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.


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?"

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Four Seasons - Week of Oct. 15th

To be interested in the changing seasons is a happier state of mind than to be hopelessly in love with spring. ~George Santayana

We are very accustomed to the quick altered state of weather in Michigan.  However, it is a bit more rare to see such rapid change in a single day.
Auntie Karen arrived from Illinois to hang out with Cam again due to our volunteer wheelchair costume building event at Mary Free Bed.
Saturday began pleasantly enough with a beautiful sunrise and direct sunlight through the windows.  As Ms. Ann traveled over to Cam's, it began to hail and sleet.
After it stopped, the three of them spent the remainder of the day running errands and then cooking a most delicious homemade dinner and dessert for Cam's exhausted parents.
Upon arrival home, Chris and Jane were treated to pot roast with potatoes, carrots, celery and onions, along with crescent rolls.  Cam was quite unsure of eating the roast but after taste-testing, declared it incredibly good!  He also made certain the rolls were warm and timed perfectly.  And for dessert, a fresh-out-of-the-oven homemade apple pie complete with Hudsonville ice cream appeared for all to partake.

Chris and Jane are most thankful for wonderful, sweet friends who are there to support and help when we need it most.
As a family, our hearts are full of thanks for our community of volunteers who continue to give their time and energy to build costume creations for families who least expect it.

Camology Quotes:

Cam is a big fan of hearing people tell stories, especially ones about others he knows.  He also loves tales about kids who might be known to do some outrageous things. Ms. Ann told Cam she had a story to share about the shenanigans of her two-year-old granddaughter, Ella.
"Ohhh, noooo.  This can't be good!"

Look For the Helpers - Week of Oct. 8th

"Life's most persistent and urgent question, What are you doing for others?" ~Martin Luther King, Jr.
"Alone we can do so little; together we do so much." ~Helen Keller

Fall seems to seep into the trees and and burst with vibrant color, almost suddenly and without warning. As Cam and Jane traveled down the driveway for the bus one morning, this maple tree appeared to have changed overnight.

During the week, we were planning Halloween costumes, a parade and coordinating our volunteers.  As we prepared for our 3rd Halloween wheelchair costume project with Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital, Cam busied himself in the evenings with organizing Jane's information for costumes and logistics and helping Chris figure out materials needed.

As a last minute necessity, our building location had to change.  Thursday evening, our family headed off to Mary Free Bed to check out the space.  Cam toured around noting different areas and suggesting where things should be staged.  For the last two years, we've used an open space and this year, our environment was better suited with segmented areas for construction, painting and decorating.

For the next three Fridays and Saturdays, Cam's parents take on their volunteering job of costume coordination and building.  Lucky for Chris and Jane, Auntie Karen and Ms. Ann were ready and willing to hang out with Cam all day Saturday.  As per his typical routine, he completed school work and then the trio headed out for fall color tour and a stop at the Algoma Fire Dept where Ms. Ann's son, Christopher, is a fireman.  They met a policewoman with her horse, saw the S.W.A.T. vehicle and looked at all of the fire trucks.
When they talked about how long they would be gone, the timeframe was an hour and a half, to which Cam said "you mean 90 minutes."

After a very long two days, Chris and Jane arrived home to enjoy a delicious Culver's dinner with Cam and Auntie Karen.  We were grateful for Karen and Ann teaming up and to our son for being so good for them.

We know Cam is one of the best helpers around, along with Auntie Karen and Ms. Ann.
For this third year of our project, the helpers just keep coming- Owen-Ames Kimball construction company, GVSU engineering students and the many Mary Free Guild members and staff assisting.
As you look for the helpers, don't forget to be one :)

Camology Quotes:

Every few months, we bring old electronics and computer parts to a computer recycling store.
Ms. Patti dropped off an older cell phone known as a flip-phone for our box.  Cam noticed it the next morning.
"Mom, excuse me, but whose phone is that?!"
"Ms. Patti dropped it off for our computer recycle box."
"Oh, I was like 'who has this old-fashioned phone in our house?'"

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Pressing Activities - Week of Oct. 1st

“Helping one person might not change the world, but it could change the world for one person.” ~Anonymous

As the sun is rising a bit later this time of year, we've caught some pretty awesome hues in the mornings.
Every year in the September/October time frame, Cam has an appointment at Mary Free Bed to be fitted for new AFO's or Ankle-Foot Orthosis.  These braces keep his ankles, feet and legs in proper position for walking.  Cam is always patient and most cooperative during this casting process which is very precise.

On Saturday, we had quite the line up of events planned- first, we were off to Cam's final baseball game for the fall 2018 season.  It was a bit drizzly on our drive over, but this turned out to be the biggest Cam-fan day yet!  First, Cam was surprised to see almost all of the Raisch girls!  Anna and Sarah were home from college and were accompanied by Emma and their mom, Patti.  Since Anna attends Hope college, she had to have a pic just with her buddy and their matching Hope logo hats.
Home Depot volunteers were on the job and had a tent of hot dogs and treats set up for the players and their families and friends.
Also cheering for Cam on this rainy day were Aunt Betsy and Uncle Jon as well as Cam's teacher, Ms. Konkle.  Talk about one surprise after another!  Many thanks to all of our Cam-fans this season for coming out to cheer on our young ball player.

For our second event of the day, we were headed to a private fall festival at a farm in Ada.  We were invited by Mr. Paul to partake in treats and make homemade apple cider!
The best surprise of all- Mr. Paul had made a wooden ramp and platform just...for...Cam.
He wanted him to be able to see the apples go into the grinder to make the cider.  Paul has two apple presses on his farm, one of which is over a hundred years old.


Step 1- you put the apples into the
grinder.  Cam deposited the first ones in.  Step 2- someone needs to churn the wheel on the side as it grinds the apples into bits.  A variety of the delicious fruit is used- reds, greens, yellows make a colorful smashing operation.  The apple bits fall through the grinder into an oak barrel lined with burlap.
Step 3- the barrel is moved forward underneath and the burlap cloth is placed over the top.  Now the apple pulp is pressed by turning a lever that pushes the press further down as the cider liquid is pushed out.
Step 4- strain into containers and you're ready to drink the liquid gold!

The wet, rainy day couldn't dampen anyone's spirits. Cam and his parents were very grateful to head home with a full gallon of apple cider.

After dinner, the weather was clear and much to our surprise, Cam wanted to see ArtPrize downtown since he hadn't been able to go with his class.

ArtPrize is an open, independently organized international art competition which takes place for 19 days every other fall in Grand Rapids, Michigan. More than five hundred thousand dollars in prizes are awarded each year, which include a $200,000 prize awarded entirely by public vote and another $200,000 prize awarded by a jury of art experts. Any artist working in any medium from anywhere in the world can participate.
One of our favorites was "Michigan Effect" created by Tom Gifford, standing 10 feet high and made out of acrylic glass with two of his photographs showcased. From the artist's writeup: "I think of Michigan in two different moods. energetic and calmness, Energetic because when you take a trip to the U.P you have a sense of energy. There is so much to do and many so hikes to take. The U.P gives you the energy to move forward just like the Northern lights they give you the energy to stay up all night. Calmness because when you are in the lower peninsula there is relaxing beaches and beautiful sand dunes. There is so much beauty around you, There is nothing better then the days you lay in the sun at the beach."
Another favorite was "Oscillation" which was an interactive installation on one of our downtown walking bridges.  Crystals inside the cubes formed different sounds as you moved around them.

Art is in the eye of the beholder and these beholders were pretty impressed!

Camology Quotes:

Cam does spend a fair amount of time watching "tech" videos during his screen time and is always eager to help his dad and mom with technology issues.  Friday was picture re-take day and Cam graciously agreed to partake.  However, he was very concerned about previous proof of his school pictures.  Jane told him that the photos received were back in his folder.  Not surprisingly, this wasn't quite good enough for Cam.
"Mom, could you please search your cache of email and look for the confirmation and send it to my teacher?  Sometimes they don't have them you know!"

For those of you needing a definition...Cache, which is pronounced "cash" (not "catch" or "cashay"), stores recently used information so that it can be quickly accessed at a later time. Computers incorporate several different types of caching in order to run more efficiently, thereby improving performance.