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!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Berry CSA, week 1

Our first berry CSA drop was today!  We received 6 pounds of sweet strawberries and 2 pounds of fresh asparagus. Apparently this is the earliest April harvest our farm has seen in 28 years!

Eggs and asparagus are a natural combination, and as if to read my mind a friend sent me a link to a lunch of hard boiled egg sliced over boiled asparagus and sprinkled with grey sea salt, pepper, and blood orange oil.  Oh man.  I opened her note just after we finished up our dinner tonight of cheese omelets and roasted asparagus.

We have one pound of the green stuff left, and this asparagus, goat cheese, and lemon pasta looks like just the thing.

I like to share how I use my produce every week, and I have already come across some yummy looking recipes. Maybe not ideal for this week though, because I'm pretty sure that the berries will only last long enough to devour them as they are, such a predicament!

Still, these recipes make me want to get in the kitchen and start experimenting:
Strawberry Buttermilk Sherbet
Strawberries and Dumplings
Strawberry Basil Lemonade
I made this strawberry cake for valentine's day this year and it is so, so good.  Definitely worth making again with fresh strawberries this time (instead of frozen).

Next week I hear we have strawberries and rhubarb to look forward to.  Yippee!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

March for Babies, the walk

We woke up on Sunday morning to a downpour of rain.  We knew that March for Babies is a rain or shine event so we dressed for the conditions as best we could, and tried to maintain our enthusiasm for  walking five wet miles in 53 degree temperatures.

In truth, it felt like a silly hardship to complain about compared to our NICU journey, and to what many babies face every day, just to live.

One corner of Monroe park was bustling with walkers and sponsors, music blaring.  We turned in our funds raised: $625.00!  and took our place in line--we were one of the last groups to join the pack.  The kids were snuggled in the BOB, protected by a rain cover and packed-in with plenty of books and snacks for the road. We found Roscoe's mini rainbow umbrella in the trunk of the car and it was good enough.

It appeared that many walkers had decided to stay home and that, certainly, the babies and smaller children had been left to be warm and dry. Still, those who had shown up were in high spirits and never let on that the weather left something to be desired or that their shoes were already soaked through. In the crowd I caught glimpse of a banner held In Memory of some mother's baby.

Within the first block Merritt was screeching to be released out of the stroller and so we stopped. Emergency vehicles charged with following up the rear were less than half a block behind us, so I lifted Merritt up and plopped him into the Ergo as we scrambled not to be caught in the very last position.

The rain was steady and we tried to keep a decent pace to minimize exposing the kids to the elements. Our hope was that they would fall asleep en route, around 10:00, which is their nap time.

The city was smoky with fog and drizzle. We walked quietly across the Manchester Bridge and I felt very small so high above the James river with its rushing water and ruins of industrial city landscapes. I held on tighter to Merritt.

We turned down Semmes Avenue where traffic flow was reduced down to a wide sidewalk.  I listened to two mothers exchange stories of their premature twins, and focused intently on the back of one mother who had pinned to her shirt a laminated collage of her babies Then, and Now as toddlers.

We started across the Lee bridge and rain hit from new angles as the winds whipped everything up. I fondly remembered these winds from running the Richmond marathon in 2005. A newlywed in graduate school with "nothing to do" I had signed up with the training team the week we returned from our honeymoon, begging the coaches to let me run even though training had commenced a month earlier. My favorite training run incorporated this river, and this bridge.  Our coach had warned us that on race day the winds would be tremendous and that our mental focus would need to be acute. I think it was around mile 16 or 17. I remember running the Lee bridge and gathering up in my mind all the longing and hope (and expectation) that I carried for one day becoming a mother. Fueled by joy and felicity I persevered through that wind to the other side and around the corner to pound through the miles that lay ahead of the finish line. I was 23 then, unaware of life's disappointments and struggles. That was before Grave's Disease.  Before the depression. Before the separation.  Before I felt a mother's love, and before Merritt's premature birth.

Crossing the bridge on Sunday, Merritt was cold, his little eyes squinty and tired, his hair damp.  Roscoe had fallen asleep. Andy and I were drenched and continued to walk in formation, only speaking to commiserate. As we reached the ramp off the bridge, we could hear pulsing beats from speakers at the finish line.  We were close. 

As we re-entered the park I was approached by a woman who recognized us as having donated small toys and art supplies to the children's hospital for little ones with extended stays. I walked over to her tent and another volunteer gave me a hug and shared how much each donation means to the families who receive them. I broke down in tears. I had feared these tears but it felt good to let them out.

She asked me to tell her my story. She had one too and turned to show a photo of her daughter who had been born at 28 weeks gestation and had suffered a brain hemorrhage that resulted in severe brain damage, handicaps, and learning disabilities.  Her daughter died when she was seven years old.

I told her how Merritt had been born at 33 weeks, and paraphrased the events because hearing her story made mine feel less traumatic. We hugged each other.

I expressed my growing fear of having another premature baby, and of having to negotiate that experience again as a family.  She shared that she went on to have two healthy pregnancies and two full term babies.  I felt some relief for her and a little hope for us.  

Thank you so very much to everyone who generously donated to March for Babies on behalf of our little lion Merritt. You are awesome!

April Airhart
Alicia Blakey
Heidi, Griff, and Lillian Bone
Katy Carkuff
George Fields
Kelly Johnson
Madeleine Ly
Olga Meyerson
Jessa Diaz Poppenhager
Robert Ragos
Vanessa Ragos
Kate Reilly
Al Salas
Carmen Gragnani
Courtney Sears
Ernie Sears
Valerie Sears
Jack St. Clair
Amber Sterling
Danielle Temple
Nicole Tully
David Williams

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A few things to brighten our day, stuff I love

I want to share a few things that I've been enjoying lately.

First, we tossed our dated glassware (c. 2000) for a set of euro milk glasses and now breakfast time feels luxurious. Anthropologie appears out of stock online, but you can still pick them up in-store, and they were only 4.00/glass. They are a perfect fit for my hand and they are pretty to look at. As for durability, the checkout girl told me that she nannies children who use these glasses daily (and drop them, a lot) and that they have held up well against the inevitable abuse.

Also from Anthropologie, the farmers egg crate.  After rediscovering hard boiled eggs over Easter, it's nice to have a functional yet artful way to store and serve them.

Okay, one last thing from Anthro: stoneware farmer's market baskets! We display our fruit on the dining room table because it makes a cheerful centerpiece and so that a quick snack is always within reach--even for Roscoe. I loved these baskets when I saw them last season, and they must be a hit because they are still around.  We have the large size in white, although the colorful ones scream summertime and were hard to resist. Either way, these baskets make a charming presentation for fresh produce or as lively kitchen storage.

Esther Perel explores the questions Can we desire what we already have? and Does good intimacy always make for hot sex?  Okay really, this is fascinating and you need to read it. Her writing style is passionate and really powerful. The chapter on parenthood, when three threatens two, is just, wow.  I'm serious.  Go get your copy.

A few months ago I found myself in need of a beauty product pick me up and in the mood to try something new (I've been a Clinique fan since college). I decided to give Kiehl's a go and ordered the ultra facial oil-free cleanser, and the ultra facial oil-free toner and I can't say enough good things about the line. It is amazing and has completely changed the texture of my skin. I mean it. Also, the creamy eye treatment with avocado is an indulgence but I just really enjoy the morning ritual of applying it--the consistency is so fun (it comes out of the pot a thick cream and transforms into what feels like water as you rub it in)--and it works, the skin around my eyes is uncharacteristically supple and moisturized.  I've since ordered quite a few more hair and bath products and have yet to be disappointed.  I bought the facial fuel energizing scrub for Andy but I sneak it a few times a week because it is so awesome. Do you use Kiehl's?  Do you have any product recommendations?

Every now and then I go to Mango for a shellac manicure. Have you heard of shellac? It's a gel polish that creates a no maintenance manicure that can last up to 3 weeks. It feels revolutionary compared to a traditional manicure, which, no matter what I do, never lasts longer than 3 days (tops!). Maybe you can relate. I am now convinced that a manicure done right can be a worthwhile service. Plus, don't you just feel polished and put together when your nails are glossy?

For the locals, Pearl's Cupcake Shoppe was voted #1 in the Bestie's 2012. Gratefully, we were introduced to the cupcake magic within days of arriving to our new neighborhood last October.  We frequent this place far too often. No one in our family turns down a cupcake, although that may not be unique to us, but we especially love the frosting (oh my, it is delicious) and the imaginative combinations that are available. Check out the flavors.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

An heirloom quilt fit for a baby

The inch worms have descended on Richmond over the last few weeks, rappelling from the tree tops on thin silk threads and landing on just about everything in sight. We find them inching their way around in our grass and hair, on our clothing, furniture, and windshields. They are devouring tree leaves and getting fat before they burrow into the ground to emerge as moths after Summer has ended. The whole phenomenon reminded me that I've been meaning to share Merritt's quilt for almost an entire year.

Roscoe and Merritt's Aunt Coco quilted it for him and I think her love note and the pictures speak for themselves. It is a gorgeous and heartfelt gift.

Merritt, 3 months

Dear Merritt,

This is the first baby quilt I haven't delivered on time.  I'm going to let both of us take the blame for that one. You'll find that being early is generally a good thing but that, truth be told, being late usually isn't a problem either. The most important thing is that you show up.

The orange and brown fabrics in this quilt are from a fabric line called chrysalis.  A chrysalis is where 
a caterpillar makes its home as it grows and changes into a butterfly. A fitting theme for a baby quilt for a baby who has just been welcomed by his new family, don't you think?

I wish you all the love in the world as you grow and change.

                                                                                    Love, Aunt Coco

The one and only

For you quilters: The pattern for the squares is called, "Sunkissed Squares" from Moda Bake Shop. Courtney used one fourth of the pattern for a baby sized quilt but added the borders to make it bigger. The back was improvisationally pieced and follows no pattern. The straight-line quilting was done with a walking foot in a chevron pattern with the lines placed two inches a part. (She used painters tape to mark them off and then sewed along side the tape.) 

Friday, April 13, 2012

Agriberry Farm, community supported agriculture

We bought a full season share of a berry CSA that runs from early May thru mid September. Every week we can look forward to 6 "units" of strawberries and other fruit and complementary veggies like sugar snap peas, asparagus, blueberries, cherries, red raspberries, black raspberries, blackberries, plums apples, purple raspberries, peaches, melons, and rhubarb.  Units can vary from a pound, 1/2 pint, pint, quart, peck or 3-5 fruits, depending on the type of fruit and harvest conditions.

Two years ago we bought a share of a veggie CSA, and every week I blogged about the produce we received in our share and many of the recipes that we tried. Some of my favorite posts are here (the video of Roscoe eating snow peas is classic), here, here, and here.  For our produce last year we relied on a small garden and the farmer's market every Sunday. This year we're planning a combination of family garden, csa, and farmer's market. I'm excited!

At the indoor farmer's market at St. Stephen's church on Wednesday, AgriBerry was selling the season's first strawberries!  We also picked up three heirloom tomato seedlings (brandywine, brandywine yellow, and black crimson) and 4 sun sugar cherry tomato seedlings (and some incredible looking sausage) from Frog Bottom Farm.

If you're in the area and want to join AgriBerry Farm's csa check out the details and the application here--Anne said they need more people to pick up at the Monument Avenue Farmer's Market Saturdays from 8:30 -11:30.  Maybe we'll see you there!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A post on cleaning rotations

We've been in our new house for almost 6 months now.  Already.

Cleaning has never made it very high on my list of to-dos, and it is my belief that there are plenty more important and enjoyable ways to spend my time and energy. Still, in a house as small (and old) as the one we currently live in, the messes just seem messier and lately we've been feeling that we'll never be able to keep ahead of the floor crumbs, and piles of dishes. The wood floors in the dining room see the most abuse (thanks to two fickle eaters) and the daily sweeping and scrubbing required is unreal at times.

I have a higher tolerance than Andy for general messes but even I have a limit.  We had a cleaning plan in place at our old house, and I had written an updated one a few months ago for our new place but never committed to implementing it. Feeling a little overwhelmed and in need of a restart, I hired a cleaning service to usher our home into Spring.

It was well worth the money and if I cared more, I might hire someone to come on a regular basis.

Instead I printed off the cleaning schedule that I made a while back and put a copy in my kitchen folio for easy reference.

I learned this system from Tsh at Steady Mom, who has blogged about the two different methods of cleaning just once a month, and cleaning rotations (completing one chore a day so that over the course of a month everything gets clean).

When it comes to chores, I favor taking one small step every day. To begin, I considered every room in the house and made a list of the essential elements to be cleaned on a regular basis.  Then I figured out how frequently each chore needed to be completed in order to keep the house in a "clean-enough-for-me" state.

Next, I divvied up all the items so that the heavy stuff was well distributed across the four weeks (I don't want to clean the stove, the microwave, and the fridge in the same week!), and so that the schedule made sense (if a chore needs to be done twice a month, I schedule it in complimentary weeks 1 and 3, not 3 and 4).

There are some chores that we do on an as needed basis, like sweeping the wood floors, which we left off the list altogether. We usually sweep more than once a day, and I can't wait for the chore list to tell me it's time. When there are crumbs and table food underfoot, it's time to sweep!

Also, I think it's nice if each week's list can be kept to 5 items so that the weekend is chore-less, but for now our chore rotation looks like this:

Week One:
Wash floors in dining room
Vacuum living room area rug and kid's carpet
Bathroom mirrors and glass in front and back doors
Stove top
Kid laundry
Kitchen countertops and appliances
Bed sheets

Week Two:
Wash floors in dining room
Vacuum living room area rug and kid's carpet
Bathroom sinks and floors
Stove top
Kid laundry
Organize the kid's rooms

Week Three:
Wash floors in dining room
Vacuum living room area rug and kid's carpet
Bathroom mirrors and glass in front and back doors
Stove top
Kid laundry
Fridge surfaces
Bed sheets

Week Four:
Wash floors in dining room
Vacuum living room area rug and kid's carpet
Bathroom sinks and floors
Stove top
Kid laundry
Wipe down furniture surfaces

Andy's responsible for changing the cat litter every week, and for washing the dishes every night.  Once a month he scrubs the tubs--or at least that is how this whole rotation thing is supposed to work!

I really need to be better about cleaning as I go, but that's a goal for another day!

How do you keep your house clean? Do you have a routine that works?

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Easter, and the perfect hard boiled egg

The Easter bunny came last night!  We opened baskets first thing, read our new books, played with some cool new toys, ate chocolate before breakfast, worked in the yard, took a siesta, and then headed for a picnic to share cuban sandwiches and cupcakes under warm sunshine. It was a beautiful day.

Yesterday we dyed our easter eggs. To prep them for coloring, I boiled a dozen a la Martha Stewart and they were so good we ate every one of them before the afternoon was over. The boiled egg isn't fool proof, but this is as easy as it gets.
  • Place a dozen eggs in a pot and cover with cool water  
  • Bring to a boil over medium heat
  • Remove the pot from the heat, let eggs sit for 12 minutes
  • Transfer eggs to a colander and run cold water over the eggs until they are cool to the touch  
  • Eat, eat, eat. Repeat
Happy Easter!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Backyard Garden 2012: Planning

We dug up a small garden plot in the sunniest part of the yard two weekends ago--this year we're doing three 3' x 12' rows and probably another little section somewhere for root vegetables.  We have to till in the top soil on Saturday and then later this month we'll purchase our seedlings.

I would have liked to start heirloom seedlings over the winter but with the move we didn't have time to make it happen. Hopefully next year. We're looking forward to two plant sales, one in late April and the other in early May, and I hear that heirloom seedlings will be available so that's where we're going to start.

Our first attempt at growing our own fruits and vegetables was pretty awesome, and did not require a huge investment in time once the beds were built and the seedlings planted. We grew more food than we could eat, and by August we were knocking on our neighbors' doors to relieve us from all those tomatoes, zucchini, and yellow squash. Mmm, speaking of squash, remember those fried squash blossoms?

This year, I want to strategize a little more and learn how to succession plant and also figure out how and when to plant the right stuff so that we can have produce year 'round.  I've been playing with an online garden planning tool that is region specific and factors in average frost dates and plant growing times. I drew out my garden area and then "planted" it with the different fruits and vegetables that we hope to grow. The program creates a plant list based on what I've put in my garden, which tells me how many plants I need of each variety, how close to space them, when to plant, and when to harvest. There are some really advanced features that help me to visualize succession planting, but I haven't quite figured them out yet. Here's what our garden plan looks like so far. The yellow block is a shed.

Do you have plans to grow any food this year?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Then and Now

All along, we've thought that baby Roscoe looked nothing like big boy Roscoe, whether the comparison was made at six months or a year, or two. When he was born I remember the weight of his little body feeling so familiar, but for days and days I just couldn't place his features. He was our little ET.

A recent photo from our latest shoot made me do a double take. It's a rare expression and I recognized that face immediately. After digging through his birth photos I found it. Less than an hour old, in his Poppa's arms for the first time.

Back then, as I quietly took him in, obsessing over every newly born detail, I had no idea who he would be or what he would look like three years into the future. It is hard to believe that there ever existed a point in time when that knowing little face of his felt like a stranger.

As sophisticated and independent as Roscoe is at 2, it's sweet to catch a glimpse of my baby as I remember him in the first hours of his life.
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