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!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

How We Came to Homeschool Part 2: Saying yes to the BoldHeart Life, saying yes to homeschooling


This is Part 2 in a series about how we came to our decision to homeschool. 
If you haven't already, check out Part 1: Let Me Start at The Beginning
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My favorite fridge magnet from the lovely Colette Paperie

A few weeks ago we received an acceptance letter from the Waldorf School for Roscoe's kindergarten year. I waited until the very last day to respond knowing that it would make our decision final. In my note I shared that we had recently made the unexpected decision to homeschool and that Roscoe would not be enrolling for the 2014-2015 school year. The Director's message back was to the point: “Well, that is a surprise!”

After years of assuming that our kids would attend public school, and then the last two and a half years spent establishing a relationship with the local Waldorf school in anticipation of that kindergarten acceptance letter I wholeheartedly agree, it has been a rather quick and unexpected change of heart. I’m giving myself at least a few months to let it fully sink in.

I rely on my short and long term plans, which umbrella numerous lists and goals. If it's in my head it gets put on paper. The exercise gives me mental clarity and a sense of direction while it also offers some semblance of control. Though I haven't always given myself the freedom to change my mind or to stray from the Plan, my mothering presents a very compelling circumstance. The big and little decisions I make deserve my full attention, particularly the ones that affect my kids, my work, and our family life. Allowing myself flexibility to diverge from even the best laid plan gives me the greatest chance to get it right, to grow with my kids, and to give everyone a voice in how our journey unfolds.

I’ll never say never again. 

Back in December Andy and I shared some wild conversations in the dazzling calm that followed Christmas. By wild I just mean that I doubt our former childless selves would have guessed that their future parent selves would be the kind of people who give birth at home, or bedshare, or breastfeed into the toddler years, or quit their jobs, or change their worldviews, or homeschool, of all things. 

I couldn't have seen it coming, but lying nose to nose in the pitch darkness of winter provokes courage in the same way that difficult or passionate discussions are often made easier by riding in a car while staring out of the window at the streetlamps passing or far off into the distance where the sky meets the road. In the face-close of night, the illusion of infinite space exists to fill it up with what you really mean to say, to be bold with new ideas that come to life and grow big above our heads and then drift late into the sleeping hours. And that moment when I mistook Andy's silence for having fallen asleep? He surprised me with words that rang like truth, affirming my greatest hopes with his enthusiasm and support. 

I came across Lori Pickert's blog about project based homeschooling (PBH) on a whim internet search of homeschool and Reggio-Emilia—an approach I've become familiar with through the boys' preschool. Really I was just exploring the possibilities for after Roscoe's kindergarten year in an effort to look at all of our options. While I had my own misunderstandings about who homeschools, and why they homeschool, and how it looks or how their kids fare, I was immediately struck by the ways in which the PBH approach offered a natural extension of our parenting and really embodied the vision that Andy and I have long shared for our family life. Project Based Homeschooling resonated in ways that for the first time made it possible to see myself and my family as the homeschooling kind.

Homeschooling really took hold of our imaginations when we considered how we could more creatively use our time and money to live our big ideas. At the time we were considering just the kindergarten year, but what if instead of paying $7500 for private school we homeschooled and used that money to begin to travel to all the places we've always wanted to go?

I was soon on the internet reading “Top 10” and “Best Of” family vacations, pinning to my Family Travel Adventures board with wanderlust that suddenly felt surprisingly within reach.   

Admittedly, we are inexperienced travelers, particularly with children and especially internationally. We quickly tapered down our expectations and found equilibrium mapping out several small East Coast trips that we could really get excited about. When I booked a small lakehouse in Maine for 6 weeks this Summer it felt like we were really getting on to the good stuff.

With more discussion about finances, and priorities, and the life that we really craved to live, I committed to the idea of homeschooling with ~68% of my heart.

But I still had so many questions.

Up next, PART 3: Calming Fear and Moving Beyond

Friday, March 28, 2014

How We Came to Homeschool Part 1: Let me begin at the beginning

This is the first post in a series about how we came to our decision to homeschool. While I'm the first to admit surprise—even shock, some days—it is an exciting step in the "it just feels right" direction for our family. When we get started in the Fall I imagine I will write about the details of what homeschooling life looks like for us but in the meantime, I want to write on how in the world we came to choose homeschool in the first place! For those of you who have followed our story for a while, this first post may repeat some background info from my more recent posts about Making Home, with the added details of how Roscoe's kindergarten year influenced our decisions about where to live.
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When we moved back to Richmond in 2012 we found a cheerful cape rental with a cramped floor plan and a big backyard. The neighborhood was appealing, but we really chose the little yellow house because it was around the corner from the “best” school in the city. Even though the boys were so young, we knew that our plans for buying land and building a home were still a few years down the road, and it seemed a reasonably good chance that Roscoe would be a kindergartner before we moved again.

Two years into city life—making the most of our house and otherwise living very merrily—we were a few months into a contract for rural land just outside city limits where we hoped to build our new home. We had planned to stay at least another year in the city, just long enough to close on the property and complete construction.

When our landlord unexpectedly announced plans to put the yellow house on the market at the end of our lease in November, we briefly reviewed available houses in our favorite areas of the city but realized that in the rental market you may as well wait to look until you’re ready to sign. We held off until a month before we needed to move, and after touring a few homes nearer to the boys’ preschool we opted for an even smaller (but enormously better laid out) ranch with notably less charm than any home we had ever lived. The fact that it was also the cheapest home we had ever occupied was a bonus and meant that we could effortlessly shuttle away into savings another few hundred dollars each month for contracting our architect. Another appealing feature was that five minutes in the direction opposite from preschool was the Waldorf kindergarten that we had chosen for its unique play-based curriculum. (Why play based kindergarten? Click here.)

We signed an 18-month lease with a month-to-month option that offered a cushion in case our timelines ran behind target. We assumed that because our yet-to-be built home would be completed mid-school year, we couldn’t know what first grade would look like for Roscoe—there were so many variables at play. We stayed focused on our plan for kindergarten and knew that we could figure the rest out later. In a worst case scenario we thought we could continue to drive the kids into the suburbs for private education, but we remained hopeful that perhaps there were amazing alternatives to be discovered in the new county’s public or private school systems. 

We moved unceremoniously over the course of a few weeks in October. We packed up everything that we had stuffed into the little yellow house and hauled it across the river. We carefully stacked one-third of our furniture into the garage, laid out another quarter of our belongings on the floor of the attic, and neatly displayed what remained throughout 1200 square feet.

Shortly after we settled in, and during the study period of our land inquiry, we learned that the county had plans to build through a portion of the property in order to widen the main road fronting the lot. After careful consideration we decided to let the parcel go, which meant that we were 18 months committed to a sufficient but distinctly transitional home that we had strategically chosen for reasons related to a project that was no longer and, of course, to our intentions for the children’s education.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The boys and their grandparents: a photoshoot

Have you ever wondered how many of your childhood memories are actually the manifestation of the telling and retelling of the stories and back stories of old photos? I love looking at pictures of myself as a little girl. I swear those captured moments have become the backbone of all my early memories.  

My parents were twenty-three and twenty-four when I was born. I really admire the work of parenting, and it is surreal to look at photos of my own mom and dad just starting out and finding their way, like we all do. The insights into our life together in those moments—how we lived, how we dressed, and how we spent our time—they are all so meaningful now. 

When I was growing up we took one family vacation each year: a long drive from Oregon, Arizona, or Northern California (depending on where we were living at the time) all the way to Los Angeles to where my grandparents lived with the palm trees, concrete poolyards, and mickey mouse. In later childhood, my mom's dad lived a few hours away from us in Nevada, and either way we didn't get to see our grandparents enough. I do wish there were more photos of us when we were together.

Like many children of this technical generation, practically every day of the boys' lives has been documented in some way since birth. We are also fortunate that their grandparents live only an hour away. So far, Roscoe and Merritt have the advantage of knowing and visiting with them at least once a month. I hope that they will continue to have opportunities to build authentic relationships with each other in their time together. 

This year we gifted our parents with a photoshoot from the awesome Courage and Co. Photography here in Richmond. Jake was patient with the kids—who were in high-gear zany mode for the duration—and generous with his time. We chose a great big outdoor space for the shoot, and in between snow days we found sunshine and a little taste of Spring.

Everyone dressed comfortably, and while I did brush the kids' hair (If you can even tell. Probably not.) they came as themselves and Jake captured everyone as they are. Which is the best way.



I wish I had professional photos of 3 year old me playing and hanging out with my grandmas and grandpas—for the boys this meant eating suckers, digging in the dirt, finding gook in a stream, and otherwise acting like wild animals.




And yes, my dad travels with his ukulele! It's a trademark.










How do you create and preserve memories of your parents for yourself and for your kids? 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Buoyant

I'm still struggling to shed the weight from Merritt's pregnancy and while I am working on it, I am also working on feeling comfortable in the body I've got for now. This is the last one from the South Carolina series.
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There is freedom in a properly fitted bathing suit and a poolside audience who neither knows me nor gives a shit about appearances, or so I gather from their own presentation. The water at first feels warm, but beneath the surface it’s cloudy cool. I let down my hair—hesitating momentarily, aware that thoughtfully ironed curls will melt straight here. Pulling the elastic from a high ponytail I hold my breath and disappear slowly under the surface. I emerge for air and wipe the water from my eyes now burning from traces of a full face of makeup. I use my hands to rinse away what remains, like I do at the end of every day. There's satisfaction in letting go of all of it. The clothes, the hair, the face. There’s happiness here and I welcome the weight of my hair drenched and heavy on my head, the tips floating freely like flotsam on the surface of the ocean.

The Magic Aquarium


This is another one from South Carolina. Next trip I'll try to post them in a more timely fashion!
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Merritt’s hands spread out like starfish, reaching to feel the shark pups as they swim by with their cat-tongue skins. His frantic excitement calls to us to hoist him up and over the edge of the touch pool and in the next breath demands to be put down, his body and limbs darting from one staging area to another in anticipation of where the little black one—his favorite—will be headed next. His expressed exhilaration of something wild moving through his fingertips is palpable, and familiar.

Snapshot of a Family On Vacation

I'm taking a creative writing class right now and it has been fun to try to capture the small and meaningful moments that we shared while on vacation. Here is another quickie from South Carolina last month.
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Humidity in the indoor pool is at 100%, the warm air heavy with suspended particles of chlorine that cling to the balls of our eyes. I accept subtle innuendo from him, and the kids frolic without restraint in and out of the water. Their dependence on us to keep them afloat and to know just how far is far enough as they navigate their own comfort in unfamiliar waters fills me with a mix of something like terror and awe.

We gently prompt them to choose the deepest part of the pool to jump into, away from the stairs, and insist that each give the other enough space so as not to leap into a tangled family pile here in the middle where he and I stand vigilant. We offer encouragement, giving them space to jump big, and remain in good spirits despite the turbulent waters that result from their enthusiasm.

Once, I turn away from their little bodies hurtling toward me from the poolside, arms and legs outstretched, in position for perfect belly flops. A peel of water jets into my ear and muffles their squeals of delight. “Are you proud of me? Was that a really big one?!” they need to know.

South Carolina Sunrise in Winter

One of our goals this year is to travel more. Not necessarily to travel far, or for long periods of time, but to take the opportunities we have to leave town and explore new places together. This is a post I wrote from South Carolina last month.
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I pull back the weight of the coarsely textured curtains and we peer out to the ocean. It is wrapped in sheer darkness and adorned at the shoreline with sea foam illuminated by a cool glow that emanates organically from the miles-long string of man made high rises. The waves break gently, lapping at the sand just beyond our hotel balcony. We’re called to beat the sun to the shore, to be the first to discover what the tide has left behind for us. A few treasures lie in wait among the bumpy pebbles and nubby shell fragments, we just know it.




Sunday, March 16, 2014

Teachable moments: Car Seat Safety

The roar of the throttle as it approached on my right, too fast for me to register that it was a blue Toyota pickup. I tapped my brake and slowed as it tore into view, crossing my lane and smashing into the tail end of a black sedan headed in the opposite direction. The expected sounds of scraping metal and bumpers popping and glass shattering came next. The sedan flipped high into the air, and landed on its top, crunching into the pavement.

The pickup truck continued on a swift path across four lanes of traffic before landing softly in a clearing of trees.

I told the boys everything was okay and parked the car. I told them I was leaving to make sure the people inside were okay.

I knew they were scared. I knew I would return to frightened wails and tear streamed faces, eyes welled up and down-turned frowns.

When I bent down to peer into the rear passenger window, I thought I would see blood. Instead, an older woman in a red coat was trying to free herself. Someone yelled for her to unlock her door.

I told a bystander to call 911 and ran across the street to the driver of the truck. I was cautious as I approached and before I could reach for the handle the door opened and a large man stepped out. He said he was fine. His pedal was jammed.

“My pedal was jammed,” he repeated.

“I don’t know why this happened,” he said to no one in particular as he lifted and lowered the utility boxes in the bed of his truck. “But I didn’t hit anyone.”

Before long the streets were filled with early morning traffic, curious onlookers and concerned witnesses.

I made my way back to my boys, who were now in shambles, clutching hands and screaming at me, “Where did you go? We are crying!”

I pushed the hair back from Roscoe’s forehead and looked him in the eye, “We are so lucky we didn’t get hit by that car. I’m so glad you both have your seatbelts on. And did you know that everyone is OK!?” 

I met Merritt’s wide eyed gaze and while they were now in silence, listening intently with hope, I started to cry. 

“Are you crying, Momma?”

“Yes, I am…because I love you so much. This is why we have to ALWAYS wear our seat belts, right?” They solemnly agreed, shaking their heads.

Their witnessing the accident has left a deep impression on them. I have been made to retell this story more times than I care to say over the last two days, because it was so jarring and because they are still trying to make sense of it. For a three and four year old the action was awesome and the consequences gruesome.

For me, it became a teachable moment in my mothering experience. I often let Roscoe buckle himself in to his seat, because every little step of independence feels so great when I am required to tend to their every need day in and day out, and because the self-satisfaction he shows after having done it on his own has become a feel-good moment for everyone. Merritt has recently demanded responsibility for buckling his top strap, typically on request to compete with Roscoe in the great buckle race: who can do it faster?

The finicky nature of these car seat buckles, the way they can appear fastened when in fact they are not, for seemingly inconsequential reasons like the corner of t-shirt is trapped somewhere in between. 

The reality is that the buckling of seat belts is an adult responsibility, as is proper harnessing, something that we've always paid attention to, but that is easily overlooked in the bustle of a morning routine or afternoon errands.

I can only imagine how we may have fared had the unthinkable happened and the blue Toyota pickup slammed into our car as we hummed along the road to preschool drop-off that morning.  
 
For the latest information on Carseat Safety click here.
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