Graduation Day for Cam! Class of 2021

It’s graduation day for Cam! FPD and I were able to attend the event IN PERSON. No Zoom graduation this year. WOOHOO!

Image of the front of a graduation program. The program is printed on green paper. The black lettering reads 'James Madison Memorial High School. Fifty-Fourth Commencement. Spartans. Class of 2021.'

We are so proud of Cam. He persevered through some tough loss this year. He attended approximately 8 weeks of in person school. Everything else was cancelled or done virtually. I don’t think any adolescent enjoys that. Cam couldn’t do it at all. His grades began to tank, mental health was not what it once was. But, as the world slowly opened up again, so did Cam, and we saw the return of the kid we always knew. He rejoined the Track team and his grades began to improve. He ended the year a little closer to where he was before the whole world was rocked by something none of us could have imagined and definitely couldn’t control.

Image of Cam, a tall Black man, wearing a green graduation gown, mortar board and holding his diploma.
Image of Cam, a tall Black man, wearing a green graduation gown, mortar board and holding his diploma.He is standing next to FullPlateMom, a white woman with red hair. She is wearing sunglasses and large gold diamond shaped earrings. She is wearing a black printed maxi dress.
Image of Cam, a tall Black man, wearing a green graduation gown, mortar board and holding his diploma.He is standing next to FullPlateMom, a white woman with red hair. She is wearing sunglasses and large gold diamond shaped earrings. She is wearing a black printed maxi dress. FullPlateDad, a tall white man with brown hair, is standing to the other side of Cam. He is wearing a blue t-shirt and navy blue shorts.

After Cam’s graduation day, his plan is to enjoy this summer to the max, and then head to UW-Madison to major in education. He isn’t sure what he’ll teach or if he’ll become a school counselor. But, he knows that coaching is in his future. He is an amazing athlete, and we are so proud of the adult he is becoming.

–FullPlateMom, who can’t believe her first baby is a full grown adult!

Bowen’s 11th Birthday Trip to the Asian Market

Bowen celebrated his 11th birthday today!

Image of a black letter board with white lettering. Letters spell out 'Happy Birthday Bowen! U R THE BEST. We love you so much! 11 years'

Bowen has quite a few things he loves, and many of them are related to China, his homeland. So, it was pretty on brand for him to ask for a trip to the Asian Market near us for his 11th birthday. He wanted to pick up all his favorite goodies. He loaded up on noodle bowls, and bao buns, and so many other good things. He and Tess wandered the aisles for a long time debating their purchases. They were kind enough to pick up items for Cate and Gigi too.

Image of Bowen, a small Asian boy with Dwarfism, bent down choosing two bowls of noodles from the bottom shelf of a grocery aisle. His sister, Tess, a small Asian girl with long black hair is standing in the background. She is wearing a plaid flannel shirt and holding a multi-pack of dried seaweed under her arm.

For dinner? Kentucky Fried Chicken. He’s American too, y’all.

–FullPlateMom, who loves that Bo loves the best of both his worlds.

Bo Gets Back In The Water: A Return to Swimming

Bo is back in the water! He is returning to swimming. Bowen in a nationally ranked Junior Paralympic swimmer. In fact, he is a champion in some events. We feel like it is safe for Bowen to get back in the water again as COVID-19 is winding down. He has had his first vaccine. Numbers here are falling quickly as our community clamors for the vaccine. The club Bo swims for is taking great care of their swimmers.

So, he got back in the water.

Bowen, an Asian boy with Dwarfism, is wearing a red swim suit and holding a blue kick board. He has a cap and goggles on his head and is slowly lowering himself into the pool.

And, it was like he never left. So, after a couple of weeks of training, we entered him into a Paralympic-sanctioned event locally. It was about 90 minutes away. He and I drove out together so he could compete.

Bowen, an Asian boy with Dwarfism, is wearing a red racing swim suit and white swim cap. He is bent down in the starting position on a swim block, ready to dive into the pool.

Y’all, he brought home times that qualified him for Junior Nationals swimming in Denver! He is so proud!

Bowen, an Asian boy with Dwarfism, is walking on the sidewalk. He has a white mask with blue print on it. He has a t-shirt and grey joggers on. He is wearing Adidas slides. On his back is a black mesh backpack. His backpack has many ribbons and awards hanging from the loop at the top.

So, Joe and I talked at length about all that Bo gave up this past year, and all that he is about to give up. He missed his last year at his elementary school, which was a bummer for him, but it wasn’t such a bummer for his dad and I. We have had to help him traverse the waters of bullying for a long time. Next school year he is supposed to move on to a middle school in our neighborhood, the same one all his brothers and sisters attended. He won’t be going. We have chosen an online public charter school for him.

At first, he was really upset about this. Now, he feels better about it. He doesn’t want to be a target either. Finding success in swimming has made him less of a target. It has given him a huge amount of self-confidence. That is so worth the trip to Denver, and more.

–FullPlateMom, who can’t wait to shout “GO BO GO!”

Gigi Outside: A Make A Wish Story

In late October, we learned that Gigi would need another heart surgery. It was so disappointing. Immediately, I requested a referral to Make A Wish. There was zero question about what she would ask for. Gigi is an outdoors girl, she is always requesting to go outside. Virtual school ends and she is signing “Gigi outside.” She usually takes Goose (Cate) with her. When they’re in the yard, they’re swinging on the tree branch swing or hunting for bugs. Gigi just loves being outside.

Then, she read a book about camping and it was all over for us. She demanded to try it, but this started in October. The winter months in Wisconsin are no time to go camping, so we improvised. Indoor, weekend camp outs became the thing at our house. I get up on Saturday mornings and find this…

Children lying in sleeping bags all over the floor of the living room. Isabel has one eye open and is peeking at me while I take the picture. In the middle of the room is a large, pink striped, A-frame tent.

It has become part of my Saturday routine to cook camp breakfasts. I love this new tradition. Ultimately, Gigi would like to camp for real, but we weren’t sure when she would need her surgery, or what her recovery will be like. So, for awhile, there will be lots of backyard camping and tent camping close to home. Also complicating factors is what Gigi asked for from her wish granters at Make A Wish.

Gigi read this book, and she fell in love.

She asked for a camper. Make A Wish has ordered this one for her. Alas, campers have also been impacted by COVID-19. Components are scarce. Build-outs are taking a long time. We don’t know when the camper will come. We are making the best of it though. We started an Amazon wish list for her and I linked it on social media. We only included the fun stuff, the stuff she associated with camping, as opposed to all the boring stuff we would need to safely tow the camper. No kid cares about that stuff.

Our village rose up for Gigi, and the list was emptied in approximately 15 minutes. We kept adding things for her. She is so excited, and we are so grateful!

–FullPlateMom, who can’t wait to camp with Gigi.

Track Stars

Cam, AJ and Jax are now all fully vaccinated and have joined the high school track team. Cam is so relieved to get to run again since this is his Senior year. AJ dominates in Cross Country, but fall was full of COVID, so he is ready to rejoin the distance runners. Jax shocked us when he joined up. This is his Freshmen year. He hasn’t met anyone on the team outside of his brothers. He was very, very brave to choose to become a thrower.

Cam, a Black man wearing a mask over his mouth and nose, is wearing a 'Madison Memorial, track singlet as he runs. He is looking very determined as a teammate hands the baton to him.
Jax, a Black boy, with a black hoodie under his track singlet is throwing a shot put. His teammates and coaches surround him watching.
Jax, a Black boy, with a black hoodie under his track singlet is throwing a shot put. His teammates and coaches surround him watching.

–FullPlateMom, who is so proud of all these young men.