Sunday, June 27, 2021

Jamming - Week of June 21st

Cam was born in 2007 and we just recently discovered a very cool animal park that's been around longer than he has.  And it's only 30 minutes from our home.  Miss Amanda, in her quest to visit wildlife happened upon the location while searching online.
Deer Tracks Junction, LLC is a Family owned and operated Agri-tourism business. In 2002, they started with just a few Whitetail Deer. As their family grew, so did their farm. They raise many different kinds of animals now, for many different purposes. Deer Tracks is fully licensed and accredited by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR), and Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD). They are proud members of Michigan Agritourism, Michigan Farm Bureau, and the Zoological Association of America (ZAA).  Deer Tracks offers getting up close and personal with the animals, buying food at the park to feed them and taking your own vehicle through a safari ride.  There is even an ice cream shop with their own homemade brand!  Amanda and Cam spent time there on Tuesday and it received a huge thumbs up.

With the calendar showing mid-June, the Michigan strawberries were reaching peak season.  Cam loves traditions.  One of our family favorites is making homemade strawberry freezer jam.  We buy a flat of berries from Heidi's Farmstand and quite a bit of sugar and Sure-Jell.  

The entire process works best with a crowd.   Cam led the charge with Amanda, Jane and Oma at the ready.  Amanda and Oma hulled the berries and then Cam and his mom began smashing the strawberries.  Once the mash up is completed, sugar is added and the mixture sits for 10 minutes.  Then the Sure-Jell is cooked, added in and a few minutes later the jam heads into the containers.  All of the effort produced 40 containers of tasty strawberry jam.  
If you stop by for a visit, you may just leave with your own sweet pint of deliciousness.  Cam recommends using it for toast, pancake topping and of course, a pb&j sandwich!

Camology Quotes:

Cam is adamant with certain thoughts but also concedes if it is discovered something is over emphasized or simply not correct.  He was talking about his PT appointment timing with Jane and indicated it was a rushed day.  His mom explained that things did seem adequately spaced out and relayed the day's activities.  

"I guess you're right, Mom.  It was just a random thought I had."

Sunday, June 20, 2021

A Day for Dad & A Day for Dogs - Week of June 14th

The nation’s first Father’s Day was celebrated on June 19, 1910, in the state of Washington. However, it was not until 1972—58 years after President Woodrow Wilson made Mother’s Day official—that the day honoring fathers became a nationwide holiday in the United States.

This was the first full week of summer vacation for Cam.  We also welcomed Miss Amanda back into our home for summer fun.  Amanda has spent many summers with Cam while his parents work and she has time off as a schoolteacher.  

In addition to daily strolls with Miss Amanda, Cam helped out with an extra activity this week.  Amanda was dog sitting for a family nearby to watch a couple of tail-waggers, Roxy and Lola.  Cam and Amanda drove over to visit a few times during the day and decided to take the dogs for a car ride.  When they stopped to stay hi to Jane, Roxy was very protective of Cam and even growled a little when Jane walked back into the house.  Dogs seem to have a sixth sense when it comes to Cam and they sometimes gravitate toward him but also tend to guard and watch over him.

On Saturday after lunch, we drove to the cottage to spend the night with Oma and Opa.  The clouds remained throughout the afternoon, but the sun appeared in the early evening.  We enjoyed a delicious dinner with our cousins and Cam had one of his favorites, homemade pickles with hot dogs.

The sunset on Lake Michigan never disappoints and its journey towards the water leaves behind the most beautiful hues in the afterglow.  The night wasn't as restful as we had hoped, but we celebrated Chris and Opa on Father's Day.  In the morning, Cam's dad headed to the golf course with cousins Jeffrey and Max arriving back at the cottage after lunch.  Everyone hung out on the beach for a bit before the clouds arrived in the afternoon.  An early steak dinner on the deck complete with dessert rounded out our celebration before we packed up to head home.  Within 5 minutes on the highway, our son finally succumb to sleep.  About 20 minutes from home his eyes opened and we asked him if he had a good rest.  Cam's response: "What?  I wasn't sleeping.  Why does my neck hurt?" 

Camology Quotes:

At Miss Amanda's wedding in May, a very nice woman walked up to Cam and said hi.  She then told him he had been to her house.  Chris and Jane were extremely puzzled since they did not recognize this person at all.  The woman must have noticed the puzzling looks and told us all that she was Roxy and Lola's mom!

"Oh, I know Roxy and Lola and I have been to your house lots of times!  Nice to meet you!"

Sunday, June 13, 2021

See Ya 7th Grade! - Week of June 7th

"Yesterday is but today's memory and tomorrow is today's dream." ~Kahlil Gibran

Being in school is truly one of Cam's most favorite activities.  The routine, the different areas of learning, the amazing teachers and aides and seeing his friends make the days full of smiles, but also go by quickly.  Cam arrived home at lunchtime on Tuesday already missing 7th grade even though it had just ended.

Jane felt spoiled on Wednesday when the boys delivered a delicious breakfast for her birthday.  In the evening, flowers and presents arrived followed by a scrumptious dinner at home via takeout.

On Friday, we welcomed the Holtz family, our dear friends from Ann Arbor whom we hadn't seen in quite some time.  Amanda H. was the maid of honor for Chris and Jane's wedding.  Her husband Mark and their kids, Sally and Henry were with us until Sunday morning.  With electronics put aside, our families joined forces to play games.  Multiple rounds of Hedbanz and Uno Attack were the two most popular ones and we all had an absolute blast! 

Saturday morning was overcast but we threw caution to the wind and headed to the cottage ready for fun at the lake.  And it turned out to be perfect beach conditions on Lake Michigan.  

The kids played in the water, dug in the sand and rode in the kayak.  Sally said it best when she said she wished she could live at the cottage to see the beach every day.  

After eating dinner on the deck, we headed back to Grand Rapids.  Upon arrival home, it took all of the kids maybe 5 minutes before they were asleep.  Prior to the Holtz family leaving Sunday morning, we promised another weekend together in July, ready to hit "repeat" on our weekend fun. 

At lunchtime on Sunday, Cam and his parents were on the road again, headed back to the cottage.  The Haroldson fam had invited us all for an early bbq dinner.  We enjoyed another picture perfect day on the lake.  The calm water is rare and you could easily see the bottom as well as the sandbars.

Jane took her son on a kayak ride and floated around enjoying the view.  We also had quality cousin time catching up with everyone on the beach.  

Each year, we cannot wait for summer to arrive and then it starts whizzing by.  

We are thankful for friends willing to travel to see us and family to host us for dinners and hang out during their own down time.  The places we hold so near and dear are best shared with those we love.

After arriving back in Grand Rapids later Sunday evening, the deer in our backyard knew it was time to rest as well.  The weekend was full of memories but we all definitely welcomed sleep.

Camology Quotes:

Cam's parents and grandparents were having a discussion about where Cam would sleep at the cottage this year.  Typically, he is upstairs across from his parents.  Jane told Cam that it would be great to try sleeping downstairs instead this summer.  She was referring to the bedroom on the main floor, but he didn't realize that.

"What?!  You want me to sleep in the basement by myself?"

Sunday, June 6, 2021

Summer Cold - Week of May 31st

"Tis healthy to be sick sometimes." ~Henry David Thoreau

After wearing masks for such a long period of time, Cam definitely stayed on the healthier side of life during this school year.  After a great deal of sneezing and coughing on Monday, it appeared that what was assumed were allergies may be in actuality, a full blown cold.  Dealing with sickness when the weather is so warm and inviting seems almost cruel.

Cam stayed home from school on Tuesday and attempted in-person Wednesday and Thursday but we picked him up both days after he felt crummy being there just an hour.  On Friday, though, he definitely rallied and made it through the entire day which included a pizza party to celebrate the last full-day of school.

We were thankful for Cam's continued upswing because Saturday was a big day!  It was the last official baseball game for the WMML Spring season and the day was full of surprises.  A local bank, Fifth Third, generously provided a new videoboard for the West Michigan Miracle League field.  Each time a kiddo is up to bat, their "baseball card" is displayed on the board.  And yes, Fifth Third also donated a stack of baseball cards for every player on the team!  Our community is unbelievably supportive and the bonus trading cards with the kids pictures and stats were completely unexpected.

The Cam Fans were in full swing with Auntie Karen and her sister Sue making the long drive from the Chicago area to attend.  Ms. Barbara, Cam's K-2 teacher, arrived to cheer on Brody and Cam, her former students.  Oma and Opa met us there as well.  Following the exciting game, each player was presented with a medal and a trophy.

Afterwards, we set up a picnic over in the playground area.  Auntie Karen and Sue, Oma and Opa, Cam and his parents all gathered around a table to share fresh fruit, deviled eggs and an assortment of crackers and cheese.  Oma was sneaky and brought a delicious Ryke's birthday cake for Jane to have an early celebration.  After spending the afternoon together and sharing laughter and delicious food and scrumptious cake, we said goodbye to Auntie Karen and Sue and we were already making plans for the next visit.

Back at home, we settled in for a relaxing evening watching a movie together, happy for Cam's grandparents extended stay.  On Sunday, Oma and Cam played checkers and games and we all shared a grilled dinner sitting at our new "used" dining room table.  The heavy marble tabletop was acquired from a neighborhood sale and perfect for Cam to drive right up and fit his chair under.  As the old saying goes, one person's trash is definitely another's treasure.

Camology Quotes:

Chris and his buddy Steve had a big task transporting the heavy table and pedestal back to our home.  Extra padding was needed and Chris found old carpet remnants in our basement to use as protection for the stone top.  Cam, however, misunderstood what his dad had actually done.

"Mom, did Dad just rip up the carpeting in our basement to use it?!"