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! 

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Kayaks & Cool Signs - Week of Aug. 10th

Whenever Cam is about to embark on a new experience, we tend to research the history or some fun facts.  Many of the planned activities through Mary Free Bed were canceled this spring and summer.  Jane received an email about the kayak clinic with MFB Adaptive Sports and we jumped at the opportunity.

6 Facts About the History of Kayaking
1. Kayaks are at least 4,000 years old. The history of kayaking dates back at least 4,000 years. If you happen to find yourself in Munich, Germany, you can see the world’s oldest surviving kayaks in the North American section of the Museum Five Continents. These kayaks are from the year 1577. 
2. Kayaks were invented by the native people of Arctic North America. The first people in the world to build and use kayaks were Inuit, Aleut, and Yup’ik people. Often referred to as “Eskimos,” these indigenous people live in modern day Greenland, Canada, and Alaska. 
3. The word kayak means “hunter’s boat” or “man’s boat.” Kayaks were originally designed for hunting. These small boats were perfect for creeping up on animals that lived in the water or along the shore. Common prey included seals, caribou, and whales. 
4. The first kayaks were made from animal skins and whalebones. The Inuits and other native people made their kayaks by stitching animals skins together, often from seals, and stretching this material over a frame made from wood or whalebone skeletons. These early kayaking pioneers also used whale fat to waterproof their boats. 
5. The International Scale of River Difficulty was inspired by an Austrian kayaking trip. Class 1 or Class 4 rapids is referring to this system. The creation of an international scale came about shortly after an adventurous man named Adolf Anderle became the first person in the world to kayak the Salzachofen Gorge on the Salzach River in Austria in 1931. 
6. Kayak races were added to the Olympics in 1936. During the 1936 Berlin Olympic games, “flat-water racing” was introduced. In 1948, the Olympics added its first women’s paddling event: the 500 meter singles kayak. The first white water racing event premiered in 1972, and today, the Olympics have more than 10 white water competitions. 

Friday morning, we grabbed Cam's lifejacket and headed to Millennium Park where there is a boathouse used for kayak, canoe and paddleboat rental.  Cam's parents thought he would be out for 30 minutes or so but he and his guide Alaina were on the water for more than an hour!  He said he can't wait to do it again next year.

We arrived at the cottage Saturday afternoon and enjoyed more time in the water with our inflatable kayak as well as some swimming for Cam in the Cammobile.  For family Sunday brunch, we surprised Cam with an early birthday cake.  He chose his favorite pic from last year- his Lego construction backhoe that he and his dad made for Halloween.  Our favorite bakery, Rykes, made a delicious peanut butter cream filled chocolate cake.  Even though it was a day before Cam's actual birthday, we wanted him to have a few extra surprises this year.
As we were driving home on Sunday and pulled down our street, we caught Cam's reaction on video to something that was set up in our yard.
Thanks to a CardMyYard company, it was all ready and waiting when we arrived in the afternoon.
Cam's genuine surprise was priceless and one we will never forget.
Oma and Opa drove into Grand Rapids as well and appeared shortly after we did.
As we settled in, we told our son it would be a good idea for us all to take a closer look at that sign.  Our entourage headed down the driveway close to 4:30pm.
What Cam didn't realize was that Jane had sent out invitations for a drive-by birthday greeting!  As one car after another drove by with signs and a few drop-offs, we saw Dr. Lisa, Ms. Kathy (3rd/4th grade teacher) and Kevin, Ms. Barbara (K-2nd grade teacher), Mary Jo and Ms. Cris, our Flegel friends, Ms. Michelle (school PT since K) Liam (one of Cam's best buds) and his entire family, and Ms. Ann!
In addition to all of that awesomeness, Ms. Ann had contacted the Cascade Fire Dept to request their presence for the drive-by celebration.  They said they would absolutely be there (unless there was a big emergency, of course) and Cam couldn't believe it!  After all of the excitement, the dinner of choice was none other than Culver's.  Ms. Ann stayed too and we all enjoyed an outdoor feast of deliciousness.  Our Raisch family friends stopped by after dinner as well to check out the yard sign and bring Cam a sweet gift.
Oma and Opa gave their grandson a new school outfit and an awesome personalized backpack complete with lunch cooler.
It is said that there aren't too many real surprises in life that one encounters.  We believe we were successful in our quest to multiply the astonishment for a kiddo that continues to amaze us every day!

Camology Quotes:
After Cam's first surprise birthday cake, he told told his cousins he felt like he was almost 13 but more like 25...then he announced to his parents Sunday evening...  
 "I really got the full treatment today!"  

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Keeping Secrets - Week of Aug 3rd

The best way of keeping a secret is to pretend there isn't one. ~Margaret Atwood
One of the secrets of life is that all that is really worth the doing is what we do for others. ~Lewis Carroll

The modern English word secret comes from the Latin secernere, or to separate or distinguish. The prefix “se-” means apart, and “cernere” is to sift.

To keep a secret, then, is to keep some particular bit of information sifted apart from a particular person. As a psychologist notes, that’s one major reason for why keeping secrets is so difficult. Even if you’re the most loyal of friends, keeping something sifted is a cognitively demanding task, and our minds aren’t quite as nimble as we might hope for them to be. It’s a surprisingly complex maneuver: You have to keep in mind not only this privileged piece of information, but also what the person does and doesn’t know.  Cam spent the week keeping a secret surprise from his parents and he really did a great job.

On Friday, it was common knowledge that Cam and Jane were scheduled to be interviewed for the MI-UCP (Michigan's United Cerebral Palsy) organization for their upcoming new website.  Jane is on the Board of Directors and was requested to ask Cam if they could both share their thoughts.  It was quite exciting meeting the two professional videographers and seeing all of their equipment.  Our security camera captured the footage shown in the video of Cam racing down the driveway as part of the interview.
Saturday, we were once again on the road to Montague to spend time at the lake.  Chris wanted to install a remote for the ceiling fan and Cam, his safety supervisor, was guiding him through the effort.  The end result - Oma and Opa no longer have to have the light and fan both on at the same time.  Now, they can be controlled independently.
It wasn't quite the beach day we had hoped for, but it was a beautiful sunset.  Oma, Opa and Cam were quite busy putting up some decorations while Chris and Jane were away for a bit.
As the couple walked through the door, they were genuinely surprised to see a Congratulations sign and balloons along the mantle in honor of their wedding anniversary!
After a beautiful sunset, we spent the night and the next day enjoyed a picture picture sunny afternoon lakeside on Sunday.
There were still a few surprises in store for Cam's parents, though.

With the menu planning courtesy of Cam and Oma, we feasted on steaks and salmon, sweet corn, fresh garden beans and Oma's famous potato salad.  A decadent Ryke's Bakery cake along with Country Dairy ice cream topped off the meal.

17 years ago on this day, Chris and Jane exchanged vows on the Lake Michigan shoreline.  The beach has changed quite a bit in those years, as we all have, but it still holds strong, just as our family does.
Cam told his parents "I wanted you to have an anniversary you will never forget!"  And because of Cam and his grandparents, we never will!

Camology Quotes:
Cam has become much more 
independent sending emails, text messages and audio messages.  With email he will use the speech to text conversion.  During the week, he was sending correspondence back and forth to his grandma.  When his parents asked if he needed any assistance, his response was immediate.
 "Do not read my email.  Oma and I are conspiring!"

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Masked Meetup - Week of July 27th

Distanced backyard deer
“Masked, I advance.” ~Rene Descartes

It is strange that social distancing, wearing a mask and coronavirus updates are a part of Cam's daily world.
His school district formally released a plan for back to school on August 31st.  Cam's special needs class plans to have the option of attending in person.  General education 7th graders will be splitting their time between in-person and virtual school for the first 4 weeks.  It did get us thinking about the history of special ed.

The story of Special Education begins in the early part of the 20th Century. Parents formed advocacy groups to help bring the educational needs of children with disabilities to the public eye. These groups gained momentum mid-century. In 1961, President John F. Kennedy created the President’s Panel on Mental Retardation. The panel’s recommendations included federal aid to states. In 1965, Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which provided funding for primary education, and is seen by advocacy groups as expanding access to public education for children with disabilities. Despite these two important events, by the 1970’s, only a relatively small number of children with disabilities were being educated in public schools. Both enacted in 1975, two federal laws would change this: The Education for All Handicapped Children Act (EHA) and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). 
The EHA establishes a right to public education for all children regardless of disability, while the IDEA requires schools provide individualized or special education for children with qualifying disabilities. Under the IDEA, states who accept public funds for education must provide special education to qualifying children with disabilities. The IDEA sets forth specific guidelines regarding Free Appropriate Public Education. Among these is the idea that education must be tailored to meet the needs of the individual child with a disability. This education must be of benefit to the child and should prepare the child for further education (i.e., college) or to live and work independently. The IDEA also requires that education occur in the least restrictive environment and requires schools to take a child’s disability into account when enforcing discipline. Although not all children with disabilities are covered by the IDEA and EHA, these two acts have been instrumental in ensuring a free public education to millions of children with disabilities each year since passage. Prior to these acts, parents of children with disabilities had few choices as to the education of their children. Today, these children receive their education alongside all others.

Cam had a social smoothie break planned at Brody's Be Cafe on Thursday.  Liam and his brother David, along with Cam and Brody all enjoyed a mid-morning break and catching up.

After work on Friday, we headed over to Lowell to see Mary Jo and celebrate her graduation.  As president of her graduating class, it was a different senior year for her since Michigan schools were out of session as of mid-March.  She was super excited to see Cam and made certain there were some Chick-Fil-A nuggets and Heidi's doughnuts for him to enjoy.

Our summer season is far too short and once again, the pull of Lake Michigan and the beach could not be resisted.

On Saturday we arrived in time for lunch and headed to the beach in the afternoon.  It was a partly sunny day and by the time dinner rolled around, it had clouded over.  As the evening progressed, though, the sun shone itself again.  It was visible enough to see it "dip" below the horizon, appearing to sink into the big lake.  The afterglow was especially picturesque with the different hues illuminated in the sky and reflected in the water.

We never tire of seeing the poignant colors and still believe each sunset is entirely different.  Something else we don't get tired of... eating s'mores!  Although they do pretty much taste the same each time, they are still one of the most delicious desserts around!!

Camology Quotes:
Cam and his grandma have always loved baking together in the kitchen and also pretending to bake on the beach.  Often, those lucky enough to be in the vicinity may be offered a treat.  
 "What kind of cupcake would you like?" 
"A mint chocolate one, please"
"It is only free if you make it yourself!"