Nate’s Notes: Promotion

I got a promotion!  I got a promotion!!!  A promotion!!!!   What’s a promotion?  If it involves more cars, more toys, more running time outside, and more books- well, I’m in.  It must be a good thing because Momma has big eyes (the happy kind, not the angry eyes) and that goofy grin on her face right now.  I’m just gonna keep smiling and jumping loudly since it seems like the perfect opportunity to get away with squealing and craziness, even if I don’t know what the big deal is.

Getting In the Zone

Getting In the Zone

Well, here’s the deal.  Since I am two now, apparently Momma and those people she works with (one is my Uncle Tim and he has cool boots) think I can do more than just be a contributing writer.  You know what I think?  I think they’ve never experienced writer’s block.  Do MORE?  What are we talking about here?!  They MUST realize I’m entering a dangerous stage of life where my brain is still so mushy, making it easy for me to go from happy to crazy sad, to calm and then angry in the blink of an eye, right???!!!  And they trust me with more?  Okayee!!

Here’s the more.  Besides writing Nate’s Notes, I’ll be taking pictures.  That’s right, you will be able to see my pictures on the website now!  Momma says I shouldn’t toot my own horn, but…Toot!  Toot!  The images will be in the Artistic Shots Gallery.  Get it?   Because they are artistic.  Because I am an artist. THEY finally see it!!  See for yourself; my early work should be up soon.

Momma finished telling me about the big promotion with a hug.  I jumped up, running to my room to find my camera.  Momma followed me to ask what I was doing.  Well THAT is a silly question.  Pfff…and people say MY brain is mushy??  Exasperated, I answered, “Momma- I gotta go outside to take pictoos!” 

TMG Philosophy: Success

I ran the Golden Gate!!!

I ran the Golden Gate!!!

It has been a few weeks now since I ran my half marathon in San Francisco. Remember it was a half that I ran with a group of friends and family to honor and raise money for the fallen 19 members of the Granite Mountain Hotshot Crew from Prescott, AZ and all others that have given the ultimate sacrifice while on duty.    Remember I was worried about my run.  I was worried about my performance.  I was worried about my finish time.  Despite my best efforts to think otherwise, I had convinced myself that in order to succeed at this run (or any run for that matter), I had to not only finish, but set a new personal best in time.

So did I succeed?  Well, it was a new time record for me:  the slowest half marathon I have ever run.  Yep, the slowest.  As I crossed the finish line, I wondered.  I wondered if the time I was looking at meant I had failed.  I wondered if the fact that I felt more pain than I had ever felt at the end of a run meant I had failed.  I wondered if all this pride and self-centered thinking meant I had failed.  After all, this run wasn’t about me; this run was about bringing honor to the memory of the 19 firefighters who had died in that fire.  So I wondered some more.

Had I succeeded?  I had trained for the race.  I showed up for the race.  I ran.  I finished.  In those aspects I had succeeded.  I had my husband and two babies at the finish line to hug me.  That made it feel a little more like success.   Now, what about the more important point of bringing honor to the memory of those firefighters?  I guess I could say that by training, showing up, raising money, running, and finishing, I had achieved success.   After so much wondering, I was starting to feel quite hungry.   It wasn’t until after grabbing some food, packing the car and heading home that I finally started to relax and consider my morning a success instead of something less, or even that ugly “f” word.

Success isn’t always about the fastest, the shiniest, the newest, the biggest or any “-est”. It certainly isn’t always about winning.  That day, success meant I had committed, run in the face of my fears, self-doubt and pain.  That day, success meant I had finished.  On the car ride home, as I watched the passing hills, my husband grabbed my hand and told me he was proud of me. Success.  Then he asked a question that got me wondering all over again.  He asked, “I wonder why all of you didn’t run the whole race together?  Why didn’t your whole Granite Mountain team plan to stick together, running all 13.1 miles as one group, as a team, with the fastest runner encouraging the slowest runner?”   Well, s***.    That would have been a perfect way to honor those 19 firefighters who fought as a team and died as a team.

So I wondered…

Nate’s Notes: Thanks Again!

Not that I have run out of things that I want to say thank you for, but I feel like I’m rambling, just like Momma.  Not cool.  I am trying to establish a cool, big boy image.   So for now, this might be the last of my list of things that fill up my heart.  I think.

When Momma was looking over the spiderweb page…no…the looking page…no, no, no…the website (!) the other night, I got to sit on her lap.  Normally I touch all the buttons and have to get down, but my self control was at an all time high.   So we looked at the animals.  I love animals.  Daddy calls me a little monkey sometimes and says I act like an animal.   Best thing I’ve heard if you ask me!!

When we were looking at all the super cool animals, I decided they make me feel happy and thankful.   So today, I’m saying thanks for all the animals I know.


Goofy Dogs!

Goofy Dogs!

Benson and Ellie– Well, I’m pretty sure you know how much my heart dances when I see you every day.  You are goofy.  You are my puppies and friends.   Thank you for cleaning my face and hands.  Thank you for bringing me back my bouncy balls.  Thank you for running with me.   Thank you for cuddling.   Most of all, thank you for eating the food I don’t want to eat….ssshhhhh. 

Stitch–  For a cat, you are super cool.  Even though it’s part of my chore list to feed you, I’m happy to do it. AND, even though your best friend is Bob the bobcat (who eats all my chickens and takes my egg money away), I still like you.  Thank you for being soft and easy when I give you too big of a hug.  Thank you for bringing me sleeping mice to play with.  Thank you for sharing your food with me…ssshhhhh.   (You won’t find a picture of him because … let’s face it- he is a cat and he’ll do what he wants, which is NOT letting me tackle him for a picture.)


Run Ladies! Run!!!

Run Ladies! Run!!!

The Ladies–  Aaaa, the Ladies.  You are a fun bunch of birds.   I could watch you run all day it’s so fun.  Your little chicken dance is catchy as well.  Again, even though it’s part of my chores to feed you and collect eggs, I think it’s fun!  There’s also that time you ate all the lettuce I helped plant.  For that I say thanks because lettuce makes me gag.   Thank you for giving me eggs to eat, and eggs to sell for my piggy bank fund.  Thanks for not pecking my hand too hard.  Well, maybe you could be a little easier.   And thanks for not telling Momma when I repeatedly try to make your eggs bounce…ssshhhhhh.


He. Is. Huge.

He. Is. Huge.

Luther and Iris–    When I visit Papa and Gram, I get to see you.  First of all, Luther, thanks for not eating me (and Lyla) you gigantic, monster tall dog!   Thanks also for making me laugh when you back up and sit on the couch or my lap like a person!  You’re a dog…sitting on a couch like a person- it doesn’t get much funnier than that in my world.  And Iris, eventually, you have decided I’m okay.  I could tell you’d like me once I got bigger.  Thank you for cuddling with me the other day.   And thanks for ALWAYS alerting us when there is a squirrel, a bird, another dog, or anything moving outside Papa and Gram’s house.  (I don’t have a picture of Iris because she is small and squirelly. I will work on that.)

I just love animals.  I do.  Now, if I could convince Momma and Daddy to get one of those cool camels or chimpanzees from the imagery site in this house, we’d be really happy!  I’d even say “please” and “thank you”!

RSWL: Volunteers

We’ve all done it.   We’ve all asked someone to do it with us…maybe even begged.  We all probably wish we could do it more.   I’m not sure what you’re thinking of, but I am referring to volunteering.

Volunteers are the backbone of organizations and events throughout society.   Who hasn’t signed up for a creek clean up day, soup kitchen, building project or more?  Sure, some people volunteer a few times a year, others volunteer like it’s their job.  And while I usually smirk at these do-gooders, the truth is that I wish I was more like them.  I’d love to volunteer about a gazillion percent more than I do, and I want my kids to grow up volunteering throughout their lives.

There is such a range of volunteering too, that there HAS to be some area we all fit into with our abilities and personalities.   Whether it is helping at a race event, vacuuming a church, tutoring kids, walking a dog, or fighting fires, volunteer opportunities abound.   I’ve seen firsthand the impact a couple dozen people and a few hours can make on the lives of people who are hurting.  Giving our time for something bigger than our needs gives hope.  For me, helping out at whatever occasion comes up is a good reality check and a reminder that life isn’t just about my needs, troubles and wants. Sometimes the circumstances are eye-opening, or life altering, like a mission trip or being part of relief efforts after a natural disaster.

I’ve also seen firsthand how easily volunteers can be abused.  All too often, the same group of volunteers can be called upon to virtually run an organization.  Not good.  And yet, these volunteers wouldn’t think twice when called upon to give and help.  Witnessing these people time again give with their hearts (without grumbling) is often another self check for me:  Should I do more?  Can I do more?  Does my attitude need adjusting?

Whatever the motivation, whatever the cause, whatever the reasons for helping, volunteers are just plain cool.  We don’t all have to believe the same thing or think the same way to have an enormous impact together.    Imagine a life without volunteers.  What would happen at our churches, libraries, volunteer fire departments, schools and parks if the volunteers didn’t show up??!!  I don’t think we want to know.

So, if you have ever volunteered, or if you are going to volunteer…thank you.  You. Are. A. Superstar. Seriously.

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Nate’s Notes: More Thanks

Last time I started telling you all about things that fill up my heart.   So I was thinking about MORE things that make me smile, that make me feel loved, and that make me want to say “thank you”.

Here are other things I feel like saying thank you for:

  • Leaves– They are just plain cool.  They fly, they float, they crinkle.  Mostly the ones on the ground are the best.  Especially when you big people try to put them in piles.  Why piles?  If they wanted to be in piles, wouldn’t they just jump off the trees that way?  So these piles- thanks for making them for me to spread all over again.
  • Dirt–  I’ll admit, at first when Momma was taking so many pictures of dirt, I was horrified.  When I realized her sole purpose wasn’t to embarrass me in front of the world, I started to pay attention to the dirt.  It. Is. Amazing.  It isn’t for eating, but you can still have fun with it.   I have a tip:  just add water!!   Thanks for letting me play in dirt.
  • Creepy Crawling Things– Have you ever stopped and watched ants?  They are super super busy.  Or, have you ever followed a spider?  Or a lizard?  (By the way, lizards kind of break when you grab their tails.)  Where do these guys go?  Do they have music classes and play dates?  Are they going to work?  Whatever they are doing, I say thanks for doing it because it makes me stop and just watch.  You miss a lot when you go go go.  Seems like more of us should stop and watch the ants.
  • Music– Just like books…does this need more explaining?  Really, music makes me smile.  When I hear Momma play the piano or hum, or hear those people trapped in the radio singing, my heart dances.  Thanks for that.  If Momma could take a picture of music, it would be the most loveliest picture ever.  Ever.

Once again, my toddler brain, still under construction, doesn’t have time to keep going.  There is dirt somewhere outside with my name on it.   So my list will STILL be continued.   Hey, isn’t it good that I have a lot to say thank you for?

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TMG Philosophy: Grateful

IMG_0162November is often a month of thankfulness for many people I know.  I know that I usually focus the whole month on things and people in life I appreciate.  For example, we gave thanks today, on Veterans Day, for the faithful service and sacrifice that men and women have made, past and present, young and old, as they serve our country.   Since 1919, it has become a tradition to honor and appreciate those in uniform, whether or not you agree with the political decisions that deploy the soldiers.   On Thanksgiving Day, we will express thankfulness for the staples of life: home, food, and family.   However, what about the other 11 months of the year?   Shouldn’t I aim to live all months in gratefulness?  Well, of course I WANT to…but, like many, it is so hard for me to focus on the blessings in my life during the hard times.

Certainly, just because I don’t reserve every day of every year for thankfulness, it doesn’t mean I lack gratitude does it?   But shouldn’t I attempt to live each day in gratefulness?   This all comes back to discipline and choices.   I’ve worked hard in the last few years to come out of each day with a list of things I’m thankful for.   I’ve forgotten.  I’ve ignored.  I’ve overlooked.   But that doesn’t mean I stop.   If and when I stop striving to live a grateful life, then I might as well give in to the waves that threaten to drag me under during the storms.

It took a couple big storms for me to not only realize the good in the storm, but also to look for it.  Sure, it’s easy to be thankful for food and warmth, security, mobility and loved ones.   But each day isn’t all rainbows and unicorns.  What about loss and sadness?  Disappointment?  Mistakes?  Fear?  How can I be thankful for these?   How, in the midst of distress, do I stop and say, “Hey, thanks for this heart wrenching disappointment and sadness! Lovin’ it! Can I have some more please?!”  Okay, okay. Maybe sarcasm isn’t a cousin of gratefulness.  Seriously though, that’s tough.

As my just-turned-two son would say, “Let me see…”.   I’ll start with disappointment.  Disappointment has a way of revealing the things that matter to me the most.   Sometimes I am surprised by my disappointment, and it is a good time to quickly note what disappointed me and what part I played in that.   Were my expectations too high or not clearly communicated?   What about mistakes?  How and why should I be thankful for my mistakes?  Well, mistakes have a way of humbling me (always good), and showing me ways to improve.  Mistakes keep me striving to do better, to not settle.

It’s hard to believe, but I am thankful for fear.  My fears keep me in check and aware.  Some fears keep me safe.   When common sense evades me, at least fear keeps me from jumping into a pool of sharks, or hanging out at a puppet and clown convention.   No, seriously.  My fears allow me to test my strength, to push through, to grow.  If I had given into fear, neither of our babies would be ours.

Besides the more obvious things in life I am thankful for, it is daily exercise for me to be grateful for the more obscure:  the wood that burns in our fire that keeps us warm (even if it is a lot of work to split and haul and stack);  the music of our babies’ laughter AND the music of our babies’ crying (for it means we can hear); not knowing the answer to something (for it give me opportunity to learn); my senses- each of them;   kind strangers (they can turn your day around when you least expect it).   Looking for blessings and recognizing them tends to keep me moving in a positive direction.

Even the hardest parts of the day or week or year will make me grateful.  It’s a choice.  Even in the midst of the challenges, I must choose to appreciate.  If I don’t, I’ll sink.  If I do, I will have the strength to continue, to push through the pain, and the opportunity to grow.  For that I am grateful.

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Nate’s Notes: Thankful

For as long as I can remember talking, even before that when I was using my hands to communicate, Momma and Daddy have taught me to say “please” and “thank you”.   Whatever.  I’m not sure I fully grasp these concepts, except that I usually get what I ask for when saying “please”, and the “thank you” just naturally comes out now…kind of like pee.   But what does “thank you” mean?   Can someone help me with that?

Momma tells me she’s thankful for Daddy.  She says she is thankful for our whole family.  She’s thankful time brought us together, and that she gets to be my Momma and Lyla’s Momma.  (She was MY Momma first.)  She tells me she is thankful for our house and the amazing trees, flowers and land we get to live around.   She seems really thankful for popcorn and chocolate.

Nate and LylaI think I get it.  Kind of.   These things make her happy, make her smile, and make her look calm.  (Well, sometimes we take that calmness away, but mostly she seems calm.)  So I was thinking about things that make me smile, that make me feel loved, and that make me want to say “thank you”.

Here are a few of the things that take up the most room in my heart.

I feel like saying thank you for:

Lyla– believe it or not, since she is here to stay, I found a way to find her extremely cute, fun to play with, and it is fun to make her laugh.  Besides, I can see how valuable she’ll be in my future shenanigans.

  My lovey– even though I know it is really Momma and Daddy that make me feel safe, the lovey just helps when they aren’t around.   It gets me through the night, through car rides, through visits at other people’s houses.  Plus, it doubles as a cape.

Field Adventures– Hey, what can I say?  I have surrendered to Momma’s work and all things camera because these field adventures let me hang out with Momma and Daddy, AND see amazing new things.

Books– Do I really have to explain this one?  Just keep ‘em coming.  Thanks.

Loving Big People with Rules–  Yea, that’s right.  You read that correctly.   I feel like saying thank you when my big people use periods at the end of sentences that set rules, AND stick to them.   At this stage of the game, I know what I’m supposed to do and not do, but I’m still gonna test you.  I don’t want to be in charge, even though the Toddler Oath and Creed will never let me admit that.  Believe it.  I will scream and throw myself against whatever object is closest when you ask me to do something as simple as picking up my cars for the night.   I won’t show it, but your calm, firm, consistent, and loving response lets me know I’m safe.  Lets me know I’m loved.  Thanks for that.   I promise, some day you’ll be proud of my tough spirit.

I feel like I should end this, mostly because I don’t have the attention span to continue.

So this will be continued…

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RSWL: Puns

Hi.  I’m Amanda and I’m an adult pun-lover.  Actually, I think our whole team at The Transmogrifier can be accused of being adult pun-lovers.   I’m fairly certain we are okay with that.

So what is it about puns that can turn my day around?  It is definite that puns aren’t for everyone.   When I hear a pun, I double over in laughter and slap my knee repeatedly in awkward jubilation.   Seriously, I look like a grade-schooler.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that.  There may even be snorting.  When others I associate with hear a pun, they roll their eyes and shake their heads in disdain.   Actually, I may have to reconsider WHY I associate with those ones.

I was running this weekend in a San Francisco half marathon that was, to say the least, my most memorable run (*look for future blog entries!).   The views and scenery were fantastic and lovely.  Other runners were encouraging and fun.   One man, in particular, was just plain great.  He made my race.   I had just crossed the Golden Gate Bridge and was heading under it for the return trip and second half of the race when he came up alongside me to announce he had adopted me for my great pacing skills.   Gee thanks…not my speed, not my form, not my focus, nor my understated wit… but my pace.  Anyway, we talked a moment, and then he said, “I can’t remember the last time I ran a race this beautiful and thrilling.  I’ve been trying to jog my memory all morning.”   Whether he intended it or not, it was brilliant.    I laughed and snorted …and then apologized to the runner next to me for the over spray.   As the funny, gracious runner and I parted ways, I smiled and thanked him for making my morning.

So, just to share the love, here are some of our favorite puns.   Happy laughing.  You’re welcome.

  • Did you hear about the guy whose whole left side was cut off?  He’s all right now.
  • I’m reading a book about anti-gravity.  It’s impossible to put down.
  • I wondered why the baseball was getting bigger.  Then it hit me.
  • I didn’t like my beard at first.  Then it grew on me.
  • I’m glad I know sign language, it’s pretty handy.
  • Show me a piano falling down a mineshaft and I’ll show you A-flat minor.
  • There was once a cross-eyed teacher who couldn’t control his pupils.
  • When William joined the army he disliked the phrase ‘fire at will‘.
  • I was going to look for my missing watch, but I could never find the time.
  • What did the grape say when it got stepped on? Nothing – but it let out a little whine.

Okay, okay.  I’ll stop at 10…this time.   I was going to throw in some puns on photography, thinking it would be a snap to find them.  I even tried to develop some of my own, but I lost my focus.  Besides, most of them are overexposed.

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