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!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Packing for Maine, bidding farewell to Richmond

Wetlands covered in downy seeds

On Thursday morning we leave for Maine!

The task of packing for six weeks away from home is overwhelming me now, but it will get done little by little.

I had every intention to pack light—just the essentials, with a few comfort items thrown in—but after just one day I can already tell that it's going to be tough. I'm working off a list generated over the last four or five weeks, which is helping me to stay focused, but yesterday I had to talk myself out of bringing along my knitting project—a blanket that I started two summer's ago that is still unfinished—and my Spanish workbook and dictionary. I fought a strong urge to pack up my cooking and baking tools because I generally find it a little maddening to feel at home in someone else's kitchen. (Though I'm definitely bringing the dry pantry and all my herbs and spices.) Then there are myriad cookbooks I love—it's so hard to choose only a few—and the candle I want to bring, and the hand soap that I've grown fond of ... and the list goes on, but we just don't have room in the car because the BOB Duallie leaves so little space to spare. All the Lego bricks must go with us, our basic clothes and toiletries, all the dress-up clothes, a selection of art supplies, a few games and puzzles and favorite books, electronics and chargers, and blankets and sheets.

Andy will be joining us a week into the trip so he can bring up the things I forget, or think of in hindsight, and equally important he can take surplus back home with him when he leaves. I'm happy to have a little leeway; there's no stress to get this right on the first pack.

As for the 13 hour drive: it's going to be a long one. To liven things up for the kids I've been squirreling away little surprises and small treats to distribute when the "Are we there yets?" and "How much longers?" rise to crescendo. I downloaded the Lego Movie soundtrack and we'll have the iPad and plenty of snacks within reach. I anticipate stopping at least every two hours, unless they can stand more. We're taking the back route to avoid New York traffic and planning to stay overnight at a hotel in CT about eight hours into the trip. I'd like to complete the first leg by dinnertime so we have time to jump into the pool before bed.

Meanwhile, Spring has come to Richmond and I love it. I mean, I really love it. The smell of the river mud, honeysuckle, and bradford pear waft through the places we frequent most. Nature is fluorescent with new growth, bright and cheerful and animated. The sun is enthusiastic but the air is still cool, and the humidity hasn't yet debuted. I'm thrilled to be on the verge of meeting Maine and then, at the same time, I'm disappointed to say goodbye to the city and the river when this is what we've been waiting for all dark and cold, cold winter.

Do you have tips for traveling with kids? Are there stops we shouldn't miss on the drive up?

Sunday, May 18, 2014

A Less is More Birthday Party, Roscoe turns 5

Roscoe turns five tomorrow and we’ve been in our usual week-long celebration mode, which I absolutely love. I adore my birthday boys and I think they know it. 

On Friday it was ice cream sundaes in the backyard with our former neighbors because our oldest kids have birthdays within a week of each other.

Tomorrow it will be a drive north to our old suburb for a visit to the Lego store and a meet up with all the grandparents for birthday dinner.

As much as I've enjoyed throwing parties with all the fixings, my energy for it has waned over the years. We knew the Lego store would be a highlight for Roscoe and I wanted to end the main festivities there but he felt strongly that he also wanted to share some time with his friends, so we planned an easy play date on Saturday to celebrate. He invited two of his buddies from preschool—they share their own little language and are so content to just hang out at the Lego table building things for hours. Their siblings and parents came too.

No fancy venue, just the preschool playground that the kids have grown to love.

No invites, just the informal relay of information to parents in passing. 

No decorations, just a motif print tablecloth that we use at home and our regular dishware. 

No coordinating food tables, just a last-minute menu chosen by Roscoe as we meandered through the aisles at the grocery store.

No organized games, just a bunch of dress up clothes laid out on benches and a big towel with a pile of Roscoe’s Lego bricks dumped in the middle.

No cake, just mango Popsicles.

Less really did feel like more and I loved the way his party came together this year.

The afternoon embodied all of Roscoe's favorite things in a practically effortless way.

I think I'm on to something.

Friday, May 9, 2014

FAQ: Maine Family Travel

We leave for Maine in three weeks! I've been fielding a lot of questions so I'm sharing an FAQ about our upcoming trip.

How did you pick Maine?

Once we decided to embrace traveling with our kids, we were incredibly inspired by all the possibilities. My heart has been pining for Europe and Greece, but after factoring in the cost of flights, and time zone changes, and our inexperience traveling abroad in general we decided not to embark on international travel right away. For the upcoming year we are staying "local" and focusing on the east coast. While we don't have a lot of experience vacationing as a family outside of the usual summer beach trips and weekend interstate jaunts, we have learned a few things about what works better for us. Andy and I are more relaxed and better able to enjoy the trip when we can keep their eating, sleeping, and playing routines as close to normal as possible. This translates to a need for a similar time zone and access to a full kitchen and living space. We like the idea of staying in one place for a longer period of time so that we can really settle in and get to know a new locality in a more intimate way. We are drawn to the wilderness of the state of Maine and when we found an affordable rental the rest just fell into place.

Where in Maine will you be staying?

We are staying lakefront about a mile from the coastline, in the mid-coast region.

Do you have family or friends in Maine? No! But happily, we do have a few friends who live, or will be vacationing, in neighboring states while we are visiting, so we will look forward to meeting up with them if we can.

Are you renting a house or staying in a hotel? We are renting a small cottage that has one bedroom, and a walk-in closet with twin bunks built-in. We will have a full kitchen but will be without a washer and dryer.

Are you driving or flying? We are driving. It will take about 11.5 hours each way so we're going to stay the night in a hotel around the halfway point on the way there and back. I'm excited to see the sights as we drive through every state from VA to Maine.

How can Andy take 6 weeks off work? He can't! The Spring and Summer months are the busy season and so he will join us for about ten days that will overlap with father's day and his birthday week in June.

What will Andy do while you guys are away? I think he's planning to work longer hours, sleep a lot more, and start up a new routine at the gym.

Will you have any other visitors? My parents are going to stop in for a long weekend in mid-June, and another set of friends will be joining us for the fourth of July.

What highlights are you looking forward to? Because we are staying for six weeks we can explore everything that Maine has to offer at a pretty leisurely pace. The only excursion that we booked in advance is a moose safari that will give us a chance to venture inland for an overnight trip to the mountains. I've made some notes on the kinds of activities that I want to do as we bump into them, but I hope to maintain a relaxed daily routine that mirrors the one we currently keep and that includes good food, lots of downtime, and an outing in the morning or afternoon. We definitely plan to day trip North to Acadia National Park and South to Portland. Oh, and blueberry picking!

Did I miss anything? Leave a comment!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

When marriage is hard, what does it take?

I don't often use this space to reflect on my marriage, but let me be honest: I wouldn't be emboldened with the courage, confidence, and resources required to fuel all my pursuits at home, at work, or anywhere else without my husband and his deep investment in our relationship and his relationship with the boys.

We were married in Lodi, California under a grove of awesome deodar trees that fanned out over the garden of a small winery. It was gorgeous, intimate, every detail thoughtfully planned and organized together. At 22 we shared a naive confidence and optimism for our future, yet only a shred of understanding for the weight of the lifetime commitment we'd just made to the other.

The unworn path of marriage is without a guide, unless you are fortunate to count on the marriage of your own parents to lead by example—but even then there are no guarantees. Much of the work of marriage happens behind closed doors, as so many transformational aspects of life often do, hidden for privacy or shame or just because that's the way it's always been. Few are privvy to what real marriage looks like until they are square in the middle of the one they claim as their own, and faced with the inevitable hardships that come with long-term love.

My shared history with Andy now covers more than half our lives, a friendship found first in the hallways of highschool where we met at age 15. Our story continued in Richmond where we went to college and then came full circle as we made our way back to DC to embark on our early careers.

One morning I woke up with double vision, which was just the beginning of a 2-year journey into the turbulent world of Grave's disease, an auto-immune disorder that had gone misdiagnosed for far too long. By then, muscle wasting had made me so weak that even the most inconsequential aspects of my day had become serious physical burdens: getting dressed, standing on the metro, walking ten minutes to my office. Other symptoms—an inability to sleep, a racing heart, and tremors in my hands—made me feel on the verge of losing my mind. I had been told for months that I had anxiety and needed to "stop thinking so hard about everything." Finally, I went to Georgetown University Hospital for a second opinion.

Once formally diagnosed, we put our plans to have a baby on hold and devoted our energy to my care. At 23 I had to brave the health care system and make some really big decisions about treatment options in light of myriad side effects and longterm outcomes. The burden was oppressive at the time. The physical and emotional stress was so intense and I felt alone in the worst ways possible. Depression had begun to creep in, and I truly wanted to be free from all of it. I wanted to be well again, I wanted a baby. The pain of being sick and unable, and without ability to plan for our future, I wanted to forfeit my responsibilities. The bad and the good, I wanted out.

When it mattered most, when our marriage was in the darkest and rockiest place we've ever gone together, it was a sliver of hope and the bold decision to separate under the supervision of a therapist, that gave each of us the space and opportunity we both needed to care for ourselves (to debrief on what had come before) and then to knowingly, as adults, choose our marriage again.

I'm so grateful for that. For light in the face of darkness and for the freedom to be separate and together.

To make that choice, over and over again, throughout our long lives, I imagine this to be the true work of marriage. Because to walk away would have been far easier.

Our 16 year relationship has been genuine in its existence. It has been dark, and muddy. It has been bright. With such a young start, we effectively grew up together practicing and learning how and how not to treat the one we loved most. I'm not proud of all of it, but that is the truth and it is life. As very real and complex as our faults and fears and vices and temptations have been, what proved to be stronger was a vision we shared for what could be, a hopeful intention to persevere, a willingness to forgive, but ultimately an effort on both our parts to stay engaged.

Taking that first step—to re-engage—it didn't come easily or simply, I had been out of practice for so long. Grave's disease had served as a catalyst, bringing to the forefront an accumulation of many little things in our relationship that had gone un-addressed over the first 9 years. I let the circumstance convince me that I could give up because it was hard.

Now, with 9 years of marriage in our back pocket and as we emerge from the first intense years of parenting (Roscoe turns 5 this month!), we're both feeling an electric appreciation for how we have shaped our history, and how our history has shaped our marriage. If there is one thing that I learned through our experience, it is that every couple gets to write their own contract in marriage. We get to choose the scaffolding that bounds our relationships. We don't have to conform to what we think marriage ought to be. We get to create the marriage that resonates within us.

We've won out so far. A deepened love the prize. A solid marriage the outcome.

We win! We win! We win!

We've earned a life partner equally matched in intensity, and dreaming ways, and a willingness to take risks, and an eagerness to continue to create and live a good life together, and best of all the privilege to co-parent these two maniacal boys that we've borne.

Second chances. They can be hard to come by but they are worth it. Happy 9th Anniversary to the love of my life. With all my heart.
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