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!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Can't fight this feeling

As we begin to incorporate solids into Roscoe's feeding routine we take our first step toward weaning. So far our nursing relationship has been a challenging adventure that continues to exceed my expectations. It is sad to realize that reaching this milestone marks the beginning of the end.*

My mom breastfed me, my sister, and my brother. It never crossed my mind to feed my kids any differently. Reinforcing the innate and animalistic nature of mother and child, Roscoe latched on within minutes of being born, but it didn't take long to find out that in this day and age breastfeeding often requires more from both parties, than putting mouth to boob.

The beginning was awkward, and intimate. I was self conscious nursing in the presence of visiting friends and family. Abruptly, the circumstances necessitated a new mindset: my breasts, once a largely sexual--and private--part of my body, were now a means to nourish this tiny, pink, bundle. Anytime. Anywhere. All the time. Everywhere.

Nursing was the one thing that I had not given much thought or research, the only thing I simply trusted would come naturally. With an ex-lactation consultant midwife, and a theoretical community of support via our birthing class, I assumed that if we did happen to run into trouble, certainly someone would know how to fix it.

It took less than 7 days and I was braving the challenges of new motherhood with bleeding, burning nipples.

I cringed with every hunger cry belted from Roscoe's ravenous mouth. At times I wanted to grab my breasts and run far, far, away--in fact, I imitated this very act many times to offer humor to an otherwise emotionally conflicted situation. In one arm I had Roscoe: 7 pounds of newborn with a belly the size of a marble, and an appetite to rival his own mother's. He needed food to grow, and I wanted so badly to feed him. In the other arm I had growing feelings of inadequacy as the task of serving his meals became more difficult and less appealing. I wanted an out, and started looking for the exit.

But what I really wanted was for our breastfeeding relationship to be easier. In truth, I'd never actually watched a baby breastfeed, but from the looks of it didn't babies just open their mouths, latch on, and begin to eat? Why was this so hard for me?

I persevered with the assumption that our problems would resolve on their own, but two weeks went by with no relief, and I was desperate and determined to make this work. La Leche League to the rescue! I wasn't alone after all. My take home message: This is common. Stick with it. It may take as long as 6 to 9 weeks, but eventually breastfeeding will become effortless.

I kept that truth in the back of my mind as I searched the internet for more functional advice. With time I did get the hang of nursing, and Roscoe got the hang of it too. By week six both Roscoe and I were fluent in the art of breastfeeding.

In those early days I did not "recognize" Roscoe, he was so new to me. The only time I felt I truly knew him was when I nursed him. His facial expressions, his grunts, the way his body curled into mine--it was when I nursed that he became familiar. There are qualities of nursing that are difficult to put to words but even in our first days together, breastfeeding inspired me in ways that I had not expected. Never in my life have I gazed into another's eyes as long, or etched so clearly into my mind the features of another human being. The frenzy of feeding is sweet. The rhythmic breaths and gulps come in spurts and I'm completely captivated. My needs as his mother--to ensure his health, and contentment, to meet his need for touch, comfort, and undivided attention, to nurture him, among other things--is largely satisfied during our time spent nursing. Never has his dependency on me been as obvious, or his need for me as blatant.

My body is capable of not only growing and carrying a human being, but also nourishing him exclusively for the first 6 months of his life. I'm a proud momma knowing Roscoe has thrived on my milk alone.

Which brings me back to earlier this afternoon when Roscoe ate with gusto the sweet potato, dates, and brown rice dinner that I prepared for him. I was delighted by his appetite and the apparent pleasure he expressed as he ate. I'm happy knowing that I will still have a role in nourishing my little babe, even after our nursing relationship has ended. And I'm especially pleased that even after he ate a large helping of dinner, he demanded to nurse shortly after.

* Don't worry, I have no intention to truly wean Roscoe any time soon :)

Friday, November 27, 2009

Decorating home for Christmas, a light spectacle

In our house, Christmas rolls into town the day after Thanksgiving. It's been that way for years. The advent calendar emerges from storage, the Santas, and candy canes, and other whimsical winter accouterments find their places throughout the house. And every year Andy faithfully sets the stage with his yearly Christmas Light Spectacular.

But free-time is scarce around here of late. So for the past three weeks Andy has been playing mind games about his plans for stringing Christmas lights. I ask him what his design plan is, he responds with, "I don't think I have time this year" or "I'm too tired to get motivated." Ignoring his earlier excuses, I later ask him when he plans to get started on the lights and he responds, "No seriously. I'm not doing them this year."

Andy maintained his position even when his competition began to hang lights the day before Thanksgiving.

Reverse psychology did the trick, and I was practically begging him to get outside and put up those lights! The catch to his whole show was that I had to agree to give him the estimated 15 hours he needs to do it, with no hassling or complaining.

The thought of Christmas without lights was a dark and disappointing one, so I agreed to his terms and Andy got started around 2:30 this afternoon. He's been outside for 7 hours, and remains there as I type.

Stay tuned for pictures!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

We're back where we started at 6:30 this morning--lying in our bed. Thanksgiving dinner 2009 has been devoured, the leftovers stashed for a late night raid. Roscoe is sound asleep and we're stuffed to our brims.

Festivities began last night with an impromptu hot cocoa party. The Tahitian Vanilla marshmallows I ordered (a month ago!!) finally arrived, and I made a fresh batch of whipped cream. We also had a little caramel tasting since it seemed Have It Sweet tried to make up for the late delivery by including a bag of gingerbread caramels in my order. No complaints here. We ate an entire log of the salted caramels too.

Today we lounged early, took a drive to pick up some wrapping paper, pulled out all the Christmas decorations to get a head start on tomorrow, and wrapped some of Roscoe's gifts while he napped. It was nice to enjoy a day without chores, or thoughts of work to attend to. Our little email project was testament to how much we have to be thankful for this year, and in the context of Thanksgiving it felt special to do some everyday activities together.

Thinking back to last year when I was just 13 weeks pregnant with Roscoe, and we were free to come and go as we pleased, and stay out as late as we wanted--having a kid does change the tone of the Holidays. This year, we timed our arrival and departure to Roscoe's sleep schedule. On the upside, Thanksgiving has new meaning when a fair hued boy with saucer blue eyes and dimples to melt your heart is part of the deal. Just being out together as a family feels exclusive.

Roscoe's dinner of chicken, apples, and oats was left behind accidentally, so while the rest of us gobbled on turkey, dressing, and a buffet of trimmings, Roscoe had to make due with mashed banana. He ate some, and dumped the rest on the floor.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone! Hope yours was as relaxing and wonderful.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Bulk Baby Food Batch #1: Complete!

In the coming month Roscoe can look forward to filling his belly with:
  • Organic Carrots
  • Organic Peas
  • Brown Rice
  • Bananas
  • Dates
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Organic Apple
  • Organic Chicken
  • Oats
I mashed the fruits and vegetables after steaming when appropriate, and used a food processor to chop the chicken and carrots.

I bought the Beaba Freezer Trays, but I just wasn't patient enough to wait for them!

Instead I lined two baking sheets with wax paper, evenly spaced tablespoon-sized scoops of each food, and put the sheets in the freezer. Tomorrow morning I'll combine two to three scoops in Ziploc bags and store them in larger freezer bags.

Think of combinations like banana/date, sweet potato/rice, and chicken/apple/oat. . .YuM!

UPDATE: Here is the result!

I wasn't sure how easy or difficult it would be to make Roscoe's food from scratch, but after going through the process once, it really could not be easier. While I love to buy baby gear, I learned there is no need for special containers or apparatus. I canceled my Beaba order and saved myself 40 bucks!

Monday, November 23, 2009

There are 7 days until December

Check out this adorable ornament I bought from the Brick Kiln....

Now tell me that doesn't resemble Roscoe!

I've purchased a couple items from the Brick Kiln over the past year. The personalization is what does me in every time. I can't resist it.

The Brick Kiln store is closed temporarily but will open again in February so keep them in mind if you want some seriously sweet (and sentimental) gifts in the new year.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Only three things in life are certain: death, taxes...

I've been summoned for Jury Duty.

Virginia law states that breastfeeding mothers are exempt from their obligation to serve. Yippee! Add that to the list of benefits (if you live in Va or one of the 11 other states with a similar law).

I do have to make a written request within 5 days, but that's a small inconvenience compared to driving, parking, waiting, and possibly being picked as a juror. Not to mention pumping....

Check out the breastfeeding laws in your state here.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

2 ounces of sanity

Last week I received the breastshields I ordered from Hawaii--they arrived 4 days early in a crumpled box tossed on the back stoop. A brief bolt of fear struck through me as I envisioned my shields cracked, or worse. To my relief, they were in perfect condition.

That night after nursing Roscoe to sleep, I hooked myself up to the pump and immediately realized the difference in having a breastsheild that fits: suction.

Just a few minutes into the expression phase and the milk was flowing. The first let-down! Unfortunately, it was the only let-down. My 20 minute pumping session produced one let-down and a little less than an ounce of milk. One single ounce.

I was panicked. How can I workout if I can't leave the baby? I re-channeled my anxiety and committed to pumping once every night with the hope that my body would begin to make more milk in order to cover the "feeding". I've pumped every night since, and slowly but surely, I've been able to produce more milk--last night, 2 ounces which = 1 feeding.

What's even better is that I've been to the gym 5 times since I joined, and on the night that Andy braved it alone, he fed Roscoe a bottle and lulled him back to sleep. I arrived home to a quiet house, a long hot shower, and another pumping session.

It's hard to describe how it feels when everything works. Roscoe seems to be mellowing out and I'm back at the gym. I think I'm getting the hang of being Roscoe's mom, and I'm finally starting to feel like myself again. My life: different but improved.

Here's another note of thanks--I'm grateful for technology that allows me to mother the old fashioned way, and still keep up with the modern day.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Just for fun: A Quiz

1. When did you find out you were pregnant?
September 18th, 2008

2. How did you find out you were pregnant?
We had been testing with dollar store tests all week, even though we knew it was really too early. I was getting discouraged, so we went to Wegman's to pick up a pack of EPTs. I tested in the bathroom while Andy checked out, but it was negative. I carried the stick out to the car and all the way home. When Andy stopped to get the mail the car light turned on and I thought I saw a very faint line. When we got home, we held it up to the light in the garage and it was definitely positive.

3. How old were you?

4. What was your reaction?
It was unbelievable because it had been only 2 weeks since we started trying and the line was SO faint! We were laughing and crying. It was surreal.

Can you see it?
5. Who did you tell first?
Within five minutes we were knocking on the door of our friends' house who live across from us. We both went in late to work the next morning so we could tell our parent's in person.
PS. They're pregnant now! Due in April :)

Before 6 in the morning :)

6. Did you want to find out the sex?
Yes! We found out at 17 weeks 2 days...BOY! We had our ultrasound in the morning, but didn't find out until our "Sex Reveal" party later that night. Here's where we opened the envelope!

I thought he was going to be a girl :)

Andy was excited!
7. Due date?
May 31, 2009.

8. Did you deliver early or late?
2 weeks early at 38 weeks 2 days. Roscoe was born on May 19th.

9. Did you have morning sickness?
Nothing that a lot of snacking didn't take care of. I felt nauseated every day for the first 11 or 12 weeks, but by 13 weeks my morning sickness had disappeared.

10. What did you crave?
I ate bagels with cream cheese and tomatoes every morning during the first trimester. But I had only one memorable craving: orange juice with extra pulp. It occurred late one night and required Andy to make a run to three different gas stations to find it.
Sans makeup, 11:30 at bed!

11. What irritated you the most?

The uncertainty. I hated spotting in the 7th and 9th weeks. It put me on edge for the rest of the pregnancy. Oh and the lack of support we had for our home birth.

12. How did you pick the name?
We found it in a baby book and instantly liked it, but it just kept growing on us. Then, when I shared our list of possible names with a coworker, he told me that one of his favorite songs is Roscoe by Midlake. We listened to it on repeat for months, and it sealed the deal.

13. How many pounds did you gain throughout the pregnancy?
Somewhere around 45 pounds.

14. Did you have any complications during your pregnancy?
None other than spotting early in the first trimester.

15. Where did you give birth?
At home!

16. How many hours were you in labor?
5 1/2 hours. My water broke at 2:00 pm and contractions started 30 minutes later. Roscoe was born at 7:54 pm.

17. Who attended your labor?
Andy, my midwife, and doula. My sister and mom were downstairs cooking Roscoe's birthday dinner, and they joined us within a few minutes of his birth.

18 . Did you take medicine to ease the pain?

19 . How much did your child weigh?
7lbs 2oz

20 . What did you name him/her?
Roscoe Ellis Hopper

We kept Roscoe's name a secret until he was born, but we had a newborn gown embroidered with his name. Here are a few photos from when my sister and mom found out what we named him:

21 . How old is your first born today?
6 months tomorrow!

22. Who does your child look like?
He has Andy's fair skin and red hair, but his features are a mix of both of us. He has Andy's brow, and feet, but my lips, dimples and eyes. We're not sure about his nose.

23. Did you get mad at your husband during labor?

24. What do you miss most about being pregnant? I loved carrying him with me everywhere I went, especially during my commutes slugging into the city and riding the metro. In the beginning in particular, he was like a little secret that I carried around with me.

25. What do you miss most about life before baby?
I miss the control I had over the simple stuff like sleeping, eating, working out, and leaving the house.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Recipe #9: Linguini with Peas and Butter

This recipe was so simple that if we hadn't made the pasta ourselves, I would feel a little silly writing a post about it. The four ingredients are pasta, peas, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and butter.

Mix them together in a warm bowl, and there you have it!

The simplicity of the dish was part of the reason I liked it so much. And we both thought it was surprisingly delicious, even though it did remind us of a meal you might make for a young child on a busy week night.

You really can't go wrong with noodles, cheese, and butter. The peas add great color and balance out the heavier dairy ingredients.

Oh! And these noodles, made from the same batch as our first pasta dish, tasted so much better, which gives me hope for future attempts.

Monday, November 16, 2009

1, 2, 1

I went to my first boxing class Saturday afternoon and it was fantastic!

Roscoe, Andy, and I arrived to the gym 10 minutes before the class started. I signed a waiver, then excused myself to give Roscoe a last minute top-off. I made it quick, and had just enough time to wrap my hands and grab my gloves.

The workout began with jumping rope for 5 minutes, followed by a variety of ab exercises that my poor post-baby body found to be quite a challenge. Next, a series of three minute "rounds" of various combinations of punching, interspersed with opportunities to freestyle on the heavy bag that hung from the ceiling. Push-ups, squats, jumping jacks, lunges, and more abs were thrown into the mix, and a cool down with stretching finished off the hour.

I was SOLD and signed up for a membership on the spot. I haven't been that sweaty, happy, or energized in a long time!

Update: my triceps are so sore and tight that I can't bring my hands to my shoulders. Payoff! :)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Splish Splash, part II

Since Roscoe was born he has taken his baths or showers with us, or more commonly we use a bath sling in the tub. The sling allows for the bathtub to be filled up with enough water to keep him warm, elevates his head above the waterline, and gives his arms and legs freedom to move around. Tonight his sling was in the washing machine, and he's pretty much outgrown it anyway, so we decided to revisit the Wash Pod.

You might remember the first time we used it, which was a mini disaster, but now that Roscoe can sit up more or less on his own, the Wash Pod has proven to be as cool as I had originally hoped.

With a slip-proof cushion nestled into the bottom, Roscoe was so content and seemingly comfy sitting with his legs crossed, water up to his chest. He stayed nice and warm with plenty of room to splash around, and even had enough space to share it with a few of his favorite bath toys.

Speaking of which, I will recommend these fun sea lights made by Munchkin: they have a soft plastic outer that is perfect for little hands, they float, they stick to the side of the tub, and they have three settings: on, off, and blinking. Roscoe really enjoys them! The only downside is that the batteries cannot be replaced when they die, but ours are still going strong several months after purchase, and at 5 or 6 dollars a pair, I think it's totally worth it!

The only downside to the Wash Pod is that when it was time to actually bathe Roscoe (as opposed to play) I had to pull him out, soap him up, and rinse him in the faucet. It wasn't a big deal, but I didn't get the job done without getting wet.

For Diehard fans only:

Don't mind the mama chatter :)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

More Noah!

Behold! Fettuccini with Dried Porcini Mushroom Sauce

We had pasta of two different thicknesses since we had cut some by hand and the rest in the pasta cutter. Fresh pasta needs to be boiled for only 2 minutes, and Peterson suggests testing for doneness every 30 seconds. It got complicated when the machine-cut pasta was ready, but the hand cut pasta was not. I erred on the side of caution and drained the water from all the pasta, but after I combined the noodles with the sauce we realized much of it was undercooked, so I turned up the heat and cooked the noodles again, in the sauce--not a traditional method but it did the job.

The sauce was simple: heavy cream, parmigiano-reggiano cheese, and porcini mushrooms which added signature earthiness to an otherwise rich and creamy base. This dish is perfect for eating in the authentic style of Italy or Tuscany, as a second course before the entree--a small helping is just the right amount.

If I could get past the shape and texture of our homemade noodles, I would say this was a hit.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Welcome to the world Noah Potter!

Our nephew, Noah, was born at 10:12 this morning, weighing 8 pounds 5 ounces and measuring 20 1/4 inches in length.

He's a beautiful little guy with brown hair (so far!), and we can't wait to meet him soon.

Congratulations Courtney, Brian and Mack! We love you!

The last to know.

Kickboxing has been my sport of choice for years. I took my first kickboxing class in highschool, but I really fell in love with the power and the sweat during undergrad. In the world of fitness there are few things I like more than weightlifting, plyometrics, and kickboxing. Oh, and rowing. And running, but only races...seriously though, my heart remains with boxing.

I recently learned that there is an LA Boxing gym in my area. It's tucked in a place where no one would find it, and in fact, when I looked for boxing gyms a few months ago I completely missed it.

Now that I know it exists, I can't stop thinking about it, and I've suddenly found something worth leaving Roscoe for.

Back to the Pump!!

I haven't even attempted to pump in the last three or four months. It was so much work for such little milk, and I found ways to workout closer to home so there really was no need. Still, I figured that something might have changed in the last few months and when I pulled out the pump two nights ago, I had visions of pumping a half bottle with ease....but instead I pumped an ounce. TOTAL. I guess that's what I get for having a baby that nurses every hour, 24 hours a day.

So I turned to the Internet to help me troubleshoot, and I know there are so many variables involved in this equation, but I believe that I definitely have the wrong breastshield size. This article helped, but why is the importance of proper breastshield size not common knowledge? This is a pretty important piece of the pump (there are only three parts!)!

I had to order the shield online because apparently no one in the DC area needs a small breastshield. It's shipping from Hawaii so I have to wait until the 20th to get it. Which is a big fat bummer.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Roscoe practices sitting!

He's still very wobbly unless he's focused on his feet, and he can only do it for about 5 or 10 seconds at a time, but here are the first photos of Roscoe sitting!

See what I would have missed if I had to work in an office?!

Checking out Chloe on the floor

Yeah! Look at me!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Recipe #8: Fresh Egg Pasta (in pictures)

I admit to skipping around some because I'm finding it difficult to cook while entertaining Roscoe, and deflecting his curious little paws from dipping into and tasting everything in sight. Lately I've resorted to cooking while Roscoe sleeps, but even recipes that seem easy, like Waffles--which were next on the list--call for stiff egg whites whipped in the stand mixer.

So, I've happily moved on from quickbreads to pasta, rice, couscous and polenta. I promise to return and make those waffles and blinis later!

With Roscoe sleeping soundly, Andy and I escaped to the kitchen and made like we were in Italy.

We decided to do it the old fashioned way and make our pasta by hand, at least for this first try (and we will have PLENTY of opportunities in this chapter to hone our skills), but it can also be done in a food processor. Instead of mixing directly on the counter-top, which would have felt more organic, I mixed it in a bowl to save Andy from having to scrape little bits of dried egg dough off the counter for the next week. Unfortunately, when all was said and done, every surface was covered in flour of one form or another.

Step #1: 6 eggs and two tablespoons of olive oil in a well dug into 4 cups of flour

Step #2: Mix the egg mixture, slowly adding flour until you have a nice shaggy ball

Step #3: Use the pasta maker to knead the dough

Step #4: Cut the pasta

I opted to hand cut the dough, which turned out ok for some of the sheets, but not so much for the others. We ended up using the pasta cutter to cut the other half into Fettuccine and Linguine.

When we first started to knead the dough, it was sticky, breaking, and rolling out with a lot of holes. We just added more flour and kept trying. In the end, we decided we didn't really care what the pasta looked like since we really just need something over which to pour the cream, porcini mushrooms, and cheese that we'll be using to make the sauce. We may have over kneaded the dough, but we'll have to wait until tomorrow night to find out!

And some just FYI: Fresh pasta is made with low gluten flour and eggs—egg pasta becomes brittle when dried—so dried pasta is made with high gluten flour (durum) and water, which is perfect for storing in your pantry.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

On the road again

It was a beautiful day for a car ride into the country so we drove to Gordonsville this afternoon to meet up with some friends for a picnic, wine tasting, and an impromptu stop at Tastee Freez.

I think we're all getting the hang of riding in the car, which makes traveling so much more enjoyable. We stopped to pick up lunch and then made our way down the road to Horton Vineyards, soaked in the sun, and tasted wine after wine after wine--I stuck to the dessert and fruit varieties--and Roscoe tried his hardest to sneak in a few sips.

We've known Maddie since she was born and we love how much she changes every time we see her. She's talkative, spunky (note the pigtails), and very curious. Maddie is an avid animal lover and bestowed lots of pats on Roscoe's head while he nursed, and pet his hair while he slept. It was very cute.

Here are a few pictures from our day:

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