Sunday, September 20, 2020

Get Your Hot Dogs! - Week of Sept 14th

Did you ever wonder where the term hot dog came from? 
Some say the word was coined in 1901 at the New York Polo Grounds on a cold April day. Vendors were hawking hot dogs from portable hot water tanks shouting "They're red hot! Get your dachshund sausages while they're red hot!" A New York Journal sports cartoonist, Tad Dorgan, observed the scene and hastily drew a cartoon of barking dachshund sausages nestled warmly in rolls. Not sure how to spell "dachshund" he simply wrote "hot dog!" The cartoon is said to have been a sensation, thus coining the term "hot dog." However, historians have been unable to find this cartoon, despite Dorgan's enormous body of work and his popularity. We think Mr. Dorgan would have loved Brody's be Dogs. 

Now, our favorite café is serving up hot and steamy dogs via their outdoor hot dog cart. Customers have a choice of chili, cheese and all of the fixings. Cam had his first taste on Saturday and declared it the best hot dog ever! Jane offered to help serve up the lunch baskets to learn the setup and assist when needed. Auntie Jo and Will love hot dogs too and since the boys hadn't seen each other in quite some time, a belated birthday celebration was in order. 
On the afternoon filled with sunshine, the two boys had lots of laughs as they opened each other's gifts. Cam received a cool lava lamp and joke book made especially for 13-year-old's. Will looked in his bag to find a soft travel pillow, 12-year-old t-shirt and a gift card that could only be removed by completing a puzzle. And in less than two minutes, the gift card was his! We also had fun saying hi to friends from Lowell who have worked on our Halloween Heroes project since the beginning 5 years ago.
This week we made the difficult decision to officially cancel our Halloween Heroes project for 2020. It is the first time in 5 years we will not be dreaming of wheelchair costume designs 24/7. It is our family assignment and one that began because of Cam's desire to have a costume just like every other kid 8 years ago.  Jane wrote the following announcement to share with the community. 


Although Cam won't be leading the annual parade at Mary Free Bed this year, we will be leading our friends to Brody's be Café as much as possible! 
Camology Quotes: 
Stella made us laugh this week when it looked like she was trying to change the tv channel while asleep!  On Wednesday, Cam was scheduled for a virtual learning day. Tuesday after school, Cam was telling Jane about his bus ride home…and she was silently questioning her son’s logic. 
"Dom told me his is going to finish all of his homework tonight so he can sleep in. I will just wake up early tomorrow."

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Discerning Taste - Week of Sept. 7th

"I have the simplest tastes.  I am always satisfied with the best." ~Oscar Wilde
"Who has never tasted what is bitter does not know what is sweet." ~German Proverb
Cam is willing to try almost anything at least once, as it relates to food.  It's funny how his preferences have changed over the years.  Maybe that's because of this fun fact.
The average person has about 10,000 taste buds and they're replaced every 2 weeks or so. But as a person ages, some of those taste cells don't get replaced. An older person may only have 5,000 working taste buds. That's why certain foods may taste stronger to you as a kid than they do to adults.
We shouldn't have been surprised when Cam requested a salad for lunch, but we actually were.  The caveat here, though, is that Cam's mom makes a salad comprised of the following: hard boiled egg, shredded cheese, sweet corn (cut off the cob) turkey or ham, tasty croutons, ranch dressing, and yes, a bit of lettuce.  He devoured his mid-day meal and declared it the best salad ever!  A very nice compliment from someone who has never had a salad before...😀

With Cam back in school, we weren't certain he would want to continue tutoring or if he would be too worn out after a day of learning.  He requested continuation, so he and Ms. Ann meet virtually on Zoom three afternoons a week.  They typically work on math and reading comprehension for 90 minutes.  The diligence has paid off- this week Cam's school folder contained his perfect score math sheets.

Chris continues his after hours job as Cam's personal barber, cutting his hair with clipping shears outside.  Jane declared there was enough hair chopped off to make a bird's nest.  Cam thought that was rather "gross" that birds would use his hair to sleep on.

At school, our 7th grader was able to see a favorite aide from last year, Mrs. Festian.  They met outside and Cam was super excited to see her.

The weekend saw the completion of a big father/son project.  The duo spent a great deal of time power washing the back deck in preparation for re-staining.  The double coat of stain made the older wood look brand new.  It's always a sense of satisfaction to cross a time-consuming task off the list.

Cam also helped Jane create a poster for their buddy, Bexley, in honor of his 4th birthday.  According to his mom, Katherine (who is also Cam's former nanny), Bexley was very curious how the poster was made.  Even though a drive-by birthday isn't the same as an in-person one, it does bring out the creativity to find a way to produce more smiles.
Generating smiles is something Cam mastered a long time ago!

Camology Quotes:
We have noticed an increase in Cam's appetite which has coincided with his growth.  He is very perceptive and usually detects when something is different.  After Jane gave him his plate of food for dinner one night, his response was telling.
"Mom, that's a generous helping!"

Sunday, September 6, 2020

Welcome to School Served with a Face Shield - Week of Aug. 31st

"In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity." ~Albert Einstein

Monday, August 31st marked the first day of school for Cam as he eagerly anticipated the beginning of 7th grade.  Even though it was much different from any other introduction, excitement was apparent.  Cam's bus pickup at 6:45am was very dark, so our pic was snapped on Monday at his 2:45pm dropoff.

Masks are a mandatory accessory and our middle-schooler wore one on the way to school.  His teacher asked if he wanted to test out a face shield since his mask was wet from talking.  The approved face shield is a far better option for Cam.  We are grateful for his in-person learning 4 days/week as everyone is learning to navigate safely with face coverings.

Labor Day weekend has always marked the end of summer in Michigan.  Saturday was our beach day and we all realized it may be the last one.  The sunshine was beautiful and the lake was incredibly calm.  Jane and her son ventured out in their inflatable kayak.  Cam leaned over to feel water and said "Mom, the water is like ice cubes!"  It was definitely a bit chilly.
We chose to head back to Grand Rapids that night, but dined on the deck so we could watch the calm waters.  Oma made a delicious homemade apple pie.  As we headed out, we were able to catch the scenic sunset.

On Sunday, Chris and his son designed a cup holder for Cam's powerchair since it wasn't an accessory option.  The 3D printer created multiple layers of plastic filament which took a total of 30 hours to complete!  The finished product, though, was well worth the wait.

There are always moments when we are blown away by others' kindness.
We were completely surprised by a box that arrived with a styrofoam cooler filled with dry ice and ice cream.  Ms. Cyndi, one of Jane's coworkers, sent 6 cartons of ice cream to aid in Cam's recovery.  Talk about a sweet treat!
When we visited our favorite local farmstand Heidi's Bakery this week, Ms. Pat, who's known Cam since he was 2 years old had another surprise.  She knitted him his very own cozy blanket.  His super excited response made her cry tears of joy.
It reminds us that these words ring very true:
“Kindness is more important than wisdom, and the recognition of this is the beginning of wisdom.” 
~Theodore Isaac Rubin 
“Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind.” ~Henry James

Camology Quotes:
A sense of humor isn't really something you teach, but Cam seems to have mastered a very healthy witty banter.  Due to the upcoming holiday weekend, school was closed on Friday.  
As Cam entered the house on Thursday after school, Chris immediately began teasing him....

"So, tomorrow you'll wake up early again and then you have school all day..."
"Think again, Dad!"

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Hardware Out, Grandparents In - Week of Aug. 24th

"There is only one way to look at things until someone shows us how to look at them with different eyes." ~Pablo Picasso

Over the course of the past 3 years, Cam has had surgery on both of his hips, first right and then left, 4 screws along with a plate on each side and has acquired a pair of stylish hospital socks each time.  On Tuesday, he was scheduled for hip surgery #4, hardware removal for the left hip.  We were instructed to arrive at the hospital by 6am for a 7:30 procedure.  One may think this is far too early, but it works well since Cam is not allowed to eat or even drink water until after the surgery. He wasn't nervous about the hospital outpatient stay since he'd already been through the exact same experience just 1.5 years ago.  Our son is typically in a good mood pre-surgery and a bit grumbly post-surgery, as is to be expected.  We arrived back home before 1pm in the afternoon.

To assist with Cam's recovery, Oma and Opa arrived on Wednesday, ready to spend two nights at our house so that Chris and Jane could continue their work meetings during the day.
Oma and Cam read books, completed science experiments and made homemade chicken tenders.
Chris and his son showed off their 3D printer skills as everyone watched the intricate plastic forming an ear saver device used for masks.  We were beyond thankful for all of the help from Cam's grandparents..


Late in the afternoon on Thursday, Chris and Jane were able to drive Cam over to the middle school for a tour and review of what the school day would like next week.
To say Cam was excited may be one of the biggest understatements of the year!
He has been anticipating the return of instruction, seeing his friends, and attending school in a different building, Forest Hills Northern Middle School.

Cam's positive outlook is always welcome.  Sometimes, though, it surprises even his parents.  While watching a medical show about mystery illnesses, a story centered around a girl who suddenly lost the ability to walk.  After several misdiagnoses, a neurologist finally discovered a genetic cause and began a treatment plan.  When she took her first independent steps again, Cam ecstatically yelled "Yay!  Look she can walk!"  There is joy for other's accomplishments where some may assume there would be frustration or even anger.  It is a powerful lesson for us all!

Camology Quotes:
Nurse Lindsey assisted with Cam's care during his outpatient stay.  When he returned to the recovery room, Chris and Jane were allowed to rejoin their son.  Lindsey asked us if anyone shared what Cam said right before surgery.  She told us that Nurse Dan, who looked quite strong, was the person who lifted Cam from the hospital bed to the surgical table.  Dan performed the action quickly, just like Cam's dad.  Immediately, Cam exclaimed:
"Well that was easy!"
Dan's response: "Maybe for you!"

Nurse Lindsey told us everyone had a good laugh over the exchange :-)

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Bam! Cam is a Teenager - Week of Aug. 17th

"Listen to the mustn’ts, child. Listen to the don’ts. Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me … Anything can happen, child. Anything can be." ~Shel Silverstein

On August 17th, only 13 years ago, we welcomed Cameron Jackson into the world, 10 weeks early.  It may explain his innate desire to always be on time for appointments, or better yet, ahead of schedule.
When the birthday kid woke up on Monday, multiple tasks were ahead.
First up was opening presents...
After a few fun gifts of books, clothes and a portable neck fan, the biggest box of all was left.  As the contents were opened, Cam discovered he was the proud owner of a 3D printer!  If you're wondering what one produces with this type of apparatus, stay tuned for some future cool creations.

We bid farewell to Oma and Opa with a boatload of thanks, Ms. Amanda and Cam had some quality time to hang out while Jane began preparing and packing for their annual family camping adventure at Hungry Horse Campground.  We arrived late afternoon to a Happy Birthday greeting sign on our cabin from Auntie Karen!  For Cam's bday dinner, we feasted on steak, homemade potato salad, garlic bread and veggies.  A perfectly sized bday dessert complete with a "13" candle provided by Karen was literally icing on the cake to finish out a great day.

This is our fifth year year camping at Hungry Horse in Dorr, Michigan with Auntie Karen.  It has become an annual end of summer retreat for us all.  We have gotten to know the owners and even some of the seasonal folks that have permanent sites.  The campground is very special to us since Norm and Nancy, who run HH, paid for a metal ramp that was built for their newer cabin last year.  It is such a blessing to have an accessible place.

We experienced the best weather ever for our 4-night stay and walked over to the pool every day when it opened at 10am.  It seemed that others in the campground preferred afternoon swimming and we took advantage of being the only campers (for the most part) in the water for almost two hours.  Cam had the opportunity to practice swimming in the pool and relaxing his muscles.

Each morning or afternoon, our camper rode his bike to stretch out his legs and exercise.

Our nightly campfire dinner followed by tasty s'mores was definitely a highlight for Cam.  Even though some of our regular activities like the hayride were canceled this year, it gave way to perhaps more important actions, like meeting fellow campers.

Sitting by our fire at Auntie Karen's on the first night, we met Rachel and her dog, Moose.  Rachel chatted with us and Moose settled in, perfectly comfortable receiving an abundance of pets.  As we learned more about the teen and her dog, Rachel told Cam how much Moose really seemed to love him and Cam's response was "Moose loves us all."  Throughout our stay, we spent more time with Rachel and Moose, promising to see each other next year and looking forward to a reunion.

Hungry Horse brings greater independence for our son.  Whether it is driving to Auntie Karen's cabin every morning, testing out the bike track with his own ride, or racing his dad around the campground, every opportunity opens another window of confidence.

We said our goodbyes on Friday, thankful for our time with Auntie Karen, and reserved our cabin for the same week next year looking forward to more adventures.

Upon arrival back in Grand Rapids, we quickly unpacked and repacked, heading northward to meet our youngest cousin, Avery, for the first time.  Cam's little cousin, James, made an appearance as well and everyone enjoyed the warm Lake Michigan water.

It seemed that Cam's birthday lasted more than a week this year so we kept referring to it as "Camapalooza."  Our official teenager definitely encountered well beyond 13 awesome experiences this week.

Camology Quotes:
The birthday greetings were in abundance for Cam.  The Schulze fam sent an awesome video with everyone singing, Ms. Ann sent over a sweet tribute, Cousin David recorded a video birthday greeting this year and Uncle Jon and Aunt Betsy wrote a poem.  We think we need to commission David to turn this poem into a top hit!  
KABAM! KAZAM! It’s the Birthday of SUPER CAM! 
If you’re ever in a jam, call SUPER CAM
His smiles will make all your troubles scram 
When you feel as sad as a lamb, call SUPER CAM
He will make you laugh; he’s quite the ham 
Who’s that person with all the glam? Everybody knows, it’s SUPER CAM! 
When you are so hungry you could eat a raw clam, Just try SUPER CAM’s world’s best jam
Who is the person who can help Uncle Sam? There’s only one answer: “SUPER CAM I AM!” 
Who’s that person with all the glam? Everybody knows, it’s SUPER CAM! 
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, CAM. YOU ARE SUPER! ~Uncle Jon and Aunt Betsy

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Kayaks & Cool Signs - Week of Aug. 10th

Whenever Cam is about to embark on a new experience, we tend to research the history or some fun facts.  Many of the planned activities through Mary Free Bed were canceled this spring and summer.  Jane received an email about the kayak clinic with MFB Adaptive Sports and we jumped at the opportunity.

6 Facts About the History of Kayaking
1. Kayaks are at least 4,000 years old. The history of kayaking dates back at least 4,000 years. If you happen to find yourself in Munich, Germany, you can see the world’s oldest surviving kayaks in the North American section of the Museum Five Continents. These kayaks are from the year 1577. 
2. Kayaks were invented by the native people of Arctic North America. The first people in the world to build and use kayaks were Inuit, Aleut, and Yup’ik people. Often referred to as “Eskimos,” these indigenous people live in modern day Greenland, Canada, and Alaska. 
3. The word kayak means “hunter’s boat” or “man’s boat.” Kayaks were originally designed for hunting. These small boats were perfect for creeping up on animals that lived in the water or along the shore. Common prey included seals, caribou, and whales. 
4. The first kayaks were made from animal skins and whalebones. The Inuits and other native people made their kayaks by stitching animals skins together, often from seals, and stretching this material over a frame made from wood or whalebone skeletons. These early kayaking pioneers also used whale fat to waterproof their boats. 
5. The International Scale of River Difficulty was inspired by an Austrian kayaking trip. Class 1 or Class 4 rapids is referring to this system. The creation of an international scale came about shortly after an adventurous man named Adolf Anderle became the first person in the world to kayak the Salzachofen Gorge on the Salzach River in Austria in 1931. 
6. Kayak races were added to the Olympics in 1936. During the 1936 Berlin Olympic games, “flat-water racing” was introduced. In 1948, the Olympics added its first women’s paddling event: the 500 meter singles kayak. The first white water racing event premiered in 1972, and today, the Olympics have more than 10 white water competitions. 

Friday morning, we grabbed Cam's lifejacket and headed to Millennium Park where there is a boathouse used for kayak, canoe and paddleboat rental.  Cam's parents thought he would be out for 30 minutes or so but he and his guide Alaina were on the water for more than an hour!  He said he can't wait to do it again next year.

We arrived at the cottage Saturday afternoon and enjoyed more time in the water with our inflatable kayak as well as some swimming for Cam in the Cammobile.  For family Sunday brunch, we surprised Cam with an early birthday cake.  He chose his favorite pic from last year- his Lego construction backhoe that he and his dad made for Halloween.  Our favorite bakery, Rykes, made a delicious peanut butter cream filled chocolate cake.  Even though it was a day before Cam's actual birthday, we wanted him to have a few extra surprises this year.
As we were driving home on Sunday and pulled down our street, we caught Cam's reaction on video to something that was set up in our yard.
Thanks to a CardMyYard company, it was all ready and waiting when we arrived in the afternoon.
Cam's genuine surprise was priceless and one we will never forget.
Oma and Opa drove into Grand Rapids as well and appeared shortly after we did.
As we settled in, we told our son it would be a good idea for us all to take a closer look at that sign.  Our entourage headed down the driveway close to 4:30pm.
What Cam didn't realize was that Jane had sent out invitations for a drive-by birthday greeting!  As one car after another drove by with signs and a few drop-offs, we saw Dr. Lisa, Ms. Kathy (3rd/4th grade teacher) and Kevin, Ms. Barbara (K-2nd grade teacher), Mary Jo and Ms. Cris, our Flegel friends, Ms. Michelle (school PT since K) Liam (one of Cam's best buds) and his entire family, and Ms. Ann!
In addition to all of that awesomeness, Ms. Ann had contacted the Cascade Fire Dept to request their presence for the drive-by celebration.  They said they would absolutely be there (unless there was a big emergency, of course) and Cam couldn't believe it!  After all of the excitement, the dinner of choice was none other than Culver's.  Ms. Ann stayed too and we all enjoyed an outdoor feast of deliciousness.  Our Raisch family friends stopped by after dinner as well to check out the yard sign and bring Cam a sweet gift.
Oma and Opa gave their grandson a new school outfit and an awesome personalized backpack complete with lunch cooler.
It is said that there aren't too many real surprises in life that one encounters.  We believe we were successful in our quest to multiply the astonishment for a kiddo that continues to amaze us every day!

Camology Quotes:
After Cam's first surprise birthday cake, he told told his cousins he felt like he was almost 13 but more like 25...then he announced to his parents Sunday evening...  
 "I really got the full treatment today!"