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!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

A funny story

Merritt was supposed to be an Aries, due April 8. To complement the space theme we stenciled the Aries zodiac on his nursery wall, among other constellations.

Two of his Grandmothers, Tippy and Nan, each cross stitched a zodiac for the room as well--a Taurus for Roscoe and an Aries for Merritt.

The zodiac was such an integral aspect of his nursery design that it dawned on me a few hours after Merritt was born, the details with which we had personalized his space in the house were now inaccurate. As it turns out Merritt was born a Pisces.

So his Tippy cross stitched a Pisces replacement and I planned to get the three constellations framed as part of Merritt's story.

A few months went by and while we were at the beach this Summer, Nan pointed out that she wasn't so sure that Merritt was a Pisces, after all. She was confident that he was an Aries, after all, which I disputed but then conceded that I may have been wrong considering my state of mind just after his birth. 

I double checked a few days ago and, to my dismay, Merritt is neither an Aries nor a Pisces.

Born on February 18th he is an Aquarius. Sigh.

Nonetheless, we have two very lovingly cross stitched signs adorning Merritt's wall.

Soak it up

Roscoe discovers how to jump off the bed at 8:50 on a Summer morning.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Here's the deal

After over a year of debate and conversation dedicated to the housing market and our current mortgage we finally decided to throw our caution, fears, and regrets to the wind and put our house up for sale.

Just to see what might be possible.

We bought our home in 2006 just as the market began to crash. We sold our first house and moved into our second ignoring the recommendation of our mortgage broker who, at the time, was making his best effort to discourage us from buying.

We should have taken the hint.

Over the last 5 years the value of our home has depreciated. It is now worth close to 150,000 less than what we bought it for.


We're about to own the worst financial decision that we've ever made. We're short-selling this house and we made it official on Tuesday.

There are so many reasons why we want to move, I mentioned some of them last year in a tour of homes post:

We've now lived in this house for almost 4 years, and when the market turned our mortgage flipped upside down. In truth, we do not love living in the suburbs. And we especially dislike paying an inflated mortgage! We've realized through this experience that we are city folk, and that we thrive on access to good food, entertainment, and culture, and that we HATE long commutes, traffic jams, and not having outdoor spaces in which to stretch our legs.
If we could do it all over again, hands-down we would choose an older, smaller house closer to where we like to work and play. Especially now that we have children to consider. There's nothing worse than having the world at your fingertips (i.e., Washington DC adventures), but finding yourself trapped behind 2 hours of bumper to bumper traffic. We would love the opportunity to have an intimate relationship with the area in which we live, and to explore our community on foot. Furthermore, it would be awesome to live in an area where a true sense of community actually existed.

While those reasons are still true—save a few of the details—they aren't the reasons we're taking action now.

In short, we've come to terms with the fact that this house just wasn't a good investment. Yeah, we bought it to live in it, not just to make money, but still. It's a money suck that will require years before it is even worth what we paid for it.

We're cutting our loses and moving on.

Of course, the bank has the final say, but the hard part is over—the house is under contract—now we just wait.

With the prospect of not being tied to any one place, or tied down by a comical mortgage payment, we will be free to follow bigger dreams. I cannot wait.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Treading water

Since we returned from vacation I've been focused on finally submitting the packet of materials required to become an affiliated Bradley Birth Instructor (I got an extension because of the timing of Merritt's arrival), and also figuring out how to work from home again, this time with two kids to juggle.

I'm beat.

I started back at the gym in late June, and the only class I can attend regularly is the 6:00am. So we've been rising at 4:45am most days (in bed by 9:30pm) in an effort to establish a routine that will make getting up so early manageable for everyone.

Oh, and did I mention that we're trying to sell our house? That is another beast, but we listed it last weekend and signed a contract two nights ago. We've been showing it many times a day, which has required us to keep it clean at all times--not an easy thing to do at all.

Hopefully, the weekend will bring an opportunity to get organized and maybe even tackle a few of the long list of blog posts that I've been meaning to write for weeks.

Happy Thursday!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Merritt's Nursery

He's five months old and his nursery is finally finished! At times I wasn't certain where this room's design was headed but, now that it's complete, I'm captivated by the way all the details have come together.

We started with an inspiration piece and worked our way from there. Other posts related to the design process can be found here (drapes), here (zodiac signs), and here (constellation wall art).

It's dark and dreamy, but also full of cheer. I can't help but smile every time we're in it.

Wall paint: Olympic, color matched to Serena and Lily's Steel
Ceiling paint: Valspar's Denim Blue
Chair and star paint: Valspar's Mac and Cheese
Star stencils for wall art: Kosmic Kreations
This little light of mine print: etsy seller hopskipjumppaper
0-9 numbers print: etsy seller hopskipjumppaper
Matting and frames: Michael's
Wall clock: etsy seller mbartstudios
Station pendant lighting: Restoration Hardware Baby
Dresser and crib: Pottery Barn Kids, handed down from Roscoe's nursery
Chair: an existing piece that we repainted
Spot light lamp: Pottery Barn, discontinued
Rollie pollie: pattern from and fabric from Spoonflower
Wire baskets: Restoration Hardware, discontinued
Distressed shelf: Restoration Hardware Baby
Wire wall cubby: Hudson Goods
Curtains: Anthropologie, discontinued
Garland: A spectacular gift from a friend who plans to open her etsy store soon!
Rocket growth chart: Eboo
Changing table caddy: Everything Bin from Serena and Lily, pattern and style discontinued, handed down from Roscoe's nursery
Changing table cover: Serena and Lily, pattern discontinued, handed down from Roscoe's nursery
Woven Basket: Williams Sonoma Home, discontinued
Stained glass brother stars: etsy seller KurtKnudsen
Coat Rack: etsy seller Andrewsreclaimed
Crib quilt: a one of a kind, hand-made gift from Merritt's Aunt Coco

Five Months

And there's no telling what big brother is doing over there in the corner...

Thursday, July 14, 2011

It's Friday already

We've been in the Outer Banks all week.

Roscoe's been holding tight to his position that "Roscoe doesn't like the beach."

The wind today was intense!

While Merritt's been doing a lot of snoozing in the sling (nothing new here!):
The cousins continue to grow on each other, and the adults have survived 4 kiddos under 4 for the past five days. I completed my first ever legitimate sewing project (more to come on this!), and caught up on a few inspiring reads that I've been hoarding for this very trip. Andy took Roscoe to the theater for his first movie, and the pool has been their home away from home all week.

Hopefully, I can share some pictures and stories soon.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Revisiting the scary place

After the good news from my doctor last month, I was able to more or less put out of my mind anything related to cancer. Within a few weeks though, I noticed that the lump was bigger--that I could feel it just by running my finger over the top of my skin, and that I could actually see it most of the time. I gave the breast center another call last week and they asked me to come in as soon as possible.

Another ultrasound confirmed that the lump has grown--at a rate that exceeds even the most aggressive cancers (so I think this bit of information was filed under the "we think this is benign" category). More importantly, and alarming, the cells inside the mass have completely changed. A month ago they were uniform and unassuming, this week they are jagged and lined up in odd patterns.

My doctors do not know what they are looking at. They have little experience with these issues in lactating women, they said so themselves. The only way to know for sure is to do a core biopsy.

I have resisted the core biopsy procedure in an effort to avoid the very real risk of a milk fistula. I've been told that the risk is relatively low, but because my tumor is located centrally in an area where all the ducts come together the odds are increased.

If it does occur the ultimate solution is to wean from nursing, which would be devastating.

I'm disappointed and becoming increasingly angry that more information isn't available to nursing mothers when it comes to making decisions like these. Even websites like the American Cancer Society and Susan G Komen, do not address cancer or diagnostic options in the context of lactation.

Hopeful that some unpublished information might be available, I spoke to an oncology nurse at the American Cancer Society. I was dismayed that she wasn’t able to answer any of my questions or provide any concrete guidance. It’s difficult to make educated decisions without data. I expressed frustration that there isn’t more to base my decision on, and she responded in agreement that “most women don’t like to breastfeed”, speaking to the fact that low prevalence of breastfeeding renders research on the topic of cancer and nursing a low priority.

Her comment was irritating because prevalence of breastfeeding isn’t low because women “don’t like” to breastfeed. On the whole, our society doesn't value breastfeeding. That right there is the problem.

Yes, there are overarching recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control, the World Health Organization, and the Academy of Pediatrics whose guidelines differ in some respects but ultimately agree that breastfeeding should be exclusive for the first 6 months and continue through the first year, and beyond for as long as the mom and baby desire.

The problem is that there is little societal support for women and their babies to establish and foster a nursing relationship. Modern birthing practices, standard protocol in NICUs and nurseries, stingy maternity benefits, and additional challenges for women once they return to work all add up. Not to mention the emphasis our culture places on early independence for babies, and the pressure that many new moms feel as they are bombarded with messages big and small that minimize breastfeeding and encourage the weaning process.

It's no coincidence that while 75% of new moms initiate breastfeeding at birth, only 13% of moms are still breastfeeding exclusively at 6 months, as recommended. Initially, it was suggested that I return to consider my options for addressing the tumor once Merritt is weaned (I think they figured it be at most a couple of months), but when I said that it wouldn't likely be for another 14 or so, they had to change their game plan. I have doctors who are truly well intentioned and who want to support me in the ways that I need to be supported as I move through this process, but I'm beginning to feel as if my effort to preserve this aspect of my relationship with my son (especially for his nutrition) is considered to be rhetorical in the face of something that is potentially cancer. I get it, and at the same time I think it's crazy.

Anyway, I felt overwhelmed by the fact that we were revisiting the biopsy topic, and for several reasons I decided to wait another month in order to do more research and to further weigh the potential benefits against the potential risks.

Does anyone have any stories of core biopsy (with or without milk fistula) while nursing?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Breaking records

I check the garden every day for the ripest veggies, but it has become somewhat a treasure hunt now that the plants have grown so big. This morning I was shocked to find the largest zucchini that I have ever seen just resting in the middle of things, practically in plain sight. I don't know how I could have missed this one!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Lessons in love: learning to mother two

I'm guest posting today at Navigating the Mothership!

As multitasking typically goes these days, I was perched precariously off the edge of our couch nursing while, with one hand, I emphatically tapped out my lessons learned so far with two under two in response to one of Laura's posts. When the page changed suddenly and my comments were lost, I couldn't muster the energy to retype it all so I closed my lap top and carried on. Soon after, Laura asked if I might be interested in guest blogging for her as she anticipated the transition of baby Oliver's arrival, she noted that I could pick any topic and I knew precisely from where I wanted to pick up.

We found out we were pregnant with our second baby when our firstborn was just 14 months old. At the time, our planning seemed ideal. Andy and I had made it through our first year of parenthood intact. We were filled to our brims with pride and love for Roscoe whose mobility and new found independence gave the impression that with each day that passed our baby was on the brink of toddlerhood. I reveled in his growth, but I hadn't hardly forgotten the sweet intensity of mothering a newborn, or the joy of giving birth.

The thrill of having created another life was soon followed by first trimester exhaustion and an overwhelming feeling that this was going to be tougher the second time around. With little over a twelve month turnaround the physical burden was greater and presented much earlier in the pregnancy. In addition to the very real demands of gestation, I also had to contend with the equally real demands of an active and passionate toddler.

I had planned to give birth at home so we were floored when, at 32 weeks 6 days, my water broke unexpectedly. No longer a candidate for homebirth, we drove to the nearest hospital where Merritt was born the following evening at exactly 33 weeks. Roscoe was 19 months old at the time.

You can catch up on Merritt's birth and subsequent NICU stay, and our emotional struggles in the weeks that followed here. It was a rough start for our new family of four but the good news is that seasons change and I've learned a few things in the last four months.

Adjust your expectations
I'll admit that parenting two kids has, at its worst, left me feeling inadequate and imperfect. It's hard, if not impossible, to meet everyone's needs all of the time. Being a good parent has less to do with meeting 100% of our kids' wants and needs 100% of the time, and more to do with our ability to be intentional in the way that we choose to parent with love and respect for them as individuals and as valued and contributing members of our family unit. The ideals that we aspire to rarely exist in real life and our kids are more forgiving than we realize. I try to be confident in my role as a mother, and cut myself slack where I can. I often reflect on this quote from Steady Mom: It's not that we aren't going to blow it. It's what you do with it afterwards.

Learn to be more flexible
The way things were before the baby arrived is practically a moot point. Mothering more than one child necessitates that some things will have to give. For us, we've always made sleep a priority in our house and taken care to consistently honor Roscoe's nap and nighttime sleep routines. Since he was very young, he's fallen asleep and taken all of his naps at home, in his own bed. Once Merritt was born, Roscoe's nap time became a time of stress and struggle because I could no longer devote an hour of uninterrupted time to play, read stories, and then lay with Roscoe until he fell asleep. Without fail, Merritt needed to eat, or Merritt needed to be held, and Roscoe made it clear that if little brother was anywhere in his vicinity there would be no napping! I held strong to the idea that this routine was just so important for him and that it was my job to find a way to make it work. Meanwhile, I felt terrible that predictably, every day things weren't working out. In the end, I had to let go of these conventions and be okay to plan the morning so that he fell asleep in the car on the way home from errands, or in the stroller as we walked around the neighborhood. When naps became predictable again, I regained a sense of control and relaxed knowing that the bottom lines were being met--he was getting the rest he needed and I was able to reclaim a short break in the day. Every family has their seemingly non-negotiable aspects of routine, and it can be helpful to be open to making compromises that work.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Summer sewing projects

The extent of my sewing experience can be summed up in the fabric Christmas ornaments that I stitched and stuffed as an 8 year old. In one word: primitive.
Inspired by my mom and other women who know how to sew for function and maintenance (like hems, and buttons) but who also know the craft and how to create, I’ve been wanting to find time to learn how too.

This leads me to reveal that poor baby Merritt’s nursery never did get its final treatment and, at the moment, remains unfinished. I made up my mind last week on a few simple pieces of art, and then decided that it was high time I figure out how to sew the rollie pollie that I have been eyeing as the finishing touch.

I ordered the fabric from spoonflower, which is a rabbit hole for fabric enthusiasts—the patterns are made to order and you can even create your own design with uploaded images. It’s pricey—I bought 2 yards of upholstery cotton twill for 64.00—but worth it if you have something really unique in mind. 

I bought a bunting pattern that already existed. I thought it worked nicely to subtly incorporate into the nursery the popular garland trend, plus I like how the pattern repeats to give the illusion of sunrays, which complements the existing "space" theme and cheers it up a little bit.

My sister-in-law handed down to me her sewing machine last year when she upgraded, and we're hauling them to the beach next week to set up sewing camp. I’ll have good help as I make my way through the rollie pollie pattern with its zipper and double layers.
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