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March 2015
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In a moment

nat hospital

(Let me preface this whole thing with this: I’m fine. My heart is good. And I have a medical bill to prove it. But it was probably worth it.)

So one minute I’m standing at the counter, chopping vegetables for stir fry and enjoying(ish) the sound of Jake making a joyful noise with his new recorder flute and literally feeling Sam’s contentment with sorting and re-sorting his Pokémon cards. I’m slicing sweet peppers and thinking about two specific situations I have walked through recently with God’s grace and peace. Where there was chaos and confusion there is now calm and clarity. Which is not to say easy and painless, but worthy of praise for sure.

My point is I was feeling good. Like, really, really good. I was reflecting on some positive shifts happening in a relationship I don’t write about much here but it’s kind of a big deal. In my professional life, ideas for my new business, Rough Draft*, are coming to me, my novel is moving along, I’ve got a couple book signings coming up before Mother’s day and I’m getting some courage to spread the word about my book (which I hear is the best way to sell it!)

What I’m telling you is my heart was full of joy. Joy like I haven’t felt in quite some time.

So there I am with my joy and contentment** and suddenly comes this stabbing pain in my chest. And then it feels like a hand squeezing my heart like you’d ring out a towel and I’m kind of dizzy and spinny feeling.

There’s radiating pain and then pressure. Like someone is sitting on my chest. And it’s kind of hard to breath. And I’m thinking is this what a heart attack feels like? That’s ridiculous, I’m too young. Right? I’m too young? Am I not too young for things like that anymore? What. The. Hell. is this pain? 

And then a headache settles in and I’m still not breathing very well and I’m thinking this is bullshit I have to sub in the morning. I have two deadlines tonight. This needs to stop.

Instead I start feeling barfy and clammy. And I put down the knife and start Googling signs of a heart attack. Check, check and check. So I call my dad, a former cardiologist who is known for treating our ailments with a swift “You’ll be fine!” Instead he said call 9-1-1 so you don’t have to wait in the waiting room.

“Look, you’re probably not having a heart attack but just in case you better go.” Then the pain came down my left arm and my fingers were tingly and numbing.

“We’re going,” said Matt.

“I’m scared it’s going to be a waste of money,” I said. But I’m crying because, you know, I’m freaked out.

“Funerals are expensive too,” he said. It was oddly comforting.

So Matt called some friends to let the boys come over for a school-night slumber party and we went to the ER. Where they quickly had me in a wheelchair, and then there were hands all over me putting stickers in all the places and then there were words like “EKG” and “Nitroglycerin” and “hold really still.” 

And then there was morphine and a moment where I thought hmmm if they keep me here all night with this stuff maybe I can actually get a night of real sleep. But then the blood pressure cuff checker thing started squeezing that idea out of me and I just wanted to go home and pretend this never happened.

This story ends with the ER doctor ruling out anything “that’s going to kill you tonight” and giving me instructions to see my primary care doctor next week to start sorting through what happened.

We ruled out heartburn and a panic attack and have some ideas about what it might’ve been – some that may or may not make sense on paper.**

You know where I’m going with this, right? How things can change in a moment.  One Moment. And that can be a terrifying thought, or an inspiring one.

I choose inspiring. I choose to continue walking in the truth that I am here on purpose. I choose to keep bringing my messy, praisey self and my good heart to the table.

I also choose to start taking better care of that heart because as I lay there in the hospital it was clear there were a few things I could do differently. Something about diet and exercise. So yeah, more of that.




*I know I haven’t written about it yet. Obviously I’m better at marketing other people’s awesomeness. But I can’t wait to tell you about this one. It was the biggest YES moment when it all came together in my mind. Stay tuned. I’ll catch up with myself one of these days!

**For you Jesus-y types … at bible study that morning we were talking about The Enemy. I’ve spent a lot of time avoiding that because … uh, weird. And creepy. And because I’ve experienced some weird, creepy, supernatural things I’d just as soon pretend didn’t happen. I find it interesting that this happened, the way it happened during the time that I was feeling particularly praisey. Just sayin’. Just in case, even though I’m still working through what I think about the whole devil thing, my position  is this: Satan can suck it.

*** It was pointed out that I cussed in the same post as I’m talking about God stuff – yeah, I did. Because I’m still me. #workinprogress


How to bring Earth Day home

Clip - Green Living - April 2015 - CoverClip - Green Living - April 2015

How to bring Earth Day home

Apr 17, 2015

By NATHALIE HARDY | Yamhill Valley News-Register

I started trying to live a little greener life roughly eight years ago, when I knew I had a baby on the way and wanted to do my part to save a piece of the planet for him.  

Two kids later, I think I’ve nailed this green living thing. Well, maybe not quite.

I still drive a regular gas-guzzler, though far less often. And I still don’t compost. But I can say I’ve incorporated enough eco-friendly habits and ideas into my life to feel it’s not quite accurate to consider myself a “green wannabe” any longer. 

After this many years, I can say things that once took a conscious effort are now just part of my routine. The kid who inspired me to take a closer look at living a movement beyond just recycling is now a first-grader who picks up litter on the way home from school as a matter of habit, and chides his parents for leaving the water running too long.

Our tradition of celebrating Earth Day, created in 1970, is now an institution in schools across the country.

Students intentionally focus on what it means to be good stewards of our natural resources. And they typically bring something home to commemorate the day.

I like to think the Styrofoam cups coming home as containers for budding plants serve as an additional lesson — in irony. 

Recently, I’ve reflected on various ways I’ve incorporated my beginner lessons on sustainable living into a way of life for my kids. I know there will be more to learn along the way, but I’ll pass along a few of the things we’ve got a good handle on, in case it helps someone else figuring out where to begin with their young ones.

Since children are naturally curious, I think the best way to get them feeling protective of the planet is to start early with pointing out the way everything is connected. The water from the sky forms these puddles, and then what happens to that water? Our surroundings are literally our ecology lab. Take full advantage of that.

Perhaps before children can appreciate saving an entire planet, they might start by being good stewards of the spaces around them. For us, that began with picking up litter on walks in our neighborhood. One of us always has a plastic bag tucked in our pockets for trash collecting.

(Yes, plastic bags. You see, we’re not perfect.)

Now that our neighborhood has expanded to include a grade school, we’ve extended our litter route to encompass the school grounds.

At first, the boys wondered why no one else had to clean up garbage around the school.

I told them that other people do help pick up litter, but even more people are trailing litter behind them. So part of taking care of our neighborhood is picking up after one another.

But we don’t litter, they insisted. Except, of course, we do.

I am sure garbage occasionally falls out of our pockets, backpacks and purses without our notice, and someone else has picked up after us. We’re just doing what needs to be done, which is the point. 

Perhaps the best place to drive environmental lessons home for my family has been at the store. I trained them early on to be “Dupe Detectives.”

Kids hate being tricked, something I leveraged into turning them into savvy consumers. Sam and Jake are always “on the case” now, looking for ways companies try to trick them into buying things they don’t need and aren’t good for them.

They are also getting good at choosing products with the least amount of packaging. Please note, however, that this has not spared us from falling off the cliff of Squinky collecting and the like.

Sorry, Earth.

I advise parents who want to deliver lessons in green living to develop a plot. Literally.

They can connect their tykes to the Earth by letting them get some dirt under their nails planting something green. As a bonus, kids who become invested in vegetables by growing, selecting and preparing them are more likely to consume them without a fuss.

Finally, and I consider this perhaps most important of all, remember to rank civility over cause. 

If the trending online conversations on such controversial topics as veganism, local farming and climate change are any indicator, I fear children might be learning to be good stewards of the environment without developing the character it takes to be a good neighbor. 

It’s important to me that my kids become good stewards of the environment. But I think being good neighbors, ones who display the ability to engage in civil discourse, is essential in achieving that end.

Whether or not we agree on climate change, surely we can agree on the importance of civility. At least, I hope that’s still true.


**My next book signing gig is Friday, May 1 at Chapters Books and Coffee in Newberg from 5 to 9 p.m. Come say “hi” and maybe pick up a copy of my book as a mother’s day gift? Oh, and tell your friends!

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

Earth Day Cookie Recipe

Check out this cute idea for Earth Day Cookies on Tammilee’s blog here.

And these activities

Lessons learned poolside

Lessons learned poolside

MAR 31, 2015

By NATHALIE HARDY | Yamhill Valley News-Register


When I set off to visit my parents in Palm Springs, where they live when they aren’t back in the Old Country, I knew my boys would learn some new words in my native tongue of Slovak. 

What I didn’t expect was for them to learn some new cuss words in their own native language, hurled as insults at kids acting like a bunch of little, well, kids.

Hoping to take a final swim on last year’s visit to the 55-and-over complex, my boys learned a lesson in handling disappointment when another child had a bathroom accident in the pool, requiring its closure for the evening. I captioned the photo of them standing sadly by the “closed” sign this way: “Every party has a pooper.” 

On their first day back in the pool this year, they learned that is, indeed, always the case.  

Earlier, I’d noticed a man in a Hawaiian shirt with black socks and sandals neatly tucked under his chair. His ears were covered with headphones that looked like a set of earmuffs designed for a Michigan winter. He had a little brown cooler with him. 

He motioned to a lady who was fully dressed, but sunbathing nonetheless, and asked her why she didn’t have a box of wine with her. “Because I enjoy sitting at a table, with a glass, a cloth napkin and a place mat,” she said.

He laughed, which made it seem like he might be a nice guy. Then, apropos of nothing that I or two other nearby mothers were able to discern, he grumpily gathered his things and yelled expletives at the kids, waving his cooler for emphasis as he shuffled away.

Another mom and I followed him out. I asked, “Excuse me, Sir? Did my kids do something to annoy you?” 

“Yes! They’re kids! They shouldn’t be here,” he replied. “Just because you think they’re so-o-o-o-o precious doesn’t mean I do.”

He suggested I take them to a public pool instead. He told me he lives in a 55-and-up community so he can avoid little [expletive] like them. 

I get it. Not everyone loves kids. But a sign posted at the pool welcomes children who are visiting residents.

The man said that’s the problem. He complains to the board after that year after year it continues to welcome the little [expletive]s.

“Hey, look,” I told him. “I don’t think my kids are so precious all the time. Trust me on that.

“I get that you don’t like kids, but here’s the deal. Hate them all you want for existing, but let’s not be calling them names,” I said as the other mom chimed in that it wasn’t okay to treat the kids like that no matter how he felt. She and her children remembered his vitriol from the year before. 

For good measure, I told him, “This is a public area, and they are visiting their grandparents, who don’t find them adorable every single second either, I assure you. But they only see them once a year, so we plan to make the most of it. If it helps you plan ahead, we’ll be here all week.”

That night, I asked my boys to color him a few pictures as a gesture of goodwill.

“You want us to make pictures for a guy who hates us?” my older one asked, giving me The Look.

“Yeah, I do,” I said. “He can’t really hate you because he doesn’t know you. Plus, I think we need to forgive him and show him a little love. Don’t you think he could use some?”

“Well, that’s for sure,” Sam agreed.

So he drew a picture of an angry face surrounded by happier ones. He addressed it, “Dear Sir,” and signed it “like” instead of “love,” because he felt that would be “too much.”

I also wrote the man a note expressing my regret that our enjoyment of the pool encroached on his. I mentioned what a blessing it was to be able to give my kids an opportunity to enjoy this kind of a trip, and promised we’d be gone soon.

At first, Sam was focused on trying to make “the mean man like us.” I suggested that although the man acted mean, he could also be a very nice person, just having a bad day. Even a lot of them strung together perhaps.

We also talked about how it’s not our job to “make people like us.” They will or they won’t. Either way, we can be respectful and go about our business. 

Sam suggested the boys could try to lie low so it didn’t seem like there were kids at the pool at all. Not necessary, I told him. As long as they remained considerate and didn’t splash on other people, I told him, they were fine. 

There is a concerning trend of parents apologizing for their kids being kids. I am not a fan of that. I’m more of an advocate for teaching our kids to be considerate of others, but confident in their right to take up space of their own as well. 

Since parenting happens in all the moments, not just the teachable ones we engineer, if I want my kids to believe that love wins and grace is the way, my focus needed to be on my response rather than on his actions. 

I was on deadline with this column when we ran into our grumpy friend again. I approached him with our pictures and he waved them away. 

“What’s all that?” he asked.

“Well, the other day I felt like writing you a note because I noticed our enjoyment encroached on yours.”

“Nah!” he said, sliding the packet back across the table at me. “I’m just intolerant.”

He said it with a disarming grin. Then he threw his head back and laughed at himself. 

“I’m intolerant of a lot of things I guess,” he said, waving his headphones at me. “That’s why I have these.”

“Sometimes I wish I had those, too,” I said, laughing with him as “Kumbaya” played in my head. 

Later, Sam asked me what intolerant meant. “It’s like when things you can’t control bug you a lot,” I explained. 

“Well, he seems to accept he’s like that, so we should accept it, too,” Sam said before going back to practicing his handstands under water.

If there’s a better take-home message here, I don’t know what it is.


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