From the mouths and mind of babes

“You look like Mater,” says Jake.
“Thanks!” says Sam, beaming.
“Uh, fyi you guys, most people wouldn’t take that as a compliment,” says I.
“That’s because they don’t know how awesome Mater is,” says Jake.
“Yeah!” says Sam.
So I ask you: what would the world be like if we assumed everyone meant it as a compliment?
I mean, really, what’s the harm in jumping to positive conclusions?
(Find me on Facebook at Nathalie’s Notes to hear the latest on my book Raising the Hardy Boys which is being printed right now! So. Much. Yay!!!)

Overheard by Reporter Mama

Reporter Mama Observation: This work thing is time consuming!

But, I’ve been writing draft posts … not to mention the collection in my head so hopefully one of these days I’ll get caught up on them.

In the meantime, here are a few overheards from last week and a link to my most recent column “Meaningful action starts with silence” chronicling my reaction to the rash of tragic shootings.

Ironically, this column with the word “silence” in the title brought a lot of emails in response, and I’m thankful for all of them because it’s always nice to know when your words resonate with others.

Overheard in the newsroom:

Context: Reporter on the phone.


“So, you’re saying I misquoted you but you haven’t read the story?”

- Name withheld to protect the innocent

Overheard on the beat:

Context: I’m paraphrasing but this was said during a meeting addressing a man who appears to one of Yamhill County’s own hoarders. In reference to all the junk on his property the man said:


 “It might look like junk but really it’s camouflage.”

- Name withheld because I kind of felt bad for the guy.

But, I can’t wait to tell Matt all the crap on our front porch is … camouflage. That’s totally going in the book.

Overheard in the minivan:

“I wish we could take a boom truck to heaven and make sure Lucy is still alive there. And pet her. I still love her.”

- Sam

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On this gorgeous Sunday in Oregon, I’m procrastinating writing a final draft of my birth story column … I’m looking through old drafts of emails and posts to find some specific phrases I want to use and found this little gem. I meant to post it a couple months ago, back when we were funny and more happily married. But even then there were cracks in our caulking … metaphorically and otherwise.*

Here ya go – overheard around the Hardy house:

Me: Good news! I finally found something that will scrub that nasty buildup on the caulking in the tub.

Matt: Why are you looking at me like that?

Me: Well, because now it has to be re-caulked so it’s back in your department. But it does look so much better!


Matt to me early in the morning as both boys are comfortably asleep in our bed while we have cramps, kinks and dead limbs: We have to figure out a way to keep these kids out of our bed!

Matt to me after getting home from work and seeing my new organizing project-in-progress:


That should keep them out of our bed. Where are we going to sleep though?


When Sam started “marking” his and Jake’s cars with my nail polish, inspired by his dad and uncle’s system circa 1979, I got a headache from the smell. He was marking each one so … intricately.**



Me to Sam: You’re not taking them to prom! Just do one dot and move on.


Me to Matt (after the aforementioned project was completed***):

I’m not sure which is the title, the deed, and what all that stuff means so in the event of my untimely death it’s all in a file marked “{street name} – title.”

Matt: I’m not planning to throttle you or anything.

Me: Or, you could’ve said that in the event of my untimely death paperwork would be the least of your concerns … not to put words in your mouth or anything.


*Guess what? We are working on repairing this marriage of ours. Despite what anyone else tells me that feels harder than going through with the divorce. I have faith, though, that it’s the right thing to do for me personally, and for our family.

** Why, you might wonder, are some marked with pink AND red. Well, naturally those cars belong to both boys.

*** Y’all get that when I say “completed” I mean, removed from the bed and turned into small landmines throughout my office/bedroom/studio right? Okay, good.

Observed at Wildwood

Note to self: Don't micro-manage God. I found this note to myself in an old journal this weekend. I love how old journals serve as a letter to my future, and in this case present, self. I'm working on a little project with my journals, which I'll announce soon. Meanwhile ... on the same excavating mission I came by this free-writing I did after observing a family eating breakfast at Wildwood.

At Wildwood this morning I saw a girl who looked like she was about 18 eating with whom appeared to be a younger sister and her dad. She ordered Earl Grey tea and dunked her bag while they were talking - like she was keeping her hands busy - like maybe she picked up smoking while away at college, and felt out of sorts with her family - a mixture of glad to see them but they were cramping her new style. All the boys in the dorm knew her by name, her dad observed out loud - her little sister giggled.

"Yeah, Katie's always been boy crazy."

"You should talk."

The younger one stared back blankly, widening her eyes though when Katie said casually she kept in touch with her best friend from high school, "Yeah, I hear her little brother has a new girlfriend." Katie said, glancing at her sister out of the corner of her eye, dunking the tea bag.

"Since when do you drink tea?" Little sister changed the subject. Katie shrugged.

"I bet you drink beer now too." Her little sister let her know the information exchange back home went both ways. But Katie just rolled her eyes, managing, as usual, to make her sister feel immature.

"Girls! Enough about beer and boys, how are your classes?" Dad asked signaling the waitress to bring more coffee. Katie rattled off evaluations of her various professors and the merits of each and as the, as far as she could tell, uselessness of math.

Not bad for not actually being able to hear what they saying. But just watching them brought this stuff out. Actually just the idea of how much you change while away at college and how some things can't. {change}

You can feel so grown up and then fall right into bickering with a sibling and pleading with parents and you would just die if any of your new friends who knew you as the cool jello shot girl at off-campus parties could see you now.

Consumer Equality

Soon after finding out I was pregnant, Matt's parents were up for a visit and we wound up at the outlet stores in Lincoln City. My mother-in-law shopped with me for maternity clothes, which I have to admit I was pretty much ready for by the time I was 8 weeks pregnant. Oh, hell, honestly some of them would've been nice to have before I was pregnant! Matt and his dad had finally had enough waiting and came to drag us out of the store.

Is there a store for expecting fathers? His mom asked.

Yeah. The liquor store. Was Matt's instant reply. His quick wit is one of my favorite things about him.

Down at the Walgreens

Sure swimming is good for my brain and my body but my favorite part is the things I observe and overhear in the locker room. And since these days it takes me twice as long to do anything, I am really getting some good eavesdropping done. The time of day that I go puts me in the locker room right in between the end of Geriatric Aerobics and the start of Kids Day Camp. It's fun to watch the Betty and Ednas give way to the Brittnea and Emmas of today. The older women seem to have nothing but time and a sense of appreciation for their bodies. The younger girls are in a rush to get to the next thing and are so self-conscious it almost makes me cringe with my own memories of being that age. Me, I'm just enjoying being in the middle. Which makes me wonder when exactly is one considered "middle-aged?" One thing I'm not at all angsty about it my age. So far the constant in my life has been each year improving on the last.

So, the other day, I'm towel-drying my hair and listening to this conversation:

"I hate the ones with clouds."

"Yes, clouds are boring. Flowers are bad too."

"Would you be interested in trading?"

"Wellllll ... do you do the 500 piece or the 1,000?"

"Oh I have some of both. Right now I'm really into the circle ones. You can get those down at the Walgreens. They're all the same size."

Google Machine

I don't know if this will come across as funny as it did on the radio but I have to share it  just in case. I heard this bit on the radio yesterday that still has me laughing out loud. I came by 101.5 KFLY out of Corvallis, something called the Donkey Show, and they were playing snippets of an interview/shouting match between Sean Hannity and Al Sharpton. Sharpton was getting ticked that Hannity was coming up with bits of his history that supposedly weren't accurate and angrily spit out: "What? Where did you get that? Off your ... your Google Machine?!" 

Isn't it Ironic?

Maybe I've already done this one, but found this scrap of paper and had to share (again?).

I'm at the library. In the quiet, no cell phone zone, perusing the new book selection. This woman beside me is prattling on to her friend on her cell phone. I try to ignore her until she says in an annoyed voice to her friend:

"Hello! Presence of mind! Awareness of where you're at!"

At which point I gave her "You are one of the stupid people they warned me about" look.

Signs of mental illness

So this was a little weird. Matt and I are sitting on our "stoop" eating our Matt-made ginormous sandwiches when we hear shuffling gravel. A shrinking old woman appears through the hedges. It is hot. She is wearing heavy black trousers, a white wool sweater and heels. She is carrying a purse in one hand and clutching a cigarette pouch, lighter and white wool blanket in the other.

"Where ist das funf street?" She asks in a thick German accent. Um. She whips a folded newspaper out of her purse and waves it at us. She explain in mixed German and English that she is looking for a garage sale and has been walking and walking and can't find the house. And now, she pants, she just needs to "sitzen." And promptly parks herself on a stack of bricks beside me. Um.

"Mochten sie eine tasse wasser?" I stammer, is it der, die, das? I don't know but it's hot, surely she needs some water. She answers without noticing that I was speaking to her in her native language at her random stop in Carlton. This is odd to me. I mean, it's not the only thing that's strange in this little scenario, but still. And then, typical European, she takes the glass of water to be polite but never takes a sip. (well, how many Europeans do you know that drink water?)

Okay, so I'm thinking signs of mental illness here include the blanket and the wool sweater on a hot, hot day. Also the garage sale she was walking all over town to find advertised only one thing for sale: a ping pong table.

What was she going to do with it? Hump it on her back?