Thursday, January 29, 2015


Six years ago...

...this little blog came into being. How crazy is that!

Six years ago, I was a college freshman trying to figure out where life would take me.

Six years ago, I was working in after-school care, living at home, and trying desperately to figure out what I wanted to be when I grow up.

Six years ago, I had grand schemes and great fear.

Six years ago, Kentucky was just another state, "cold" meant 30*, and four months without seeing my friends was a lifetime.

Six years ago, I had no idea that blogging friends can be "real" friends and that this community would bless me so much.

Thank you, friends and community, for being a part of this crazy journey of life. I'm so grateful for each and every one of my fabulous readers. You're the best!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Doula Adventures: Review of "Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering"

One of my 2015 goals is to share a doula book review each month, and here is January's - huzzah!

A few days into January, I finished reading Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering: A Doctor's Guide to Natural Childbirth and Gentle Early Parenting Choices by Dr. Sarah Buckley. 

When this book arrived at the library for me, I was excited. Surely this book will offer great perspectives on both the medical and natural views of childbirth, I thought to myself, and how exciting to read a bit about parenting as well. I expected to find balance and straightforward information from both sides of the discussion. 

This book was not what I expected. I thought that a medical doctor who chose home births would offer a balanced, well-rounded perspective of the various choices women face in childbirth; I was disappointed. For making a living in the medical field, Dr. Buckley was shockingly anti-medicine. This was not the evenhanded discussion I was expecting and hoping for.

I believe Dr. Buckley to be at the far end of the “natural birth” spectrum. The emphasis she placed on several procedures seemed a bit “holier than thou” and not at all accepting of any other choices. In fact, several times I thought her general tone was preachy and condemning, which is not what mothers and mothers-to-be need.

The part of the book that I did enjoy was the chapter on the body’s chemicals during birth and how they cycle into birthing the baby. I can appreciate how medicine interferes with the hormonal cycle, but I also believe that there are going to be instances when medical intervention is necessary. Again, this “all-natural or nothing” stance was quite shocking coming from a doctor of medicine. I was disappointed in this book.

I wrote the above three paragraphs to submit to BAI. I didn't want to offend the people who selected this book, but I want to be honest about my reaction, and my reaction was quite strong.

There were several times I put the book down and asked myself, "what the hell did I just read?" and "did she really just say that?" Again, I was very disappointed with something that had the potential to be great. I'm not even going to use affiliate links in this post, because I do not recommend this book.

Never fear - I've got three other book reviews up my sleeve, plus a guest reviewer coming soon. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Not Alone Series: Selfies

Linking up with the magnificent Jen from Jumping in Puddles and Morgan from Follow and Believe - welcome back to the Not Alone Series!

Do you support the selfie trend? Do you think it promotes self-absorption, vanity, and narcissism? Is there a way to incorporate selfies into the Church's teachings of modesty, authentic beauty, humility? {Thanks to Hannah for this week's prompt!}

The short answer? No, I don't "support" selfies, as in I don't take them. I don't usually share pictures of just myself, or if I do, it's usually over text to a couple friends for a specific reason {new haircut, debating an outfit, etc.}. Pictures of just me by me seems a bit too focused on me.

However, I am a fan of the "group selfie" because I think when years have gone by, we will want to remember not the outfit we wore but the people we were with at a specific time. I want to get better at taking pictures with my friends, because I want to remember the fun times we are having together. This is one of my favorite pictures of my besties, and this is another great one. They are "selfies" in that we took these pictures of ourselves, but our selves aren't the focus; we are the focus, and that's the focus I love.

Monday, January 26, 2015

We All Win!

{Alternate title to today's post: Winner Winner Chicken Dinner. This post has nothing to do with chicken dinner, but we are all winners today.}

If you've been around this blogging block once or twice, you may remember my IRL friend Victoria. She guest posted for me here, and I guest posted for her here, and I reviewed her book Re'and.

Victoria is married to a fantastic guy and has a yummy baby who just turned one this month {January birthdays holla!}. Please take a moment and read about the Winter Wonderland birthday party Victoria threw.

Doesn't that look like such a fun party!? I think Carson's outfit is the cutest thing on earth, not gonna lie.

used with Victoria's permission

You may have noticed that Victoria's post was also a giveaway from Ashley at M Paper Designs... you may also have noticed my name as the winner {see above reference to alternate title}. Since this is the world of blogging, I figured I should blog about it :)

I asked Victoria about how she met Ashley, and Victoria told me about Brilliant Business Moms and how Ashley volunteered to do a giveaway for Victoria's blog. Thanks to their combined ingenuity, creativity, and generosity, a package with these straws, a mason jar topper, and this garland is coming my way!

When Ashley emailed me about the package, I asked her if she would tell me a bit about her company and vision, and she so sweetly told me her story:

I created M Paper Designs in December 2013. I had a son who was just over a year old and his schedule was finally getting to be pretty predictable. I'm a creative person by nature and I love to craft in all sorts of mediums. I love color, texture, pattern and the creative aspect of crafting. I think every person's dream is to do something they love and get paid for it. I was getting the itch to have something that was just mine. I always wanted to say when someone asked me what I did was, "I own my own business." 
My vision for my company when I started was to create additional revenue for our family and to be able to give and bless people in more ways. M Paper designs allows me to be creative, help others and getting paid is just icing on the cake. My favorite part of my business is being able to give and help others. I love it when a customer leaves me feedback on Etsy that they loved their items as much as I love making them. 

Isn't that cool!? I'm really excited to receive this package, and I'm even more excited to share this awesome discount code from Ashley! She totally volunteered this, friends; I asked her for her story and she generously gave me a code to pass on to you.

Use the code BEKSBLOG for 10% off a purchase of $10 or more. The code is good until April 30th, 2015, so if you have a birthday or a party or a birthday party coming up, this is a great way to get some fabulous decorations and accessories while supporting a small business. That's a win in my book!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Look Ahead: A Link-up

I love that Natalie is starting off 2015 with a link-up focusing on the new year. Way to go!

Do you think you'll be going to school at any point in 2015? If so, what for?
I am currently working on my doula certification {see page above} and will hopefully make some serious headway there. But as far as traditional classroom school, I don't see it coming.

Will there be a job change for you in 2015?
Only in the families I babysit, and hopefully the change translates into "more," not just "different."

What adventure or event are you most looking forward to during this coming year?
I think 2015 is the year that I'm going to attend my first birth, which makes me THRILLED!

Do you think there will be a move to a new house/apartment/city/state/country in 2015?
I see people moving in and out of my condo, but hopefully no moves this year. I love where I live!

What do you see as the direction of your blog in 2015? Design update plans? Link-ups coming down the pipes? More or less posts?
I think I'm going to find my own voice again and share more about what's on my mind personally. The design will likely stay the same {gee, thanks, Blogger}, but I may play around with some templates. We'll see. What do you like and dislike about this design?
Definitely, I'll participate in link-ups... I'm not going to commit to hosting any, but I'm not opposed, either.

If you could guarantee that one thing would happen this coming year, what would it be?
I'd love to guarantee that I will attend a birth this year. I'd also love guarantee that I will meet Mr. TDH this year. I'd love to guarantee that I'll finally be able to use scissors to cut a straight line. I'd love to guarantee that I will change my car's oil before the light flashes at me. 
We'll see, though :)

Thanks so much, Natalie! Great way to kick off 2015!

Monday, January 12, 2015

2015: Reading Goals

As I shared in my goals post, I am going to attempt to read 50 books this year. Eee!

I have a few specific challenges for myself, like finishing Birth Art's book list and reading a few books by Malcolm Gladwell and Jim Collins. But then I thought, why stop there? Go big or go home, right?

So I'm participating in a reading challenge from Modern Mrs. Darcy. It's a fun addition to spice up my reading list, and I'll be adding it within my goal of 50 books. 12 books in 12 months, so each month I'll be sharing my thoughts on a book from one of these categories. Hold me accountable, readers - ask me for updates!

Modern Mrs. Darcy's 2015 Reading Challenge {with my plans in parentheses}:
  • a book you've been meaning to read {Yes Please by Amy Poehler}
  • a book published this year {Golden Son by Pierce Brown}
  • a book in a genre you don't usually read
  • a book from your childhood {The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank - I tried to read this as a pre-teen but didn't finish}
  • a book your mom loves
  • a book that was originally written in a different language {The Three Musketeers by Alexander Dumas - gulp!}
  • a book "everyone" has read but you {The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath}
  • a book you chose because of the cover
  • a book by a favorite author {waiting for Sarah Bessey's second book!}
  • a book recommended by someone with great taste
  • a book you should have read in high school {I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou}
  • a book that's currently on the bestseller list
What do you think, readers? Share your thoughts and recommendations in the comments!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Finish This: Year in Review

{Sorry for the delay in posting and in the technical difficulties earlier. Craziness was the story of my life for several days, and then Blogger decided to throw a tantrum. All is well now, though, so enjoy!}

Happy New Year! THIS is the Year in Review post that I've been working on for so long! A huge thank-you to Nicole at Three 31 for hosting this - she sent out the prompts several months ago so that we could start preparing early. And boy did this post require preparation! Are you ready!?

What did you do in 2014 that you’d never done before? I bought a dining room table, saw the Alamo, lived with someone I didn't know {very well}, and hosted a Thanks-mas Party with my young adult group.

Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions? Will you make more in 2015? I kept all my resolutions except for the recipe goal, and yes, I did set some goals for 2015.

Did anyone close to you give birth? No, but I got to cuddle a lot of freshly-born babies.

Did anyone close to you die? My roomie's mom passed away in March. I had the privilege of meeting Nellie twice, and we spoke over Google Chat whenever I was in the room. Our conversation was "Hi, Catherine's mom!" "Hi, Catherine's roomie!" She was a wonderfully spunky lady.

What countries did you visit? I stayed domestic this year, but I did get to visit Kentucky, Oregon, and Texas!

What would you like to have in 2015 that you lacked in 2014? I would like to have a better budget in 2015... After reading this inspiring post, I'm going to be tracking my spending more closely and creating more parameters for myself.

What date from 2014 will remain etched upon your memory? This day in February when I surprised my bosom friend; this day in June when I decided to work towards doula certification; this week in July when I watched "The Fall" three times; this day in October when I started doula certification; this Halloween weekend I spent with two of my best friends; and New Year's Eve, with a fantastic gathering of friends at my place.

What was your biggest achievement of the year? Completing Bradley Birth classes {all 12 weeks!} and beginning the more formal, less structured doula certification process.

What was your biggest failure? While I did get into a great exercise routine {Zumba 4x a week!}, my eating habits did not much improve, and some days were just plain awful. This is one of my areas of improvement for 2015.

Did you suffer illness or injury? I had some health challenges in the summer, and that brought financial challenges as well, but all is right as rain now!

What was the best thing you bought? A dining room table, a lamp that I made-over, more essential oils, plane tickets to Kentucky, Ina May Gaskin's Guide to Childbirth, Pierce Brown's Red Rising, and lots and lots of yarn.

Whose behavior merited celebration? My sisters'! One sister graduated from college and got a full-time job; one sister conquered transferring craziness and is now kicking butt as a junior; and my baby sister is leading her Model United Nations group {and like 6 other groups} in international competitions. Also, all three of them ran a half marathon. My sisters are awesome!

Where did most of your money go? Besides the boring stuff like gas and house payments? Doula certification, Zumba classes, DIY stuff for making my house beautiful.

What did you get really excited about? Have I mentioned doula certification enough? :) I also got really excited about reading {and buying} good books, visiting friends near and far, and hosting Thanksmas and NYE parties.

What song will always remind you of 2014? Taylor Swift's "Shake It Off"

Compared to this time last year, are you:

           Happier or sadder? Happier!
           Thinner or fatter? Thinner, or at least more fit
           Richer or poorer? Hmm, richer in community, richer in career, richer in blessings. I'm gonna go with richer :)

What do you wish you’d done more of? I wish I'd spent more time with my sisters.

What do you wish you’d done less of? I wish I'd spent less time worrying about other people's opinions of me.

How will you be spending Christmas? With my family, at my parents' house, in traditional new pajamas {except this year I got a bathrobe and it is plush and luxurious and I'm never taking it off!}.

Did you fall in love in 2014? I fell more deeply in love with life!

How many one-night stands?


Who were your best friends? Samara, Cami, Rebecca, Julie, AJ, Dahlia

What thing did you do that was meaningful to others? I got a lot of positive feedback from new parents in the hospital where I baby cuddle. One new dad saw me rocking a baby and upon learning that I was not a new mom but a volunteer, said with a sigh of exhaustion and gratitude, "Oh, I could hug you right now. Thank you!"

What were your favorite TV shows? "Pushing Daisies," "The Mindy Project," "The Office," "Gilmore Girls," "Firefly," and of course the Brits: "Doctor Who," "Sherlock," and "Call the Midwife."
all images taken from

Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year? I try not to hate people... I've stopped caring about the opinions of a couple people, but I don't hate them.

What was the best book you read in 2014?
Non-fiction: Ina May Gaskin's Guide to Childbirth, Doris Kearns Goodwin's Team of Rivals, and Laura Hillenbrand's Unbroken
Fiction: Elizabeth Wein's Code Name Verity and Pierce Brown's Red Rising

What was your greatest musical discovery? Birdy - both her albums are hauntingly beautiful. And Amy Stroup... nonstop listening to her gorgeous voice and style.

What did you want and get? I wanted to get through Team of Rivals and 39 other books...and I did! Actually, I exceeded my initial goal of 40 books and read 55!

What did you want but did not get? I wanted to win a trip to Rwanda, but it didn't happen. Guess I'll go another time.

What were your favorite films this year? I know I'm late to the party, but "The Fall" is the perfect film and I saw it just this year.

Of films actually released in 2014, my faves are:
"Mockingjay: Part 1" was absolutely fantastic
"The Imitation Game" - gawd, such an amazing film. Sad story, beautiful film.
"Exodus: Gods and Kings" was really good. The whole Plagues sequence... whoa.

What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? I celebrated with my family and sangria at an Italian restaurant, got rear-ended {I sure know how to have a good time}, hosted a Sherlock party, and wrote about 25 life lessons since I turned 25.

What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? Being able to click my heels and instantly visit my friends.... as soon as that magic is invented, let me know!

What kept you sane? My friends who are so awesome - they encouraged me, chased away my doubts and fears, and brought wine :)

Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? Like in a "hey baby" kind of way? Um, that would be Lee Pace, yes please thank you kindly here's to you.

What political issue stirred you the most? I don't think this will ever stop stirring me. The pro-life movement and all that it encompasses is one of my passions and it directs my dollars and vote.

Who do you miss? I've missed my grandpa more this year than last year, probably because time has lessened the pain of loss and because I'm better able to remember him pre-Alzheimer's.
I also miss my Kentucky families and am planning a visit very soon.
Samara, I miss living with you!

Who are the best new persons you met this year? I made a new friend at Notions! She is super sweet and funny and brilliant, and we hung out over turkey-and-stuffing sandwiches - mmm!

Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2014.

Quote that sums up the year: {I love this one especially because it talks about a birth!}

There you go! Goodbye, 2014, and hello, new adventures of 2015!