Blew the deadline, saved the story

Over the years people have asked if I could write more about the process of writing and publishing.

Nope. I can’t.

Because I can’t speak to The Process or pretend I know how it works for others, but I did agree to share more about my own. As with everything, I try to be real about things, including sharing those moments when the column is due the next morning and … nothing.

Which is what happened last week with my monthly Raising the Hardy Boys column. You’d think I’d have my back-up column ready after all these years, but no.

It’s not that I had nothing to write about because that’s not even a thing! But, the column I’d been working on just wasn’t coming together at all. I hope someday it will because there were some good parts, but mostly there were a lot of soapbox moments and trite tangents. So, I was back to nothing. On deadline. Literally nothing.

Some of the possibilities swirling around my head and heart were either too personal for publication, didn’t meet my criteria for honoring the boys’ privacy preferences or were too raw to write about well.

So, here’s me the night before it’s due:

Due yesterda

 

I posted this status update:

So this is happening ... it's not that I don't have anything to say, just that, you know family paper and all that. #process #writinglife #reportermama#writingiseasywaitwhat

And went to bed.

Yes. I did. I prayed about it, wrote in my journal for awhile and had faith that it would come by morning.

And … it did.

Almost on time

Right on time

New status update:

Last night I posted about the column that was due yesterday - and I had zero words and no idea how I was going to pull this one off. Nailed it: 6:59 a.m. 29.9 inches, 897 words that matter to me, and maybe to some of you. And that headline? One of my favorites. Can't wait to share it with you guys! Now off to the job that pays the bills because#writinglife #raisingthehardyboys#deadlinesgetitdone

I woke up at 3:30 a.m. with the idea of what I wanted to write about and had some sweet material collected on my Facebook page from sharing little bits and pieces of conversations and moments observed, some of which I was able to weave into the words that I woke up with. 

One of the best moments was when it hit me how tired I was going to be at work, and I still didn’t have a headline, I just typed in “the gift of now” which wasn’t quite right and then that rush of THIS came as I retyped: “The present that lasts.”

And when you read the column you’ll see why that is exactly right. And that rush, the thrill of nailing it made up for the sleep I’d lost. That passion fueled what sleep could not. I did go to bed early the next night though, because, you know, I’m 40 now.

I can’t explain or describe how that all works, right? I can only share the experience and say that it does work. There’s an alchemy of inspiration, spirit, word nerdery and the discipline of showing up to do the work. Even at 3:30 a.m. Also, deadlines are their own kind of magic.

Elizabeth Gilbert opens her book Big Magic with this:  

Q: What is creativity?

A: The relationship between a human being and the mysteries of inspiration.

Funny story, so I posted some progress updates for my friends and readers on good old Facebook and my editor waited until everything was turned in to remind me that it was actually due last week. I used to pride myself on not missing deadlines. Ever. Then I slowly changed that to having good, respectful communication with my editors about them. And now, apparently I am blowing them off completely. But this one is worth it, at least it was to me.

Soon I will write a column about how I got my act together, but I don’t want to get ahead of myself or anything.


To Elf his own, a manifesto of sorts

To Elf his own

 Hey haters!Here's the thing...

Dec 2, 2015

By NATHALIE HARDY | Yamhill Valley News-Register

Raising the Hardy Boys

While many holiday gatherings have been seasoned with heated conversations over foreign policy, arguments about presidential candidates and a debate or two over the best way to baste a turkey, I’ve already gone a few rounds defending my practice of, and passion for, elfing.

If you’re anywhere near social media, you’ve heard of Elf on the Shelf. It’s this slightly creepy looking, pint-sized phenomenon bringing merriness to some families, and madness to others.

In short, the elf arrives sometime before Christmas and appears in new places, serving as Santa’s little narc.

That NSA-esque approach isn’t my thing, so our scout elf is on the lookout for good deeds. He also provides an element of mischief and merriness as he pulls little pranks, like putting miniature marshmallows in the kids’ oatmeal, or cues up the DVD player with a Christmas movie when we thought we were watching “Wild Kratts” for the millionth time. 

It started as a self-published book a decade ago by a mother and her two daughters. The trio never dreamed their little vision would dance in the heads of children and Target CEOs everywhere.

And, as is the case with everything in America, Elf on the Shelf is controversial. 

Not as much as, say, the subject of Syrian refugees, but it’s right up there as a first world problem blown out of proportion. 

Some say: Too commercial!

Oddly, it’s also a massive self-published success story in a country that often cheers on ingenuity. But, apparently, there is a limit to how much success we can tolerate someone having, especially if, God forbid, it brings joy. 

Others insist: It’s not really a tradition!

Says who? I mean, what exactly makes something a tradition? 

A tradition, as I understand it, is something cultivated and passed on from one generation to the next. 

Still others prefer not to be haunted by the doll, because it’s creepy, like clowns. I’ll give them that.

There’s actually a name for a true fear of elves: fayophobia. For those suffering from this condition, I suggest staying off social media or temporarily hiding your elfing friends because as far as I’m concerned, it’s time to hum Stephen Sondheim’s “Send in the Clowns.” 

And the one anti-elf stance I struggle with the most: “It’s just another thing parents feel pressured to do.” 

The challenge for me is not that others don’t want to do it. I get it. Some of you bake. I do not. Because I hate that. My problem is specifically with people who project their own insecurities or priorities onto me, and instead of simply opting out, they mock people like me who have fun with the little sprite.

I’m no stranger to insecurity; in fact, a few years ago, I fell prey to something I no longer tolerate: elf-shaming. I will never insist that to love me is to love the elf. However, to love me is to stop mocking me for the joy it brings to us simply because it’s not your thing. 

To elf their own, do it or don’t, but I would never tell a mama who doesn’t elf that she’s lazy, so why is OK for those who don’t get into elfing to suggest I have too much time on my hands? Or, as I often hear, that I’m trying to be a “unicorn” mom portraying a perfect life on social media. 

Here’s the truth: using that little elf as an avenue for intentionally creating joyful moments has gotten myself and my family through some of our darkest seasons. Not because I’m pretending difficulties don’t exist, but because in spite of them, it is our right to choose love, to live intentionally and to create our own joy. 

Yes, it is more work to incorporate our elf’s antics into an already busy season. As enamored as I am with our elf Finn, about three days into his arrival, I’m getting out of bed at midnight, muttering an alliterative expletive because I forgot to do something with him.

This is how I discovered Finn’s special feat of traveling all the way to the North Pole and settling back into place without looking like he even moved. I know, it’s amazing.

In nearly eight years of writing this column, the most feedback I’ve received was a couple years ago after my first article on Finn. Most of it was positive. But then, there were these deeply disturbing insults and mocking at my expense. I let the hating get under my admittedly porous skin. 

I elfed in private for a couple seasons, protecting those who didn’t wish to see this sort of thing blowing up their feeds. 

This year, though, I’m making up for lost time. You see, I’ve got my eye on the clock of my boys’ childhood. 

I see the writing on the wall in my older son’s sly grin and twinkling eyes. This season of magic is coming to an end for him. Soon, he will be one of us, the joy makers. I’m not wasting any more of the time I have left. 

Oh, about creating traditions? As I prepared for shenanigans with Finnegan to begin, imagine my surprise when I found him already peeking from a stocking hung in my room. 

Just like that, a tradition is born. 

So, my dear elf-hating friends, I get it. Hide me, un-friend me, do what you must to survive, because for the rest of us, it’s open season for Elf on the Shelf and I’m not holding back to spare anyone the suffering of our joy.

#sorrynotsorry. 

 

(If you liked this column, feel free to share the love with your friends, I’d love to hear what you think! Unless it’s that I have “too much time on my hands” because: no.)

Nathalie Hardy recently published her first book, “Raising the Hardy Boys: They Said There Would Be Bon-Bons” available at local bookstores and online. Hardy writes in the margins of her life with two little boys and a husband who understands deadlines come before dusting. To contact her, visit www.nathaliesnotes.com.

Her second book “Merry is Optional” was just published by Ridenbaugh Press and is available on Amazon. For more ideas and tips for holiday fun, with or without an elf, visit www.nathaliesnotes.com.

To “like me” like me, find me on Facebook at Nathalie’s Notes, on Twitter or on Pinterest. I’m a prolific pinner on deadline. Just sayin’.


The Screw Not Swallowed

The screw not swallowed

 

By NATHALIE HARDY | Yamhill Valley News-Register

DEC 5, 2014 | COMMUNITY

 

 

Clip - December 2014

This could just as easily be called, “The boy who didn’t swallow a screw.” It all goes toward describing a particular Sunday five years ago that we still talk about to this day.

In fact, it’s a story about how new holiday traditions are unexpectedly forged in families, sometimes through adversity. As a result, we now have a tradition of getting our Christmas tree as early in the season as possible, lest we get “screwed” out of the opportunity.

Let me preface this by making sure you know I was nine months pregnant at the time. And I wasn’t cute, basketball pregnant. No, I was waddling around using a geriatric grabber tool to pick up my toddler’s toys off the floor.

The day started normally enough.

As with all stories you don’t know will be important someday, you forget the ordinary details because you don’t think they’ll matter much. But I do recall we were a bit bleary-eyed, having lost sleep to a windy night that kept banging something into the side of the house.

My husband, Matt, and I were looking forward to taking little Sam, 2 at the time, out to cut a tree. The plan was to spend the afternoon decorating it.

In the meantime, I asked Matt to do something with a table that had been blocking the hallway for weeks. He said it needed some new screws, and Sam wanted to help.

As Matt ran downstairs for something, I heard a strange coughing and choking sound coming from upstairs.

Matt got there first, with me trailing. We found Sam was holding a screw in one hand and looking suspicious.

Me to Sam: “Did you put a screw in your mouth?”

Sam: “Yeah.”

Me: “Did you swallow the screw?”

Sam: “Yeah.”

Me: “Did you swallow a fork?”

Sam: “Yeah.”

Me to Matt: “This is not a credible witness.”

But Sam was holding his throat and looking pale, so I called the doctor. As I waited for a return call, I realized he was no longer our doctor, as Matt’s company had changed to Kaiser, and even though I was pregnant, I’d yet to line up a Kaiser replacement.

Yes, during my pregnancy. Is that even allowed?

I didn’t mention this change as I talked to the on-call doc, though.

She said it was unlikely he swallowed it in such a short amount of time with such a small amount of fussing. But she said sharp, spirally wood screws can be dangerous, so suggested we head to the ER for an X-ray, just in case.

I was pretty sure this was just a peace-of-mind exercise. That being the case, I packed our sweaters and camera in the car before we pulled out, thinking we could stop by the tree farm on the way home.

Matt, meanwhile, was intent on locating a metal detector so we could conduct a do-it-yourself scan. That involved a series of phone calls, including one to our local police department, and a visit to his beloved Bi-Mart.

Matt returned from Bi-Mart with a stud finder, but no metal detector. I couldn’t help but wonder if that was tantamount to me stopping by the scrapbook store on the way to the ER to pick up some materials we could use to document the event.

Because of the aforementioned Kaiser business, we had to drive clear to Clackamas.

Unfortunately, time was passing, and it became obvious the granola bar, fruit leather and pair of mandarin oranges reposing in the diaper bag weren’t going to pass for lunch for one, much less three. So we made a quick stop at Safeway as well.

We finally made it to the hospital, where Sam was awesome, despite being scolded by one pediatric-phobic nurse for being “too wiggly.” Even Sam’s stuffed giraffe wore a little paper towel “shield” on the X-ray table.

Many, many hours later we learned that no screw had been ingested. We were finally free to return to our home turf — that is, we would have been, if we hadn’t run out of gas.

Luckily, we were within walking distance of our house by then. So I waddled on home in the freezing cold.

With all the time we saved not cutting and decorating a tree, Matt was able to move the table I mentioned.

We planned to get one the following weekend, but other problems arose. I’d have to look at pictures to see if we actually ever got one that year; I’m not sure.

As a result of this fiasco, we no longer “plan” to get a Christmas tree at the Hardy house. Our tradition goes like this:

I start talking about how I want to make sure we get the tree right after Thanksgiving. At some point thereafter Matt takes the boys out for breakfast and they “surprise me” by bringing home a tree.

The three of them tromping through the house, dragging a fir tree across the floor, is my favorite moment. It kicks off this festive time of year, celebrating childhood traditions and creating new ones to, um, cherish.

Since she’s not busy ironing napkins — or anything else, for that matter — Nathalie Hardy has more time to write in the margins of motherhood. Something else will have to give, as she’ll be marketing her new book, “Raising the Hardy Boys: They said there would be bon-bons.” Members of her family are supportive, provided dinner is still served. After all, they didn’t specify by whom. Feel free to drop by, preferably with food. To contact her, visit www.nathaliesnotes.com.

P.S. Did you catch that in my new tagline – I did it! As I type this my first book, Raising the Hardy Boys, is being printed. So. Much. Yay!


Their baby’s famous, but ours came first

By NATHALIE HARDY | Yamhill Valley News-Register

SEP 2, 2008 | COMMUNITY

Nathalie’s Notes: As I’m editing my book I thought it’d be fun to share some of my earlier columns with you. In this one Sam is 11-months old. And Jake is maybe just starting to be an idea.

 


"Oh, no she didn't!”

I kept repeating it as I found myself wading in the shallow end of pop culture again, livid at the birth announcement for the world's most famous twins. 

"Why is this even news?" I muttered to no one in particular.

First, Angelina Jolie steals my boyfriend. Then, she has the nerve to give their love child the same name I so carefully chose for my son, thereby changing the conversation he will have about it for the rest of his life.

Second only to becoming parents, what to name our baby is the biggest decision my husband and I have made. It was no easy feat, as both of us worked in public schools, where we were exposed to the best and worst associations with many names.

Then, there was the fact that we each had some baggage with our own names. 

Matt's parents, who swear they never hit the peace pipe or go on gambling binges, gave all three of their children names with 21 letters.

For Matt, this meant dropping one of the 't's commonly used in Matthew. It also meant spending most of his school years as 'Matt H.'

Then there was me.

As a painfully shy kid, I dreaded roll on the first day of school. The teacher would call out, "Anna," then pause while she struggled with the rest of my name. "Naythalee Orvateez?" 

"It's Oravetz," I'd explain. "And the Anna and the 'h' in Nathalie are silent."

I'd cringe at the snickers behind me as the teacher corrected her roster. 

We thought we'd spared Sam all of that first-day-of-school awkwardness when we finally settled on "Samuel Knox." His first name is a classic and his middle name is unique, in addition to being meaningful to us.

Our son's name contains our hopes for the person he will become: confident, easy-going, creative and true to himself. We figured he'd pick which one he wanted to use as he made his way through life. 

We got a lot of flak from both sides of the family about our selection, but we paid little mind and filled out his birth certificate as planned.

Then, a few months later, it happened. My son's unique name was hijacked by Angelina Jolie and thrust into the spotlight of public opinion. 

I was devastated when Brad and Angelina named their son "Knox." What started as a meaningful name for us for our first born would forever elicit this response: "Knox? Like Brangelina's kid?"

Lest you think I exaggerate the potential ramifications of this disaster, I assure you Brad and Angelina have serious pull with name rankings. According to the Social Security Administration's website, Maddox and Shiloh - the names of two of Jolie-Pitt's children - are steadily climbing in popularity. If Sam decides to go by his middle name, he may end up being a "Knox H."

Flash forward to Sam's first day of school. His teacher will raise her eyebrows and try not to roll her eyes as she pegs us as celebrity fanatics.

I will, of course, teach Sam to say, "I was born first." But it will be too late. Assumptions will be made.

To find out the top baby names in Oregon, visit www.socialsecurity.gov. The site features a list of the 1,000 most popular names for each year since 1880.

For the record, 'Knox' hasn't made the top 1,000 since 1888. 

I hope Sam likes his name. I really do.

But whether my son thinks his name is good, bad or indifferent, I hope he grows up to be the kind of guy who knows that the names we are given are far less important than the one we make for ourselves.

Nathalie Hardy is a local freelance writer who can be found at random hours, taking notes as she walks Sam in his stroller. She invites your feedback - provided it doesn't include the phrase "unfit mother" - at nathaliesnotes AT gmail DOT com.

****

Question: I’m planning to publish the columns as they ran originally. But I’m also thinking of writing some of my current thoughts/notes in the margins. For instance on this one, I’m thinking of adding the stats and story on Jake’s name. And a story about how I wanted to start calling him by his middle name, Henry, because it was less common. Until the lady next to me at the park stood up and called for her son, Henry, to stop walking up the slide.

Yes? No? Just leave it as is and save the rest for the scrapbooks?

And – also – mostly, I think  my target audience is anyone who has a child, or is one – so wide range there, right? But, I’m also thinking of putting in some notes on the process of how these columns came to be. Some are more interesting than others, but is anyone outside the newsroom interested in that kind of thing?

Decisions, decisions.

(I really am asking for your opinions, email me or find me on Facebook at Nathalie’s Notes.)

 

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You say bored like it’s a bad thing

By NATHALIE HARDY | June, 2014

Published in the Yamhill-Valley News-Register

At the time of this writing, there are precisely 11 days until we experience our first summer vacation with a grade-schooler.

Sam is already counting down the days, not because he doesn’t like school, but because he can’t wait, and this is a direct quote, “to use my new skills to have a lemonade stand.”

He tells me, “There’s going to be a lot of math to count all my money. But first I need some money to buy supplies. Can I match socks or something for money?”

Of course, Sam isn’t the only one thinking about summer. I’ve noticed social media is all aflutter with posts like, “How to beat boredom with these easy, low-cost ideas,” which touts ideas that, in fact, don’t appear to be either easy or cheap.

You know what’s actually easy and cheap? The library. Local parks. The backyard. A picnic.

Kids don’t need gourmet sandwiches, right? Anyone who has ever prepared an elaborate spread only to be met with a tearful, “But I wanted peanut butter,” knows what I’m talking about.

You know what bugs me the moYou say bored like it’s a bad thingst about all this advice to help parents “beat boredom?”

First, I think it’s twisted to tell parents they need to find ways to fill all the moments of a day now unoccupied by school. That’s just crazy.

Second, I can assure you that my mom didn’t worry about this kind of thing. Not. Ever. This whole movement to keep kids occupied and engaged all the time seems to be a modern “problem,” and I’m not a fan.  

Third, it’s a lie. In truth, boredom is awesome.

There. I said it.

For those treating boredom as something to be cured, I beg to differ. Being bored is a luxury. Being bored is having long stretches of time with nothing to do but think, which leads to creativity.

Nobody in history has ever died of boredom.

Boredom leads to having ideas, both good and not so good ones. Boredom means time to try something new. Time to wonder. Time to stare out the window. Or, to count cracks in the ceiling, or blades of grass.

But to read some of these articles, you’d think parents everywhere should prepare to be doomed if they haven’t already scheduled every second of summer.

What am I going to do this summer? Um, laundry, maybe minus sorting socks. Supervising backyard play, from a distance. Like from inside the house, where I will be folding the aforementioned laundry. And going to the park. Also, the library. A lot. I’m also open to visiting most places with air-conditioning.

God help me, the boys seem to want to get into BMX biking, so I’m sure there will be a lot of that in my near future. Also, more stained laundry.

But other than that, we’re wide open. And that’s by choice, not chance.

I want my kids to have windows of unstructured time because you know what actually “cures” boredom? Imagination.

If well-meaning adults can stay out of the way long enough, without pressing play on a show or offering up a cure before the child has time to think up something on their own, the kids will be fine.

Obviously, I’m not advocating leaving kids to their own devices for hours on end. Some guidance and simple supplies are needed.

But kids can make a lot happen with a whisk and a bowl. Add water and it’s “Hello, happiness!”

The best antidote for boredom is a kids’ imagination. And like our muscles, imaginations must be used. They must be pushed to their limits to thrive, or they risk atrophy.

Far from being absent in the equation, I see parents as playing a key role in fostering these opportunities by offering suggestions, encouragement and, most importantly, the freedom for kids to exercise their imagination.

It’s true, I haven’t yet made it through a full summer with a school-aged child. So I may have a big, fat mea culpa for you at the end of the summer.

But right now, I’m thinking more like this: If I start getting bugged about small people being bored, I’ll have to start charging a nickel every time I hear it.

That could cut into some of that lemonade profit. Just sayin’.

Of course, looking forward to planned trips and spontaneous adventures is an awesome part of summer, too. But, I tend to have more fun being spontaneous when I, er, plan for it. 

So last night over dinner, we made a list of things everyone in the family would like to do this summer. There are a lot of repeats from last summer’s list: “county fair,” “Tunes on Tuesday” and “camping,” among others. But we also decided to check out each park in Newberg at least once this summer.

The list is long. We might not get to everything. But it’s fun having that posted where we can see the vision we created together.

I plan to master the grill, or at least stop setting food on fire. I also plan to join the kids in the library’s summer reading program. That might be wishful thinking, but that’s kind of the point.

Also on that list are “bike rides” and “play in the backyard a lot.” Just so you know, those came from the kids.

As we enter this season of squeezing lemons, stubbing toes, sunburning shoulders and stretching long days out before us, I want to remember it’s a short season in more ways than one. So, most importantly, I’m planning to soak up as much of it as I can.


Postcards from home

By NATHALIE HARDY | May, 2014

Published in the Yamhill Valley News-Register

I’m fielding a lot of questions these days about how things are going for my stay-at-home mom redux.

It’s a fair question. I usually come back with something flippant about missing bathroom doors that lock and luxuries like uninterrupted conversations and driving in the car with the radio turned up. Oh, and my co-workers, I miss them a lot. Not that my 4- and 6-year-olds aren’t super conversationalists, but it’s not quite the same.

So, truth be told, three weeks into this transition, I’m still figuring out the answer to how it’s going, except to say: We are still adjusting. Some things are awesome, but others, not so much.

Shortly after I left my job, I got a package in the mail with a coffee cup and a note from a friend saying she “missed my mug.”

My husband eyed the gift suspiciously. That’s because the mug was inscribed, “World’s Okayest Mom.”

You see, not just anyone can give a gift like that. But it came from the right person. I love it because it reminds me that being a good mom is all relative, so to speak.

Bottom line, we are really doing just fine, even if the contents of my desk are still in the living room, and I haven’t even started any of the sewing projects I planned to do once I was back home.

First, there’s the fact that I don’t sew. Then there’s the troubling reality that I don’t have the time I thought I would.

In my head, I figured the boys were two years older than the last time I was home, so there wouldn’t be any diapers to wash, they would be able to get a drink of water for themselves and I wouldn’t have to watch them every single second to keep them from choking or sticking something into a socket.

Alas, it turns out they are also two years more clever. Though they prefer I don’t watch them so closely, I probably should.

Also, there’s a lot of blood that comes with doing tricks on bikes and playing with sticks. Yes, they can get their own water and snacks, but it’s amazing how messy independence can be.

But I hesitate to complain, because that would be like getting to go on vacation somewhere awesome, then complaining about the view from the room. Except not exactly.

This is more like a staycation, and it doesn’t feel very vacation-y — not between the whole not really sitting down much thing and the not having a moment to myself thing.

Also, being a stay-at-home mom is a total misnomer. You guys know that, right? There’s actually not a lot of staying home at all. But that’s a topic for another column.

Who referred to this as a vacation again? Oh, right. Me. My bad.

Shortly before I went on my final paid vacation as an employed person, I told my editor I would be willing to write a story from Palm Springs while I was visiting my parents there.

“Are you sure? I mean, it’s your vacation,” she said.

And then, as if I didn’t know better, I followed up by saying I would basically be on vacation once I was back home with the boys. It came out wrong, but still there it hung in the air, perhaps the dumbest thing I’ve ever said.

There was an awkward pause as we let that set in, followed by laughter. “I look forward to hearing more about that vacation,” she said.

Okay, so there’s not exactly an umbrella in my drink and no time for postcards, but I am mostly loving having more time with my little ninja wannabes. Plus, I do get to read for fun now. Actually, it’s really just paragraphs at a time while the boys set up a track and practice their tricks before asking me to “Watch, Mom! Watch! No, with your eyes!”

Fine, fine. I’ll watch. I am aware that their childhood has already been a blur, and if I blink, “Look at me, Mom!” will just be an echo in my memory.

In honor of Mother’s Day this weekend, I raise my mug to all the other “okay” moms out there, who are keeping things real by maintaining a sense of humor and remembering to count their blessings instead of their burdens.

Also, just as kind of a public service announcement, I would not recommend that awesome mug as a Mother’s Day gift from, say, husbands.

2014-04-16 12.01.38

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Our (not) first day of school

sam orientation for blog blur

We had a little misunderstanding that came to light in the minivan yesterday.

While there were tears shed across the state on back to school day yesterday, my boys cried because they weren’t going to grade school.

When we rolled up to drop the boys off at preschool/daycare, Sam cheerfully told his brother, “Goodbye, Jake. I’m going to Kindergarten now.”

“And so I go too,” said Jake.

Except no, to both.

Though Sam will start school tomorrow, Jake is a ways out from his first day pics.

But, Sam did get to go meet his teacher at which point I had an opportunity to practice reacting to misunderstandings and confusion of my own.

First, I was flustered at the front office, fumbling to get my license out of my purse while the other parents gathered in the hall listening to the teacher. I misunderstood the sentence “personal time for you and your child to get to know the teacher and classroom” to mean it would be just us.

Instead it was a whole group, which was fine – great, even. It’s just not what I was expecting.

I was impressed by the teacher giving the kids a task to play with a tub of specific toys, and my kid may or may not have helped organize the organizing effort. By color, and by type of material. Love. Him.

Sam orientation for blog

Oh, and can we talk about supply drop off? Because that threw me off too.

I was flustered at the supply drop off because it was more of a random dump with little direction or clarity.

So, let’s talk about those supply lists for a sec.

I was proactive and downloaded one marked for this school year (for sure, I’ve checked a few times).

But, alas after checking that list off, we received a letter in the mail with different and conflicting supplies.

People! I’m trying to be perfect here and that shit messes me up!

Also, how about some labeling instructions. Really, it’s easier to do it at home with a Sharpie than in a crowded classroom while I’m trying to casually stalk my child to see how he’s interacting.

Community supplies? Sweet- just let me know in advance so I’m not letting Sam pick which color scissors he wants when really, it’ll fall into the “get what you get and don’t throw a fit” clause.

I’m the kind of person who always wants to be prepared, always wants to have the extra pencils in case someone needs to borrow one and I like doing things right.

But it’s not about the tissues or about doing everything right, right? 

It’s about how you react to being thrown off. It’s about learning to find your balance even when the ground below you is unsteady.

So while it’s Sam’s first day of school tomorrow, it’s also my first time with a kid in school – we’ll get it figured out in time for graduation I’m sure.

Oh, and one more thing. When I first heard through a friend that my son’s teacher was going to be a man I was a little tripped out.

Like damn near everything else about parenting it didn’t match the picture in my head for what would happen when Sam started Kindergarten.

Mr. Teacher won my heart tonight

“When I was a kid, I was a boy and recess saved my life.”

And that’s when I realized it was all going according to plan, even if it wasn’t the one I came up with.


Overheard by Reporter Mama

Reporter Mama Observation: This work thing is time consuming!

But, I’ve been writing draft posts … not to mention the collection in my head so hopefully one of these days I’ll get caught up on them.

In the meantime, here are a few overheards from last week and a link to my most recent column “Meaningful action starts with silence” chronicling my reaction to the rash of tragic shootings.

Ironically, this column with the word “silence” in the title brought a lot of emails in response, and I’m thankful for all of them because it’s always nice to know when your words resonate with others.

Overheard in the newsroom:

Context: Reporter on the phone.

Quote:

“So, you’re saying I misquoted you but you haven’t read the story?”

- Name withheld to protect the innocent

Overheard on the beat:

Context: I’m paraphrasing but this was said during a meeting addressing a man who appears to one of Yamhill County’s own hoarders. In reference to all the junk on his property the man said:

Quote:

 “It might look like junk but really it’s camouflage.”

- Name withheld because I kind of felt bad for the guy.

But, I can’t wait to tell Matt all the crap on our front porch is … camouflage. That’s totally going in the book.

Overheard in the minivan:

“I wish we could take a boom truck to heaven and make sure Lucy is still alive there. And pet her. I still love her.”

- Sam

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Overheard

On this gorgeous Sunday in Oregon, I’m procrastinating writing a final draft of my birth story column … I’m looking through old drafts of emails and posts to find some specific phrases I want to use and found this little gem. I meant to post it a couple months ago, back when we were funny and more happily married. But even then there were cracks in our caulking … metaphorically and otherwise.*

Here ya go – overheard around the Hardy house:

Me: Good news! I finally found something that will scrub that nasty buildup on the caulking in the tub.

Matt: Why are you looking at me like that?

Me: Well, because now it has to be re-caulked so it’s back in your department. But it does look so much better!

~~~

Matt to me early in the morning as both boys are comfortably asleep in our bed while we have cramps, kinks and dead limbs: We have to figure out a way to keep these kids out of our bed!

Matt to me after getting home from work and seeing my new organizing project-in-progress:

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That should keep them out of our bed. Where are we going to sleep though?

~~~

When Sam started “marking” his and Jake’s cars with my nail polish, inspired by his dad and uncle’s system circa 1979, I got a headache from the smell. He was marking each one so … intricately.**

 

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Me to Sam: You’re not taking them to prom! Just do one dot and move on.

~~~

Me to Matt (after the aforementioned project was completed***):

I’m not sure which is the title, the deed, and what all that stuff means so in the event of my untimely death it’s all in a file marked “{street name} – title.”

Matt: I’m not planning to throttle you or anything.

Me: Or, you could’ve said that in the event of my untimely death paperwork would be the least of your concerns … not to put words in your mouth or anything.

 

*Guess what? We are working on repairing this marriage of ours. Despite what anyone else tells me that feels harder than going through with the divorce. I have faith, though, that it’s the right thing to do for me personally, and for our family.

** Why, you might wonder, are some marked with pink AND red. Well, naturally those cars belong to both boys.

*** Y’all get that when I say “completed” I mean, removed from the bed and turned into small landmines throughout my office/bedroom/studio right? Okay, good.


Snapshots

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One of the things I like so much about Project Life is  that I take random pictures like this thinking it’s just a quick snapshot of today. But this little snapshot says so much … Jake longs to go to school with his big brother and more and more wants to be able to do what he does, hence his own “bucket” full of a few of his favorite things. He carries it all the way to drop Sam off, all the way back home and then back and forth again for pick up. This snapshot represents exactly where we are right now, which seems to change in a blink.

Soon enough, Jake will have his own “real” school bucket and these moments we have alone together will be a fond memory. I like that this project encourages me to appreciate those things as I’m living them.

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In this shot, you see how we roll … racing … always racing. And how I parent … you can carry your coat or wear it …