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, March 31, 2012

An Early Easter Egg Hunt

We co-hosted an easter egg hunt this afternoon. It rained some, but the kids weren't bothered. When the excitement of the hunt was over and all the eggs had been cracked open in search of treats, we piled high some ah-mazing ice cream sundaes (wish I had taken some pictures!!) and tried not to be too piggish in front of our new friends. We can't wait to see what the Easter Bunny brings us next weekend!

Friday, March 30, 2012

The 9 Basic Needs

In the same spirit as our Family Mission Statement and Family Rules, I want to share an exercise that we completed to redefine our basic needs.

Perhaps like many of you on the journey to your best life I've been striving to "simplify". To  do away with the clutter that threatens clarity and that steals my time and energy.  Whether the clutter is literal stuff filling up the space that we live in and work, empty or superficial relationships, processed and factory farmed foods, or busy routines that leave us exhausted and wanting. We aim to experience more of the good stuff in life and pursue as priorities only that which brings more joy and meaning to every day. 

One step to gaining clarity is to distinguish our needs from our wants. When asked to define my basic needs, I had only ever considered the literal basics of food, shelter, and water, which wasn't very inspiring. Of course we need those, and we have them. So what now?

Andrea from Frugally Sustainable wrote a blog post Redefining our Wants Versus our Needs as part of the 23 Day Frugal Living Challenge series that she created. In the post she paraphrases Donella Meadows from her book Beyond the Limits, and shares examples of how we might reframe what we really need.

  • You don’t need a bigger house or car, you need respect.
  • You don’t need the newest cosmetics, you need to feel attractive.
  • You don’t need a closet full of clothes, your need variety and beauty.
  • You don’t need electronics (i.e. TV’s, gaming systems, stuff with apple logos, etc.), you need something worthwhile to do with your life.
  • You don't need material things, you need identity, community, challenge, acknowledgement, love, and joy.

She goes on to ask, Could it be that our longing to feel satisfied is leading us to all the wrong places? Through all of time and in all cultures these needs are universal:

clean water
shelter from the elements
intimate relationships
participation in a community
the ability to create
insight into self

I considered these nine basic human needs and wondered how the list might translate to my own life. What would it look like for Andy?

We spent some time expanding each category to encompass our values and interests. I focused especially on the Intimate Relationships category and defined in detail, by name, the individuals that I want to comprise my tribe. I omitted the full list here, but paring down my social connections was necessary and the result is that the small amount of time that I have to share with others is directed at those relationships that I really care to invest in.

Here it is, our version of the 9 basic needs (my content is above the line, Andy's below):

Simple, right?  Obvious, maybe. What I love about our list though, is that the 9 basic human needs serve as a compass when we're given an opportunity to make an investment of time or money. These items we identified are what bring authentic happiness to our lives. These are the elements that are truly worth spending our money on.  It helps us to know how best to allocate our time.

And it really does work. How would you redefine your 9 Basic Needs?

Saturday, March 24, 2012

We like to ride our bicycles

For my twenty-first birthday Andy bought us two matching bikes. We've never been serious bikers but we've always enjoyed cruising around, and checking things out.

We still have our bikes but it's been a long time since we've taken them out on the road, they've been in storage with flat tires for several years now.

Richmond has a strong bicycle subculture, and the city is great for exploring with wide roads and little traffic.  Fitness and outdoor enthusiasm feel contagious here.  People are on the move wherever you look and while I've wanted to get the bikes tuned up for years, a few weeks ago it dawned on me that I could use our bikes as transportation in this city. Yes! All those little trips that we make every week to pick up a few things at the grocery store, to drop off a letter at the post office, the quick jaunts to the park--we can get almost anywhere on a bike. And feeling the sunshine on our faces sure beats the car alternative with Spring weather like this. 

First things first, the bikes needed rehab. I wanted someone to come to me and so I found Joe's Mobile Bicycle Repair. I called one weekday morning and Joe showed up (on his bike, of course) in the afternoon towing a trailer with all of his tools.  We chatted, he did his thing with our bikes, the kids got busy with all the moving bike parts and gear grease, and in less than an hour our twin bikes were good as new.  

As for how to transport the kids, we had looked into some cool bike seats but after considering safety, cost, comfort, and the longevity of each option we decided to invest in a bike trailer. We found a great deal on craigslist for a gently used Burley Encore. The kids are protected from the weather, and it has storage in the back for diapers/toys/food and any items we might happen to pick up along the way. Their helmets are from Trek and Bontrager.

We've been biking every day and we are loving the wind in our hair and freedom from our car. The kids are surprisingly quiet and content when we ride, which is a huge relief.  I thought for sure that the combination of snug quarters and helmets would bring out the worst in them, but they seem to love it.

I'm still not entirely confident riding on the road with traffic, although we do.  We need a few more essentials to ensure safety on the road, like safety lights, more reflective tape, a kickstand for me and a mirror (do they even make these!?) so that I can check out traffic to the rear as I navigate around.

We went on a family rain ride this morning. The water was pouring down, the kids were drinking smoothies under cover in the trailer, and we were scouting for dream homes in our favorite neighborhoods. When we thought we couldn't possibly get any wetter we stopped for a snack at a coffee house on the way home and when we came out it was raining even harder.

It was a very happy start to the weekend. 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Family Photos, Spring 2012

We met up with Mel for a celebratory photo shoot the afternoon before Merritt turned one.

We played around the house for a while before heading out to Carytown for our birthday tradition of ice cream and a visit to the toy store.

Mel writes a blog post for every one of her photo shoots (and creates a slideshow too!). The anticipation that precedes receiving the combo in my inbox is our favorite part. You can read her post about us here, and I hope you get a chance to check out the slideshow too!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

on nursing in public

"Can you stop doing that?"

"I keep looking over here--I can't help it--and every time I do I have to see your nipple!  I shouldn't have to look at that."

"You have that towel right there, why don't you cover yourself?"

"You wouldn't walk around without a shirt on would you?  That'd be indecent!"

"You shouldn't be doing that here!"

I've been nursing one or the other of my boys for 34 continuous months. I know the sweet privilege of cradling a glossy haired newborn to offer the breast, I know the fatigue of cluster feeds and growth spurts, I know the intense love that springs from a milky smile, and the comedy that is a nursing toddler.

A couple weeks ago a big bad dad at a well-loved neighborhood park was so uncomfortable with my nursing son (and so confident in his position) that he demanded me to stop.

But I didn't stop. I said, "No, I'm not leaving. I'm feeding my baby."

His discomfort quickly escalated to entitlement and bold arrogance. As for how he really felt, he didn't leave much to my imagination.

This angry man was yelling about my nipples. I was shocked.

To his barrage of insults I calmly held my ground and repeated, "No, I'm not leaving. I'm feeding my baby." It's all I could come up with.

To be honest, I hadn't given any thought to what I might say in defense to an attack like that. In the early days after Roscoe was born I may have brainstormed some clever retorts, but that feels like eons ago, and besides no one has ever said anything to me and so my guard was let down a long time ago.

As deeply woven into my daily life as nursing has become, as confident as I am that this is the right thing for us, as wholeheartedly as I believe in the importance of breastfeeding for nutrition and as an integral aspect of our relationship, having that man unload his inner thoughts out loud made me feel bad and it stuck with me for days after.

But why? Why do I care what some anonymous man thinks about the way I feed my kid?

I've invested and sacrificed to build these nursing relationships. I persevered through the early months with both of them, learning to feed the first under a nursing cover so that I could move about in the world with my baby in tow and, as my confidence grew, learning to nurse without a cover until there came a point that it only felt normal and right to meet the needs of my children for thirst or hunger or comfort whenever they needed me.

Wherever we were.

Building confidence, transcending social barriers, and overcoming personal anxieties, to find that sweet spot where I could effortlessly read his cues and know when he was hungry and feed him before he fussed with little more than a flip of my shirt, after all of that, finally, joy and knowing.

To then have someone bully and belittle me and call this thing that I've grown to love and believe in--that is as much a part of my identity as a mother as anything I've experienced so far--for him to single me out to express his disgust and his belief that what we do is in fact counter to mothering and offensive, that I am offensive and that I violate his view of women and the sexual nature of breasts, it all made me realize that perhaps I am more vulnerable than I thought.

That I am susceptible, that I am not as safe as I had believed and that maybe I shouldn't have thought so in the first place.


Perhaps that is what he intended. To shame me into covering up, leaving the park, quitting nursing altogether.  I have no idea. He was motivated by something that likely had little to do with me or with what I was doing in that moment.

I didn't like how I felt afterward. I was confused by it actually. But, by giving it a name I gained clarity and then I wasn't shameful but empowered again.

It all made sense. It's not me. It's him.

I am good.  My kids are good. We are good.

Have you ever been reprimanded for nursing in public?  How did it make you feel? How did you respond?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Marching for Merritt

I've been looking for a way to give back through an organization or community opportunity related to prematurity. You may have noticed the  March of Dimes button in my side bar. It's a small start but we are walking as a family this year!  I'm looking forward to meeting other families who share the NICU experience and to learn more about how I can get involved here at the local level.

We had hoped to raise at least $100 to celebrate Merritt, and to support the March of Dimes in their mission to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth, and infant mortality. 

Through some very generous donations we met and then surpassed our goal in the first 24 hours! 

I cried with every donation that came in.  It means that much to me.

There are 39 days until the walk and we have a new goal of $500. The funds raised will support research and programs that help moms have full-term pregnancies through health education and legislative initiatives, as well as bring comfort and education to families with a baby in newborn intensive care. 

If you would like to donate any amount of money to our fundraising effort, please visit our March of Dimes web page or donate directly through the button in the side bar.

Every single dollar is so helpful and very much appreciated!

For those who followed our NICU journey through this blog or who lived it with us in person, thank you for supporting our family. We are grateful to each of you. 

Edit: Whoa, look what you guys did!!  We reached our second goal.  You are awesome! Thank you so very much.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

At home in the office

I've been working on prettying up my office space here at home and recently completed two projects that have made a big difference.  The first was inspired by this serene pencil holder from up in the air somewhere.  I realized I could make my very own at the pottery painting studio down the street. I used masking tape to block off the sections and then painted them mustard yellow--a color good for all seasons. The lines turned out really bold, but I like it.

The desk blotter is a cheerful addition from Prudent Baby. The step by step tutorial is here. I chose two contrasting fabrics: a black and creme rose print and an eggplant linen. I bought a yard of each from a great store called U-Fab that sells a nice selection of discounted fabric by the yard.  I used roughly one half yard of the rose fabric and have enough to make another blotter if this one gets pen marks all over it, which is probably inevitable. I used such a small amount of the linen fabric for the accent bands and so I re-covered a push pin board that was part of Roscoe's original nursery--you can see it there in the corner.

My office feels like spring!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Another Year at Home

After a lot of thought and some strategy talk, we've decided not to enroll Roscoe in preschool for the upcoming school year.

We learned through our 6 week experience at Waldorf that Roscoe may not be ready to assimilate just yet.  He was in almost constant conflict with one child or another, and while a number of variables were at play (such a small room, and so many momma/toddler pairs--it was a challenge not to come in physical contact with someone at some point; all the kids were so hovered over by their parents that the true kid-kid dynamic was hard to come by; class time fell right in the middle of Roscoe's nap-time; etc.) Roscoe just didn't seem to enjoy it very much.

We looked into some other attractive options in the area but found that by January/February, when we were feeling serious about applying, it was too late for most of the programs.  Open houses had passed, deadlines were looming large or else we had already missed them.  One school had a wait-list that had been started all the way back in October! New to the area we were definitely behind the preschool admissions curve.

I was temporarily devastated that Roscoe would be home all year, and that he would not get to experience some of the amazing opportunities afforded by these great programs. I was also distracted by the fact that his not going to preschool meant that I wouldn't have any breaks built in to the week for myself or for my work.

Subtracting the 6 months of maternity leave that I took when Merritt was born, I've been working at least part-time since Roscoe was 4 months old. I've grown to depend on my scheduled work-time as an opportunity to think non-child related thoughts and to feel like a professional, contributing my brain power to something outside my home and beyond our intimate bubble of family life.

I'll be honest, it's a break for me too, from the unforgiving demands of parenting.

So I had a discussion with our Nanny, who currently cares for the kids on the two days that I work each week, and she agreed to stay with us for at least another year.

Problemo solved.

I'm working through the end of May, and then I will move on from what has become a pretty sweet DC gig to spend two months prepping lesson plans and organizing the business-end of my soon-to-kick-off adventures in birth education. August will be the start of my first class.  I'm a little giddy and slightly nervous.  But I know I will love it and there is no doubt that I am looking to spend more time with the things that I love.

Maybe what I'm about to say next only speaks to my own prejudices, but I struggled for several weeks with the voice in my head that undermines my professional work and my dedication to the kids as their mother.


To have someone regularly watch the kids so that I can make my need for content, time, and space a priority, especially when I'm not even working, seems indulgent.  That last part, about "not even working" won't be so hard to overcome once I get started with my new venture but for now, the idea of immersing myself in the work of empowering families through birth education sounds like a dream, not a job.

Andy snapped me out of my negative self-talk and stifled my hesitation when he pointed out that, "Just because you're a mother doesn't mean that you have to devote every waking minute of every day to the kids or to me.  You deserve to have time to yourself.  Don't feel bad."

It's true, he's right. I feel supported now and worthy of this decision.

Next Fall we'll be at the ready with front row seats to open house night, our pre-filled applications in-hand. But this year, I'm looking forward to the luxury of following my heart into the birthing community, taking care of myself, and enjoying my boys and the life that we're building here.

Having someone to care for the kids for a few blocks of time every week will afford me the opportunity to work in peace, to have an extra hand, to get out on my own regularly, and to integrate more quality one-on-one time with each of the boys (I'm hoping to add afternoon dates to our routine).  Then, instead of feeling stressed in the evenings, to pack into 2 hours all the things that I didn't get around to doing during the day, I see them being open for Andy and I to reconnect.

As always, a happy momma makes a happy family.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Homemade Play Dough

It's snowing here!

We learned to make this play dough during Roscoe's time at the Richmond Waldorf School.  It's a nice squishy dough that is best for sensory play, rolling out, making imprints, and other activities that don't require it to hold shape--not so great for cutting shapes or making figures--but really fun just the same.

Play dough:
3 cups flour
1/4 cup salt
1 cup water
1 tablespoon oil
food coloring

Stir together the liquid ingredients including the food coloring. Stir in the flour until you reach a consistency that you're happy with. You can add a few drops of peppermint or orange essential oil if you'd like.

The dough can be stored in a plastic baggie and left in the fridge when not in use.

Happy snow day!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Time and Knitting

It's taken me almost three years to get here, but I've found that carving time and space out each week, to do with however I please, makes me feel more balanced and whole. I have to believe that a more peaceful self translates to a more present and patient mother, and hopefully a more giving wife.

I've made a point to ask for what I need, and so every weekend I've been getting 3 or 4 hours--usually overlapping the kids' naps. Sometimes I go to the coffee shop up the street to drink tea, catch up on my reading, and work on various writing projects.  Other times I go out to run errands (alone is a rare treat!) and then come home to take care of a task that I would never find time for otherwise, like organizing my digital photo files.

This Saturday begins a three week course in knitting at an adorable little shop called The Yarn Lounge. Highly inspired by most everything that comes through my RSS feed from the Purl Bee (like this big knit rug), and also my blog friend over at the Maiden Metallurgist who knits for fun in between work and snuggles with her little guy Henry (check out her archive for more on her projects), I am looking forward to learning a quiet and portable craft that involves gorgeous yarns of all colors.

I'm told that I will learn the basics and, if all goes well, finish a scarf!  I picked that vibrant hue of blue in pure merino wool because it made me think of Spring.
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