Sunday, August 13, 2017

The Things You Catch at the Pier - Week of Aug. 7th

The charm of fishing is that it is the pursuit of what is elusive but attainable, a perpetual series of occasions for hope. ~John Buchan 

If people concentrated on the really important things in life, there'd be a shortage of fishing poles. ~Doug Larson

It was a week of new experiences for Cameron Jackson.  His swimming lessons every Monday evening have increased his stamina with each session.
Ms. Laura has been working with him to incorporate more leg movement to strengthen his muscles since the hip surgery.  The Mary Free Bed therapy pool is virtually empty when their instruction takes place, so it's a targeted 45-minutes.

Cam and Ms. Amanda continued their daily walks, increasing their distance to almost two miles.  Their summer routine has consisted of morning Vizzle work (shout out to Ms. Kathy @ school!), reading practice and then their mid-morning trek for exercise.  Ms. Amanda always finds a way to wrap some fun activity into the day as well.

The weekend arrived and so did some rainy weather.  As we made our way to Holland State Park, we had no idea what awaited us.  Even though the skies were cloudy, we continued on, ready to teach Cam how to fish at the channel.
Chris and Jane both enjoy fishing and they hadn't had an opportunity to take their son.  Our family found a parking spot and the sunshine prevailed as we made our way to find the best spot.

Shortly after we arrived, Mr. Steve appeared indicating his girls would be along soon.  We switched locations and settled in at a bench alcove adjacent to the boardwalk.
All of a sudden, the fishing line bent over and Chris worked to haul in the catch.  We weren't sure how big the fish would be and Cam's dad almost toppled over his son bringing the sheepshead fish in for a photo shoot.  The swimmer wasn't the type you would keep or even eat, but it was a big one and hilarious to see Cam's excitement watching one be captured and then released.

videoMs. Amanda, her boyfriend, Nick and his sister, Brooke, parents Mary and Dan and dog Gizmo all showed up at the boardwalk as well.  And they arrived with a huge early birthday present from Ms. Amanda and Nick's entire family.  Cam couldn't believe it! The beautifully wrapped present was adorned with his favorite chocolate coins, and a card from everyone.
Luckily, Mary captured the moment of Cam opening the awesome gift on video.

The day was filled with the bright sunshine of a perfect Michigan summer afternoon, the warmth of meeting new friends you feel like you've known for a long time, the goodness of seeing your close friends/neighbors in a different location, and a whopper of a fish story to share over and over again.

Camology Quotes:
This week, Cam's parents celebrated their 14th wedding anniversary.  Chris had to stay overnight for work on the east side of the state and set up a surprise for Jane since he would be absent.  He conspired with neighbor Sarah to have her hand-deliver a present, card, bouquet and Starbucks on the anniversary morning.  

"Mom, how did Dad do that?"
He asked Sarah before he left.  Your dad is the sweetest.
"That is so cool, Mom!

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Sandy Candles - Week of July 31st

"The more sand that has escaped from the hourglass of our life, the clearer we should see through it."  ~Jean Paul

Summer's timer keeps on ticking and we keep soaking it up.
The unexpected invite to a backyard pool on a weeknight is a summer treat for our family.
Emma and her dad popped over to ask if we all wanted to take an evening swim at their family friend's pool.  Although most things solar-heated in Michigan take a temperature dip after dinnertime, it is still refreshing.  Cam and Emma seemed impervious to the coolness, wanting to continue water games for quite some time.

Emma and her creative mind designed a makeshift restaurant and provided play money for Cam to order from her extensive menu.  As she cooked, she pretended all sorts of creative disasters took place in her kitchen and even had to interview new employees, aka stuffed animals.

Our awesome friends and neighbors are always present since they're just a backyard path away.  Whether we share dinners, evening walks, ice cream treats or playtime, these lifelong buddies bring smiles every time we're together.

Summer time also means some work effort needs to be put forth and Cam is always willing to help out.  His dad expertly rigged up a fastener for the wheelbarrow saving his father lugging the weeds across the yard to the woods.

The best laid plans sometimes don't go as expected.  Friday afternoon was reserved for a trip to Stony Lake to see our close family friends, the Hueys.  A rainy day squashed our intentions to swim, boat and waterski.  However, we did love the opportunity to really chat, catch up and share a most delicious meal complete with freshly husked corn, thanks to Oma and Cam.  And Oma's homemade pies were a bit hit.  Since Stony is only 15 minutes from the cottage, our evening ride 'home' was a quick one.  We caught a nice sunset back at Oma & Opa's deck since it decided to clear up about 8pm.
Sunday, though, was a picture perfect beach day.  When Jane was younger and spent her summers on Lake Michigan, a favorite craft was making sand candles with her mom.  Oma had talked to Cam about this in May and he hadn't forgotten, reminding her nearly every time they were together it would need to be an upcoming activity.  Thank goodness for Amazon and internet instructions providing a candle making kit with directions and online videos.  The best part of sand candles is making your own mold to pour the wax into.  Such a fun technique and great way to spend our morning.

Even though big lake waters hadn't made it to the 70 degree mark, Chris and his son still went swimming with the Cam mobile.  On days like this, we forget how cold our winters will be and soak up every ounce of pure Michigan summer goodness.

Upon arrival back in Grand Rapids, a family of deer were slowly making their way through our yard.  Traveling from the rural area of Cam's grandparents back to city isn't quite as shocking when you have this kind of greeting awaiting you.

Camology Quotes:
Cam is an intuitive kid.  He seems keenly aware of when to play up a joke or offer a hug when needed most.  Sometimes, juggling a full-time job and personal business is tough during a work day for Jane.  There were some parts in need of repair on Cam's powerchair and a 'quick' call to rattle off the list turned into a twenty minute conversation figuring out an appointment time.  After the 'go-fish- session, Jane finally disconnected and Cam came over to her.

"I know it's a lot to do, Mom but it is important that we get it done."

And with that simple phrase, frustration melts into a smile.  A later game of finding father and son hiding in the bathroom completely turned the day around!

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Labor of Love - Week of July 24th

When Chris suggested that he & Cam build a new picnic table for the cottage as a present for Oma & Opa (their anniversary was July 1st), Jane had no idea what it would entail.  The boys had never built a table, but that wouldn't deter Cam's dad, always ready to take on a wonder his son has the same attitude!

After taking measurements of the cottage deck and existing table, we all agreed on a new design. Chris picked up cedar wood, Cam wore his headphones and the two got to work.  Cam's job was to check to be certain his chair would fit underneath the table and supervise his dad.  Chris needed his son's expert assistance to find all of the screws so wood putty could placed over them to blend in with the wood.  After 2 weeks of evening and weekend work, the picnic table was completed.  Due to its 8 foot length, it was expertly secured in the back of the Honda Ridgeline to travel to its final destination- Oma & Opa's deck.

The existing picnic table is nearly 50 years old and a testament to good construction.

When the replacement was revealed, Cam's grandparents were very excited!  Opa was surprised to see a separate bench for him at the head of table, opposite of where Cam sits.  The custom crafting, unique design, and multiple coats of linseed oil have us all hoping this piece of furniture lasts as long as its predecessor.

The weekend calendar also included beach time and the Annual Cousin Baseball Game.
We finally enjoyed some rare, calm Lake Michigan waters as our family kayak had a good workout.
Some cool kid was hanging out in the inflatable boat solo for a bit.  And, we even convinced Oma to take a boat ride in the calm waters.

The famous Cam-mobile went touring through the lake as well, bouncing up and down splashing its occupant.  The water was incredibly clear and the sun reflected the bottom so one could easily spot large minnows, rocks and even a stray golf ball.

The Annual Cousin Baseball Game is an event we look forward to every year.  Cam's cousin, Harper, came up with the idea years ago and he is now an avid player himself.

We try to make it as official as possible with a boatload of snacks, sodas, and even the national anthem itself before the opening pitch.
The best part is watching the kids at bat and in the outfield, guarding bases and figuring out that batting is really the coolest thing ever.  There is a team roster and we do play on a real baseball field complete with bases and dugouts.  Cam and his sweet cousin, Maya, hung out at first base together waiting for the next swing.  The favorite quote of the day, "when am I up to bat again?" echoed by several cousins.

After a couple of hours and numerous innings (we may or may not have reached 9), the sun was warm and bellies were beginning to grumble.  After our group picture, most of players and spectators headed to Fricano's in Muskegon.
Fricano's pizza remains the original and most famous pizza and pizzeria in Michigan. In 1949 the late Cosimo (Gus) Fricano, founded what is believed to be the first pizzeria in Michigan, Fricano's Pizza Tavern, in Grand Haven with the original thin crust pizza pie.
The pizza is a family favorite, although Cam is still quite puzzled why they don't serve breadsticks at most of their pizza establishments.  A definite bonus regarding the Muskegon location is that a specialty ice cream shop is downstairs in the same building.  Cam believes this may outweigh the breadstick issue.

The biggest bonus, though, is hanging out with our cousins we don't see too often due to distance and knowing that the next generation will be surrounded by family, friends, baseball, and of course, Fricano's pizza!

Camology Quotes:
Cam loves school and has always enjoyed summer school too.  The summer program lasts 5 weeks and Cam rides the bus there 3 days per week in the mornings only.  Cam's class worked on an ocean theme and even cracked open coconuts one day.

As parents, we hope our children are polite when we are not there to remind them to do so.  Jane received this email from Cam's summer school teacher, Ms. Kathy, on the last day of summer school this week.  

"I also want you to know what a lovely and polite boy you have.  He thanked us all for having summer school and making it fun!"

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Gatherings with Games & Goodness - Week of July 17th

"This is the power of gathering: it inspires us, delightfully, to be more hopeful, more joyful, more thoughtful: in a word, more alive." ~Alice Waters 

Cam is surrounded by many of his parents' good friends and best friends we refer to as our family...extending the terms 'auntie' and 'uncle' to our closest.  The weekend was filled with reconnecting and seeing some of our dearest.
Saturday morning, we were ready early to head north.  The weather looked questionable, but that doesn't matter when you're ready for a day of fun.  We arrived at Oma and Opa's before lunch.  We were joined by Keith and Bobbi, Lance & Beth (from N. Carolina) and Jo & Ron and dog, Max.  Everyone brought a dish to pass for lunch and we feasted on farm fresh corn on the cob, grilled meat, homemade potato salad (Cam's new favorite), tasty fresh fruit, homemade chicken salad and deviled eggs just to name a few.
The sun was in and out until late afternoon, but the beach was inviting and the water somewhat warmish enabling the sand bakery to churn out some offerings.
We enjoyed an early dinner of leftovers with most of our crew choosing a different meat from lunchtime with the same side dishes and no complaints regarding a duplicate meal twice in one day.  Cam played games indoors and showed off his Uno skills once again.  We were happy to see the bright sun later in the day and even more pleased seeing all of our peeps.

Sunday, the schedule included an extended family gathering back in Grand Rapids at Cam's house with Katherine, Ms. Ann and the entire group of siblings, spouses and kids.

With this crowd, we assemble because of the original connection between Katherine (a.k.a. Ah-Dah, her Cam-given name before he could pronounce hers) and Camster before he was 3 years of age.  Katherine provided premiere Cam-care for more than 2 years and has remained a part of our family ever since.  Now, she has her own family and her mom, siblings, spouses and kids have become an extension of our family as well.  The day was dedicated to delicious food and fun games.  We played Catch Phrase, Headbandz, and Michigan Chat Pack.  One of the more humorous parts of the day was watching everyone try out the virtual reality headset!  Cam requested an encore presentation of this event as soon as possible.

Sometimes, we discover we haven't captured moments in pictures and then we realize, the moments were being captured by us.

Camology Quotes:
Miss Amanda and Cam go on many ventures each week.  Most every day they go through the nature park near our home and trek over a mile.  They have also been to visit  Amanda's grandma (our good friend, Mickie) at her grave site.  

"Mom, I wish Ms. Mickie was still here so she could see the Boulder Ridge Zoo.  She would love it!"

"It's hard to forget someone who gave you so much to remember." ~Sujish Kandampully

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Daddio's Birthday Secret - Week of July 10th

"The man who can keep a secret may be wise, but he is not half as wise as the man with no secrets to keep." ~E. W. Howe

Monday was the official birthday for Cam's dad.  Cameron had helped Jane pick out a new hammock for Chris on Amazon.  It was delivered on Monday while Chris was at work.
Cam had known about the gift for almost a week and kept it a secret.
But when Chris arrived home from work and we announced he should open his birthday gift, Cam asked if he knew what it was. Chris indicated he didn't to which Cam gleefully told him, "It's a new hammock for you, Dad!"  Of course he had no idea what it actually looked like until he opened the box. We took Chris out for a tasty dinner at the Cascade Roadhouse and followed it up with a relaxing evening in the hammock.

Miss Amanda and Cam keep themselves busy on a daily basis with new adventures and activities.
One day, they went off-roading on some park paths and discovered that Cam's chair can definitely get stuck (but also unstuck too!) as they explored new areas. Our brave boy told Amanda, "I am a hiker!"

After completing school work and reading, there's still time for the occasional baking.  Occasional because daily would fill our home with far too many sweets.  Most of this brownie batter actually did make it into the oven, according to Miss Amanda and her partner.

Cam has been hard at work with a new physical therapist he sees weekly.  She's given homework and our studious boy is adamant about following through with his assignments.  Sitting for a period of time on a stool by himself is one such task.

When you're a part of a technology family, chances are, you will have an overload of techie toys.  Chris brought home a new virtual reality headset for us all to test out.  Cam summed up our collective thoughts perfectly with the comment, "This is pretty cool!"

Camology Quotes:
The Elusive Ice Cream Truck (on National Ice Cream Day!)

Chris and Cam ventured down the driveway to check the mail Sunday evening.
"Maybe we should go to the end of the road, Dad, in case the ice cream truck goes by."
At end of road, Dad announces... "Ok, let's wait for 5 minutes."
"Maybe we should go down Emma's street, Windcrest."
Chris and Cam talked to our Windcrest neighbors and asked each if they had seen the ice cream truck, but they hadn't.  They stopped at Papa's house and asked him as well.  Mom came by with the van (since it was getting late) and picked up the boys to head home.
After discussing the events with Mom, Cam announced to his parents, 
"I wish there was an app that would tell you when the ice cream truck is coming to your street!"