Sunday, October 21, 2018

Look For the Helpers - Week of Oct. 7th

"Life's most persistent and urgent question, What are you doing for others?" ~Martin Luther King, Jr.
"Alone we can do so little; together we do so much." ~Helen Keller

Fall seems to seep into the trees and and burst with vibrant color, almost suddenly and without warning. As Cam and Jane traveled down the driveway for the bus one morning, this maple tree appeared to have changed overnight.

During the week, we were planning Halloween costumes, a parade and coordinating our volunteers.  As we prepared for our 3rd Halloween wheelchair costume project with Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital, Cam busied himself in the evenings with organizing Jane's information for costumes and logistics and helping Chris figure out materials needed.

As a last minute necessity, our building location had to change.  Thursday evening, our family headed off to Mary Free Bed to check out the space.  Cam toured around noting different areas and suggesting where things should be staged.  For the last two years, we've used an open space and this year, our environment was better suited with segmented areas for construction, painting and decorating.

For the next three Fridays and Saturdays, Cam's parents take on their volunteering job of costume coordination and building.  Lucky for Chris and Jane, Auntie Karen and Ms. Ann were ready and willing to hang out with Cam all day Saturday.  As per his typical routine, he completed school work and then the trio headed out for fall color tour and a stop at the Algoma Fire Dept where Ms. Ann's son, Christopher, is a fireman.  They met a policewoman with her horse, saw the S.W.A.T. vehicle and looked at all of the fire trucks.
When they talked about how long they would be gone, the timeframe was an hour and a half, to which Cam said "you mean 90 minutes."

After a very long two days, Chris and Jane arrived home to enjoy a delicious Culver's dinner with Cam and Auntie Karen.  We were grateful for Karen and Ann teaming up and to our son for being so good for them.

We know Cam is one of the best helpers around, along with Auntie Karen and Ms. Ann. 
For this third year of our project, the helpers just keep coming- Owen-Ames Kimball construction company, GVSU engineering students and the many Mary Free Guild members and staff assisting.
As you look for the helpers, don't forget to be one :)

Camology Quotes:

Every few months, we bring old electronics and computer parts to a computer recycling store.
Ms. Patti dropped off an older cell phone known as a flip-phone for our box.  Cam noticed it the next morning.
"Mom, excuse me, but whose phone is that?!"
"Ms. Patti dropped it off for our computer recycle box."
"Oh, I was like 'who has this old-fashioned phone in our house?'"

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Pressing Activities - Week of Oct. 1st

“Helping one person might not change the world, but it could change the world for one person.” ~Anonymous

As the sun is rising a bit later this time of year, we've caught some pretty awesome hues in the mornings.
Every year in the September/October time frame, Cam has an appointment at Mary Free Bed to be fitted for new AFO's or Ankle-Foot Orthosis.  These braces keep his ankles, feet and legs in proper position for walking.  Cam is always patient and most cooperative during this casting process which is very precise.

On Saturday, we had quite the line up of events planned- first, we were off to Cam's final baseball game for the fall 2018 season.  It was a bit drizzly on our drive over, but this turned out to be the biggest Cam-fan day yet!  First, Cam was surprised to see almost all of the Raisch girls!  Anna and Sarah were home from college and were accompanied by Emma and their mom, Patti.  Since Anna attends Hope college, she had to have a pic just with her buddy and their matching Hope logo hats.
Home Depot volunteers were on the job and had a tent of hot dogs and treats set up for the players and their families and friends.
Also cheering for Cam on this rainy day were Aunt Betsy and Uncle Jon as well as Cam's teacher, Ms. Konkle.  Talk about one surprise after another!  Many thanks to all of our Cam-fans this season for coming out to cheer on our young ball player.

For our second event of the day, we were headed to a private fall festival at a farm in Ada.  We were invited by Mr. Paul to partake in treats and make homemade apple cider!
The best surprise of all- Mr. Paul had made a wooden ramp and platform just...for...Cam.
He wanted him to be able to see the apples go into the grinder to make the cider.  Paul has two apple presses on his farm, one of which is over a hundred years old.

Step 1- you put the apples into the
grinder.  Cam deposited the first ones in.  Step 2- someone needs to churn the wheel on the side as it grinds the apples into bits.  A variety of the delicious fruit is used- reds, greens, yellows make a colorful smashing operation.  The apple bits fall through the grinder into an oak barrel lined with burlap.
Step 3- the barrel is moved forward underneath and the burlap cloth is placed over the top.  Now the apple pulp is pressed by turning a lever that pushes the press further down as the cider liquid is pushed out.
Step 4- strain into containers and you're ready to drink the liquid gold!

The wet, rainy day couldn't dampen anyone's spirits. Cam and his parents were very grateful to head home with a full gallon of apple cider.

After dinner, the weather was clear and much to our surprise, Cam wanted to see ArtPrize downtown since he hadn't been able to go with his class.

ArtPrize is an open, independently organized international art competition which takes place for 19 days every other fall in Grand Rapids, Michigan. More than five hundred thousand dollars in prizes are awarded each year, which include a $200,000 prize awarded entirely by public vote and another $200,000 prize awarded by a jury of art experts. Any artist working in any medium from anywhere in the world can participate.
One of our favorites was "Michigan Effect" created by Tom Gifford, standing 10 feet high and made out of acrylic glass with two of his photographs showcased. From the artist's writeup: "I think of Michigan in two different moods. energetic and calmness, Energetic because when you take a trip to the U.P you have a sense of energy. There is so much to do and many so hikes to take. The U.P gives you the energy to move forward just like the Northern lights they give you the energy to stay up all night. Calmness because when you are in the lower peninsula there is relaxing beaches and beautiful sand dunes. There is so much beauty around you, There is nothing better then the days you lay in the sun at the beach."
Another favorite was "Oscillation" which was an interactive installation on one of our downtown walking bridges.  Crystals inside the cubes formed different sounds as you moved around them.

Art is in the eye of the beholder and these beholders were pretty impressed!

Camology Quotes:

Cam does spend a fair amount of time watching "tech" videos during his screen time and is always eager to help his dad and mom with technology issues.  Friday was picture re-take day and Cam graciously agreed to partake.  However, he was very concerned about previous proof of his school pictures.  Jane told him that the photos received were back in his folder.  Not surprisingly, this wasn't quite good enough for Cam.
"Mom, could you please search your cache of email and look for the confirmation and send it to my teacher?  Sometimes they don't have them you know!"

For those of you needing a definition...Cache, which is pronounced "cash" (not "catch" or "cashay"), stores recently used information so that it can be quickly accessed at a later time. Computers incorporate several different types of caching in order to run more efficiently, thereby improving performance.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Field Trip Fun - Week of Sept. 24

"The best teachers are those who show you where to look, but don't tell you what to see." ~Alexandra K. Trenfor
Teacher Fact: "Field trips are fun, but involve counting...and counting...and counting."

At the beginning of school for the last few years, Cam has requested the following: "Mom, please sign me up for every field trip." 
For the first outing of this school year, the 5th graders were off to Camp Roger on Thursday.
Camp Roger, located in Rockford, Michigan was established in 1913, and contains more than 200 acres filled with natural wetlands, forests and wildlife.
Chris took the day off of work to accompany his son out in the wild.
Due to the terrain, the camp has an outdoor wheelchair to use, reminiscent of the Cam-mobile.  The kids completed five activities, one of which was eating toasty marshmallows!  Cam's classmates were eager to help and assist when needed.  It was a long day but full of fun experiences.

Auntie Karen arrived Friday to hang out with us for the weekend.  Saturday was perfect fall weather for the WMML baseball game.  It was a bit chilly and the sun shone through the pretty puffy clouds.

Ms. Barbara, Cam's first teacher at his former Meadow Brook Elementary arrived at the game and the Cam Fans were in full force with Oma, Opa, Auntie Karen and Barbara.

Saturday, September 29th marked the 5-year anniversary of the West Michigan Miracle League!

After Cam's game, a potluck of hot dogs, brats, chips and desserts were available for all to enjoy.  Many tables and chairs were set up so everyone could eat and visit. 
Jane gathered some food for the group and proceeded to run into one of the coaches who said "my goodness, you must be hungry!"

We also spoke with the president / commissioner of our Miracle League - Tony Comden.  He had hosted a banquet earlier in the week for community leaders and had some WMML pictures enlarged and placed around the banquet area.  Tony found us and gave us a 24x36 photograph of Cam and his best friend, Brody.
We found a frame and it now resides in our sunroom.

Tony's comment of the photo: "This is one of my favorite pictures because it shows what Miracle League is all about and everyone sure loves Cam's smile!"

Camology Quotes:

Our weekend project lists have earned Cam the unofficial title of "taskmaster" in our household.  Jane had put off requesting assistance with a computer issue on her work computer.  Chris of course, with Cam's prodding, had it resolved in about 5 minutes.
"See Mom, you should've asked Dad for help sooner!

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Marriage in Montauk - Week of Sept. 17th

“The gladdest moment in human life, me thinks, is a departure into unknown lands.” ~ Sir Richard Burton
“Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” ~Gustav Flaubert 

The school week was a short one for Cam.  Due to unexpected illness, he was home for a portion of the first three days.  He was able to hang out with his "Husky Helpers" in the classroom and that made up for some of the absence.

Thursday evening, we finished our packing and readied the family: Cam, his parents, and grandparents for the first morning flight to New York.  It's not often one wakes up (on purpose) at 3:30am, but since we needed to depart for the airport by 4:30, this was our scheduled alarm.  Cam was truly the most chipper in our group and by far the most awake.

While we were settling in on the plane, the powerchair must be taken by airline personnel to the cargo area underneath.  As we awaited takeoff, a gate agent appeared asking for assistance with the chair.  Chris jumped into action and even snapped a pic while on the tarmac.  We watched the sun rise as we continued on our route.

Upon landing, the pilot announced that we would need to take a bus to the terminal since the gates were all tied up.  Cam thought it was hilarious that we flew in a plane, only to take a bus to get the rest of the way to the airport.  The Delta team was very impressive.  A man with a tablet showing Cam's name met us when we were off the plane, waiting for our son's ride.  The Delta folks took such care in removing Cam's powerchair from cargo and even autographed his sign attached.  Next up was finding our rental, which much to our surprise looked like a foreign vehicle.  It was actually an MV-1, a van manufactured in Indiana as a wheelchair accessible taxicab.  For the first time ever, Cam's spot was next to the driver!  He was an excellent co-navigator for both of his parents as Chris and Jane shared the 3-hour drive to Montauk, NY.

Located at the tip of the South Fork peninsula of Long Island, 118 miles east of Midtown Manhattan, Montauk has been used as an Army, Navy, Coast Guard and Air Force base.
Our Beachcomber Pool
Montauk is a major tourist destination and has six state parks. It is particularly famous for its fishing, claiming to have more world saltwater fishing records than any other port in the world. Located 20 miles off the Connecticut coast, it is home to the largest commercial and recreational fishing fleet in New York state. Montauk derives its name from the Montaukett tribe, an Algonquian-speaking tribe who lived in the area. In 1614, Dutch explorer Adriaen Block encountered the tribe at Montauk Point, which he named Hoeck van de Visschers, or "Point of the Fishers."
View from our Beachcomber Resort
 room balcony
In 1995, Montauk became the birthplace of the Extreme Surfcasting technique known as Skishing. The sport involves donning a wetsuit and flippers and swimming into the ocean with rod and reel to catch fish while drifting offshore. Without the benefit of boat or land, the fight is considered to be by the fisherman anyway, on more equal terms. Skishers swim sometimes hundreds of yards from shore to water well over their heads, with their flippers and buoyancy of their wetsuits keeping them afloat. Montauk is also credited as the birthplace of "skishing", a combination of fishing, swimming, and water skiing.

The beautiful weather stayed with us Friday afternoon as we explored the town, ate lunch at the Clam Bar and dinner at the Haroldson's rental home with other out-of-town guests.  Jeff and JJ hosted dinner serving homemade pasta carbonara, garlic bread and salad.  It was Cam's first taste of carbonara and now that he is aware of a recipe involving two of his favorites- spaghetti and bacon, he may be seeking it out at the next Italian restaurant outing.  Saturday brought more exploring to a state park and the town, perfect weather and an invitation to the rehearsal dinner held in the courtyard of a resort.  It was so relaxing to be in the grassy area just a short walk from the ocean.  Besides tasty burgers and hot dogs, homemade desserts and side dishes were in abundance.

On Sunday, we headed off to find the lighthouse.  It was a bit cooler and cloudy, but rain never found its way to our area.

The Montauk Point Light was the first lighthouse in New York state and is the fourth oldest active lighthouse in the United States. Authorized by the Second Congress in 1792, under President George Washington. Construction began on June 7, 1796 and was completed on November 5, 1796.  
There are over 137 iron steps to the top of the tower. The light flashes every 5 seconds and can be seen from a distance of 19 nautical miles.
Chris was the only one from our group who made the arduous climb to the top.
A kids area allowed Cam to see what it was like to put his head inside of a shark.

Of course, we hadn't traveled to Montauk just for sightseeing.  The reason we made the journey was for the wedding of cousin James to Ally.  The Sunday evening ceremony was set for 5:30pm outside at the Montauk Yacht Club.  The weather was quiet and calm and the atmosphere couldn't have been more relaxing.

Cam's kissing cousin Katie and her
husband Tyler
We listened to James and Ally read their own personal vows to each other and be pronounced husband and wife.  Outside in the courtyard, we feasted on delicious appetizers and drinks. Besides immediate family, Aunt Betsy and Uncle Jon made the trek to Montauk as well as numerous cottage lifelong friends.  The three Haroldson sisters- Libby, Katie and Coco were beautiful bridesmaids.

When we all settled into our assigned seats in the elegant reception area, Cam was very happy about two things- he was eating chicken fingers for dinner and they would be delivered to his place setting when the salads were set in front of the adults.  And his parents and grandparents were equally excited about their dinner choice of filet mignon or chilean sea bass.

This is the first wedding Cam attended where there was a live band who played from 7pm - 11pm, without any breaks.  And our super sweet cousins, the Haroldson trio, made certain Cam saved a dance (or three) just for them!

It appeared to us and quite a few others that our son was a bit smitten with the bride.  He also ended up ditching his vest and tie after all of that dancing!  Cam stayed up quite late for an internal clock that doesn't usually go past 9p and quickly fell fast asleep upon arrival at the Beachcomber.

We visited the place known as "The End" due to its eastern most location, but how ironic that we were there to witness such a wonderful and loving Beginning :)

Camology Quotes:

For the first time, Cam wore an actual suit jacket for the rehearsal dinner.  Jane couldn't believe how incredibly handsome (and grown-up!) her son was.

"Cam, you look so sharp!"
"Mom, I am not pointy!"