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.

Nate’s Notes: Field Adventure Request- My Choice

We all agree that I have been said field adventures are fun. Remember, field adventures are little (or bigger) trips we take to so many places for Momma and Daddy (traitor) to take pictures for the pooter stuff. I get to see a lot of things, and most of it is fun, even cool. Lyla and I even have a fun game. Right when we get there, get out from being trapped in the car, we run in different directions…and get to see Momma and Daddy chase us, gasping. We’ve got it down. **Snicker**

Anyway, I heard Momma say it was time for another adventure so she can get images. Sometimes she picks the place, sometimes Daddy does, and sometimes Lyla and I get to pick. Don’t be fooled…WE don’t get to pick that often, despite what Momma says. Parenting fail if you ask me.

Is this a sleeping volcano? I saw it in Alaska!!

Is this a sleeping volcano? I saw it in Alaska!!

Back to me. So I’ve been studying volcanoes. Calm down. Three year olds can totally study things. We know more than you think.  Anyway, I learned about volcanoes rumbling and spitting and blowing up!! I learned that fire stuff comes out of volcanoes! I learned this white stuff that comes from volcano rocks can go in dirt with our plants! Papa taught me that. He knows a lot of stuff. AND he showed me volcanoes on his pooter. I got to see a volcano interrupt!!! Did you know volcanoes interrupt??!!! Momma says I interrupt a lot. Hmm…well…

So my choice for a field adventure is….can you guess???

Yep! A toy store!!!

Just kidding. Well, that would be okay also.

Silly you. I meant a volcano!!


*Note- Nate’s interrupting volcano is an ERRUPTING volcano.

Nate’s Notes: Life Lesson #6 ½ – Something About Books, Covers and Judgy Judgerson

I am gonna take a quick break from textures and pictures to share a lesson I had to teach Momma. I mean, really, who is in charge here??!!   I’m always hearing big people say strange sentences that sound like one thing, but mean something else, like “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” But I love the pictures on my book fronts! They are cool and exciting, and then I want to read the book! **Head shake**

PE_20150108232904 (2)A lot of days ago, Momma went through my shelves and pulled some books. I watched her, slightly horrified, afraid to ask. Maybe she just wanted to read! Maybe we were gonna read together! When they went into a box, my lips started shaking. This was making me sick. I quietly asked her, “They don’t have good fwonts Momma?” She stared at me, then the box, then me, and smiled. Smiled?!!   This was NO TIME for smiling. After some whining noises, “no’s,” head shakes, “there there’s”, and snot wiped on sleeves, she explained that we weren’t getting rid of them. Because of what I asked about the fronts of books, she also tried to explain “judging a book by its cover.” And failed. She lost me somewhere. What I DID get out of the speech was that just because something looks one way, doesn’t mean it is that way. It can be different. I think. **Head shake** Momma told me it was like how a pineapple is spiky and rough, but when you cut it open, it is super yummy and sweet.  

I tucked this away in my head.

One day after a Dr. Seuss day at preschool, I told Momma that we made green eggs and ham…and ATE THEM!!!   She crinkled her nose, made a funny sound, big eyes, and said, “YUCK! Green eggs and ham??!!!! What did those green eggs taste like???”   I rolled my eyes at her. Here comes that lesson… “Momma, they taste good! Just because they awe gween, doesn’t mean they wewe ick!   Gween eggs awe just eggs. They awe gween, but they taste like wegulaw scwambled eggs!”  

See. Eggs. Books. Colors. Covers. Judgy Judgerson. No no.

Nate’s Notes- Look At That Canopy!

One of the days from before today, Momma, Daddy, Lyla and I went on a field adventure. I really do love field adventures, even if it is for picture taking. We get to have fun too, and see new things. We went to this place with lots of trees. So many trees. And they were the tallest tall trees! There were so many that it was kind of dark around us, even though the sun was awake.

Before we left in the car, Momma showed me pictures of where we were going. When I saw all the trees, so many, so tall, I said, “Wow- look at that canopy Momma!”   It isn’t often that Momma doesn’t have something to say…but this time was one where she opened her mouth, closed it, opened it again, closed it, and then finally said, “Um, yes Nate, that IS a canopy of trees. Wow. Do you know what a canopy is?”

For toys’ sake!!! Uuuhhhh. Duh. Did I not JUST SHOW HER what it was? I swear, sometimes I wonder about these people.   They ask silly questions all the time. All. The. Time. Like here…I clearly told her what a canopy is. Yet she asks. Or, they constantly ask us where our eyes, ears, nose, shoulders, elbows, and knees are. If it is body part, they seem confused about where it is.


Armstrong Redwoods_0083 Armstrong Redwoods_0099 Armstrong Redwoods_0173So, I repeated while pointing to the picture, “Yes. THAT is a canopy.” And then because she still didn’t seem to get it, I broke it down. “It’s like an umbwella made of twees Momma.” I even talked slower when saying this to let it sink it. When she smiled a goofy smile, I knew I would just have to show her when we went.  Head shaking, I climbed into my seat in the car.

I thought about this canopy and the tall tall trees the whole way in the car. And when we got there, it was even better than the pictures in my head. There were even trees we could stand inside!! I know. Mind = Kapow!!! There were bridges, and baby rivers and birds. And…and…and…so much!!!   I can’t remember the place name, but the trees are called a color of wood because of their skin. It’s like…hmmm…umm…red…brown…no…red…tree…wood…tree…no…REDWOOD!!!!

Gotta go, Momma is asking Lyla where her eyes are. Better help on this one. Sheesh.

Nate’s Notes: Good Observation

ME: Some dinosaws awe big. Some awe small. Some dinosaws awe fast. Some awe slow.

DADDY: Some dinosaurs can fly. Some can’t.

ME: Good obsewvation Daddy.

DADDY: *Silent with mouth kinda open*.

ME: What?


My story has a toddler point somewhere in there. I like to explore outside. Duh. I like to learn new things. Who doesn’t???   We don’t have many houses around us where I live, so I get to run all over hills, on rocks, up trees, through leaves, over tree stumps, even to a creek! Even when I’m not at my home, it is fun to walk around and look for things. When I’m riding in the car, I like to find things out my window. My big people have always showed me things on a walk or a drive. We have to look for birds, airplanes, trees, pick up garbage, talk about flowers we see, cloud shapes, cars that go by, colors of houses, buildings on the road, and more more more. When Momma and Daddy are taking pictures, we always look around at things and see lots that other people just walk by. Sometimes we even tell stories about all the stuff we see.


I …don’t…think…everybody does this. (Said with finger on head and thinking face.)


I say this because of Preschool. I’m in Preschool now, and I still am not sure how I feel about it. I can tell you more later.


Okay. Here is what I’m talking about.

KID #1: Let’s be animals on the grass.

ME: Um…what gwass?

KID #1: Over there! (points to bark chips)

ME: Um…that is bawk, not gwass.

KID #1: What?


KID #2: What are you looking at?

ME: (bending over on sidewalk) The cool cwacks in the concwete. Look at that one!!! It looks like a cwicket!

KID #2: (runs away and doesn’t talk to me again)


KID #3: (playing in sand box- maybe eating some of it). Wanna play with these trucks?

ME: That’s not a twuck, it’s a bulldozaw.

KID #3: Ok. Wanna play? The sand feels good!

ME: No it doesn’t. It feels gwitty and cold and messy.

KID #3: (eats some more sand). Ok. Wanna play? It tastes good.

See!! It seems like other people just aren’t paying attention. I told Momma later that other kids don’t talk with me or know what I’m saying. She asked more questions. I told her what I thought…that they just don’t pay attention or look for things maybe. Like maybe they need someone to help them explore. “Good observation Nate,” she said.


P.S. I did NOT eat the sand.

Nate’s Notes: It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane! Nope…It’s Lyla Flying Through the Air!

Now that Lyla is 2 years old, she has to help with chores. I find this slightly annoying. She doesn’t really “help” that much.   She just comes along…slowly…and gets in the way. In fact, when I’m trying to feed the chickens, she growls at them like some animal and scares them away.   When I’m trying to sweep, she spreads my pile all over. When I’m collecting eggs, she tries to grab them from me. When I feed the cat, she tries to eat the cat food. When I water the plants, she tries to run through the hose water, gets all wet, and then I get yelled at!! And don’t get me started on cameras and pictures.

Okay- I’ll start. I have a camera. Clearly I can handle it and take pretty artistic pictures. I had to earn it. But she is still learning, and clearly CAN NOT take pictures. She licks the camera. LICKS IT!!! She still thinks a tape measure is a phone for toys’ sake!!! (Head shake. Fist to forehead.)  Okay, okay. I’m done.

So, a couple weeks ago, I figured I could just leave her in the chicken pen for a while…or a day…or two. Whaat??!!! I was going to leave her food. I just needed a break!!!   After I let the chickens out and fed them, I grabbed Lyla from behind and started to drag her (nicely) back into the pen. Seemed a good plan.

But, true to form, she fought me.   She pulled away and started to walk…then run. The thing with Lyla is that she doesn’t have the best balance yet. And we have many hills. So running + hills + Lyla = disaster.   Yep. It happened so fast that it felt slow. I grabbed. She twisted and turned. She walked…which turned into a run…which turned into a really fast, out of control run…which turned into a flying Lyla. She was on the ground, and then she was in the air. A plane!! A Lyla plane!! Unfortunately, Daddy now saw what was happening. He watched her fly too. Then he watched her stop flying. Against the side of a wheelbarrow. Who left THAT there??!!!

It was NOT pretty. I was so scared and sorry that I burst into tears when I heard the bonk of her head. Lyla cried too, but I cried harder and longer. Was she okay? Was she trying to fly? How high did she get? The rest was a blur. There was running, yelling, ice packs, and then Daddy and Lyla were gone to the big doctor place.

Turns out she bonked her brain just like I did. The bump on her head was so big it looked like she was growing another head!!! Gross. Alien gross. I could tell that Momma was upset, but she just squeezed the scared and sad right out of me with hugs.   And if I know Momma, she was also thinking about what cool pictures this would be. I almost said something to her, but then thought it probably wasn’t the best time. Yea. Probably not the best idea.

When Lyla got home, she gave me a hug and kiss so I knew she wasn’t mad at me. Maybe I should let her help with chores. Only because I feel bad. Plus she flew like a plane! Now THAT was cool. She just has to work on her landings.

I DID get a picture of her bump and the pretty colors.  Great texture.

WP_20150204_002 (2)

Oh wait! I forgot to tell you…she has, like, super hero healing powers…kind of creepy. AND, she is tough!!! I wouldn’t want to mess with her. I should remember that. And I better keep an eye on her.