Nathalie's Notes

Raising the Hardy Boys

Roots to Roofs spring 2015Season of Reflection

A season for reflection

Even if it’s not in a freshly polished mirror

Mar 11, 2016

By NATHALIE HARDY | Yamhill Valley News-Register

First published in Spring 2016 Roots to Roofs

This time of year it’s hard to get through a supermarket or newspaper without being flashed with new ideas for spring cleaning. Of course, they consist mostly of a compilation of recycled tips from last year and the year before and the year before that.

This advice is packaged and presented alongside the latest, best way to do what your mama told you to do when you were a kid. 

It is packed with revolutionary ideas like, “Pick up after yourself,” and mind-blowing concepts like, “If you spill it, wipe it up.” Bonus tip: “Don’t just leave the wet, dirty towel on the floor.”

There. You’re set. 

Except, of course, there’s a reason these articles crop up like your perennial forget-me-nots.

It’s not that we don’t generally know what needs to be done to keep a home in decent working order. It’s just that life happens.

Sometimes we get overwhelmed with the details, and things like picking up wet towels fall lower and lower down our must-do list. Eventually, you start greeting people on your front porch with a housekeeping style can be best described by a meme explaining: “There appears to have been a struggle.”

I know it’s not just me on the wrong side of winning the battle of doing all the things well. And, even if it were, I’d still be fine sharing it with readers flipping through this section of “Roots to Roofs” looking for inspiration, trends and information. What’s the harm in providing a reminder that we all do some things really well and no one, literally not one person, does all things really well. 

The reason we see surges of popularity in a variety of methods, authors and speakers professing “the ultimate way to clutter-clearing happiness” is this: There actually is no one right way. 

We each have seasons. Not just the kind where dormant winter blooms into dynamic spring, but I mean seasons like when the best we can do is push crumbs aside to prepare the next offering of food to our offspring. Or when putting a clean blanket on top of sheets that are less so, just to get through the night, is how we can best care for a sick kiddo.

During these seasons, we’re just thankful we have fresh food and clean blankets.

Sometimes we’re in a season where our little ones insist that vacuuming the cobwebs is “killing the Charlottes.” So you take a break from that task for a while. I mean, who wants to be a Charlotte killer?

Traditional, and ironically, all the “new” spring cleaning tips include stuff like flipping your mattress over, dusting places I didn’t even realize people thought twice about and something about cleaning windows maybe.

Here’s the one I’d add, given the fact that not all of us are living lives worthy of coffee table books at most given moments:

Spring cleaning as a concept is an awesome one. The idea of starting fresh, clearing out old stuff, including beliefs about how things should be and look, is a great idea. 

This year, as the birds start chirping earlier and the light starts lingering longer, I’m going to spend less time figuring out how to clean the outside of my windows and more time considering what matters to me in terms of making home feel like home. Then I’m going to start paying some attention to those areas.

For instance, there’s this pile of pictures I have leaned against a wall for years as I wait to put some money aside to frame them nicely. What if I just hung them up? With a tack even.

I mean, what? It’s my house. If looking at the picture makes me smile does it really matter how it’s displayed? 

I’ve long been annoyed by some broken curtain tie backs and damaged window shades. Then I was closing a bag of chips with one of my favorite utilitarian tools, a binder clip, when I realized I could take them to a whole new level of functionality.

I could’ve gone with some fun-colored ones, but opted for classic black. It works for me. They serve to hide windows I probably won’t clean much, if ever, this spring. 

So there’s my radical spring cleaning tip for anyone else who is looking for a little reflection of reality amid the media reminders that spring is springing and thou must clean all the things.

Nope. You don’t have to do anything.

But you could consider this an invitation to look at what you’d like to make different, and then make it so.


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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.)


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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.


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Learning to find joyin the now and not yet

Taking life's plot twists as they come

February 2, 2016

By Nathalie Hardy | Yamhill Valley News-Register

I thought bringing a puppy into our family was going to be our major life change this year. However it seems our little Scout was merely a harbinger of an abundance of adventures — and, er, “growth opportunities” — for our family this year.

Soon, observant readers of the paper will notice my name in the list of marriage dissolutions granted by a county judge. Dissolution, of course, is the legal term for divorce.

I’m a word nerd though, so I’d like you to consider another definition of “dissolution.” Look at what it means in, say, a chemistry lab: “the process of dissolving a solid substance into a solvent to make a solution.” 

Let me draw your attention to that last word: a solution. A solution to a problem that can’t be summarized neatly in this column, or ever.

It will take the rare or brand new reader of this column to be truly shocked by this news. Sad, sure, but even for me to express surprise would be disingenuous. 
“You’re not going to write about this, are you?” I was asked, repeatedly, when the news started making its way beyond our white picket fence. My response was unequivocal. Yes, I am.

Once we figured out we were really heading down this new road, and told the boys what we had decided, we stopped whispering about it. The message to them was intentional and clear: no secrets, no shame, no blame. 

I know, I know. All marriages go through rough patches. I am familiar with this concept.

I also know when a rough patch is more like nine of the 17 years you’ve been together, and you both believe you’ve tried all the things there are to try, it’s OK to look at alternative solutions — like, say, dissolution.

I know it won’t be OK with a lot of people. And those people are welcome to live their lives as they choose. But being as how this is my one life, I’ll choose how I respond to this crossroads. 

So here’s the deal I want to make with all the people everywhere: I won’t “glorify” divorce if you won’t “demonize” it.

Yep, it can be hard for kids. And parents. And everyone else in the family. But you know what else is hard? Lots of other things.

We can do hard things; it’s about how we do them. Sure, chance can knock any one of us down anytime, but choice is what we do with what happens. 

I’ve often said that what we think about something is far more important than the thing itself. So I’m not going to be apologetic about this plot twist in my life’s story.

That’s partly because I’ve already cried all the tears I think I can cry about this. And it’s partly because I know I can look my kids in the eye and say, “I truly believe this is the best decision for every single one of us.”

Of the marriages that end, some flame out in a spectacular, fiery crash no one saw coming. Others follow the path of a slow-growing cancer, where the chemo kind of works for a while, but produces toxic side effects and eventually quits working altogether.

You simply run out of treatment options. You let go of your attachment to what you wish was there for you and simply allow what needs to happen next happen.
The latter describes mine.

There were a lot of good memories, even during chemo. But we’ve been trying to keep this marriage alive so long, it’s time to call it.

We both know that. It’s time to let it go and move forward with our lives with as much peace and grace as possible. 

This one, short life is all we get. I can’t promise we won’t have regrets.

And as natural as it is for people to want to know what happened, exactly, I can’t tell you.

That’s because parts of this story aren’t mine to tell and partly because it’s not one specific thing anyway. It never is.  

Of all the things we don’t agree on, we’ve reached a common place for what amicable means to us. Talking smack about each other around the kids, or in a public forum, isn’t part of that plan.

So while I’m not setting any of his stuff on fire, and my tires are intact, we have created some safe places to tell our truths, privately. It is our intention to allow the boys to have their own range of feelings and thoughts. 

I don’t know how else to do it. I’m not going to tell them this is a good thing or a bad thing. They will experience it for what it is, just the next thing we go through, as a family, because at the end of the day, what that means to us won’t ever change. 

So I’m not going to try making anyone else comfortable with this news. And I’m not going to meet anyone’s pity with a flood of tears.

I appreciate the hugs, the kind words, the holding of all four of us in love as we move through this transition. But I’m not going to apologize. I’m simply going to embrace what was, accept what is and stay open to what could be.

I could make a case that learning to find joy in the now and not yet is a core purpose of our place on this planet. But that’s another column.

This is true for me now and all of us forever.

We don’t get to know how our story ends. We just don’t. The best we can do, I think, is own our stories and intentionally frame them before they define and thereby own us. 

My favorite author, Anne Lamott, says: “You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.”

But you know, that’s a slippery slope, because I’m no saint myself. I own my share of what led us to now. All four of us have our own version of this story, and they are all true. 

So yeah, I’m going to write about this. A lot.

I’m committed to telling my part, my truth, my story. And I’m committed to honoring the notion that threads of mine are tightly woven with those of another, who makes a different choice in what and how to share. 

Now we begin the unraveling.



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

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Nathalie Hardy's books, “Raising the Hardy Boys: They Said There Would Be Bon-Bons” and "Merry is Optional" are available at local bookstores and on Amazon. To contact her, visit



I know, right?

It’s been an interesting year already!

Also, while everyone else has committed to lose however many pounds or whatever, I’ve decided to stop holding it in. All of it.

This is the year of the exhale.

In life’s apparent ardent need for me to truly embrace the art of non attachment, twenty sixteen rolled right in with some significant opportunities for, uh, personal growth. Good stuff. Hard stuff. All the feels. More on some of that another time.

As I finished my first full session of oil-pulling (have you tried this? So much yuck!) I was drafting my article about what I think of adulting (this is a word now my friends) and what it means to actually have your shit together.

And ironically, except not, my therapist called.

(Please tell me you have a therapist? Some people are all “arm all the people” and I’m over here like, well … okay but what about this idea: therapists for all! #bethechange).

“Oh, cool, she’s checking in,” because you know (see above for vague reference to challenges).

“Hi, Nathalie. How are you?” Pause. “So am I going to see you at 9:30?”

Ten minutes ago.

“Nope. But I’m on my way.” #grace

So we had a condensed counseling session in which we tied off a thread of my story with a perfect analogy from Chronicles of Narnia’s The Last Battle, which you might know is a significant book in our family. It was just another one of those “right path, keep walking” signs, you know? And the fact that my therapist makes C.S. Lewis fully relevant in context is just one of the things I love about her.

And I’m doing this noticing thing – well, I’ve always done that, it is my non-secret to joy: notice and name what is in front of you. But I’m reading Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are, and that is bringing that habit to the top of my to-do list and to keep myself moving forward with that intention I’ll be sharing more of that in this space – and would love you to join me!


(Affiliate links: But first check your local bookstore because those places are essential to our communities so support them! But, if you don’t have one near you: here are some links. I might, maybe, someday, make a penny or two if you shop through my affiliate link and I’m saving up for something BIG: a housekeeper because it turns out I hate it).

So the change that I’m ready to talk about now is an exciting one: I am SO glad I did NOT get that job I applied for a couple months ago because … as the story goes the right one presented itself recently and I got it!

All the yays!!!

As in I’m starting work on Monday and I don’t feel all weird and jittery and “will they like me?” It’s more like “I can’t wait to get started; this job is such an awesome fit for my heart and mind’s work to date AND I wonder if it’s weird if I just pop in today.” Which I am totally going to do because I procrastinated on all the things sending the “thank you for interviewing me note” and I’d rather those arrive today than on my first day because awkward.

But, you guys, remember when I left the newsroom and thought I’d be doing the writing thing not that long ago? I have written a couple books, more like compiled I guess – and started several others and I hate to brag but my next royalties check is for like, $8.62! I know! Yes! That will buy me a date with a small jar of Nutella and a plastic spoon. (What were you thinking?)

So with all that money I’ve been raking in, you can imagine the wardrobe I’ve amassed! My major worries are that I have to be somewhere at the same time every day, dressed with real shoes and a bra – in the morning no less. And I have to pull that off for multiple days in a row. Craaaaazy.

The other worry is what I’ll do if the boys are sick. We need grandparent stand-ins with strong immune systems nearby! Please mail your applications to p.o. box 202, Newberg, Oregon 97132.

Wait, what about writing?

Here’s what I put on my application:

SalaryReason for Leaving

I know this next thing sounds even crazier than the thought of me being at work on time, all dressed and grown up like but … I actually think I am going to be doing more writing. I think having the burden of having to be successful financially as a writer and going back to just doing it because there’s little else I’d rather do will be rad.

More soon, I need to go do all the things.

Or, at least, make some lists.

All the love (and Nutella!)



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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

Scout (2)

The promise of a new puppy

January 11, 2016

By NATHALIE HARDY | Yamhill Valley News-Register



You’d think that getting a puppy for Christmas would be a bad idea, particularly when it’s been raining for 25 days straight. And if you cared about preserving sanity and order in your home, you’d be right. 

As I write this, I am under “Scout surveillance.” Our 3-month-old pup watches my fingers carefully, trying to decide which one to nibble next — or perhaps pondering which hand is holding his treats. The pockets of my coats, all of them, have random Legos, mandarin peels and training treats in them now.

I got out of a friend’s car the other day and left what appeared to be some scat behind. Nope. Just treats.

It was awkward, but I’m adjusting to awkward pretty well. Which is apparent to neighbors and friends driving by my house since Scout’s arrival.

There’s been a bit of rubber-necking. I’m not sure if it’s because people are confounded by my being awake and outside before dawn or surprised to see a dog apparently belonging to me, as I am notably not a “dog person.”

They are probably just admiring my Lightning McQueen Snuggie, paired with flannel pajamas and slippers. It’s a coveted look. A statement, actually.

It says this:

“Though I’m rarely ready to leave the house until 8:07 a.m., we got a puppy for Christmas, so here I am at 4:30 a.m. Good morning. Now, look away.”

You might ask, “But, you have a backyard. Maybe that’s a better place to rock the Snuggie and slippers?”

You’d be right every other month of the year. But this month, we have a pond out back.

That could be a problem with a curious new Borador. Yes, you read that correctly; we’ve acquired a labrador/border collie mix.

That makes it sound like he’s a popular new type of designer dog. But no, he’s a different kind of popular — a stray mutt. 

Insert Public Service Announcement here: Spay and neuter your pets, people. And also, don’t buy live animals spontaneously just because they are so cute and it’ll be so fun. It’s not all cute and not all fun, and the responsibility is both real and forever. 

I know some people have wonderful spontaneous pet stories. But I also know the story of my first puppy, Lucy Baby. And while I can’t regret the time we had with her, I think I literally loved her to death.

Sadly, it’s not a unique story, as anyone who has a heart for animal rescue and shelter work will attest.

We didn’t know what we were doing when we got her. We weren’t planning, or prepared, to get a dog.

We went to Wilco one day to get wood screws, and there she was. So we brought her home.

We did some right things, but mostly wrong ones. 

I treated her like a furry little human. She rode shotgun in my truck, and really, shotgun is how she rolled.

Until, a year later there was a baby. And then she sustained a terrible injury. And then the baby turned into a toddler. And then there was another baby.

I didn’t train her to stay in the yard, as I should have. I didn’t keep her safe enough. Then we moved to a new house, in a new town, near a busy street. 

When we lost Lucy, we were in the process of trying to find a better environment for her. It was heartbreaking.

I was sure we’d never get another dog. The boys were pretty sure, too. So sure, they even went a couple years without even asking Santa for one. 

The other day, my 5-year-old told me he was glad we got Scout.

“I didn’t even think I could ask Santa for something so good. He’s my best friend,” he said.

“Guess what I am going to ask for next year, Mama?” I held my breath. “A girl!”

“Like a girl dog?” I asked, seeking clarification. He shot back, “No! A girl sister!” He said he would learn to sew like his cousin and make his new girl sister rainbow gloves, adding, “and she will love them.”

He is learning a lot about love already. For instance, he told me solemnly that sometimes love is having to hold your pee.

That, friends, is one of the truest things I’ve heard. As we’ve been potty-training the puppy, there are times we must respond to his, uh, needs immediately — before our own.

That reminds me of a time when people like my husband wondered what I did all day. With the years buffering that reality, and fogging my memory, it seems easy to forget those early years were spent minute-by-minute, getting through each succeeding day by doing the next necessary thing, tending to basics like essential nourishment.

Just keeping other living beings alive seems a bit momentous when you realize it’s on you to keep the chokeables from choking them, the dropped chocolate chips from killing them, or what have you. 

Having been given another chance at caring for a dog, we intend to do better this time around. We did stuff like, you know, research and plan.

We saved up for a kennel set up so we could be successful in training him. And, we got firm about the way we wanted things to go in advance instead of making up the rules as we went. 

Lucy Baby was absolutely not allowed up on the couch. Except when she was. Which was all the time. See how that could be confusing? 

I thought Lucy Baby made me a better mom, and maybe, in some ways, that was true. Now I think what I’ve learned about child raising will help me with our new adventure in dog raising.

Scout is teaching us, too. For example, he’s taught the boys how their toys will get eaten if they aren’t picked up.

After he ate one highly specialized Lego piece, I developed a pair of the fastest picker-uppers on the planet. 

Here’s a tip: If you’re going to set up an indoor kennel for initial training, and place it near a Christmas tree sheltering paper-wrapped presents, consider things like the effect of gravity in an old house with sloping floors. Otherwise, things are going pretty well with our new best friend.

Also, I feel you should know that Snuggies are way cooler than they look. And these slippers are practically shoes.

Happy New Year!

Nathalie Hardy’s second book, “Merry is Optional,” was recently published by Ridenbaugh Press and is available on Amazon. To learn more, visit


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


If you add your email below you can get updates in your inbox so you never miss a post. Yay?

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

Scout (2)


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?

If you add your email below you can get updates in your inbox so you never miss a post. Yay?

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

maybe next year

Good news!

You have plenty of time.

So here you are this penultimate day before Christmas wondering how could that possibly be true? I mean, every information stream available to us is blowing up our brains with reminders that the clock is ticking! Last chance! You better click here or else …

Or else nothing happens.

I’m not just being oppositional to all the trending sales pitches.

Unless you’re on the highway and you see your plane lifting off, you have enough time.

And even then, it’s not a bad idea to develop an “I’m right where I’m supposed to be” kind of mentality. Even if (especially if?) all external factors indicate otherwise.

what really matters?

(psst you don’t need anyone to tell you, it isn’t the same answer for each of us, but if you can lock yourself in the bathroom for a second and focus on this one question: what really matters? You know the answer. Okay, now do that).

One of the most frequently mentioned ideas in my ebook* “Merry is Optional: Christmas Chaos with the Hardy Boys” is the “maybe next year” list. Because it is genius.

December 23 … I’m looking at the pile beside me and embracing that I’m probably not going to get all the cards mailed out on time. Maybe next year I give in to this perpetual reality and join the New Years Card trend.

Didn’t make zoo lights before Christmas. Maybe next year.

Gingerbread houses? Maybe next year (but probably never on my watch).

But you know what? I’m writing this post while my kids play happily eating cereal they got to pick out (simple pleasures) and we are all under Scout Surveillance, the watchful pair of black eyes of our new puppy which fell near the top of my “what really matters” list this year.

My phone is binging with notices that some of our family will be getting their gifts on time in California, Idaho and Maryland because of the second Christmas miracle that is Amazon. (Next year maybe I’ll finish making the stuff I started making a couple years ago).

There is a tree, leaning against the wall because of some logistical issues we’ll work out next year. Maybe. It is decorated purely by the hands of Sam and Jake who are thrilled to see their handmade paper and zip tie ornaments alongside the more fragile ones they made over the years. The star is also zip tied to the top, because that is our life right now.

And it’s all good.

Not perfect. Not as planned but just … good.

And that is enough.

Wishing you all the love and clarity on what matters to you,


*And you know what, if you’re thinking “oh, I should read that!” you totally should. Next year!

(I’d love your help reaching my subscriber goal for 2015 – sign up below and you’ll get posts delivered right to your inbox).

If you add your email below you can get updates in your inbox so you never miss a post. Yay?

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

GatherinGrace NathaliesNotes

Gather with Grace

Dec 15, 2015

By NATHALIE HARDY | Yamhill Valley News-Register

First published in Winter 2015 Roots to Roofs

Given my history of meal mishaps, small kitchen fires and fondue party fails, I’m an unlikely candidate for trying to sell others on the blessings of holiday gatherings. Nonetheless, I intend to try my best to convince you to invite people into your home to partake at your table.

My parents owned and operated two restaurants while I was growing up, but I picked up little in the way of practical skills. In fact, I was once fired over my poor potato peeling practices.

It may, or may not have had something to do with a tenuous mother-daughter relationship at the time. It’s hard to say. 

My mother is a gourmet cook.When I was dating my husband, I think that gave him the wrong idea, as I am decidedly not.

I am, however, enthusiastic about all endeavors that have to do with people and hospitality. And in the world of adults, that ends up requiring the care and feeding of people. 

So while my mom sets a lovely table with a delicious spread of food, while I set off smoke alarms preparing things that turn out nothing like the pictures posted on Pinterest, we have one thing in common — a love of making people feel warm and welcome.

This time of year, all the sage advice suggests saying “no” more often so we can focus on saying “yes” to “what really matters.” So, what, exactly, is it that really matters? 

In my mind, there isn’t much that rates above taking care of one another, and one significant way to do that is to extend an invitation to share a meal. That is a concrete way to meet a basic human need of connection and a gracious way to live out love.

No gourmet cooking is required to be gracious and welcoming. I’ve invited plenty of people to my house with these words: “Hey, I’m trying a new recipe and it might be totally gross. Want to come? Bring some bread for back up.” 

And people come.

Sometimes we have a good laugh, served with a lot of bread and butter, as we eye the smoldering dish I just proved wasn’t fail-proof after all. And we nourish something more than our bellies in those moments.

Showing up for each other and being remembered nourishes our spirits. I think that is a gift worth spreading, and savoring.

I have had friends and relatives who discouraged me from hosting such things due to my stained carpets and chair cushions. But here’s the thing: We don’t have that kind of time, you guys. If you have friends and relatives who care more about the shape of your chairs and carpets than they do the spirit of your company, forgive them and move on.

If it’s you holding back from inviting people into your home because of peeling paint or mis-matched furniture, consider getting off the sidelines of your life. It’s a short life, this one, so gather in — and with — grace. 

In my years of hosting people, despite all the obvious reasons not to, I’ve learned a few things that might be helpful to others lacking the Kelly Ripaesque picture-perfect life.

First, you have to start somewhere. So, just do it.

An easy dinner to host is a potato bar.

But the first time I had a large group of people over for dinner, I didn’t realize how long it takes to cook potatoes. I must say, we were pretty hungry by the time the pizza arrived. 

Ergo, my first tip is to always have a back-up plan. It’ll free you up to try new things without starving your friends out. (You know you’re supposed to poke holes in potatoes before baking them right? Yeah, me too).

Also, pay attention to words in recipes like “meanwhile” and “stir constantly.” If something requires constant stirring, it’s too needy and you should probably break up and pick something else to serve. 

Another essential piece of advice: People often ask, “What can I bring?” Let them bring something. Please.

And don’t just say, “Oh, whatever you want.” Be specific.

Say, “How about something for dessert?” Or say, “Salad would be great.” And you might add, “Bring your own bread.” Beverages work for that, too. 

Whatever your main dish ends up looking like, put it on the table with no apologies. Think of it as a manners experiment.

Should you fall for the old lie that lasagna is easy to make, you might end up with oddly curled noodles on the top layer, because nowhere in the instructions does it say there should be no noodles on that layer. Not to worry. Just flip it upside down, add a topping of cheese and sprinkle with some sprigs of parsley. 

Sprigs of any herb make things look more appetizing. And they suggest you know what you’re doing. It’s also good to remember that cheese makes everything better. 

Speaking of cheese, keep a wheel of brie in your fridge. Part of being hospitable is being able to serve up some food on short notice, without making anyone feel awkward.

Add some crushed nuts and brown sugar on top of the brie, pop it in the oven and you’ll have an amazing appetizer.

Just add bread. Or crackers. Or spoons.

Oh, and one last tip: Never use the oven to store anything. Just don’t. Even if you tell everyone else in the house that’s what you’re doing, the fire will always be your fault. 

I know it’s amazing that I haven’t been hired to write for Better Homes and Gardens. But lucky for us, that leaves me more time to put all this advice into my next book: Not like the Picture.

Finally, remember that mealtime mishaps make for great memories. Like the time my gourmet cook mom helped host a pig roast back in the early 70s.

I’m not sure how they remember it so vividly, since members of this gathering of Slovak immigrants were in high spirits, so to speak, and on empty stomachs. Yet the stories of the night, and the pig that didn’t cook, haver persisted for decades.  

One day we will laugh about the time I set the lentils on fire while trying to approximate a candle display I found on Pinterest. Actually, I already am. 

For my next trick, stop by some time. And bring the bread. 

Happy gathering!


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’. Also? If you want to make a writer friend smile, please subscribe below AND if you liked this post – share it with your friends!

If you add your email below you can get updates in your inbox so you never miss a post. Yay?

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

kindleapp 1

You know you have to work on your marketing skills when it’s a struggle to give away a free copy of your book! I think part of that is we tend to not trust “free,” a concept to explore another time.

This morning I’m preparing to give a talk with this amazing group of women at a bible study group I still can’t believe I willingly, cheerfully and eagerly attend.

Some of you have asked if I visit book groups – if there are people there who love books then yes. Yes I do. I can also Skype in if you’re not local!

(I put speaking opportunities on the top of my goal list this year, as we close the year I have three talks booked before the end of the year. Pretty sure I would’ve put that off had I not set the intention and taken steps to make it so, which I’ll be writing more about next week because long-time readers know New Years is my favorite!)

Yesterday I posted the details of my free ebook deal on Amazon, it ends at midnight so take advantage soon if you want my second book “Merry is Optional: Christmas Chaos with the Hardy Boys” for FREE.

After sending that I got some emails asking me if people could scoop up the freebie if they don’t have a Kindle Reader and the answer is YES!

You can download, for free, a Kindle Reader app and “read it in the cloud” which is code for your desktop or whatever. It’ll look like this:

Kindle Cloud Reader


kindle app order


kindle app


You guys … want to hear a secret? It looks like we’ll be able to pull off our Christmas Puppy Surprise! Scout is on his way to his forever home, we adopted him and can. not. wait!!! The boys don’t know yet so shhhhh!  I have to believe that wherever Lucy Baby is in doggy heaven she’s happy for us too.


p.s. in case you missed yesterday’s post here are a few ways you can do your writer friend’s (say, me) a significant favor:

sent out an email to Nathalie’s Notes subscribers* asking begging folks to do the following:

– Go to Amazon and Download the free ebook. (I get credit for every download, even though it’s free to you!)
– Like what you see? Please consider giving some star love in a review. These stars and reviews matter a lot! (Here’s me begging. In a  totally non-annoying way…) stars
– Help me spread the word by telling your friends about this free ebook promotion.


Also, consider subscribing and get little dose of Nathalie’s Notes delivered to you from time to time whenever I post!


If you add your email below you can get updates in your inbox so you never miss a post. Yay?

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’.