Wednesday, December 30, 2015

What I'm Into: December 2015

What I'm Into

Linking up with Leigh Kramer as we review the last month {and year - hello, 2016!}.

I really should do a final Reading Challenge update and share the last quarter of the year, but I doubt that it will happen as an independent post. So let's just deal with that in our hearts and combine the updates. whatevs. 

"A Book You Chose For Its Cover" - I read The Silent Stars Go By by Dan Abnett, which is a Doctor Who adventure. Yes, I chose a book because Matt Smith's face was on the cover, but hey, that was basically the assignment! This was a light, fun read, and it was especially enjoyable because it takes place during Eleven's time with Amy and Rory - such a treat. 

"A Book Your Mom Loves" - silly Bek. Silly, silly Bek. Let's take a moment and appreciate the silliness of Bek. You guys, my mom reads a lot, but she has read this one particular book probably a dozen times. When I saw the challenge, I knew that book was the book I'd be reading. Why I waited until December to start reading a 1,400-page book, I will never know. Anyway, I'm currently reading "...And the Ladies of the Club" by Helen Hooven Santmyer. It is very enjoyable, but there's no way on God's green earth that I'll have it finished in 24 hours. 

Not related to this reading challenge, I also read:
  • Room by Emma Donoghue - LOVED. Terrifyingly innocent and haunting... Don't watch any movie trailers until you read the book first. {I'm hoping that this will make the movie slightly less intense, but I doubt it}
  • Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon - also loved. Don't audio-book this one; get the hard copy. There are illustrations {by the author's husband} and details that make the book. 
  • Bandersnatch: An Invitation to Explore Your Unconventional Soul by Erika Morrison - this is such a good book. It's one of those soul-stretching, boundary-breaking books, and I highly recommend it. 
  • Out of Sorts by Sarah Bessey - cannot recommend this one enough. To borrow her analogy of sorting through an attic, Sarah gently cradles each item and shares what she's learned from her own life and sorting. Gentle and beautiful, and I was thrilled to learn that Sarah spent some time in the Anglican Church!
  • New and Selected Poems: Volume One by Mary Oliver - this is maybe probably the first book of poetry I've attempted to read as an adult, and I'm actually really enjoying it. There are a few lines of various poems that just stop me in my tracks, and I was not expecting that. 

  • Jayna and I finished "Gilmore Girls" last night - ALL. THE. TEARS. and FEELS. Oh my word. Counting down to the Netflix revival already. Related: I'm going to start "Parenthood" very, very soon in order to get my Lauren Graham fix.
  • This week I finished Season Four of "Longmire." This show sure knows how to end seasons on cliffhangers! 
  • I started watching "New Girl" last night. I can't decide if it's cute and quirky or cute and annoying. 
  • "Doctor Who" - Season Nine just ended. Capaldi is so brilliant.
  • "Sherlock" Special airs in less than 48 hours - yipee!
Doula Adventures:
My website is live {check it out!}, I attended my second certifying birth at the beginning of this month, and this week I've been completing and mailing business licensing forms. Also, I submitted my last two BAI homework assignments, so as soon as I attend three more births and get my grades, I'm done! My goal for 2015 was to finish all the non-birth assignments, so yay me!

thanks, Meryl

Listening to:
  • "Details" album by Frou Frou {Imogen Heap is part of this dynamic duo!}
  • "Hello" by Adele... can't stop, won't stop
  • "Satellite Kite" album by Beautiful Eulogy - discovered them because Josh Garrels does a song with them. I love the musical soundscape-esque mixed with the steady rhythm of not-quite-rap {more spoken word}.
Grateful for:
  • Samara came up before Christmas, and she and Cami and I got some good reunion time together. I'm grateful for my two best friends!
  • Ellen is home for Christmas break {I didn't get to see her over Thanksgiving}, and we are watching the "Harry Potter" movies together. I'm grateful for my sister and our mutual love of Hogwarts.
  • My dear parents gave me a peanut ball for Christmas. This is something I asked for that is more for my business than it is for me, but I'm still thrilled. My family shook their collective head at me, but I still squealed with joy. Grateful for family who loves me at my weirdest.
That's it! December and 2015 are almost done, and I'm ready for a great year in 2016!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Doula Adventures: Website is Live!!!

Hey y'all! Sorry for the radio silence the past month. I've been busy cranking out the last few details of my website, and I'm thrilled to share it with you now! I'm definitely still tweaking it as I receive feedback {and please feel free to send me your thoughts!} but as of Sunday, it is live and public and REAL. Jeepers creepers.

So. Drumroll, please. Welcome to Uplifted Birth's live website!!!

Really, please let me know what you think: is the website clear, do you have unanswered questions, could I say something in a different way, etc. I look forward to your response!

Friday, October 2, 2015

31 Days of Something

Throughout the blogosphere, people are starting 31 Days of Writing projects. It's another sign of autumn, right, these 31 days? Get your pumpkin spice latte and write every day for a month.

October 1st sort of snuck up on me this year. I mean, it was a Thursday. Bridesmaid duties had kept me focused on Saturday the 26th, and I wasn't really aware of anything after that date. But here we are, and I'm trying to think of a topic upon which to pour out thoughts for 31 days, and the only cohesive theme that seems to permeate life right now is how everything. is. changing.

And while change is a part of life, this season of change has felt especially difficult to swallow. It is taking me longer to accept new things and reconcile The Way Things Were Before with The Way Things Are Now. This is both a mental and a physical challenge; my weekly schedule is completely different, and I am nothing if not a creature of routine.

I could make a list of all the things in my life that are changing, but I'm afraid that the list would turn into an angry rant about why certain things have changed and why certain things shouldn't change. Mostly I'm afraid that I would write a list and then curl into a sobbing mess on the floor.

Life is so hard sometimes.

There's no neat and tidy way to conclude this; life is difficult especially in the middle of change, and that's where I'm at. I don't have a conclusion or a point to make; I just have my struggles and my confession that I won't be writing every day this month. I will be reading others' struggles, like Micah J. Murray's becoming human series and my dear friend Carla's journey of grieving her stillborn daughter Cora. I will be reading and nodding my head and aching and crying right along with these people, because I am human and I am grieving and life is hard. 

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Reading Challenge Update: Three Quarters Done

Fall officially started September 23rd, and we are now three quarters into 2015. Sounds like it's time for a Reading Challenge Update! Doesn't autumn make you want to read?

July: a book from your childhood - I re-read These Happy Golden Years by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I've been growing my collection of the Little House books recently; seeing these books on my shelf makes me happy. My mom read these books aloud to me when I was a kid, and revisiting them has been such a treat!

August: a book recommended by someone with great taste {but taste vastly different than mine!} - Villette by Charlotte Bronte was recommended to me by Julie, and I hated myself for committing to read it...for the first 150 pages. And then! Suddenly I was hooked. No spoilers, but Julie and I had a wonderful rage-fest over the fate of various characters. Bronte is cruel, and I can't help but love it. 

September: a book that was originally written in a different language - The Diary of A Young Girl by Anne Frank is so touching and agonizing to read. It's took me a while to get through it, mainly because I do a lot of my reading right before bed and I really didn't want to have sad dreams {and also because Harry Potter}. Anne was a very aware teenager, and it was touching to read her observations about herself, her family, and the world in which she lived. 

I'm excited for the last two books on this challenge list: a book your mom loves and a book chosen because of its cover. What are you reading these days?

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

What I'm Into: August 2015

This month has positively flown by! It is crazy to me that September - the beginning of Fall!!! - is upon us.

People.... I read the Harry Potter series. All of it. All seven books. I can't even deal with how incredible these books are, how deprived my life has been up to this point, and how much I wish I could read them for the first time over and over again. Augh! Tear count is definitely in the hundreds. {Oh, and I was officially Sorted and I am Gryffindor!}

Embrace the Body by Tara Owens {currently reading}: This book has received great reviews from a few bloggers I admire, so I'm eager to get deeper into it. 

When We Were On Fire by Addie Zierman {currently reading}: whoa. Addie gently and beautifully captures the culture of the Evangelical Church in the 90's and 00's... It's like I'm seeing it clearly for the first time. Highly recommend this one, and you can also check out Addie's website.

Working On:
Doula website galore. SO close to hitting publish! It will probably be at the end of September - fingers crossed. And in the meantime, if you feel so moved, you can check out my Facebook page :)

Kitchen cabinets, cleaning and "frosting." Ugh. Taking forever, mainly because this last week of August has been so busy. My goal is to clean the wood of the cabinets with this cleaning goop and then paint the glass. Two doors are done but still on the floor, and I've got two doors by the fireplace waiting to be painted. I know all the chaos will be worth it when they're done, but by golly I wish they were done now. 

My friend Rebecca is getting married at the end of September, and as one of her bridesmaids, I had the pleasure of helping organize and host her bachelorette party! It was really chill and fun and relaxing - how can it not be with a chill group on the beach? We also had the wedding shower and played "the shoe game," which was hysterical.

Listening to:
  • Florence and the Machine's album How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful. Can't stop, won't stop.
  • Hailee Steinfeld's new single "Love Myself"
  • Elle King's "Ex's and Oh's"

My sister and I are in the middle of Season 6 of "Gilmore Girls" - yes, we've just made an interesting discovery about Luke!! But that's as far as we've watched, so keep your spoilers to yourself, sweetie.

Speaking of sweetie, Season 9 of Doctor Who starts September 19th!! And River Song is going to be in the Christmas special! Happiness!!!

On the blog:
In August, I wrote a big long post on my thoughts on the Church. While there are no comments on the post itself, I've had conversations with quite a few people, and it's been good. I'm looking forward to continuing the discussion, and I welcome your thoughts and other pieces you've been reading and writing about this topic. 

Thanks to Leigh Kramer for hosting the What I'm Into link-up {that I missed via blog but am joining via Twitter}. See you next month!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Doula Adventures: It's Getting Real Up In Here

This summer has been C-R-A-Z-Y productive for my doula business. I have only 12 {update: 10!!} assignments left to complete {plus 5 births to doula}, and here are just a few of the other projects I'm working on:
  • created a website {as soon as it's live, I'll let you know!}
  • created a Facebook page {again, I'll tell you}
  • drafted business cards {waiting on color matching}
  • purchased 6 books for my Lending Library
  • signed up for my very first doula workshop {it's in Feb. 2016}
  • created a business email address
But wait, you wisely protest, don't you need a business name and logo in order to do 4 of those things? Right you are, dear reader! And so it is with great pleasure I share with you my business name and logo. Introducing...

Isn't it beautiful!?!? I'm freaking out right now. My dear friend Morgan nailed it when I haphazardly described my vision "something with hands," and the color was her inspiration as well. If anyone needs some mad graphic skills, let me hook you up. 

There you have it. It's getting real. I'm going to be a doula. I'm opening a doula business. This. Is. Happening. Huzzah!!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Thoughts on Church

You know how some parts of your life are easy to blog about? Like weekends with friends and reading goals and whatever topic the NAS community chooses.

And then there are the parts of life that are not necessarily more private but are harder to articulate. I think I mentioned once or twice that my church has been going through some changes, but that's it. To anyone who only knows me via la interwebs, that could mean anything. New carpet or new pastor. Because there are people reading this blog who know me and my church, people that I still love and adore, people I do not want to hurt, I've been intentionally vague, smoothing over the ripples on the surface.

But inside my head, under the surface, I feel like a river that's about to break down a dam. I've been swirling around in my thoughts, going back and forth and around and around, wondering if I can stay in the Evangelical/Non-denominational church I've known my whole life, and also wondering if I can leave it.

Before we get too far along, let me give some background. Up until the end of 2013, about 400 people attended my church. This is the church my parents started attending when they first got married. This is the church I was dedicated in as an infant, the church where my chubby baby legs were pinched by the moms of skinny baby boys who grew up to be my friends and classmates. This is the church where I met and played with my best friend when we were in 6th grade.

This is the church into which I was baptized as a 13-year-old. This is the church that had the school that I graduated from at age 18. This is the church with a Master's Commission program that solidified my relationship with Jesus. This is the church I cried for my first several Sundays in Kentucky. This is the church that I happily returned to after the cold winter in Omaha. This is the church that I've always called my home church, with "home" referring to the sense of home I felt at the church.

For the past several months, I've considered myself a part of this church. I've gone to congregation meetings and voted and continued to serve in childcare. I've received emails and replied to them; I've hugged friends when we meet in the foyer, and when other friends asked where I'm going to church, I've quietly and determinedly stated the name of this church.

However, I haven't actually attended a church service at this church for probably four months. Some of the time I was in childcare, hanging out with the tiny people who do not judge {or speak, for that matter}. Some of the time I was at brunch with a friend, reveling in my new-found freedom to not be in church on Sunday morning. And some of the time I was at an Anglican church, weeping through the beauty of a generations-old liturgy.

During these four months, I thought that I hadn't been to a service because of timing or commitments or freedom. I thought that even though things were hard, they would get better and I was a part of making it better. I thought that when the going gets tough, the tough get tougher.

I did not think I would attend my first service in four months and have a panic attack.

My lungs seem to be allergic to Christianese. I was at a training for Care Net when I had my first panic attack. The lady was a lovely woman sharing about her work in adoption ministry, and one of my fellow volunteers asked about "affecting the generational line" and the lady's response was, "we place the children in Christian homes," as if that solved all the problems. My lungs shrunk to about 50% capacity as the words left her mouth.

If I had been able to breathe, I would have asked how her ministry addressed the savior complexes of her adoptive families.

In hindsight, my panic attach at the Care Net training may have been related to the overwhelming, stifling heat in the room. It may have been that I was not prepared for the relatively neutral topic of adoption to contain such a strong sense of righteousness/rightness. It may have been that it was a Monday, and an emotionally exhausting Monday at that. Any of these factors may have made my first panic attack a fluke.

But sitting in the sanctuary of my home church? Not a fluke.

Rachel Held Evans described her relationship with the Evangelical Church as "an ex-boyfriend that she still checks up on via Facebook," and I think I may get to that point someday. Right now, though, my relationship with the Evangelical Church is like learning the older sister I trusted to give me good make-up advice has actually painted my face like a clown, and I've only just seen how I've been walking around my whole life.

I'm sure that somewhere underneath all the abrasive colors, there is some quality make-up, like a great primer or some awesome eyeliner. But in order to find it, I have to remove the face paint. And the wig. And the red nose in the middle of my face. There is much more to this get-up than I ever realized; it affects and covers so much of me.

And my older sister lied to me.

She led me to believe that life was a certain way, that everyone was wearing make-up like this, that if they weren't wearing the make-up, they weren't following God's will.

Writing that now, I think my god, that sounds like a cult.

Personally, yes, there were aspects of my specific church body that were cult-ish. The sources of that influence have been removed, and fresh air is moving through us now.

And on a larger scale, yes, sometimes I think there are aspects of the Evangelical Church that are cult-like. Not everything, and not every little-c-church, but I think there are a few shared characteristics that make the Church....not Christ-like, to be honest.
  • the way the Church wants everyone to fit into "traditional" gender roles
  • how the Church asks people to change before they come to Jesus, instead of letting people be changed by Him
  • the "us versus them" mentality, and the language used to be "in the world but not of it"
And I'm over it. I'm breaking down the dam. I'm ripping off the wig and scraping off the face paint.

This does not mean that I'm burning my bridges. To the contrary, I still feel at home driving into my church parking lot. I love walking into the building, seeing the transformed foyer and welcoming center, and I really love how the Children's Ministry has been completely revamped. I love the people that go to my church. Hell, I still refer to it as "my" church!

But I don't think I can go back into the sanctuary, because it has ceased to be a sanctuary - a place of refuge - for me. And I think that's true of the Evangelical Church at large.

This is a hard realization to grasp, and it's an even harder one to stay grasped.

The optimistic part of me wants so badly to go to my church on Sunday and believe that things will change, that more and more healing will take place and that all my concerns and fears will work out and be resolved.
The part of me that still remembers how hard it was to breathe through the fifteen minutes I was in the service, the part that reads articles about the foundations of Evangelical Church Culture, the part of me that wishes when the going gets tough, the tough could leave.... that part of me realizes that the Evangelical Church has some fundamental {I use this word ironically} flaws and that my continued participation is hurting me more than it is healing the church {or the Church}.

It hurts to be hurt by my church/Church.

I guess this is where Rachel Held Evans got her ex-boyfriend analogy, because while I want to move on, a huge part of me is still intertwined with the Evangelical Church. Its hand and mine are still connected, and most of the time I don't even realize  that I haven't let go. And worse: at times I've let my hand go limp, but the Evangelical Church hasn't let go of me.

I've started going to therapy, because as much as I love and adore my friends and family, I realized that we are all too close, both to each other and to the transition in my church, to be of much help. My therapist is absolutely wonderful, and she's helping me wipe off the make-up, determine my new relationship with my church and the Church, and sort through everything else in the periphery.

I've also started attending an Anglican church, and I wasn't kidding earlier when I said that I cried through a third of the first service I attended. You guys, I felt so refreshed. This church is awesome, and I'm excited to see what God does, both in me and in this body. And I'm also excited for my home church, because I know that God is working there, too. God is big enough to handle transitions and changes and make-up remover and broken dams, and with His help, I can handle them, too.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

What I'm Into: July 2015

Linking up with the {newly-discovered on my end} fabulous Leigh Kramer for What I'm Into: July!

Reading and Read ~ Books:

Spinster: Making a Life of One's Own by Kate Bolick - {in progress} Really, really enjoying this memoir/history lesson. The author comes from such a different place than me in many ways {East Coast, solitary, journalist} that it's fascinating for me to read and imagine what my own internal journey would be if our external circumstances were the same. P.S. It was this Long Reads article that piqued my interest on the book.

Villete by Charlotte Bronte - {in progress} I feel like I'm just getting to the good stuff at about 200 pages in. Lucy Snowe amazes me with her observations of people's character, and I'm in awe of how cool she can be to people.

Landline by Rainbow Rowell - {almost done!} I put off reading this book for a while because fantastical realism isn't really my jam. But that's almost not the point with this book, and Rowell has presented a great study on enduring love.

One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories by B.J. Novak - {completed} I laughed out loud many, many times. I listened to the audiobook {which you should do! Read by the author plus guests!!} and it made my commutes delightful. The discussion questions were, um, thought-provoking!

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen - {completed} Apparently there are two camps about Mansfield Park: either it's a satire and it's the most brilliant work ever from Austen, or it's a regular novel, in which case it is completely boring. For Austen's sake, I hope that it's satire, because this book was boring. But it led to some great conversations with friends about the characters' lives after the book ends, so that was fun.


This article about colorblindness by Rachel Held Evans has been on my mind for some time.

I started writing a post about my experience with both my church and the Church... about 1,000 words in and I think I'm finally saying what I want to say. Stay tuned.


All the sunshine this week has been awesome! And apparently Seattle just broke a record: Thursday was the 10th day in 2015 that the official temperature reached the 90s, which is the first time that's happened in the history of recording temperatures. Whew!

The past two weeks I was cat-sitting for a friend, and this week I have SO enjoyed being home in my own bed, and I'm especially grateful to be cat-free. My dad teased me that this was a practice run of being a crazy cat lady, but I told him that these weeks were more like a vaccine against it - I've learned that my previously-neutral feelings towards cats are now decidedly negative.

My dear friend J and I went candle shopping a couple weeks ago, and while she purchased The Boyfriend Candle, I was unimpressed {I guess I like my mountain men less sweet?}. I thought I was going to leave the store sans boyfriend, but then...then I smelled Midsummer's Night, and I knew that he it had to be mine. And it made sense, because J and I have different tastes in men, so of course we would prefer different smells. Anyway, the candle has been in use almost every day, and while I've never had a boyfriend, I think that smelling this candle is pretty much what it's like.

I'd like to introduce you to someone....

There you have it! Be sure to check out the other links on Leigh's post, and happy August!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Doula Adventures: Book Review of "Choosing Naia"

This book is on BAI's list under the Special Circumstances section, and unfortunately, "special" does not equal "rare."

According to the CDC, approximately 6,000 babies born every year have Down's Syndrome. A study published in January, 2015, suggests that 30% of preborn babies diagnosed with Down's Syndrome will be aborted.

This tells me that the story of "Choosing Naia: A Family's Journey" is not uncommon, and for that reason alone, this was an important book to read.

This was a hard book to get into, but after the first two chapters, I was sucked in {although I don’t understand why the book began with an account of someone’s brother being disabled… it didn’t seem to properly introduce the story or come back at all to be relevant}. Greg and Tierney are so likable and understandable, and the most shocking part to me was reading that they let Zuckoff follow their lives and decisions while they were making those decisions.

As a staunchly pro-life advocate, it was difficult for me to read about the various choices made or hypothetically made by the people in this book. I see all life, regardless of mental or physical ability, as made in the image of God and therefore worth protecting, but obviously there are other people who have different views. I can see, however, what a hard situation this would be to face, and I appreciate Greg and Tierney’s honesty when it came to how they approached their decisions.

As a future doula, the most inspiring person to me was Alicia Craffey, the genetic counselor. She was to couples facing genetic conditions what I want to be for women going into labor: I’m here to offer information and support you whatever decision you make. I loved that Alicia was available at any and all hours, and I was surprised to learn that so much of her communication with the Fairchilds was over the phone. But that is what the Fairchilds needed and had available to them, and I love that they felt connected enough to Alicia that they called her frequently, and that she connected with them so often as well.

What do you think, friends? Share your thoughts!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Halfway Done - Reading Challenge Update

June is almost over {less than 6 months till Christmas!}, so I thought I should share another update on Modern Mrs. Darcy's Reading Challenge {check out the original post and first quarter update}.

Since April, I've crossed off another 4 boxes - woot!

April: a book from a genre I don't usually read - Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson. I listened to the audiobook of this, and while there were many, many beautiful lines, overall things were slow and simple, which is probably why I don't usually read many books of this genre. I'm glad to have read it, but I probably won't re-read it. 

May: a book by a favorite author - Black Dove White Raven by Elizabeth Wein. I'm going to be honest here and say that I think I read the best book by Wein first; the two other books of hers that I've read have not been as exciting or intriguing as Code Name: Verity. This one was fun but not intense or suspenseful. 

May: a book currently on the bestseller list - The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. This book was great! A little bit slow until you realize that not everything is as it seems... can't say more without spoilers. Also fun: one of the characters was voiced by Louise Brealey aka Molly Hooper! That was an unexpected but delightful treat. 

June: a book "everyone" has read but me - The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. Oh. My. Word. Why did I not read this sooner?!?! I bawled my eyes out, thank you very much. My Book Club read this and then got together and watched the movie...jeepers creepers. If you are like I was and have not yet read this book, do yourself a favor and read this {with tissues!}. 

There you have it! Isn't summer a great time for reading? Sun + sunscreen + book = perfection. What are you reading these days?

Thursday, June 11, 2015

June Sunshine

The first official day of summer is in less than two weeks, but after last Sunday's sunshine + heat wave, I think summer's already here :) So to keep things light and breezy, here are some "currently" updates.


...reading: Searching for Sunday by Rachel Held Evans. If you're like me and think that the Church is lacking, to put it mildly, read this book. RHE articulates the questions and concerns that I didn't realize I have, and she does so gracefully and succinctly. I'm about halfway done with my library copy, and I think that I'll be purchasing my own copy very soon. More eloquent reviews can be found here and here.

...watching: Season 5 of "Gilmore Girls." My sis and I are usually able to watch one episode most nights, and oh my word, pack me up and move me to Stars Hollow.

...listening to: Florence and the Machine's new album "How Big How Blue How Beautiful." This. Album. I play it all day {or most of the day, for my co-workers' sakes} in the office, it's in my car, and then I turn it on as soon as I get home. It's beautiful and perfect and I can't get enough. "Queen of Peace" and "St Jude" are two of my favorite tracks {check out this beautiful music video, too!}.

...anticipating: a reunion dinner with Samara and Cami next week! Woohoo! It's been FAR too long since the three of us have been together.

...working on: smaller reading assignments for doula certification. Last night I plopped myself and some yarn on the couch and listened to every last "lecture" that is required; it felt so good to cross half a dozen assignments off my list! I celebrated by watching a couple {required} birth videos... why yes, I do know how to have a good time ;)

...craving: time outside in the sun, flip-flops, hair long enough to stay in a messy bun, and VitaminWater.

...supporting: this Kickstarter campaign with Ricki Lake and Abby Eppstein {creators of "The Business of Being Born"} to make "Sweetening the Pill: How We Got Hooked On Hormonal Birth Control." Read an interview with the filmmakers, watch the trailer, and consider supporting this project!

...grateful for: sunshine during my commute, dinner with my CareNet friend and her family, chai lattes, new friends, and the beginning of what's promising to be an amazing summer.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Doula Adventures: Book Review of "The Labor Progress Handbook"

May was so busy I didn't even think about sharing a book review until June - oops! A tad late, but here is my review of The Labor Progress Handbook by Penny Simkin and Ruth Ancheta.

For your reading pleasure...

This book is fabulous and so, so helpful. I love that Ms. Simkin and Ms. Ancheta talk from their experiences and from research. The information they present is well-informed and balanced.

I appreciate the diagrams and the timeline that this book follows; this is how labor actually progresses. other reviewers have commented that they take this book with them to labors, and I have to say that I'll be doing the same thing.

The last chapter is the most helpful for me. The various ways to turn the baby and to soothe or comfort the mother are so pertinent. I especially like the "when to use" and "when not to use" features, because how much more straight-forward can it be!

I also appreciated that the authors were upfront about ideas that need further research, practices that are commonly used but not fully supported by research, and when their suggestions may not be effective. I think that the honesty and candidness is very useful, and I would love to get an updated copy of this book {my copy was published in 2000}, if such a thing exists, just for the added benefit of more research.

The part that was challenging for me was the highly medical-oriented terminology. This handbook was obviously written for medical professionals, not the mother herself or other lay people. That was slightly frustrating, but it was also good to get into the mindset of working with medical professionals who use the terminology. I would have appreciated a definitions page in either the beginning or end, just to be considerate. But this is my only complaint. I definitely will be purchasing this book for my doula practice.


For those future doulas out there, this book is gold. It is a teeny handbook that will fit into your birth bag and benefit you greatly. I will let you know if I find a more recent version. Happy reading!

Not Alone Series: Summer

Hi friends! It's hard to believe that this is our last NAS link-up before the summer - thank you, Jen and Morgan, for all your hard work hosting our link-ups each week and for facilitating our FB group. You guys are awesome!!

Also, happy second anniversary, Not Alone Series!! Yay!!

Today's prompt is about summer plans, since it is June {!!} and we won't be linking our blogs this summer.

My summer plans consist of spending time with my family and friends, specifically the sister with whom I now live - woot! Maybe we'll even get through Gilmore Girls :)

Some short road trips are definitely in order. My dear friend Dahlia lives a couple hours east of me, and we both will be making at least a few drives to visit each other. Also, Portland is just a few hours south, and Powell's has been calling my name for a couple of months now.

I'll be housesitting for a couple of weeks in July, so that will be fun to make friends with some cats ;) Also, my favorite Aerobic Dance class is coming back to Tuesday nights, so that'll be great fun.

Oh! And this summer I plan on cracking down and cranking out a ton of doula work. It would be my dream and goal and heart's desire to get through all my certification requirements {except for the births} by the end of 2015. I'm finishing the last book today {10 pages left!} and will share another review shortly. I'm working on some doula business names and when I have them narrowed down, I'll be sure to share them with you all :)

That's my summer so far! I hope you all have grand plans, and NAS girls, see you on FB :)

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

I Swear I Remember How to Blog and Other Dreams

I was debating on how to jump back on the blogging train {link-up? book review? a post pretending I've been blogging regularly for the past three weeks??}, and then Natalie posted/hosted a Quick Just Because Not So Serious Takes link-up, and it was fate. This is a perfect way to give y'all some updates and share some odds and ends without being weird...although this is me, so it may still end up weird. But you knew that when you clicked this link, so I don't feel too bad.

Item 1: I spent the first week of this month in the beautiful Bluegrass State with some of my dearest friends. AJ and I got to spend lots of quality time together, some of which involved the following:

  • crack popcorn - I've never made that much crack popcorn in one sitting, but I'm proud to say there was nothing left the next morning. 
  • wedding video - you know you're bosom friends when you spend a Friday night watching her wedding on the small screen. So cool.
  • steak nachos with beer cheese - this is becoming a tradition for me to celebrate AJ's birthday. Saul Good's steak nachos with beer cheese is basically heaven on earth. We took a picture that night, but as good as that waiter was, photography wasn't his forte. 
  •  Ale-8 - I had one for breakfast every day, and I regret nothing. 
  • a surprise pregnancy announcement - AJ had her youngest son announce to me that "mommy has a baby in her tummy" and I put forth a great effort and did not scream with joy and delight.
I also got to visit my good friends Carla and Victoria, as well as attend a baseball game with my friend Rae. Rachel and I got to hang out {and eat the world's most delicious cheesecake}, and I learned two new games with some friends from church. I got to hold new babies and hug old friends. 

Basically, my trip was wonderful and I'm already planning my return trip. 

Item 2: Whilst reading the book I thought was the last on my doula list, I realized that a medical book published in 1987 wasn't going to cut it. So I emailed my director and she emailed back that I should find a different book. It just came in from the library, and much to my delight, it's only about 100 pages long {as opposed to the 400 page beast I was struggling through}. So I should be finished with this little book very, very soon!

Item 3: Speaking of doula stuff, Victoria and I started a FB group for all things birthing related. We want to be able to share articles and pictures and discussions that include words like "placenta" and "dilation" without frightening away half of our FB friends. If you'd like to join, let me know and I'll send you the link. 

Item 4: My roommate moved out this weekend and my sister moved in! Words cannot describe my joy. Our home is clean and cozy and beautiful, and I'm trying to convince my sis to go with a black-and-white art theme in the living room. We'll see how that goes. 

Item 5: I'm reading The Book Thief as a part of Dahlia's book club, and we're meeting to discuss and to watch the movie next weekend. I'm a bit of a late start on this book, so here's hoping I can finish it in time!

That's it - all the Just Because Not So Serious Takes I've got. Enjoy your Tuesday, friends!

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Doula Adventures: Review of "Spiritual Midwifery"

Here we are at the end of April, sliding in a doula book review barely on time! This month I'm sharing my review of Ina Mae Gaskin's Spiritual Midwifery, which is one of my favorite books.

Ina Mae Gaskin has so much faith in women's bodies, and I love how this faith permeates everything she writes. The premise of Spiritual Midwifery is that women are made to have babies and that midwives {and birth workers} are there to listen to the mother, guide her through what her body is designed to do naturally, and that it is a spiritual experience for everyone involved.

As with all of Ina Mae's books, the first third of the book was my favorite. Birth stories! Ina Mae shared a wide variety of birthing situations, and her calmness through even the most tricky and difficult circumstances was encouraging.

What I appreciated the most, though, was the thoroughness of Ina Mae. She described with both the "to the parents" and the "to the midwives" sections how to proceed through each stage of pregnancy, labor, delivery, and postpartum. The diagrams of the mother's pelvis and the baby's skull were particularly useful in my understanding of the physicality of birth. Also, the various positions that the baby can be in before the birth are crucial to understand, and I believe Ina Mae's illustrations helped me vastly.

Spiritual Midwifery helped me discern the rhythm and flow of pregnancy care, labor, delivery, and postpartum activities. Reading both the parental and birth worker sections exemplified my future job description: encourager of the mother, guardian of the energy in the room, guide of the father/partner, and support for medical workers.


I read this book back in November, and after re-reading my review, I will probably go back and read it again. I really do love Ina Mae!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Not Alone Series: Physical Affection

Linking up with Jen at Jumping in Puddles and Morgan at Follow and Believe.

Everyone has different ideas on physical affection and where their personal boundaries lie. What boundaries do you draw or expectations do you have for physical affection in romantic relationships? Have specific experiences led you to draw these lines?

Oh man. Big topic, Jen and Morgan!

Two things I want to share before answering: I've never been in a romantic relationship, and my primary love language is touch.

Seriously, Jessie is pretty much me. 

Since physical touch is so important to me, I know that Mr. TDH and I will be discussing this in depth throughout our relationship. I want to honor both of us, glorify the Lord, and show affection without worrying about regrets later. That's it for me, really, because I don't think I can say I will or will not do a specific thing...too complicated! So glorify God while showing affection without regrets. Boom. 

What do you think? Head over to Jen's for more posts on this topic!

Friday, April 24, 2015

Not Alone Series: Friendship {freebie!}

Linking this "freebie" topic with Jen at Jumping in Puddles and Morgan at Follow and Believe!

"I'm so grateful for you two!" was a frequent refrain last weekend as my two best friends and I played by the sea. I love that my friends and I are able to express gratitude for each other to each other. We all live at least an hour from each other, but through group texts and phone calls and weekend getaways, we are able to stay connected, and I think through our physical separation, we are more aware of and grateful for our close friendship. {To read and see the highlights of our weekend, check out Samara's great post!}

In 8 days, I'll be back in the Bluegrass State with my bosom friend and the rest of the family in my Other Home. My friendship with AJ is another sweet, sweet gift. She and I text regularly and talk as often as the three-hour time difference allows. One of the best part of our relationship is that we tell each other that we're thinking of each other, missing the other, and grateful for our friendship - I love that!

Another grand adventure is about to start next month - my sister is moving in with me! I am beyond thrilled that the sister with whom I begrudgingly shared a room through our childhood and adolescence is now {voluntarily!} moving into a grown-up living situation with me. There is a point in time where you begin to hang out with your siblings because you enjoy their company, not just because they live with you, and then there's a point where you want to hang out with your siblings while not living with them, and now we are at the point where we want to hang out AND live together. Grown-up sibling relationships are so wonderful.

NAS Community, you add joy and color and encouragement to my day, and I'm glad that we are virtual friends. I'm grateful for you!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015


Some days/weeks/months are just busy, ya know? I'm looking at you, Month of April. So while I've got words to say, I've also got work to do... so, yeah.

The main reason I wanted to post a little something today is because April 14th is my Staying Alive Day. 5 years ago, I was hit by a car. Yep. Pedestrian in crosswalk, meet car in road.

It could have been much, much, much worse, and I am so so so grateful for... life. While the experience was horrid and traumatic, and I truly wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy, it makes me more grateful and more aware of the gift of health and life.

I hope you're having a wonderful day and that you're grateful for it! :)

Friday, April 3, 2015

Books, books, books...

You guys... it's April. Wowza the first three months of the year have gone by fast!

Since we are 25% done with 2015, I thought I should share a Book Challenge update. Per my book reading goals for this year, I'm participating in Modern Mrs. Darcy's challenge. I want to mark the passing of three months by highlighting three books from her list.

January: a book published this year - I read Golden Son: Book II of The Red Rising Trilogy* by Pierce Brown, and holy moly it was amazing. Pierce Brown is a master story-teller, and he's only getting better. His first book is Red Rising: Book I of The Red Rising Trilogy* and it was good, but Golden Son was better. Plus, I got to meet Pierce at a book signing and he's a really nice guy! He likes Taylor Swift, so obviously we're bffs ;)

February: a book you've been meaning to read - I read Yes Please* by Amy Poehler. I laughed uproariously, snickered slyly, and snorted contentedly throughout the book. There is some language {did you expect anything different?}, so consider yourself warned. If you're a fan of Amy, you'll enjoy this book. 

March: a book you should have read in high school - I read I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou. I was not expecting the intense content or beautiful word pictures. Maya tells the story of her life with both in-the-moment feelings of her childhood and the perspective of a few decades. I didn't love this book, but I'm glad I read it. 

For April, I'm hoping the library comes through and I can read/listen to Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson... would that count as a genre I don't usually read or "everyone" has read but me or recommended by someone with great taste? Not sure there, because I think it counts as all three.

What are you reading these days, friends?

*affiliate links

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Doula Adventures: Review of "The Complete Book of Pregnancy & Childbirth"

Barely making my goal of reviewing a doula book every month, but hey, it's still March!

This month I'm reviewing a book I read a couple of months ago - I did a lot of reading between December and February, so I'll be playing catch up for a while. This book was really, really good... well, I'll just let the review speak for itself.

The Complete Book of Pregnancy and Childbirth (Revised)* by Sheila Kitzinger

Ms. Kitzinger’s book is wonderful. Her thoroughness, gentleness, and organization all impressed me. She provided accurate and fair information, as well as practical steps and exercises expecting mothers could utilize right away. I especially appreciate Ms. Kitzinger detailing both the physical and emotional journey that pregnant mothers and their partners experience.

The section on physical and emotional changes during pregnancy was one of my favorites that I've read so far. Highlights include the segment on the baby’s growth throughout the 40 weeks of pregnancy, the focus on twins, and the pages dedicated to fathers. The nutrition section was also helpful, since that is something I can discuss with future clients.

The most helpful part for me was the discussion of support during birth. The images with various physical positions were so beneficial; I will be referencing these in the future! And the details regarding the emotional support were also critically important to me. I liked that Ms. Kitzinger included a segment on breathing, which is something other books seemed to skim over. 

Professionally, I want to own a copy of this book, and I will definitely recommend it to expectant mothers. It is a long read, but a wealth of information and so well worth the time. 

*affiliate link 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015


...reading I'll Drink to That: A Life in Style with a Twist by Betty Halbreich & Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen {this is probably my tenth re-read}

...listening to Josh Garrels' "Love and War and the Sea in Between" and Florence + the Machine's "Ceremonials."

...anticipating a fantastic weekend consisting of costumes with the bestie, a sister's birthday celebration, clean sheets, and Zumba.

...excited for the start of "Call the Midwife" on Sunday! So excited to go back to Nonnatus House.

...wanting to go back to Saturday with Samara and Cami and live every moment over again. Such a wonderful, relaxing, encouraging time - love these women!

...enjoying the aloe vera plant I bought on the above-mentioned Saturday. It's just a cute little plant in a little white pot.

...buying birthday presents for a sister, grandmother, mother, and two friends with April birthdays.

...working on reading the last. two. books. on BAI's required reading list - woot!

...hoping that Target carries aloe water - Cami introduced me, and it's so refreshing!

...wearing no nail polish for just a couple of days. My nails look both clean and naked.

...grateful for friends, family, community, and good books. 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Not Alone Series: Challenge Accepted!

Linking up with the fantastic Jen from Jumping in Puddles and Morgan from Follow and Believe for this challenging edition of the Not Alone Series!

It's that time again! In the past, we've challenged ourselves to grow and/or take steps toward moving closer to our vocation. These challenges have come in all different forms! Being active with online dating, getting more involved with young adult ministry/parish life and working on bettering my prayer life have been {Jen's} personal challenges. What is one thing you want to challenge yourself to do that might help you along your path towards God's will...or maybe just help you become more open to God's will? 
Share what your plan is and why, and then in 2 weeks we'll write on how this challenge went!

I love that this challenge is coming in the second half of Lent, because I can feel myself losing focus and needing something to bump me back on track. Not that this challenge will be related to/associated with Lent, but having this challenge will help me stay on track with the challenge of Lent, if that makes sense.

For the next two weeks, I want to focus on praying every morning and tracking my food intake throughout the day. I have a rosary {made by the lovely Sarah Therese!} to help with the former and I use the My Fitness Pal app for the latter.

I've been pretty good about reading the Bible every morning {thank you, Bible app!} and staying on track with my Lent reading plan. I want to emphasize prayer for two weeks for a myriad of reasons, the foremost of which is that Jesus tells us to pray :) Good reason, huh!

As for using the My Fitness Pal app, I've been hesitantly getting back on the bandwagon, but this challenge should be the accountability and habit-forming kick in the pants I need. Also, I've entered into a competition with another volunteer at Care Net, and I want to be win!

Alright, there you have it. Prayer and food tracking, here we go!

Friday, February 27, 2015

7 Quick Takes: Friday's Favorites

Today I'm sharing 7 Quick Takes Favorites and linking up with Kelly at This Ain't The Lyceum.

1. Cara Strickland  guest posted on The Junia Project this wonderful post about what she learned whilst dating. I read this and cried tears of both sadness and joy to have someone articulate some of my experiences.

2. This post about getting to know a person instead of a potential future spouse made me rethink the way I think about meeting Mr. TDH.

3. Sarah Bessey wrote this post called "Damaged Goods" - yes yes yes.

4. Jayson Bradley nailed it in this post about "Christian cleavage." Thank you, thank you, thank you.

5. "To the Christian Men and Women Debating Yoga Pants" in Christianity Today - thank God someone wrote this. For the love, people.

6. Since we're finishing up the month dedicated to love and relationship-status-awareness, "Things It's OK to Feel When You're Single" and "I'm Single. Stop Pitying Me on Valentine's Day"  were especially appreciated. My Valentine's Day was fantastic, thanks, and while someday it will be a romantic day, this year it was a crepes-with-my-sister-and-friend day, and I had a great time. For real, no pity.

7. Finally, to end with some laughs, Mallory Ortberg's post on "If Stanley Tucci Were Your Boyfriend" is beautiful and perfect and true.

Enjoy your weekend, friends!