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, June 20, 2014

Maine Family Travel: realizing all that is good about it

Found Treasures: moose antler, lobster claw, 'gull feather

I have truly been overwhelmed by the beauty of Maine and the ways in which the landscape recalls some of my best childhood memories growing up in Northern California; I have felt at home here since we arrived. To revisit those good memories while making new ones alongside my young boys has been sublime. I revel in the energy I feel every morning to get an early start on the day. I am motivated in a way I haven’t felt in a while to experience everything. Anticipating tomorrow is a small thrill; I can’t wait for the next beach, trail, or landmark to adventure through. For the last three weeks I've just been soaking it all in; at a loss to find adequate words for the fulfillment of the day, and empty to the bones for extra energy in the evening beyond what is required to plan for tomorrow before the cool sun sets and I’m called by the darkness to rest.

Andy left earlier this week after thirteen days with us. His time spent here was the least connected to his work that he’s ever allowed, and it was an affirmation that he made it so. He loves what he does and is challenged like the rest of us to balance his work life and his family life, especially around time off and vacation. While here, he engaged us in the tightest embrace we've felt in a long time. The conversations we had during the first week that I spent here alone with the kids, and then in the two weeks that we shared together, carved yet another deepening of the intimacy in our marriage. It came about unexpectedly and in a way that leaves me smiling to recognize that this is our friendship and our love for each other manifesting. For the wonder I’ve carried about my ability to see through the lifelong commitment of marriage I finally feel a hush settling in, a sense of inner confidence growing quietly in its place. The years we have left together feel only but a comfort and a privilege.

The kids tell me every day how much they love it here, and I suppose there is something about our being alone together in an unfamiliar place that sparks for them an emergence of our family’s identity. I've noted it in the boys when new friends ask where we’re from and they proudly exclaim Richmond, Virginia! Or when they realize that we say tadpole, and they say polliwog. It’s the sudden urge they feel when they are enjoying something in the moment so much they are compelled to stop and call for a Sears Family huddle, or to belt out into Maine’s great blue sky how much they love us or each other. They are beginning to piece together and communicate what makes us special as a unit and I can feel their gratitude and their joy for this experience. It adds a satisfying layer for me to see this all come to fruition.

We are sad that Poppa is gone and truthfully I could have left on Wednesday with Andy and the boys and a very full heart if we had planned it that way. As I often feel when I am parenting solo and to paraphrase a line from the book I’m reading now: I learn in his absence that I can hack it on my own, and that I prefer not to.

I always find satisfaction in my independence when making things happen and keeping things together, and moving the kids through the day and night on my own two feet; but I miss companionship when I’m alone for long and I’d rather experience all this good stuff (and share the challenges too) with him by my side.

Still, Roscoe and Merritt and I have three weeks more to continue to seek out and revisit other and newly favorited parts of Maine. We’ll be slowing down a bit and making an effort to stay closer to home so we can soak up this Maine Summer as it marches forward.

Our vacation so far has been much more than I expected and everything that I hoped for in terms of building connections with each other, experiencing a new part of the world together, and venturing outside of our comfort zones to grow in ourselves and as a family. It has also piqued my interest to travel more of the United States before considering trips abroad. We have a beautiful and magnificent country right here and I haven't seen most of it. The parts I do know that I love I would also like to see again with the kids so I am curious how our vision for travel over the next year or two will take shape in consideration of what we're learning through this first family travel experience.  

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Magical Maine

Right now Maine’s rugged landscape is embellished with spring, decorated and gorgeous. The forests here are a mix of pine, oak, maple, birch, and beech trees, and the effect is magic—the quintessential Maine I’ve only known to exist through books or on TV. Scenic roadways trace the water's path and connect a network of small towns that come alive in the summer months like idyllic illustrations of the good and simple life. Stoic boats sit in wait, hoisted high above the ground on stilts for repair; their weary bows find reprieve from the unforgiving sea. Lobster traps are stacked in high rows, four cages deep, with buoys carefully draped on the walls of dilapidated homes. The lighthouses stand tall at their cliff's edge, softened only by the rolling hills that rest behind them. The deep rhythmic boom of waves breaking on bedrock that juts from the coastline in dramatic display is a familiar comfort. Bright skies or fairweather clouds decorate the horizon on any given afternoon. Sea spray drifts and morphs into that delicious salty ocean air.

Water beyond the coast appears still, ruffled only by the cool breezes that make their way inland or when the slow siphon of the tide exposes it's underbelly of black mudflats. On the lake the birds brashly chirp in harmony, and the struck chord of a banjo string is the call of the frog. The waters of the lake are ever-changing, never boring. This morning they were a still pool of green, chartreuse and indigo; a rainbow of muted tones reflecting off the surface, mist rising near the shoreline. I would happily greet the first light of every summer sun in this way.

The air up here is much cooler than down south, still in the 60s and 70s mid-day, and sweater weather in the early morning and evening when we sit in nature’s silence after the kids have gone to sleep. Day and night Maine is brimming with life and beauty. It’s the beginning of high season now—the tourists are pouring in and claiming little bits of the state as their own. As we are too.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Traveling with kids from Virginia to Maine, a few tricks that made it easier

We have been exploring Maine for just over a week now and are feeling right at home. It was my intention to write nightly and post photos in a timely way but without a break in parenting responsibilities it has been a tough routine to create. While I overestimated the energy I would have at the end of every day to do anything at all productive, Andy joined us last Thursday night so I hope to find a groove this week. If you want to follow along in a way that more closely resembles real-time check us out on Instagram @BoldHeartMama.

Our little house has an incredible lakefront view that we look forward to morning and night.

The drive up was lush with Spring and all the way through Connecticut the landscape felt pretty much like Virginia does this time of year: leafy, rolling hills in shades of green, blue, and gray where distant mountains appear in layers at the horizon. We saw a spattering of brick and concrete through New Jersey and Pennsylvania but mostly it was winding roads through countryside.

We broke up the drive into two days: an 8.5-hour first leg and a 4-hour second leg, which ended up taking us 14.5 hours total. On our first day of travel we left Richmond at 7:20am and made it to Hartford Connecticut by 4:00pm and managed only to stop twice along the way: once for gas and the restroom, and again for a side-of-the road potty break. (Our favorite kind.)

The kids were surprisingly cool about all the time spent in the car. It helped that my expectations were low and that I planned ahead in timing (they missed the last day of preschool so we could get an early start) and for ways to keep them well fed and entertained. We have been planning this trip for more than six months and their personal investment and excitement for all parts of the adventure was evident; everyone was pleasant, and cooperative for the duration. Unheard of.

When we arrived at our hotel in Connecticut we ordered dinner in our room, and the kids' enthusiasm continued as they exclaimed love for the glasses we drank out of it, love for the bedsheets and comforter, love for the view of Hartford from our hotel window. They hugged and kissed each other a lot. After dinner we went for a swim and then fell asleep relatively early.

The second leg of the drive began early the next morning and felt a lot more tedious because we were that much closer to our final destination, and the shorter drive just didn’t require the stamina that the previous day had demanded. As we left Connecticut and moved into Massachusetts the quintessential New England landscape emerged with steeples and rooftops poking up and out of fluffy textured tree cover. We stopped in Massachusetts for gas and to eat breakfast, then piled back in the car eager to cross into New Hampshire and eventually Maine. 

We were in need of escape from the confines of the car, Maple's Creamery to the rescue. 

When our path began to parallel the ocean I knew we were getting close, so I loosened up a bit on taking a direct route and we veered off for another pit stop just passed Portland for a few scoops of Maple's Organics incredible gelato. (It seems that many of our friends are traveling to Maine this summer, so for those of you who are, this is a nice little place to relax for a bit if it's near to where you are staying or on your way to somewhere else.)

I had a lot of anxiety leading up to this trip, a function of my usual catastrophic thinking mixed with a little fear for embarking alone with the kids on a six week stay in an unfamiliar house and town. As the minutes to arrival counted down on GPS, and as I finally set sights on the sign that marked our street, and then turned off the main road on to a dirt drive my heart lifted a little; and when I parked the car on a little flat spot above the house and caught glimpse over the rooftop and through the trees of sunlight sparkling on the lake I felt awash with relief. This town, this house, this lake, they really do exist!

A few tricks that I found helpful for traveling long distances with young ones:

Keep the goodies out of sight until you really need them: I kept all the activities that I packed for the kids up front with me until the circumstances or attitudes warranted a change. We started the drive with only the usual suspects: a snack, their books and magazines (National Geographic Kids, High Five, Ranger Rick Jr.), and their saved Playmobil and Lego catalogs).

Bring one of everything, not one for each kid: 
I found that having only one of each toy/app/activity worked out well because the boys had the opportunity to grow bored and then trade the "old" for the “new.”

Maximize nap time: 
I made a rule that whenever one kid napped the other could use the iPad to watch a movie, which bought me double the quiet time because they each took naps at separate times. Timing the road trip around naptime is probably an obvious help.

Download a few new apps and games, or movies: 
Before we left I downloaded a selection of the movies we own from Apple TV and also bought a few new game apps for the iPad (Toca Builders, MineCraft, and Lego Juniors). Minecraft is too advanced for Merritt but Roscoe has taken to it easily.

Consider giving audiobooks a try too: 
We love audiobooks for car travel because they keep the kids’ attention while still allowing them to stay engaged in what's happening in the car and out on the road–audiobooks don't seem to engross them in the same way that dvd players do. The kids have really enjoyed The Cat and the Hat and Other Stories, so for this trip I downloaded My Father’s Dragon, which is the perfect storyline for up-and-coming kindergartners, and probably young elementary kids too.

Invest in a few travel style games:
  • Open ended, and fascinating in a tactile sort of way, the kido freeplay magnatab was a huge hit. The pen brings the little magnet balls to the surface and then they use their fingers to push the designs down. 
  • Another travel must-have was the On-The-Go Colorblast notepad by Melissa and Doug, which held their attention for a long time. I loved stuff like this when I was a kid too.
Pack a cooler of portable snacks: I brought a small cooler with a big waterbottle of diluted juice and another filled with water; portable yogurts and applesauce; grapes and bananas; cheese; peanut butter and jelly sandwiches; fruit snacks and fruit leathers; and gum for chewing. I also packed two meals for them that served as lunch, but these extra snacks and treats kept everyone happy in between meals, and we had plenty leftover for our second day of travel.

Throw in a few unexpected surprises: I brought along a package of freeze-dried Neapolitan ice cream developed for astronauts. The kids thought it was very interesting and we had the opportunity to talk about why in the world would astronauts need to eat their ice cream freeze-dried and out of a pouch.

If you are a frequent traveler, or infrequent like us, what do you find works best to keep your littles happy while on the road?

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