Who is Raelee?
Well, here’s my story – probably more than you want to know, but here goes…
In mid-winter of 1972 I am born in the big sky state, Montana, named Jennifer Rae Pflueger, the fifth child in my family, hence an explanation of my father’s nickname for me, Cinco.
In 1974, at age 2, we move to Couerd’Alene, Idaho. I want to change my name to America and my parents actually consider it. Our family is seen as slightly odd – we’re Baha’is, my adopted brother is black, and we put peanut butter on our pancakes.
In the spring of 1979, when I am 8, my dad becomes 90% blind from detached retinas, one in each eye; we lose our house, his business, but our spirits are surprisingly high – no one panics and we continue to have lively family dinners each night like always.
In the summer of 1980, my oldest sister packs for her freshman year of college, my dad announces that he feels inspired for us to pack up and leave for New Jersey. We put on “I Love NY” t-shirts, pack our bags, load our Toyota and a U-Haul with four kids, ages 19, 17, 14, and 9, a Cock-a-Poo named Rocky, a cat named Tom, and a friend named Dan and we travel across the US from Idaho to Teaneck, New Jersey. My brother supports the family working at the United Nations building in New York City.
By summer of 1982, we are headed for Hadley, MA. I start 6th grade in a one-room school house building with a graduating class of 25 children. One of my sisters gets married. My dad regains most of his eyesight through surgery and starts his new company.
Summer of 1988, dad is inspired again to move and we practically sprint to Chapel Hill, North Carolina to get away from the frigid winters of the Northeast! This will be my 5th time being “the new girl.” I start my junior year of high school at Chapel Hill High. My dad decides we should change our last name from Pflueger to Estes. Estes is my maternal grandmother’s maiden name. She was a Baha’i and so this is meaningful to all of us and I become Jennifer Rae Estes.
In 1990 I graduate from High School without regrets and without sentiment. I’m finally ready to start real life. I board a plane for the summer to volunteer at Bosch Baha’i School in Santa Cruz, California to prepare myself to start my freshman year at Meredith College, an all-girls Baptist school in Raleigh, North Carolina. I end up with a wonderful Muslim roommate from Kuwait at Meredith and I help sponsor a race unity celebration. Iraq invades Kuwait, my friend loses her childhood home and her parents are forced to live in Raleigh.
In 1991 I decide to take a year off of college and go on a Year of Service to the Maxwell International Baha’i School on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. It’s a life-changing experience to be away, on my own, volunteering with 18 other Baha’i youth my age.
In 1992 I find out that my parents had a spiritual naming party for me when I was born. My mom’s best friend suggested they name me “Raelee” – Rae after my dad (Ray) and Lee (after my mom Joanne Lee). My parents loved it but thought it would be too weird and went with the number one name of 1972, Jennifer. I am determined to become Raelee when I start college my sophomore year and go through the formalities to legally become Raelee Estes.
By 1996 I graduate from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a Bachelors in Communication Studies with an emphasis in Family Relationships. My goal is to work with women and children in some capacity. I get my first job with Public Allies through Americorp working for Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina. As the Community Educator, I drive a 34-foot Winnebago across the state to educate the masses on Positive Discipline and anti-spanking.
In the spring of 1998 I’m restless in Raleigh and feel ready for love. I apply for a job as the Healthy Families Coordinator in Lafayette, Indiana and get the job. I start my new job in July, set up a cute house, get a cat and end up meeting Glenn, my future husband, a month later. It is love-at-first-sight for both of us. Glenn is a Baha’i, 3 years older than me, cute, smart, funny, and charming. We make big plans.
In January 1999 I marry Glenn and we buy a house in Durham, North Carolina; we pick the names Isaac and Isabel as our two favorite names for our future children on our honeymoon. I start working at Communities In Schools of Wake County as the Volunteer Coordinator. I become the Families And Schools Together coordinator and have dreams of becoming a Certified Parent Educator. I discover Redirecting Children’s Behavior and become a Certified International Network of Children and Families facilitator. I start booking parenting workshops in my spare time and parenting challenges keep me up at night.
In 2001 I start my new job at Horizons, a program for moms recovering from substance abuse sponsored by the OB-GYN department of UNC-Hospitals in Chapel Hill. I’m the Parent Educator and love my job. Being around all of those mamas and their babies made me itchy to be a mom myself. In December I experience the loss of our first baby through an early miscarriage. Devastated, we cry for 3 weeks that winter. I find out how common miscarriage is and how so many women I know have had one or more. I’m shocked and relieved and scared to try again.
By February 2002, I surprise Glenn with a positive pregnancy test on Valentine’s Day. We both know it’s a girl, our Isabel. We attend 12 weeks of Bradley Birth Education classes, become patients of the local Birth Center, hire a doula and learn all there is to know about having a water birth. I quit my job at Horizons and Isabel is born healthy and happy in October. Despite our desire to have natural childbirth, we succumb to a C-section as she experiencs fetal distress from being wrapped in her cord. I keep Sears and a copy of The Continuum Concept by my bed as I nurse on demand and co-sleep for just over 2 years and sling throughout her babyhood. I am determined to know all about VBACs for our next birth.
In 2004, I continue to provide community parenting workshops and I apply to become a Certified Parent Coach with The Parent Coaching Institute in Washington State. We struggle to make ends meet on one income, but stay determined for me to be home with Isabel. We move into an apartment in Chapel Hill to save money. We start talking with my parents about building a multi-generational home in Chapel Hill.
In January 2006 we welcome our little boy. He doesn’t seem like an Isaac to me and we spend weeks trying to agree on the right name for him. We finally decide on Keaton. We hire a birth doula and a postpartum doula for our VBAC. Keaton’s birth is magical. With my midwife and doula and Glenn by my side I push without drugs for about 25 minutes and get to pull him out and lay him on my chest. He comes out with his eyes wide open, weighing a hefty 10 lbs 4 ounces. I am woman, hear me roar! I nurse Keaton for 2 years, co-sleep, and use the Moby Wrap, Baby Ergo, and Over-the-Shoulder sling interchangeably.
In July we move into our newly built country home with my parents. We have created a home with one side for my parents and another side for ourselves, with a kitchen in-between to share. We have big family dinners and coffee chats in the mornings. We go to Virginia together to celebrate my graduation as a Certified PCI Parent Coach and www.noblemother.com is born. Isabel starts preschool at Moss Garden, a Waldorf home nursery and I become more infatuated than ever with Waldorf philosophy.
In April 2008 I fly to Seattle to become a trained facilitator of The Virtues Project. The kids are sleeping in their own bed together, Keaton is weaned, and life in the multi-generational home is good.
By September Isabel starts kindergarten at Woods Charter School and Keaton starts preschool at Moss Garden.
In September 2008 I launch my new Noble Mother Site to help support moms who want to parent with integrity, acknowledge the spiritual growth motherhood provides, and help parents create simple, calm childhoods for their children despite our chaotic, hyper, media-influenced, materialistic culture.
In November 2009 We make a huge financial decision to send both of our children to the Emerson Waldorf School in Chapel Hill, NC. Isabel is busy knitting, painting, jumping rope, and drawing pictures in her main lesson book from the fairy tale stories she is read. At home, we decide to go TV-Free and the children play games, bake and cook with me, help with chores, play outside, create art projects, and have endless imaginations. Kim John Payne, author of Simplicity Parenting visits our Waldorf School and presents his introduction to Simplicity Parenting.
February 2010 I fly to Bellevue, WA to become a certified Simplicity Parenting Group Leader.
May 2010 Kim Payne invites me to join the Simplicity Parenting administrative team and I become the Communications Director for this wonderful movement! This creates a big shift in my work with noblemother.com and I am now the blog editor, website manager, group leader support for marketing and technology, and strive to continue to coach and lead my local simplicity groups!
July 2011 I begin working part-time as the Outreach and Marketing Director for the Emerson Waldorf School, connecting more families with a school and family community that provides children and parents a village of attachment in these distant and detached modern times.
September 2011I attend a 2.5 day training in San Rafael, CA with Development Psychologist, Dr. Gordon Neufeld to explore the grounding and eye-opening theory of attachment.
October 2011 to present I am hired as the full-time Director of Admissions at the Emerson Waldorf School and have the privilege of supporting and educating parents on the benefits of this unique education philosophy. I continue my work in the realm of parent education in the home on weekends and evenings.
March 2018 I have completed the Discipline and Guidance Training with Kim Payne and Carrie Thomas Scott. I have started offering these training online and at the Emerson Waldorf School based on the Soul of Discipline book.
So, now you know. That’s my journey; that’s who I am; that’s what I do. Welcome! I look forward to learning more about you and your family, the path your life has provided for you to get to your present moment.