My First Video Tutorial: Rusk Curl Freak

This video tutorial for the Rusk Curl Freak hair tool was super fun.

I wrote this post on Monday and got a good response from friends, so I decided to post the video tutorial.

I’m not going to waste your time making disclaimers about how it’s not perfect because it’s my first ever you tube video and it was filmed by my 11-year-old. Just let me know what you think in the comments section. Should I do more videos?

By the way, this one is about 10 min. Enjoy!


















(This post includes affiliate links, which means I may receive a small compensation from product sales, which helps pay to keep this blog going! Thanks!)

Happy Mother’s Day!



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My New Hair Curling Device–and Head Coverings


#1  So this new curling device. It has made me very happy.

#2  I’ve still been thinking about covering my hair when I go to church.


RUSK Curl Freak–My New Curling Device

Maybe I’m late in the game here, since the videos I found for this curler are from a few years ago, but this thing has changed my life for the better. The curls come out pretty, my hair feels fuller, and I don’t have to wash it for a few days and it still looks okay.

My friend Cara posted about her new Rusk Curl Freak curling iron that she was excited about. I needed a new curling iron because the cord on mine broke, so I looked up this crazy Rusk thing that my friend Cara recommended, and I found a few really helpful videos that made it look easy–not to mention that the curls turned out in beautiful beach waves.


This contraption sucks in your hair and spits it out curled and beautiful.

I bought it on sale, and when it came in the mail (hooray for packages arriving in the mail!) I was really excited and tried it out right away.

The first time I let it take my hair was–really scary. Would it get caught? Would my hair burn off? But it was actually really simple and fun!

You take a small section of hair and place it in the curler, clamp it shut, and it winds the air onto the heating device for you so you don’t have to do anything but hold it still. Then it beeps four times and you let go on the last series of beeps. The hair comes out in a nice soft curl!

I’m sure there are drawbacks, but so far I am really happy with the results. I can curl my hair faster than before (I’m done in 10-15 minutes, which is pretty good for long hair) and the curl stays in for three days, a little less wavy each day. Maybe I will try to make it stretch to four days if I can get my hair oils to adjust to a four day wash.

You can control the temperature, length of time, and direction of curls. I actually made a video of me using it so you could see how it works. Would you want to see something like that? So embarrassing to post a video of myself, but if it would help people see how the thing works, I’d be happy to post it.


The top left pic is the very first time I ever used the Rusk Curl Freak. The pic on the right was maybe the third time I used it. The pic on the bottom left was hours later after it had been shaken out and calmed down.

Every time I use this new curling device, I wonder if I will regret it in a year. Like maybe I will be absolutely bald in a year. But so far, so good!


Head Coverings for Women

Like I mentioned in this post about my hair, I have this struggle in my soul about primping before church. I keep thinking about the idea of head coverings for women at church, and I will continue to think and pray about it. I think a head covering, for me, would be about making a statement in my heart. I would be saying, “Not me, but you, Lord.”

One day I will actually try it instead of just thinking about how I should try it.

What are your thoughts on head coverings at church? Have you ever thought about trying it to see if anything happens in your heart as you worship God with your head covered?

Lots of Love,


P.S. Another awkward selfie (from Andy’s *beautiful* cousin’s wedding this weekend.) Andy is trying to teach me how to look at the camera.


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Are You Carrying a Heavy Burden?

sn-fall-orchard-roadMy sweet husband Andy has a quote as the signature of his email that states, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is carrying a heavy burden” –Ian MacLaren (Pastor John Watson).

I have always loved this quote. But I loved it because it reminded me to be patient, kind and understanding; other people struggle with serious issues. Other people are hurting, and that is sad for them. I need to be kind to the stranger, even if she is rude to my kids at Trader Joe’s. I need to be patient with the old woman driving like a maniac in front of me. These people are probably carrying heavy burdens.

This week, it struck me that I am now the one carrying a heavy burden. I hear the quote differently now. It’s like a quiet request to please be patient with me. Please be gentle with me. Please try to understand. Please reach out in kindness.

It’s different when you are on the other side of the quote, the burden side. It sounds more like this:

“Be kind to me, for I am carrying a heavy burden.”

I have a story to tell. I might tell you in a book one day under a pen name, or I might write a screen play. I have to tell my story because God has called me to do it. But for now, I post this as a reminder that truly everyone is carrying a heavy burden, whether it is from today, last week, or years ago.

For those of you who also carry heavy burdens, let’s try our best to bring them to Jesus. He promises to carry them for us. But in order to let him carry it, we have to be willing to hand them over and let go of the intense desire to be in control.

This expanded quote by John Watson made me tear up today:

John Watson in 1903. Section titled “Courtesy”:

This man beside us also has a hard fight with an unfavouring world, with strong temptations, with doubts and fears, with wounds of the past which have skinned over, but which smart when they are touched. It is a fact, however surprising. And when this occurs to us we are moved to deal kindly with him, to bid him be of good cheer, to let him understand that we are also fighting a battle; we are bound not to irritate him, nor press hardly upon him nor help his lower self.

He words it so well!

Wounds from the past that have skinned over, but which smart when they are touched.

Does this resonate with any of you?

If you are going through a hard time, I recommend finding a friend to talk to today. Don’t isolate yourself. Reach out.

It’s OK to be the weak one sometimes, the one with the burden.

One day your friend will need you to be there too.

And if you have a friend who is going through a hard time, ask them how they are doing. Take them to tea and listen, ask questions, give them a hug, say a prayer for them.

God’s gracious hand be over you and your house today.

I hear God telling me to act now, for time is short. To write.

“So you write it down. You write it down.”



And thank you God for the tears that can finally fall from my eyes. I held them in too long.

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What is Heaven Like?

My idea of heaven has changed many times.

Just the other day, my daughter told me that she thinks heaven will be all puffy white clouds. When we are children, we think of heaven as flying, jumping, and sleeping on clouds. Heaven is the sky on a beautiful, perfect day, right?


Then as we get older, we insist that heaven must be a place where our pets will be, since we lost our best animal friend, and our only hope to see them again is in heaven. Heaven must be a place where my Siamese cat Shashi is waiting to greet me again.


As a teen, I feared that heaven would be an endless church service, a long religious song for all of eternity. We will be forced to sing and sing forever and ever, caught somewhere between the feathers and eyeballs of cherubim and seraphim. I remember my best friend and I admitting that if that’s what heaven was like, we didn’t really want to go.

Then, in college, I decided that in heaven I would be a professional ice skater.


After I settled down with Andy, matured a bit more, and studied the Bible, I realized that there is a mansion involved, and it will be humongous. It will be the best, most perfect house ever. And God’s people will be like a bride for the groom, just elated. Heaven will be better than anything I could ever imagine, which is why my former ideas of heaven as clouds, a lost pet retrieval, and endless hymn singing were so wrong.


Then we had kids, and when we held our sleeping babies, we said, “This is what heaven is like.” And when our babies were up at night, screaming inconsolably at 3:00 in the morning, we said, “God, just take me to heaven now.”

Sometime in the past few years, my idea of heaven changed again. I read through the whole Bible, and my idea of heaven became more like a new earth but without sin; more like life now, as we know it, but a perfect life. Every single creature will live in harmony, and the weather and terrain will resemble paradise … like Hawaii.  Just remove all evil, sickness, disaster, and death from the world, and that will be heaven.

Then, as I was cleaning the bathroom one day, I thought to myself, “I would take the job of scrubbing behind all the toilets in the Lord’s house if it meant I could live with God.” Then suddenly, that became my urgent prayer. “Lord, please let me live with you in heaven. I will be the one to clean behind all the toilets.”

Finally, a week or two ago, a new prayer came to me. “Lord, every day since I’ve known you has been like heaven. Because I remember the days before I met you. I felt alone, terrified, weak, without hope, without a voice, without anyone to help me. But when you entered my heart and my life, you promised me you would never leave me. You have protected me ever since that day with your supernatural presence, and I’ve been free from fear and loneliness. I have known true love and I have experienced complete healing and restoration from everything that tried to destroy me. With you, Jesus, every day has been like heaven.”




. . .

Heavenly Here With You, the sequel to the novel Goodnight to My Thoughts of You, is coming soon.

. . .

What is your idea of heaven? Serious, funny, or bizarre comments are welcome, as always.

Thank you for reading!

*Photos courtesy of Shannon Renee Photography and Andy Rotunno

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Photo Cards for Christmas 2015

After two years of sending out zero Christmas cards, we caved in and bought Christmas cards again this year for Christmas 2015.


And I totally caved (eek!) and got some gorgeous gold foil cards from Minted. Which I told myself I was never going to do.

First of all, Marisa Vasquez Photography did a great job on our family photos. Thank you Marisa!

Second of all, the Minted photo cards were so pretty and classy.

One of the reasons I stopped sending out cards in years past was because I was trying so hard to stick to a strict holiday budget. Cards are so expensive, stamp prices are always going up, and we figure we can send cards out every other year.

Of course, once the cards from our friends started to arrive (I love that I know I’m going to get Lesli’s card first!) I wished so much that we had made a card too. Even though it costs money, it’s like a small gift to friends, a gesture of love and reaching out, even though you hardly get to see each other anymore.


There is something very touching and lovely about receiving a Christmas card. The family photo cards are a double bonus. Brilliant. Before we used to send a card and a newsletter, and now it’s possible to send a photo as the actual card. Friends and family can (hopefully) keep it for years to come.


This year, Christmas 2015, we are going minimalist with Christmas gifts to the kids. With four kids in one room, we have no space for more toys. So we are giving gifts that are an “experience.” Which means quality time together as a family and fun memories.


This decision also leaves us with a little more money in our Christmas budget for cards.

Here are our top three cards:




Which one is your favorite?

For the next two days, you can take advantage of the Black Friday deals at Minted. You can click here to see the pretty cards.

Now if I can only find my list of addresses!

Where is your favorite place to buy holiday cards? Have you tried Minted yet? What do you think?








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Letter From a Guy Who Loved the Book

Every so often I get an email from a reader who just pours love and encouragement into my life. I can’t even tell you how much this means to me. I want to share a letter from a guy who loved the book. Yes, a guy. This was my first letter from a guy, and I have been praying for him ever since.

The thing was that I almost deleted this email before I read it. I almost missed this email. I thought it was spam or something because the subject was GTMTOY. But he was abbreviating the title of my book! Once I figured it out, it was so so so sweet. Please read on to hear a little bit of this brother’s precious heart.

.  .  .

Dear Chelsea,
My name is Benjamin and though I was born in America, I’ve lived almost my whole life in Spain.

So, I’m this 17-year-old missionary kid living in Mexico who’s searching for Christian fiction in Smashwords and … BOOM! I find Goodnight to My Thoughts of You by Chelsea Rotunno.
I just ended it a few moments ago!

Wow! Your book hit my spirit and soul like a bomb, honestly. At first, I thought I was simply going to read Christian romance but then I found this was one of those books God uses to talk to you, so I better read it all soon.


I’m a guy and I think this book should be read by both groups of young men and women whose desire is to find God’s love and holiness in order to wait for the one He has prepared for you.

I identified with Charlie’s character. His weaknesses and affinities are pretty related to mine. Miriam’s situation with her mom made me think also I should value more my parents’ counsel. Her dreams about her future and how she learns to walk through the valley of the shadow encouraged me. Now I want to know what I can give to God instead of what should I have received.


I just want to end saying that the most tremendous thing about this book is that you let God pour out his love through your hands and you wrote this awesomely well-written, too real book.

May God bless your ministry of words and I hope I can read your next book. God bless you and your family!

Kind regards,

.  .  .

So as I always do, I will include my follow up email and his response. Because this guy is so precious.

.  .  .

Dear Benjamin, 

I just read and reread your email probably 7 times. Thank you for your kind words and encouragement! It’s like this payment from heaven. I am so rich right now because of what you just wrote in that email.
You know, when I was writing the story, I kept feeling God urging me to finish and get this story out there for his children. Not because he wanted to teach his children something, necessarily, but because He loves his children (you) so much!
Benjamin, he loves you so much. 
His discipline is so good. He is the best Father, disciplining and training his children like only he can.
I have had to go through so much discipline in my life in order to have the wisdom to make choices that are according to God’s design. God’s wisdom is all throughout his design for love, marriage, and intimacy. I pray that you will trust his design and experience that joy and freedom that comes with it. He will pour out his love on you.
But forgive me for preaching! I am just so happy that you enjoyed the book! 
May I quote your email on my blog? I love to share emails like this.
Also, would you be willing to write a review of the novel? It’s so important for readers to know that the book is worth their time. It’s especially cool to have a guy’s point of view on the novel. I don’t think any guys have reviewed it yet. 
Here are the links: 
Thank you so much. You are so kind to send such an encouraging email. You made my day. God bless you and your family too, Benjamin!
Love in Christ, 
.  chelsea rotunno  .

.  .  .  

And, of course, he said I could post his letter on my blog. Thank you Benjamin! Here is his reply:

.  .  .  

Dear Chelsea,
I’m sorry for any inconvenience you may had had reading my last email, because my first language isn’t English.  You don’t know how that “preaching” you wrote to me touched my heart. Because those words were exactly what I was looking for.  As I told you before, I can feel His love in your words.  Of course you can quote my last email! I’m just really happy you could take your time to read my last email and answer me. Also, I will write a great review in the links you showed me.  God amazed me and surprised me with Goodnight To My Thoughts Of You. I will recommend it to my English-speaking friends. I pray that someday your works can be translated into many, many languages. 
I pray also that God will continue to touch the lives of teens like me by reading your book. May God bless you in every facet of your life!
Love in Christ,
P.S. By the way, I love to write poems and songs. Your poems in the book encouraged me to keep writing. 

P.S. 2  You made my day too.

 . . .

Go ahead and take a second to say a prayer for Benjamin to meet the most amazing, God-fearing gal in His perfect timing. It might not be for years to come, but I believe God wants to bless this guy and show him more and more of His amazing love through a marriage union.

Heavenly Here With You, the second book in the Charlie & Miriam series, is in the works. Be sure to keep in touch so you can help me choose the book cover! More info soon. You can subscribe to the blog here to receive free email updates. Thank you and God bless you!

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Fall Photo Candy

As I was searching for photos to add to my high school writing class’s fall e-newsletter, I came across some great photos that Andy took years ago. I thought I’d share them with you too!

OK, so this one is first because it just took my breath away. I don’t think I appreciated these almond tree farm photos from our trip up to Visalia (back when we only had one child.) But now when I see this photo, I am so awestruck.


How many pumpkin photos have I seen? But I just love this one!


Just in case you need an idea for a pumpkin carving contest, this frog pumpkin was our award winner at a family event a few years back. Hello Froggy!


I found that spectacular green pumpkin (and the two smaller pumpkins on top) at Underwood Family Farms. They always have amazing pumpkins to choose from. And so many fun things to do with the kids.


Andy says he took these pictures years ago when he was on his way to work really early in the morning.


This one is pretty too.


Finally, here’s a fall photo that really makes me want to sit down with a mug of apple cider and read the classic novel Frankenstein by Mary Shelley in front of the fireplace. Or listen to the Frankenstein audio book while I’m doing dishes, because that is more likely to happen.


And just one more fall photo! Candles from our friends Jake and Annie’s wedding. Awww! Such a beautiful evening

Need a craft to do with your kids? Check out this cat craft and this tree craft. And here is a recipe for yummy pumpkin chocolate chip cupcakes with cream cheese icing. Here is one for our favorite pumpkin soup.

I hope you enjoy this wonderful fall season. We sure are glad the weather is cooling down here in Southern California!

By the way … which photo was your favorite? Leave a comment and let me know you were here!



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3 Supermom Powers I Didn’t Know I Had



The supermom ability to track every spot that was affected by a poop explosion from my child’s diaper. Everything that the baby touched, where they sat, where they might have sat, while the diaper was seeping with poop. Every spot goes into a mental file while the diaper is changed and the child is bathed. And then the supermom cleaning begins! I use my poo-dar ability to retrace the baby’s every location and clean and sanitize thoroughly.

Ninja Reflexes

The supermom ability to catch a large glass jar of applesauce mid-air at Trader Joe’s, after my son throws it straight up into the air because he’s trying to get it into the shopping cart. Even though I only have one free hand because I’m holding a baby, I’m able to catch the glass jar of applesauce in my left hand, preventing it from smashing into a zillion pieces. The worker at Trader Joe’s who is stocking the applesauce jars can testify. His face is priceless. I think he is actually scared of me after seeing me display my ninja reflexes.

Panic-Cleaning Abilities

The supermom ability to clean the entire house in ten minutes. A friend texts and says she is in town and will be stopping by soon. Panic cleaning begins, and the clean up that usually takes all day is attacked with such ferocity that it is done in 10-15 minutes. Friend arrives and wonders why I am sweating so profusely, and I confess that I was panic cleaning. It’s not actually a confession; it’s more like I’m bragging about my mommy superpowers.

(I have to attribute the term panic-cleaning to my dear friend Leann. When she said it, I knew exactly what she was talking about.)

P.S. Pearl is already almost 10 months old!

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Best Emails Ever

The best emails ever are the ones from girls who read and loved my book Goodnight to My Thoughts of You. Thank you so much for your emails ladies!!! Here is the most recent email, from Grace:

Dear Chelsea,

Hope this finds you well. I’m Grace from Indonesia. I’m a Christian girl, a pastor-daughter, a teens-ministry teacher, and an amateur Christian-devotional writer. I just finished reading your novel Goodnight to My Thoughts of You. And honestly, it blew my mind, turned my heart upside down. Your novel touched me deeply.


Thanks to you. At first, I did not want to read the entire novel, as the novel has two parts which I literally thought this would be a long way to go to read the entire parts. But the title successfully persuaded me to little by little, digging out each chapter. And here I am writing you an email just one day after I completed reading it. I experienced so much fun, joy, and even tears in your novel. It was so powerful. I can see the reflection of my self in Miriam character. (Well, it is not 100% of her, but may be around 65%.) There are several questions in my mind that have been answered in your novel. Thanks to you once again. I am now recommending it to my Christian best girl friends and my students. Your novel has also motivated me to start writing my own Christian novel (love story about my parents, 😀 since I’m still “Lady in Waiting” mode) to encourage my girls in church to stay pure in the eyes of the Lord before marriage. It is most likely in Indonesian language. For your information, it is so rare to find a Romance-Christian-based-novel  in Indonesia.


I am really looking forward to read your next novel Heavenly Here With You. May God bless you through the writing process for the sequel. God bless your husband and the children.

Warmest love,



When I read stuff like this, I just cry and thank God for such a blessing. I mean, Indonesia? How awesome is that?!

I responded with this email:


Dear Grace, My sister in Christ,

I have prayed for you a few times already since I received your email — I prayed for you tonight too. I thank God for you and your sweet spirit! I hope I can express how grateful I am for your response to my novel; I am just praising God because my story has touched your life–all the way in Indonesia. And we have a sisterhood and a kindred spirit in the Lord Jesus. How amazing! I am so excited for you to write your parents’ love story. I would love to read it. If you look on my blog in the category called “On Writing” you will find a series of 5 posts about “how to start writing your story.” I hope you find them helpful! Please pray for me as I continue to write and prepare the next few novels. I praise God for the riches I have received from your encouraging words. God bless you, sweet Grace! One day soon you will know why your email came to me in perfect timing. Trust the Lord; he is so good. 

“Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” Proverbs 16:24

Love, Chelsea Rotunno

P.S. May I quote your email on my blog?

P.P.S. Please leave a review of the book at one or both of these websites (Amazon and Barnes and Noble) so other girls will know you enjoyed reading it! Thanks!


And her response just melted my heart! 🙂


Dear my sister in Christ, Chelsea,

I was so happy to read your email. Thank you for your encouragement on my writing. I’ll take your advice and read in your blog. When I finish my writing, I’d like to share it to you. But may be it will take a longer time, since I am going to write in Indonesian language first to reach Christian girls community here. I must admit that in Indonesia, there are very limited sources for Christian novel, theology and or motivation for youth written in our language. If we have any, it must be in English and  compared to the majority of population who barely speak English, our teenagers / youth are inadequate to read it comprehensively. Yeah, this is a very sad condition. That is why I am hoping I can be a good writer to share God’s love to the next generation.

I have prayed for you to finishing the sequel of your novel for several times. I prayed that the Holy Spirit will bless you with wisdom and creativity to present a fresh story that speaks to the deepest soul of your reader just like the first one.   

Just when you feel discouraged, believe Him and read this below verse:   Isaiah 40:29 “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.”   

PS: It is my pleasure if you’d like to quote my email on your blog.

P.P.S: I also have written reviews for your book in those links above. Hope there will be more readers discover your book.

God bless each of us! 🙂

Warmest regards, Grace


Oh my goodness. Thank you Jesus!

Hey there! Have you read my novel Goodnight to My Thoughts of You ? It’s not too late to get your free copy of the ebook, or leave a review so other girls will know you liked it! And don’t forget to subscribe to the blog so you can get free email updates!

Thank you so much.

xo, Chelsea


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Peonies in Bloom


My next-door neighbor, who is one amazing, spunky, 85-year-old German woman from Belgium, loves to tell me all about everything. She comes over to chat a few times a week, always with some gift, like a small bowl of meat loaf, potatoes, and corn, or her latest egg salad.

I think she is absolutely wonderful.

So my neighbor (Let’s call her Eve) loves gardening and flowers.

She also knows how much I love flowers, and she’s probably observed that I am not very good at keeping them alive, so she keeps dropping off books for me to borrow about gardening and such.


Last year we had a great conversation about peonies.

I bought her a bunch from Trader Joe’s when they were in bloom. After I handed them to her, she taught me a special fact about peonies that I would like to share with you.

“In German, this is called pfingstrose. It is the Pentecost rose. The flower has this name because it blooms at the time of Pentecost.”

This year, Pentecost Sunday lands on May 24.


And here they are.


Showing up everywhere.

I admit that I didn’t know much about Pentecost until I looked it up. It’s the story from the book of Acts when the Holy Spirit descends on the Apostles, and today it is celebrated 50 days after Easter.

A few more facts about peonies that you will find interesting (if you love them as much as I do!)

Peonies are used in a lot of Chinese art
Peonies are the national flower of Taiwan
Peonies are the state flower of Indiana

Peonies bloom near Pentecost, about 50 days after Easter, which marks the end of the Easter season and the arrival of the Holy Spirit.

I have wanted to write about my wonderful neighbor Eve for quite some time now–but I didn’t know where to begin. She is like a grandmother to me. And grandmothers have really cool things to teach us about the world. I promise I will write more about Eve and her husband soon.

Buy some flowers for your next-door neighbor and you never know what will happen!

I hope you enjoy your peonies this season.


And I wish you a blessed Pfingstsonntag.

What is your favorite thing about peonies?

Is there something very special about peonies or another flower that you can teach me?

Please share!



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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!




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?


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



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.


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






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.


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



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Thoughts on New Life


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.


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.


The leaves looked pretty.

Would it ever bloom again?


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

But more leaves grew.


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.


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


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

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


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.


And a new stem sprouted after 5 years.


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.


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 …



O R C H I D 



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.


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.



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


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 ?


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?


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


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.


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.



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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.


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


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Who Does She Look Like?

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.


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.


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.








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








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







Finally, the 4th child, Baby R.


1-baby-r-4 1-baby-r-1




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


or as R calls her, Baby Pear.


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A Great Book for Little Girls


“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.


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.


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.


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.


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.



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. 



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.






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



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.


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.


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




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?


The belly continued to grow.



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


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.  


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


 I made this cat craft for my kids and posted a free


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



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


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

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!


I am so thankful for a healthy delivery of baby.


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


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


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.)


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


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!



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Cat Craft for Kids: Free Cat Template


When I saw this cute paper cat in a fall Paper Source catalog, I thought I’d try it out with my kids. They had so much fun! I decided to quickly draw up a template for the cat I made, and I used it for a craft at my daughter’s birthday party.

Below is the free cat template with examples so you can make this craft with your kids, Girl Scout troop, homeschool group, or friends.

In black, it would look really cute for a Halloween decoration! Everyone’s cat is different, which makes it so much fun.


My 9-year-old made this sassy cat.


My 3-year-old son made this tall-eared, green king cat.


This was the cat I made. If you use the free template provided, it will look like this cat. Simply print the cat template on your choice of paper and cut out the pieces just inside the black lines (to avoid a black border); glue pieces in place.


Click the link to access the template. Let me know how it turns out!


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“I’m Never Having Kids”



How many kids do you want to have? Are you going to keep going? Did you always know you wanted a big family? People ask me these questions all the time. They are interesting questions for a person like me.

I feel like motherhood happened to me without my consent or planning. In fact, part of me never wanted to have kids. When I was a teenager and my mom and I would fight, she’d say things like, “Your kids are going to be 10 times worse than you are!” And I would retort, “Well, I’m never having kids!”

When Andy and I first got married, I had this great plan to use the rhythm method for birth control, which means you track your ovulation and take your temperature first thing in the morning. On the days you are ovulating, your temperature when you first wake up is a few degrees hotter. Before ovulation, 96-98 degrees is normal for most women. After ovulation, 97-99 degrees is normal.


It worked for 11 months.

Andy and I were just petrified when we found out we were pregnant. First of all, we were in Canada when we found out. Second, we found out because I was insanely sick with morning sickness. I had no health insurance. I had just been accepted to Claremont Graduate School so I could earn my masters and Ph.D. in English and start my career. Everything about the timing was wrong.

I remember sitting across from Andy at Starbucks in Vancouver. I still remember the look on his face as he confessed how he really felt about it.

“I don’t want to have a baby. I feel like I need to escape, run away. But I can’t.”

Even though I felt the same way, I was mad at him for saying it. “How could you say something like that? I can’t run away. You can’t run away either.”

So began our adventure of pregnancy and parenthood together–10 years ago. We were 24 and 25 years old.

Thank God we had 9 months to prepare. It took awhile, but we eventually accepted our fate and became excited about having a baby–even though I threw up every single day. All day long.

So when people see me pregnant with my 5th, they always believe that I was this maternal creature who was just made to have babies and raise them peacefully in a little house in Los Angeles.

No way. I entered motherhood kicking and screaming, the same way my first baby entered the world 9 and a half years ago.

Becoming a mother was one of the most difficult, identity-crushing things that could have possibly happened to me. But you know what? It’s only in retrospect that I can see how much purpose motherhood brought to my life. How it saved me from being self-absorbed. And how it taught me that as a woman, I am strong–so much stronger than I ever thought I could be.

So I look forward to the birth of my 5th baby in November. I don’t know why we had 5. We were done when we had 2. Two girls was perfect. Then 2 girls and a boy was perfect. Then 2 girls, a boy, and another girl was more than enough. Now another girl, and it will be just an overflow of children and joy in this small house.

I never earned my master’s degree or my Ph.D. It was a sad decision to quit grad school after my first semester at Claremont. But my baby needed me. And she still needs me.

One day, I will finish my degrees, but in the meantime I will do what God has called me to do right now:

Raise children. Love Andy. And write books.


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How to Make Me Jealous



If you want to know how to make me jealous–not “I hate you” jealous, but just “You are sooooooooo lucky!” jealous, here is how to do it:

  1. Post pics of your exotic island vacations
  2. Tell me all about your travels through Europe
  3. Post pics of yourself looking awesome in a bikini
  4. Talk about your huge house
  5. Tell me how much money you are making
  6. Mention that you have no children
  7. Post updates on how you are currently reading a classic novel and sipping a cup of tea
  8. Have time to understand and use Pinterest
  9. Own a vacation home in the mountains or on the beach
  10. Have naturally big boobs. Or fake big boobs, I’m jealous either way

*Note: I am being completely and totally serious

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That Kind of Friend



I have been blessed in so many ways by my friends during this pregnancy. I have been surprised and loved and well taken care of. Friends have taken us to dinner, invited us over for dinner, and dropped off dinner. They have babysat for us, and treated my kids like their own kids. They have called, texted, messaged, and stopped by to see if I am doing OK. My friends have prayed for me and loved me even when I’m struggling–especially when I’m struggling. I forgot how much I need my friends.

One friend in particular has blessed me in the most unexpected and thoughtful ways. First, she dropped off a care package when I had my worst morning sickness: ginger gum, preggie pops, acupressure bracelets, and more. Then, even though we hadn’t seen each other in awhile, she dropped off gluten-free treats for me (just for me, not to be shared with the kids!) Tomorrow she is taking me for a mani-pedi so I can feel pretty before the baby is born.

“Even if you can’t see your toes, they should be pretty!”

Some women are just the most amazing creatures. I swear. So thoughtful, generous, and caring.

I have a friend who is that kind of friend. I am so amazed and thankful.

Thank you to all of you amazing friends who love me and teach me how to be a good friend. I love you!





photo credit: marisa santiago

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Losing Baby Weight



It might be a little early to be thinking about it, since my 5th baby isn’t due for another 16 days, but I am feeling larger than capacity right now and I am really looking forward to losing baby weight.

Here is a pic of how I look right now, at 38 weeks. It’s always weird for me to post pictures of myself, but I always like to see other people’s pregnant bellies . . . so I thought it would be fun to share mine too.


Hooray! Almost done with this pregnancy!

A lot of people ask me how I lose the weight after each baby. This time around, it might be fun to try to lose the weight together, in case anyone wants to lose about 45 pounds? The following list is my own personal advice for how to lose baby weight.

Tips for losing baby weight:

#1 Breastfeed for 12-14 months, if possible

Breastfeeding my babies has always been the best way to shed the baby weight. I like to breastfeed until the baby is 12-14 months old–not to lose weight, but to bond with the baby and feed it the healthiest food possible. When I am breastfeeding, I try to eat wholesome, healthy food in order to produce enough milk. So breastfeeding is a great way to intentionally eat healthy and take care of my baby and myself, giving all my best calories and nutrients to the baby.

#2 Drink Tons of Water

Sometimes we think we are hungry but we are actually thirsty. I drink tons of water. I don’t try to measure how much I am drinking. I just drink water all day long. I bring a 1.5 liter bottle with me wherever I go, and I take sips all day, similar to sipping on coffee or snacking. Extra water is especially important when you are producing breast milk.

#3 Don’t buy junk food and don’t keep junk food in the house

Somehow, junk food finds its way into our lives. It’s at meetings, parties, the check-out line…everywhere. And it’s fine to have some. But if someone offers for you to take the extra tray home, or if the kids come home with bags and bags of candy–just say “No thanks!” or throw it away as soon as possible. It feels like it is wasteful, but it’s not. The amount of nutrition it would give you is so small and the amount of harm it actually does to your body is so great, that it’s just as much a waste inside your body as it is inside your trash can. Just throw it away. There will always be more at another event the next day.

#4 Don’t think about it too much.

Have you ever tried to lose weight or count calories and you ended up eating more food than before? This happened to me in college–you know, trying to lose the freshman 15 (or 30). When we think about food more, we eat more. When we see billboards or commercials for food, we want to eat, even if we aren’t hungry. So try not to worry about how much weight you are losing, or how quickly. Don’t even bother checking the scale. I don’t even own a scale. I just try on my old jeans when I think they might fit, and say “Yay!” or “Bummer.”

#5 Eat consistent meals

This happened without me realizing it, but when I became a mom, I didn’t have time to think about meals as much. Just planning dinner was enough. So breakfast and lunch were more about whatever was fast and on-hand. My default seemed to work:

  • A bowl of cereal or oatmeal with milk and a piece of fruit for breakfast
  • Some sort of salad for lunch, usually with chicken
  • A healthy, filling dinner involving meat, vegetables, and grains

Staying consistent with these meals really worked for me. It was simple enough to feed myself and my kids before school. It was filling enough to hold me over until the next meal. It felt healthy.

What’s for breakfast? Cereal. Oatmeal. Fruit

What’s for lunch? Salad (Kids will prefer turkey sandwiches, cheese, fruit, yogurt)

What’s for dinner? Something like this:

Monday: Fish, Rice, Broccoli
Tuesday: Chicken, Brown Rice, Asparagus
Wednesday: Spaghetti, meatballs, peas
Thursday: Cheeseburgers, salad
Friday: Homemade soup
Saturday: Steak, potatoes, green beans
Sunday: Enjoy yourself and eat out! Or have leftovers!

#6 Don’t skip meals

I never skip meals. Skipping meals makes me crazy. I am pretty sure I am hypoglycemic, so if I don’t eat, I get really irritable and upset. Plus, skipping meals tells your body, “Store! We aren’t getting enough! Store for later!” And we don’t want our bodies to have to pack things away for later use. We want our bodies to know they can use everything we give them right now. If you are in the habit of skipping meals, or if you have told your body to “store,” don’t worry. Your body is smart and it will go back to the way it was meant to be if you start eating consistent meals that have the nutrients your body needs.

#7 Exercise Your Way

What is your favorite activity? Do you love playing softball? Belly dancing? Taking walks in the evening? Whatever you love to do, make it part of your weekly schedule and do it consistently. For example, it might work for you to take long walks on Sunday nights for 1.5 hours. If you are like me, a scheduled ballet class is perfect for 1.5 hours of intense exercise once a week.

# 8 Don’t try to rush it

Give yourself plenty of time and plenty of grace when you are trying to lose baby weight. I try to keep in mind that it took 10 months to put on the weight, so it’s OK to take 10 months to lose it again.

What do you think? You want to join me and lose 45 pounds by summer?

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400 Less Stuff


Less stuff, more space to breathe. This is my goal for this week, in order to simplify as much as possible for baby number 5:  get 400 things out of the house. Sell them all for a dollar. Make $400 toward the hospital bill for the new baby.

We have attempted to have a garage sale the past two weekends. Instead, we spent that time getting ready for the garage sale, which should actually happen this weekend. Maybe it’s a little bit hopeful, but I think we can do it, based on what we sold at our last one.

So far, I have taken a ton of stuff out of the house, and it still feels like there is so much more to go. I can’t believe how many things 6 people can accumulate over the years!

I am really bad at knowing what to keep and what to get rid of. I really admire people who have no attachment to stuff and just toss it or give it away. How do you do it? How do you know you will never need it again? Wouldn’t it be frustrating to buy a new version of something you just tossed? I take this line of thinking all the way down to a black tank top. I’m thinking to myself, I can still use this black tank top. I can sleep in it. Or, if it’s ripped, I can use it as a dust cloth.

Luckily (or unluckily), things are getting so crammed and crowded around here that I can’t even stand the idea of keeping anything we don’t absolutely need.

I will have to let you know how it goes! Any advice for a successful garage sale?

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Why I Made My Book Free

A lot of people ask me this question: “Why did you make your book free?”

Andy was the first person to suggest that I make my ebook free, only accepting tips from the people who wanted to donate. My first reaction was to tell him, “Yeah, I’ll consider that…” But in my head I was thinking, No way. I can’t afford to do that. I need to earn some money!

About 6 months went by, and I thought about it more and more. I downloaded a few free ebooks and became more and more familiar with the culture of giving things away online. People were giving away free advice, tutorials, prints, pdfs, and photos online, usually with the intention to draw the customer in to the real product they wanted to sell. For example, I found a free ebook about the 5 most effective blogging techniques, and at the end was a link to buy a certain blog theme (a theme is the template for how a blog looks. Some are free, some cost money, and some are custom made.)

So on a business level, the idea started to make sense to me: give the book away for free for exposure and to collect a list of emails of people who download the book and might become fans of my writing. But that still didn’t satiate my desire to earn some money for the endless hours I had put into my project, not to mention to cover the costs of hiring an editor and cover designer.

We took our kids up to Hume Lake with the college group from our church last year. It was the year my Bible study friends and I committed to reading through the whole Bible (which I highly recommend!) I had been reading about first-fruit offerings, love offerings, and offerings that were pleasing to the Lord. As I was singing to the Lord one night during the evening meeting, I prayed in my heart: Lord, if you want me to, I will give my ebook away for free. I’ll give away 100. No, I’ll give away 1,000!

The answer I received from the Lord that night was this: Ten thousand.

It almost knocked me backwards. I knew it was the Holy Spirit. Because that number never would have come from my own imagination.

My response was Yes. I didn’t understand why, but I knew it was from the Lord and I had to say yes. For some reason, God’s command to give away 10,000 free copies of my ebook seemed so right.

Then the leader at Hume asked us to write down with our left hand, or our weak hand, whatever we heard from the Lord during a time of listening prayer. What I wrote down, so slowly and messily with my left hand, were these words from the Lord: Love Andy. Give Freely. Pray.

Publishing, promoting, and receiving praise for my first novel–the motivation for all of it had to grow from those three actions.

Love Andy

Give Freely


Since April, I have already given away about 3,000 downloads of my book. I am almost a third of the way to my goal! But it doesn’t matter anymore, you know, how quickly I make it to 10,000. Because the emails and reviews I have received from girls who have read my book are so beautiful. Their enthusiasm and appreciation fill my heart, and that is the greatest reward I could ask for.

Do you have your free copy yet? Have you recommended it to the young women in your life who like a good clean love story? Please Share!

Click here to get the ebook in the nook format from Barnes & Noble. Or you can click the links below and get it in the Kindle (mobi) format or just a PDF. It’s also available anywhere ebooks are sold.



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What Do You Really Need for a New Baby?

what-do-I-really-needHere is my list of what you need for a new baby:

  1. A really good stroller (Not necessarily $600 good, just something that is good quality and won’t fall apart)
  2. An infant car seat that can attach to the stroller
  3. Bassinet or Moses basket for the first few months
  4. Crib, crib mattress, and crib sheets for when the baby is 4-6 months and up
  5. Cozy baby blankets and swaddle blankets
  6. Bath towel and lots of washcloths
  7. Gentle baby soap (I like Burt’s Bees)
  8. Comfy Bath Sponge for the kitchen sink (see this post for how I give a newborn baby a bath)
  9. Cotton balls (I recommend using wet cotton balls instead of wipes for the first few months to avoid diaper rash)
  10. Diapers
  11. Burp cloths
  12. Baby hats, socks, long sleeved onesies, clothing that you can layer.
  13. Gentle laundry soap (I like Mrs. Meyers)
  14. Cozy, warm baby pajamas
  15. Board books
  16. Infant carrier or wrap of your choice
  17. Possibly a baby swing that swings side-to-side and front-to-back (brilliant for my 1st baby, but now I don’t need one)
  18. Possibly bottles and supplemental formula
  19. Summer Infant Snuzzler Infant Support (I’m convinced that it’s the reason my 3rd and 4th baby did not scream in the car the way my 1st and 2nd did)
  20. I’m probably forgetting something that I will add here later, but I think that’s it

And a few things for Mommy to Be!

      1. Cozy jammies to bring to the hospital (loose enough for nursing)
      2. Lots of feminine pads
      3. Nursing bras
      4. Breast pump and supplies
      5. Boob pads for leaking breastmilk
      6. Lanolin ointment for sore boobs
      7. Nursing shawl
      8. Good pillows
      9. Books and resources for encouragement for the first two weeks of learning to breastfeed a newborn baby
      10. A network of supportive people who will bring meals, help clean your house, and tell you what a great job you are doing

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Where’s My Nesting Instinct?

nesting-instinct-image-chelsearotunnoBecause this is my 5th baby (I’m due November 9 or sometime around there) my nesting instinct took way too long to kick in.

For my 1st baby, I had everything purchased and prepared a month in advance. I had the room set up, clothes hung on matching hangers in the closet, the room decorated and filled with gifts from our amazing family and friends. We had 4 or 5 baby showers, hospital tours and classes completed, and everything in our lives prepared. Our nest for our new little one was clean and in order.

Fast forward to my 5th pregnancy and my situation is quite the opposite.

I have nothing ready. Really. nothing. Oh wait, I did buy some cute onesies from H&M. And I washed some baby hats and burp cloths that I found in the garage.

I’ve noticed 2 interesting differences between my nesting instinct for my 1st baby and my 5th baby.

First, while preparation for the 1st child meant getting stuff and filling a room with gear, the preparation for the 5th child is more like emptying my life of everything I don’t need, deleting as much stuff as possible, cleaning out everything that is excess, and simplifying until I feel like I can breathe.

Second, because of my age and experience with babies, I feel more prepared for this baby–maybe not physically or materially, but definitely spiritually and emotionally. I was a nervous wreck before my 1st baby was born, but I am relaxed and at peace about my 5th.

Yet I keep asking myself, What do I need to get? What do I need to buy? How should I prepare?

The reality is that I have everything I need: a warm place to sleep and food to eat; a husband who loves and provides for us; and confidence in who God has designed me to be as a mother to my baby.

Everything else is just stuff. Some of the stuff is important, but a lot of it isn’t. The list of things you actually need to take care of a baby is so much smaller than the list of suggestions you get at the baby registry.

In my next post, called What Do You Really Need for a New Baby? I will give you a short list of what I actually use for a baby, as opposed to what I thought I would use when I had my first baby.

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Thanks for joining me in my 31 day writing challenge. I will continue to post every day in October on the topic of pregnancy. If you missed any of my posts, you can start here.

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The Best Way to Bathe a Baby

How do you give a newborn baby a bath without

traumatizing everyone in the room?

How to get from this


to this


to this


Is it normal for a new baby to scream in the bath? At first I thought it was. Until I finally figured out the best way to bathe a baby.

Edited: I love that I have these pictures of my third baby, my only boy! Now he is almost 4 years old!

image-the-best-way-to-bathe-a-babyBath Preparation: 3 minutes

Choose a warm time of day when the baby will be able to nap after the bath. He or she will probably be sleepy after the relaxing bath.

Use a clean kitchen sink to bathe your baby. Place a dry, comfy bath sponge in the empty sink. It should be large enough to cushion the baby’s head and body. Prop it vertically along the back corner of the sink. Cover it with a clean, dry baby towel. Set aside another clean, dry towel to dry baby after the bath. Open the cap to the baby soap (I like Burt’s Bees Baby Shampoo & Wash) so it is ready to use.

Run the sink water on the opposite side of the sink so the towel and cushion stay dry for now. This will prevent a chill when you set baby on the cushion. Set the sink water to a good temperature that is very warm but does not sting your inner wrist. Be sure that it is set and not getting hotter the longer it runs. Hold down the spray attachment and be sure water is running the same perfect temperature through the sprayer. Leave the water running while you go grab your baby.

Bath Time! 3 minutes

Check baby’s diaper and make sure there is no poop. If there is poop, change your baby’s diaper before starting the bath.

Remember to relax, sing, and smile while you bathe your baby. If you are tense and frowning, your baby will think there is something wrong.

Bring baby to the sink (The water is already running and set to the right temperature.) Quickly undress baby in your arms or on the after-bath towel and remove diaper. Place him or her inside the sink on the dry towel and cushion. Baby should be propped upright on top of the bath cushion, with head, back and bottom supported by the cushion.

Obviously, never leave your baby unattended in the bath, even for a second. Avoid spraying water in baby’s eyes.

Run the sprayer on the opposite side of the sink to be sure water is the perfect temperature: very warm but does not sting your inner wrist.

The actual bath should take maybe two minutes. Start by spraying or pouring water on your baby’s feet. Then wet his or her legs and arms. Finally, wet the hair.

As you spray, avoid getting water on the belly button if the cord has not fallen off. Treat the belly button and, if applicable, the circumcision, as advised by your pediatrician.

Quickly, using a dime sized drop of baby soap, wash baby’s hair and face first. Be sure to gently wash in the creases of the neck and ears. Rinse clean.

Next, with another dollop of soap, wash baby’s stomach, back, arms, and armpits. Rinse clean. Wash baby’s feet and legs. Be sure to wash in the creases of the legs like behind the knees. Rinse clean.

Last, with another drop of soap, gently wash the front and then back of the baby’s bottom area. Rinse clean. If you think baby needs a final rinse, do one more quick rinse, turn off water, and lift baby to the clean dry towel. Immediately wrap baby in the towel to minimize the chill of the air on the wet body.

Drying Off: 3 minutes

Laugh and play with your baby as you dry, diaper, and clothe. Baby’s bottom should be completely dry to avoid diaper rash. This is a good time to apply a small amount of baby lotion if baby’s skin is sensitive.

Dry in between baby’s toes before putting socks on baby’s feet. Dry baby’s armpits and neck area before putting on a shirt or onesie.

After a bath, a baby likes to be warm. Remember to dress baby in long sleeves, long pants, and socks after the bath. When hair is completely dry, put on a light hat. Wrap or swaddle baby in a clean blanket. If he or she starts to fuss, it is likely that the relaxation of the bath brought up a burp or helped release a poop. Try burping baby and check diaper. Baby is most likely fussy because he or she wants to sleep.

Finally, hold baby close. Feed or nurse baby and he or she will be ready to fall asleep.

*This kitchen sink method worked brilliantly from newborn to four months old, or until my baby was too big for the sink.

**Older babies enjoy taking a bath with mom or dad. Just put on your swimsuit and get in the tub with your baby in your arms or on your lap, making bath time fun. Make sure water level is low to avoid dipping baby’s face in the water. Keep dry towels close by so you can dry baby before drying yourself. Or ask your spouse to take baby from you and dry baby while you dry off.

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Pregnancy Brain

pregnancy-brain-image-2I don’t know if this is a real term or not, but it is certainly a real thing that happens to me when I am pregnant. I get extremely forgetful and clumsy. I forget to do really important things. Like pay my bills. And send in required paperwork to the homeschool co-op.

I break dishes when I am washing them. I drop cups and mugs and forks, and I have to ask my daughter to pick them up for me because it’s kinda hard for me to lean over my big belly.

My pregnancy brain gets me in big trouble, and usually it’s pretty funny.

Haha, I forgot about my prenatal visit this morning. Haha, I forgot about that meeting–oh well. Whoops, I forgot it was your birthday. Happy belated birthday!

Even if I forget something important like a birthday, there is a way to make up for it. People are usually pretty understanding–and they celebrate their birthday for a week or a month anyway.

The fact that I can schedule reminders on my phone is even … well, worse. Because as soon as I type something into my calendar on my phone, it immediately leaves my brain. If I happen to miss a reminder alert on my phone (let’s say it’s because I turned it to silent mode during homeschool chapel, like I did today) then I have no chance of remembering something important that I have on my calendar.

Today, having pregnancy brain was not cute.

I missed having dinner with my girlfriends at one of my favorite restaurants. It was a dinner to celebrate my friend’s progress on her doctorate dissertation.

I was the person who said, “Yes, yes, Thursday is good, let’s do it! It’s on my calendar guys!” And then I didn’t even show up. They waited for me for 30 minutes and then texted and said, “Are you coming?”

I was really upset when I finally got the text. Andy was gone with two of the kids, and I had the other two, and I could’t go. I was already late and I had no babysitter. How lame is it to have to text back, “I totally forgot! I’m so sorry! Pregnancy Brain!”

It really got to me. I forgot about something that I really wanted to do. Opportunities to get away from the kids and hang out with my friends are so rare! I love being with my kids, but I also need time without them. At least once in a while, right?

It wasn’t a responsibility or requirement that I mindlessly dismissed. I forgot about a special time to celebrate with my friends. To enjoy a nice dinner. And I let my friends down in a super rude way. I forgot about our plans. I felt so bad, and it swept over me like a huge wave of failure.

For the first time this pregnancy (at least I think it was the first time…I can’t really remember) I broke down in tears this evening. I tried to hold it in. But my daughter saw how upset I was, and she said, “Mom, maybe you need to go lie down on your bed for a little while,” which is what I tell her to do when she is really upset. “OK, honey, you are right,” I responded.

So I lay on my bed and I let myself cry. It was the kind of cry that makes your throat hurt.

I didn’t want to upset the baby in my belly, and I didn’t want to dwell in self-pity. But tonight I let myself cry, just for a few minutes.

Because when we are pregnant, we need to cry sometimes. We are forgetful, exhausted, overwhelmed, clumsy, large, and emotional. We need our friends. We need a moment to ourselves. And we need forgiveness.

When I got up from my bed, my 2-year-old came over to me and said, “Mommy, hug?” And she gave me a sweet hug and a kiss. Somehow, the smell of her hair and the softness of her cheek made it easier to let go of my disappointment and give myself a little bit of grace.


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To Acknowledge Pregnancy and Infant Loss

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day

My friend posted this image today, for Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day.

Shauna Niequist wrote a beautiful post on this topic, which you can read here.

And in case you missed it, my own story about miscarriage was one of the first things I posted this month, and you can read it here.

Once I learned that today was the day to honor and remember these babies and their families, I felt it best to be quiet today with this simple post.

For those of you who have lost babies for any reason, my heart is with you today, and when I see your posts and hear your stories, I admire how brave and strong you are. Maybe it doesn’t mean much, but I say a prayer for you too, and I look forward to meeting your little angels in heaven one day.


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A Place to Talk, Listen, and Share Our Stories


“Wholehearted living … means cultivating the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough. It’s going to bed at night thinking, Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging.”

Brene Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection

For the past four years I have been meeting with a lovely group of women every Tuesday morning for Bible study, coffee, treats, and friendship. It’s been a small group, just 5 or 6 of us, which means we have had a lot of time to talk about what is really going on in our lives, and to pray for each other in detail.

This week, instead of our normal Bible study, we started reading a book called The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown, and I think it is the perfect time in my life to be reading about what Brown calls “Wholehearted Living.” I have only read the first chapter so far, but I can tell that I’m going to learn a lot from this book.


The author writes, “Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it.”

I love this concept. I am looking forward to reading Brown’s stories because I believe I have a lot to learn from her research and experience.

I wrote 5 posts on owning and sharing our stories, which you can read here. I mentioned a few months ago that I used to struggle with depression and suicidal thoughts. (If you missed it, read the post here.) I have struggled with all sorts of shame and mistakes, which you can read about in my book Goodnight to My Thoughts of You.

I share my stories, the good and bad, because I have found freedom in doing so. I have found freedom in saying, “Here is the best and worst of who I am. Here is where I have been and where I am headed.”

I believe that when we share our stories, we invite others to learn from our mistakes so they can make better choices, and we offer wisdom and hope. We also share our victories so others can rejoice with us and gain courage in their own lives, recognizing and sharing their own victories.

This month my focus is on embracing and sharing stories about pregnancy because I will soon give birth to my 5th child. I have had so many amazing conversations with women since I started this series on October 1st. I have heard encouraging and crazy stories, and ones that have brought me to tears.

Do you have a Bible study or a time set aside to chat and pray with other women?

My Tuesday morning Bible study is an important time to connect. I hope that this blog can be a place where you and I can connect. Even though it’s not the same as sitting down in the church library with a cup of coffee and a prayer request journal, I hope this blog can be a place where we can talk, listen, share our stories, and pray for each other. How can I pray for you?



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Honoring My Husband By Getting More Sleep

Sometimes honoring my husband can be as simple as taking his advice when he wants what is best for me.

Andy has been telling me to get more sleep ever since we first got married. I agree with him. I need more sleep. I often stay up late prepping the house for the next day, writing lists of things I need to get done, or reading other people’s updates on the computer. Then I realize that there are more dishes in the sink, and I get to work in the kitchen to make sure everything is “perfect.” Finally, I brush and floss my teeth, shower, and wake the kids to go potty one more time so they don’t have an accident. There might be laundry that I forgot about, sitting in the dryer, so I fold it before I go to bed. By then, I am so delirious that I take forever to finish folding.

Andy sees it more than anyone else does. I don’t take good care of my own needs. I don’t know how to stop doing things that are on my mental to-do list.

How many years are going to go by before I honor my husband in this area? How many years will I get 3 hours less sleep than everyone else every night? I have a sleep deprivation of 20 hours per week, 80 hours per month. That is just crazy. I’m going to die before all of you good sleepers.

Tonight, I am going to end this post early, because Andy is really concerned for my health. These are the last days before I give birth to my 5th baby. Soon, in November, I will be waking up for feedings all through the night. Of course I should be getting as much sleep as I can right now.

I’ve loved writing for the past few days so I could stick to this commitment to post all 31 days in October. But tonight I am going to honor Andy and finish quickly so I can get to bed. I want to be a morning writer, not a middle of the night writer. Maybe God can change me. I can’t wait to see how much more productive I can be if I get more sleep. I think I will be more patient with my kids. And it will make Andy really happy.

Pray for me, if you can. I want to become a morning person. I feel like it is impossible for me. But I know that God can do anything.

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My First Baby: Natural Childbirth (part 2)


Hello again! Wow, a lot of posts this month! Welcome to Part 2 of the story of my first natural childbirth. If you missed Part 1, start here.

. . .

Part 2

Andy finally returned, and I could tell that he was refreshed after getting away for awhile. He sat down in the corner of the room, texted, and fiddled with the video camera for a few minutes.

“Please stop,” I whispered. He didn’t know what I meant. “Please stop,” I said again, trying not to get upset. “I need you. Coach me.”

Another long contraction started, and I had to close my eyes and breathe. Andy took over my sister’s position on the stool by my bed. He tried to talk me through the contraction.

In the middle of my contraction, Andy’s grandmother came in.

We had put a sign on the labor room door that said something like, “Please do not disturb. Serious labor in progress.” Clearly she didn’t see the sign. Andy got up and gave her a hug.

“How is she doing?” his grandmother asked. “Is my great grand-baby doing OK?”

“She is great. Just trying to keep things quiet and calm in here.” It was really sweet. She must have been really excited to meet her first great-grandchild. I just had to get the baby out first.

Andy, always super respectful toward his grandma, took her hand and walked her out to the waiting room.

During my next long contraction, my own mother walked in. Both my mother and Andy’s grandmother did not see the sign on the door, or thought it was for people other than them.

“What is she doing?” my mom asked my sister, who knew immediately that she would have to get my mom out of the room before I got upset.

“She’s having a contraction. She’s doing great, don’t worry. She’s trying to relax and stay calm.”

“She’s not breathing hard enough,” my mom spoke up so I could hear. “Why is she laying on her side. She should be on her back. Isn’t she supposed to walk around?”

“Mom, we’ll call you in later, when it’s a better time,” my sister said, and she politely walked her back to the waiting room.

Andy and my sister were both gone, and I was having contractions with no one to coach me. So I self-coached, which turned out to be much better. For the rest of the labor, I went into my own head during each contraction, and I talked myself through the relaxation, visualizing the contraction growing and then subsiding, like a wave of the ocean. It would all be worth it once the baby was out. This was all for the baby, new life, a gift from God.

“Trust your baby. Trust your body. Trust God.”

I prayed for help from the Lord. It was a desperate prayer. I wanted my baby to be out. I wanted my baby to be healthy, in my arms.

The midwife came in for the last time. “You will probably be in labor for three more hours. My shift is over, so the doctor will be helping you from now on. Good luck!” She left.

By that time, it was dark outside, and raining. Andy and my sister came back into the room. Another hour went by. My contractions were so severe and so close together. Some were right on top of each other, like as soon as one ended the next one started. I was shaking and trembling. It made me want to cry, and I didn’t know what to do.

“Andy,” I said. “I need drugs.”

“Are you sure? He asked.

I didn’t answer right away. It seemed to be a strange question. Was I sure? I wasn’t sure about anything. I couldn’t even find words to string together to form a sentence. I had sweat dripping down the sides of my face. I was throwing up in the trash can. I was in the most vulnerable state, completely free from every inhibition, like anyone in the world could have seen me laying there naked in labor and I wouldn’t have even cared.

Was I sure I wanted drugs? Yes! But instead I told him what we had practiced in our mock labor sessions.

“No,” I answered, and Andy’s eyes lit up. “No? The last signpost,” he said. “Uncertainty. Self-Doubt. That means you are almost done! You can do it, Honey!”

He was right! Self-doubt was the last emotional sign-post, and it meant I was just about done. I had the courage to keep going, even though it was more than I could handle.

I continued to tremble furiously, from the tips of my fingers to the bottom of my feet. I tried and tried to relax, but I absolutely could not relax. (I realized later that I was having “pushing contractions,” but I was not pushing with the contractions, which was why they were so painful.) A doctor and a resident came in, and the resident checked my cervix again. “Are you ready to push?” she asked. “You are almost done. The baby is coming.”

“Really? The midwife said another three hours.”

“Well that was an hour ago, and now the baby is on her way.” A team of nurses started filing into the room.

Was it really an hour since the midwife had been in the room? It felt like ten minutes.

The resident seemed confident (and I didn’t know she was a resident until later) and the doctor stood next to her. “Do you want me to break the bag of waters now?” she asked.

“No!” I had no ability to be polite.

“The baby’s head is coming down. See Dad?” Andy came around and said, almost crying, “She’s coming, Chelsea. She’s almost here.”

“Do you want to feel the head?” the resident asked me. I reached down and felt something gooey, and pulled my hand away. It wasn’t the baby’s head, it was the bag of waters over the baby’s head, but I wasn’t expecting to feel that.

A big, friendly nurse grabbed one of my legs and told Andy to grab the other. “Are you ready to push, Mama?”

I nodded.

“Push! One, two three, four, five …”

I had not practiced the pushing part of delivery. I just figured the hospital would know how to guide me through the pushing. But the thing is that I could feel everything, so I didn’t need to push quite so hard for so long all at once. My body started to tear, and I could feel it burning.

“Ok, stop!” the nurse shouted.

“We’ve got to get this baby out, I’ve lost the heartbeat of the baby,” the doctor said. “I’m going to give you an episiotomy, OK?”

“Uh, OK,” I said, frightened.

She popped the bag of waters, and a gush of water came splashing out. Then the doctor guided the resident and she did a quick snip.

“OK, push!” the nurse shouted again.

I pushed one more time and the baby came out like she was on a slip-n-slide.

“A healthy baby girl!” the doctor exclaimed.

Andy cut the umbilical cord. It took two snips.

They carried the baby over to the heated baby bed.

My nausea and shaking stopped immediately, and I was elated. I was done. I did it. We did it.

“My God has answered my prayers.”

Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way: Revised Edition

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