Sunday, August 12, 2018

Beach Bound Broadway - Week of Aug. 6th

Mid-week workout!
"You are what you do, not what you say you will do." ~Carl Gustav Jung

This summer has seemed unusually warm for our area and the beach has continued to beckon us northward.  Saturday, we drove our customary hour + to hang out with Oma and Opa.  It was a beautiful beach day and Cam's former bath chair makes a perfect lounging water seat. 

At 4pm, though, we headed south on the beach and after passing 4 cottages, we had reached our destination.  We had front row seats to an original outdoor play written by Cam's cousin, Maya. 
Maya spent 3 weeks crafting the story of a teacher posing as an alien who came from another planet.  Her entire family, as well as her grandparents, aunts, uncles and younger cousins, all had parts too. 
None of us had ever gone to an outdoor theatrical production.  As spectators, we were even offered appetizers and drinks. 

Five acts and an intermission rounded out the 30+ minute production.  Maya indicated they had limited rehearsals, but everything went off without a hitch.  Cam thinks his cousin is famous for creating her own play and directing it!

We watched a beautiful sunset that evening and spent the night at Oma and Opa's.  The next day was a picture perfect beach day again.  Auntie Jo and Will popped in for swimming and fun in the sun.  It's unusual when the big Lake Michigan waters are so calm and we couldn't even count all of the boats we could see.
Auntie Jo and Will surprised Cam with birthday presents!  The entire Narnia series(one of her childhood favorites) in a single book and some really cool Field of Dreams souvenirs from the actual Field of Dreams in Iowa, which Auntie Jo visited.

It's always a bit of struggle to leave the scenic view and make our way back to Grand Rapids.
But when you have a Cam with a positive disposition, well, it's pretty easy for everyone to see the bright side of life.

Camology Quotes:
Cam is a follow-through kind of guy.  If he says he will do something, he will do it.  And if you say you will do something, he will not let you forget you need to do it.  When Cam and Jane were shopping for a present at a local department store, they encountered Peter who helped them with a purchase.  He mentioned taking a survey on the receipt.  Cam said "we will do it."  Upon looking for another item, we couldn't find anyone to assist and found Peter again.  He went above and beyond and laughing, said again "as you know, there's a survey you can take."  Cam again indicated we would do it.  I said to Peter "the minute we walk in our house, Cam will remind me.  We promise."
As expected, upon arrival home, Cam said, "Mom, we need to do the survey now."  With so many other things to tackle, we still took the five minutes to complete.  A few days later, we heard the following message on our home answering machine:
"Hi, my name is Janet and I'm the store manager at the Woodland Stores Macy's and I wanted to call and thank you for the compliment you submitted for Peter.  I'm so glad he was able to help you and provide you with outstanding service when you were in.  I also wanted to let you know that we did recognize him in front of our whole store at a store-wide meeting right after I received your feedback.  We really appreciate your business!"
Cam heard the message and was especially happy that Peter was recognized at a store meeting and Jane was incredibly proud of her son and his dedication to getting things done!

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Super Trooper - Week of July 30th

Ruff Readers at the local library
persevere: to persist in anything undertaken; maintain a purpose in spite of difficulty, obstacles, or discouragement; continue steadfastly.

"A river cuts through the rock not because of its power, but because of its persistence." ~Jim Watkins

The last week of summer school for Cam was bittersweet.  Two teachers he has known all through grade school will no longer see him in the halls at school since he will be in a 5/6 building this fall.
An email from Ms. Kathy certainly summed things up:
Subject: Just a little Cam quote that made my day
I love how "formal" he is some times in his use of language. "Ms. Kathy, it has been a pleasure working with you these years. I will miss you." I could only reply, "Cam, it has been a pleasure and delight working with you as well. " :-)

Friday was quite the early morning for our family.  We were scheduled to be at Mary Free Bed @6am for Cam's baclofen test.  Baclofen is a muscle relaxer that can help reduce spasticity.  Cam went under anesthesia and they injected a test dose into his spine to determine if there would be a positive reaction.  Throughout the day he was measured by a 27-year veteran physical therapist, Ms. Jennifer.  The results are used to determine if Cam is a good candidate for a baclofen pump surgery- stay tuned!

After being in the hospital for 10 hours, we weren't certain if our son would be ready for a cousin's baseball game and overnight at the cottage the very next day, but as we've come to realize, Cam never wants to give up or give in.

The afternoon sun lit up the baseball field in Montague, just 10 minutes from the cottage.  The crew assembled was divided into teams and we all witnessed our cousin Harper crush the ball right out of field, scoring a couple of home runs.  The best part of these players and spectators is the encouragement and never losing sight of the fact that we're together to play and have fun.  And what better way to end the day then a trip to Fricano's in Muskegon for pizza and ice cream!

On Sunday after lunch, Chris, Jane and Cam headed to the beach.  It is customary for Cam to have a small snack upon arrival.  Unfortunately, some of the snack crackers were a bit stale so Chris threw them off to the side.  And who should appear a few minutes later?  A little bandit we nicknamed 'Rocky Raccoon' who most definitely was not frightened in the least bit of other beach-goers.
We actually had to shoo him away when he tried a sneak attack from the back to see what other delicious contents may exist in our bag.
After our rodent adventure, we started off down the beach (with our bag of course) for the Schulze cottage to see our cousins.  They had just gone up, but happily trotted back down to the beach to hang out with us.  Miss Ella showed off her kitchen to Cam while her brother Gavin tested his throwing skills with sand balls into the lake.

Lake Michigan was rough and rip current warnings were in place.  It was too wavy for Cam's kayak and even for Cam to swim with one of his parents.

Aunt Joyce, however, offered to sit on the beach and had a nice chat with her grand-nephew while Chris and Jane battled the waves and swam for a bit.

Late afternoon, we made our way back to Grand Rapids for our annual summer meal with the Raisch and Flegel families.   Everyone contributed to our delicious meal of chicken caeser salad with all of the fixings, homemade cheesy bread, corn on the cob and two desserts. 
What a perfect ending to a week filled with nearly every emotion on the planet!

Camology Quotes:
When Cam was younger, Jane used to sing him songs at bedtime.
His sweet soul sometimes takes even his mom by surprise!

"Mom, you know what it makes me think of when it's raining?" 
(singing) "š¯… You are my sunshine…my only make me happy when skies are gray♫"

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Enjoy the Ride - Week of July 23rd

"Look around you--look up here--Take time to make time--Make time to be there" ~ Little River Band
Life is, school, appointments, activities and all the rest.  It's tough to slow down sometimes.  But if you're able to and lucky enough to find some friends to relax with, try to enjoy the ride.

'Auntie' Leslie and Mr. Jay became a part of our everyday life this week.  Leslie encouraged Cam to eat solo and we engaged in strategic game play daily.  Camel Up (or is it Cup) proved to be one of Cam's favorites.  It is a game of options, decisions and luck.  Our gaming son even scored big and won a round.  The high-fives commenced and Cam was, well, a little excited.

On Friday, a surprise was planned.  We talked about it during the week but did not reveal what it was.  Cam wanted to be really astounded and one of his many questions- "is it appropriate for me" had 'Auntie' Leslie retorting, "What?! You don't think I'm appropriate?"  When the big day arrived, we all piled into the van and headed southwest.  Duty called for Chris and as much as we begged, he had to go into work that day.  Our destination was the Saugatuck Dune Rides.
History: The dune rides date back to 1954 when Ron Jousma, then 21 and home from the Army, decided Saugatuck needed a dune ride similar to those at Silver Lake near Hart. He bought the present dune property west of Goshorn Lake from a Chicago man and turned his 1942 Ford convertible into a dune buggy with seats in the rumble seat. He added a 1946 and 1947 Ford coupe, cut off the tops, outfitted the cars with super-wide tires and cut trails in the dunes. 
In 1961, Jousma and a friend picked up two half-ton Ford truck chassis and drove them back from Kansas City sitting on wooden boxes. They were outfitted with steel beds and seats and joined the fleet. Still later Dodge Power Wagons were added and equipped with aircraft tires to operate in the sand. In 1971 Jousma opened a dune ride in Great Sand Dunes National Monument, Colorado and operated both rides until selling them in 1978 to an Indiana family. In 1981, Linus and Janice Starring purchased the business. The two never had ridden on the schooners until they inspected them prior to purchasing the business. Saugatuck Dune Rides remains a part-time job for the Starring family. Linus, with a degree in heavy equipment, is a railroad engineer for two small freight lines in Michigan during the off-season. Janice manages the office and handles all booking and scheduling. Even as a part time business, there's plenty of maintenance to do. Shifting sands require daily grading of the trails in the dunes. Driving in sand dunes means the schooners need oil changes and engine maintenance every 100 miles. During the off season, equipment is fabricated and updated for the following season.

Cam had ridden the dune scooters about 4 years ago but didn't seem to really recall the ride.  He was all smiles and screams once we started out, though.  Our driver was Scott and he volunteered to carry Cam over to the log for a photo of our group!  The weather was perfect for the adventure- not too hot and not too cool.  It turned out to be an "awesome surprise" according to Cam!!
Saturday was a divide and conquer day.
Chris and Cam enjoyed a pool party at Mr. Brent's, a mutual friend of Jay, Leslie and Jane's.  Simultaneously, Jane headed north to attend a memorial service for Uncle Rod Jellema.

By early
evening the boys
met Jane at Stony Lake for a 50th wedding celebration of family friends, the Vincents.  At Stony Lake, Jane spent 7 summers caring for the Vincent kids and their cousins.  Now they all have kids of their own and the party was not only a fun festivity, but it was also a reunion.  More than 30 years ago, Jane had a picture with all of these 'older' kids so it was only fitting to snap one with the next gen crew.  You may be wondering why the younger set of kids is cracking up in the picture.  Well, they are all saying "farts!"
Cam, Chris & Umpy
It just so happens that one of the early birthday presents Cam received from Auntie Leslie and Mr. Jay was a fart machine, complete with a remote control to make others think they may be experiencing a sudden bout of flatulence.  Let's just say it was a bit hit with the Stony Lake kids.

After a very late arrival back home, sleep came quickly and the morning too soon.  We drove Mr. Jay and Auntie Leslie to the airport and they showered Cam with more early birthday presents including a Pranklopedia book full of "not mean pranks" which Chris and Cam quickly began researching.

With each goodbye, we seem to say a hello.
Sunday evening we shared dinner with the Raisch family for the first time in quite a few weeks.  After a yummy meal, we headed out for our annual summer ice cream trek, less than a mile away.  The girls all surprised Cam on the way back with a tickle attack!

Camology Quotes:
If you're wondering what pure joy looks like, just watch this video!

(Quick clip and a little cut off)
"This is awesome! I am having so much fun!"

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Friends are the Family We Choose for Ourselves - Week of July 16th

"In life the only thing that you can expect is the unexpected; the only surprise is a day that has none." ~Joan Rivers

Close friends of Cam's parents have become 'Aunties' and 'Uncles' over the years.  On Friday, we had the opportunity to help surprise 'Auntie' Roe for her birthday.  Ronda's husband worked out a plan with Chris to meet for dinner and we arrived a little early to be certain we were ready before they showed up.  Due to a very unexpected flat tire, they were a little delayed, but Auntie Roe was oh so shocked when she saw Cam, Jane & Chris and Amanda at the restaurant.  It's always a treat to see Ronda with Cam and he even remembered some of the Portuguese language his Auntie Roe taught him quite a few years ago.

On Saturday, we were off to the local airport to pick up Jane's lifelong dearest friend, Auntie Leslie and her boyfriend, Mr. Jay.  Jane, Leslie and Jay all went to school together and they were settling in for a week-long visit in Michigan.

Mr. Jay is a huge fan of all strategic games.  He introduced Cam to King Tokyo last year and Cam couldn't wait to play it with Jay again.  Also due to Mr. Jay's influence, Chris made a dice roller for Cam allowing him to place the die in a tiered plastic box where they roll out. Watching Cam learn the strategy of a game and putting it into action has been thrilling.

On Sunday, we all entered  the van to embark on a ride up to the cottage.  Our first stop was Dog-n-Suds in Montague to partake in their delicious lunch selection. (Watch 2-minute history)
With our full bellies, we headed to Lake Michigan to play beach side and soak up the sun for a bit. 
Oma and Opa made us a delicious meal and we all enjoyed celebrating the birthday of Cam's cousin, Steffanie with awesome cake and ice cream.

The sun may have faded in and out that day, but these smiles certainly did not!

Camology Quotes:
Auntie Leslie always comments how much she loves Cam's sense of humor.  She was watching a t.v. program with Cam that he likes and she had never seen before:
Leslie- "Cam, you have great taste!"
"What do you mean?  I cannot eat a show!"

Speaking of Cam's sense of humor, Chris was whistling one evening as if he was talking to Cam...
"Dad, I cannot speak bird!"

Sunday, July 15, 2018

A Camping We Will Go - Week of July 9th

"Camping is nature's way of promoting the motel business." ~Dave Barry

We celebrated this guy on Tuesday, an awesome dad to Cam and superb husband to Jane.  After work, the plan was to meet Chris for a Cam haircut and then head out for birthday dinner.  However, Jane and her son encountered some car trouble and Cam announced "this is not going to make for a good day."  But we had someone to celebrate and places to be, so we made it to dinner and ate outside in the sunshine at JT's, located just around the corner from the car repair shop.

Cam started his short stint with summer school this week, attending Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings from 9am-12pm.  He couldn't wait to see his friends and teachers.  Interestingly enough, the theme for this session is "Let's Go to Summer Camp!"  Well, that's kind of what we were planning....

On Friday, the packing brigade began with Cam supervising progress.  Even though we had a list, our intuitive son remembered a few things we may have overlooked.   It was a 3-hour drive to Charlevoix, Michigan where our final destination for the next 4 days and 3 nights was Fisherman's Island State Park.
Fisherman’s Island State Park boasts over six miles of unspoiled Lake Michigan shoreline. The island in which the park was named no longer exists. Due to years of lower water levels in Lake Michigan the island has become a peninsula now lush with native wildflowers. There are 80 rustic campsites with 15 of those nestled in the dune area along the Lake Michigan shoreline.

"Rustic" in reference to camping means outhouses only and wells to pump fresh water.  Bathing, if necessary, is recommended in Lake Michigan.  This was our 3rd visit as a family to Fisherman's, but our first time staying at a campsite right on Lake Michigan.  Our extended family friends (who first introduced us to the campground), Katherine (Cam's former nanny) and her husband Paul and son, Bexley, along with Katherine's mom, Miss Ann, had already been on the campsite for five days before we arrived.  Other friends, Zach and Aubrey were staying two sites away.  Our first sunset was nothing short of spectacular and the others didn't disappoint.  Staying in a tent and walking right to the beach in a few steps was the only way to camp, we all determined.  The beautiful weather certainly made our stay that much more enjoyable.  Cam floated for a couple of hours on a new green raft, compliments of Auntie Karen.  Jane lounged on a blue chair, given to Cam by Miss Amanda's Aunt Carol.  With a small rope, Jane kept connected to Cam as we lazed in the big lake and soaked up the sun.   In the meantime, Chris found a spot in the shade and tried out his hammock for the first time.

Per a tradition for Jane and Cam, each morning, they took their 20 minute ride to Boyne City to pick up a Starbucks coffee for Jane.  Normally, this wouldn't be an exciting outing but Cam and his mom hop on a car ferry in Ironton!  The four-car cable ferry began operation in 1876.  In the early days, the Ironton ferry was powered by horses.  It's a quick 3 minute ride on the ferry, but the panoramic view right from car in the middle of the water seems surreal.
Another day, we all ventured to the creek, south of our campground, where the boys played in the creek.

Of course, we had s'mores at the campfire with square marshmallows (why did it take so long to come up with these?!) and Cam decided he likes them best with Reese's peanut butter cups.
Another fun campfire experience was making popcorn on the fire with the famous Jiffy Pop.

You can take Cam out of his routine, but you can't take the routine out of Cam.  Our son insisted on completing his sight word tasks each morning, following his same usual activities of brushing his teeth and getting ready.  One of the best parts of camping, though, was the absence of electronics for our maturing boy.  Not once did he request use of the iPad to watch shows or play games.

We were thankful for the change of scenery, the renewal of close friendships, and the memorable time in nature along with countless bouts of laughter woven into every single day.
See you next year, Fishy Island- we can't wait!!

Camology Quotes:
In preparation, sometimes, Cam's parents lag behind their son's timeframe.  When we were finally ready for take off, Cam announced:
"Let's get this show on the road!"

Another choice quote from our weekend:
"What was camping like in the old days?"