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Maybe next year

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Is anyone else a little tripped out to realize that next year begins next week?

So, on the eve of Christmas eve it’s probably time to call it … I will not be making my Christmas gifts this year. Again.

Bonus: With that simple decision, I am totally ahead of the game for next year!

One of my many lists is a “Maybe next year” list and it seems to grow longer each year, not in a “things to feel guilty about” way, but more like “think of all the possibilities” kind of way.

Also, I will be putting a few of the tasks from my Mission: Organize Everything off until the new year.

And, then there is my Project Life collection. The albums from yesteryear still hover hopefully on a shelf too narrow for them, waiting for me to make good on my dream of catching up on my pages.

Truth is, I’m doing the Living Life thing and that means we can’t have all of our priorities be number one all of the time. Things we care about get back-burnered all the time.

What we think about a thing is more important than the thing itself, so for me it’s not that big a deal that I’m not “all caught up” on Project Life 2013 (or 2012, 2011, 2010 …)

If I vanish tomorrow and leave behind Project Good Intentions/Project Sticky Notes, it’s something more than nothing which is what I’d have if I waited for life to be easier, calmer and complete with of large chunks spare time before starting any projects I feel passionate about. .

I can’t tell you what week I left off on – only that I’ve done a few simple things to help me get back on track if and when I’m able to make it a priority again.

  • I keep taking my picture of the day, most days. That has become a habit since I first started Project 365 and helps me see the awesome in the ordinary.
  • I jot a few notes in the margins of my planner and/or journal. I’ve also started a Project Life notebook in my Evernote on my computer, and have downloaded the app so I can make notes quickly on my phone – by speaker even! I love the search capability on Evernote.
  • I keep tucking memorabilia of our day-to-day life in my Project Life file in my Planner Files.
  • I’ve let go of trying to do it perfectly, or at all.

And, get this … I’m totally planning to get started on a new Project Life for 2014.

Who knows? Someday the boys might think it’s cool I purposely recorded the first six weeks of every year for posterity.

Who am I kidding? They will recognize my handwriting on the sticky notes and know exactly what happened. But if they ask me about it I’ll remind them of the fact that they wanted dinner every. single. night.

Also lunch. And breakfast. And the clean clothes and all the other details that go into the care and feeding of little people. (Who are totally worth it by the way!)

So, I snap a few pictures of that part of real life too, it’ll be worth it one day.

For now, here are a few of our ordinary moments lately and some pages in progress.

(You can click on the pictures for a little bit more detail).

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One of very few runs this year, you can correctly assume this is something else on my “maybe next year list!”

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Getting to volunteer at Sam’s first field trip was a holiday mom highlight for sure. I was afraid going back to work would mean no field trips, and it’s true I won’t be able to make a lot of them, but I will enjoy the ones I can show up for. Sam kept squeezing my hand and telling me he was glad I was there. I don’t need the cards to remember that, but I wrote it down, just in case. Maybe to remind him someday Smile 

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Some mornings on the way to work I can spend a few extra minutes with Jakey at preschool and I love those moments.

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This. This is what snuggling little guys looks like. Please note no one is sleeping in the same direction in our Queen size bed.

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Two boys quiet at the same time?! Amen. Totally validated my vision of turning this downstairs room into a family studio.

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Look at the lovely frozen water … which turned into a lovely mess we were so lucky to have stay outside and under the house!

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Look who else is taking notes? In the backseat, in his journal, on the way to school.

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Curious to hear what other people have on their “Maybe next year” list. If you don’t have one, I recommend it as a freeing way to cross some things off and move on …

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For more notes from behind the picket fence, find me on Facebook at Nathalie’s Notes, I’d love it if you liked me. Like, liked me like me, on Facebook I mean.

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Still not like the picture, but it’s all good

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I’m still taking notes for my memoir, Not Like the Picture because of course there is no shortage of material.

Maybe you haven’t noticed, but I was surprised to see I haven’t posted since October. So surprised in fact, I had to check my settings to make sure there wasn’t a mistake. Surely I’ve written since then.

And, yes I have. Lots and lots of drafts. Lots of journal entries, articles and Facebook posts Smile But blog posts, not so much. Surprisingly I think it’s the longest stretch I’ve gone since I started blogging nine years ago. (Really?!)

Speaking of which, I’ve been working through an online course Blog Love with Elsie Larson and studying books by my writing coach, Christina Katz so I anticipate fun, positive things for Nathalie’s Notes in the new year.

But about that prolonged pause … As some of you know, I experienced a heart-breaking violation by one of my blog readers earlier this year and it’s taken me quite some time to recover from that as I found my voice again after being rendered speechless.

I am short on details because I don’t want to invite any more of someone else’s drama into my life, and if you really want to know, I’m happy to share but it’s a long story, with far-reaching impact into my personal life.

And, honestly, it’s something I’ve finally decided to put in a box knowing I will never have all of the answers and I have to be okay with that. There are more interesting and important questions to explore anyhow.

And, you know, I suppose it’s good to have a chance to practice grace and forgiveness, in addition to learning that not all who ask should be trusted. Though I probably should know that by now.

In spite of all that, or perhaps because of it, I think to live a joyful life with an open heart we need to be able to live in the balance between trusting people in spite of the fact that we might get hurt, betrayed and disappointed and a place of knowing our own boundaries to protect our hearts without blocking out the good stuff.

Truth is, we can recover from the worst of hurts. What would be more painful  is letting the possibility of being hurt keep us from embracing the love and grace available to us … if we stay open.

And now, for a more shallow-end fail … I delight in the little things. So my house might not be all decked out or anything but when friends came over for baked potatoes and chili on Solstice, I decided to put  some cool candles in a jar … of lentils. Yes, I did.

I was inspired by this idea on A Subtle Revelry (super cool blog!) Here’s what I had in mind:

And … here’s how it turned out:

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Nathalie’s Notes: lentils are flammable; those menorah candles only burned for about 40 seconds; also, the glass jar was super hot which should not have come as a surprise, and yet …

In conclusion: don’t try this at home.

Fun fact: You can find me on Facebook at Nathalie’s Notes, if you’re into that kind of thing.

By the way, when readers subscribe to my blog it’s like getting a high five in my inbox. Of course when they unsubscribe I get all self-conscious. Thanks for signing up to get these free updates from Nathalie’s Notes.



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Embracing the Elf on the Shelf




Yamhill-Valley News-Register

Whether you embrace or eschew Elf on the Shelf, the pint-sized phenomenon is here to stay. At least it is in the Hardy household.

It’s the time of year when I begin preparing for our special December visitor. It’s hard to say who is more excited: me or the boys.

Nope, it’s not Santa. And, no it’s not Jesus, either. Though we are fans of both those fellows at our house, the first one is a one-day gig and the latter is an everyday presence. The guest I’m talking about is named Finn, of Elf-on-the-Shelf fame. The boys believe he came from the North Pole, but the truth is he followed me home from Target a few years ago.

One of the best purchases I’ve made as a holiday mom is the $30 investment in the little doll and hardback book relating the story of how Santa’s little narc came to be.

Now that I think of it, maybe the whole elf thing was hatched by the NSA to normalize being spied on, but I didn’t buy the elf as a behavior modification device. Mostly, I was sold on the elf’s spirit of making merry in our home.

I knew the boys would like the elf, but I never dreamed they would literally fall in love with the mischief maker they named Finn. Nor did I expect to find myself cheerfully inventing ideas for the elf to make more work for me, all in the spirit of creating delightful, magical moments for two of my favorite people on the planet.

Our elf arrives right after Thanksgiving bearing cozy new pajamas, cocoa and marshmallows, which are off limits the rest of the year. He also brings new toothbrushes, by the way. No, the elf doesn’t have to buy things, obviously. But he does seem to pick up a few of my December errands, transforming things like new toothbrushes into more exciting events than I ever could.

To be honest, in Finn’s world, sometimes magical and messy go hand-in-sticky-from-candy-canes-hand. But mostly he does simple little things to make the boys giggle and eagerly anticipate the next day.

For instance, the boys have awakened to find Finn drinking the maple syrup after making pancakes, with sprinkles. Another time, the little rascal took a dry erase marker and drew mustaches and horns on our framed pictures. Since we’re book people, on Dec. 1, he delivers a basket of 25 garage-sale purchased books, wrapped up with instructions to open one each bedtime leading up to Christmas Day.

Not everyone is thrilled about the advent of this new tradition. And I get it; really, who wants more messes? But, luckily, the elf is smart enough to use dry-erase markers and seems to be familiar with my personal threshold for messes, so we’re good there. 

Plus, childhood is the shortest of seasons. What’s a few more sprinkles to sweep up in addition to the daily accumulation of crumbs, leaves and dirt?

And to be clear, nowhere in the Elf manual does it suggest the elf should do all that stuff, the aptly named toy is cool with simply sitting on the shelf.

Not all moms embrace elfing; in fact, some lament its creation and prefer it didn’t exist.

When it comes to elves, like with everything else, to each his own. The last thing any mom needs is more pressure. If the thought of elf season makes you smile, consider joining the fun. If the idea makes you cringe, pass on it the way I pass on cookie exchanges, caroling and gingerbread-house making.

But, for those who elf, do the non-elf mamas a solid and teach your kids that just like the rest of the year, families all have their own ways of doing things.

And now, for Finn’s first trick of the season, he’ll trash my bedroom as we play hide-and-seek in our trunk of Christmas decorations. 

For more ideas about how to have a little holiday fun with your family’s elf, find me on Facebook at Nathalie’s Notes. For the rest of you, whether or not you elf, Merry Christmas!

 Nathalie Hardy invites your feedback at or at her website,