Video that will give you pause

This video brought tears rushing to my eyes.


It hit so close to home for me. At the sentencing for Mamma K’s case, one of her very young grandchildren read his victim impact statement about how he and his Mom choose a star in the sky and named it for his Nanny….and how he looks at that star every night and talks to his Nanny. Every single person in the courtroom, including the judge, cried.

I think it’s important to remember that the loss of a loved one by an impaired driver has a ripple effect. For us, it wasn’t just Mamma K’s children and siblings that feel her loss deeply but also her young grandchildren whom her loss was for the most part their first experience with the loss of a loved one.

I hope this video speaks to you and if you or anyone you know heads out to drive impaired (even after just a couple of beers when you think you are fine), that this video will come back to you and cause you to take pause. Or to speak out to someone. And let these sobering words fill your mind and heart “it’s simply not worth the risk…

Have you had young children deal with the loss of a loved one? How did you/they cope? What tips and tricks did you find helped them deal with their grief? I’d love to hear…

On August 1, 2009, my beautiful mother-in-law’s life was cut tragically short by an impaired driver and my stepson’s life changed forever. In honor of Donna and Jordan Kennie, please don’t drink and drive. Impaired driving is 100% preventable. Think about it.

Support MADD Canada and follow them on Facebook, Twitter (@maddcanada), YouTube, and on the Web.

More blog deliciousness here:

  • I got an absolute TON of good, useful information from Jane Friedman’s guest post at Sarah Bartlett’s blog about how to use facebook effectively as an author. Made me completely rethink how I’ll use Facebook down the road!
  • Have you seen other people’s Contact Me form and wondered how they did that. Well if you have a blog, WordPress Woodie (AKA Carrie Spencer) can hook you up!
  • Loved August McLaughlin’s post this week on how to create Pinterest-friendly blogs – GREAT tips you won’t want to miss.

Breathalyzers in bars ~ what’s your vote?

I recently read a news piece on CBC about a Moncton businessman hoping to install breathalyzer machines in bars and nightclubs across the Maritimes. The man said he believed that the coin-operated machines could save lives because they’d educate customers and make them more aware (and thereby, hopefully more responsible for their actions).

He already has 2 in a club in Moncton. For $2, a person can get a blood alcohol content reading. Ideally if a person got a reading that was near or above the legal limit, they’d be less likely to take the chance and drive. The bar owner said that this type of things is very popular in Montreal and Toronto.

That being said, there’s always a flip side. A representative from CAA said in the article that people should be very careful relying on coin-operated breathalyzers because there’s no way to tell just how accurate they are. He said that people should take it as a clear indication that they shouldn’t drive if they felt the need to test themselves to begin with.

Hmmm…good point!

Reliability and liability. I know the police breathalyzers are maintained on a regular schedule to guarantee their reliability in a court of law. If I used one of these coin-operated machines and it said I was under the limit and then I drove, got stopped and blew over, I’d be pretty pissed!

In the article, an RCMP spokesperson said that people need to know that the only reading that counts is the one measured by police.


Even still, I do think it’s a good thing. Especially if bar owners are willing to do some maintenance and care to ensure the machines are fairly accurate. I think anything that helps people take pause, for even a moment, to question whether they should drive is a step in the right direction. Maybe more often than not someone would decide it’s just not worth the risk.

I took part in the poll on CBC and was happy to see that (at that time) 72.85% (110 voters) agreed that bars should have coin-operated breathalyzers for patrons while only 27.15% (41 voters) disagreed.

What do you think?

The absolute best way to avoid risking blowing over is to commit to zero alcohol when you are driving.

Two years ago, my beautiful mother-in-law’s life was cut tragically short by an impaired driver and my stepson’s life changed forever. In honor of Donna and Jordan Kennie, please don’t drink and drive. Impaired driving is 100% preventable. Think about it.

Support MADD Canada and follow them on Facebook, Twitter (@maddcanada), YouTube, and on the Web.

More blog deliciousness here:

I will Stride for Change ~ won’t you join me?

Thousands of Canadians are joining the fight to end impaired driving by participating in MADD Canada’s annual Strides for Change walk-a-thon. Events are held in communities across Canada from late spring through early summer.

The 5 km walk supports MADD Canada Chapters and Community Leaders in their efforts to educate and create awareness about the dangers of impaired driving as well as help victims in their community.

Hubby and I are super pumped to be taking part in the MADD Saint John event on June 2. I am sure you saw my post last week where I spoke at length about how MADD Canada and the MADD Saint John Chapter has been instrumental in supporting and helping my family heal through our devastating experience with impaired driving. Not to mention the tireless efforts MADD Canada makes towards advocating for tougher and more effective impaired driving policies and laws to ensure that our communities are safer.

It is both our honor and privilege to do whatever we can to bring awareness and to give back to an organization that does so much!

Now, the uberliciously cool thing; there are a bunch of ways YOU can take part as well; no matter where you live.

  1. First, if you live nearby and want to join hubby and I, just visit the website, sign up for the Saint John event, let us know, start gathering pledges, and on June 2, we’ll Stride for Change together!
  2. Second, if you live in Canada, check out the Strides for Change Calendar to find an event near you and sign-up.
  3. Third, if you aren’t in Canada or near a site, never fear. You can be a virtual walker by making a donation and then heading off and doing your own 5 km walk anytime, anyplace. How uber fabulous is that?!?! Be sure to let me know if you do so I can cheer you on!

If you want to support MADD Canada and Strides for Change by offering a pledge towards mine and hubby’s walk, that would rock (please do not feel obligated in any way). Here are the many ways we can make this happen:

  1. If you are located in either Fredericton or Saint John, NB, fire me an email (natalie at nataliehartford dot com) and I’ll make arrangements to pick up your pledge.
  2. You can send us a pledge via an email money transfer (if your bank supports that option) to natalie at nataliehartford dot com.
  3. Email me your intentions and follow-up with a cheque via snail mail (yip, there’s still such a thing): 65 Stirling Drive, Killarney Road, NB, E3A 9E9, Canada.
  4. Make an online donation via MADD Canada’s secure website here and put Hartford in the “I want to make a donation in support of the following Strides for Change participant” box. Be sure to send me an email and let me know you’ve made a donation because MADD Canada won’t be able to tell me donation amounts submitted this way until after the walk.

And if a financial pledge isn’t your thing, that is totally cool. You can join in the fun by visiting my comments section below and leaving us a great “Hoorah” note so we know that you are Striding for Change with us in spirit! We can always use lots of that!

What walk-a-thons have you taken part in? How does participating make you feel? Do you think they are effective at raising funds and awareness?

Two years ago, my beautiful mother-in-law’s life was cut tragically short by an impaired driver and my stepson’s life changed forever. In honor of Donna and Jordan Kennie, please don’t drink and drive. Impaired driving is 100% preventable. Think about it.

Support MADD Canada and follow them on Facebook, Twitter (@maddcanada), YouTube, and on the Web.

More blog deliciousness here:

Get to know me with a fun game of tag

There is a fahbulous fun get-to-know-you game of tag and something called “11 questions” going around the blogosphere that I thought I’d take part in.

1. You must post the rules. CHECK
2. Answer the questions and then create eleven new questions to ask the people you’ve tagged. CHECK – although I didn’t create new questions since there’s a slew for y’all to choose from.
3. Tag eleven people and link to them. Since just about everyone I know has already been tagged by either game  – consider this an open invite to play along!
4. Let them know you’ve tagged them. N/A

Stacy Green tagged me here, Fabio Bueno tagged me here, and I loved Emma Burcart’s interrogation questions. See all my answers to their combined questions below.

If you could live in a fictional world, where would that be?

You mean I don’t live in one already?!?! Shikes! Ok, well I guess I’d love to be a part of the Na’vi tribe living on Pandora. The beauty of the people and the planet and their connection to nature draws me in. I could watch the movie a hundred times and never tire of it.

Do you read in noisy or quiet places?

I prefer to read in quiet places but…I can read anywhere!

What was the first book you ever read?

Seriously? Lord. I have no idea. I believe it was the Pokey Little Puppy. Does that qualify as a “book”?

Favourite author?

Oh gosh. John Grisham, Nicolas Sparks, Nora Roberts, Jody Picault, etc.

Do reviews influence your choice of reads?

Ummm…I would say not really. I like to make up my own mind so if I’ve come across a book I’m interested in, I’ll buy it regardless. But I will say good reviews from people I know definitely influence me. If a friend of mine says “I just read this awesome book,” even if it’s outside my normal genre, I’ll give it a try.

Fiction or Non fiction?

Both! I tend to read more fiction but I love biographies and true stories as well.

Have you ever met your favourite author?

Nope. Not even close.

Audio books or Paperbacks?

Paperback although I think I’d love audio books, I just haven’t tried one yet. I can’t read while laying in the sun so I think audio books on my iPod would rock!

Classic or Modern Novels?


Book Groups or Solitary Reading?

Solitary thus far. I’ve never been a part of a book club.

What is your favorite historical period and why?

The here and now baby. I am all about reality.

List your top five favorite movies.

Pride and Prejudice (new and old), Notebook, Ever After, Flying, and Bridges of Madison County

Your house is on fire. Your loved ones–humans and pets–are already safe outside. They have your driver’s license and a flash drive with all your backups (files and all the media you own). You have time to save one more object. What would you get?

Family photos.

You can invite any three people in the world for a dinner – anyone alive. Who are your guests?

My Mom, Hubby and Oprah.

Congress/the gods/smiling extraterrestrials said you can only have one type of food every meal for the rest of your life (they’ll supplement your diet with vitamin pills). Which food would you choose?

Chinese….oh yeah!!!

In an episode of “Friends”, they all reveal their freebie list: five celebrities with whom they can hook up without upsetting their partners. Who’s in yours?

Sorry but hubby is my very own in-house, superstar celebrity!

Some people think the Hunger Games is bloody. In Harry Potter 6, fifteen characters die. In HP7, the body count is over fifty (see here). JK is rewriting the series, and she let you choose one character from any of the seven books to get a reprieve. Who would it be and why?

Y’all are going to fall over but…I’ve never read the Harry Potter series and haven’t really watched the movies either. I know I know…insane isn’t it!?!

What’s your worst fear?

Hubby dying suddenly/accidentally.

You can choose your own nickname, with an assurance that no one would ever mock you. Tell us your choice.

Princess. I know, not very original but I love it.

What’s the best vacation you have ever had?

My wedding trip to Punta Cana

If you could write yourself into any TV show or movie, what would you choose?

Eat Pray Love

What is one thing you’ve always wanted to do but been too scared to do?

Write a book. LOL!

Would you rather get a pedicure or go hiking?


What is your favorite part of a man’s body?

Shoulders – O.M.G.

If you could be trapped anywhere with anyone, where you be and who would you be with?

Beach resort with hubby – funny – heading there tomorrow. LOL!

What’s the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you?

Took a cramp while up in the trees doing Tree Go (obstacle course in the trees). I barely made it to the ground and when first aid got on scene, she thought it was menstrual cramps that had me crawling on the ground on the verge of passing out. She told me the nearest bathroom was 20 min away. I told her…”I am not going to make it…” By this point, I had attracted quite a crowd – all very concerned. Hubby knew what the issue was and quietly explained things to her. She pointed to the thick woods – I took off at a sprint….can you say HUMILIATED!

Sweet or salty?

Salty all the way!

What was your biggest childhood fear?

Water where I could not see bottom

If you were a shoe, what type of shoe would you be?

Strappy stileto sandal with tons of bling. See above picture. One of hubby’s most fahhhbulous Christmas presents to me.

What is your nickname, and where does it come from?

Nat. Everyone has always called me Nat – way boring, I know.

If you were a character from Sex and the City, who would you be? (Carrie, Charlotte, Miranda, or Samantha)

Sooooo funny you’d ask. I have a friend who tells me ALL the time how I remind her of Samatha in my tone, style etc (not in the have hot sex with everyone kind of way). She’ll comment on different photos on Facebook “SAMANTHA!!!” LOL – so I am going with that!!

If you want to take part in the game, no need to wait to be tagged. Do a self-interview with a few or all of the questions and consider yourself tagged by me! Or answer a couple in the comment section.

More blog deliciousness here:

  • Carrie Spencer has got incredible fashion sense and loved the video on 25 ways to wrap a scarf! So fabulous!
  • Ever hit a fancy, high-end mall just to see how the other half live? I vicariously live through Piper Bayard and her daughter as they toured the Country Club Plaza.
  • OMG, can you imagine taking every 7th year of work OFF to nurture your creative side. LOVE it! Ingrid Schaffenburg showcases a video of Stefan Sagmeister where he talks about the value of doing just that. And I gotta say…I WISH!!

Plan ahead this St. Patty’s Day weekend

This St. Patty’s day weekend, celebrate the luck of the Irish and be sure to plan ahead!


Two years ago, my beautiful mother-in-law’s life was cut tragically short by an impaired driver. In honor of Donna Jean Kennie, please don’t drink and drive. Impaired driving is 100% preventable. Think about it.

Support MADD Canada and follow them on Facebook, Twitter (@maddcanada), YouTube, and on the Web.

More blog deliciousness here:

ROW80 – Round 1 – Check-in #16

Time for Sunday’s ROW80 progress update.

So…I suck! There…I said it. This week was nearly a total right-off. After a 3-day migraine (thank you for all your wonderful support and suggestions), I played catch-up at work and at home which meant that I barely kept my head above water to achieve some of my other goals. That’s like 3 weeks in a row I’ve not quite hit – grrrr – so I am going to have to hit it hard this week.

Now, on the plus side, I signed up for 2 online writing courses after the first was highly recommended by Carrie Spencer:

Writing Goals:

  • Complete outline of WIP
  • Write 1750 words a week, on average 250 words a day (can be on WIP or other writings like flash fiction, character development, world building etc)
    466 – yip – dismal
  • Finish James Scott Bell book (must finish soon)
  • Read 2 other writing craft books
    Done Will Write for Shoes: How to Write a ChickLit Novel
    1/3 through Save the Cat 

Social Media Goals:

  • Blog – post 4 times a week
    4 posts – total word count: 2248
  • Blog – post ROW80 progress reports twice a week (Sunday and Wednesday)
  • Tweet/Comment on at least 10 blogs a week
  • Comment on 1 new blog per week (ROW80 or otherwise)

Healthy Lifestyle Goals:

  • Cardio – 3 times a week (Monday, Wednesday, Saturday)
    1 cardio (told you I sucked)
  • BowFlex – 3 times a week (Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday)
    Zero – (again…told ya…sucked hard)
  • Maintain a daily food/migraine journal

The wins:

  • Super pumped for the 2 writing classes.
  • I managed to keep up with blogging (mine and others) and social media stuff (although I didn’t tweet as much as I normally do I did try to swing by as many peeps as possible to read and comment).

Where to improve:

  • MUST write this week.
  • I’d like to spend some time on my craft books as well.
  • MUST work out – so non-negotiable – must get back into this routine!

How are you making out with your ROW80 goals?

I *heart” MADD Canada

With Valentine’s Day just behind us, I gotta say I loved MADD Canada’s Valentine’s text to donate banner (now gone from their site but not forgotten)! It was very “Natalie” if you ask me. What do you think?

MADD Canada Valentine's Day

How cool is that?! You can text 45678 to donate $5 to MADD Canada. It’s such an easy way to offer your support and every little bit counts so I hope you’ll consider it.

This reminds me of Amber West’s #GoWithout Movement. Amber had the great idea that each week we could go without a little something to give back. She had some great text to donate charities and I added a few of my own to the list. I thought a recap might be nice:

You can find a pretty comprehensive list of other Canadian charities that accept text donations here. Or contact a local charity you love and drop off your $$$!

What are your thoughts on charities starting to use text to donate? Do you think the smaller amounts make it “easier” to donate? Or do you feel like your small donation wouldn’t “matter anyway, so why bother”? 

Two years ago, my beautiful mother-in-law’s life was cut tragically short by an impaired driver. In honor of Donna Jean Kennie, please don’t drink and drive. Impaired driving is 100% preventable. Think about it.

Support MADD Canada and follow them on Facebook, Twitter (@maddcanada), YouTube and on the Web.

If you enjoyed this post, check out more blog deliciousness here:

Former beauty queen sings for MADD Canada

Two years ago, my beautiful mother-in-law’s life was cut tragically short by an impaired driver. In honor of Donna Jean Kennie, please don’t drink and drive. Impaired driving is 100% preventable. Think about it.

In 2007, Sara G was crowned Miss World Canada.


Sara G blew the judges and audience away with her amazing voice; winning the talent segment and ultimately taking home the crown. At age seventeen, she was the youngest female in Canadian history to win the country’s oldest and most prestigious pageant.

Well, y’all know I have a serious love for all things pageant. So I’d admire Sara G just for kicking pageant butt but then she stepped it up a notch on my admiration scale. In early December, she partnered with MADD Canada and put her singing talents to work to create an amazing public service announcement.

Check it out:

How uberlicious is that?!?!

I hope you’ll take the time to visit her website and other music at Sara G Music.

What do you think of artists who put their talents towards raising awareness around important social causes? Know any you’d like to give a shout out to?

Support MADD Canada and follow them on Facebook, Twitter (@maddcanada), and on the Web.

If you enjoyed this post, check out more blog deliciousness here:

Did you know, YOU can report drunk drivers?

Two years ago, my beautiful mother-in-law’s life was cut tragically short by an impaired driver. In honor of Donna Jean Kennie, please don’t drink and drive. Impaired driving is 100% preventable. Think about it.

We all know that impaired driving is 100% preventable. But did you know that each and every one of us can play a significant role in eliminating impaired driving? We can….by taking it upon ourselves to call 911 anytime we suspect an impaired driver is on the road. I knew that conceptually but didn’t really get it…until I read this article by Jim Kenzie. He interviewed Arn Kashino on how to report a drunk driver and Arn’s words blew me away!

“But I witnessed a woman bleed to death when hit by a drunk driver, and I’d rather make the 911 call and be wrong than give another drunk driver a chance to kill someone else.”
Arn Kashino


There have been times when hubby and I have suspected an impaired driver in front of us but have hesitated reporting it because A) we weren’t 100% sure and B) we didn’t want this person to be stopped unnecessarily. No one wants to purposely cause someone to be detained for no reason nor do we want to waste police officers’ valuable time.

MADD Canada Campaign 911

MADD Canada’s Campaign 911 is a year-round, Canada-wide campaign that encourages and empowers the Canadian public to report suspected impaired driving by calling 911. According to MADD Canada, effective 911 programs have been found to increase arrest rates for impaired drivers by an average of 30%.

I’ve known about MADD Canada’s Campaign 911 for while now but until I read Jim’s article, I didn’t realize how vigilant I could be; what a strong role I could personally play in reducing impaired driving. I don’t have to be 100% sure. The person doesn’t have to be swerving right off the road. If I even SUSPECT someone is impaired, I’m encouraged to call and report it.

Arn’s point is so true! When it comes to impaired driving, it is better to be safe than sorry because lives are at stake.

Here are MADD Canada’s 10 possible signs of an impaired driver:

  1. Driving unreasonably fast, slow or at an inconsistent speed
  2. Drifting in and out of lanes
  3. Tailgating and changing lanes frequently
  4. Making exceptionally wide turns
  5. Changing lanes or passing without sufficient clearance
  6. Overshooting or stopping well before stop signs or stop lights
  7. Disregarding signals and lights
  8. Approaching signals or leaving intersections too quickly or slowly
  9. Driving without headlights, failing to lower high beams or leaving turn signals on
  10. Driving with windows open in cold or inclement weather

When calling 911, either pull over or do so hands-free. Your driving may be compromised because you are concentrating on what someone else is doing and you are in a stressful situation so take special care to not tailgate, run red-light, or speed. It’s not your job to follow the person or to apprehend them. Make the call and then let the police do their job.

In the article Arn talked about what to expect when calling 911 and what you may be asked or may want to take note to share:

  • Your name and contact information (in case the connection is dropped or should you need to act as a witness if there is a court case)
  • Make, model and color of the car
  • Description of the car
  • Licence plate (if you can read it)
  • Description of the driver (if you got close enough)
  • How many people were in the car
  • What road you were on
  • What direction you were travelling
  • The nearest intersection
  • Road condition
  • What the driver was doing: weaving, bouncing off the curb, speeding up/slow down

I love Arn’s final line in the article

“Be a witness,” he says. “Not a statistic!” Arn Kashino

DAMN straight Arn – I hear you and will take your message to heart. Drunk drivers, you’ve been warned. I am on the look out and I will report anyone I suspect!

Have you ever called 911 and reported a suspected drunk driver? Would you now?

Support MADD Canada and follow them on Facebook, Twitter (@maddcanada), and on the Web.

If you enjoyed this post, check out more blog deliciousness here:

  • Are you considering a Kindle but can’t decide whether to go for the one with special offers or pay the extra $40 and get the one without? I wasn’t sure how intrusive the ads would be until I read Catie Rhodes post where she looks at if the ads are that bad (with pictures and everything). Thanks Catie!!!
  • Are you on but don’t necessarily understand the stats? WordPress Woodie (aka Carrie Spencer) breaks down what everything on the stats page means.
  • I absolutely love Kristin Nador’s latest series. Every Monday in January, she will focus on a different blog habit to help each of us sharpen our blogs. The first is to define your audience. Love it Kristin!

Better late than never…linky love

It’s Thursday and that means it’s time to share the blog luv.

Better late than never. Sorry for the delay on today’s post but I’ve been home nursing a migraine. Hope you enjoy the line-up.

Social Media Out Loud:

  • Our furry little friend, Woodie and his creator Carrie Spencer, gives us a little WordPress magic knowledge on working with headers, footers, and widgets. Eeekeee…time to personalize that WordPress blog!

Write Out Loud:

  • Trish Loye Elliott did a fantastic post on how she lost her writing mojo but then, rediscovered it through reading!
  • Donna Newton did a fantastic post on writing with your active vs passive voice. Her examples really helped me see the difference.
  • Debra Kristi gets her writing inspiration from music. Then she uses photos to help solidify the ideas in her mind’s eye. She gives us all a beautiful and mystical peak into that world. I was simply blown away by the beauty of it. Definitely inspiring!
  • Ellie Ann Soderstrom did a very powerful post on what she learned from The Girl With A Dragon Tattoo. It blew me away. I don’t think I’ll watch the movie (too much for me) but I do think I’ll read the books.
  • I absolutely loved Lani Wendt Young’s post on why she won’t ever be a best-selling author. Super cute!
  • David Gaughran did a fantastic and extensive post on Amazon’s new KDP Select program and took a look at the bigger picture of subscription models and how authors will collectively define future compensation for their work.
  • Jennifer Eaton gave us a great look at why beta-readers are so important. Because no matter how much editing you do, you will always be reading what you think you wrote.

Life Out Loud:

  • Lesann Berry did a great post awhile back that inspired me. It had THE greatest motivational image for women. It was about aspiring to be the best we can, and try to do right. As she wisely said “we might not always make it there – but efforts are meaningful.” I agree.
  • Marcia Richards did a truly wonderful post on how sometimes abstaining from venting for a period of time and allowing that steam to build, you can harness the power of your frustrations to cause a change in your status quo.

Laugh Out Loud:

I hope you enjoyed this week’s line-up of fantabulous blog posts. Stay tuned for next week’s. I promise to go and spend oodles of time (time away from friends and family I’ll have you know…) to bring you this do-or-die information…My god…you guys must really love me!!

Got any ditties of your own to share? Let me know and maybe they’ll be featured as part of next week’s line-up…

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