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A Great Book for Little Girls

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

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

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

Every little girl should read this book.

Every woman should read this book to her little girls.

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

I have.

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

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

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

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

The Hundred Dresses
 by Eleanor Estes

. . .

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

xo, Chelsea

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“I’m Never Having Kids”

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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.

*Edited*

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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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

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to this

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to this

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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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