Sunday, January 29, 2023

More Sleep*Ins - Week of Jan. 23rd

As a younger kid, it seems one cannot wait to wake up, start the day and get going.  As Cameron's parents, we had somewhat given up on the idea that our son would ever learn to "sleep in" - especially on the weekends.  When it seemed to magically happen less than 2 years ago, we almost felt it was too good to be true.  Now, in true teenager form, Monday mornings are a bit more difficult when it comes to waking up.  It has been reported that supposedly Albert Einstein consistently slept for at least 10 hours and there is no denying his genius status.

The colder weather and snow returned this week and for once, it was welcomed knowing that it would secure our upcoming Sunday skiing venture.

After a busy week, Cam and his mom decided to find a movie to watch Friday night.  They landed on "Clue" which was an old film (circa 1985) based on the board game.  Although it was a bit silly, there were funny parts along the way.

On Saturday, we loaded up the van following lunch to see Oma and Opa for our pre-planned afternoon and evening with them.  We were under a winter weather advisory for the duration but it didn't seem that it would affect us too much.  After setting up some new furniture and attending to some items, we sat and relaxed for a bit.  We decided it would be smart to head out to dinner a little early since the snow had begun falling.  Red Lobster was our destination to celebrate Opa's birthday.  We enjoyed an appetizer and tasty biscuits as we awaited our meal.  Cam had a perfect view of the kitchen door and definitely kept a close gaze in that direction.  The restaurant was surprisingly busy and we all enjoyed our chosen fish dinners.  

The snow machine ramped up outside and we were surprised to see our cars covered upon exiting.  Oma indicated she could drive back so that Chris, Jane and Cam could begin their trek back to Grand Rapids.  Little did we know that our winter weather advisory had actually changed to a winter storm warning while eating our food.  It was slow-going and a bit slick on the way home.  Oma called us when they arrived back at Rosy Mound.  In our own driveway, there were roughly 5 new inches of snow.  The van couldn't quite make it all of the way up, so Chris backed us down and proceeded to snow blow the entire driveway before we could enter the garage.

We were all especially tired that evening and slept in until 8:30a the next morning.  With the fresh snow, we anticipated great skiing conditions Sunday afternoon and we were not disappointed.  A big surprise (although it shouldn't have been) was how crowded the ski resort, Cannonsburg, actually was.  It seemed that everyone had come out to enjoy the slopes.
Team Cam was all smiles as everyone appeared more secure in their balancing acts.  We put in a full two solid hours of skiing.  Our son secured a hot chocolate on the drive home commenting how much fun it was.

Also enjoyable was a trek over to Renew Mobility.  A big shout out to the non-profit for posting Cam's picture.  Chris and his son drove over to drop off equipment we were no longer using and pick up a manual chair that can be used where Cam's powerchair may not be able to go.  We are so thankful for this organization and they are most appreciative of their Youth Ambassador, Mr. Cam!

Camology Quotes:

On the weekend evenings, Cam typically enjoys a frozen treat or similar dessert.  Jane took a new container 
of Reese's ice cream out of the freezer  after dinner to allow it to thaw just a bit prior to scooping.  Cam asked if he could have some yet and his mom explained it needed some time to melt.  And her teenager responded with:

"Mom, I'm acutely aware."

Sunday, January 22, 2023

Details Required - Week of Jan. 16th

"It's the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen." ~John Wooden

If you're telling Cam a story about something that happened, we encourage you to be armed with every single bit of information.  It may feel like an inquisition at times, but Cameron thrives on each and every element.  

Jane had ordered single silicone microwave popcorn "poppers" but didn't alert Chris or Cam.  The funny guys decided that perhaps they were meant to go over your hands for some reason. ­čść

After a typical week, Ms. Amanda and Cam spent Friday evening hanging out and watching a movie.  They enjoyed Chipotle for dinner which Cameron declared was delicious.

After everyone slept in on Saturday, it was a lazy start to the day.  While Chris was nursing a cold, Jane and her son headed north after lunch.  They were invited to Coco's for dinner.  Cam appointed himself the safety supervisor for Calla as she used a child utensil to "chop up" mushrooms.  Calla's baby brother was wide awake when Cam asked if he could hold him
for a minute.
Dinner included salad, beef stroganoff and noodles, roasted broccoli and garlic bread.  A dessert of homemade brownies with ice cream, hot fudge and whipped cream topped it all off.  Cam didn't recall having beef stroganoff before and stated it was so good!  And the sundaes are in his absolute favorite category.

Sunday afternoon we were scheduled for our 2nd ski outing at Cannonsburg.  It had rained a few days during the week so the conditions were not ideal.   Luckily, the resort was able to make enough snow to have a base.  Chris was on the upswing and ready to head to the slopes with Jane and their son.
Cam said he felt even more comfortable this week and his team seemed to be in a groove as well.  It wasn't the best skiing due to some slushy elements, but we were all happy to have the opportunity to participate.  At the end of Cam's lessons, Jane told the volunteer trio how thankful we are for their time and expertise.  It is the only way our family can safely be on the slopes together!  Check out Cam's video ⛷

Camology Quotes:

Cam is always eager to hear about a happening or event that happened to anyone he knows.  Chris started talking about an incident that happened at his work and it involved a key fob.  Cam immediately called Jane over and said:

"Mom, you need to tune into this story..."

(The story: A co-worker of Chris "checked out" a company truck to drive to White Cloud, roughly an hour from the office.  The "check out" is a key fob which if inside the vehicle, allows you to start it without placing a key in an ignition switch.  This co-worker drove and was pulled over by the police in White Cloud because the truck was reported stolen.  It turns out the actual key fob for that vehicle was already under the seat and the key fob the co-worker grabbed was slated for another vehicle...hence why it was reported stolen!)

Sunday, January 15, 2023

Winter Adventures - Week of Jan. 9th

"Believe you can and you're halfway there." ~Theodore Roosevelt

It was a busy week of school for Cam.  Even during the weekdays, he is completing physical therapy activities throughout the school day.

Cameron prefers to have things to do on the weekend and this one was set up for success.

Our family was invited, through the non-profit Lori's Voice, to visit The Critter Barn on Saturday morning.  This farm was launched in 1984.  The founding family moved from the city to the country.  Within six years, they were welcoming kids from schools on field trips and the West Michigan farm is now a destination to over 100,000 visitors.  The Critter Barn recently purchased adaptive equipment through a grant they applied for.  The equipment will enable kids with different abilities the option to use an adaptive bike or a stroller with a tray.  The tray is an excellent spot for bunnies to hang out!  It was a very brisk morning seeing the critters, but we loved seeing all of the different animals.  Cam's favorite part was seeing the pigs.  

From Zeeland, we made our way to Grand Haven to meet Oma and Opa for lunch at The Stable Inn. There was quite a bit to choose from on the menu and it was easy for Cam to navigate in the restaurant.  

After a filling meal, we drove over to Rosy Mound to help Cam's grandparents with a few to-dos.  Jane and her son love organizing and they worked with Oma to put away holiday decorations while Chris installed a motion sensor light in their hall closet.  We watched a Disney animal show and before we knew it, the late afternoon had set in.  After hugs and goodbyes, we had an uneventful trip back to Grand Rapids.  That evening, Cam requested to watch a movie that had a person in a wheelchair.  We chose "The Upside" because Chris and Jane had already seen it and felt that Cam was mature enough to understand some of the adult themes.  Cam really liked the film, especially the funny parts and the fact that the main character had a power wheelchair similar to his.

Jamie Paolinetti of Disabled Sports USA has said "limitations live only in our minds."  

That could be a motto for the  Adaptive Ski Association of West Michigan  which is a volunteer organization.  It was established in the early 1980s as Cannonsburg Challenged Ski Association (CCSA) to offer individuals with disabilities the opportunity to participate in winter activities. CCSA started with only ten students, one outrigger, a bamboo pole and one sit ski, and has now evolved over the years into a professionally trained organization with a full range of adaptive equipment, ready to serve a wide variety of needs. In 2022, the name was changed to Adaptive Ski Association of West Michigan (ASAWM).  

We had enrolled Cam for a full session which consists of 5 two-hour lessons over the course of 5 weeks taking place on Sunday afternoons.  Chris and Jane are able to buy lift tickets and ski with their son too (as long as they don't get in the way of the professionals).

Cam's team of three volunteers consists of Jason, the team leader, Grace and Vincent.  All of them are extremely proficient skiers.  However, tethering the adaptive skis that Cam uses is very different from just traversing down a hill on your own.  One of the most difficult aspects is positioning the adaptive equipment on the chairlift.  It actually springs up to place the sled portion on the lift itself.  It's quite a bit of maneuvering.

Since Cam is involved in a lesson, he is able to wait in the "short line" for quicker ascent to the top. 

Fortunately for Cam's parents, they are allowed to stay in the same line as well.  Even though Cam tipped over twice, he took it all in stride and requested another trip up the chairlift.

At the end of the lesson, our teenager told us "I was nervous before it started but now I can't wait to do it again next week!"  His parents couldn't agree more ­čśÇ

Camology Quotes:

Cam has his own set of "bad" words that he doesn't like to hear and tries not to use himself.  At the top of his list are the words 'dumb' and 'stupid.' He learned from a very young age they were not good words to use to describe others.  Cam and his dad were working on a network issue at home one evening.  They were both frustrated over a blocking element in their troubleshooting.  To express his own negativity, Cam chose to spell out his frustration.

"That's d-u-m-b right there!"

Sunday, January 8, 2023

Bring on 2023 - Week of Jan. 2nd

"What the new year brings to you will depend a great deal on what you bring to the new year." ~Vern McLellan 

"And now we welcome the new year. Full of things that have never been." ~Rainer Maria Rilke

Our New Year began with our Arizona family consisting of Grandma Sue and Layna with us until Thursday evening.  Monday was our busiest day trying to fit in multiple things.  Cam and his cousin played lots of different games together and luckily, they aren't too competitive and actually enjoy the interaction of the games.  
Everyone assisted with the removal of Christmas tree ornaments.  Layna was on her uncle's shoulders (and head) to reach the highest decorations at the very top. 
For lunch, we made our way to a newer place, Bobcat Bonnie's, to dine in their outdoor igloo we had reserved.  Each of us ordered something different and we all approved.  The heater inside the dome and blankets to use were greatly appreciated.  Plus, it was a new, unique experience for Cam's grandma and cousin.
We traveled to Ms. Amanda's home on Tuesday to say hi and to see her puppy, Otis.  Grandma Sue and Layna spent quite a bit of time with Amanda last summer and wanted to be sure to see her before they left.
On Wednesday, Cam had a scheduled haircut and his cousin wanted to come along as well.

When Thursday arrived, it seemed all too quickly that we were taking our final pictures and packing up.  
Cam and Grandma Sue have a standing picture each time they see each other now to determine how much Cam has grown.
Layna had to get in on the standing shot so we can begin checking her height progress as well.  
At the airport, there were hugs all around.  This was the very first time we could say, "see you in a few months!" 
One of our family Christmas presents we announced is for Chris, Jane and Cam to travel to Arizona in the spring to spend time with family out west.

Friday felt much too quiet in our household.
That evening, Cam and Jane rented the movie "Lyle, Lyle Crocodile" to watch since they had read the books together.

On Saturday, we were looking forward to another family Christmas present- dinner and tickets to our local minor league hockey team, The Grand Rapids Griffins.  As an added bonus, it was also the 2nd annual sensory friendly game.  
Cam has always had an aversion to very loud noises and this game promised the following: no goal horn, decreased microphone volume, decreased music volume and a quiet room if you wanted to watch the game away from the crowds altogether.  
We ate a delicious meal at a restaurant we didn't even know existed inside the arena!  Thankfully, we had made reservations because it was quite busy.  
We found our seats and settled in for the exciting view of the hockey game.  
We were all laughing at the sign depicting "Wacky Kids Cam" knowing it was showing camera shots of kids in the stands but cracking up with the play on words.
Before leaving, we stopped in the quiet room to check it out.  Not only was it quiet, but so relaxing.  Cam thought it was especially cool that you could see the game on big screen tvs as if you were right in the front row seats.
Although the Griffins didn't win the game, we definitely felt like the night was a big winner for us!

Camology Quotes:

Cam and his cousin, Layna seemed more like friendly siblings during their time spent with one another.  Jane told them they were like a brother and sister who got along really well.  When they were playing games together, they both commented.

"You're fun, Layna, and funny!"
"We're good together, forever and ever." ~Layna

Sunday, January 1, 2023

Feast and Family - Week of Dec. 26th

"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend." ~Melody Beattie

Due to our blizzard conditions on Christmas Eve, we had rescheduled a gathering to Monday.  The Feast of the Seven Fishes which derives from the seven sacraments of the Catholic Church, celebrates the abstinence of meat until Christmas Day.  We had planned to partake in this tradition with the Haroldson/Bumphrey family and chose to still do so two days later.  There were far more than seven fishes and they were all delicious! 

On Tuesday, we said goodbye to Oma and Opa, thankful they were able to remain an extra day and most grateful for their gifts and staying with us over the holiday.  Even though the snow still blanketed the grassy areas, the roads were clear for driving.

Cam had time with Ms. Amanda for a couple of days while his parents completed some work tasks they both needed to attend to.  These two made a healthy chip dip, worked on activities and visited Amanda's pets.

Friday evening couldn't get here soon enough as we awaited the plane arrival from Arizona with Grandma Sue and granddaughter, Jalayna on board.  Their direct flight was only about 20 minutes late.  
Chris picked up his mom and niece bringing them back to a house full of hugs and excitement.  
As is typical, we attempt to pack as much fun as possible into our visits.  

Saturday was New Year's Eve and first up was an outing for Cam's cousin Layna and her Uncle Chris.  They had a reservation for tubing at our local ski slope.  The "magic carpet" escalator takes you and your tube up the hill so you can easily jump on and make your way down. Back at the house, Grandma Sue, Cam and Jane enjoyed time to catch up on life and chat.  
That evening, we decided to have a little dance party with our disco ball lighting up the room to the beat of the music.  Sparkling grape juice and snacks completed our celebration.  Although the U of M football game didn't go our way, the house was filled with giggles and screams hanging out together.

On New Year's Day, we had to keep the fun going.  Board games, puzzles and watching a movie were all on the January 1st list.  An old-time favorite is Candyland, which Layna won.  We watched the movie "Encanto" because Grandma Sue and Jane had never seen it.  The music was good and the film became a sing-a-long at one point.  After dinner, Cam, Layna and Chris bundled up to take the garbage down the long driveway for the next morning pickup.

The two cousins make each other belly laugh by a simple gesture or remark.  Even though they officially met in person just a couple of years ago, it's easy to see they'll have a lifelong friendship...most of the time (we're quite certain) filled with the best giggles!

Camology Quotes:

Sometimes a thank you is unprompted and unexpected.  There are times when Cam seems to be in tune as to when they are needed most.  When getting ready for bed one night, perhaps he noticed his parents were a bit tired from a long day of work. 

"Thank you for always helping me.  I know you have to help me more than other kids and I really appreciate it.  I want you to know that."

Sunday, December 25, 2022

A Very, Very White Christmas - Week of Dec. 19th

"A balanced diet is a Christmas cookie in each hand."

The First Christmas Cookies 
Those who would like to take credit for the invention of the Christmas cookie will have to arm wrestle the Germans for it. They believe that Weihnachtspl├Ątzchen, a term that refers specifically to cookies and broadly to holiday treats, encompasses the origin of Christmas baking. The tradition goes back to the monasteries of the middle ages where monks had access to sugar and the spices we now associate with Christmas cookies: cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and cardamom. It’s interesting that the word “cookie” comes from the Dutch word “koeptje” because the Dutch brought the first Christmas cookies to the new world in the 1600s. Four hundred years later we live in a country that can’t imagine Christmas without cookies. In fact, cookies may have become popular at this time of year because, unlike pies and cakes, they can be stored for longer periods of time. Before refrigeration, it was possible for cookies to be baked in advance and kept on hand for visitors or given away as gifts. 

Modern Christmas Cookies 
In the average American household at the beginning of the 20th century, sugar was a luxury, iceboxes were used to keep food cold, and cooking was done on coal or wood stoves. As the gas range was introduced, cookies became more sophisticated because temperatures could be precisely maintained. Refrigeration allowed for the use of chilled doughs. When the Great Depression of the 1930s ended, buttery, sugary cookies took America by storm.

In preparation for the Christmas holiday, our cousins made their way to Grand Rapids on Wednesday for some holiday baking. Coco, Libby and Coco's kids Calla and baby Arthur arrived in the afternoon.  Amanda was hanging out with Cam and ready to join in.  This was the first time Cameron met his newest cousin, Arthur.  He is very excited to have a fellow boy cousin.  After frosting sugar cookies, dipping oreos in chocolate topped with andes mints, and baking peanut butter thumbprints with hershey kisses, we declared our afternoon a success!
Everyone in our Grand Rapids area and along the surrounding lakeshore kicked their activities into high gear with a confirmed blizzard warning beginning Thursday at 4pm and lasting through Christmas Eve/Saturday at 7pm.  
We were relieved to welcome Oma and Opa early in the afternoon on Thursday.
The snow machine began and didn't show any signs of stopping.
Chris went outside to snowplow twice daily.  A barely visible owl appeared in our treeline.

Our activities for both Friday and Saturday consisted of staying inside, gathering a few presents, cooking and choosing movies to watch.  Our theatrical list included the sequel to A Christmas Story entitled "A Christmas Story Christmas" as well as National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation and Noelle, a Disney movie.  Our dinner menus were comprised of salmon, flank steak and honeybaked ham.
Cam was acutely aware of the tasks needing to be accomplished on Christmas Eve- stockings to be hung, any presents still needing placement and a couple of surprises he had worked on with both of his parents individually.  He provided ongoing reminders throughout the day.

Cameron, as a 15-year-old, enjoys sleeping in on weekends and during school breaks.  Christmas morning was no exception.  Chris and Jane, along with their son, weren't awake until 8am.  Oma and Opa soon followed.  As we leisurely took our time with stockings and presents, it was joyful but serene.  The personalized gifts and experiences given were favorites.  The afternoon and evening was relaxing as we talked about the morning activities.  We all found ourselves in the living room enjoying a show.  Well, some of us (namely Opa) may have been so relaxed that the time incorporated a nap.  Even though the weather outside was truly frightful, inside our home was indeed delightful!

Camology Quotes:

As our teenager continues to figure out life, he came upon an important life lesson.  Prior to Christmas, Cam was very happy creating a personalized water cup for his mom with Chris ("Love My Mom" inscribed) and choosing an experience for his dad with Jane (Muskegon Luge lesson).  During the day on Christmas Eve, Cam said to his mom.

"I'm so excited for you and dad to open your presents.  I think I like giving more than receiving!"

Sunday, December 18, 2022

Rolling into Break - Week of Dec. 12th

"I like to compare the holiday season with the way a child listens to a favorite story. The pleasure is in the familiar way the story begins, the anticipation of familiar turns it takes, the familiar moments of suspense, and the familiar climax and ending." ~Fred Rogers

This week seems to bring on the phrase "fast forward" as we realize it is only two weeks before Christmas. Cam was scheduled for three half days on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday for school.

On Tuesday, Jane received a message we'd all been anticipating- we would soon be welcoming another cousin into the world.  Our new cousin, Arthur, was born Wednesday morning and we were all super excited!

Friday evening, Jane & Chris went out to dinner while Amanda and Cam hung out together and enjoyed Culver's delicious meals and the customary dessert of ice cream custard.

As we worked to finish Christmas projects, Saturday was filled with activity.  Cam assisted both of his parents independently, keeping each of them on task. Chris and his son made chocolate covered cherries and pretzels for Chris to bring into work for a holiday luncheon. Cam helped his mom with packages to mail out to Arizona, California and the east coast.

On Sunday, we planned a trip to see Oma and Opa in Grand Haven. The decorations at Rosy Mound were so festive and they wanted us to enjoy them as well.  Cam still loves making the trip knowing that he'll be able to see them and also push every door button for entry and exit.

Oma had completed quite a bit of Christmas cookie baking so of course, everyone sampled.  We brought Cam's grandparents an early gift of an Amazon fire stick so that Chris and Cam could configure it for Oma and Opa to watch the Disney + programming.

It was easy to say goodbye this time knowing that Jane's parents are headed to Grand Rapids a few days prior to Christmas.  We were also entrusted to transport the delectable holiday cookies back to our home.  Oma appeared a bit nervous and Opa a bit sad that he wouldn't be able to sneak any more cookies for a few days.  Jane promptly put them away upon arrival as they await our family gathering. Let the willpower begin!

Camology Quotes:

On Friday evening, Chris was teasing Cam as he was getting ready for bed indicating he was certain his son had saved him some delicious frozen custard from his dessert.  Without missing a beat, Cam responded with:

"Have fun checking the freezer, Dad!"

Sunday, December 11, 2022

Picturing the Story - Week of Dec. 5th

“Every picture tells a story. But sometimes it's hard to know what story is actually being told.” ~Anastasia Hollings

Without pictures, you would simply being reading words instead of seeing visuals in Cameron's blog. Steven Sasson invented the self-contained digital camera at Kodak in 1975. It weighed 8 pounds and had only 100 × 100 resolution (0.01 megapixels). The image was recorded onto a cassette tape and this process took 23 seconds. His camera took images in black-and-white and was the size of a toaster!

We recently found a picture dated 1903 of Jane's great grandmother sitting in a loveseat that was made by Jane's great great grandfather.  The loveseat is more than 120 years old!  It's been recovered and is now a favorite perch for our cat, Stella.  The original photo was scanned, uploaded to Walgreens and made into a canvas print where it is now displayed.

This week we received our Christmas cards from Shutterfly and went to work sorting, stuffing and addressing.  It is a family tradition with an assembly line concept.  
Each year, we have a mini photo shoot to use the pics in our cards. The Gaupers have taken our family pictures since 2014 and we always marvel at their ability to capture their subjects so well.  A sampling shown here is just a fraction of what they send with the release rights in addition to web size and full resolution, all digitally.

On Saturday, Chris and Jane were scheduled for two holiday parties and Ms. Ann had committed her afternoon and evening to hang out with Cam.  
In the morning, Chris and son made two loaves of homemade bread in preparation for the afternoon gathering for the Lori's Voice board of directors holiday party.  Taste-testing followed and it was approved.

After Cam's parents left the late luncheon, they picked up dinner for Cam and Ann and arrived home before 5:30p.  

Following a quick wardrobe change, they were off again for the Fishbeck holiday party. Since Chris is the IT Director, the expectation was an on-time arrival and a later stay.
While the couple had a great time chatting with everyone and eating dinner, Cam and Ann watched the Beethoven dog movies and ranked them accordingly.

Sunday, we headed northward to bring lunch to Coco, Max and Calla.  It was a chilly day but toasty warm inside looking out at Lake Michigan.  We gifted our cousins the same new ornament we added to our own tree this year.  In honor of the University of Michigan Wolverines winning the Big 10 championship and headed to the Fiesta Bowl and hopefully, the National Championship, the handmade decoration seems very fitting. Go Blue!

Camology Quotes:

In Cam's class at school, they were creating positive messages about their families and each other.  One of his classmates provided the following message: "You are great at not running us over" which made us all chuckle.  Cam wrote the following about his parents:

"Dad, you are nice!" and "Mom, you are kind and helpful."