Sunday, March 11, 2018

Rewarding The Effort - Week of Mar. 5th

“I'm a greater believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it.” ~Thomas Jefferson
“There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.” ~Beverly Sills

The white stuff isn't ready to head out completely even though we turned the calendar into March.

At school, Cam has been a part of the Chinese Immersion program.  To that end, he was able to practice using chopsticks for the first time.  His Immersion teacher explained that this is how they train kids in China to use chopsticks too- the sticks are tied together to make it easier.  Cam found success in picking up the soft lightweight puffs of fabric.

Back on the home front, Cam continued his daily walking in the evenings as well as taking on some
extra homework from his teacher.  Our organized boy came up with the idea of "logging" both of these items.  Possibly in part to prove to others he has completed and potentially due to ensuring his sometimes forgetful parents take note.  Either way, after an evening haircut for both father and son, the two handsome guys made their way to pick up a delicious reward- dinner from the close by, newly opened Chick-Fil-A.

Jane spent a portion of the week with 'Auntie' Leslie, her longtime, closest friend from childhood.  Leslie lives in North Carolina now and a special visit to Michigan meant a drive for the girls to the beautiful Lake Michigan.
Cam's parents have explained to him how rare it is to have friends in your life for such a long time.  It is funny to think that Leslie and Jane met in the 4th grade, the same grade Cam is in now.  Most of Cam's classmates have all been together since kindergarten.  He has no idea how fortunate he is!

Over the weekend, Chris spent some time on the slopes at Caberfae Peaks with his buddy, Greg.  Back at home, Cam and his mom made banana bread and delivered some fresh out of the oven to our Windcrest neighbor, Miss Pat, who is moving soon.  She loved seeing Cam and said she was looking forward to the delicious baked goodness.
Among some other Saturday projects, Cam took time to care for our cat, Stella.
If you need any projects completed around your home and have any trouble getting motivated, we highly recommend hiring Cam...don't forget, he already receives a W-2!

Camology Quotes:
We are so fortunate to have been surrounded by such communicative people who interact with Cam.
Ms. Kathy, his teacher, often sends emails about what happened at school.  The one sent this week will surely be an all-time favorite.

I just want you to know how much I appreciate your son. We read a news article today about school breakfast and he had so many good questions that shows that he was doing some higher level thinking about the subject. I will paraphrase some of his questions.
"What do kids who get school breakfast do for breakfast on the weekend or when there is no school? "How do they get food?" 
"What do they do for dinner if they don't have money for food?" 
It gave us a chance for some good discussion about programs that help others. ;-)
I love it when kids go beyond the basic understanding!

Friday, March 2, 2018

Up For The Challenge - Week of Feb. 26th

"Accept the challenges so that you can feel the exhilaration of victory." ~George S. Patton 

There comes a point in the day when sometimes, you just don't feel like completing a task.  Whether it's been a long day, sleep wasn't perfect the night before, or you'd rather do something else, at times, you just want to skip the duty in front of you.

Cam may emit some grumblings, but somehow, someway, he perseveres through the endeavor.
Since his gait trainer arrived at home a few weeks ago, he made a promise to walk in it daily.  He hasn't missed a day, even on his busiest ones filled with activities at school, homework at home and swimming lessons, he has completed the walking!
Over the weekend, it was his first trek taking the gait trainer outside.  The sunshine seemed to give Cam an extra burst of energy.  The extra large surface area allowed us to create a challenge for our dedicated son to finish within a certain amount of time.

The weekend projects never seem to run out for us.   We picked up an exercise bike from a nice neighbor, Miss Pat, who is moving soon.  Cam had to test it out.  He's not quite tall enough to reach the pedals though.

On Sunday evening, we enjoyed Miss Emma's company.  The picture on the right from 7 years ago seemed fitting to post again...(especially since Jane forgot to snap some pics!)

After playing cards and sharing dessert, we watched some funny videos on tv.  It's pretty amazing to say you have a friend you've known all of your life and even more amazing when no matter what, they always put a smile on your face.

Camology Quotes:
While Jane was away on business for a couple of days, Cam had a substitute bus driver.  When Jane called from Texas, she asked the boys who the sub driver was.  They told her they didn't ask him his name.  
Jane had told Cam and his dad to let the bus driver know on Tuesday that Cam would not be riding Wednesday morning due to a scheduled appointment.  
Chris realized Tuesday evening they had forgotten.

"Cam, we forgot to tell your driver that you wouldn't be riding the bus tomorrow."
"Dad, I did not forget.  The bus driver is a stranger because I do not know his name.  I was not going to say 'Hey stranger, I am not riding your bus tomorrow.'  That would have been rude!"

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Because of Cam... Week of Feb. 19th

"Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago." ~Warren Buffett 

Connections are a constant element in our daily lives.  We've encountered so many people, things and places due specifically to our ten year old son.  We see things and experience moments differently when Cam is present.  The list of people we know and have been linked to due solely to our son is countless.  And many of these individuals are now a part of our lives for a lifetime.  When Chris and Jane mention someone or a memory, the phrase "because of Cam" is often used in conjunction.
The light poles are part of a walkway

The infinite projects Chris and his son have created together are truly centered around Cam.  Whether a ramp, the CamMobile, or a tray used for homework and crafting, each has been designed because of our son.  And the latest project, the motion activated digital photo frame, had an honorable mention after Chris posted it on the instructables website...with Cam's assistance, of course.

Jane will be inducted into the Mary Free Bed Guild next month after being invited by another member.  Once again, the connection made with MFB would not have been possible without Cam.  The Halloween For the Rest of Us project is directly attributed to Cam by way of the cool Halloween costumes created, along with novel-like Christmas cards sent out by Jane.
Tassell Park- walkway & benches
Here's a little bit about the MFB Guild: The story of the Mary Free Bed Guild begins in 1891 when a small group of women wanted to help people who couldn’t afford health care. They passed a purse and asked anyone named Mary – or anyone who knew someone named Mary – to donate a dime. It was the most common name at the time, and the donations supported the first “Mary free bed” at a local hospital. As funds grew, the women began helping people with physical disabilities. Today, the Mary Free Bed Guild governs the most comprehensive rehabilitation hospital in Michigan. The 120 women of the Guild and Junior Guild also volunteer their time serving as greeters, patient liaisons, hospitality-cart providers and hostesses at monthly meals for patients and their families. Most importantly, the Guild is the keeper of the nurturing culture of restoring hope and freedom through rehabilitation.

This weekend, we toured the flood waters around our area to see the effects of melting snow and an abundance of rain.  The overflowing rivers and lakes are akin to our lives and the amazing people who are a part of it.

Camology Quotes:
Since Cam began working for Grand Valley State University with their graduate PT students, his W-2 for wages earned has always been in his mom's name.  For 2017, our son, age 10, received his first formal W-2 in his name.  We truly thought it was in Jane's name until closer inspection.  Cam asked to have the entire situation explained to him.

Why do I have a form?
You actually did the work for Grand Valley and this year, it is in your name. 
Do I have to pay taxes?
We're not certain.  We need to research this.
Well, I do not know how to do taxes. Who will do my taxes?
If you need to do them, Cam, we will definitely help you.
Ok, let's do them now.  I need to get them done!

*Update: After an extensive five-minutes of research, Cam was not required to file taxes since he did not earn a large sum of money.  He did, however, insist that his parents check and double-check to be certain he wouldn't get in trouble.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Full Hearts - Week of Feb. 12th

Sweet cards & treats from school,
relatives & friends
"They invented hugs to let people know you love them without saying anything." ~Bil Keane

The origin of Valentine's Day is shrouded in mystery and many consider it a "Hallmark holiday" but in fact, there are some historical references.  Besides the martyrdom of saints, Valentine's is also thought to have originated from a Roman festival. The Romans had a festival called Lupercalia in the middle of February - officially the start of their springtime. It's thought that as part of the celebrations, boys drew names of girls from a box. 

In Cam's 4th grade class at school, they drew names and were assigned a 'secret Valentine' for which they were asked to create and craft something based upon that person's favorite things.  It was a fun exercise and one the students were not allowed to spend more than two dollars on, a big bonus for parents!  Cam used a box to make a book of sorts filled with homemade bookmarks, plastic sport balls and candy for his friend, Moses.  Abbey had Cam's name and filled this cool water bottle with his favorite chocolates.
Since Valentine's fell on a Grand Valley day, Cam also picked up some goodies after showing Ms. Becca and Janae his gait trainer walking skills.  Ms. Janae made homemade oreo truffles with enough in the bag for each of us to have one.  Cam and his mom deemed them one the best desserts ever!
(Click Here for Oreo Truffle Recipe)

On Friday, Cam had a half day at school as a mini winter break.  Oma and Opa arrived in the afternoon to hang out with their grandson.
Cam and his grandma played different games and spent some time banking, determining the price of various items and tallying them up on the personal toy cash register.  We all dined on Chinese food Friday night and watched some Olympics.  And Oma shared with us that she actually attended the opening ceremony at the 1960 Olympics in Rome!  What a neat piece of trivia to learn about Cam's grandma.
On Saturday, the snow was starting to melt so we opted to skip sledding and made a pancake breakfast.
The time always goes by much too quickly when Oma and Opa visit.  We filled little bags with chocolates for them to take home, and they left us with full hearts.

Camology Quotes:
The art of the romantic gesture is something Cam's dad excels at.  It seems he's already imparted this knowledge to his son.
Jane arrived home on Valentine's Day with Cam and Amanda after a Grand Valley session.  When she walked in the door, Chris wasn't home yet, but she found a beautiful bouquet on the kitchen counter.  The card read, "With much love, from your boys."

Oh my goodness, Cam.  These are those beautiful!
Thank you, Mom.  I told Dad to order them :)

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!"