Sunday, October 13, 2019

Time Well Spent - Week of Oct. 7th

"It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are." ~e.e. cummings

Aristotle said, "Good habits formed at youth make all the difference."  We know, Cameron, like most kids has developed both kinds of habits, but for the most part, all good.
As it goes with many in the pre-teenager stage, Cam does exhibit some of those wonderful responses to questions, such as his mom asking who are the girls in the picture from school?  "Just my friends."  "Yes, but what are their names, Cam?"  "Mom, they are just my friends!"  And, hence the realization that our son is most definitely getting older.
Thank goodness for the moments, though, that he still humors his parents.  Thursday evening, we found out there was going to be a silent fire department parade, quite by accident.
Cam and his mom were grabbing supplies at the local hardware store when they noticed people starting to line the streets, so they inquired as to what was happening.  Jane and her son drove home and asked Chris if they should all go check it out.  A resounding yes from each family member and we were off to find the procession.  We had a front windshield view as at least 15 fire department trucks from adjoining areas all drove down 28th street with lights flashing, but no sirens.  It was very cool to see!

We were back downtown at Mary Free Bed on Friday and Saturday to continue our community project.  Cam and Mary Jo spent Saturday morning together baking homemade cookies for the building crew!
They arrived right before the lunch hour, perfectly timed to coincide with the pizza delivery for all of our dedicated volunteers, including our cookie delivery service!
Cam enjoyed meeting some new families and volunteers and chatting it up with others.  As parents, we can't help but feel a great sense of pride in our son who realizes that even in the smallest offering of homemade cookies and conversation, it is still not only time well spent, but one of the best ways to spend your time!

Camology Quotes:
Cam's current morning bus driver let us know this week that he was being moved to a different route.  For the fourth time this fall, Cam would be meeting a new morning driver.  He pondered this for a few days questioning why the change, which of course his parents didn't have any answer for other than consolidation and efficiency.  While heading to PT, Cam was still talking about it and announced...  
"In all my 10 years I have been working with base, they have never changed my driver this many times!" 

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Giving Back - Week of Sept. 30th

“As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands- one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.” ~Audrey Hepburn
“Volunteers don’t get paid, not because they’re worthless, but because they’re priceless.” ~Sherry Anderson
“If you think you are too small to be effective, you have never been in bed with a mosquito.” ~Betty Reese
Cam & his dad working on the
wireless connectivity at
Brody's Be Cafe
We give and receive in so many ways on a daily basis.  Sometimes giving feels more rewarding than receiving.  As Brody's Be Cafe heads towards its opening day in Ada, its motto is "Fill up your soul, let your cup runneth over" which is a fitting phrase for the intention of inclusion and kindness.  Chris and Cam worked to finish up the wireless connectivity at the cafe this week.
Mr. Micah (PT) & Cam

As we headed toward the weekend, Cam assisted his parents with preparations for their family community project- Halloween Heroes with Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital.  This is our 4th year heading up the wheelchair Halloween costume endeavor.
On Friday, Chris and Jane spent the day working on wheelchair costumes for outpatients after their son boarded the bus for school.
Saturday morning, Cam was ready to do his part too!  He traveled with us downtown to the hospital ready to work.  Before 11am, though, it was time to head out to the WMML field for our baseball player to participate in his last fall season game.  It was a chilly, but sunny day.  The Home Depot volunteers were in full force and Ms. Catherine, from HD, found Cam for the 3rd year in a row to be his helper!  Talk about a fun reunion.
Cam & Coach Nicole
Cam & Ms. Catherine (Home Depot)
The awards ceremony was right after the game where the medals are presented.  Ms. Mary Jo was hanging out with Cam for the day and her mom, Ms. Cris (Cam's former classroom aide) came to watch the action as well.

Ms. Cris, Cam, Mary Jo, Brody
Immediately following the ball game, it was back downtown for Cam, Ms. Mary Jo and Chris.  Cam did an excellent job of greeting families and helping make choices for costume embellishments.  He and Ms. Mary Jo also strolled over to Biggby in the main hospital for a well-deserved coffee run for our volunteers.  So many families commented how nice and polite Cam was as he echoed to each family on their way out- "thank you for coming today."  We accomplished so much with our team of workers with two more weekends on the horizon.  We were all tuckered out that evening, but as we often say "it's a good tired."

On Sunday, Chris headed to eastern Michigan for work while Jane and Cam steadily completed chores.  Auntie Jo and Will popped over for lunch since we hadn't seen Will since way before his September birthday.  He was anxious to show Cam his new hover board he received from his mom.  Cam though it was "so cool" how it moved.  It was, as Cam said "awesome to see them."
That evening, we dined on breakfast for dinner with the Raisch fam which was super delicious, easy and greatly appreciated.
School Pic 2019

At bedtime, Jane and her son were talking about the day and all of the helping that had taken place downtown for Halloween Heroes.  Cam wanted to make certain that all of the kids had picked their very own costume and not their parents.  Jane asked "why is that so important to you Cam?"  "Because Mom, it has to be their choice.  It is their costume and we are making it for them, not their parents." 
Jane also thanked Cam for letting another kiddo, Diana, use a portion of his costume from last year that he and his dad had made.  Her son asked why it was such a big deal and his mom told him, "That Cam, is a perfect example of giving back!"

Camology Quotes:
We realized that some construction trucks had come through and removed the manhole covers on our street, leading us to believe it may be repaved soon.  Jane commented that it may make things interesting for Cam's school bus.  
Cam indicated: "It is already interesting!" 

Jane and her son were running errands one evening and Jane indicated their last stop would be Walgreens.  As she took a shortcut home, Cam noted his mom had missed a critical turn.
Jane said: "See Cam, I need you in the car to help me remember these things."
To which Cam replied puzzled: "Mom, I am in the car."

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Buddy System - Week of Sept. 23rd

"Surround yourself only with people who are going to lift you higher." ~Oprah Winfrey

Buddy system is defined as a cooperative arrangement whereby individuals are paired or teamed up and assume responsibility for one another's instruction, productivity, welfare, or safety.  Life itself is like a buddy system when we all pair up and support each other.

A field trip to Camp Roger started Cam's week out right, especially because Chris took part of the day off of work to hang out too.  They explored the trails, built a fire, went through a friend tunnel and even toasted marshmallows.

Back at school, Cam's friend Ethan hung out at lunchtime with him and they chatted it up.

It was a bit cooler at the WMML ball field on Saturday, but that didn't stop our Cam fans!
The helpers for the day were the sorority sisters of Sigma Iota Beta from Hope College.

Our baseball player somehow ended up with three lovely ladies who kept him entertained at every base.

From the Cam fan club, Ms. Kathy appeared once again cheering on both of her former students- Brody and Cam.

And, the great northern relatives- Oma and Opa, Aunt Joyce and Uncle Joe and Aunt Gay were all bundled and cheering up a storm!  We were so fortunate the rain held off.
That afternoon, Cam's grandparents came back to the house for lunch and to spend the night!  We were so happy to have them for an entire evening and morning.  We said goodbye after breakfast on Sunday.

At lunchtime, we welcomed Sarah and Steve, who were in town from Colorado for a wedding, which Cam thought was pretty funny since we had just attended their wedding in July in Joliet.
It was such a treat to see them and catch up on everything in person.

Some people think we seem to have a revolving door of visitors:)  There are days we do and we wouldn't ever change that.
Cam loves the activity and we all love the anticipation of fellowship and laughter that always accompanies friendship.


Our fall colors from Auntie Karen
Camology Quotes:
It's funny how things can be misinterpreted if the origin isn't understood.  
Sarah and Steve were talking about their rental car and needing to return it prior to going in the airport.  Cam was a bit confused about Hertz...
"What do you mean?  Your car is hurt?"

Our annual Sunday dinner with the Raisch fam included a story Ms. Patti was telling about the Rotary Club.  Cam interjected mid-stream...
"You mean they go on the road?"

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Victory Day - Week of Sept. 16th

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

To the victor go the spoils.  An odd phrase until you research its meaning...
During a Congressional debate in 1831 a New York senator, William L. Marcy, used the phrase "to the victor belong the spoils." This saying accurately described the spoils system of appointing government workers. Each time a new administration came into power thousands of public servants were discharged and members of the victorious political party took over their jobs.

At school this week, Cam took on a few jobs of his own.  He created some colorful art with Ms. Konkle and utilized a bowling ramp to play a game with his friend, Ethan.

Auntie Karen arrived at the end
of the week to attend Cam's ball game on Saturday.  Friday night, Ms. Amanda had a surprise evening with her buddy, while the trio of Cam's parents and Auntie Karen had dinner in Lowell.

Saturday morning, we were all on the move again on our way to the WMML field in Rockford.  The announcer dubbed our son "Cam the Man" during his intro based upon the fact that the cool video of Cam bringing in the last run the week before had garnered over 4,000 views online.  The Hope College Girls Basketball team volunteered this week and Ms. Barbara, Cam's former teacher, arrived to watch the excitement, along with Oma and Opa.
It was a breezy, warm afternoon and we had decided to bring a picnic lunch for after baseball.  The canopied tables in the playground area make a perfect spot for dining.
After eating, we said goodbye to Cam's grandparents and Auntie Karen and thanked them for coming as they all began their trek home.
Chris and Jane also took headed back to their abode, but only for a short time.  About a month ago, Ms. Amanda's future mother-in-law, Mary W., let us know about a program called Victory Day at Ms. Amanda's alma mater, GR South Christian High School.  We signed up in August and the time certainly flew by.  The goal is to match a person with different needs and abilities with a high school football player.

When we arrived, Cam was paired up with Anthony, a junior on the Sailors team.  Our boy was given a jersey to wear and the two guys chatted.  Everyone in the bleachers made a "tunnel" on the field for the 20+ participants to go through.  Then, it was time to patiently wait as each person paired made their way in the lineup. 
When it was Cam's turn, Anthony handed him the ball and expertly stayed beside him.  As they made their way down the field, the junior varsity players continuously attempted to tackle Cam.  
They made it to the end and everyone yelled 'Touchdown!' and the marching band played each and every time the end zone was reached.  After all of the players had made a score, an award ceremony complete with medals was presented to every person who participated.  The cheering section of Ms. Amanda and Nick, Nick's sister Brooke and their mom, Mary, along with Chris and Jane made for some noisy bystanders.  The rainstorm held off and as we watched Cam smile at Ms. Amanda, we are reminded of how many connections we have because of the many people we hold so dear.
As Pubilius Syrus said, "Where there is unity, there is always victory."
The unified group on the field proved just that!

Camology Quotes:
We have had some unusually warmer days, opening the windows and doors.  And we've witnessed the sun coming up in the morning with some pretty vibrant colors.
Sometimes, the occasional insect will enter our home.  At bedtime one evening, Cam announced:

"No flies in my room please, batten down the hatches!"

Sunday, September 15, 2019

We're in Michigan, not Kansas - Week of Sept. 9th

"Every child deserves a chance to play baseball." ~ West Michigan Miracle League

Wednesday evening, Sept. 11, Chris and Cam were playing the Xbox while Jane was tending to household chores. Cam asked what a noise was to which his parents replied "probably something at the neighbors." Suddenly, Chris looked at his phone, turned off the Xbox, switched to the local channel and we all saw a tornado warning on the tv! That was a first for us. Looking at the radar, we saw it had already passed by us and we told Cam the 'noise' he heard were the tornado sirens, which incidentally we've heard possibly twice in the last 10 years for testing. Cam thought the entire experience was exciting and said to us, "I thought I had done something wrong because Dad turned off the Xbox! He just wanted to look at the tornado stuff!" Cam and his mom surveyed the damage the next day and it was quite extensive just a few miles away. The National Weather Service did determine, however, that it was straight line winds and not an actual tornado.
Friday evening, we readied our supplies for Saturday morning. We were holding our very first “Community Day Build for Halloween Heroes” to create wheelchair costumes. Our friends at Grand Valley State University donated a large space for us to use on Saturday and we all met up at 9:30a at the GVSU Innovation Center. We had 5 kids signed up and we couldn’t wait to get started. Cam is our designated consultant, providing input and feedback as well as acting as greeter for our families.
One of our participants was none other than Cam’s good buddy, Liam. It turns out that Liam is a huge fan of Star Trek and determined his costume this year would be the U.S.S. Voyager. We found pictures on the internet and he chose the ones he felt most closely resembled the spaceship. The best part of Community Day is that the families are able to transport the costumes home and finish any painting, embellishing, etc. that couldn’t be finished during our time together.

After Cam and Liam ate a quick lunch, it was a bit past time for Jane to transport her son to the WMML field.
She was definitely wishing teleportation was a real thing. Oma and Opa were already there. Jane quickly called Oma and asked if she would find Coach Nicole to let her know we were running a little late and Cam would need to be last in the batting lineup. Oma and Opa led our cheering section when we arrived.

The volunteers were the Kalamazoo College Hornets, Men’s Baseball team. They were absolutely stellar! The guys did a great job involving Cam in every single play. And then, we realized Cam would be the very last batter of the game and the bases were empty.  After using the batter box, he began his journey around the field.  When he passed 3rd, the Hornets and everyone in the stands started cheering him on as he made his way to home plate.  The video shows Cam's pure joy and excitement.  He exclaimed immediately afterwards..."That-was-AWESOME!"

Camology Quotes:
Cam sometimes has the unique ability to accidentally 'predict' an outcome and the not-so-unique ability to chat about a topic seemingly all day long.  Thursday evening's intense storm led to 2 predictions and multiple discussions...
Regarding the tornado warning:
"I don't think we will have school tomorrow!"
"You know what?  I think when I see Mr. Patrick at PT (physical therapy) he will say 'a lot of my patients canceled today because of the weather' and I think that will happen."  (confirmed upon questioning receptionist at walk-in to said appointment on Thursday evening)
Regarding the multiple discussions:
"Did they open the police station and fire station to people who needed shelter after the storm?"
"What did the tornado sound like?"  (note- we were all in the same room when tornado warning occurred)
"Mom look at the news- oh my goodness!  That is the power line we saw!  Will it still be down tomorrow?  Where will my school bus go?  Did they give my bus a new route?" 

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Picture Perfect Baseball - Week of Sept. 2nd

“Photography for me is not looking, it’s feeling. If you can’t feel what you’re looking at, then you’re never going to get others to feel anything when they look at your pictures.” ~Don McCullin
“You don’t take a photograph. You ask quietly to borrow it.” ~Unknown

Attending school makes Cam so happy.   Each day begins with a smile waiting for the bus and each weekday afternoon, a smiling boy departs the bus with his most common greeting, "I had a great day!  How was your day?"  Even if Cam's parents have had a trying day, it helps puts things in perspective. 

This week in school, our sixth grader and his friends had to create their very own 'superhero.'  Their sign reads- "Fear Not Northern Trails!  Our school is under the watchful eyes of Tape Man, Super Teacher, Instrument Man, Super Football Man and Super Pokemon Tamer!"  Cam chose to be Super Teacher because he loves to remind his teachers about things and pretend to be the teacher himself.  Each week, a video journal of his favorite activities is captured and sent to his parents.
Saturday marked the first weekend for Fall Baseball with WMML

Before the game even started, we were all pleasantly surprised to see one of Cam's former elementary school teacher's, Ms. Kathy!  It had been a few months since these two were side by side and smiling.  Ms. Kathy knows other former students that also play for the Miracle League so it's always fun to see the reactions.

The volunteer helpers were the Hope College Softball Team.  Cam was lucky enough to have two people assisting.  The batter box sported a fresh coat of paint and instructions thanks to Chris and son.
Cam is on the Aquinas Saints team this season and was super excited to be back on the field.  His teammates include friends, Brody and Carson.  His coaches are Carson's dad, Mr. Mark and a local TV news personality, Ms. Nicole.

It turned out to be great weather for our first game and we certainly hope we continue this mild stretch of fall.

On Sunday, Oma and Opa drove into GR from up north.  We all settled into the van for a quick trip to Kalamazoo for our annual mini photo session with the Gaupers.
Ryan and Holly are a talented couple who have taken our family photos for 5 years now.  For 35 minutes, they move us around to different areas, make us laugh and create unique images.  In a few weeks, they send us a link for all the digital prints.  Upon returning home, though, it was quite apparent Cam had reached his limit for a permanent grin :-)

Camology Quotes:
Cam always asks about directions and has a very good innate sense of direction...
"Which way will Ms. Holly and Mr. Ryan take to get here?" (names off different local highways)
"They should probably use Waze."

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Singing into 6th Grade - Week of Aug. 26th

"The only thing better than singing...is more singing." ~Ella Fitzgerald

It's hard to believe our son began 6th grade this week.  He chose choir over an instrument and thoroughly enjoys his take on singing.
Another bonus is the addition of one his friends since preschool, Liam, being added to his bus route on the way home.  These two longtime buddies get to ride next to each other and chat on their daily return trip.  Apparently, Cam has also been requesting a play date time from Liam's mom, Betsy, every day at drop off.
Another unexpected surprise was seeing Auntie Jo and receiving a couple of birthday presents.  We all marveled at the emoticon Chia pet.  Chris, Jane and Jo all explained to Cam that none of them had ever had a cool chia creation when they were younger, even though they had all seemed to want one at some point.  Auntie Jo and her godson went to work, following the directions to plant the seeds and wait for growth.  Following the emoticon theme, Cam opened a new beach towel from his godmother before the night was over.
Thursday evening, our son stayed up 'late' since Friday was a vacation day from school due to the Labor Day holiday weekend.
We saw a pretty incredible display of lightning luckily without the loud thunder. Cam's parents, however, did not have Friday off of work.  As Jane and her son settled into their 'temporary' offices in the dining room, Cam announced at 9am: "Mom, I would rather be in school."  There was no disagreement on that comment.  Luckily, there was a break in the afternoon and mother and son played a few games.

On Saturday, the forecast looked good for a cottage day.  Our first stop was the annual outing to Dog-n-Suds in Montague where we ate outside at a picnic table on White Lake.  Chris and Cam strolled along the river which is the highest level we've ever seen.  Cam thinks it is so cool that you place your order via the microphone and they walk the food and drinks out to you.  And if you want to just stay in your car, the food trays rest on the windowsills.  As our son likes to say it's how they did things "back in the olden days."

After arriving at Oma and Opa's and settling in, we headed down to the beach later in the afternoon.  The flies were a bit bothersome, so after visiting with Aunt Joyce and chatting about the salsa we would make with the garden tomatoes she brought us, we headed out in the kayak.  Cam and his mom took the first ride on the unusually calm Lake Michigan water.  Surprisingly, the water wasn't too cold either.  While Chris paddled around with Jane, Oma and Cam had some time on the beach, right at the shoreline to stay away from the pesky flies.

By the time we headed up from the beach, it was after 5pm and dinner prep was in full force.  Opa prepared a most delicious flank steak for us, accompanied by fresh sweet corn.  Cousin Steff and her son James surprised us during the tasty meal.
Labor Day weekend is typically considered the last beach days of summer and the big lake didn't disappoint.
Watching the sunlight sparkle on the clear water, seeing the boats pass by, and the clouds moving across the sky melding into different shapes provides some of the most relaxing entertainment around.
It's easy to understand what pulls us to the shore most every weekend and why the summer days are so precious and memorable.

Camology Quotes:
Those who know Cam realize pretty quickly he is a routine kid.  He likes a schedule, appreciates upfront knowledge, and is known to his parents as a "human calendar" reminding them to do things they haven't even written down, but only mentioned in passing.

"So, do you want to have watermelon instead of strawberries for lunch?"
"I'll just stick with my classic!"