Sunday, August 30, 2015

See You Laters - Week of Aug. 24th

In our home, we prefer to say "see you later" instead of goodbye.  It sounds less permanent by implying that it won't be too long before we meet again.

Our long-time neighbor and Emma's oldest sister, Anna, was off to begin her freshman year at Hope College.  Our family dinners together are always filled with laughs, as was the case this time.  Anna has been a big part of our lives and we have watched her grow into a beautiful, sweet, funny, endearing young lady full of faith and promise for a bright future.  Cam is excited to visit her sometime in Holland and see her dorm room.

Our second "see you later" was for cousin Meg and her cutie kids, Gavin and Ella Jane.  Although we couldn't share any beach time on this rainy day, we still had play time inside the cottage.

Each spring, all of the cousins decide that this will be summer when we'll figure out so many things to do together with the kids.  The time slips away too quickly and it seems the long days begin to pass by faster than a sand timer.

At least we will see them all again at Christmas time for the Jellema family party, sometimes hosted at Cam's house.

And although we said "see you later" to the spring baseball season quite some time ago, we just received the professional pics this past week.  The fall season for West Michigan Miracle League begins Saturday, Sept. 12th.  And you can catch this handsome face on the field!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

8th Birthday = Super Great! - Week of Aug. 17th

The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient. One should lie empty, open, choice less as a beach - waiting for a gift from the sea. ~Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Five Guys for formal birthday lunch dining
Monday, Aug. 17th marked the actual date of Cameron's birthday.  We did have a few surprises planned.  Chris and Jane took the day off of work and along with Ms. Ann and 'Auntie' Ronda, they ventured over to Five Guys for a delicious lunch where one doesn't count calories!
While at lunch, Ms. Ann gave Cam one of the coolest gifts we've ever seen.  She found a website ( where you upload pictures to produce a deck of cards for playing card games or matching.  Not only did she make 1 deck, but she made 4!
Look for an upcoming pic of the cards and Ms. Ann in a future blog...  
Fireman Christopher & Cam
After a hearty lunch, Cam and his entourage headed to the Algoma Fire Dept.  Ms. Ann's son, Christopher, is a fireman and offered to provide a personal tour for the birthday boy!
Inside the fire truck, Cam held onto the wheel so excited to be "driving" the big rig.  He learned about the large hoses, all of the equipment housed in the trucks, and what the fireman wear.  Christopher presented Cam wit his own Junior Fireman hat and a fire safety book.
It's tough to determine who enjoyed the educational information and tour the most.  It was truly a treat for us all.
Many thanks to Christopher and Ms. Ann for an awesome day!

The 3 Families of "Forever Neighbors" all together.
Cam holding the Winning Prize!  A new sundae dish
Cam & Michelle
The very next evening marked our annual homemade ice cream contest between our family, the Raisch family and the Flegel family.  The entries this year: Pirate's Treasure- Cam's entry of chocolate ice cream with different kinds of chopped up candy bars, Orange/Peach/Mango Cream- Raisch fam offering of vanilla ice cream with delicious fresh fruit, Caramel Pretzel Supreme- Flegel family treat of vanilla with caramel and chopped up pretzels.  We feasted after dinner and many had multiple samples before voting for their favorite....and the winner....Pirate's Treasure!  Cam was super excited, chanting "I win! I win!"

Cam & Oma

On Saturday, we headed up to see Oma & Opa and our Lake Michigan.  It was a perfect sunny day and we talked Michelle into joining us.

The warm water and the waves made for some exciting kayak rides, one in which Cam and the girls had a wave lap right into their boat!

Cam is used to seeing Michelle do a handstand in his living room while they've done their morning stretching this summer, but he'd never seen her perform the same feat so close to water.  Michelle certainly impressed us all with her handstand skills while the waves lapped up to her hair.

The beach sand became a construction site while Cam decided where new roads and lakes should be.  Oma was his on-site supervisor.

Mom & Cam
Our Lake Michigan sunset
It's that time of year when we know the beach days won't last forever,
but as you soak up the warmth of the sun
and squish your toes in the sand, it's hard to
imagine anything different...

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Best Buds, Baseball, and Birthday Parties - Week of Aug. 10th

Before the ride begins...
After the ride...
“Well," said Pooh, "what I like best," and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn't know what it was called.” ~A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

Waiting for what's to come can be thrilling, nerve-wracking, and overwhelming.  During the week, Michelle and Cam went to a fair where the almost-8-year-old took a ride in his first Tilt-A-Whirl.  He wasn't quite certain what to expect, but he declared that it was so much fun afterwards!
In anticipation of Cam's upcoming birthday, Emma asked us to set up a photo shoot for the two best buddies.  She was very specific about what, where, and which poses were to be taken.
It's so easy to take pictures with this pair because laughter, smiles, and silliness are an absolute given.  Even though the two pals aren't siblings, the friendship bond they share sure seems that way.

The Baseball Crew
The weekend was full of very big plans with the prospect of tons of fun.  On Saturday, we ventured up north for the 3rd Annual Cousin Harper's baseball game in Montague, MI.  It was a beautiful, sunny day and although it was warm, the game was a blast, especially for the younger kids.  After finishing up the ball game, everyone headed to Fricano's in Muskegon where we gobbled up delicious pizza.
Much to Cam's surprise (and his parents!), a birthday cake was presented, complete with baseball players and candles.  Some of Cam's cousins helped blow out the flames and then everyone enjoyed chocolate cake.  Jane's camera was missing from the action and if video would've been captured, Cam's elated face of astonishment would've told the story.  He even opened some early birthday gifts!  A big thanks for the sweet surprise...
Ryke's bday cake- A staple for Cam's birthday!
Special thanks for Oma & Opa for the pick-up.

Cam & Meg
On Sunday, Cam was hosting his 8th birthday celebration (one day before his birthday) in his backyard.  His request for the party?  Fire truck theme and the food of choice?  Breadsticks and  ice cream sundaes.  You wouldn't think the two go together, but the guests all decided the combo somehow worked.
Katherine, Cam, Molly
Cam up to bat, Will waiting his turn :)
After digging into the Little Caesar's bread and Country Dairy ice cream with choice of toppings, it was time for the kids to take a crack at the fire engine pinata!  Each of the kids took two swings every time and after quite a few bats, the candy finally tumbled out!
Uncle Ray had Cam cracking up,
pictured here with Aunt Mary

Cam declared that "this is the best birthday party ever!"

We can't thank everyone enough for coming and being a part of the festivities.  

And to think, his actual birthday was yet to come...

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Riding the Dunes and Sharing the Love - Week of Aug. 3rd

Mom & Cam
For the first time in a very long time, Cam's parents took Monday off of work and we took 'Auntie' Leslie, Oma and Opa with us to the Mac Woods Dune Rides, located in Silver Lake, Michigan.

This was Cam's first outing to this particular dune scooter business and it couldn't have been a better day to head out in the sunshine and feel the wind in your hair.  In addition to hearing all about the history of the area during the 7-mile scoot, we also learned that Mac Wood's
brings more than 80,000 customers through its ride every year.  Mac Wood's has been in existence since 1930!  Halfway through the adventure, everyone can walk around and see the awesome view of Silver Lake and Lake Michigan.  Most importantly, your feet feel the soft sand which travels with you all day.

Afterwards, Cam proclaimed that he liked the Saugatuck Dune Rides more because "they were bumpier and faster!"  However, Jane definitely leans towards the Mac Woods flavor, a staple of her childhood.

With sandy feet and hungry bellies, we walked over to the Whippy Dip where we all enjoyed a delicious lunch and maybe a milkshake for the road.  Can you spot whose head is in the middle of the ice cream cone?

Back in Grand Rapids, 'Auntie Leslie' was one of the fam for the remainder of the week.  On Friday, she and Jane took Cam and Emma over to Boulder Ridge Wild Animal Park.  Lettuce leaves were added to the snacks fed to the giraffes.  Cam was able to provide some green sustenance to the tall animal there.

Leslie and Cam had a great time with the pigmy goats.  They took their carrots and cracker treats so gingerly from your hand.  But they were certainly not shy about pushing others out of the way
to be closest in line for a snack.  Cam couldn't stop cracking up over their antics!

Leslie is Jane's dearest friend from childhood.  They have so many memories together and now their families have an opportunity to make new ones.  'Auntie' Leslie couldn't resist giving Cam some early birthday presents, including some silly fake mustaches and teeth.
The week went by much too quickly, especially for Jane, and we look forward to our next visit together!
It is one of the blessings of old friends
that you can afford to
be stupid with them.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

On Sunday, Cam's parents celebrated their 12th wedding anniversary.  Inside the 'present' was a homemade card from Cam that read "Thank you for being my parents!"
And we thank you, Cam, for being such a great kid...

Sunday, August 2, 2015

A Selfie Stick, Dog n Suds, and a Serious Storm - Week of July 27th

“There are no bad pictures; that's just how your face looks sometimes.” ~ Abraham Lincoln
Cam is always up for trying something new. Today's trends include using a selfie stick for capturing everyone in a photo.
Although a silly item, it does come in very handy when taking group pictures!

Friday night was just the occasion to partake in some fun as we hosted game night that evening with Katherine & Paul, Molly, Ms. Ann, Ronda, and Leslie.  'Auntie' Leslie had arrived from North Carolina that day and jumped right in with the crowd!  Cam played a little Catch Phrase and Hollywood Game Night before heading to bed...quite late.

On Sunday, we ventured north, anxious to go swimming.  We stopped for lunch at the famous Dog-n-Suds in Montague.  You can order from your car
and they bring your food out to you, although it appears roller skates are a thing of the past for the waitresses.  We were pleasantly surprised to discover there was a ramp so Cam could drive down by the water.
Apparently, by this point, we had exposed Cam to the selfie stick one too many times as noted by his "I'm done" expressions in the pic.

We finally arrived at Oma and Opa's and scooted right down to the beach.  The lake was rough and Cam stayed on shore playing in the sand with Oma while the Chris, Jane & Leslie swam.  The undertow was incredible as you felt yourself fighting to walk in the water just a few feet.  Cam felt the warm water when Chris held onto him and kept him close to shore.

After a delicious dinner, we noticed the sky darkening.  If you've never seen a storm roll in over Lake Michigan, it is quite a sight to see.  Pictures cannot do it justice.  Cam kept saying "wow- look at the clouds!"  They were moving so quickly and their color deepened as we all watched in wonder.  The storm only lasted an hour, but provided a lightning show like no other.  Chris captured a bolt in the pic below but the way it kept streaking across the sky was unbelievable.

As the rain pelted and the wind whipped, we were happy to watch from indoors.  As intense as it was, the storm moved out completely along to the south and slowly, the sun returned to the sky.
Even though there were various beach toys scattered about and some clean-up to attend to, the storm seemed to have awakened the sky.  The brightest sunset we've witnessed this summer graciously appeared, waiting for its selfie...

Sunset is still my favorite color, and rainbow is second. ~Mattie Stepanek