Sunday, February 25, 2024

Hockey Hangout - Week of Feb. 19th

"It is not our differences that divide us.  It is our inability to recognize, accept and celebrate those differences." ~Audre Lorde

This week, we introduced Cam to an old-fashioned slide projector.  He had never seen one and it had been stored in the cottage attic for many years.  We were unsure if it would even work.  Cameron's dad has the ability to innately figure out anything.  Cam was intrigued by the setup and it was fun to see the old pictures.

We were anticipating our Saturday plans.  Jane and her son were a bit concerned when Chris caught a flu bug and ended up staying home a couple of days.  By the weekend, though, he was on the upswing.  

For the third year, our local hockey team, the Grand Rapids Griffins (a feeder team for the Detroit Red Wings) has hosted a sensory friendly hockey game.  It is named "Hockey without Barriers/Sensory Friendly Game." This game includes lower music levels, no goal horn, no flashing lights, and dimmer lighting throughout the arena.  For Christmas, this continues to be one of our favorite family gifts.

Our evening began at the Consumers Credit Union restaurant, located right inside the arena.  The food is tasty and it makes for a very easy commute to the hockey game.  Cam highly recommends the pretzel bites and chicken pesto flatbread.  

We arrived at our seating area before the first puck hit the ice.  It's always fun to see the zambonis resurface the hockey rink.  When Chris and Jane stood for the national anthem, their son went into standing mode on his powerchair.  At the end of the first period, the Texas Stars had scored the only goal.  Our family scored some delicious treats including popcorn from a local vendor and one of Cam's favorites, peanut m&ms.  The Grand Rapids Griffins scored two goals back to back and the game was now 2-1.  Our local team ended up winning the game with a final score of 4-1!  It was a fun, memorable evening for us all.

We were all ready for a day of rest on Sunday and welcomed the opportunity to hang out together and relax.

Camology Quotes:

With Chris not feeling well, we tried to keep our distance for a couple of days.  Cam's nightly routine typically includes a hug from each parent.  He relayed the following to his mom in lieu of seeing Chris.
"Mom, I'm going to give you a double hug, fist bumps and high fives. I'm pulling out all of the stops for Dad! 

Sunday, February 18, 2024

Fish Fry Season - Week of Feb. 12th

"Worry often gives a small thing a big shadow." ~Swedish proverb 

“Do not anticipate trouble or worry about what may never happen. Keep in the sunlight.” ~Benjamin Franklin

This week was a build-up of sorts, for Cameron.  Due to a barrage of questions regarding a weekend overnight camp in March, Jane arranged a visit on Saturday.  Prior to the weekend, though, the week was full of excitement.

Cam made a "pocket hug" heart magnet for his mom in art class at school.  The accompanying card read: "A heart from me to you filled with lots of love and big hugs too."

Chris surprised Cam's mom with a beautiful flower delivery on Valentine's Day.  That evening, we had made plans with Ms. Ann and her family to partake in the first fish fry of the season at JT's Restaurant.  Even though it wasn't Friday, we were anticipating the meal.  There is an interesting history...

German and Polish Catholic immigrants settled in Milwaukee 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 to popularity during the 1950s and the fish frys became a tradition for many Midwesterners.

We were happy to spend our Valentine's eve with Ms. Ann, Katherine, Paul, Bexley, Sophia and Christopher.

Thursday morning, we were surprised to wake up to heavy, wet snow falling outside.  By the time, Cam and his mom made it to the end of the driveway, they were both completely covered in the white stuff.  Thankfully, it was short-lived and by the afternoon, the roads were clear once again.

After breakfast on Saturday, our family was headed to Indian Trails campground located close to Allendale, a 25-minute drive from our home.  The campground's parent company is IKUS Life Enrichment Services. Definition of IKUS \ˈī-kəs\ (v.) 1. To empower others by teaching with compassion 2. To give others joy, independence, and greater choices (n.) The mission of IKUS Life Enrichment Services is to help individuals with disabilities to discover their potential, experience greater freedom, learn new skills, and have fun in a safe environment.

Cameron took the initiative to request a weekend camp experience.  We signed him up for March 15-17.  Cam has always been inquisitive so his daily questions resulted in the need for an on-site field trip prior to the assigned weekend.  The Camp Director, Ms. Gretchen, met us in the parking lot.  We were introduced to Chef Scott and some counselors and campers.  We toured a cabin and the activity center.  It was quite chilly, so we didn't linger outside too long.  We were all impressed with the staff, setup, surroundings and peacefulness. We snapped a quick pic on our way out in front of the activity/dining lodge.  Our future camper was definitely happy!

Following lunch on Sunday, Jane and her son headed northward to visit cousins while Chris was on his way to snowboard at Crystal Mountain.  Cam and his mom had fun playing with the kiddos and catching up on activities.  We enjoyed a beef stew dinner, accompanied by homemade ice cream and brownies- such a treat!  

To cap off our day, the sunset displayed a beautiful setting for us just as we were leaving.

Camology Quotes:

We were all excited about the camp layout, the people we met and the overall vibe.  Once we exited Indian Trails in our van, Cam announced:
"Wow! They have camp down to a science!"

Sunday, February 11, 2024

Adventures in Eating - Week of Feb. 5th

"Part of the secret of success is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside." ~Mark Twain

"Food is symbolic of love when words are inadequate." ~Alan D. Wolfelt

We were thankful to see the sunshine more this week and it continued to feel a bit like spring as we continued into February.  On Thursday evening, we welcomed a sweet friend, Ms. Vy, into our home for three nights.  She traveled by car from the New York area and is related to our longtime neighbors. 

Friday afternoon felt almost balmy outside and we convinced Cam to go to Cascade Roadhouse with us for dinner.  Chris and Jane had a gift card from our good friends Ms. Christy and Mr. Michael that they had given Cam's parents for their anniversary.  Cam and his dad split their favorite perch dinner.  With a "split" meal, each person receives 4 pieces of fish, lots of fries and separate coleslaw- what a deal!  A fellow high-schooler recognized Cam and said "hi" which added to our fun evening.  Afterwards, we made a stop at the Dollar Store to pick up some supplies for a crafting project planned for the next morning.

After breakfast on Saturday, Ms. Vy was ready to teach us all how to do glass etching.  We were excited to learn since she had shown us some of the glassware she had done and also gave Jane a special mug etched with a heart as a thank you for her stay.  The process was straight-forward and we honestly couldn't believe how easy it was. 

Then, later that afternoon, we entered into our second learning experience for the day.  Ms. Vy brought all of the ingredients for a homemade Korean dinner.  She quickly organized all of the food and taught us how to make wontons!  We even learned how to fold them so they appeared to be "party hats!"  Ms. Patti joined us for the feast and oh my goodness, we all devoured the delicious Korean spread.  In fact, we were so busy assembling everything, we neglected to snap any food pics, but we managed to grab one at the end of dinner.  Cam, however, was about to fall asleep after the filling meal.  Ms. Vy requested to read with Cameron that evening and he was happy to oblige.

Sunday morning, we said goodbye to Ms. Vy, hopeful that she will be able to visit us again.  Not only did we make sweet memories, she also left us with new skills.

After lunch, we made our way to Cannonsburg for our final skiing lesson with ASA-WM (Adaptive Ski Association of West Michigan).  It was much chillier than the previous Sunday, but we did feel fortunate to have one last round with our team.  We were all laughing trying to explain what the snow seemed like due to the warmer conditions during the week as well as the attempts at making "fake" snow.  Our leader, Jason, used the phrase "mashed potatoes" while Cam opted for the descriptive words "melted brownies."  For the very last ride up the chairlift, Chris asked his son if he could be the one to ride up with him solo.  Cam was a little hesitant, but agreed and was super excited when they both exited off of the lift together!  We thanked our Team Cam for their volunteering time and expertise.

Upon our arrival home, we fixed dinner and settled in to watch the Super Bowl.  Even though Cam only watched the first hour, he really liked the State Farm Insurance commercial where Arnold Schwarzenegger keeps saying "neigh-bah" instead of "neighbor" throughout the entire ad.  Cameron can definitely relate since sometimes others do not understand exactly what he is saying.  He declared it the funniest commercial!

Camology Quotes:

On the return trip from skiing at Cannonsburg, Cam commented, 
"I liked this season. It was not as many people and less chaotic."

Sunday, February 4, 2024

The Big Meltdown - Week of Jan. 29th

"Advice is like snow - the softer it falls, the longer it dwells upon, and the deeper in sinks into the mind." ~Samuel Taylor Coleridge

It is very uncommon for Michiganders to experience 40+ degree weather in the beginning of February.  As the week progressed, the temps continued to be mild and we saw the sunshine Friday afternoon.
To celebrate that bright light, we decided to take Cam out to dinner Friday evening.  We chose one of our favorites, El Centenario, for a Mexican dinner.
Saturday was a busy day for our fam, albeit with separate activities.  Chris had signed up for volunteering for the Mary Free Bed Wheelchair Sports program to assist the skiers at our local resort.  It was very chilly in the morning, but the sun appeared once again in the afternoon.  Jane and her son made their way to Grand Haven for a long visit with Oma and Opa.  We first picked up lunch at Panera to celebrate Opa's Feb.1st birthday.  
After enjoying our lunch in the dining area and meeting some friends of Cam's grandparents, we made our way to the library.  Cam requested to relax in the room with books and puzzles, complete with a fireplace.  Jane had brought some photo and memorabilia for Oma and Opa to look through with Cam.  We enjoyed a walk outdoors and saying hi to many of Oma and Opa's friends.  We were thankful for the sunshine to drive home in.

The sun remained on Sunday for our adaptive ski lesson with Cam.  The snow seemed to be melting at a rapid rate, but the ski slopes still retained most of their base.  Kurt joined our team to fill in for Jason and expertly steered Cam down the hill.  None of us could believe how mild the weather was.  For the first time ever, our son enjoyed skiing in 50 degree conditions and didn't wear his gloves for the entire 2-hour outing!  

One of the highlights of our afternoon was meeting a ski patrol dog name "Lola" serving to provide comfort and care to skiers and snowboarders feeling nervous, apprehensive or hurt.
Many people wonder how Cam is able to get on the chairlift and how he actually skis down the hill.  Two videos show each operation in action 😎  After experiencing the disappearing snow this week, we are holding out hope for one last Cannonsburg lesson next Sunday!

Camology Quotes:

It always feels good to make someone else smile.  At Cam's swimming therapy session, the therapist talked about a potluck they had at lunchtime. She told him that Cam's PT had made the best pulled pork and she needed the recipe.  The minute Cam saw his PT, he told him, 
"Ms. Mandy really loved your pulled pork.  She's going to ask you for the recipe!"