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Not so fast …





Are you so over Christmas? Not so fast … here’s a wonderful post by my reporter friend Marcus about the abrupt halt of Christmas and how we might just have it all backwards.

Honestly? I’m with those of you who are ready to stop vacuuming up pine needles, so I took down the tree but am not quite ready to let go of the spirit of the season. Before we tuck our stockings away for the year, I’m going to take a page out of our family friends’ book in honor of their Apu, my Ujo Relo. They celebrated Stocking Day, St. Nicholas day on December 6th by opening stockings early in the morning and kicking off the merriment of the season. I like that idea. The part that I love though, is the tradition they created of tucking notes into the foot of the stocking before they were packed away to be discovered the following year. I love that. And when you think about how fragile life is and that we can’t take a single day for granted, it’s an amazing gift to give each other – a small scrap of yourself.

*we didn’t have a good place to hang the stockings this year so I put them on the boys’ doors and hung ours above our bed. The boys’ doors were both painted with chalkboard paint but Sam’s broke and repainting it is loooow on the to do list. Like at the bottom.

Wellness Journey: intro



Funny story – in addition to the normal life/work stuff, I haven’t finished my December Daily (day 15 and counting), I’m starting Project 365 this weekend, but I still  went ahead and signed up for a class advertised like this:

“This class will be a personal trainer, a nutrition counselor, wellness and lifestyle advisor, and scrapbooking inspiration ALL wrapped into ONE.”

I am so there!

I know it sounds like a lot. Too much, even. But I need this. One of the things I loved most about the December Daily project was the community created, even temporarily, of people participating in the same thing. Also, even more importantly, it’s been wonderful working on something that is creative in a way that isn’t work (even though I love, love, love writing) and isn’t about the care and feeding of my family (even though I love, love, love all of them!)

I signed up for this almost the instant I saw the offer in my inbox. I’ve never done anything like this before but I just knew this was the thing for me.As an added “sign” I noticed the class runs for 8 weeks, ending 2 days before my 35th birthday. My initial goal 3 months ago was to try to lose 35 pounds by my birthday. I’m less attached to that number as much as I am eager to start moving steadily in that direction.

A couple days after signing up for the class I found out about the hernias. I thought about canceling. I thought about doing it half-assed just to collect the materials and “try harder later.” Instead, with the class starting in 2 days, I’ve decided to go all in. I won’t be doing sit ups or lifting much but there’s still a lot that I can do. And my primary focus will be overall wellness. I am so stoked about this. I’m sharing with you now in case any of you might consider joining me? Find out more here:

The magic’s not in the mania



If for you the meaning of “it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas” means you’re locked in the bathroom hyperventilating because you don’t have time for the merry little meltdown you’ve been working toward, this one’s for you …

It’s just Christmas. There’s really no wrong way to do it. Really. As my friend pointed out this morning during one of our mental health checks: "this isn’t the only Christmas they’ll have.” Meaning, you don’t have to get it all done this year. If it helps, try making a list of all the things you wanted to do but didn’t as a way of getting it out of your head. Now, you’re looking at what I call my “Maybe next year” list. Essentially, this is a perpetual list of crafty projects, baking, tokens of gratitude, Christmassy activities and a few random things that don’t get done, like getting a star-topper for our tree. Again. Whatever. It’s still Christmas in two days and this is me letting go of the sinking ship that is holiday stress. I can’t find Sam’s mittens. So, we’ll have to buy new ones on the road. Or he’ll have to learn to rub his hands together fast and blow on them. Or whatever. “Find gloves” is officially off my list. As well as 29 other things I can’t possibly get done between now and tomorrow morning so I might as well stop pretending and start enjoying the magic that is joyful anticipation. I know I’m not alone – which is why I’m leaving “encouraging blog post” on my list.

Remember this: the memories that matter, the moments that we remember, the magic … you can’t make those – they just are. Take a deep breath, be patient with others—and more importantly yourself—remember the whole point of the season: love, grace, gratitude, celebration of blessings … and if you’re the Jesusy type, there’s that. (But even if you’re not the type, despite my reluctance I have become one, I think celebrating the love, grace and gratitude counts for a lot!)

If you’re still with me, I’d like to invite you to take a moment to spread a wave of grace and allow some to wash over yourself. You deserve it.

Haven’t finished everything “in time”? Forgive yourself. Someone being an asshat and ruining your celebration plans? Do not let them. Their assiness is their business. You allowing it to ruin your holiday is yours. Has someone disappointed you? Let yourself get over it. Today. Why not?

Life is short. Be good to yourself. And each other.

Merry Christmas.

Blessings to you and yours! You taking the time to check in and share my notes and your comments means the world to me. xo

Nat signature 

p.s. this is a photo of my family circa 1978. Thank you Mami and Tati for everything you did to make our memories of Christmastime so special. Vesele Vianoce!

{Meatless Monday: Kale chips}



I play this little game called: “Good or gross?” I make something for dinner that may, or may not, be good but I’m kind of the “you’ll eat it and you’ll like it” type of mom so even if it’s gross, it’s what’s for dinner. Sometimes the English major in Matt needs to know what something is called. I have no idea. It’s leftovers in a blender with some cumin and salsa mixed in and wrapped in a tortilla. So, I say, “It’s called dinner.”

Tonight we played “good or gross?” And I was sure we’d all agree the vegetable side was disgusting, but it wasn’t. All that is to say, you should totally try this at home: Kale chips.

At first Sam wasn’t buying it. But we have a try it once, spit it out in your napkin if you must, and we’ll leave you alone about it rule, at least until we think you’ve forgotten. Before he could have his bread he had to have a bite. Yep, he liked it too. It was a hit with Jake as well. When I read the reviews and someone said they were “like potato chips” I laughed out loud: LIARS!

Well … I have to tell you – they’re kind of like potato chips, only super good for you.

Preheat the oven to 350.

Kale – wash, tear off stems, rip into pieces and spread out on baking sheet.

Sprinkle with olive oil and sea salt.

Bake for 10-15 minutes until crunchy.

Done. Delicious, really! Let me know if you try it.



{December Daily – 12-14}


Day Twelve

these three pages are super simple. I almost wrote “this page intentionally left blank” because my heart cracked open somewhere between day 12 and 13 but I’m happy with it this way. It felt like the worst day of my life but with some space I’ve come to see it’s been a good thing. Day 14 Matt and I took the boys to pajama story time at the library – Sam fell asleep in the car on the way there … and then rallied like a rock star. 

Day Thirteen & Fourteen

{December Daily – Eleven}


Day Eleven

Dear Santa,

I made a letter Santa. I am thankful for God. I would like a big bull dozer for Christmas. And a forklift. And Jake would like the moon, a bigger one. I’m thankful for McQueen. Dear God, or is that Santa? I want a … actually is there anything you want?



For this pages I let the letter speak for itself. I tucked it in an envelope behind this card I’ve been saving for years. Eventually I’d like to embellish the envelope a bit. Maybe.

{December Daily – Ten}


Day Ten

Today I focused on our Christmas cards – I love doing photo cards partly because I remember how much I used to love getting them in the mail growing up. My mom kept a special basket out on the counter to tuck them into – I loved looking at our friends near and far … and now I have the collection and enjoy looking back through them. I also loved getting Christmas letters and might do one some day. Or not. Seeing as how I’ve only mailed half of ours this year and may, or may not, do the rest. I can’t seem to remember to buy more stamps. I must not be the only one having a hard time getting them out this year because we’ve gotten a fraction of the cards we’ve received in other years. Journaling on this page will likely be a print out of this blog post – keepin’ it simple, baby!

Project 365 …



Bed-head award goes to Sam this morning! So I know I have er … a few days of catching up on my December Daily project but I’m already getting excited about starting Project 365. Some of you have asked a few questions about it and I’d like to answer a couple of them now.

For so many of us “scrapbooking” means piles of product we feel guilty for not using. And, lots of photos in boxes we feel badly about not having done anything with. I think the best antidote for this is to start where you are right now. Stop feeling like you have to do anything with the past and focus, instead, on today.

An awesome way to do this is starting a project like Becky Higgins’ because it is structured in a way that allows you to work it into the life you have now. The one without the leisurely chunks of time to spend in your spacious, super-organized suite. The one where you probably really can take a few minutes off of Facebook, or during the commercials of “Private Practice” or while your kids work on their own crafty projects and use that time to pop a picture in a protector and jot a few lines on a cute piece of paper, tuck it in by the picture. Done. Repeat the next day.

I’ve said before, my first go at this project I renamed to “Project 365” sticky notes. The end result I fondly call “Project 182 days.” Incomplete? Yes. Failure? Nope. It is my favorite scrapbook ever. There are little parts of our life I’d have forgotten by now if I hadn’t noted them as they were happening. I love this idea so much and think many of you will, too.

On Becky’s blog there’s a video a woman shared about how she used the project so you can see a completed version. If  you want to do this, do it.

There’s still time to order a kit and we’ll support each other through the year.

For anyone thinking it might be kinda fun to do a December Daily next year, I suggest this: grab a page protector and tuck in some advertisements from this season, the sleeve of your Starbucks drink, a few favorite Christmas cards, whatever inspires you to keep for a possible project. Put the whole thing in the box where you store your decorations. I did that last year and have enjoyed  using those things for this year's book.

{December Daily – sixteen}



On one of our first dates in 1998, Matt drove down from Bellingham to take me to Zoo Lights at the Pt.Defiance Zoo. We got there in time for closing. We agreed to try again the next year. And the next. Last night, 12 years and 2 kids later, we finally made it, albeit in another state. Same awesomeness. Maybe even cooler watching the kids’ eyes light up at the amazing display … okay, Sam’s. Jake was mostly just interested in pulling my hair and pinching my cheeks.

IMG_4837 My sweet Sam is still crushing on his television friend (and mine), Dora. For those of you with no toddler, or a ban on all things commercial, there’s a part in the show where Dora asks her viewers: What was your favorite part of the trip? And then she and her little critter friends blink stupidly for an incredibly long pause while kids answer. I actually watched a documentary on the making of Dora and this part was almost cut because critics were uncomfortable with such a long pause … but the pre-school set digs it. All that is to say … Sam has brought this off the screen and into our dinner conversations. Every night he leads a round of “what was your favorite part of the day?”

On the way out of the zoo he asked what our favorite part of the trip was. Matt said it was riding the train with him. My favorite part was when I bought 2 cocoas without noticing the “cash only” sign and a kind man bought them for me. I {heart} nice people. Sam said Jake’s favorite part was the dinosaurs. As for Sam’s favorite part? The 45-minute sing-a-long he and I had driving to the zoo.

p.s. I’m not trying to push Dora on anyone, there are certain downsides. Like being woken up at 3 a.m. by a crying Sam concerned that Swiper the Fox might swipe Christmas …


{December Daily – fifteen}



What do you do with three children and two babies while stuck in a waiting room? Well, if you’re desperate to keep their minds off the soon-to-come flu shots a.k.a. “poke in the arm,” you play:

Ring around the Rosie, London Bridges, I Spy, Simon Says, Whisper Caroling and anything else you can think of to keep their interest.

Today we did a less festive seasonal thing. My friend Mel and I figured we’d make a stressful thing more fun by making a flu-shot & fun date – it went so well, I’m thinking this could be an annual thing.

As a reward for being good sports about the whole thing, Cassia and Sam got hot chocolate treats while Sofia opted for a little toy. Love those girls.