Sunday, May 26, 2024

Outdoor Dining - Week of May 20th

"Cooking and eating food outdoors makes it taste infinitely better than the same meal prepared and consumed indoors." ~Fennel Hudson

There are certain activities and gatherings that become a part of our core memories.  For Cameron, dinners with the Raisch fam have been happening since he was born.  This family has collectively shared life experiences with us for the past 22 years.  When we moved in across the street in 2001, we couldn't have imagined the bond we would share.  When we moved again in 2012, it was a big reason we could only venture one street over.
Scheduling is challenging between our two families, so we were pleasantly surprised to be able to add a home fish fry to the collective calendar for Friday evening.  And the list of attendees grew which was the best bonus of all!
Walleye caught by Chris and and blue gill reeled in by Mr. Steve acted as our main course, along with homemade fries, roasted veggies and fresh fruit.  Being outside to share our meal, swapping stories and memories, talking about the upcoming marriage of Megan and Nathan and of course, laughing, were true highlights.

Saturday brought a tasty treat for Cam's breakfast.  Chris drove over to Chick-Fil-A early and snagged his son a biscuit chicken sandwich for the first meal of the day.  Multiple projects were attended to and Cam provided supervisory oversight to keep his parents on task.
On Sunday, we packed up food for dinner and made our way to the cottage.  The afternoon was spent with our cousins and Oma and Opa, who met us there after lunch.  It was mild enough to gather outdoors and eat some tasty appetizers.  We were considering having our evening meal outside as well until we noticed the intense storm clouds over Lake Michigan.  

The benefit of seeing the wide open skies brings the ability to have advance warning of inclimate weather.  We all made it inside prior to the rain beating down.  Even though we weren't able to have a second outdoor dinner event during the weekend, the fresh air feeling stayed with us.  As the rain came down outside, the grilled and smoked food made its way inside.  We dined and talked and it felt a bit like the unofficial start to summer.  And we all decided that the best way to close out a weekend is to be around family.

Camology Quotes:

We are a technology driven family.  Sometimes, even we are perplexed by tech issues.  One evening, Jane's computer was having problems.  She worked on it for awhile, engaged Cam, and they couldn't figure it out.  When Chris arrived home, he and Cam tackled it again.  After some time, it was back to normal.  Jane asked her son how they corrected the issue and this was Cam's honest response:

"Mom, I am pretty smart, but I don't know everything!"

Sunday, May 19, 2024

Faithful Friends - Week of May 13th

"Things are never quite as scary when you have a best friend." ~Bill Watterson

When Cam's parents were his age, Calvin and Hobbes was a very popular comic strip published in the newspaper on a weekly basis.  It followed the adventures of Calvin, a young boy who seemed adult-like in his thinking, and his imaginary tiger friend, Hobbes.  Bill Watterson created the stories and the memorable quotes to go along with them. "Know what's weird? Day to day nothing seems to change, but pretty soon everything is different" and "Great experiences are even better when they're shared."

This time of year in Michigan, it's always crazy to experience the temperature change from one week to the next.  On Friday, Jane picked up Cam from school for her son's working session with the Grand Valley PT graduate students.  Cameron explains to the students how to transfer him, relax his muscles and understand his tone.  It's always such a positive experience and a true win-win situation.  To celebrate the end of the week, our family ate dinner outside at a sushi restaurant. 

Cam tried shrimp and vegetable tempura for the first time!  (A shout out to Mrs. Stephanie F. for always encouraging Cam to try new food adventures and he mentioned your name during dinner!)

Saturday morning, the weather couldn't have been better 🌞 The Cam fans were in full force!  A good friend and classmate of Brody and Cam, Tiana, was there to cheer on her school buddies.  Our dear family friends, Patti and Steve arrived as well.  Ms. Coleen is a such a huge baseball fan and couldn't wait to see her buddy play this season.

One of Cam's teammates is Daniel.  He has the same powerchair as Cameron and we found out that they will be attending summer camp together in July!  It always nice knowing there will be someone else you're familiar with.  We dined on Culver's afterwards with Ms. Coleen.

Sunday was another picture perfect weather day.  Jane and her son made their way to visit with Oma and Opa while Chris headed to the golf course.  We strolled along the perimeter of their community grounds.  The flowers are in full bloom and we relaxed outside in the courtyard for a bit after our exercise.

In the afternoon, we all exchanged hugs before heading back to Grand Rapids.  Cam and his mom only had time for a quick break before leaving again with Chris.  

We were destined for Uccello's restaurant where we were meeting Brody with his family and friends.  The celebration for Brody's birthday was a blast.  He chose three of his high school friends to accompany him.  Cam's bday present to his buddy was a t-shirt with the words "Awesome Since May 2007" as well as birthday socks in honor of turning 17.  During dinner, there was lots of laughter.  

To end our evening, the entire dinner crew met at our local ice cream place, Frosty Boy.  It was crowded, especially for a Sunday, but even waiting in the long line was fun.

And truly, not too many things taste better than the very first outdoor summer ice cream of the season!

Camology Quotes:

If you find a best friend who is always supportive, it is such a gift.  At school, whenever other kids act up, Brody is always comforting to his buddy. Cameron provided the following in his birthday card for his best bud: 

"Brody, I always appreciate that you are there for me when I need you. You always assure me when things happen at school that you are there for me. Thank you for being my best friend! Happy 17th Birthday!! Love, Cam

Sunday, May 12, 2024

Making Mom's Day - Week of May 6th

“Nothing is lost until your mother can’t find it.”  ~Unknown

As Cam has grown older, his sense of humor has shown through.  Occasionally, he will use his mother's first and middle name if he really wants to get her attention. His smile that accompanies the two names says it all. Each and every time, Jane tells her son to please call her by the name reserved for him and only him..."Mom."

Chris attended a charity luncheon for Special Olympics this week.  He saw Cam's best bud, Brody, and his mom.  He also spotted other friends in the special needs community as well.  

Imagine Cam's dad's surprise when he spotted the complimentary cards for Brody's Be Cafe and his son's picture in the upper right hand corner!

Friday night, a rare event occurred across the U.S.
A rare geomagnetic storm - the intensity of which had not been forecast for about 20 years - sent auroras shimmering across Michigan skies Friday night. Vibrant pinks, sea greens and even purple streaks saturated the skies, even as clouds began to move into some areas around 10 p.m. Generally, it takes just eight minutes for light to travel 93 million miles to the Earth from the sun, but the energized particles causing the current wave of aurora travel a lot slower, which caused the phenomenon to last for the weekend.  The most surprising aspect was that it was so much brighter and clearer when viewing through the cell phone camera.

Saturday morning temperatures were a bit of a shock to the system.  Cam had a WMML game scheduled for 11am. 

Chris was asked to step in as coach and the wind was whipping.  

It was close to 50 degrees when we arrived, but it felt much colder with the gusty chill. Many bystanders were dressed in winter coats. Even with the cold air, there were plenty of smiles and laughter.  It did feel like it took us all awhile to warm up after the game.

Sunday morning, Cam and Chris both wished Jane a Happy Mother's Day.  A beautiful bouquet of flowers from Cam brightened our kitchen and Cam's mom.

We had a packed agenda for the day.  We prepared a homemade coffee cake for Oma, which Cam requested we bake at Oma and Opa's so it would be extra fresh and delicious.  A cooler was packed with eggs, mushrooms, sausage along with fresh fruit and bread with our strawberry jam for toast.

When Cam's grandparents arrived home from church, their family was busy cooking up brunch.  After our tasty meal, we had a long stroll around the apartment complex.  It was a nice afternoon and we encountered quite a few other residents outside as well.  After big hugs for all, we made our trek home.

Back in Grand Rapids, it was a relaxing late afternoon.  Chris and Cam took Jane to dinner. She requested a place with outdoor dining. Her first choice was too crowded so they opted for an old standby, El Burrito.

Cam's mom shared one of her favorite stories about her son.  When he was born via emergency C-section, he was whisked away in an incubator by a transport nurse (Tracy) to another hospital.  Jane had to stay where she was for at least 24 hours before being released.  When she finally arrived the next day in the NICU with Chris pushing her in a wheelchair, the transport nurse, Tracy, was there.  She told Jane that no one had held her son yet, because they wanted his mom to be the first one!  Cam said "Mom, that was so sweet of her!"  

Camology Quotes:

Cameron always wants to make people laugh.  He commonly will say he has a joke to tell.  His "best" one this week: "I joke around so I'm a merry-go-round!"

Sunday, May 5, 2024

The Art of the Surprise - Week of Apr. 29th

"Don't tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results."  ~George S. Patton

Aristotle said, "The secret to humor is surprise" and there was an abundance of smiles and laughter to accompany the unexpected for Cam this week.

Thursday evening, Cameron and his mom attended their first Advisory Board Meeting together.  The one-hour scheduled meeting was held remotely with our good friend, Dr. Lisa who is a professor of physical therapy.  She was awarded a grant to officially set up a powerchair driving skills assessment and training course.  Cam and friend, Onjie are the two powerchair users on the board along with three parents and Dr. Lisa.  At the close of the meeting, Jane and her son agreed it was fun.  One of the ideas they talked about providing a license similar to the one a GV student had created for Cameron so many years ago.

Friday evening, we planned to have dinner guests but kept it a secret from Cam.  Auntie Roe and her husband, Mike arrived promptly at 5p.  After the big reveal, we prepared a surf and turf meal with fresh veggies and fruit.  

After dinner, Chris set up virtual reality goggles for us all to try out.  It's very surreal to be transported into another scene while donning the eyewear.  Cam could not stop laughing and we were all breathless a few times cracking up, watching one another navigate things. 
The evening went by in a flash and we promised to schedule another dinner very soon.

Saturday's WMML game was on the docket for 12pm.  It was truly one surprise after another.  When we arrived for Cam's baseball match up, the parking lot was completely packed.  Home Depot's designated volunteers were everywhere and they had a bountiful display of hot dogs and chips for the players and fans.  Erin was Cameron's volunteer buddy and they had fun chatting.

Cam was beyond excited to see so many fans who came out to see him play.  The first big surprise was his grandparents!  

Oma and Opa rode with Aunt Betsy and Uncle Jon to Rockford.  How cool it was to see them all! We are so grateful they were able to enjoy each other's company on the trek.

The high school teachers Cam and Brody see most often, Ms. Abbie and Ms. Megan were in attendance to see their sophomores.  

Ms. Michelle, who has been Cam's school PT since kindergarten showed up as well.  Mary Jo and Ms. Cris, who have known our kiddo since he was in grade school, also surprised us.

Sporting events bring people together, but we know these fans all have a special connection with us.  We are so thankful for the love and support.

After leaving the field, we headed to Home Depot to pay it forward in light of their volunteer efforts for the WMML.  We gathered up the items on our list and met some friendly workers who were familiar with the baseball mission as well.

Sunday was Cinco de Mayo and we had thought it was the celebration of Mexico's independence.  However, we were surprised to learn that it was actually commemorating Mexico's victory over the Second French Empire at the Battle of Puebla in 1862.  Ironically, the fifth of May celebration is more popular in the U.S. than it is in Mexico.  We made our way to Lola's for dinner, which is one of our favorite places to dine and it's less than 10 minutes from our home.

Thanks to Cam's curiosity and the availability of any information needed on the internet, we are always learning.  More often than not, we are also pleasantly surprised by what we uncover in our quest for answers.

Camology Quotes:

The toll saga comes to a close... we received our official invoice from the Pennsylvania turnpike this week.  We asked Cam to guess how much it was.  He started with $50 and we kept telling him to guess higher and higher.  He finally closed in on the approximate total.  When we shared the actual bill showing the amount of $180.40, he responded with:

"That's how much it is? You'll go bankrupt!"