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!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

It's been too long



Instead of sinking into the couch cushions to tap out the highlights of our days together, after dinner each night I lay quietly and read for a while as I nurse Merritt to sleep, the sunlight fading until I can't see the words on the page. Many nights the darkness is my cue to call it a day too. If there's anything truly worth doing at the end of a long, long day, it is to go to bed early. Other nights, I slip away from my little Merritt boy and head up to the loft to catch up on work email or to finally look my husband in the eye and have a grown up conversation. There are far too few hours in the day.

So much is happening around here that living in the moment has just been easier than trying to find time to document with photos and narrative. I miss the time that I used to carve out for my blog each night. The writing always feels good, and it's unreal how a few days turn into a week (or two!) and I find myself with way, way more to say than I know I'll ever find time to get down. Just gotta keep moving forward!

The weekends have been crammed with trips to the farmer's market, day visits to Richmond for house hunting, and family naps. If our house selling experiment goes through we're looking to close in mid to late October. I have yet to fully embrace the reality of the effort required to pack up and move all of our belongings. I think I'm in denial.

I've read at least 20 books since June began (many thanks to Merritt's sleep routine). We've been so inspired by the words of Michael Pollan, Nina Plank, Barbara Kingsolver, and Alice Waters. What began as a mother's day project in the backyard has, in the course of one summer, completely changed the way we eat and redefined our relationship with the food that we bring to our table. It's been a quiet revolution. My former relationship with food might have been characterized as mediocre, at best. In forging real life relationships with our food, through the people who grow and raise it, we've found our place within our local food chain. I thought I loved food before, but I think now that I'm in love.

The kids and I have been traversing our county during the week to forage for local food dealers, and pick your own fruit farms. I've been thrilled and impressed with what we've found so close to home.

Has your Summer reading inspired you in any way?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Cheese

I never considered cheese-making to be an extension of cooking, but lately I've come to think of it that way. I read about Ricki Carroll in the memoir Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. The Cheese Queen, as she is called, has been teaching novices how to make cheese for over 30 years. I ordered some basic supplies from her website the New England Cheese Making Company and at the end of last week finally found time to try my hand at making homemade mozzarella.
I came home from the gym at 7:30am, slung Merritt to my front, and dumped a gallon of organic whole milk into my stockpot. I was skeptical as I mixed in the citric acid but with some heat and agitation the whey started to separate from the curds! I let it sit for a few minutes, cut the curds, poured off the whey, added the rennet, heated and stirred it some more then scooped all the curds out of the pot and into a strainer. In another pot of hot water, I bathed the curds until they were warm enough to stretch (the fun part!) and pliable enough to mold into an imperfect ball.

Mozzarella in 30 minutes! We cooled it in an ice bath, wrapped it up, and saved it for dinner.
Our cheese had a flavor similar to store bought string cheese. Our first attempt was a success but, sadly, did not result in the tender milky mozzarella balls that we usually buy. The nuances of each batch can be manipulated at each step in the process, so I'll have to try it again. Ricotta cheese is another quick cheese to make, and would pair well with the boxes of farmer's market peaches and plums we have lying around in the kitchen.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Merritt is Six Months Old


Merritt is six months old. There’s a lot to love about him right now, especially his little arm and thigh rolls, and the way that he still curls his legs up into his belly and stretches his arms up over his head when I pull him out of the sling after a long nap.
He is wildly interested in the food that we eat and has had a few tastes here and there of peaches, watermelon, figs, and chicken. He rolled over for the first time yesterday, belly to back and back to belly, one right after the other. I guess he has been capable of it for awhile, just hasn't been given enough floor time to practice.
He is a really happy baby as long as he has undivided attention, and he still spends much of the day in the sling. Merritt takes 2 or 3 naps a day, and in the evening will sleep for an hour or so by himself some nights, which gives me the chance to relax without a baby in my arms. It’s not much, but I take what I can get!
I was looking through some of his NICU pictures and found this one.

He looks so tiny with that pacifier as a reference.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

worth repeating

On Monday I got a call from my doctor with good news that couldn't be elaborated on over the phone.


On Tuesday I went for a follow-up appointment and learned that the official diagnosis was a ruptured milk duct. After all that. However, I questioned why there was no mention in the report of fibroadenoma, as the first biopsy had indicated. My doctor thought it was a little strange as well, and left to discuss with the Pathologist his findings in more detail. He hadn't come in to work yet so my doctor said she'd investigate and give me a call back.


This morning I learned that the cores of tissue that the pathologist reviewed were in fact all ductal and breast tissue, which means that the tumor was missed entirely. The radiologist biopsied healthy breast tissue, and nothing else. I was told that sampling error is rare, but I'm a little suspicious as to how it is possible that the lump, which is not small, was not sampled at all.


All of this to say that I will need to have the procedure repeated.


I'm annoyed. I don't want to miss another week at the gym. I don't want to orchestrate another herculean feat of scheduling in order to be sure that Roscoe is cared for at home, and that I have a helper to accompany me with Merritt to my appointment. I don't really want to go through the procedure again and I definitely do not want to get a milk fistula--I felt lucky to have had the procedure once with no complications and I don't want to push it. Finally though, I don't want to be in limbo anymore. Not knowing affects me and it's hard not to think about it every day, especially when I spend every day with my boys.


Hopefully, I can schedule a repeat biopsy sooner rather than later.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Core Biopsy

Well timed, I read an article yesterday (You can still be a great mother, even if you can't breastfeed) that describes one woman's experience with breast cancer. The author shared a sentiment that helped me to make sense of my own feelings and find a place for my fixation to preserve my and Merritt's nursing relationship. She wrote: "When you're diagnosed with something really devastating, there's only so much you can hear. For me, it was that I couldn't breastfeed anymore. All I could think of was, 'what will I feed my baby?'"


Thank you to everyone who researched information for me, offered your contacts or your breast milk, and empathized with my torment over the last few months. If you want to catch up on the whole story you can read more sequentially here, here, here, and here.


All along I had hoped to know some thing that might illuminate what is the right thing to do in this situation. An impossibility, I found. In the end, there was no single piece of evidence that made the decision clear or easy. And I loosely debated right through dinner last night, as Andy and I devised a game plan for today.


Despite not finding the answer to whether or not I should proceed with a core biopsy, what I did find was my own confidence to persevere whatever side effects might come from the procedure. I've read accounts of women who nursed through milk fistula, for days, weeks, even longer, until they healed completely. I've read stories of moms who weaned as a result of a fistula, but who managed to nurse their baby effectively from just one breast. I've also read lots of happy endings where a core biopsy resulted in neither a milk fistula nor a cancer diagnosis.


When I spoke to my boss last week, who is both a physician and a public health expert, she encouraged me to trust my doctors--if the folks at the Betty Lou Ourisman Breast Center think that a biopsy is necessary, it is ok for me to put myself first and take care of what needs to be taken care of. She was confident that whatever might come after would be something that I could weather. I finally felt it too.


So, today when the ultrasound showed that the tumor continues to grow and that the cells inside are just as heterogeneous as they were a month ago, I consented to a core biopsy.


There were several things done to minimize the risk of a milk fistula, and to remain sensitive to my intentions to feed Merritt. I can share details in a later post for any of you who may be going through something similar and who might find it helpful.


Otherwise, the procedure was smooth sailing. Post op instructions dictate no heavy lifting for at least 48 hours--that includes the kids, I was told, but not much I can do about them!--and ice and compression for the first 24 hours. I nursed Merritt on the affected side five hours after the biopsy without issue. The wound is dressed with Tegaderm, so I really can't tell what's going on under there but, so far, there is no indication of any milk leaking or moisture. Fingers and toes crossed.


I have follow-up next Wednesday, which will hopefully mark the end and not a beginning.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Monday

It's been a day of no naps around here. So I turned my frown upside down with these:






Next up, a car trip for ice cream.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Brothers (and sisters)


When Roscoe wants to hold Merritt he first demands the boppy, then lifts his shirt. I think he thinks that's just what you do when you hold a baby.


Their relationship is just (finally) beginning to bloom. Roscoe's getting the hang of this whole big brother thing. He's better able to show a little restraint when it comes to the very physical and very emotional energy that he holds for and directs at Merritt.


I know this is true because there are a lot more kisses and far fewer hits to the head.

Another sweet sentiment: Roscoe has recently owned Merritt as his. He tells me daily. Merritt is Roscoe's little brother. Merritt plays right along doling out the biggest grins and shrieks of happy at the smallest increment of Roscoe's attention. I can't get enough of them--when they are adoring each other, anyway.

He's also realized that "Roscoe doesn't have a baby sister," and for the past two nights he's been searching for her throughout the house. Andy and I have taken note.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Who wants to join me?


August 13th is Can-It-Forward Day.

We've taken up the locavore scene in our area and it seems that eating seasonally goes hand in hand with knowing how to put up food for the winter.

We buy our meat from a farmer who owns Walnut Hill Farm at Elm Springs in Falmouth, Va. Every Sunday, under his tent at the farmer's market, I pick Jeff's brain on topics that range from the seasonality of chicken, to harvest routines, and even the feasibility of buying half of a cow for our freezer. Jeff is a kind man, and doesn't seem to mind my naivete. This past weekend when I mentioned an interest in learning how to can food he generously offered to teach me how to do it. A canning 101 class, you could say. And he told me to bring a friend or two to make it legit.

If you're curious about what canning is all about, and want to learn from a seasoned pro, AND you're up for a field trip to a farm to get your canning on, let me know. We're meeting up in the early morning of August 15th. I'm bringing boxes of peaches, tomatoes, and string beans (and whatever else I can find at the farmer's market on the 14th), along with a few crates of canning jars. I'm inviting you to do the same.

This is an exciting opportunity, and it's free! Leave a comment or send me an email at marblesrolling@gmail.com if you're interested and I'll share the details.
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