Sunday, December 9, 2018

The Christmas Card - Week of Dec. 3rd

The 1st Christmas Card
The custom of sending Christmas cards was started in the UK in 1843 by Sir Henry Cole. He was a senior civil servant (Government worker) who had helped set-up the new 'Public Record Office' (now called the Post Office), where he was an Assistant Keeper, and wondered how it could be used more by ordinary people. Sir Henry had the idea of Christmas Cards with his friend John Horsley, who was an artist. They designed the first card and sold them for 1 shilling each. The card had three panels. The outer two panels showed people caring for the poor and in the center panel was a family having a large Christmas dinner. Some people didn't like the card because it showed a child being given a glass of wine! About 1000 were printed and sold. The original cards were advertised with the slogan: "Just published, a Christmas Congratulations Card; or picture emblematical of old English festivity to perpetuate kind recollections between dear friends"! 
Christmas Cards appeared in the United States of America in the late 1840s, but were very expensive and most people couldn't afford them. In 1875, Louis Prang, a printer who was originally from Germany but who had also worked on early cards in the UK, started mass producing cards so more people could afford to buy them. Mr Prang's first cards featured flowers, plants, and children. In 1915, John C. Hall and two of his brothers created Hallmark Cards, who are still one of the biggest card makers today!

Ever since Cam's first Christmas, we've sent Christmas cards every December.  We don't have any crafty artists in our family, but Jane creates a rhyming poem attempting to cover highlights of the entire year.  It truly ends up being a mini novel. 
For the past 5 years, Holly and Ryan Gauper of Gauper Photo have taken our family pics.  We normally don't wait until this late date for our mini session.  On Sunday, we met up with Oma and Opa in downtown Muskegon to witness Holly and Ryan work their magic.  Somehow, everyone is smiling and they capture our crew.  It was an extremely chilly afternoon and the brisk wind left us all shivering.  Cam was a total trooper, though, and we all had a good laugh over the picture of his classic "I'm so done" face.  Everyone agreed we are targeting September next year.

After photos, we headed to the cottage to pick up some things and Oma promised Cam some hot cocoa.  She didn't have any instant, so proceeded to make the homemade Hershey's hot chocolate on the stove.  Cam was so impressed!  He asked if he could have this kind every time:)

We arrived back in Grand Rapids in time for our annual Sunday dinner with the Raisch's.  An extra added treat was munching on the delicious homemade caramel corn made by Mr. Steve.  It truly is the most scrumptious we've ever tasted.  Thankfully, our kind Cam is open to sharing the sweet treat with the rest of us!

Camology Quotes:

We began the Elf on the Shelf tradition many years ago.  This week the elf appeared once again.  Cam cannot wait every morning to see where the elf might be.  He was found hanging from a lamp, perched in the tree, holding onto a flashing light in the kitchen and on one particular morning, he was in the living room.  As Cam rounded the corner, he declared,
"First things first I need to find the elf.. well, I guess I'd better not go in my hammock today!"

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Home and Sick- Week of Nov. 26th

“No matter where I go, I’ll never forget home. I can feel its heartbeat a thousand miles away...” ~ Brenda Sutton Rose
After saying a sad goodbye to Mr. Ken/"Papa" with a visitation on Monday and funeral on Tuesday, Jane had to fly out west for work on Wednesday morning.

Upon landing in San Diego late in the day on Wednesday, she sent the picture view from her hotel room, to which Chris replied, "about the same here" depicting a snowy backyard.
Jane completed a presentation Thursday morning and headed for the airport.  She then discovered that Cam had been sick during the night on Wednesday and had to stay home on Thursday.  Poor buddy had a very upset stomach.  Super hero dad saved the night and day caring for his son and finishing up multiple loads of laundry due to the unfortunate side effects.

Cam's mom was more than happy to hang out with her son on Friday and by afternoon, he was feeling good again.  Per Cam's teacher, two other kids were out ill, so the 24-hour bug hit a few of them.
Saturday morning, our eager son was ready to tackle projects.  The first was moving in some extra furniture to store for Miss Amanda.  Cam supervised the transfer of a couch, chairs and tables to be set up in the lower level.
In the afternoon, Cam asked if he could assist his dad with hanging the Christmas lights "to make the outside shine!"

By early evening, we were ready to drive to Muskegon to meet Oma and Opa to celebrate Oma's birthday!  Everyone agreed that Olive Garden was the perfect place.  Cam asked Jane to reserve a table online while we were en route.  However, it indicated there was no wait.  When we arrived, there certainly were quite a few people looking for a table as well. 
Cam directed Jane to be certain to inform the hostess that their online reservation was most definitely not working.  After waiting for a bit, we were seated and hungry.  The delicious dinners and complimentary dessert (thanks to Oma's birthday) hit the spot! 
It tasted especially good to Cam who literally missed almost two whole days of eating this week.

Camology Quotes:
"Papa's" family wanted Cam to have some very special things that belonged to Mr. Ken.  A plaque complete with a clock and his police badges was on the list.  The minute Cam received it on Saturday he requested it be hung on the wall in his room where he could see it every day.  Cam has excellent hearing and noted that he could hear the new clock unless his fan was closer.  Chris jokingly asked his son, "Oh, you think your hearing is better than mine?"  And moving right along in step with his dad, Cam replied:
"Yes Dad.  You're old!"

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Hardware Out ~ Giving Thanks In - Week of Nov. 19th

Time passes so slowly if you are unaware of it and so quickly if you are aware of it. ~Marc Bolan

It doesn't seem possible that Cam's hip dislocation surgery was more than 18 months ago.  The hardware embedded has been a part of his healing process.  Like all other challenges, he has sported a good attitude and positive outlook throughout.
We scheduled the hardware removal surgery two days before Thanksgiving, knowing he would miss only one day of school.  The surgeon had told us from the beginning the hardware would only serve the purpose of keeping everything in place while it fused together.  Since Cam is still growing, it isn't possible to remain there.

An early Tuesday morning arrival at 6am kicked us off as we awaited Cam's expected 7:30am surgical entrance.  We were happy to hear things were running on schedule and our brave boy indicated he was fine to go into the surgery room by himself, without his parents.  A big step for a kid who has had either Mom or Dad with him each time he's gone under anesthesia.  All went well and we were home late that afternoon.
A delicious edible arrangement arrived from Auntie Jo and buddy Will just in time to perk us all up.  Many thanks for the healthy, sweet treat!

This recovery for Cam proved so much easier than the first go around and on Thanksgiving Day, he was ready for a turkey feast!  The morning began with Opa and his grandson making the delicious homemade stuffing, as they do each year together.  Chris and Cam had reserved a 23-lb turkey from a local farm store to be stuffed.  One might wonder if we had any leftovers with 6 people at dinner...well, yes, we actually did.

Oma and Opa as well as Ms. Ann were present at our table of thankfulness.  We picked up this turkey decoration complete with paper feathers to write on.  Cam, with Oma's help, filled out many of them before dinner was ready.  A collaborative effort brought us an enormous stuffed turkey, mashed and sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, homemade cranberry relish and homemade gravy, as well as crescent rolls.
After dinner, we were all so full, we opted to delay dessert by an hour.  Ms. Ann made pumpkin pie and Oma brought her apple pie.  Each of us had to try a sampling of both.  Chris opted for a little extra whipped cream on his sweet treats.
We talk about thankfulness quite a bit with Cam and how important it is to thank others.  It truly is a gift that costs nothing but has a lasting impact.
Surrounded by our family and friends (we refer to as our family) is the perfect way to celebrate the harvest festival.

On Friday, we finished decorating the tree with Oma and braved an outing with Cam late in the afternoon to the outlet mall.  Our 11-year-old was a trooper and for his first official field trip since surgery he made it through with flying colors.  Oma, Cam and his mom promptly rewarded themselves with a sweet hot chocolate drink after our single store purchases.  Getting through the store was a faster excursion than our exit off of the highway.
We said goodbye to Cam's grandparents on Saturday, most thankful for their time and company.

We dined on breakfast for dinner with our Raisch family on Sunday enjoying delicious homemade pancakes and all of the fixings.  We met Sarah's friend, Ryan, for the first time and he graciously offered to take an aerial shot of our dining experience.  A big thumbs up from our crew.

There is so much and so many to be thankful for.  As JFK once said:"As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them."

Camology Quotes:
Cam and our cat, Stella share a pretty special relationship.  Stella was a part of our home one year before Cam.  When Cam arrived, she watched over him, protecting him.  As some would say, like a lioness protecting her cub, with a growl to match.
Cam spent a few days on the couch after surgery, stretching his legs.  Stella needed a closer look.
"It's alright, Stella.  I'm okay, don't worry."

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Perfectly Papa - Week of Nov. 12th

Well, hello Mr. Buck!
Mr. Buck enjoying the sunrise
Strange, isn't it? Each man's life touches so many other lives. When he isn't around he leaves an awful hole, doesn't he?  ~"It's a Wonderful Life"

Cam has many aunts and uncles as well as extended family members known as Aunties and Uncles.  Ever since he was born, he has been fortunate to have grandparents.

Our next door neighbor and good friend of 17+ years, Mr. Ken, has become 'Papa' to Cam and in every sense of the word, he has been a grandpa to our son.  Sharing dinners and events, joys and difficulties has been a part of our family friendship. 
He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer just last month.  We asked him what he wanted us to tell Cam about his health.  "Just tell him I'm sick and that's all," he said.
When we took Cam over the hill to see Papa on Saturday, we had no way of knowing it would be Cam's last visit with him.  We brought Papa the pictures from the Halloween parade and he talked about how great it was to see his buddy as the grand marshal.  Papa told Cam he was so special to him and would be forever.  He also told him he was his favorite 11-year-old.
Papa gave our family the gift of his friendship and love and also brought us closer to his own kids and grandkids.
His children have become Cam's aunts and uncles and his granddaughter, Amanda, continues to watch over Cam after school and some weekend evenings.  It is because of Amanda that our son spent so much time with Papa.  Outings to Culver's and baking treats became a common occurrence.  Their bond continued to grow.

Ken is one of the kindest, gentlest, most humble men we have had the honor and privilege of knowing.  If you were with him in the community, someone would approach him with heartfelt greetings.  You could listen to him tell stories for hours of when he was a police officer, detective, unofficial neighborhood president, tour bus driver, painter, and the list goes on.  His favorite job was most definitely that of husband to Mickie (also known as Nina to the grandkids), father, grandfather and great-grandfather.

When we told Cam that Papa was too tired for another visit on Sunday, Cam asked "Can't Uncle Jim (Ken's son-in-law) just carry Papa to our house?"
Sunday afternoon lounging
Cam asked many questions about Papa and was processing what was going to happen and announced his own conclusion.
"Papa will be next to Nina and he will go to heaven."

Ken/Papa obituary link

Camology Quotes:

Chris and Jane attended Cam's conferences at school on Monday.  We talked about what is being worked on, areas for improvement, and the positive aspects of our son's learning.
His teacher commented how kind he is with his classmates and others and indicated he is one of the kindest kids she's ever known.  We shared the report with Cam when we arrived home.  
"Oh, that is so sweet!"

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Calling Captain America - Week of Nov. 5th

“I'm with you until the end of the line.” ~Captain America

Cam was more than ready to return to school on Monday!  There was even a substitute teacher who just happened to be in a chair too, and the sub's chair went into the standing position.  Cam thought it was pretty cool and definitely wants a power chair like that in the future.

As luck would have it, Northern Trails 5/6 school was hosting Superhero Day on Friday.  This was Cam's opportunity to bring his Halloween costume to school since it wasn't able to make its premiere in the neighborhood or anywhere else due to his illness last week.

Chris arrived first thing in the morning to assemble everything and turn on the lights.  Cam's teacher said they knew it would be a cool costume but they didn't realize just how awesome it looked in person.  The students formed a human tunnel for Cam to go through and our kiddo couldn't have been more excited!  He told his parents how special it made him feel.
Even though it was well after Halloween, a parade of sorts still took place and the fact that our kiddo had chosen a superhero turned out to be the perfect choice.

While Cam was celebrating at school, his mom was traveling to Miami for the wedding of Brandon and Eden.  Brandon and his family are very special to Jane since she babysat Brandon, Greg and Lauren for many years.  The weather was balmy and bright in Miami and simultaneously, the snow was flying back in Michigan.

Cam's 5th grade pic!
Feeling a bit of cabin fever on Saturday, Chris and his son took a mile + stroll in the chilly weather.

When Jane's flight landed on Sunday, Cam's dad captured his reaction.  Even though it felt amazing to soak up the sun and be surrounded by love, there is no better feeling than being welcomed home by your family.

District News Article!

Camology Quotes:

On Friday evenings, Cam and Amanda typically venture to a drive-thru and dine at home.  Usually, Culver's is the chosen restaurant.  However, Amanda was saying that she had been thinking about Chick-Fil-A and that is where they ended up going.  When asked why Cam changed his mind...

"Amanda kept talking about Chick-Fil-A and she made me crave it!"

Thrive - Week of Oct. 29th

Mary Free Bed Gala Centerpiece
My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style. ~Maya Angelou

After a whirlwind month, it may have been inevitable that we were due for some sick days.  We just didn't expect an entire week!  Following a tough night of sleep Sunday eve, Cam's teacher called Jane after lunch on Monday saying Cam was coughing quite a bit and wanted to come home.  After a couple of sleepless nights, we called the pediatrician.  They indicated if he didn't improve, to bring him in Thursday a.m. for a check.

Our boy was anxious to return to school, but the cough was not subsiding.  It seemed that both Cam and our cat Stella would be couch-bound a bit longer.
We dropped off Chris at the airport Thursday morning for his flight to Florida to celebrate his good friend, Jordan's wedding.  Immediately following the airport run, Jane and her son went directly to the pediatrician office.  Cam was diagnosed with pneumonia and given a prescription.  Oma arrived that morning to provide much-needed help and grandma care as well as being a lifesaver:)
After the medication began to work, we started seeing improvement quickly.
However, Cam had missed bringing his costume to his dad's work on Tuesday and trick-or-treating on Wednesday for Halloween.  Cam did get to greet some friends and asked them to pick out candy and it was the first time he had ever done that!
On Saturday, Chris arrived home at 2pm and Cam was almost completely better!  That evening, Cam's parents attended the Mary Free Bed Gala to celebrate employees, patients and friends of MFB working to restore hope and freedom.  The theme of the evening was Thrive! and we all felt after surviving the week, it was exactly what we were doing.

Because Halloween actually fell on Wednesday, there was some news coverage devoted to our parade at Mary Free Bed. 

If you build it, they will come.  Build we did, and they just kept coming.

ABC National News Link!

GVSU Article Link

Camology Quotes:

At the doctor's office, Jane and Cam listened to the pediatrician tell them that whooping cough had been going around as well.  After leaving the office and getting in the van, Cam had an important question.
"Mom, what is the whoopee cough?"

(of course, Cam is the proud owner of a whoopee cushion which he somehow thought may be linked to this type of cough...)

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Real Halloween Heroes! - Week of Oct. 22nd

Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened! ~Dr. Suess

As we headed into our final week of project central for Halloween Heroes, we knew it would be a bit of a crazy week.  Little did we realize just how fulfilling it would be.

Our family enjoyed a spontaneous weekday meal with Patti and Emma to watch Megan play field hockey on the big screen.  It was televised through live streaming and Mr. Steve was there to watch in person.  Cam was amazed that Meg was on tv!

Friday was a half day for Cam, so Jane picked him up to work in the afternoon at Halloween Central in Mary Free Bed.  Volunteers kept arriving (thank goodness) to assist with our last three costumes (built in 1 day) and finishing touches on many others.  Miss Molly took Cam on a field trip in the main hospital to search for some stuffed animals for one of our costumes.  Amanda arrived to pick up Cam downtown and take him back home for dinner with Oma and Opa. Chris and Jane remained in place and busied themselves with a crew to move 28 costumes from one building to another in preparation for the big parade on Saturday.  With our own Halloween heroes consisting of Amanda, Oma and Opa, we made it through Friday evening and were ready to tackle Saturday.

Rain was in the morning forecast and we were all hopeful for a clear afternoon.

The Kindness Club was a new addition to our 3rd Annual Halloween Heroes festivities.  This club consists of 5th and 6th graders from Forest Hills Central Woodlands school.  Their club leader, Judy, heard about our Halloween project and asked if her kids could participate.  We had no idea just how much their kindness was needed.  The Kindness Club created banners for all 28 paraders we had built costumes for.  They arrived 2 hours prior to the parade to read stories and keep our kiddos company, along with their families.

The Cosplay Crusaders also joined us for the first time, bringing two of their caped members- Thor and Supergirl.  Captain America had planned an appearance, but a scheduled wedding took precedence.

One of our family's biggest personal heroes, Papa, aka Mr. Ken found us before the parade to see the Grand Marshal and give him his favorite Halloween candy.  What a sweet surprise!

The Forest Hills Central Marching Band and all of its 120 members (one of whom is Megan Raisch) led us out into the overcast, pleasant afternoon.  Being inside, getting everyone ready, made us completely unaware of how many members of the community were actually outside.

Each and every one of our parade participants was officially announced over a bullhorn by the CEO of Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital, Kent Riddle.  As Grand Marshal, Cam proudly followed behind the band.  So many came out to support us:  Amanda, her boyfriend Nick and his sister Brooke and their mom, Mary (with a Captain America goodie bag!) arrived in costume.  Aunt Mary and Uncle Ray, along with their son Mike, his wife Cheri and their son, Wendell lined the sidewalk.  Uncle Jon and Aunt Betsy couldn't believe how many people were there to see and celebrate our parade!  Cam's former teacher, Ms. Kathy and her husband Kevin surprised Cam and Patti and Emma even paraded along with us, cheering on the crowd.

After we rounded the sidewalk corner, our costumed kiddos made their way in a back entrance to parade on the patient floors, while the band continued around the block outside.

The kids were able to have their picture taken before heading back to the main lobby where the Grand Rapids Police Dept. officers were waiting with treat bags for all kids attending the parade.

It would be near impossible to capture all of the stories, moments and connections that took place because of Halloween Heroes.

Just days before our scheduled event, our Superman kiddo suffered a severe seizure and his mom emailed Jane indicating that they may not be present for the parade.  Healing powers prevailed and Superman not only showed up but showed off his smile the entire time.

The countless volunteers that make this project happen continue to grow as friends tell friends and others bring their own family members to assist.  Chris and Jane need their own family and friends to extend time needed for this cause.  A special shout-out to Oma and Opa, Miss Amanda, Auntie Karen, Ms. Ann and Andrea Dennis for always going above and beyond.

As we explained to Cam, "Sometimes, the most rewarding job in the world isn't the one you get paid to do, but the one you choose to do."
Halloween Heroes falls into that category, but more importantly, so does being a parent to our own hero, Cameron Jackson!

Camology Quotes:

After the parade festivities, Sunday was a day to rest and look through all of the delicious candy Cam acquired at the parade.  After choosing a choice piece of chocolate, he only had one request:
"Mom, may I please sit on the Dad couch?"