How do you start a blog?


Many women ask me this question: “How do I start a blog?” and I always give them the same answer: I took The Blog Class with our real life friends Emily and Ryan of Jones Design Company.

If you know you want to start a blog, stop reading this post and click here to see the re-launch of The Blog Class with Emily and Ryan.

If you are familiar with blogging, you could start a blog pretty easily with a template and a free account. These free resources are great for people who want to use their blog as a sort of online journal that they can share with others.

But what if you need more than that?

What if you need someone to explain everything to you in a way that you actually understand it?

The Blog Class includes 40 cheerful, inspiring instructional videos that you can view over and over at your convenience.

What if you need shopping carts and customizable everything?

If you plan to sell something from your blog, or promote your book or homemade products, you need a customizable template (which comes with the Blog Class! It’s the Canvas theme, which normally costs $100; it’s the same one I use). This way you can add your own graphics and info for your business, and make changes to whatever you’d like to change as time goes on.

What if you want to save tons of time and avoid mistakes that many newcomers make?

For example:

What size photo can you add to a blog?

Why does the size of the photos matter?

How do I adjust the size of my photos?

How do I avoid spam comments? (I’ve had like 13,000 spam comments in just two years that were blocked because Ryan helped me find the right spam blocker!)

How do I make sure I don’t pick up viruses?

And here is the big one:

What if you need lots of encouragement?

Emily and Ryan are some of the most encouraging and generous people I know. They will put 150 % of their effort into helping you succeed, and they will encourage you and cheer you on.

Emily and Ryan truly encouraged me. I don’t think I ever would have started my blog without this class.

If you are stuck anywhere in the process and you really need things to come together for your blog, take this class! It is totally worth the money. Check out their info page here. It’s time to get started because you have something beautiful to offer and you need to get it out there! Good Luck!

 

Please share this post with anyone you know who is thinking about starting a blog!

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xo,

Chelsea

P.S. Do you have any questions for me about blogging? Feel free to ask me anything you’d like in the “Reply” section and I will get back to you.

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Comparison Detox

comparisonBe sure to read this through to the end.

Last night I had a dream that I was on a TV show where people were watching my family and other families live our normal, everyday lives. We were just doing our thing, raising our kids, and having a good time in life.

But in the dream, I was feeling competitive. I kept checking to see our show’s ratings and, particularly, what people thought of me as a character on this show. It was like the results were posted at the end of each day, and I could see how many people were following, liking, or voting for me, Chelsea, on the show. In my insecurity, I checked what other people were getting for votes as well, to see how I compared with them, you know, to make sure I was keeping up.

Do you know how many votes or likes I had? One. Just one (1) follower. You know how that makes you feel? If you only have one “like” on a photo or something that you post? I felt like that. Sort of dumb and embarrassed. Sort of OK with it, too, because it was what it was.

I frantically checked what another person got, and to my relief, she also had just one “like,” one follower, one vote. For some reason, that made me feel better about myself. She had only 1. Phew.

When I woke up from this dream, it stuck with me all day, as dreams sometimes do.

I do not consider myself a competitive person, and I certainly don’t feel like I should be considered better than anyone else. But I do have a nagging fear of not being able to keep up. I prayed about it, wondering why I would be feeling so insecure and competitive in a silly dream that didn’t really make sense.

And these words came to me in my time of prayer:

Comparison Detox

God, do I need a comparison detox? What does that mean? Should I fast from something so that I can be purified in my heart? Should I take a break from reading other people’s blogs? Should I take a break from social media and checking in on how my friends are doing?

I decided that maybe I need some time to be creative instead of wasting my time comparing my life with the lives of other people–particularly women in my demographic: American moms in our 30s, trying to keep our kids and houses healthy and in order–and to redefine beauty in an age when we have access to endless beauty that we observe and share on virtual platforms.

I think God was telling me that I need some good old-fashioned spiritual discipline. I need to fast, abstain, and detoxify, purify my heart and mind. I still don’t know exactly what this means or what it will look like, but at least I am sure of one thing: I need to cleanse.

And I think it has something to do with the example set by Jesus at the last supper: the washing of feet. An attitude of “how can I serve others?” instead of “how can I keep up with others?”

Back to my dream: For some reason the number in the dream, the one vote, really stood out to me. Because how pathetic is that? Just one “like” on an entire day of my life? Just one?

I asked God, “Why just one vote, God? Why just one follower? Why just one ‘like’ for me, and the same exact number for my friend?”

And God, because he is so awesome, said, “It’s me. I am your one vote. I am her one vote.”

It was God that “liked” my day. And it was Him who followed my heart, and judged everything about me–everything that really mattered. God cares about each one of us and follows us throughout our day. He is the only judge who matters, and he is not judging the way the world judges.

Suddenly the dream made so much more sense:  no one really knew me or cared about me the way He did. And comparing myself to anyone else was a waste of time; at the end of the day, we were all equally loved and celebrated.

Was I OK with that? Was I going to be all right with everyone seeing that I had only 1 vote?

Yes, I’m definitely OK with that.

Should I try my best in all areas of my life? Yes.

Do I have to keep up with everyone else?

No.

Other women have been posting about this topic of comparison as well, which tells me that it’s not just me who feels parched and tired, trying to keep up. Maybe God gave me this dream to help another woman today who needs to hear that she has God on her side, and he loves her, and he hopes that she can find peace and rest in Him, the living water that never runs dry. You don’t need to prove yourself to anyone. Just love others and be eager to serve the poor and needy.

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Broken Dishes


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I want an 8×10 print of a broken dish to hang in my kitchen. Or maybe an actual broken dish hung on the wall as a decoration. Because I need a constant reminder: it’s only a dish.

This little dish was part of a tea set that my daughter got for her 3rd birthday seven years ago. It’s a really cute little tea set. Was a cute little tea set.

It broke, obviously, when my kids were playing with it the other day. For some people, this is no big deal. Just toss it. Forget about it.

I wanted to toss it. Instead, I left it on the kitchen counter for a week, because I had to try to glue it back together. I had to at least try.

You see, I’m realizing that I have a really hard time letting things be broken. Just broken. Let it be broken and throw it away.

So after a week of staring at it, I threw it in the trashcan. And then I took it back out.

To take this picture.

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I think this plate was a reminder to me that it’s okay to feel broken, to be broken, to let things be broken without having to fix everything and put it back together and make everything whole again.

I think some other people might feel like me sometimes. Like nothing should break. We have to keep it all together, in perfect balance, every day.

Sometimes I feel like I’ve got those plates in a balancing act, spinning on the top of sticks, and the plates are wobbling back and forth. At any moment they will fly off the sticks and smash into the floor.

And then, instead of sweeping up the mess and throwing it all away, I’ll sit down to glue all the pieces back together and make it look like it never happened.

I’m trying so hard to keep everything together.

I don’t want anything to fall apart.

I don’t want me to fall apart either. I can’t. I have too many people to take care of to let myself fly off the handle and break.

I feel a huge pressure to raise our kids right. I have to protect them and give them only the best experiences to they will grow up to be strong and healthy in every way. I have to serve the healthiest food three times a day and keep everyone’s teeth brushed twice a day and wash all the sheets once a week and make sure there are no crumbs on the floor because our town has a lot of crickets.

And the more time I spend on the computer, the more pressure I feel to keep my home perfect and orderly and beautiful like everyone else’s, even though I have five kids in a two bedroom house.

I try and try and then something breaks.

And sometimes I scream and cry or say things I regret. And–sometimes–I keep the Elmer’s glue coming and make it look like everything is fine.

It doesn’t mean I have failed.

Because life isn’t a great big test, and we are not going to receive a report card at the end of our life and get a 4.0 GPA in Motherhood, Home Keeping, Wifehood, Remodeling, Healthy Meals, Church Participation, and Emotion Control.

Is it possible that it’s good to be broken sometimes?

To toss something that we thought was so valuable but really wasn’t that big of a deal?

To reevaluate some of our expectations of ourselves and others?

To reprioritize?

To remember: it’s only a dish?

. . .

By the way, Andy finally tossed the broken plate in the trashcan, and I didn’t take it back out. I thought about it, you know, in case my pictures didn’t look good enough and I needed to take more, but instead I just

chose

to

let

it

go

And I haven’t thought about it once since.

Not at all.

Not even one time about how I didn’t even try to glue it … and it might have worked.

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Let me know you were here! Give some love and leave a reply.

xo,

Chelsea

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Thoughts on New Life

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Have you ever felt like a part of your life was done for?

a relationship with someone you love

a job or career

the chance at true love

the willingness to go on

a friendship

your marriage

a second chance

your faith in God

your heart?

 . . .

N E W  L I F E

This plant lay dormant since 2010, meaning the flowers fell off and all it had was leaves for 5 years.

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I kept it around because I have a hard time throwing things away. Also, my sister has always gotten her orchids to bloom again, so I knew it was possible.

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The leaves looked pretty.

Would it ever bloom again?

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Then, as time went on, the leaves didn’t even look pretty. They turned yellow and fell off.

But more leaves grew.

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One day my daughter peeled each of the new leaves in half down the middle. You can still see one of them is peeled in half (on the bottom right). I was so mad.

Still, the plant sat on our mantle or on the computer desk. I didn’t even water it. I was waiting for it to die so I could throw it away.

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The woman who cleans my house watered it once a month.

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The leaves reached desperately toward the sunlight, eager to live.

One by one the broken, peeled leaves fell off and more new leaves grew.

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This year I made one change. I placed it in a new window, in a different room. The kitchen, as it turned out, was better for this orchid.

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And a new stem sprouted after 5 years.

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And within a month … here it is.

Just as it was made to be. Just gorgeous. This plant brings me so much joy.

More so because I thought it was done. I thought it was fruitless. But it was alive.

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I’m so glad I was wrong. I’m so glad I didn’t throw it away. Because this year this orchid proved to me the message of new life: new chances, new beginnings, hope, and beauty.

The very thing I thought was dead brought me so much joy.

Because I held on. I don’t always hold on. But this time I did.

. . .

“Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”

Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”

Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

Jesus said to her,

I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?

–John 11:21-26

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Rotunno Mini Update — March



1-title-miniupdate-orchids-3M A R C H  2 0 1 5

Everyone asks, “How is it going with 5 kids?” Our 5th baby was born in December, and she is now almost 4 months old. We just celebrated our oldest child’s 10th birthday. Wow! A decade of raising kids.

Mostly, our answer is: Life keeps going. Life is not much different, besides that we are generally tired all the time, and we have a new little person to make us smile and laugh all the time. So things are good!

Here are a few quick updates; what I like to call a …

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O R C H I D 

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This orchid, which has been dormant for a few years, finally sprouted a new flower after I moved it to the kitchen window. Orchids need specific conditions to sprout a flower stem, like a north-facing window and cold nighttime temperatures. I guess it liked my kitchen window better than the other window that I thought was facing north! You should have seen me when I saw that it finally grew. I was ecstatic! Now we are just waiting for them to open! Pretty exciting for a person like me, who usually can’t keep plants alive.

T I L A P I A

My son hardly eats, but we found something that he love love loves. Tilapia with lemon and butter. So this has become our family’s new favorite dish. It’s really easy to cook. I just rinse the fish (de-boned, of course), pat it dry, and set it in a baking dish with about 1/4 cup butter and the juice of one lemon. I sprinkle dill on Andy’s and mine, although my kids prefer no dill. Then I just bake it at 350 for about 12-15 minutes. We usually eat fish with rice and steamed vegetables, like broccoli or asparagus.

J U I C I N G

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Speaking of vegetables, Andy and I have become addicted to juicing veggies. We had this Waring Pro Health Juicersince our wedding day and are finally using it daily. It’s so funny, but juicing veggies has become a special time alone together, like making and drinking coffee. We make each other a juice drink and say, “Oh, try this one! It’s good!” Pretty romantic, I know. These little moments alone together are pretty rare these days! Andy’s secret ingredients to add to any veggie combo: 2 apples, half of a lemon, and about 1/2 inch of fresh ginger!

T H E   S P L I T Z

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A. has been stretching for ballet, and it turns out she is Gumby. Like she can’t even feel it when she stretches. It’s insane. We are trying to figure out what she’d like to do with this talent. Any ideas?

H A I R C U T ?

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Does JL need to cut his hair? Because he really doesn’t want to. I love it long, but I’m starting to wonder if it’s getting too long, you know? You want your kids to be happy and express themselves, but you also want to balance that with teaching them proper grooming. What is your opinion?

N O I S E T R A D E

My book is on the front page of Noietrade in the New and Notable section this week. Kinda fun. Check it out here.

M A S T I T I S

TMI: I got over mastitis last week. It was not fun. But just like last time I had it, which was with my last baby, it cleared up within 48 hours. I had to rest and load up on vitamin C, which my friend got for me after I texted her about how sick I was. Mastitis is like a breast infection caused by a clogged milk duct. When my babies start sleeping more, I forget to nurse them and I let them sleep through a feeding. Mix that with not drinking enough water, and then it hits: flu-like symptoms, dizziness, headache, chills, fever, and soreness. Thank God it is over! It is so hard to take care of kids (and a baby) when you are so sick and can hardly lift your arm.

G L E A N I N G S

We are looking forward to our next Gleanings for the Hungry trip, which is coming up in a few months. Can’t wait! Gleanings is a YWAM base, and they process peaches and nectarines, dry and ship then to starving people in other countries. You can read more about this trip we take as a family every year here.

And for those of you who have been following my blog . . . I still have not put a photo of the new baby in this frame. We are pretty busy around here, in a good way. I’m sure I’ll get to it soon.
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Encouragement at the Perfect Time

Two sisters from two different countries in Africa emailed me last week. It was the perfect time to receive encouragement.

First, I got an email from Lola:

Hi Chelsea, I just read your book Goodnight To My Thoughts of YouVery awesome. The first time I’m reading a book of you. All the way from Nigeria in Africa.

Isn’t that just amazing?! See, I love that God called me to make my ebook free. Anyone can download it from anywhere around the world for free. Christian sisters from every continent have read my book. Wow.

Then, the next day, I got another email. Chanda wrote:

Hello Mrs. Rotunno, I am a young reader from Zambia (in Africa) and I absolutely love your book! I have recommended it to others and I am very impatient about the release of the ebook’s sequel. I wrote this email to find out when you are releasing Heavenly Here With You. Thank you for reading and I would greatly appreciate a reply. God bless you.

I wrote:

Dear Chanda, Wow! Thank you for your message! The Lord has used you to encourage my heart. May I quote your message on my blog? Also, please pray for me as I finish Heavenly Here With You. I hope to have it ready in November. God bless you!

Chanda wrote:

Dear Chelsea, Of course you can! I would be more than honoured to feature on your blog. I am happy that I have been a blessing in somebody’s life — especially somebody like you. I really cannot wait until November now. I will surely pray for you as you write. Thank you so much for your response. Chanda

It is not a coincidence that this encouragement came at the perfect time.

Thank you, dear Jesus, for your perfect timing.

… And thank you, my friends, for your prayers and affirmation.

Heavenly Here With You

by Chelsea Rotunno

Coming Soon!

Subscribe by email to receive free email updates

 

You know, it’s not easy to write a book when you have five kids. It’s not easy to write a book with one kid. Writing is hard work whether or not you have any kids. It takes a lot of time and concentration–two things I don’t have a lot of these days, with a newborn and everything.

Excuses, excuses.

I never accomplish anything when I make excuses.

But I can accomplish a lot when I commit my work to the Lord.

He has heard our prayers.

xo,

Chelsea

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Five-Minute Necklace Organizer


necklaces-3Finally. No more tangled necklaces.

My daughter brought home a tree branch that had been painted white. I thought it looked pretty so I kept it for awhile, not really thinking much about it.

Then it came to me. We can hang the girls’ necklaces from the branch.

It might sound silly, but this solution for organizing necklaces has made me so happy. Something that was disorganized is now in order! It makes sense!

No more tangled, knotted, crazy necklaces that my girls can never wear.

I mounted two hooks next to the door frame in their room (strategically higher than my two-year-old can reach), hung a few necklaces on the branch, and set it horizontally in the two hooks. Brilliant.

The branch is light enough for my girls to lift off the hooks, but they don’t really have to lift it. They just have to undo the latch on the necklace they want to wear.

It made me so happy, I just had to share it with you. For anyone who has necklaces piled in jewelry boxes where you forget about them . . . try out this easy, free necklace organizer. What a difference! Practical and pretty.

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I created peace and sanity in one tiny aspect of my life–and I am really happy about it.

xo,
Chelsea

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Who Does She Look Like?



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To me, all babies look alike, and they all kinda look like old men.

So many people have been telling me that baby Pearl looks like my son. I thought it would be fun to look at some pictures of him and the other kids when they were babies and compare to see. Who does she look like?

On Christmas Eve, we took this picture of the kids. So here is what they look like now.

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Here is Baby P at two months old. We finally got a picture of her smiling! That’s when you really begin to see what they are going to look like.

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It was great to go through some old photos and enjoy the memories of each of my kids at that age. Here are some pics of my first baby, Baby E.

BABY #1

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And photos of my second daughter, Baby A. Yes, she was a large-normous baby with tons of hair.

BABY #2

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Here are a few baby pics of my son, Baby JL.

BABY #3

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Finally, the 4th child, Baby R.

BABY #4

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Who do you think Baby P looks like most? Baby E, Baby A, Baby JL, or Baby R?

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or as R calls her, Baby Pear.

 

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A Great Book for Little Girls

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“Mom, are you crying?” (How many times have I heard that question lately?!)

Today I found myself in tears after reading this book to my 7-year-old daughter.

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Originally published in 1944, The Hundred Dressesis an introspective story about girls “having fun with” a Polish girl at school who only has one dress that she wears day after day. But this story is not written from her perspective . . . it is written from the perspective of another little girl who observes her mistreatment and learns to respect people who are different.

Every little girl should read this book.

Every woman should read this book to her little girls.

Have you ever felt what it’s like to be outcast? Outside the circle of girls? Unable to keep up with privileged women or families who are well-off? Imperfect?

I have.

The Hundred DressesNewbury Medal Winner, is on the reading list for my daughter’s homeschool curriculum. It is a great book for every little girl, whether she is learning to read or has been reading for years.

Because now it is our turn to teach our daughters to be kind to other children and stand up for the outcast.

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I hope you enjoy this book as much as my daughter and I did.

Have you read it? Did you read it as a kid? It is one of those books that needs to be on every girl’s bookshelf. So relevant, universal, timeless.

The Hundred Dresses
 by Eleanor Estes

. . .

Soon I will add a page to this website that has a list of my favorite books, books that have changed my life, inspired me, or that I just highly recommend. Stay in touch and see if we have any favorites in common!

xo, Chelsea

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Goodbye 2014, You Were A Good Year

It is crazy windy outside and everyone is asleep. The dishwasher is humming, the washing machine is turning, and a few candles are burning on the mantle. In other words, I really should be sleeping. But what I want to do is write a quick blog post to say hello and thank you and Happy New Year!

So … with the tired brain of a mom with a newborn (and 5 kids … wait, FIVE?) I will post a few blog highlights from 2014.

JANUARY

A funeral is not the best way to start off the year. But we did get to hug our friend Rachel and her two precious kids after they lost their husband and dad, Kevin, who had cancer. You can read Rachel’s blog here if you would like to hear their story and send her some love. I wrote this post after his funeral. It was a tough holiday season last year. I can’t believe it’s already been a year. Rest in peace, Kevin.

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I was getting ready to publish my first ebook, a novel based on a true story, including how my husband Andy and I met and fell in love. In this post I shared an excerpt from the book that was about how my husband lost his front teeth when he was in 4th grade.

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FEBRUARY

And in February I included a post that shared a love letter Andy wrote to me before we were even dating--also an excerpt from my novel. 

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MARCH

In March, someone turned 9 years old and had a sock monkey party! We made some cute decorations. And I taught myself how to make a sock monkey.

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APRIL

Oh, this was the year! I actually did it. I chose a book cover and published my first novel in April. So exciting!

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MAY

We finally announced to the world that we were pregnant with number 5 in May. I was not happy about being pregnant because I was trying so hard to publish my book, and I get really sick when I am pregnant. Thank God, everything worked out and I was able to achieve some of my goals, even if I couldn’t do everything I’d hoped to do.

JUNE

Not only had I received emails and messages from girls who loved my novel, but in June I also found out I had some great reviews, which was a dream come true.

JULY

It took  awhile, but I made a tutorial for how to make a sock monkey, and I opened an Etsy shop in July.

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AUGUST

In August I wrote about how i used to struggle with depression.

I finally made it to the beach in Augustand it was so worth it. We live so close to the beach. Why don’t we go more often?

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The belly continued to grow.

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SEPTEMBER

We started another school year, but this time I was home schooling two children instead of one.

OCTOBER

This was the month of the 31 Day Writing Challenge, and my topic was pregnancy, including stories about natural childbirth and how I lose baby weight. I wrote most days, but not all.  

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Another post was about how I thought I would never have kids.

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 I made this cat craft for my kids and posted a free template.cat-template-example-0

NOVEMBER

Basically I spent all of November waiting. We waited for the baby to come on her own …

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DECEMBER

She finally decided to come … on Andy’s birthday!

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Gosh, just four weeks ago. But have four weeks already passed? Sheesh, I am so tired. But I am ready for a new year, a new start, a chance to set some goals and live the way I truly desire to live.

Thank you so much for staying in touch! Thank you for your friendship, no matter how far away you are. Thank you for your prayers.

Ok, seriously, enough about me. What is one of your highlights from 2014? Please share!

xo, Chelsea

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Thanking God for a Healthy Delivery of Baby


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Just a few hours after I posted my previous 24-days-late lament, I went into labor.

On December 2nd I tried all the midwife’s suggestions for naturally inducing labor:

1. Drink red raspberry leaf tea all day
2. Drink 2 teaspoons of castor oil mixed in orange juice (I was nervous to drink it, but I couldn’t taste the oil at all)
3. Cuddle with Andy

The day before, I even ate “the salad” that is supposed to make you go into labor within 48 hours, as well as eggplant parmesan.

Something worked! The baby was finally ready.

After I sent out my blog post, I had a few contractions while I read to the kids at bedtime, and a few more as I washed dishes, but I tried not to get too excited in case it wasn’t really labor.

I had to wake Andy to help me at 11 pm. At that point, I had to lean on a chair to breathe through the contractions. We knew it was the real thing when he started timing the contractions and they were 3-5 minutes apart and 1 minute long–I had only been laboring for an hour but we knew we had to get to the hospital quick!

We left at midnight and arrived at the hospital around 12:30 am. The most exciting part about this timing was that the baby was going to arrive on Andy’s birthday. We kept laughing about it, even as my contractions were getting more and more serious.

Two birthdays on December 3.

So we check in at the hospital and this resident doctor walks in and says he is going to deliver my baby. He looks like a movie star. He and Andy start chatting about how they both think each other look like movie stars, and I have another huge contraction.

I didn’t have time to think about the fact that he was good-looking, and at that point it didn’t matter if Jared Leto’s twin was delivering my baby. The baby was coming.

The staff was hesitant to check me in–I guess a lot of women come in who are not really in labor–until they did an exam and saw the baby’s hair. “You are in labor! About five centimeters dilated.”

When we got to the delivery room, I had to use the restroom. I kept thinking, Oh no! The castor oil! I took too much castor oil! because my stomach hurt, and my contractions were so bad–right on top of each other. I was in the bathroom for 15 minutes, trying to breathe through contraction after contraction. I could hear Andy chatting with another doctor in the delivery room, and I could hear her saying they wanted to give me antibiotics.

Finally, I waddled out of the bathroom and approached the bed. “We have to give you antibiotics,” the female doctor said.

I tried not to let it stress me out. It’s hard to explain how you feel when you are about to pop out a baby. It’s like you have to shut out every distraction because your body is working so hard.

“There’s no time,” was all I could whisper. It wasn’t the castor oil. It was the baby’s head moving down.

I sat down, reclined on my side, and immediately started to grunt and push. Andy knew that sound.

Andy lifted the hospital gown and calmly told the nurse, “There’s a head. She’s crowning.”

I heard a dozen feet scurrying into the room, and saw a bright light pointed at my body. “Just wait, just wait!” I begged, because I could feel someone trying to grab the baby’s head. Five seconds later, I gave one more push and she was out.

A healthy baby girl. Thank the Lord!

6 lbs. 12 oz., 19 3/4 inches

Twenty-four days past her due date, just like her big sister–although her big sister was 8 lbs. 15 oz.

So many people were praying for us. I know without a doubt that God heard your prayers and ours.

I didn’t get a midwife, but I got an excellent resident doctor.

Now that I think about it, he was the first male doctor I had had in 5 pregnancies, and he did an excellent job from beginning to end. In fact, he showed that he was impressed that I’d had 4 previous drug-free child births, and that in itself made me feel like he respected me as a human being. He was OK with letting everything happen naturally. He was very respectful of my birth plan and our wishes for how the labor and delivery would go. It was another great experience with a quick delivery at the hospital. Only one or two things caused unnecessary stress, but I can’t complain!

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I am so thankful for a healthy delivery of baby.

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We named her Pearl Alice Emilia, after my sister and my mom.

Thank you for sharing in my pregnancy journey. If you would like to read more posts from this pregnancy, start here.

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Waiting and Waiting

waiting

In my last post, I wrote with confidence that waiting is good for us, and it makes us appreciate what we have. I said it “makes life rich.”
Since that post I have had another 17 days of waiting past my due date, making this 5th baby as late as my 2nd baby. And I can say this with confidence:
I’m sorry I used that phrase lightly.

Waiting is so hard. It’s the worst.
For any of you who have had to wait and wait for test results; or to meet the right person; or to get pregnant; or for anything you have struggled waiting for: I am so sorry. I’m sorry that you have to answer the same questions over and over. I’m so sorry that people don’t understand you and they are worried about you for all kinds of reasons that hurt your feelings. People say weird things and make weird jokes to tell you indirectly what they really think, and some people just straight out give you dirty looks.
Some people treat me like waiting to have the baby naturally is going to kill my baby.
And I have had to second guess myself over and over and over day after day.
What’s wrong with me? What’s wrong with my body? Is there something wrong with my baby? Is it going to die?
Because I’m past my due date.

I have gone in for the non-stress test, NST, which is when they use ultrasound to track the baby’s heart rate for 20 minutes and measure how much amniotic fluid is around the baby.

The baby is great. Everything checked out normal, healthy, and great.

My mom had the most encouraging comment for me, which surprised me, because I thought she would be worried more than anyone. But instead, she said this:
“We never had due dates! The day the baby was born was the day the baby was due!”
Just 35-40 years ago, women did not have to struggle the way I am struggling, with this looming due date and pressure to force labor to begin.

(I do appreciate how medicine has advanced in the past decades and how many women and babies have been saved! I really do! It is amazing and so important to have medical professionals who are saving lives.)

To be honest, I am scared.

I’m scared something is going to go wrong. I’m scared that there is something wrong with the baby. I’m terrified by how long this pregnancy is going, and I’ve done this before!

I am scared to go through contractions and pushing and getting the baby out. You’d think I would be feeling great about it. After all, I’ve done this four times already. My doula friend told me that these fears might actually be preventing me from going into labor, and I should meditate on why I feel afraid and unprepared. So that is what I am doing today.

You might be wondering, “Why don’t you just induce?” or  “Why are you being stubborn?” Well, I have done it this way four times and I have been extremely happy with how nature takes its course, once things get going. It is very gradual, gentle, and manageable. It is the way I have been trained. To me, to interfere with nature is more dangerous than waiting–as long as the baby is checking out to be fine in the NST. It takes so much faith to do it this way. So much faith in God, the baby, and my body. And maybe I am a little stubborn and idealistic too.

I still think it’s true that when we have to wait for things, we appreciate them more. But that is something we learn in retrospect. In the moment we are waiting, it is the most unfair, difficult, character-revealing time. And it goes on and on, unending, seeming to lead only to disappointment.

So we have faith in God alone. Who else knows and sees all things? Who else has the power over life and death?

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

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Overdue Baby

overdue-baby

My second daughter, the one who was my 24-day overdue baby, gave me this picture frame from Ikea for my birthday. When we came across it the other day, she said, “Mom, we can put a picture of the new baby in this frame.”
“Yes, honey, that will be perfect,” I said. I set it on the table where we put our homeschool supplies, thinking it would only be a few more days until we had a baby photo to put in that white frame.

Here I am again. One week past my due date, which was November 9, waiting for another overdue baby.

I have since placed the pretty white frame by the kitchen sink, where I spend a lot of time thinking and listening to the Bible while I do dishes every day. I stare at that empty frame day after day with great anticipation and longing for the baby to arrive. It is anticipation mixed with fears and worries that I won’t be able to take good care of 5 kids. Mixed with love and hope for our family to be a strong unit that takes care of each other no matter what. Mixed with the burden of unfinished projects and not enough time, resources, or space to complete them. Mixed with excitement for the most wonderful time of the year, Thanksgiving and Christmas, which is quickly approaching.

This kind of waiting is what makes life rich, isn’t it? Like waiting for the day you meet the “right one.” Waiting for him to propose. Waiting for your wedding day. Waiting to consummate the marriage. Waiting to get pregnant. And waiting for the baby to arrive. This kind of anticipation is so good for us. Without any anticipation, we might lose a deeper level of appreciation for these things. We await them in humility, giving God control of the timing of these blessings. We wait with a thankful heart, and the knowledge that God has the power to give or take them away at any moment. (Now that I think about it, this is what my book Goodnight to My Thoughts of You is about.)


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Sometimes, after all the anticipation, it’s not quite how we thought it would be. The “right one” is imperfect. He didn’t propose the way you’d imagined, and the ring wasn’t as big as you thought it would be. Lots of things went wrong on the wedding day, and many things went well too. Consummation was, well, not quite the way it is in the movies, and marriage is nothing like a fairy tale ending because, let’s face it, we are not princesses. Sometimes anticipation can lead us to disappointment and unmet expectations. It is no different with the timing of when we get pregnant, when and how we deliver our babies, and the expectations we have for motherhood and the health and well-being of our children.

I think the secret is to be thankful. We need to have a thankful heart and a great attitude, even when life doesn’t go as we expected. We need to find laughter again, the way we did when we were little and we could cheer up with a little bit of love and attention. We need buoyancy. We have to stay afloat so we don’t drag others to the bottom of the ocean with us, even when we feel like we have every excuse to sink down low.

We have to somehow be okay when we have no control.

The only things we can control are our tongue and our attitude–the two things that reveal what’s in our heart.

It’s so hard when things don’t go our way. When we have to wait, and wait, and wait. The days drag by. We keep going because we trust God who knows all things and loves us with perfect love.

For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him.    Psalm 103:11-13

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The Midwife Delivery = The Best Delivery

midwife-delivery-image

Yesterday was my due date for baby #5, but no baby yet!

Every woman has a story to tell about her birthing experiences. It is such an emotional and personal experience, and we have these expectations for how it will go. Sometimes it just doesn’t go the way we want it to. For some reason, we never forget it either. Probably because we tell the stories so many times.

I’ve been reading through my Bradley Method book, Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way (my favorite book on birthing) and trying to prepare my mind for what is ahead. Even though I have given birth four times already, I am still nervous! The whole experience is so intense and there are so many different things that happen each time I go in to have a baby. It is never the same experience. The only reliable thing is that Andy will be there with me, and he is the best, most supportive coach I could ask for.

I have given birth with a midwife one out of four times, and it was by far the best birthing experience of the four. It was my son, my third baby, that arrived when a midwife was on duty at the hospital. All the other births were too late at night or too early in the morning for a midwife to be on duty.

What was different about a midwife delivery? Oh my gosh, everything. First of all, she was calm and reassuring. Second, she knew–she just knew–every single thing I had read and studied in the Bradley Method.

When she was checking me in to the hospital, she could tell that I was progressing quickly. I had drops of sweat running down my face and I could hardly answer her questions.

“You are transitioning, aren’t you?” she asked.

“I don’t know,” I said. “The contractions are just one after another.”

“Yes. Let’s get you in there. This baby is coming.”

It must have been about 10 or 20 minutes before the baby was on its way. She instructed the nurse not to give me an iv. She knew exactly how to coach the pushing. She knew to let all the cord blood go to the baby, and to let me hold and nurse the baby immediately. The nurse was going to give me the shot of pitocin to make my uterus contract after birth, and the midwife stopped her mid-air and told her I didn’t need the artificial hormones because I hadn’t had any drugs. She treated everything as normal. Normal. Because a normal childbirth is not an emergency or crisis.

At my 40-week doctor visit a few days ago, I started crying when my doctor asked if I was ready to have the baby.

“Yes, I’m ready for the baby. I can’t wait to hold the squiggly little body in my arms. But I am not looking forward to giving birth at the hospital.”

“Why?” she asked, surprised.

“Because…what if I don’t get a midwife? The doctors and residents just don’t understand a normal, unmedicated childbirth. They don’t know how to handle it.”

“Give me an example.”

“Last time, with my baby girl, I was starting to push my baby out, and a resident came in with a portable ultrasound machine, all confident, and said, ‘I have to take an ultrasound of the baby to make sure it is facing head down.’ It really stressed me out. What was I supposed to tell her? I could hardly speak. I was having a baby. She saw that it was head down two minutes later when the head was coming out!”

“I’ll note that in the computer,” my doctor said.

“Then, when my husband was asked to cut the umbilical cord, I said, ‘No! I want all the cord blood to go to the baby!’ Andy looked at me and said, ‘They already clamped it.’”

That was when I started crying. Why on earth would they clamp the cord before all the best blood went to the baby? I wasn’t donating it or storing it. How could these people not know how important that blood is? Why waste it? I was so hurt and confused and offended that they didn’t even ask me if it was OK to clamp the cord before all the cord blood entered the baby. The midwife knew. Why didn’t this other doctor and resident know? Was the 20-minute wait really that big of a deal? I’d only been in the hospital for 45 minutes total before the baby came! Geez!

“I thought I was over it,” I said, wiping my tears away. “I kept telling myself it was fine. Not that big of a deal. But I guess it meant a lot to me if I’m still upset about it two years later!”

She typed some more notes on the computer.

“I’m so sorry that happened to you,” she said, and she made sure my birth plan was as clear as possible so it wouldn’t happen again.

Still, I know how things are. I know how many times I have to refuse this and that, sign papers because I refused. I can’t leave the hospital until I’ve signed at least 10 papers, and every paper had a 10-20 minute lecture to go along with it.

When you ask, “Are you excited? Are you ready?” I want to say, “Yes! I’m so excited for the baby to arrive!” because I know that is what you are asking, and I am truly excited to have another little baby.

But I hesitate too–because I know that even though the whole experience will be lovely and real, it might also be a real pain in the you know what.

Unless I get a midwife birth. Please, baby, come when the midwife is on duty!

 

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What I Learned about Blogging

To conclude my 31-day writing challenge (a bit late, I know … I was supposed to conclude on Halloween) I thought I’d write a bit about what I have learned about blogging in the past month.

First of all, I love writing and sharing my stories. I love the process of sitting down and typing my thoughts. That is a good thing.

It is good to push myself to achieve more, try something new, and continue learning and growing.

However, trying to type and publish something every day can result in quantity without quality. It is difficult to come up with great graphics, photos, and writing content every single day, especially if blogging is something that gets put off until after the kiddos are in bed. The result is something more like a journal entry than a contribution to society. It is more about what is going on in my head than what you might benefit from as a reader.

Blogging every day takes a lot of time and dedication. It takes away from other things I could be doing with my time … like preparing for baby #5. Or sleeping.

This writing challenge was so good for me. I had something that was my own. A goal that was for my own enrichment.

It was also a challenge in my marriage. Andy and I bickered a lot this month about how I was spending my time. He was concerned that I was not getting enough sleep, which was a very valid concern.

Blogging requires discipline and organization. It requires planning and tact. I am not gifted in these areas. But they are areas in which I  have a strong desire to improve.

Ultimately, I like it. I like blogging, so I will continue to try to do it well. But I must remember to love God, my husband, and my family first.

Thank you for being a part of this series: 31 final days of my 5th pregnancy! More updates on baby #5 are to come! Subscribe by email if you would like to receive pics and updates. My due date is November 9. Just a few more days. Unless I have another post-due pregnancy! 

I truly cherish your prayers and support. Thank you, my friends. Keep in touch!

xo,

Chelsea

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