Sunday, January 28, 2024

Adapting to Skiing - Week of Jan. 22nd

"If I can do this, I can do anything!" ~motto of the ASA-WM

Before Cam's first time hitting the slopes this season, he had an unexpected snow day on Tuesday.  A combination of freezing rain, snow and sleet produced a weather advisory until 4pm.

On Wednesday, the roads were clear once again and school was back in session.  Cam finished up tutoring with Ms. Ann in the early evening and had a quick dinner.  Jane and son were off to power soccer practice since Chris was a bit delayed with a meeting.  Cam's mom had to laugh that on her "watch" the front guard came off the chair and two other dads were enlisted to assist with positioning it back in place.

Once Cam's dad arrived at practice, all of the background information was provided as he explained the entire situation during a break in the action.

We were anticipating our weekend activity at our local ski resort, Cannonsburg.  Their opening day was very delayed with Thursday, Jan. 18 being the first official start of their season.  There have been years when they have opened in November!  Our delayed snowfall definitely affected their options.
Thanks to Mary Free Bed Wheelchair Sports program, we learned about the adaptive ski organization a few years ago.

Adaptive Ski Association of West Michigan (ASAWM) is a volunteer organization located in West Michigan, working to provide opportunities for people with a variety of challenges and disabilities to enjoy snow sports. The organization was established in the early 1980s as Cannonsburg Challenged Ski Association (CCSA). CCSA started with only ten students, one outrigger, a bamboo pole and one sit ski, and has now evolved over the years into a professionally trained organization with a full range of adaptive equipment, ready to serve a wide variety of needs. In 2022, the name was changed to Adaptive Ski Association of West Michigan (ASAWM).

Sunday was our first session after two cancellations due to the lack of snow.  Our team leader was Jason, who was with us last year in the same position.  Jessie, a med student and lifetime skier was new to ASAWM and excited to be a part of it all.  Chris completed the official volunteer training to be assigned to Cam's team as well.  Jane was allowed to ski with the team as an extra blocker.  

The ski Cam uses is referred to as a bi-ski.  When lifting up the back, the spring holds it in a vertical position to allow movement onto the chairlift.  Cam is in the middle of the chair shown in the picture.  Jason is skiing behind Cam in the picture guiding him down the hill.  Cam leans left or right depending on the turns.  The milder weather was a welcome relief for the skiers, but the conditions were not ideal.  The slopes were more slushy than fluffy and even with that aspect, we all had a great time.  Cam had a couple of spills, but neither were major and the picture of the whole team was immediately following one of those wipeouts.  On our drive home, Cam told us, "I was nervous at first, but then I really had fun!"

Camology Quotes:

Jane shared some exciting news about dear friends in North Carolina.  When she said in passing that Ali was working as a nurse now, Cam mentioned that his mom did not tell him when she graduated from nursing school and passed her boards. Jane apologized to which Cam responded with: "I respect that, Mom.  We all forget sometimes."

Sunday, January 21, 2024

An Honor to Give - Week of Jan. 15th

"Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?'" ~Martin Luther King Jr.

"Everyone can be great because everyone can serve." ~Martin Luther King Jr.

Cameron's district had the day off of school for Martin Luther King Day on Monday.  We were relieved because more snow had arrived overnight and the snowfall continued throughout the day.  Jane and her son sported their University of Michigan National Champions 2023 sweatshirts acquired from our local Costco.  Cam wanted to keep his PT and swim therapy appointment Monday evening.  The roads were slick and Cam reminded his mom to drive extra slow.

Tuesday, it was clearer but some school districts were still closed.  And sure enough, Wednesday morning we received the alert at 5:30am for school closure.  This is actually 15 minutes prior to Cam's normal alarm time on school days.  Our high-schooler was able to go back to sleep until almost 8am.  

The roads were fairly clear by the afternoon, so Jane and her son embarked on a little mission they've been trying to complete for some time.  We've been wanting to donate Cameron's old AFOs (Ankle Foot Orthoses) to a local organization.  Through Cam's current physical therapist, we learned that Pediatric Orthotic Specialists accepts the old AFOs.  After lunch, we brought our big box into their office.  The receptionist explained that they send the AFOs to Jamacia and the Philippines for doctors to reuse them.  

Cam was able to be in school both Thursday and Friday with cooperative weather.  Our driveway is a bit long and winding in the weather elements but Cam does a great job navigating.  His amazing bus driver, Ms. Christy, also takes it upon herself to assist in any way that she can if he gets stuck.  Cameron heads up the long trek solo and always stops to wave to Christy to let her know he's aok.

The weekend included a visit to Oma and Opa to help alleviate that feeling of cabin fever due to all of the blustery winter weather.  Chris and Cam successfully installed new hooks in the closet and then Jane and her son helped Oma with some organizing projects.  It was a productive afternoon and Cam's grandparents escorted us to the door. and we all exchanged goodbye hugs. We briefly saw the sunshine on our drive back to Grand Rapids.

Over the weekend, we finally framed and hung one of Cameron's digital media projects.  It was our collective favorite and after displaying it in Cam's bedroom, we all agreed it looked just right in its spot on the wall.

Even though the snow had us stuck inside a bit this week, we were happy to be able to venture out for our AFO delivery.  As we were leaving that office, Cam wisely said "I give back to my community and my community gives back to me!"

Camology Quotes:

Many times, Cam will ask for verification of information.  He will question its source and validity.  When his dad told him at 5:30am that Wednesday was indeed a snow day, his quick response was:

"Mom, can you check your phone too to make sure?"

His IT Director father laughed and indicated: "Instead of 2-factor authentication, it's 2-parent authentication!"

Sunday, January 14, 2024

Snowmageddon - Week of Jan. 8th

"Snow was falling so much like stars filling the dark trees, that one could easily imagine its reason for being nothing more than prettiness." ~Mary Oliver

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

It typically seems that a switch is flipped in Michigan when the first big snowfall arrives. After experiencing the lack of the white stuff when our Arizona family was in town, we assumed our big winter weather was inching closer.

Monday evening, we watched our Michigan Wolverines become National Champions!  The game went very late so it was the first thing we mentioned to Cam Tuesday morning.  Tuesday night, we watched the flakes fall and Wednesday morning, a snow day was declared for Cameron's school district.  It was the first one of the year.  Thursday, everything went as planned, but a winter storm warning was making headlines.  Out of caution, they cancelled school for nearly every district in our vicinity.  We received the cancellation notice for Friday at 3pm on Thursday.  That was definitely the earliest we have ever seen the closure announcement.

As it seems to go with most extreme weather events, we didn't see any snow until after 1pm on Friday.  Cam began to wonder why they had shut everything down, but then the storm was upon us.  Since we were essentially stuck inside for the weekend, we made the most of it.

Chris and his son decided it was time to try making homemade french bread.  The process took some time between mixing, kneading, rising and finally baking.  The end result was tasty.  We all agreed though, there would need to be some modifications in any future french bread making endeavors.

Cameron was put to work outside, helping clear the sidewalk since it's a bit too narrow for the plow.  The very cold temps didn't keep us out for long, but it did feel good to feel the fresh air.  Cam is also getting used to his new Koolway Sports "KoolMitts".  We ordered them from the company in Canada that makes custom winter wear for individuals needing adaptable clothing.  The insulated mitts have an opening for the joystick on Cam's right hand as well as zippers on the side for easy on and off.

Indoors, we watched a movie and finished some tidying up still left over from the holidays.  We were also experimenting with screencasting video from the iPhone and realized that it made a copy image, almost appearing like a tunnel.  Sometimes, you just need to find ways to amuse yourselves.

Outside we watched the deer huddle together under the trees blanketed with snow.  It's good they can keep each warm, much like our own family inside.

Camology Quotes:

This week's Camology centers around a story told by Chris from his Friday workday.  While welcoming new employees, he noted that one of them was wearing boots with a metallic tip at the point.  He commented that she was lucky to be wearing her "steel-toed boots."  
Another employee asked if Chris was a dad.  At this point in the story, Cam commented:
"Ha! Dad, it was a 'bad dad joke'!"

Sunday, January 7, 2024

Score in 2024! - Week of Jan. 1st

"And now we welcome the new year. Full of things that have never been." ~Rainer Maria Rilke

Waking up to 2024 included a delicious breakfast made by Chris.  

As we said goodbye to 2023 and welcomed January 1st, Jane suggested they take down all of the holiday decorations.  Cam and Layna weren't too sure at first, but finally agreed it would be a fun project.  The cousins worked together as the bins were brought up from downstairs to put everything away.  Chris hoisted Jalayna on his shoulders to reach the tippy top ornaments. 

In just a couple of hours, the living room appeared much more sparse as the Rose Bowl parade became our backdrop on the tv.

The first day of 2024 was also the day of the 110th Rose Bowl.  The much-anticipated football game was scheduled between No. 1 Michigan and No. 4 Alabama with kickoff at 4pm.  Michigan came out strong and by halftime, held a small lead.  We ordered Smoky Bones delivery in honor of the big game and our neighbor, Dave, joined in our festivities.  It was an exciting match up, with ups and downs.  As the clock expired, we were headed into overtime.  The final score was 27-20 with our Michigan team victorious!  Our family proudly displayed our U of M shirts in anticipation of a win.

As we headed into the final couple of days with Grandma Sue, Uncle John and Layna, we made the most of our time.  The cousin duo was not able to complete the chicken tenders/donuts challenge, so it is to be continued during their summer visit.  However, they did have the following conclusions:

  • Detroit Wing Company beat out Cousins for the chicken tenders and onion rings.

  • Cindy's Donuts beat out Sprinkles for the donuts.  Layna's favorite is glazed and sprinkles.  Cam's favorite is chocolate frosting and Grandma Sue indulged in their delicious apple fritters.

Layna took over nightly reading time with Cam which was fun for them both.  Grandma Sue found a favorite afternoon spot in our lower level.

Wednesday evening, Chris and Jane treated brother John to dinner downtown.  Amanda stayed to hang out with everyone at home.  

As our visits have now become more frequent with Chris's family, we feel that undeniable connection with each of them.  

Listening to stories about John and Chris when they were younger has become a favorite activity for Cam and Jane.  Even as adults, we laugh as the brothers challenge each other in little ways, tease each other and share many traits that are exactly alike.

None of us expected to see such a strong friendship form between Cam and Jalayna.  They are supportive of each other, make each other laugh to the point of their eyes watering and both are big fans of chicken tenders and donuts!

Thursday morning we said our farewells, trying not to be too sad since we know they will visit again this summer.  Each of us commented at different times throughout the weekend that it was too quiet.  After all of the activity of extended family visits, our home seemed super silent. 

Michael J. Fox is quoted as saying "Family is not an important thing.  It's everything."  Time spent with all of our extended family definitely speaks to that phrase.

Camology Quotes:

Cameron absolutely appreciates others sharing his own opinion.  It seems he truly prefers the affirmation.  Lately, after making a statement about something, he immediately follows up (in a persuasive, nice tone) with the phrase:
"Don't you agree?"