Sunday, July 25, 2021

Ah...Summertime - Week of July 19th

"Keep your face to the sunshine and you will never see the shadows." ~Helen Keller 
"Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language." ~Henry James

We never tire of seeing the wildlife in our backyard.  Even after watching the deer almost daily, they look at us and we at them with interested curiosity.

Cam completed his second week of summer school enjoying the three-hour period for three days a week.  As the summer heat ramped up, Jane noticed that Cam was quite hot when he arrived home on Tuesday afternoon.  After a quick chat with the bus driver, she was told the bus didn't have air conditioning.  After indicating to the driver that Jane had had a script written some years ago to ensure a cool ride for Cam, she realized renewed action was needed.  It may seem a bit silly but the busses with a.c. do cost more to run.  After a few emails and phone calls, Jane had the script reinstated and the bus driver was so very thankful to be able to drive a bus with cool air.  The driver also shared with Cam's mom that the other kids on the bus were extremely grateful too.

We welcomed the Holtz family once again on Friday.  We all thought a repeat of the June visit was in order and so we pre-scheduled another weekend of fun.  This time we thought ahead and determined that a Monday morning departure was a far better idea than Sunday.
On Saturday morning, the weather looked a bit suspect so after a recommendation from Cam, our entire crew loaded up into two vehicles to make our way to Deer Tracks Junction in Cedar Springs.  Our son had paid a visit to this location, but the rest of us were newbies.  We all loved the zoo portion where you're able to pet, hold and feed the animals.  After exploring the entire area, we were back in our vehicles to make our way into the drive-thru safari.  It is made quite clear that you are entering at your own risk as it relates to car damage.  After buying a bucket of pellets, we were off to view and offer the food purchased to the llamas, cows, deer, bison, yak, ostriches and the enormous, very impressive longhorn steer.  You're able to see bears but all windows must be up and feeding in that area is not allowed.  It was a most successful day and the remainder of time was spent playing Uno and Hedbanz, eating dinner and hanging out.  

Sunday proved to be the nicest day of the week.  We arrived at the cottage to full sunshine and very small waves.  Jane cooked up three boxes of Kraft mac-n-cheese, a staple from childhood, for everyone to share for lunch.  Most of us settled in on the floating raft in between building sand castles and digging holes.  Sally found her calling as a top babysitter holding Calla and giving the newborn's mom a nice break.  Oma and Opa joined us beachside as well.  

As the day moved into early evening, we built a campfire on the beach, ready to cook hot dogs with our cousins Coco & Max and Libby along with Molly and Jude, longtime cottage buddies.  It was our first beach fire of the season and it did not disappoint.  All of fixings and side dishes were in full array.  Immediately following dinner, it was time to cook up the best bonfire dessert in history, the s'more.  As we made our way back to Grand Rapids, the Holtz family was in the lead.  They sent Cam a video saying goodnight since they might not see him until the next morning.  Cam made a return video saying "Good night guys.  Love you!"  We can't make summer last forever, but the memories will stay with us and carry us through the chillier days in winter.

Camology Quotes:

We were making homemade tacos with our friends for Saturday night dinner and Jane used a new seasoning she hadn't tried out before.  As everyone was debating who would taste-test first, Cam spoke up saying: "Ok, I'll take one for the team and try it!"

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Business or Pleasure - Week of July 12th

"The rule of my life is to make business a pleasure, and pleasure my business."  ~Aaron Burr

The last year brought many changes and one of them was business travel.  Cam's mom hadn't been on a plane since January 2020.  This week she needed to start up air travel once again for a business meeting.

Also beginning on Tuesday was summer school for Cam.  Three days a week the bus is scheduled to pick him at 8:15a and drop him off at 12:30p for the next 4 weeks.  Seeing some of his friends and having classroom time is a bonus for a kid who absolutely loves school.

Auntie Karen arrived for a couple of days to help out and hang out while Jane was gone.  She always brings a smile and Cam loves chatting with her and playing games.  We cannot thank her enough for always offering to be present when we need her most.

Jane arrived home on Thursday and we were all looking forward to family time on the weekend.  Cam is all about traditions and we have definitely gained our share due to him. 

Cam and Jane found this info about traditions online: Tradition is a belief, principle, custom or behavior with symbolic meaning or special significance that people in a particular group or society have continued to follow for a long time, often being handed down from one generation to the next. It’s derived from the Latin verb “trader” meaning to transmit, hand over, give for safekeeping. It’s frequently assumed that traditions have ancient history, but many have been invented on purpose over short spans of time. 

Traditions are important as they help us achieve the “Four B’s”: Being, Belonging, Believing and Benevolence. Being – our sense of inner peace and self-acceptance of our strengths and weaknesses and feeling grounded in our core identity. Belonging – our sense of comfort from being part of a group of people such as a family or team that share our values and provide support, respect and friendship. Believing – our need to believe in a system of moral principles and ethical behavior be that religious or secular. Benevolence – our predisposition to be helpful to others in need, to enhance the lives of others in our group of people or even strangers.

Our now traditional trek to the cottage on Saturday gave us some beach and rafting time.  The Lake Michigan water had warmed up enough for Cam to enjoy a lengthy float in his Cam Mobile.  We also celebrated Steff's birthday (our niece and Cam's cousin)and had our Haroldson cousins over for dinner and cake and ice cream.

Sunday took us to Maple Beach in Holland to see the Jellema cousins at their cottage for an early dinner.  Three siblings and their families had arrived from three different locations- Chicago, Vermont and Germany.  

This was our second year partaking in a shrimp boil with the entire crew!  Along with Uncle Jon and Aunt Betsy, we enjoyed the amazing spread with a spectacular view of our favorite Lake Michigan.  All of the kiddos were fascinated with the drone and it definitely captured some cool pictures of our large crew.  As a memento, Cam was presented with a camo hat adorned with a shellfish to commemorate the occasion.  It is definitely one of our most memorable.  Even though we only see these cousins typically once a year, it always seems like no time has passed when we all get together.  For us, tradition seems to always = love.

Camology Quotes:

Some days we just want quiet time.  Jane wanted to share a news story with Cam and began reading it out loud.  Her son, very politely, provided the following input: "Say it in your own mind.  I do not want to hear it right now, Mom."

Sunday, July 11, 2021

The Gift of One's Self - Week of July 5th

"Priceless things matter not for their value, but because they offer us an enduring reminder of stability and permanence." ~Barbara Taylor Bradford

If you asked Cam what his favorite things are, he has a long list.  On the short listing of unfavorites is fireworks.  He thinks the colors are amazing but loud noises have always been an issue.  It's almost like Cam feels every boom throughout his entire body.  Fireworks were still going off the evening of July 5th and our son asked if we could call the police.  We explained how difficult it would be to determine where they were being lit.  Thankfully, they didn't last long and it was the last night we heard them.

Cam and Ms. Amanda always have activities to do during their time together.  One of them was creating a photo book online with Amanda's professional wedding pics she had just received.  This was one of Cam's favorites.

The end of the week brought more excitement than fireworks!  Cam's best bud Brody, his mom Jenny and Ms. Rachel all arrived at our house at 4p on Friday.  They had gifted Chris & Jane a dinner out while they had hang out time with Cam.  Ms. Rachel even stopped at a movie theater and had a bucket of popcorn to share with the group.  We are not certain who had more fun that evening but we do know Cam requested a repeat.

Saturday, July 10 we celebrated Chris' birthday!  Cam's dad opened a few presents at home including the Grand Rapids skyline photo trio for his new office at work.  Chris was promoted and is now the Director of IT at Fishbeck.  We are all so very proud of him.  Cam chose a favorite photo of he and his dad for a canvas print.  
At the cottage that day, we enjoyed our beach time even though it wasn't super sunny.  
Oma and Cam were up on the deck when Chris was playing with his drone and taking pictures.  

We enjoyed a delicious fajita dinner outside watching the water with our cousins.  Cam chose chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting and raspberry filling for his dad's birthday treat.

It seems we have a constant reminder of priceless gifts.  Whether it's the way the sun sparkles on Lake Michigan or being surrounded by family for celebrations or taking time to hang out with friends, these are the moments that make us pause and remain so thankful for all of those gifts that don't have a price tag.

Camology Quotes:

Cam is so sweet about complimenting others.  One evening this week he told his mom how pretty she looked.  Jane said, "Well Thank you kind Sir."  To which Cam replied: "Wow, you're being formal!"

Sunday, July 4, 2021

Counting Cousins - Week of June 28th

"Friendship is the only cement that will ever hold cousins together." ~Woodrow Wilson

It seems that every week a new adventure awaits Cam...  
On Monday, he had a long walk with Ms. Amanda, her mother-in-law Mary and their puppy, Jada.  It was sunny and warm and the Bernese Mountain dog was definitely tired upon return.

Then Monday evening we received the awaited news of the arrival of our new cousin!  Coco and Max did not want to know the baby's gender, so it was a surprise for everyone.  Their baby girl, Calla St. Clair Grace, was born Monday evening and Cam was screaming with excitement.  We were invited to visit Miss Calla on Tuesday eve and we explained to our son that he had never met a baby who was just a day old.  Jane also shared with Cam that when Coco was a baby, Jane held her and when Jane was a baby, Coco's mom held her!  We didn't stay too long but it was super special to meet our newest cousin, Miss Calla.

The summer weekends are typically reserved for the cottage and we drove northward to find the sun and relaxation.  Chris and son successfully finished yet another beach mobility chair we like to call the CamMobile.  As Cam has grown, the CamMobile needed transformation as well.  A longer seat, new fabric and the bright blue color were all enhancements of this latest model.

Fortunately for our family, our cousins invested in one of the coolest floating rafts we have ever had the pleasure of using.  Lake Michigan was very calm and raft-ready.  Cam started out on the beach in his CamMobile chatting with Oma and Opa and the cousins.  After he was in the water for a bit, we coaxed him into trying out the raft.  It was warm in the sun with a light breeze.  Cam said that floating in the water was so relaxing and very comfortable.  We were even offered snacks while in the raft and that was a first!

After a family dinner with the cousins, we were on the road again.  Before getting on the highway, we made a short detour to see cousin David who was in from Texas and had fun chatting for a bit.
As our extended family continues to grow, we know not everyone has the advantage of hanging out with their cousins.  It is a priceless gift and one that keeps giving.

Camology Quotes:

Cam was requesting daily updates about our newest cousin prior to her birth.  Jane relayed on Sunday that Coco was having contractions.  We hadn't discussed details but Cam has seen some ER medical and live rescue shows.  Without missing a beat (and much to his dad's complete surprise) Cam asked the following question after hearing that news.  "How much is she dilated?"