Blew the deadline, saved the story

Over the years people have asked if I could write more about the process of writing and publishing.

Nope. I can’t.

Because I can’t speak to The Process or pretend I know how it works for others, but I did agree to share more about my own. As with everything, I try to be real about things, including sharing those moments when the column is due the next morning and … nothing.

Which is what happened last week with my monthly Raising the Hardy Boys column. You’d think I’d have my back-up column ready after all these years, but no.

It’s not that I had nothing to write about because that’s not even a thing! But, the column I’d been working on just wasn’t coming together at all. I hope someday it will because there were some good parts, but mostly there were a lot of soapbox moments and trite tangents. So, I was back to nothing. On deadline. Literally nothing.

Some of the possibilities swirling around my head and heart were either too personal for publication, didn’t meet my criteria for honoring the boys’ privacy preferences or were too raw to write about well.

So, here’s me the night before it’s due:

Due yesterda


I posted this status update:

So this is happening ... it's not that I don't have anything to say, just that, you know family paper and all that. #process #writinglife #reportermama#writingiseasywaitwhat

And went to bed.

Yes. I did. I prayed about it, wrote in my journal for awhile and had faith that it would come by morning.

And … it did.

Almost on time

Right on time

New status update:

Last night I posted about the column that was due yesterday - and I had zero words and no idea how I was going to pull this one off. Nailed it: 6:59 a.m. 29.9 inches, 897 words that matter to me, and maybe to some of you. And that headline? One of my favorites. Can't wait to share it with you guys! Now off to the job that pays the bills because#writinglife #raisingthehardyboys#deadlinesgetitdone

I woke up at 3:30 a.m. with the idea of what I wanted to write about and had some sweet material collected on my Facebook page from sharing little bits and pieces of conversations and moments observed, some of which I was able to weave into the words that I woke up with. 

One of the best moments was when it hit me how tired I was going to be at work, and I still didn’t have a headline, I just typed in “the gift of now” which wasn’t quite right and then that rush of THIS came as I retyped: “The present that lasts.”

And when you read the column you’ll see why that is exactly right. And that rush, the thrill of nailing it made up for the sleep I’d lost. That passion fueled what sleep could not. I did go to bed early the next night though, because, you know, I’m 40 now.

I can’t explain or describe how that all works, right? I can only share the experience and say that it does work. There’s an alchemy of inspiration, spirit, word nerdery and the discipline of showing up to do the work. Even at 3:30 a.m. Also, deadlines are their own kind of magic.

Elizabeth Gilbert opens her book Big Magic with this:  

Q: What is creativity?

A: The relationship between a human being and the mysteries of inspiration.

Funny story, so I posted some progress updates for my friends and readers on good old Facebook and my editor waited until everything was turned in to remind me that it was actually due last week. I used to pride myself on not missing deadlines. Ever. Then I slowly changed that to having good, respectful communication with my editors about them. And now, apparently I am blowing them off completely. But this one is worth it, at least it was to me.

Soon I will write a column about how I got my act together, but I don’t want to get ahead of myself or anything.

To Elf his own, a manifesto of sorts

To Elf his own

 Hey haters!Here's the thing...

Dec 2, 2015

By NATHALIE HARDY | Yamhill Valley News-Register

Raising the Hardy Boys

While many holiday gatherings have been seasoned with heated conversations over foreign policy, arguments about presidential candidates and a debate or two over the best way to baste a turkey, I’ve already gone a few rounds defending my practice of, and passion for, elfing.

If you’re anywhere near social media, you’ve heard of Elf on the Shelf. It’s this slightly creepy looking, pint-sized phenomenon bringing merriness to some families, and madness to others.

In short, the elf arrives sometime before Christmas and appears in new places, serving as Santa’s little narc.

That NSA-esque approach isn’t my thing, so our scout elf is on the lookout for good deeds. He also provides an element of mischief and merriness as he pulls little pranks, like putting miniature marshmallows in the kids’ oatmeal, or cues up the DVD player with a Christmas movie when we thought we were watching “Wild Kratts” for the millionth time. 

It started as a self-published book a decade ago by a mother and her two daughters. The trio never dreamed their little vision would dance in the heads of children and Target CEOs everywhere.

And, as is the case with everything in America, Elf on the Shelf is controversial. 

Not as much as, say, the subject of Syrian refugees, but it’s right up there as a first world problem blown out of proportion. 

Some say: Too commercial!

Oddly, it’s also a massive self-published success story in a country that often cheers on ingenuity. But, apparently, there is a limit to how much success we can tolerate someone having, especially if, God forbid, it brings joy. 

Others insist: It’s not really a tradition!

Says who? I mean, what exactly makes something a tradition? 

A tradition, as I understand it, is something cultivated and passed on from one generation to the next. 

Still others prefer not to be haunted by the doll, because it’s creepy, like clowns. I’ll give them that.

There’s actually a name for a true fear of elves: fayophobia. For those suffering from this condition, I suggest staying off social media or temporarily hiding your elfing friends because as far as I’m concerned, it’s time to hum Stephen Sondheim’s “Send in the Clowns.” 

And the one anti-elf stance I struggle with the most: “It’s just another thing parents feel pressured to do.” 

The challenge for me is not that others don’t want to do it. I get it. Some of you bake. I do not. Because I hate that. My problem is specifically with people who project their own insecurities or priorities onto me, and instead of simply opting out, they mock people like me who have fun with the little sprite.

I’m no stranger to insecurity; in fact, a few years ago, I fell prey to something I no longer tolerate: elf-shaming. I will never insist that to love me is to love the elf. However, to love me is to stop mocking me for the joy it brings to us simply because it’s not your thing. 

To elf their own, do it or don’t, but I would never tell a mama who doesn’t elf that she’s lazy, so why is OK for those who don’t get into elfing to suggest I have too much time on my hands? Or, as I often hear, that I’m trying to be a “unicorn” mom portraying a perfect life on social media. 

Here’s the truth: using that little elf as an avenue for intentionally creating joyful moments has gotten myself and my family through some of our darkest seasons. Not because I’m pretending difficulties don’t exist, but because in spite of them, it is our right to choose love, to live intentionally and to create our own joy. 

Yes, it is more work to incorporate our elf’s antics into an already busy season. As enamored as I am with our elf Finn, about three days into his arrival, I’m getting out of bed at midnight, muttering an alliterative expletive because I forgot to do something with him.

This is how I discovered Finn’s special feat of traveling all the way to the North Pole and settling back into place without looking like he even moved. I know, it’s amazing.

In nearly eight years of writing this column, the most feedback I’ve received was a couple years ago after my first article on Finn. Most of it was positive. But then, there were these deeply disturbing insults and mocking at my expense. I let the hating get under my admittedly porous skin. 

I elfed in private for a couple seasons, protecting those who didn’t wish to see this sort of thing blowing up their feeds. 

This year, though, I’m making up for lost time. You see, I’ve got my eye on the clock of my boys’ childhood. 

I see the writing on the wall in my older son’s sly grin and twinkling eyes. This season of magic is coming to an end for him. Soon, he will be one of us, the joy makers. I’m not wasting any more of the time I have left. 

Oh, about creating traditions? As I prepared for shenanigans with Finnegan to begin, imagine my surprise when I found him already peeking from a stocking hung in my room. 

Just like that, a tradition is born. 

So, my dear elf-hating friends, I get it. Hide me, un-friend me, do what you must to survive, because for the rest of us, it’s open season for Elf on the Shelf and I’m not holding back to spare anyone the suffering of our joy.



(If you liked this column, feel free to share the love with your friends, I’d love to hear what you think! Unless it’s that I have “too much time on my hands” because: no.)

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

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

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’.


At this moment I am …

drinking water with Thieves essential oil because I’m determined to be and stay well.

appreciating both boys simultaneously in school for six hours a week. But also treasuring my “just Jake” time.

watching the clock tick – these precious moments I have the house and my thoughts all to myself pass quickly.


laughing at the memory of Jake making me this sweet necklace in Sunday school and then asking me:

“Mama, can I have that heart crown back? I need nunchucks.”

Then, later: “Here, you can have the nunchuck necklace back.”

eating too much salami

willing time to stand still so I can savor it more.

watching my children grow too fast.

prepping for Sam’s golden birthday as he turns seven on the seventh! (SEVEN!?)

opening (sleeping) giant cans of worms.

sleeping intermittently, hoping that gets better soon.

remembering some sweet memories and some I prefer to keep buried were it not for the fact that festering feelings cause a little bit of trouble left unattended.

brainstorming ideas for a Skylander style birthday party, thank you Pinterest.

wearing my favorite shirt that hasn’t fit in for. ever. (Feeling smug for keeping it now. Still not ready to throw away my collection of other sizes … just in case this is just another stop of the yo-yo that is my battle with bulimia brain.)

considering how much I have to be thankful for anyway.

making lists, and lists of lists because I’m nerdy like that.

feeling like things are going to be okay.

thankful for all of it.


Nathalie’s Notes from July, 2014: I’m surprised I’ve only done this type of post twice because I like reading them on other blogs so much. Reading the two I did I’m glad for just that much because of the simple snap shot it offers.

Which is always the way with personal writing. People think more is better, mandatory even. But please believe me when I say some is better than none. One diary entry a week, or even a year still leaves a record of what mattered, especially if you let yourself believe today’s minutia makes for tomorrow’s marvels.

If you want to try it yourself, you and don’t have a blog or journal (I’d love to help you reconsider that!) post your answers in the comments or email me. It’s fun! These two links have a few different prompts than I used today. I wanted to make the answers quick and move to the next, which I encourage you to do as well. This isn’t homework, there are no wrong answers. It’s not all of the things you are doing currently, just whatever pops into your mind.

October 2012 and March 2013. And, now July 2014. (Note to self: I totally messed this up and saved over one of my old "currently" entries. Wish I'd actually backed these posts up another way because it is lost and there were a couple little written polariods I wish I could remember!)

Thank you to Ali Edwards and Elsie Blaha who inspired this list of reflections in my life right now.

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So, also – I hate to be super self-promotey but that’s kind of a thing for people who are trying to carve out some income doing their own thing – I need you guys is what I’m saying.

I’m thankful for your readership, your friendship, your comments, your “liking” me in real life but also on Facebook at Nathalie’s Notes Facebook, click here.

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Postcards from home


Published in the Yamhill Valley News-Register

I’m fielding a lot of questions these days about how things are going for my stay-at-home mom redux.

It’s a fair question. I usually come back with something flippant about missing bathroom doors that lock and luxuries like uninterrupted conversations and driving in the car with the radio turned up. Oh, and my co-workers, I miss them a lot. Not that my 4- and 6-year-olds aren’t super conversationalists, but it’s not quite the same.

So, truth be told, three weeks into this transition, I’m still figuring out the answer to how it’s going, except to say: We are still adjusting. Some things are awesome, but others, not so much.

Shortly after I left my job, I got a package in the mail with a coffee cup and a note from a friend saying she “missed my mug.”

My husband eyed the gift suspiciously. That’s because the mug was inscribed, “World’s Okayest Mom.”

You see, not just anyone can give a gift like that. But it came from the right person. I love it because it reminds me that being a good mom is all relative, so to speak.

Bottom line, we are really doing just fine, even if the contents of my desk are still in the living room, and I haven’t even started any of the sewing projects I planned to do once I was back home.

First, there’s the fact that I don’t sew. Then there’s the troubling reality that I don’t have the time I thought I would.

In my head, I figured the boys were two years older than the last time I was home, so there wouldn’t be any diapers to wash, they would be able to get a drink of water for themselves and I wouldn’t have to watch them every single second to keep them from choking or sticking something into a socket.

Alas, it turns out they are also two years more clever. Though they prefer I don’t watch them so closely, I probably should.

Also, there’s a lot of blood that comes with doing tricks on bikes and playing with sticks. Yes, they can get their own water and snacks, but it’s amazing how messy independence can be.

But I hesitate to complain, because that would be like getting to go on vacation somewhere awesome, then complaining about the view from the room. Except not exactly.

This is more like a staycation, and it doesn’t feel very vacation-y — not between the whole not really sitting down much thing and the not having a moment to myself thing.

Also, being a stay-at-home mom is a total misnomer. You guys know that, right? There’s actually not a lot of staying home at all. But that’s a topic for another column.

Who referred to this as a vacation again? Oh, right. Me. My bad.

Shortly before I went on my final paid vacation as an employed person, I told my editor I would be willing to write a story from Palm Springs while I was visiting my parents there.

“Are you sure? I mean, it’s your vacation,” she said.

And then, as if I didn’t know better, I followed up by saying I would basically be on vacation once I was back home with the boys. It came out wrong, but still there it hung in the air, perhaps the dumbest thing I’ve ever said.

There was an awkward pause as we let that set in, followed by laughter. “I look forward to hearing more about that vacation,” she said.

Okay, so there’s not exactly an umbrella in my drink and no time for postcards, but I am mostly loving having more time with my little ninja wannabes. Plus, I do get to read for fun now. Actually, it’s really just paragraphs at a time while the boys set up a track and practice their tricks before asking me to “Watch, Mom! Watch! No, with your eyes!”

Fine, fine. I’ll watch. I am aware that their childhood has already been a blur, and if I blink, “Look at me, Mom!” will just be an echo in my memory.

In honor of Mother’s Day this weekend, I raise my mug to all the other “okay” moms out there, who are keeping things real by maintaining a sense of humor and remembering to count their blessings instead of their burdens.

Also, just as kind of a public service announcement, I would not recommend that awesome mug as a Mother’s Day gift from, say, husbands.

2014-04-16 12.01.38

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The Salad Standoff



Recently Jake decided he wasn’t going to eat his vegetables anymore. I don’t love spending any part of dinner on cajoling kids to eat the food I went out of my way to prepare in a healthful, tasty way.

Earlier this week, we both put our foot down in what will forever be known as The Salad Standoff. Matt suggested we serve the salad first and then the rest of dinner so there was no room for discussion, debate or drama.

Jake immediately pushed his bowl away: “Don’t want ‘dat.” We calmly told him he had to eat his salad, like the rest of us, and then he could have dinner which would be followed by dessert. The rest of us ate in that order while Jake refused to take a single bite of salad, instead repeating “I don’t like salad! ‘Dat yucky!” again and again until we finally excused him from the table when we were all done eating.

I was a little worried about how nighttime would go but was confident in our choice to starve him out to teach him a healthy habit. For the record there was nothing in that salad he hasn’t eaten and liked before: spinach + goat cheese + sunflower seeds and Annie’s Goddess Dressing (Affiliate Link).

I can hear it now: You’d seriously send your kid to bed hungry because he wouldn’t eat his salad?

Totally. Because I’m the mom. And partially because of my own eating-disordered brain it is essential to me that we don’t create a pattern of control and drama around food. I know it might seem like that’s exactly  what I did here but it wasn’t a new food. It was him being stubborn and me giving in a few times too many.

So, here is what happened:

Instead of starving to death, because he was truly hungry, as I was putting his pajamas on he looked at me with his big, owl brown eyes and said: “Mama, I hungee.”

“Do you want your salad?”

“Yes.” He said. I tried not to look shocked (or smug) as I carried him downstairs, back to the table where his salad was still waiting for him.

Here he is, happily, eating his salad. Which was followed by two servings of meatloaf and none of the mashed potatoes.

File under: battle picking.




The horror … shopping and stylin’

I’ve never been a huge fan of shopping. My mom can back me up on that. Hate it. Always have. Luckily I’ve been super blessed by a mom and friends with good taste and have survived primarily on hand-me-overs from them. (And still happily accept them!) But I’ve become a little more particular as I figure out what my own style is. I know, in my 30s. By which I mean late 30s. Okay, at age 36.

Having two little kids has not enhanced my love for shopping even a little bit. They do that whole crawling under the changing room door just when I’ve wrangled myself into something that won’t fit unless or until I go back to see that hardcore spinning teacher dude. (I know!)


All that is to say, I go rarely and I go armed. With snacks, an activity and apologies in advance. I found this awesome little store in Newberg, Velour, fashion recycled. And planned my trip carefully. I knew I only had a small window before the kids were out of crackers and then I saw it in the window. The perfect outfit assembled by someone who knows what they are doing. Which is so much better than my awkward hacking together of what might look good. (Besides my go-to T-shirt and jeans look, that’s always hot.)


So I bought the whole thing, except the shoes which did happen to be in my size as well. I also had time to pick out a new tee. I was outta there in record time and excited to wear it out the next night.

Here’s how that went:

Anyone who’s seen me in the last 36 years knows I’m a pretty conservative dresser. So, when I wear an outfit that’s kind of boob-a-licious you’d think Matt would notice.

He did not.

We had a fun night out with friends anyway. Except the two hours I endured watching the Rocky Horror Picture Show which I hated. (The cast did an awesome job and I did like seeing my friend April on stage. But as for the cult classic itself … To whom is may concern: I want those two hours of my life back!)

Luckily the show was sandwiched between a mediocre dinner with fabulous friends and margaritas with the same rad people, though I’m not sure any amount of tequila could erase the memory of what I’d just endured.

But this post is not about that; it’s about what an adorable nerd my husband is. So the next day, boob-a-licious dress forgotten I’m wearing my new $5 T-shirt featuring the cover of The Great Gatsby and Matt goes: “I like your shirt, babe. Is that new?”

Proving that reading is sexy.

{Project Life–week two}

 The Mom Creative  
Two weeks down, 50 to go! Here’s my layout for my second week of Project Life. That sounds more casual than I feel. I feel excited to have found a way to keep up on the awesomeness that is Project Life. *
I love this picture I got of Matt shaving as Sam stared, mesmerized. I recorded part of the conversation on my journaling card.
This picture of the boys just before lights out on Kubko’s birthday is one of my favorites.
I hope Sam doesn’t realized I snuck some of his Cars stickers to use for one the cards.

I haven’t figured out how I’m going to add the week numbers to the title cards. Maybe it doesn’t matter. I figure if I find the right thing for me, I can go back and add them.




Just a reminder (Mami) that you can double click on the pictures to see them larger.

Note to Self: Make insert for Kuby’s birthday by printing pictures from Facebook timeline and use the numbers stickers. Ten pictures with list of ten lines about the day – use captions from Facebook. Maybe enlarge one or two favorites with a few facts about  him at this age to put in the baby book I might make someday.

Edited to add: Some of you have asked if I could include the journaling – I love to see that in other pages so I’m not sure why I didn’t think of it. Maybe because I handwrite most of them and don’t want to retype everything? Hopefully these close ups will work:



*I can post about what’s working to help me keep up … if enough of you are interested.

Meditating through the Mayhem

Peace is that moment when you give in to fully embracing your life exactly as it is instead of lamenting the one you thought you would, or should, have.

I am still pinching myself to see if it really happened that someone I admire as much as Becky Higgins liked something I wrote enough to share with her readers who, in turn, have been so kind with their comments and emails! Thank you.

There’s a story of divine inspiration, and timing, behind this that I’ll share soon but for now I’m just super grateful.

I have two sick kiddos so we’re a little off around here but I’ll be back to posting shortly. In the meantime, here’s a link to my most recent column.  I’m not exactly sure why but it’s one of my favorites. Hope you like it, too.

Meditating through the Mayhem

Remember Project 365?



Remember how enthusiastic I was about Project 365 (or Project Life as many call it)? I still am. Even though I am approximately 93 days behind. Instead of waiting to catch up on those 93 days I’m just jumping back in where I’m at, so here is Monday’s picture of the day and journaling – just a little taste of life around here. The kind of thing that would be easy to forget one day.

I was driving the boys home from one of our favorite parks, the Airplane Park (thank you Emily) and saw a little pond with a bunch of ducks on the edge of it. I was flooded with memories from my childhood I’d long forgotten: feeding ducks at Wright’s Park. Which made me remember my mom and dad’s restaurant Le Snack … which brought back all kinds of memories. Stuff I want to write down before I re-forget. But I suppose there’s something kind of cool about having these flashbacks of memories.

Mothers Against the Madness

Here is my most recent column in the News-Register in response to the question what do stay-at-home moms have to be stressed about?

Here's my answer to the underlying question: What is it you do all day, exactly? (Except that I'm pretty sure I made my point by noon).

I beg of you to help stop the madness against mothers by sharing this information with anyone who asks (or doesn't know to ask, but should hear this anyway!)

Thanks so much for helping me spread the word. I'm so done with all the b.s. about pitting women against each other, or women participating in the damaging dialogue, about which choices* are "best." All we get to decide is which choices are best for us. That's it. And, really, that's plenty.

For the record, the choices I'm referring to here include, but are not limited to, the following: Being a stay-at-home mom, mothers dedicated to satisfying careers, mothers working at crap jobs to make ends meet, mothers staying in a marriage other people don't understand, or, leaving a marriage for reasons people don't understand, women who are not mothers by choice or by circumstance.

To be clear: I'm not advocating for or against any of these very personal decisions. I am simply, but strongly, saying that they aren't our choices to make. Eyes on your own paper, people ... eyes on your own paper.