Sunday, December 27, 2015

Christmas is Here! - Week of Dec. 21st

"Maybe Christmas, the Grinch thought, doesn't come from a store." ~Dr. Seuss

"Christmas is the spirit of giving without a thought of getting. It is happiness because we see joy in people. It is forgetting self and finding time for others. It is discarding the meaningless and stressing the true values." ~Thomas S. Monson

So many events this week, it's hard to believe they all took place over 7 days!  With no snow in sight, buddies Emma and Cam enjoyed playing outside while the temps stayed fairly mild.

Jane and Michelle ventured with Cam to Breton Village on Wednesday (two days before Christmas!) to brave a free photo opp with Santa.  Cam was eager with anticipation and actually survived the (gulp) 90 minute wait we endured.  We were witness to many kids who didn't fare as well.

During their chat together, Cam asked Santa where Mrs. Claus was and asked him for a robot, please.  Jane explained that his parents were helping out with that present. Cam thanked Santa and was very happy that he was able to see him.

Oma and Opa arrived the next afternoon on Christmas Eve.  We met our good friends, the Raisch family, at church for an early service and then enjoyed a most delicious dinner at their home.

With our full bellies, Oma, Cam and Jane then drove around the area and found the most decorated yards for the holiday season.

Upon arrival home, it was time to ready the tray for Santa.  The jar is a new addition this year- reindeer food!

Cam had a good night's sleep and awoke the next morning exclaiming Merry Christmas!

We had a leisurely morning of breakfast, taking turns opening gifts, and waiting with anticipation for someone to open a favorite item wrapped.  It is so true for our family that giving is often times more rewarding than receiving.

Among Cam's favorites were the personalized suitcase from Oma and Opa and robots from Chris and Jane.

Jane and her mom had a good laugh when they discovered they were both thinking the same thing without even talking to each other about it.
Oma had a personalized cooking apron made for Cam.
Jane ordered aprons personalized with the names Oma and Opa!
It was such a relaxing day and we were so thankful to have Cam's grandparents with us for 4 whole days!

On Dec. 27th, we hosted the Jellema cousin party at our home and greeted 45 people (please note we were still missing quite a few cousin families!).

After our potluck dinner, the kids played and adults chatted.

Each and every year for more than 40 years, Santa has made a personal stop at the Jellema cousin party and this year was no exception.  15 kids gathered around while Santa found two small presents in his big cloth bag for each younger cousin.  Cam couldn't believe Santa was in his house!

We have many family members and extended family who celebrated with us and sent such wonderful gifts this Christmas and we thank you all so very much!

By far, though, our most special gift this Christmas is one that Chris built and created for us.
(Being the humble and gracious, giving man that he is, he created an instruction video so others could complete the project.)

This incredible handmade picture frame is now installed on our living room wall where we will see it every day and be reminded of the smiles and love that surround this home.

Cam-ology Quotes:
Upon Cam opening his new travel suitcase roller bag for an April 2016 trip to New Orleans...
"Can I go pack now, please!"

After having a few turns of present unwrapping right in a row, Cam's parents told him that someone else needed to take a turn..
"Ok, Mom, you go first...(short pause)...and I'll go second."

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Winter Break Begins... Week of Dec. 14th

Just before winter break begins, you can feel the anticipation of relaxation.  But the few days before the last day of school are filled with activities.  The day of Cam's school party, he and Jane were dressed in red and when Michelle arrived after school, she was too!

Cam and Ms. Christy
Cam gave Christmas cards to all of his teachers and helpers at school as well as his bus drivers.  The holiday greeting is a favorite project Cam and his mom do together- deciding which pictures and Jane creating the poem.

The weekend plans were set for Saturday and Sunday.  We first ventured over to visit Ms. Mickie and hang out with Mr. Ken.  We met so many people and everyone said Cam had the best smile.  Mr. Ken kept telling him how tall he was getting and how much he liked our Christmas card!  It is always good to see our good friends and neighbors of 15 years.  Cam asked if we can go again and we most certainly will.

Lunch at the exclusive Target dining followed by some holiday shopping filled our afternoon.

Chris and Cam worked on homemade chocolate covered cherries for the remainder of the day.

Sunday afternoon was reserved for our Christmas celebration with Auntie Jo and Will.  We dined on homemade mini burgers and freshly made french fries and opened presents.  After playing some games, we had big plans to see the annual light show.

Every year, the local baseball park decorates the area to drive through (for a hefty fee) and it's something Auntie Jo and Jane have done with their boys for a few years now.  Pictures can't do the display justice and Cam and Will had to pick their favorites as we slowly made our way around the festive surroundings.
Afterwards, we were able to get both boys to agree to a photo complete with Santa hats- a rare occasion to catch everyone smiling at the same time!

A notable change in our household has been the appearance of the Elf on the Shelf.  Cam named his elf, Gerrit, and this elf has been busy moving around our home.  Every morning, our curious boy has been actively finding the mischievous helper.  This picture captured Cam's loudest laugh and favorite hiding place of his elf.  Of course, though, many questions ensued after his discovery.  Cam's questions included, but were not limited to, the following..."how did he write on the glass?....who put him in there? he ok?"

We expect this holiday season will be full of even more surprises!

Cam-ology Quotes:
(Mom) Cam, what are you thinking of for dinner?
"Do we have any leftovers we have to eat?"
(Mom) I sure do love you, Cam.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Traditions, New and Old - Week of Dec. 7th

Ms. Ann & Cam- Cam's 1st Fish Fry
"The holiday season is a perfect time to reflect on our blessings and seek out ways to make life better for those around us." ~ Terri Marshall

Starting new traditions can be just as much fun as continuing those we already do annually.  On Friday evening, we were fortunate to have Oma with us and our family traveled to Sparta to meet Ms. Ann, Christopher and Cassie to enjoy the monthly fish fry at the Moose Lodge.  We dined on delicious perch and potatoes.  Cam was pretty excited they also offered chicken tenders and french fries.  We met some incredibly sweet people, along with a woman who kept telling Cam how handsome he was- we think he may have been blushing!

On Saturday, Oma and Cam tackled the gingerbread house decorating.  In case you haven't been gingerbread house shopping lately, they now come pre-assembled and have a complete set of sticky frosting and candy to create your own unique design.  Be forewarned that it seems quite impossible to duplicate the picture-perfect houses shown on the box.
We were all quite pleased with the outcome, though, and it's now proudly displayed on the dining room table for all to see.

Sunday afternoon, Dec. 13th, was a balmy 62 degrees in Grand Rapids, Michigan!

Even though there was a bit of rain, we decided we needed to venture over to check out Dave and Busters.  Cam had never been there and in addition to being in a giant arcade, they also serve up some very tasty food.

Expanding our annual outings made for a busy (and very fun) weekend!

Cam-ology Quotes:
(Dad) Cam, you look pretty.
"Dad, girls are pretty.  I am handsome!"

Ms. Ann hung out with Cam on Saturday eve while Chris and Jane attended the FTCH holiday party.
How was your day?  What did you do today?
(Ms. Ann) Well, Mia (her dog) was having a hard time because of the parade and all of the noise outside.  She was inside most of the day because of all of the activity.
Did you put on her shirt?
(Ms. Ann told us the last time she talked to Cam about Mia's 'anxiety shirt' was in July!  The shirt is put on Mia to help calm her)

Jane explained to Chris & Cam over the phone that a nearby restaurant called Taj Mahal (which Cam has never been to) was closed.
Why did it close?
(Mom) I don't know, Cam.  It is definitely closed.
Well, that's a bummer!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Oh Christmas Tree!... Week of Nov. 30th

There's something magical about putting up the Christmas tree each year.

Our family tradition begins with Chris standing up the tree, while Cam supervises.  Once all of the branches are ready for decorations, Cam works with Jane to decide where all of the ornaments should be placed.  Upon completion, the room feels warmer, the glow of the lights shine brightly and each object dangling from the tree holds a memory.

Cam has asked to drive around to see the outdoor holiday decor almost every evening.  He explains we can "go wherever you want" each time.  We surprised him with a quick trek over to the historic Ada bridge.  The lights intermittently blink throughout the entire area.
The Ada Covered Bridge is a 125-foot span Brown truss covered bridge erected in 1867 in Ada, Michigan.  Carrying Bronson Street across the Thornapple River, it is located just south of where the Thornapple enters the Grand River, in turn just south of M-21. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The milder weather we're experiencing, combined with an abundance of sunshine, has produced some picture-perfect sunrise and sunset photos.

However, the lack of snow has also meant that winter sports are currently on hold.  The only "sledding" Cam has experienced of late has been in his elementary school gym!

Thanks to Michelle for sending this pic of our Michigan boy on a snowboard!

Cam-ology Quotes:
Mom: Explaining Operation Santa Claus at Cam's school and Cam asked what donate means.
"Mom, I have an idea for what to donate.  How about all of my clothes that don't fit that we are saving for our friends."

Cam riding in the van during complete silence: "It's a most wonderful time of the year!"
Mom may need to reduce the saturation of Christmas music while driving :)