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.