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, February 27, 2012

Family Mission Statement

I haven't shared my extensive list of New Year to-do's for 2012, but one of my favorite items so far has been to complete a series of exploratory writing exercises from which we have developed our Family Rules, Family Needs (I'll share more on this in another post), and Family Mission Statement. 

Whether you seek daily clarity or long-range guidance, a mission statement is such a great place to start.

To begin, I pulled content from our Family Values and Family Needs documents, and also took inspiration from Simple Mom who has a really helpful post on the how-to's of developing a family mission statement

To reflect on who we are collectively and as individuals, what our dreams are made of, where our priorities lie, and to define what we believe is our family's purpose--to each other and in the greater context of what we believe is the purpose of life--what we value, and how we aspire to live, brings tremendous insight to my responsibility of guiding our family into the future.  
Our mission statement unites the four of us and declares our intention to be true to ourselves as we move through life together. 

I love that our mission statement applies as much now to our young family of four, as it might ten years down the road to our future family of six (or more!). Timeless. Yet we are at liberty to refine it as we grow and change. 

Have you developed a mission statement for your family?

UPDATE: A refined and revised version of our Family Mission Statement can be found here.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Party on

To celebrate Merritt's first year, and to kick off the beginning of a brand new one, we threw him a birthday party themed with lots of color, hearts, and lions.  I made a few special decorations, like the cupcake toppers that I posted about here, and a zany mobile of ribbon (below).

I tossed together a french potato salad, a superb quiche Lorraine with a towering crust and a perfect center, and also tried a new recipe for red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. We sipped our beer and soda from fun paper straws, and savored the classic combo of homemade whipped cream and berries from cheerful mini bowls.  It was all very pretty, and Merritt's guests were pleased.

Roscoe vividly remembers his two year birthday party and is cognizant of the proper components necessary for throwing such an event.  He had a tough time accepting that this party was not for him and wailed at me several times in a manner that conveyed his genuine hurt, "I'm sooo disappointed!" We did our best to share the love and the fun between both boys, and when the day was over I reminded Roscoe that his birthday was up next (in May) and together we decided on an ice cream social theme, which lifted his spirits tremendously.

As for the birthday boy, besides the opportunity to devour his birthday cupcake (he ate the entire thing!), he seemed none the wiser that all of this was for him. Roscoe heartily took to the task of opening all of Merritt's gifts for him, and Merritt didn't seem to mind one bit.

Fun fact: For the next three months, when people ask, I get to point out that my boys are 1 and 2!!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Reflecting on Merritt's Birth-Day

Merritt turned one year old on Saturday. We celebrated with a sweet and colorful afternoon party that fit perfectly with Merritt's low-key personality and my need for a quiet anniversary.

I recall the ache of my sinking heart when, at 32 weeks 6 days, my water broke and I understood that Merritt was on his way. The juxtaposition of the onset of labor for each of my two boys is stark. What I welcomed with warm confidence and joy with Roscoe, I summoned will to push away with Merritt. Whether or not I was ready to give birth to him, and for reasons that we'll never know, our little Merritt boy needed to be born early and by the time I had realized it, the process was in full motion.

When I first shared Merritt's birth story there was more that I wanted to write.  At the time, I wasn't sure how my sadness and anger, and feelings of powerlessness fit in with the story of how I met my second, and perfect, little boy. There wasn't room for the raw grief that I felt. But, there has always been more to say, and the feelings I felt then have only intensified with time.

Probably because life has been so very full and a little crazy since Merritt arrived, it's been hard to find time to process any of it. I've needed to grieve for what was lost, on both our accounts, and yet I haven't made time for it. And so, as the new year came and then February arrived, a sad disappointment lingered, which speaks nothing of the pride and sweet joy that Merritt brings to our family, or to the growing love that I feel for him.

We were very lucky that after a swift and uncomplicated labor, I gave birth to a small but utterly healthy baby. I know now that if any of the variables of Merritt's birth had been different—if labor hadn't progressed as quickly, if there had been earlier signs of the placental abruption, if Merritt’s heart tones had recovered even just a little bit slower—he would have been sectioned out. We were very close, in fact.

I’m so grateful that Merritt breathed well on his own, that he was a good size for his gestational age, and that his little system had the opportunity to experience the stress of labor and a vaginal birth.

The smug pride that I felt for beating the odds by giving birth to Merritt in a way that was as close to what I had hoped for us as I could have grasped at the time, was overshadowed shortly after by a quiet and serious panic that set in when first I was made to wait over two hours to see my baby and then, later, when I learned what a NICU stay of any length really implies.

That low-level heightened awareness stayed with me for the full 28 days, and I remained very guarded and vigilant. I held close to my determined heart the confidence I knew as a woman who had done most of this before--birth, breastfeeding, mothering. I clung tightly to the good and powerful feelings I kept from Merritt's birthday, and found enough strength to carry both of us in the foreign world of isolettes, feeding schedules, and separation. My role in there, as Merritt's Momma, made me feel for the first time in my life that I was a grown up. Truly. Merritt's tiny person needed me more than any other single thing and knowing that I was wholly responsible to him was humbling and intensely exhausting. (Posts about our adventures in the NICU begin here.)

I feel more deeply now, though I had always believed it to be true, that the way in which our children are born, our experience of birth, and the way that we process and retell our stories, is so vitally important to our health as women and to our role as mothers, with much, much, greater far-reaching importance and consequence than our society gives credit. I find it miserably inadequate when I hear of these powerful experiences of life and birth and loss whittled down to the healthy baby, healthy mother mantra.  Many will find it hard to understand, but while I am thankful that my baby was healthy and I am also thankful that I was left intact, some things (many things) were lost for me in that experience. I grieve for those things.  And I know many mothers who feel this way and who share the same sense of longing for what could have been.

Of course, I feel so sorry that Merritt was born into a circumstance where separation of mothers from their babies is not only normal but expected. Where painful procedures are frequent and, in our case, where I conceded (more than once) to stand at the nurses station while my baby had IV lines placed, a routine for which the nursing staff wouldn't allow me to be present.  I feel a lot of guilt for leaving Merritt so vulnerable and if ever our family has to endure another stay in the NICU, I will fight against any policy that elevates a protection for nursing staff above my right and responsibility to advocate for and emotionally support my own child.

While Merritt won't remember all that he went through before we brought him home from the hospital, he certainly experienced it, and I will never forget it.  I'll always wish that he had a more peaceful and deserving entry into the world.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Zucchini Yeast Rolls

I had some (out of season!) zucchini in the fridge, bought first to satisfy a craving for zucchini bread and then, when our bananas were turning, I intended to make a banana zucchini bread.  By the end of last week the bananas were gone and the zucchini still remained, so I settled (in a good way) on a batch of zucchini yeast rolls.

Quick breads are convenient, but they just can't compare to yeast leavened breads.  These hearty little rolls came out sweet and fragrant and so pretty studded with green zucchini.  I liked them a lot, and would try them again without the zucchini for a great basic dinner roll.

The recipe (adapted from Simply in Season):
Makes 24 small rolls.  For a fancy sandwich bun shape the dough into 9 large rolls and adjust baking time accordingly. 

3 cups summer squash
1 cup milk
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons butter, melted
2 teaspoons salt
Combine in a saucepan and heat slowly until warm, stirring to blend

1 cup bread flour

1 cup whole wheat bread flour
2 packets active dry yeast (2 tablespoons)
Combine in a mixing bowl (I used a regular bowl and a rubber spatula--worked fine and it was nice not to have to clean up the kitchenaid). Add liquid ingredients and beat well until smooth.

1 3/4-2 1/2 cups bread flour

Stir in enough additional flour to make a soft dough. Knead 8-10 minuts until smooth and elastic. Place in a greased bowl, turn to grease both sides, cover with a damp cloth and let rise until doubled in bulk. Punch down and let rise 10 minutes. Shape rolls and place on a greased baking sheet. Cover and let rise until doubled. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 F until golden brown, 25-35 minutes. Brush with milk or cream for a soft crust and let stand for 5-10 minutes before removing to a wire rack. 

Despite the relative inconvenience of multiple rise times, which I can never be terribly precise with anymore (the kids!!), this recipe was uncomplicated and didn't require a big investment in time or dirty dishes. Win!
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