Sunday, February 11, 2018

Splendid Sledding - Week of Feb. 5th

“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.” ~ Zig Ziglar

About this time of year, Michiganders start complaining about winter hanging around.  Typically the snow begins to melt a bit and then another round of the white stuff appears.

It may be chilly, but it does allow us to engage in some spectacular outdoor fun!  Last time we ventured out sledding, we braved the front yard hill and this time, Cam chose the backyard.  It was a long trek out there and the snow was a bit deeper than we expected.  The incline is just steep enough to make for a super fun ride, especially when Jane can hop on the back with her own 'mini' sled, with brake attached. 
The most hilarious part of the day though, wasn't captured by picture or video.  Chris had inflated our sledding tube and when he arrived in the backyard, it didn't look quite blown up enough.  When we asked, Cam's dad indicated that he had to patch a small hole, but no worries.  Then, Chris took a running leap and landed on his stomach on the tube, which simultaneously 'popped' and collapsed underneath him.  The tiny hole that was patched had become a large opening that ran from one end of the tube to the other!
After quite a few sledding runs, we ventured over to Raisch's pushing/pulling Cam's sled with one parent in front and the other in back.  When we arrived at the Raisch family backyard, we were able to see some college girls playing broom-ball on their homemade ice rink!
The next evening, the Raisch girls (minus a sore throat Megan) arrived for dinner.  Anna was a special guest since she was on winter break from college. 

Stella likes to hang around in the evenings, typically on her usual perch, the top of the couch. 

Our Sunday evening dinners with our Raisch buddies give us the motivation to look forward to the following week and leave any consequences from the previous week far behind.

Camology Quotes:
Cam is a happy kid.  However, make no mistake that he does find himself occasionally in trouble for not following a parental request.  On a school evening after he knew he was in trouble, he asked if he would have a consequence.  Cam's parents told him he would not have any time on his iPad after school the next day.  When Amanda arrived to watch him after school, she shared the following conversation they had...

I do not like the consequence.
Well then, you shouldn't do things that make you have a consequence. 
(long pause) "I guess I will just need to listen to my parents."

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Back to Work - Week of Jan. 29th

A quiet Saturday morning with
front yard visitors
"Opportunities are usually disguised as hard work, so most people don't recognize them." ~Ann Landers 

Cam headed back to the workforce this week.  For several Wednesday evenings, he arrives at Grand Valley State University to work with the graduate PT students.  For this winter session, he's fortunate to be paired with two ladies he already knows.  Becca and Jenae first met Cam last spring, shortly after his hip surgery.  They were very happy to be meeting with him again.  During this hour long session, they assist with stretching, walking and engaging Cam to advance his physical therapy goals.

In the process, though, it seems that our son teaches the adults, in more ways than one.  Some of his subliminal instruction may include: try not to assume what someone's capabilities are before seeing them in action, never underestimate the power of encouragement, challenge others to push further than they think they can.

At home, Cam is now doing his own daily physical therapy every evening.  His new gait trainer arrived, shiny and blue and ready for use.  With any new equipment, there is a small army of people working in the background advocating for our son to enable the delivery of a necessity such as this.
Cam has made a commitment to walking in his house and his proud parents can't help but cheer with each step.

On SuperBowl Sunday, the Raisch family joined us to watch the game along with our longtime neighbor, Ken.
Ken is "Papa" to Cam since he is Ms. Amanda's grandpa and now Mr. Ken has gained another 'grandson' in his buddy.

We had quite a spread of food and treats to accompany the exciting football game.

The excitement lies in not only watching the plays on tv, but in also watching the reactions, seeing the smiles and hearing the laughter of those close to you.

Camology Quotes:
Cam often goes grocery shopping with Jane on the weekends.  He usually leads her around the store, often remembering things that aren't even on the list.  Cam told his mom that he thought Dad needed more yogurt.  Upon arrival home...

Mom: "Cam picked out raspberry yogurt for you."
Dad joking- "Oh, I don't like that kind!"
"Don't joke about that, Dad, I take that stuff seriously!"

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Moving Pictures - Week of Jan. 22nd

"Photography takes an instant out of time, altering life by holding it still." ~Dorothea Lange

We have discovered over the last 10 years that taking pictures is a part of our weekly tasks.

Sometimes, we're so wrapped up in a moment we forget and other times, the photos tell the story.
Chris and Cam worked through the holiday break and beyond to create a homemade extra large electronic frame for our family. The boys said it was Jane's late Christmas gift, but it's truly for everyone.
Of course, Cam's dad had to take it a few steps beyond what you'd buy online or in a store.  He and his son added a motion sensor and led lights that change color at alternating times.  To make it incredibly easy for uploading, it is connected via our wireless network to Amazon photos where we can choose to add and remove the pictures at any time.  Not only does each picture stay on the screen for about 5 seconds, but led lights around the frame create a soft hue that changes as well.  Cam likes the fact that when he drives by, the motion sensor "sees" him and turns on the frame.

Since Jane ended up with a cancelled flight last week and an extra night away from home, we decided this weekend would be dedicated for family time.  We snuggled together for movie night as Cam's parents introduced him to one of their favorite classics, "Back to the Future."

From movies to moving, we received this cool video from Cam's teacher showing us how our son is on the move at school! (and getting "hot" in the process)

A new family activity was to formulate meal prepping together.  Chris has been diligently creating his food plan every weekend for each upcoming week.  Cam and his mom decided they wanted in on the action as well.  Upon completion, we had enough meals for all of us to cover the weekday feasts and lunch for the next weekend.
On Sunday evening, we shared a delicious meal with the Raisch fam when they arrived with homemade beef stew and homemade bread.  Cam announced "We need this on our favorite meals list.  I love this stew!"

Camology Quotes:
During the weekend, Cam saw his mom sneaking a few pieces of licorice for a snack.
"Mom, we are eating healthy!  Well, how about you only have a little unhealthy stuff on the weekend."

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Game Time - Week of Jan. 15th

"You have to learn the rules of the game. And then you have to play better than anyone else." ~Albert Einstein
“The way a man plays a game shows some of his character. The way he loses shows all of it." ~Anonymous

Cam's parents have always loved playing board games and card games.  Chris and Jane have their favorites and Cam is creating a list of his own.  Thankfully, new games are still being marketed in this age of technology.

Oma and Opa arrived late in the day on Friday to spend the night with us.  One of the Christmas presents they gave Cam was a card game called "Slapzi."  Each player is dealt 5 cards and the cards have a picture on each side.  There is also a stack of questions indicating the next type of picture to be found.  For example the card may say "I can fit in a pocket" or "I have 2 legs" and then each player needs to look at both pictures on each card to determine if one of the pics fits the description.  If one is found, they need to slap it on the pile before an opponent does.  Lots of laugh in this game as some photos didn't quite fit the question cards but were still attempted to be slapped down!

Another new game given to Jane by Chris is called Vertellis.  It is a Dutch card game meaning "tell me more."  One of the rules in this game is to put away all electronic devices.  It is a game of retrospective and future-thinking questions.  Jane and Cam played the entire game together, asking and replying.  Jane's favorites from her son included the following: "To what are you most looking forward to in the coming year?Cam: "Cousin James wedding!  We get to go on a plane!" And two of the questions provided the same answer from our boy.  "Who has inspired you the most in the last year?"  "Who do you want to thank from the past year?" Cam: "Miss Amanda!"  And lastly, "Who has surprised you the most this past year?" Our literal boy answered "Auntie Roe" since she surprised us by stopping in one day last month.

Something to remember...most any activity can be turned into a game.  Taking the garbage to the curb on Sundays becomes a pursuit of skillfully racing while balancing a container!

Camology Quotes:
Miss Amanda was starting her student teaching this week.  She told Cam she was super scared and nervous about it.  And this was his response...
"Well, don't be scared because once you get there you'll realize there is nothing to be scared about!"

Sunday, January 14, 2018

School is Cool - Week of Jan. 8th

Ms. Kathy & her buddy
“Instruction does much, but encouragement everything."~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Everyone remembers certain teachers...the ones that didn't let you give up, or embraced a quirky personality trait, or simply inspired you.
Even though Cam is only in fourth grade, he has been incredibly fortunate to have such strong educators and supporters in his preschool and grade school.  They also go above and beyond to be certain Cam can have the same experiences as his classmates.

Jane was thinking over break that there must be an easier way to protect Cam's feet during winter recess other than taking extra time to put on bulky boots.  After some creative Amazon searching, we came across "Dry Steppers" made of a thick plastic to go over shoes.  For $10, we thought it was a bargain if they didn't work as well as expected.  Ms. Kathy is always up for a challenge (just like Cam) and gave a thumbs up after the first snowy outing at school.

At Meadow Brook Elementary, Cam participates in a Unified Champion School LINK program.
LINK is about creating connections within a diverse group of students and ensuring that all students are acknowledged for what makes them different and what makes them and all of us the same.  What a beautiful concept that should be embraced every day in our society!
On certain Fridays at Cam's school, he has lunch with other kids in the program and they play bocce ball.  A ramp was made for our son so he can fully participate.  Every year, there is a different theme.  This year, it's superheroes.
On the back of the shirt, it reads:

With this definition in mind, please make it a point to be a hero everyday!

Camology Quotes:
Ms. Kathy has been working with Cam using voice-typing.  This allows Cam to speak the words and then a program "types" it onto the computer.  Cam and his teacher practice saying it first, then he says it to have the program type it. 

"I love school. I enjoy inclusion time. My teacher is Ms. Kemperman and Ms. Meyer. I learn science. I am learning about energy." 

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Bring on 2018! - Week of Jan. 1st

One of our fave
Photos by Gaupers
"And now we welcome the new year. Full of things that have never been." ~ Rainer Maria Rilke 
"Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year." ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

New Year's day was filled with relaxation and football.  Chris and Jane had the day off of work and enjoyed playing games and hanging out as a family.
Cam was planning a week of fun with Ms. Amanda since he was still off of school for Christmas break.

Amanda and Cam kept busy.  They had a library outing to drop off some books.  As they were getting ready to leave, all of sudden fire trucks appeared and firemen were rushing in. Turns out there was a burst pipe from the cold weather and water was rushing into one of the areas.

The week was filled with physical therapy sessions, at the center and at home, homework activities, reading, playing games and general fun with Ms. Amanda.  The two of them have a good time choosing silly backgrounds for pictures too!

On Thursday eve, we hosted the Raisch and Flegel families for dinner and games.  We had a feast of flavorful items with everyone contributing.  The kids took part in a dance party in the sunroom with our lighted disco ball projecting on the ceiling!  An extra treat was having Anna and Mathew both home from college.

We learned a new game called 5-Second Rule.  A card lists a topic and you have five seconds to name three things. 
The best part of this game for us was that Cam started making up his own ideas.  "Mom, name 3 types of perfume."  "Dad, name 3 types of chairs."  "Ms. Patti, name 3 types of body parts."  Cam seemed to want the game to go on forever.  Even on the extended break from school, it was awesome to see our son's brain working overtime!

Camology Quotes:
As we were preparing for our group dinner with favorite families, Jane asked Cam if we should make something else besides the ground beef and pulled pork for tacos.

"Mom, we can't read people's minds except our own minds."  (pause)
 "Is that true or false? "

Sunday, December 31, 2017

A Very, Very White Christmas - Week of Dec. 25th

🎜𝅘𝅥𝅯 I'm dreaming of a white Christmas - Just like the ones I used to know- Where the treetops glisten, And children listen- To hear sleigh bells in the snow.  I'm dreaming of a white Christmas- With every Christmas card I write. May your days be merry and bright - And may all your Christmases be white 🎝𝅘𝅥𝅮 ~ Bing Crosby, White Christmas

After a couple of years without the white stuff, we experienced the snowiest Christmas on record in 27 years for our city of Grand Rapids as more than 5 inches fell that day.
In the quiet of Christmas morning, the bright lights of the tree made the living room glow and feel cozy.  We were thankful to remain in our home to celebrate the day together as a family.

Cam woke up early on Dec. 25th,
but patiently waited for Oma and Opa before asking to open stockings.  It was a leisurely day for us.  After discovering the contents of our stockings, we had a delicious breakfast before settling in to open presents.  The whole experience lasted for quite some time as we watched each person unwrap before the next.  It is a day when the joy of giving equals or exceeds the joy of receiving.
Later in the afternoon, Chris and Cam tried out their new gaming chairs downstairs and Chris braved the elements to snowplow the driveway.  He entered the house looking like the abominable snowman!

So many special gifts were everywhere we looked.. from each other, from Oma and Opa, from our sweet relatives and friends we call family across the country.  Chris' dad, Grandpa Jim, sent us an Instant Pot and for Cam, a cool room projector with a note that said "I wanted to give you the world, but I settled for the stars."
We all had a relaxing evening on the couch as Jane curled up in her new "Wonder Woman" blanket, handmade and given to her by the best husband and son a girl could ask for!

 Two days after Christmas, we welcomed our cousins, Aunts and Uncles for the annual family Santa Party at our home.  A few of Cam's cousins have let it be known that the 'real' Santa is the one that comes to Cam's house for the party.
Each kid receives two small presents from the white bearded man.  We share a potluck dinner and try to catch up with everyone during the short time that goes by much too quickly.  We were so very thankful for the extra assistance from Oma and Opa with setup and cleanup duties.  Without them, it would have seemed a monumentous task.
Part of our annual Santa Party normally includes sledding, but it was far too chilly outside to partake in outdoor activities that day.

However, the weekend brought the sunshine and although it didn't warm up a great deal, the sun allowed us to brave the outdoors to take advantage.
Last year for Christmas, Chris and Jane ordered a cool sled for Cam that one of his parents could ride behind and due to the mild winter, it wasn't used even once.
This year, though, it seems we may have ample opportunities to test its capabilities.

As we close out 2017, we are thankful for our family, friends and blessings which seem to grow exponentially with each passing year.

Camology Quotes:
One of our traditions includes driving around to see the Christmas lights.
We enjoyed having Oma and Opa with us for almost five whole days during the holiday.  Here are a couple of his grandparents' favorites from their stay.

"You need to be more specific, Oma..."
"I wish Christmas was every day and Oma and Opa were here every day!"

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Traditional Tidings - Week of Dec. 18th

Outside of 2017 Christmas card
Inside of 2017 Christmas card
"At the heart of every family tradition is a meaningful experience." ~Unknown

As the fast-forward button continued to race towards Christmas, we progressed through our list of checking things off. 

Amanda and Cam exchanged their gifts on Friday since she wasn't going to be with us on Christmas day.  It seems these two know each other quite well.  You see, without realizing it, each of them had made a duplicate gift independently and without awareness.  Amanda made Cam a "tie blanket" with Lightning McQueen.  Cam made a similar blanket (with his dad's help) featuring hearts on one side and animals on the other ("because I know you like hearts and animals, Ms. Amanda!")  They giggled for quite some time about their gift-giving, mind reading skills and then proceeded to snuggle up in their respective blankets to see just how cozy they were.

On Saturday, Jane and Cam headed out to Heidi's Farmstand and Bakery since it was the last day they would be open for the season.  Ms. Pat works at Heidi's and we met her close to eight years ago.  She loves seeing Cam and always tells him to pick out a sweet treat just from her.  Not only did he have a donut to take home, but he also was given a reindeer headband to wear.  Cam looked at Ms. Pat exclaiming "you made my day!" and her happy tears began.  We will miss seeing her until they open again in May, but we stocked up on goodies and were thankful to be driving in the sunshine.
Upon our return home, Emma popped over for the annual gingerbread house build.  This year, though, Jane found a chocolate train for the two friends to put together and decorate.  As a bonus, Cam snacked on some chocolate decorations while Emma chose the colored candy decor for a treat.  The train along with its chocolate cars looked very festive when completed.

Sunday was Christmas Eve and Oma and Opa arrived in the early afternoon.  Our annual tradition includes attending the Christmas Eve Thornapple church service at 4pm with the Raisch family.  Even though Cam isn't wearing a smile in this pic, he looks so forward to attending every year.  He now tries to sing along with the carols and listens to the message.
Immediately following church, we gathered at the Raisch household for delicious homemade chicken noodle soup and the best homemade bread.  With full bellies, we still all squeezed in a few hand crafted Christmas cookies to top off our meal.  Cam and Emma exchanged gifts and Cam commented that Emma "made his day" when he opened the "Cars3" movie from her.

The most memorable part of the evening, though, was an unexpected surprise.  While chatting in the living room, a knock on the door produced some members of the church youth group to sing for us.  They began with Rudolph and ended with Silent Night.  Cam couldn't believe it!  He also loved the jacket and lighted cap adorned by one of the guys.

When someone "makes Cam's day" it isn't an embellished comment.  For Cam it's a true commentary of how a moment, an event makes him feel.  Being surrounded by our special friends, Patti & Steve, Anna, Sarah, Megan, Emma along with Oma and Opa, the Weatherford fam of Chris, Jane and Cam most definitely felt like the evening of fellowship truly and collectively, made their day.

Camology Quotes:

Cam had school right up through Dec. 22nd of this week.  His teacher, Ms. Kathy sent an email to Jane on Friday after Cam was on the bus with her favorite 'Cam moment of the day'...

"A great day by the way... At the end of the day, Cam said about the upcoming break-  "have fun, but don't have too much fun without me!"