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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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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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Rotunno Mini-Update

Summer Service Project
Beach Days





Rotunno Mini-Update 

Everything seems to be going OK with this fifth and final pregnancy, thank God! Baby Girl Rotunno is doing great. So am I, except for the fact that I’m having trouble walking! I have the terrible heel pain that I’ve heard other women complain about. Now I get it–it hurts! On the bright side, morning sickness went away at 12-14 weeks when it was supposed to, and I think that my new gluten-free diet has been helping too.

Here are some sufficiently awkward selfie photos of my pregnant belly at 16 weeks and 31 weeks.

pregnant-5th-baby-16 weeks

16 weeks (5th baby)


31 weeks (5th baby)

Summer Service Project:
Gleanings for the Hungry is a wonderful family trip for us. We get to work hard and hang out with amazing people. We come home energized and ready to take on life. Thank you to my husband Andy for planning and organizing this trip for our church twice a year, and thank you to the Gleanings staff for your love, hugs, great food, and hospitality. Find out more about Gleanings for the Hungry here.

After giving it a try for a year, I still say I love teaching my daughter from home. This year I have two students: a first grader and a fourth grader. Plus two little ones. And a newborn in November. How much can I handle? Will I do a good job? Even though it seems crazy, I am really excited for this challenge. I think it will be really good for me and force me to stay organized. In case you missed it, you can read about Why I Decided to Homeschool My Daughter here.

It is time for me to get back into a writing schedule. The amazing thing is that while I have taken a break from writing this summer, I have still been writing in my head. I have a few novels going on in my head, and I really need to write them down. I have some rough outlines, but I’d love to actually set time aside to write them out. It’s just that I have these little kids running around all day! More about How to Start Writing Your Story here.

My girls are starting ballet classes again this fall. I am so happy about it! They love to dance. My nine-year-old started taking tap dance classes this summer. She is getting really good, and I am having so much fun practicing with her in the kitchen. I have managed to get to ballet class myself a few times this summer. It is always healing and therapeutic for me.

Beach Days:
The moment I got to Zuma Beach, I remembered why I need to go there more often. We were pretending to surf, chasing seagulls, and examining the bright blue jellyfish that washed up on the shore.

My feet didn’t hurt while I was on the sand. My complexion cleared up and the stresses of life dissipated. It was a beautiful day. What is it about that beach air, sunshine, and cool water?

Thank you God for new life growing inside me, service to the poor and hungry, and for the chance to teach my children at home, pouring my life into the lives of my children. Thank you for giving me writing as a form of therapy and mental exercise. Thank you for ballet as a form of therapy and physical exercise. Thank you for the beach, your gorgeous creation, where we can play, rest, smile, breathe, and heal.

Beach photos by Marisa Santiago

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