Sunday, May 30, 2021

Percentiles - Week of May 24th

 "Comparison is the death of joy." ~Mark Twain

It is difficult to distinguish when one begins to compare one's self to others.  As parents, the constant correlation to other kids is something that seems inevitable.  When Cam was little, he barely made it onto the growth charts.   At his specialist appointment this week, his current stats are 107lbs (45th percentile), 5'2" (28th percentile).  Fortunately, each of us is so much more than the statistical percentages we are made up of.  Finding the unique qualities in others does feel more fulfilling than comparing.

This week, the boys began construction work on the latest Cam-Mobile for summer beach time.  Even though they have built multiple versions due to our son's growth, it seems Home Depot never tires of seeing us on several occasions.  Measuring, cutting and gluing the pvc pipe pieces make up the majority of effort.

On Sunday, we drove northward to check on Oma and Opa.  It had been a week since Cam's grandmother had surgery and we wanted to be certain she was recovering as expected.  

It was a bit too chilly for any beach activities so we remained inside sharing a lunch of soup and bread and assisting Oma with some things on her to do list.  In the afternoon, we spent time visiting with our longtime family friend, Umpy reminiscing and telling Cam stories about childhood.   We were all impressed by how well Oma was doing and Cam decided she was aok!

After a delicious grilled dinner with Cam's grandparents, it was time to start our journey homeward.  We all felt tired relieved that Monday was a holiday.  As we drove back to Grand Rapids Sunday evening, Chris and Jane could have sworn they saw their teenager almost doze off a few times during the trip.

Camology Quotes:

Cam's grandma was scheduled for surgery early Monday morning.  Cam asked if he could go with his mom and miss school.  Jane explained that due to current Covid restrictions still in place, only one person was allowed to be in the hospital waiting.  Although he understood, he made certain that the following request would be carried out.

"Mom, please make sure my Oma is ok and give her a big hug for me.  Do not forget!" 

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Family Connection - Week of May 17th

Uncle John started a 
whipped cream war!
"In every conceivable manner, the family is a link to our past, bridge to our future." ~Alex Haley                                                                                             "Families are like branches on a tree, we grow in different directions yet our roots remain as one." ~Author Unknown                                                                                                                                           The anticipation of an event can make time seem to decelerate or go into warp speed. Monday and Tuesday felt like slow motion days, but then Wednesday arrived and an accelerator kicked in.

On Wednesday morning, Cam headed off to school and Chris was on his way to orthopedic urgent care shortly thereafter.  Chris was given a diagnosis of plantar fasciitis and left with a lovely plastic boot to wear at night to help alleviate pain.  When Cam got off the bus after school he only had to wait a short time before his dad's family began arriving by plane into Grand Rapids!                                                                                                                                  Chris' oldest brother, John and his daughter Jalayna arrived first from Arizona around 4pm.  It had been more than 12 years since Cam's dad and his brother had seen each other and this was our first time meeting Cam's cousin, Jalayna, age 5.  We all exchanged hugs and it seemed like no time had passed as everyone settled in.  Around 6pm, Cam and his dad went to pick up Chris' mom, Suzanne.  It had been 10 years since Grandma Sue had seen her grandson, Cam and her second oldest son, Chris.  We dined outside on our back deck in the balmy, unseasonable 80+degree weather.  
 Cam attended school on Thursday and Friday while Jane took Jalayna (aka Layna) and Grandma Sue to the park.  Chris and his brother John explored GR and went downtown.  The cousins, Jane & Grandma Sue took a field trip over to Brody's Be CafĂ© and thoroughly enjoyed cold smoothies outside.  Layna loves to play games, just like Cam, and the two of them made certain that game play was on the daily agenda.  It seemed that all too soon, Saturday arrived and we embarked on our busiest fun-filled day together.  Seeing Cam play for the West Michigan Miracle League was a goal Grandma Sue has had ever since her grandson started playing.  And we soon learned that Chris' brother, John, was the loudest cheerer in the crowd!  In addition to our family group, Ms. Mary Jo and her mom, Kris also arrived to root for Cam.  Mary Jo has provided Cam care in the past and Kris was an aide for Cam's classroom in elementary school.  The game was so much fun as we all watched Cam successfully use the batter box twice and round the bases.  In the outfield, he was stationed at 3rd base.  
Immediately following baseball, our crew headed to Grand Haven State Park so that John and Layna could see Lake Michigan.  We made the trip in two vehicles with the brothers in one and Jane driving the cousins and Grandma Sue in the other.  During the car ride, the kids played "alphabet" finding letters on signs and calling them out.  It was quite busy and we had to wait in a long line of cars to enter the beach area but it was well worth it.  Chris was able to borrow/use the new trax beach power chair (donated by Lori's Voice) for Cam. For the very first time ever, he was able to drive himself in the sand.  Layna loved playing and strolling along next to her cousin, Cam.  Everyone got their toes wet and even though the water was quite chilly, the sunshine was so warm.  We were all struck by the similarities between Chris and his brother, John.  As we were leaving the state park, the duo noticed a car stuck in the sand.  Never passing up an opportunity to help others, they jumped out and between the two masterminds, figured out how to push the vehicle out of the gritty grip of the soft sand.  
We arrived home in time to change and get ready for our special evening.  Once again we were off, headed to a hibachi dinner where your meal is cooked right in front of you.  Cam, Layna and Grandma Sue had never tasted hibachi before so we were all anticipating the event.  Chris' brother, John insisted on treating everyone.  The kids loved the onion "volcano" and the chef making a hat out of a cloth napkin.  Our bellies were completely stuffed but the cousins still had a bit of room for an ice cream dessert at home prior to bedtime.  
Sunday came too quickly and it was time to bid farewell to our Arizona family.  Not only did we find similarities between the brothers, there were also quite a few of the same likes and dislikes as it related to Cam and his cousin, Layna.  We all agreed that more frequent visits were in order and we all vowed to make it happen.  Some of us expected a return trip sooner than later...Miss Layna hugged everyone and said "I'll see you next weekend!"  Cam being the older cousin knew that we wouldn't see her in that short of time but on our return trip from airport drop-off, he made certain to ask "will they visit us for many, many more years?"  Even though Layna wasn't there to weigh in, we think she would've been proud to hear her cousin backing her up with a plea for frequent flyer miles.Camology Quotes:

Cam's parents have a bad habit of fastening their seatbelts as they are driving down the long driveway.  Cam in his role of safety supervisor is now instructing his parents when he catches them doing this.
"Safety measures must be taken.  Please fasten your seatbelts now!" 

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Following My Lead - Week of May 10th

"Leadership is practiced not so much in words as in attitude and in actions." ~Harold S. Geneen

Each morning, Cam heads down the driveway to meet the bus a little after 6:30am.  Many days, he is able to see the sunrise when he's getting ready.

At school, Robotics remains a true highlight.  Cam enjoys all subjects and the interactions, but working with his robot is always exciting.
This week he was able to test out the programming that was set up to allow the robot to follow him.  The video shows it all in action.

Oma and Opa arrived on Friday ready to attend Cam's baseball game on Saturday.
The cloudy weather made for a cooler start to the 10am first pitch, but it warmed up quickly.  The batter box was in full swing equipped with the pulley system to assist with the release of the bat to connect with the ball.
The players also had their individual photos taken, as is the case for every season.
Since Cam and his best bud Brody are on the same team, it was a sweet surprise to see their teacher Mrs. Wells and her daughter Nora, arrive in time for the WMML baseball too.

When the game was over before 11am, we decided it was a great idea to find a restaurant near home and eat outside.  We had no idea how difficult it would be!  The first place did not have their outdoor patio available yet, the 2nd place wasn't open until 3p, the 3rd place had a 45 min wait for outside seating and we finally sat down at the 4th restaurant on a picnic table.  And by that time, we sure were hungry.  Luckily, it was a delicious lunch and Oma and Opa treated us.

Back at home, Jane's mom had given her a beautiful hydrangea and begonia flowers for Mother's Day that were ready for planting.  After determining the best spot in the front yard we got to work placing them in the ground.  We bid farewell to Cam's grandparents late afternoon and watched a family movie in the evening.

On Sunday, we had another planned outing for an early dinner.  We were meeting our cousins at Outback Steakhouse to dine on the famous blooming onion and dinner, of course.  We arrived at 4:40p and were told it would be about a 35 minute wait.  As the timeframe came and went, it began to feel like a repeat of Saturday's lunch.  Of course, if one has to wait for 2 hours (!) outside, the nicer weather and Cam's dad being funny always helps.  In the picture, there is a man in the background carrying a cake.  As he passed by, Chris said "Oh, thanks for bringing my cake!" The man laughed and as we were all cracking up, Cam declared "Dad, that is embarrassing!"
We left the restaurant after 7:30p and knew we would be a bit later starting Cam's evening routine.  In true trooper form though, our son indicated on the drive home "it was worth it!"

Camology Quotes:

During our search for outdoor dining on Saturday, Jane was telling Chris & Cam that evening it was strange to see a 'Please Seat Yourself' sign at a popular restaurant that was typically busy.  Cam really didn't understand the basis for the sign at all.  His commentary:
"But if you seat yourself, how does anyone even know that you are there?!" 

Sunday, May 9, 2021

A Stand Up Guy - Week of May 3rd

“Do your best with what you have where you are.” ~Movie 'Stand Up Guys'

We have become accustomed to the lack of social activities on our calendar.  And then the busiest weekend in over 1 year, seemed suddenly upon us. 

Thursday evening was Ms. Amanda's wedding rehearsal and dinner.  Cam decided, of his own choosing, that he wanted to surprise her at the rehearsal with an idea.  Perhaps it was the deer in our backyard finding a tasty treat that spurred his thought.  When Cam saw Ms. Amanda he told her he wanted to go down the aisle in standing mode in his power chair!  There was quite a bit of practice with the group heading back and forth and then we quickly enjoyed a delicious dinner before heading back home since it was a school night.
Oma and Opa arrived Friday, eager to spend the weekend with us and join in all of the festivities.  The day began a bit too early on Saturday with the anticipation and a kiddo who didn't sleep much past 5am.  
Jane headed out first a little before 8am to begin her mistress of ceremonies duty list.  
Cam, his dad, and grandparents all left the house a bit after 9am to cheer on Cam at his baseball game.  For the first time in 575 days, Miracle League baseball returned to Nate Hurwitz Field.  Cam and his best bud, Brody were assigned to the Cubs team.  And their former teacher, Ms. Kathy and her husband Kevin were also in the cheering section.  The middle school Robotics teacher, Mr. Z, made an appearance too to see the kids play ball.  
Directly after the awesome game, the family headed over to the Friendship Christian Reformed Church in Byron Center to join Jane and grab lunch, get changed and then suit up for the wedding.

Cam had been given the wedding party position of Ring Security and dressed in the same duds as the groomsmen.  As such, he needed to be present for professional pictures which were set to be taken at a nearby mill as well as in the church.
As the security kid waited for the group to assemble, he had his first look of Ms. Amanda in her beautiful wedding dress.  To say he was surprised would be an absolute understatement!  To mark the occasion, we came up with the idea of Cam decorating his chair with a chalkboard sign that depicted all of the former wedding dates that were attempted due to the pandemic.  Mr. Ring Security was extremely pleased with his own plan of standing while driving for his trip down and up the aisle.  One of the most memorable moments of the ceremony was when the pastor indicated that Ms. Amanda had told him the service could only be 45 minutes in length.  Amanda, very audibly, added in the phrase "or less" at the perfect juncture.
The reception took place at a nearby family farm in Dorr.  The sun shone brightly and even though the breeze was cooler, the setting couldn't have been more beautiful.  Chris handled his master of ceremonies duties with his great sense of humor while his son thought it was incredibly cool that his own dad announced his name over the microphone as a member of the wedding party.  After 8pm, Cam was fading and indicated he really wanted to go home and get to bed.  The groom, Mr. Nick, told Cam he was tired too and was wishing for the same thing.  Cam and Nick had a shared laugh over that comment!

It was hard to believe the very next morning was Mother's Day.  Even though everyone was a bit tired, father and son headed out to pick up a delicious breakfast from Sundance Restaurant to celebrate.
Jane and Oma really had the royal treatment!  Cam's grandma opened customized cups adorned with pictures and a re-print of Cam's great grandma's autobiography created in Shutterfly by Jane and her son.  
Cam presented his mom with a lightweight blanket with a pic of the two of them and the inscription which he dictated to his dad. "I love you Mom!!! You are the greatest! Thank you for always caring about me like when you make me awesome food. I'm happy to celebrate Mother's Day with you. I am happy that you are my mom.  Your loving son, Cam"
At school, Cam had made a tulip card and arrived home with a homemade cookie mix with a card reading: 'To a mom that's as sweet as cookies. Let's bake some together!' and handmade sugar scrub denoting this message on top: 'I added sugar, because you are so sweet to me. I added oil because you always smooth my way. I added all my love moms are loveable.'
Before Oma and Opa headed up north, their grandson finished a homemade batch of applesauce with his grandma's oversight.
That evening, Jane requested a take-out dinner when exhaustion took over.  A nearby sushi place indicated a 90-minute wait for pickup.  Luckily, the ever popular Culver's had call ahead ready in less than 10 minutes.
It was a win-win dining as a family and partaking in Cam's favorite meal.  Jane's son kept asking if it was ok to have Culver's.  It was more than alright since the reason they were observing the day to begin with was because of Cameron.  After all, his mom always tells him, "You are the only reason I have the name 'mom' and it is reserved just for you."

Camology Quotes:

During some outdoor work on Sunday afternoon, Cam figured out a new way to assist his dad with outside projects... 
"I'll be the checker and you be the fixer!" 

Sunday, May 2, 2021

Sense of Direction - Week of Apr. 26

“Just like a GPS, the universe sends you signs to show you the best course. If you follow the flow, you get where you want with ease and happiness. If you miss a turn, the road becomes longer and harder.” ~Charbel Tadros 
“Right now there are thirty-one satellites zipping around the world with nothing better to do than help you find your way to the grocery store.” ~Ed Burnette

The Global Positioning System (GPS), originally Navstar GPS, is a satellite-based radio navigation system owned by the United States government and operated by the United States Space Force. It is one of the global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) that provides geolocation and time information to a GPS receiver anywhere on or near the Earth
where there is an unobstructed line of sight to four or more GPS satellites.

Your sense of direction is your ability to know roughly where you are, or which way to go, even when you are in an unfamiliar place.
Cam has always seemed to remember how to direct others to their destination.  Once he's been to a location it remains with him.  When directing his mom a "back way" over to Costco, he exclaimed, "I'm like a GPS!"

We planned a trip to the cottage on Saturday to finalize the Dishy setup for the new satellite internet service.  While Chris worked outside to find the perfect spot, Jane and Cam assisted Oma with some tasks inside.  Upon completion, we gave Jane's mom some early Mother's Day gifts including some new dish towels and apron set.  She laughed at the one from Cam reading "Grandma Rules....what rules?!"

After sharing dinner with our Raisch friends that evening, Chris and Steve planned an impromptu fishing trip for early Sunday morning.  They left at 7:30a leaving Cam and his mom to tackle a few projects of their own.  Winter gear was stored downstairs and heavy coats were moved to the hall closet.  
In the early afternoon, we joined a virtual baby shower for our cousin.
Immediately following the zoom meeting, Jane and her son were off to wish Cam's buddy, Liam a very happy 13th birthday.  Fresh fruit, homemade whipped cream and delicious chocolate cake with chocolate frosting makes any bday celebration extra sweet.  The small group of boys played baseball and enjoyed the very warm, sunny weather.  The breezy, balmy day was an unusual 80+ degrees!  Cam gave Liam a picture cube and puzzle with pictures dating back to when the boys were in preschool.  It seems a rarity to have friends for a lifetime, but these two are well on their way.

Camology Quotes:

During the drive to the cottage, Jane typically looks for interesting stories on her phone to read to the guys.  One such story was about the world's first floating pool, 115 feet in air, located in London.  Jane commented how unbelievably freaky it would be to swim in that pool. Apparently, Cam's mind was fixated on our impending lunch pickup... 
"Speaking of freaky, can we check out the Jimmy John's menu?"