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October 2010
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December 2010

What the Hernia Whisperer said


Sam & Mama (4)

I’ll just jump right in with the results from my “tie-breaker” doctor’s appointment yesterday. As you might know, my trusted OB found a hernia. I had to go to an “in-network” Kaiser doctor to confirm this. She said she was “not convinced” and ran a bunch of tests, xrays, etc. All of which I paid for, of course. She remained “unconvinced.” She also seemed to be under the impression that the persistent pain was in my head and that I might consider improving my diet. When I asked for suggestions she looked off in the distance and in a bored tone said: “More fruits, vegetables and no processed foods.” Which was totally not helpful because, of course, I already do all of that.

Anyway, I went to another Kaiser doctor my friend referred to as “the hernia whisperer.” This doc was a little different, dropping the F-bomb and such but I liked him instantly. He determined that I did not have a hernia. I have two.

He also said I needed to lose weight before I have surgery due to the “excessive amount of lard” in my mid-section. I cringe to write that, but the burning in my cheeks has calmed some since he first said that. He was incredibly kind and sincere and looked me right in the eye when he told me I was fat.

Again, with this, I know. You might also remember I’d started to address this weight issue of mine awhile ago but allowed myself to be deterred by the pain from this hernia nonsense, it is quite aggravated by exercise so I’ll have to drop the weight without that.

I briefly considered giving in to my bulimia brain, but came to my senses quickly and moved on to think about picking up smoking again, just for a little while.

Or, I suppose I could keep up with the fruits, vegetables, and completely cut the crap carbs, sugar and stress-eating.

I’m not kidding myself. I know it’s going to be hard. But I do believe I can do it. This isn’t exactly the most convenient time of the year to get all strict about what goes in my body but I think the saying “no time like the present” applies.

And truly, speaking of presents … what better gift could I give myself and my family than my health?

But damn do I want a Red Bull and some chocolate. 

Evolution of the crib tent


Crib tent (2)


Jake's crib tent


Sam new bed

Let me just take a moment to express my thanks to the creator of this amazing crib tent – to which I owe the good hours of sleep I have gotten in the last three years. The first is a picture of the day we brought it home … Sam and Ella were not impressed. After some bouncing and playing, it became a cozy little sleeping tent and a safe place for Sam to sleep.

Recently, we’ve been tearing our house apart to make it “work” and I decided to continue the fun in boys’ rooms yesterday. Sam and I took apart his crib – not a task I normally would’ve taken on but between the two of us Sam and I figured out a lot of tools not to use and eventually got the thing apart with a small break to apply Arnica on my poor foot.

I prayed I wouldn’t regret it come bed time … I didn’t - Sam slept great and I would’ve if I hadn’t kept checking on him. And my sweet Jake finally, finally slept through the night again because he couldn’t throw his zebra overboard and then scream like a banshee for its immediate return.

So, thank you crib tent maker and thank you God for the promise of possible sleep tonight. Just in time to take another road trip …




If I could find my camera I’d take a few pictures of what Matt and I did yesterday: tore our house apart. It started innocently enough – our house was a little chilly and we discussed moving a large piece of furniture partially blocking the heating vent. That lead to moving a few large pieces of furniture (after emptying the contents in piles all over the house). As I write this, the only room in the house not impacted by this domino effect is the bathroom. Chaos. My goal is to put things back together by this evening.

So that’s what I’m doing today. You can’t even see the floor of my office but I trust when I’m done it’ll be transformed into my new studio.

After living in our new home for nearly 6 months, we know how we “live” in this house and I’m excited about making all the spaces “work” in time to get ready for the holidays.

Good thing


Even though I’m not stoked about the rejection itself, it feels good knowing I sent something out to be rejected. It means I’m working, and that if I keep at it, a “YES!” will come. Right? Right?

It’s a good thing I wrote just this very morning about keeping the faith in myself and this process because later in the afternoon I heard back from the editor on my story-in-progress “Breaking Branches.” I have to tell you, the rejections are getting increasingly nicer. I take that as a good sign:

Dear Nathalie,

  Thank you for submitting your manuscript BREAKING BRANCHES to XYZ. We felt you had an interesting story, but as I’m sure you know, the book market is incredibly tight these days and we find ourselves having to turn away many excellent projects. Although we enjoyed the concept, I’m afraid the project isn't as strong as other manuscripts currently under consideration.
  Thank you again for thinking of XYZ; we wish you all the best in placing this with another house. 


Editor name here

As my mentor friend Christina Katz would say: “Next!”

To each her own …



Writing a newspaper column about my parenting experiences means I put a big piece of myself out there. Like my whole heart. It’s not something everyone understands, it’s not something most want to do. For me, it’s the among my greatest blessings.

Some say I’m lucky. I know it. But I worked super hard to be this lucky. Both times I dropped out of school and then licked my wounds, gathered my courage and came back to graduate with my journalism degree required a lot of hard work.

Working as an intern for free required hard work and sacrifices. Moving to a new town to pursue an opportunity to be a reporter, not easy. Developing a beat from scratch in another new town and covering several small town city councils and day-to-day life? Amazing. And hard sometimes.

I knew that being a reporter the way I did it (drop and go when the story broke) wasn’t going to be possible in order to be a mom the way I want to be a mom. Once I had little guys at home I knew I’d be less likely to sit down with meth-makers and chat about their recipes. So I figured out another way to keep doing my thing (writing) while following my other major heart’s calling: staying home with my babies. The pay isn’t monetary, for now. People ask me how much I make and then we have a little chuckle. It’s not about what I make right now. It’s about the groundwork I’m laying so that when my kids are a little bit older and need me a little less intensely, I’ve left my foot in the door and can keep writing for a living.

When you do something for a living, and it’s your heart’s true passion, you have to have some faith that the seeds you’re planting will eventually sprout.

I have that kind of faith. In the meantime, I keep working in the margins of motherhood.

Here’s a link to my most recent column:

And, thank you for all of you who shared your stories with me to give me the courage to write this!

December Daily, taking my time


 AT759-front_detail  © Anne Taintor

I pull it out, I day dream about how I’m going to assemble it, it gets buried under the details of the day and then the next day I dig it out again … and repeat. I'm happy to say it still brings me joy to even be entertaining the idea of celebrating this time of year and a creative way that is meaningful to me.

That’s my process for creating my December Daily album so far. I peeked at some other lovely albums people are putting together and got simultaneously inspired and jealous. Lucky for me, I happen to believe jealousy can be a positive thing if you can own the feeling, figure out its root cause and set about the business of fixing it.

I love that Ali Edwards posted a bunch of links for people to connect, share and inspire each other. I heart the Internet and this way of “meeting” people. I linked to mine as well, before I realized that we were supposed to be sharing actual foundation pages … one fine day, baby, one fine day! Meanwhile … I need to excavate that album and pile of sticky notes out from under the pile of papers that is my desk.

Jake @ 10 months


My baby is ten months old! Matt and I held our breaths this weekend as we watched Jake discover a more vertical world. Things moved higher up on shelves as Jake broadened his scope of exploring. 

IMG_4536 Jake standing in his crib for the first time @ 10 months

Crib (6)

Sam standing in his crib for the first time @ 6 months

They are so different and yet they already seem to understand and adore each other:


Somewhere between

IMG_4463 IMG_4473

Sometimes I'm the kind of mom that makes holiday-themed sandwiches and other times I'm the kind of mom who thinks it's really all just too much.  I think somewhere between Martha Mom and Meltdown Mom is the real me. Whether or not I've gotten a solid stretch of sleep says a lot about which end of the spectrum I'm on ... so there's been more of the not-so-fun mom around here lately. It's not all monkey business, the boys have been sick and I've had some health stuff we're working through .... so that's why the no posting.

Also, I've been a little bit mental. It turns out that while I'm fairly open with putting myself out there, I have a few things I'd just as soon keep to myself. At least while I'm experiencing it in real time. In short, I've made two people in less than three years, haven't slept properly in at least that long, packed up all my belongings twice, unpacked them and then moved for real ... then there have been a few health things ... I held it together until I couldn't anymore. And then I cracked.

I'm working on putting myself back together again but if one more person tells me to just "carve out some more time for myself" I'll punch them in the face. Which suggests that perhaps I'm still wound a little tight. While I'd like a cigarette (or 20) or a Butterfingers (or 5) I'm trying to figure out a different way.

When I was at one of my appointments the Doctor asked me if I startle easily. I said: "No, just when someone comes in the room unexpectedly." She didn't laugh. Which is fine because I wasn't kidding.  But I am finding my way back to myself. It's just a more introspective time (and I can't share what I haven't processed myself.)

The bottom line: everything is basically fine. I may, or may not, have to have surgery for a hernia and I'll know by the first of next month. I feel more like myself some of the time, so that's a good thing and I'm writing again ... a little bit but enough to feel better about that, too. I'm blessed to have generally happy, healthy children (minus being covered in copious amounts of Jake's vomit last night). Speaking of which I have Zebras, blankets and sheets to launder.


Bottle or breast? Yes!


When it comes to how to feed your baby, word on the street is, "Breast is best."

I assumed, like many new mothers do, that because nursing was natural, it would also be easy. But it wasn't.

Rewarding? Yes. Easy? No. 

In the beginning, I exposed myself to half of Yamhill County as I struggled to strike a natural nursing pose with my voracious firstborn. I felt self-conscious in public, particularly when it was clear I was making other people uncomfortable. 

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends mothers nurse exclusively for the first six months, and, after introducing solid foods, to the baby's first birthday and beyond, as long as mutually desired.

From my experience, however, the general public seemed insistent on me breastfeeding initially - "You are going to breast feed, aren't you?" - then increasingly put off as baby began to age - "You're still nursing him?"

Sam weaned himself at 16 months. Jake, on the other hand, didn't get the AAP memo and abruptly stopped at nine months. To make it clear he didn't desire my continued attempts to feed him, he started biting every time I tried.

While things went smoothly with Sam, I had nothing but compassion for friends who felt judged by family, strangers and the medical community for formula-feeding their babies. But it wasn't until I found myself up in the middle of the night, unable to meet Jake's most basic need, that I really understood the inadvertent damage done by me and the rest of the breastfeeding lobby.

In an effort to raise awareness about the benefits of breastfeeding, I'm afraid we've created a breeding ground for judgment and guilt when mothers turn to formula to feed their babies - a culture of hostility, if you will.

We happen to live in a particularly pro-breastfeeding part of the country. Portland was rated fifth among best cities for babies by Parents magazine, citied specifically for the area's positive breastfeeding accommodations and attitudes.

That's awesome, really, if you're one of those breastfeeding moms. It's not so awesome for mothers who can't nurse, or choose not to, and feed their babies by bottle instead of breast.

There are a host of reasons for mothers to use formula. Not once, however, have I heard someone say they use formula for lack of caring.

Hopefully, that sounds absurdly obvious to most readers. But there is an attitude around formula feeding that implies the mother didn't try or didn't care enough.

I know, because I got smacked in the face with it during a recent all-night bout with Google, trying to troubleshoot how to keep my baby nursing when he's decided to quit at 9 months. 

No amount of herbs or Mother's Milk tea was going to fix what this little guy needed - a full belly. So I got some formula.

What I wish I could tell you is that it was as easy as realizing what he needed and setting about getting it. But it wasn't.

I was wracked with guilt.

At first I considered suing the La Leche League for emotional damages. Then I started talking to mothers on both sides of this debate, and I discovered we were doing this to each other.

It's the looks. The comments. The assumptions. The smugness. Enough already.

I understand the reasoning behind the "breast is best" campaign. I'm thankful for having been able to do it myself and glad I got so much support.

But I also believe formula is a fine, nutritional alternative. Honestly, to hear some people talk, you'd think I was tossing my kid a crack pipe.

I think the sum of our choices affects the health and well-being of our children more than our answer to this one question - "bottle or breast?" I think a mother should be allowed to feed her baby from the breast or the bottle without feeling judged or condemned by the self-righteous who haven't walked in her shoes.

For the record, I'm rabidly pro-choice. And by that I mean, I respect your choice even if it's not the same as mine.

As for me and my kids, the answer to the bottle or breast question is, "Yes!" 

Nathalie Hardy is a local freelance writer who writes in the margins of her life with two busy little boys, a husband who understands deadlines come before dusting and a sweet, semi-trained Labrador. She invites your feedback at or at her website

How to keep a toddler quiet

Sam and Jake are funny little sprites. When they sleep, Jake wakes around 5 and goes back for a nap at 7, moments after which Sam declares: "It's day! It's time to play! I don't want to be trapped in bed anymore." This morning they switched and Sam was the early-early bird. I tried a million ways to get him to just, for the love of God, be quiet for a few more minutes.

Ways to keep your toddler entertained when he wakes up too early:


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