Happy Birthday

Today is my 30th Birthday.

It’s a day that I have been looking forward to for a long time.  Some people get anxious about turning 30.  I did not.  Why?  Because I have witnessed the awesome power of the 30’s in my friends that have gone before me.  The 30’s have been good to so many amazing women in my life and they laid the foundation for my belief that the 30’s are nothing to fear.  In fact, they are to be revered, and so I do.  Revere them, that is.

Today is also my baby sisters 24th birthday.

When I turned 6 years old, I got a baby sister for my birthday.  Yes, I chose it, and yes I was a little bummed when I realized I wouldn’t be getting a birthday party, but in spite of that, she was, and still is, the best present I ever received.


I learned so much from being a big sister, particularly HER big sister.  Amy was always a really creative, sensitive, and strong willed kid.  When our older sister, Chris, moved out, Amy cried for days and said one of my favorite lines of all time: “It feels like a piece of my heart is missing.”  I mean, come ON!  How cute is that?!  It took all I had to nod knowingly and not burst out laughing at the adorableness of a 5 year old saying that.

At night, when I would tuck her in, she would ask me to give her a dream and I would whisper in her ear all the fun things I could think of- flying, fairies, talking animals.  We also made up a series of kisses that we would do at night, all based off the classic Eskimo Kiss (where you rub noses):

  • Bunny Kiss: this was a wrinkling of the noses will kissing cheeks
  • Lion Kiss: rubbing cheeks together
  • Chicken Kiss: jutting our heads forward while giving quick kisses, like pecking each others faces, but with kisses
  • Butterfly Kiss: fluttering eye lashes on each others’ cheeks
  • and our favorite:
  • Bumble Bee Kiss: doing a series of three kisses on each cheek while making a humming/buzzing sound

To this day, we still sign cards and emails with “BBK” for Bumble Bee Kisses, and it makes me so happy.


A regular ole kiss on the cheek

Amy recently reminded me that I used to hang a sign in her bedroom that counted down the days until our birthday.

Ames- there are ZERO days until our birthday! Today is our day, and although we aren’t celebrating in person, I know that we are always connected. Sometimes it feels like a piece of MY heart is missing because we are so far apart, but I am so glad that you are that piece of my heart.  You are one of my favorite people in the world and I am so proud to be your sister.

Oh, and I didn’t get you a card, so… you know, pretend this is it, okay?

I love you.




At the Taste of Chicago


With my sisters at my rehearsal dinner


Safety first!


First time Amy came out to a bar with her older sisters =)


Silly faces


Twins six years apart- even when we sleep


Amy came to support me at both the Chicago marathons I ran.


Amy’s bachelorette party


Passed out after a fun wedding




The night Amy and Tommy got engaged


May 4, 2012. family, Friendship, sisters. Leave a comment.

One Year Ago

Today marks the one year anniversary of “Tommy’s Accident” and the start to “Kate’s Year of Magic” (it’s a working title).

So much of my language this past year was centered around Tommy’s Accident.

Annie:  “Where did we go for Bekah’s birthday dinner last year?”

Me: “I don’t know- I was in Chicago because of Tommy’s Accident.”

Anyone: “When did you become a doula?”

Me:  “Well, I think I have been a doula my entire life, but it really began for me after I returned home from taking care of my brother in law after he was in a car accident.”

In almost every way, it was my worst nightmare.  I got a phone call from my dad sometime mid morning (in my nightmare, it is nighttime when I get a call like this), which was strange because he would have been working.  He was actually home sick from work- sinus infection I think- and he sounded terrible, which he would have whether he was sick or not because of the news he was about to give me.

“Tommy’s been in an accident.  A bad one.  He’s in the hospital.  I don’t have a lot of information, but it’s not good. “

A note about me: I have gotten a phone call like this before, only it was much graver news, but I handled it in a similar fashion: by yelling “What?” and then “No!” as if I had misheard and then could change it with a word: NO.  And then yelling it louder: NO!  And maybe repeating it: NO!      NO!

But nothing changes.  I yelled for Buck.  I start crying.  I desperately want to get off the phone to call my sister; To blink and be back in Illinois with my sister; To stop time, and the truck that hit Tommy.  To send back the words my dad has delivered.

But only one of those things happened.

I got off the phone with my dad and called Amy who is in the car with my mom, who had picked her up from the school she was teaching Kindergarden at (the same school she and I went to for 1st-8th grades), on their way to the hospital where Tommy was, in the Surgical ICU with a pressure monitor in his head to relieve the bleeding on his brain.

I don’t remember what I said to her, but I remember that she wasn’t crying.  She was in shock. I stayed on the phone for as long as I could, but eventually they arrived at the hospital and I let her go, said “I love you” as hard as I could, and promised I would be there soon.

And I was- the next day.  January 5th, 2011.  I was terrified to leave LA.  I was going by myself- Buck had to stay behind to work- and I cried almost the entire flight.  There were so many nice people around me on the plane- one guy lent me a Sharpee so I could write in my journal.  The lady next to me gave me a tissue and did me the courtesy of not asking me what was wrong.  Funny how I will never forget those details- how fear and tragedy can burn things into your mind in a way that, for me, even the happiest moments of my life don’t always.

That month in Chicago- January 2011- changed my life forever.  I had no idea that one of the scariest moments of my life would give birth to the path that I was meant to walk down and dedicate my life to.  Who can predict these things?

I have had a lot of fear and anxiety on the lead up to this day- this anniversary.  I have been afraid of reliving this and feeling these feelings.  But a week ago when Buck and I were driving into Chicago to see our dear friends and beautiful Goddaughter, I said to him, “One year ago, we were doing this exact same thing.  If we had known what was about to happen- that Tommy would make that left turn and that everything would change- would we do anything different?”

And the answer I wanted to say was, “YES!  We would have hugged him for 24 hours straight, and never left the house, and not let him get in the car that morning!!!!”  But that’s not the truth.  Because life doesn’t work like that.  You can pad your furniture, but you might still stub your toe on the padding and it will likely still hurt!  You can stay in bed all day long (which is what I did for so many days in 2011 when I was sad and lost), but it doesn’t change anything.  Life is still happening and we just need to keep moving through it, unafraid, and full of love for all things and beings around us.

And I am full of so much love and marvel for how magical this past year has turned out.  Tommy’s recovery has inspired me to the core, and my sister’s dedication to him has guided me in my own exploration of what patience and compassion really look like.   I have learned to be kind to myself and to open my heart totally so that the magic can continue to flow in and out, just as it should.

Tommy and I 2012

January 4, 2012. family, sisters. 5 comments.

List #21

Things I Love About Fall

In Los Angeles

  • Rain.  We don’t get much, so it’s precious when it does happen.
  • The way people bundle up when it’s only 50 degrees out.  As if they even KNOW what cold is…HA!
  • Drinking warm drinks.  I almost never want to drink warm drinks.  Something about it does not agree with my (Pitta) body, so I generally opt for my froo-froo drinks over ice and then I actually drink them!  It’s also difficult to drink a hot drink in very cold climates (like Chicago) because it’s too cold to even take your hand out of the glove to hold the cup!  Here in LA, it’s not too cold, and drinking warm drinks actually feels good.
  • Wearing puffy vests.  I had always wanted a puffy vest, but in Chicago, it seemed ridiculous to wear one!  If I needed to be warm, I needed ALL of me to be warm- even my arms.  But here in LA, it usually perfect vest weather, so I bought one and love it!  It’s white, so I look like a marshmallow, but I don’t care.
  • Thanksgiving at Annie’s.  Annie hosts Orphan Thanksgiving and has about 20 people over to celebrate.  We are all out of towners and come together to create family.  It’s nice.  We all bring a dish and play ladder ball, and then a few rounds of Mafia in which there is too much yelling, but it’s fun all the same.  We all take turns talking or skyping with our families back home and then go around the table to say what we are grateful for.  Here are two recipes I like a lot:  Green Bean Casserole, Cranberry Sauce
  • Knowing that Christmas is coming and I’ll get to see my real family soon!  Being back in my beloved home state, seeing snow and hugging my family is so fantastic.  The fall weather lets my body know that those hugs are coming soon…soon.

In Chicago

  • The Smell!  There is just something so amazing about the way the air smells in the fall in Chicago.  Sometimes it’s leaves burning and I almost hyperventilate trying to take it all in because I love it so much.  Sometimes it’s just crisp air.  Whatever it is, it makes me feel so good inside.
  • The feeling of ducking into a warm bar when you’ve been in the chilly air. Followed by a cider or a beer- can’t beat it!
  • Watching holiday decorations go up on Michigan Ave.  Nuff said.
  • Crunching on leaves. The trees on Paulina Ave would turn amazing colors.  One tree I loved looked like it was set on fire- the bottom would be orange and it the top was red.
  • Cooking with squash. There is an abundance of squash in the Midwest this time of year, and I used to be annoyed that it was all we could get, but being in LA, it’s hard to find good squash!  They are so tiny here…
  • The fall progressive dinner.  When I first moved to the city, I got a job at a study abroad organization called IES.  I made some amazing friends there and after a time, many of us ended up living within a mile of one another (except Joe who is a Northist).  I came up with the idea of doing a Progressive Dinner whereby we each picked a course and we’d move from apartment to apartment eating and drinking.  Ryan would carry a boom box (aka: bucket) and we usually ended up at Dan and Daniella’s for dessert by the fire pit.  We eventually had so many people on the route that every other stop was a “drink” stop.  The fall progressive was my favorite because it was fun to bundle up, tromp through streets with travel cups filled with Peppermint Paddies, and arrive at the next house where we would peel off our jackets, scarves and hats to enjoy another amazing, warm dish.  I treasure those times and feel so grateful to those buddies.

November 12, 2011. 52 lists, 52 weeks, family, Food, LA, Recipes. 1 comment.

List #14

Are you tired of hearing about how much I love my husband?  Well, TOO BAD because this week’s list is all about him for two reasons:

1.  I totally lurve him


2.  Our third wedding anniversary is today!

So here we go: 

Things I love about Buckler

He walks WITH me.  I stress the “with” because while he does literally WALK with me, my intention behind this line is that he walks WITH me (in life).  I am more of a control freak than he is, and on occasion I will grind to a halt (literally and figuratively) and yell, “Wait, wait, wait- WHAT???” and he’ll have to stop, reassure, and get me back on the track.  And he is SO good at this.

The early days of our journey

The man is a gentle soul.  He is so kind and loving to everyone- even the crapsters that think tipping $4.37 on $75 is acceptable (it’s not).

Even Richard Simmons loves him!

He is talented.  This isn’t WHY I love him, but it is truly awesome to be able to sit in the audience and watch him work.  And I truly love to watch him work.  His love for his art is so clear- it’s exhilarating to witness.  Performing with him is something I miss, but perhaps someday the right roles will come along (and if not, there is always The Goat…)

Buck in Assasins

He loves his family.  Before we were officially dating, I heard Buck tell his dad over the phone that he loved him, and I was floored.  The boys I hung with were “too cool” to say that to their parents, and I fell even more in love with him when I heard those words.

Buck with his brother, Rob, all the nieces, and Peggy!

He’ll try anything!  The boy is always up for an adventure and if it involves cake, he’ll do just about anything.  He is so much fun to be around!

Riding ATV's on our honeymoon

He let me dump tea on his head.   Have I told you this story?  Forgive me if I have…A little while back we were “at odds” and could not get over the great divide of whatever we were arguing about.  I had been drinking tea and it grew cold eventually.  We were sitting quietly and I was trying to think of a way to break past the tension and I imagined myself dumping my mug of tea on his head, and naturally started giggling.  God bless this boy- he let me do it.  And we laughed.  Like, for an hour.  The kind of laughing that is deep and feels so good because you need it so bad.  To this day, when we find ourselves “at odds,” Buck will ask- in a totally serious tone of voice- “Do you need to dump something on my head?”  And I fall deeper in love.

Poor head! (Buck was SUPER sick in this picture)

And the main thing that I love about this guy:  He is true blue.  When you are friends with Buck, you have a friend for life.  Making our wedding guest list was torture because Buck wanted to invite EVERYONE he ever met- and I do mean EVERYONE- because he loves people!  He loves friends!  When he says he is going to do something, he does it.  When you tell him a secret, it’s locked in a vault.  When you need to cry, Buck will listen, make you laugh, and then “hug out the wah’s.”  The man is true to his core and I feel incredibly lucky to have him as my mate.

Buck with Groomsmen

So, Buckler, thank you for being my best friend for 10 years.  Being married to you for the past 3 years has been a dream come true and there is no one I’d rather travel this road with.  You make me feel beautiful and loved in ways I never imagined.

Even when I look like this!

To the moon and back.

Thank you for loving me!

September 7, 2011. Tags: , , . 52 lists, 52 weeks, family, Friendship, Husband. 3 comments.

List #2

List #2 coming to you from humid Chicago!




June 20, 2011. 52 lists, 52 weeks, family, Friendship, Home. 1 comment.

Finding Bliss

I got a beautiful card in the mail today from my love, Zac, and the front reads:

“It is never too late to be what you might have been” – George Elliot

The inside has all sorts of beautiful words that I am not sure I am worthy of, but I love them.  Zac knows me well and and in the cards he writes, “This time in your life, studying to be a Doula, is the first time I’ve known you to have found your bliss.  The moment I knew it was true?  When you said LA wasn’t so bad because of it.” That part made me giggle a little bit because of it’s truth, and also because it’s such an LA thing to say- and he lives in Philly!  Finding my bliss was not necessarily what I set out to do with this, but it didn’t take long to realize that it was exactly what was happening.

Working with Tara and Steve was a truly wonderful learning experience.  I have many good friends that have become parents over the last four years, and watching them go through pregnancy and become parents has taught me so much.  Each parent I know has such a unique perspective after seeing their child born.  Getting to see the reactions of Tara and Steve as the birth was happening was truly amazing.  I found myself watching them as Caden came out- much the same way I watch the GROOM as the Bride walks down the aisle.  The amazement on their faces was beautiful.  I thought I would cry, but I didn’t.  I couldn’t!  I was…in bliss!

I jokingly told Tara that she was making it look too easy- that I just wanted to run home to my husband and make one of them there babies.  She didn’t believe me, but it’s true!  She put in a solid workday, laboring from 9am-4pm- and was rewarded with the best paycheck.  We worked on her breathing for the majority of the time, and once she found her rhythm, there was no stopping her.

On my way to the hospital I tried to think of encouraging words and phrases to say, but you know what?  I didn’t use any of them.  Instead, I cleared my head and let the moment inspire me.  During one particular contraction, I said to Tara, “Dig in, Dig, Dig, yes- Dig!”  Afterward, I wondered to myself where that came from, and typing it out now it sounds kind of lame.  But in the moment she looked to me like she was digging way down deep inside to find the strength, find the courage, and find her breath, and so I went with it.  I have no idea if it was the “right” thing to say, and normally I worry about that kind of thing, but there was no time.  It was liberating to just let go and speak from my guts.

I want to say this: the placenta is a magical thing.  Ma-gi-CAL!

Tara’s placenta came out about 15 minutes after Caden, which is on the fast side of average.  The nurse put it in a container and I couldn’t take my eyes off of it- it was so beautiful!  Before she took it away, the nurse pulled up the sides of the amniotic sac, which attaches to it, and showed me the two layers.  AH-MAY-ZING.  They looked so soft, yet sturdy- his perfect home for 9 months!  I didn’t expect to be so affected by the placenta of all things, but I find myself so inspired by the way the body just knows what to do for the baby, and how resilient the baby is. If you think about it, there are a lot of traumatic things going on during a birth, yet the baby stays calm while mom works harder than she ever has in her life.

I am forever changed by this experience and I can’t wait to see what kind of little boy Caden grows into.  Tara and Steve are so full of love and care for their new fella and I know that they too have found their bliss in Caden.

Beautiful New Mama

Happy Dad!

Lucky Doula!

June 3, 2011. Doula Stuff, family, Friendship, Uncategorized. 2 comments.


When I was approaching my 6th birthday my parents, knowing they were having a planned caesarean section with the birth of my sister, asked me, “Do you want the baby born the day before, the day of, or the day after your birthday?”  As the story goes, I exclaimed, “I want a baby for my birthday!” and went merrily on my way.

Well, my sister Amy came into the world on May 4th, 1988 and I became a big sister.  I remember being fascinated with her- her tiny fingers and the soft spots on her head that I wasn’t allowed to press on lest she leak her brains all over.  My dad gave me this little container that he got from the hospital that was supposed to tell you what things a baby could choke on.  If the object could fit inside the container, it could fit inside a baby’s windpipe and kill them.  I walked around that house testing everything that wasn’t too heavy for me to pick up, and if it fit in the container, it had to go.

There is a picture of me at the hospital the day Amy was born and I love it.  I will try to scan and post it when I get back to Chicago in a week (!!) because it’s pretty precious.  It’s 6 year old me, sitting in a hospital recliner, feet not touching the ground, holding baby Amy who’s eyes are open and looking up at me.  There is one version where I am looking down at her as if she is the best thing in the world, and one where I am looking at the camera smiling like I won a friggin’ pool party on a hot day.  I think it tells the story of our relationship pretty well.  Amy spent most of her life looking up to me, and now that she’s grown up, I spend most of my days looking at her in adoration.

She really is a cool, cool person with the most beautiful hair and the most contagious laugh you’ve ever heard.  When she laughs her eyes squint up and she makes the most hilarious face and I can’t help but laugh too.  She is one of the few people on the planet that I can be 100% myself around and I know what a treat that is.  She is a kindergarden teacher at the school we grew up in, so that tells you a lot about her heart and breadth of patience.

There are so many great stories to share about Amy…Buckethead Baby…Amy Makes a Sandwich (her film debut)…the time she thought she was a puppy for a week and woke me up every morning with puppy dog kisses (aka: licking my face)…the way she would diligently come into my room at night with a mirror and our “affirmations” when I was battling eating disorder…the silly kisses we made up during her bedtime routine (bumble bee kisses, chicken kisses, bunny kisses, lion kisses, etc)… the notes she wrote to me when I moved away to college…the time she was 11 and I gave her my knife to use after I was done making my PB&J and she said, “I don’t want your sloppy seconds” totally unaware of what that REALLY meant…the time she asked me- at the dinner table- if “oral sex is the same as sex”…Side note: I answered her oral sex question this way (she was 14): “There are 2 reasons to have sex: one is to procreate, and you probably don’t want to do that yet, and the other is for pleasure, and let me assure you that 14 year old boys DO NOT know what they are doing, so don’t even bother.”

I sound like her mom more than her sister, and I think for a long time the roles confused the both of us.  When we were young and our parents worked full time, she came with me everywhere.  I know she thought she was a burden, but I loved it.  I loved growing up with her and I love that we are friends now.

So, Ames, Happy 23rd Birthday!  Cheers to sisters, friends and a lifetime of infectious laughter!  You are the best birthday present I have ever received and I love you.  BBK!

Baby Amy!

My favorites from my wedding

First time drinking together after Amy turned 21 (with older sister Chris!)

Amy and her brother

Sleeping Beauties, as my dad would say

The Kate's and Amy

Safety first!

Penguins work too

Amy supporting me at my 3rd Marathon

The weird/gross thing she does with her neck (Tommy too)

Our favorite face to make!


May 4, 2011. Tags: , , , . family, Friendship, sisters. 1 comment.