Nate’s Notes: “Bear” Feet

I am feeling better this week, so I thought I’d tell you all about another Alaska story from this summer. Thanks to Momma for covering for me last week.

Huge mountain- not many people get to see it like this because it likes to hide behind clouds!! Lucky us!!

Huge mountain- not many people get to see it like this because it likes to hide behind clouds!! Lucky us!!

We took the chugga chugga train to a big big park. I was expecting slides, swings, climbing thingies…but it wasn’t THAT kind of park. People really need to be clear. I saw BIG, HUGE mountains, trees and animals, but nothing to play on. It’s some kind of natural or national park or something. Anyway, this park place with no swings or slides is where the tallest mountain around us lives.

After a fast breakfast, we rushed onto …wait for it…a stinkin’ bus!!! A bus!!! AAAaaack. For the whole day, once again, I had to be strapped into a seat. A toddler. Strapped. All day. So NOT built for that. At least my big people took turns sitting next to me, reading to me, and, of course showing me things out the windows. Well…at least the big people who didn’t have cameras stuck to their faces. Ehem. No names mentioned, but the names rhyme with “Bomma”, “Waddy”, and “Funckle Pim”…just to name a few.

Denali National Park_0010 Denali National Park_0020 Denali National Park_0025 Denali National Park_0029 Denali National Park_0032 Denali National Park_0041 Denali National Park_0050Anyway, I have to say that it was super cool to see all the outside stuff. I mean, we saw sheep way way way up on top of a mountain. I don’t even know how they stayed there without falling down!! One little girl called them goats. Lyla called them “moos”. Pfff…some kids *eye roll and mumble*.

Then we saw big deer that looked like reindeer or something like that. They came right up to the bus!! There was snow too. One time, right before we stopped to stretch, we saw a red fox in the snow. Sneaky foxes. And then…the coolest EVER…we saw bear! Not just one bear. Nope. We saw a Momma bear, her babies, a HUGE bear in the water and another bear walking on the side of the mountain. Picture a big smile here people. BIG SMILE. The Momma bear was close enough I could see her bear feet.   Wow. And the baby bears were so cuuuute! Even their bear feat were really big!

The day actually went pretty fast, even for being stuck on a bus. It was fun to see all those animals that we don’t get to see at home.

Later, when we were getting ready for bed, Momma took off my socks and said I had bare feet! I looked from her to Daddy really fast- a little confused, “Whaat? I have bear feet?!!! That’s silly!! Bear feet?!!”

Nate’s Notes: And The BIG-ness Keeps Coming!!!

Today we saw huge ice cubes! Our BIG boat floated right up next to them in Alaska. Momma said there would be giant ice cubes, and we might see seals, whales and puffins. You know what? She was right! Well, I don’t know about the puffins. Some people on the boat said they saw them, but I didn’t see the puffins…so they probably weren’t there.

These giant ice cubes were sooooo cool! Get it…cool…ice…cool?! I feel like sometimes I have to slow things down and spell them out for you big people because you get too busy. It’s exhausting really. So yea, these ice cubes were sticking up way way way out of the water. There were even big pieces floating in the water that we HIT and ran over with the boat! Toddler Boy Brain = Exploding.

Giant Ice Cubes

Giant Ice Cubes



We hit ice with the big boat!

We hit ice with the big boat!

It was super cool. Yea, and cold. Like….brrrrr. We bundled up with hats and sweatshirts and jackets. I’ve never been in a place that cold! No really, I haven’t…I’m from California. Of course…EVERYBODY had a camera, not just Papa, Daddy, Momma and Uncle Tim. It seemed like everywhere we looked on the boat, people had their cameras attached to their faces. Jeez big people. Ever think about just looking and enjoying? Momma says we can take pictures with our minds. What’s wrong with trying that?

And THEN…BOOM!!! CRASH!!! BANG!!! Lyla jumped and “ran” for Momma’s leg. Why is she always hugging Momma? Doesn’t she know she’s already taken?? Stop already. Anyway… I froze (more ice humor people). It sounded like the ice cubes were yelling or growling…or something like that! They were breaking and crashing into the water. That actually scared me a little (okay, a lot), but I’d never tell anyone that. I know I’m still little, but when the ice cubes boomed and crashed, it made me feel even more little. I may have even quietly grabbed Momma’s other leg, but pretended it was to make sure she was okay. I looked at Daddy though, and his smile made me feel safe. I knew I didn’t have to be scared. With Momma and Daddy as my steady, I was okay.

I went back to looking at the huge ice cubes and listening to their giant noises. And took a picture with my mind. This…this I would never forget. KABOOM!!! 

RSWL: The USS Hornet

It’s no secret our team at The Transmogrifier thinks our jobs are the best.  In our endless quest to photograph everything in the world (yep!), we are constantly on field adventures to capture our images.  These adventures take us to abandoned places, long forgotten and dilapidated, needing to be preserved and appreciated for their story in time.   They take us to gardens, full of beauty and color.  They take us through neighborhoods of varying architectural styles.  The adventures allow us to walk through history, discover, and learn.  We are constantly learning new things both by photographing and by researching what we have photographed. 

One recent field adventure was to the USS Hornet in Alameda, California.  I have lived here for over 30 years and don’t recall ever hearing of it.  And I liked school; I paid attention in classes!   One day in a work meeting, Tim asked if I had ever been, expressing that pictures from the Hornet would be a great addition to our warships gallery.  That was all the incentive I needed.  Assignment accepted.  That Friday, my little family headed out, eager to discover.  Just imagine my two year old boy’s eyes when he saw this huge boat (actually it’s a ship)!! 

The USS Hornet was a United States Navy aircraft carrier of the Essex class. She played a major part in the Pacific battles of World War II, served in the Korean WarVietnam War, and also played a part in the Apollo program, recovering astronauts as they returned from the Moon. The first steps on Earth of returning moonwalkers Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, with Command Module Pilot Michael Collins, are marked on her hangar deck, as part of her Apollo program exhibit.

 USS Hornet_0005 USS Hornet_0048 USS Hornet_0106 USS Hornet_0155 USS Hornet_0172





Some quick, fun facts about the USS Hornet:  Aircraft based on the Hornet destroyed 1410 Japanese aircraft and 1,269,710 tons of enemy shipping; 72 enemy aircraft shot down in one day; 255 aircraft shot down in a month; She supported nearly every Pacific amphibious landing after March 1944; a quarter of the crew that built her were women.  (Source: 

 The USS Hornet is said to be one of the most haunted warships in the American Navy, with numerous reports of supernatural events occurring on board.  Luckily I didn’t know this bit of information until AFTER we were back home.  Otherwise, I wouldn’t have spent so much time alone in the corners of this floating piece of history!

You can read more about this ship on the website.  And if you ever get a chance, be sure to visit this not-so-random piece of history.  Her story is inspiring.  

Nate’s Notes: It’s a Plane! It’s a Boat! It’s a Big Boat! Nope…It’s a Ship!

Military Jet on USS Hornet

Military Jet on USS Hornet

Aircraft on USS Hornet

Aircraft on USS Hornet

The USS Hornet

The USS Hornet

Rescue Helicopter on USS Hornet

Rescue Helicopter on USS Hornet

Lyla wearing Momma

Lyla wearing Momma

Actually it’s a boat WITH a plane.  And more than one plane.  Another one plane…and another one plane…and another one plane…and a hepiloctooper …and another one hepiloctooper.  I have to say that we do get to see some pretty cool stuff, but PLEASE don’t tell Momma or Daddy that.

This time, our field adventure was to a huge huge boat!  There were other boats around too, but we only got to go on the one boat.  That’s okay, the big boat we went on had planes and hepiloctoopers on it.  Really!  It did!   They were just hanging out on there like they were confused.  So I asked them,

“You go fly?”  But they didn’t answer.  Silly planes.

There were nice people on the boat telling us stories.  I love stories!!  I wore Daddy, and Lyla wore Momma. I had to keep squirming to get people’s attention.  Daddy used his angry voice to tell me to stop.  Oops.  I just wanted to talk to people!!!  If people walked by without saying hi, I just yelled at them, “Hi!  You go on boat?  You fly plane?  Hi! I’m Nate!  Nice to meet you!!”.  Momma slapped her forehead a lot and shook her head a little.  What?!  

One of the nice people who told stories stopped me and said, “Actually young man, this isn’t a boat.  This is a ship!”  Who’s HE calling young? A ship?  Okay. Sure.  “Oh, I see,” I answered him.  Get it?  Like a boat, in the ocean, or a sea…and I said see?!  Okay, maybe Momma helped me with that one, because I don’t get it.  So it’s a ship.  Okay. Fine.

So this boat…I mean SHIP was so super cool.  I wish I could take it home.  There were planes.  Oh, I think I told you that.  And hepiloctoopers.  Wait, did I say that too? These planes and hepiloctoopers helped a lot of boys and girls.   And also there were special plane thingies that touched the moon!  Yea!  Like they took boys to the moon!!!   I see the moon at night.  I wonder if I could go to the moon?!  I even got to touch one of the planes!  We went down small stairs, had to duck and bend over, saw lots of beds where people used to sleep, some really shiny kitchens, even went on the roof and saw more planes!! I……LOVED IT!!!!

You guys have to go to this huge huge boat…I mean SHIP!!  You gotta see it.  (Get it?!)

Nate’s Notes: Sharing Is Caring

Sharing is Caring.  Really? (Picture this with as much sarcasm as a 2 year old can muster.) It is? There are big people in my life like to say this.  Actually, big people who don’t even know me, like at the playground or market, like to say it too.  Have you ever heard something so ridiculous?!   I heard it again the other day when Lyla tried to play with my Legos. My Legos.  

Uncle Tim Legos

Uncle Tim Legos

Baby Legos - Pfff

Baby Legos – Pfff

Here’s the thing about Legos.  They. Are. AWESOME!!!  You can build something different every day with Legos.  They have great colors.  There are big ones, mostly for babies, and smaller, “regular” ones.  Actually these smaller ones we call “Uncle Tim Legos”.  My Uncle Tim and Legos go way back.  He is kind of a super hero with them.  

Anyway, Lyla always tries to play with my toys.  Please tell me why the pronoun “my” exists because I NEVER get to use it.  When I say “my toys”, or “that’s mine”…I get angry eyes, a couple sets, and a story about sharing.  Really?  Does the whole world share?  Will life always be full of sharing, nice people?  I don’t THINK so!   I am probably doing Lyla a favor by teaching her this.   The sooner she realizes it, the better.  Moments like this make me wonder why THEY get to be in charge. 

Speaking of THEM, if sharing is caring, then why don’t they share their stuff with me?  No good answer?  Hmmm?  Yea, that’s what I thought.  If sharing is caring, then Momma could show me how much she cares by sharing her camera, her computer, or her popcorn!   If sharing is caring, then Daddy could show me how much he cares by sharing his tools, his beef jerky, or his cell phone!  

So, about those Legos… 

Nate’s Notes: Singing in The Rain

Ever since I was a baby, when the sky starts leaking a lot, we get to go outside and dance in the water.   I guess I was a baby the last time it leaked, ‘cuz Momma and Daddy say it has been a long time.   Well, I was worried now that baby Lyla is here to stay that she’d ruin everything.   I worried that we wouldn’t get to go outside this time because she cries so much about anything.  She cries when I take my toys away from her, when I try to sit on her, when the dogs bark, when you don’t give her food fast enough, when I push her, and when you tell her ‘no’.  Well, THIS time, I was wrong. 

Rain_0011I was so wrong!  Not only did Lyla not cry, but when the water hit her face, she laughed and did a happy squirm!  I guess she’s not THAT bad.   “Lyla like the watew!” I joyfully announced to Momma.  “Yes Nate, Lyla DOES like the rain! Actually she LOVES it, just like you!”, she answered back.  That’s right, I forgot.  This water is called rain!

So for a few minutes we danced and jumped and sang in the rain.   We smiled at the sky, at the rain, at each other.  I was so happy, I didn’t even mind that the camera was along again.  (Actually, it seems stuck to Momma’s hand.)  We laughed. We laughed so hard I had to pee…which made me dance funny.  Oh well, at least I looked like Momma then when she dances.  Hmmm…I wonder if she has to pee?  Anyway…

It has "JUMP IN ME" written all over it!

It has “JUMP IN ME” written all over it!

The BEST BEST part was finding puddles.  Now I’m not sure which one I like better: mud or puddles!   Both splash…both are gooky…both are fun!  Lyla actually made it all better.  She may not have mad skills like me yet, but she CAN splash and make a mess.  The more the messier, the merrier!   And so we smiled and laughed at each other all over again, singing and splashing and dancing. 

That night, after a massive clean-up effort, I fell asleep smiling about the day.  The puddles.  The mud.  The rain.  The happy faces.  The singing.   Best. Day. Ever.    

TMG Philosophy: Stronger In Waiting- Part 3

It was September 11, 2011.  Chad and I had just finished a 24-hour local Relay for Life event.    Drained and raw with emotion, we arrived home only to be bombarded with all the special programs to remember and honor those lives lost and forever changed 10 years earlier on September 11th.   By evening we were saturated with emotions: from Relay, from evocative 9/11 shows, and from the fost-adopt process we had set in motion.  I always considered it strange that I could remember everything about the day with absolute clarity, and yet can’t usually remember what I was about to say.  A few more months of waiting, and I would know why.  

While we were waiting for that emotionally charged day to end, a baby boy we didn’t yet know was fighting to be born, struggling to feel loved, waiting to meet us.  Waiting to heal us.

The next two months were a whirlwind of home study meetings, social worker visits, anxious dreams, more paperwork…and more waiting.  They were all at once the fastest months of my life, and the slowest months.  The quiet times that came found me questioning if this was right.   Not whether this was right for us, but if we were right for this.   Could we actually welcome a child into our home and give love from our scared and aching hearts without the assurance of being able to adopt? We were ready to be a forever family, and not strong enough to be a helping family.  We were ready to grow and to give.   The very real possibility that we would take a step in that direction only to have it taken from us often left me frozen and crying with fear.  “Wait and see”, was the phrase we so often heard. 

While we worked through the process, waited to hear of any potential match, that baby boy grew stronger and stronger waiting for us. 

In early November, on a rainy, Friday morning full of the most hope I had felt in years, we arrived at the agency offices. Here, we would preview all the available children for fostering and fost-adopt in the county and state.  After hours of reading about these children, babies and teens alike, we once again felt that heavy saturation of emotions.  The stories crushed our hearts, chipped away at our resolve.  Did we really have the strength to help these children?  Did we have enough love to heal this pain?

We left with a heaviness that was made lighter only by the possible matches we held in our hands.  Chad drove, and I stared at the pictures and words on the pages in my hands.  Which one? How do we know? Do we wait some more?  The phone rang. 

One phone call.  One phone call started answering what ten years of pain, ten years of waiting were for.  As I listened to the words from our social worker, the tears came.   I waited until she was done talking…and cried some more.  With very little information about a 7-week old baby boy, we agreed to a disclosure meeting, and waited three of the longest days of our lives. 

Because so much of the fost-adopt process is about matching and chemistry, we knew that the two social workers we met at the meeting were scoping us out for compatibility.  We knew each question was carefully asked to “test” us, with the baby’s best interest in mind.   We waited to hear we were not a good match.  We waited to be asked to leave.  We waited while they told us about the baby’s sad beginnings.  We waited while they warned us of the risks associated with the case.  We read court reports and waited for the next question.  As we held hands under the table, we answered the questions and waited for more of the story.  We waited to hear his name: Nathaniel.  We waited to see his picture, although by the end of the meeting when they showed it to us, we already knew our answer was yes. 

Yes.  And so we waited two more days to meet him, two more days for time to bring us together.  


Stronger In Waiting- Part 1

Stronger In Waiting- Part 2

TMG Philosophy: Stronger in Waiting- Part 1

I am impatient. Though I resolve each year of my life to become more patient, I feel like the virtue slips further out of my reach.  With a toddler son now, and an infant daughter, I find myself surprised when my friends and family tell me I am calm and patient with the kids.  Most times, I feel frantic and flustered.  Most times, I feel like screaming while I roll my eyes dramatically when my son decides we need to stack the books AGAIN just as we are leaving the house; or he chooses to throw a level 12 tantrum with five minutes to spare before getting to an important appointment (level 12 requires at least 37 minutes to get through).  Most times, I feel like giving myself a time out in the corner and rocking back and forth.  Truth is, I am impatient, no matter how I SEEM to others.   I loathe waiting, whether it is in a line for food or for my kids, or for photos to upload.  I start twitching.  

It is exciting to think about where The Transmogrifier will go, how many people we can inspire to create and connect with through our photos and blog.  Trouble is, I, along with the other team members, have to wait. Probably longer than ANY of us want to.  I loathe waiting.  Whenever I hear myself drift toward this negative but very real part of me, I remind myself…



Ten years ago, if someone had told me I’d be stronger because of waiting, I’d have shown them the door.  I didn’t have time to listen to psychobabble about being refined through trials and patience.  I had a plan.  My husband and I wanted to start a family, and we were pretty sure it would happen pretty fast, without glitches.  We were so wrong.   One year, then three, then eight years went by.  People tried to support us.  People tried to love us.  I didn’t have time for that though.  I didn’t want to wait around and be comforted. 

My fervent pleading and prayers seemed unanswered.  Or maybe I didn’t wait for an answer.  I began to slow down.  My hope disappeared.   My courage vanished.  My strength dwindled.   I cried harder, pleaded longer, listened more intently, and waited for a “yes”.   But all my waiting got me was another year, another “no”.   I was done waiting.  I gave up. 

And then, one summer, some key people and a series of events changed me forever.    

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Nate’s Notes: Dr. Nate

Here’s the deal.  I’m two.  I don’t know about calendars or events, what day it is, or what special meetings have to happen.  I take my cues from the big people in my life, mostly Momma and Daddy.  Honestly, because I am two, I don’t really care either unless it affects me.  Pretty much, if they are happy, I feel happy; if they go somewhere, I usually go too; if they get upset, it makes me feel upset.  So you can imagine my surprise when I was told Momma and Daddy were going to stay with a doctor for a few days, over Christmas, and Lyla and I would stay with Gram and Papa.  What?  Why? What about me? 

One day, Momma and Daddy dropped us off, after giving us big hugs, and left.  Momma seemed, Daddy seemed upset, and it all made me feel icky in my tummy.  Gram held me tight, Daddy said he’d be back as soon as he could, and they were gone.  Just like that.  They were gone.  Lyla was oblivious, and I wished I could be too. Oh to be 11 months old again…when all you are aware of is when your next bottle will come.  Nighttime came, and Daddy didn’t come back.  We slept with Papa and Gram.  Another day and night came, and we still didn’t go back home.  I love it at Papa and Gram’s, but I couldn’t stop asking where Momma and Daddy were. 

When I finally did see them, it was in a big doctor’s office, with lots of people; Momma was in a weird bed, with a strange dress on, and she was plugged into machines.  Her face looked different, and she talked kinda different.  I felt that scared, jumpy feeling again in my stomach.   “Momma?”, I asked in a small voice.  “I go nigh-night to Momma?”, I asked, and tried to climb onto the strange bed.  Everyone yelled and stopped me, scaring me even more.  I wanted to leave right away.   Why was everyone so serious?  Why was Momma in bed?  Why was she here?  None of it made sense.  Why did she look like that?  Why couldn’t I stay with her and Daddy? 

After a few more days, Gram brought me and Lyla home where Momma and Daddy were waiting. I was so excited, and couldn’t wait to jump on Daddy!  Momma still looked different. She took naps a lot.  She must be really tired or something.  She walked really funny too, all bent over and slow.  Did she forget how to walk?  Should I show her?  There was that feeling again. 

The next day I saw her get out of bed.  I watched her from the hallway before that feeling took over and I ran to Gram yelling, “Momma scares me!”.   Later I saw Momma crying and wondered if she was scared too.  What was happening? 

The next morning, Daddy and Gram were talking and decided they needed my help.  They told me a story about Momma and her owie.  They started calling me Dr. Nate.  First they drew a line on my stomach and said it was just like Momma’s owie.  It looked like a ladder to me, but it was cool.  Then they had me go check on Momma.  I was Dr. Nate and had to see if she needed water, if her owie was okay.  I checked it.  Hers looked like a ladder too!!   Cool!  Then I brought her water and ice, and kissed her hand.  It was the first time I felt a huge smile on my face AND inside. 

I get it now.  At first, I was confused about everything that had happened.  At least I think I was confused.  I’m still trying to figure out each emotion as I grow.  Whatever I was feeling, it came out as scared…mostly because I didn’t know what was happening or why.  When my big people explained it to me and helped me be Dr. Nate, it became less scary.  When I could be helper, something I knew and liked, it calmed me down. 

I can hear Momma calling now.  Dr. Nate to the rescue! 

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RSWL: Sunsets

Although I have nothing against the less colorful, morning sky relative, it felt like I had to pick one or the other to “like” for this blog entry.   After all, how many people do you hear say, “I just LOVE watching a sunset, or sunrise…or either.”   No.   Most people admit their love affair with one or the other.  For me, I think I have always been partial to a sunset anyway.



Whether it is the more colorful palette or the desire to decompress at the end of a busy day, sunsets have captured me for as long as I can remember.  I recall, as a young girl, climbing the sycamore tree in our front yard or sneaking onto the roof of our house to watch the sun go to bed.    Not much can stop me in my tracks like a sunset can.  Not much can diffuse the frustration, anxiety, worry or anger that may have slowly built over the day like a sunset.  Not much can grab me, shake me, and remind me that it isn’t about me they way an evening sky can.   Not much else makes me want to paint with words so much as a sunset. 

A good sunset wraps me in the warmth of colors: hues of oranges, yellows, reds, pinks, and purples.   A good sunset erases sorrows, even if just for moments.  A good sunset absorbs all the heaviness of the day and bathes me in hope for a fresh start.   A good sunset displays wonders that illuminate just how small I am, and just how majestic our world is.  Sometimes, the most beautiful sunsets come as a result of haze, smog, or smoke from a forest fire.  It is out of those unfortunate circumstances though, that I’m reminded beauty and good things can come from bad times.

Pinks and Blue

Pinks and Blue

Warm hues

Warm hues

Whether you anxiously await the sun’s setting (guilty!), or are surprised by the beauty, stop and watch.  Just stop everything, besides breathing.  Maybe even make it a habit to watch as many sunsets as possible in the days, weeks and months to come.  Step outside.  Breathe in the warmth of the sky.  You won’t be disappointed. 

(P.S.- If you live in some godforsaken, frozen part of the country at the moment and can’t step outside to view this beauty, you can always look at our lovely sunset images, from all over the world, on 

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