Sunday, September 24, 2017

Reach for the Stars - Week of Sept. 18th

We talk about the weather a lot in Michigan.  It seems that the reasoning is because it is highly unpredictable and quite possibly the best place in the country to be a meteorologist, knowing you can't be held accountable for a forecast.
Indian summer is a period of unseasonably warm, dry weather that sometimes occurs in autumn in the Northern Hemisphere. The US National Weather Service defines this as weather conditions that are sunny and clear with above normal temperatures, occurring late-September to mid-November.   And that's exactly what we've happened upon this week.

Saturday's weather promised steamy temperatures in the low 90's and we received an email Friday evening indicating that we could opt out of the WMML baseball game if we were concerned about our child in the heat.  As a family, we chose to have Cam play ball and stay hydrated!
The volunteer helpers were from the Hope College sorority, Sigma Iota Beta.  These girls volunteer every year and running next to Cam is Abbey, one of his all-time favorite helpers.

The batting box shown here is the highlight of every game for Cam. It was built and donated by an organization called
Cam drives up to the red box, which has a bat with a pulley system mounted on top.  The pulley is placed over his joystick.  He drives backwards as fast as he can and the pulley system releases to swing the bat connecting perfectly with the baseball.  Then it's off to first base!
We were thankful for blowing fans and cold water to make it through the afternoon heat.

We planned to drive to the cottage right afterwards to see if we might take one last dip in Lake Michigan.  Not only was it an awesome beach afternoon, but the water was perfect for swimming- maybe even the best all summer.  JJ and Jeffrey were visiting from out east and had brought Cam a New Jersey police bear.  He was very thankful and told them it would be in his room where he would "see it every day."

After cooling off in the water, we enjoyed our lakeside view for dinner on the deck.  Oma and Opa prepared a delicious feast, as always.  We were treated to homemade apple pie and ice cream for dessert.
It is never easy to leave the idyllic scenery, but even more difficult when the warm sunshine continues to sparkle on the refreshing water.

We departed as the sun was just about to set and had big plans upon arrival home.

Grandma Sue sent Cam a big surprise in the mail for his birthday- his very own telescope!  Our scientific kid is very curious about space and the stars.  We promised him he could test drive his present that evening.  A galaxy full of thanks to Cam's grandma in Kansas for sending a gift our family will enjoy for many years to come!

On Sunday, Chris was flying to Orlando for a week long conference.  After Jane and Cam dropped him off at the airport, they drove downtown to take in ArtPrize Nine.  It was more than 90 degrees outside, but a strong breeze kept mom and son going.
The majestic horse next to Cam is a finalist this year, made of copper and glass.  It was cool to the touch on a hot day.
Even with record temps, we were surprised to see so many others pushing through the heat.  It's hard to say, though, if anyone was more proud than this mom watching her son.

Camology Quotes:
Chris and Cam have begun Operation Halloween Costume in the garage. Each evening, after Chris arrives home, Cam is ready to begin construction.  As parents, it is rewarding to hear our son inquire about our day.

"How was your day, Dad?" 
Good Cam, how was school?
"It was good. Enough talking. Now let's get to work!"

Sunday, September 17, 2017

What's an AFO? - Week of Sept. 11th

If you've ever met Cam in person or looked closely at his pictures, you'll see he wears AFO's.  In our household, we've become so accustomed to the abbreviations, we forget others may not know.  An AFO is an Ankle-Foot Orthosis or brace that encumbers the ankle and foot.  And here's the cool thing- it is customized just for Cam.  This means every year (since he was just over 2 years of age) he has picked out the color scheme for his brace.
A specialist called an orthotist creates a "cast" of each leg and has to do it in such a way that it will be comfortable in a standing position.  Cam has always been the perfect patient when it comes to casting.  The whole procedure is quite fascinating and not uncomfortable for him so that helps tremendously.
Jane thinks the boy choices for cast colors are a bit lacking but they have modernized the technique and can make the entire brace a transfer of the pattern chosen.  This year, Cam chose the green camouflage (former Marine, Dad approves) and gray shoes.  And if you're wondering how much a custom piece of plastic runs in the orthotics department for AFO's, it is approximately $1000 per leg and insurance-approved.

The routine of Saturday morning baseball has found a rhythm again and the fall warming trend has made for pleasant games for players and bystanders.  Ms. Lexi from the Aquinas softball team found Cam and asked to be his helper.  Once again, the generosity of others with their time is genuinely awesome to see.

The Cam Fan base was strong this week- Ms. Amanda as well as the Gray Dunes crew in full force- Oma & Opa, Aunt Joyce & Uncle Joe, and Aunt Gay.
The travelers all scored some homemade oatmeal/chocolate/peanut butter cookies for their long drive home made by Ms. Amanda and Cam.

At the opening game last week, the coach realized that Cam's jersey wasn't correct- it had been printed for another team.  The president of the WMML personally told Cam he would have his Spartan shirt ready for Game 2 and he could keep the incorrect one.  Of course, Cam's jersey was ready and waiting for him.  Our thankful son insisted we send Tony, the president, an email, which we did.  Much to our surprise, we had a reply very quickly reminding Cam that he was such an important part of the Miracle League family!

Saturday afternoon, we had fun celebrating Mr. Bexley's first birthday.  The homemade cakes and s'mores cupcakes created by Katherine were most delicious.  There were lots of kids and games and an enormous teddy bear.  Whenever Ms. Ann and Cam are together, laughter always ensues.  Ms. Ann sat down surprised that the chair was a bit further away than anticipated.  The laughter literally went on for at least 5 minutes between these two.

On the birthday boy's card, Cam asked us to write "Happy Birthday to my friend, Bexley.  You are my best new one."

Camology Quotes:
While at the birthday party, Cam asked to use the bathroom.  He was explaining to his parents how he knew he really had to go and had waited for the right time.

See Mom and Dad, I'm on top of it!

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Goodbye Summer, Hello Baseball - Week of Sept. 4th

"By all these lovely tokens September days are here, With summer's best of weather And autumn's best of cheer." ~Helen Hunt Jackson 
"There shall be eternal summer in the grateful heart." ~Celia Thaxter

As fall approaches, a common question heard in our household is "when does my baseball start?" Thanks to the West Michigan Miracle League, Cam has been playing ball since 2014.   This league accepts players, ages 5-18 with different abilities.  Signing up online for a small fee confirms your child's placement as well a very cool team jersey and baseball cap.  In the spring, the shirts are adorned with pro ball teams, and for the fall season, college teams reign.  If there is a special request (for two pals to be on the same team, for instance) they always try to honor it.

For the first fall season opener, the helpers were players from the Hope College Girls Softball Team.  They volunteered last year as well.  Britta, pictured with Cam giving a high five found us and asked if she could be Cam's helper because she also volunteered last year and was his buddy then!  We couldn't believe she found him.  He was very happy.  The other bonus is having one of your best friends on your team.  Brody is in Cam's 4th grade class and they ride the bus together.  These two crack each other up all the time. They also share the same teacher, Ms. Kathy, one of the biggest baseball fans around. Kathy and her husband, Kevin, were in the stands for the opener, cheering on the boys.

There was more to come for our Saturday, so we took advantage of a couple hours of relaxation before heading over to Hager Park for Will's 9th birthday party.  The soccer fan had played a game that morning and was ready for his celebration.

Hager Park has a huge wooden structure with ramps and playground equipment.  After exploring all of the recreation gear, everyone gathered at the picnic tables.
Auntie Jo brought in pizza and breadsticks for all. Although we had to leave a bit early, we were happy we met up with everyone, and had a breadstick for an appetizer.

Next on our agenda was heading up north to Country Dairy, where we met Oma and Opa for a delicious dinner.  Country Dairy was established in its current location in 1983 as a milk processor and bottler.  The fourth generation general store, restaurant and Moo School attracts people from all over.  After our meal, which included free refills of self-serve chocolate milk (!), we all drove over to Stony Lake.  We were invited to a reception for Brian and Sarah who were just married.  Jane used to babysit the Stony Lake kids in the summer, and the combined families are life-long pals of ours.  It was such fun to catch up with everyone and all of the kids were so sweet to Cam.  Our son was a trooper after such a long day and evening, he even played a game of large ring toss before we departed Stony to head over to Oma and Opa's.  It was great to have a short drive to sleep for the night.

The next day provided plenty of sunshine and an inviting beach setting.  After having some time with Oma and Opa, we bid them farewell as they had reservations for a cruise around Muskegon Lake that afternoon.  After thanking them for everything (meeting us for dinner, homemade goodies, a place to sleep and the list goes on...) we then took our beach side seats.  The waves were perfect for a tour in the inflatable kayak.  Jane & Cam enjoyed the relaxing ride, while Chris paddled around Lake Michigan.
As we packed up our things, Cam looked at the lake and said "Goodbye Summer, see you next year."
Counting the days, summer, counting the days...

Camology Quotes:
Cam is still attending weekly PT appointments since his surgery recovery.  Jane found a place close to home, Center for Physical Rehabilitation, with awesome therapists.  One therapist Cam works with is a Grand Valley graduate and he had worked with Cam before in the program.  Patrick now sees Cam fairly regularly.  On this particular day, they both thought it was pretty funny that each of them wore blue pants and orange shirts!

"Cam, you are stretching really good today."'s because I'm 10! 

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Change Can Only Happen If You Ask - Week of Aug.28th

“The only way that we can live, is if we grow. The only way that we can grow is if we change. The only way that we can change is if we learn. The only way we can learn is if we are exposed. And the only way that we can become exposed is if we throw ourselves out into the open.  Do it. Throw yourself.”~ C. JoyBell C.

Cameron is in the community on a daily basis.  Sometimes, we are still surprised by inaccessibility.  We also realize we only notice it due to Cam's powerchair.  Last year, we had asked Jude's Barbershop about making the sidewalk close to their entrance more accessible for a powerchair.  The access area is actually 3 stores away.  Cam's stylist, Ms. Amelia, also pressed forward with the request.  It took some time, but lo and behold, the new Jude's powerchair enabled entrance, circled in the picture.  A small thing to most, but a gigantic change for us, especially with winter around the corner.

This week marked the beginning of 4th grade for Cam!  It also the marked the first time our son had started the school year before Labor Day.  He was ready and anxious.

Cam asked to help with the garbage.
Chris rigged up a bungee cord
so Cam could haul the cans back
to the house.  Ask for change to make
it happen.
Right before school started, the district newsletter arrived with information about a new app for the busing system enabling parents to see where the bus was located, thereby knowing whether a school bus would be early or late.  Technology advances are exciting for Cam, and his parents.  We logged into the app and discovered Cam's info wasn't showing.  Cam encouraged Jane (aka- asked repeatedly) to figure out why we couldn't see the information.  After multiple calls, being transferred, and awaiting callbacks, it was discovered that since Cam uses a transportation system that isn't directly affiliated with the district (due to special needs), it was currently unavailable for us.  Since our tech savvy boy was insistent about uncovering the information, Jane wrote an email to the district advocate explaining the situation.  A prompt reply indicated that the communication should have been clearer in the newsletter and that the transportation system Cam uses would be exploring the use of the app as well.
Jane explained to Cam that although we didn't have access to the app yet, we had made others aware. Most importantly, things may not happen just because they are not working the way they should.  You can only change something if you ask for it to be changed.  On a side note, Cam's bus was 30 minutes late the very first day.  While waiting in the sprinkling rain, Cam announced to his mom, "See, this is why we need the app!"

With Friday off of school and Labor Day weekend in our sights, we headed north to visit our favorite lake.  A quick stop at the classic Dog-N-Suds was requested previously by our summer-loving son.  Cam thinks it's so cool that you order your food through a speaker by the picnic tables.  The frosty mug root beer dining establishment was hopping with activity.  Their delicious food and lakeside view make it a favorite spot.  A sweet couple offered to take our picture and when one of them guessed Cam's age as 10, he exclaimed, "how did you know?!"
We descended on Oma and Opa's right after lunch and spent the night.  Some cloudy weather in the afternoon prompted Cam to request some iPad time.

The next day, though, was picture perfect.   Our kayak made quite a few voyages over the waves.  Although they look harmless here, they seemed larger than life in the flotation raft.  Chris and his boy enjoyed the thrilling rolls over the water.

Back on the shoreline, the bakery shop was in full swing as we created delectable desserts in the sand and thought up different names for our creations.

It's always hard to believe how quickly September creeps up on us.  Although the summer is short, Michigan days like this one are glorious.

An added bonus to the weekend was a stop at the family garden on the way out of town.
Uncle Joe was insistent that we take home an array of potatoes, tomatoes and carrots.  We were more than willing.  Our uncle taught Cam how to spot the potato vines and dig the delicious vegetables right out of the ground.

Uncle Joe mentioned how good homemade salsa was with the garden tomatoes and on our way home, Cam announced we would need to make salsa upon arrival.

After a quick trip to the store for a few additional ingredients, the boys got busy and created a most tasty dip for tortilla chips!

File:Elementary classroom in Alaska.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

Camology Quotes:
Cam spends a portion of his day with other 4th graders in his inclusion class.  Mrs. Kemperman is his 4th grade inclusion teacher and Ms. Kathy is still his special needs teacher.  Over the weekend, we stopped by to see the Schulze family.  Aunt Joyce asked Cam what grade he was in, which prompted the following lengthy discussion...

"Why is it that your age does not match the grade?  Why not... you are 4 years old and in 4th grade?"