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!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

We closed on our river lot today!

Hooray! We closed on our river lot today. It is one big first step toward building our home here in the city and it’s a long time coming.

We signed the papers this afternoon and then headed to the lot for a little flag raising celebration. 

For the next four months we’ll be working with our architect to develop our home design. More to come on that but for now you can check out our Ideabooks to get a feel for the new direction we're headed. 

Friday, October 10, 2014

Homeschool: Let Go or Be Dragged

The start of the school year came and went for us without fanfare. Roscoe’s pre-schoolmates and the kids of most of my friends had started kindergarten by September 2nd, but the boys and I remained in Summer mode as we waited for the 9th to roll around. Eager for Fall’s arrival we spent what would have been Roscoe’s first official day of kindergarten picking apples in the humid heat atop a mountain in Charlottesville, and then roaming the promenade downtown for gelato.

The boys’ first day of school did eventually arrive, and the combination of a truncated preschool schedule and Merritt being slow to warm up to his new routine meant that Roscoe and I didn’t get the one-on-one project time we had planned for that week—though we were able to make up for it in the afternoons, the three of us.

First Day of Homeschool 2014
First Day of Preschool 2014, Merritt is pleased that he has his own decorated cubby
I’m very quickly developing an appreciation for the non linear unfolding of homeschool life.  It really does require a long term view or big picture perspective as the day to day happenings may or may not reflect our hopes or intentions. 

Let go or be dragged.

Our first month of homeschool has been a lot more relaxed and a lot more fun than I expected. The first week was awesome; Roscoe was so focused on dissecting, showing his brother the finished specimens, drawing them, taking pictures of his work, and watching dissection videos online. By the second week he he had satisfied his curiosity after dissecting eight animals, (which was actually accomplished over 4 weeks because he started this work in August) and next he wanted to practice computer skills; he wanted to watch documentaries about dinosaurs, and play make believe dinosaur games, and make animal habitats, and animal fort/dens for he and his brother to play in; he wanted to play animal charades; he wanted to go to Starbucks and order and pay for his own food. In the third week he called himself a mad scientist and made bubbling, oozing experiments in the back yard with self chosen ingredients from around the house, then changed direction again and asked to go for a nature hike, to scale the big ravine walls, to go to another coffee shop to play games from the game shelf. He’s requested trips to the library to play computer games and to check out books on everything from castles and knights, to secret agents, police, and military weapons. 

Roscoe's interests have rapidly taken on a life of their own. Some days I wonder where this homeschooling gig is taking us, but I can't help but marvel at his enthusiasm and joy for learning about the world around him.

Dinosaur play and documentaries
Smoothies and the introduction of Mancala
Successful rockwall scaling
Library mornings
Last week I introduced clay to the playroom and we had a collaborative making session contributing different pieces to a forest scene with caves, snakes, worms, snails, lizards, and other small creatures. This week we searched for different kinds of clay and bought some tools to expand their skills and exploration. Roscoe built onto the previous week’s theme and made a big sea serpent and added a bee hive to the inside of his cave, as he figured out how to twist the clay into a hive and pinch out plates on the back of the serpent.

3D representations in clay
We’ve made it to a few playdates at the park with our local homeschool groups, and friends. We’ve jumped right into Maker Monday’s with a handful of boys and girls ranging in age from 3 to 11 years to build and dismantle and explore together in the woods. 

A new friend showed Roscoe how to catch and hold chickens at Maker Monday
Working together to build a fort, learning how to use new tools, exploring 12 acres of family farm
We’re enjoying getting to know some other elementary school families while working along side them in the GROW Community Garden at a local private school that shares our learning philosophy.

Turning mulch, watering the beds, pulling weeds
All this to say that our homeschooling so far is feeling very UNSCHOOLING to me, which I’m coming to terms with. I’m open to following the unschooling path, and it does feel good for us right now. I also have to keep reminding myself that Roscoe is just five years old. He’s learning things! He’s learning how to ask questions, how to find answers, and he’s understanding himself better: how he likes to spend his time, what his interests are, and different ways to explore them. He’s made big strides in writing his name, and recognizing letters, and he’s learning about a lot of different kinds of making materials and ways to express his ideas. We’re enjoying our time together, which says a lot, and we’re meeting new people and experiencing new things every single day. 

Roscoe seems to be running with the freedom that he has to choose how he spends his project time. I can see one obvious project theme of animals/nature emerging, and several others that aren't as well documented: building and law enforcement. I imagine he'll settle into a deeper long-term project at some point, but we're not in a rush.  

Anticipation for the start of our school year has peaked and I’m happy to note that it’s still just us, doing what we always do but with a little homeschool twist. That the transition has been smooth and no big deal, really, comes as a surprise and a relief for this Type-A mama. That I’m having fun and enjoying the way our days play out is a sign that this is a good fit for me too.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Family Camping at Assateague State Park

Last weekend we took our first beach camping trip as a family. We pitched our tent in the sand with only a grassy dune separating us and the sea. At night the sky lit up with a billion stars like I haven’t seen in a long time, and the wind carried fire smoke on it’s tail. It was very beautiful, a little romantic, and a lot of fun, despite the kids being sick with bad colds and a few things we'd do differently next time.

The last time Andy and I had a real campout we were on a sandy beach in Kauai at the end of the 11-mile Kalalau trail. It wasn’t too long after that we learned I was pregnant with Roscoe, so it's been more than 6 years since we've slept under the stars, and never before with the boys. 

In the spirit of trying new things and getting out into the world with the kids, we picked a long weekend in September for a camping trip on the barrier island of Assateague. (Did you read the story of Misty of Chincoteague as a kid? These are the islands that provide the backdrop for those wild pony stories!) There are two main camping areas to choose from: Assateague State Park and Assateague National Seashore. There are subtle differences between them but we chose the state park because it felt more hospitable with hot showers and flushing toilets. 

It was a 4.5 hour drive for us and as we crossed the bridge to Assateague Island on Friday afternoon, we were greeted by wild ponies gathered along the shoulder of the road nibbling grasses as traffic slowed, and then backed up with spectators. That’s kind of the way it goes there. The ponies are everywhere and despite posted signage—graphic photo posters of reasons why not to touch or get too close (They bite! They kick!)—people cannot resist them. The horses are a huge draw for families, and photographers, and animal lovers alike. We were not disappointed!

Welcome to Assateague! 
We set up camp soon after we arrived and then took to the beach. 

Car camping at the dunes

The ocean is always magnificent, and the kids pranced wild and free until they remembered that hot cocoa was next up on our itinerary. 

Sears Brothers
We warmed milk on our little one-burner stove and added to it a homemade cocoa mix that we'd brought from home. We read bedtime stories, and sang by the fire. Yes, I've been practicing my singing voice, and Roscoe and Merritt are really into it so they’ve taken up learning the songs that I’m learning, which is very sweet and endearing. We've had a lot of fun with it lately and the campfire set a great stage.

The makings of bedtime at the beach
The quadruple marshmallow roaster
Ghost crabs were abundant in the evening! (In Merritt's hand)
Headlamps are a must for camp kids
The kids were asleep by eight, and Andy and I enjoyed the nighttime breezes and a marshmallow or two before we crawled into our makeshift family bed around nine. 

Sunset over Assateague
One of my happiest memories from camping as a kid was waking up to the cold air of morning and then, with few cares in the world, nestling deeper into the warmth of my sleeping bag until breakfast was ready. I'm in charge of the morning routine now and I loved waking up to the sunrise, leaving the kids to snuggle together, and preparing breakfast as Andy worked on building the fire. 

Shortly after breakfast the ponies came through camp. Someone tipped us off about five minutes before they arrived so we walked to the end of our loop and waited for them. A little herd of five ponies walked through each site, sniffing and nibbling and picking through whatever they could find. We quietly trailed them for as long we could without taking our bare feet too far from our own campsite.

Cautious excitement
We didn't know it, but Saturday was National Park Day and we had free admission into the Assateague National Seashore. There were a number of great beaches, and three perfectly short hikes that offered a glimpse of the different eco-systems in the area: Life of the Forest, Marsh, and Dunes trails. Each a half mile long, we had hoped to hike all three but the mosquitoes were swarming and we turned back on the forest and dune trails because we just weren’t up for the itches; I think we're still recovering from the trauma of black fly bites in Maine! Instead we spent the rest of the morning into the afternoon at one of the nearby beaches.

Later, and still in our suits, we stopped in at the Assateague Island Visitor Center to check out the educational displays, while the kids spent most of their time at the touch pool with scallops, clams, mussels, and a horseshoe crab. 

On our way back we dropped Andy off at our site to enjoy a little respite while I took the kids to a playground near our camping loop. Then it was dinner and campfire antics, and early to bed for all of us.

We hope to make camping a bigger part of our life outdoors because it offers such a unique and intimate nature experience, and we can set up camp just about anywhere that we'd like to spend more time or explore. The biggest obstacle is equipping ourselves properly and streamlining the packing process so that we can prepare for our trips without spending hours gathering and re-packing supplies, meal planning, and trying not to forget anything important—and I find that everything feels important when we're camping! Designated storage bins to hold all our gear in one place, plus a printed checklist would be a really helpful start.  

As for equipment, a few key items would have made this trip even better. Good sleep is no less important when on vacation, and sleeping on the sand made for hard nights for us adults. We had lazily improvised a family bed of sleeping bags on the bottom and a down comforter on top, which isn't an arrangement I would choose again. After discussing with a few of my friends who regularly camp with their families I think we'll invest in two queen air mattresses. We'd also love a bug screen to prepare food and eat under, and a bigger stove so we have more versatility at mealtime.

We Love Camp!
If you plan to visit Assateague, here are a few other activities that caught our eye that we didn't make time for:

In addition to kid-friendly hikes, there were quite a number of free ranger guided park programs available like clamming, and crabbing lessons. We didn't have proper footwear so we skipped them, but next time we'll look forward to those. Canoes, kayaks, paddle boards, and bike rentals are also available in the national park. I would also suggest bringing bikes and helmets if you have room because both the State and National Parks are very biker friendly with paved trails throughout.

Do you have any tips to share for family camping newbies like us?

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