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, September 14, 2014

A love letter to the James River, and Good News on our Search for Land: we're under contract (again)!



One of the things I love about Richmond is that it is a city of surprises. I’ve lived here for more than 10 (non-sequential) years now and the place still feels new and vibrant and special to me. Every week we rediscover why we love it so—a new restaurant, a new shop, a new overlook or nature trail. When it feels like we’ve explored all there could possibly be we happen upon another unexpected or new-to-us gem.

The Pony Pasture rapids, and the scenic roadway that connects to it, was once one of those unexpected surprises. We first met on a Saturday in the Fall of 2005 during a training run for the Richmond Marathon. My route that day was a 15.5 mile loop beginning at the Boulevard stadium, whipping through the preppy Libbie and Grove neighborhood, down and across the Huguenot bridge to Riverside Drive, up to Forest Hill Avenue and through Westover Hills, across the Nickel Bridge, around Dogwood Dell and Byrd Park, then to the homestretch on Boulevard and back to the stadium. (In case you run RVA and are in the mood for a little sight seeing.) :)

The happiest part of the route is the two miles that spans the river along Riverside Drive.



Here, on the James, it is another world; a nature retreat well within city limits. Along Riverside Drive the trees arch up into the sky, reaching for each other, high across the flat roadway that unfurls beneath it. The river here belongs to no one and everyone. In the Summertime people from all around spill out into the water and the road bustles with pedestrians on pleasure walks and dog walks, runners, cyclists; families making their way to and from the water's edge, inner tubes and coolers in hand; kayakers and paddle boarders carrying their transportation overhead to nearby access points. On the other side of the road is a haunting rural landscape of mansions old and new that loom over the great edge of the grassy hill on which they perch, and water-filled rock quarries that pool down below. Every day the sun rises at one end of the river and sets on the other. The River sees it all. If I had a church this spot would be mine.




Riverside Drive leads to Pony Pasture rapids, part of the James River Park System. This is the place we go to when the river is high to stomp along the trails that run parallel to it, taking care not to get too close, remembering that nature can be a wild beast; this is the place we go to when the river is low, and the boulder-studded underbelly emerges for periods long enough to allow green grasses and habitats to grow thick and high, a terrarium of earth, sky, and water. We walk the trails then too, but it is with purpose to find a little thicket opening to crawl-through and emerge on the other side into our own frontier, where long afternoons are made for rock hopping, creature discoveries, and slippery expeditions out into the shallow playground. The views are handsome and we are a part of the river as the river is a part of us.  

It took me more than five years of living in Richmond to find this place, and it has lived in my heart ever since. 

***

We’ve been semi-enthusiastic renters since 2011 when we moved back to Richmond for good, and we've been actively surveilling a few key areas in and out of the city for these past 3.5 years in search of just the right piece of land. We've known of every lot that has come on the market in these particular areas, and there haven't been many as the city is old and well established. The choice though, has always been to pursue small obscure opportunities found in the city, or acres on acres for much lower prices outside city limits. It’s been our joy to dream of what each situation could bring.

Earlier this year, two lots at Pony Pasture arrived on the market. We had just recently decided to cool it, after the Varina lot fell through, and for about a month we drove ourselves crazy passing by those two lots every day on our way to somewhere by the river. Finally, we called our realtor. We sat on it for a bit. We made an offer on one of them, and negotiated a price. There were extenuating circumstances on the part of the seller's and the deal couldn't move forward. We waited, we called more lenders, we looked at every other possible avenue. Months passed. Summer ended, and then earlier this month we tried again.  

Our offer was accepted, and we are officially under contract for a half-acre wooded lot. The best part is that our closest neighbor is the trusty river. Always offering up something new for us and never one to turn down adventure or quiet solitude. The choice will be ours. We close in October! (Barring any unexpected challenges, ahem.)

The first time we walked the property, last Spring.
We met yesterday with our architect Scott. It was a drizzly morning and the smells of the earth of our future homesite were rising up, lush and welcoming. I’ve been saving my enthusiasm for the end of this process, when I know that the land is good and finally secured, but I have to admit that standing together under the tree canopy sharing our vision with Scott and hearing his take on how best to nestle the house into the hillside, it was, well, hard not to feel the thrill. This has been our dream for a long, long time.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Roscoe's Plan for the First Week of Homeschool: animal dissection


The latest branch of Roscoe's inquiry into the animal world—his first and enduring passion—comes in the form of dissection. It's something he has expressed interest in for many months now and began with a desire to dissect a snake after he viewed a particular documentary about anacondas. Then, over the summer, after finding several eastern box turtles on various hikes he decided a turtle would be better.

We went online and looked at the different animals available and while he could have chosen either a snake or a turtle, he was enticed by a dissection kit that included seven different specimens of various anatomical complexity: a worm, grasshopper, crayfish, clam, starfish, perch, and frog. He liked that the kit came with all the special tools he would need.

At first, his interest reminded me fondly of my own dissection experiences in highschool and college biology, but then I came to wonder why he wanted to cut open and dissect nature's little creatures. Eventually though, I realized that he is just genuinely curious about what animals look like on the inside, and he likes the close-up view and intimate exploration that the dissection experience provides.

***

Sunday night I sit down with Roscoe to touch base and to discuss what he hopes to accomplish in the week ahead.

He scowls and says, “Well I don’t want to just have a conversation. That’s boring! I want to type.” So I say sure, and bring my computer to the table. He helps type in my password and then I open up a new document and type at the top: Roscoe’s Plan for the Week. 

He sits in his chair on one side of the table and I find my place across from him. I point to his bulletin board on the dining room wall and read off some of the ideas that he’s had in the last few weeks: create habitats, construct dens or forts for animals, answer the question: "How do I handle venomous, non-venomous and constrictor snakes, and scorpions?", see a baby logger head turtle....

“Do you want to work on any of those ideas this week?" I ask.

He seems genuinely disinterested but continues to type with much enthusiasm. Tap, tap, tap! 

After a moment he stops typing and peers over the monitor to say, “Oh, yeah! I want to order a new animal to dissect.” Then he's back to typing. Tap. Tap. Tap. Tap.

I remind him that he still has four animals left in the dissection kit that we ordered a few weeks ago and ask, “Would you like to finish dissecting the animals you have before you order a new one?” 

He says yes, he wants to dissect the rest of the animals in one day, and declares he will dissect the clam first. He wonders how he will open the clam, and then quickly answers his own question, “I think I’ll use the scalpel to pry it open.”

"Good idea." I say. “Ok, so we’ll work on dissecting the animals you have, and we’ll start with the clam. When you’re done, we can order a new animal.”

“A pig!” He shouts with a grin. 

Then he turns his computer screen to show me the text he has typed and asks me to show him the words he has spelled. I scan through the lines, and highlight in blue the words “yoyo,” “my,” and “poo.”

Here are a few photos from the frog and perch dissections. (He's also dissected the starfish.)

Counting and comparing frog fingers and toes to his own
Practicing proper technique for disposable glove removal 
Drawing frogs post-dissection
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