Sunday, September 25, 2016

Above & Beyond - Week of Sept. 19th

Sunrise from our home
"Let us be grateful to people who make us happy!  They are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom." ~ Marcel Proust

While Chris spent a few days working in Ohio, Oma spent a few days hanging out with Jane & Cam.  Of course, when Cam and his grandma have any extended time together, baking and crafting are on the agenda.  Oma makes certain her grandson finds all of the ingredients and completes all of the measuring for any concoction they make.  For the first time, Cam made a delicious quiche lorraine with Oma.  Who doesn't like a recipe that combines eggs, bacon and pie crust?!  As an added bonus, we had a delicious breakfast for multiple mornings.  Time with Oma is always special and Cam's parents are so very thankful for her extended duration to help out!
Cam, Ms. Barbara & Brody
Katherine, Bexley, Cam & Paul

On Wednesday evening, we had the pleasure of meeting Bexley, son of Katherine and Paul, just a little over a week old.  He is so precious, handsome and sweet.  Cam was very excited to see this new baby who he said "is like my cousin." We look forward to many adventures with Bexley and camping up north next summer!

Marissa & Cam
The weekend brought another exciting baseball game for Cam's team, the Lakers.  The helpers were from Hope College and members of the Sigma Iota Beta sorority house.  Cam's volunteer, Marissa, kept him talking in between the game action. Ms. Barbara from Meadow Brook was on deck to watch Brody and Cam make their plays.
Proud Cam & Blossom
Karen, her sister Susan and husband Bill, also drove in all the way from Illinois for the 10am game which made for quite an early start on their end!  Karen brought her newly adopted dog, Blossom, who garnered quite a bit of attention from kids and adults.  Oma and Opa were in attendance too.

With a crisp wind, we all settled in for a picnic lunch after the game.  With sandwiches, fruit and chips, the only thing missing was some hot cocoa.  Even though it was chilly, the company was warm and we were all grateful for the time together.

Karen, Susan and Bill came over to Cam's house for a bit and the warm sun outside was a welcome sight.

We are constantly reminded of our family and friends who go above and beyond...Oma and Opa driving in for each and every one of Cam's baseball games to cheer him on and Oma staying in Grand Rapids to assist with all of the daily activities...Karen and her family trekking 4 hours one way to make a nine-year-old boy feel so special with a fan base in the stands...and we can't forget Emma...
Emma & Cam!

With the sun continuing to shine, Emma and Cam created a chalk city in the driveway filled with signs,  Outside play combined with schoolwork- genius!  The two buddies laughed and played for a few hours.

On Sunday, our annual family photo shoot took place at the cottage for the very first time.  We had planned afterwards to dine at a semi-fancy place in town but due to fall hours, instead we ended up at one of our favorite spots, Dog-n-Suds.  No complaints from this crew!
The Fam @ Dog-n-Suds

Camology Quotes:

As we drove to the cottage on Sunday, the weather looked a bit bleak.  However, the closer we came, the sun began to break through.  We snapped this picture as we were turning onto Eilers Rd.  Very reminiscent of the day Cam's parents were married.  The sun broke through for the festivities.

Last week, Cam was looking at his parent's wedding photos.  His most perplexing question when he saw the pic of sharing a sweet bite of dessert:

"Why did you not eat the cake yourself?"

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Play Ball, Play at the Zoo - Week of Sept. 12th

“Volunteers do not necessarily have the time; they just have the heart.” ~Elizabeth Andrew 
 “You make a living by what you get. You make a life by what you give.” ~Winston Churchill
 “Volunteers are the only human beings on the face of the earth who reflect this nation’s compassion, unselfish caring, patience, and just plain loving one another.” ~Erma Bombeck

Reed & Cam
During Cam's baseball season with the West Michigan Miracle League, each week there are different groups who arrive early ready to assist the kids with any help they need.  These volunteers spend more than 5 hours on a Saturday giving their time to others they have never met.  Most are college students.

Cam & Amanda
 The Grand Valley State University Men's Baseball team was on deck for Saturday and Cam was eager to find a helper with his dad.  Reed approached our baseball player and asked if he could hang out with him.  Cam brought him directly to Jane and said "I want you to meet my mom."

Aunt Gay, Aunt Joyce & Uncle Joe
 & Cam
The rain held off for the game and sunshine prevailed.  The fans were out in full force including Cam's nanny, Miss Amanda, Aunt Joyce & Uncle Joe and Aunt Gay, as well as Oma and Opa.  Cam flashed a winning grin when he crossed home plate twice.
Oma and Opa spent the day and evening with us.  We shared a blue gill fish fry dinner with our good friends, the Raisch family, accompanied by no-calorie homemade french fries (who are we kidding?!) and vegetables...we just had to throw at least one healthy item in there.  Good company, great food and full bellies are a winning combination.

Opa, Oma & Cam
On Sunday, Chris headed off for work in Ohio and Jane took Cam and his grandparents to the Boulder Ridge Wild Animal Park to hang out with the animals and meet up with the Schulze and Cook families.
Cousin Annie & Cam

It was a perfect day for a picnic lunch and safari ride.  The sun was warm and even the kangaroos looked pretty lazy relaxing in the grass.

The Bakers- Cam & Oma
Feeding the animals is one of the best activities and nutritious as well since you are only allowed to purchase lettuce leafs and carrots for them to munch on.

Cam and Oma tried out a new recipe for applesauce muffins over the weekend.  Chances are if the batter tastes good, so will the finished product.  A big thumbs up for the delicious breakfast treat!

Camology Quotes:

Loud noises are not a favorite of Cam's.  Over the years, the various "drills" at school have proven problematic and upsetting.  This year, the trend seems to be changing.  An email from Cam's teacher:

"You can be so proud of your son!  We had our first fire drill today and he did great. He started to cry a little when Mr. Shaw announced it, but he stopped himself and was brave and did it without tears."

Cam said:  "I just thought 'stop' in my head and I stopped my tears!"

He relayed the exact same quote when he excitedly told his parents that night.  Every day we're proud of our son, but there are things he says that certainly seem as if they could be applied to our adult lives as well. 

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Hello Baseball & School, See You Later Summer & Michelle - Week of Sept. 5th

B-boy Will & Cam
Our anxiety does not come from thinking about the future, but from wanting to control it. ~Kahlil Gibran

The week started off right with Monday as a holiday and our family being invited to Will's 8th birthday party!  We met up for lunch at a splashpad park with Will and friends.  Auntie Jo had pizza, hot dogs, salads and breadsticks- yum!  A pinata full of delicious candy and time in the water on a warm day was the perfect combo.

Brody, Emma, Sarah, Cam
Cam and his grandparents
For the first day of school on Tuesday, we had a sleepy 3rd grader who was feeling a bit anxious about new things in store.  We opted to skip the morning bus and Jane drove Cam into school where he was excitedly greeted by his classmates and all was well in his world.  The remainder of the week was busy and fun for the first few days back at Meadow Brook elementary.
Jane, Cam, Patti
Saturday was the season opener for the
fall WMML game!
Cam & Brita

Cam is a GVSU Laker this year and his buddy and school classmate, Brody, is on his team.  It was quite a day for fans with Oma, Opa, Patti, Sarah and Emma all in attendance!  Miss Kathy, Cam's teacher, was also there and Uncle Ray and Aunt Mary made an appearance too!  The Hope College Girls Softball team volunteered as helpers for opening day.  Cam's helper, Brita, was a freshman at Hope and from Indiana.  She loved hanging out with Cam and told us she is a Special Olympics volunteer back home.

Sunday marked our last play day in Lake Michigan at the cottage.  We were thankful the water temps were normal and the waves weren't too high.  The sand was warm and the lake sported differing shades of blue and green.

Cam still enjoys "baking" with Oma on the beach and each time they create a new concoction with sand and water.

The kayak rolled over the waves and gave us all a fun ride as Chris expertly rowed through the whitecaps.  Cam likes to go on official tours during these rides so we can talk through all of the sights along the lake shore.
Cam @Spoonlickers w/Michelle
We love our time at the big lake with Oma and Opa soaking up the sunshine and playing in the waves.  It's always bittersweet to say goodbye to summer, but we'll enjoy it all again next year.

Hugging our Michelle as she headed off on her move to Florida was also bittersweet.  We're happy she'll be back in her favorite sunshine state but we will miss her daily dose of fun, laughter, silliness and adventure.
She gave us a plaque which hangs proudly on our wall:
"The best things in life are the people we love, places we've been, memories we've made along the way..."
Thank you for blessing us, Michelle.  We look forward to making more memories!

Camology Quotes:

Cam was concerned about the construction we encountered on 96 West on Saturday heading to his baseball game.  On Sunday, as we headed out for our northward journey, he was discussing all of the different routes we could take to avoid the construction zone.  The options were quite detailed...and a bit lengthy...

"Isn't that a great idea?!"
"Oh yeah, sure.  Sounds good..."
"What did I just say?"
(Cam's parents= busted for not listening)

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Cabin Camping and Cottage Calm - Week of Aug. 29th

Mom & Cam
Have you heard the term "glamping?"  It's referred to as glamorous camping.  While rustic camping provides the real outdoors experience with tenting and outhouses, we opted to attempt the other side of the axis in a cabin complete with a sink and toilet!  Hungry Horse Campground, located just under 30 minutes from our home not only offered this option but also had a cabin with a ramp for Cam's chair!
Dad & Cam

Cam & Auntie Karen
Upon entrance, the wooded area was inviting and serene.  Cam and Jane had a hearty laugh when they drove up to the cabin because it looked so small from the outside.  But once inside, we saw the mini fridge, microwave, ceiling fan, bunk beds, double bed, small couch, dining table with chairs and even a window a.c. unit.  Of course, the bathroom with toilet and sink as well as a dresser completed the tour.  It felt downright spacious with all of the amenities. Auntie Karen arrived shortly after and the three cabin mates couldn't wait to go exploring and find the solar-heated pool.  The pool included a separate splashpad and even had a lift to help move Cam in and out of the water.

Cam & Miss Rose
Gazebo Theater
The owners Norm and Nancy were so incredibly friendly and helpful.  The campground was full of surprises- live goats that Auntie Karen and Cam discovered on a stroll, a big jump pad (much like a trampoline but larger and not quite as much bounce) jumped on by Jane, Cam & Auntie Karen.  Playgrounds and even nice hot showers and more toilets!  Chris joined us in the evenings after work and was able to get in the pool too.  We grilled outside for meals and made s'mores around our campfire.  We met a new friend, Ms. Rose, who gave Cam a pillowcase with baseballs on it, and talked about her love of teaching and helping kids.  Our last evening included watching a movie that Nancy asked Cam to pick out.  He decided on "Finding Nemo."  The makeshift theater was in the outdoor gazebo.  We all munched on delicious popcorn.
The two nights and two and a half days were memorable. We cannot thank Auntie Karen enough for her time, energy and exuberance when needed most!

After an evening back home, we were off to the cottage to spend the night with Oma and Opa.  The weather was beautiful but Lake Michigan had acquired a chill to the tune of a drop in water temperature by almost 15 degrees!  The beach, however, still looked inviting enough to play in the sand.

Jane & Cam watching the sun set
Auntie Jo and Will joined us and although we didn't do any swimming, the kayak enjoyed full use.
We dined outside, which we were very accustomed to this week, and our family witnessed a picture perfect sunset together.

This week, we decided Cam may be watching old movies when we're not around based upon some interesting comments....
When Cam awoke the morning we were destined for the campground, he declared "I love the great outdoors!"  Upon getting ready for bed, he was snuggled under the covers and said "It's good to be home.  There's no place like home."  Truly Cam, we couldn't agree more.

Camology Quotes:

Cam's Elementary School hosted an open house.  One of his teachers (Miss Kathy) and speech pathologist (Miss Kate) asked what he would be doing the rest of the afternoon.  His reply:
"Happy Hour!"
followed by very surprised looks from Kathy & Kate.  To which Mom indicated:
"Please tell them where Happy Hour is, Cam..."
"Culver's!"  (for those of you unfamiliar, Culver's offer $1 short shakes in the afternoon hours)