Sunday, August 26, 2018

Happy Campers - Week of Aug. 20th

Emma & Cam
Nearly all the best things that came to me in life have been unexpected, unplanned by me. ~Carl Sandburg
Cam & Sarah

As the beginning of school was fast approaching, we enjoyed a farewell dinner with our forever friends, the Raisch fam, to say goodbye to Sarah as she says hello to Michigan State University.  Cam completed his first summer of being officially tutored by his longtime best bud, Emma.  Reviewing school activities in the summer with a buddy is definitely preferred to review with one's parents.

Over the years, we've seen a great deal of generosity when it comes to Cam.  We are still more than pleasantly surprised when others, who don't even know him, go so far above and beyond our expectations. 

Back in May, Chris, Jane and Cam took a ride out to Hungry Horse Campground to talk about collaborating together to build a ramp for the camp's newest cabin, Sedona.  The Sedona cabin was constructed in 2017, had more room than the Tucson cabin (where we had stayed for the last 2 years) as well as a larger bathroom with a small shower.  We had discussed the ramp idea last year after we booked our future reservation for the Sedona cabin in 2018.  Our thought was that Chris could help supply wood and manpower to assist with construction of a ramp.  After our quick consultation in May, one of the Campground employees indicated he had a friend who worked with metal. 

We heard nothing further and didn't check back in with Hungry Horse until our arrival on Wednesday of this week.  Upon check in, we were told the ramp had just arrived that day.  We truly couldn't believe how perfect it was for Cam!  We were beyond thankful that the wonderful owners of this campground understood our need and also future campers they could welcome due to this addition.  Not only was the shiny metal the perfect grade of height, but it also had a lip on both sides to warn if one was too close to the edge.  As an added bonus, it is completely removable and can be stored when not in use.  Because of the width of the stairs in place, there was still room next to the ramp to use the two steps.  'Auntie' Karen and Oma settled into the Scottsdale cabin, a few sites south of us while we unpacked at Sedona. 

Almost every eve, there's some type of activity at Hungry Horse and on the day we arrived, Wednesday, there was an evening hayride pulled by Mr. Norm's tractor.  Partway through the venture, the tractor stops at the farm where everyone can feed the horses, cows, goats and bunnies.  Cam's grown so much this summer, he's definitely gaining on the tractor tire.

Thursday was a perfect pool day and it was where we all spent the majority of the day.  A new life jacket from Oma was tested in the crystal clear water with Auntie Karen.  All of our rafts and toys were welcome additions for Cam and us. 


When we weren't at the pool, we enjoyed hanging out playing games.  Cam is getting quite adept at Guesstures and guessing the art of charades is one of his favorites.  We brought along a new game "Battle Sheep" given to Cam by Aunt Betsy and Uncle Jon for his birthday.  The strategic play and funny sheep pictures were perfect for our game loving family.
At the Scottsdale cabin, where Oma and Karen stayed, there is a ladder with a loft.  Somehow, Chris, Jane and Cam made it to the top.

Another first for Cam was riding his new bike nearly every day and for a long period of time.  Since it's somewhat boring to ride around one's driveway, the Hungry Horse Campground offers paved straightaways made for biking with the very light traffic and cautious drivers.  Many kids stay at this camp and have bikes.  Each day, Cam would meet new kids and everyone was so friendly.

It wouldn't be camping without tasty s'mores by the campfire which became a staple activity every evening.  A gazebo by the office hosts crafts as well as nightly movies.

All of the extra playtime and daily strolls with Oma and Auntie Karen kept Cam busy.  Chris and Jane were so thankful for their help and company.
The welcoming families staying there make this place an ideal destination.

Chris went camping quite a bit as a kid while Jane truly hadn't experienced it in the same since most every summer was spent at the cottage. 

Cam definitely has the camping gene and settles right into the area.  The day before we left for our 30 minute drive to Dorr, Michigan, Cam informed his parents "it is good for me to get away once in awhile."


Camology Quotes:

Even while camping, the routine remains for Cam.  Each evening, his internal clock (as we refer to it) knew when it was time for meals and bedtime.  On Saturday night around 10pm, Jane and Karen were enjoying the campfire when an ambulance went by.  We walked up to the front office to see if everything was alright.  They told us that a 5 year old girl had tripped over a wicker basket and part of the wicker stuck in her leg and needed medical attention, but that she would be ok.   When the entire story was relayed to our son the next morning, inquisitive Cam's first question... 
"Why was the little girl awake when it was so late?" 

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Elated to be Eleven - Week of Aug. 13th

“The bad news is time flies. The good news is you're the pilot." ~ Michael Altshuler

Eleven- the most syllables in a birthday number for Cam thus far.

Miss Amanda started her student teaching at a charter school, so her summer days with her buddy had come to an end.
Fortunately for us, Ms. Ann was available to spend a few days each week with Cam.  Since Ann is a former elementary school teacher and now teaches at the college level, she was super excited for her new 'student' to show off his reading skills and sight word work.

On Thursday evening, we were all invited to Amanda's Aunt Carol's pool for evening swimming.  The water was warm and it was fun to play.

Cam was anticipating Friday's activities, his actual birthday and a celebration at Craig's Cruisers.

Emma ready for go-karts
This is the second time Cam has experienced his party at Craig's Cruisers. 

History: In 1979 Craig Cihak and his parents Ron & Donna Cihak purchased property in Silver Lake, Michigan (formerly Bill’s Dune Rides). They started the first go-kart track with just 8 go-karts. Each spring for several years, new attractions were added. Campers and seasonal tourists at the beautiful sand dune vacation spot patronized the first Craig’s Cruisers Family Fun Center. As patronage grew, so did the business. 
In 1990 a second location was built in Muskegon, MI and in 1994 a third location was built in Holland, MI. Craig’s Cruisers wanted to be able to offer indoor entertainment for guests through all four of Michigan’s seasons. After much research and planning the doors to the fourth Grand Rapids location opened in December 1999.  
In the Grand Rapids location, there is a 25,000 square ft restaurant area and now a 36,000 square foot addition that includes a trampoline park and roller coaster.

Emma and Brody along with one of their parents were Cam's chosen best buddies to join him.  Oma and Opa arrived with an awesome cake from Ryke's and Ms. Ann joined us as well.  Craig's Cruisers is quite expansive and after eating, the activities began.  Arcade games and indoor and outdoor go-karts both were experienced, racing around two different tracks.
It had rained earlier in the day, but it cleared up enough to get outside and motor around in the bumper boats equipped with squirt guns.  This is Jane's favorite attraction and she was super excited Cam wanted to ride around.  Ms. Ann had her own boat and so did Chris.
A first for us was trying out the new indoor roller coaster.  Cam had never ridden a coaster before so he was a bit apprehensive but the challenge overcame his fear.
CC Roller Coaster 1 min video
It was just fast enough and gave your stomach a little flip on some of the turns and dips.  A great first experience for our 11-year-old roller coaster newbie.  It did help that Emma and Chris were directly across from us.

Our crew mastered the art of having fun and squeezed quite a bit into our three hours of celebrating.
Since Miss Amanda couldn't play at Craig's Cruisers due to work, she hung out with Cam for the evening and gave him 3 of his favorites- a movie they both love- "Shrek", a gift card for iTunes and a photo of the two of them.

Cam also shares a birthday week with Megan Raisch.  These two friends are six years apart and Meg was born right after Chris and Jane moved onto Windcrest.

The festivities seemed to continue all week and whether it was an awesome card, a text message or a gift...it was all appreciated from grandparents, friends and relatives and Cam was thankful for each and every one.
"The heart of the giver makes the gift dear and precious." ~Martin Luther 

Camology Quotes:
Cam follows rules, is very aware and questions the appropriateness of certain things.  This week contained both questions and comments.
"The movie was too intense, Mom."  (After watching about 15 minutes of 'Army Dogs' from library checkout)

"Do I need to change my age on Friday on YouTube kids?"

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Beach Bound Broadway - Week of Aug. 6th

Mid-week workout!
"You are what you do, not what you say you will do." ~Carl Gustav Jung

This summer has seemed unusually warm for our area and the beach has continued to beckon us northward.  Saturday, we drove our customary hour + to hang out with Oma and Opa.  It was a beautiful beach day and Cam's former bath chair makes a perfect lounging water seat. 

At 4pm, though, we headed south on the beach and after passing 4 cottages, we had reached our destination.  We had front row seats to an original outdoor play written by Cam's cousin, Maya. 
Maya spent 3 weeks crafting the story of a teacher posing as an alien who came from another planet.  Her entire family, as well as her grandparents, aunts, uncles and younger cousins, all had parts too. 
None of us had ever gone to an outdoor theatrical production.  As spectators, we were even offered appetizers and drinks. 

Five acts and an intermission rounded out the 30+ minute production.  Maya indicated they had limited rehearsals, but everything went off without a hitch.  Cam thinks his cousin is famous for creating her own play and directing it!

We watched a beautiful sunset that evening and spent the night at Oma and Opa's.  The next day was a picture perfect beach day again.  Auntie Jo and Will popped in for swimming and fun in the sun.  It's unusual when the big Lake Michigan waters are so calm and we couldn't even count all of the boats we could see.
Auntie Jo and Will surprised Cam with birthday presents!  The entire Narnia series(one of her childhood favorites) in a single book and some really cool Field of Dreams souvenirs from the actual Field of Dreams in Iowa, which Auntie Jo visited.

It's always a bit of struggle to leave the scenic view and make our way back to Grand Rapids.
But when you have a Cam with a positive disposition, well, it's pretty easy for everyone to see the bright side of life.

Camology Quotes:
Cam is a follow-through kind of guy.  If he says he will do something, he will do it.  And if you say you will do something, he will not let you forget you need to do it.  When Cam and Jane were shopping for a present at a local department store, they encountered Peter who helped them with a purchase.  He mentioned taking a survey on the receipt.  Cam said "we will do it."  Upon looking for another item, we couldn't find anyone to assist and found Peter again.  He went above and beyond and laughing, said again "as you know, there's a survey you can take."  Cam again indicated we would do it.  I said to Peter "the minute we walk in our house, Cam will remind me.  We promise."
As expected, upon arrival home, Cam said, "Mom, we need to do the survey now."  With so many other things to tackle, we still took the five minutes to complete.  A few days later, we heard the following message on our home answering machine:
"Hi, my name is Janet and I'm the store manager at the Woodland Stores Macy's and I wanted to call and thank you for the compliment you submitted for Peter.  I'm so glad he was able to help you and provide you with outstanding service when you were in.  I also wanted to let you know that we did recognize him in front of our whole store at a store-wide meeting right after I received your feedback.  We really appreciate your business!"
Cam heard the message and was especially happy that Peter was recognized at a store meeting and Jane was incredibly proud of her son and his dedication to getting things done!

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Super Trooper - Week of July 30th

Ruff Readers at the local library
persevere: to persist in anything undertaken; maintain a purpose in spite of difficulty, obstacles, or discouragement; continue steadfastly.

"A river cuts through the rock not because of its power, but because of its persistence." ~Jim Watkins

The last week of summer school for Cam was bittersweet.  Two teachers he has known all through grade school will no longer see him in the halls at school since he will be in a 5/6 building this fall.
An email from Ms. Kathy certainly summed things up:
Subject: Just a little Cam quote that made my day
I love how "formal" he is some times in his use of language. "Ms. Kathy, it has been a pleasure working with you these years. I will miss you." I could only reply, "Cam, it has been a pleasure and delight working with you as well. " :-)

Friday was quite the early morning for our family.  We were scheduled to be at Mary Free Bed @6am for Cam's baclofen test.  Baclofen is a muscle relaxer that can help reduce spasticity.  Cam went under anesthesia and they injected a test dose into his spine to determine if there would be a positive reaction.  Throughout the day he was measured by a 27-year veteran physical therapist, Ms. Jennifer.  The results are used to determine if Cam is a good candidate for a baclofen pump surgery- stay tuned!

After being in the hospital for 10 hours, we weren't certain if our son would be ready for a cousin's baseball game and overnight at the cottage the very next day, but as we've come to realize, Cam never wants to give up or give in.

The afternoon sun lit up the baseball field in Montague, just 10 minutes from the cottage.  The crew assembled was divided into teams and we all witnessed our cousin Harper crush the ball right out of field, scoring a couple of home runs.  The best part of these players and spectators is the encouragement and never losing sight of the fact that we're together to play and have fun.  And what better way to end the day then a trip to Fricano's in Muskegon for pizza and ice cream!

On Sunday after lunch, Chris, Jane and Cam headed to the beach.  It is customary for Cam to have a small snack upon arrival.  Unfortunately, some of the snack crackers were a bit stale so Chris threw them off to the side.  And who should appear a few minutes later?  A little bandit we nicknamed 'Rocky Raccoon' who most definitely was not frightened in the least bit of other beach-goers.
We actually had to shoo him away when he tried a sneak attack from the back to see what other delicious contents may exist in our bag.
After our rodent adventure, we started off down the beach (with our bag of course) for the Schulze cottage to see our cousins.  They had just gone up, but happily trotted back down to the beach to hang out with us.  Miss Ella showed off her kitchen to Cam while her brother Gavin tested his throwing skills with sand balls into the lake.

Lake Michigan was rough and rip current warnings were in place.  It was too wavy for Cam's kayak and even for Cam to swim with one of his parents.

Aunt Joyce, however, offered to sit on the beach and had a nice chat with her grand-nephew while Chris and Jane battled the waves and swam for a bit.

Late afternoon, we made our way back to Grand Rapids for our annual summer meal with the Raisch and Flegel families.   Everyone contributed to our delicious meal of chicken caeser salad with all of the fixings, homemade cheesy bread, corn on the cob and two desserts. 
What a perfect ending to a week filled with nearly every emotion on the planet!

Camology Quotes:
When Cam was younger, Jane used to sing him songs at bedtime.
His sweet soul sometimes takes even his mom by surprise!

"Mom, you know what it makes me think of when it's raining?" 
(singing) "š¯… You are my sunshine…my only sunshine....you make me happy when skies are gray♫"