Sunday, April 24, 2016

A Wedding in New Orleans! - Week of Apr. 18th

Louis Armstrong Park
right across from our hotel!
New Orleans is unlike any city in America. Its cultural diversity is woven into the food, the music, the architecture - even the local superstitions. It's a sensory experience on all levels and there's a story lurking around every corner. ~Ruta Sepetys

Anticipation: a feeling of excitement about something that is going to happen. 

Airline Sign & Ring Bearer box
This was a first for our family- traveling to a city none of us had been to and taking Oma and Opa with us.  Best of all, the underlying reason was to celebrate a joyous event- Katie and Tyler's wedding!
Many preparations were required for various reasons- Cam's power chair was headed on an airplane for its maiden voyage and Cam was graciously asked to be a ring bearer for the wedding!  We decided it may be best to show airline employees a picture and a little bit about the owner of the chair.  The sign indicated "Hi! My name is Cam! I am 8 years old.  This is my chair.  I use it to move around and play baseball. Please be careful with my chair.  This is the first plane ride it has been on.  Thank you very much!"  We also added a blank page for Delta employees to sign if they wanted to (and they did).

Chris and Cam built a ledge attached to the powerchair and the bride provided the box to hold the wedding rings.  Whether the sign Jane and Cam designed made a difference, we don't know for certain, but suffice it to say, the chair and ring holder made it to New Orleans safe and sound.  After a bit of turmoil during the flight (due to an unknown double ear infection that Cam was dealing with) and afterwards figuring out our van rental, we arrived at our hotel and promptly ordered delicious New Orleans pizza.  Maybe it was because we were all starving, but the consensus was it was most definitely some of the best we had ever had!
Cam receiving his 'ring'

The next day we had swimming in the hotel pool on the agenda and attending the rehearsal dinner in the evening.  We also found an awesome med center that diagnosed Cam and we promptly picked up some medicine for his double ear infection.

Kissing cousins :)
That evening, we couldn't wait to see Katie, Tyler, Coco, Libby, JJ and Jeffrey, James and Ally and met many other folks at the rehearsal.  Cam was diligent in his practice time and we enjoyed dinner with everyone at the St. Roch's Market.
The bride and groom presented Cam with a ring bearer gift bag- all sorts of goodies including a 'fake' wedding ring (which actually looked quite real!)

Finally, the next day was the wedding day for Katie and Tyler!  Cam couldn't wait to get dressed up in his tux and arrive early for pictures.  He and Katie's brother, James sure looked exceptionally stately in their fancy duds.  The Peterson family and Aunt Betsy and Uncle Jon were also there for the special occasion.

Our cousin, Katie, was breathtaking.  She looked striking and Tyler, very handsome.  Their marriage took place at the Marigny Opera House, a non-denominational, neighborhood church of the arts.  The church building was originally the Holy Catholic Trinity Church and was built in 1853.  The ceremony was perfectly timed and Cam fulfilled his third time
as ring bearer, with so much pride!  One of the readings during the wedding was from one of Jane's favorite childhood books.

“Real isn't how you are made,' said the Skin Horse. 'It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.' 'Does it hurt?' asked the Rabbit. 'Sometimes,' said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. 'When you are Real you don't mind being hurt.' 'Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,' he asked, 'or bit by bit?' 'It doesn't happen all at once,' said the Skin Horse. 'You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand.” ~ Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit

Following the nuptials, everyone gathered outside for drinks and appetizers while listening to a musical live trio.  The bass player chatted with Cam a bit and even let him strum the strings.  Robert was a very kind man and we enjoyed hearing his story about his family and all of the instruments they play.   Of course, after dinner, dancing commenced and Katie saved a dance for Cam, as promised.

The following morning, we all gathered again at Katie & Tyler's for a brunch catered by a New Orleans food truck called Frencheeze- so unique and incredibly delicious!  We dined on truffle fries, mac n cheese balls, multiple fresh grilled sandwich choices of buffalo chicken, pulled pork, and vegetables.

To finish out our time in The Big Easy, we toured the French Quarter, dined at some authentic New Orleans eateries, and strolled down Bourbon Street listening to a live band.
We also headed to the river where we boarded the Natchez Steamboat for a two-hour cruise down the Mississippi.  We heard a history lesson, tried some alligator sausage and loved the warm breeze on the deck of the boat.

Chris & Jane ventured over to Bourbon Street on their last evening to listen to one of the many phenomenal jazz bands.  Many thanks to Oma & Opa for all of their extra help, especially so that Cam's parents could have a little time to explore the city while their sweet son was sleeping.

New Orleans is a place we won't soon forget- the food, the music, the atmosphere, the people.  One afternoon, we met a nice man who goes by the name of Magnificent.   He insisted we video a message he had for Cam.   His message is entitled "Determination!"  Definitely a word we use to describe our awesome son!

Cam-ology Quotes:
The wedding took place in the Marigny (pronounced:  Mare-i-knee) and we made sure to say it correctly for Cam.  In response, he indicated...
"I know why Katie and Tyler are getting married in the Marigny House, because you get married there.  It has the word "marry" in it!"
Cam shared some snacks that Chris had bought him with Oma and Opa.  When his grandparents said thank you, Cam replied with...
"It was our pleasure to share snacks."
The airport provided a festival of comments from Cam.  Most notable...
"Baggage Claim is a silly name for suitcases."

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Fort City - Week of Apr. 11th

You may have seen the quote "I no longer want to be an adult.  If anyone needs me, I will be in my blanket fort...coloring."  It's truly an activity that brings a smile to everyone's face- adult or kid.
With Cam and his dad engineering the space- string, clips and sheets were the materials chosen.  There was just enough clearance underneath to play a game of Sight Word Zingo, one of Cam's favorite games.
A secondary fort was created in the sunroom and Cam decided that his "van fort" was indeed an ice cream store where you could order anything you wanted.  Emma, pictured below, was one of his customers and she requested the largest amount of dessert ever!  After Cam completed her order, he asked for a tip.  Jane explained to him that it is customary for a person to earn a tip and receive it instead of asking for one.

The chicken eggs from last week became a delicious green eggs and ham breakfast this week, with a little help from some green food coloring.

As we settled back into the school routine, we also headed off for another routine task to the local post office.  Cam and Jane try to do their package mailing after normal business hours since they can use the self-mailing machine in the lobby.  This week we had two boxes to place in the enormous mailbox- one to cousins and one to Grandma Sue.   Cam loves to receive mail and he thoroughly enjoys his correspondence with his Grandma in Kansas:)

The weekend brought Auntie Karen in from the Chicago area.  She graciously spent some quality time with Cam on a leisurely stroll in some gorgeous weather.  Our extended time together included a dinner out, a sewing lesson for Cam, a homemade grilled dinner and awesome outdoor relaxing.  We cannot thank her enough for making the trip and hanging out!

We also went to meet Miss Ella Grace, Ann's first grandchild and Molly and Gordy's daughter.  Ella is the first baby Cam has ever held that was only a few days old!  These two will be buddies for sure and they'll have some bonding time when the families camp together again this summer.

Our weekend wouldn't be complete without some silliness...Dad taking a nap on Cam while on the couch as well as in Cam's bed.

Before any week departs, we try to make certain enough pics were taken for blog.  When life gets busy, sometimes we forget.  Cam, however, asked...on his own accord...if we could take a family picture together "to put in my blog."
And that is a request these parents will never deny!

Cam-ology Quotes:
An email from one of Cam's teachers:  "We did an experiment today and discovered it took 43 pennies to make a full glass of water spill over the top of the glass. Cam predicted it would take more pennies, while some of us predicted it would take fewer pennies so he was right.  We dropped pennies in one at a time and as the number grew, it got very exciting."

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Stay~cation - Week of Apr. 4th

As we bid farewell to many spring-breakers heading out of town, we quickly discovered there was quite a bit of adventure to keep Cam busy during his stay-cation here in Grand Rapids!

Miss Amanda taught her buddy (and the rest of us) all about chicken eggs this week.  She was pet-sitting animals and brought Cam there for a visit.  The duo returned home with a dozen eggs, two of which were green!  Amanda explained that the color of the egg a chicken lays is in direct correlation to the color of its ears.  The following ear color represents the hue of the egg:  white ears= green and blue eggs, red ears= white and brown eggs.  Cam declared "that is pretty cool!"

Due to the generosity of another family linked to Cam's PT at school, we are now using a 'stander' at home with Cam.  This allows him to independently stand at a table.  He and Amanda watched an interesting construction video about what Cascade Road will look like upon completion, which led to lots of questions and discussion.

When Amanda & Cam were ready to venture out again one day, they discovered the van had a flat tire!  Since Chris was working out of town, we called Emma's dad, Mr. Steve.  He was able to help us out with the tire change (thanks Mr. Steve!), which allowed Cam to visit with Amanda's grandparents, Ms. Mickie and Mr. Ken!  These two have been our neighbors for 15 years so they've known Cam his entire life.   He loves to visit with them and Cam and Ken share the same love of chocolate. It's even sweeter that Amanda is their granddaughter and these visits will become more frequent.

We decided that Cam's break wasn't complete without taking in a movie, so Oma, Emma, Cam and Jane all headed over to Lowell to see the popular "Zootopia" film.  After somehow depleting a large bucket of popcorn, we all agreed it was a great flick and we all highly recommend it!

The remainder of break was filled with Yahtzee challenges and sewing class with Oma, along with spelling and sight words with "teacher" Emma.  Thank goodness the weather cooperated for an outdoor day so Cam and Emma could play 'vehicles' and create their 'chalk city.'

We've learned that sometimes, the biggest gift of all is just being present.  Jane and Chris each managed to take a half day off of work on different days to spend time with Cam and the extra time with Oma, Amanda and Emma was the best!!  Stay-cation was a big success!

Cam-ology Quotes:

Jane and Cam were driving around on the weekend when Jane mentioned she had to make a few stops and asked Cam if we should do it before lunch or after lunch...

"Let's do it after lunch, Mom.  I'm open!"

At the Starbuck's drive-thru, we were told that the "new thing" is to have a pat of butter added to your coffee instead of creamer.  Cam's reaction:
"Ewwwwwwww!!  Who would do it that?!"

Cam's weather commentary: "This doesn't look like spring to me!"

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Beginning of Break - Week of Mar. 28th

In the Spring, I have counted 136 different kinds of weather inside of 24 hours. ~Mark Twain 

In a short education week with two days off of school to commence spring break, Cam sure can pack in a lot!

We wished Michelle a fun farewell as she readied herself for a break to warmer weather in Florida.  Cam worked with the grad students at Grand Valley on Wednesday eve, testing out a cool contraption and stretching on the exercise ball.

Amanda enjoyed a full day with Cam on Thursday and they mixed up some tasty puppy chow, also known as muddy buddies.  Here's the recipe they used:
9 cups Chex cereal (any kind) 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips or 6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted 1⁄2 cup smooth peanut butter, melted 1⁄4 cup butter, melted 1 -2 teaspoon vanilla 1 1⁄2 cups powdered sugar.  Melt ingredients together, mix in cereal and toss in powdered sugar- yummy!

Because it made soooo much, Amanda took a bag to her night class at Cornerstone University and the rest was quickly disappearing at home.  Much to Cam's surprise, Amanda arrived Friday morning with a special 'thank you' card from her university class!  The professor even gave Cam a cool frisbee with the Cornerstone logo!

Oma arrived Friday afternoon ready to dive into another set of tasks with her grandson.  They worked on some sewing and mending before diving into a rousing game of a family favorite, Yahtzee.
Before dinner, Cam, his mom and grandma all headed over to the YMCA for a nice swim.  It was Oma's first time checking things out and getting in the pool.  Cam gave a great tour and that warm water sure felt good.  Afterwards, we headed down the road to meet Chris, already waiting for us.  We dined on tasty burgers and fries, followed by a mini tootsie roll,  delivered with our bill.  Cam may have tried to sneak an extra one...

Cam-ology Quotes:

One evening after Cam was in bed and we had some giggles and laughs before saying goodnight, he said,

"You guys are such nice parents, I want to take you out to dinner!"
"Where will we go, Cam?" 
"Bagger Dave's.  Do I have enough money in my bank account?"

Cam smartly noted: "Why is it called a Winter Weather Advisory when it isn't even winter anymore?!"