Sunday, June 25, 2017

A Safari, Some Standing, and A Special Surprise - Week of June 19th

When you are asked if you can do a job, tell 'em, 'Certainly I can!' Then get busy and find out how to do it. ~Theodore Roosevelt 

Each year in the May time frame, our favorite local animal kingdom, Boulder Ridge Wild Animal Park, opens its doors again. Once school is out, Cam is asking to visit this popular place.

Oma, Ms. Amanda, Jane and her son all trekked over to check out the expanded exhibits.  They arrived right when it opened and opted for a season membership, which pays for itself if you visit just three times (Cam would prefer a weekly visit).  One of the best parts of the wild park is feeding the animals.  Lettuce and carrots are available for purchase and goodness, are these guys all hungry!  The pygmy goats are too funny as they attempt to reach for any morsel headed their way and will continuously step over their neighbors to be in front.
The giraffes can be intimidating but Cam wasn't nervous at all.  He bravely held up the lettuce, giggling as the gentle giant's long tongue tried to reach the green leaf.
The safari ride is by far Cam's favorite activity there.  A tram that sits low to the ground with an easy drive-on ramp couldn't be better.  The ride is narrated and loaded with useful and interesting information about the larger animals and origins of the park itself.  A picnic lunch rounded out our time there.

Friday was full to the brim.  The morning schedule included a visit to our Grand Valley graduate PT students, eager to take Cam through an obstacle course and try his first stint at standing since hip surgery.
Dr. Lisa said it might be better if they put Cam on his head to try standing to which he hysterically responded, "Dr. Lisa, that will not work!"
The standing apparatus was hard work for its occupant and graduate PT students, Becca and Janae, kept things lively by singing and acting out the chicken dance.
Mr. Micah, next to Cam, chose to be an innocent bystander.

Later that afternoon, Emma and Ms. Patti surprised Cam with an early birthday present to see the new movie, Cars 3, in the theater!
Cam is a big fan of Lightning McQueen...and popcorn.
The girls even arrived with a birthday balloon.
We recommend the movie and highly recommend having such awesome friends:)

And on Saturday evening, we traveled to Muskegon to meet Oma and Opa (thank you!) for a tasty dinner at Texas Roadhouse.  One of the advantages of eating here - the free roasted peanuts in the shell, with the majority of shells on the floor of the restaurant.

We found a delicious summer ice cream shop on the way back to Grand Rapids where a child's portion looked more like a small adult size. What a perfect dessert to cap off a week filled with many treats.

Camology Quotes:
Cam's hair stylist at Jude's is
Ms. Amelia.  Her mom is a
Michigan State Police officer.
She gave Cam the t-shirt.
We were told it is pretty rare to
receive an official MSP
Cam loves a mystery and asking probing questions to determine what has happened.
One day, Ms. Amanda told him a story about what happened to her and Papa the night before...  Ms. Amanda went with Papa (her grandpa) to visit her grandma's grave site.  While there, they noticed a man with no shirt.  Papa, being a former detective, was concerned and they drove to the fire station to let someone know.  When they reappeared back at the cemetery the man was gone.
The next day when Ms. Amanda arrived, 'Curious Cam' was full of additional inquiries.

"Ms. Amanda, what happened to the man?"(no context is given here)
What man?
"The one at the cemetery! "
Oh, him.  I don't know.  I haven't talked to Papa.
"Well, that is silly to not wear a shirt." 
You're absolutely right, Cam.
"No shirt.  No service!"

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Sailing Away - Week of June 12th

"Life is like sailing.  You can use any wind to go in any direction. ~ Robert Brault
"A gathering of angels appeared above my head |They sang to me this song of hope and this is what they said |They said come sail away, come sail away | Come sail away with me" ~ Styx, song lyrics  'Come Sail Away'
Cam & Miss Amanda

With summer vacation in its first full week, Cam was anxious for activities.

He and Amanda discovered the library was hosting an event called "Touch a Truck."
The ad read: "Are you wild about trucks? Get up close! There will be an assortment of awesome trucks and vehicles on hand to explore, plus the pros who operate them. Decorate your own hard hat!"

The pair explored every set of wheels there.  The police car was a big hit as was the coast guard offering and dump truck.  Not surprisingly, Cam said his favorite of the day was the school bus.

Not one to be idle for too long, Amanda kept Cam on a schedule throughout their first full week together.  With a chart to cross off activities, a calendar of events and "at home" golden tickets to earn things like lunch out on Fridays, our Amanda and Cam kept busy.

Friday was our annual Adaptive Sailing Clinic in conjunction with Mary Free Bed.
Pontoon ride next to
Miss Amanda
Cam & Mom sailing
From MFB's website: Sailing is an inclusive sport with the potential to become a lifelong leisure activity that can be adjusted to one's interests. Opportunities for competitive pursuit or purely recreational enjoyment abound. This clinic provides participants with sailing techniques and the gentle finesse necessary to control the sails when heading into the open waters. Adaptive sailing has been a part of the Paralympic Games since 2000 and recognition of this sport as a serious athletic discipline continues to grow. This clinic is offered in partnership with Grand Rapids Yacht Club and Traverse Area Community Sailing.

Cam wanted to be on time and we actually showed up early, ready to go before 9am.  This was our son's 3rd time experiencing the thrill of sailing on Reed's Lake.  As a bonus, the registered attendees and guests are offered a ride on a pontoon boat to tour around Reeds Lake.  The ride was relaxing and the sunshine was starting to peek its way through the clouds.  Immediately following the pontoon ride (and because Cam got us there early), we were up next for the sail.  We boarded the "Rebel," a 16 ft sailboat rigged by Captain Rick.  Not only did Jane, Amanda and Cam have a sailing lesson from the captain, but also heard about the rich history of Reeds Lake.  The coordination and weather were perfect.  As we set sail, the wind picked up and Captain Rick explained to us that the darker parts of water in the distance were actually wind gusts on the lake.  The yarn tied to his mast allowed him to determine exactly which way the wind was blowing.
Once back at the dock, it was noticeable that the ripples on the lake had subsided and we were convinced our timing couldn't have been better, thanks to Cam's punctuality.

On Sunday, we celebrated this handsome guy who Cam sometimes refers to as Daddio and Superman, a very fitting description.  Cam scripted the following, "Happy Father's Day, Dad.  You are the best dad in the whole world!"  After Chris opened the mug present from his son, he saw that it was filled with chocolate caramels and he was surprised.  Cam said, "You deserve it, Dad!"  Most definitely, and so much more.

Camology Quotes:
Cam often tries to determine what's happening the next day close to bedtime.  This includes, but is not limited to, figuring out what he's going to have for breakfast.

"Um, Mom, I know this is a lot to ask but could we have waffles for breakfast tomorrow? (Mom says yes- who doesn't love waffles?)
Chris walks in the room a few minutes later...
"Dad, guess what I want for breakfast? "
Many silly guesses later... 
"Dad, let me give you a clue. They are crunchy." 
Waffle cones?
"No Dad! Just waffles!""

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Memories Are Made of This - Week of June 5th

How lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard. 
~ A.A. Milne

At the end of each school year, some friends will be destined for a new building in the fall.  This change, this transition is something Cam has experienced for a few years now, watching his 4th grade friends depart elementary school.

Ms. Barbara & Cam
As he marked the end of 3rd grade this week, we hosted our 3rd annual End of School Cookout, which is really a Thank You to all of Cam's teachers, aides, therapists, bus drivers and close classmates.  "Mr. D." has been one of Cam's drivers for three years running.  Without any prompting, Mr D. told Jane that when Cam got on the bus for the last ride of the school year, he said "Thank you for driving me every day!"

The party was scheduled for 3pm to provide a bit of time for all of the educators and helpers to finish out their half day of school and make it over to Cam's house.  It was quite a spread with everyone contributing.  Chris & his son even surprised Jane with an early birthday cake!  The chocolaty goodness complimented the burgers, hot dogs, chips, fruit, homemade beans and many other treats.  As per tradition, Cam asked that the slideshow posted in last week's blog be shown on the tv before the guests left.

Per Oma's request, we headed to the cottage on Saturday for an overnight stay.  Auntie Jo joined us with her dog, Max, and brought along some tasty goodies. Jane had celebrated her birthday on Friday with her boys.  Chris & Cam spoiled Jane and made her feel so very special.
Oma had plans to continue the festivities on Saturday.

Cam going after his mom's new shades
A cake from our favorite bakery, Rykes, decorated with one of Jane's favorite pictures was such a treat.  Aunt Joyce, Uncle Joe, Aunt Gay and Mike all joined us for dessert.  To Cam's delight, we all played a few games afterwards (thanks to Auntie Karen!) via a card deck of different activities.  The first was saying the name of an animal and the next person had to think of an animal name that started with the last letter of the previous one...player 1= elephant, player 2= turtle, player 3= emu, and so on.  We tried out a limerick one as well as making up a story about any object in the room.  Oma and Auntie Jo won that round when both wove different creative stories about a water bottle and a coaster.

Playtime on the beach rounded out our weekend, digging in the sand, feeling the chilly water and the warm sand.  The ever changing shoreline always makes for an interesting stroll along Lake Michigan.

Our sunshine was a plenty on Saturday while some clouds rolled in Sunday.  The beach is always a treat in any weather, though.
An abundance of thanks to Oma and Opa for the delicious homemade meals, sweet presents for Jane and the best accommodations.

Camology Quotes:

Cam liked having Auntie Jo and her dog, Max around.  When Auntie Jo's dog was left in our care for a bit on Sunday, we decided to take a walk on the beach. (It should be noted that Max had an incredibly long shore trek on Saturday.)  Jane & Chris aren't used to having a canine around and as we continued on our stroll, Cam suddenly asked, 

"Um, where's Max?"

Luckily, we discovered he had escaped back to the cottage waiting for his owner to return.  It's obvious if Cam's parents are expected to be responsible for any pets, their son needs to be present at all times!

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Spring Season Closer - Week of May 29th

Brody, Ms. Kathy
Giana & Cam
"Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end" ~ 'Closing Time' Lyrics, Semisonic

When we enter into the month of June, activities wind down and teachers begin sending home projects from the school year.  On Friday, Cam's parents were honored to attend the awards ceremony for Project Unify.  The LINKS (Loyal, Interested, Nurturing, Kind Student) program at Meadow Brook connects kids of different abilities and needs.  This year, over 100 kids participated!  What an amazing group of young students.  The assembly included a slide show. (click here for the 8-minute show)  Each participant was called to the front and given a medal.  Certificates were presented in their classrooms.

Before Cam's parents left school, they caught a quick peek at the "We've got mail" display which proudly showed all of the information gathered from loved ones across the country.  Thanks again for representing Kansas, Grandma Sue, and for being the first one to respond!

Cam w/Home Depot 
Cam w/A.Gay,U.Joe,U.Jon
A.Betsy, A.Joyce
Saturday morning, we were ready to head out early to the ball field.  Oma arrived at our home to catch a ride with us to Rockford.  On the day of Cam's last WMML spring season, we had picture day and lots of Cam Fans scheduled to attend.

Although rain threatened, it held off for the ball players and Home Depot volunteers, not to mention the crowd of folks there to watch.  It was a great game and our 9-year-old used the awesome batter box again before taking off to round the bases.
Cam was so surprised to see everyone who came out to watch the ballgame...teachers Ms. Kathy and Ms. Barbara, Ms. Kathy's husband, Kevin, Cam's bus driver, Dick and girlfriend, Marie, lifelong friends-Mr. Steve & Patti, Aunt Joyce & Uncle Joe, Aunt Betsy & Uncle Jon, Aunt Gay and of course, Oma.
Kathy, Steve & Patti,Barbara
Marie & Dick,Oma, Kevin
Coach Bob placed WMML Spring Season 2017 medals around every Red Sox player.
Since our team had the first game at 10am, Cam was relieved that the Home Depot hot dogs were still available.  Almost every year, his team plays last and the delicious dogs are usually gone by then.  Home Depot not only volunteers their time to help the kids, but they also donate the food for the last game of each season.  We are always overwhelmed by their commitment and contribution to the West Michigan Miracle League!

Saturday afternoon brought our dear friend, Amanda and her two kids, Sally and Henry from Ann Arbor.  It had been almost a year since we had seen these guys and they were ready for fun!

From outdoors to indoors, the activities continued all day.
Cam was great about sharing his toys and his Oma for part of the afternoon.  Henry, like another boy we know, has a love for cars of all shapes, sizes and colors.

Cam was able to score some giggles with his funny face glasses.
And the parents had a little chuckle and a big yawn when all three kiddos decided that 6am was the perfect time for each of them to simultaneously wake up. Even though they were all in separate bedrooms, somehow they were connected by an internal alarm clock.

Camology Quotes:

Chris and Cam discovered an 'Alexa' project to work on. 
'Alexa,' Amazon's virtual personal assistant, has been a part of our home for almost two years, and it keeps getting smarter.  It lives inside the Amazon Echo smart speaker and offers users the ability to dictate commands to the assistant to control products throughout our home, listen to music, and more.  
The boys read that they could input some code so we would be able to ask 'Alexa' to open and close our garage door.  It turned out to be an arduous task.

Chris had exhausted almost all possibilities and Cam kept saying, "Dad, don't give up!"

Jane had no idea the boys had cracked the code when they asked her to come and see something in the garage... Chris gave Alexa the command and suddenly the door opened!  

Jane was so excited and Cam exclaimed "Mom, isn't it amazing?  It is so cool!"

Technology certainly has come a long way.  Some of us might remember having to open and close a garage with only our sheer strength...imagine that!