Sunday, February 26, 2023

Snow Daze - Week of Feb. 20th

"A snow day literally and figuratively falls from the sky, unbidden, and seems like a thing of wonder." ~Susan Orlean

Monday was a day off for Cam due to his mid-winter break.  He was back in school on Tuesday and then Tuesday evening, the local meteorologists indicated a winter storm warning would be in effect beginning at 10am on Wednesday.  From one day to the next was a dramatic weather change.  Out of caution, all of the local schools were closed on Wednesday.  Then, Thursday ice, freezing rain and snow was in the forecast along with another storm warning, so once again, the local education system shut down for the day.  It was a rare occasion that for both Wednesday and Thursday, the closure announcement came before Cam was asleep both nights.  Catching some extra zzz's was a bonus for us all.  
However, since both Chris and Jane are set up as remote workers, neither of them had any breaks.  While Cam worked on keeping himself busy, his desk was moved out to the living room.  He would've rather been in school, but we all made the best of it.

Friday was a full day of school and we had an outing planned that early evening.  Fish and chips is now a weekly special at one of our local favorite restaurants, JT's, but only during Lent.
The history of the fish fry dates back to the 1800s.
German and Polish Catholic immigrants settled in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in the 1860s and began the tradition of the Friday fish fry. During Lent, they didn’t eat meat on Fridays, instead eating the fish they caught in Lake Michigan. From 1920 to 1933, Prohibition prevented taverns from selling alcohol. To keep customers coming to their businesses, Midwestern tavern owners sold meals of fried fish. Supper clubs rose in popularity during the mid-1900s, and their Friday fish fries became a tradition for many Midwesterners.
Ms. Ann, Katherine & Paul, Bexley and Sophia all met us at JT's for dinner.  Cam has declared that their homemade batter on the cod is the best in all of Grand Rapids!  
Saturday was consumed with home projects and having our longtime friends, Steve, Patti and Emma for dinner.  Burgers, homemade french fries and veggies were on the menu.  We committed to try to gather together more often.

In the early afternoon on Sunday, we headed northward to visit Coco, Max and the kiddos.  We hadn't seen them in a few weeks and they already looked different.  While Calla helped make brownies, she took on the expert position of batter taster.  Cam and Arthur looked quizzically at each other and we all had fun catching up and chatting.  After dinner and quite a few brownies, the sun was already setting.
We said our goodbyes with the promise of hanging out again very soon.  The beach looked inviting, but will be even more so once that snow finishes melting away.

Camology Quotes:

Chris sometimes acts more like a kid than his son, which we all appreciate and laugh about.  One evening, Chris was spinning Cam around while he was in transit in his ceiling track lift.  Cam "jokingly" laid down the law for his dad as it related to the spinning antics...

"Not at bed and not when I first wake up, Dad.  I need to set some boundaries for you!"

Sunday, February 19, 2023

Let's Figure It Out - Week of Feb. 13th

Every human has four endowments - self awareness, conscience, independent will and creative imagination. These give us the ultimate human freedom... The power to choose, to respond, to change. ~Stephen Covey

Cam continues to find different ways to exert his independence.  He asked his parents if there was a way for him to have some type of basket to grab his hat and gloves from in the morning and put them away in the afternoon.  

It seems a simple request, but one must factor in a powerchair driving up to the container and providing a reach to promote physical activity.  Jane found a storage basket with enough clearance that could be emptied and suggested placing it close to the garage.  Chris had the tools at the ready and in record time, we all figured out the solution, together.

At school, Cam also helped his physical therapist team brainstorm a rear-view mirror idea he had.  One of the difficulties of driving in a crowded hallway at school is not being able to see what's coming, or in Cam's case, what is behind him. It will be trial and error to determine what will work best.  It is good to see Cameron so involved in areas that are truly impactful for him.

This week, the cold virus hit our teenager and he was out of school the first part of the week.  He did, however, have enough
energy to help his dad prepare a Valentine's surprise for his mom.  Jane was presented with a dozen beautiful roses and notes from both Chris and Cam.  The notes, it turns out, were created with a little help.  For the first time ever, the boys used a new A.I. (Artificial Intelligence) tool to assist with some loving prose.

ChatGPT (Chat Generative Pre-trained Transformer) is a chatbot developed by OpenAI. It is built on top of OpenAI's GPT-3 family of large language models and has been fine-tuned (an approach to transfer learning) using both supervised and reinforcement learning techniques. ChatGPT was launched as a prototype on November 30, 2022, and quickly garnered attention for its detailed responses and articulate answers across many domains of knowledge. Following the release of ChatGPT, OpenAI's valuation was estimated at $29 billion.
After Cam "confessed" to his mom that he and his dad used ChatGPT, they both had a good laugh.  Jane had seen Chris ask it to write stories, but finally logged in herself to experiment.  She asked ChatGPT to 'write a limerick about Cameron and how awesome he is' and this was the response: "There once was a fellow named Cam, Who impressed everyone, man after man.  With his wit and his charm, He caused no small alarm, And left us all his biggest fan!"

On Friday, Cam had the day off of school for mid-winter break.  Ms. Ann arrived after lunch, ready to tutor Cam.  They worked on reading, computer work and math.  It was a great session, especially since Cam had missed a few days of school.  That evening, Ms. Amanda arrived to hang out with her buddy while Chris and Jane enjoyed an evening out.

It was a quiet weekend filled with indoor projects and movie watching.  Cam and his dad worked together while Jane nursed a cold and rested the majority of the time.  
Sunday evening, we enjoyed take-out from our favorite Chinese restaurant.  Cam was a bit uncertain when Jane ordered only a single entree, fried rice and crab rangoons for all to split.  He vocalized his concern indicating he was sure there would not be enough.  After realizing how much food there actually was, her son admitted... "Mom, I should listen to you.  You always know best!"

Camology Quotes:

Jane typed in ChatGPT:  'Write a Camology Quote for Cam's blog' 

"Life is like a camera - focus on the good times, develop from the negatives, and if things don't work out, take another shot." - Cam

Sunday, February 12, 2023

Once You Sign the Release - Week of Feb. 6th

Article I, Section 8, clause 8, of the United States Constitution states the purpose of copyright laws is “to promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.”  

In Cameron's lifetime, we have signed quite a few photo release documents.  It doesn't surprise us too much anymore to receive an email or letter in the mail where a photo of our son is being used.  Even though we are partial, we do believe Cam's smile draws others in.

During some drive time this week, Jane was relaying a story to Cam about remaining positive.  Cam said that some of his friends could use that positivity.  This led to a conversation about choosing to be a "Grumpalump" or "Smile A Mile."  Jane told her son that it's truly not possible to smile all of the time under every circumstance, but they both agreed that it was better to be more smiley versus being more grumpy.

The weekend brought a packed agenda.  Saturday after lunch, we made our way to LMCU ballpark where a Polar Plunge was taking place.  Participants were asked to raise money for Special 
Olympics Michigan.  Cam's best bud, Brody, was set to plunge in a freezing cold pool of water a little after 2pm.  The sun was shining so it did feel a bit warmer than the 40 degrees on the thermometer.  Our mutual good friend, Ms. Stephanie, came by to root Brody on as well. 
The local sheriff's department asked Brody to be a part of their team.
We all cheered watching the brave registrants jump into the frigid H2O and we were especially loud when Cam's best bud did his part.
On our drive back home, Cameron told us he was happy we went to support Brody.  That evening, we enjoyed a takeout dinner from a favorite local spot, Cascade Roadhouse, and watched the classic movie, Ghostbusters, as a family.

Earlier in the week, we experienced some rain and warmer weather.  We were a bit nervous that our last adaptive skiing lesson may be canceled due to poor conditions.  Thankfully, the slopes were open and the forecast was sunny with 50 degree weather!  It was the first time Cam experienced skiing in ideal, sunny conditions.  His adaptive ski team of Jason, Grace and Vincent expertly guided him onto the chairlift and down the hill close to a dozen times in our two-hour session.  Cam had his fastest run down the hill ever, according to him.
As it turned out, it was a good thing our last event was Sunday.  Chris' snowboard binding broke on our final sprint down the hill.  He was fine, but had to walk down the last half of the slope.  We thanked Team Cam for their volunteering time and expertly teaching Cam additional skills in adaptive skiing.

Since it was SuperBowl Sunday, we promptly headed home after leaving Cannonsburg.  Soon after we arrived, Coco drove up with her kiddos.  Molly and Jude entered our home shortly afterwards.  We feasted on a spread of chips and dips, wings, meatballs, carrots and celery.  The game was good, the company even better and the weekend overall was simply awesome!

Camology Quotes:
Cam's team of PT, OT and Speech experts at school are always looking for different ways to enhance his school experience.  After school one day, he talked about his OT asking him to bring in any unique silverware from home.  That same evening while Cam was in his nighttime routine, Jane asked him if he wanted to bring the fork into school. 
Cam was incredulous and exclaimed:
"What did you say Mom?!" 
"Did you want to bring the fork into school?" 
*insert Cam uncontrollable laughter* 
"I thought you said 'pork' Mom!" 
"You thought I asked you if you wanted to bring the pork into school?" 
*insert Cam & Jane uncontrollable laughter*  
"I love you, Mom.  Thank you for bringing humor into my life."

Sunday, February 5, 2023

My IEP - Week of Jan. 30th

"I am ready to face any challenges that might be foolish enough to face me." ~Dwight Schrute- The Office

Cameron's week started off with an after school pick up for an appointment at Mary Free Bed.  After checking in with one of our favorite docs, we had talked about trying a new place for an early dinner.  Hancock's was highly recommended for its chicken tenders and not far from where we were. 
It was a tasty and quick meal and a new place to add into our rotation.

Mid-week brought a meowing request from Stella to be on Cam's bed for reading.  Jane and her son were quite surprised as this has only occurred a handful of times.  We don't think she was listening intently but we're quite certain she enjoyed the toasty bed.

For the majority of the week, Cameron's thoughts were consumed by his upcoming IEP meeting on Friday.
From on the onset of Cameron's education, he has been followed by IEP documentation.  Each public school child who receives special education and related services must have an Individualized Education Program (IEP). Each IEP must be designed for one student and must be a truly individualized document.  
Cam was interviewed by his teachers about his thoughts for the future and his own ambitions.  Chris and Jane arrived prior to the meeting time and with previous joint communication, agreed that their son would be in the IEP meeting for the first portion and then head to his computer class.  The meeting went well and Cam interjected when appropriate.  Chris and Jane were at the school for almost 90 minutes and felt that the time was productive.
Saturday morning included project time for father and son as they tested out some new software.  

We had plans to meet Brody and his mom for an early dinner at Applebee's.  Both of the ninth graders are creatures of habit- Brody loves cheeseburgers and Cam loves chicken tenders.  True to form, the boys ordered as expected.  It was fun to sit and chat with our friends.  When Jane brought up a story about Cam's friends arguing as to who would help him at school, Brody jumped in and provided input.  Cam immediately responded with "Brody, no drama!"  We all had a good laugh. 

Sunday afternoon brought us back to Cannonsburg to enjoy our adaptive family skiing.  A ski instructor questioned Chris and Jane as to why they were in the very short "lesson lane" and they explained they were skiing with their son.  Cam's mom headed back to the lodge and was able to secure the ASA-WM (Adaptive Ski Association of West Michigan) vests to show that they were official.  It was an awesome two hours of skiing.  At one point, Cam and his skier went over a fairly big bump.  After their run, Cam told us that when they went over the small snow mound and he went up in the air, it "felt like I was flying!"

Camology Quotes:

After settling into bed one evening, Cam's eye was watering and his mom asked why it was dripping.  He informed Jane that soap had gotten in his eye in the shower.  The conversation continued.

"Cam, are you going to be ok?"

"I'll live."