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.

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.

HAPPY NEW YEAR, or just–hey, it’s Friday.


Great news you guys! You don’t have to do ANYTHING and this year will still end at midnight tomorrow.

You don’t have to do any. thing. and the ball will drop, kicking off 2016.

And just like that a brand new year begins.

But it will feel a lot like … Friday. And then Saturday, and then Sunday and then most people go back to the old routine and adjust to it being a new year.

The end.

Whew! So, you’re fine. Just keep breathing and putting your pants on one leg at a time and you are good to go!

For a lot of you that’s what you need – the freedom to know there is truly no external pressure to do anything different just because HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

But … if you want to, if you feel nudged by the spirit or by, say, something more physical like your pants feeling kinda tight or the rooms of your house closing in on you because: piles of everything everywhere … well, here’s an invitation – that’s all it is: an invitation to consider the following:

(again please note my very intentional use of the words “invitation” and “consider”):

- What exactly would YOU like to have change?

(YOU. Not your husband, your mother, the lady next to you at church or the guy with the judgey eyes at the library. Where do YOU feel your attention being directed from inside your heart and mind? Clarity is critical. More on that later if you want, let me know!)

- What might that look like?

- How could you work toward that?

(Word matter y’all – “how could you work toward that?” is different than “tell me exactly how you will accomplish this?” or, if your inner voice is kind of an asshole: “What makes you think you can do that?” None of that right now. All I’m asking you to consider is: what steps could you take toward the end you desire?”)

I also want to encourage you to remember that it really does come down to the little things adding up. It’s not about losing, say, 60 pounds. To work toward that end I’m looking at things like:

- keep my fitbit charged, remember to wear it and be more connected online with fitbit and myfitnesspal.

- streamline my green shake routine and have one every morning

- drink more water, lemon water and apple cider vinegar, less fancy coffee drinks

- etc. Because I am wordy and like lists, I have more specific, do-able things instead of one huge (so to speak) statement goal.

Another example:

I would like to be consistent in creating both a chore schedule and opportunities to manage their own money for the boys. Which means both earning and smart spending. I **think** Chore Monster may be a means to this end. (I could list all the things that have not worked another time if that would be helpful. Which, of course wouldn’t be as every family dynamic, needs and such are different).

I recommend using a journal and planner for every part of this, from gaining clarity, processing what that nudge might be, and for narrowing down your focus (organizing all the things turned out to be unrealistic).

And a side note: Some of you know my silence on this blog speaks volumes – I promise there will be a time I can and will disclose more but for now, please trust that I see a light at the end of this twisty tunnel and while it’s not turning out quite like I pictured, not at all, I have it on good authority that it’s going to work out. I think I spoke too soon out loud recently and it’s super awkward now in real life but all I can do is keep walking forward and doing the next right thing.

Which, for today means taking care of my young people, our puppy (?!) and planning intentionally for the new year I happen to be looking forward to very much because I love the mere idea of all the possibilities! Plus, planning is my favorite.

Speaking of which – here are a few links, ideas and tools – that I am loving right now, and intend to use more in the new year, cause I’m into that kind of thing. If you are too, here ya go: (I’m supposed to legally tell you someday I might, maybe, get a few cents for some of these affiliate links. For the record I only ever recommend products, programs and things I like myself).



- Leonie Dawson

- Erin Condren’s Planner

- Moleskine planner

- Mindful Energy


And some free stuff:

Goal setting and reviewing with kids by Cindy Hopper at Skip to my Lou -  (One of Sam’s resolution is to get more x-box time. I’ll try to work that into my goal of getting more help with household tasks #winwin).

Free ebook by Christine Kane to help with the gaining clarity piece of all this – and a wonderful introduction to the Word of the Year concept.

Another free ebook by Kirsten Oliphant to help with blog goal planning – she had me at “I love planning to plan.”  

If you found this post helpful at all, I’d love it if you’d share with your friends! Just so happens … one of my goals this year is to add you to my subscriber list if you aren’t there already so … yes?

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 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’.

Order up


closing in


I once asked a favorite writer of mine, April Henry, how she knew when her project was done.

“It’s due,” she said.

Oh. Right.


I struggled with this one for my ebook “Merry is Optional” because given that I’m writing in the margins of real life, the material I’m ending with isn’t everything I had in mind for this project. Because a constant theme in my writing is encouraging others to let go of what is or isn’t going as planned and embrace what is. So, that’s happening and it’s time.

This way, I’ll get good feedback from my dear reader friends and can put out an even better second edition. Later. Like, next year.

I’m ready for it to be done.

We’re all ready.

It’s at the point where balance has tipped in favor of meeting my drop-dead deadline (you know there’s stages, right? This is the One That Can’t Be Missed).

As a result of all the extra minutes going into this final push, we put our shoes on to cross the kitchen floor because … ew. And also because no one else seems to know how to push a broom without being asked.

The boys heard the cast iron pan moving around on the stove this morning and came running: “She’s making breakfast!”

But actually I was just moving stuff out of the way to make coffee.

They were cool about their disappointment at another cold breakfast, dude – that’s more than some kids ever get.

“I know. But some kids get sausage, you know?” Says the older one. “How about just a warm egg, Mama?” Says the younger one.

Since, it’s been a few days of cereal and/or pepperoni and grapes for breakfast, I threw some oil, eggs and bread in the pan for peekaboo eggs and won the morning. (Pro tip: you too can do the bare minimum which then makes something super simple seem brilliant. You’re welcome).

Order. Up!

Speaking of which, the stuff marked in the corner in blue on the screen shot from my Scrivener program has to be done today yet.

Some time between picking up the boys, soccer practice, end of the year soccer party and wrestling practice, bed time routine and I’m actually still hopeful I can squeeze in one more Sons of Anarchy episode because I got a little bit addicted. I can’t explain how that happened. (For the record, we aren’t usually that all over the place but this one week, things overlapped. Because of course they did).

But it’ll get done. As I recently wrote in a job application, deadlines are my love language.


If you enjoyed this column, it would be an honor for me to see it shared with your people!

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’.


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

Privacy: A call for consideration

Parents, let's speak openly about privacy

Nov 3, 2015

By NATHALIE HARDY | Yamhill Valley News-Register

Raising the Hardy Boys

Private Parts cli

Keep your private parts private. It’s a mantra for parents of little discoverers.

First, of course, the conversation begins by defining what makes a private part private, and why. Before that happens, parents must decide when it’s time to start having such a conversation. 

By the time my boys were entering grade school, we’d had the private parts talk. So I figured we were good to go. 

Except no. It turns out all that was just Private Parts, Phase One. 

Now, it seems we have arrived at a new life course: Private Parts and the Internet. 

What started as a fun game, where we took turns entering terms like “images of penguins” into Google, turned into a wake-up call when I discovered even searching for pictures of cute animals can open a portal to a deviant world. 

At their age, I remember the risky business of looking up words in something called a dictionary. And the worst that could happen is being exposed to a new word, for say, the biological word for a private part. Tee-hee. 

But today, a smartphone is nearly always in reach. And it provides an instantaneous gateway to images of anything you want, and even those you don’t. 

So, voila. Also, whoa. 

Parents in this Internet era have to do what generations of parents have done before them. Figure it out and adjust. And, yes, maybe pause to lament the passing of The Good Old Days. 

As with everything, opportunities come with challenges. The best we can do is embrace what is and learn to navigate the new terrain. Whether we like it or not, here we are. 

It’s up to us to give our children a compass, help them determine their own course and steer them on the right path. But it turns tricky when you want to use your folded old-school map and the tool of today is a GPS that talks back to you. 

For some of us, it’s even trickier to stay a step ahead of our kids when they are learning things in kindergarten that require YouTube tutorials for us parents.

There are ways to safeguard your Internet searches, of course. Google it and you’ll see. 

But it’s actually other people’s privacy that I want you to consider today.

When you take a picture of a group of kids at, say, a birthday party or soccer practice, do you post it on social media? If so, do you first ask the other parents if they’re cool with that? 

I’m guessing most of us don’t. Because these days, most of us are OK with it.

But some aren’t. And they aren’t for good reason — good reason that most of us have the luxury of being clueless about. 

Parents dealing with estranged and dangerous family members, with domestic violence situations or with complicated custody issues have valid fears about facial recognition software. After all, it can be used to locate the kids they are trying to protect, and thus expose them to danger.

Frankly, some people just don’t want pictures of their kids “out there.” And that deserves respect as well.

While I don’t think anyone maliciously posts pictures of other people’s kids, I think we could stand to have a broader conversation about this practice.

The trouble with wanting to have that discussion is that these days, it seems most of us are geared to instantly defend our right to do something. We are quick to exclaim, “We didn’t do anything wrong.”

But does that make it right? 

When I posted a question along these lines on my own social media network, the conversation immediately turned to what is legal. Someone suggested my column would be “more credible and thoughtful” if I interviewed an expert in privacy law or data protection. I was cautioned against making “recommendations without knowing the law.” 

Here’s the thing: I’m pretty comfortable recommending people be intentional, considerate and thoughtful without having to have an expert weigh in. In a short column, I don’t have the real estate to dedicate to interviews of that nature, but I can start a conversation. I can call for consideration.

That’s my intention here.

Specific legal questions should always be handled by a professional, not a search on the World Wide Web. But the issues extend well beyond legality.

The fact is, our expectation of privacy is becoming less a reality. And the onus on keeping things private tends to land on the person requiring more privacy than others. 

I’m less concerned with what I have a right to do than what the right thing to do is for me.

I think posting pictures of other people’s kids is less about privacy and more about courtesy. Think of it as an extension of good manners and ask before you post. 

While we’re on the subject, please think before you post. Is this something my kid will be mortified by? Would I want my mom to post this about me? Carefully consider your own privacy sensitivities and act accordingly.

We have to figure this out so we can protect our kids, even from themselves. Especially, actually, from themselves.

How many of us have said we’re lucky social media wasn’t a thing when we were in our more, uh, formative years? We’re breaking new ground here, friends, so we’d be well-advised to tread cautiously. 

If you can’t get permission from another parent for whatever reason, and you want to post a picture of your own kiddo, use an app to blur the other faces.

It’s a simple work-around. At least, that’s what You Tube told me. 

Google it and you’ll see.


If you enjoyed this column, it would be an honor for me to see it shared with your people!

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’.


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

On deadlines and goals. Kinda.

I am on deadline for my column. Which means I have fifty other things I want to write to you about.

First, a word about process because you (okay some of you) asked: Do you plan your columns out ahead of time?

The answer is: Yes! And then I change the plan up until the very last minute. My editor LOVES this. Actually, she might not have known about that exactly until just now: surprise! But she doesn’t mess with process. She’s about the final product. And that seems to work itself out time after time. You’d think I’d just trust that it will. Instead … angst.

What I’m about to tell you happens every. single. month and yet it annoys and agitates me each time. Hoping to trade those a-words for acceptance but alas … here I am: Column due tomorrow morning and I have three drafts with totally different subject matter merged in my mind and in various stages in my journal and Evernote files.

I keep trying to force them into one, coherent one and it’s not working because it’s not supposed to. Somehow between now and when I file the column, it will be all fleshed out with a beginning, middle and end – and it will make sense outside of my head. I do actually trust this will happen because it has for seven years now.

But still … the construction noises starting outside our windows at 6:30 a.m. means the boys will be up soon, I get to volunteer in Sam’s class today (Yay!) and then you know the care and feeding of our home and its inhabitants … and a few other things I’ll do to avoid making the final decisions of what to write exactly until it’s clearer in my mind. Then … I’ll just do it.

Sorry. I wish my method was more organized, but there it is. So, yes I work on it all month with putting scribbles on notecards in an Evernote collection tagged “Column” but also, new angles and ideas keep coming until just before it’s time to submit it.

So that was way more than “a” word about process, ha!

I love reading about how other people do their work, I know that’s not everyone’s interest so moving on to … planner geekery. Everyone LOVES that stuff right? You would if you had this sweet little planner by Erin Condren:

I’ve been carefully tracking my time since the boys went back to school. More on those findings another day but I was surprised at how much time just … gets spent. Gone. So, I did what any over-achieving, slightly mentally ill person would do and set two crazy-ambitious goals because that’s just how I get stuff done.

For what it’s worth, I did consider deleting the part about “slightly mentally ill” because that could be offensive. And I am not about offending people. But I also am ready to be done worrying about the possibility all. the. time. Plus, I am about owning our stuff. And the truth is, I can show you a doctor’s note that says I’m allowed to say that.  (Hashtag: things you never expected to be all “so there” about. Bet that one doesn’t stick!)

So, goals.

I picked just two.

1. Write my ebook guide on how to be a holiday mom (Better title please come to me!!!)

2. Shed 40 pounds by my 40th birthday. (There’s a slightly-less-than-reasonable-but-still-doable amount of time left).

I was surprised though, to see it was October this week. So then I got kind of serious about it and increased my word count per day by a lot of words! And decided to quit sugar. Still feeling kind of stabby so I’m laying pretty low, and mostly staying off The Facebook because its not that I don’t have a comeback dear people of Newberg and Dundee who are so precious about a free community service. But again, off The Book of Face am I. So far, down two pounds. So, maybe there is something to setting a goal and writing it down thing …


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Some of you have asked to peep my planner – totally yes! But right now I’m going to try to tune out the guy with the bullhorn in front of my house and the bulldozer jacking up my driveway and actually write my column. You know, the one due tomorrow. You guys. It feels like my whole house is on the spin cycle. But, yay for new sewer lines, thanks Newberg!

(Affiliate link disclosure: I recommend products and people I use, love and respect. Sometimes I even get a few cents for it, at no cost to you).


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’.


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

Mining for memories


As usual this time of month, I went looking for a little deadline distraction. But I call it research, so it’s allowed.

I’m writing about savoring the season we’re in, because the leaves are always turning. I took a little trip down memory lane peeking at old blog posts and realizing I can’t even put into words how rapidly we move through seasons and stages to the next and how easy it is to forget the little details that once defined a particular time.

Like, say, when I see things like sippy cups, bibs, and diapers hanging to dry in the background of pictures from not long ago – but it seems like a lifetime ago now that the boys can reach their own glass in the cupboard and put them in the dishwasher. I’m saying they can, not that they do. We’re learning. I still do things for them they can do for themselves because I am constantly surprised that they’re as old and capable as they are. They are seven and five now. Seven and five. And I know in a few more seasons they will be 17 and 15. I’m so thankful I took so many notes and am reminded that I’ve fallen out of the rhythm of noting and sharing these slice-of-life stories that seem so ordinary in the moment, but are exactly what I cherish now.

I just peeked at July archives since Sam was a baby. What a view. I forgot all about that one time we were vegetarians. For a month.

New readers be warned … I used to swear a lot more on here. And I was a little less politically neutral. And some other things. So read at your own risk. 

July, 2008:

July 2009

July, 2010

July, 2011

July, 2012

July, 2013

July, 2014

July, 2015

* This picture was taken in shortly after Sam was born. It was not long after it was taken that Lucy was terribly injured at that very park. A few years later, we would move away from Carlton, a town I loved so much I never wanted to leave. To a town that would become home again after a few years of feeling very alone and lost. And then Jake came into our lives. And we lost Lucy Baby. This one picture brings all of that, and some other stuff I can’t quite put out there yet, back. The memories stay, and still the seasons change.

I’m bringing the bon-bons

First Friday Poster


I was distracted on deadline because I was arguing with strangers on Facebook, ironically over a plea for us all to just let each other be. I should mention I was on deadline as the situation in Baltimore was escalating.

I’m glad the video featuring a woman now known as The Baltimore Mom didn’t go viral until after I submitted my column or I would’ve been really, really tempted to tackle that topic instead of the whole free-range fiasco, also triggered by an incident in Maryland.

Because, you know, I have some thoughts on that whole thing. But I think I’ll spend some time sorting them out before writing a reactionary post. I’m thinking we need less reflexive reacting and more careful consideration. So I’ll start with me. Except that one time on Facebook.

Here’s a peek at something that will run in next week’s column, it’s almost like I knew I was going to virtually meet The Baltimore Mom, huh?

Look, it's hard being a parent under constant public scrutiny, which if you haven't noticed is the deal these days. So it's hard enough knowing anything you say or do is game for being disseminated, dissected and distorted on social media but it is harder still to watch my kids and my back simultaneously.


In other business:

  • No. I haven’t seen my doctor yet. But I totally will. Soon. I’m still consulting Google and my journals to put together my list of symptoms and such to maximize my seven and a half minutes with the doctor. You can imagine my dad’s …. how you say … dismay when I told him the “we” who ruled out panic attacks and a few other things was me and my Google Machine. I know, I know. I called today. My call is very important to them. But better luck tomorrow. I’m still feeling pretty weird and foggy and short of breath and other fun stuff. But don’t worry I am “getting lots of rest and taking it easy.” No. But I totally will. Soon.
  • Meanwhile … I’m so excited to have two book signings on the calendar. And I’m bringing bon-bons. Not the melty ice cream ones, or the fancy, pricey ones but rather the kind I can afford on a writer’s budget. But still. Free chocolate. And hugs. Come! Tell your friends. And maybe even buy a book or two.  The first one is FRIDAY, May 1 in downtown Newberg at Chapters Books & Coffee from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. and the second one is Saturday, May 9 from 3 to 6 at The Coffee Cottage, also downtown Newberg. Thinking my book will make a fun Mother’s Day gift for your favorite mamas. (If you can’t come in person but would like to give one as a gift email me or comment and I can pop a personalized one in the mail in time for Mother’s Day next weekend.)

**Help? For those of you who have already read it, would you consider taking a picture and emailing or texting me a favorite quote or passage? I’m working on a little project and am a little … uhm…attached to pick just a few quotes. This would be a huge help! Doesn’t need to be favorites, actually – just something that resonated or maybe even made you write in the margins. You know how I love that!




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


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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