Wednesday, September 25, 2019


Brady P. is in kindergarten.  What comes with legitimate school enrollment?


Luckily, we worked in his book all summer, so he is used to sitting down with me, his pencil and some pages to mark.

He even kind of enjoys his homework, but maybe that's because I started offering him a reward after he does it all.

Yesterday afternoon was hot, so I promised him ice cream.  It totally worked!

The latest homework was a math pretest.  Man, he is so smart. I believe he really understands what's going on when an adult asks him to solve the problems and count and so on. He struggles with making the correct symbols, but at least he puts the pencil to the paper, can make a line in the correct direction and can make a circle.

So I guided him through the pretest (the test is today!), and he paid attention for the most part.  But when he didn't, I asked him, "Braeden, do you want ice cream?"

"Yeah!" he chirped.

"Then please count these balloons."  Or please do whatever the next question asks for.  You get it.  It's total bribery.

Is that wrong?

Well, he did three pages of homework, and then we went out for ice cream as a reward and not just a treat he may otherwise take for granted.  So, no.  I don't think so.

Kids need to feel a little motivation to get through things they don't necessarily want to do.  Heck, even adults do!

Do you reward yourself for getting through hard projects or tasks?  This world is full of them, and sometimes it's nice to know there is a light at the end of the tunnel (for lack of a better cliche).

I don't always reward myself for getting through the day, but I am fortunate to get to do mostly things I like throughout the day.  I choose them.

Even cleaning!  I spent most of the morning deep cleaning and reorganizing my house starting in one corner and working on because I just had a good deep cleaning of my heart and soul.  Now my house needs to match! 

But then, for me, the reward is the Feng shui-ness of an organized and functional home.

Here is a picture of my progress today so far.

Just kidding!  That's so boring for you!

Here is a picture of Brady P. eating ice cream at the general store on the bench because that is a habit he will not give up.  If we get ice cream, we HAVE to eat it on the bench.  

Ice cream face commences!

Enjoy your day!  And if nothing else, give yourself a pat on the back and say, "Nice job, me!  I made it through another day!"

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.