Sunday, September 16, 2018

Cam Fans - Week of Sept. 10th

Coral reef- ready to grow
"All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better." ~Ralph Waldo Emerson 

People tell us that Cam is a well-rounded combination of both of his parents: from his mom- hearty laugh and sensitive nature, from his dad- good looks and a love of science.
Coral reef- in a few hours!

Auntie Karen surprised Cam with a birthday/Christmas gift that arrives every month- Science Experiments!  Each kit contains everything you need to conduct your own at-home testing.  Making a coral reef was the first one out of the box.  Cam said "I really like science.  This is going to be so cool!"  After pressing colored boards into a base and adding solution, we waited for the magic.  Before long, we watched the coral appear which looked just like cauliflower.  We also learned about the Great Barrier Reef and its endangered species.  We are very thankful for such an awesome gift for a curious mind.

Saturday was made for a baseball game.  The weather was perfect for mid-September and the sun was bright.  The second game of the season also brought out the Cam fans!  Oma and Opa arrived early waiting for their grandson.  And a surprise appearance by Ms. Kathy (Cam's former teacher) and her husband Kevin made the day complete.  Cam couldn't believe it when Kathy walked across the field to see him.  His best bud, Brody, was happy too since these guys have enjoyed the same teachers for most of their elementary schooling.  The Aquinas Girls Softball team were the volunteers.  Cam's helper, Callie, was so nice.

We planned ahead due to the weather forecast and opted to share a picnic lunch with Oma and Opa in the playground area.
Cam requested time on the playground afterwards and was a bit surprised when his dad saddled into the adjacent ride.  Cam said "Dad, I did not know you were going to swing!" to which Chris replied "I'm never too old to swing with my son."  Just one of the many reasons we think he's the best dad on the planet!

Camology Quotes:

As parents, we appreciate all communication that comes our way in regards to Cam.  Jane was happily surprised to receive the following email from Cam's art teacher, Mrs. C.

Today, we watched a story called "Monsters Love Underpants", and designed our own Monsters in underpants. CAM HAD SO MUCH FUN! He was laughing and said
"This is the BEST art class!" 
I just adore him.  
Wait until you see his monster. It has 4 eyes, so it needs to wear two pairs of glasses. So fun!
Thanks for sending us such an amazing student!

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Baseball Begins! - Week of Sept. 3rd

"The noblest art is that of making others happy." ~ P.T. Barnum

Once in awhile we catch a nice sunset from our house.  It doesn't compare to Lake Michigan, but it still looks like someone painted the sky for us.
Cam is already into the new routine of 5th grade and excited about his new teachers.  This video was sent by Cam's art teacher and Cam is even quoted at the end of the 20 second movie.
Mrs. Konkle’s Class: Huskies in the Sunset22 Second Video
{In the words of Cam: "I think art is going to be great this year!"}

Also at school, Cam has settled into a new lunch routine and thoroughly proud of himself for being more and more independent.

Saturday marked the start of the fall 2018 WMML baseball league.  Cam is a Hope College Dutchmen for this season.  Anna, a current Hope student and one of our all-time favorite buddies, couldn't believe it!

Chris and Cam put the finishing touches on the batter box, including a fresh paint job, special stickers, new hinges and an overall inspection.  What a great makeover!

The Dutchmen were designated to play the first game of the day at 10am.  Cam's best friend, Brody, arrived early to warm up and per parent's request, the two boys are assigned to the same team.

As luck would have it, the Hope College softball and baseball teams were the WMML helpers and volunteers.  Even though the morning was a little cooler, the sun came out near the end of the game.

We also found one of our good friends, Miss April.  April has participated in the MFB Halloween parade for the last 2 years.  We chatted with her after the game and she will join us once again this October!

Sunday afternoon turned out to be the perfect day to find a new bike riding spot for Cam.  We drove up our old street, Windcrest, to the end where we parked our van and unloaded Cam's ride.   There is a nice stretch of smooth pavement for walking and biking. 
We did see our neighbor, Mr. Ken - aka 'Papa', who laughed and said, "Are you all lost?  I think you are on the wrong street!"

Camology Quotes:

Saturday afternoon, Cam was complaining about his ear popping and asked if we could get his ears checked since it had been happening for a few days.  We drove to the nearest medical center and noticed it was permanently closed.  While parked, Jane used her phone to check where the next closest center was.  She quickly showed Cam the location on her phone and the web page to prove it was open.  As we headed that way, our future technologist, asked:
"Mom, are the ratings for this med center good?"

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Fantastic 5th Grade - Week of Aug. 27th

"You swing your best when you have the fewest things to think about." ~Bobby Jones

5th grade began for Cam on a very warm Monday, August 27th.  Super excited and wanting to get to the bus stop early, we missed our photo op moment.

Cam's parents gave him a hammock swing for his birthday.  It's the perfect size for the corner window.  Truth be told, Chris and Jane have been seen taking a turn as well.  For Cam, he's able to relax and enjoy the great outdoors from a nice vantage point inside.

After only 4 days of school, the Labor Day weekend was upon us and Friday and Monday were vacation days for our school district.  Miss Amanda wasn't student teaching on Friday either so she came by to hang out with Cam while Jane was working.  Amanda loves chickens and she brought over a stuffed chicken that was a gift from her boyfriend.  Cam said it was the biggest chicken he had ever seen!

Per tradition, this time marks the end of summer and the best place to say goodbye to summer is at the cottage.  The weather wasn't cooperating too much and Sunday appeared to be our only day to potentially squeak out a visit to the beach.  After lunch, the cloudy weather was hanging on so we played some charades.  Oma is acting out the sport of...bowling.  Jane, Cam and his grandma had a hilarious time entertaining themselves and at some point, while they were laughing, the sun made an entrance.

The Lake Michigan water was actually warm and it was a bit wavy.  Sometimes, when September arrives, the temperatures cool considerably, but not just yet. 
Chris and Cam completed some science experiments at the shoreline as they dug a hole and placed a plastic bottle upside down.  The force of the waves uncovering the bottle and gravity made it pop up out of sand.  We all thought it was pretty cool.
After a few hours on the beach, we headed back up to the cottage where we shared a steak (and homemade chicken tenders) dinner, complete with fresh Michigan corn on the cob and Oma's homemade apple pie for dessert.
We were thankful for the sunshine, swimming, and family time.
Cam said it best in his dinner prayer: "Thank you for this food and this day and Oma and Opa and being here and our family.  Amen!"

Camology Quotes:

It's no secret that Cam is a bit doted on by his grandma. It seems that sometimes it's a bit too much of an expectation.
"I would like some Oma coffee cake, please."
Jane: "Cam- Oma doesn't always need to make coffee cake every time we visit."
(and of course, she actually did- Jane just hadn't seen it in the kitchen!!) 

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Happy Campers - Week of Aug. 20th

Emma & Cam
Nearly all the best things that came to me in life have been unexpected, unplanned by me. ~Carl Sandburg
Cam & Sarah

As the beginning of school was fast approaching, we enjoyed a farewell dinner with our forever friends, the Raisch fam, to say goodbye to Sarah as she says hello to Michigan State University.  Cam completed his first summer of being officially tutored by his longtime best bud, Emma.  Reviewing school activities in the summer with a buddy is definitely preferred to review with one's parents.

Over the years, we've seen a great deal of generosity when it comes to Cam.  We are still more than pleasantly surprised when others, who don't even know him, go so far above and beyond our expectations. 

Back in May, Chris, Jane and Cam took a ride out to Hungry Horse Campground to talk about collaborating together to build a ramp for the camp's newest cabin, Sedona.  The Sedona cabin was constructed in 2017, had more room than the Tucson cabin (where we had stayed for the last 2 years) as well as a larger bathroom with a small shower.  We had discussed the ramp idea last year after we booked our future reservation for the Sedona cabin in 2018.  Our thought was that Chris could help supply wood and manpower to assist with construction of a ramp.  After our quick consultation in May, one of the Campground employees indicated he had a friend who worked with metal. 

We heard nothing further and didn't check back in with Hungry Horse until our arrival on Wednesday of this week.  Upon check in, we were told the ramp had just arrived that day.  We truly couldn't believe how perfect it was for Cam!  We were beyond thankful that the wonderful owners of this campground understood our need and also future campers they could welcome due to this addition.  Not only was the shiny metal the perfect grade of height, but it also had a lip on both sides to warn if one was too close to the edge.  As an added bonus, it is completely removable and can be stored when not in use.  Because of the width of the stairs in place, there was still room next to the ramp to use the two steps.  'Auntie' Karen and Oma settled into the Scottsdale cabin, a few sites south of us while we unpacked at Sedona. 

Almost every eve, there's some type of activity at Hungry Horse and on the day we arrived, Wednesday, there was an evening hayride pulled by Mr. Norm's tractor.  Partway through the venture, the tractor stops at the farm where everyone can feed the horses, cows, goats and bunnies.  Cam's grown so much this summer, he's definitely gaining on the tractor tire.

Thursday was a perfect pool day and it was where we all spent the majority of the day.  A new life jacket from Oma was tested in the crystal clear water with Auntie Karen.  All of our rafts and toys were welcome additions for Cam and us. 

When we weren't at the pool, we enjoyed hanging out playing games.  Cam is getting quite adept at Guesstures and guessing the art of charades is one of his favorites.  We brought along a new game "Battle Sheep" given to Cam by Aunt Betsy and Uncle Jon for his birthday.  The strategic play and funny sheep pictures were perfect for our game loving family.
At the Scottsdale cabin, where Oma and Karen stayed, there is a ladder with a loft.  Somehow, Chris, Jane and Cam made it to the top.

Another first for Cam was riding his new bike nearly every day and for a long period of time.  Since it's somewhat boring to ride around one's driveway, the Hungry Horse Campground offers paved straightaways made for biking with the very light traffic and cautious drivers.  Many kids stay at this camp and have bikes.  Each day, Cam would meet new kids and everyone was so friendly.

It wouldn't be camping without tasty s'mores by the campfire which became a staple activity every evening.  A gazebo by the office hosts crafts as well as nightly movies.

All of the extra playtime and daily strolls with Oma and Auntie Karen kept Cam busy.  Chris and Jane were so thankful for their help and company.
The welcoming families staying there make this place an ideal destination.

Chris went camping quite a bit as a kid while Jane truly hadn't experienced it in the same since most every summer was spent at the cottage. 

Cam definitely has the camping gene and settles right into the area.  The day before we left for our 30 minute drive to Dorr, Michigan, Cam informed his parents "it is good for me to get away once in awhile."

Camology Quotes:

Even while camping, the routine remains for Cam.  Each evening, his internal clock (as we refer to it) knew when it was time for meals and bedtime.  On Saturday night around 10pm, Jane and Karen were enjoying the campfire when an ambulance went by.  We walked up to the front office to see if everything was alright.  They told us that a 5 year old girl had tripped over a wicker basket and part of the wicker stuck in her leg and needed medical attention, but that she would be ok.   When the entire story was relayed to our son the next morning, inquisitive Cam's first question... 
"Why was the little girl awake when it was so late?" 

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Elated to be Eleven - Week of Aug. 13th

“The bad news is time flies. The good news is you're the pilot." ~ Michael Altshuler

Eleven- the most syllables in a birthday number for Cam thus far.

Miss Amanda started her student teaching at a charter school, so her summer days with her buddy had come to an end.
Fortunately for us, Ms. Ann was available to spend a few days each week with Cam.  Since Ann is a former elementary school teacher and now teaches at the college level, she was super excited for her new 'student' to show off his reading skills and sight word work.

On Thursday evening, we were all invited to Amanda's Aunt Carol's pool for evening swimming.  The water was warm and it was fun to play.

Cam was anticipating Friday's activities, his actual birthday and a celebration at Craig's Cruisers.

Emma ready for go-karts
This is the second time Cam has experienced his party at Craig's Cruisers. 

History: In 1979 Craig Cihak and his parents Ron & Donna Cihak purchased property in Silver Lake, Michigan (formerly Bill’s Dune Rides). They started the first go-kart track with just 8 go-karts. Each spring for several years, new attractions were added. Campers and seasonal tourists at the beautiful sand dune vacation spot patronized the first Craig’s Cruisers Family Fun Center. As patronage grew, so did the business. 
In 1990 a second location was built in Muskegon, MI and in 1994 a third location was built in Holland, MI. Craig’s Cruisers wanted to be able to offer indoor entertainment for guests through all four of Michigan’s seasons. After much research and planning the doors to the fourth Grand Rapids location opened in December 1999.  
In the Grand Rapids location, there is a 25,000 square ft restaurant area and now a 36,000 square foot addition that includes a trampoline park and roller coaster.

Emma and Brody along with one of their parents were Cam's chosen best buddies to join him.  Oma and Opa arrived with an awesome cake from Ryke's and Ms. Ann joined us as well.  Craig's Cruisers is quite expansive and after eating, the activities began.  Arcade games and indoor and outdoor go-karts both were experienced, racing around two different tracks.
It had rained earlier in the day, but it cleared up enough to get outside and motor around in the bumper boats equipped with squirt guns.  This is Jane's favorite attraction and she was super excited Cam wanted to ride around.  Ms. Ann had her own boat and so did Chris.
A first for us was trying out the new indoor roller coaster.  Cam had never ridden a coaster before so he was a bit apprehensive but the challenge overcame his fear.
CC Roller Coaster 1 min video
It was just fast enough and gave your stomach a little flip on some of the turns and dips.  A great first experience for our 11-year-old roller coaster newbie.  It did help that Emma and Chris were directly across from us.

Our crew mastered the art of having fun and squeezed quite a bit into our three hours of celebrating.
Since Miss Amanda couldn't play at Craig's Cruisers due to work, she hung out with Cam for the evening and gave him 3 of his favorites- a movie they both love- "Shrek", a gift card for iTunes and a photo of the two of them.

Cam also shares a birthday week with Megan Raisch.  These two friends are six years apart and Meg was born right after Chris and Jane moved onto Windcrest.

The festivities seemed to continue all week and whether it was an awesome card, a text message or a was all appreciated from grandparents, friends and relatives and Cam was thankful for each and every one.
"The heart of the giver makes the gift dear and precious." ~Martin Luther 

Camology Quotes:
Cam follows rules, is very aware and questions the appropriateness of certain things.  This week contained both questions and comments.
"The movie was too intense, Mom."  (After watching about 15 minutes of 'Army Dogs' from library checkout)

"Do I need to change my age on Friday on YouTube kids?"