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, August 30, 2013

Be Brave and Kind, small steps in gathering courage to let go

I wrote this piece for RichmondMom. You can read the full article here

I felt a kind of courage on Roscoe’s first day of summer camp when his delight and anticipation for something yet unknown felt so much mine. We drove steadily across town with the windows open. The warm air blew through the backseat, and roared to the front where I watched him through the rear view mirror. He was a little quieter than usual, ruminating. “Mama, can you roll the windows up? I can’t hear!” When the air fell silent he spoke with thoughtful pauses and upward inflections to question if the other kids would be kind to him. He wondered out loud about whether his teacher would help him out of a bind if he needed her.

Wall art displayed in our playroom to remind us every day.
(Mixed media by the lovely Suzanne L. Vinson
I assured him, with genuine enthusiasm (tempered by the hesitation I felt from the weight of my own looming questions), that he was going to meet buddies at school and that, with the help of his teacher, they would work together to take good care of each other.

But the truth is that I couldn’t promise that kids would be kind or that his teacher would be available to help him if he was in need of rescue. I couldn’t guarantee that my little guy, who had been home with me for his first four years would follow direction, get along in a crowd, or manage his emotions as I know he can, but often doesn’t.

I parked the car and helped him out of his seat. He positioned his back pack just so and as we walked to drop-off he trailed a step or two behind me. He perked up as I reminded him that I would be back in a few short hours and that the suspense would kill me until then: I couldn’t wait to hear all about his day.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Under Contract

A snapshot from the road

Just when we were starting to doubt this entire process we heard back from the seller yesterday morning. He wants $5,000 additional dollars on the downpayment.

We sent over a final contract for his signature yesterday with a deadline of 5pm today. At 4:57pm we received his verbal confirmation, however, his Realtor is out of town again and so he won't be able to officially sign until Tuesday.

No matter!  We are on to the good stuff now!

The seller has 30 days to have the land surveyed, and 60 days to run the percolation test and acquire a certification letter.  After those two steps are complete, we will have 30 days to get the land appraised.

Assuming everything checks out, our official closing date is set for November 25th, 2013.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Lot: oh the suspense

It has been 12 long days of negotiations with the seller of the land that we are still hoping to make ours.

In my last post, almost 2 weeks ago, we had just submitted an official offer with a deadline of 8pm on Sunday the 11th. When Sunday came, the seller requested an extension to the following day at 6pm, which we granted.

On Monday night a heavily negotiated counter offer came through our inbox. We reviewed the seller's proposal, further negotiated each point, and returned a revision to him Tuesday morning with a request for an answer by close of business that evening.

Later that afternoon the seller requested a two day extension to August 16th at 8 pm. We agreed.

On Friday we waited anxiously to learn what the seller had in mind. Was he going to accept our offer, was he going to make another counter? 

In short, the seller missed his own deadline and we have not heard a word from him since. 

Our realtor has been in touch with his realtor who for reasons unknown has not been able to make contact with the seller to know more about the hold up. I am thinking this is probably not a good sign, but our fingers are crossed that there may be a twinkle of hope for us yet.

We are aware that the seller is not happy with the down payment we offered, although he is agreeable to every other item specified in the contract.  We are holding tight until we get a solid response yes or no, before we either offer up more money or move on to the next parcel. 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Half Marathon Training: Week 1

I ran the Richmond Marathon in 2005 at the start of my first grad school year, and it was an incredible experience that I still carry with me. I have many times since then called on the mind-body confidence and inspiration that I felt in meeting that challenge, particularly in preparation for giving birth.

I have run many half marathons, mostly in 2005-2008, and a few shorter races while pregnant and in between pregnancies.

I like the half marathon distance because it requires only a 3 month training commitment and the runs are never over 2 hours.  It offers a good challenge without the hardship that I equate with the longer 6 month marathon training and 3.5+ training runs. 

This year I'm on a SportsBackers training team: the Zebras! So I will probably be sporting a lot of animal print between now and the big race day in November. I love running the long runs in a team environment because it is so convenient to have someone else determine the routes and I really enjoy the SAG stops, which are tailgate style pit-stops with water, gatorade, and gummies of all kinds to refuel every few miles. 

While I have been crossfitting for a couple years now, I don't run that frequently, maybe a couple times a week, and I usually choose runs that are around 3.0 miles.  In the past, I have had a hard time keeping up a training schedule while also maintaining my regular fitness routine.  

My plan for this event is to run the long runs with my Saturday team, and to run the midweek run on my own, filling in the other days with my usual Crossfit mornings. We ran our first group run last Saturday: 2.87 miles, 30:23 min, 10:37 pace. 

This week:
Monday: crossfit
Tuesday: 3.04 miles, 32:45 min, 10:47 pace
Wednesday: weight lifting at Gold's Gym
Thursday: crossfit
Friday: crossfit
Saturday: 2.98 miles, 31:27 min, 10:34 pace
Sunday: rest/active rest

Today's Saturday Run: 3 miles
My average pace seems to be somewhere around 11:00 minutes but I run faster when I'm in a group. I think the pace that I kept this week is a combination of my new Garmin (which continuously displays my pace and motivates me to keep it up) and running sans stroller. I am conditioned to run with the Duallie, often pushing both kids and all of their books/snacks/etc. When I run alone it feels like a relative breeze. 

To stay comfortable and hydrated on my runs I bought the new Camelbak Dart. I used the camelbak's lumbar reservoir system for the 2005 marathon, and while I didn't mind the way it jostled around during my runs, I thought I might avoid the potential chafing issues that I experienced on a few rainy and long runs that year. 

Some will say that this is overkill for short runs of 3 or 4 miles, but I really do feel better when I can drink whenever I want to. I filled it only half way, tightened the straps down, and I almost couldn't tell I was wearing it. I think it's going to work out nicely!  As for music, I always run with my iphone or shuffle with ear pods. While there are some fancy headphones out there, I prefer to run with headband style earphones because they never come out of my ears. I was curious about the yurbuds inspire series but decided to go with what I know, the cheap oldschool-style sony brand. 

I'm looking forward to a day of rest tomorrow! 

If you run, what accessories do you count as essential?

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Two kids or three?

A view from the sound, NC.
After dinner had been devoured, and after we abandoned the dining room with the tablecloth that often doubles as a napkin and the piled dishes and the leftovers that would surely have to wait until morning, and after I helped the boys into their jammies and read them each a story, and after I sang my rendition of hush little baby (complete with a firetruck and a too short ladder, a police car with a much too quiet siren, and an ambulance too slow to make it in time), and not until I shushed them from the near and far corners of the house and their eyes were closed and their breathing heavy, only then did I tiptoe across the unswept floors to pour myself a glass of wine, scoop up my journal, and find my place on the screened-in porch to spend some time with my thoughts.

As I journaled about my relationship with food, of all things, It suddenly hit me that maybe Andy is right, maybe two kids are enough. I have for years thought of myself as a woman meant to mother many children, always imagining a closely spaced grouping of four or five siblings.

Over the last few months a new feeling has been creeping up slowly and surely until one day last week after a typical morning, I sent a text to Andy: Today I do not want any more kids. 

We have argued and discussed this topic for more than 2 years. Should we have a third? Should we aim for four? Should we stick with two? His reply: You are a great momma, don't forget it. 

The kids are amazing. Each of them. Both of them. They are cunning and funny, testy and full of grand emotion. They surprise us in ways that astound us and alarm us. They are so different from each other and yet so the same. I am not a perfect mother but I am a good one. I do not love imaginary play or loud noises, or chaos. I am sometimes overwhelmed to meet the demands of these two growing boys. At the end of many days I am tired. So very tired.

For years I was resolute that 4 was my lucky number. Two didn't feel like "family" the way that three does, and four just tips it all over the edge to guarantee a boisterous home life and kindred spirits for days. I can look ahead to when the kids are grown and take comfort in the idea of having all that company and extended family to call on.  I like the way I think that would feel.

The justification game: the weighing of short and long-term costs and benefits. I find that the exercise can be a little bit of a thrill when I am on the side of saying goodbye to the childbearing years. But there is a sadness too in leaving it behind so suddenly. When I was pregnant with Merritt, when I gave birth to him, when I weaned him, I knew there would be a third. On the other hand, I have experienced all of my motherhood so far in real time, intensely, and truly. I've written about it, I've processed it, I've lived it.

I value my relationship with my kids and husband more than anything else, but there are other things happening in the world that inspire me too. With Merritt turning 3 this Winter and Roscoe turning 5 next Spring, some of the lost freedom that came with pregnancy and parenting in the early years feels just within arms reach. I'm so tempted.

One morning last week, the energy of the kids was so very high that I played momma hooky and called in our nanny two hours early because I just needed to get away. But then there are nights like last night where we all move through our nightly routine in rhythm and without fuss, and I can see a version of perfection co-existing in this messy house. It is a good life.

For today at least, I'm willing to try on the idea that the two boys we have are and will forever more be enough for us. Is there ever a final word on this kind of life decision, anyway? It's a pretty tough call to make one way or the other isn't it. (Interestingly, we had a similar discussion around this time last year...)

Thursday, August 8, 2013

It's official: we submitted an offer

Land explorations, and the view standing at the front of the lot and looking across the road to the left.
Today we submitted an official offer for the land parcel that I mentioned a few weeks ago. The first hurdle was to learn whether the sellers would be open to seller financing. We found out last week that they are.

This plot has never had a land survey so we don't yet have a map of the details. We know that it is around 9 acres, and that it has a stream running through it. Given the size of the property we are hopeful that even with water setbacks we can find a few protected acres somewhere in the middle to build on.

The contract we submitted has quite a few contingencies to ensure that we have all the information we need to know if it is a good fit for our design concept. A perc test will have to be run to know how big the septic system can be, which would impact the number of bedrooms we can build; and we want to have permits pulled before purchase so that there are no surprises.

We are trying our best not to set our hearts on this property but it is hard to resist driving out there to daydream whenever we have time on our hands. We took the boys the other night, and attempted to walk into the property from the road. It is so heavily wooded that there was no way in with the kids and the spiders. Andy and I may make another attempt without the kids, but try to temper our enthusiasm with caution to resist investing too much time or energy at this stage of the process.

Our offer expires this Sunday at 8pm so we will know more this weekend!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Nursing a Newborn with a Toddler Underfoot: creating a peaceful environment

Today is the last day of World Breastfeeding Week. I promise not to post here every article I write in other channels, but this one may be helpful to some of you juggling the needs of two or more little ones!

I wrote this piece for RichmondMom. You can read the full article here

When my second little boy was born, my wild and spirited toddler added a whole new dimension to the already great responsibility of breastfeeding a newborn. I was surprised by how difficult it was to create personal space to nurse, free from curious hands and exuberant limbs. I often felt frustrated and disappointed, craving peace during the many nursing intervals woven throughout every day.

Perhaps you can relate.

Your toddler may be curious about breastfeeding, interested in the new baby, or vying for your undivided attention. He is likely to explore and test his limits when your attention is directed to the new baby. He may interpret your sitting down to nurse as his cue to try out some new tricks, wedge himself behind your back, or stretch out on top of little sister.

Juggling the demands of a nursing newborn and the emotional needs of an active toddler may test your patience and your breastfeeding resolve but you can plan ahead to work with your toddler and make the best of your family’s transition.

Create a safe environment that works for you and your toddler: Set up a comfortable nursing station with everything you need within arms reach: burp cloths, a nursing pillow, a water bottle, easy to eat snacks, and your phone. Orient your nursing station in close proximity to the area in which your toddler plays, or bring your toddlers play toys near to your nursing station. Baby proof the designated space so that your child can explore freely, and consider creating a closed space with a baby gate or a locked door to keep your little one within sight.

Talk to your toddler about babies: Share stories about what he was like as a newborn and how you cared for him. Talk about what newborns look like, how they spend their time, and what makes them happy. Newborns nurse a lot, they sleep, and they cry. Babies love to be held, they enjoy silly voices and funny faces, they like to explore with their mouths and hands. Talk about the ways that your older child can help you to care for their little brother or sister. We love the book Everywhere Babies by Susan Meyers, a celebration of babies and the many ways they are cared for. Talk openly about breastfeeding and explain it in simple terms that your toddler will understand.

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