Wednesday, July 26, 2017

High Rock Bay

Brady P. just had his first trip out to High Rock Bay.  To get to High Rock, you take an off-road vehicle approximately eight miles past the end of the road.  Technically, it's the beginning of U.S. Highway 41, but we usually call it the end of the road because that's where the pavement stops and, once the gravel stops, you're in the lake -- or the bush.

The timing of this eight-mile adventure is deceiving.  It takes about 35 minutes to get there from the end of the road.  Aaron, Brady P. and I went out in the "buggy," properly known as a Kubota side-by-side. 

In an earlier post, I mentioned that Braeden likes to drive the buggy.  Well, Daddy has been giving him a bit more liberty with the steering wheel lately.  Daddy also has to jerk the wheel back quickly, so we don't run into the trees or the ditch.  "Keep it on the road, Brady P!" we shout and laugh.

After Brady P. "drove" us over half way to High Rock, the road got rough.  We had to slow way down to maneuver through holes, ruts, puddles and uneven ground.  At that point, the wee man passed out on Dad's lap.  Driving is tough business.

Brady P. napping at the wheel

He slept the rest of the way to High Rock.  But when we got there, it was time for a hike, so Dad woke him up.  

As any parent knows, waking up your toddler before they are done napping sets a cantankerous, defiant tone for the rest of the day.  Luckily we brought Braeden's frisbee, which he loves and carries around like a teddy bear.  We threw the frisbee down the trail and all raced to pick it up and throw it again.

Otherwise, that kid wasn't walking anywhere.

Aaron is a busy man, but when he can sneak family time into his work, he does.  His main point of this trek was to check the work his crew did on Phase 2 of the Keweenaw Point Trail.  It was exciting for us to traverse the trail that he designed the spring before.  It's a unique section because parts of it skirt along the shore of Lake Superior.

Aaron surveyed while throwing the frisbee for Cranky Pants Jones.  However, I felt that our snail pace wasn't conducive to Aaron's work ethic, so I suggested that Braeden and I sit on the beach and throw rocks while he hiked the rest of the way.  That was a good decision for everyone.

Brady P. was grateful not to get prodded along the trail and instead feel right at home on a bed of rocks along the Big Lake.  He began throwing right away.

Brady P. mid-launch

There are a few things I'd like you to note about this picture:

1) Look at the size of that rock (captured just above his head).  That is his favorite size to throw, and he can throw them far.

2) Look at his left hand.  He whips rocks so hard that he has to steady and balance himself, so he doesn't tip over.  Nice follow through, buddy.

3) Look at the horizon where the lake meets the sky.  See that slightly raised dark area that pans the middle third of the shot?  That is Manitou Island.  See the tiny dot just to the right of that?  That is the Gull Rock lighthouse.  The view is better if you were really out there -- or if you had a better camera -- or if you were actually a decent photographer.  I claim none of those things.

After a good session of throwing rocks in the water, Braeden turned on me.  That 15 minute snooze in the buggy did not replace his afternoon nap.  Brady P. was becoming out of control of his actions.

He started throwing rocks at me.

When he throws a rock at me at our usual beaches, I say a combination of things like, "Ouch!  That hurts, Braeden.  Throw the rocks in the water, please.  We don't throw rocks at people."  And he knows all that, so he stops.

But that day, he didn't seem to care.

He knew that what he was doing was wrong, but he did it anyway.  I couldn't think of what I did to deserve a pelting of rocks from my son, so I blamed it on the lack of nap.  Nonetheless, his behavior was unacceptable.

Darn it.  You thought little Brady P. was an angel, didn't you?  And here I am showing you his dark side.  Well, this blog is about life, too.

I pulled that little boy onto my lap, laid him on his back and held his hands firmly.  I stared straight into his eyes and scolded him.  "We do NOT throw rocks at people, Braeden.  That hurts Mama.  Rocks go in the water."

I held him there for a moment, then gave him a kiss and a hug because that is always a good transition.  Well, he didn't really want a kiss and a hug this time.  Nope.  He crawled off my lap and walked back to the bushes and sat down all by himself.

Hmm, I thought.  He's mad at me right now.  But that's okay.  He can be mad for a bit.  Emotions are part of life, and I want him to be able to express his and know that it will get better soon.

Luckily, Daddy came through the bushes a bit later.  Brady P. turned into a Daddy's boy on the spot.  Geez, make me feel like a bad mom!

We sat for a bit longer and ate some fruit on the beach.  Then we played the frisbee toss game back down the trail to the buggy.  We explored the entrance area a bit more, but Brady P. made it clear that he wanted to go home.  That little dirt-faced boy was a bit out of his wits.

I couldn't blame him, though.  I was getting there myself.  It was time to go home, eat some dinner and have a night-long nap.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Playground Antics

By now, I think it's clear that Brady P. and I love to be outside.  At this point in the summer, he's got the farmer's tan to prove it, too.  The air up here is so fresh, that the breeze and sunshine are pretty much an addiction.  We both feel a little anxious and groggy when we're cooped up from the rain.  Then we go a little crazy.

But this week has been lovely, so to the playground we went.  

Braeden's first trip to the Copper Harbor playground (which is really awesome, by the way) occurred in the spring of 2015.  Braeden was about seven months old, and his daddy was there digging out a spot for steps to connect the lower ground to the upper ground.

It was pretty neat that Dad was there because it was also B's first time on a swing, and Daddy got to push him.

Baby B's first swing ride

See that slight look of panic on his face?  Yeah, his dad pushed him all right.  Aaron's philosophy takes everything to the extreme -- even his son's first swing ride.  At least Brady P. had the instincts to hang on with one hand.

These days, Braeden still loves that swing.  When we get to the playground, he points to the swing first.  While I push him gently, he points to the big kid swing next to it and says, "Eh!"  That means he wants me to swing beside him.

So I push him to the count of three then jump on the next swing and pump as high as he is going.  "We're swinging together, Brady P!" I shout.  He laughs because he loves it so much.

When he's done with the swing, he'll point to the ground to get down or the slide -- his next favorite feature.  I am so proud that Brady P. can climb up the four steps, shimmy onto the slide, push himself down and land safely in the wood chips all by himself!!!

I am there to spot, of course, but he is totally autonomous with the little kid slide.  He learned it this spring.  I couldn't wait to show Grammy Linda when she came up this summer.

But Brady P. had something else to show her the last time they were at the playground together.  I was somewhere else at the time, but she had a story to tell when I got home.

Grammy sat down at the bottom of the little slide with her feet in the wood chips.  Braeden, who likes to command people's body parts, pushed her torso down, so she was laying halfway up the slide.  When she lifted her head to laugh at him, he pushed it back down.

Then he climbed up the steps.

Grammy popped her head back up to make sure he was ascending safely.  When he saw that maneuver, do you know what he did?  He shook his head, descended the steps in a huff and pushed her head back down.  

Then he climbed back up the steps.

Well, Grammy thought that was so funny that she popped her head up again.  Sure enough, he shook his head with his little throat gurgle sound, got down and pushed her head back onto the slide.

Then he climbed back up the steps.

Grammy was laughing so hard, but Braeden didn't think it was funny.  Oh, no.  He wanted her to lay perfectly still until he got to the top, so he could slide down onto her head.  What a stinker.

Finally, she let him finish climbing, and, sure enough, he slid down onto her head and giggled.  Then they both slid down the rest of the way, and he made her lay down again so they could play his little game some more.

That little boy.  He definitely has preferences and ideas and doesn't like deviating from them, especially if it's not his idea.  But it's the little things like that that show us how much he is learning and developing each day.  He is his own person, and we are grateful for him in our lives.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Colorful Kites

This past weekend Grammy Linda, Brady P. and I drove to Eagle River, Michigan to treat ourselves to a day at the beach.  Aaron and ten of his friends were out in the Lake Superior wind and waves kite boarding, so we went to watch their performance.

Upon approaching the shore, the power of the wind was apparent.  It lifted their kites high in the sky and gave them the power they needed to tack through the water like surfers who owned the lake.  It blew the delicious smell of freshly smoking meats from The Fitz past our nostrils.  And it cooled the temperature down at least 10-15 degrees from the lovely warm day we just left in Copper Harbor.

Grammy and I are really good at preparing.  We had lawn chairs, snacks, bathing suits, towels, bug dope, toys and everything we could have needed at the beach.  Everything except long pants and jackets.  Luckily I had a few baby blankets in the van.  I turned a Noah's Ark quilt into a shawl and wore it the whole time we were there.

Brady P. didn't care about a little chill or the wind.  He ran his water-shoed feet down to a crest on the shore just before the beach sloped into the lake, and began to throw rocks.  This beach had the good rocks -- golf ball to softball size -- that kids go crazy for.  He tossed them in merrily while sitting between Grammy and I.  We tried to be his wind blockers.

We watched our friends cruising through the waves with their sliver-of-the-moon kites soaring through the sky.  We weren't the only ones gawking, though.  All the tourists were pretty amazed at the sight they stumbled upon.  They took pictures and commented on the kiters' jumps and spills.

Four dudes flying kites

And Brady P.'s dad was one of them.

Soon after we sat down, Aaron sailed to the shore to shout, "Hey Jonesy!"

"It's Daddy!" Grammy and I exclaimed to P. Pie Jones -- another one of his nicknames.  He pointed with delight, then went back to throwing the perfect stones.

Each time I would ask Braeden, "Where's Daddy?" he would point toward the water.  He knew Dad was out there somewhere.  He seemed to enjoy watching the colorful kites roam the sky, but the rocks and eventual snacks were definitely a priority.

So was a nap.

Even though he traded off between snuggling under mine and Grammy's blankets, the wind, woo-hooing and shenanigans were too stimulating.  Even for a boy three hours past nap time.

He had plenty to do.  He dug in the sand with his red bucket.  He listened, totally enamored, as little Maddie Mae played her ukelele.  He ate graham crackers, chips, a brat and sand.  He roamed the beach, tossing Grammy's flip flop around.  He helped the guys by throwing more sand on their beached kites.

Brady P. helping sand the kite

That picture should give you an idea of just how big those kites are.

After a few hours we started to get sandblasted by the gusts.  Linda and I looked at each other with sand in our teeth and hair and agreed it was time to make our way back home along the lakeshore.  Brady P. waved goodbye to all his wetsuit wearing friends, and I buckled that tousled nugget into his seat.

He was asleep before we even left the parking lot.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Anything with a Motor

By now you might think that Brady P.'s life is all sniffing flowers, throwing rocks and long walks to the beach.  While those serene experiences are a big part of it, he also loves motors and machines.  Big and noisy ones.

What started as a fascination for the vacuum cleaner has blossomed into an obsession with all Daddy's motorized equipment.  If he sees the side-by-side, he wants to go for a buggy ride.  If he's out at the soon-to-open Trails End Campground, he wants to ride on the excavators.  All of them.

So Daddy Aaron takes him out on the machines.  They dig holes, move rocks and uproot trees together.  B loves to watch the bucket do its tricks.  And Aaron can work it like it's an extension of his body.

The first time Braeden experienced an excavator from the cockpit, he was nine months old.  Aaron was working at Spirit Mountain in Duluth, MN, and Braeden hopped on with him to try it out.  As you can see in the picture below, he knew just what to do to take control.

Brady P. at the helm

Despite the terrible crop job on that shot, you can see Braeden's serious mug... and Lake Superior in the background.

Aaron's trail contracting business has grown quite a bit since Brady P. was born, so he has collected an impressive fleet of machines.  When Aaron got the big Caterpillar, I just shook my head.  I have finally come to terms with the fact that nothing is going to stop that guy from ruling the world.  The Cat is Braeden's favorite anyway.  Here they are last summer when it arrived at the campground.

Digging a garden at the campground

When motorcycles vroom by, he always stops and points.  He waves his little wrist so fiercely that I think his hand might fall off.  He does the same for big trucks and ATVs.  He's so adamant, that I think one of these days somebody is going to stop and take him for a ride.  That's probably what he hopes for.

As for our buggy rides, Braeden likes to drive.  Aaron buckles his little boy on his lap while Brady P. holds his arms up to "steer."  But even more than steering, he likes to toot the horn.  

This past winter, our family lived in Northwest Arkansas while Aaron built trails there.  On our family buggy rides through the valleys, Braeden would toot and toot the horn, making all the cattle look up at us and roll their eyes.  They probably huffed, "Darn Yankees," in between bites of grass.

Yesterday, in the spirit of Independence Day, Aaron's Rock Solid Trail Contracting crew loaded up a couple of their machines onto a trailer, and we decorated it as a float in Copper Harbor's Fourth of July parade.  Brady P. waved to all his friends from the cab.  He even got to help Daddy drive for a little while, so he could wave to his friends on the other side of the road.

Brady P. leaning out of the Rock Solid float

He handled it really well, as crowds of people are really his thing.  Almost as much as driving excavators... and throwing rocks.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

The Name Game

Whew.  Brady P. and I just returned to Copper Harbor from almost two weeks on the road.  This past weekend I white-knuckled my life to the Twin Cities of Minnesota to take IMBA's mountain bike Instructor Certification Program.  I passed!  Need a lesson in mountain bike fundamentals?  Look me up when you're in da Harbor.

Brady P. was safe and sound at Grammy and Grampy Rogers house in Northwest Wisconsin while I was away.  Their house is more in the boonies than Copper Harbor.  I always feel so relaxed there, and he loves to be there, too.

Though he shudders each time their rooster crows (the rooster attacked Grammy while she was holding Brady P. one time), he will run around and chase the chickens on their property.  They also have two cats and a dog.  The female black lab will lick him incessantly if we don't shout, "May!  That's enough!"  He tries to push her away, too.  She is a non-stop lover.

With the cats, Braeden will stick out both his hands, put one on their shoulders, one on their hip area, then push them to the ground.  I think he really likes to exert his will and change the physical position of others (especially something smaller than himself).  He sure likes to "push" people off the couch!  I'm just glad the cats allowed him to do this without inserting any of their sharp appendages into his flesh.

Grammy and Grampy Rogers live along a gravel road.  Braeden knows just where it starts off their driveway, and he loves to go for walks.  Just like in Copper Harbor, he will sit for breaks, but I think he is building up his stamina.  To keep things moving forward, Grampy Roy made up the hat game.  Grampy throws his hat like a frisbee down the road, then Braeden races him to the hat.  Whoever makes it there first gets to throw it next.  They go on and on down the road, giggling all the way.

He got to play at a couple different parks while he was visiting.  The swing is usually his favorite at each park.  He runs right up to the little kid safety swings, points and says, "Eh!"  But he has tried the big kid swing when that wasn't an option.  Hanging on for dear life, he did pretty well.

Brady P. also got to visit a farm.  At this farm, he saw dogs,  chickens, horses, cows, pigs and ducks.  He was pretty cantankerous when we were there, so I don't think he spent as much time enjoying their presence as he otherwise would have.  But he pointed and waved to all the animals anyway.

Speaking of pointing and waving -- oh, my.  This last story takes place in a clinic waiting room (Grammy was getting her eyes checked for an hour).  This experience illustrates the essence of how my life will continue to evolve with Brady P. by my side.

We were in the waiting room which nearly wrapped around the whole third floor of the facility.  I started by plopping him on a little kid chair, and he immediately picked up a book from the table.  This one made animal sounds, and the elephant was his favorite that day.  Probably because it was the most abrasive to everyone else around.

You know how people come and go in a waiting room? They sit down as far from the next people as they are comfortable, and usually start checking their phone.  Brady P. let no phone checking happen that day.

He went up to every single person, tapped their knee, looked up and them and smiled as if to say, "Remember me?  I'm Braeden!  What's your name?"  Luckily, 99 out of 100 people are charmed by his sincerity and curiosity.  

When he points to their face, I have to ask the person what their name is because that means he wants to know it.  They will tell us, so I can repeat their name as he points to them, me and himself.  This is another of his favorite games.  I guess we could call it the name game.  He absolutely has to know what someone's name is.  Then when I quiz him by asking, "Where is Jan? (the lady we just met)  Where is Braeden?  Where is Mama?"  He points to the right person each time.  Sharp little tack.

Without getting too long-winded with this experience, let me summarize that we met every single person in the hall that day.  He approached every person who sat down.  He hugged the legs of each person who walked by.  He pointed until they said their name.  He made a few friends that would probably remember him if they ever saw him again.

By default, I met a lot of people too.  I can sense how my life is opening up as we encounter these scenarios.  Good thing I already know that Brady P. and I are going to help save the world.  It will be helpful to know everybody's name. 

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Wisconsin Dairy Air

Though I could be content sitting on the beach throwing rocks all day, sometimes life beckons.  And it makes me get my butt out of the rocks.

This past weekend, Brady P. got to visit Grammy and Grampy Wais in Wisconsin while I drove to Cadillac, MI for my Michigan Outdoor Writer's summer conference.  Not going to lie, it's always nice to do Amanda things once in a while.

Grammy and Grampy had lots of plans for Brady P.  They went to Glendale Farms to pick strawberries.  He got to do all the things I loved when I went to pick as a kid: pet the animals (goats, cows and bunnies), ride the tractor wagon all snuggled up with Grampy and eat strawberries until his face and hands were red.  Ah, the simple pleasures of the summer.

Sampling the strawberry fields

He got to sit out in his pool on the hot days while Grammy blew bubbles for him.  He has surprisingly good aim popping them as they go by.  He even popped two at once -- one with each hand!

Brady P. got to see lots of cows, too.  He visited the farm my brother used to work at.  Sure was a lot of mooing going on there!  We are still working on the "moo" sound.  He giggles when I say moo to him.

Once I got there, I got to chase him up and down the sidewalks.  Something about a sidewalk -- perhaps the systematic cracks -- keeps him going and going instead of stopping every twenty feet.  I had to try to keep up with him!

In the sunshine, he spotted the ants on the sidewalk.  He studied them closely in his little squatting position.  Tracing their path with his finger and following them with his eyes.  Any passersby might wonder what he was doing staring at the ground so intently.

Up in the flower gardens in my parents' backyard, we walked through the blooming beauties and sniffed and "ahhed" until Brady's little chin was covered in pollen.  I started teaching him how to smell flowers when he was too young to really know how to sniff.  I would show him how to do it by taking a dramatic whiff, then saying, "ahhhh."  He would stick his little nose into the blossoms without a sound, but now he takes a good sniff.

I can't tell you how proud it makes me when he walks up to a flower all on his own, leans in and sniffs.  I find such joy in his appreciation for the plants and how stinkin' cute he is among the flowers.  I guess I just need to teach him how to look for bees now!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Horses and Donkeys and Ducks, Oh My!

Whenever someone asks me what words Braeden says, I answer, "Well, he can make farm animal sounds!"  And they usually nod like that's cool.  Better than nothing!

When I say sounds, I mean sounds.  If you ask Brady P. what a pig says, he won't say "oink."  He puts his little fist up to his nose, plugs his nostrils with two knuckles and inhales, making an impressive pig snort.  I like to show this one off for entertainment value and some good chuckles.

He pants like a puppy.  He shouts, "I-lie-lie-lie" to crow like a rooster.  And for the horsey, he sticks out his tongue and lets the raspberry sound fly.  At first I didn't understand how he could flutter his tongue through his lips.  It took me a few tries to get it right myself.

It turns out that Braeden is obsessed with farm animals.  He loves all things farm, especially Old MacDonald and any person that could possibly be related to Old MacDonald.  

For instance, our milk carton has a picture of a young girl with blonde braids feeding her cow.  When I open the fridge with B nearby, he points up to the top shelf and shouts, "Eh!"  After a couple times, I realized he was pointing to little Miss MacDonald, as we now call her.  He makes me take the carton out, so he can give her a kiss and a hug.  Then we wave good-bye to little Miss MacDonald, and she goes back in the fridge.  I had to cut her out of an old carton, so he can see her in other parts of the house and the milk can stay cold.

One of his favorite animals is the horse.  It was his first animal sound, and one that he fervently points to in books or along the side of the road when we travel.  It turns out, there are three horses within a wagon-pulling distance from our house.  We went to visit them the other day.

I kept Brady P. in the wagon, so he didn't get electrocuted by the fence or run under the large animals' hooves.  They were eating when we stopped by.  

Have you ever watched a horse eat off the ground?  Their lips are like vacuum cleaners fluttering back and forth, sucking that grass right off the ground.  They really clean it up!

About a minute after our arrival, they decided to check us out.  All three of them at once.  Luckily, my fear of horses has been waning, so I wasn't alarmed like I was when we visited the year before.  Braeden waved and told them what sound the horsey makes -- in case they weren't sure.

Horses visiting Braeden

Once they realized we didn't bring them any food, they went back to vacuuming grass.  We marveled for a while, but when the blackflies came out to eat us, I carted Brady P. back home.

On a different day we went to see the miniature donkeys at the Dapple-Gray B&B.  They are such sweet creatures.  I petted their furry noses, but Braeden wasn't ready.  He did get a bit brave while they were eating, though.

Watching the donkeys eat

He watched them eat for a while, then decided to throw rocks at them.  "Nope!" I called.  "We don't throw rocks at our friends."

After ignoring me, and hitting the fence with a couple more stones, it was time to go.

Our friend Staci, over at Into the Woods Mini Golf and Gardens (a great spot for mini golf, wandering through the flora and gathering with friends), started raising ducks this spring.  Braeden got to go visit when they were still duckling balls of fluff.  He fell in love with them.  He loved to pet them and watch them run around and peep.

Petting the balls of fluff

As they got bigger, he still liked to pet them and get as close as possible.  Now that they reached full-size, his favorite thing is to watch them flap their wings.  "The ducky is flapping her wings!" I tell him.  He claps after one of them gives him an elegant show.  Then he taps his right thumb to his left palm to sign "more."  So we wait for another flapper show.

Grown up ducks in the forget-me-nots
(Photo credit Staci Gibson)

Braeden won't willingly leave the ducks.  He would squat there all day at the door of their house waiting for a snuggle or a majestic flap.  Staci is great because she will encourage Braeden to feed and pet the ducks.  He's still a bit afraid to feed them from his hand, but we'll keep working on it.

I enjoy watching Brady P. interact with animals -- especially when he can reach out and touch them or visit them regularly in order to form a bond.  Animals are part of our world up here, so he gets a good dose.  Maybe we will meet the bears at the campground next!

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Patience is a... Wait, Hold On

Before Braeden came along, I thought I was a patient person.  More patient than most, actually.  Thirteen years of bartending made me patient.  Teaching three-year-olds at the one-room schoolhouse tested and boosted my patience bank as well.

Then I had a baby.

Extra needs or not, newborns and children in general try our patience.  This is how Braeden has been trying mine lately.

We get our shoes on to go out to throw rocks.  I hold his hand as he proudly descends our eleven steps slowly but, well, slowly.  After the stairs, he lets go of my hand because he is a big boy, and he runs to the road with me sprinting after him.

"Stop!"  I shout.  "Take my hand, Braeden.  We're at the road."  He takes my hand and I kneel down beside him.  I turn my head to the left and point.  "Are there any cars coming this way?" I ask him as he points a stubby little index finger that way, too.  "Nope!"  I confirm.

I turn my head and point to the right.  "Are there any cars coming this way?"  He points that little finger to the right.  "Nope!"  I shout.  "Okay, we can cross the road!"  Hand in hand, we scurry across.

Once we're in the safe zone, he lets go of my hand and sits down.  "Braeden.  Do you want to go throw rocks?"

He puts both hand behind his head and bobs.  That means yes. 

"Okay, then.  We have to keep going.  Come on, Mister!"

He gets up and runs for about twenty feet down the gentle incline of the road.  Then he sits down again.  I know this is how it's going to go for the rest of the way.  On the days when we go straight down two and a half blocks to the beach by the Harbor Haus, I am okay with it.  On the days we have to go seven blocks to Jamsen's Bakery so we can get a cheddar bacon scone, I get a little impatient.

"Braeden, do you want to go throw rocks with mama?"

He knocks his knuckles together several times -- our sign for rocks.

"Okay, then.  Come on. Let's go!"

He stands up without using his hands, so I clap.  Then he runs another twenty feet until he sees the loon whirlygig spinning in front of the Laughing Loon gift shop.  He plops down, staring up at it in awe.

Staring at the loon

Now I know we're going to be here for a while, so I describe parts of the loon to him.  "Here are the loon's wings.  They're spinning around!  Here is the loon's tail.  Here's the loon's beak."  Etcetera, etcetera.

When my tummy growls, I push it a little.  "Okay, bye bye, Loon!"  I announce.  "Wave good-bye, Braeden."  His floppy wrist waves to the loon, and he stands up.  He sprints down the road again, but this time I try to keep him upright.

"Jump!"  I shout, jumping over a crack in the pavement.  Braeden jumps when he reaches that crack.  "Here's another one.  Jump!"  And we both jump over.

Now I don't want this post to take as long to read as it takes us to get to the bakery, I mean, beach, so we'll just skip to the beach.  You get the gist.

While basking in Lake Superior's glory, we throw rocks and clap and make splooshing sounds.  We might see some kayakers, a freighter, a motor boat, an eagle or some ducks.  We always see seagulls and crows.  We both love to be there.  I can tell it's Brady P's happy place.

We linger as long as possible, but when I feel it's time to go, I tell him, "Three more rocks, Braed.  Then we have to go."  He shakes his head, but continues to throw until I count three splooshes.  Then I scoop him up and we turn around to stare at the lake and blow her a kiss.  Braeden is a good kiss-blower.

"Thank you, beautiful lake," I sing while we both wave.  "See you next time!"

Off we go for a trek back up the hill.  This will take half an hour, too, especially if we pass puddles or the spray-painted culvert sites with the neon numbers.  Then he has to point to each number a hundred times while I tell him which number it is.  But if I am lucky, he will let me carry him the rest of the way home.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Reader Tips

Hey!  I want you to get the most out of this blog, so here are some hints!

If you are viewing this on a mobile device, you mostly likely won't see everything this blog has to offer.  To see the sidebar info: Brady's picture, introduction, subscription information, search box and so on, click the little link at the bottom of your mobile screen that says "View Web Version."  See it?  The words will be tinier once you push it, but you'll be able to navigate, search, subscribe and more!

I plan to post every Wednesday.  It will help to get you through the week that way.  Ha!  So plan on that, and I will do my best.

Feel free to comment.  I do sometimes get inappropriate comments (can you believe that?), so they all have to get approved by me first.  Just know that I will get yours and approve it when I get a chance.  I am raising a toddler, you know!

Thanks for coming with us on our journey.  I look forward to advocating for people with Down syndrome, kids in general and Mother Nature.  We will see you Wednesday!

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Match Maker

Braeden and I usually find some magic in our day, but one experience last week was quite surreal.  

We walked down to Third Street Dock (the beach with the stairs, as I call it for Braeden).  Upon settling my bum into the rocks, I noticed how warm they were.  Ooh, what a comforting feeling on a breezy spring day.  The sunshine sparkled on the surface of Lake Superior, making her look even more majestic than I already knew she was.

Sploosh! went a rock from Brady P's hand.  He looked and me and clapped.  Sploosh! went another.  That boy has a great arm for throwing rocks.  He's had lots of practice over the last year.  We sat pitching different sizes and colors of smooth stones that the lake tossed up.

Then I heard a noise coming from Porter's Island -- just across the Harbor.  It was the calm cooing of a loon!  

I didn't realize the loons were still around at that time.  "Braeden!  A loon!" I told him excitedly.  "Listen!"  But the loon was silent, so I took a turn.

I never polished my loon call.  It was pretty subpar, and not quite believable, but I let it rip.  It was a combo of a whistle and a hum to produce one of their wilder calls.

All the sudden the water splashed at Porter's Island.  I didn't have binoculars, but I knew it was the loon thrashing by the shore.  It let out its calm coo again.  "Braeden, the loon!" I shouted as I aimed his little face toward the opposite shore.  I don't think he was as fascinated as I was because he continued to throw rocks at his usual pace.

The next thing I knew, a loon two docks east of us was calling back to the loon on the island!  Wow!  They had a short conversation, but I wasn't done.  I whistle-hummed my call again, and the loon on Porter's answered, being echoed by the one on our shore.  "Awesome, Brady P!" I high fived him and we threw some more rocks.

The loons were quiet after that.

A few minutes later, I saw the loon from our shore swimming past us, toward the middle of the harbor.  "Braeden, the loon is swimming!" I pointed, hoping he would get a glimpse.  Soon it dunked under and he looked at me as if to ask, "Where did it go?"

"There!" I pointed again once it resurfaced.  By this time, in my line of sight, I saw the island loon making its way toward the middle of the harbor, too.  Were they going to meet?  How cool would that be?  I made a wish, and told myself it would come true if the loons found each other.  I kept track of their progress in between trying to skip rocks -- a skill I really need to work on.

Soon I caught a glimpse of them both again.  Together!  They swam and dunked beside each other in the chilly waters of the Big Lake.  "Aw," I thought.  "A match made in heaven."

I breathed in the sunny, cool, fresh air and thought about how grateful I was to be there at that moment.  The streets were quiet.  The sun was waking up the trees, the flowers and our spirits.  My job as a stay-at-home mom was pretty unbelievable when the days were made up of moments like this.

I watched little Brady P do his thing.  His surfer blonde locks glinted in the sunlight.  His heart was so at peace out here on the shore.  His busy little mind and body launched one rock after another.  He would always shout, "Ah!" when he wanted me to look at how big the rock in his hand was.  "That's a big one, Brady P!"

He would smile and chuck it as far as he could.  Then clap again.  So proud.