Sunday, October 18, 2020

Robotics - Week of Oct. 12th

The Three Laws of Robotics: 1: A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm; 2: A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law; 3: A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law; The Zeroth Law: A robot may not harm humanity, or, by inaction, allow humanity to come to harm. ~Isaac Asimov
For Cam, 7th grade equals new opportunities and experiences.  Besides being in a different school building and meeting new teachers, one of his classes he thoroughly enjoys is Robotics.  Mr. Z currently has our inquisitive son controlling a robot from the iPad with a joystick app.  He practices daily for an upcoming maze challenge.

Cam's physical therapist at school travels to each of the buildings in the district.  Ms. Michelle snapped this pic of the screensaver for the day at the 5/6 building where Cam attended the last two years.  The photo was taken upon returning from a field trip to see our local hockey team, the Grand Rapids Griffins, conduct a practice.  A couple of the players walked outside afterwards, saw Cam, and asked him if he wanted the goalie stick as a souvenir!  

On Wednesday, Cam got off the bus with such a huge smile!  One of his friends at school, Sami, had given him a delicious treat... an enormous chocolate Hershey bar!  Even though desserts are typically reserved for the weekends, this became a rare after school treat for our candy fan the rest of the week.

Saturday, late in the afternoon, we welcomed Liam and his mom, Betsy.  Liam has been schooling from home this semester and the boys have been buddies since pre-school.  They share similar tastes in shows and movies.
The feature flick was an animated 2019 movie called "Spies in Disguise."  The boys requested popcorn and had a good laugh when Jane accidentally added pepper to the theater treat instead of salt!  Cam's mom told them that maybe she was trying to start a new trend.  Apparently, the movie was pretty funny since the two buddies were laughing quite a bit.
After dinner, Liam's mom made a fancy dessert that was super easy to prepare:  cut-up apples with warm chocolate sauce and caramel sauce drizzled over the tasty fruit.
We don't see friends too much anymore with everyone being cautious to stay healthy.  

On a positive note, the typical fall colds and illnesses haven't infiltrated our home just yet.  And you know what they say about apples... "an apple a day keeps the doctor away."  We wonder if that included the chocolate/caramel addition.
 
Camology Quotes: 
MI-UCP, Michigan United Cerebral Palsy interviewed Cam and Jane over the summer, along with many other folks.  They will be posting the interview at some point, but the 1-minute commercial for their website was sent over this week.  Cam declared it was a very good video.
"Wow, Mom.  That is pretty cool to see our pictures in this!"  MI-UCP Video- click here

Sunday, October 11, 2020

The Accessible Message - Week of Oct. 5th

SMS (short message service) or "text" messaging was used for the first time on December 3, 1992. 
Neil Papworth, a 22-year-old test engineer for Sema Group in the UK, used a personal computer to send the text message "Merry Christmas" via the Vodafone network to the phone of Richard Jarvis, who was at a party in Newbury, Berkshire, which had been organized to celebrate the event.

Today, one of our most common forms of communication is via text messages.  It is immediate and can be accomplished by typing versus talking.  As technology has progressed, you are now able to send an audio message via text.  Cam can record a message and then send it instead of typing it out on his iPad.  This has led to him being able to keep in touch with friends outside of school.  It also provides a quick, easy way to send information and allows someone to hear him lol (laugh out loud!) via his voice.
This week at school Cam beat out his buddies in a Gravity Challenge.  
They are quizzed via an online tool called Kahoot! and the top three scorers are shown.

On Saturday, we ventured over to Brody's be Cafe to munch on some tasty Chick-Fil-A for lunch and met up with Auntie Jo.  She gave Will's phone number to Jane so that Will and Cam can send messages to each other as well.  
Later that afternoon, for the first time since March, Cam entered the Jude's barbershop for a haircut.  He was a bit apprehensive but seemed very surprised that he was the only client there at his scheduled appointment time.  Ashley did a great job and Cam declared he would definitely go again when he needed his next trim.
Sunday was reserved for some grandparent time at the cottage.  
We arrived in time to enjoy a fabulous brunch of a tasty homemade feast including an egg sausage casserole, delicious blueberry muffins and fresh fruit.  With full bellies, it was time to get to work.

Chris finished installing new lighting on the boardwalk.  It took two different trips but the improvement was needed.
  
Cam played cranium games with Oma as they answered different questions about all sorts of things eliciting laughter that could be heard from outside.

Jane worked on putting some things away on the beach and marveled at the beautiful fall foliage.  This weekend was considered the peak for the colorful leaf display in October.

We never get tired of that Lake Michigan scenery and the time always goes by much too fast.  
As we watched the sunlight glitter across the lake and the trees, it reminded us of the saying, "Autumn paints in colors that summer has never seen."

Camology Quotes: 

It has been noted that Cam has a technology gene.  It seems to become more apparent the older he gets.  This week he was helping Chris set up a new home server.  Cam's dad indicated he would go downstairs and grab the server so they could get started.  His son's response: "Dad, can't you just remote in?"

Sunday, October 4, 2020

The Right Side of the Bed - Week of Sept. 28th

"I am not a product of my circumstances.  I am a product of my decisions." ~Stephen Covey

Some mornings it sure is difficult to wake up.
The origin of the expression ‘woke up on the wrong side of the bed’ is thought to come from ancient Rome. Romans were very careful always to get up on the correct side of the bed to ensure that good luck would follow them through their days. If they got up “left foot forward” or “on the wrong side of the bed,” they believed that they would be unlucky.

Luckily for Chris and Jane, Cam seems to almost always wake up on the right side of the bed.  He is typically happy, ready to get the day started and anxious to begin an activity.

It's fortunate that Cam is able to be motivated before the sunrise, especially since his school bus arrives at our driveway the earliest ever...at 6:30am.  And he is not the first kid on, he is actually the third.
With school in full swing now, everyone is required to wear a face shield or mask.  Remembering these new accessories is similar to not forgetting your shoes.
Along with standard learning that takes place, Cam also receives physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy.  His PT has known him since kindergarten!  Ms. Michelle works with Cam on stretching, standing, walking and bike riding.  She has always told us that he attempts every challenge put before him.

The weekend brought cooler weather and rain on Saturday.  We spent some time with Oma and Opa at the cottage for the afternoon.  Even though we didn't have beach time, the family time was even better.

On Sunday, Chris and his son worked on some outdoor projects as the preparation for the transition of seasons has begun.

We were excited to see a double rainbow later in the afternoon.  After  a bit of research, we discovered that they occur when white sunlight is reflected twice in the raindrop.  It means you can see two different reflections coming from different angles.

It is also said that a double rainbow is considered a symbol of transformation and is a sign of good fortune in eastern cultures. 
Dreaming about a double rainbow represents harmony and serendipity.
Sweet dreams everyone!


Camology Quotes: 

Cam was explaining to his parents that someone brought in donuts for a class treat on Friday.  Chris was teasing Cam about needing to pay him a visit at school sometime.  Typically Cam knows when his dad is joking, but just in case, his response was equally as sweet as the fried pastries...
"We will have to get donuts tomorrow, Dad.  I can hear the disappointment in your voice!"

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Bad Words - Week of Sept. 21st

"How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world." 
~Anne Frank 

Words are powerful.  Depending on the type of phrase and how it is used, different emotions follow.  Often, little kids don't necessarily know if a word or phrase is generally considered blasphemous, obscene, vulgar, or otherwise offensive.  As Cam has gotten older, he has always been cautious with his use of words and their context.  It was a bit surprising, to his parents, when he began saying that he heard "bad words" watching appropriate shows and online videos.  It turns out, "bad words" to Cam include the following: 
Hate, Stupid, Dumb.  Imagine if everyone treated those as 'inappropriate' words to use so casually, as we all (Cam's parents included!) tend to do.

This week, Cam's grandparents stayed at our home following an outpatient eye surgery for Oma.  It is always a treat to have them with us and even though Oma had to take it easy, she was still able to squeeze in making applesauce with her grandson.  Homemade applesauce is all about the tools of the trade.  A stand-up colander with a wood pestle is a requirement, according to Oma.  The pestle allows you to easily squish (technical term) all of the yummy sauce through the colander into the bowl.  Depending on the type of apple used, very little sugar may need to be added.  All that's required is cutting apples and removing the core.  No peeling or any other effort is needed.

Since Wednesday was a virtual school day this week, Cam was scheduled for his flu shot, a class zoom meeting, homework and time with Oma and Opa.  
He successfully completed all four activities and even got in his tutoring session with Ms. Ann.
In a rare moment, Cam requested couch time with Oma to watch a movie.  It was super sweet to see them laughing and chatting about the film feature.

We said goodbye to Cam's grandparents and decided we were equally thankful for each other's company and sharing dinners and time together.

Friday evening included a family outing to Brody's be Café.
Jane was scheduled to help out with the hot dog cart while Chris and his son were on duty to set up an enormous movie screen and projector.  The event included a screening of "The Bee Movie" and popcorn as well as a choice of candy.
The large inflatable screen was huge!  After a few technical difficulties, the projector and the fifth laptop attempted connection finally worked.

We saw so many people we knew!  Even Cam and Brody's teacher, Mrs. Wells, brought her entire family to say hi and socially distance with her students.  With all of the week's activities including school, we were shocked that Cam made it through the entire movie and didn't get home until after 10pm.  Even after a late night, though, our early riser still woke up before 8am ready for the day and to start working on projects!  His parents, however, definitely thought at least two more hours of sleep were in order.

Camology Quotes: 
Cam is already learning the finer traits of complimentary phrases.  

Jane was answering questions that her son was asking about the day his parents were married and when they were dating.  His response after all of the information gathering...
"I see why Dad chose you for his wife.  You are so beautiful."

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Get Your Hot Dogs! - Week of Sept 14th

Did you ever wonder where the term hot dog came from? 
Some say the word was coined in 1901 at the New York Polo Grounds on a cold April day. Vendors were hawking hot dogs from portable hot water tanks shouting "They're red hot! Get your dachshund sausages while they're red hot!" A New York Journal sports cartoonist, Tad Dorgan, observed the scene and hastily drew a cartoon of barking dachshund sausages nestled warmly in rolls. Not sure how to spell "dachshund" he simply wrote "hot dog!" The cartoon is said to have been a sensation, thus coining the term "hot dog." However, historians have been unable to find this cartoon, despite Dorgan's enormous body of work and his popularity. We think Mr. Dorgan would have loved Brody's be Dogs. 

Now, our favorite café is serving up hot and steamy dogs via their outdoor hot dog cart. Customers have a choice of chili, cheese and all of the fixings. Cam had his first taste on Saturday and declared it the best hot dog ever! Jane offered to help serve up the lunch baskets to learn the setup and assist when needed. Auntie Jo and Will love hot dogs too and since the boys hadn't seen each other in quite some time, a belated birthday celebration was in order. 
On the afternoon filled with sunshine, the two boys had lots of laughs as they opened each other's gifts. Cam received a cool lava lamp and joke book made especially for 13-year-old's. Will looked in his bag to find a soft travel pillow, 12-year-old t-shirt and a gift card that could only be removed by completing a puzzle. And in less than two minutes, the gift card was his! We also had fun saying hi to friends from Lowell who have worked on our Halloween Heroes project since the beginning 5 years ago.
This week we made the difficult decision to officially cancel our Halloween Heroes project for 2020. It is the first time in 5 years we will not be dreaming of wheelchair costume designs 24/7. It is our family assignment and one that began because of Cam's desire to have a costume just like every other kid 8 years ago.  Jane wrote the following announcement to share with the community. 


Although Cam won't be leading the annual parade at Mary Free Bed this year, we will be leading our friends to Brody's be Café as much as possible! 
Camology Quotes: 
Stella made us laugh this week when it looked like she was trying to change the tv channel while asleep!  On Wednesday, Cam was scheduled for a virtual learning day. Tuesday after school, Cam was telling Jane about his bus ride home…and she was silently questioning her son’s logic. 
"Dom told me his is going to finish all of his homework tonight so he can sleep in. I will just wake up early tomorrow."

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Discerning Taste - Week of Sept. 7th

"I have the simplest tastes.  I am always satisfied with the best." ~Oscar Wilde
"Who has never tasted what is bitter does not know what is sweet." ~German Proverb
Cam is willing to try almost anything at least once, as it relates to food.  It's funny how his preferences have changed over the years.  Maybe that's because of this fun fact.
The average person has about 10,000 taste buds and they're replaced every 2 weeks or so. But as a person ages, some of those taste cells don't get replaced. An older person may only have 5,000 working taste buds. That's why certain foods may taste stronger to you as a kid than they do to adults.
We shouldn't have been surprised when Cam requested a salad for lunch, but we actually were.  The caveat here, though, is that Cam's mom makes a salad comprised of the following: hard boiled egg, shredded cheese, sweet corn (cut off the cob) turkey or ham, tasty croutons, ranch dressing, and yes, a bit of lettuce.  He devoured his mid-day meal and declared it the best salad ever!  A very nice compliment from someone who has never had a salad before...😀

With Cam back in school, we weren't certain he would want to continue tutoring or if he would be too worn out after a day of learning.  He requested continuation, so he and Ms. Ann meet virtually on Zoom three afternoons a week.  They typically work on math and reading comprehension for 90 minutes.  The diligence has paid off- this week Cam's school folder contained his perfect score math sheets.

Chris continues his after hours job as Cam's personal barber, cutting his hair with clipping shears outside.  Jane declared there was enough hair chopped off to make a bird's nest.  Cam thought that was rather "gross" that birds would use his hair to sleep on.

At school, our 7th grader was able to see a favorite aide from last year, Mrs. Festian.  They met outside and Cam was super excited to see her.

The weekend saw the completion of a big father/son project.  The duo spent a great deal of time power washing the back deck in preparation for re-staining.  The double coat of stain made the older wood look brand new.  It's always a sense of satisfaction to cross a time-consuming task off the list.

Cam also helped Jane create a poster for their buddy, Bexley, in honor of his 4th birthday.  According to his mom, Katherine (who is also Cam's former nanny), Bexley was very curious how the poster was made.  Even though a drive-by birthday isn't the same as an in-person one, it does bring out the creativity to find a way to produce more smiles.
Generating smiles is something Cam mastered a long time ago!

Camology Quotes:
We have noticed an increase in Cam's appetite which has coincided with his growth.  He is very perceptive and usually detects when something is different.  After Jane gave him his plate of food for dinner one night, his response was telling.
"Mom, that's a generous helping!"

Sunday, September 6, 2020

Welcome to School Served with a Face Shield - Week of Aug. 31st

"In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity." ~Albert Einstein

Monday, August 31st marked the first day of school for Cam as he eagerly anticipated the beginning of 7th grade.  Even though it was much different from any other introduction, excitement was apparent.  Cam's bus pickup at 6:45am was very dark, so our pic was snapped on Monday at his 2:45pm dropoff.

Masks are a mandatory accessory and our middle-schooler wore one on the way to school.  His teacher asked if he wanted to test out a face shield since his mask was wet from talking.  The approved face shield is a far better option for Cam.  We are grateful for his in-person learning 4 days/week as everyone is learning to navigate safely with face coverings.

Labor Day weekend has always marked the end of summer in Michigan.  Saturday was our beach day and we all realized it may be the last one.  The sunshine was beautiful and the lake was incredibly calm.  Jane and her son ventured out in their inflatable kayak.  Cam leaned over to feel water and said "Mom, the water is like ice cubes!"  It was definitely a bit chilly.
We chose to head back to Grand Rapids that night, but dined on the deck so we could watch the calm waters.  Oma made a delicious homemade apple pie.  As we headed out, we were able to catch the scenic sunset.

On Sunday, Chris and his son designed a cup holder for Cam's powerchair since it wasn't an accessory option.  The 3D printer created multiple layers of plastic filament which took a total of 30 hours to complete!  The finished product, though, was well worth the wait.

There are always moments when we are blown away by others' kindness.
We were completely surprised by a box that arrived with a styrofoam cooler filled with dry ice and ice cream.  Ms. Cyndi, one of Jane's coworkers, sent 6 cartons of ice cream to aid in Cam's recovery.  Talk about a sweet treat!
When we visited our favorite local farmstand Heidi's Bakery this week, Ms. Pat, who's known Cam since he was 2 years old had another surprise.  She knitted him his very own cozy blanket.  His super excited response made her cry tears of joy.
It reminds us that these words ring very true:
“Kindness is more important than wisdom, and the recognition of this is the beginning of wisdom.” 
~Theodore Isaac Rubin 
“Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind.” ~Henry James

Camology Quotes:
A sense of humor isn't really something you teach, but Cam seems to have mastered a very healthy witty banter.  Due to the upcoming holiday weekend, school was closed on Friday.  
As Cam entered the house on Thursday after school, Chris immediately began teasing him....

"So, tomorrow you'll wake up early again and then you have school all day..."
"Think again, Dad!"

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Hardware Out, Grandparents In - Week of Aug. 24th

"There is only one way to look at things until someone shows us how to look at them with different eyes." ~Pablo Picasso

Over the course of the past 3 years, Cam has had surgery on both of his hips, first right and then left, 4 screws along with a plate on each side and has acquired a pair of stylish hospital socks each time.  On Tuesday, he was scheduled for hip surgery #4, hardware removal for the left hip.  We were instructed to arrive at the hospital by 6am for a 7:30 procedure.  One may think this is far too early, but it works well since Cam is not allowed to eat or even drink water until after the surgery. He wasn't nervous about the hospital outpatient stay since he'd already been through the exact same experience just 1.5 years ago.  Our son is typically in a good mood pre-surgery and a bit grumbly post-surgery, as is to be expected.  We arrived back home before 1pm in the afternoon.

To assist with Cam's recovery, Oma and Opa arrived on Wednesday, ready to spend two nights at our house so that Chris and Jane could continue their work meetings during the day.
Oma and Cam read books, completed science experiments and made homemade chicken tenders.
Chris and his son showed off their 3D printer skills as everyone watched the intricate plastic forming an ear saver device used for masks.  We were beyond thankful for all of the help from Cam's grandparents..


Late in the afternoon on Thursday, Chris and Jane were able to drive Cam over to the middle school for a tour and review of what the school day would like next week.
To say Cam was excited may be one of the biggest understatements of the year!
He has been anticipating the return of instruction, seeing his friends, and attending school in a different building, Forest Hills Northern Middle School.

Cam's positive outlook is always welcome.  Sometimes, though, it surprises even his parents.  While watching a medical show about mystery illnesses, a story centered around a girl who suddenly lost the ability to walk.  After several misdiagnoses, a neurologist finally discovered a genetic cause and began a treatment plan.  When she took her first independent steps again, Cam ecstatically yelled "Yay!  Look she can walk!"  There is joy for other's accomplishments where some may assume there would be frustration or even anger.  It is a powerful lesson for us all!

Camology Quotes:
Nurse Lindsey assisted with Cam's care during his outpatient stay.  When he returned to the recovery room, Chris and Jane were allowed to rejoin their son.  Lindsey asked us if anyone shared what Cam said right before surgery.  She told us that Nurse Dan, who looked quite strong, was the person who lifted Cam from the hospital bed to the surgical table.  Dan performed the action quickly, just like Cam's dad.  Immediately, Cam exclaimed:
"Well that was easy!"
Dan's response: "Maybe for you!"

Nurse Lindsey told us everyone had a good laugh over the exchange :-)

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Bam! Cam is a Teenager - Week of Aug. 17th

"Listen to the mustn’ts, child. Listen to the don’ts. Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me … Anything can happen, child. Anything can be." ~Shel Silverstein

On August 17th, only 13 years ago, we welcomed Cameron Jackson into the world, 10 weeks early.  It may explain his innate desire to always be on time for appointments, or better yet, ahead of schedule.
When the birthday kid woke up on Monday, multiple tasks were ahead.
First up was opening presents...
After a few fun gifts of books, clothes and a portable neck fan, the biggest box of all was left.  As the contents were opened, Cam discovered he was the proud owner of a 3D printer!  If you're wondering what one produces with this type of apparatus, stay tuned for some future cool creations.

We bid farewell to Oma and Opa with a boatload of thanks, Ms. Amanda and Cam had some quality time to hang out while Jane began preparing and packing for their annual family camping adventure at Hungry Horse Campground.  We arrived late afternoon to a Happy Birthday greeting sign on our cabin from Auntie Karen!  For Cam's bday dinner, we feasted on steak, homemade potato salad, garlic bread and veggies.  A perfectly sized bday dessert complete with a "13" candle provided by Karen was literally icing on the cake to finish out a great day.

This is our fifth year year camping at Hungry Horse in Dorr, Michigan with Auntie Karen.  It has become an annual end of summer retreat for us all.  We have gotten to know the owners and even some of the seasonal folks that have permanent sites.  The campground is very special to us since Norm and Nancy, who run HH, paid for a metal ramp that was built for their newer cabin last year.  It is such a blessing to have an accessible place.

We experienced the best weather ever for our 4-night stay and walked over to the pool every day when it opened at 10am.  It seemed that others in the campground preferred afternoon swimming and we took advantage of being the only campers (for the most part) in the water for almost two hours.  Cam had the opportunity to practice swimming in the pool and relaxing his muscles.

Each morning or afternoon, our camper rode his bike to stretch out his legs and exercise.

Our nightly campfire dinner followed by tasty s'mores was definitely a highlight for Cam.  Even though some of our regular activities like the hayride were canceled this year, it gave way to perhaps more important actions, like meeting fellow campers.

Sitting by our fire at Auntie Karen's on the first night, we met Rachel and her dog, Moose.  Rachel chatted with us and Moose settled in, perfectly comfortable receiving an abundance of pets.  As we learned more about the teen and her dog, Rachel told Cam how much Moose really seemed to love him and Cam's response was "Moose loves us all."  Throughout our stay, we spent more time with Rachel and Moose, promising to see each other next year and looking forward to a reunion.

Hungry Horse brings greater independence for our son.  Whether it is driving to Auntie Karen's cabin every morning, testing out the bike track with his own ride, or racing his dad around the campground, every opportunity opens another window of confidence.

We said our goodbyes on Friday, thankful for our time with Auntie Karen, and reserved our cabin for the same week next year looking forward to more adventures.

Upon arrival back in Grand Rapids, we quickly unpacked and repacked, heading northward to meet our youngest cousin, Avery, for the first time.  Cam's little cousin, James, made an appearance as well and everyone enjoyed the warm Lake Michigan water.

It seemed that Cam's birthday lasted more than a week this year so we kept referring to it as "Camapalooza."  Our official teenager definitely encountered well beyond 13 awesome experiences this week.

Camology Quotes:
The birthday greetings were in abundance for Cam.  The Schulze fam sent an awesome video with everyone singing, Ms. Ann sent over a sweet tribute, Cousin David recorded a video birthday greeting this year and Uncle Jon and Aunt Betsy wrote a poem.  We think we need to commission David to turn this poem into a top hit!  
KABAM! KAZAM! It’s the Birthday of SUPER CAM! 
If you’re ever in a jam, call SUPER CAM
His smiles will make all your troubles scram 
When you feel as sad as a lamb, call SUPER CAM
He will make you laugh; he’s quite the ham 
Who’s that person with all the glam? Everybody knows, it’s SUPER CAM! 
When you are so hungry you could eat a raw clam, Just try SUPER CAM’s world’s best jam
Who is the person who can help Uncle Sam? There’s only one answer: “SUPER CAM I AM!” 
Who’s that person with all the glam? Everybody knows, it’s SUPER CAM! 
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, CAM. YOU ARE SUPER! ~Uncle Jon and Aunt Betsy