Sunday, August 11, 2019

Champion Certified Cam Care - Week of Aug. 5th

“Never believe that a few caring people can't change the world. For, indeed, that's all who ever have.” ~ Margaret Mead
"I slept and I dreamed that life was all joy. I woke and I saw that life was all service. I served and I saw that service was joy." ~Kahlil Gibran

From the time Cam was born, we have been surprised, humbled and blessed by the many individuals who have cared for our son. In the past eleven years, there have been countless people who have left lasting imprints on our lives. And the list just keeps growing.

On Tuesday, Chris picked up Jane at the Detroit airport while our guardian angel, Auntie Karen stayed at the home front with Cam.

Wednesday was Ms. Amanda's last official summer day with her buddy.  The two worked as a team all summer getting ready for Ms. Amanda's first kindergarten classroom. 
As a special treat, the duo headed out to one of their favorite places, Spoonlickers, to enjoy tasty homemade frozen yogurt complete with delicious fresh toppings.
There may have been some silliness involved with interesting photo filters which Cam thinks are absolutely hilarious!

On Thursday and Friday, without skipping a beat, Ms. Mary Jo stepped in for Cam care duties.  Mary Jo is the daughter of Ms. Kris, a classroom aide Cam has known since he was in kindergarten.  Mary Jo has helped out at summer school on a regular basis and has been acquainted with Cam for a few years now.  She is a high school senior this fall and then headed to Grand Valley State University.  We are relieved she will stay in the vicinity.

The first activity for Mary Jo and Cam was heading over to Brody's Be Cafe.  Brody is Cam's best buddy from school and his mom, Jenny, has dreamed of launching a coffee shop aimed at employing individuals with different abilities and needs.  The picture of Cam, taken by Mary Jo, was posted on the cafe's Facebook site.  We are all eager for this new Ada coffee shop to open. 
Next up was the Children's Museum downtown exploring all the different areas.  Upon exiting, a fire truck was on the street and Cam said hello.  A fireman stopped and gave Cam a junior fire hat as well as a safety sticker. 

Friday held a whole new set of plans.  Mary Jo had checked with Brody's parents ahead of time to see if he could join she and Cam on a field trip to the Lowell County Fair. 
They had a delicious lunch together and toured the grounds to see all of the animals.  Baby goats were a popular attraction.  Although they had originally planned to try out some rides, they collectively decided against it and concentrated on other things.

Jane had mentioned before they all left that one of her favorite treats at the fair were elephant ears, to which Cam commented "yuck Mom!" and then she described exactly what they were- scrumptious fried dough covered in cinnamon sugar.  Upon arrival home, Cam and Mary Jo surprised Jane with a tasty  'ear' of her own.

Friday evening, Mary Jo stayed with Cam while his parents went out to dinner to celebrate their 16th wedding anniversary.  Upon arrival home, this sidewalk chalk message was in perfect view.

Saturday's weather stayed intact for a sunny afternoon at Oma and Opa's.
After visiting with cousins on the beach and tasting plump freshly picked blueberries, it was time to make our way back.
We all enjoyed a dinner feast on the cottage deck, and then it was time to drive home to Grand Rapids. 
The sun is fading earlier these days and and we realize there aren't too many beach days left.  As William Shakespeare once said, "Summer's lease hath all too short a date."

Camology Quotes:
Cam has been a fan of law enforcement for quite some time.  One of his favorite shows to watch is "Live P.D." following live police work as it happens in different cities across the country.  We've become acutely aware that Cam is latching onto some of the lingo.
While helping him at bedtime one evening, he questioned his mom... 
"Do you have anything that will poke me, stick me, hurt me?"
"Um, definitely not."
"Ok, I will not have to give you a citation."

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Bases Loaded with Surprises! - Week of July 29th

"The unexpected moment is always sweeter." ~Julia Quinn
"Surprise is the greatest gift which life can grant us." ~Boris Pasternak

We live in a community that continuously offers different events.  One that Cam enjoys in the summer is part of our library district.
Ruff Readers is a unique read-aloud program in partnership with West Michigan Therapy Dogs, Inc. that pairs kids with a trained therapy dog and their handler. Kids read their favorite book and the pooches curl up, listen and enjoy.

When Saturday arrived, Cam had no idea how many surprises he would encounter that day.  We began our adventure before lunchtime and traveled northward to Oma and Opa's.  After a delicious lunch at the cottage, it was beach time!

Just as we were headed outside down the steps, Auntie Roe suddenly appeared!  Cam couldn't believe it- an entire year had passed since he'd seen her.  A few years ago, Auntie Roe taught Cam some Portuguese and his favorite phrase is "barriga grande" (bar-he-gah gron jay) which means "big belly" and it still makes them both crack up.
It just so happened that Mr. Mike and his wife Auntie Roe were camping a few miles away at Meinert Park for the weekend.  It was so awesome to see them both, soak up the sun and catch up a bit.
The Lake Michigan water was a bit too nippy for Cam who opted not to take a swim.
Our visit was cut short due to an impending event- the Annual Cousin's Baseball Game!

We hurried over the ballpark where the game was already in play. Younger cousins Harper and Maya, Gavin, Ella and Aiden were all there along with Dirk and Lisa, Megan, Joey and Ashanti and Eric.  Aunts and uncles, Oma and Opa and family friends were in full force too!  It was the perfect afternoon- sunny with a few clouds and a nice breeze.  Cam used his batter box a few times, Jane managed 3 base hits and Chris had his share as well.  Ball game snacks were plentiful and even a delicious platter of fresh fruit arrived with Aunt Betsy and Uncle Jon.  Harper is truly the cousin baseball star as we watched him practice hitting home runs again and again after the game ended around 5pm.  Cam kept commenting how great his cousin was!  Before Aunt Betsy and Uncle Jon left, they gave Cam an early birthday present- a cherry scone mix and t-shirt from Cherry Republic.  They know how much he loves baking!

Our group made its way to Fricano's in Muskegon where Aunt Joyce had reserved a large section for us.  Jane has been eating their famous thin crust pizza since she was a kid and it's been a family tradition
ever since.  Cam had no idea, however, that Aunt Joyce and family had ordered a Ryke's birthday cake for our soon to be 12-year-old.  After dinner, Chris took his son on a stroll while we readied the cake at Cam's place setting.  When he rounded the corner, he couldn't believe it!  A delicious chocolate cake complete with the entire baseball lineup of pitcher, catcher and batter.  Everyone had signed a card for Cam and his cousins Harper, Maya and Aiden assisted with operation candle blow-out! 

Cam kept asking "How did this happen?"  "Where was the cake hiding?" and the perfect comment..."This was the best surprise ever!"

Camology Quotes:
Chris and Cam enjoying their first
"Pronto Pup" in Grand Haven
with Auntie Karen
Cam is very keen on planning dinner and knowing what he's going to have for dinner.  He was planning his Friday evening consumption and asked Jane to guess which place he would choose to pick up dinner from.  After going through a list of 3 others (Culver's, Moe's, Arby's) she finally landed on Chick-Fil-A.  Cam's response:
"Mom, I really stumped you on that one!"

We all try to eat dinner as a family, but some evenings, Cam eats before his parents.  On this particular night, Jane asked Cam to join his parents at the table to chat while they ate.
(while driving his chair towards the dining room)
"Mom, what are you having for dinner."
"We're having salmon."
(immediately turns around and heads in the opposite direction)

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Cousin Cuteness - Week of July 22nd

"Friendship is the only cement that will ever hold the cousins together." ~ Woodrow Wilson

"Cousin to cousin we'll always be, Special friends from the same family tree." ~ Unknown

In the aftermath of the big storm, our family felt fortunate to have only lost power for 12 hours due to the early storm on Saturday, July 20th.  On Monday, there were still over 60,000 customers 'in the dark' due to outages.
We learned that some of our friends didn't have a power restoration time until Tuesday evening!
Cam and Amanda went investigating Monday morning.  On their stroll, they came across multiple downed trees in the nearby park.

This week, Cam's long awaited private swimming lessons started again on Tuesday afternoon.  Ms. Laura, his instructor, had taken a year off of work to start a family.  Cam peppered her with questions about her baby throughout his lesson.  He was happy to be back in the pool at Mary Free Bed and was certainly worn out that evening.

Sunday we headed up north to Oma and Opa's for the day and early evening.  Cousin Steff, her son James and Heath were coming for beach time and dinner.  Cam thinks "Baby James is so cute!"
Seeing these two together reminds Jane of growing up with her younger cousins in the summers on the big Lake.  To this day, those cousins who are both younger and older are still all so close.  Even though Cam and James are 11 years apart, we're pretty confident these two will be good buddies.
Lake Michigan was a bit rough and a little chilly so swimming was not on Cam's agenda.  That didn't stop him from playing on the beach with Oma at their pretend bakery set up in front of the Cam Mobile.  We've added another accessory to Cam's beach ride- a beach umbrella for those really hot afternoons.
While grandma and grandson played, baby James (Oma's great-grandson) had a nice nap under another shaded area.  After soaking up the sun for a bit, we all headed up to the cottage for Steff's birthday dinner- steak and shrimp shish kabobs with veggies, potato salad and homemade applesauce.  And for dessert, Cam's favorite, a delicious chocolate cake from Ryke's with Country Dairy ice cream.

It seems even a little squirrel wanted in on all the delicious goodies and bravely made its way to the deck looking for some tasty treats!

Camology Quotes:
When Cam arrived for his swimming lesson, the Mary Free Bed Security Desk didn't 'have him on the list' and escorted him to the pool.  Cam's instructor was quite surprised and indicated it wouldn't happen again.  Cam thought it was quite funny and continued the story at home that evening by pretending while getting ready for bed and questioning his mom.

"What is your name?  Are you on the list?"
"I hope I'm on the list.  I am your mom."
"Oh yes, you are on the Everyday Life List- Permanent Stay!"

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Detroit Tigers Fantasy Camp - Week of July 15th

An unexpected visitor in front
of our garage
“Playing baseball for pay – home run. Teaching kids to play the game – priceless” ~Jack Perconte
“In high school I wrote an essay on baseball and my teacher told me I had to rewrite it on a more serious topic. So I wrote an essay about the World Series and my teacher gave up.” ~Tucker Elliot

In mid-June, we received an exciting email from the West Michigan Miracle Baseball League president, Tony Comden.  He was inviting Cam and 4 other WMML players to the Detroit Tigers Fantasy Camp in Southfield, MI on Saturday, July 20th.  It was quite an honor.  Other Miracle Leagues players from across the state were also being requested.  Overall, the invitation was going out to 50 individuals!  We were asked to sign waivers and provide Cam's shirt size.  When Cam found out his best buddy, Brody, was invited too, he couldn't wait.

On Friday, the night before, we were all awoken to a severe thunderstorm.  Jane realized the power went out about 1:30am and created an outage incident online.  Saturday morning, the electricity was still out and we were just starting to realize the extent of the damage.  When Brody and his dad, Bill, arrived before 8am to make the trek with Chris and Cam, they explained how the roadway to Ada was completely blocked due to downed trees.  Even as they drove out to Cascade road towards the highway, the thunderstorm damage was visible everywhere.
The guy group of 4 arrived right on time.  Cam and Brody received their personalized Detroit Tigers jersey and a baseball cap!
The objective of the Fantasy Camp: To provide youth with special needs the opportunity to learn and play the game of baseball by participating in a one day clinic hosted by the Detroit Tigers Foundation, an affiliate of Ilitch Charities. Similar to major league fantasy camps and clinics, the Baseball Fantasy Camp for Kids gives youngsters with physical challenges the opportunity to improve their baseball skills by receiving instructions and tips from major League Baseball players.

Their packed itinerary:
10:00-10:30 a.m. Participant Registration
10:20 a.m. Detroit Tigers players arrive
10:30 a.m. Welcome by Steve Peck, Founder, Miracle League of Michigan
10:32 a.m. Fantasy Camp Player Introductions
10:38 a.m. Detroit Tigers Player Introductions
10:42 a.m. Check presentation to Detroit Tigers by Steve Peck
10:45 a.m. National Anthem
10:47 a.m. Group picture
10:55 a.m. Groups report to stations
11:00 a.m. Clinic Begins Session Rotations:
11:00 – 11:20 a.m. Session One- Hitting
11:20 – 11:40 a.m. Session Two- Fielding
11:40 – 12:00 a.m. Session Three- Throwing
12:05 p.m. Clinic Wrap Up Remarks Steve Peck and Jordan Field
12:10 p.m. Lunch Time Players depart

Cam told his dad that the best part for him was meeting "Paws" the Tigers mascot and going around the bases.
By the time lunchtime rolled around, it was extremely warm and the boys decided an air-conditioned restaurant for lunch needed to be added to their agenda!  To top off their 'adventure' day, they ran out of gas just a few miles from home since the gas station off of the highway had lost power!  Jane drove to meet them with enough gasoline to make it home.
Thankfully, the power at our house was back on by 1pm on Saturday, long before the boys arrived.
On Sunday, Jane drove to the Chicago area to be a part of a surprise party for Auntie Karen.  Cam and his dad went to see Secret Life of Pets 2 at the theater.
That evening, Chris and Cam hosted the Raisch's for dinner.  Since it was National Ice Cream Day, it seemed only fitting to walk to the closest ice cream place for an after-dinner treat!

Camology Quotes:
On Saturday, the guy group ate lunch at TGI Friday's near Southfield.  That evening, Jane was asking the boys what they had to eat at the restaurant.  She assumed Brody had a cheesburger, since she knew it was his favorite.  Cam was eager to tell his mom...

"Funny story.  Brody's doctor told him he cannot have multiple cheeseburgers every day anymore!  Only one cheeseburger a day."

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Sun Glitter - Week of July 8th

Sun glitter is a bright, sparkling light formed when sunlight reflects from water waves. The waves may be caused by natural movement of the water, or by the movement of birds or animals in the water. Even a ripple from a thrown rock will create a momentary glitter. Light reflects from smooth surfaces by specular reflection. 
A rippled but locally smooth surface such as water with waves will reflect the sun at different angles at each point on the surface of the waves. As a result, a viewer in the right position will see many small images of the sun, formed by portions of waves that are oriented correctly to reflect the sun's light to the viewer's eyes. The exact pattern seen depends on the viewer's precise location. The color and the length of the glitter depend on the altitude of the Sun. The lower the sun, the longer and more reddish the glitter is. When the sun is really low above the horizon, the glitter breaks because of the waves, which could sometimes obstruct the sun and cast a shadow on the glitter.

Before we had beach time over the weekend, we had a few interesting events back home.
Chris celebrated a birthday on Wednesday and Cam and Jane let him choose where we would eat out for dinner.  We had all wanted to experience a new place.
In Spring of 2017, Cascade Township welcomed its first brewpub – Thornapple Brewing Co.
Cam requested a menu check online prior to heading out.  Imagine his relief when chicken tenders was one of the options.  After enjoying a hot pretzel for an appetizer, we all declared it was the best we'd ever tasted.  Chris and Jane shared a wood fire pizza and Cam, shockingly, had chicken tenders.  Due to our birthday guy, a free dessert was headed our way.  Chris chose the 'cookie slider'- 2 warm chocolate chip cookies surrounding a hearty serving of vanilla ice cream, topped off with chocolate sauce.  Cam did not look very amused when his dad pretended he might partake in the entire serving.  He did love listening to the live music as he happily accepted a few bites of his dad's birthday treat.

The remainder of the week was spent attending summer school for three mornings of the week.  The afternoons and other full days were reserved for Cam's latest endeavor as Ms. Amanda's teaching assistant helper.  The pair made a few trips gathering supplies and bringing them to Ms. Amanda's fall kindergarten classroom.  Cam has eagerly provided his input on all items.

With the very warm weekend forecast, it was a perfect time to head northward and see Oma and Opa.

Since we hadn't spent any real time on the beach yet, Chris and Cam settled into cleanup duty while Jane inflated the family sea kayak with a foot pump.

It was an unusually calm day on Lake Michigan.  Some fun facts about our big lake:  Lake Michigan is one of the five Great Lakes of North America and the only one located entirely within the United States. It is the second-largest of the Great Lakes by volume and the third-largest by surface area, after Lake Superior and Lake Huron.

The CamMobile II was back in action and provides our son with beach mobility.  It was a bit too chilly to go swimming but the warm sun made for some fun play time for Oma and her grandson.
Continuing the birthday celebration for Chris, Oma and Opa assembled a delicious dinner of ribs, Oma's potato salad, broccoli with cheese sauce and Oma's famous strawberry cheesecake for dessert.  Nothing can compare to sand in your toes, diamonds on the water and a deck-side dinner with a view of Lake Michigan!

Actual weight of Cam's power chair
Camology Quotes:
Cam had an appointment with his favorite Mary Free Bed doc.  Dr. Voss was talking to our son about his interrupted sleep he's been experiencing and she was trying to determine the cause.

"Cam, is there something that wakes you up at night?"
"My brain wakes me up at night."