of unease and incompletion.

Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth

book review

The mother of modern childbirth, Ina May, wrote this handbook to compile all of the information she has learned in over thirty years of experience. Half of the book is a series of natural birth stories to show the diversity of experience and the potential for happy and safe natural birthing. The second half of the book goes through steps in the process of pregnancy, labor, delivery, medical procedures, medication, postpartum care, and modern medical practices.The main purpose of the book, she says, is to prove to women that their bodies are not “lemons.” Childbirth is natural, do-able, and completely possible for anyone. 

This is not a book I ever thought I would read. At no point in my life, even now, have I been inclined to labor and deliver naturally. I’m pretty transparently pro-epidural, pro-c-section, pro-hospital, and pro-modern medicine. That being said, I was so woefully unprepared last time. What if I had to do it natural?!!! I would have had no idea how to manage the pain, maintain focus and calm, anything. This time is likely to go faster (which LOL bc last time was rapid), and the lack of preparedness gives me anxiety. I wanted to read a few natural childbirth books to cover my bases.


  • It was actually very empowering. I honestly think I can do it now, if I have to. It talks about the female body in a way that makes you believe in your divine feminine power.
  • They dispel a lot of the common fears – low pain tolerance, small hips, large babies, even breech babies! It was cool to see and understand why people choose this.
  • It really made me think a lot more about my options, even when I do plan to deliver in a hospital with as many drugs as they’ll give me. I have more questions to ask my doctor about episiotomies, cord clamping, stuff like that. I learned a lot.
  • I have so much respect for natural childbirth – always have – but I really feel differently about it now. Less judgmental, more impressed.

Less Good

  • They sure don’t like modern hospitals. I think they use the phrase “assembly line” about a hundred times in reference to hospital rooms. At one point she talks about how nurses and doctors kept coming in to check her patient and it was stressing her patient out and slowing down labor. Heaven forbid the hospital come check on a woman in labor? Stuff like that bugged me a little.
  • There’s some seriously hippy stuff in there. Like being totally open with your body and making birth sensual and stuff. Not really my thing.
  • I’m not a big fact checker, but I felt like there was no way that a lot of the facts/science in the book was pretty biased. Maybe that’s just because I’m viewing it through the lens of someone who had a bomb epidural “assembly line” birth in a hospital.
  • My good friend Jessica recommended this book, and she’s so wonderful and accepting and not preachy at all. Thankfully! However we all know those people who ~are preachy and weird about it though, and it kind of feels like this is their bible. You just kind of have to take it with a grain of salt.

I’m currently reading Rising Strong on my phone (a godsend, because I’m coming off what feels like a lot of mistakes and smackdowns and I’d like to, well, rise strong), and I’m about halfway through The Good Girl on audiobook and wondering if I’ll finish. It was listed as a similar book to Gone Girl, but I’m not as ~into it as I think I should be.

I just picked up copies of Hypnobirthing and #GirlBoss from the library this week, and I’m ordering my own copy of You Are A Badass because I know it’s one I’ll want to read, annotate, and re-read. I also plan to read Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand and Wuthering Heights for book clubs. It’s a good month to do a lot of reading, as it looks like I’ll be back
on some form of “rest” for the next little bit eyeroll emoji. Bring on the books!

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October I Love You


October is just the best. All year long I just think about October and how great it’s gonna be and it’s almost always perfect. Crisp breezes, fall colors, boots, no snow yet, pumpkin stuff, Halloween, football parties, and of course my birthday!


First of all – my annual birthday giveaway! Every single year it’s gotten a little bit bigger and it’s so much fun. If you’re interested in participating in the giveaway – small business, products, services, etc. – let me know! I always include following/sharing in the entries, as well as a post about you on my blog, Twitter, and Instagram. Shoot me an email if you’d like to participate (dholdy @ gmail)! It’ll begin on Monday October 24, the day before my birthday.


I’m kind of sick of writing about how the months have been smacking me around lately. I’m firmly resolved to take a different approach in October and finally overcome all the crap that’s been weighing me down. October is such a good, fresh start. General Conference has me feeling 100 emoji. The Beard is starting an exciting, better new job today (startups will be the death of me, but at least they’re fun and not boring!). Along with his new job, we’re going to try a new family schedule to help us get in bed at more reasonable hours and generally be more healthy. We each have some cool freelance projects in progress and a new financial plan that makes us feel like bona fide adults. We’ve worked hard to short-term break Reese of her recent iPad addiction and it’s working. And I think the thing I’m most excited about is how blank October looks in my planner. Which is very unDanica but very good for everyone, to be honest.


Here’s what my birthday month has in store:

  • Reading at least 3 books. Current list is: Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand for Bon’s Book Club, re-reading Wuthering Heights with Delicious Reads, HypnoBirthing (yikes), and You Are A Badass per the recommendations of several friends. I’m also about done with The Good Girl on audiobook and Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth (yikes).
  • Revamping my blog. I am doing some research for a redesign/rebrand, as well as ways to take my blog to the next level. You guys know I’m not super into sponsorships or selling my soul to the devil, but I do want to grow and challenge myself.
  • Re-watching/Catching up on The Walking Dead!!!!
  • Take my lil pumpkin to a pumpkin patch! I haven’t done this since I was like 12!
  • Another Tucanos date with The Beard – this time with ~my birthday meal
  • Hosting another Fall Favorite Things Party for my birthday
  • A prenatal massage. mmmmmmmmm.
  • A possible St. George/Vegas trip with the Holdaways
  • Family Halloween Costume – I’ll give you a hint. It’s Star Wars. You already guessed it.
  • Totally finishing my house – the last of the Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up dejunk & reorganize, as well as a good deep clean.
  • Chill out on scheduling things. I’m even gonna forego Harry Potter Book Club this month, unless there is a community event (we have slammed the BYU trivia for 2 years running). My goal is to spend a lot of time at home and with my family.
  • Make a makeup video! I loved making the other two I’ve done, and I have wanted to do another. So this is the month!

I’m very excited and cautiously optimistic for this month.

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