Friday, January 22, 2021

Adapting to Skiing - Week of Jan. 11th

“The Mountains do not recognize disability, Only Determination” ~Jim Milina

Many activities and advantages are born out of necessity. 

 Adaptive sports began as a means to rehabilitate veterans from World War II, Korea, and the Vietnam War.  Among the early pioneers of adaptive skiing was Jim Winthers, a WWII veteran who was a member of the U.S. 10th Mountain Division – the Skiing 10th, an elite group specifically trained for alpine warfare. In 1953, Winthers was director of the Donner Ski Ranch in Northern California. Reunited with two buddies who lost legs in the war, and using techniques he saw in Europe, he taught them to ski on one leg.  He later was sought out by Jim Graham, a former skier who lost his leg to cancer and wanted to learn Winthers’ techniques. Two years later, Graham and Winthers and two others began developing techniques to impart skiing and teaching methods at weeklong clinics.  Eventually, Graham and Dan McPherson became the first and second certified ski instructors with a disability.   

Locally, Cannonsburg is the closest place to ski.  Fortunately for our family, the CCSA is part of the organization.  The Cannonsburg Challenged Ski Association (CCSA) was established in the early 1980’s as a volunteer effort to offer individuals with disabilities the opportunity to participate in winter activities. CCSA started with only ten students, one outrigger, a bamboo pole and one sit ski, and has now evolved over the years into a professionally trained organization with a full range of adaptive equipment, ready to serve a wide variety of needs.

When we arrived for Cam's skiing lesson after lunchtime, we had ample time to get ready.  Our son's preference to be early paid off.  The parking lot was full but we were able to snag a close spot, which we were thankful for due to the soggy mud surrounding all of the cars.  It was close to 35 degrees and the slopes were busy.  
The 3 individuals assigned to Cam were Scott, Sydney and Kristin, all GVSU students.  It was no surprise to Chris and Jane that Cam needed the adult adaptive ski versus the youth one.  
Outfitted with his new gear from Christmas, Cam was ready to go.  He told us he was excited, but a bit nervous.  The CCSA team was ready to get Cam on the chairlift.  The lift is stopped momentarily to enable the crew to position Cameron appropriately for the ride up the hill.  Chris was able to follow just a few minutes behind the team each time.  

We watched Cam's confidence grow with each run.  Even though his ski caught the snow a couple of times leading to some minor wipeouts, he was unharmed and ready to continue.  (Thankfully, Jane missed seeing both of these!) After multiple runs down the slope, his two-hour lesson was almost complete.
We have definitely learned to be more appreciate of activities and we are grateful to have our own community offer such awesome programs!  
Lesson 1 of 5 = ✅

Camology Quotes:
During the weekly ride to PT and indoor swimming sessions, Cam and his mom typically chat about their days.  Jane had an especially long day of work and suddenly let out a very loud yawn.  As she glanced in the rear view mirror, she noted her son similarly expressed the same.  Cam's mom couldn't help but smile and say...
"Yawns are contagious and I made you yawn.. hahahahaha!"
  "Mom, that is no laughing matter!"

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Droning On - Week of Jan. 4th

 The theme of our 2020 holiday seemed to be "the gifts that keeps on giving."  We continue to enjoy homemade bread with our bread maker, putting puzzles together, wrapping in blankets and exploring the outdoors from a different viewpoint.  By far, the largest but 'smallest in size' gift was a drone for our family. 

 A drone, in technological terms, is an unmanned aircraft.  Essentially, a drone is a flying robot that can be remotely controlled or fly autonomously through software-controlled flight plans in their embedded systems, working in conjunction with onboard sensors and GPS.  Today, drones are used for a wide range of functions, including monitoring climate change, delivering goods, aiding in search and rescue operations, and in filming and photography.  Of course, UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) are also an increasingly important part of the military in many countries. American armed forces alone have a fleet of tens of thousands of drones today, compared to just a few twenty years ago. This is dwarfed, however, by the number of drones in private use. According to the FAA, there were 1.1 million drones registered in the U.S. in 2019 compared to 1000 in 2015.  

The nighttime picture is a photograph taken by the drone high above our home with Christmas lights illuminating the perimeter.   The other aerial view shows our garage with Chris standing on the sidewalk, the nearby Thornapple River, and our nearest crossroads.

In another still shot, the drone is 'spying' on Cam in our sunroom.  In order for us all to 'see' where the drone is, Chris sets up a zoom meeting that we connect to so wherever the drone is heading, we're able to follow.

Over the weekend, the sunshine made a rare appearance and we headed over to Brody's Be Café to see what things looked like from up in the sky.  We settled ourselves by the back entrance after the Café closed for the afternoon.

It's amazing how different everything appears from above.  The architectural beauty of how our areas are designed is impressive.  It's always good to see things from a different perspective.

Camology Quotes:

Since Cam continues to be our rule-following, law-abiding citizen, he insisted that his dad contact the FAA regarding our drone flying times.  As his father tried to explain it was not a requirement for every flight path, but Cam was unconvinced.
  "Dad, we are really close to the airport.  You have to file a report.  What if we get in trouble?  Don't they need to know?  The FAA can find us, you know."

Sunday, January 3, 2021

Feeling Hopeful for 2021 - Week of Dec. 28th

"Delay is preferable to error." ~Thomas Jefferson

Sometimes it pays off to delay an activity.  The Christmas Lite Show is set up as a drive-thru display at our local minor league ballpark.  It's the 23rd year for the event and it opens the day before Thanksgiving until Jan. 2nd. This year, there are nearly two miles of more than two million LED lights and 50 animated displays, tunnels and more. The Christmas Lite Show was created by Williams “Bill” Schrader, a U.S. Army veteran who served for 28 years. The show’s team has always been made up of mostly veterans.  The $25 ticket price seems hefty but the entire experience takes roughly 30 minutes.  With our van of four people, that's a little over $6 per person.  

Oma and Opa arrived back at our home on Dec. 31st due to some scheduled appointments.  We decided to check out the light show after dinner.  Cam and his grandpa were in the backseat with Jane driving and Oma seated in the passenger view.  There were only a handful of cars in front of us and we were up to the ticket booth in just a couple of minutes.  The attendant there told us that the wait had been as long as 3 hours just to get in!  We were thankful we picked New Year's Eve to make our trek.  The Christmas light show was simply awesome.  We were smiling the entire time commenting on one set up to the next.

One of the best parts of the week after Dec. 25th is enjoying the gifts given and received.  Cam declared our new family bread maker as one of his favorites.  It is a bit surprising how quickly a homemade loaf of bread can be devoured.  Jane was thoroughly excited about her new 'armed' monitors for her work desk.  Chris and his son had it all set up for her by Christmas morning.

We all enjoyed putting together new puzzles designed by Cam and his mom on the Walgreens website.  Jane scanned some old photos and she and her son had a great time picking out which ones to use.  The puzzles were ready for pickup in just a day and we were super happy with how they turned out.  Cam kept laughing about some of the old photos of his grandparents indicating that it could not be them in the pictures!

"Wearable Blankets"
Due to some icy weather, Cam's grandparents ended up staying an extra day which we were all thankful for.  Oma was able to see the latest Doctor Dolittle movie with us and share a cozy afternoon on the couch.   To celebrate the new year. our family shared a delicious crab and steak dinner.  Cam bravely tasted the crab but explained he did not really like it.  We appreciated him trying it.  Before eating, our son said a blessing.  "I am thankful we are all healthy and that Oma and Opa are with us. I hope 2021 is a good year!"                             
In the spirit of hopefulness and going above and beyond, we saw this commercial and it reminds us that everyone is capable of giving, even to those we do not know.

Camology Quotes:
During the holiday break, Jane went to pick up Qdoba for lunch.  They were very generous with their portions.  Cam's usual order is a chicken taco in a soft shell tortilla.  Typically, it includes a couple tablespoons of chicken.  This particular one looked to be at least 5 tablespoons.  Cam was astounded and declared.
  "Mom, they really hooked me up!  This is a lot of chicken!"

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Festivity Focus - Week of Dec. 21st

Cam has always been a "glass half full" kind of kid.  Yes, his parents tend to be positive individuals, but each person makes a choice as to how they approach life.  Cam is accepting, empathetic and kind.

When we checked out the glass half empty vs. half full, we found the most credible reference of its origin from the Los Angeles Times, Feb. 26, 1933.
Two men were looking at a bottle of milk. Said one with a groan, "The bottle is half empty." Said the other with a grin, "The bottle is half full." The first belonged to the courters of disasters, forever bemoaning their losses; the second to the invincibles who win by counting their blessings.

For the first portion of the week, Cam was fortunate to have Ms. Amanda come over to hang out while Chris and Jane finished up full work days.  We all exchanged gifts.  Amanda knitted super soft scarves for both Cam and Jane!  She also gave her buddy all kinds of baking kits and a cooking utensil set complete with a hot pad.   Cam put together a sundae basket for Ms. Amanda with all of her favorites and we gave her some clothes and socks.
It's a different year for everyone this season and following our glass half full premise we were determined to remain positive.  Although many events were cancelled, our small family celebration persevered.   Oma and Opa arrived on Christmas Eve.  We watched the church service online and opened some fun surprises sent in the mail.  A Ghirardelli chocolate tin showed up from a work partner Jane does business with.  In addition, 
a huge basket from Jane's colleague filled with everything from New Jersey had the entire family exploring the contents.
Cam had a tough time getting to sleep Christmas Eve since he kept listening for Santa outside.  He understands there are many Santa's and that parents help the cause but the magic of the white-bearded man and its history still capture our son's imagination.  Christmas Day was relaxing and purposeful, enjoying each other's company and slowly revealing gifts.

Cam created a sundae basket for Opa and one of our favorite gifts this holiday was creating same-day photo puzzles (10x14) from Walgreens.  Jane and her son had fun scanning some old pictures and choosing which ones would appear.  Chris had the genius idea of gifting our family a bread maker, something Cam has been thinking about for awhile.
In the evening, our family took a tour of Lowell to check out some lighted buildings set to music and we enjoyed being cozy on the couch.
We were so thankful for gifts from Cam's grandparents as well as Oma's most delicious Christmas cookies, all from old recipes that stand the test of time.

From our family to yours, we send our love and virtual hugs.  The promise of a new year is just around the corner.  May your glass be half full on a daily basis.

Camology Quotes:
Our cousins surprised us with an invite to an online cooking class to make authentic Spanish Paella (pronounced pai-eh-uh) on Sunday afternoon.  The event was hosted by Helina, a chef in Barcelona, Spain.  
There were ingredients to prep and certain utensils and pans at the ready.  Cam was quite doubtful of his parent's skillset when he realized they had forgotten to boil their tomatoes in advance.  
It was an awesome experience and now our entire family knows how to cook paella and we all love it!  
For the majority of the 90-minute class, you could hear the following mantra could be being heard in our kitchen...
  "Mom, did you do that step?"  "Dad, she said to stop stirring.  Do not stir so much."  "She wants us to unmute."

Sunday, December 20, 2020

The Christmas Card - Week of Dec. 14th

It turns out our cat, Stella, can be pretty entertaining.  Cam thinks it is hysterical that she is fascinated by water.  Because of this we did a little research as to why felines can be obsessed by H2O. 
The answer probably lies in survival instincts. Cats tend to seek out fresh, clean water over stagnant water, probably because fresh water is less likely to contain harmful bacteria than stagnant water is. Cats also don't need very much water. They descended from desert dwelling animals, and they take in much of their necessary water from their food. So, more than other domestic animals, cats can afford to be pickier about where they get their water from. Plus, running or moving water is just fun.
In the final week of school prior to the holiday break, Cam enjoyed a bit of outdoor time with his friends.  If the weather cooperates, his small class tries to do this at least once a day to have a break from masks and face shields while the kids remain distanced.  Fun activities were in full swing at school with two half days including a showing of the movie "Elf" and a memorized reading of "The Grinch" play.

On Tuesday, Chris and Jane had the day off of work to travel to Oma and Opa's.  The Michigan winters are typically very cold and right on Lake Michigan, the wind combined with snow and ice makes walking back and forth to the parking lot a bit treacherous.  A half cord of firewood was dropped off and new walking stones were laid next to the back door for ease and safety.  Although Cam was bummed he couldn't make the trek, he is very thankful to be in school.
After school and in the evenings, our entire family worked to fold Christmas cards, add the address labels and postage.  Each of us has a list of people we cannot forget.  The card is a family operation every year.  It is a labor of love and one of our traditions.
Another tradition is the Elf on the Shelf.  Although Cam is aware of some parental involvement, he still laughs hysterically each morning to see where the elf may end up.  On this particular a.m., cousin James and Santa's helper smiled all day being next to one another.

Camology Quotes: 

We typically receive emails from Mary Free Bed Adaptive Sports.  Chris was reading his email to Cam one evening and shared that in the email the following was stated about Laura, Cam's swim instructor:
"Miss Laura is really nice. I just love her and she always cares about me. I like the relaxing pool and she is a great teacher. She is awesome!!" - Adaptive Swim Participant 
  Cam said: "Dad, I said that about Miss Laura!"
Chris was in a bit of disbelief until Jane confirmed that in fact, Cam had asked to send an unsolicited email to Laura's boss.

Sunday, December 13, 2020

First Virtual Conference - Week of Dec 7th

"There is no such thing as an attention span.  There is only the quality of what you are viewing.  The whole idea of an attention span, I think, is a misnomer.  People have an infinite attention span if you are entertaining them."  ~Jerry Seinfeld

As every one of us can attest to, this year of 2020 has been a very different one.  Amidst all of the loss, there have been a few gains.  

Everything that was scheduled to be in person has become a virtual event.  Hosting anything 'not in person' has increased 1000%.   While this has been extremely unfortunate for conference centers, the hospitality industry and others, it has meant that many individuals who may not have been able to attend in person could now attend remotely. 

Chris and his son have been using Home Assistant software on a regular basis.  Home Assistant is a free and open-source home automation software designed to be the central home automation control system for controlling smart home technology.  As an example, the boys set up the lighting in the laundry room to turn on when someone enters.  Cam's bathroom is set up the same way and the list goes on.  As with most software, there are continuous updates.  The boys received information about a live Home Assistant Conference 2020.  You had to register and pay $1.  Cam declared it was worth it.

When the guys logged in, you had a few minutes to introduce yourself "virtually" to others.  Within a short amount of time, Chris and Cam said hello to people in South Africa, Germany, Australia and the U.S.  The agenda was fast-paced with speakers providing live demonstrations and breaks in between.  In total, the event lasted 4.5 hours.  Cam's dad set up the live conference on the main tv so that they both wouldn't need to sit in front of the computer.  Jane could hear her son repeating the following phrase more than once..."Dad, it's starting.  The next speaker is coming on.  Dad, are you listening?"  It turns out that what may be captivating for some, may be a bit too relaxing for others.

Camology Quotes: 

Ms. Amanda asked if she could hang out with her buddy Friday evening for a few hours so Chris and Jane could finish some Christmas shopping.  Cam was super excited.  After a dinner delivery, they were busy making one of their favorite baking treats.
  "We made the brownies and chocolate chip cookie mix.
They both have to go together.  It is too hard to choose."

Sunday, December 6, 2020

You Rock - Week of Nov. 30th

The moments of happiness we enjoy take us by surprise. It is not that we seize them, but that they seize us.  ~Ashley Montagu

True surprises seem far and few between.  The meaning of surprise as "something unexpected" was first recorded in the 1590s, that "feeling of astonishment caused by something unexpected" is circa 1600.  

When Jane received a text message from Coleen at Alternatives in Motion, it seemed a bit cryptic.  She asked if we could bring our son to the AIM building on Wednesday.  Fortunately, Wednesday is a virtual school day for Cam.  After checking Chris and Jane's work schedules, we all decided that 1pm would be our magic time slot.

As we headed over, Cam kept asking why we were going and what it was for.  
When we arrived, Jane went in first to check in with Coleen.  She requested to have Cam come into the building.  Coleen explained to the Youth Ambassador, Mr. Cameron, that one of their longtime partners, Creative Studio, reached out to Coleen after seeing Cam receive the framed award on the Facebook Live event.
This was the correspondence they sent in email: "I noticed a picture for the Youth Ambassador award and talked with Ann (CFO of Creative Studio). After talking we decided he needed a nice award, so we wanted to donate this.😊"
The square is a large magnet and the "You Rock" letters magnetically connect on the left side.  The flame is also magnetic and has the words "You're on fire!"  It's quite obvious that the company name "Creative Studio" certainly shows its creativity.  We were all beyond impressed and thankful.

There are moments when a video message of gratitude captures how much something means possibly even more than the written word.

Camology Quotes: 

At school, Cam had to come up with a Christmas list.  The result made his parents laugh and most likely puzzled his teachers...
  1. Underwear
  2. A new coat
  3. A new pair of shorts
  4. New wrapping paper with toys on it

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Always Thankful - Week of Nov. 23rd

"Gratitude is a quality similar to electricity: It must be produced and discharged and used up in order to exist at all." ~William Faulkner 

"Rest and be thankful." ~William Wordsworth 

Every day is like a reset button.  We get to start over.  Regardless of what happened yesterday or last night, it's the opportunity to begin again.  

With the upcoming holiday, our school district opted to cancel classes for Monday and Tuesday, along with the planned closure of Wednesday - Friday for the Thanksgiving holiday.  It meant re-juggling work meetings for Cam's parents, but it also led to more quality time with Cam.  Our son seems to have an uncanny ability to keep his mom and dad on task better than they are able to.

On Wednesday, we were excited to welcome Oma and Opa.  Since we have only visited in person between our two homes the past couple of months, we all concurred we would be safe in each other's company.  Cam's grandparents arrived with a beautiful fruit basket.

We made a home-cooked meal for Wednesday dinner and settled in for the evening.  Cam had a tough time sleeping and woke up extra early on Thursday, anticipating his favorite turkey dinner.

It turns out Cameron loves tradition.  It is a comfort to be grounded in the known entity of something taking place over and over again.  Every Thanksgiving, Cam has been given the task of making homemade stuffing with Opa and homemade pies with Oma.  The stuffing is made with herb roasted breadcrumbs, sautéed celery and onion, along with chicken broth.  First, though, the 'extras' in the turkey cavity are removed prior to adding the delicious mix.  Then a piece of bread is used to keep all of that delicious stuffing inside, along with a few toothpicks.  

While the bird was cooking in the oven, Oma and Cam made some homemade applesauce along with the apple pie filling for the mini pies.  Cam's grandma has always made pie crust from scratch and we can all attest to the fact that you can absolutely taste the difference.  

Speaking of taste, one of Cam's most important jobs is taste-testing.  He is particular about the applesauce not being too sweet and the same holds true for the pies.  With all of the freshly-made dishes, we did manage to support our local store by picking up the deli green bean casserole and sweet potatoes, along with the cherry pie filling.
Following a most delicious feast, we opted to put the miniature pies in for baking after we ate to give our bellies a bit of a rest.  The early dinner and dessert was topped off by watching the "Elf" movie as a family.

On Friday, we had a busy day.  First up was the Christmas tree decorating, led by Jane and her mom.  This was the first year Cam was able to get right up to the tree with his stand-up chair!

Chris and his son dropped off an enormous load of returnable cans and bottles to our local hardware store where they were collecting for veterans.  After that errand, they were off to Alternatives in Motion to donate Cam's old green powerchair along with a manual wheelchair we picked up at the beginning of summer that he's already outgrown.  It was a very successful day topped off with our evening meal from a family favorite, Culver's.

After saying goodbye and sending leftovers home with Oma and Opa, Cam was ready to help with weekend projects.  
Due to our son's project management skillset, he and his mom finished holiday cards and ordered them, along with a few other surprises.  
Cam and his dad finished up some home automation. They added the Christmas tree lights to the Alexa request "Light up the living room" which illuminates the tree and all other lighted elements in the area including the picture frame, scrabble board and family photo sign.

We have so much to be thankful for and Cam's Thanksgiving blessing was truly a sign of current times.  "Thank you for my family, for Oma and Opa and my parents even though there is covid I hope we stay healthy.  And thank you for my turkey! Amen."

Camology Quotes: 
For the last few years, we have opted to purchase a local fresh turkey.  Jane started calling around just a week before Thanksgiving and was coming up short.  Heidi's Farmstand recommended Otto's Turkey Farm in Middleville.  Jane called and discovered they don't take reservations and "have never run out of turkeys, but they've never done this in a pandemic." Cam and Jane drove there on Tuesday morning.  Cam had never been to a turkey farm before which is why he may have asked this critical question while we were driving.
"Mom, we are picking up a dead turkey, right?!"