Sunday, May 28, 2017

Tripping into the Holiday Weekend - Week of May 22nd

"The best teachers are those who show you where to look, but don't tell you what to see." ~Alexander K. Trenfor

Busy weeks go by quickly and it seems the weekend arrives sooner than you imagine.  Cam had two field trips on the school calendar this week.  First up was a trip with the third graders to Frederick Meijer Gardens ( located not far from Meadow Brook Elementary.
"American Horse"
Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park opened in April 1995 after 13 years of planning and fundraising by the West Michigan Horticultural Society. 
In 1990, Fred and Lena Meijer were asked for their support, and they embraced the concept of a major cultural attraction centering around horticulture and sculpture. The original vision has turned into a top cultural destination in the Midwest region, known internationally for the quality of the art and gardens. Both indoors and outdoors, the 158-acre main campus is barrier free and handicap accessible.

Shaving cream art!
Jane was fortunate enough to have the morning off work to accompany Cam and classmates through a portion of the gardens.  The "American Horse" sculpture by Nina Akamu was inspired by DaVinci and is 24 feet high.  Adjacent to the horse, through a walkway is "Neuron" by Roxy Paine.  This particular piece led to much discussion with the kids.  While Jane saw a lightning bolt, others kids envisioned a heart, a tree.  Cam thought it reminded him of a spider.
Ms. Nancy toured with us and we ate lunch together, along with classmates Ben and Gerrit.  We had a great time exploring everything and all of the adventuring had us all tuckered out by afternoon.  Best of all, we were forecasted for rain and it completely held off until right before activities ended.

The next day, Cam's class headed to Forest Hills Eastern High School where they participated in a Very Special Arts celebration.  Not only did they complete cool projects, but they were also paired with high school students. Apparently, these guys on the grass enjoyed hanging out with our elementary student.
Upon his arrival home, Cam excitedly told his parents about painting a rock in front of the school as well as the other happenings.

On Friday, Jane picked up her son a little early from school and headed downtown for his Grand Valley job working with the PT grad students.  We met Kate, Haley, Shelby and Ellen for our session.
The girls introduced Cam to a device called "Color Bug" which allows you to control a ladybug equipped with a marker to determine where and what will be drawn on the paper.

And on Saturday, it was time to visit Oma, Opa and Lake Michigan.  Auntie Karen had made the long drive from Illinois the day before to stay with a good friend north of Montague and she met us at the cottage at lunchtime.
Shortly after eating, we were settled in on the beach.  Although the water looked inviting, it hovered around a cool 52 degrees.  The air temperature, however, was warm and breezy.
Memorial Day weekend seems to signify the kickoff to summer and over the years, we've definitely experienced some dismal weather.  We couldn't have asked for a better day filled with sunshine.
After playing in the sand and removing it from our clothing as much as we could,

Oma & Opa
Oma and Opa surprised us with reservations at Crosswinds restaurant in Whitehall.
Oma even made certain the kids menu included Cam's favorite- chicken tenders.  The meals were delicious and looking out over White Lake during our dinner was scenic and serene.
Chris- the selfie dude, Jane & Karen
Cam's grandparents are so generous to so many, especially us, and we are oh so thankful.

After dinner, we explored the pier and headed back while it was still light out.  
As the sun began to fade so did Cam's energy.  The busy week caught up with this kid and he didn't make it past sunset before sleep took over.

And when the sun fades on Lake Michigan, it's time to find a blanket.
The sunset wasn't as colorful as others we've seen, but it is just the beginning of what we know will be a spectacular summer!

The next morning, we bid farewell to our lake and Auntie Karen was able to stay with us one more day to relax and enjoy our time together.  We are grateful for her willingness to help, especially when we don't even know to ask...

Camology Quotes:

After Jane and her son took care of bathroom duty at the Frederick Meijer Gardens, they proceeded to pass right by the gift shop.

"Cam, we have time so why don't we go into the gift shop for a few minutes and look around.
Maybe we will see something we need."

Cam stops driving his chair and turns to look at his mom."Mom, we do NOT go shopping when we are on a field trip!"

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Buddy Brody's Birthday - Week of May 15th

“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

It seems only in Michigan will one use the air conditioning and heat in the same day.  The week began unseasonably warm, with Cam enjoying the swing at school with friends Violet and Rosa.

Back at home, we decided it was time to break out the hammock- this was all Cam's idea, and he was the first to get in and relax.  The hammock was a gift from Auntie Roe that she brought back from Brazil a few years ago.
Cam & Johnny

Right before the weekend arrived, the weather turned cool and suddenly, we were all back in pants.  Eager anticipation was high in our household looking forward to all of the upcoming events.

GVSU helpers- Seth & Julie
First, Ms. Amanda's brother, Johnny, invited us to his high school open house on Friday evening.  We dined on freshly grilled hamburgers and hot dogs, homemade potato salad, baked beans and all of the fixings.  Of course, some delicious graduation cake completed the meal.  We feel like Amanda's family is our second family and we had fun seeing everyone and hanging out.

Saturday morning, we made the trek to ballpark and even arrived a little early for Cam's game.  It was cooler, but the sun peeked out behind the clouds and the rain held off for the West Michigan Miracle League.  Seth and Julie were our helpers from Grand Valley State University.  Cam used the batter box again and Oma and Opa were in attendance with us.  We are grateful to them for making the drive from up north!

Cam was super excited for Brody's birthday celebration, scheduled for right after the game.  We were all to meet at Ucello's in Rockford, one of Brody's favorite eateries.

Two friends were invited by the birthday boy- Cam and Breckin.  The group shared appetizers of pizza puffs (Cam highly recommends this new treat) and lunch.  A dessert of a football birthday cake and strawberry shortcake hit the spot.
Brody's family generously treated the entire gang.  Cam helped pick out Brody's present of games and a picture of the two of them taken at school by Ms. Kathy.  The picture, shown here, was put in a frame labeled "Friends" and we think this duo will be lifelong buddies.

Sunday brought our annual dinner with the Raisch fam and Emma popped over a couple of hours before our evening feast.

It always feels like summer is near when the sidewalk chalk makes its way to our driveway with Emma's artistry.  A new addition to "Chalk City" was a bad guy jail where Cam was asked to go if he wasn't listening or did something that warranted a trip.  The only problem was...he kept breaking out of jail!  When Emma wasn't looking, he would make a quick getaway and she would have to go after him.  This game went on for quite some time...the next best thing to Chalk City is hearing squeals of delight, loud laughter, and forever friends talking in our driveway.

Camology Quotes:

We often wonder where Cam picks up new phrases.  He either doesn't recall or possibly doesn't want to share, but these were a few choice ones from the week.

"I'm so tired I'm going to pass out!"

While getting ready to head out on Friday evening, we were told...
"Let's rock and roll!"

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Celebrating Moms - Week of May 8th

Monday was a big day for Cam.  After 6 long weeks, our independent driver was cleared for mobility once again.  Ms. Kathy sent these pictures taken at his arrival to school with the caption, "He's back!"  His friends and teachers were so happy to see this cheerful guy charting his own path once again.
The weather perked up and the days were filled with sunshine and outdoor recess.  Cam was able to hang out on the playground swing once again, which he hadn't been in since surgery.

With the green chair back in action, Jane scheduled a haircut for Cam on Friday.  His stylist, Ms. Amelia, thought he was trying to grow some sideburns:).  Ms. Amelia had a big surprise for Cam.  It turns out her mom is a Michigan State Police Officer and she had an official MSP police shirt, pencil and stickers to present to our police fan.

After some quick research, we found that Mother's Day is not just a Hallmark holiday (as Cam's dad has insinuated)...

Flowers from Oma!
The modern holiday of Mother's Day was first celebrated in 1908, when Anna Jarvis held a memorial for her mother at St Andrew's Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virginia. St Andrew's Methodist Church now holds the International Mother's Day Shrine. Her campaign to make "Mother's Day" a recognized holiday in the United States began in 1905, the year her mother, Ann Reeves Jarvis, died. Ann Jarvis had been a peace activist who cared for wounded soldiers on both sides of the American Civil War, and created Mother's Day Work Clubs to address public health issues. Anna Jarvis wanted to honor her mother by continuing the work she started and to set aside a day to honor all mothers because she believed that they were "the person who has done more for you than anyone in the world".  In 1908, the US Congress rejected a proposal to make Mother's Day an official holiday, joking that they would also have to proclaim a "Mother-in-law's Day". However, owing to the efforts of Anna Jarvis, by 1911 all US states observed the holiday, with some of them officially recognizing Mother's Day as a local holiday, the first being West Virginia, Jarvis' home state, in 1910. In 1914, Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation designating Mother's Day, held on the second Sunday in May, as a national holiday to honor mothers.

It is always a treat to see what the kids make at school for Mother's Day.  Cam arrived home on Friday with a decorated flower pot, card and homemade magnet.  He insisted on picking out a flower for the painted holder.  The card was dictated to his teacher, who printed out the message with a picture of Cam and Jane.  "This is my mom. My mom is awesome!  My mom is great at cooking stuff.  She is great at helping me get ready for school." (And yes, Jane was teary-eyed)

Saturday was a perfect day for the baseball game.  And this may have been the biggest Cam Fan day yet!  Cam's teacher, Ms. Kathy and her husband Kevin were in attendance, along with Aunt Mary and Uncle Ray.  Due to other activities, they had to leave before their photo opp, but we're so thankful they were there and Cam saw them.
Ms. Barbara from school also arrived to enjoy the action and soak up some sunshine.  All the way from the Chicago area came Auntie Karen, her sister Susan, and friend Maryann.  Oma and Opa drove in from up north.  They were all able to see Cam use the batter box, which allows him to independently swing the bat with the help of a pulley.

Little did we know until after the game that two of the volunteers were physical therapists from The Helen DeVos Children's Hospital.  They had met Cam last year when he was there for an entire day for testing.  During that time, we had talked with Jason and Marlee about WMML and the fact that Cam played baseball for the league.  They were so inspired, they said, they signed up for volunteering!

After the game, Auntie Karen, Susan, Maryann, Oma and Opa all came back to Cam's house for a light lunch.  The weather was so pleasant, we ate outside on the back porch.  After enjoying each other's company and the sunshine, our Chicago bound visitors had to make the long trek back.  We were so grateful for the time and energy spent to make the drive and make our day!

Oma and Opa stayed for the evening and we opted to go out for dinner Saturday night instead of fighting the crowds on Sunday.  Mother's Day itself was also sunny and warm.  Oma and Jane exchanged fun gifts- they gave each other flowers and bags and goodies, always thinking of similar handy things.  Cam and Chris went on a secret mission to find Jane a gravity chair, which made for a relaxing mom treat!  We loved having Oma and Opa with us for the night to celebrate and share a delicious homemade breakfast of blueberry pancakes.

So many women we know go above and beyond as moms, for their families and for us.  We thank you for offering support, love and your most precious gift...time.
"A mother is like a flower, each one is beautiful and unique."
"Because I said so." ~ Mom

Camology Quotes:

For our Mother's Day dinner outing, we let Cam choose the location.
"Let's go to Macaroni Grill.  They are famous for their macaroni!"

While Chris and Cam were plotting their secret trip to Costco to find a lounge chair, Mom walked in the room.
"I have to talk to Dad, Mom.  It's none of your business."

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Happy May Day! - Week of May 1st

May Day Flowers
"The end of labor is to gain leisure." ~ Aristotle

It just so happened that Oma was staying with us over May Day.  She was explaining to Cam what May Day was all about and how it came to be.  Cam's grandma told him that she danced around a maypole and would leave fresh flowers on friend's doorsteps, ring the bell and run away.  Cam thought this was incredibly silly!

Background: In the late 19th century, May Day was chosen as the date for International Workers' Day and may also be referred to as "May Day." An older tradition was the giving of "May baskets," small baskets of sweets or flowers, usually left anonymously on neighbors' doorsteps.

Backyard May flowers
Little did Jane know that Oma and Cam had planned a May Day surprise...after school on Monday, Oma "disappeared" for a bit and returned with a beautiful bouquet of flowers.  Oma and Cam announced, "Happy May Day!"  It was such a special week with Cam's grandma staying with us until Wednesday while Chris endured a few late nights of work.  We quickly grew accustomed to her endless helping, daily hugs and lots of love.  Jane couldn't have made it through the week without her!  Thank you, thank you Oma!

Will, Auntie Jo, Kevin & Ms. Kathy
Katherine & Bex, Molly, Oma,
Ann & Braeden & Cora, Cam & Amanda
Saturday's WMML game brought out the Cam Fans in big numbers- Auntie Jo & buddy Will, Katherine & son Bexley, Ann and more grandkids, Braeden & Cora, Molly, and a repeat appearance by Cam's teacher, Ms. Kathy and husband Kevin.

Our Miss Amanda came by too and couldn't believe all of people there to watch Cam.  The sun warmed us and the blue skies made for a beautiful day of baseball.

The rest of the weekend included some Little Passport investigation with new material delivered each month, thanks to Auntie Karen.

The Raisch family arrived Sunday eve for our weekly dinner.  We were especially excited to see Anna home from Hope College!  Ever since she went away to school, she's earned a sort of celebrity status with Cam.  Each and every time he sees her, he is beyond excited and squealing with delight.   Anna offered to join in an intense game of Uno Attack, making a certain boy feeling very lucky.

One of the highlights of the weekend was seeing Cam back in his powerchair for the first time in 5 weeks!  We look forward to the day he's back in his ride full-time!

Camology Quotes:

On Oma's last morning with us, Cam was commenting that she had never stayed with us 4 whole nights before.
"Oma, when you can stay 4 nights again?  How about 8 nights next time...or 32."
(Cam doesn't know his multiplication tables yet- 32 was just an arbitrary number:)