Sunday, July 26, 2020

Summer Sleepover - Week of July 20th

“Water does not resist. Water flows. When you plunge your hand into it, all you feel is a caress. Water is not a solid wall, it will not stop you. But water always goes where it wants to go, and nothing in the end can stand against it. Water is patient. Dripping water wears away a stone. Remember that, my child. Remember you are half water. If you can't go through an obstacle, go around it. Water does.”  ~ Margaret Atwood

Every weekday, weather permitting, Cam and Amanda head out on their two+ mile hike around 10am.
Typically, they will see different animals and wildlife.  This week, the highlight was a beautiful butterfly.

After a long work week for Chris and Jane, our family was excited to be driving northwest on Saturday mid-morning.  This trip was a bit more unique than others as it contained two special elements 1) We were stopping at Dog-n-Suds for lunch and 2) As a family, we had opted to spend the night at Oma and Opa's for the first time in almost two years.

The Montague Dog-n-Suds is a fam favorite.  The location opened in 1963 and is only one of two left in the state.  Every time we visit, it is always busy.  Customers can sit on the outdoor picnic tables or stay in their vehicles and have the food delivered.  Usually, Cam drives down the ramp to a lower sidewalk next to White Lake.  However, the area is closed due to the high water!

The afternoon was spent lounging and playing on the beach.  After a delicious dinner, we made plans to make a sandy campfire.  It was time to break out the first s'mores of the season.

Interestingly enough, no one knows for sure who invented the s'more. However, the first published recipe for “some mores" was in a 1927 publication called Tramping and Trailing with the Girl Scouts. Loretta Scott Crew, who made them for Girl Scouts by the campfire, is given credit for the recipe.  That seems fitting since Oma and Jane both have history with the Girl Scouts.

As we all devoured our delicious marshmallow, chocolate, graham cracker dessert, there was only 1 individual who requested s'more #2....you were thinking, Cam, but it was actually...Oma!

Sunday afternoon brought us another treat with cousin time in the fresh Lake Michigan water.  As we socially distanced and enjoyed swimming together in the waves, Jane, Meg and Liz were reminded of their own childhood summers spent laughing and playing together.  The best memories are those that bring a smile to our face and this day brought that smile right to your heart.

We are grateful for the refreshing water and family time. 
It is said that not every lake dreams to be an ocean.  And we selfishly believe that the Lake Michigan sunsets are the most breathtaking.

Camology Quotes:
Cam likes stories and details.  If you attempt to provide a "Readers Digest" version of an experience you're relaying, he will promptly interrupt and request that you start over.  Many of these conversations take place in the van when Chris is driving.  
 "Dad, start from the beginning.  Dad, turn up your volume, please."

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Finding Shade - Week of July 13th

In Michigan, we anticipate the summer months like a tasty dessert.  Sometimes, too much of something helps us remember why moderation is a good thing.
The hottest temperature ever recorded in Grand Rapids was 108℉  on July 13, 1936.
The steamiest day in recent years was July 6, 2012 (104℉) which was a very memorable summer for us since our air conditioning suddenly stopped working in the home we had just purchased.

It has been an unusually warm July thus far with many days in the 90 degree range.  Cam appreciates the sunshine, but excessive heat is definitely not his favorite.
At Tuesday's Farmer's Market in Ada, he met a puppy who quickly found a cooler area under Cam's feet.  The market is set up every Tuesday in the summer and early fall in the parking lot adjacent to Brody's Be Cafe.

In the mornings while it is still a bit cooler, Ms. Amanda and Cam try to schedule in their daily stroll in the park.  This beautiful creature was near a marsh area.  After a bit of research, it appears to be an Eastern Box turtle.

Thursday evening, we headed over to Thornapple Church for an outdoor graduation party in honor of our dear friend, Megan Raisch.  Every one wore masks and there was a delicious dessert bar set up.  Our family gave Meg a remote-controlled lighted name box for her dorm room this fall.  We all agreed to a quick picture without masks.

Saturday, we were northward bound once again.  The waves were higher than usual so it wasn't the ideal day for swimming but still fun to hang out on the beach for a bit.
We watched an enormous shelf cloud make its way toward us.  It's quite mesmerizing to watch the weather change over Lake Michigan.

An author, Yasmina Haque, described the fresh water this way: “Lake Michigan’s definitely moody. It’s not just bi-polar, but beyond schizophrenic. It’s dozens of surrounding lakes and waterways...never know what to expect on a day to day basis. She is awesome at calm and awesome at dangerous.”

Camology Quotes:
On Sunday morning, we had quite a severe thunderstorm in the area.  Around 9am, we lost power.  After we logged in online and reported it, the restoration time indicated was 6:45pm!  Cam and Jane decided to take a drive.  While they were out and about, this conversation took place.
 "Mom, we had planned on leftovers for lunch, right?"
Yes, that was the plan.
*pause* "I cannot have leftovers because we cannot heat them up with no power."
*pause* "I guess I will have to have Culvers!"

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Chill-axing - Week of July 6th

Friendly bunny seen daily!
“Unplugging for a while fixes computers and humans” ~Freequill

A chance encounter is the unknown and unpredictable element that causes an event to result in a certain way rather than another.

When stopping at Starbucks (Jane's guilty pleasure), we saw our neighbors parked right next to us.  After chatting for a bit, Thad, who is closest in age to Cam asked if he would like to see his air gun.  When we arrived home, Thad came over soon after and explained the safety and usage.  He even made a target for Cam to practice on.  Since it was an air gun, it was very quiet which Cam thought was especially cool.
A trip over to Brody Be's during the week included a meet up with some GV graduate students and their puppy named Kobe.  It was nice hanging out in the shade and chatting.  The small dog was super cute but barked a bit too much for Cam's liking.
After the GV guys left, we had a special treat.
One of the Be-rista's at the cafe loves singing Elvis songs.  Liam treated us to a mini concert outside and we were all very impressed.  It turns out Elvis recorded more than 600 songs and Liam's mom told us that her son knows at least 300 of them- wow!

Cam and his dad spent some time outdoors during the week working on the deck.  It's pretty fun when the leaf blower doubles as a cooling fan on a hot day.

Friday, we celebrated Chris for his birthday!  Beginning with breakfast and picking out one of his favorite spots for takeout, Cam led the way with ideas.
Presents for the best guy were a new set of camping chairs- one from Oma and Opa and one from Cam and his mom, along with some t-shirts and shorts.  The comfy chairs had to be tested out after dinner.  Chris proclaimed they were just right for chillaxing!

Camology Quotes:
At the cottage, Cam takes pride in saying a family blessing before eating.  Each one is unique and oh so truthful!
 "Everyone stay safe.  Thank you for the beautiful day.  Thank you Oma and Opa for letting us stay for dinner even though it was not planned.  Amen."

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Celebrating Independence - Week of June 29th

"Every human has four endowments - self awareness, conscience, independent will and creative imagination. These give us the ultimate human freedom... The power to choose, to respond, to change." ~Stephen Covey

The definition of independence is freedom from the control or influence of others.
Being independent means different things to different people.  For Cam, the power wheelchair allows him to freely choose a direction, a path, a course.  Without it, he is reliant on others.  With it, he decides where he will physically go next.
In our world's continued state of health concerns, all local fireworks shows and parades were canceled this week.  For Cam, this was a bit of a relief since the big celebrations are quite booming near our home.  However, it seemed that privately, people in our area took on the role of trying to outdo one other with the loudest light show for four nights in a row.  Actually, our son made it through, thanks to blue-tooth headphones streaming music from his dad and check-ins from both parents.  At one point, we heard him repeating the word "furious" over and over when the loud pops wouldn't stop.
Mom & Cam
Thankfully, there were plenty of distractions during the day.
Ms. Amanda introduced us to Amish Friendship Bread a few weeks ago.  She gave us a "starter" that contains ingredients you keep mushing around in a bag for 10 days and then bake.  The recipe makes two large loaves of bread and 4 "starters" to give to others.  The bread reminds us of Oma's cinnamon coffee cake.  Cam thinks it is best for breakfast or a snack.

On Saturday, we headed north to the cottage where Lake Michigan was unusually calm and the beach looked very inviting.  Digging large holes and cooling our feet took up quite a bit of time.  All that sand was rinsed off in the big lake.
The CamMobile still ranks as one of the most ingenious creations Chris has made and improved upon every time he has had to re-build due to Cam's growth.
After a solid few hours of playing, catching up with cousins and soaking up the sun, we headed up to Oma and Opa's.  We all ate on the deck with Lake Michigan in sight.  For dessert, each of us enjoyed an ice cream sundae which always seems to taste better consumed in the summer and outside.
Sunday was our catch up day for household chores and complete outstanding projects.
Cam told his dad he wanted to play on his computer for awhile.  Turns out our son may be picking up a few too many tips and tricks as he fearlessly navigates the keys and icons.  Before Chris knew it, Cam had changed his profile picture for work.  It definitely seems the technology gene runs deep in our family!

Camology Quotes:
Cam truly has an internal clock.  Without knowing the actual time, his predictions for eating meals are always spot on.  When asked, "Are you ready for dinner?  His immediate response:
 "I was born ready!""

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Jamming Cam - Week of June 22nd

"It's not how much we give but how much love we put into giving." ~Mother Teresa
"We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give." ~Winston S. Churchill

Many have asked us over the years why we don't have a dog.  Perhaps because Stella, our cat, seemed to make her claim as Cam's protector soon after we brought him home from the hospital.  She still follows him around and has complete trust that he will not run her over with his power wheelchair.
Cam is definitely a dog magnet of sorts, though.  Ms. Amanda was pet-sitting this week and her trusty sidekick, Cam, was happy to help her out with check-ins.  Roxie, the boxer, and Cam were introduced a few years ago.  Roxie loves jumping into the van and saddling up right next to her buddy.  Lola is Roxie's new sister and eagerly hopped in as well to meet the new guy.

We always await Michigan's strawberry season with eager anticipation.  It's one of the most popular fruits of the summer and has quite an interesting history.
Today’s cultivated strawberries came from an accidental cross between two wild strawberry varieties in France around the 1700s. In Ancient Rome, wild strawberries were seen as more than just a simple snack, but as a symbol for the goddess of love, Venus, due to its heart shape and red color. Medieval stonemasons would actually carve strawberries into their altars and pillars of cathedrals to symbolize “perfection and righteousness.” One of the oldest varieties of strawberries in France was known as “la princesse royale” or royal princess. The symbolism of strawberries is almost as sweet as their taste.

We reserved a flat at our favorite Heidi's Farmstand and came back with 8 quarts of the hand-picked red berries.  Now that we've made the jam for a few years, we have a solid process in place.  We used over 10 pounds of sugar, 9 packs of sure-jel and 48 containers to finish our freezer jam.  And if you pay us a surprise visit, you'll be taking home a container for yourself!

Once in awhile, an opportunity comes along that was just meant to be.
Alternatives in Motion is a non-profit organization whose mission is "To enhance independence through access to mobility equipment." Their vision is to be the central hub in West Michigan for recycling, distributing, and maintaining mobility equipment for those in need. They believe that access to mobility equipment is the path to independence. They respect and appreciate each person’s unique abilities and contributions.  Alternatives in Motion serves persons with disabilities and bring together people, ideas and resources to break down barriers to sustain a healthy community.
This organization was responsible for providing Cam with his first power wheelchair to practice with.  The wheelchair was free of charge and we still use it as a spare when needed.
This week we "gifted" our old handicap-accessible van to Alternatives in Motion.  They are so excited to have another vehicle to use for transporting people and delivering equipment to others in our community.  Cam met one of the board members, Matt, while we were there.   The old Dodge Caravan fulfilled our transportation needs for more than 6 years.  It was our first accessible vehicle.  When we asked Cam if he would miss it, his response was one we were all in agreement with.  "I will not miss that old van.  I like our newer one better because I can hear you when you are talking in it!"

Camology Quotes:
Even though school is on summer break, Cam can still send video messages to his teachers through an app they use.  Each and every video contains almost the exact same sign-off from our son. 
"I hope you have a great day!  Peace out!"

Sunday, June 21, 2020

My Hero, My Dad - Week of June 15th

“I believe that what we become depends on what our fathers teach us at odd moments, when they aren’t trying to teach us. We are formed by little scraps of wisdom.” ~Umberto Eco

“Every father should remember one day his son will follow his example, not his advice.” ~Charles Kettering

With virtual school officially over, Cam still maintains his daily routine of walking and homework in the morning.
Ms. Amanda hangs out with Cam each day and if the weather cooperates, they usually head out on a two-mile trek every morning.
As a nature and science fan, a hike through the woods can always provide a bit of excitement.  This friendly creature took a liking to Cam.

People are recognized for their accomplishments in different ways- an accolade, award, formal speech or some other verbose distinction.
There isn't a high enough honor in the universe that could be bestowed on Chris for his role as a father to his son.  His amazing skill set continues to expand as noted by every accessible ramp, tray, mobile beach chair and Halloween costume he has created for his boy.
The father and son team have filled our home with an illuminated digital picture frame in motion, the lighted wall scrabble board and countless projects.
But here's the difference between Cam's dad and others... he expects no recognition and is very humble about his talents.  Many have told him he could sell his ideas but he prefers to share the details online for others to make.  He loves unconditionally and celebrates his boy in every way.
For Father's Day, Jane and Cam headed to Chris' favorite breakfast spot, Sundance Grill, to pick up takeout to surprise him.  His biggest shock, though, was that Cam waited to eat his morning meal until we returned home at 8:30a, a true record for our son.
Chris and Cam opened matching shirts adorned with "Weatherford Wood Shop, Hand-Crafted, Custom-Made" so they now have garage uniforms while they work together.
We salute fathers everywhere and we certainly feel that Chris far exceeds his role.  The definition of a hero is a person who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities.  To Cam, the word "hero" simply means his dad.

Camology Quotes:
On Sunday, Cam was anticipating being able to wish Chris a Happy Father's Day. 
""Happy Dad Day! You are awesome, Dad. Are you honored?"

Sunday, June 14, 2020

My New Wheels - Week of June 8th

“Abled does not mean enabled. Disabled does not mean less abled.” ~Khang Kijarro Nguyen
"My disability exists not because I use a wheelchair, but because the broader environment isn't accessible." ~Stella Young 
Cam is very inquisitive and realistic.  He has been asking his parents lately why he has to use a wheelchair.  We tell him that his muscles don't work the same way as others and we talk about what his cerebral palsy diagnosis means.  His response is not one of sorrow or depression.  He accepts the fact that he is different, but we always also talk about the things he can do that no one else can.  He teaches others not to make assumptions about what abilities a person has.

When we arrived at Mary Free Bed Orthotics to pick up Cam's new power wheelchair this week, we were anticipating his reaction.  It was quite a bit of  time adjusting and working things out, but after two hours, we were on our way back home.  Cam declared, "I love my new chair!" 

This is his second power wheelchair and although both are by the same manufacturer, the functionality is quite different.  The new Permobil F5 has advanced controls, including an app controlled by bluetooth connection.  Cam was quite pleased with this upgrade as you can imagine.  He controls the sit to stand ability on his own and when in standing mode, he is eye level with Jane.
There is an adjustment period as Cam re-learns how much area he needs for turning and maneuvering.  We equate it to someone driving a car and then buying a truck as their new vehicle.  Everything is just a little bit different.
It was a celebration kind of week as Chris and Cam gave Jane the ultimate surprise for her birthday.  It can only be described as a larger-than-life illuminated Scrabble board representing our family.  The boys really outdid themselves by using the CNC machine to cut out each "letter" individually, sanding and painting the pieces, then they glued the entire board together, added lights and painted the outline on the wall in white so the lighting would really pop.  Of course, the lighting can be changed via an app that anyone in the household can control!
As a family, we headed out to the hot tub on the weekend at Cam's request.  Although it was warm outside, it was later in the day with a cool breeze and the water felt refreshing.  Cam likes to practice kicking his legs to increase movement.  Just like all of us, he absolutely enjoys the relaxation aspect.

At the end of the weekend, we were all pretty beat from all of the activity and excitement.  Not only did Cam receive new wheels, but our family was awaiting the arrival of our new 'used' van used to transport Cam and his powerchair.
As we looked out the window Sunday evening, we noticed some friendly wildlife was taking a much needed break as well.

Camology Quotes:
Humor, smiles and laughter are a daily requirement in our household.
Cam has become keenly aware of his dad's jokes and sarcasm.  At dinner one evening, Chris indicated that dinner was 'explanariousfantabulouishness babelbomtagerment' and his son had the perfect response.
"Ohhh..kaaayyy...  
For 1, I do not even know what that word is and 
For 2, I do not think it is a word!"