Sunday, December 27, 2020

Festivity Focus - Week of Dec. 21st

Cam has always been a "glass half full" kind of kid.  Yes, his parents tend to be positive individuals, but each person makes a choice as to how they approach life.  Cam is accepting, empathetic and kind.

When we checked out the glass half empty vs. half full, we found the most credible reference of its origin from the Los Angeles Times, Feb. 26, 1933.
Two men were looking at a bottle of milk. Said one with a groan, "The bottle is half empty." Said the other with a grin, "The bottle is half full." The first belonged to the courters of disasters, forever bemoaning their losses; the second to the invincibles who win by counting their blessings.

For the first portion of the week, Cam was fortunate to have Ms. Amanda come over to hang out while Chris and Jane finished up full work days.  We all exchanged gifts.  Amanda knitted super soft scarves for both Cam and Jane!  She also gave her buddy all kinds of baking kits and a cooking utensil set complete with a hot pad.   Cam put together a sundae basket for Ms. Amanda with all of her favorites and we gave her some clothes and socks.
It's a different year for everyone this season and following our glass half full premise we were determined to remain positive.  Although many events were cancelled, our small family celebration persevered.   Oma and Opa arrived on Christmas Eve.  We watched the church service online and opened some fun surprises sent in the mail.  A Ghirardelli chocolate tin showed up from a work partner Jane does business with.  In addition, 
a huge basket from Jane's colleague filled with everything from New Jersey had the entire family exploring the contents.
Cam had a tough time getting to sleep Christmas Eve since he kept listening for Santa outside.  He understands there are many Santa's and that parents help the cause but the magic of the white-bearded man and its history still capture our son's imagination.  Christmas Day was relaxing and purposeful, enjoying each other's company and slowly revealing gifts.

Cam created a sundae basket for Opa and one of our favorite gifts this holiday was creating same-day photo puzzles (10x14) from Walgreens.  Jane and her son had fun scanning some old pictures and choosing which ones would appear.  Chris had the genius idea of gifting our family a bread maker, something Cam has been thinking about for awhile.
In the evening, our family took a tour of Lowell to check out some lighted buildings set to music and we enjoyed being cozy on the couch.
We were so thankful for gifts from Cam's grandparents as well as Oma's most delicious Christmas cookies, all from old recipes that stand the test of time.

From our family to yours, we send our love and virtual hugs.  The promise of a new year is just around the corner.  May your glass be half full on a daily basis.

Camology Quotes:
Our cousins surprised us with an invite to an online cooking class to make authentic Spanish Paella (pronounced pai-eh-uh) on Sunday afternoon.  The event was hosted by Helina, a chef in Barcelona, Spain.  
There were ingredients to prep and certain utensils and pans at the ready.  Cam was quite doubtful of his parent's skillset when he realized they had forgotten to boil their tomatoes in advance.  
It was an awesome experience and now our entire family knows how to cook paella and we all love it!  
For the majority of the 90-minute class, you could hear the following mantra could be being heard in our kitchen...
  "Mom, did you do that step?"  "Dad, she said to stop stirring.  Do not stir so much."  "She wants us to unmute."

Sunday, December 20, 2020

The Christmas Card - Week of Dec. 14th

It turns out our cat, Stella, can be pretty entertaining.  Cam thinks it is hysterical that she is fascinated by water.  Because of this we did a little research as to why felines can be obsessed by H2O. 
The answer probably lies in survival instincts. Cats tend to seek out fresh, clean water over stagnant water, probably because fresh water is less likely to contain harmful bacteria than stagnant water is. Cats also don't need very much water. They descended from desert dwelling animals, and they take in much of their necessary water from their food. So, more than other domestic animals, cats can afford to be pickier about where they get their water from. Plus, running or moving water is just fun.
In the final week of school prior to the holiday break, Cam enjoyed a bit of outdoor time with his friends.  If the weather cooperates, his small class tries to do this at least once a day to have a break from masks and face shields while the kids remain distanced.  Fun activities were in full swing at school with two half days including a showing of the movie "Elf" and a memorized reading of "The Grinch" play.

On Tuesday, Chris and Jane had the day off of work to travel to Oma and Opa's.  The Michigan winters are typically very cold and right on Lake Michigan, the wind combined with snow and ice makes walking back and forth to the parking lot a bit treacherous.  A half cord of firewood was dropped off and new walking stones were laid next to the back door for ease and safety.  Although Cam was bummed he couldn't make the trek, he is very thankful to be in school.
After school and in the evenings, our entire family worked to fold Christmas cards, add the address labels and postage.  Each of us has a list of people we cannot forget.  The card is a family operation every year.  It is a labor of love and one of our traditions.
Another tradition is the Elf on the Shelf.  Although Cam is aware of some parental involvement, he still laughs hysterically each morning to see where the elf may end up.  On this particular a.m., cousin James and Santa's helper smiled all day being next to one another.

Camology Quotes: 

We typically receive emails from Mary Free Bed Adaptive Sports.  Chris was reading his email to Cam one evening and shared that in the email the following was stated about Laura, Cam's swim instructor:
"Miss Laura is really nice. I just love her and she always cares about me. I like the relaxing pool and she is a great teacher. She is awesome!!" - Adaptive Swim Participant 
  Cam said: "Dad, I said that about Miss Laura!"
Chris was in a bit of disbelief until Jane confirmed that in fact, Cam had asked to send an unsolicited email to Laura's boss.

Sunday, December 13, 2020

First Virtual Conference - Week of Dec 7th

"There is no such thing as an attention span.  There is only the quality of what you are viewing.  The whole idea of an attention span, I think, is a misnomer.  People have an infinite attention span if you are entertaining them."  ~Jerry Seinfeld

As every one of us can attest to, this year of 2020 has been a very different one.  Amidst all of the loss, there have been a few gains.  

Everything that was scheduled to be in person has become a virtual event.  Hosting anything 'not in person' has increased 1000%.   While this has been extremely unfortunate for conference centers, the hospitality industry and others, it has meant that many individuals who may not have been able to attend in person could now attend remotely. 

Chris and his son have been using Home Assistant software on a regular basis.  Home Assistant is a free and open-source home automation software designed to be the central home automation control system for controlling smart home technology.  As an example, the boys set up the lighting in the laundry room to turn on when someone enters.  Cam's bathroom is set up the same way and the list goes on.  As with most software, there are continuous updates.  The boys received information about a live Home Assistant Conference 2020.  You had to register and pay $1.  Cam declared it was worth it.

When the guys logged in, you had a few minutes to introduce yourself "virtually" to others.  Within a short amount of time, Chris and Cam said hello to people in South Africa, Germany, Australia and the U.S.  The agenda was fast-paced with speakers providing live demonstrations and breaks in between.  In total, the event lasted 4.5 hours.  Cam's dad set up the live conference on the main tv so that they both wouldn't need to sit in front of the computer.  Jane could hear her son repeating the following phrase more than once..."Dad, it's starting.  The next speaker is coming on.  Dad, are you listening?"  It turns out that what may be captivating for some, may be a bit too relaxing for others.

Camology Quotes: 

Ms. Amanda asked if she could hang out with her buddy Friday evening for a few hours so Chris and Jane could finish some Christmas shopping.  Cam was super excited.  After a dinner delivery, they were busy making one of their favorite baking treats.
  "We made the brownies and chocolate chip cookie mix.
They both have to go together.  It is too hard to choose."

Sunday, December 6, 2020

You Rock - Week of Nov. 30th

The moments of happiness we enjoy take us by surprise. It is not that we seize them, but that they seize us.  ~Ashley Montagu

True surprises seem far and few between.  The meaning of surprise as "something unexpected" was first recorded in the 1590s, that "feeling of astonishment caused by something unexpected" is circa 1600.  

When Jane received a text message from Coleen at Alternatives in Motion, it seemed a bit cryptic.  She asked if we could bring our son to the AIM building on Wednesday.  Fortunately, Wednesday is a virtual school day for Cam.  After checking Chris and Jane's work schedules, we all decided that 1pm would be our magic time slot.

As we headed over, Cam kept asking why we were going and what it was for.  
When we arrived, Jane went in first to check in with Coleen.  She requested to have Cam come into the building.  Coleen explained to the Youth Ambassador, Mr. Cameron, that one of their longtime partners, Creative Studio, reached out to Coleen after seeing Cam receive the framed award on the Facebook Live event.
This was the correspondence they sent in email: "I noticed a picture for the Youth Ambassador award and talked with Ann (CFO of Creative Studio). After talking we decided he needed a nice award, so we wanted to donate this.😊"
The square is a large magnet and the "You Rock" letters magnetically connect on the left side.  The flame is also magnetic and has the words "You're on fire!"  It's quite obvious that the company name "Creative Studio" certainly shows its creativity.  We were all beyond impressed and thankful.

There are moments when a video message of gratitude captures how much something means possibly even more than the written word.

Camology Quotes: 

At school, Cam had to come up with a Christmas list.  The result made his parents laugh and most likely puzzled his teachers...
  1. Underwear
  2. A new coat
  3. A new pair of shorts
  4. New wrapping paper with toys on it