Sunday, June 10, 2018

Connections - Week of June 4th

"Cherish your human connections - your relationships with friends and family." ~Barbara Bush

It was hard to believe the last week of school was upon us.
Oma came to stay with us for a few days while Chris traveled to Ohio for work. 

Jane and her mom picked out some beautiful flowers to plant in the mailbox area as well as the big planters.  Even after a full day of school, Cam was ready to help put the flowers in their place.  To help keep the dirt off of Cam's power chair, Jane had pushed the arm backwards.  After the planting was completed, Oma and Jane gathered the materials and started up the driveway...Cam could not stop laughing and when asked why he was giggling, he had a tough time talking until finally his mom realized why.  Turns out she had not brought the arm of his chair into drive-able  mode, so he literally couldn't move.  It was quite some time before the hilariousness of the situation wore off. 
The next few evenings were full of grandma/grandson activities including the Passport monthly gift from Auntie Karen.  Oma left on Wednesday and we were sad to see her go, but we knew a trip to the cottage was on our agenda for Saturday.

Speech path-Ms. Kate, Cam, OT- Ms. Kendra
Thursday was a half day for Cam and the day of our annual school cookout!  Everyone arrived at 1pm to celebrate with teachers, therapists, aides and classmates.  Each tasty treat brought by the attendees was enjoyed and the huge decorated cookie brought by Ms. Cris and Mary Jo was really cool!
The afternoon went by much too quickly and the theme of the day was "see you later" vs. "goodbye."  Although we neglected to capture a group picture, it further solidifies the fact that we will continue to see our friends.  Cam had already indicated that his Meadow Brook family would be at his house for the cookout every year and we will "add in" the Northern Trails group.

Friday marked the final day of our 4th grader's school year.  Since this was the last time the current 4th grade students would be at Meadow Brook, it is tradition that the classmates parade through the school.  Cam's teacher sent the pics to us and said that our son was all smiles.
Thx Oma for the delicious Ryke's cake!

Jane, Cam and Annie all
blowing out the candles:)
On Saturday, we headed up north to celebrate Jane's 49th birthday. Thankfully, Auntie Jo brought plenty of homemade games and activities for Cam to play due to the dreary weather.

Although the weather didn't cooperate, time with family and friends brought the sunshine inside.  Oma, Opa, Auntie Jo, Aunt Joyce and Uncle Joe, Annie and Aunt Gay all shared cake and ice cream together with us.  Hanging out and relaxing certainly is a great way to enjoy a birthday.
Jane did say her favorite moment was hearing her son sing, "Happy Birthday to mom!"

Camology Quotes:
Oma was telling Cam that after he left for school one morning, she got ready to take a shower and shut the bathroom door.  When she got into the shower, she realized that Stella the cat was staring at her and she had no idea how Stella had gotten into the bathroom.  Cam's immediate response...
"Oma, were you embarrassed?"
(that Stella was looking at you in the shower?)

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Bittersweet - Week of May 28th

"It isn't summer until you eat your first popsicle!" ~ Amanda K.

Back in 1905, an 11-year-old San Francisco Bay Area kid named Frank Epperson accidentally invented the summertime treat. He had mixed some sugary soda powder with water and left it out overnight. It was a cold night, and the mixture froze. In the morning, Epperson devoured the icy concoction, licking it off the wooden stirrer. He declared it an Epsicle, a combination of icicle and his name, and started selling the treat around his neighborhood. In 1923, Epperson decided to expand sales beyond his neighborhood. He started selling the treat at Neptune Beach, a nearby amusement park. Dubbed a "West Coast Coney Island," the park featured roller coasters, baseball and an Olympic-sized swimming pool. Neptune flourished in the pre-Depression days, and consumers eagerly consumed Epsicles and snow cones (which also made their debut at Neptune). Buoyed by this success, Epperson applied for a patent for his "frozen confection of attractive appearance, which can be conveniently consumed without contamination by contact with the hand and without the need for a plate, spoon, fork or other implement" in 1924. The patent illustrates the requirements for a perfect ice pop, including recommendations on the best wood for the stick: wood-bass, birch and poplar. Eventually, Epperson's children urged him to change the ice pop's name to what they called it: a Pop's 'Sicle, or Popsicle. (full article)

Amanda and Cam enjoyed their frozen treats immensely on a very warm Tuesday evening.  Ironically, they choose the color popsicle of the shirts they happened to be wearing that day.

Friday, however, was a bittersweet day.  The final LINKS (school program linking children of different abilities together) ceremony took place at Cam's school. LINKS is about creating connections within a diverse group of students and ensuring that all students are acknowledged for what makes them different and what makes them and all of us the same.
Each participant received a medal in the front of the gym, heard the principal say their name, and watched a cool slide show with lots of pictures from the program's past year.  Afterwards, in the very warm gym, Cam was feeling pretty sad.  When Jane asked him why, he said "because it's over" and his friends all assured them they would see him at the new school in the fall.  Cam explained, "I'm sad because I won't see all of my teachers."  For five years, he's attended the same school.  As he made his way back to the classroom with Ms. Kathy, he told her- "I'm sorry Ms. Kathy for being upset."  Ms. Kathy responded to Cam by saying, "Cam, don't ever apologize for feeling your feelings."
Uncle Jon, Cam, Aunt Betsy
Will, Cam Auntie Jo
Saturday brought another finality as we attended the last WMML game of the Spring 2018 season.  This event, though, was a super happy one!  The surprises just kept on coming...
Auntie Karen, Cam, Sue
Uncle Jon and Aunt Betsy were waiting for the game before we even arrived!  Oma and Opa, Auntie Jo and Will appeared as well as Ms. Kathy and her husband, Kevin.
And then, all of a sudden, we saw Auntie Karen and her sister, Sue who drove 220 miles to see Cam's final June game!  Karen kept it a secret from Jane and Chris had only told Cam that very morning, but our son remained quiet about the impending visit.
Picnic lunch- Oma,Opa,Sue,
Auntie Karen, Chris, Cam
The volunteers for the game were therapists and workers from Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital, many of whom already know Cam and quite a few of the WMML players.
The game went by much too quickly, but it's nice knowing there's another season to be played in the fall.  Cam has already informed us that he would like to play every single season until he is 18 (the maximum age for WMML).
WMML Playground swing
Following the baseball festivities, we were grateful for yet another surprise- a picnic lunch provided by Auntie Karen and her sister, Sue.  Complete with an American flag tablecloth, we dined on delicious sandwiches, veggies, fruit and all of the fixings with homemade brownies for dessert.  Cam kept commenting how he had worked up an appetite, noting that he did have room for a chocolate treat.

We cannot thank our Cam-Fan crew enough for making the trek to cheer on this kid with a heart of gold blessed with family and friends who are truly priceless!

Camology Quotes:
Saturday was quite busy and it had definitely been a long week.  Each evening, Chris and Jane take turns reading to Cam.  It was Jane's turn and after finishing the story, she and Cam were chatting about the day's events, when suddenly...
"Mom, I don't mean to be mean, but could you please leave now.  I am tired."

Sunday, May 27, 2018

The Beach...Finally! - Week of May 21st

Thumper: "Eating greens is a special treat, It makes long ears and great big feet. But it sure is awful stuff to eat." I made that last part up myself. ~ Bambi movie, 1942

The unusually warm May weather took us all off guard this week.  80 degree days aren't normally on the Michigan radar until late June.  Every day seemed to be reaching or breaking a record.  To start off the holiday weekend, we left Saturday morning for the cottage.  Chris, with his trusty supervisor, Cam, finished building a custom cabinet and hanging shelves for the bathroom.  It was quite a bit cooler at the lake, which was a welcome change.
We heard many foghorns during the day, but by late afternoon, the fog cleared and the sun shone bright.  After dinner, Cam and his dad exercised together and then we headed to the beach.  The water temps hovered in the low 50's so swimming was not in our game plan.  The infamous Cam-mobile had its first official run on a northward walk.

We stayed overnight at the cottage and fell asleep listening to the Lake Michigan waves lap against the shore.

Sunday was a perfectly beautiful day day and windy enough for Cam's kite to set sail.  One of Cameron's bath seats has been officially turned into a beach chair so he can hang out right in the sand.  The kite string was taut and Cam kept grabbing it and said "look, I am playing the guitar!"
Oma and her grandson created some sand cupcakes and we played in the warm breeze.  The beach time couldn't have been better, but we needed to start back to Grand Rapids in the late afternoon.  As we all settled into the truck a short rain shower made our departure a bit easier.

Getting home on time was a must to celebrate a birthday. Cam's best buddy, Emma, was turning 13 and we were invited to share dinner and dessert!

Cam thought up his own idea for a present- he wanted to create a photo book of all of he and Emma's memories together.  It may be hard to believe we have more than enough photos of these two in our archives!  Henry David Thoreau's quote sums up the true meaning of having a best buddy,  "The most I can do for my friend is simply be his friend."

{Blog extension by 1 day} 
Memorial Day is an American holiday, observed on the last Monday of May, honoring the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military. Originally known as Decoration Day, it originated in the years following the Civil War and became an official federal holiday in 1971.


This day was also the high school graduation open house for Sarah Raisch, Emma's sister.  Even though the temperature reached 95 degrees, the backyard shade and gentle breeze was welcoming.  A delicious homemade feast awaited guests as well as the super fun adventure of 9-square which Cam was game to play, even in the heat.

As Sarah begins her college career at Michigan State in the fall, we will miss seeing her every week, but know that our lifelong family friendship will keep us all together.

Camology Quotes:

When we were packing up our things at the cottage, Cam said he wished we didn't have to leave.  Chris responded by telling Cam we could just have him stay at Oma and Opa's one more night, to which his thoughtful response was...
"But, I have things to do and places to go!"

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Blooming - Week of May 14th

"Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom." ~Marcel Proust

If you're lucky enough, you may witness or be a participant in the sweet growth of a friendship.  Cam's first and best friend, Emma, has been in his life since the beginning.

Throughout preschool and grade school, we've continued to watch classmates become buddies and remain a part of Cam's life.
On Friday, a fourth grade (only) field trip to the Fine Arts Center included multiple activities centered around the arts. Our ten-year-old participated in the dance movements, musical drums, and art creations.  Chris watched his son advance to a circle (without prompting) to show off some dance moves while all the kids chanted his name.  When Jane arrived to pick up Cam (for a work stint at Grand Valley), she was pleasantly surprised to see a sweet friend making certain Cam was able to exit an area without everyone crowding around.
RJ, Cam, Jason
Toronto Blue Jays Spring 2018

Saturday morning began with a heavy duty rain shower, but that would not deter the West Michigan Miracle League.  We assured Cam his game wasn't cancelled and team pictures would take place afterwards.  As we headed to field with rain pattering on the windshield, Cam announced "well, this should be interesting!" 
The Center for Physical Rehabilitation (where Cam receives PT) volunteers were in full force.  Two guys who came over to our ball player had actually met him before!
And the weather did not dampen our family Cam-fan travelers.  Oma, Opa, Uncle Joe, Aunt Joyce and cousin Annie all drove in to see Cam's game.  Many thanks for their steadfast support on a dreary weather day!

Immediately following baseball, Cam and his parents headed over to Uccello's restaurant in Rockford to celebrate Brody's 11th birthday.  

Dining on delicious pizza puffs to start the meal, was followed by a tasty lunch and topped off with strawberry shortcake and chocolate cake.  

Brody asked two friends to join the festivities- classmates Cam and Evelyn readily agreed.  
Evelyn thinks the boys are so nice and kept giving them hugs throughout lunch which had the baseball teammates cracking up.  
These two guys have known each other since kindergarten and we predict the best buds will have a lifelong connection.  

Friendship is to people what sunshine is to flowers...

Camology Quotes:

This week, our family decided the old basketball hoop which we inherited with the home, could be put to better use elsewhere.  Chris placed an ad online indicating it was free.  To no one's surprise, many calls came in.  The only stipulation in the ad was that whoever came to retrieve it was completely responsible for its removal.  Once it was gone, Chris and his trusty supervisor, Cam worked to grind down the bolts left behind.   A few of our son's favorite new phrases include...
"Hello, Earth to Dad!"
"Hello, Earth to Mom, are you there?"

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Live, Laugh, Love, Repeat - Week of May 7th

Flowers to Oma from Opa
In our sun room, three word plaques read, "Live" "Laugh" and "Love" all in separate windows.  It is a mantra our family attempts to follow every day.

The real source of "Live, Laugh, Love" is Bessie Anderson Stanley's 1904 poem, "Success." Stanley originally submitted the work in the form of an essay for a contest held by Brown Book magazine that asked entrants to define success:
He achieved success who has lived well, laughed often, and loved much; Who has enjoyed the trust of pure women, the respect of intelligent men and the love of little children; Who has filled his niche and accomplished his task; Who has never lacked appreciation of Earth's beauty or failed to express it; Who has left the world better than he found it, Whether an improved poppy, a perfect poem, or a rescued soul; Who has always looked for the best in others and given them the best he had; Whose life was an inspiration; Whose memory a benediction.
Funny how the condensed version is still seen everywhere more than a hundred years later.

We were excited to have Oma overnight with us due to an appointment she had in Grand Rapids.  Pictured with Cam, grandma and grandson are working on the gift that keeps on giving from 'Auntie' Karen.  Little Passports is delivered monthly to Cam and includes a booklet all about one of the 50 states.  He's received more than half of the states thus far!

On Saturday, we were relieved to see the baseball game wasn't cancelled since the rain held off for us.  Home Depot helpers took the field and Carlos found Cam.  Normally, the Depot volunteers show up for the last game of the season, but this spring, they were at the third game.  You wouldn't think this would matter, but Home Depot is the only group that actually provides free lunch for participants, families and friends.  Now, since a couple of parents (namely Cam's) did not have this information in advance, our ball player was a bit bummed he had already eaten lunch and was too full to partake in munching on a hot dog.  Like most things, though, Cam took it in stride.  After his game was over, we wanted a picture with the Cam Fans- Ms. Amanda and Ms. Brooke.  Brooke was teasing Cam and grabbed his baseball cap and put it on backwards.  As you can see, a best buddy and teammate, Brody, quickly decided Cam needed that cap back on his head!  A big thanks to Ms. Amanda and Brooke for hanging out with us.
Chris and Cam were working on a little project for Mother's Day and Sunday morning, revealed their efforts.  The boys had put together a special slide show for the homemade digital frame complete with picture messages for Jane.  They also gave her a new Alexa for her office downstairs and a shirt with the words: "I am not a princess, I am Kahleesi" which is a Game of Thrones reference pointing to the fact that Kahleesi is a strong (albeit short) woman who fiercely protects those she loves.

After a delicious breakfast and Alexa setup, we made our way to the cottage to install the homemade bathroom door and finish up a few other items.

Of course, we were anxious to see Oma to wish her a Happy Mother's Day too.  Jane and her mom exchanged sweet gifts and we shared a delicious brunch of homemade crepes, one of Oma's specialties.  As Jane knows, one of the best things about having Oma as a mom is that Cam has her as a grandma.

To all of Cam's grandmas, aunts, aunties, godmother, cousins and close friends- we'd just like to say, Here's to the best of the best on Mother's Day!

Camology Quotes:
Miss Barbara, one of Cam's former teachers, sent Jane an email about a write-up recently recognizing their school.
The Special Olympics organization creates resources for schools and programs throughout the country to help others implement programs. In a newly released edition of “Playbook Resources,” Meadow Brook Elementary School is highlighted as a leading elementary school and a Unified Champion School. “Playbook Resources” are designed for educators, students, and Special Olympics Programs. Each playbook is broken down into sections that, along with the additional resources, will assist a school in becoming and sustaining Unified Champion School status.
According to the playbook, At Meadow Brook Elementary School, K–4 students have the opportunity to sign up to be LINKS—that is, Loyal, Interested, Nurturing, Kind Students. One hundred and thirty-five students participate in LINKS/UCS; each student in the cognitively impaired program has a LINKS partner for each school day, leading to lots of opportunities for inclusive youth leadership, whole school engagement, and inclusive sports. Inclusion occurs throughout each school day, every day. When possible, students keep these partners throughout the years to allow friendships to deepen and bonds to grow.   
When Cam saw his picture featured (one taken a few years ago), he remarked "That's pretty cool!"