Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Can't Stop Love

If you've been keeping up for the past few months, you know that Braeden loves animals.  Anything to do with a farm is magic to him.  He can make many farm animal sounds with his mouth even though he can't speak.  And Old MacDonald is his idol.

So while he is at Grammy and Grampy Rogers' house for the week, he gets to hang out with two goats, a miniature donkey, a cat, chickens and a black lab.  He loves all the animals.  He wants to chase the chickens, pick up the cat and pet the doggy.

But one of the animals actually loves him back. 

Bella, the donkey, has become his protector.  She follows him around the yard.  She stands by his side.  She nuzzles her head into his face while he gently strokes her cheeks.

Braeden embracing Bella

Notice his hand on her cheek.  Notice the gentleness in her eyes.  Notice how close they get.  He looks at her like he looks at me with his cold hands on my cheeks.  I would imagine she melts too.

They snuggle.  They love.  That's what lovers do.

Grammy gave me the report of all the fun they have together.  He likes to feed her "cookies." He will hold out his mittened hand, and she will gingerly nibble it off his mitten.

He likes to feed her hay.  He will grab a mittened fistful (which usually amounts to a few sparse strands), walk over to where she is and hold his hand out for her to nibble whatever is left.

Braeden making sure Bella is getting enough hay

Oh, my goodness sakes.  Just look at him watch her!  They follow each other around.  Grammy says that they just hang out together while she does chores, and she can just trust that they will take care of each other.

My little farmer.  He's enamored.

So my next thought is, How do I get Bella to Copper Harbor?  Well, that is in the works.  At this point, I feel that they should be together.  Brady P. has shown affection for many animals, but this one loves him back.  That kind of connection is too beautiful to lose.

Root for me on this one.  They deserve it.  You can't stop love!

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Dance Parties

Admittedly, I am a dancin' fool.  But so is Brady P.

We have recently started our mid-morning dance party sessions.  I will play songs that I really like to dance to, and he dances with his own moves.  He will usually take one of his animal figurines in each hand while he dances.  Often the pig in one hand, and the bull in the other.  

I noticed a couple songs that he really likes.

His two current favorites are Kelly Clarkson's "Love so Soft" and OneRepublic's "Love Runs Out."  Noticing that he dances with a particular zest to these songs, I gave him signs for them.

"Love so Soft" starts with birds chirping, so I ask, "Do you want to listen to the song with the birds?" as I flap my hands like a bird.  

"Yes," he answers by slapping one hand on top of his head.

So when he wants to hear that song, he either points to the JBL speaker or signs "music" by swinging one hand from side to side.  Then he flaps his hands like a bird.

I will play it loud, and we dance and smile and hoot.  My favorite part is when, in the chorus, she sings, "and it's sure gonna cost ya!"  Brady P. throws his hands in the air on the "ya!" as the word raises in pitch.

I always laugh at that.

When he wants to hear "Love Runs Out," he stomps his foot because we call that the stomping song.  It starts out with a good stomping drum beat.  He stomps through most of it except for when the energy really picks up.  Then he throws his hands in the air, gallops wildly and makes an overly excited face.  

That makes me smile and shout "Wooooo!"

So that's all fun, and we have a great time.  But he's getting a bit obsessed.

He wakes up in the morning, and after his ritual of sliding some animal figurines down the ramp, he remembers the speaker and stomps his foot.  We have't even had breakfast.

Then when we get home from anywhere, he remembers the speaker, and he stomps his foot for the stomping song.

Or, since it's in my head from hearing it two dozen times a day, I'll accidentally whistle or sing a part of it.  Brady P. immediately recognizes this tidbit, and stomps his foot to hear it again.

During his dinner, he will stomp his foot.  If I pick up my iPhone (the source of all music in the house), he will stomp his foot.  Right before bed, he will stomp his foot.  HE WANTS TO HEAR THE STOMPING SONG ALL THE TIME!!!

He is stomping for me right now.

So what do I do?  I play it.  And we dance.  After it's over, he signs "more" by tapping his fingertips together.  "Okay," I say.  "We can hear it again."

I'm surprised some of the pictures haven't fallen off the wall.  He certainly has a good stomp.

So perhaps I have created a little stomping monster, but we both love it, and we'll continue to play his songs and dance til the love runs out.

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!