Nate’s Notes: Different Houses, Different Families

Sometimes we have to drive around, all of us, so Momma can take pictures. Sometimes I like it…like when it ends in juice, ice cream and M&M’s.   But, when it seems we won’t get that happy ending, Lyla and I scream. A lot. I’ve taught her well.

Before you roll your eyes or shake your heads (YOU REALLY SHOULD SEE YOURSELVES SOMETIMES), you should know screaming is important. It is needed. We are JUST trying to strengthen our lungs, and also tell you something super important. Try listening. Whining is too often ignored. Saying, “Excuse me, please don’t make us,” does NOTHING, despite being polite.

And so, we drive around, Daddy trying to stay calm, turning up the radio, Momma taking pictures like a stalker from the car, me and Lyla screaming. Every so often, Momma or Daddy turn around with comfort attempts OR threats. No success. Makes us louder. And besides, haven’t they ever heard the poem, “You Look Prettier When You Smile”??!!??

Residential Exteriors_0037Anyway, one day Momma was taking pictures of all the different houses, and when not screaming, Lyla kept asking, “Who wiv der?” or “Who house?” Because I had lost my screaming helper, I started thinking. Thinking. And then asking, “Does every family have a different house?” “Who does that family have?” “Do ALL families have a Momma + Daddy + boy + girl?”

Daddy said some families do, but every family is different. Then Momma said every family has a different story, a different way they came together in their houses.  

After I thought some more, I had to know.   “Will we always be a family in our house? Will you always be mine and Lyla’s family and we will always be yours?” Both Momma and Daddy answered at the same time, “ ALWAYS. NO MATTER WHAT. NO MATTER WHERE. ALWAYS.”

NATE’S NOTES: Painted Skies and Stupid Phones (Even though I’m not ‘sposed to say that word.)

If you ask me, most of you big people have a phone in front of your faces all day long. And you miss a lot of life. You miss a lot of my life. And you wonder why we have to get so loud or do the things we do to get your attention. I even see medium people doing this, probably even more than big people. (Just so you know, medium is in between small and big.)   I think it is stupid. Even though I am not ‘sposed to say that word.

So here is a story…

Right before the sun goes to bed, it makes everything glow and paints the sky.   It is beautiful. It is lovely. Yep. I am a boy. I am 4 years old. But I can still say that it is beautiful and lovely… and I do. It is the kind of pretty that makes you forget about anything that made you sad or mad. It is the kind of pretty that makes you stop what you are doing and watch. And look. And smile. And…of course it is the kind of pretty that makes Momma ALMOST push us out of the way so she can take a picture. “ALMOST”. Blink. Blink. (Still can’t wink.)

All kinds of pretty.

All kinds of pretty.

One night we were at a park and another big person was talking to Momma. I noticed the sky changing- glowing, so I knew SHE had too. I watched her. I watched the sky. I watched her flick on the camera and push buttons while the person talked to her. Then, in the middle of the other big person’s story, Momma mumbled something and walked away to start taking pictures of the painted sky. REALLY??!!!   Awkward much??!!!  

All I could do was walk over to Momma and hope no one had noticed. Why does she do this to me???

On the drive home, the sky kept changing, a different kind of pretty each time. Most nights the sky is amazing but tonight it seemed extra special. People were on the side of the road, out of their cars, watching this painted sky. Beautiful. You had to smile. Everyone was smiling. Taking pictures. At least SOME people were, NOT everyone. There were medium sized people with their big people who were looking DOWN, not UP.   Didn’t they know where the pretty was?? The sky was painted for them, and they were missing it!!!   Even the big people were looking down and not up.

What was DOWN that was so cool…cool enough to miss what was UP????   Then I looked…and saw. Phones. Phones. PHONES. Oh. Those. Sigh. Head shake. Sigh.

NATE’S NOTES: We Don’t All See the Same Thing…or Colors

Momma always gets excited about colors. I think she sees the world in colors. Always talking about the amazing flower colors, the moss colors, the sky colors, the sunset colors, the leaf colors. She loves colors. She works with colors in her pictures. She works with colors when we paint. Colors and light. Colors and light.

But I don’t see the same colors she sees, or that you see.   This isn’t about a day in color-learning class that I missed…thank you very much. This isn’t about me not paying attention to colors. I try, I really do.

But so many days of my life, when Momma points out the painted sky to us, or the colors on our hikes, she asks us, “Do you see that amazing purple? Do you see that bright green?”   I smile. I say yes sometimes…mostly because she looks so happy. I WANT to see it. But I don’t. I guess I can’t.

I see colors. I just don’t see the same colors, or ALL the colors.   I don’t know why. But a doctor told us I have problems with this.   He called it something…I can’t remember.   I was confused that day when he was testing me. He was asking me about colors and shapes. It all was so hard. MOST of the reason was because I couldn’t see the shapes he was asking.   Turns out I need glasses! More on that later.

Later Momma and Daddy tried to explain it to me. They said my eyes and my brain don’t talk to each other very well sometimes about colors.   They said there are little machines in my eye (super awesome!!!) that see reds, blues and greens. But some of my machines work differently than other people’s machines. I guess that’s okay. I’m learning different is okay, even cool.

So I can’t tell the difference between some colors, and I get some colors mixed up. Lucky for me, I can memorize really super good. So I am just learning what colors are SUPPOSED to be. But I get greens, browns, and reds mixed up mostly. If there is a pile of green leaves, and one brown one in the middle, I can’t see the brown one.

Now it makes sense that when Momma flips her lid with all that happy for tree leaves turning colors, I can’t see…don’t see…the same things. Sometimes, the leaves and trees just look grey to me.  Now Momma and Daddy are more patient with me since we know about my eye machines getting confused.

Momma said the artichoke is a pretty purple.  I DON'T see purple.

Momma said the artichoke is a pretty purple. I DON’T see purple.

Now it makes sense that when big peoples ask me what I see, I don’t say a color first. I see its shape, or even guess what it feels like before the color.   I guess that is why I like the textures Momma shows us so often.

 Next time you look at something, remember, we don’t all see the same thing…or see in the same colors. Maybe be patient.

Nate’s Notes: My Favorite Things: Part 2

I’m 4 now. Last time I did a “Favorite Things” post I wasn’t quite 2! When it was Christmas time a couple few days ago, Momma made us watch this singing movie where the woman sang everything with a bunch of kids. Even when she was telling about her favorite things…she sang it. Sheesh.

A lot has changed since I was 2.   But some things haven’t.

Here are some of those things… (You may have to sing this to the tune of some song from that movie or something- that is what Momma said.)


Nate’s Favorite Things- 2 Years Later- *with a few extra verses (SING ALONG!!! You know you want to.)

Legos and Star Wars, and even the Ninjas. DC, Avengers and don’t forget Minions. Captain America, Hulk and the Flash. These are a few of my favorite things.

Popcorn and snacks just as long as no gluten. Oatmeal and berries, corn, beans, and bananas. Cucumber, vinegar, yes it’s the truth.  These are just more of my favorite things.

(Chorus) Field adventures! Learning new things! Watching people there! Distracting the ones that think Momma is crazy…well, that doesn’t make the list!

Play dough and stories, books, books and then more books. Crayons and markers as long as there’s no mess. Stickers and coloring all the day long. Yes, these are definite favorite things.

Digging in dirt or just jumping in water. On second thought I’ll just watch, clean and dry then. Don’t get me wrong I am sure you have fun. But these are just not my favorite things!!

(Chorus) Doc-ument-ries! Pro-bio-tics! Constellations…yes! As long it isn’t too cold I am for it…I know. I know. Lighten up!!

Looking for lizards, rocks, lichen or acorns.   Pancakes and syrup as long as they don’t touch. Taking my own pictures, yes Momma lets me!   These are just more of my favorite things!

Road trips, I have to admit, they’re amazing. Music and singing, warm blankets and cuddling. Playing with Ninjas, oh yea, I said that. Well- that is prob’ly my most fav’rite thing!

(Chorus) Lyla laughing! Momma smiling! Daddy giving hugs! Now those are the best of my favorite things. The ones that show me…. I’m loved!


What are YOUR favorite things?

Nate’s Notes: Use Your Imagination

Momma says that imagination is somewhere between your heart and your brain. Umm…I’m not sure she REALLY knows what she is talking about, because wouldn’t that just be our throat…or something??? Anyway, I guess some people have big imaginations, and some people have small ones, or no imagination. Momma and Daddy say that my imagination is their favorite part of me, and they hope I never lose it. Wait, wait, WAIT!!! So now I have to worry about it going away?? (Nervously touching my throat area.)  

So, about this imagination…it helps you draw big pictures, hear music everywhere, tell great stories, play fun superhero games and find cool things around us.

Cloudy_Skies_Only_0741Like the other day, there were huge, puffy, squishy clouds in the sky. Momma got really excited and told us to look at the puppy holding balloons in the sky. Her smile was so big and she bounced a little as she pointed up at the clouds. Anyone knows that what Momma THOUGHT she saw- a puppy holding balloons in the sky- was just plain silly.   I mean…seriously. Puppies can’t hold balloons. They don’t have thumbs. Sheesh.

But, because I love her, and that goofy grin pulled on my heart a little, I looked anyway. “Hurry, hurry- look at those clouds up there! Right there!!” She pointed just above the trees.

And there it was. A puppy holding balloons. I rubbed my eyes. Yep. Still there. In the clouds. No way!! Now I had the same goofy grin and looked at Momma. “You see it don’t you Nate,” she said smiling. “See, you used your imagination!”

Lyla kept looking around, even started looking under the bushes and calling, “Here puppy!!” I gave her a hug. I guess she doesn’t have a big imagination. Not yet. But I will help her.

I can share mine with her.

Nate’s Notes: Pushing Buttons

Momma and Daddy always look tired. But lately they have looked even MORE tired…some good color going on under their eyes, hair a little messy, mouths yawning. It isn’t pretty.   I should actually be taking pictures of them to use later.

When I hear them say it has been rough, it kind of confuses me. Tree bark is rough, sandpaper is rough, rocks are rough, cement is rough, but how can a day be rough? What do they mean?

N_Buttons-Snaps_0017Days and days ago, Momma got out buttons for art pictures. We also got to play with the buttons and glue them to paper.   It was super fun! I also know that Gram Spam sews buttons, that buttons on some toys make noises, that buttons in the car make the windows open, and that some buttons SHOULD NOT be touched….like the buttons on Momma’s cameras.  

I feel confused though again, because sometimes Momma and Daddy BOTH say that I push THEIR buttons. What buttons?   Their belly buttons? Their shirt buttons?? WHAT ARE THEY TALKING ABOUT????!!!   They only say this when they have an angry face or angry eyes. Sometimes they have a sad AND angry face when they say this. We call this SAD-MAD. So if I push their buttons and it is such a big deal, maybe they should stop telling me that and start telling me WHAT BUTTONS!  WHAT BUTTONS ARE BEING PUSHED???   No one ever talks about WHAT these buttons are or WHERE they are or WHY they are buttons.  Seems kind of important to me. 

But I’m only 4.

SOMEBODY PLEASE HELP ME OUT so we can all forget about these buttons and all this silliness, get some sleep, stop being SAD-MAD and get back to what I want to talk about.  


Nate’s Notes: There Better Be a Horse

I’m back!!  


Sorry it has been so long everyone.  It’s been hard around here lately for us. Or so “they” say. And by us and “they”, I mean the two adults that call themselves Momma and Daddy. I use the word “adults” with a grin, because it seems like they need more time outs/time ins and have more meltdowns than those of us around here who are under 4 feet.  

Actually- I have felt sad and sad-mad too. And scared. And lonely. I can tell you more later.

Before all the really hard, scary stuff started happening again at home, we took a field adventure with Uncle Tim, Auntie Kate, Auntie Tina and Uncle Jon. We drove a little while in the car, not too long. It was long enough though. Long enough for a movie, 1 nap, 2 snacks, 2 puke breaks for Lyla, 3 diaper changes for Lyla, 4 fits (guess who?!), and 5 too many stops for pictures. Okay. It was too long.

There were mountains everywhere we went. We drove by them, on them, up them, over them, and down them.  

Spooky. horse.

Spooky. And…no horse.

Do you see any horses??

Do you see any horses??

No horse here.

No horse here.

The first place we went was a place where people used to live, but didn’t anymore. So, the houses and school, and church and stores were empty. Everyone was gone. Like they went on a field adventure and never came back. They left their stuff, their cars…so much.   I guess it is called a ghost town.

Spooky. Spooky woo woo!!! OOOOOOOO!!!!!

We were there for HOURS, so Lyla and I had to wear Momma and Daddy. Otherwise they would get tired. If they get tired, they get grumpy. If they get grumpy, it is no fun.

Before we even left home, I heard Momma telling Daddy stories about this place, and how we shouldn’t take ANYTHING from the place or bad things might happen. And she said there were spooky stories too. Stories about ghosts. From what I could hear, I guess then that there are big people and a little girl, even a donkey, walking around with sheets over their heads trying to scare people???   The things we drive for hours to see. Sheesh. I don’t get it.

Lyla wore Momma and I wore Daddy.   We tried to stay together most of the time, but Momma got lost in her pictures and Daddy and I explored. BUT, when we WERE all together strange stuff happened. See…all those stories Momma told Daddy, Lyla never heard them. She was at an appointment. So she never heard about the donkey ghost, or the little girl ghost.   And all around the buildings, she kept pointing and saying, “Look at the horsey!! Look! Awe…cute horsey!! Come here horsey!!!”

Goosebumps. I looked. There was no horse. Anywhere. Ever. Never ever.

At first I thought she was being silly. So I laughed. But by the time we left, I was jumping even when someone sneezed, and each time she pointed out the horsey, I told her, “There better be a horsey!!”

There never was.

Nate’s Notes: Snow Adventure (It’s All A Lie!)

“Come”, they said. “There’ll be snow”, they said. “It will be fun”, they said. So…they said.

This was the beginning of the lies.

 I was promised a snow adventure. No, no, no. Lyla and I were promised a snow adventure. I believed them, so I agreed to convince Lyla to get in the car to be trapped for hours and hours. We did. And I kept hearing about snow and fun. The lies just kept coming.

“It will only take a few hours”, they said. It took almost 6 hours. Or so they said. That could have been a lie too, for all I know. It seemed like days.

 “It will be fun”, they said. As soon as we got there, they made us be calm, and then made us go to bed.

“There will be snow”, they said. I didn’t see any snow.   I saw sun, trees, pine needles, rocks, moss, and pine cones. “Look at all the textoos Momma!” …uuuhh, wait… WHO said that??!!! Did that come from MY mouth????? Great. Just great. No snow, no fun, AND I sound like THEM. I should just lay down by the tree and wait for a bear to get me. It would probably be more fun.

We went on a walk, and DID find a little snow, but nothing to write about (ha ha…get it?).


See...nothing to write about. A LITTLE snow.

See…nothing to write about. A LITTLE snow.

“Let’s go on a hike now”, they said. “It will be fun”, they said. “It will be short”, they said.

Okay, so who takes a 2-year old and a 3-year old on a hike?? And I heard someone say it was a couple miles!!! WHO DOES THAT???!!! Seriously. WHO????!!! Come on. Are you kidding me??!!! I USED to think my Momma and Daddy were the smartest people in the world, even superheroes. Now I have my doubts.


There was only one thing left to do…no bones. I suddenly lost all ability to walk, move or be supported by my bones. Works every time. “It will be fun”, they said. “ I’ll show them fun”, I said. How fun is it carrying two 35-pound squirmy toddlers in thin air and sun for miles? Sure, there were amazing things to look at, but I was too busy with my plan of protest to help Momma find those things. From the sweat and grumpy faces I saw, I was pretty sure I had taught them a lesson! Success.

Feeling satisfied with my success, and even proud of Lyla for joining the protest, I continued their punishment by refusing to eat lunch. And then kicking things. And then losing all bones when they came near me. More success.  


A lake.

A lake.

She made me proud. No bones.

She made me proud. No bones.

Later, because there was no snow, we went out to a playground. Barely amused, I felt a little hope when I was promised to see a beaver and beaver house.   This could be good.


“Let’s go”, they said. “It will be fun”, they said. “ A small hike”, they said. FREEZE! STOP!!   I wasn’t taking these lies again. They seemed to be slow learners. So I suddenly had a horrible pain in my foot and had to limp. I added a whine just to drive my point home. I limped so good (so bad?) that Momma’s face went soft with love….and…wait for it….she….CARRIED ME!   Lyla was on her own this time.


It was genius.   I got to be carried by Momma, AND she told me about all the cool stuff we were seeing. No snow. BUT…we saw bear claw marks on a tree, flowers, a little creek, different leaves and trees than what live by us, butterflies, squirrels, crazy looking people, and finally…a beaver house!!!  


Okay, okay. So the weekend wasn’t a total bust. But that doesn’t change the lies. Oohhh, that is going to stay with me awhile.

While I’m healing, you can look at some quick pictures of what we saw. “It will be fun”…he said.  

The same lake. It's just water!!

The same lake. It’s just water!!

The walk near the beaver house.

The walk near the beaver house.

Bear claw marks!

Bear claw marks!


Nate’s Notes -Nature Is Incredible (Hijacked by Momma)

Nature-Flowers Plants-Stylized- 0575Momma’s Note: I often wonder how much effect my work with photography has on my littles. I wonder how what I do impacts the way they see the world, however much they may pay attention. We go on quite a few field adventures to capture images of State Parks, National Parks, animals, cities, boats, planes, cars, historic locations, abandoned buildings, flowers, landscapes…and more. In the 3+ years we have been parents, we have covered a lot of ground, locally and nationally. Road trips, train rides, plane flights, boat rides and hikes have allowed us to see so much of the world around us. There aren’t many places I don’t take at least one camera, and the littles have gotten used to me saying, “Wait- stop here! Pull over! I want to get that picture! We don’t have a lot of grass, or fence posts!!” Lyla goes along with all of it, being the happy little she is. Nate objects now and then. Sometimes I feel like I’m dragging them all over. Sometimes I feel guilty. Sometimes I feel immeasurable happiness to be able to share the world this way, to show them how to look and “see” everything, to pay attention to details. Sometimes I get lost in all this wonder…and then I hear my answers, and I am happy.


Daddy: Do you want to go to the store with me Nate?
Nate: Nah. I’ll stay hewe and look at wildflowews with Momma. (Takes my hand and looks at me.)
Nate: Momma? Isn’t natuwe incwedible?!
(Nate can be seen squinting his eyes and making clicking noises. )
Momma: Nate are you okay? What are you doing?
Nate: Momma! I’m taking a pictoo of this moment.
Lyla: Oooo! Duckies!
Nate: It’s so cold!!! Ooooo…Look at that sky! Isn’t it beautiful!
Daddy: It’s like a painting huh Nate?!
Nate: Good obsewvation Dad.
(Upon getting out of car and seeing a full Japanese Maple tree with a perfect canopy.)
Nate: Wow! Look at that twee Momma! It makes a pewfect canopy!
Momma: Yes Nate, the rain made it heavy. Very cool right?!
Nate: Come. Come. We can take sheltew undew this canopy.
Nate: See all those wocks in the wiver Lyla?
Lyla: Nope.
Nate: (Pulls her down and shoves her head toward the water.)
Lyla: Hey. Hey! Hey!!!
Nate: Well, you wewen’t looking!! See the wed wocks, the golden wocks, the gway wocks. So many diffewent wocks to look at!!!
(Lyla drops to her knees on a walk and starts crawling.)
Momma: Lyla, what are you doing?
Lyla: Look at da bus Ma! (Translation: Look at the bugs Momma)
Nate: Momma, she’s actually looking at all things natuwe. She wants to be a natuwe twacker. It’s a good thing. Just let hew be.

And there you have it!   Life is good. 

Nate’s Notes: Taking Pictures With My Mind

So I’ve been thinking about the whole “no camera needed” thing for taking pictures thing again.  I KNOW I have some arguable points that a camera is clearly needed for pictures.   At least most pictures. Just ask my super-camera-stuck-to-my-face-freak Momma. I have figured out how to take SOME pictures with my mind, but you might remember it was hard at first!! It took me most of a week to figure it out.

Point Reyes Trip (4)I stared at my cars. I stared at my trains. I tried blinking. I tried staring, blinking, and then blinking really fast.   I tried jumping while blinking while staring.   This made Lyla laugh a lot. It also made Momma nervous. I’m pretty sure she was taking a picture with HER mind of MY attempts and filing it somewhere under questionable. One time she asked me if I was feeling okay. Honestly… I wasn’t! I was confused, frustrated and little worried about HER telling me you can take pictures with your mind!

The next morning, when the sun was waking up, I crawled out of bed and found Momma and Lyla sitting in the other room. Momma was rocking Lyla and doing that singing thing with no words. Lyla was sleeping.   I just watched. Momma looked at me and smiled. And I smiled right back.   It was the happiest picture I’d ever seen. So I took that picture. I didn’t use a camera, but I think I used my mind AND my heart.

So now that I know how to take some pictures with my mind I can use it for preschool. See, this whole preschool thingy has been a hard transition for me. But I figured out when I get sad or scared at preschool, I can find that picture in my mind or heart of Momma, Daddy, Lyla, or ANY of my big people. And it helps me feel safe. I still miss them, but it feels less scary.