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!"

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Cam Fans - Week of Sept. 10th

Coral reef- ready to grow
"All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better." ~Ralph Waldo Emerson 

People tell us that Cam is a well-rounded combination of both of his parents: from his mom- hearty laugh and sensitive nature, from his dad- good looks and a love of science.
Coral reef- in a few hours!

Auntie Karen surprised Cam with a birthday/Christmas gift that arrives every month- Science Experiments!  Each kit contains everything you need to conduct your own at-home testing.  Making a coral reef was the first one out of the box.  Cam said "I really like science.  This is going to be so cool!"  After pressing colored boards into a base and adding solution, we waited for the magic.  Before long, we watched the coral appear which looked just like cauliflower.  We also learned about the Great Barrier Reef and its endangered species.  We are very thankful for such an awesome gift for a curious mind.

Saturday was made for a baseball game.  The weather was perfect for mid-September and the sun was bright.  The second game of the season also brought out the Cam fans!  Oma and Opa arrived early waiting for their grandson.  And a surprise appearance by Ms. Kathy (Cam's former teacher) and her husband Kevin made the day complete.  Cam couldn't believe it when Kathy walked across the field to see him.  His best bud, Brody, was happy too since these guys have enjoyed the same teachers for most of their elementary schooling.  The Aquinas Girls Softball team were the volunteers.  Cam's helper, Callie, was so nice.

We planned ahead due to the weather forecast and opted to share a picnic lunch with Oma and Opa in the playground area.
Cam requested time on the playground afterwards and was a bit surprised when his dad saddled into the adjacent ride.  Cam said "Dad, I did not know you were going to swing!" to which Chris replied "I'm never too old to swing with my son."  Just one of the many reasons we think he's the best dad on the planet!

Camology Quotes:

As parents, we appreciate all communication that comes our way in regards to Cam.  Jane was happily surprised to receive the following email from Cam's art teacher, Mrs. C.

Today, we watched a story called "Monsters Love Underpants", and designed our own Monsters in underpants. CAM HAD SO MUCH FUN! He was laughing and said
"This is the BEST art class!" 
I just adore him.  
Wait until you see his monster. It has 4 eyes, so it needs to wear two pairs of glasses. So fun!
Thanks for sending us such an amazing student!

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Baseball Begins! - Week of Sept. 3rd

"The noblest art is that of making others happy." ~ P.T. Barnum

Once in awhile we catch a nice sunset from our house.  It doesn't compare to Lake Michigan, but it still looks like someone painted the sky for us.
Cam is already into the new routine of 5th grade and excited about his new teachers.  This video was sent by Cam's art teacher and Cam is even quoted at the end of the 20 second movie.
Mrs. Konkle’s Class: Huskies in the Sunset22 Second Video
{In the words of Cam: "I think art is going to be great this year!"}

Also at school, Cam has settled into a new lunch routine and thoroughly proud of himself for being more and more independent.

Saturday marked the start of the fall 2018 WMML baseball league.  Cam is a Hope College Dutchmen for this season.  Anna, a current Hope student and one of our all-time favorite buddies, couldn't believe it!

Chris and Cam put the finishing touches on the batter box, including a fresh paint job, special stickers, new hinges and an overall inspection.  What a great makeover!

The Dutchmen were designated to play the first game of the day at 10am.  Cam's best friend, Brody, arrived early to warm up and per parent's request, the two boys are assigned to the same team.

As luck would have it, the Hope College softball and baseball teams were the WMML helpers and volunteers.  Even though the morning was a little cooler, the sun came out near the end of the game.

We also found one of our good friends, Miss April.  April has participated in the MFB Halloween parade for the last 2 years.  We chatted with her after the game and she will join us once again this October!

Sunday afternoon turned out to be the perfect day to find a new bike riding spot for Cam.  We drove up our old street, Windcrest, to the end where we parked our van and unloaded Cam's ride.   There is a nice stretch of smooth pavement for walking and biking. 
We did see our neighbor, Mr. Ken - aka 'Papa', who laughed and said, "Are you all lost?  I think you are on the wrong street!"

Camology Quotes:

Saturday afternoon, Cam was complaining about his ear popping and asked if we could get his ears checked since it had been happening for a few days.  We drove to the nearest medical center and noticed it was permanently closed.  While parked, Jane used her phone to check where the next closest center was.  She quickly showed Cam the location on her phone and the web page to prove it was open.  As we headed that way, our future technologist, asked:
"Mom, are the ratings for this med center good?"