Stay Curious.
Dig Deeper.
Nurture What Matters.
Be BoldHeart.
Enjoy Your Life.

Welcome to BoldHeartMama!
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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, April 29, 2015

Telling the story of the Modern Nature House design with updated images, elevations, and 3-D drawings

The images I shared from my last post were screen captures from my phone. The official pdf images tell a more complete story of the house design so far, so I want to share these with you too. 

I've included the elevations and 3-D drawings.
Floor plans


Back, and Side facing the lot next door

The lot that sits to the right of our property is empty now, but we assume the owners have future plans to build. We're hoping to get started first. :) Both lots are about a half acre, ours is a corner lot and the front and back of the house face a road. The design creates pleasing views of the house from both angles and also creates a shield for whatever happens on the lot next to us.

As much as we love the look of glass houses, our lot isn't set on a wide open prairie or ocean vista, it's hillside looking out over a wooded neighborhood. The windows we do have are strategically placed to provide specific vantage points.

The house is situated on the land in a way that allows for near perfect passive solar orientation so the light will be magical here.

If you missed it in my last post you can check out our ideabook to see how exterior materials can be used to convey the natural world in a house this modern.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Exterior Schematics: The Modern Nature Home

The basic floor plans were completed a few weeks ago, but as the house evolves in whole all the parts get updated, like the addition of hatch windows to connect the guest bunk with the screened-in porch, a mini-bar outside the master bedroom, and some reconfigured doorways on the second floor. Note that despite the likelihood of another baby we will be keeping the house design as is with only two kid bedrooms. :)

When Scott first revealed the exterior schematic our initial reaction was to the very modern design.

Whoa. So modern! Are you surprised too?

We liked it but after a weekend of eager conversation we've really grown to love it, and while it's more modern than we had envisioned for ourselves, it is truly what we asked for and is incredibly well thought out.

The materials we choose to finish the exterior will integrate the nature element into the design. At the moment we're considering stucco, cedar, fiber cement, and metal.

Both the entry and the "back" front a road because we have a corner lot. The patio concept has yet to be developed.

The next phase of this process will include determining exterior materials, developing the construction documents, and a review by the structural engineers.

The budget is also taking shape as we have identified some key materials and products to use for interior flooring and counter tops.

Here are two (skewed) screen shots of the most recent floor plans:

To see how a house like this can be pulled off in the ways we imagine, check out these images from our Ideabooks.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Making the Call, Thoughts on Trying for a Third Kid

It's a warm rainy morning and we've cleared our schedule to savor a whole day at home for lounging and relaxing. There's a chocolate cake in the oven, the boys are engrossed in minecraft how-to videos, and I'm cleaning out the fridge with a covers playlist. Days like this make me think I could add another to my brood. #springfever #searsbros

I had all but convinced myself that two was enough. 

Two boys just 19 months apart. Same interests, a shared friendship. So neat. So conventional. So very manageable. 

There would never be need for a bigger car. Knowing we were done would be my invitation to purge all the baby stuff I’d hoarded away in the attic for later. Stuff we had purchased with every intention to pass down to more siblings and more siblings. Bins of tiny clothes for every age from newborn to five meticulously organized and stacked high, and myriad piles of plastic bags lumpy with toys—their return on investment yet to be realized. 

With the passing of just a few more seasons, I imagined these intensely physical years of mothering as the backbone on which I’d lovingly carry the salty milk-stained bittersweetness of what the days had meant to me—the sense of purpose I felt, the tender love and emotion that overflowed, the demands that screamed for me to reach and grow, my disappointment and my deepest joy of joys—I’d gather it all up with a fierce adoration, press our best memories to my heart, and we’d jet steadfast into the next phase of our life together with construction of our home on the brink and international travel penciled into the future—plane tickets are cheaper for a family of four, than five or six, didn’t you know?

With our youngest born when I was 28 we would remain forever young, parents with an empty nest at 44. Our shared fantasies of having kids out of diapers, and of sleeping through an entire night uninterrupted, had started to feel not only entirely possible but oh so very close.

The blossoming freedom we’d recently found as our boys grew to be four and five, we wanted more of that. In our marriage, which had fluctuated with great happiness and responsibility over the years, we’d learned to adapt and to thrive, and the elusive promise of a time when we would again have proper energy to give to each other and to ourselves had finally arrived. 

We established equilibrium with greater wisdom for what we needed as people who also happen to be parents.

A vasectomy was discussed—although neither of us made an effort to find out more—and we tabled the conversation for later because somehow the decision to declare an end to childbearing felt as big and weighty as had been our initial decision to begin in the first place. 

To make a decision so final felt like a painful responsibility. More bearable was to let time take the burden for us until one day I would understand for good that the opportunity had passed, and by then our life would surely have melded into whatever it was meant to be and the expected sting of a closed chapter would be lessened in hindsight.  

We did nothing and time passed as we knew it would. At 32, my endocrinologist emphasized that if I valued my future fertility I should consider freezing my eggs—if she were me that’s what she’d do—as early ovarian failure runs in my family history and I already have one autoimmune disease. 

The stakes ratcheted higher. Fertility is not forever.

Perhaps just waiting to see if and when our emotional tides turned wasn’t the best plan after all. If we could save ourselves from the disappointment and expense of waiting too long then the smart thing was to choose a path, knowing that every year could make a difference. 

But oh a passive wait seemed so much easier than committing because I wasn’t feeling like myself—still carrying baby weight from my pregnancy with Merritt, suspended in a body that wasn’t really me—and mothering my two wild boys day to day, homeschooling, life in general, it was all I felt I could handle.

Then there was Andy, adamant since shortly after Merritt’s birth that he was two and through. To make it all work in my mind—to meld my husband’s desires with my own perceived limitations—I built a convincing case that two could be enough for me. 

Certainly Roscoe and Merritt were enough. I had to believe it. How could they not be?

I looked for signs to push in one direction or the other. The scenarios of every day life under a microscope to glean what I could, longing to know if I was cut out for more. 

As my friends became pregnant with their third and fourth kids the radiance of pregnancy was lost on me, and even in the face of the sweetest parts of newborn baby life I was relieved to feel completely unruffled. Even the prettiest sleep-filled babies and peaceful mamas didn’t spark the wanting flame inside me, and it began to feel as if the passing of time really would soothe all. 

Yet, in the back of my mind I knew that none of it mattered as much as I owed it to myself to wait to make a decision until I could find my way back to my pre-pregnancy self, because it wouldn’t be a fair call otherwise. 

Staying fat had made it possible to tuck all the fear and questions away for another day, and avoid trying to solve the puzzle altogether. Ambivalence for wanting another baby, and doubt in my ability to maintain my own standard of mothering in the face of it all added another layer but the fat held all the power because I knew as long as I carried it with me I wouldn’t put my body through another pregnancy.

For reasons beyond having another baby, for good reasons like I was just ready and I had the time and energy to make it happen, I started to let go. The weight that I carried with me into the NICU and well into Merritt’s preschool years, the image of myself that I had grown to know and even like, I was ready to say goodbye—a final triumph to rail against all that my second pregnancy and birth had brought to my mothering experience. I had held on long enough.

The season turned and Spring brought us back in tune after a long Winter. When we emerged all seemed possible and the wanting for another child, a wanting that I had just buried somewhere deep because the timing was all wrong, it resurfaced just as the daffodils and periwinkle were blooming.

To feel the wanting again brings me peace, just as it makes me feel like my world is closing in on me. I won’t pretend I’m unafraid. I won’t pretend that the reality of another premature birth isn’t occupying space in my mind, or that the ugly frightening aspects of NICU life and postpartum anxiety don’t intimidate me. I can’t pretend not to wonder how the waning of my patience and a waxing need for sleep in the first trimester will impact my temperament to mother the boys during that time. I can’t hide that it feels damn good to be me again, or pretend that vanity and body image mean nothing.

I know what mothering in the first five years looks like for me and my memory of the details make this decision one for my bold heart and not for my logic.

The unfolding of the journey is the very stuff that life is made of and I think I’m willing to take a chance without knowing how the story will end.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Week 10 Seasonal Celebrations: 12 weeks to Seasonal Living and lots of photos

As Winter officially turned to Spring last month it was hard not to celebrate, wasn't it?  

In lieu of Easter, as much as I enjoyed the tradition growing up, we focused our energy on welcoming a new season around the Vernal Equinox, the first day of Spring. 

We counted down the days and intended to catch the first sunrise, but ended up sleeping in later than usual and woke up to rain anyway. 

I put out a little bowl of milk chocolates and a jar of salted caramels, and invited the kids in the afternoon to pick out some new science tools. Roscoe chose the Visible Man, yet another dissection specimen, and a blood typing kit. Merritt chose a magic school bus experiment kit about germs.

Roscoe typed his dad's blood: O+
We cleared out the craft closet and found vouchers for an ant farm and a ladybug house. We bought an incubator and took a visit to our friend's farm to pick up 8 duck eggs. The embryos are now about 6 days old with tiny beating hearts we can see when we candle them at night.

Welsh Harlequin embryos at 6 days gestation
As if by magic the week that followed was warmer than usual and we enjoyed more time at home in the afternoons, hanging out in the backyard with windows open and breezes blowing through.

We went for a little nature stroll through the backyard and the boys took note of the many signs of Spring: new blades of grass, acorn sprouts, periwinkle, leaf buds. 

Sunlight through the fence, new daffodils, green shoots

We gathered some knitting and art supply scraps to assemble a nest builder for the birds.

Merritt put together a still life from backyard pickings and I strewed some colored pencils and paint.

He was curious what Daffodils look like under the microscope. He found a tiny slug inside one who turned out to be very entertaining under magnification with its little retractable tentacles.

On the patio we drew flowers with chalk on the patio out back and consulted the Smithsonian's Natural History book as reference, one of our favorites.

We played with paint and explored making new colors. 

When April came we took a long holiday weekend to celebrate our wedding anniversary as a family on a sprawling farm near Sperryville, Va.

I loved the guinea fowl best. The noisy little watch birds run around in a small flock on the lookout for anything unusual or threatening. Our bedtime routine was interrupted one night by their squawking, and when I had finally given up on the boys finding sleep we peered outside to see that the hens had an unwelcome skunk visitor surrounded from the ground up. The boys ran outside in their jammies to check things out.

One guinea hen in the treetop, five on the ground 
Skunk chase
On Saturday, Andy and I hiked Old Rag, a 9+ mile circuit hike to the top of a rocky outcrop with an intense rock scramble to the summit. We didn't put a lot of thought into preparing for the hike, which made for a mentally challenging climb. We were underprepared for the number of hours it would take, the cooler windy weather that morning, and the demands of navigating a maze of boulders. The heights were dizzying but the views were gorgeous. Andy and I read our vows to each other at the top. I dug for them in the attic boxes before we left and it had been at least six years since I read them last. I had looked forward to discussing ways to revise them moving into our next decade but they read as true as they had ten years ago, even though we wrote them for each other when we were just 21.

I'm thrilled that Spring is here and I want to celebrate it every day. How about you?

Check out the HomeSpun Seasonal Workbook if you're interested in starting your own intentional journey to Seasonal Living.
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