Sunday, August 25, 2019

Coolest Cabin Camping - Week of Aug. 19th

Sedona Cabin w/ramp!
"Glamping: a form of camping involving accommodation and facilities more luxurious than those associated with traditional camping."

Mom & Cam
It's hard to believe this year marked our 4th venture to our favorite nearby campground, Hungry Horse.  The sturdy stainless steel ramp created last year for Cam looked just as shiny and new as it did twelve months ago.  We are still as impressed as we first were with this family-run facility just 30 minutes from home.  The experience of camping at Hungry Horse incorporates cooking on the open fire or charcoal grill every evening and watching different RV's enter and exit on a daily basis.
Oma & Cam
Hayride Crew: Oma-Jane-Cam-Chris
While Cam and his parents settled into the Sedona cabin, Auntie Karen had already been in the Scottsdale one for a few days.  Tuesday evening, we dined on the covered cabin deck with Auntie Karen, her sister Sue, and their friend Marianne.  The grilled chicken fajitas tasted delicious as we watched a light rain shower.  Wednesday afternoon, we welcomed Oma to the campground for the next two nights, where she stayed in Karen's cabin.
Auntie Karen & Cam
Every Wednesday evening, the Hungry Horse owners host a 30-minute hayride taking its passengers around the back area of the grounds, stopping at the family farm to feed the goats, cows and pet the bunnies.
By far, our favorite daily activity is swimming in the solar-heated swimming pool.  It's perfect for Cam since half of the pool is 3.5 feet and the other half goes to 6 feet.  Our twelve-year-old is tall enough to walk in the pool and is comfortable swimming on his back too.
Mom & Cam & Oma
Warm sunshine and perfect weather welcomed us for three days in a row as we made our early afternoon trip over to the pool.  We met lots of kids and some great parents and relatives too.  Everyone is so friendly.

In addition to appreciating his independence, Cam loves using walkie talkies.  Each morning, he couldn't wait to 'call' Auntie Karen and Oma to see if they were awake.  There were many strolls with these two wonderful women, counting the different campsites with RV's or tents and looking at all of the different activities.
On Friday, we all came up with the idea of having Cam deliver breakfast to the Scottsdale cabin. 
Our morning routine of cooking eggs, toast and bacon on our griddle was set into motion and Cam made his way with foil covered paper plates to bring a hot morning meal to Oma and Auntie Karen!
When he arrived back at the Sedona cabin, there were two $1 bills neatly tucked on his tray.  Had Chris and Jane known he would make some money, they realized he could've been doing this all week!
Ms. Ann, Cam, Auntie Karen
The biggest bonus of the week for Cam was getting back on his bike.  The campground is truly the perfect area for safe bike riding.
On our final evening at Hungry Horse, we invited Miss Ann to join us for an authentic camping meal- pizza pies made in a cast iron pie iron.  Two slices of bread filled with pizza sauce, cheese, and your choice of toppings make this a family favorite, followed by the tastiest treat of s'mores.

As we bid farewell to Dorr, Michigan, we secured our reservation for next year with an additional night added on, per Cam's personal request.

𝅘𝅥𝅯♬♩Happy trails to you, Until we meet again. Happy trails to you, Keep smiling until then. Who cares about the clouds when we're together? Just sing a song, and bring the sunny weather. Happy trails to you, Until we meet again.𝅘𝅥𝅯♬♩ 

Camology Quotes:
Stella- happy to have her fam
back home!
Independence at Hungry Horse is key for our son.  The distance between the Sedona cabin we stay in and the Scottsdale cabin where Auntie Karen bunks is roughly 300 feet.
Partway through the week, Karen was telling us how Cam would start calling her name as he was headed to her cabin 'about halfway down the road' making his way there.
The friendly folks in the RV's surrounding the cabins were so nice to talk to.  On one occasion, Karen was providing introductions.
"Hi- this is Cam and I'm Auntie Karen."
"Oh yes, we know you're Auntie Karen- we hear your name every morning!"

Sunday, August 18, 2019

And Then There was Twelve - Week of Aug. 12th

"We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we're curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths." ~ Walt Disney

12 months in a year, 12 hours on a clock and this week, Mr. Cameron was turning 12!
Before his actual birthday on Saturday, though, he had a full social calendar.
Oma arrived on Monday to stay until Wednesday since our Cam Care team had other commitments.
The baking buddies were busy making cherry scones with a mix from Cherry Republic (thanks to an early bday gift from A. Betsy and U. Jon).  Cam was intrigued by the process since he had never had a scone before.  The dough had to be kneaded and rolled out prior to baking.  They smelled so delicious it was tough to wait until they were done!  Next up was homemade blueberry muffins from Cam's cookbook.  Oma and her grandson found a recipe for the muffins made with vanilla yogurt, honey and less sugar than typical muffins.  And of course, a trip to Culver's for dessert one night was in order.
Ms. Mary Jo helped out a couple of days during the week too and brought Cam some early bday presents- a book of 2000 Would You Rather questions, a flag kite and a king size Reese's peanut butter cup.  Cam screamed when he opened the chocolate treat.

Friday evening, our friends from North Carolina arrived - Auntie Leslie, her daughters Ali and Erin and their boyfriends, Daree and Brandon.  This crew kept us all laughing.
And finally, the day of Cam's actual birthday, Saturday, Aug. 17 was here!
The first present opened was from Mom and Dad and Auntie Karen.  A new desk for Cam he can drive under and wheel anywhere in the house was something that had been a needed item for quite some time.
The celebration for our 12-year-old was small but mighty with
Cam's buddy, Brody, our N. Carolina crew, Ms. Amanda and Nick and Oma and Opa.  The birthday boy opened another present from his parents- an over sized inflatable backyard bowling set.  The goal was to knock down the blown up pins, which looked much easier than it actually was.  Cam was able to push the ball with his chair and in a short time, everyone was sweating from the effort and sunshine.
Pizza and bread sticks filled everyone's bellies and we were fortunate to have Oma and Opa pick up Cam's bday cake from our favorite Dutch bakery, Ryke's.  Frozen custard, a.k.a. the tastiest ice cream, rounded out our dessert.  The birthday boy opened up awesome presents from Oma and Opa included a Timex watch, swirly kite, book, new school shirt and s'mores kit, a kid's drone, sea creature kit, gift card and chocolate from the N. Carolina crew, iTunes gift card from Ms. Amanda and Nick and an iTunes and Amazon gift card from Brody.  What a big day it was!
The fun didn't end as we had more adventures awaiting us on Sunday.
With our friends still in town from N.C., we wanted to show them Grand Rapids.  First, we headed to the G.R. Fowling (pronounced Foe-ling) Warehouse to try something new...throwing a football at bowling pins.  It was pretty hilarious watching everyone figure it out.
Upon departure, the rain had stopped and we were off to the Downtown Market where we all enjoyed a different lunch from a variety of choices.  A walk downtown finished out our late afternoon and we even heard a jazz festival we had no idea was taking place.  After grilling dinner, we played an entertaining game of Scattegories which Cam loved.
That evening, Cam broke his record for staying up late, not wanting the time to end.
Perhaps Robert Frost was enjoying a good time when he wrote "The woods are lovely dark and deep.  But I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep."

Camology Quotes:
Cam really bonded with Leslie's daughters, Erin and Ali, along with their boyfriends, Brandon and Daree.  We took this picture right before their departure.
"Mom, when we will see them again?"
"I'm not sure, Cam.  Maybe next year?"
"They are awesome.  It is not fair if we have to wait a whole year to see my good friends!"

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Champion Certified Cam Care - Week of Aug. 5th

“Never believe that a few caring people can't change the world. For, indeed, that's all who ever have.” ~ Margaret Mead
"I slept and I dreamed that life was all joy. I woke and I saw that life was all service. I served and I saw that service was joy." ~Kahlil Gibran

From the time Cam was born, we have been surprised, humbled and blessed by the many individuals who have cared for our son. In the past eleven years, there have been countless people who have left lasting imprints on our lives. And the list just keeps growing.

On Tuesday, Chris picked up Jane at the Detroit airport while our guardian angel, Auntie Karen stayed at the home front with Cam.

Wednesday was Ms. Amanda's last official summer day with her buddy.  The two worked as a team all summer getting ready for Ms. Amanda's first kindergarten classroom. 
As a special treat, the duo headed out to one of their favorite places, Spoonlickers, to enjoy tasty homemade frozen yogurt complete with delicious fresh toppings.
There may have been some silliness involved with interesting photo filters which Cam thinks are absolutely hilarious!

On Thursday and Friday, without skipping a beat, Ms. Mary Jo stepped in for Cam care duties.  Mary Jo is the daughter of Ms. Kris, a classroom aide Cam has known since he was in kindergarten.  Mary Jo has helped out at summer school on a regular basis and has been acquainted with Cam for a few years now.  She is a high school senior this fall and then headed to Grand Valley State University.  We are relieved she will stay in the vicinity.

The first activity for Mary Jo and Cam was heading over to Brody's Be Cafe.  Brody is Cam's best buddy from school and his mom, Jenny, has dreamed of launching a coffee shop aimed at employing individuals with different abilities and needs.  The picture of Cam, taken by Mary Jo, was posted on the cafe's Facebook site.  We are all eager for this new Ada coffee shop to open. 
Next up was the Children's Museum downtown exploring all the different areas.  Upon exiting, a fire truck was on the street and Cam said hello.  A fireman stopped and gave Cam a junior fire hat as well as a safety sticker. 

Friday held a whole new set of plans.  Mary Jo had checked with Brody's parents ahead of time to see if he could join she and Cam on a field trip to the Lowell County Fair. 
They had a delicious lunch together and toured the grounds to see all of the animals.  Baby goats were a popular attraction.  Although they had originally planned to try out some rides, they collectively decided against it and concentrated on other things.

Jane had mentioned before they all left that one of her favorite treats at the fair were elephant ears, to which Cam commented "yuck Mom!" and then she described exactly what they were- scrumptious fried dough covered in cinnamon sugar.  Upon arrival home, Cam and Mary Jo surprised Jane with a tasty  'ear' of her own.

Friday evening, Mary Jo stayed with Cam while his parents went out to dinner to celebrate their 16th wedding anniversary.  Upon arrival home, this sidewalk chalk message was in perfect view.

Saturday's weather stayed intact for a sunny afternoon at Oma and Opa's.
After visiting with cousins on the beach and tasting plump freshly picked blueberries, it was time to make our way back.
We all enjoyed a dinner feast on the cottage deck, and then it was time to drive home to Grand Rapids. 
The sun is fading earlier these days and and we realize there aren't too many beach days left.  As William Shakespeare once said, "Summer's lease hath all too short a date."

Camology Quotes:
Cam has been a fan of law enforcement for quite some time.  One of his favorite shows to watch is "Live P.D." following live police work as it happens in different cities across the country.  We've become acutely aware that Cam is latching onto some of the lingo.
While helping him at bedtime one evening, he questioned his mom... 
"Do you have anything that will poke me, stick me, hurt me?"
"Um, definitely not."
"Ok, I will not have to give you a citation."

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Bases Loaded with Surprises! - Week of July 29th

"The unexpected moment is always sweeter." ~Julia Quinn
"Surprise is the greatest gift which life can grant us." ~Boris Pasternak

We live in a community that continuously offers different events.  One that Cam enjoys in the summer is part of our library district.
Ruff Readers is a unique read-aloud program in partnership with West Michigan Therapy Dogs, Inc. that pairs kids with a trained therapy dog and their handler. Kids read their favorite book and the pooches curl up, listen and enjoy.

When Saturday arrived, Cam had no idea how many surprises he would encounter that day.  We began our adventure before lunchtime and traveled northward to Oma and Opa's.  After a delicious lunch at the cottage, it was beach time!

Just as we were headed outside down the steps, Auntie Roe suddenly appeared!  Cam couldn't believe it- an entire year had passed since he'd seen her.  A few years ago, Auntie Roe taught Cam some Portuguese and his favorite phrase is "barriga grande" (bar-he-gah gron jay) which means "big belly" and it still makes them both crack up.
It just so happened that Mr. Mike and his wife Auntie Roe were camping a few miles away at Meinert Park for the weekend.  It was so awesome to see them both, soak up the sun and catch up a bit.
The Lake Michigan water was a bit too nippy for Cam who opted not to take a swim.
Our visit was cut short due to an impending event- the Annual Cousin's Baseball Game!

We hurried over the ballpark where the game was already in play. Younger cousins Harper and Maya, Gavin, Ella and Aiden were all there along with Dirk and Lisa, Megan, Joey and Ashanti and Eric.  Aunts and uncles, Oma and Opa and family friends were in full force too!  It was the perfect afternoon- sunny with a few clouds and a nice breeze.  Cam used his batter box a few times, Jane managed 3 base hits and Chris had his share as well.  Ball game snacks were plentiful and even a delicious platter of fresh fruit arrived with Aunt Betsy and Uncle Jon.  Harper is truly the cousin baseball star as we watched him practice hitting home runs again and again after the game ended around 5pm.  Cam kept commenting how great his cousin was!  Before Aunt Betsy and Uncle Jon left, they gave Cam an early birthday present- a cherry scone mix and t-shirt from Cherry Republic.  They know how much he loves baking!

Our group made its way to Fricano's in Muskegon where Aunt Joyce had reserved a large section for us.  Jane has been eating their famous thin crust pizza since she was a kid and it's been a family tradition
ever since.  Cam had no idea, however, that Aunt Joyce and family had ordered a Ryke's birthday cake for our soon to be 12-year-old.  After dinner, Chris took his son on a stroll while we readied the cake at Cam's place setting.  When he rounded the corner, he couldn't believe it!  A delicious chocolate cake complete with the entire baseball lineup of pitcher, catcher and batter.  Everyone had signed a card for Cam and his cousins Harper, Maya and Aiden assisted with operation candle blow-out! 

Cam kept asking "How did this happen?"  "Where was the cake hiding?" and the perfect comment..."This was the best surprise ever!"

Camology Quotes:
Chris and Cam enjoying their first
"Pronto Pup" in Grand Haven
with Auntie Karen
Cam is very keen on planning dinner and knowing what he's going to have for dinner.  He was planning his Friday evening consumption and asked Jane to guess which place he would choose to pick up dinner from.  After going through a list of 3 others (Culver's, Moe's, Arby's) she finally landed on Chick-Fil-A.  Cam's response:
"Mom, I really stumped you on that one!"

We all try to eat dinner as a family, but some evenings, Cam eats before his parents.  On this particular night, Jane asked Cam to join his parents at the table to chat while they ate.
(while driving his chair towards the dining room)
"Mom, what are you having for dinner."
"We're having salmon."
(immediately turns around and heads in the opposite direction)