Stay Curious.
Dig Deeper.
Nurture What Matters.
Be BoldHeart.
Enjoy Your Life.

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The BoldHeartMama desires to enjoy living out the choices that she’s made for herself and for her family. She is a relentless learner: curious, inquisitive, and open to the possibilities of her life and of the human condition. She understands that there isn't one right way—she asks questions that dig deeper to make sense of it all and to find her own path.

She pays attention to and nurtures whatever it is she really cares about, letting go of the rest (for now) knowing she can't do and be everything all at once. She embraces her imperfections in favor of "good enough"—her imperfect self, her imperfect home, her imperfect mothering, her imperfect desires—and she never stops evolving as a woman and mother. She is a BoldHeart, authentic and true to herself.

The BoldHeartMama knows there is only this one life and she's all in. She is present and engaged and making things happen. Her intuition is her guide. She seeks to be inspired and relies on her creativity and her resourcefulness to solve the big and little challenges that she and her family face together as they navigate their relationships and their world.

The BoldHeartMama is willing to take calculated risks to make her biggest dreams come true. She is living out her BoldHeart in the moment, making small moves and taking little steps that add up, and she's cultivating a good life for herself and her family in the process. Read More!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

R is for ... READING!

We took a chance and ventured out of the suburbs to attend the National Book Festival on the Mall. It was packed with people, and made worse by the rain.

The morning started out well. Roscoe went down for his nap on cue and slept for almost two hours. When he woke, we packed up and headed out. On the way we stopped to grab lunch before crossing our fingers and merging onto I95. Luckily, traffic was mild and we zipped into the city.

Our first hurdle was parking. Roscoe and I abandoned the car and headed into the crowd while Andy scoured the area. On our way to the children's tent we saw Paula Deen signing her new children's cookbook! We arrived at the tent just in time to catch the tail end of a story read aloud about baseball and Jackie Robinson, and then we watched the illustrator do a caricature of three kids chosen from the audience.

Roscoe was a hit all on his own. As we weaved through the crowd, strangers stopped us to ask about his Pork Chop Kids, his "ginger" hair, and his big eyes. Roscoe was taking it all in, and seemed quite content for more than an hour. We watched little kids get their pictures taken with Arthur the Aardvark, and then he ate a little snack. When Andy joined us we headed to a different tent where we got to see the Very Hungry Caterpillar!

It began to rain, which we had not prepared for, and the tents were becoming increasingly crowded as visitors tried to escape the downpour, so we headed to the American Museum of Natural History. Roscoe enjoyed the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life best, and we caught him laughing at what we think was the big whale hanging from the ceiling. We grabbed a snack in the atrium cafe and then headed back to the festival to peruse books for sale before walking back to our car. Of course, south bound traffic was horrendous and Roscoe was exhausted which made for a difficult ride home.

My accomplishment of the day was getting over my fear of nursing in public. Out of necessity we nursed in the pouring rain squatting under a tree, on a grassy knoll, even standing in the middle of the mall. Public nursing isn't something I've quite got the hang of, but the anonymity served me well.

Despite the weather and traffic it was really fun to get out together as a family.

Pit stop for lunch

Roscoe's first trip to the National Mall
VHC! The worm was rubbing the back of my head :)

In from the rain

In the museum gift shop

Headed back to the car (Roscoe's in the sling under his hoodie)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Practically perfect in every way

I can finally share that all will be well in the Sears household as far as Roscoe is concerned. I have accepted a part-time work at home position with my former employer, and tonight we hired Roscoe's Nanny! I wish I had some entertaining stories from the past week's interviewing process, but we had only well qualified candidates apply.

Beginning October 6th I will officially be a WAHM*! I'm fortunate to have the opportunity to combine my two worlds and I'm so looking forward to the year ahead.

*work at home mom

a mom-storm

I read about an upcoming production in LA and NY titled "Expressing Motherhood". To get a taste watch the trailer on the home page.

In the online store you can purchase a tote bag with one woman's written interpretation of motherhood.

Here's mine:

It's hard to capture the experience but it's fun to try! Plus, this is truly a snap shot--one mom's view after only four months. I'd love to see mom-storms from other mothers in different stages. It would be interesting to chronologically order them and consider the continuity as well as the diversity of our experiences.

It says a lot about the pressure moms can feel when I was compelled not to include some of the more down trodden emotions that sometimes define my reality. It's expected that motherhood is this beautiful experience where the good far outweighs the bad to a point that it feels like a disservice to your offspring to even think, or worse, say what your days are really like. Every positive emotion has an equally awful opposite, and even if they're fleeting, it's part of the package. And if I've learned anything yet, it is that a new mom swings from extremes day to day.

Of course Roscoe's my greatest product to date--he's my little masterpiece. But the person I was before I became his mother remains here beneath the spit up and rumpled sweat pants. With the birth of your child you are suddenly thrust into motherhood. and. it. can. be. hard. 9 months helps to prepare you, but NOTHING can prepare you.

Mothering is the ultimate paradox. Never in my life have I been more blissfully content while at the same time more utterly miserable. It makes my head spin, and I'm pretty sure that once mothering begins, it doesn't end until you are dead.

Which is why I will cling fondly to every moment that I get to be Roscoe's mom, and pray I won't lose myself in the process.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Round 2

This morning we took Baby Roscoe to his four month pediatric appointment. He slurped down the oral Rotavirus vaccine, and immediate nursing calmed him after the four shots were administered. We were booted out of the exam room mid-nurse, which was irritating, but otherwise the visit went well.

Roscoe fell asleep on the way home so Andy and I decided to grab a quick lunch and some ice cream. Roscoe remains asleep as I type; is it awful that I may secretly look forward to "shot days" because I get more me time?

Roscoe is holding steady in the 3rd percentile for height and weight. He's at the bottom of the chart but following his own curve, growing well and thriving. Maybe now I can put to rest all the "preemie" inquiries and "he's not getting enough to eat" concerns? Roscoe's just a small (and perfect) babe!

His pediatrician said we could introduce solids at 5 or 6 months. The recommendation for introducing solids used to be 4-6 months, but the AAP guidance now leans more toward 6 months, and we may wait even longer than that. We're more interested in Roscoe being developmentally ready for solids, than we are in adhering to a predetermined time frame.

The three biggies are 1) Baby can sit up well without support 2) Baby no longer has the tongue-thrust reflex 3) Baby is developing a "pincer" grasp. I really look forward to sharing with Roscoe my love for food! It's hard not to be tempted into giving him a little nibble of this or that, but when the time comes, it will be great fun and I can't wait to begin cooking for him.

In discussing the flu, we learned that although Flu Season typically begins mid to late October, it doesn't actually hit Northern Virginia until January/February. And while we're trying our best to facilitate vaccines for family and other caretakers who see him on a regular basis, the good news is that he'll most likely be vaccinated against influenza at 6 months (in November) before the area is affected. Still not sure on the H1N1 vaccine for him, but I know the CDC is recommending it.

Things to look forward to in the coming months: tripoding and sitting with assistance, combinations of the sounds "ma" "ba" and "da", and mobility in the form of consistent rolling back and forth!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Happy Sunday!

Lately, Roscoe's been making great use of his kerchief bib. This little guy produces a lot of drool!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Roscoe is Four Months Old!

Recipe #3 Buttermilk Biscuits

This no frills biscuit recipe takes all of 10 minutes to prepare. For minimal effort you get a brunch-worthy basket of flaky, buttery biscuits perfect for slathering on more butter and blackberry jam.

The recipe calls for flour, salt, butter, buttermilk, and baking soda. I was curious why baking soda and not baking powder was used in this recipe, and in my research, I learned the following:

1. Baking powder and baking soda act as leavening agents to help dough rise
2. Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate
3. Fast acting baking soda releases carbon dioxide gas when mixed with a liquid, slow acting baking soda releases carbon dioxide gas when heated, double acting baking soda (the kind most commonly found at the grocery store) reacts once when it's added to the wet ingredients, and again when it's heated
4. Baking soda is used when there is already an acidic ingredient in the recipe; in this case, the acid is buttermilk
5. Baking powder is actually baking soda + an acid salt (like cream of tarter) + cornstarch (to absorb moisture and prevent the first reaction from occurring)

To sum it all up, I could have used baking powder in this recipe, but it would have been redundant to add the acid salt to the already acidic buttermilk batter.

Man, I feel like Alton Brown!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Recipe #2 Apple Pie

I used a combination of Golden Delicious and McIntosh from Stribling Orchard to bake my first apple pie of the season. While this recipe is out of order as far as my plan for going through Peterson's book, with fresh picked apples on hand, I couldn't help myself!

The traditional apple pie calls for an unsweetened double crust. I was craving something else, so I decided to make the pie with a sweet Classic French dough.

With Roscoe napping sporadically, I had to work the pie in fits and starts. During his morning nap I made the crust and put it in the fridge to chill. The sweet crust is best made in a mixer, which was fine with me, because I didn't have time to hand mix the dough. With only a few ingredients, it tasted like a sugar cookie.

Later, I put Roscoe in the Moby and we peeled, cored, and sliced all the apples. I rolled out the dough an hour or two later. It was pretty soft, and kept breaking, a sign that it was too warm. Unfortunately, I didn't have time to re-refrigerate it, so I just pieced it together in the bottom of the pie pan, added sugar to the apples and piled them high, sliced the butter into little pats, and rolled out the second crust.

By this time, Roscoe was screaming so I really didn't take much care in beautifying my creation. Last, I brushed the top with an egg white wash, sprinkled it with sugar, and then cut five little slits in the top. In light of the time crunch, I still think it looked pretty!

I later realized that I forgot to add cornstarch to the apple mixture, and I doubled up on the salt. Oops. It's hard to keep everything straight when also juggling Roscoe! I'll blame it also on the fact that I had to double the crust recipe in my head, which just never works out anyway.

While the pie was baking, apple juices began to seep over the edge and pool at the bottom of the oven. This produced a lot of smoke, set off the fire alarms, and filled the house with the smell of burnt apples. Peterson said that if the pie was browning within the first hour of baking, to turn the heat from 375 to 300. My crust was browning fast, so I followed his instruction.

About halfway through baking, a girlfriend of mine came over to visit. With 20 minutes left on the timer we decided to take a short walk around the neighborhood. We moseyed around trying to be mindful of the time, but when we returned the buzzer had already gone off, and I have no idea how long past 1.5 hours the pie actually baked.

Either way, only the edges were a little dark. I took the pie out to cool, and planned to wait for after dinner to dig into it, but later decided that I had to taste it right then. The crust of my slice broke apart when I cut into it (which was kind of disappointing because I was looking forward to the presentation), but the apples were still nice and warm. The crust really was perfect though, like tender layers of of sweet bread. The top crust was crunchy and shiny from the egg white, while the bottom crust was soaked in sweet buttery apple goodness.

I don't think the salt impacted the pie in a bad way, although the cornstarch would have been an improvement. I do wish I had more time to focus on the art of constructing the crust of the pie. But there are many more pies in Peterson's book so I know I will get more practice. All but one quarter of the pie was gone by the next morning and I had to ask Andy to take what was left with him to work, because I definitely would have devoured it before noon.

Just like with applesauce, I think a pie made with two apple varieties makes for a more complex and tasty dessert. The tart McIntosh paired well with the sweeter Golden Delicious.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Recipe #1: Blueberry muffins

I found a few minutes on Sunday night while Andy and Roscoe caught up with Jon out front, and decided to whip up my first Peterson recipe.

The recipe is simple and uncomplicated, requiring only one bowl and no flour sifting. It would make a great base for any combination of fruit and/or nuts. Coating the berries in flour before combining them with the batter was something I hadn't tried before, but it served its purpose well and prevented them from sinking to the bottom of the pan while baking. The batter was sweet and buttery, I actually licked the bowl clean!

After 25 minutes at 375, emerged 12 perfect dome topped muffins that fell straight from the pan after cooling. They looked amazing with their shiny yellow tops and marbled blueberry cracks. On Peterson's suggestion I dusted each one with confectioner's sugar.

These are what I imagine when I think of a classic blueberry muffin. The tangy berries combined well with the cakey bread of the muffin. I liked their shape (they rose really nicely), and the fact that they were moist on the inside, but not sticky or wet on the outside.

Add a pat of unsalted butter, and they are divine! Next time I make these I would love to substitute strawberries or peaches for the blueberries.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Bake Off!

I felt inspired when Ernie shared with me this article from the Washington Post. Similar to the well known book club,"cooking club" members choose a cookbook and bake their way through, blogging about their experience, and reading and learning from one another as they go.

A spin off of Julie and Julia, I suppose.

I read the article, checked out a few of the websites and blogrolls, and contemplated how best to join in on the fun.

The Bread Baker's Challenge already exists, and the effort is in full swing. Despite a great book selection on a very tasty subject, I thought I might like to begin my own little baking challenge. I looked through my collection of cookbooks but none seemed worthy.

As a huge fan of California Cuisine, I was tempted to begin Alice Waters' The Art of Simple Cooking. However, we are heading into the dreary winter months, and in consideration for her premise to use local, in-season produce, I didn't feel it was a good match. After deliberating over several selections (there are so many fantastic cookbooks out there, and thankfully a long life ahead of me to cook 'till my heart's content) I finally settled on one titled "Cooking", in which James Peterson presents 600 recipes with step by step instruction and over 1500 photographs. It is a James Beard Foundation Book Award winner and I've read that if you cook your way through this book, you will learn how to cook.

On September 29th Peterson's sequel, "Baking", will be released. I was tempted to wait for "Baking" instead of beginning "Cooking". But the truth is, I just had a baby and I need not eat 600 recipes of cookies, tarts, custards, pies, and creams. Plus, I feel more confident in baking than I do cooking, so I think I will enjoy learning more about something I know very little.

Over the past 7 years, cooking has become a serious hobby of mine. Every week I try out a handful of new recipes, but lately I've had a desire to take my passion for cooking to the next level. I would love to master the basics and eventually create my own recipes. I suppose in lieu of going to cooking school I can just enjoy the art of cooking and the pleasure of eating in my own home, on my own terms.

I also really hope that Roscoe enjoys baking with his momma, so this will be fun for us to do together when we can. I'm not sure how long it will take me, but I will more or less follow the order of the recipes. I have already spotted several that I'm not so sure about--anything with Foi Gras in the title is a turn off. In fact, I reserve the right not to bake anything I have a moral aversion to! And I will be sure to blog a report on my adventures.

So here goes! I think I'm going to begin with the section on Breads.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Just Do It!

We're bound and determined to shield Baby Roscoe from the 2 evil flus this season, so today we went to CVS's Minute Clinic and got our flu shots!

After signing ourselves in at the electronic kiosk, we waited less than 5 minutes before the Nurse Practitioner called us into a private patient room. She asked if we were allergic to eggs or mercury, and whether we smoked. Then she took our insurance information, gave us the vaccine, and sent us on our way. Amazingly, it took less than 30 minutes.

We even got our name on a mailing list that will send us a message when the H1N1 vaccines are available.

Click here to find your nearest location. I highly recommend it!

For those of you interested in more information, is a great resource.
And here's a nice webcast from the CDC for Pregnant Women and New Moms.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

A Fall Resolution

I will floss my teeth every night.

I'll admit this is spurred by an impending dentist appointment, but I really do believe in the importance of gum health!

It's apple season!

To celebrate the start of Fall we met up with Dennis and Jessa at Stribling Orchard in Markham for lunch and apple picking.

It was our first family adventure, and Roscoe seemed to enjoy looking at all the apples. Dennis and Jessa ordered boxed lunches from their favorite neighborhood shop, and afterward we enjoyed warm apple danishes and apple sticks.

The guys used their borrowed picking poles to snag all the good fruit from way up high, and we left with a half bushel of Golden Delicious, Red Delicious, and McIntosh apples--soon to be turned into apple pie, applesauce, and caramel apples--as well as jars of apple pecan butter, blackberry and strawberry jams, and peach/mango salsa. Yum!

The weather was cool with a nice breeze; we expected it to be cooler so we bundled Roscoe in an undershirt, babylegs, pants, long sleeve shirt, socks and hoodie, most of which were stripped off by the end of the day. Somehow he and Andy managed to get a little sunburn too. :(

We were lucky to have a very talented photographer among us--with the exception of a few non-artistic shots below, Jessa took all the photos posted here. More pictures can be viewed on her facebook.

Roscoe's many faces ...

Later, a good game of Patty-Cake brought on the smiles!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Best book I've read in a while ...

I felt the competitive sting of motherhood soon after the pink lines appeared on the pregnancy test. If I’m honest, it may have even been before that.

From "planning" my pregnancy, to kickboxing through it, our choice to
homebirth, bedshare, to decline circumcision . . . I‘ve been on the defense since day one.

The myriad decisions continue with heated if not passive aggressive debates that focus on exclusive breastfeeding vs. supplementing vs. formula feeding, feeding on demand vs. schedule feeding, if, when, and for how long to use pacifiers, whether to vaccinate according to the AAP recommendations or to follow an alternate schedule, if and when to sleep train, when to introduce solids, how to approach discipline . . . and on and on and on.

Every past, present, and future mother has an opinion, of course, because we're all responsible for weighing the “evidence” against our needs and wants, following our instincts, and ultimately choosing from the Parenting Smorgasbord those elements that resonate loudest, and that we feel will work best for our family.

Social norms only complicate things, as do the opinions of those close to you. On a bad day I might grant a complete stranger power to bruise or momentarily derail my confidence as a new mom.

Three months deep, and it seems as if my way of mothering somehow denies your way of mothering, highlighting our differences and alienating our commonalities. I’ve chosen what’s best for me, and you’ve chosen what‘s best for you…but we can’t both be right! right? 

Or, if it’s good enough for my kid/my family, why isn’t it good enough for yours? This phenomenon plays out amongst peers and across generations.

One of the most divisive decisions of all comes when choosing whether or not to return to work.

So, out of curiosity (and after a particularly trying day at home), I bought a copy of Mommy Wars. Perhaps for its timeliness, this book really hit home. It was at once fascinating, inspiring, and affirming.

I’ve always prescribed to the philosophy that moms should do whatever will make THEM happiest when it comes to working or staying home. As the old saying goes, “If Momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” But I always assumed that I would be in the camp of working moms, and with that presumption came my own ideas about what it meant to be a mom who stayed home. 

And then Roscoe was born...

No matter which side you're on, I think this book has something to offer every mommy.

He likes it! He really likes it!

This video underscores my status as a new mother: two minutes and twenty seconds of my child chewing on a giraffe. Turn up your volume for the sweet sound of gums on rubber. Unless you're one of the grandparents, you may not make it all the way through. ;)

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