Behind the Picket Fence: Create a life you fancy. 

Behind the Picket Fence: Create a life you fancy. 


 For the News-Register

Roots Cover Be it so Fancy

While chatting with a group of friends, decorating styles came up. As in, what's your decorating style? Terms like "shabby chic," "farmhouse style," "minimalist" and "bohemian" bounced around the conversation.

At some point, it was clear I was the only one not to contribute. "Um. Well. I'd say I roll with kind of a work-in-progress, ‘cluttered chic’ style. Can that be a thing?" 

The discussion then turned to a more philosophical one about what really makes a home feel like "home." That was a little trickier to answer, because mine really has felt like a work-in-progress for about eight years. So that's basically from the moment we got the keys to a home I was so in love with the moment I saw it, I knew it was where I wanted us to raise our babies. 

The previous owner had impeccable style. I don't know what you'd call it exactly, but it was worthy of some Better Homes & Gardens coverage. Unfortunately, when moving day came, her stuff was all gone, and with it, the style that made the home seem so much like what I wanted but didn't know how to create myself. 

So, there's one answer. Home, I think, is something we create with our intentions and actions. Since my divorce, though, there's been a lot of non-action. Or rather, there’s been plenty of action in juggling all the responsibilities of managing a home, working full time and raising two boys who are no longer babies. But it feels more like barely keeping up on things, instead of actually making progress on any of my decorating dreams. 

So, there's that: Home is where you live your real life. And for me right now, that means no sooner have you pulled the bacon out of the oven than there's spilled, hot bacon grease all over the floor, which turns into a fun ice rink for a little bit.

And then when you're done cleaning up that mess, the bacon has mysteriously disappeared but somehow, despite eating an entire pound of bacon between the two of them, there are two boys wondering what's for breakfast. And lunch. And dinner. 

At that moment, and frankly, for a few days to follow, my kitchen is "decorated" with the remains of that mess and the evidence of quickly trying to cobble something else together before everyone is heading out to where we needed to be.

Because no matter what our mothers taught us, most of us don't put everything away immediately. It is, however, a highly recommended practice. And for good reason. 

There is little more discouraging than waking up to a fresh day with remnants of yesterday's disaster on the counters. This is where cultivating cleaning habits you stick to no matter what comes in really handy. You know, stuff like soaking pots right away so you're not working out your biceps scrubbing them quickly in time to make soup for the next meal — that kind of thing. 

Speaking of soup, I'm teaching my boys how to cook. My youngest made Avgolemeno soup last week, and if you haven't had that, you should try it because it's delicious. When it came time to put dinner on the table, he wanted to serve it out of a fancy bowl. I tried to convince him to just ladle it from the soup pot. 

"Mom, you don't spend this much time on something and then just serve it like that!" And, yes, he did help me with the dishes. Because it mattered to him how the table looked, he carefully set it while declaring: "I love fancy." 

He put out cloth napkins, a full place setting for each of us and carefully arranged the bread bowl and plates. He refuses to touch butter, so his brother contributed that to the arrangement. Instead of using the butter dish, his brother tossed the whole stick, still in its wrapper, in the middle of the table. 

"There. I hate fancy," he said, shrugging. 

I surveyed the scene, Jake drinking out of his crystal goblet, Sam sipping water out of the container closest to him and me with my water poured into my beloved, ubiquitous mason jar. 

Ideally, home is a place you can really be yourself and drink out of whatever you please. Home is where you can be fancy, or not. I suppose I'm a pretty good balance between my boys' degrees of fancy. 

As we're eating the soup, which two-thirds of us loved, Jake said: "Wherever we are together, that is home."

"Oh, Jake. I love that!" I was touched, and told him so.

"Mom," his brown eyes flashed as he nodded toward the wall behind me, "It literally says that on the wall."

Ah. Right. One of my first acts of decorating my home in a way I loved was finding that sign in an antique store, buying it, leaning it against the wall for a year and, finally, hanging it up where it could remind me what matters more to me than decorating. 

Perhaps the whole point of home is figuring out how to be ourselves throughout life's changing circumstances. Because physical homes change, who lives with us in our homes changes and all along the way, so do we. 

Home, I've decided, is where we figure ourselves out as we continue to be, well, a work-in-progress.  

Home is blog

If this resonates with you, I'd love it if you'd share it.

In a fix

You guys, I know, I know ... but I found my desk this weekend. So more writing soon. No, really.  But for now, here's my most recent clip and me opening a can of worms writing material. Because why not. 

In A Fix

I recently celebrated, as it were, a year of single home-ownership.

If I'd known I was going to be doing this on my own, of course, I would never have laid eyes on, much less purchased, a house built in 1900 — a house with just one bathroom and, uh, lots of opportunities for improvement.

Home improvement is a thing, as most readers of a home and garden section of the newspaper know. There are, however, lots of different means and motives behind the improving of homes.

For some, it's cosmetic. For example, we've outgrown these tired floors and are ready to put down some bamboo. Or whatever. 

For others it's necessity. For example, improve this situation or your porch will rot in front of your very eyes. I mean, I've heard that can happen.

And now that I'm paying attention, I'm also noticing there's a fair amount of peer pressure serving to motivate home improvement. I've come to realize some people would be mortified if someone drove by their house and spotted an array of issues crying for attention, including, but by no means limited to, peeling paint, flower boxes dangling by a rusty nail and an utterly neglected garden. 

Fortunately, I'm not that kind of person. I'm more of an, "I'll keep the lawn mowed within an inch of the law and do my best with the rest" kind of person. 

From the outside, it looks a lot like things have been falling apart around my place for the last couple years but that belies the truth which is that I've been putting all my energy into keeping things together. 

Now that the chaos, shock and upheaval of a parental split have settled into a new kind of normal in our household, I'm ready to take on some of this so-called home improvement. I decided to start by using a sledgehammer to demolish a piece of furniture my ex had mounted to the wall.

It was an awesome experience. I overshot my target a few times, so had to add "fix drywall" to my ever-growing project punchlist, but I got the job done. 

I've taken more trips to my local hardware store the last few months than I have in my first 40 years on the planet. And I've been impressed with how helpful folks can be, if you take the trouble to seek them out. 

That brings me to my most recent adventure.

With three of us living in a house with one bathroom, and two of us being barging little boys, I decided it was time we had a bathroom door that actually locked. 

So I bought the hardware I needed, and a screwdriver to install it.

In my eagerness to get started, I immediately removed the old door handle, leaving just the deadlatch in place. (Yes, I Googled it.)

Then I carefully read the instructions. Finally, just for good measure, I looked it up on You Tube in the company of my 9-year-old son, Sam. 

Part way through the online tutorial, Sam had apparently seen enough. He decided to go for it, on his own. 

Then I head the dreaded, "Uh, Mom? A little help here?" 

I peered through the hole in the door, catching the nervous look on his face. I had to peer through the deadlatch, which was locking him on one side of the door and me on the other.

It turned out we each had one part of the new lock and one part of the old on our side of the door. He had the tools, the hinges and access to our only toilet on his side, and I had the run of the house on my side.

Neither of us knew quite what to do next. 

And, of course, my other son needed to use the bathroom. Right now!

"Google something, Mom!" He urged from inside. 

"Okay, but first I have to take a picture," I said. And I posted on my Facebook wall, indicating I needed a little help.

All kinds of awesome advice and tips soon began cascading before my eyes, because I have the best tribe in the world. But there was no window for him to crawl out of, and I couldn't quite picture what action I was being advised to take on my side.

A friend Facetimed me and asked me to show her what I was looking at. 

"Which side is the doorjamb on?" she asked. When I hesitated, she explained, "That's the part that ..." but was interrupted by someone at the front door.

Another friend saw my plea for help. He was in the neighborhood, so he stopped by. 

He did what I was trying to do, but faster and more effectively. In the blink of an eye, with minimal drama, Sam and the cat, also trapped on the other side of the door, had been set free. 

And while he was there, he helped me finish the project. 

The box the doorknob came in boasted it could be "easily" installed "in minutes" using only "one tool." 

I suppose, technically, that was true — provided a got a lot of help from technology and my Facebook tribe. 

As my friend left, he eyed the bathroom vanity, still sitting in the kitchen, in its original packaging. I recently bought it to replace the one that broke six years ago.

Catching the look on his face, and mindful of the jam I had just escaped, I promised him I would seek help in advance before tackling the vanity project. 

But I'm going to do the sledgehammer part myself. Because I can.


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Hardy writes her columns "Raising the Hardy Boys" and "Behind the Picket Fence" in the margins of her life raising two boys who somehow convinced her to get a cat. 






Savor your own present

By NATHALIE HARDY | Yamhill Valley News-Register 

A fortnight from the time of this printing, we will be turning our calendars to a new year, and with that, focusing on our resolutions for what we hope to do more or less of in 2017. 

But first, between now and then, there are The Holidays. Big ones like Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and Christmas. 

Since I write my columns about what I know about, Christmas it is. I celebrate Christmas doubly, both the Christian “reason for the season” stuff and also the commercial and cultural stuff we indulge in during this festive time of year. 

However, “festive” is not the only "f" word that comes to mind this time of year, when people are forced to compromise far more than they want; are stressed with pressure to create a magical experience for children while also donating to All The Causes; and are sick and run down to the point they’re not feeling very merry and bright. 

Whether this particular holiday season finds you relating to Will Ferrell’s character in Elf or perhaps Dr. Seuss’ Grinch, I want to remind you of one thing: We don’t get this time back. So please don’t waste it wishing things were different.

That doesn’t mean you’re not going to miss the people you miss, or suddenly adore the people who cause you the most angst. And, of course, that doesn’t mean there’s any magic way to pause time so you can catch up and get it all together to make things in real life match the picture in your head, or your mother-in-law’s head or on your Pinterest feed. 

No, that’s not what I’m getting at. 

It’s like this: There’s some truth behind the feeling that time moves faster as we get older. At the end of a life, the minutes add up. Since we don’t know when that end comes, it’s incumbent on us to make our moments count. 

If you take the long view, the little annoyances, the big blowouts with family and friends, the stress of trying to do too much in too little time aren’t the things you will savor in life’s rear view mirror. 

What we keep, when everything else falls apart, wears out or changes, are the memories we’ve made, the moments we’ve collected, the scraps that make up the fabric of our lives. 

But back to the present:

Consider pausing for a moment to make sure you’re clear about what matters most to you right now. Ask yourself what you most want to remember from this time in your life and let that answer guide your priorities. Let it guide what you say yes and no to. 

Does your house need to be perfectly decorated? Or do you just want some special things out to make your home feel a little decked out? Here’s an example of what that means to me:

Instead of waiting until everything was all picked up, I did my best with the time I had. Now the decorating begins. 

Ergo, on one side of the house, by the laundry room door, I have a pile of dirty laundry serving as a do-it-yourself draft dodger. But on the other side of the house, near the front door, I have an adorable, decorative draft dodger that looks a lot like a reindeer.

Balance, people. 

If you’re looking to set the scene, to put a little spirit of Christmas into your space, the smallest of touches will work as long as they are significant to you. That will get you there.

There’s a time for a “go big or go home” attitude, but I promise you, this isn’t it.  

What I’m saying is, you don’t have to wait for the new year to be intentional. You can resolve now to have the best season possible under whatever circumstances you find yourself this year.

Enjoy your present. 

Merry Christmas. And Happy Holidays.

 p.s. this column started as a little "note to self" but if you think it might encourage someone else, please share it!

Hardy writes her columns "Raising the Hardy Boys" and "Behind the Picket Fence" in the margins of her life raising two boys who somehow convinced her to get a cat. 




Mid-life Manifesto

The bad news is there's been kind of a trainwreck over here and my writing has been reduced to mostly lists and notes on the backs of envelopes. That whole Project Life thing I was so passionate about? Just in my head these days. But I saw this mini-quiz trending on social media this evening and thought I'd take a minute to ask the boys to answer the questions, unprompted. Their answers remind me so much of why I love them, their hearts and the way they use their words! 

The good news? While I may have turned the corner a little too sharp and landed on my ass, I'm up, dusted off and moving forward. And that feels pretty awesome. 

One of my lists just so happens to be plans for getting this blog back up and running instead of just being a platform for posting clips, because let's be honest, that gets, you know, old. 

Earlier this year one of my coworkers, jokingly (?) said I was a trainwreck in response to hearing I'd misplaced my debit card. And my phone. Also a few other key things, like,maybe my mind. 

"What's a nicer way to say 'trainwreck'?" 

"Hot mess?" 


Now though, I'm more at a lukewarm mess status. 

And I think I might stay there forever. I'm at that eff it, I'm 40 ... I may never be a person who folds all my clothes and does all the adulty things in all the right order. I may always be a person who tries to do too much and disappoints people along the way because you can't cash in on good intentions. I will probably always care too much, try too hard and fail even harder. 

Know what else? 

I'm done twisting myself inside out trying to match the pace, priorities and purpose of other people. And, I'm over being the only one rowing. From now on when I'm in a situation or relationship of any kind where I realize I'm the only one doing the rowing, I'm out. 

I love being able to be Sam and Jake's mom and have front row seats to their take on the world. I love being a writer. I love most of the people in my life. This is pretty good stuff. 

The best part of rock bottom is the part where the world stops spinning, you catch your breath and realize you get to chose which path to take next. I have no idea how this next phase of my life looks, but I kinda think it might be awesome. Plus, I'll take notes ... you know for all that writing I'm going to do someday! 

I just know I'm done apologizing for who and how I am. 

I'm not for everyone. 

And I'm finally done trying to be ... 

Oh, right - enough mid-life manifesto and on to the quiz I started this with ... plus, I just wanted to say hi and that I miss you guys. Thank you for all the check-ins and notes throughout the year! You are my favorites!




What is your name? Jake
How old are you?6
How old is your mom? 40
What is your favorite color? red
What is your favorite food? corndogs
What is your favorite animal? zebras
What are you scared of? real life
What is your favorite show? terreria let's play
What makes you sad? when people say "shut up" to me
What makes you happy? terreria
Where is your favorite place to go? the place that makes me happiest is home.
What do you want to be when you grow up? ninja, engineer, vet and video game worker
What does love really mean?that somebody cares about you and really likes you.


What is your name? Sam
How old are you? 9
How old is your mom? 40
What is your favorite color? gold
What is your favorite food? hotdogs
What is your favorite animal? giraffe
What are you scared of? heights
What is your favorite show? terreria let's play
What makes you sad? divorces
What makes you happy? terreria
Where is your favorite place to go? home
What do you want to be when you grow up? a ninja, videogame developer and movie maker
What does love really mean? It has a lot of different meanings.

Pssst: If you liked this column, I'd love it if you share it with someone else who might be encouraged by it too! 


Wearing the robes we weave

Wearing the robes we weave


October, 2016

By NATHALIE HARDY | Yamhill Valley News-Register

Pssst: If you liked this column, I'd love it if you share it with someone else who might be encouraged by it too! 


Gratitude for the present that lasts

Raising the Hardy Boys: The present that lasts

May 20, 2016

By NATHALIE HARDY | Yamhill Valley News-Register


Well in advance of Mother’s Day, my boys asked me what I’d like from them this year.

“A clean house,” I told them. I know it would only last for a moment, but what a blissful moment it would be.

I got the slow blink from both of them. Then Jake, my 6-year-old, said, “We were thinking earrings.” 

 His 8-year-old brother, Sam, quickly followed, “Yeah, not like a special hug or cleaning our rooms, but more like something at Target.”

Because their whispering skills are not yet well developed, I heard most of their plotting and planning from the other room. What I couldn’t quite put into words at the time, and perhaps never will adequately be able to express, is this: They are the gift. With all the dirt, the mess, the opportunities to practice patience and grace, in all of that is the gift ready to be opened at any given moment I can recognize it. 

In the hustle of “Get in the truck!” it’s easy to miss those moments. When Sam gets out by climbing up into the bed, clambering around the edge and jumping out the back, it’s tempting to say, as I did this morning: “Why can’t you just climb out of the truck like a normal person!” 

He laughed and said, “Because I’m not normal, I’m a ninja.” That’s the gift. 

When I served the boys dinner after a long day, after not making it to the grocery store again, Jake said, “Mom! You forgot the buns!” 

“Budget cuts,” I said. We all laughed as we ate our simple dinner, and it was just fine.

That moment was precious. And it wouldn’t fit in a box. 

When my mom asks where Jake was going, after perusing his “costume” in a picture I posted, I said it wasn’t actually a costume. It was just another of his carefully assembled outfits, which, on the outside at least, look less intentional.

I can assure you, his drawers are organized by color. He is very, very specific about matching his gloves to his pants and making sure the texture is right on all of the elements.

What was the occasion? Oh, just, you know, Tuesday.

The long soccer socks, the kind that go up to his thigh, were his work-around for managing the gaping holes in his favorite red velour pants.

These pants feature a velvet ribbon I once suggested he hide by untucking his shirt. That prompted him to look at me incredulously and say, “But I want the bow to show!”

Having front row seats to two people who are unique individuals in a world that tries to make us all the same, there’s no bow big enough for that.

In my day, I was the kid on the sidelines, hoping nobody noticed me, and yet longing to be noticed at the same time. Not these two.

When a Justin Bieber song comes on the radio, Sam says, “Mom, I don’t think he really means, ‘Go love yourself.’ I think that’s like when you say, ‘Good for you.’ Right? What’s that called again?”

A euphemism.

I loved him even more in that moment. Then I remembered, maybe it’s too soon for him to be picking stuff like that up. But here we are, and I treasured the moment all the same. It would become a memory, a gift. 

When I see something of mine shattered on the floor, and demand one of them tell me right this second how it broke, and they say, in unison, “gravity,” the funny trumps the frustrating. That’s a gift. 

There’s a Nichole Nordeman music video called “Slow Down” that’s making the rounds on the Internet. It speaks to every parent who has ever wished time would slow down as their babies grow into toddlers and then transform into children, teenagers and, finally, adults.

Every person I’ve seen post a link to it has mentioned they “ugly cried” or “snot cried.” It’s a way of saying, “Your mascara will run. Get some tissue.” So I was prepared. 

But I didn’t cry. FYI, I tear up just thinking about you tearing up, so I was expecting a nice, cathartic cry. 

The music is beautiful, the lyrics are lovely and the images moving. Many of you will cry, in that bittersweet hurts-so-good kind of way. For me, and maybe a few of you, though, the video didn’t reflect reality at all.

While aspects of my life have never been harder — the whole working full time and being a single parent thing, for instance — it has never been sweeter overall.

These are the moments. These are the times with my boys that I will cherish most.

I’ll take the gift of watching them grow into themselves and being able to play a supporting role in that over a clean house any day. Stop by, you’ll see how true that is. 

When the video of their childhood plays back in my mind, it’s the collection of moments happening right now I think will bring me to tears, and to my knees in gratitude for the gift of having had them. 

I think about them already being so thoughtful and intentional about doing something special for me and it hits me how they can’t possibly know there is no gift that matches that.

But yeah, I will cherish the earrings, or whatever else they find at Target. Because when they’re off and gone doing their thing in the world, I’ll have something to hold in my hand as I remember the echoes of these days. 

And now, friends, there’s something in my eyes.


 P.S. If you're a Paul Harvey, rest of the story kind of person here's some background info on how this column got done, late but done!

Hardy writes in the margins of her life raising two boys who understand deadlines come before dusting and juggling a fulltime job working with some pretty awesome young people and occasionally calls washing down a fistful of Swedish fish with Red Bull a complete meal. 








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.

The kids are really all right.

The kids are all right - really!

April 12, 2016

By NATHALIE HARDY | Yamhill Valley News-Register

The kids are all right.

My baby was a few months into kindergarten when he shook me awake in the middle of the night to ask: “Mama! What do I do if there’s a shooter at school and we’re in lockdown and I’m in the bathroom? What do I do?” 

What? What? What?!

I don’t even remember what I said to calm him and get him back to sleep. But I know I didn’t sleep another wink the rest of that night and the next few afterward.

Even now, a few years after that shocking wake-up call, I can’t answer his question.

The best I can do is help my kids accept the reality that we don’t have all the answers, and that we can’t possibly be prepared for each and every possible scenario in advance. It’s just a limitation of being human.

But first, I had to really wrap my own mind around that reality. And then I had to figure out how to reconcile that truth with a core belief of mine that we cannot live well if we are constantly in fear of Something Bad Happening.

We now live in a world where children in schools, and many adults as well, are asked to participate in “active shooter” drills, in addition to earthquake drills, fire drills and the like. That doesn’t mean they have to live each night in fear of The Big One Happening, but it acknowledges possibilities dictating we be as prepared as possible.

And you know what? When Yamhill County took its turn in the national school shooting spotlight, it was for a threat being foiled rather than carried out.

That’s because kids did the right thing by alerting responsible adults and adults did the right thing by responding responsibly. Police and school officials worked collaboratively to ensure the safety of all, even though it meant taking heat for not being able to answer all questions immediately. 

Personally, I think Newberg’s recent brush with a potential school shooter situation represents a success story — at least in terms of awareness leading to a tragedy averted.

What breaks my heart is the presence of people so disconnected and disenfranchised they are capable of plotting and sometimes pulling off such atrocities in the first place. 

I can’t protect my kids from that, nor can I protect yours. But I can do my best to emphasize violence prevention.

I can talk to my kids about how their words and actions affect others. I can work with them on identifying issues they have with others and ways they can manage those conflicts. I can be honest with them about what is reasonable to expect from others and what is not.

My oldest son recently had to work through an incredibly awkward situation with a friend at school. In the course of that, I was told that he “had a right to always feel safe at school.” 

Well, I’m not sure that’s true, even though I dearly wish it were.

We all want kids to feel safe at school, and everywhere else for that matter. But I would argue it’s more important for them to know what to do, who to trust and where to go when they don’t feel safe.

I want kids to know who their trusted adults are. I want kids to know they aren’t alone in navigating the ever-changing terrain in the transition from child to youth to adult. 

Adults, hear this: They’re watching us very closely, even when they have their headphones on and their eyes seemingly locked on their cell phones. And get this: They care what we think. 

It’s disturbingly common among us adults to point fingers and find fault these days, both with the world in general and kids in particular. It’s common for us to pat ourselves on the back as we reflect on how we did things different and better, or at least “not as bad.”

To all of that, I channel my inner 15-year-old and say: Whatever.

You want to know what I see as today’s biggest problem? It’s people being so busy identifying what goes wrong that they fail to recognize and reward what goes right.

What our kids need, just like we did before them, and our parents before us, is people speaking truth to youth. They need to hear what’s right in the world, and that includes what’s right with them.

They need to know we believe in them and their capabilities. They need to hear us say, you kids are really all right. 


Hardy writes in the margins of her life raising two boys who understand deadlines come before dusting and juggling a fulltime job working with some pretty awesome young people all while breaking her “I don’t really like animals” rule to love their sweet puppy Scout.


Since you asked

The best is

It’s been pointed out that I kind of dropped the divorce bomb and then bailed.

My bad.

You know I love you guys and your so many questions : )

(And here I thought it was mostly just my mama who kept up here after all these years.)

I’m back and “rested” from “vacation” (You guys know that’s not really a thing with kids right? Vacation?)

palm trees

But it was in Palm Springs. With my parents. And my kids. I wore zero make up for seven days and drove nothing but a golf cart. To the pool.

golf cart

And there were some really awesome, fun parts. Like spending time with people I love, who love me, even when it’s all messy and not pretty in a bathing suit.

About that … that’s something I did real different this year, because I’m 40 now, and I’m not messing around anymore. Life is way too short to be worrying about how hot I look in a swimsuit, or anything really because it doesn’t matter.  I know, right? But here I spent all this time invested in caring about that. So much time, so many summers, sitting on the sidelines until “someday” and listening to the wrong people.

Well, it’s someday … and yeah I have thighs that are more mermaid than model like, but you know what? They keep me moving through the water like a champ. And they’re part of this body of mine I’ve wasted so long loathing, I literally can’t do it another minute.

So I got to do some of my most favorite things:  float in the water, drink champagne with my parents, play in the pool with my babies, eavesdrop and people watch in airports, hang out with one of my best friends … and one of the best parts… going on an adventure and then coming home.

And so here I am … surrounded by piles of good intentions and things that need to happen next and thinking about how to best answer some of your questions. I can’t come up with the best way so I’ll stop putting that off and just jump in … kinda like the pool – and it might not be pretty but this idea that we have to look good doing every single thing we do is stupid anyway.


Q: Is it official?

A: I have no idea. We’ve signed all the things we are supposed to, paid the $263 and taken the five-hour court-mandated guilt trip, as if I needed pictures of other kids’ sad drawings to remind me that THIS IS SERIOUS. KIDS SUFFER FROM DIVORCE. I did mention in “class” that I felt the section about kids who suffer from being raised in toxic environments don’t fare particularly well either, but that was not part of the curriculum.

Something came in the mail the other day, maybe that was the thing that made it official – after all this time it was kind of like opening the bill from a utility company. Of course, I haven’t seen it in the paper yet, which is my personal measure for what makes a thing official because, journalist. Once it’s in the paper, I’ll clip it and add it to the scrapbook I still haven’t finished and likely won’t. But I won’t burn it.

(Because I mean it when I say this next thing…)

Q: What do you regret most?

A: Not a damn thing.

Seriously. Which part would I possibly take back? We did the best we could with the information we had, all the way along. We have amazing kids which we will continue to parent, each in our own way, and are both now free to move into the next part of our lives which may, or may not, include a partner that meets our individual, actual needs instead of pretending they don’t exist or living with the bitterness that comes with dreams so long deferred.

Q: But what happened?

This one time, on a Tuesday … just kidding. It’s not like that. It’s a series of things that did not happen as well as a collection of things that can not unhappen. I may someday find a respectful way to put words around this but for now, that’s the best I have. And as I’ve said before, there are multiple truths to our, and every, story.

Q: How are the boys?

A: Awesome.

Really. We’re doing that whole open and honest, no shame/no blame communication thing and the kids are alright.

So far, the only time they’ve expressed upset about the divorce was when they initially found out and had to trust us that it would be better than okay and then twice when I couldn’t fix the X-Box.  Kids, man.

Q: How am I?

A: It’s all kind of kicking my ass, honestly.

And also, my heart’s content. Working full time and doing the single mom thing, combined with the ridiculous amount of stuff I do not know how to do around here is super overwhelming but I’m pretty cheerful about it all.

Q: What am I doing for self-care?

A: Is that a serious question?

Q: How’s the new job?

A: I. LOVE. It.

Q: Now what?

A: See top photo above.


Up next: my take on spring cleaning. It’s not one you’ll see in the glossy magazines, though, you know, I think that’s too bad.

(No elbow grease required.)


I am that mom

Maybe I am that mom

Actually, I totally am.

March 2016

By Nathalie Hardy | Yamhill Valley News-Register

  I realized I was giving in to the same kind of peer pressure to which I’m trying to raise them to be resilient.

Recently, as I was walking my boys to school, I noticed a couple of women point and cluck as they walked their purse-sized dogs.

I glanced at the three of us, trying to determine what the tsking might be about.

Ah, yes. My 6-year-old with the tank top and no coat.

I can see, to a passerby, that could raise an eyebrow. Perhaps even the question: What kind of mother sends her kid to school without a coat?

Right here. I do. I’m that mom.

But in the moment, I suggested to him we go back to the house and grab a coat, “Maybe just carry it so people know your mom cares.”

“I’m not cold,” he said. “And, you’re not wearing a coat,” he added,staring at me with the same brown eyes and expression I make when I’ve driven home my point successfully. 

“I thought we aren’t supposed to worry what other people think.” With the same face as before, I realized I was giving in to the same kind of peer pressure to which I’m trying to raise them to be resilient.

Some may say it’s not the same thing at all, but actually, it is. Because I have a solid, thought-out reason for allowing him to choose whether or not he’s cold, and it’s actually pretty simple: I want him to listen to his body and make decisions accordingly.

At the age of 6, he is plenty old enough to know if his body is cold.

Every office has that one employee who is always hot, or always cold, regardless of the setting on the thermostat. In adults, we allow for these ranges of preferences. Why is it so hard for some to comprehend that it might be the same for children? 

A few weeks ago, we were walking out the door. We reached the fence before he told me he’d be right back.

He returned with a coat and hat because, “It’s sure chilly today.” 

There are plenty of places I intervene and override the impulses of my young boys. But I do my best to honor their initial instinct, because I want them to do the same for themselves. 

Ironically, the same day Jake pointed out I was not practicing what I preach with the whole “who cares what other people think” thing, he learned an additional life lesson.

At school, another caring adult was concerned he wasn’t wearing a coat. It turned into a thing I won’t detail here, because I know with my whole heart she was doing her best to take care of a little boy who looked cold.

The thing is, even if he was cold, he didn’t need to be rescued. He could’ve stayed cold for the small amount of time he was outside and then maybe being cold and uncomfortable would clue him into perhaps taking a coat to school in case he wanted it later in the day. This is a small-stakes lesson for the life skill of thinking things through and planning ahead. 

So you see, it’s not just a coat to me. I’m okay with letting my kids shiver a little. 

When the boys were younger, I spent more time padding the edges to protect them from pain and discomfort. As they’ve grown out of their toddler years, it’s time to offer a little less cushion and a little more opportunity to suffer, or benefit, from the consequences of their choices.

It’s not exactly like I’m handing over a book of matches and seeing what happens. It’s just a coat. 

If my son were sick, shivering and upset that his mom didn’t let him wear a coat, or that he didn’t have access to one, that’s the time for a grown up to help the kid out. 

For the record, I love and appreciate my boys’ teachers, and the staff at their little school. We aren’t always going to agree on how a situation should be handled, but I know that we trust each other to do the best we can in any given moment.

I’ve learned, for example, not to send an e-mail with all caps and exclamation points until I have all the information. I’ve also learned to be a little more upfront when needed.

Last week, Jake opted out of dinner. Then he insisted he was starving, because he missed dinner and hadn’t had anything to eat for breakfast.

Actually, there were plenty of healthy options for breakfast. He just didn’t want any of them.

So I posted this message for any concerned adult in his life that day: 

“Jake may be hungry this morning. Let the record show, it’s not that I didn’t give Jake dinner last night, it’s that he opted out.

“Please help him understand that’s not the same thing. And thanks for the way you love our kids, including your desire to keep them warm.

“xo Nathalie.”

Hardy writes in the margins of her life with two young boys who understand deadlines come before dusting.