Wednesday, November 15, 2017

A Glimmer of Light

I am really proud of myself.

Never before have I bundled Brady P. and I up daily to continue our rock throwing/lake staring fetish into the winter.  Usually once the snow hits, I reason that rock-throwing season is over.

But it's not.

We still go each day, and I am grateful.  One day, as we sat on the beach by the Harbor Haus, I noticed that the wet rocks only came back about 2-3 feet which meant Lake Superior was relatively calm.  The rocks beyond that, however, were covered in a thin layer of ice.

Braeden eyed up a nice sized rock, and swooped his hand down to fetch it.  His hand came up, but the rock stayed put.  He tried a different rock to no avail.  After one more try at a stuck rock, he looked up at me and let out a disapproving "Ah!"

All the "dry rocks" were frozen solid in a single mass.  Solid.  I couldn't even kick some out to get him a pile.  Instead, I bulldozed some wet rocks over with the side of my boot to give him a workable pile.

By that time, however, he was over it.  He was just staring at the waves.

I sat down beside him and did the same.  Though we sit at that exact spot several times a week, that day was different.  I just couldn't believe what I was experiencing.

There we were, both bundled up like marshmallows, sitting on a beach of frozen rocks.  My three-year-old son and I stared, mesmerized by the largest fresh water lake in the world.  I thought, "Man, how many people can come out here with their young child and meditate on the rhythm of the waves?"

I watched Brady P. with great awe as he sat like a frozen stone himself with his eyes fixed on the great water before him.  "How did I get so lucky?" I asked the air.

As my eyes shifted up toward the sky, I also realized another thing about my current situation.  I noticed that I could see the light between the clouds.  Even though nearly everyday is a gray day, I can find the hints of sun penetrating the thinnest spots in the clouds.  The spots that let just enough light in to remind us that, yes, the sun is still out there somewhere.

An epic view from the icy shore

That realization in itself is going to get me through the winter in a much better mood than I have ever had before.  Thank you, sun for always shining.  And thank you, Brady P. for showing me how to focus on the light.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Marshmallow in the Tomato Patch

It's pretty funny how the definition of a "lovely day" changes as winter slithers in.  

The days that used to be too wet, too cold and too gray to throw rocks are now deemed "lovely."  If ice pellets aren't pelting our faces with 30 mph winds, it's a lovely day.

This week I realized that I hadn't checked on my plot in the community garden for a while (story of my summer).  The gardens at the campground took more of my attention than my little 12' x 24' plot just a block away.  I can't say it suffered, but it sure got out of control.  Sorry, garden neighbors!

So I pulled little Brady P. in his wagon to the community garden.  All bundled up, I set him down at the north end of the site -- something I dared not do at the beginning of the season, unless he was helping me pick rocks.

But as I looked at Diane's notoriously pristine plot next to mine, I noticed it had been pulled.  Not much remained except perhaps a bushel's worth of red, green and brown tomatoes that most likely fell from the vines before or during their removal.

Braeden noticed those tomatoes right away.

The frost had already hit them, so they had an extra fragility to their nature.  And as Braeden found out, they made a really cool sound when he squashed them with his boots.

I wished I had a video camera.

There was Brady P., puffy as a winter marshmallow, stomping the tomatoes and listening to the squirting, squishing sounds they made.  Then he looked over at me and let out this half-crazed cackle with one eye twitching and pointy teeth bared. 

What a sight!

Stomp, squish, squirt.  Stomp, squish, squirt.  Cackle!

Then he would pick up the green tomatoes which didn't melt instantly in his mittened hand and chucked them.  He followed the successful throws with the aforementioned cackle.  What a goon.

After enough of that, he wandered over to my plot -- a gnarly patch of hardened stems, weeds and an unfortunate cauliflower plant.

This cauliflower plant proved to be his nemesis, as he kept walking right into it and promptly tumbling over.  I couldn't figure out why he couldn't see it.  It was as tall as his waist and as sturdy as a small tree.

But time and time again, I watch him roll right over it, let out a disapproving squawk, and get back up.  I just laughed at my little marshmallow boy. 

Marshmallow boy

I am always grateful for time in the garden that isn't hastened by the whine of my small fry.  Luckily, that day he was in his ketchup-making glory.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Cold Hands, Warm Cheeks

We are definitely on the verge of winter here in da Keweenaw.  We've already had several snowy days, high winds and power outages.  That's just how it goes!

But it's getting colder, and Brady P. notices.

If the breeze is gentle, and we have a spot of sun, we will still go out and throw rocks.  He needs an outlet for his pitching arm, or his toys get chucked repeatedly across the house, and I ain't havin' that.

Now it's the verge of winter remember, so I don't always bring important appendages like gloves.  Unfortunately for Brady P, his hands are the first part of him to get painfully cold.

Sometimes, even before we get to the shore, he starts to cry this really whiny cry.  It means he's cold.  Sure enough, his little fingers are turning red.

"Warm up your hands on my face!" I tell him, as I press his palms to my cheeks.  I hold my hands over his.  These moments have turned into beautiful bonding.

If I am sitting beside him, he will walk over to me, let out his little cold whine, and put his hands on my cheeks.

This is where the magic happens.

As his frigid fingers embrace my face, his little arms bend, keeping his own face just a few inches from mine.  As if that isn't tender enough, he looks into my eyes with the epitome of love that he is, gently cocks his head and smiles at me.

I melt.  Lost in his pupils.

Our faces are so close that I can see the tear on his cheek and the little snot dripping out of his nose from the cold air.  As I smile back, his smile gets bigger and he leans in for a sweet kiss, which mostly means that he transfers all the drool on his lower lip to mine.

I melt again.

I am so grateful for those moments.  I wish everyone could experience it at least once.

After 15 - 20 seconds of sweetness from our souls, his hands feel warmer.  He pulls them from my face and turns to find another rock to throw.  I am left staring at him like the high school girl who just got dumped after a great night at prom.

But I know he still loves me.  I am warmth to him.  I am safety.  I am his mother, and he knows I am here no matter what.  The payback in his eyes and smile exceed everything taxing we've been through.  I wouldn't have it any other way.

When the winds are high, and the sleet is pelting, we do not go throw rocks.  Our beaches are gone.  Here is just one picture of a transformed beach from the past week's turbulence.

"The beach by the bakery," as we call it

Notice the scraggly apple tree in the forefront.  We usually sit in front of that.  Not that day!

So I am working on finding a pair of mittens that actually keep his hands warm while allowing him to grip and throw rocks.  Not an easy task to fit a munchkin with short, chubby fingers.

Thank goodness for his indoor bowling set!

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Just Kidding

Hey.

Sorry, but I am unable to do a blog this week.  See you next Wednesday.  Thank you!

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Tomorrow!

Hello!

We just got our Internet back after this last storm.  And now I have to go to town to give a presentation, so I will write tomorrow.

In the meantime, I fixed last week's video, so you can watch it.  What a tease that was!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Advocacy Links

Brady P. turned three on Sunday.  Three!  Happy birthday, Brady P!!!

But don't go telling me that they just grow up so fast.  That you blink and they're in college.  That time just flies when they're little.

That is not the case for Brady P. Pie Jones.

He still wears pants made for a 12-month-old.  The kids at school call him a baby, and some of them are three years old too!  He doesn't talk.  He doesn't dress himself.  He still poops in his diaper and denies it.

Don't think I am complaining.  I don't know any different, and I really don't care because he is my Braeden.  He is different, but he is awesome.

In our daily life, he amazes me everyday.  He is so sharp, storing a wealth of knowledge in his brain.  His loving eyes and smile captivate innocent passersby.  He shows interest in his independence.  He is curious about e.ver.y.thing.  Everything.  It's no wonder it takes us so long to walk to the lakeshore!

And I wouldn't trade him for an ordinary kid.  Nope.  I'm glad he is extraordinary.

This summer he surprised Grammy Linda and me with his exuberant gestures to oration and songs.  I wasn't going to share this video with the Internet (mostly because I was trying to chant like a preacher), but it illustrates the awesomeness of Brady P.

We did this totally impromptu, but it is still one of our favorite videos to watch.

Brady P., the Preacher ~ Video

So I have started advocating for Brady P., people with Down syndrome and every person on this planet.  I can't help it.  It's what I came here to do.

I am a member of the Upper Peninsula Down Syndrome Association.  They raise funds to help educate and support families of a person with Downs.  They also offer fun events that allow the parents and families to get together and bond.  Oh, man, do I love that part.

I am joining the Parent Advisory Committee for parents of a child with special needs in the Copper Country.  Through that organization, I have also heard of other programs available in the U.P.  I can announce those once I check them out.

I wrote my memoir about raising Brady P, and how that affected my life dramatically.

I founded the Brady P. Project, which is a non-profit organization through the state of Michigan and, after it raises its start-up goal, it will become a federal 501c3 non-profit organization.  

If I would have had an ordinary child, I would probably still be freelance writing for outdoor adventure publications.  A fine career, but this new path has so much more meaning for me.  So much passion.  So much purpose.  So much love.

Thanks for being a part of it.

Now this is a free blog, and it will always be that way.  But I have an idea.  If you would like to give a gift in honor of Brady P.'s birthday, why not donate to the Brady P. Project?  It a can be a gift in any amount.  Though your donation is not yet tax deductible, it will be once our initial $400 goal is reached to apply for 501c3 status.

Thanks.  Even if you don't donate, thanks for reading and expanding your heart and mind.  Smiley face.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Waves and School

This past week, we took advantage of some nice beach days.  Of course, beach days for us consist of sitting on the shore chucking rocks.  But when we can shed our jackets in October and bask in the sun's rays, we feel pretty lucky.

Lucky we are.

Yesterday, however, was one of those nippy days.  Our hands got stinging cold from picking up wet stones.  We bundled up inside our hoods.  I should have worn long underwear.

At one point, Braeden stood at the top of the rocky shore along Hunter's Point and watched a wave come in.  I could see he was focusing on its path and timing its crash in his mind.

Once it peaked its spill just inches below his feet, it retreated back into the clear water, rolling the loose stones along with it.

Braeden took this all in, and after that wave pulled away, he signed "more."  I busted out laughing.

"Did you just sign 'more' to Lake Superior, Brady P?" I cackled.

Now he can be a little incessant with his mores.  Like when I start doing handstands.  Or if Aaron give him a drink of his smoothie.  Or if he wants Grammy to start throwing his rocks.

More, more, more.

So perhaps it is a bit habitual.  But I have never seen him sign it to a non-living entity.  That Lake Superior, though, she definitely is her own life force.

And, as the waves rode, she gave him another one.  And another, and another.  He didn't even have to ask.

That little Brady P.  

Completely unrelated, guess what he got today.  He got his school picture taken.  Whaaaat?!?!

That's right.  My days-away-from-turning-three-year-old attends the Copper Harbor one room schoolhouse two days a week for two hours at a time.  It's just enough to get him familiar with the kids, teachers, property and routine.

He seems to like it pretty well.  I do have to stay with him since he is not yet potty trained, but that's okay for now.  He is still a mama's boy anyway.  I would be too, if I was him.  Wink.

I'm excited to see what and how he learns from the school.  It's a great social outlet for him and a chance to get the heck out of our house.

I wish I had a copy of his picture to post here, but we'll wait until it's ready.

Until then, keep being awesome.  I believe in you.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

It's Alive!!!

I am jumping out of my skin!

Go to www.CopperHarborVitality.com to browse some more inspiration, check out the Brady P. Project or order your memoir!

And let me know if there are any glitches.  Haha.  I am not the perfect technical person!

Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!!!

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

The Moment I've Been Waiting For!

I want to thank you for reading this blog.  No, really.  Thank you!  

By reading this blog, you acknowledge that magic is apparent in the smallest places, if you look for it.  You accept that we are all different, yet worthy of love.  You understand the value of a day spent in the fresh air.  And your heart is open to possibilities.

That is awesome.  Keep it up!

You also realize that life with Brady P. is a little slice of incredible all on its own.  These days, it is incredible in a positive way.  Right when he came into my life, however, it was incredible in a "holy-crap-I-can't-believe-this-just-happened-to-us" sort of way.

In a word, it was tough.  Overwhelming.  Exhausting.  And sometimes grim.

Okay, that was four words.

But I don't talk about that in this blog.  This blog is about the rainbow after the storm.  The light that breaks through the darkness.  The lemonade made from every last drop of reamed lemons. 

Do you want to hear about the storm?  Do you want to visit the darkness?  Do you want to taste the lemons?

Great.  I wrote a book about it all.

It's called Digging for Light -- A Memoir to Inspire Humanity.  It smears my naked heart and soul across 220 pages.  If you read it, you will laugh.  You will probably cry.  But most importantly, you will look inside yourself and ask how you can be a better person.

Are you excited?  I AM!!!

Two years in the making, this memoir is ready for you.  And since you are a loyal follower of this blog, you get the pre-order package deal if you decide to order.  Here's the scoop when you pre-order a personalized autographed copy:
  • Shipping is free -- or you can pick up your copy at the book release party, October 27th!
  • You get a "Debut Edition" sticker on the cover, meaning you got the first print -- totally raw -- totally Amanda.
  • Orders of four or more memoirs get a custom inspirational beach glass bookmark!
  • Randomly chosen orders also get a free said bookmark.
  • You will get a warm, fuzzy feeling knowing that you helped support a writer, friend, mother and fellow human on this planet.
How do you order???

Click the link to CopperHarborVitality.com and visit the bookstore.  

I will post a reminder here on Friday, so if you get this delivered to your inbox, you will get the link there when it's ready.

A couple more notes:
  1. Pre-order deadline is Wednesday, October 11th.  
  2. Books are not yet printed.  You will receive your order via mail (or release party!) approximately two weeks after the Wednesday deadline.
Thanks so much for your support -- no matter how you show it.  I hope you get to take part in this very special moment in my life!


Mama and Brady P. making the best of the dark

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Love Path

So this might seem a bit mushy, but please read on.  Today we are talking about love.

Love was something different before I met Brady P.

What is love to you?  Think about it for a moment.  No, really.  Just ponder for a bit.

Okay.  Here is what love was to me before I had Braeden.

Love was a feeling that I felt for certain people.  I loved Aaron in a different way than I loved my parents and a different way than I loved my friends.  I didn't love strangers because I didn't know them.

Love would ebb and flow.  It could be taken away or given with all my heart.  It was something I gave and something I received from others.

But Braeden taught me that is not how love works.

When I first had him, I loved him so much.  The feeling that came over me when I comprehended how much I loved and cared for him was the most intense love I have ever felt.  I would often ask him, "How can I love you this much?  I never knew this much love was possible!"

So I felt like that was the pinnacle of love -- the love from a mother to a child.  Even Aaron didn't understand it because Braeden didn't grow in his body for nine months.  That motherly love is hard to explain.  

As a writer, I was determined to be able put that feeling into words.  I sat down and tried and tried to capture the feeling in black ink.  But when I read it, it just didn't have the same effect.

If you have children, you probably know this indescribable feeling.

But three years after his birth and a whole new Amanda later, I am beginning to understand what love really is.  I shall do my best to justify its power.

Love is not something to be given or taken away.  It is always there.  It is not just a feeling, it's an energy.  It's what keeps us alive. 

We are all made of love.  

We are all made of this unfathomable vibrance that can make our heart feel like its exploding out of our chest and enrapturing everything around us.

And it is always there.  We just have to pay attention, feel it, be grateful and share it with others.

So let's go back to the moments when I look into Brady P.'s uninhibited eyes and marveled at how much I loved him.  It is not that I loved him more than anyone before.  Yes, I have put more effort into him than anything else in my life, but that doesn't mean I was giving him more love.  Even though I thought I was.

I am now more aware of the love that is surrounding us -- the love that we are made of -- when I look into his eyes.  


Braeden's soulful eyes

Braeden's eyes have no filters to his soul.  They have let me see the universe on several occasions.  His eyes let me into the love that he is made of, and my spirit expands as we consciously let our love/energy merge.

Am I losing you?

Let me reiterate what I said I thought love was before, but put it into my current philosophy.

The love I feel is the same for Aaron, my parents, my friends and strangers.  Since I am made of love, and I am aware of it, I am able to project it to others.

So I project it to everyone.

Some people project it back differently.  Brady P. always gives it back exponentially.  My own parents willingly let their love flow back to me.  The person I just said hello to at the grocery store might hold back on their return because they have not formed trust with me.  

But that's okay.  My love is unconditional.  It is there regardless.

Whew.  You made it to the end of the love post.  Do you think I'm crazy?  It's okay if you do.  I love you anyway.  I can't even help myself.  

Allowing love to flow freely through me has let me feel more connected to everyone, whether I know them or not.  Whether I see them or not.  It's the most amazing feeling I have ever had in my life, and now it is dictating my path.

So thank you, Brady P., for showing me what love is made of.  We are taking this love path together.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Wet Beaches, a New Soul and Presents!

I intended to write about this earlier, but I wanted to be sensitive to my readers living on the south coast before I expounded on receding shorelines and rouge waves.  I hope you and your loves ones are safe and sound.
***

When you think of Brady P., the first thing that might come to your mind is throwing rocks.  We still do that at least once a day because the weather has been lovely.  But as fall approaches, sometimes we are missing a part of the equation when we get to our spot for the day.

The beach.

The increasing waves and rising Lake Superior tide has been playing tricks on us.  I like to have Braeden throw from the "dry rocks," but there have been days without dry rocks.  That means that the waves ebb and flow so far up, we could get swept away by a rouge wave.  We have shifted our throwing spots so far back that sometimes we have to find a different spot all together.  One of our places was void for most of the summer.

As we sit in our tiny spot of dry rocks (or say "screw it" and sit in the wet ones), I have to watch every wave.  I know her Majesty's waves usually come in threes, so if one splashes up higher than the rest, two more will probably do the same.

I have had quite a few instances of scooping little Brady P. up while he was mid-toss and running him back a few feet.  Sometimes he is already wet.  I really concentrate up to that point, and squeal when they are getting close.  Oh my gosh, we have so much fun.

Brady P. catches on too.  He is a meditative soul, and I have caught him becoming one with the waves several times.  This occurs when the waves come up higher than usual, and he knows he is in potential danger of wet pants.  

He stares at each wave as it rolls in.  His body does this slight undulation in correspondence with the incoming waves.  He looks mesmerized, yet peaceful and expectant of the next splash.  I can almost guess what he is thinking because I do the same thing.

You will have to do it yourself, and see what you think.

Of course, he is not always on cue.  Like last week we were out on the shore with a friend.  I was busy reading parts of my memoir to my friend Bryce, and next thing we knew - ploop!  Little Brady P. was floundering in the brisk water on a calm, sunny day.

He came out drenched and livid, but that was his first immersion in Lake Superior, so we figured it was his baptism.

His soul is wiped clean.

My soul gets pretty clean out there too.  I can't even believe how fortunate I am.  Here I am, a full-time mom, living the life some people only dream of.  I get to spend time on the beach with my son, and, at the same time, I am working.

Working???

Yes, working.

While I'm on the shore listening to splooshes, I have my notebook ready to harbor the inspirational thoughts that cross my mind.  Many of my latest ideas and business plans have been created while my toes were getting wet.

I have also been picking rocks for work.  Now, beach-combing has never been my thing.  I never had a purpose for rocks from the shore.

Until now.

Just you wait, my friend.  I am creating bookmarks.  Bookmarks with a translucent Lake Superior stone on the top to remind you to stay solid in form while the light shines through you.  They will be almost as inspirational as my memoir itself, and one in every 20 pre-orders for that book will get a free bookmark!

I'll let you know when they're ready.

So, yes.  I've been busy.  I'm so excited for life right now that I can hardly contain myself!!!  I can't wait to release my next round of concoctions to the world.

And you will be part of it.  If you surely don't want to miss it, please click here to learn how to get these posts delivered to your inbox.

Thanks so much for wading through another post without a picture.  As a present, here is a video I took in 2007 of the waves blowing in near the Copper Harbor lighthouse.

Please turn your volume down a bit, as I was a novice recorder at the time, and the wind sounds horribly offensive through the microphone.  And on a day like that, we wouldn't be throwing rocks.

Enjoy!

Click HERE to watch the video of the waves on Youtube.

It's safe, I promise!

And a bonus present!  Here is the Superior Trails color report for the Lake Superior areas.  They even have a peak color predictor that they just updated.  Happy fall!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

The Parking Lot Game

Copper Harbor gets lots of visitors in the summer time.  The town gets crazy packed, and people are driving around everywhere.  They are parked everywhere too.

When I walk behind a line of parked cars, I like to look at the license plates to see which states people are from.  Yesterday I saw an impressive spread of plates from all over the country parked in front of The Pines for lunch.  Not one Michigan plate that day.

Braeden likes to look at the vehicles as well.  But he is more obsessive.  Here is what it's like walking through a parking lot with Brady P.

"Eh!" he stretches his little arm out and points to the first car in the row.

"Red car," I say.

He points to the next one.

"Silver truck."

He points to the next.

"White van."

He points.

"Black Jeep."

Another point.

"Silver car."

And so on and so on until all the cars are out of sight.  Unless he runs behind the row to point to them all again.  Oy, that gets a little monotonous for me.

He'll do the same thing when cars drive by.

"Motorcycles!" I tell him.  "What does a motorcycle do?"

He holds his fists in front and bounces them up and down like he's driving a motorcycle while I make the baroom ba ba ba ba sound.  He giggles, so I can't help but giggle too.

He is smart.  He knows the colors and the types of vehicles, so sometimes I switch it up on him.

"Braeden, do you see a red truck?"

Often it's the next thing in view, but sometimes he'll have to turn around.

Boom.  He points to the red truck.  And the gray car, the blue car, the red Jeep, the gold van, the white camper, the other camper and so on.

Is this post boring you?  Well, think about how I feel when I have to name these things everywhere we go!  Ha ha.  Just teasing.  Like I said before, I love to promote the things he is curious about and help him learn.  

Maybe someday he will work at a car dealership.  He can go around and tell the people the color of each type of car in the lot!

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Bike Park Babysitter

I am a mountain biker.

Let me rephrase that.

I love to mountain bike, but I struggle for the opportunities to do it.  My husband often travels for work, so that leaves me with little B-Man all to myself.  In the summer, all my friends are too busy to watch him, so if Grammy is gone, I don't get to hit the trails.

And I am okay with that.  This is just a phase of my life.  

But Aaron and a friend built a partial terrain park out at Trails End Campground -- the place we go to the garden.  So I actually get to ride my bike around and around while Brady P. does little boy things.

What would Brady P. find to to in  a terrain park?

Throwing rocks into puddles is his first choice.  The last time we were out, he had a nice puddle to work with.  I think this one held him for at least 45 minutes.

Watching his rock splash in the puddle

He takes his rock-throwing seriously.  Notice the follow-through.  Notice the stance.  Notice the focused gaze into the splash zone.

It's fortunate for both of us that he is occupied for so long with this because I get to play in the background of this picture on the jumps, teeter-totters, drops and pump track.

One of our other favorite things is when I come coasting over to check on him.  I make sure he sees me coming, then I scream, "Ahhhh!" and slam on my brakes just inches before I reach him.

He closes his eyes and makes a defensive scrunchy face while he listens to me skid closer.  Then he opens his eyes, laughs and signs "more."

When he wants to watch me take the jumps, he runs to the back of the park, climbs to the top of the hill and sits up top while I climb up and jump down, climb up and jump down.

I don't know if he likes to watch because I'm his mom or because he is interested in the actual stunts.  But we did take him to the bike races this weekend for the Bell's Beer Copper Harbor Trails Fest.

As a family, we marched up the Overflow trail to check out the downhill race.  This is where riders bomb down the crazy terrain.  Brady P. got to watch and clap for the racers as they whizzed by.

I don't think he enjoyed it as much as when he watches me, so I guess I'm part of the main attraction in his terrain park life.  

I am flattered.