Sunday, July 15, 2018

A Camping We Will Go - Week of July 9th

"Camping is nature's way of promoting the motel business." ~Dave Barry

We celebrated this guy on Tuesday, an awesome dad to Cam and superb husband to Jane.  After work, the plan was to meet Chris for a Cam haircut and then head out for birthday dinner.  However, Jane and her son encountered some car trouble and Cam announced "this is not going to make for a good day."  But we had someone to celebrate and places to be, so we made it to dinner and ate outside in the sunshine at JT's, located just around the corner from the car repair shop.

Cam started his short stint with summer school this week, attending Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings from 9am-12pm.  He couldn't wait to see his friends and teachers.  Interestingly enough, the theme for this session is "Let's Go to Summer Camp!"  Well, that's kind of what we were planning....

On Friday, the packing brigade began with Cam supervising progress.  Even though we had a list, our intuitive son remembered a few things we may have overlooked.   It was a 3-hour drive to Charlevoix, Michigan where our final destination for the next 4 days and 3 nights was Fisherman's Island State Park.
Fisherman’s Island State Park boasts over six miles of unspoiled Lake Michigan shoreline. The island in which the park was named no longer exists. Due to years of lower water levels in Lake Michigan the island has become a peninsula now lush with native wildflowers. There are 80 rustic campsites with 15 of those nestled in the dune area along the Lake Michigan shoreline.

"Rustic" in reference to camping means outhouses only and wells to pump fresh water.  Bathing, if necessary, is recommended in Lake Michigan.  This was our 3rd visit as a family to Fisherman's, but our first time staying at a campsite right on Lake Michigan.  Our extended family friends (who first introduced us to the campground), Katherine (Cam's former nanny) and her husband Paul and son, Bexley, along with Katherine's mom, Miss Ann, had already been on the campsite for five days before we arrived.  Other friends, Zach and Aubrey were staying two sites away.  Our first sunset was nothing short of spectacular and the others didn't disappoint.  Staying in a tent and walking right to the beach in a few steps was the only way to camp, we all determined.  The beautiful weather certainly made our stay that much more enjoyable.  Cam floated for a couple of hours on a new green raft, compliments of Auntie Karen.  Jane lounged on a blue chair, given to Cam by Miss Amanda's Aunt Carol.  With a small rope, Jane kept connected to Cam as we lazed in the big lake and soaked up the sun.   In the meantime, Chris found a spot in the shade and tried out his hammock for the first time.

Per a tradition for Jane and Cam, each morning, they took their 20 minute ride to Boyne City to pick up a Starbucks coffee for Jane.  Normally, this wouldn't be an exciting outing but Cam and his mom hop on a car ferry in Ironton!  The four-car cable ferry began operation in 1876.  In the early days, the Ironton ferry was powered by horses.  It's a quick 3 minute ride on the ferry, but the panoramic view right from car in the middle of the water seems surreal.
Another day, we all ventured to the creek, south of our campground, where the boys played in the creek.

Of course, we had s'mores at the campfire with square marshmallows (why did it take so long to come up with these?!) and Cam decided he likes them best with Reese's peanut butter cups.
Another fun campfire experience was making popcorn on the fire with the famous Jiffy Pop.

You can take Cam out of his routine, but you can't take the routine out of Cam.  Our son insisted on completing his sight word tasks each morning, following his same usual activities of brushing his teeth and getting ready.  One of the best parts of camping, though, was the absence of electronics for our maturing boy.  Not once did he request use of the iPad to watch shows or play games.

We were thankful for the change of scenery, the renewal of close friendships, and the memorable time in nature along with countless bouts of laughter woven into every single day.
See you next year, Fishy Island- we can't wait!!

Camology Quotes:
In preparation, sometimes, Cam's parents lag behind their son's timeframe.  When we were finally ready for take off, Cam announced:
"Let's get this show on the road!"

Another choice quote from our weekend:
"What was camping like in the old days?"

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Celebrating Independence - Week of July 2nd

"And when it rains on your parade, look up rather than down. Without the rain, there would be no rainbow." ~Gilbert K. Chesterton

We started off the week on a low and high note in the same day.  Cam's van headed in for repairs and we were invited to a surprise party for Miss Ann completing a second Master's degree!   She was quite astonished to see so many gathered just for her.  Also in attendance was one of Ann's granddaughter's, Miss Ella.  Ella was so sweet with Cam and wanted to give him a big hug.

The 4th of July landed on Wednesday.  Cam eagerly planned to participate in the beginning of our Cascade parade.  Any kid can ride, walk or drive a powerchair in the bike parade.  Decorations are encouraged and Cam's ride was decked out with balloons and ribbons, all colored red, white and blue.
(Jane and her son found some pretty cool new editing software in Google photos to make the short video shown)

We kept a little surprise from Cam- Ms. Michelle was in town from Florida and couldn't wait to see her buddy!  She and her daughter Bekah were on stand by, anxious to see our parade participant round the corner.  Cam was totally shocked to see Michelle and we all had fun hanging out on the parade route.

The steamy weather pushed us northward for a day at the beach.  The waves were rolling but not too high. 
Cam chose to ride separately with Jane and Chris as they took turns on kayaking tours.

After a few lengthy rides, Oma was the chosen beach buddy to create some sand bakery items.  We were thankful for another delicious dinner on the deck again before departing for Grand Rapids.

On Sunday, Cam enjoyed indoor and outdoor activities.  Chris needed an office helper so Cam volunteered his services.  Equipped with a headset, Cam's dad kept in close communication checking things out.

We picked up a customized adaptive bike for Cam during the week and Sunday was his first opportunity to really test it out.  It's even equipped with a bell to announce his arrival.  We look forward to many hours of riding!

Guess what we're doing
next week?

Camology Quotes:
Using your manners has always been a staple in our household.  Cam is a trooper when it comes to remembering polite words and phrases.  Sometimes, though, his genuine kindness surprises even his parents.  When Jane was busy in the kitchen one evening, Cam asked:
"Would you be so kind as to stop what you're doing and help me?"

Sunday, July 1, 2018

In a Jam - Week of June 25th

Chris left some 'notes' on the sugar:)
“If you ever find yourself in a jam, just take a moment to sit and think; calculate things, look at every angle, and then wonder where all that jam came from.” ~ Melanie Kay Taylor

John Lennon said it best in his lyrics, "Strawberry fields forever."
"This takes a LOT of stirring!"

There is something about the delicious taste of homemade strawberry jam.  It is a labor of love and time consuming, but a task that Cam was anticipating with excitement.  Oma traveled in to spend a couple of nights to join in the sticky fun.  With two flats of the tasty red fruit and an abundance of sugar, the assembly line was in full force.  However, Jane (in haste) quickly misread the directions and the entire first batch had to be reconstituted, hence the look on Cam's face in the picture to the left.
THANKS to the "Jammers"- Amanda, Cam, Oma :)

When all was said and done, though, we ended up with more than 30 containers of jam and plenty of smiles at the finish line!

On Thursday evening, the annual Windcrest neighborhood picnic was held at the Raisch backyard and even though we've lived one street over for more than 5 years, we still feel a part of the Windcrest family.

All neighbors bring a dish to pass and with all that jam, we opted for angel food cake, strawberry jam and whip cream as our offering.
Ken (aka 'Papa') joined in some bubble making fun with Cam.

A new daily activity for Cam is working on head stretching by laying on his stomach and looking up.  The Grand Valley PT students gave him this homework for the summer.  It's easy to see our growing boy is getting longer these days.

The weekend brought humidity and steamy weather which prompted our crew to head north.  We also had to celebrate Oma and Opa's 40th wedding anniversary!

The breeze and warmer water were a perfect combination for a beach day.
Oma and Opa treated us to a delicious dinner from Old Channel Inn- we were most thankful for the awesome meal which Opa picked up for the family.

The best part was dining on our own deck with a scenic perspective of our favorite big lake.  No matter how often we see it, the view never gets old...

Camology Quotes:
It took some time, but Cam has become a great advocate for himself and in some cases, a leader taking charge.  One evening as he was getting ready for a shower, we didn't know where Chris had gone.
"Mom, let me take care of this.  I will get his attention.
'Alexa: broadcast - Dad where are you?' "

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Pool Party - Week of June 18th

"We didn't lose the game.  We just ran out of time." ~Vince Lombardi

There are days when it seems you plan an agenda down to the minute.  Cam was scheduled for two Grand Valley sessions as well as an extracurricular visit to Mary Free Bed.  After morning chores and studies, Amanda and Cam headed to GV meeting #1.  It was a very productive session with the PT students, possibly influenced by the fact that one of the grad physical therapists was named Cameron too. 

Next up was a trek to Mary Free Bed.  Jane met Amanda and Cam there with a picnic lunch.
A group of recent graduated high school students who expressed an interest in health care were spending the day touring Mary Free Bed.  One of Cam's PT buddies, Ms. Andrea, asked Cam if he and his mom would talk to the students about their therapy experience.  We entered a room where all of the kids were gathered and Cam asked them each to introduce themselves, which they all did.  It was a fun half hour as Jane and Cam asked questions and answered inquires.  Immediately following the MFB time, Amanda and Cam headed back to Grand Valley.

One evening, Amanda's Aunt Carol and Uncle Jim invited our family to swim in their saltwater pool.  Amanda's grandpa, Ken (aka Papa) was there too.
For Cam, it truly was an awesome experience because of the water floats Aunt Carol had.  Not only was he relaxed, but he felt secure and safe too in the buoyant toy.
None of us had been in a saltwater pool and we all decided it was far better than the typical chlorine variety.  Cam was most impressed that Aunt Carol could control the underwater pool lights with an app on her phone!

The weekend brought Auntie Karen in from Chicago to visit and spend time with our family.  Cam was excited to learn a new dice game called LCR (Left, Center, Right) that Karen taught us to play.  At one point, we lost one of the die and after searching for quite a few minutes, Jane asked Cam to back his chair up.  He began laughing and said, "can you hold this a minute?"  Turns out, the mischievous kiddo was holding one of the dice in his hand. 

We brought Auntie Karen to the cottage on Sunday and although it was a rainy morning, the afternoon skies opened up to glorious sunshine. 

A long walk on the beach produced a rarely seen crayfish on the Lake Michigan shoreline. 
Cam enjoyed a kayak ride with his mom and expert paddler, Auntie Karen.  As they were coming in after a leisurely excursion, some afternoon boaters produced some rolling waves that sideswiped the kayakers with a rogue wave. 
The afternoon beach activities came to an end late in the day.  The fun continued with a barbecue chicken dinner feast out on the picnic table.  Oma's homemade apple pie topped with delicious vanilla ice cream finished out our meal.
The events of the week left us feeling blessed and thankful for those who continue to give of themselves and their time- as we know, the most precious gift of all are memories made with those we love.

Camology Quotes:
Cam is a routine boy, in nearly every activity.  That also includes staying "regular" and most mornings after Amanda arrives, he completes his morning program.  On one such occasion, he announced to Amanda...
"Wow, it smells like a cow farm in here!"

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Let the Summer Fun Begin! - Week of June 11th

"If you saw a heat wave, would you wave back?" ~Steven Wright
"It was June, and the world smelled of roses. The sunshine was like powdered gold over the grassy hillside." ~Maud Hart Lovelace

Once school is out for summer, the activity list begins to grow...

The first part of the week was dedicated to animals.  Miss Amanda was pet sitting again and Cam had a chance to visit his favorite guinea pig, Priscilla Pigsley.
Jane had to travel overnight to St. Louis for work, but Amanda kept Cameron plenty busy.

At our local library, they offer a different event for kids each week in the summertime.  Farm-on-the-Go was the chosen experience on Tuesday where a variety of farm critters took over the library lawn.  Cam pet a rooster, a bunny, and a goat.

Next up, was the first trip of 2018 to visit Boulder Ridge Wild Animal Park (website).  Amanda, Cam and Emma headed out to the unique zoo to spend the morning feeding the animals and riding the tram.
Watching the giraffes bend their long necks all the way down to kid level is always a surprise to Cam.
And the pigmy goats looked like they would try to gobble up our ten-year-old if he got close enough.  Perhaps the funniest pic of the day was the camel smiling for a selfie next to Miss Amanda!

Friday's adventure was a reserved afternoon time slot at Reeds Lake for the Sailing Clinic with Mary Free Bed.  We were surprised to see Cam's "Halloween 4 the Rest of Us" buddy, Miss April.  She had signed up for sailing as well.  These two met a couple of years ago and have hung out at many different events.
It was a surprisingly calm afternoon and our first course of action was to take a pontoon ride around the lake.  The relaxing ride lasted about 30 minutes and then it was time for our sail.  Captain Mary took Cam, Amanda, Jane and two other passengers on our voyage.  Due to lack of strong winds, though, our venture was short but fun.  A paddle was used to bring us partway back to shore.

One may think this may be enough for one week, but we weren't done yet!
Saturday was the walk for Lori's Voice, an organization geared specifically to help children with special needs.  

Lori's Voice is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization which was founded and established to help young people with disabilities. This organization evolved from Lori Hastings' great love for children and the realization of so many challenges young people face when living with a disability. Living with a disability herself, Lori understands the medical needs that are not covered by insurance. Lori's Voice takes great pride in the fact the the entire organization along with our fundraising activities is completely handled by volunteers. No one at the organization takes a salary.

The best part of the morning was seeing how many people came out to support the event even in the pouring rain!  We met Lori and Dave Hastings years ago at the West Michigan Miracle League.  They attend nearly every game just to lend their support and pass out blankets when it's chilly.  The annual "Walk for the Challenge" at the Berlin Raceway in Marne, Michigan was underway with inclement weather.
 The track is almost half a mile long and paved which makes it perfect for power chairs, wheelchairs, strollers, etc.  The money raised goes toward Lori's Voice and its mission.  Local news was also in attendance to cover the story.  One of the volunteers gave Cam a blue cape made for all of the kids by a supporter of the charity.  And, our son/hero met some other "superheroes" while we were there!  Ms. Lori is definitely a superhero to Cam!

From rainy day to sunshine and warm breezes, we drove north on Sunday.  While Grand Rapids peaked in the high 90's that day, Lake Michigan kept us out of the red as we enjoyed Father's Day on the big lake.

The waves were rolling and Chris had a good workout paddling us south just to keep up with the current.
We shared a delicious dinner with Oma and Opa, thankful to be able to eat outside on the handmade picnic table built by Chris and his son.
On Father's Day and every day, we truly appreciate all of the many talents and gifts Cam's dad possesses, but mostly, we are just simply grateful for the gift of him.

Camology Quotes:
When Jane was heading home from St. Louis, Cam was helping Chris with some of his work tasks at home.  Chris called on speaker to get an update on a ticket he had placed.  Cam was listening and they were on hold for nearly 20 minutes.  There was music and intermittently, the announcement "your call is important to us, please continue to hold."  After hearing this quite a few times, Cam announced to his dad...
"If it's important they should answer the call."