Sunday, May 31, 2020

Standing Tall - Week of May 25th

"Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen." ~Winston Churchill

Adults tend to over-complicate things.  Kids look at the simplistic aspect.  When looking for a new show on Amazon one evening,  Cam said "Mom, search on wheelchair."  And yes, a variety of shows, specials and a movie appeared.  Sometimes you just need to get back to basics.

On Thursday, we headed to Mary Free Bed so Cam could test out his new wheels and be fitted for custom seating and controls.  We've been through this once before so we knew the drill, but it was more exciting this time around since for the first time ever, Cameron would be able to use a sit to stand powerchair!  The appointment is roughly 3 hours long and measurements and button testing are performed.  Cam is very patient with the entire process.  From the time we had our first consultation, it was a little over 6 months for this day to get here.  In less than 2 weeks, we will head back for final pick up.

Saturday brought us to Brody Be's Cafe to hang out and hear a live band!  We thought it may be too loud for Cam, but he thoroughly enjoyed the music and declared it was just right as far as volume.  We were able to see Brody and his family as well as one of Cam and Brody's bus drivers, Mr. Jim.  Jim really missed the boys and their fun trips to school.  We're hoping he's able to have their bus route in the fall.

On Sunday, we were on the road headed to Oma and Opa's for beach clean-up duty.  So much wood had drifted in and dried grass, it made it difficult to walk to the shoreline.  Before working, though, we feasted on a delicious brunch, made by Cam's grandparents- homemade sausage breakfast casserole, Oma's famous coffeecake, and fresh fruit.

It was a picture perfect day, cooler by the lake, but the sunshine warmed us all.  To be rid of the brittle vegetation, Chris used a firepit to quickly burn the excess pieces.
We were actually surprised by the amount of beach since there has been so much erosion along the Lake Michigan shoreline.  It is very unpredictable and in a single week it is not uncommon to lose six feet of beach.
The fresh water isn't nearly warm enough to swim in yet, but it sure does look inviting. 
Cam is always interested in learning new facts and one we looked up this week was the depth of Lake Michigan and where the name came from.  The deepest part is measured at 922 feet!
The word "Michigan" is believed to come from the Ojibwe word michi-gami meaning "great water."  We certainly look forward to balmy temps, sand in our toes, and some great warm water to play in!

Camology Quotes:
Cam is using video with Zoom and FaceTime calls on a daily basis.  He especially likes to test out calling his parents, even when they are in the same room.  On FaceTime, Cam likes to experiment with different effects, adding symbols and changing filters to change the look of someone.  He took this picture of his mom in black and white while they were connected.
"Mom, this is what you are going to look like when you are old."
"What do you mean, Cam?"
"You are black and white, like an old person."

Sunday, May 24, 2020

No Hugging is Hard - Week of May 18th

"A hug is like a boomerang- you get it back right away." ~Bil Keane
"They invented hugs to let people know you love them without saying anything." ~Bil Keane

Family Circus is a favorite cartoon of many and Bil Keane, it's creator, certainly understood the power of a hug.
During this time of social distancing and being six feet away from others, one of the things we miss most is hugging our friends and extended family members.
We welcomed Oma and Opa on Tuesday, complete with face masks and it was so good to see them after such a long time!
Wednesday afternoon, we surprised Cam's best buddy Brody with lunch from Culver's. We dined in Brody's front yard near the ultimate birthday sign.  After eating, we moved closer towards the roadway as suddenly Brody realized that a car parade to celebrate his day was beginning.  When Cam saw his teachers driving by, his loud screams of pure joy could most certainly be heard throughout the neighborhood.  Seeing friends and teachers in real life is far better than video chats.

An excessive amount of rain fell in our area and some flooding occurred in nearby Ada.  Cam and his mom went to investigate and couldn't believe the entire baseball field was under water along with a sidewalk next to the river.

A good friend and teacher helper at Cam's school requested a short visit with one of her favorites.  We didn't tell Cam and wow, was he shocked!

The weekend found us in project land once again.  With our super long driveway, Cam was a lifesaver transporting a full bucket of water for his mom to give the flowers by the mailbox a drink.

The outdoor LED project between father and son was marked complete!  Cam worked with Chris to program the different options through the app.  Click on this link to see a 1-minute video of the display.
Weatherford Outdoor Lights

Some unusually warm weather found its way into Michigan and one of the activities on our list was to test the underground sprinkling.  Cam's job was to let Chris know if the sprinkler was working and a side effect was attempting to quickly get out of the way of the water stream.  It turns out, though, the cooling spray was quite refreshing.

We did enjoy some down time in the evenings, hanging out and watching a movie.  Even Stella joined us and although the show may not have entertained her, the pets and attention she receives are welcome and appreciated as noted by her extra loud purring.

Camology Quotes:
Cam is on the horizon of receiving his new power wheelchair.  Thankfully, he has reminded Jane to check on delivery dates and appointments.  Along with the new chair, we explained to Cam that a 'newer' van may be required.  As we were searching online for different options, Cam asked what would happen to our old van and had his own idea about its fate.
"Mom, remember the boy who had to be picked up by Mary Free Bed Security for the Halloween Parade?"
"Yes, Cam.  His name is Mowqar and he was in our Halloween Heroes Parade 2 years ago."
"Could we give the van to his family?  He did not have one because Security had to pick him up and drop him off.  I think they could really use it."  

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Plenty of Projects - Week of May 11th

"Let our advance worrying become advance thinking and planning." ~Winston Churchill
"Plans are only good intentions unless they immediately degenerate into hard work." ~Peter Drucker

Two weekly Zoom meetings with classmates and teachers have become one of the highlights of Cam's week.  He always logs in at least 15 minutes early and cannot understand why everyone isn't as anxious to start as he is.  Although video conferences can't replace in-person interactions, it at least keeps the kids and teachers connected.

Every Saturday, Cam rallies his parents into action to begin projects for the weekend.  Chris and his son are diligently continuing their outdoor light project.  The led lights are being installed around the front of the house at the roof-line.  The wires that provide power to the lights are hidden by handmade channel housing units that have been painted the same color as our home.  It looks very professional, but is quite the tedious project.

Saturday afternoon we headed over to Brody's Be Cafe to take down the outdoor plastic igloos.  There was a small team of volunteers wearing masks and social distancing.  It was a group effort to first remove the sand bags, then the plastic dome, then the plastic connectors.  Everything had to be sorted according to size and since there were two igloos, it was double the effort.
With everyone pitching in, including Cam, we finished up in a couple of hours.  The Cafe will open again in a few weeks, so everything is in preparation for the return to business.
Cam has also become an expert helper for house cleaning on the weekends and does a very nice job of splitting his time between his mom and dad.  Typically, we will hear him heading inside or outside, parent dependent, indicating "I have spent enough time with mom/dad, now I need to help you!"
We are thankful for his desire to get things done and see them through.  Without his insistence, we are quite certain our project list would continue to grow or remain stagnant versus items being crossed off and mini celebrations being held for the accomplishments.

A family member who isn't holding her own as it relates to pitching in is our cat, Stella.  She is quite content to watch all activity from a blanket on the couch, sporadically meowing her approval.

Camology Quotes:
It seems that even everyday conversations can lend themselves to some type of teaching.  Cam and his dad had this exchange.
"I am going to have fun tomorrow.  Like a million times fun or even thousand!"
"Well a million is a lot more than a thousand... it goes 1, 10, 100, 1000, 10,000, 100,000, 1 million, 1 billion, 1 trillion.  I'm not sure what comes after 1 trillion."
~without missing a beat~ "Two trillion, three trillion, four trillion Dad!"  

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Donut You Worry - Week of May 4th

"A positive attitude gives you power over your circumstances instead of your circumstances having power over you." ~Joyce Meyer

Some days, you just need a 'pick-me-up' to brighten your outlook.

Jane received a unexpected text from Ms. Mary Jo to check our mailbox for a Cam surprise.  Imagine our amazement to find a delicious treat of homemade donuts from one of our favorite places, Heidi's Farmstand!  Even more sweet than the goodies was the handmade card from Mary Jo that read "Donut worry- I'll see you again!"  In a time when we have to stay disconnected from so many, the creative ways people are finding to connect are ingenious.

Father and son have both been missing their regular barber appointments.  Over the weekend, Chris decided he would have to take matters into his own hands.  After a few failed attempts, a plea for Mr. Steve's master clippers was called in.  Cam was a bit hesitant but finally decided he really needed his hair cut too.  Upon completion, we were all duly impressed with Chris' clipping skills and Cam was so relieved to have that longer hair short again.

On Saturday, Jane was blown away with Mother's Day gifts.  The first arrived from Oma and Opa- a delicious edible arrangement filled with fresh fruit, complete with a tasty chocolate heart!  Next, a beautiful bouquet of gorgeous flowers from Cam with a printed card "You are the best, you're wonderful and you're nice! Love, Cam"

Sunday, though, brought an extra special surprise for the actual Mother's Day occasion. Chris and Cam presented Jane with the coolest handmade gift!  It is controllable via an app on the phone to change colors and patterns.  It is now proudly displayed in Jane's office where it's calming effect brings a smile to her face during even the most difficult work meeting. And the fact that it is something she can look at every day from the two people she loves most in the world makes it completely priceless!

Camology Quotes:
Cam has recently found it very funny to call his parents by their first names.  We reminded him that the most special names we have- "Mom" and "Dad" can only be used because he is our son.  Perhaps he was feeling like he needed his mom to know he remembered this when he sent this photo message in a text during the work day.
~The heart in bottom left corner says ~
"I love you mom you are the best"  
*Incidentally, neither one of his parents taught him how to add the heart with writing and actually haven't yet done it themselves*

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Soak up the Sun - Week of Apr. 27th

“If all that we see are the scattered pieces of ‘what was,’ the story of ‘what is yet to be’ will never be told. If, however, we are able to envision the pieces as what they are now freed to be, the story of ‘what is yet to be’ will stand among the greatest ever told.” ~Craig D. Lounsbrough

As we continue with the 'stay home stay safe' order in Michigan, we have noticed that the skies seem clearer and the air a bit fresher.  Everything is beginning to bloom all at once as the flowering trees have opened and leaves are slowly showing their vibrant green.  The wildlife are roaming a bit more freely including the backyard turkeys and deer.

 It helps to see the sunshine outside as our daily lives inside are so very different from what they were.  As our family continues to navigate a work at home family environment, Cam requests a schedule of meetings every weekday morning asking when each of his parents will have breaks.  The juggling act has led to a few frustrating moments of homework explanation and working through assignments.

However, his Monday video call with classmates and Thursday video call with a teacher and one other classmate are bright spots in his own calendar.  Cam continues his daily FaceTime calls with Amanda and Auntie Karen as well as tutoring with Ms. Ann.  Our twelve-year-old makes certain his own activities are up to date and accessible via his iPad.  His navigation skills have increased as well as starting things up on his own.

We look so very forward to the weekends, allowing us all a break from parent work and schedules.  Chris and Cam are back on their outdoor lighting project with new homemade channels to hide the wires and an abundance of research and testing to be certain all lights are functional.  Cam is the designated safety supervisor, keeping an eye on his dad and watching out for anything that might go wrong.  When it was break time, they both came inside for a bit.  As Jane was preparing lunch, Cam looked deep in thought and his mom asked him what he was thinking about.  He replied, "I'm trying to figure out how to get Dad more power to the lights."  Like father, like son.

Camology Quotes:
We have definitely taken on a few projects that weren't on the radar, such as rearranging offices.  We all assisted with figuring out where things would best fit and then moving furniture and equipment.  Jane found some desk cleaner and got to work on a few layers of dust.  
Apparently, Cam did not find it as necessary.
"Mom, you are taking sanitary measures too seriously!"  

Sunday, April 26, 2020

A Baffling Bug - Week of Apr. 20th

"'Tis healthy to be sick sometimes."  "There is one consolation in being sick; and that is the possibility that you may recover to a better state than you were ever in before." ~Henry David Thoreau
It's funny how you assume that if you are staying home and staying safe, you are immune to contracting an illness.  We have no idea how or from what, but Cam became quite sick on Monday.  Although he completed his walking routine, something was off.  Before he could even begin his homework, he didn't feel well and things steadily worsened throughout the day.  His stomach couldn't retain anything and he just felt awful.  Most of the day, he was on the couch, fiercely protected by Stella who chose to watch over him.  After a rough 24 hours, Cam was feeling more like himself and easing back into things.  By Wednesday, he declared he was feeling great again!
In the evenings, a new project had begun in the garage.  Chris and Cam have a new device to use called a CNC (computer numerical control) machine, recently acquired for project creation.
A CNC router is a computer-controlled cutting machine related to the hand-held router used for cutting various hard materials, such as wood, composites, aluminium, steel, plastics, glass, and foams. Instead of routing by hand, tool paths are controlled via computer numerical control.

On Saturday, a very special event was planned.  Ms. Amanda was getting married to Mr. Nick!  Their large gathering was rescheduled for July but they still wanted to have their planned ceremony on their original date.  To help all guests feel connected, the couple set up a private Facebook live event.  As a surprise, a few of us gathered in the church parking lot to watch from our vehicles.
The current state regulations only allowed for 10 people to be inside the church, but we were thankful to be able to see and witness their vows.  As we waited for the newly married couple to emerge from the church, we talked about how awesome it was to be a part of it all, even if though it was virtual.
We decided to get out of our cars and stay by them so we could show our excitement for the Mr. and Mrs. when they walked out.  As soon as we saw them, the cheering began.  Mrs. Amanda spotted Cam and ran over to see him!  We snapped a quick picture before adhering to social distancing.  The most difficult part of the day was not being able to give our sweet Amanda big hugs.

As a treat for the couple, we made some homemade goodies and decorated a box to put them in.  The homemade sign designed by Chris and Cam was our favorite gift to give.  They sent us a picture that evening to show how cool it looks in their new home.  A strip of remote-controlled LED lights was added to the back of the signage so that the happy couple can change the color whenever they wish.

Saturday evening, our family sat together to watch a movie.  Although it is tough not to spend time with our friends and extended family, the silver lining has been the extra time spent with each other.  A quote found this week: "Attitude is the difference between an ordeal and an adventure."

Camology Quotes:
Cam prefers to follow all rules.  Chris enjoys joking with Cam.  One evening, Chris appeared in Cam's bathroom with a tape measure keeping himself exactly 6 feet away from Cam.  Cam asked what in the world he was doing.
"I'm social distancing Cam."  
"Not funny when we are in the same family, Dad!"

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Feline Focus - Week of Apr. 13th

“Cats are connoisseurs of comfort.” ~James Herriot

Without a doubt, the family member experiencing the biggest benefit from Michigan's quarantine is our cat, Stella.  Cam is beyond attentive every day, making certain she is let out of her room early in the morning and checking her litter box and water intake multiple times a day.
Stella looks at Jane as if to say "Thank goodness someone is paying attention around here!"
Each morning after breakfast, Cam is ready for his round of walking.  He seems to have newfound enjoyment in the exercise and happily completes his 10 minute stroll around the house as shown in the video below.
We all settle into our respective "offices" around 8am downstairs.
His virtual schooling officially began on Wednesday of this week.  Our routine kid first checks his activity homework list on an iPad app called "Seesaw."  Once he completes the items, he moves onto two other apps- Epic for reading and IXL for math and language arts.  He will request help if needed, but has typically finished everything within a few hours.  His daily FaceTime chats with Ms. Amanda and Auntie Karen usually take us to lunchtime.

Three afternoons during the week, Cam is tutored by Ms. Ann via a zoom meeting.  Near the end of the work day, it is time for Cam's stretching and more exercising.  Sitting and balancing as well as standing are all on the agenda.
The work days are long, but the "Cam check-ins" to each of his parent's office areas makes the time much more interesting for Chris and Jane.

A warmer Sunday offered the chance for a stroll in the park.  These outings seem more meaningful for us all in these days of isolation.  It is a reminder to continue to appreciate all of the simple things we take for granted.  Be thankful and be safe :-)

Camology Quotes:
Jane has been a remote worker for years, accustomed to filling her days with video meetings and conference calls.  She is not as accustomed, however, to having office mates.
~Jane mumbles about a spreadsheet of information missing data ~
"What mom?"  
Sorry, I'm talking to myself Cam.  
"That's ok- I do that a lot!"