How to read free ebook without a Kindle (and a secret)

kindleapp 1

You know you have to work on your marketing skills when it’s a struggle to give away a free copy of your book! I think part of that is we tend to not trust “free,” a concept to explore another time.

This morning I’m preparing to give a talk with this amazing group of women at a bible study group I still can’t believe I willingly, cheerfully and eagerly attend.

Some of you have asked if I visit book groups – if there are people there who love books then yes. Yes I do. I can also Skype in if you’re not local!

(I put speaking opportunities on the top of my goal list this year, as we close the year I have three talks booked before the end of the year. Pretty sure I would’ve put that off had I not set the intention and taken steps to make it so, which I’ll be writing more about next week because long-time readers know New Years is my favorite!)

Yesterday I posted the details of my free ebook deal on Amazon, it ends at midnight so take advantage soon if you want my second book “Merry is Optional: Christmas Chaos with the Hardy Boys” for FREE.

After sending that I got some emails asking me if people could scoop up the freebie if they don’t have a Kindle Reader and the answer is YES!

You can download, for free, a Kindle Reader app and “read it in the cloud” which is code for your desktop or whatever. It’ll look like this:

Kindle Cloud Reader

 

kindle app order

 

kindle app

 

You guys … want to hear a secret? It looks like we’ll be able to pull off our Christmas Puppy Surprise! Scout is on his way to his forever home, we adopted him and can. not. wait!!! The boys don’t know yet so shhhhh!  I have to believe that wherever Lucy Baby is in doggy heaven she’s happy for us too.

 

p.s. in case you missed yesterday’s post here are a few ways you can do your writer friend’s (say, me) a significant favor:

sent out an email to Nathalie’s Notes subscribers* asking begging folks to do the following:


- Go to Amazon and Download the free ebook. (I get credit for every download, even though it's free to you!)
- Like what you see? Please consider giving some star love in a review. These stars and reviews matter a lot! (Here's me begging. In a  totally non-annoying way...) stars
- Help me spread the word by telling your friends about this free ebook promotion.

 

Also, consider subscribing and get little dose of Nathalie’s Notes delivered to you from time to time whenever I post!

 

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’.


**Free** holiday ebook for you! No, please, take it.

Marketing tip: When you write a book, you should tell people. All the people.

Okay, so honestly it’s free for YOU … but also for everyone who downloads it between now and Thursday, December 17th. After that it’s a whopping $4.99.

(I know! And I get to keep HALF of that so Imma gonna get rich!)

Click here for your FREE copy of Merry is Optional: Christmas Chaos with the Hardy Boys. You don’t even have to read it now, or ever – I mean, I hope you do but no pressure. All I am saying, is download it to savor later – even next year because what I need friends, is as many downloads as possible – and for those of you who DO like it please help your writer friend out and leave a review.

All this begging and asking for help does not become me, I know … and yet being as how I’m my own marketing team … my main strategy for now is the ol’ pretty please with a cherry and free ebook on top! Which also includes my undying gratitude in all caps, like this: THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! (I forgot to mention the prolific use of exclamation points).

I’m trying to figure out how to do that without annoying my dear readers, but it turns out most of you are so supportive I wonder how I got so lucky!?!?!

I sent out an email to Nathalie’s Notes subscribers* asking begging folks to do the following:

“My publisher told me to tell everyone: I wrote my second book! It's an ebook and you can get it FREE until Thursday, December 17, 2015.
Tell your friends - it's like a free gift to them, too!
Ways to support your writer friend (yours truly at the moment):
- Go to Amazon and Download the free ebook. (I get credit for every download, even though it's free to you!)
- Like what you see? Please consider giving some star love in a review. These stars and reviews matter a lot! (Here's me begging. In a  totally non-annoying way...) stars
- Help me spread the word by telling your friends about this free ebook promotion.

Thank you so much, friends, for supporting me in this writing journey and also for letting me encourage other parents with these words!
Blessings on you during this season and into the new year!


Love,
Nathalie

Behind the scenes fun fact:

Here’s the cover I submitted:

MerryIsOptionalcover

And here’s the one we went with:

cover

 

*You should totally subscribe! A little dose of Nathalie’s Notes delivered to you from time to time whenever I post!

 

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’.


Privacy: A call for consideration

Parents, let's speak openly about privacy

Nov 3, 2015

By NATHALIE HARDY | Yamhill Valley News-Register

Raising the Hardy Boys

Private Parts cli

Keep your private parts private. It’s a mantra for parents of little discoverers.

First, of course, the conversation begins by defining what makes a private part private, and why. Before that happens, parents must decide when it’s time to start having such a conversation. 

By the time my boys were entering grade school, we’d had the private parts talk. So I figured we were good to go. 

Except no. It turns out all that was just Private Parts, Phase One. 

Now, it seems we have arrived at a new life course: Private Parts and the Internet. 

What started as a fun game, where we took turns entering terms like “images of penguins” into Google, turned into a wake-up call when I discovered even searching for pictures of cute animals can open a portal to a deviant world. 

At their age, I remember the risky business of looking up words in something called a dictionary. And the worst that could happen is being exposed to a new word, for say, the biological word for a private part. Tee-hee. 

But today, a smartphone is nearly always in reach. And it provides an instantaneous gateway to images of anything you want, and even those you don’t. 

So, voila. Also, whoa. 

Parents in this Internet era have to do what generations of parents have done before them. Figure it out and adjust. And, yes, maybe pause to lament the passing of The Good Old Days. 

As with everything, opportunities come with challenges. The best we can do is embrace what is and learn to navigate the new terrain. Whether we like it or not, here we are. 

It’s up to us to give our children a compass, help them determine their own course and steer them on the right path. But it turns tricky when you want to use your folded old-school map and the tool of today is a GPS that talks back to you. 

For some of us, it’s even trickier to stay a step ahead of our kids when they are learning things in kindergarten that require YouTube tutorials for us parents.

There are ways to safeguard your Internet searches, of course. Google it and you’ll see. 

But it’s actually other people’s privacy that I want you to consider today.

When you take a picture of a group of kids at, say, a birthday party or soccer practice, do you post it on social media? If so, do you first ask the other parents if they’re cool with that? 

I’m guessing most of us don’t. Because these days, most of us are OK with it.

But some aren’t. And they aren’t for good reason — good reason that most of us have the luxury of being clueless about. 

Parents dealing with estranged and dangerous family members, with domestic violence situations or with complicated custody issues have valid fears about facial recognition software. After all, it can be used to locate the kids they are trying to protect, and thus expose them to danger.

Frankly, some people just don’t want pictures of their kids “out there.” And that deserves respect as well.

While I don’t think anyone maliciously posts pictures of other people’s kids, I think we could stand to have a broader conversation about this practice.

The trouble with wanting to have that discussion is that these days, it seems most of us are geared to instantly defend our right to do something. We are quick to exclaim, “We didn’t do anything wrong.”

But does that make it right? 

When I posted a question along these lines on my own social media network, the conversation immediately turned to what is legal. Someone suggested my column would be “more credible and thoughtful” if I interviewed an expert in privacy law or data protection. I was cautioned against making “recommendations without knowing the law.” 

Here’s the thing: I’m pretty comfortable recommending people be intentional, considerate and thoughtful without having to have an expert weigh in. In a short column, I don’t have the real estate to dedicate to interviews of that nature, but I can start a conversation. I can call for consideration.

That’s my intention here.

Specific legal questions should always be handled by a professional, not a search on the World Wide Web. But the issues extend well beyond legality.

The fact is, our expectation of privacy is becoming less a reality. And the onus on keeping things private tends to land on the person requiring more privacy than others. 

I’m less concerned with what I have a right to do than what the right thing to do is for me.

I think posting pictures of other people’s kids is less about privacy and more about courtesy. Think of it as an extension of good manners and ask before you post. 

While we’re on the subject, please think before you post. Is this something my kid will be mortified by? Would I want my mom to post this about me? Carefully consider your own privacy sensitivities and act accordingly.

We have to figure this out so we can protect our kids, even from themselves. Especially, actually, from themselves.

How many of us have said we’re lucky social media wasn’t a thing when we were in our more, uh, formative years? We’re breaking new ground here, friends, so we’d be well-advised to tread cautiously. 

If you can’t get permission from another parent for whatever reason, and you want to post a picture of your own kiddo, use an app to blur the other faces.

It’s a simple work-around. At least, that’s what You Tube told me. 

Google it and you’ll see.

 

If you enjoyed this column, it would be an honor for me to see it shared with your people!

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’.

 

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.


Gearing up for school … and life

LifeLessonsChalkboard

 
Gearing up for school

September 4, 2015

By NATHALIE HARDY | Yamhill Valley News-Register

Raising the Hardy Boys

September Hardy Boys

Right about now, back to school season is in full swing. And if you find yourself in a store with an office supply section, you’re sure to find parents muttering about the prices.

If you enjoy eavesdropping, you’ll likely find a few trying to figure out what, exactly, a Pee Chee is.

Those people are most likely transplants from the Midwest.

Somehow, they managed to get through school without doodling on one of these iconic school supply elements. It’s exactly that kind of resiliency I wish we could tuck into our kids’ backpacks, next to the glue sticks and standard-issue pencils. 

Joking aside, as my littles prepare to spend more of their day away from rather than with me, there actually are a few intangibles I’m trying to figure out how to pack in with them. 

As I checked off items on my sons’ school supply lists, mentally debating the merits of dull vs. pointed scissors in the process, I thought of a few things missing from that list. And they are more important to equip children for success in school, and life, than anything I can tuck in those new backpacks.

After so many years of protecting them from life’s sharp edges, it’s time to step back and understand that not all of their pain is mine to prevent. That despite popular culture, difficult experiences aren’t to be avoided at all costs. They are to be endured. 

Yes, something bad might happen, something far worse than missing out on Pee Chees. 

I can almost guarantee your child will both hurt and be hurt at school. I can also assure you that with love and non-suffocating support, he will come through those experiences stronger and kinder than before.

But you have to lead by example.

Do you forgive those who have slighted you? Do you leave room for kids who have hurt yours to change? Do you teach your child, it’s healthy and good to set boundaries with people to protect themselves?

It’s hard, I know. But it’s both necessary and worthwhile. 

I still flush at the memory of sitting in the cafeteria in junior high. I had a lunch neatly packed in Tupperware, most likely featuring a salami and butter sandwich as the centerpiece. Eastern European parents, remember? 

I’ll never know how everyone figured out to do this so quickly, but before I knew it, every single person sitting on the bench attached to the eight-foot table had leaned into the person next to them, serving to push me off onto the squeaky clean linoleum floor. 

It smelled like bleach, I remember. And there was a lot of laughing and pointing, though it was hard to see through the tears.

I also remember a time I was so desperate to be part of something and to belong, I hurt someone else on purpose. The memory of that actually stings more than the one of the cafeteria incident, which, by the way, was not an isolated one. I learned from all of it. 

But life’s lesson book makes the most sense in retrospect. Right now, our students are learning how resilient they are, how brave they can be and that most of a hero’s work happens in seemingly minor moments. 

One of the best gifts we can give to our students is to help them process what happens at school without projecting our own histories and feelings on their experiences. If you can teach them that the one, and only, thing they can control in any given situation is how they respond, that alone is worth all the discounted school supplies on any list.

Please remind your students that they are already brave. That they are there to learn.

Yes, about equations and sentence structure and the life cycle of a wombat, or whatever. But also they are there to learn about equality and how it feels to be on both sides of belonging, they are there to learn about how much words matter, however a sentence is structured and about the life cycle of friendships. 

You know what’s more important than those new calculators and rulers? Knowing that your love can’t be measured by the number of mistakes they make and that what they can count on most is you. 

 

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. Hardy writes in the margins of her life with two little boys and a husband who understands deadlines come before dusting.

 

Getting new subscribers is like a virtual high-five! If anything here seems worth passing on, I’d be honored to see you share it with your friends.

p.s. Thank you to Hannah at They Lived Happily Ever After for the chalkboard template and Ana at Sugary Fancy for the adorable digi-art.


Snack in case of emergency

NotQuiteRoadFood

So, it turns out my mom was right.

Again.

(I’m starting to wonder if always? But do not tell her I said so.)

Turns out this whole snacking all the time trend is kind of a problem.

And by kind of I mean, we should probably take a closer look at our collective habits around round-the-clock grazing.

I was surprised at the dentist when Sam had so many cavities. He doesn’t drink juice, has had Sprite seven times in his life and rarely eats candy – at least I thought so. I didn’t realize how often he gets it at school which is a whole different post!

But our (wonderful) dentist said the candy’s not actually the cavity-causing culprit in our case.

These are snacking cavities, he said.

Turns out even snacking on healthy food without periods of rest is problematic.

Experts advise that eating smaller meals throughout the day can help prevent childhood obesity, but there’s a catch. Researchers now know that frequent snacking – or “grazing” – is becoming a major source of tooth decay.

Teeth go through a healing process between meals. When kids snack on crackers all day, or we give kids a bag of fruit chews for a long car ride, the result is a constant attack on the teeth that breaks down the enamel and can quickly turn into cavities.

(-Peps.org)

Good to know.

Learning as I go here, kids.

The moment my babies started eating solid foods, packing snacks in the diaper bag became as routine as diapers and wipes.

I’ll even admit that for my pacifier-resistant baby I used Cereal Puffs to pop in a moment of silence.

Or, peace and quiet in the car.

Oops.

As passionate as I am about nutrition and making healthy, balanced choices for my children, I’m thankful I never stood on a soap box about it because it would be melting into a big, slippery mess now-ish.

This could have been prevented if I’d listened to my mom.

But what does she know?

Well …

When she first saw the cheerio-cup holder I packed around with Giraffe and Zebra she was aghast.

They eat in the car? Nonsense.
Why all these snacks? Nonsense.

You had breakfast. Desiata at ten. Then you had lunch. Then we ate dinner. And at 3 o’clock you had olovrant.

That’s it.

No obesity. No cavities. No problems.

While the last point is a bit optimistic, the rest is kind of on fleek, as the kids say.

But here’s the thing, we were also pretty structured. We were at school. Or we were at home. We weren’t “on the go” the way so many of us are today.

With flexible (read: random) work schedules, working multiple gigs and siblings going here and there for practice for this and that, I get how snacking has become a thing. I also see, in hindsight of course, how it turned into a habit.

I think snacks still have their place. I think feeding children intentionally to fuel their bodies is still a good thing.

But don’t be fooled, as I was, into thinking that if you’re feeding healthy snacks all day, it’s all good. Because no. Maybe you already knew that, and good for you.

I have silver-capped reminders when my son smiles now.

I wish I had listened to my mom.

Instead I invested in the lesson at the dentist’s office.

So now what?

With school starting, soccer season kicking into gear and trying to (re)create that whole work-life balance thing there will be snacks. And I don’t think that’s a bad thing. But now instead of this sort of free-for-all, eat when you feel like it pattern we’ve created we’re going to be more intentional.

There will be breakfast.

There will be desiata. (mid-morning snack)

There will be lunch.

There will be olovrant. (afternoon shack)

There will be dinner.

And there will be some emergency snack kits at the ready for days when there wasn’t enough time to eat lunch (did you guys know how little time kids actually have to eat lunch? Partly because they are so eager to get to the playground, and partly because the next wave of students needs to tables, among other considerations).

Whereas I’ve relied on carby kinds of snacks like packaged Fig and Cliff Bars, I’m planning to stock up on trail mix and nuts and protein packed in my favorite Easy Lunch Boxes.

 

There are good reasons to snack, and healthy ways to do it. Companies like Nuts.com make it easier for those of us transitioning to healthier ways of doing it. Read up on some good tips for healthy snacking here. Gluten-free friends will like this one here. And you guys, there’s chocolate. And that can be totally good for you. All things in moderation, I can hear my dad saying as I write this. He used to have dark chocolate tucked in his drawer. I loved it when he shared! When we visit he still invites me into his study and shares goodies from his stash, sometimes my favorite ones smuggled from the old country.

For those of us who love convenience, good customer service and a tasty array of options presented in a clean way, check out nuts.com to get snacking goodness delivered to your door!

The picture above was one of our first road trips with Sam as an “eater.” Yes. I packed his high chair! And his mashed up avocado/rice cereal/whatever else I mixed in there. As you can see by my face, this wasn’t exactly convenient. Not pictured is Matt’s face. Though, you might imagine what it looked like.

It wasn’t long after this the Cheerio holder made it’s appearance. It was way easier to hand that over to the back seat without even pulling over. And so it began.

He’s seven now and both boys are totally used to eating in the car, and eating just because. Sorry, mom. (And sorry Sam and Jake … know better, do better. You’ll thank me later. Down the road when you realize I totally know everything. It’s okay. I’ll wait.)

So here’s my new food motto: Food is for fueling our bodies, not fielding our boredom.

Eat when you’re hungry, enjoy tasty treats on occasion and be well.

signature

Getting new subscribers is like a virtual high-five plus:

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’.


And away we go. They go?

First day 2015

 

The weirdest thing happened this morning.

I went to the store. All by myself. And when I had to use the bathroom I didn’t have to worry about anyone licking anything because my sweet angels were in a magical place called school! And the total trip took, like, twenty minutes. Total. For real. 

As we gathered in the library (best invention ever!) my heart was so full with gratitude that we are in a community with these parents and teachers and brave little ones.

I say brave because remember?

First days of … anything. All those unknowns. The who will sit by me at lunch? Where will that even be? And when? What if I spill my tray? (I don’t know maybe you didn’t have so many questions?) Then the what will the teacher be like? Will my teacher like me? Will I like my teacher? (I didn’t actually wonder that, my kids are more confident than I was to have that one on their mind).

What if it’s too hard? What if I have to use the bathroom? What if no one wants to play with me at recess?

And still … with all these questions … these kindergartners, first graders and second graders stepped forward when their names were called, some nudged by parents, siblings and friends, and they moved into the adventure of a new year that awaits.

As these little ones formed a line (or approximated a line, which turned into more of a swarm) they stood side-by-side with peers who will teach them just as much as their teachers, maybe.

I was so full of joy, love and gratitude at how welcoming the teachers and principal were, how encouraging and fun it was to see my parent friends and to witness these acts of bravery, I didn’t have the little cry I expected to have about my baby being off to school.

I told myself that’s because it’s a JumpStart program, not “real” school. But, so it begins.

And I think we’re ready.

So far the answer to what I’m going to do all day is think about my kids. Write a bit. Go to the grocery store delightfully by myself, clean the fridge without stopping twelve times.

And, now that I think of it, have myself a little cry.

 

 

I wrote more about this transition in my last column: Savoring the Seasons as they Come … what do you bet I write about it again? Like, say, tomorrow.

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. Hardy writes in the margins of her life with two little boys and a husband who understands deadlines come before dusting.


Savoring the seasons as they come

Savoring the seasons as they come

Aug 4, 2015

By NATHALIE HARDY | Yamhill Valley News-Register

Raising the Hardy Boys

  Hardy Boys August clip

The other night, my family set out to enjoy Newberg’s spectacular Old-Fashioned Festival fireworks display. What was truly incredible, though, is the epiphany I had in the middle of it. 

There we were, four of us on a blanket spread out on Renne Field, surrounded by thousands of other people.

My oldest was leaning against his dad while my 5-year-old sat in my lap. We squirmed and shifted, trying to find the sweet spot of comfortable snuggling, if there is such a thing on the bare ground. 

Jake got settled before I did. He began oohing and aahing over the display as I continued to consider ways to achieve a bit more comfort. 

Eventually, I realized that in my attempt to get it exactly right, I was missing the show.

Just then, a group of teenagers walked into the middle of us. Yes, across our blanket, but that’s a story for another time.

It hit me then that in not too long, my boys will want to go to the show with their friends instead of us. I don’t have a lot of years of this little guy wanting to sit in my lap. This childhood of his, a thing I intended to savor, is already swirling past me like a current I can’t quite keep up with. 

My boys are only 7 and 5, and I’m already finding myself surprised at phases that were once a big deal but are now just a blip on the continuum of front row seats to the development of a person.

I’m thankful I took notes and photographs to remind me. I already forget to take my gingko biloba, which doesn’t bode well for my long-term memory prospects.

In considering my fireworks epiphany, it occurs to me how much I’ve already missed out on by trying so hard to get it right, to get comfortable with changes as they come. 

As I write this, my favorite month is upon us. There’s still summer enough to savor, yet the anticipation of fall is already in the air.

This year, my anticipation of school is more pronounced than usual, as it marks a new season in my life as a writer and mother. Come September, it seems, both of my little darlings will be at a place called school.

I have to let that sink in: both boys out of the house. At the same time.

Apparently, I will drop them off in the morning, then collect them seven hours later. Unless, of course, someone gets sick, or falls off the monkey bars or what have you. 

It’s not as if they’ll be setting out to sea or anything, but still. My babies need me differently now.

Of course, there will still be all the usual stuff. You know, like the making of meals, the pocket-checking, the washing and folding of clothing, the coaching through situations, the negotiating of screen time and such, the reading, bathing and snuggling.

There will still be snuggling, won’t there? At least for a while, right?

But there will also be something very new. Time. At home. Alone.

People naturally ask, so what are you going to do with all that time?

I’m confused by the question. Seriously?

I’m going to do all the things, that’s what. I’m going to actually finish things like sentences, projects and novels, and maybe even clean the oven. I hear that’s a thing.

The follow up question every time is: Are you going to go back to work?

To that, I respond: I never actually stopped working.

But I will get to do it more often, and maybe at more typical hours, instead of at, say, 2 a.m. 

You know what else I’m going to do? I’m going to enjoy it. 

Family Fireworks

If you look close, I’m on the right with Jakey snuggled in. Matt and Sam are beside us. I’m thankful my friend Crystal took this picture even though she didn’t know what was happening in my head and heart at that very moment, I now have a visual to help me remember not to miss the show!

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. Hardy writes in the margins of her life with two little boys and a husband who understands deadlines come before dusting.


Mining for memories

B0052162*

As usual this time of month, I went looking for a little deadline distraction. But I call it research, so it’s allowed.

I’m writing about savoring the season we’re in, because the leaves are always turning. I took a little trip down memory lane peeking at old blog posts and realizing I can’t even put into words how rapidly we move through seasons and stages to the next and how easy it is to forget the little details that once defined a particular time.

Like, say, when I see things like sippy cups, bibs, and diapers hanging to dry in the background of pictures from not long ago – but it seems like a lifetime ago now that the boys can reach their own glass in the cupboard and put them in the dishwasher. I’m saying they can, not that they do. We’re learning. I still do things for them they can do for themselves because I am constantly surprised that they’re as old and capable as they are. They are seven and five now. Seven and five. And I know in a few more seasons they will be 17 and 15. I’m so thankful I took so many notes and am reminded that I’ve fallen out of the rhythm of noting and sharing these slice-of-life stories that seem so ordinary in the moment, but are exactly what I cherish now.

I just peeked at July archives since Sam was a baby. What a view. I forgot all about that one time we were vegetarians. For a month.

New readers be warned … I used to swear a lot more on here. And I was a little less politically neutral. And some other things. So read at your own risk. 

July, 2008: http://nathaliesnotes.typepad.com/nathalies_notes/2008/07/my-mullet.html

July 2009 http://nathaliesnotes.typepad.com/nathalies_notes/2009/07/dusting-pandoras-box.html

July, 2010

http://nathaliesnotes.typepad.com/nathalies_notes/2010/07/index.html

July, 2011

http://nathaliesnotes.typepad.com/nathalies_notes/2011/07/eating-in-the-image-of-the-beast.html

July, 2012

http://nathaliesnotes.typepad.com/nathalies_notes/2012/07/reporter-mama-observations.html

July, 2013

http://nathaliesnotes.typepad.com/nathalies_notes/2013/07/the-orange-rhino.html

July, 2014

http://nathaliesnotes.typepad.com/nathalies_notes/2014/07/beyond-the-bon-bons.html

July, 2015

http://nathaliesnotes.typepad.com/nathalies_notes/2015/07/pro-tip-dont-freak-out.html

* This picture was taken in shortly after Sam was born. It was not long after it was taken that Lucy was terribly injured at that very park. A few years later, we would move away from Carlton, a town I loved so much I never wanted to leave. To a town that would become home again after a few years of feeling very alone and lost. And then Jake came into our lives. And we lost Lucy Baby. This one picture brings all of that, and some other stuff I can’t quite put out there yet, back. The memories stay, and still the seasons change.


Pro tip: don’t freak out

GuideForTalkingFeelingswithKids

 

Feelings and other freaky things

July, 2015

By NATHALIE HARDY | Yamhill Valley News-Register

Raising the Hardy Boys

 

IMG_6058

Eight years ago, I spent two days in a stuffy room full of other pregnant mamas and their birthing partners, learning the ins and outs of, well, getting the baby in my belly out into the world. 

That weekend, I learned a lot from the lovely Margy Porter of Sprouting Hope Midwifery. But there is one lesson in particular that sticks with me to this day. I think she was talking about some of the weird, unexpected things that are actually totally normal for babies to do, but I’ve found it applies to pretty much everything.

“Don’t freak out,” she said.

Because I’m a note-taker by nature, I wrote it down. And underlined it. I looked up in time to catch someone else taking note of it, too. 

“Don’t freak out,” she repeated. 

And, frankly, that simple phrase has carried me through some fairly freaky times in the last eight years. Babies, toddlers, kids — and I can hardly wait for teenagers — continue to do some weird, unexpected things that are actually totally typical.

It has come to my attention recently that not everyone leans into awkward, messy, possibly painful things like, say, feelings, be they our own or those of others.

Then, there’s me. I’m about all the feels, as the kids say.

Not only am I a fan of feelings in general, I especially love talking about them. Yours, mine, the stranger on the plane, I’m in. 

Not surprisingly, my 7- and 5-year-old are pretty good at carrying a conversation about feelings. So much so my friends tease me that they want to enroll their children in my feelings academy. 

There’s just one thing. They have to go first. 

My research shows people think about feelings way more than we talk about them. We also want our kids to talk about them even though, ahem, we do not want to talk about them ourselves. We want our kids to tell us about their day beyond the basics, yet we resist doing the same. 

I have some ideas that can help change this. But be forewarned, these activities require adult participation, not to mention patience and leadership.

This isn’t just for parents, either. This is for people who want to foster good conversations and trust with children to pave the way for long-term engagement.

Remember our motto: Don’t freak out and have fun with this process. I’ll warn you that if you haven’t done a lot of this until now, your family may blink at you in confused, awkward silence.

Push through. It’ll be worth it, I promise. 

If you’re wondering where to start, I have good news. It’s like getting in a pool. You start in the shallow end, and you spend a lot of time wading in the shallow end so your kids learn they can trust you if they venture into the deep end. 

You start with something really simple, like playing “take a bite” at mealtimes.

Kids love choices. Kids love sharing small details with you. And, get this, they love knowing little things about you, too.

Go around the table at meal times taking turns being the leader.

The leader says, “Take a bite if you like spiders.” Odds are, few will bite.

That’s perfect. That shows they have a choice, and it is honored. 

“Take a bite if you like ice cream,” “Take a bite if you like Hello Kitty,” “Take a bite if you like Minecraft,” and so on. There will be side conversations like, “Mom! Why don’t you like Minecraft?”

Take the detours and have unexpected conversations about mundane things. Trust me, your attention, interest and sincere desire to know and notice what they care about will help kids trust you to come to you when the thing they don’t like is being bullied at school, or even when they feel like being mean to a kid and need help sorting through how to handle that.

But how do you bridge that gap?

The next game you can introduce is also simple, we call it “Highlight/Lowlight.” 

From oldest to youngest, work your way around the table to share a high point and low point from your day. It’s important to make it just one that comes to mind or stands out at the moment, because trying to think of The Best Part or The Worst Part of a day can paralyze the conversation as children (and adults!) try to come up with The Right Answer.

Really, it’s just a conversation starter. But if you haven’t played this before you might be surprised at the little, interesting things that come up.

To tell you the truth, I learn even more about my husband’s day-to-day life during these rounds of highlight/lowlight than I do about the boys’.

The key to this game is to be open and honest yourself.

Note: this would not be a good time to mention passive aggressive digs. For example, my true lowlight was an exchange with my spouse, but the point of this exercise is to build and strengthen relationships, not to create awkward silences.

So if I were playing right this minute my turn would go like this:

“My highlights so far today are getting an extra morning snuggle with Jake, and finding that Sam made his breakfast and did his dishes. My lowlight so far is feeling nervous about a doctor’s appointment.”

Sometimes there is follow up and questions, but usually we just keep going around the table.

If you’ve ever been to a 12-step meeting, one of the coolest, weirdest parts is the open sharing time with no cross-talk. That means no one one-ups you, no one minimizes you, no one tries to talk you out of how you feel, no one advises you.

Others just listen. They just hear you. It’s a beautiful gift.

A third suggestion is to cultivate a dedicated “talking time.” That is, literally, what we call it. It’s part of our bedtime routine.

I snuggle the boys separately, with the lights out, and we have “talking time.”

Sometimes they pick a theme, like an upcoming trip or holiday and sometimes it’s just random bits of the day. Sometimes it’s big stuff like, “How old will I be when I die?” Luckily that one was when Matt was there and he answered perfectly: “At the very end of your life.” 

By the way, don’t worry about having the right answer. “Hmm, that’s an interesting thing to think about,” is perfectly fine. “What do you think?” is another favorite rejoinder of mine.

If they push it, I might say, “You know what? I’ll have to think about that. Let me get back to you.” 

Something about the dark and safety of a snuggle is disarming. Something about knowing they have this time with you to count on paves the way to good conversations.

The other night was a tough one because Sam wanted to debrief on something he observed that falls into the category of “adult things.” I let him tell me what he thought, how he felt about it and validated his feelings.

I told him, “It is OK to love someone and be sad about something they do or say. It is OK to be mad or confused. Someday we will talk more about the details, I promise. Your dad and I love you and your brother more than anyone in the world, no matter what.”

Then I stopped talking. The important part here is to make room for whatever they have to say. Or just to let them ponder it in silence.

After a few minutes, he said, “Mama. Promise to tell me the truth? I promise not to be hurt or mad.”

I froze. Do not freak out. Do not freak out. Do. Not. Freak. Out. 

“Yes. I promise.” 

“Is Santa real?”

That was even harder than the one I was bracing for. I told him the truth, but no spoilers here. I answered his very specific questions honestly and ended with: “You can believe for as long as you want.”

“OK, thank you,” he said, relieved. 

Usually, we talk about details from the day, plans for building in Minecraft and other seemingly insignificant things. But the point of spending time in the shallow end is so we can handle the deep end. 

As far as how long to do this, it’s good to set a fairly consistent window of time so they know how much time they have. I usually start wrapping up with a back scratch or some tapping so they can relax into sleeping through the whole night.

This is a subject I’m passionate about. I’d love to hear about your experiences if you are already doing things like this, or let me know how it goes if you incorporate some of these ideas after reading this column.

Just remember. Whatever you do, don’t freak out.

 

If you enjoyed this column, it would be an honor for me to see it shared with your people!

 

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. Hardy writes in the margins of her life with two little boys and a husband who understands deadlines come before dusting.


The unbearable lightness of decluttering

www.nathaliesnotes.com

The unbearable lightness of decluttering

Jun 19, 2015

By NATHALIE HARDY | Yamhill Valley News-Register

Behind the Picket Fence

 

Whenever I embark on a decluttering odyssey on the home front, people are all like: “You’ll feel great! Free! Lighter! Relieved!” 

Lies. All lies. 

What I actually feel is overwhelmed, sad, stressed, guilty. And wishing I had my bed back, but more on that in a minute.

On the other hand, I’m determined to push on this time, for once. I’m not alone in that, either.

A glance at any magazine display proves many are searching for The Answer to getting things organized once and for all. Also, apparently, for tips on how to lose 10 pounds fast, right after you bake the delicious cake featured beside the model who doesn’t look as if she’s had a bite of cake since toddlerhood. But I digress.

If such projects were simple, everyone would promptly set out to accomplish them. In that event, there would be no billion-dollar industry based on our collective desire to neatly contain our chaos. 

I’m still toward the starting line of my mission: Organizing Everything 2.0. But I’ve picked up some things that might be helpful to those considering such a task. Adopting these concepts makes me feel both inspired and confident that this is the year.

I’ve said it so many times, I’m not even mentioning it to my family members anymore.

So far, the only thing they’ve noticed is that when they don’t put their own stuff away, it seems to disappear. Soon, I trust they’ll connect the dots. They’ll realize that when I say, “Feel free to pick up the stuff you want to keep,” I mean it.

As for your own stuff, if you’re going to the trouble of sorting through a collection of decades and hauling much of it away, it’s worth asking yourself: What’s the point? What’s the goal? To feel great? Lighter? Free? Relieved?

Once you’ve done that, and you’ve found a worthy answer, step two is to commit to making decisions quickly.

My friend is a professional organizer. One of the many things she taught me is to realize the biggest hurdle is simply an inability, or unwillingness, to make decisions. 

As a result, I’ve been living buried in an avalanche of good intentions, unrealistic expectations and unfulfilled wishes. 

My closet is literally stuffed with clothing. And yet, frequently, I lament I have nothing to wear.

By that, I mean nothing fits. Or a button is missing. Or some other action needs to be taken, but hasn’t been taken in approximately five years. 

The first decision I made is to make my spaces reflect my current, actual reality. So, in this life, at this moment, my reality is that I have two small kids and I got a C in home economics.

That means, it’s time to free myself from the pile of things needing mending, because that’s not happening.

Goodbye, good intentions. Hello, space. And freedom!

Then, there’s the fact that I seem to have a lot of three-dimensional memorabilia. For example, I’m hanging onto some clothes because I want to be the person I was when I wore them last.

The truth is, that girl is gone. Today’s me doesn’t dress like that.

So, goodbye, overalls. I don’t care how much fun I had wearing you. I don’t even care if you’re coming back into fashion. For me, you either belong on the farm or in the early ’90s.

Asking myself “What is my attachment to this?” has been helpful in this process.

One of my first tasks was weeding the boys’ closets. They tend to wear whatever’s on top in the drawer. So why are those drawers overflowing with stuff, much of which is several sizes too small?

There are two reasons, really: First, managing children’s clothing is the bane of my existence. Second, quite honestly, I don’t want to confront the reality that they have long since outgrown their footie pajamas.

It helps to keep in mind that sometimes things look way, way worse than actually turns out to be the case.

I thought I would motivate myself by piling everything on my bed, reasoning that I would have to move it before going to sleep. But I got distracted with a lot of other things, like work and meals, and discovered the couch is a cozy size for me.

Still, a mess in motion — one headed toward resolution, at least in my mind — is much more tolerable than a mess at hopeless rest.

As I tackle this challenge, I have designated an “action area,” with boxes for the obvious: recycling, rummage sale, return and the refuse heap. You can call it the garbage pile, but I’m attracted to alliteration.

I also have boxes for things requiring an action, like being fixed. But as that pile grows, it becomes ever clearer I’m not going to take any action on it in this lifetime. That makes it easier to put a picture frame I bought but never used into one of the other piles. 

Pro tip: If you have kids at home, keep this area off limits to them. I have to smuggle broken toys out of the boys’ rooms, as if I were trying to get black-tar heroin across the border. Nothing sparks a child’s interest in a long-forgotten toy like seeing it in the “donate” pile. 

OK, so maybe people who’ve successfully completed a decluttering mission aren’t lying about how awesome they feel afterward. It’s just that it takes going through some harder stuff to get there. 

The more I learn to let stuff go — including regrets about wasting money or failing to ever follow through on good intentions, in addition to actual belongings — the more I begin feeling lighter. Relieved even.

To see the original article go here: http://files.newsregister.com/special-sections/roots2roofs/rootstoroofssummer2015/#?page=2

Summer Roots to RoofsRoots clip June

 

Nathalie Hardy recently published her first book, “Raising the Hardy Boys: They Said There Would Be Bon-Bons,” which is available at local bookstores and online. To contact her, visit www.nathaliesnotes.com.

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. Hardy writes in the margins of her life with two little boys and a husband who understands deadlines come before dusting.