Thursday, November 19, 2020

Swimming Serenity - Week of Nov. 9th

 "As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them." ~John F. Kennedy

Cam's dad is a veteran, having served four years in the Marine Corps.  Each year in school, it is always discussed and thank you letters are written.  Cam typed his own sentiment shown in the picture.

As our teen continues to grow, it seems his muscles are having trouble keeping up.  Recently, he has told us his lower back is sore and tight.  Fortunately, Mary Free Bed contacted us indicating they had an opening for private swim lessons.  As a bonus, the only instructor he has ever worked with, Ms. Laura, was slated to be his teacher.  

Cam and Ms. Laura haven't seen each for a few years so she was quite surprised by his growth.  Just like a friend you haven't seen in a long time, the two easily settled back into their routine.

The pool at Mary Free Bed is incredibly warm and the weightless, relaxing feeling brings a smile to Cam's face every time.

While at Mary Free Bed, Chris and his son saw one of the Board of Director members from Alternatives in Motion.  When Mr. Mark saw Cam he yelled "Hi Mr. Youth Ambassador!"  

For the seventh consecutive year, we reached out to our professional photographer friends, the Gaupers.  Holly and Ryan of Gauper Photo started out as professional wedding photographers and added family photos as part of their repertoire.  They are always creative and fun and definitely know how to make Cam laugh!

We met at Wildwood Farms in Alto a few weeks ago and our digital downloads arrived this week.  Oma and Opa have joined us for every photo shoot except for the second year.

Even though the adults have added a few more laugh lines and Cam won't stop growing, the pure happiness of being around each other seems always present in these pictures.

One of the funniest parts of that day was seeing the goats and the biggest one in particular certainly took a liking to Cam.  And although he does love all animals, this particular one looked just a bit too hungry and our son definitely kept his distance!

Camology Quotes: 

Cam is always keeping a close eye on the local news activity.  The governor held a press conference announcing new restrictions.  The next morning after Cam boarded the bus, his dad sent the following text message to Cam's teacher and Jane.

"There is a kid on the bus heading your way with about 12.5 million questions about the new orders...I saved them all for you!  Might want to get Mr. Behm (superintendent) on speed dial.  Maybe Mrs. Whitmer too just to be safe.  Good luck!"

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Ambassador Cameron - Week of Nov. 2nd

"Without community service, we would not have a strong quality of life.  It's important to the person who serves as well as the recipient.  It's the way in which we ourselves grow and develop." ~Dorothy Height

Over the years, Cameron has been asked to be interviewed for different organizations, events and activities.  Perhaps it is because he is such a willing participant.  We believe it's due to his winning smile and personality.  Whatever the reason, we are incredibly thankful for the opportunities it has provided Cam.  A few weeks ago, the Director of Alternatives in Motion (AIM) contacted Jane asking if Cam and his mom could be interviewed for their virtual Facebook Live event.  No one was quite sure what to expect since this would be the first time any of us participated in a FB event live streaming.  We arrived a little early since Cam never wants to be late, and met one of our local news reporters, Angeline McCall.  She would be interviewing us and asked a few questions prior.  Coleen, the Director of AIM, had also shared with Ms. McCall that it was Cam's idea to donate our old van to the non-profit organization.  Hugh, the board president, introduced us all and teed up the interview.
Angeline was very easy to talk to and asked us about our history with AIM.  The non-profit provides mobility equipment to those who need it, not as a loan, but for as long as it is needed.  They only request return when it is no longer required for the individual.  Before obtaining clearance to begin the ordering process for power mobility, each individual has to take a "driving test" to be able to ensure the equipment is appropriate.  Over 7 years ago, Cam's physical therapist filled out an application with AIM for a powered wheelchair.  Without that "driver's training" our son was able to take advantage of, we don't know how he could've passed that test to gain approval for his first power wheelchair.  

After the interview was over, Hugh announced that he had a surprise for us all.  He looked at Cam and told him that in honor of his efforts and contribution, AIM was presenting Cam with their very first "Youth Ambassador of the Year" award!  Our son's reaction was a generous shouting of "Wow, that's awesome!"  He did throw in a thank you as well and was pretty blown away by the accommodation.  One of AIM's employees and a physical therapist knows Cam through another therapist.  Kelsey couldn't wait to have her picture taken with the new Youth Ambassador.

The weekend was still full of other activities.
On Saturday, our family headed over to Brody's be Cafe in the afternoon to assist with igloo setup.
Last year, our group put the enclosures together in 20 degree weather.  This November, we enjoyed a balmy 70 degrees!  One of our fellow board members, Mrs. Webb, joined in the fun.  She is Cam's former occupational therapist from his elementary school.

Thankfully, the unseasonably warmer weather continued into Sunday.  Outdoor work ensued with Chris fighting the battle against the falling leaves.

Chris and his son set up the driveway markers to prepare for the upcoming winter snow plowing.
Cam was enlisted to assist with garbage and recycling container drop off at the end of the driveway.

Wearing t-shirts isn't the norm in November while living in Michigan.  It was a welcome surprise to be able to complete outdoor jobs in the mild weather.  As always, Cam keeps his parents on task.  We've started to think what an excellent project manager he could be in the future!

Camology Quotes: 

Cam was truly elated when he was presented with the Youth Ambassador Award.  As everyone continued to congratulate him, he politely said thank you.  When we were leaving the building and headed back to our van, Cam stopped driving and look at us .

"So, what is an Ambassador?"

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Virtual Virtuoso - Week of Oct. 26th

Zoom, used for videotelephony and online chat, was founded in April 2011.  Many would not have imagined how mainstream or popular it would become in 2020.  It is now the norm for remote learning and connecting friends and families around the world.

Due to the continued rise of cases, Cam's middle school and the high school were both restricted to virtual teaching this week.  The schedule became more regimented, which is definitely Cam's preference.  

After breakfast and morning duties, our studious seventh grader checked in at his desk right before 8am every day to see what his assignments were.  After journal typing, his first daily zoom class was Robotics at 8:45a.  After a 30 minute break, zoom #2 with his Language Arts small group began at 10am.  Next up: lunch at 11am, which seems early to most but in the middle school, Cam's group is assigned for their midday meal at 10:45a.  Zoom with choir at 11:15am, then math zoom at 12pm.  And to end the remote school day, zoom #5 included a science lesson from 1:30-2:15.  Each evening after dinner, a round of continued stretching and magical pillow positioning has improved Cam's sleeping dramatically.

On Wednesday in the late afternoon, we were fortunate to be able to carry on an annual tradition with Oma and Opa.  We met the amazing Gauper couple at Wildwood Farms in Alto, just 15 minutes from our home.  They spent 30 minutes taking our pictures in the glorious sunshine surrounded by corn fields, a silo and a few goats.  We are excited to receive the digital results in a few weeks.

Thursday evening, our family decided to figure out a Halloween costume for Cam.  Jane offered up the idea of Cam becoming a real-life Zoom call based on his recent experience.


Thankfully our son loved the idea and Chris began planning it out.  The entire project was completed in just a few hours.  We felt like quite the accomplished team!

Friday after lunch, Cam's teacher and aides stopped over with a treat bag as they did for each of Cam's classmates.

In the afternoon, Chris took his son over to Brody's be Café to model his costume and visit friends who work there.

Saturday was Halloween day.  With 2020 trick or treating looking very different this year, our cousins wanted to surprise Cam.  In the afternoon, they arrived and secretly hooked up a fog machine with lights in our garage and set up individual candy stations.  Cam couldn't believe how spooky his garage looked and he collected treats as he drove around.

Even though the typical events of the Mary Free Bed parade and trick or treating at Chris' company were sidelined this year, you can't take away Cam's smile or the ability for people to bond together to find  different ways to celebrate.

Camology Quotes: 

Cam makes good use of the accessibility features available on his iPad.  He utilizes Siri to ask questions, create meetings and notations.  Sometimes he is understood perfectly by the artificial intelligence, but other times, it falls short.
Cam was signed in through his school for zoom meetings and wanted to disconnect.

"Siri, how do I use you for Zoom?"
Siri's response: "I'm sorry, I cannot resume."

Sunday, October 25, 2020

The Covid Conundrum - Week of Oct. 19th

Over the past 7 months, our collective vocabulary has expanded to include the common phrases: social distancing, global pandemic, covid-19, personal protective equipment, virtual learning and the ever popular "do you have your mask?"

For Cam, he does not dwell on the current state of the world.  He accepts the situation, is mindful of the rules and moves forward, happily heading off to school every weekday.
At school, he had the opportunity to play one of his favorite games, Guess Who?  He and Mr. Mark look to be plotting a strategy in this picture.  Mr. Mark is an aide in the classroom and is a former police officer, which is very exciting for Cam.
As our 7th grader participates in class, he is no longer shy about answering questions or volunteering his input.  
He is still the kid who remembers the daily schedule and gives his teacher reminders about things that need to be done and upcoming events.

We received an email at the end of the school day on Tuesday, letting us know that there were a few covid positives in the middle school as well as the high school.  The decision was made to move to remote learning for the remainder of the week, Wednesday through Friday.  

Although it is not Cam's preferred method for his schoolwork, he always makes the best of it.
His desk has been relocated to the sunroom, providing a great view and lots of light.  The doors can be closed so he feels like it is his personal office and workspace.
It's interesting how important this is to him now, especially as it relates to schooling.
With Cam's growth in his independence, he is also experiencing physical growth.  He has told us his leg muscles feel tighter and cramped at bedtime and sleep has been more elusive.  Fortunately, he still has weekly physical therapy sessions after school hours every Thursday.

Our typical weekend of at home projects was interjected with additional rest for the entire family.
Even with less sleep, Cam remains the most positive, upbeat member of our family.
For this, we are forever grateful.

Camology Quotes: 

This picture and quote reminds us of Cam and although he didn't coin this phrase, it certainly speaks to his aspect on life and challenges.  

When speaking about his own situation and using his power mobility, he has said:

"Life would be pretty boring if we were all the same!"

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Robotics - Week of Oct. 12th

The Three Laws of Robotics: 1: A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm; 2: A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law; 3: A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law; The Zeroth Law: A robot may not harm humanity, or, by inaction, allow humanity to come to harm. ~Isaac Asimov
For Cam, 7th grade equals new opportunities and experiences.  Besides being in a different school building and meeting new teachers, one of his classes he thoroughly enjoys is Robotics.  Mr. Z currently has our inquisitive son controlling a robot from the iPad with a joystick app.  He practices daily for an upcoming maze challenge.

Cam's physical therapist at school travels to each of the buildings in the district.  Ms. Michelle snapped this pic of the screensaver for the day at the 5/6 building where Cam attended the last two years.  The photo was taken upon returning from a field trip to see our local hockey team, the Grand Rapids Griffins, conduct a practice.  A couple of the players walked outside afterwards, saw Cam, and asked him if he wanted the goalie stick as a souvenir!  

On Wednesday, Cam got off the bus with such a huge smile!  One of his friends at school, Sami, had given him a delicious treat... an enormous chocolate Hershey bar!  Even though desserts are typically reserved for the weekends, this became a rare after school treat for our candy fan the rest of the week.

Saturday, late in the afternoon, we welcomed Liam and his mom, Betsy.  Liam has been schooling from home this semester and the boys have been buddies since pre-school.  They share similar tastes in shows and movies.
The feature flick was an animated 2019 movie called "Spies in Disguise."  The boys requested popcorn and had a good laugh when Jane accidentally added pepper to the theater treat instead of salt!  Cam's mom told them that maybe she was trying to start a new trend.  Apparently, the movie was pretty funny since the two buddies were laughing quite a bit.
After dinner, Liam's mom made a fancy dessert that was super easy to prepare:  cut-up apples with warm chocolate sauce and caramel sauce drizzled over the tasty fruit.
We don't see friends too much anymore with everyone being cautious to stay healthy.  

On a positive note, the typical fall colds and illnesses haven't infiltrated our home just yet.  And you know what they say about apples... "an apple a day keeps the doctor away."  We wonder if that included the chocolate/caramel addition.
 
Camology Quotes: 
MI-UCP, Michigan United Cerebral Palsy interviewed Cam and Jane over the summer, along with many other folks.  They will be posting the interview at some point, but the 1-minute commercial for their website was sent over this week.  Cam declared it was a very good video.
"Wow, Mom.  That is pretty cool to see our pictures in this!"  MI-UCP Video- click here

Sunday, October 11, 2020

The Accessible Message - Week of Oct. 5th

SMS (short message service) or "text" messaging was used for the first time on December 3, 1992. 
Neil Papworth, a 22-year-old test engineer for Sema Group in the UK, used a personal computer to send the text message "Merry Christmas" via the Vodafone network to the phone of Richard Jarvis, who was at a party in Newbury, Berkshire, which had been organized to celebrate the event.

Today, one of our most common forms of communication is via text messages.  It is immediate and can be accomplished by typing versus talking.  As technology has progressed, you are now able to send an audio message via text.  Cam can record a message and then send it instead of typing it out on his iPad.  This has led to him being able to keep in touch with friends outside of school.  It also provides a quick, easy way to send information and allows someone to hear him lol (laugh out loud!) via his voice.
This week at school Cam beat out his buddies in a Gravity Challenge.  
They are quizzed via an online tool called Kahoot! and the top three scorers are shown.

On Saturday, we ventured over to Brody's be Cafe to munch on some tasty Chick-Fil-A for lunch and met up with Auntie Jo.  She gave Will's phone number to Jane so that Will and Cam can send messages to each other as well.  
Later that afternoon, for the first time since March, Cam entered the Jude's barbershop for a haircut.  He was a bit apprehensive but seemed very surprised that he was the only client there at his scheduled appointment time.  Ashley did a great job and Cam declared he would definitely go again when he needed his next trim.
Sunday was reserved for some grandparent time at the cottage.  
We arrived in time to enjoy a fabulous brunch of a tasty homemade feast including an egg sausage casserole, delicious blueberry muffins and fresh fruit.  With full bellies, it was time to get to work.

Chris finished installing new lighting on the boardwalk.  It took two different trips but the improvement was needed.
  
Cam played cranium games with Oma as they answered different questions about all sorts of things eliciting laughter that could be heard from outside.

Jane worked on putting some things away on the beach and marveled at the beautiful fall foliage.  This weekend was considered the peak for the colorful leaf display in October.

We never get tired of that Lake Michigan scenery and the time always goes by much too fast.  
As we watched the sunlight glitter across the lake and the trees, it reminded us of the saying, "Autumn paints in colors that summer has never seen."

Camology Quotes: 

It has been noted that Cam has a technology gene.  It seems to become more apparent the older he gets.  This week he was helping Chris set up a new home server.  Cam's dad indicated he would go downstairs and grab the server so they could get started.  His son's response: "Dad, can't you just remote in?"

Sunday, October 4, 2020

The Right Side of the Bed - Week of Sept. 28th

"I am not a product of my circumstances.  I am a product of my decisions." ~Stephen Covey

Some mornings it sure is difficult to wake up.
The origin of the expression ‘woke up on the wrong side of the bed’ is thought to come from ancient Rome. Romans were very careful always to get up on the correct side of the bed to ensure that good luck would follow them through their days. If they got up “left foot forward” or “on the wrong side of the bed,” they believed that they would be unlucky.

Luckily for Chris and Jane, Cam seems to almost always wake up on the right side of the bed.  He is typically happy, ready to get the day started and anxious to begin an activity.

It's fortunate that Cam is able to be motivated before the sunrise, especially since his school bus arrives at our driveway the earliest ever...at 6:30am.  And he is not the first kid on, he is actually the third.
With school in full swing now, everyone is required to wear a face shield or mask.  Remembering these new accessories is similar to not forgetting your shoes.
Along with standard learning that takes place, Cam also receives physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy.  His PT has known him since kindergarten!  Ms. Michelle works with Cam on stretching, standing, walking and bike riding.  She has always told us that he attempts every challenge put before him.

The weekend brought cooler weather and rain on Saturday.  We spent some time with Oma and Opa at the cottage for the afternoon.  Even though we didn't have beach time, the family time was even better.

On Sunday, Chris and his son worked on some outdoor projects as the preparation for the transition of seasons has begun.

We were excited to see a double rainbow later in the afternoon.  After  a bit of research, we discovered that they occur when white sunlight is reflected twice in the raindrop.  It means you can see two different reflections coming from different angles.

It is also said that a double rainbow is considered a symbol of transformation and is a sign of good fortune in eastern cultures. 
Dreaming about a double rainbow represents harmony and serendipity.
Sweet dreams everyone!


Camology Quotes: 

Cam was explaining to his parents that someone brought in donuts for a class treat on Friday.  Chris was teasing Cam about needing to pay him a visit at school sometime.  Typically Cam knows when his dad is joking, but just in case, his response was equally as sweet as the fried pastries...
"We will have to get donuts tomorrow, Dad.  I can hear the disappointment in your voice!"

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Bad Words - Week of Sept. 21st

"How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world." 
~Anne Frank 

Words are powerful.  Depending on the type of phrase and how it is used, different emotions follow.  Often, little kids don't necessarily know if a word or phrase is generally considered blasphemous, obscene, vulgar, or otherwise offensive.  As Cam has gotten older, he has always been cautious with his use of words and their context.  It was a bit surprising, to his parents, when he began saying that he heard "bad words" watching appropriate shows and online videos.  It turns out, "bad words" to Cam include the following: 
Hate, Stupid, Dumb.  Imagine if everyone treated those as 'inappropriate' words to use so casually, as we all (Cam's parents included!) tend to do.

This week, Cam's grandparents stayed at our home following an outpatient eye surgery for Oma.  It is always a treat to have them with us and even though Oma had to take it easy, she was still able to squeeze in making applesauce with her grandson.  Homemade applesauce is all about the tools of the trade.  A stand-up colander with a wood pestle is a requirement, according to Oma.  The pestle allows you to easily squish (technical term) all of the yummy sauce through the colander into the bowl.  Depending on the type of apple used, very little sugar may need to be added.  All that's required is cutting apples and removing the core.  No peeling or any other effort is needed.

Since Wednesday was a virtual school day this week, Cam was scheduled for his flu shot, a class zoom meeting, homework and time with Oma and Opa.  
He successfully completed all four activities and even got in his tutoring session with Ms. Ann.
In a rare moment, Cam requested couch time with Oma to watch a movie.  It was super sweet to see them laughing and chatting about the film feature.

We said goodbye to Cam's grandparents and decided we were equally thankful for each other's company and sharing dinners and time together.

Friday evening included a family outing to Brody's be Café.
Jane was scheduled to help out with the hot dog cart while Chris and his son were on duty to set up an enormous movie screen and projector.  The event included a screening of "The Bee Movie" and popcorn as well as a choice of candy.
The large inflatable screen was huge!  After a few technical difficulties, the projector and the fifth laptop attempted connection finally worked.

We saw so many people we knew!  Even Cam and Brody's teacher, Mrs. Wells, brought her entire family to say hi and socially distance with her students.  With all of the week's activities including school, we were shocked that Cam made it through the entire movie and didn't get home until after 10pm.  Even after a late night, though, our early riser still woke up before 8am ready for the day and to start working on projects!  His parents, however, definitely thought at least two more hours of sleep were in order.

Camology Quotes: 
Cam is already learning the finer traits of complimentary phrases.  

Jane was answering questions that her son was asking about the day his parents were married and when they were dating.  His response after all of the information gathering...
"I see why Dad chose you for his wife.  You are so beautiful."