First off, I have to tell you how quiet it is around here. It's so peaceful during the week. It certainly is that time of year when we only see people we know.
Secondly, you will be so proud. Especially if you have been on this journey with me since A Little Slice of da Harbor. I got to adventure three days in a row!
That's right. No death-defying Brockway mountain descents, but some of my most favorite things to do around the harbor in the winter time.
I better back up and say that this was the first week in a month and a half that I didn't need to blow snow or take care of administrative duties while Brady P. was at his short three days of school. So I took some freedom time.
Monday my friend Stacia and I traversed the harbor from the Harbor Haus lot to Porter's Island. It was a blue sky day, baby! Just what I was hoping for.
The ice was thick and the wind was tolerable. Here's a picture of the ice.
Sleek and sexy bubbly ice
I try to make it there every winter to check out the ice volcanoes and broken tundra of ice fragments, but this year I saw something new.
Other people's tracks.
What??? Other people went out there too?
Yes, siree. It filled my heart with glee!
We saw snowshoe tracks and fat bike tire tracks. Signs of life from friends in the harbor! Here is proof of the bike track next to the lake.
Bike tracks on Porter's Shore
Now don't be upset that the background is blurry. I was focusing on the tread in front. Besides, I really didn't get any good landscape pictures to do the scenery justice. I'm a writer, remember? But here's another try.
Looking toward East Bluff
Tuesday was a super duper treat because it just doesn't happen every year.
WE ICE SKATED ON THE HARBOR!!!
Yeah, buddy! As Stacia and I traversed Monday, I thought, Man, I bet we could skate on this!
So I told my pro ice skater friend Tanya about it, and she was all in.
We shimmied out a bit past the snow patches until we found a decently smooth area for two. Before you knew it, we were spinning, jumping and whirling through the air!
No, wait. That was Tanya. Only Tanya was doing that. I just marveled at her and tried my own meager tricks. I only fell hard once! (If I ever get pictures of that day, I will post them here!)
It was awesome. We seized the day. It's pretty much the way to do it up here. I'm so grateful for my friends that are up for anything when I get the chance to be just Amanda again.
Wednesday was a bit drizzly, but there was one other place I've been eyeing up during cross country skis this winter: the ridge across Lake Fanny Hooe. Brady P. and I take the wagon out to the fishing dock by the boat launch on Fanny Hooe often, so I knew the ice was thick. I couldn't find anyone to go with me in a pinch this morning, so I just went alone. I've done dumber things alone.
Looking east on frozen Lake Fanny Hooe
One cool spot of note was Manganese falls, of course.
Manganese Falls from the bottom And here's a slow motion video from below that bridge for you just for fun!
After that rushing action, I climbed pretty much straight up the ridge until I hit the Keweenaw Point Trail. Someone had been skiing up there!
Want to know who else I saw evidence of? Otters! I imagined them sliding down those slopes on their bellies (because I saw their slide marks) as I huffed up the hills. Ah. So lovely. It was really refreshing to be out there all by myself after all this time that I used to do those adventures everyday. Now they are sparse, but I am still so grateful to be breathing that fresh air, following my curiosity, finding treasures in Mother Nature and just plain feeling connected to the earth. I think we all need to do that, so I am glad that it's still a priority for me when I can swing it. Well, thanks for spending another few minutes of your time with me! See you next week -- spring break for us!
I phrase that vaguely because I honestly don't know how to describe him sometimes. But I can describe what he does. Here's one of his latest.
When he knows what he wants, he will tell me in a word or two. Sometimes those words are accompanied by a sign. "Eat." "Music." "Computer." "Rocks." "Help, please." Etc.
But sometimes I ask him a question and give him options. All children should be able to make decisions about daily events and choices. So we've been doing it more. However, I have never seen a person react to a choice quite like Brady P.
"Braeden," I'll say as he zips up his jacket. "Would you like to wear the football hat or the rainbow hat?" I ask, holding them in front of him.
He looks up at me like I just told him the juiciest secret in the world. His eyes get big and his lips mash together like they are sealed. I think he even blushes.
Then he starts to rock from side to side lifting each foot off the ground as he sways. His eyes shift from the football hat to the rainbow hat and back again. Then they shift up to me, beaming, as if to say, "Are you ready for my answer, Mama? It's going to be the best answer ever!!!"
But he doesn't say a word. He just rocks back and forth with that tight-lipped grin and wide eyes.
"Which hat would you like to wear?" I ask again, hoping it will prompt a response. But instead it shifts him into another fit of facials. He will scrunch up his nose, open his mouth and stick out his front teeth while squinting his eyes. Then he will lift his eyebrows while he rocks side to side thinking about which hat he wants to wear. But he already knows. He is being dramatic about it. He is keeping me in suspense. However, I am not suspended. I already know, too.
After a couple minutes, if I still have the patience, he will look at me like he is about to burst with the most exciting news in the world.
Then he points to the football hat.
"Okay!" I shout. "The football hat it is!" And I put it on his head.
Whew. Another two-minute decision initiated for Brady P.
Watching him go through this process is really interesting to me. I can just see his wheels turning like they did when he was learning to kick a ball.
It's like I can watch the path of neurons firing in his body, through his brain and out his pointed finger. Quite amazing. And when I ask if he wants milk, juice or water with his oatmeal, he'll do the scrunchy face. But, like with the hat, I already know the answer because his lips form an "m." "Mmmik!" he shouts as if he just gave the world's greatest speech. You know what? For a little boy who is proud of his decisions and can actually verbalize them in a way someone can understand, I'd say it's a pretty great speech, too. Guess what. You didn't miss out! The Vitality buy two get one free sale is still on until St. Patrick's Day! Woohoo! Shop now and get one item absolutely free with coupon code 3COLORS. I've even added free shipping for these last few days. I mean, what more could you really want shopping online? Thanks for your support. See you next week!
I'm not an expert on the Mom subject, but I do have a unique situation. And within that unique situation, I have found out what works and what doesn't.
In a nutshell (as you probably know), I am a single mom of a child with Down syndrome living in Copper Harbor.
I have been asked by multiple people, "How do you live in Copper Harbor through the winter like that?"
I'll tell you how.
I am crazy.
No really. "We're all here cuz we're not all there," is a quote on a shirt at the Gas Lite general store.
I love living in Copper Harbor. And while maybe it wasn't the smartest thing for me to do by myself while Braeden was in emergency mode four years ago, I still did it because something in me just wants to be here. I haven't felt at home like this anywhere else.
But with that choice comes survival techniques. A person certainly can go crazy up here, and you don't need to be in my situation for that to happen. Just take a look around!
So I wanted to share with you a few of the tricks that really work for momming it here at the end of the earth. Because without them, both of us would be crazy.
1) Change the Scene
Preschool is very helpful. It's 7 1/2 hours a week of liberation for me and Brady P. -- from each other. He sees Mr. North, who he adores, and he sees his friends. He sees other books, toys, games, people, chairs, lights and everything. It just needs to happen. Switch it up.
Also, I have finally created a place for Brady P. in the basement. No, I don't lock him up down there. I go there with him, so he can play in a different environment with different toys. While in the basement, he is mesmerized with his race car track. Two cars go around and around about 18 feet of track. The coolest part is that he watches them and purposely makes obstacles for the cars, so he can rescue them. What a guy.
He also has several modes of gross motor physical therapy to play on while improving his balance, strength and coordination. I love it.
2) Music All Day Long
Now, I don't know why I used to think this was a bad thing. Brady P. looooooooooves music. He absolutely adores music. Especially music about animals.
So, I kid you not, from the moment he wakes up, he turns on the speaker, so I can play music. Usually Bounce Patrol to starts things off. Then we cycle through animal sounds and Old MacDonald and even my songs for a bit, so we can have a dance party or two.
The difference I see in him when the music is either in the background or the main event throughout the day* is simply amazing. I see improvements in his speech as he sings songs and says the animal names, and I see improvement in his focus and over all demeanor as it soothes him.
*We do take music breaks during the day. When we eat or I have to make a phone call or we FaceTime family. Then, when we're done, he tells me, "Music!"
3) Ask for Help
The other day I woke up to a leaking roof. Well, I'm not bringing Brady P. on the roof with me while I shovel. "Hey, friends: Help!" and help came. Bless their hearts.
After the storms I needed to snow blow. I'm not going to set Brady P. out in the banks for him to bruise his ears from my noisy beast and get covered in flying powder! "Help, friends!" and help came.
I am so lucky and grateful for the people in this community that come to our rescue when life hands us more than we can do on our own. I honestly could not live in this town if it wasn't for them (you know who you are!).
So thank you, Copper Harbor for wanting to keep us around.
Those are the main tips I have for our harbor living. Maybe you can or can't use them in your own life, but I find it interesting that there are a few things that just need to happen for the survival of our wits.
Here's another tidbit for you.
I don't often think about this because he is a little rock star, but Brady P. just had his four year anniversary of his patched up heart.
That's right! Four years with his new heart -- a heart of gold, as I like to think of it -- and he is doing amazing. I hardly notice the scars on his chest, and I rarely hear him breathing too hard.
Brady P. He is my little angel boy.
Here's my favorite picture of him as a fragile little nugget just after he was born. He even needed to be on oxygen at the beginning.
My fragile little nugget
Yup, those were the days of living on pins and needles. Luckily, today we just live on EIEIO.