Sunday, October 8, 2017

Last Call for Fall Baseball - Week of Oct. 2nd

Cam's baseball medals
“I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” ~ L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables
“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.” ~ Albert Camus

Sometimes you want to hit a pause stay in a moment, to make it last.  That's how it felt on the final day of the West Michigan Miracle League Fall 2017 season.  One for the record books with the abundance of warm Saturdays for baseball. 
Cam receiving his medal

Each and every season, we see Cam gain more confidence and improve his skills.  His confidence is shown in the way he interacts with others, explaining what he needs and how things will work.  The bat box has helped in the skill level for our ten-year-old experiencing the thrill of the bat connecting with ball by his own force.
Best buds and a great season!

We meet new volunteers and hear the impact of what being involved in this league with these players means to them.  We talk to other parents, friends and relatives and hear their stories and their journeys.  Each is unique and yet we all share a common bond, this place and the game that connects us all.  And truly, you cannot attend a WMML game without smiling and cheering. We certainly hope to see Brody and Cam on the field together for many years to come.

On this last game, Oma, Ms. Amanda and Ms. Brooke and her pup, Brynlee joined us to cheer on Cam.  Brooke made a sign with Cam's jersey number- "#24 on the field, #1 in my heart." 

Back on the home front, we continue to enjoy a gift given by 'Auntie' Leslie called Crazy Forts.  When Leslie has been to visit in the past, she's seen some of the awesome forts made by Emma and Cam.  It inspired her to give this building contraption to Cam for his tenth birthday.  This continues to be a weekly fun project since the fort only takes shape after you begin the building process.  One may make a tall rocket ship or even a spaceship that could carry Cam to another galaxy.

Camology Quotes:

During break time at school, Ms. Kathy let the boys have some fun.  We received an email that indicated the picture attached was Brody interviewing Cam.  I jokingly asked if we could have a copy of the transcript.  Ms. Kathy replied...

"Oh, I couldn't even keep up with their conversation!"

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Oodles of Oma - Week of Sept. 25th

A house needs a grandma in it. ~Louisa May Alcott
Grandmas are moms with lots of frosting. ~Author Unknown
Grandmother - a wonderful mother with lots of practice. ~Author Unknown

It was a privilege to have Cam's grandma stay with us while Chris was out of town all week.  Cam's dad traveled to Orlando on Sunday to attend the Microsoft conference with 30,000 other people.  Back in Michigan, Cam was treated to a daily dose of Oma.  Jane was beyond grateful for her mom's assistance, time and endless energy.

Crafting and playtime were the after-school activities of choice for Cam and his grandma.  A version of "The Price Is Right" became a hilarious evening game of guessing how much items in the house were worth and then punching them into the cash register.  Cam was asked to determine amounts, provide change and count money.

It's no secret that Oma is an wonderful cook. She and Cam made crepes which were eaten for breakfast nearly every morning during the week.  For dinner each evening, the trio of Oma, Mom and Cam figured out a delicious meal and we all had fun trying some new dishes.  Cam is shown here shaking cauliflower in a bag seasoned with olive oil and salt/pepper, ready for roasting.

On Friday, a half day of school equated to an afternoon of fun.  Following lunch, Miss Amanda, Cam and Oma trekked over to Boulder Ridge Wild Animal Park where they enjoyed an uncrowded setting.  The giraffes are definitely one of Cam's favorites.  Getting up close and feeding the Boulder Ridge inhabitants makes the experience even better.
videoAfter the park, Jane was able to meet Oma, her grandson and Miss Amanda over at Spoonlickers in Ada to take a break for a tasty afternoon treat.  The homemade frozen yogurt dessert shop provides a self-serve experience for the yogurt and all of the toppings.  The only catch is that you pay by the weight of your dish so one must be mindful of what's being added.  The homemade cookie dough, brownies and other delectable delights are tough to resist, though.
Late that evening, Cam's dad arrived home (yeah!) and once again, we were thankful for Oma's presence to stay with Cam during Jane's airport run.
The next morning, our family enjoyed a delicious Dutch apple pancake for breakfast and then we made our way to the West Michigan Miracle League field.  Another picture perfect day awaited us for baseball.  The fan base was strong with our Oma and two of Cam's teachers, Ms. Barbara and Ms. Kathy and Ms. Kathy's husband, Kevin.  Brody and Cam, classmates, buddies and teammates were super excited to see their teachers outside of school!
Jane & Oma at Artprize Friday morning

We treated Oma to lunch after the game and arrived home for some afternoon relaxation.  We said goodbye to Cam's grandma late Saturday afternoon and truly thanks are not enough for all she did and continues to do for our family!

On Sunday, Chris, Cam and Jane made their way down to Artprize to check out a few entries.  We live in such a great community where this unique artistic contest represents traditional art, but also art in many different forms.

We found different sized metal poles with sticks for making music, orange inner tube floaters on the river and even concrete rocking chairs to sit in.

"Art is in the eye of the beholder" and there was much to behold in Cam's hometown of Grand Rapids.

3 Cam's at School!

Camology Quotes:

If a word or phrase is uttered that Cam has never heard before, he immediately questions what it is.  One morning the temperature had dropped and Oma looked at the lower temp and exclaimed,
"It's only 52 degrees.  Well, isn't that something!"

Why do you say that, Oma?
"Say what, Cam?"
You said, 'isn't that something!'
"Oh, well I meant that it's surprising, that all."
Why did you not say that then, silly?

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Reach for the Stars - Week of Sept. 18th

We talk about the weather a lot in Michigan.  It seems that the reasoning is because it is highly unpredictable and quite possibly the best place in the country to be a meteorologist, knowing you can't be held accountable for a forecast.
Indian summer is a period of unseasonably warm, dry weather that sometimes occurs in autumn in the Northern Hemisphere. The US National Weather Service defines this as weather conditions that are sunny and clear with above normal temperatures, occurring late-September to mid-November.   And that's exactly what we've happened upon this week.

Saturday's weather promised steamy temperatures in the low 90's and we received an email Friday evening indicating that we could opt out of the WMML baseball game if we were concerned about our child in the heat.  As a family, we chose to have Cam play ball and stay hydrated!
The volunteer helpers were from the Hope College sorority, Sigma Iota Beta.  These girls volunteer every year and running next to Cam is Abbey, one of his all-time favorite helpers.

The batting box shown here is the highlight of every game for Cam. It was built and donated by an organization called
Cam drives up to the red box, which has a bat with a pulley system mounted on top.  The pulley is placed over his joystick.  He drives backwards as fast as he can and the pulley system releases to swing the bat connecting perfectly with the baseball.  Then it's off to first base!
We were thankful for blowing fans and cold water to make it through the afternoon heat.

We planned to drive to the cottage right afterwards to see if we might take one last dip in Lake Michigan.  Not only was it an awesome beach afternoon, but the water was perfect for swimming- maybe even the best all summer.  JJ and Jeffrey were visiting from out east and had brought Cam a New Jersey police bear.  He was very thankful and told them it would be in his room where he would "see it every day."

After cooling off in the water, we enjoyed our lakeside view for dinner on the deck.  Oma and Opa prepared a delicious feast, as always.  We were treated to homemade apple pie and ice cream for dessert.
It is never easy to leave the idyllic scenery, but even more difficult when the warm sunshine continues to sparkle on the refreshing water.

We departed as the sun was just about to set and had big plans upon arrival home.

Grandma Sue sent Cam a big surprise in the mail for his birthday- his very own telescope!  Our scientific kid is very curious about space and the stars.  We promised him he could test drive his present that evening.  A galaxy full of thanks to Cam's grandma in Kansas for sending a gift our family will enjoy for many years to come!

On Sunday, Chris was flying to Orlando for a week long conference.  After Jane and Cam dropped him off at the airport, they drove downtown to take in ArtPrize Nine.  It was more than 90 degrees outside, but a strong breeze kept mom and son going.
The majestic horse next to Cam is a finalist this year, made of copper and glass.  It was cool to the touch on a hot day.
Even with record temps, we were surprised to see so many others pushing through the heat.  It's hard to say, though, if anyone was more proud than this mom watching her son.

Camology Quotes:
Chris and Cam have begun Operation Halloween Costume in the garage. Each evening, after Chris arrives home, Cam is ready to begin construction.  As parents, it is rewarding to hear our son inquire about our day.

"How was your day, Dad?" 
Good Cam, how was school?
"It was good. Enough talking. Now let's get to work!"

Sunday, September 17, 2017

What's an AFO? - Week of Sept. 11th

If you've ever met Cam in person or looked closely at his pictures, you'll see he wears AFO's.  In our household, we've become so accustomed to the abbreviations, we forget others may not know.  An AFO is an Ankle-Foot Orthosis or brace that encumbers the ankle and foot.  And here's the cool thing- it is customized just for Cam.  This means every year (since he was just over 2 years of age) he has picked out the color scheme for his brace.
A specialist called an orthotist creates a "cast" of each leg and has to do it in such a way that it will be comfortable in a standing position.  Cam has always been the perfect patient when it comes to casting.  The whole procedure is quite fascinating and not uncomfortable for him so that helps tremendously.
Jane thinks the boy choices for cast colors are a bit lacking but they have modernized the technique and can make the entire brace a transfer of the pattern chosen.  This year, Cam chose the green camouflage (former Marine, Dad approves) and gray shoes.  And if you're wondering how much a custom piece of plastic runs in the orthotics department for AFO's, it is approximately $1000 per leg and insurance-approved.

The routine of Saturday morning baseball has found a rhythm again and the fall warming trend has made for pleasant games for players and bystanders.  Ms. Lexi from the Aquinas softball team found Cam and asked to be his helper.  Once again, the generosity of others with their time is genuinely awesome to see.

The Cam Fan base was strong this week- Ms. Amanda as well as the Gray Dunes crew in full force- Oma & Opa, Aunt Joyce & Uncle Joe, and Aunt Gay.
The travelers all scored some homemade oatmeal/chocolate/peanut butter cookies for their long drive home made by Ms. Amanda and Cam.

At the opening game last week, the coach realized that Cam's jersey wasn't correct- it had been printed for another team.  The president of the WMML personally told Cam he would have his Spartan shirt ready for Game 2 and he could keep the incorrect one.  Of course, Cam's jersey was ready and waiting for him.  Our thankful son insisted we send Tony, the president, an email, which we did.  Much to our surprise, we had a reply very quickly reminding Cam that he was such an important part of the Miracle League family!

Saturday afternoon, we had fun celebrating Mr. Bexley's first birthday.  The homemade cakes and s'mores cupcakes created by Katherine were most delicious.  There were lots of kids and games and an enormous teddy bear.  Whenever Ms. Ann and Cam are together, laughter always ensues.  Ms. Ann sat down surprised that the chair was a bit further away than anticipated.  The laughter literally went on for at least 5 minutes between these two.

On the birthday boy's card, Cam asked us to write "Happy Birthday to my friend, Bexley.  You are my best new one."

Camology Quotes:
While at the birthday party, Cam asked to use the bathroom.  He was explaining to his parents how he knew he really had to go and had waited for the right time.

See Mom and Dad, I'm on top of it!

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Goodbye Summer, Hello Baseball - Week of Sept. 4th

"By all these lovely tokens September days are here, With summer's best of weather And autumn's best of cheer." ~Helen Hunt Jackson 
"There shall be eternal summer in the grateful heart." ~Celia Thaxter

As fall approaches, a common question heard in our household is "when does my baseball start?" Thanks to the West Michigan Miracle League, Cam has been playing ball since 2014.   This league accepts players, ages 5-18 with different abilities.  Signing up online for a small fee confirms your child's placement as well a very cool team jersey and baseball cap.  In the spring, the shirts are adorned with pro ball teams, and for the fall season, college teams reign.  If there is a special request (for two pals to be on the same team, for instance) they always try to honor it.

For the first fall season opener, the helpers were players from the Hope College Girls Softball Team.  They volunteered last year as well.  Britta, pictured with Cam giving a high five found us and asked if she could be Cam's helper because she also volunteered last year and was his buddy then!  We couldn't believe she found him.  He was very happy.  The other bonus is having one of your best friends on your team.  Brody is in Cam's 4th grade class and they ride the bus together.  These two crack each other up all the time. They also share the same teacher, Ms. Kathy, one of the biggest baseball fans around. Kathy and her husband, Kevin, were in the stands for the opener, cheering on the boys.

There was more to come for our Saturday, so we took advantage of a couple hours of relaxation before heading over to Hager Park for Will's 9th birthday party.  The soccer fan had played a game that morning and was ready for his celebration.

Hager Park has a huge wooden structure with ramps and playground equipment.  After exploring all of the recreation gear, everyone gathered at the picnic tables.
Auntie Jo brought in pizza and breadsticks for all. Although we had to leave a bit early, we were happy we met up with everyone, and had a breadstick for an appetizer.

Next on our agenda was heading up north to Country Dairy, where we met Oma and Opa for a delicious dinner.  Country Dairy was established in its current location in 1983 as a milk processor and bottler.  The fourth generation general store, restaurant and Moo School attracts people from all over.  After our meal, which included free refills of self-serve chocolate milk (!), we all drove over to Stony Lake.  We were invited to a reception for Brian and Sarah who were just married.  Jane used to babysit the Stony Lake kids in the summer, and the combined families are life-long pals of ours.  It was such fun to catch up with everyone and all of the kids were so sweet to Cam.  Our son was a trooper after such a long day and evening, he even played a game of large ring toss before we departed Stony to head over to Oma and Opa's.  It was great to have a short drive to sleep for the night.

The next day provided plenty of sunshine and an inviting beach setting.  After having some time with Oma and Opa, we bid them farewell as they had reservations for a cruise around Muskegon Lake that afternoon.  After thanking them for everything (meeting us for dinner, homemade goodies, a place to sleep and the list goes on...) we then took our beach side seats.  The waves were perfect for a tour in the inflatable kayak.  Jane & Cam enjoyed the relaxing ride, while Chris paddled around Lake Michigan.
As we packed up our things, Cam looked at the lake and said "Goodbye Summer, see you next year."
Counting the days, summer, counting the days...

Camology Quotes:
Cam is still attending weekly PT appointments since his surgery recovery.  Jane found a place close to home, Center for Physical Rehabilitation, with awesome therapists.  One therapist Cam works with is a Grand Valley graduate and he had worked with Cam before in the program.  Patrick now sees Cam fairly regularly.  On this particular day, they both thought it was pretty funny that each of them wore blue pants and orange shirts!

"Cam, you are stretching really good today."'s because I'm 10!