Challenging Days

Oops! Yesterday I wrote and forgot to publish my piece as it sat in draft mode all night and day until I looked and discovered my error.

And tonight I began to write after a challenging day, and all I wrote was the title and it accidentally went off into cyberspace before I was ready. Maybe that’s enough said. Maybe when you opened the post you laughed and thought about your own challenging days and wished it was blank like mine.

Believe me. My day was nothing but blank nor quiet nor still. It was a challenging day for several reasons and not one of my best parenting days. I actually sucked at it today and made several mistakes. Luckily I have cool kids who are growing up with me and we are learning together as we figure out this new way of working and living together. I know you have to go through the struggles sometimes in order to grow and become more self aware. That’s the positive spin on it. But when you’re in the thick of it, man is it tough! To all the parents of teenagers, I’m sending you a hug and strength to keep the peace and love alive thru the challenging years in your house.

Now I understand why Kris called the ages of 4-12, the Golden years. Wow, they were good. And as my mama used to say, “little kids, little problems; big kids, big problems.” Well, they’re not that big but definitely more challenging than when they were little.

Here’s to a hopefully more peaceful and less laborious Labor Day weekend! Aahhhh…. Namaste.

Our Shipment Arrived!

Today was a big day. Our belongings from Holland traveled over the ocean and to the Port of Oakland, where a truck unloaded our container and brought our belongings back to us. It felt like a chaotic Christmas day, with boxes filled with gifts and wrapping paper everywhere, and everyone excited and a little off schedule.

The movers assembled our couches and bicycles and placed the boxes in the appropriate rooms, even helping to hang up some clothes. They broke down the boxes and took all the trash with them. They also helped us to remove our old couches that we’ve had since we lived in San Francisco and gave them to a new home.

If you have to do an international relocation, I highly recommend hiring Crown Relocation Services to help you with the transition. They are very professional, efficient, have a great, professional staff, and take care of you every step of the way. I was very impressed with their services and highly recommend them.

So now that Christmas is over, I have to try and assimilate all the gifts into their new places. Our house is very small and we don’t have a lot of extra room. This is no easy task! Every room is filled with boxes and stuff now. I think I need a professional organizer to come and help me sort and purge and organize. Luckily, one’s arriving tomorrow. My parents are coming to town and I’m sure they’ll want to help me. Lucky me. My mom is really good at making space and keeping a tidy house. I’m sure she’ll have some best practices to share.

So not only did we have the movers here all morning and my house is now a disaster, and company arriving tomorrow, my washing machine decided to leak. I was getting ready to go to some school and church meetings (still in my grungy clothes from this morning and not glamorous at all) and went in the garage to find a puddle, or should I say a stream of water covering part of the floor. Of course, a stack of our boxes was in the direct way of the river and was wet on the bottom. So in the course of 20 minutes before my meeting, I emptied out the wet box, moved the other boxes, contacted Sears Repair guys who were just out earlier this month, chatted on the phone with a friend and started serving dinner to the little ones who were waiting. We had a house full of friends tonight. I guess we’re just not ready to let go of summer. It didn’t help that it was 80 degrees out and felt like summer, so we just went with it. I kept looking around like I was on a crazy farm, and just kissed Jeff goodbye, telling him to just flow with it all, and walked out to leave for the two separate meetings at different locations while not tripping on any of the bicycles that were covering my yard. Can you visualize it?

I think I love days like this, chaos and all, although a little less clutter may have eased things up a bit. Oh, and I also made a trip to the orthodontist with Juliana and picked her up from practice. I actually had an hour between dropping her back off at school and picking her up again, and was able to assemble dinner during that time with limited counter space due to all the loot from Christmas covering it! Phew… I’m re-tired just writing it all down! What a day.

My day was full and I’m so thankful and exhausted. I’m happy to have my stuff. I’m glad my kids are involved in sports and are happily settling into their new routines. I’m glad that the neighborhood kids want to hang out at my house as this was always my dream. I’m glad that Jeff was home with me today to handle all of the moving and unpacking and kid patrol, and clean up, as well as that he took time to squeeze in a lunch date at one of our favorite Thai restaurants with the hour we had before early kid pickup. I’m thankful that my kids have the opportunities to be part of this wonderful community we call home. I am happy and tired and ready for bed.


(P.S…this post never posted last month as I found it in my drafts, so I’m posting now!)

The Best Part of The Day

What was the best part of your day? Isn’t that a good question? Even if you’re having a crappy day, more than likely something was good. I like to dwell there vs. in the s&$/!!

I had a challenging day and am exhausted. This too shall pass. Growing pains are not always fun, but enough about that.

The best part of my day was doing yoga right after my chores were done. It was a power yoga flow class and I was so glad to be back again. Melissa was teaching and she is great! Michele and Susanne were there so it was nice to see friends and workout too. And I felt strong and able today to get into some new poses. I want to do yoga every day. Is that possible? I feel so energized after completing my work. I have so many interests and I never have enough time to do them all. Maybe 3 days a week would be good!

The other favorite part of my day was being on the playground after school and receiving unsolicited big hugs from my little friends. I love those two girls!!

Life is good, despite the lows. Have a good one!

The Red Plate

Everyone should get the red plate that says “You are special today.” A dog looking up at you and sharing some love is an extra special bonus, even for those of us who are not dog owners. And heck, I was pretty lucky to be enjoying a nice coffee klatsch with girlfriends this morning so I must therefore be special. Very important community building was occurring, as I’m sure you can tell. We have a very important job, I might add.

April got the Christmas Cookie plate at dinner last night, which made me smile, but a different kind of smile than the special red plate. I chuckled and laughed and was a slight bit embarrassed and wondered how she got stuck with the holiday plate. It had been hiding for quite awhile and we must have been running low on dishes to get to the bottom of the stack of ordinary dishes to offer the random Christmas tree cookie plate. I wonder if she felt special getting the magical cookie plate without a fortune written on it. I’ll just pretend that she did because she is pretty special too!

Both plates made me smile and I did allow myself to feel special for a little moment, you know because my fortune plate told me so and I’m a rule follower. 🙂

How did you feel special today? Anything exciting happen?

When I Grow Up…

What did you want to be when you grew up? Are you living your dream? Have you found your place?

I read Seth Godin’s blog today and he helped to plant the seed for this post. His blog was brief – you can read it here

He mentioned how people grow up and dream of changing the world and what this looks like. This made me think of Martin Luther King and the 50th anniversary of his speech and dream. I wondered about what my dream is. Do I have a dream? Do you have a dream? Are you living it?

Some people dream of changing the world or leaving a legacy and making a difference. Do you think like that?

My dream was way more simple than that. I just wanted to be a stay at home mom (and raise responsible and loving, happy, well adjusted members of society.) Oh, and to go on Wheel of Fortune or The Price is Right. I’m still learning and practicing and working on the first one…there’s still time for the other two, and maybe it’s time to dream a little bigger.

I’m dreaming about how to conscientiously make a difference in my little world…with myself, the little people I’m coaching and raising, within my family, my community and maybe beyond. I think if we all make positive little changes within our little spheres that we can make the world a better place. Right?

Seth says in the context of changing the world, “More than ever, that means telling stories, changing minds and building a tribe.”

So my way little way of changing the world right now is to keep joyfully living and telling my story, focusing on seeing the good, and having fun, laughing and loving along the way. I seek joy and ways to continuously create happiness despite the craziness and chaos of life and plan to share the love. Thanks for being a part of my tribe, which really isn’t mine. It’s ours…

And the only way I really want to change minds is to help others to see the good and feel the love that surrounds us and within us. Love is patient. Love is kind. Be good to yourself.


Fighting for Family Time


I feel like I’m doing a lot of talking lately. My kids seem to have very different opinions than mine and have forgotten who is the matriarch and strategic leader of this family who knows best, or at least thinks she knows best. There is an expectation gap that I’m trying to fill and to garner buy in, and it is taking a bit more work than I’d like. I’m sure the mamas with older kids understand my dilemma.

Today’s struggle was rather simple. We didn’t have any kids’ sporting events just yet and our day was wide open. Jeff decided he wanted to attend the Stanford Football Open House event. I agreed, thinking this would be a fun way to get us back in the spirit of tailgating in the fall, which is fast approaching and give us all something to do. We all really enjoy this family tradition, but today they had other ideas. Juliana wanted to bake. Christian wanted to bike ride and hang out with his friend and Charlie was wanting to wage a Nerf gun battle with his neighborhood friends. Secretly, I really wanted to head to the beach on my paddle board. But none of these activities were really bringing us all together to share family time, and typically if we stay home, I end up cleaning, cooking and dropping off and picking up after everyone. The one thing we would all enjoy was Jeff’s plan, but the individual wills were batting with the family will. Luckily, we didn’t give in to the demands and temper tantrums and logic explaining away our strategy. We stuck together and lead our team to victory. The end brought us to Stanford, to enjoy watching the team practice and hearing Coach Shaw address the crowd. We watched the divers practicing at the nearby pool. We got a chance to run on the the field, and even saw Juliana successfully kick her first field goal.


Afterwards, we got posters and had fun collecting autographs and meeting as many of the football players as we could, including the quarterback and the coach.


We ended up staying there all day, longer than we anticipated because we all were having fun. Imagine that.

And to end the afternoon, we had a late lunch and early dinner at the best sandwich place on the planet. If you haven’t been to Ike’s yet, find your way there as quickly as possible. There is one on the Stanford campus, and others near the University of Santa Clara, De Anza college in Cupertino and San Francisco to name a few.

A touchdown for Team Hartley today.

Oh, and P.S., we got home in plenty of times for neighborhood Nerf gun battles, bike rides and evening play. We all win!

How did you spend your day?


Life is Full

Today was a full day with a morning game of grass volleyball with friends, a long chat with my best San Francisco friend, another trip to the ortho, playdates with friends, baking, and a haircut with my old hairdresser. Lots of stories, smiles and hugs were shared.

We ended our first week of school on a family date with friends in downtown Mountain View. It was great to be out in a fun, vibrant town and trying out a new restaurant. I love discovering new places and always have a sense of wanderlust, especially after living overseas for a year. The highlight was bumping into Jess and Soosh and their kids on the street. This is the part I love about being home. I have a sense of place and a sense that I belong here. Running into people I know wherever I go feels great. I love the smiles we share and the stories we tell.

I also loved singing along with this woman playing her guitar outside the bookstore.


She wasn’t collecting tips, as she was just sharing her joy and talents. I loved this magical moment. Magic surrounds us if we are aware and looking. What magic did you discover today?

Hanging Out & Phone Chats

I Am still resettling after being back home for 7 weeks. The kids are now back in school. Soccer practice has begun. Doctors and Dentists and Orthodontist visits have been made. Mail has been processed and caught up. Our shipment should be arriving next week. New routines and structures are now reforming this week, and I’m hoping to feel out of this funk hopefully very soon. They say it takes awhile to resettle.

One thing that has really helped me has been being in the same time zone as my family. It’s so much easier to pick up the phone when ever you want vs. having to wait and think if it was a good time or not. I’m really appreciating the reconnections in this way.

I’m also really enjoying the sunshine and just being outside. Today Charlie had soccer practice, and typically when I’m not coaching, I just drop him off and pick him up later. Twice this week I stayed at practice and enjoyed being outside. Juliana joined me today and we played around the track, stopping to do exercises at the various fitness stations along our walk. We played with my Stella&Dot scarf in the wind and took pictures and just kept laughing while semi-exercising. It’s a start and we’ll do the same next week, however I’ll dress more appropriately.

I think I like it here!




Love and Responsibility

Here I Am.

I Am still writing.

I Am curious.

I Am learning and sharing and connecting and I’ve discovered I actually like writing.

Today I feel like I have a responsibility to write about love and compassion. I wonder if that’s why I’m still writing even after my journey abroad is over.

I hear all the messages about being the change you want to see in the world and I hope that my one way of living and writing is a testament to love and compassion. I am not perfect. I just am.

I am sad today reading about the death of Chris Lane in Oklahoma at the hands of our youth who thought it was ok to kill someone because they were bored. What were they thinking and how were they raised? Who are their parents? What were they missing in their lives? What causes people to behave in such uncivilized ways in the land of opportunity? I have lots of questions. Why is someone bored at 17 and 18? Do something. Work. Volunteer. There is no reason to be bored. I could go on and on. Rest in peace, Chris and I wish your family and fiancé the strength to move through this next phase of life without you.

I am sad about the man with mental illness in Georgia who felt like he didn’t have a reason to live and wanted to die and almost killed others.

I am inspired by Antoinette Tuff, the woman who confronted the 20 year old and made a connection with him by sharing her struggles and survival story and offering love and compassion, despite the death threat facing her. She saved lives. She is a hero. She went above and beyond her job or her duty to save others. She put others first and saved not only her own life but those of others as well.

There are so many mixed views on politics, religion, race, gun control and mental illness, just to name a few of the hot topics that seem to divide us.

I wonder, maybe naively, what would happen if we went back to loving ourselves, loving each other, listening, strengthening our communities and our homes by being more loving and accepting and giving, despite our differences, what might happen. Would we change our story and create a different kind of history? I wonder. I wonder if kids had to work harder and did more chores and had more responsibilities and accountability if they would have more of a sense of purpose and feel more a part of their family and community. Hmm.

I wonder if we talked more about the things we have in common and the good we see in the world, if it would work like positive discipline. That is, if we see the good and focus on the good, we might tend to follow and mimic each other and keep creating good things. We’d reward and recognize and see the good in each other and the good in ourselves and create a better place. I wonder if that works. And what if the media focused on these stories instead of all the drama, if our collective story might change? Would that be possible? Hmm.

I wish I could change the world. For now, I choose love. I choose to notice the good and to continue to try to live the best life possible. Perfectly imperfectly. And hopefully my one life will make a difference.