Sunday, February 16, 2020

All About the Love - Week of Feb. 10th

"Loving is not just looking at each other, it’s looking in the same direction." ~Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
"They invented hugs to let people know you love them without saying anything." ~Bil Keane

When Cam was younger, the week of Valentine's Day was filled with preparing what to pass out to his classmates.  The ever popular card with a sugary treat was favored by most.  Our family favorites were always the handmade ones.  For quite a few years, we opted for creating bookmarks or coupons.
It seems our son definitely prefers the 'older kid' activities of the 5/6 building.
Before Friday, though, a field trip to pick up the half cow we ordered was on the list.  Ms. Ann now lives right next to a farm and we decided to split a cow between Ms. Ann's family and ours.  Chris and Cam headed over to Byron Center on Tuesday evening.  However, the large but not deep boxes made for a hilarious return trip as meat began to scatter everywhere in the back of the van.

At school this week, the room was decorated and the kids took some funny pictures.  The Northern Trails 5/6 building began a tradition of bowling for Valentine's Day quite a few years ago.  Cam thinks it far exceeds the card exchange of grades past.
Both 5th and 6th graders end up at one of two bowling alleys for a couple of hours to enjoy an outing with their friends.

Saturday eve became our Raisch dinner time.  We feasted on Thanksgiving in February by cooking a boneless turkey breast, homemade stuffing, mashed potatoes and veggies.  At dinner, Patti was telling us about an article she read announcing the opening of a new place- Bro's Doughs on the East Beltline.  We were intrigued, so Patti, Jane, Emma and Cam all trekked over after dinner to check it out.
At Bro's Doughs, they think there's nothing wrong with pre-made doughnuts, but their establishment believes in a better way to doughnut. And that "way" is one made before your eyes - quick, fun, and mini! As you come in the door, they fry your mini doughnuts right in front of you and top them while they're still warm. There are 50 flavor options to choose from!
The toughest decision was deciding which creation to pick.  Both families gave a resounding thumbs up and our recommendation to try it for yourselves.

It's funny how love can be shown in so many ways- a small gesture, kind words, a helping hand. Even animals have their own way of showing us love.
A hug can be more powerful than the words "I love you" and a twelve year old who still asks for hugs is one of the greatest Valentine gifts of all.

Camology Quotes:
At the bowling alley!
Story update:  Thanks to Cam's tenacity and ability to keep his parents focused on a goal, we received our replacement gift card in the mail this week from a package that was lost at Christmas!

Jane was discussing the high school sweetheart dance while Cam was listening...
"How do you do the dance, Mom?"
I'm not sure what you mean, Cam.  It's a dance you go to with other people.
"Ohhhh.  I thought you had a to learn a certain dance called the Sweetheart Dance just to go there!"

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Roll With It - Week of Feb. 3rd

"Go with the flow" relaxed and accept a situation, rather than trying to alter or control it.

At the beginning of every day, it is a good motto to repeat.  We have come to realize it's an imperative reminder when it comes to accessibility.  There are truly things that are simply out of our control each and every day.  The weather, traffic, reactions...the list goes on.

Miss Ella, Cam, Bexley (Sophia's brother)
We knew the weekend would be a busy one for us with activities scheduled throughout.  Chris ended up needing to attend a funeral on Saturday so it was a Jane and Cam day.  We work so well together as a family unit that when one of us is away, it is adaptation time.

Our Saturday morning started off with a birthday party for Miss Sophia turning 1!  Sophia's mom is Katherine, one of Cam's first caregivers.  The donut-themed party began at 10am.  Cam and his mom started out in the heavy snowfall with a manual wheelchair loaded in the van behind the power one he was in.  With some lifting assistance we made it into the house with Cam in the manual chair.  It's tough for him not to be able to drive around and have his own independence but Miss Ella (Sophia's cousin) decided she wanted to take Cam around on her own.  It's always telling that kids have no apprehension when it comes to acceptance.
After eating delicious donuts, a cake in the shape of a huge donut and fresh fruit, we were on our way to grab a quick lunch at home.

Next up was a fresh haircut for Cam at Jude's.  Immediately following, mom and son were off to a suit store.  Ms. Amanda's upcoming wedding with Cam's role providing ring security required us to determine if he could be fitted similar to the groomsmen.
Upon entrance, we were greeted so warmly by the owner who guessed Cam's size immediately.  He assured us he had the proper items, but the ring security boy would need to try on the outfit first.  Jane was a bit puzzled how they could make it happen without Chris there, but like most challenges, they overcame and succeeded!  The store owner suggested a bow tie for Cam instead of a long tie.  We all decided the ring security kid looked very handsome!

Experiences given as gifts are proving to be a great present for our fam.  Sunday was the long-awaited date for our Grand Rapids Griffins Hockey Game at our downtown Van Andel Arena.  The tickets were a Christmas present for all of us.

Cam, in his infinite wisdom, insisted that he and his mom complete some pre-research prior to the event.  Our organized son helped Jane find the seating chart online as well as the best place to park.  Even though his mom indicated that she and Chris knew the arena, Cam's insistence paid off.  Not only did we park in a great spot with a short walk to a side entrance, but we were only an elevator ride to our seats which were directly down a hallway when we were on our correct floor.  Our Griffins team prevailed 5-1 in the exciting game.  In another planning moment, Cam requested to have dinner before we left the Van Andel Arena.  Luckily, they have chicken tenders and fries...a genius move on our son's part since the snowy weather and slower traffic greatly delayed our drive home!

Camology Quotes:
Nearly every weekday, Jane and Cam make the trek down the long driveway to wait for the bus.  Typically, they have some fun chats along the way.

"What is for dinner, Mom?"
I think we will have tacos tonight.
"That sounds good.  He won't be riding the bus, though."
What?  Who won't be riding the bus?
"Mom, sorry I went off topic!"

Sunday, February 2, 2020

All About Applesauce - Week of Jan. 27th

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” ~Hippocrates

Is there a food that reminds you of childhood?  A homemade treat that makes you smile?

Homemade applesauce has been a staple in our household since before Cam was born.  The funny thing about only having a made-from-scratch certain kind of something is that trying to purchase elsewhere pales in comparison.  Store-bought applesauce has never been on our grocery list and at least in Jane's mind, it never will be.

Oma and Cam had making sauce time this week.
Oma and Opa arrived late Thursday after an outpatient eye surgery for Cam's grandma.  The school day was cut short for Cam on Thursday due to him coughing and not feeling the greatest.  So although extra time for grandma/grandson wasn't pre-planned, it certainly was a blessing for our family.

Saturday was Opa's birthday and we realized that we had not all been together on the actual day before to celebrate.  Everyone felt well enough to go out to dinner to Cascade Roadhouse, right around the corner.
Even though it was a longer than normal wait, we were all impressed that Cam kept his cool and didn't complain one bit.  Sometimes the waiting makes the food taste even better.   Our delicious dinners were accompanied by a chocolate lava cake with ice cream and strawberries that we all shared.  Opa told us it was one of his best birthdays ever!  Mission accomplished.
Sunday morning, Jane and her son headed to the med center to be certain Cam's cough wasn't something more serious.  The doctor ordered some x-rays and Cam made quite an impression on the radiologist.  The technician told our son that if he could keep that positive outlook and attitude in life, there was nothing he couldn't do! 
And in fact, his parents couldn't agree more...

Camology Quotes:
Cam loves jokes, even bad ones.  Those seem to create the loudest belly laugh for him.  The latest entry from our twelve-year-old was told to him by his buddy, Liam.
"Are you going to look for that under there?"
Under where, Cam?
"Mom, I made you say underwear!"

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Magical Technology - Week of Jan. 20th

"The time is always right to do what is right." ~Martin Luther King Jr. "Gratitude is riches. Complaint is poverty." ~Doris Day
Jane's grandma was born in 1906 and lived to be 99 years old.  She passed before Cam entered this world and we often talk about how much fun the two of them would've had.  When Jane first showed her grandmother a digital camera and how it worked she declared it seemed "like magic" to her.  As our technology continues to advance, we are grateful for its ability to make one seem right around the corner instead of over a thousand miles away.

On Monday, Cam and Chris said goodbye to Jane.  She was flying to Salt Lake City, Utah for her work and not returning until very late Friday evening.  Since there was no school due to MLK Jr. Day, Ms. Ann arrived to spend the afternoon with her buddy.  They kept themselves busy with homework and a scientific crystal growing kit that Ann had given Cam for Christmas.

Jane and her son connected every day via face-time to talk about the day and what had happened.  It definitely gives that feeling of not being so far away from each other.

Back in Grand Rapids, Chris fulfilled his 'best dad ever' role.  One evening, he created a "homemade Moe's dinner" - a favorite take out place of Cam's.  He even wrapped it in foil to make it appear authentic.
The boys worked on a frame for one of our Ansel Adams pictures and a few other home projects, including laundry and dishes.
Jane was very impressed and declared Cam's dad 'best husband ever' too!  And apparently, our son was a pretty good kid during the week as well.

Our weekend agenda included relaxation and the most important part...plenty of hugs that were missed during the week!

 Camology Quotes:
A favorite breakfast of Cam's is a homemade biscuit egg and bacon sandwich.  Always being the kind kid he is, Cam was willing to share. 
"Do you want a biscuit, Mom?"
No thank you, Cam.
"Oh, you're not a biscuit kind of girl?"

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Matinee Movie - Week of Jan. 13th

In my view, the only way to see a film remains the way the filmmaker intended: inside a large movie theater with great sound and pristine picture. ~Ridley Scott

Drew Carey once joked, "Welcome to Michigan...where the weather is made up and the seasons don't matter."  The forecast is always a household discussion in our family.  Cam now requests to see the nightly meteorologist updates.  It often leads to a short discussion about geography and where things are located in the U.S.

At Cam's PT session this week, Mr. Patrick tried out a therapy system called "New Gait."

It uses harnesses and bands to assist with walking and correction.  It was pretty cool to see our son accept the challenge and try it out.
Patrick always indicates that perseverance is one of Cam's best qualities.

On Friday, Ms. Amanda arrived to hang out with her buddy.  They grabbed dinner from Chick-Fil-A and watched a movie.
Meanwhile, Chris and Jane headed over to Planet Fitness for a workout.  They texted Amanda and Cam who sent a picture of their own in response to who was having more fun!

We had a gift card for the movie theater that was given to our son last April.  Even though it was gathering dust, there was no expiration.  Cam chose the movie "Dolittle" about the man who can talk to animals.  We had purchased the tickets ahead of time using the gift.  When the forecast looked ominous for Saturday, we decided we would wait and see.  After Chris spent almost two hours plowing our driveway, the city plows finally came down our road allowing the van to make its way to the movies.  The generous gift card also paid for tasty popcorn we all shared.
Dolittle received a thumbs up from all three of us and we determined it was tough to pick a favorite animal from the flick.

We know we can always see a movie in the comfort of our home but there is still something about seeing a show on the big screen that makes it a unique experience.

Camology Quotes:
When Cam gets off the bus in the afternoon, he will typically ask, "how was your day?"
After responding, we always ask him the same question.  His most recent awesome response: 
"It was great!"
"No...actually, it was fan-tabulous!"

Sunday, January 12, 2020

The Case of the Missing Package - Week of Jan. 6th

"Now comes the mystery." ~Henry Ward Beecher
"The world is full of obvious things which nobody by any chance ever observes." ~Arthur Conan Doyle
Thornapple River- quite high!
There are some days we honestly wonder if things would ever be accomplished without Cam...

On the eve of December 16th, Chris mailed a package out to his mom, living in Arizona.  Jane and her son loaded in the contents for Grandma Sue's Christmas box containing homemade banana bread, GR popcorn, tons of pictures, fudge, coffee mug and Cam's artwork that we'd been saving.  Chris added in a monetary gift card prior to closing it up and sending it via USPS.  Due to the abundance of items, Chris took a picture of the tracking information as well as a pic of the activation detail for the gift card.
Cam kept requesting us to check the tracking info and on December 27th, we noticed a new addition to the detailed itinerary.  It appeared the package traveled from Grand Rapids to Denver to Arizona and then back to Denver with an indication of "dead mail." 
Cam was persistent, insisting we call.  When we finally did this week, after a lengthy 15 minute wait, we actually chatted with a live person who told us to open a claim online.  We promptly did so but that didn't solve our monetary gift card issue. 
Concerned that someone may 'acquire' it, Cam thought maybe we could call that company too.  After some online research and Cam's insistence, Chris went back to point of purchase and took a picture of the gift card with the phone number to call.  They issued a 'stop payment' on the card.  So although we may never know what happened to our package, because of Cam it is closer to being found and we are on our way to recovering funds from the monetary gift card.

The weekend brought a winter weather warning for ice accumulation and across the country all different kinds of conditions and alerts were shown.  Cam checked out the weather channel to see all of the craziness.  We kept busy with indoor projects most of the day.  Stella was obviously hard at work as well.
In the afternoon, Jane and her son, along with Stella watched the newer version of ''The Lion King' movie.  Our cars didn't move until Sunday.

Our traditional Sunday dinner with the Raisch fam featured breakfast for dinner and tasty cinnamon bites.  It's always such fun to gather together and catch up.
5 yrs ago- Cam & Emma
As we closed out the week, we realized how thankful we are for Cam's tenacity to help us find answers and test out our own detective skills.

Camology Quotes:
Cam's very first friend, Emma, had her wisdom teeth pulled this week so Jane & Cam wanted to bring her one of her favorites- a smoothie to help with recovery.  They went through the drive-thru and waited for someone to bring out their order.  The smoothie guy finally brought it out to our van and said "Enjoy your smoothie!" 
"Thank you!" said Jane.
Cam quickly added: "We are not drinking it!"  

Sunday, January 5, 2020

A New Decade! - Week of Dec. 30th

”Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language, and next year’s words await another voice.” ~T.S. Eliot

We received a gift at Christmas that will keep on giving for quite some time.  Auntie Karen gave us a "gratitude journal" to record as a family those things we are grateful for.  It is not a daily must-do task, but rather a reminder that there are little things we should be mindful of.

On Monday, we welcomed cousin David back for his final night in Michigan.  Cam was excited to show off his walking skills!  These two shared quite a few laughs and their love of music. 

Tuesday morning, David had an early flight and rental car return.  Michigan gave us roughly 4 new inches of snow overnight.  Much to everyone's surprise, our cousin was able to accidentally lock the car doors while the rental was running.  Around 5am we were all awake and Jane drove David to the airport.  David called triple A to have the car unlocked.  When Jane returned the locksmith successfully finished his task in less than 2 minutes and then we were all off to the airport in separate vehicles to return the rental vehicle.  As Cam noted, "now you can get your coffee early, Mom, and I can have a breakfast sandwich from Starbucks!"  After a crazy early start to the day, Cam can always find the positive outlook.
Since it was New Year's Eve, we had decided to take Cam and Ms. Ann out to dinner at Outback Steakhouse.  After a delicious meal, Ann and Cam hung out at home while Chris and Jane went to play a card game with friends.  We were super thankful to ring in the new year knowing Cam was with one of his favorite people.  Although he didn't stay up until midnight, his parents actually made it through the countdown.

On New Year's Day, we had a sweet visit with Auntie Jo and Will to celebrate the late holiday with gift exchanges.  It was literally sweetened by their yummy offering of an edible arrangement fruit plate and chocolate covered berries, apples and bananas!  We had a great time hanging out, catching up and sharing a meal together.

Thursday was a Ms. Amanda day for Cam filled with game playing and baking, one of their favorite shared activities.

The week ended on a high note with a trip over to Brody be's Cafe.  Jane and her son met up with Cam's buddy Liam and his brother and mom.  These two have been pals since preschool and it's pretty cool that their chairs can fit in through the zippered doorway of the outside dome at the cafe.

As we say hello to 2020, it's pretty incredible to think all that has been accomplished and created in the last 10 years...
from the Halloween Heroes project to Brody be's Cafe! 

We cannot wait to see what the next decade brings for us all 😃
Cam's teacher brought in her new puppy
to school- looks like he wanted to test out
his driving skills on Cam's chair!

Camology Quotes:
We were discussing New Year's resolutions with Cam over the weekend.  We were questioned about what types of resolutions we had created and why you made them.  Chris jokingly told his son he was making a resolution to limit his number of hugs per month, to which his clever boy replied: 
"Check your attitude, mister!  
That is not allowed.