Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Ummm, Smile?

An interesting thing about little kids who are learning to talk (well, at least Brady P; he's the only one I've thoroughly observed.) is that they don't always know what shape their mouth makes while they are trying to produce a sound.

For instance, when I ask him to say "ooooo," he spreads the sides of his mouth out instead of pushing them together like an O.  We've tried a mirror and diligent repetition,  but I think it will just take some time.  I've seen him make an O shape with his mouth more lately, even if he doesn't match it with his sound quite yet.

Here's another goofy thing kids do when they can't see their mouth.

Smile terribly when you ask them to smile.

They can be jovial and laughing, but the moment you ask them to smile, it's like they suddenly use their brain and concoct an abnormal facial expression that somehow feels like a smile.

But it's not.

"Smile, Braeden!" the photographer told him on school picture day this week.

I've seen his smile face before, and it's really not becoming.  But somehow, that mouth posture transformed to something slightly hideous, yet comical.

Here's a photo from picture day that the photographer  recommended we do over.  I agree!

Not a framer!

And his morning aid thought it was funny, so she sent me a couple other pictures to show me that he still does it!



What a goon!

I'll have to show him that face in the mirror, and see how he reacts.  It's definitely not a smile.  It's upside down!

Well, I hope you at least got a real smile out of this.  He never ceases to crack us up!

Wednesday, September 11, 2019


Ummmm, wow!

Thanks so much for all the encouragement, support and praise for little Brady P. and his team!  I still shed a couple tears when I read that last post, but it surprised me that other people did too.  

You're feelin' me.  I dig it.

Well, so far, so good at school.  It definitely takes a lot out of him, but that means he is putting a lot in.  Now it's just my job to deal with a wreck of a boy at the end of the day, and I can do that.  That's nothing new!

Because he (usually) wakes up the next morning ready to do it again.

I have not had a chance to talk extensively to the teacher or his aids about all the details of his day, but things should be a little less hectic for everyone soon enough, and hopefully we can share it with you.  If anything, parent/teacher conferences are in November.  I know they will come to me with any issues prior to that.

Soooo, do you want to know how I am doing?

Even if you don't, too bad.  Because it's my turn.

I am doing absolutely amazing!

I wake up, get him ready for school, buckle him on the bus, wave goodbye, then turn around and bounce up my front steps.  From there I can do whatever I want.

I mean ANYTHING!!!

Well, as long as I'm back by 2:30!

I can go back to sleep, I can meditate, I can clean my kitchen, I can write, I can do my art, I can visit friends, I can go to the garden, I can dance to MY songs, I can go out for an adventure.  Anything.

Yesterday, I went to town by myself.  Let me tell you what that means in comparison to going with wee man.

I got my list ready (it was a full day), my purse, water, coffee and snacks.  I did NOT pack a diaper bag, double check its contents, make sure he was sufficiently fed first, change a poopy diaper last minute, wonder how he was going to do on the hour drive there and back and all our stops in between.

The drive went smooth for me.  I meditated and processed life.  I did NOT have to keep saying, "Braeden, what do you need?  Sweetie, we are almost there!  No, I'm not playing animal songs right now, it's the radio.  Would you like another fruit strip?  Did you just throw your water?  Now you can't have a drink until we get there."

I went to all my shopping places, appointment and errands with just a purse in my hand.  I did however, notice every single other mom who had her kids with her (even a dad or two) and I felt a compassion for them that I hadn't known bef0re.  Because now I am on the other side.  Now I can see it -- I'm not swimming in it.  I did NOT have to calmly struggle to get his stiff, unyielding legs into a shopping cart, wonder if he was going to make it through the next place, sing him songs to soothe him through a store, buckle his rigid body in and out of the car seat a dozen times, stop for food when he was hungry or wonder when or if he was going to fall asleep on the way home.

So it was a peaceful trip.  

I missed him in places, of course, because he always says hi to people, and it is so stinkin' sweet.  But the freedom is unreal.  And I will get to do that each time, unless he has his own appointment.

Thank you, school.  For giving my little man a worthwhile place to be during the day, and giving me the freedom to sort my life out and start moving forward again.

Ahhhh, forward.

I am grateful!

Thanks for reading all my mumbo jumbo!  Here's a video that shows how tough this little man is.  Have a great week!

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Kindergarten Strong

Most parents assume that their child(ren) will go to kindergarten when they turn five years old.  I mean, it's just a standard part of society, right?  It's the norm.  They don't think twice about it.  It's just what happens.

Well, for Brady P, that wasn't just going to happen on its own.  There was nobody, absolutely nobody telling me from the start, "Oh, your son has Down syndrome?  That's no problem for the educational system.  He'll just blend right in.  It'll be fine."

Nope, nobody.

Because it's true.

Everybody had to work hard:
  • Braeden started learning more and more after his health improved around 5 months old after heart surgery.  
  • He continued to hunger for the praise of finding the right letters, numbers, colors, shapes, etc before he was two years old.  
  • He worked with therapists to progress in his ability to say letters and sounds.  
  • Grammies, Grampies and Dad worked with him on all of their special talents.  
  • I worked extensively with the Copper Country Intermediate School District and the Grant Township School District to set up what we might call "Special Education" in the one room schoolhouse.  *Ummmm, excuse me???  The one room schoolhouse right in Copper Harbor???  You bet your sweet behind!!!  We didn't even have to move to a bigger school system!!!*
  • This summer, Braeden and I worked 4 days a week on holding a pencil, drawing letters and numbers and cutting with his special scissors because that was the biggest recommendation before he started kindergarten.

Yup, little Brady P, almost 5 years old, is in kindergarten.  Right now.  Allowing me to write this weekly blog in a timely fashion, work on my career, work on my house, get out for adventures, make nutritious meals, go to town by myself and just plain feel like the door swung open on my mom cage.

Let me tell you a little bit about yesterday.

We both got up earlier than usual because the bus was due at 7:40 am.  Yup, the bus picks him up in the morning!!!

He seemed chipper, got ready for school, put on his backpack and I took a couple pictures of my little kindergartener.

Workin' it!

We got to our bus waiting spot, the bus came, I took another picture, buckled him in and kissed him on the head.  Then his dad went on and wished him well too.  Aaron and I both cried.  I high-fived him as the bus drove off.

Ready to jump on that bus!

Then I walked up to my door bawling.  I sat down on my couch and bawled.  I looked at his cute pictures from the morning and bawled some more.  I thought about all those bullet points that I just mentioned above and I bawled.  Tears well in my eyes as I type this now even!

I was so proud of that little boy.  He is so independent in his spirit.  He is so smart.  He tries so hard.  He loves to feel like one of the kids, and the kids just love him.  Yes, he is extra work (just ask his aids at school!), but he is so worth it.

At his very own desk!

He came home yesterday with a smile on his face, and woke up today ready to do it again.

If you have been keeping up on this blog, you know how much I have dedicated my life to that little boy over the last five years.  Him going to kindergarten was never assumed.  It was not even expected.  But you know what?  He deserves it.  I deserve it.  His family and this community deserve it.

I am so absolutely grateful for everyone who helped make this possible.  It was a giant team effort held together by a mama who refused to give up.

People always told me I was a super mom or an amazing mom or that they could never do what I was doing.  I never knew how to respond to that because I was in it.  I was just doing what I had to do.

But now, looking down from the climax of this achievement, I can see what I did.  I pushed the whole time.  And the support from my friends, family, community and school districts were pivotal in keeping me strong enough to keep moving forward that whole time.

I seriously can't believe it.  Brady P. has shown me once again that anything is possible.

And again.  I'm bawling.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019


While pondering what to write about today, I decided to let Braeden choose.  I looked over at him with his face full of ketchup and hands greasy with fish.  There was my answer.

I'll let him tell you about it:


Hi.  This is Braeden.  I love to eat fish.

I love it so much.  If somebody talks about eating fish, then I really remember that I like to eat it.  Then that's all I think about until I get to eat fish.  I will remind whoever is around me that it's time to eat fish.

There is a colorful fish truck in our front yard.  The fish there is really yummy.  I can eat it all.  Craig makes the fish, and he is really nice to me.  I like Craig.

Sometimes a friend brings fish for Mommy, and she cooks it up for me.  I can eat a whole fillet of fish by myself.  Sometimes Mommy and Grammy don't even get much fish because I can grab handfuls of it so fast and stuff it in my mouth and chew it and swallow it and stuff in more.  They always look surprised at me when they see how fast I can eat a lot of fish, but they really shouldn't be surprised anymore.

It makes me feel really good to eat fish.  And after I eat all the fish, I feel full and I don't think about food for a really long time.  Except for ice cream.  I can always eat ice cream!

When I was in my mom's belly, I made her eat a lot of fish.  I made her go out for fish sandwiches and eat the whole thing.  Thanks, Mommy!  It was really good.

Maybe someday I will learn how to catch fish and eat them myself.  Daddy will have to teach me cuz Mommy doesn't fish.  

I think that's all I have to say about fish.  Okay, see ya!

Saturday, August 24, 2019

By Special Request

You asked for it!

Okay, even if you didn't, other people did, so you can just enjoy then.

Here are the explanations for the above videos that somehow formatted funny and I can't type above them.  Ha!

The first video is our performance of White Rabbit.  Brady P. was a diligent little donation gatherer and dancer.  Bless his heart!

The second video was a real tear jerker for the audience.  We sang the Beautiful song together. He wasn't all in this time, but at least he didn't shout NO! at me!

Enjoy a slice of our little performance in the park.  Thank you so much to everyone who attended, applauded, donated, laughed and grooved.  And thank you, Daddio for capturing some of it.  It was a magical time.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019



It's a pretty busy week for me.  Tomorrow (Thursday) my band, Powers of Air, will be performing in the Copper Harbor park from 7-9pm.  You should come!  We do mostly classic rock tunes.

Brady P. will be there.  I wonder what he will do when he sees me on stage!

And don't worry, I'll get you that picture I promised.


Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Chariot Rider

Oh, my gosh.  Is it Wednesday already?

Somebody might need to remind me of that until Brady P. starts school in three weeks because we've just been enjoying each minute of these last days of summer.

Yeah.  I said it.

The nights are getting cooler.  I can tell what's coming.

But it's all going to be okay.  I don't think we'll have any regrets from this summer.  It's probably been the best one ever!

One thing we started doing is going on longer bike rides together.  I'll let him tell you about it.


Hi.  This is Braeden.  I'm really cool.

Sometimes I go for a bike ride with my mom.  I get in my chariot behind the bike.  I can crawl in all by myself.  I am really proud to do it.

I sit inside really nice and mommy buckles me in.  Then she puts on my helmet.  I am really cool when I wear my helmet.  I can knock on it with my hand and it sounds loud.  

But sometimes I take it off while I'm in there.  Mommy gets mad and puts it back on.  She tries to be nice about it because she has hers on too, so we are both cool.  And safe.

Then she takes me up the hill.  It's a little slow because it's up a hill.  But I like to watch the trees and bushes and flowers go by.  I can see through my chariot really good.  

The way down is better, though.  I like that we can go fast sometimes.  If I had my way, we would go fast all the time.  When I learn to ride a bike, I will ride really fast.

Some roads are bumpy.  I don't like that.  It's too much bumping around, and sometimes I drop my snack.  But mom will say that we're almost there, and I try to wait.  It's hard to wait sometimes, especially when I want to get out and walk.

She doesn't let me walk much when she rides her bike because I take too many breaks and don't always go the way mommy says.  But sometimes I can walk and she will pop wheelies for me.  Like when we eat berries off the trail.  They are really yummy and I'm good at finding them.

Okay, but now it's time to throw rocks, so see ya! 

Picture coming soon!  If I forget, remind me!!!

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Trail Coordination

I do a lot of different things here in the Harbor.  And actually, so do most people who live here.  It's just what we do!

Two main things I do are raise Brady P. and coach mounting biking.

Those things may seem quite different from each other, but today, while traversing the trail to Hunter's Point beach with him, I saw how much they are the same.

Imagine you are in the Hunter's Point parking lot.  There are a couple ways to get to the beach, right?  You can take that boardwalk close to the shore, which is what we (and most people) usually do, or you can go in at that little trail just west of the boardwalk.

Since Brady P. was already hoofing it west, we decided to take that trail.

As a woman with strong, nimble legs, that trail is exciting and fun to hike.  For a more delicate person or, say, a tiny boy who is still learning balance and building strength, that trail is quite challenging -- even impossible in spots.

That totally translates to learning to mountain bike.  

I imagined that walking those conglomerate rock drops for him would look riding some of those big conglomerate drops on the mountain bike trails for me.  It's a paralleled situation.

So many times I have ridden to a rock or obstacle on my bike only to stop and get off, saying, "Nope.  Not today!" and walked my bike down.

Whether it was fear of falling or the realization that I didn't have the skills, coordination, strength or balance to traverse that obstacle that day, I decided to walk.

I watched Brady P. do that same mental evaluation today.

In some spots, he looked down and lifted his little feet over the roots and rocks either slowly and carefully or with quick confidence.  He knew he could do it somehow.  Some spots, however, were too steep for him, so he sat down and slid on his bum to a safer spot.  

As I watched him, I didn't give encouragement.  Nor I didn't say, "Oh, be careful!"  I just let him do what he thought was best, and observed his strengths and the areas he needs to improve on.  Some are mental, and some are physical.  But he did it all safely.

It seems to me that he knows what he can do and what he's not ready for.  But I can guarantee that it won't be long before he will do that whole trail without sitting down. He is determined. 

Just like me when I conquered the Red Trail on my bike.

Not hiking, but showing you how cool he is!

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Sweet Reunion

So it happened.

I got to see Brady P. again!

This was not the longest that I have ever gone without seeing him, but it felt like the longest.  For both of us.

Do you know that feeling when you long for the person you put so much energy into?  The person who feels like your purpose in life?  The person who returns all your labors with unconditional love?

It's hard to be away from them, isn't it?

Lucky for me, I got to see my person again.

It was 11 days since I saw him last.  It was nearing the end of full day number one of Women's Weekend in Copper Harbor -- an intense mountain bike event that I help coach at.  I was jogging down to the Mariner for our social event in an attempt to stay out of the looming rain.

But I didn't want to be social.  I wanted to give my little boy a hug so bad.  I didn't want to talk to anybody else except Brady P.  I caught wind that he arrived in town that afternoon, but I didn't know where exactly to find him, and I didn't have time to search.

Between my heavy footsteps, I heard a woman's voice ask, "Is that Amanda?"  In my current state, I didn't even want to look.  I thought it was a lady I would see in just a couple minutes anyway.

However, when I looked across the street, I saw Aaron's fiance, Grammy and little Brady P!!!

I don't remember what I shouted, if anything, but I sure remember how I felt!  I couldn't believe he was right there in hugging range!

Thank you to the angel on my shoulder who reminded me to look both ways before I crossed the road, so I didn't get hit because I was ready to B-line it to my B-man.

I ran across the street with wings on my feet, and I watched his face just beam as he shouted, "Mommy!!!"

It was like one of those slow-motion parts in a movie when two people reunite.

I scooped him into my arms and laid on the grass gripping him to my chest.  Tears rolled into my hair as I cried how much I missed him and how much I love him.

He hugged me so tight and gave me a sweet kiss on the lips.  "Mama!" he said again and held me close.  Then I got another sweet kiss and I felt him petting my cheek.  

My heart officially melted.

Oh, that sweet boy!  

Our ground hug sustained through one more sweet kiss and more face petting and me sobbing while squeezing him so tight.

Then he got up and almost ran across the road like a little stinker.

I couldn't believe it.  I got to see my little boy!  Hooray!  That's just what this mama needed to be able to move on with the day's activities.

We've been having fun since then, and I find that I have  a little more room to make him even more of a priority.

We cleaned out the pool the other day, and he helped me fill it back up!  I am so proud of my little helper.

Pool boy!

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Still Waiting...

Brady P's vacation just keeps getting longer.  Hopefully I can see him tomorrow.  There is nothing like a hug from a little boy who misses his Mama.

This blog will resume next week after we reunite.

Thank you.  

Stay awesome.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

To Grandparents' House He Goes

Brady P. is on vacation.

He's in Wisconsin with his mom's parents then going to his Dad's parents' place.

What a lucky boy!

Here are a few pics from my parents' house.  There's always lots to do!

Find Bigfoot

Pose all serious-like

Pick Blueberries

Stand as tall as the corn

Maybe he will get a chance to tell you all about it when he gets back next week.  Til then, do your best, and cut yourself a little slack once in a while.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

The Boo Boo Song

Brady P. goes through his favorite songs and obsessions.  For the last month or two, it's been the "Boo Boo Song."

Here's a video of it, so you can get the tune.  If you actually watch the whole thing, the ending is pretty cute.

The way this obsession manifests is quite interesting.

Every time Braeden gets a boo boo, he says, "Ahhh!  Boo boo!" and then I (or whoever else is around) has to kiss it.  Life cannot resume as normal until someone kisses his boo boo.

"Does it feel better now?" I'll ask.  

"Yes," he says, and gets up like nothing happened.  Unless it leaves a big mark.  Then he won't leave it alone.

I'll let him tell you a little about it.

* * *

Hi.  This is Braeden.

I am really cool.  Sometimes I get a boo boo.  Like when I fall down or bump into something.  I feel it hit my body right away, so I look at the spot where I got hurt to see if there is a mark.

Sometimes it's a white scrape.  Sometimes it's red.  Sometimes the rocks and dirt stick to it.

It needs a kiss.  Even if it doesn't hurt, it needs a kiss.  That part of my body needs to know that it's going to be okay with a kiss.  Mommy and Grammy always kiss my owies for me.

Sometimes I give myself an owie by hitting my arm with a rock.  Mommy says that's not nice and she won't kiss it.  She says that if I hurt myself on purpose then I have to kiss it myself.

I am good at finding boo boos on other people too.  The people I spend time with always have boo boos to kiss and fix.  Right now Mommy has one on her arm and I kiss it lots of times each day.  She says it's getting better.  I know my kisses are helping.

I like to listen to the Boo Boo Song.  It's funny at the end when the Daddy hurts his thumb then he cries like the kids.  

When Mommy brushes my teeth at night, she sings me the Boo Boo Song, and I get to pick which body part we sing about.

Okay.  Bye!

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Toot Slides

I'm going to keep this lighthearted and jovial today.

Yesterday Brady P. and I were eating lunch on the front porch.  I shared my bites with him between his hoop shots.  For maximum comfort, I used his little plastic porch chair to put my feet up on.

He hates that.

So he pushed my feet off his chair and carried it over to the other side of the porch.  He sat on it all high and mighty.  Then he decided to get down.

As he slid off the front of the chair, his shorts-wearing thighs rubbed the front curve and made a fart sound.

He giggled.

I looked over and asked, "Did you just do a toot slide?"

He laughed again, and hoisted himself back into the chair.  Then he slid down.


His legs chattered it again.

This time I realized what was going on.  I looked over at him and we both busted out laughing.  He laughed so hard I thought his eyes were going to shoot out of his skull.  He squeaked on his next inhale.  That's my favorite laugh of his.

What do you think he did next?

The same thing about 50 times!

Each time his legs made a slightly different sound, so I commented a few times on their differences.

He loved it.

And we both laughed so much that neither one of us could chew for a while.

After a bit, I said, "I'm going to take a video of you doing that, Braeden."  So I got my camera and tried a few times.  Of course, none of them were nearly as funny.  His laugh is very stifled when he knows someone is recording.

But here's a video of the sound his thighs made.  He smiled, but it's not the effect I experienced earlier.

I hope you'll at least get a chuckle!