Sunday, February 27, 2022

Track Research - Week of Feb. 21st

Have you ever started down a path researching something and you end up finding other relevant things as well?  

Theodor Geisel (aka Dr. Suess) wrote, "Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better.  It's not."

We had planned a field trip to Zeeland on Saturday.  When Chris joined the board of directors for Lori's Voice, we met a whole new group of individuals dedicated to helping others with mobility needs.  

As Cam has continued to grow, we knew a modification to his room would be needed at some point.  We were finally able to obtain quotes for a ceiling track system but really wanted to see one in action.  Our drive to Zeeland had that goal in mind.  We met Erica, a 14-year old in a power wheelchair just like Cam.  She has a ceiling track system that goes from her bedroom to her bathroom.  Jane asked if she could sit in it and use it to understand how it worked.  Cam thought this was a great idea.  We were able to ask lots of questions and obtained plenty of information in the process.  

The house we were touring also had an elevator!  They built their home eight years ago and purposefully designed it with their daughter in mind. Erica explained that when she was little, she loved princess fairies.  An artist painted the beautiful trees and princesses you're able to see as you travel up or down. We agreed that this was the coolest elevator our family had ever been in.

While we were all chatting, we noticed an unusual sticker on Erica's tray.  It had a QR code which we discovered was for She told us all about it and we looked up the rest. 

DisArt believes that expressions of a disability culture can transform communities from awareness, to understanding, to belonging, ensuring the full and equitable participation of all disabled people. Working as a production company, consulting group, and community developer, DisArt has established and maintained a recognizable presence in the global understanding of Disability Art and Culture. With unprecedented success in artistic programming and community impact, DisArt has positively shaped and influenced the cultural and aesthetic rendering of physical and mental differences in Grand Rapids.  Cam's favorite part is an "Accessibility Map" of Grand Rapids that shows places people have tagged as inaccessible and provided a picture.  You also have the option to "tag" a location that is not accessible.  Sometimes it is so surprising when we discover a vital piece of information that we didn't have.

Erica also introduced us to her service dog, Reesa, who took a liking to Cam.  After asking our son if it was ok for the canine to be on Cam's legs, he obliged and Reesa immediately had her paws on Cam's lap.

When we said goodbye after spending a couple of hours together, we felt more informed and a bit of relief after seeing the ceiling track system in action and hearing Erica's feedback.

After all, it was Robert Boyce who said, "Knowledge is power.  Knowledge shared is power multiplied."

Camology Quotes:

This week, Cam and his mom met with Dr. Lisa, a PT professor at GVSU, in a virtual zoom session.  Dr. Lisa will be a part of a remote conference with people in Australia and New Zealand next month.  She asked if she could interview Jane and her son to discuss power mobility.  The session was recorded and we had fun answering her questions.  Cam had great insight and when asked about a grade for accessibility in the community, he gave his community a "C" but also added this input:

"I think more people use manual wheelchairs so it is easier for them to get up over curbs and into places than a power wheelchair.  The power wheelchair is an essential part of daily life for me."

Sunday, February 20, 2022

Going for Gold - Week of Feb. 14th

For Cam's GLI (Global Learners Initiative) class, he was asked to research a topic he felt passionate about. Since we've been watching the Olympic Games as a family, he wanted to know more about the different options for athletes of all abilities.

The Olympics and Paralympics have different governing bodies but for decades have been held in tandem- in the same host city during the same year. They really are parallel events: The word "Paralympic" includes the Greek preposition "para," meaning "beside." In Paralympic sports, athletes are grouped together by "the degree of activity limitation" resulting from their impairment.
Cam at school "Olympics"
Meanwhile, the Special Olympics differ from the Paralympics in three main areas: the structure of their organizations, the disability categories of the athletes and the criteria and philosophy under which they participate. The Special Olympics provides training and competition year-round, and holds World Games every two years (alternating with summer and winter events). The most recent Special Olympics World Games was held in Abu Dhabi in 2019, and the next are scheduled for 2022 in Kazan, Russia. The Special Olympics welcomes all athletes with intellectual disabilities, of all ability levels, ages 8 and up. Paralympic athletes must fulfill certain criteria and meet qualifying standards in order to be eligible.

On Valentine's Day, Cam had a busy evening. Every Monday after quickly addressing homework activities, he heads off to his swimming and physical therapy appointments, conveniently located in the same building and only a ten minute drive down the road.  Cam and his mom arrived back home to find that Chris had dinner ready and a beautiful bouquet of Valentine's flowers for Jane from father and son.

The random amounts of snow we are still receiving remind us that winter isn't quite ready to let go of Michigan just yet.  After Chris had snowplowed the driveway on Saturday, he definitely resembled an abominable snowman!

Sunday morning, the sunshine felt amazing and we ventured northward for an afternoon visit with Oma and Opa.  Lake Michigan looks so different during the winter months and it's always a treat to spend time with Cam's grandparents. Even though it was a windy day, the drone was able to capture some very cool pictures of the big lake. The ice is much too thin at the shoreline to safely walk out so it's a relief that technology can take over.

Cam always wants to complete projects on the weekend and we were able to check quite a few things off of the list at his grandparents' home, including sharing some hearty laughter.

The chilly wind coming off of the Lake Michigan felt like an artic blast, but if you close your eyes and concentrate on the sunshine, you can imagine and remember that summer is just a few months away.

Camology Quotes:

At school, Cam looks forward to his physical education class. Obstacle courses and challenges are a frequent activity for our eighth grader.  The newest addition this year is what he calls a "wall sit-up."

"I am not sitting on the wall, I am pushing against it for exercise 😁"

Sunday, February 13, 2022

Parent Nights Out - Week of Feb. 7th

"There are no perfect parents, and there are no perfect children, but there are plenty of perfect moments along the way." ~Dave Willis

It's fairly typical in any given week that a schedule change or modification of daily activities takes place.  

Ms. Ann was here in person on Monday and Tuesday for Cam's tutoring.  We knew we would only be seeing her virtually for the next two weeks, so they shared an extra hug prior to her departure.

Our biggest unexpected event occurred on Friday morning at 5:30am when we received the school closure notice for Cam.  Going to bed the night before, no one could have guessed the inclement weather headed our way.  As part of his day, Cam did complete a homework assignment showing a video of himself taking part in a household chore.  His chosen activity was transporting the laundry to the washer.

Early afternoon that same day, Ms. Amanda reached out asking if Chris and Jane wanted to head out for dinner while she stayed with Cam.  Since Amanda is a kindergarten teacher, her day was open as well.  Both Cam and his parents were happy with the unanticipated offer and enjoyed the time immensely.

On Saturday, as a belated Christmas gift and "half birthday" for Cam, the Raisch family really outdid themselves.  We were able to surprise our son by keeping it a secret.  Right before 5pm, Steve and Patti, along with one of their daughter's, Sarah and her finance, Johnny appeared at our door.  Cam is always excited to see our dear friends and his elation grew when we explained that Sarah and Johnny were staying with him and picking up Culver's while Steve and Patti were treating Chris and Jane to dinner out at a restaurant.  The Cam group played Yahtzee and devoured their meal while the adult contingency had a leisurely dinner and stopped at Target on the way home.

We watched the Superbowl on Sunday rooting for the L.A. Rams led by the Detroit Lions former quarterback.  It was an exciting game but due to the later start, Cam only watched for about an hour.  Although we told him he could stay up a bit later, he declared when it was time for him to begin his nightly routine.  He is still the most self-disciplined kid we know!

Camology Quotes:

Last week we celebrated Opa's birthday.  We ordered him a new bathrobe from Amazon which arrived prior to the weekend.  Jane removed it from the packaging wanting to be certain it wasn't too long before wrapping it.  Cam watched in disbelief as his mom slid her arms into the robe (fully clothed of course) and he exclaimed...
"Mom, what are you doing? You have to wash it now! You just wore it."

Sunday, February 6, 2022

The Motivating Helper - Week of Jan. 31st

 "The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing." ~Walt Disney

As we entered into February this week, the temperatures remained chilly and the snow seemed steady.  Chris converts the lawn mower into a riding snow blower for the winter months and we are very fortunate Cam's dad is so handy.  

The break in the weather allowed Oma and Opa to arrive for a weekend visit on Friday.  Cam always checks to be certain we accomplish all of the tasks on their list.  Making homemade applesauce, financial reviews, Costco and store runs and delicious meals were all on the list.

With the Olympics starting this week, Cam requested that we record the opening ceremonies so he could see it too.  It turned out to be a super smart decision since the actual program only lasted for approximately 20 minutes.  We were able to fast-forward right to the portion we wanted to see.

On Saturday, Auntie Jo and Will arrived for lunch so we could celebrate a late Christmas.  It's a treat to open presents in February! We shared a meal and chatted while the boys played some games.  After our visit, the boys needed a bit of coaxing to take a group pic but gave in before Joanne and Will left.  That evening, we made a tasty surf-n-turf dinner with Oma and Opa consisting of flank steak, salmon, mashed potatoes and veggies.

Sunday morning, Chris was off to the east side of the state to work all day.  After lunch, we bid farewell to Cam's grandparents and following their departure, Cam said he wished they could stay longer.  

Jane had two work efforts looming and her son insisted on helping her tackle them.  Cam asked questions as Jane decided what she would say during her upcoming presentations.  As Cam continued to inquire about certain things, his mom became more motivated to finish the work.  As a team, they knocked out two presentations, three spreadsheets and numerous email responses in a span of almost four hours.  Jane couldn't believe how much they had gotten done and kept telling her son how thankful she was for his questions and input. When something seems so daunting, it only takes a positive presence like Cam to continue moving forward! 

Camology Quotes:

Cam's dad has a great sense of humor and it has definitely been carried on by his son.  While Ms. Ann was tutoring with Cam, he completed a difficult series of questions.  Ann, being a former teacher, will assist, but never provide answers. Upon completion of an assignment, an automated grade appeared and Cam noted he had gotten a few responses incorrect.  He immediately looked at Ms. Ann, and jokingly remarked:
"And...Why are you teaching me?!"😁