Movies, Reviews

Inception Movie Review

Once an idea has taken hold of the brain it’s almost impossible to eradicate. An idea that is fully formed – fully understood – that sticks; right in there somewhere. -Cobb

Inception was a movie that was so intimidating to me, but now that I’ve watched it, I just can’t believe it took me this long to give it a shot!

Plot Summary

A man who steals secrets through entering people’s dreams is given the opportunity to return to his home if he plants an idea in someone’s mind instead of stealing a thought.

What I Thought

Inception came out when I was a sophomore in high school and all I heard about was how confusing and difficult to understand it was. Because of all the commotion it stirred up, I never felt the need to see it. I don’t particularly like movies that are so complicated that you get lost somewhere in the middle. Well, here I am nine years later trying to pick a movie for family movie night and I see Inception on our shelf. I pull it out and it’s still in the wrapping. I figure what’s the harm in seeing what all the fuss was about.

My husband was excited to watch it again, but told me that I had to pay attention – that if we were going to watch this, we couldn’t play on our phones or be distracted in any way. So we put the baby down for bed and settled in. I will admit that I was a bit lost in the beginning just not knowing what was going on, but I quickly figured it out and found it absolutely fascinating!

I loved how it just transports you into this crazy world of creation and mystery with all of these rules, but also all of this imagination. It was truly original. I really enjoy movies that aren’t like anything I’ve ever seen and that actually have a really deep storyline that keeps you on the edge of your seat, but also plays tricks on your mind.

I will admit that there were bits and pieces throughout that threw me for a loop, but overall I didn’t think it was as confusing as everyone said it was. I’m sure I was less confused, because I knew to pay attention, but I think if you were to watch it a second time you would quickly catch on and enjoy the heck out of this film.

My Rating: 5 Stars

Did you think Inception was confusing? If so, do you like it now?

Books, Pregnancy, Reviews

Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth Book Review

It is important to keep in mind that our bodies must work pretty well, or there wouldn’t be so many humans on the planet. -Ina May Gaskin

The best natural birth book I have read so far; full of encouraging words, positive birth stories, and useful information.

Plot Summary

Ina May Gaskin is one of the world’s leading midwives in advocating for natural birth and expressing confidence in women’s bodies. In this book, Gaskin shares her knowledge and expertise in the world of midwifery to advise, encourage, and inform women on natural birth.

What I Thought

Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth is my favorite birth book that I have read so far! It was the most encouraging yet honest and realistic at the same time. Ina May’s knowledge is extensive and very impressive; I like that her advice doesn’t just come from research, but from actual birth experiences she has been a part of.

The first half of the book is full of true natural birth stories from women and families that gave birth on The Farm – where Ina May practices midwifery. The stories are so incredibly powerful and encouraging! Before becoming pregnant, I had never seen a birth or read birth stories… it freaked me out, but after I started seeing how strong the mothers were and how beautiful the process was, I didn’t feel so scared, but instead excited for my own turn.

The second half of the book is packed full of helpful information on how to have a successful natural birth, different coping measures to try during labor, how to be confident in your body, and general information on picking where to birth and who to do your prenatal care. Ina May tells it like it is and has a pretty great voice throughout the entire book. The tone of the book is hopeful and encouraging!

My Rating: 5 Stars

I would recommend this book to any woman who is pregnant – I think that natural birth should be given a chance and this book very clearly lays out the realities of what our bodies can do. I would also recommend this book to any woman who thinking about becoming pregnant, interested in natural birth, or wants to learn about what her options are when it comes to birth. This book could also be beneficial for expectant dads.

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Books, Pregnancy, Reviews

Hypnobirthing Book Review

Hypnobirthing… where do I even start?

Plot Summary

Hypnobirthing: The Mongan Method is a book explaining the hypnobirthing method for a successful natural birth experience.

What I Thought

I did not seek out this book, I just bought it at a used bookstore, because they didn’t have a copy of the book I was actually looking for. I have been trying to read as many pro-natural labor books as I can before Hazel comes, so that I can be very prepared and have as many tactics and techniques at my disposal. So although Hypnobirthing was not what I was looking for, I gave it a chance, because it is a natural birth method that is becoming more and more popular.

People considering using the Hypnobirthing method need to have a very open – and malleable – mind. I didn’t know exactly what the method entailed when I started the book, but one I got into the method techniques, they kind of lost me. It focuses heavily on deep relaxation and putting yourself in a state of self-hypnosis. I like to think I’m becoming more and more open-minded about birth, but I can say that after reading this book, I am not that open-minded.

Even if you are not into hypnosis – like me! – you can still get a lot of good information and some usable techniques from this book. If you read it early in pregnancy or before you have made your decision on whether you want a natural or medicated birth, this book provides lots of good information on different types of care providers and birthing facilities as well as the pros and cons to natural vs. medicated birth. It also gives you a little snip-it of history on how birth has become what it is here in the United States.

The information I took from this book is the importance of mind over matter. Women in the United States have been conditioned to fear childbirth and we forget that it is a natural function of our body. We are built to give birth! Having confidence in your body’s ability and being knowledgeable about how birth actually works can make all the difference when you are actually in labor. Also, relaxation plays a key role in helping your cervix dilate as well as pain management. Learning relaxation techniques (not necessarily the ones in this book) can help you calm down, trust your body, and labor more quickly.

My Rating: 4 Stars

As silly as I felt like some of the techniques in this book were, I would recommend this book to expecting mothers who are interested in natural birth and are not sure if they can do it or are not sure what type of birthing method they want to use. I would definitely remind anyone who picks this book up to keep an open mind and just take what you want away from it and not feel like you have to go all in with this method.

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Books, Faith, Reviews

Crazy Cool Family Book Review

Pursue God. Build Relationships. Create Culture.
-Don & Suzanne Manning

One of the women in our small group is one of the children in the crazy cool family this book is based on. She surprised us with a copy of this book to give us some ideas on how to create an amazing family of our own.

Plot Summary

A faith-based self-help book focusing on building a strong, connected, and spiritual family.

What I Thought

Having started this book with zero expectations, I was pleasantly surprised with some of the ideas and methods. Overall, I think it will be a great tool when Jeremiah and I start parenting. I liked their model of how to build a strong family: pursue God, build relationships, and create culture. I think those three ideas are great to prioritize and remember when thinking about how you want your family to look and feel.

Pursue God – I grew up in a Christian household, but I wouldn’t necessarily describe our family dynamic as one that actually pursued God. I feel like we ended up being more of a go-through-the-motions family, but I think my parents had good intentions. While reading these sections, I learned how having a strong relationship with God and seeking him regularly in all matters can benefit your family dynamic. I also have some tips on how to actually have a strong relationship with God.

Build Relationships – The book outlines a few key relationships that make a great family, great: our relationship to God, the marriage relationship, parents’ relationship to kids, kids’ relationship to Jesus, and kids’ relationships to each other. I think most of the time when we think of family, we think of the marriage the parents’ relationship to kids, but there is so much more going on. Growing up, I think my parents really struggled in having a relationship with God and I know my brother and I did as well. I think that lack of relationship really hindered our growth and family dynamic. It also breaks my heart that my brother and I do not have a strong relationship. Somewhere around junior high, we just went our separate ways and it was real rocky for awhile. The build relationships section was one of the most important for me, because I can clearly see what I need to work on in order for my family now to go in a different direction than my family did growing up.

Create Culture – The creating culture section seemed to focus on how the different pieces of your family interact with each other. So the different parts to culture are: encourage, safe, discipline, and unity. It wasn’t until this point that I felt like I would need to pick and choose what I take from this information. They focused on encouragement and careful correction – which I agree with to a point. Their view of careful corrections kind of translates to choosing your battles and not constantly nagging your children, which I can completely get behind. Next was making you and your home a safe haven. This is one I have always wanted to incorporate into my family. I have always wanted my kids to not be afraid to come home, make mistakes, or to ask hard/awkward questions. Next was relational discipline – discipline with a purpose, not just to control. Although I mainly agreed with most of what was said in this chapter, sometimes it was a little hard to believe the authors, because they came across as if their children were perfect little angels… as someone who grew up with a difficult sibling, I can tell you that their methods aren’t that encouraging for parents with a difficult kid. Last was building unity. This chapter focused on parenting as a team, learning from your spouse, and keeping marital conflicts away from the children.

If you’re interested, you can find out more about this book here.

My Rating: 4 Stars

Crazy Cool Family received 4 stars from me; one was deducted, because of how perfect they came across for a book on parenting. There was multiple times where they boasted about not having to ground their children or by sharing “bad” stories with the disclaimer that this never happened to them, but to someone they know. If you are going to write a book on how to have an amazing family and this is how to do it, please make your family situations seem real and not out of a 90s sitcom. Despite that irritating aspect, I enjoyed this book and think their methods and ideas have a lot of potential and I would recommend to new parents hoping to build a strong family or to families that already struggling, but the parents want to make a change.

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Movies, Reviews

Priceless Movie Review

The pages of our story are still being written. But here’s the good news… we’re not the author.

Christian movies are usually the worst of the worst with cheesy dialogue, poor acting, and terrible execution, so I was quite surprised when this one actually had decent execution.

Plot Summary

James, a down-on-his-luck man, agrees to transport goods across the Mexican border no questions asked. After falling asleep at the wheel and running off the road, he hears some cries coming from the back of his truck. He discovers he is actually transporting two young women. After realizing he just delivered these two women into the sex slave business, he embarks on a journey to rescue them.

What I Thought

In the beginning, I was interested in this movie because of the song it’s named after; Priceless by for King and Country. It had been in my watchlist for months and I finally gave it a shot. The movie surprised me right off the bat by just looking like a typical movie and not a low-budget, faith-based film. The movie did have some cheesy dialogue (I don’t know why expressing Christian values and views is so difficult in movies), but the acting was much better than most Christian movies.

One thing I didn’t like was how they turned it into a sort of rushed romance. For some reason they thought it came off well that this man wanted to save these women, because he had fallen in love with one of them. I didn’t like that, because this movie was supposed to be about human trafficking and listening to the holy spirit. I felt like his motivation wasn’t the holy spirit speaking to him about doing the right thing, but more along the lines of he had a crush on a girl he just gave to a pimp.

I did like how they ended the movie. I won’t spoil it, but I felt it was such a great idea and something that I hope is actually a ministry somewhere.

My Rating: 4 Stars

I don’t know if I necessarily recommend this movie, but I don’t think you would be bored or regret watching it. I give kudos to for King and Country for attempting to shed light on such a serious issue that is going on in our country.