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, January 31, 2016

Week 21: Bedrest Becomes You

It's been a wild week and a half. Two Thursdays ago we were gearing up for the biggest snow storm of the year. Our fridge was filled with ingredients intended for potato soup, cream biscuits, buttermilk pancakes, winter tea, and chocolate yogurt—comfort foods to make a treat out of being housebound for the weekend. All we needed, then, was a thing or two more of firewood and we would be set.

Andy had been traveling on business in the days leading up to Thursday morning and he arrived from the west coast via red-eye around 10am. On his first step into the house the kids bombarded him with their new lego builds and crafty things they'd created in his absence, while pressing to know what he had brought back to them from his airport convenience store raids for knick knacks and sweet things. Soon after, we bundled up and left to grab lunch at our favorite coffee shop, leaving Andy to nap, and returning home around 1:00 so I could make it to a routine cervical-length check appointment—my first since the preterm consult I wrote about here.

While my cervix had been a normal length (3.1 cm) at 17.5 weeks, in only two week's time it had funneled to just 7 mm. I was admitted to the hospital on bedrest Thursday night and scheduled for an emergent cerclage. The procedure itself carries inherent risk to pregnancy, and we weren't certain there was enough tissue to stitch, but a cerclage was successfully placed on Saturday. I stayed over for post-surgery monitoring and discharged late Monday afternoon.

My writers mind has been blocked these last 10 days. There's been so much activity, information, worry, and wonder—peace in my mind creates space to write with purpose, and it's been challenging under the circumstance to focus in on any one thing to write about in a coherent way. The winds have been shifting daily, and that's probably part of the challenge. I have been writing to process though it mostly occurs in text conversations and notes I make for myself, and some journaling here and there—but for my you, my reader, I've not really known where to begin. I'm probably more timely on Instagram right now, if you would like to follow along over there.

The current situation is this: I am on bedrest until I give birth. Given the nature of my pregnancy, my providers have shifted a degree, and my midwife is now serving as my doula, her collaborative physician is now my primary OB, and I'm planning a hospital birth at one of two local hospitals that I will get to choose from based on my preference for their NICUs—one has established mother baby rooming-in, and the other is undergoing a big transformation that could translate to a similar setup in the coming weeks or months, but I will have to wait to see how it all comes together. I'm also being monitored by a maternal fetal medicine specialist.

The cerclage buys time, but we don't know how much time. We are expecting Winslet to be born early, at 30 weeks or sooner. I am 21 and 2 days today and 24 is the magic week of viability. My goals right now are focused and simple: to connect with my daughter; to rally my family to protect Winslet and to remain adaptable to our new normal; to take each day as it comes; and to ask for and accept help.


Andy has altered his work schedule so that he's home 2 days a week to help me and to take Roscoe and Merritt to activities outside the house. My mom and sister are helping on the weekends and we have homemade dinners arriving nightly from friends in our community. My mama friends are coming to help with the boys and to bring their kids over for playdates. I feel well supported and so grateful. I was discussing with a friend how these strict boundaries and limitations, while challenging in their own way, do elicit a greater appreciation for the details of regular daily life, and it certainly sparks creativity and a desire to make the best of what this (crazy) season is offering me at the moment, much like seasonal eating in the winter time when variety is slim and it first looks like you don't have much to work with. I think it helps that this forced hibernation is occurring mid-winter, when everyone else is compelled inside too. Though I was annoyed by the temps today—in the high 60's—and I realized that at this point I would feel much better if it were bitter cold and miserable outside.

While my enthusiasm for bedrest will surely wax and wane, right now there is a pleasant novelty to it. I've picked up a knitting project I shelved a few years ago, and I've ordered some craft kits from purl soho to give me something to do when there is downtime. I have a new book of Henry David Thorough's work, which I will be reading voraciously for any and all inspiration. I'm craving a nature walk right now, in a bad way, and I may have to set up an observation station outside so I can sip warm drinks from a perch of my own making to feel the wind and hear the sounds, and watch my breath create smoke in the winter air. A firepit this time of year could be my new oasis.

Beyond bedrest, we are all adjusting to spending more time together as a family, and helping the kids to function when there are two parents around, with the primary one sidelined. Our general routine was a shifting of responsibility, either Andy was on or I was on, but we didn't spend a lot of time each week all together, the four us. It's also tough to parent from the couch. That's not really working well at all! The boys are under their own stresses and worries for the situation, new routines, and lots of new faces around the house. Their emotions run high, so we are being mindful of their process and trying to help them to make sense of everything and stay even keeled. And for me, I've had to give up (along with everything else) my regular workout routine, which is necessary at this time but also steals away a core part of my being and a daily mental health outlet that I have learned to heavily rely on. So there's all of that!

Still, I know this is all just a matter of time. Tomorrow is February, and by June Winslet will be home with us, and we'll be hurdling together into the Summer months. The interim of now is not forever.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Beauty Counter Giveaway: YOU pick the product, Leave a Comment to Win



If you've been curious to try BeautyCounter, now may be the perfect time.

I don't often do giveaways, but when I do I pick a brand I really like and make the giveaway really simple.

All you have to do to enter is leave a comment below. You can earn additional entries by taking some other easy actions like sharing this contest on social media or placing an order.

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If you care about the quality and safety of the health products that you and your family consume, from household products to hair care and makeup, you've probably noticed that the spectrum of ingredient-conscious brands has expanded and improved so much in recent years, both in quality and accessibility. Some of my longtime favorites are Alima Pure, Honest Co., Pit Paste, Dr. Bronner's, and Mac's Smack, but the process of trial and error to replace my old, less-safe brands with new safer ones is ongoing.

I was recently introduced to Beauty Counter by my friend and former neighbor Rebecca who also reps the brand. I sampled a few nice things and decided to buy a pot of peppermint lip conditioner, and a bottle of level 3 face oil—a delicious ylang ylang and wild chamomile essential oils moisturizer.

Beauty Counter's products can be a bit pricey, but I think they are a worth-it splurge if you are looking for a quality product that you can feel good about using on yourself and your kids, or if you're looking for an alternative to try as a replacement for a not-so-great brand that you've come to rely on, or if you're just looking to treat yourself. Since Beauty Counter is sold exclusively online I like that I have access to a consultant for personalized recommendations, to have my questions answered by someone who knows and uses the products, and to maybe even sample a thing or two in-person before I commit.


About Beauty Counter

Their mission is to get safe beauty products into the hands of everyone.

According to their site: There are more than 80,000 chemicals on the market today. Many don't have any safety data. This is particularly true of those used in the skin care and beauty industry. Only about 10% of the 10,000 chemicals commonly found in personal care products have safety data ... and the Food and Drug Administration (the agency that regulates cosmetics) allows companies to use chemicals known to be extremely harmful (lead, formaldehyde, and phthalates) in the products we put on our bodies and on our kids every single day, day after day.

At Beautycounter, they've banned more than 1,500 ingredients setting a new health and safety standard.

Check out this glossary of ingredients carefully chosen for inclusion in their product lines, and likewise, a list of ingredients you'll NEVER find in any of their products.


A Few Words From Rebecca

Almost two years ago, after several close family members had some scary health diagnoses, I decided that I wanted to be more mindful about the beauty products that I use. Around that time I found BeautyCounter, whose mission is to provide safe personal care and beauty products that are extremely effective and high quality. I decided to try out a few things. My first order included Every Day moisturizer and Face Oil #2 and I was immediately hooked.

About a year later, our family moved to a new state. I was 8 months pregnant and left my full time attorney job. After my healthy baby girl was born, I had been home a few months with no real job prospects. While I loved being home with my little ones, I still felt like I wanted to do something to keep my mind busy and give myself another purpose. I contacted an old friend from college (now my BeautyCounter mentor) about joining BeautyCounter as a consultant, and the rest is history. I was very inspired by the stories of Mompreneur's on BoldHeartMama while I was kind of adrift professionally, so I have to say this community was an inspiration for me to get started, too.

I am currently back working full time and managing my BeautyCounter business, too. BeautyCounter is great because you can really make it your own. Some women do this full time and supplement their families incomes, while I have a smaller business that caters mostly to friends and family. I thought that this would be a great place to partner with Jacqueline for a giveaway because BC and BHM share many similar goals, such as mindful self care, little luxuries, and that entrepreneurial spirit. I'm so excited to share BC and hope you love it as much as I do! I'm happy to answer any product questions or talk a little more about BC's mission.


The Giveaway


On to the contest. You can enter to WIN ONE FULL-SIZE product of your choice, excluding gift sets. ANY product! If you've been hesitatant to make the investment for any reason, now is the time to enter, win, and see for yourself!

There are several easy ways to enter, choose one or do them all to increase your chances of winning! Please leave one comment for EACH of your entries. 


1. Check out BeautyCounter's website and leave a comment to share the product/s you'd like to try, what you'll choose if you win, or any other topic you'd like to share!

2. Share on Facebook and tag me @boldheartmama

3. Share on Twitter and tag me @boldheartmama

4. Share on Instagram and tag me @boldheartmama

5. Place an order through "BoldheartMama's BeautyCounter Social" Link at top of page

6. Schedule an online social with Rebecca by contacting her at rebecca.p.riemer@gmail.com


Good luck BoldHearts!

The Fine Print: The BoldHeartMama BeautyCounter giveaway will close January 28th at 11:59pm EST. Winner will be chosen via random.org's random number generator and announced on February 1st. Winner will choose one full-size product, excluding gift sets, and chosen product will be shipped to the location of winner's choice. All entries will be verified; comments that contain more than one entry will be counted only once. 

Need a few ideas for where to start? In addition to the Face Oil and Lustro Sugar Scrub highlighted in Fall's Small Comforts Little Luxuries post, I also like the Enrich Body Butter. When my current brand of body oil runs out (soon!) I want to give the Rose Neroli Body Oil a try next. Annnd, with yummy scents like vanilla orange swirl and fruit cup I'm also curious to give the kid's bath collection a whirl: Nice Do Shampoo, Not A Knot Conditioner, Squeeky Clean Body Wash.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Week 18: Calm

This morning Andy and I shared our first date in a long while for a pre-term consult and the "20 week" anatomy scan. Baby is healthy and perfect, and it's official: we are having a little girl! I suppose we could have trusted the DNA fragments from the labs drawn at 10 weeks, but it was nice to get a visual confirmation the old fashioned way. We also got a quick glimpse of her face in 4D, which is always a bit wild (and sometimes concerning) but this time I melted a little as she does look a lot like her brothers, oh child of mine.

A first glimpse of baby w's profile. 

The last few months have been hard. Debilitating morning sickness and exhaustion that lasted well into the 16th week, mixed-in with Fall homeschool, and muddled by the Holidays; it has felt like a marathon to me. While this pregnancy challenges me on many levels the promise of a new year, and new beginnings, seems to have come at just the right time. 

My melancholic fog lifted around Christmas, in large part due to morning sickness finally (finally!!) leaving, but also the welcome intrusion of the Holiday into what has otherwise been experienced as a repetitive and unrelenting existence for far too many months. With Andy home and family around to share help with the boys I was able to unplug from my responsibilities for small amounts of time. Finding an extra hour or two more of sleep each night was almost transformative, and the opportunity to connect with real live people—after months spent sleeping it off in bed or hermitted away inside our house—was essential to feeling human again. It's hard to mother alone, and that fact has been underscored for me, yet again, in these Fall and early Winter months.

After feeling so low for so long, the positive energy shift was palpable and I wanted—and needed—to focus it on the good and fun parts of expecting a baby: picking her name, preparing the house, buying a thing or two for her to wear. I've put my feelers out for a birth photographer, I'm looking into placenta encapsulation, and I'm considering hiring a postpartum doula. (Did you eat your placenta?! I want to hear all about it if you did.)

We are in the very last stages of securing financing for construction of our house. Permits have been pulled and everything but the final appraisal is complete. The new house won't be move-in ready before the Summer, so our baby will be born and spend her first months in our current rental, making it easy for me to prep for her arrival because we don't have a lot of space to fret over. I'm going a simple route with plans to keep her clothes in my side dresser, and a bin for diaper-change necessities on top. I'll assemble a nursing station next to the big comfy chair in our living room and, other than gifting myself with a new sling, I think that's most of what we need.

In a nesting frenzy last week I pulled down from the attic the crates of newborn clothes I'd squirreled away for future babies, and sorted through everything marked 0-6 months. I threw away quite a bit, made a bag for goodwill, and sifted through all the boy stuff to find the gender-neutral pieces. I washed two loads of preemie (so tiny!) and newborn layette, folded them, and tucked them into the little spot I've cleared space for in our bedroom. I ordered a handsome ombre banner with her name on it to hang in celebration of her arrival, since she won't have much else that is hers in our house. I intend to have everything ready by 25 weeks, just to be on the safe side, but my consult today did give me new hope and peace of mind for a normal pregnancy and birth.

Based on the context of my past pregnancies and birth history, my perinatalogist is optimistic that I'll carry to term. I've declined progesterone prophylaxis in favor of watchful waiting of my cervix and bimonthly monitoring. If at any point it begins to shorten I'll get a cervical cerclage, but hopefully that won't be needed. This approach relieves much of the immediate stresses I associate with anticipating an early birth by reducing the dreaded element of surprise because we'll have information to go off of all along the way.

For now I'm relieved to know that our girl is healthy, and that she has a good chance at a peaceful entry into the world.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Mulled Cranberry Punch: A Winter Guest Post


Recipe for Mulled Cranberry Punch. A guest post by Heidi Bone, kitchen maven extraordinaire, seasonally inspired Pinner, and mini blogger at Deliberate Cookery. The boys and I love this recipe. They prefer theirs cut with apple cider, and I have enjoyed savoring small cups of this addictively tart non-alcoholic drink in the evenings while I wait for the kids to fall asleep. Don't worry, you can add a little something to yours if you're feeling more festive. :) Thank you Heidi, for sharing your inventive culinary spirit with us!

Winter is the perfect time to play with a recipe like this fantastic mulled cranberry punch because HEAT is necessary for the infusion of spices in juice.

This warm and spicy punch is married with honey to create a sweet and tart drink that makes a lovely companion for dark mornings and afternoons, when aromatic steam rising from a simmering pot in a chilly kitchen is incredibly comforting.

The fun in this recipe is it’s versatility. Experiment with the flavors and make it your own! I look forward to stockpiling a variety of juices this winter and simmering small batches with spices, herbs, and teas just for fun, and for warmth of body and soul. I hope this recipe inspires you to find your new favorite drink this season.

Let’s get started!


Cranberries are über tart. If you take a perusal down any juice section of your local market most cranberry juices are sold in cocktails and blended with grape or apple to cut through the tang and highlight the sweet notes, so it can be a challenge to start with only pure organic unsweetened cranberry juice. I used R.W. Knudsen’s organic "Just" cranberry sold in a 32 oz. glass jar.



The Basic Punch

Combine into a large stock pot or sauce pan:
  • Cranberry Juice, 32oz. 
  • Two fresh squeezed oranges (I recommend something high in natural sugar content, like a sweet and juicy Cara Cara or Sweet Valencia.)
  • One tablespoon of crushed mulling spices (You can make your own with what you have on hand! See below.)
  • Eight crushed cardamom pods
  • One tablespoon and a half of pomegranate or hibiscus flowers (Find them at your local health food store.) 
  • One knob of ginger 1/2 to 2 inches in length, chopped (Add more if you like more spice, or less if you don’t.)

Once combined you will have a big pot of spicy acidic tang! Bring to a boil without a lid and then lower to medium-low heat and simmer 20 minutes or more, taste-testing the infusion to your liking.
 

Now Sweeten...

To sweeten the mix naturally and nutritiously I would use the Really Raw Honey brand or, if you can afford it, Manuka honey. Of course, local honey is fine too. Start with half a cup of honey and add more to taste.

Strain...

Once it tastes the way you like, strain and funnel into your favorite serving pot or, like I did, back into the glass jug the cranberry juice came in for refrigeration.

and Serve!

I recommend a 6oz serving at a time, warmed stovetop.

Variations: 

The fun in this recipe is experimenting to make it your own:
  • Try a different juice as a base
  • Add a bit of rum at night for extra warmth
  • Steep loose or bagged rooibos in this mix for extra depth, 1tsp for 1 serving or or 1 bag for the pot. 
  • For a sweeter cranberry punch, use half cranberry and half pear/apple/grape/or carrot, with less honey
  • Add fresh citrus peel or zest
  • Serve with honey sticks, for the kids
  • Drink cold over ice: 
    • Try half punch and half lightly sweetened herbal/green/black tea,
    • or half punch, and half coconut water, or seltzer in the warmer months


MAKE YOUR OWN MULLING SPICE MIX

I buy a bulk mulling spice mix at the farmers market but you can make your own with any combination of what you have on hand at home: fresh or dried orange peel, cinnamon bark, allspice, cloves, and anise seed. Check the bulk section of your organic market to assemble your spice mix less expensively than buying whole individual containers of each spice.


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