Saturday, August 1, 2015

Deep Thoughts From Noah #63

Me: Alright, so we need to run some errands today.
Noah: I don't want to do that.
Me: I know, but one of the things we need to do is buy a gift for your friend's birthday.
Noah: Why?
Me: Because it's expected that you bring a gift when you go to his party.
Noah: But, isn't it the thought that counts.
Me: sigh...

Friday, July 31, 2015

I Know What You Mean #23

Noah: "Mom, what's a sour crotch?"

After excusing myself for a moment to recover...

Me: "Hmmm...I think you mean sauerkraut.  Did you read about it in one of Nat's recipe books?"

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Deep Thoughts From Noah #62

Noah: "I don't know what to have for lunch."
Me: "What about a peanut butter sandwich?"
Noah: "No! I always have that.  I don't want to eat the same thing every day."

Ten minutes later I walk into the kitchen to find him eating a sandwich spread with butter and sprinkled with roasted peanuts.  Apparently, it is NOTHING like a peanut butter sandwich.

Me: "Noah, don't forget to floss."
Noah: "I don't like it."
Me: "I know, but you need to do it -- so you have strong healthy gums."
Noah: "I like them weak."

Monday, June 29, 2015

Missouri State Park Adventures: Onondaga Cave

Last summer our family participated in Cakeway to the West -- a fun way to celebrate St. Louis' 250 anniversary and an excuse to visit many landmarks and museums that we had never been to before. This year, we are extending our love for learning about the Show Me State by visiting as many Missouri State parks as we can before the kids return to school.

On Saturday, we began our tour with a trip to Onondaga Cave State Park.  Located about 60 miles from St. Louis, the cave is a national natural landmark and truly an underground wonder.  Our adventure began in the visitor's center with a five minute introductory video.  Next, our trained guide led us on a 90 minute tour over lighted, paved walkways as he explained the history of the cave and pointed out unique geologic formations such as "cave bacon".

Metal railings made the nearly one mile trek easier as we traveled down slippery paths to reach depths of 180 feet below the surface and trudged up steep inclines to view the "lily pad room" located just 15 feet below the surface. It was a really enjoyable trip for all of us and we look forward to visiting the park again as they host many unique events throughout the year including; hummingbird banding, flintknapping demonstrations and an underground music series.

Fun fact: Missouri has more than 6,000 caves (second only to Tennessee which has 10,000+).

Natalie puts her hand on the "touch rock" the only place you may touch while in the caves as the oils from our skin greatly affects the formations.

An unusual sight - a tiny plant growing in the caves.

Noah and Nat in the Lily Pad room

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Film Photography: Old But Not Outdated

Over the years I’ve done some digging into my family tree and discovered while I’m mostly of German/Polish descent, upon further investigation, I realized there is also some dinosaur running through my veins, too.  I’m not sure of the type -- definitely not T-Rex with my gangling arms, but… okay, now I’m just pulling your arm, I mean leg.  

I call myself a dinosaur because I tend to cling to dated or out-of-fashion ways of doing things. For instance, as a writer I naturally LOVE the written word. I devour stories like they were a box of bonbons.  Sometimes I become so engrossed in a plot that the characters begin to feel like old friends.  I remember going through a period of mourning when I finished the Harry Potter series. I wanted to stay at Hogwarts just a little while longer. I think anyone who is an active reader can empathize with feeling connected with a story. However, unlike most, I’ve failed to hop on the Kindle train.  I know digital devices are handy and convenient, but when reading I prefer to feel the weight of a book in my hands and hear the rustle of paper as I plow through a storyline.  I have similar feelings about letter writing. In an age where public schools are vastly removing cursive from the curriculum, I concede there is still joy to be had in receiving a happy birthday text or email for a job well done.  However, I will always prefer sending and receiving handwritten snail mail.  For me, there’s a bit of a thrill that comes from seeing a colorful envelope in an old friend’s penmanship among the bills and junk mail.  

Recently, I’ve discovered my preference for dying arts also extends to film photography.   About a month ago, my family had a photo session with Natalie Ulrich.  It had been about 18 months since she had last taken our photos.  When I set up our appointment, Natalie shared that she had made some changes to her business – mainly that she had switched from digital to film photography. I didn’t think much of it at the time. I figured it was simply a choice she made in the tools she used to produce her work. I never considered there would be a noticeable difference in the results.  Imagine my surprise when I began comparing the photos she had taken of our family with her digital camera against those she took recently using film.  While I love all the photos -- I simply prefer those taken using her vintage film camera.  For me, the skin tones seem more natural and creamy.  The colors, textures and details in our hair and clothing more vibrant and authentic. 
So, although I prefer the images that film photography can produce, I will continue to enjoy using my digital camera.  But, seeing these photos – it’s clear while film may be an old way of doing things, there is nothing outdated about its results.

Natalie Ulrich Photography: digital (left) vs. film

Sunday, June 21, 2015

13 Years: A Tapestry of Memories

"So...tomorrow is the day?" asked Steve
"Yes," I replied.

After 13 years, I realize that Steve and I have become being married.
We use fewer words with each other -- not because we don't have anything to say, rather we already know much of each others scripts. While an outsider would have trouble keeping up with our abbreviated interactions, for us, it's normal.

"Did you call her about the thing?"
"Are we supposed to bring the stuff?"
"I think so."

Oftentimes, we don't even need words.  Like good card players, we know each others tells. 
A raised brow = proceed with caution, I'm tired and really don't want to mow the lawn
A well-placed sigh = please don't make me ask you to put your dishes in the dishwasher

Traditional 13th year gifts call for lace or for a modern take -- textiles and clothing.  However, I knew the way to my love's heart was through his stomach and decided to make him his favorite pie instead, coconut cream. Natalie, who is always looking for any excuse to organize a party (I have no idea where she gets this), wanted to know all about our wedding day in Maui.

"Please, please, please! Can we get some decorations?" begged Natalie.

Luckily, Dollar Tree had an aisle-full of Luau-inspired party ware. That evening, she insisted on setting up a spot for Steve and I in the living room and told me she and Noah would eat in the kitchen. While Steve and I enjoyed Chinese take-out served by our 8 year old, the kids dined on pizza. Natalie wanted to be our server so we could "relax".  She even got out our dice and encouraged us to play Yahtzee and sip our wine in peace. After dinner she found some Don Ho and Israel Kamakawiwo'ole on Pandora and performed a little Hawaiian dance for us.

As Steve handed me my card he said, "I didn't know whether to get you a sympathy card or an anniversary card."

The only sympathy needed is for those who haven't had the opportunity to share their life with someone.  So, while no lace was exchanged, over the years we have created a tapestry of rich memories -- woven together are good times and bad, support and love. 

Happy Anniversary, Steve!

Natalie looked up the Hawaiian word for dinner.
"Would you like an appetizer?" asked our grass-skirted server.
Good fortunes

Friday, June 12, 2015

Deep Thoughts From Noah #61

Noah: Dang it!  I forgot to put my tooth under my pillow!

Natalie: Noah, you know mom is the Tooth Fairy.

Noah: I know...but, I want to think what I want to think.