Sunday, September 25, 2022

Here Comes The Bus - Week of Sept. 19th

“The advance of technology is based on making it fit in so that you don't really even notice it, so it's part of everyday life.” ~Bill Gates

Matt Mullenweg said that "technology is best when it brings people together."  
Nearly 4 years ago, Cam talked to his mom about the need for Dean Transportation (his school bus company) to have some kind of app so we would know when the bus is about to arrive.  After multiple phone calls at different times, we were always told that the bus company wouldn't be able to invest in the application due to funding.  As you can see from the picture taken outside of our front door, we have a very long driveway.  This week, much to our surprise, Cam's bus driver handed us a sheet of paper with instructions to sign up for a free app called "Here Comes The Bus." Dean Transportation had purchased a package to use the software.  It was difficult to tell who was more excited about the news, Cam or his mom!

Friday was a half day of school for our freshman, so we had pre-scheduled a wheelchair parts repair for the afternoon.  
Saturday's plans included a day with Brody, Cam's best buddy.  Brody was dropped off around 9am and the boys were scheduled for an 11am WMML baseball game.  The weather was rainy in parts of Michigan so we had a few Cam Fans cancel out.
The first fan to arrive was Stephanie, a para-pro aide the boys had in school from 5th grade through 8th grade.  Needless to say, the freshman buddies were excited to see her.

With each game, the lineup is changed and the coach will determine who is last up to bat.  The final few batters who round third base and head for home are greeted with a makeshift person tunnel to cheer on the kids.  Coach Mark placed Cam at the end and he experienced the human tunnel as he made his way to home plate.  The pure joy on Cam's face was matched by his best friend cheering him on!

From elementary school, Ms. Cris (an aide in the boys' classroom) and her family attended the game too.  Cris' daughter, Mary Jo, has hung out with Cam multiple times over the years.  Mary Jo even took Cam and Brody to the Lowell Fair before.  They continue to come out to a game to cheer on these guys every year.
The baseball game ended at 12p and there was an earlier request for a Culver's lunch.  After Cam and Brody finished their chosen Culver's items, we decided it would fun to watch a movie.  
The new Pinocchio movie on Disney+ was the pick.  It's no secret to anyone who knows Brody that the live action Lion King movie is his absolute favorite.  
After watching Pinocchio, Disney+ informed us on the screen that since we had just watched our movie, they would recommend we see The Lion King next!  It was a good five minutes before we could stop laughing. 
We said goodbye to Brody before dinner and settled in for the evening. 

Jane drove over to the airport after Cam was in bed.  Cousin David flew in from Texas and was staying with us for the night.  
Sunday afternoon, we all traveled north to drop off David at his cottage.  He and Cam had a nice ride talking about life and listening to some of David's clarinet and trumpet music from his band.
We visited more cousins after the drop-off before heading back to Grand Rapids early.  Cam never forgets to remind us when it is a school night and when his nightly routine should begin.  Even though his parents are bound by their own work schedules on a daily basis, we always tell our punctual son that he truly has an "internal clock" that works overtime.

Camology Quotes:

The "Here Comes The Bus" application proved a bit challenging to set up.  On the sheet of paper it indicated that Cam's student ID would be used to register.  Jane inputted the number and it wouldn't advance to the next screen.  Cam was convinced he knew why.
"I.T. is blocking it, Mom, because it is my student ID.  You can't authenticate it."
As it turned out, Jane neglected to turn the sheet over where a different ID number was shown specifically for Cam.  She did confess her self-inflicted frustration to her son and told him why it was important to look at things more closely, especially when in a rush!

Sunday, September 18, 2022

Fall Festivities - Week of Sept. 12th

"The soul should always stand ajar, ready to welcome the ecstatic experience." ~Emily Dickinson

"Every new experience brings its own maturity and a greater clarity of vision." ~Indira Ghandi

We don't have any shortage of wildlife around, but Chris was quite surprised
when he almost stepped on a snake while walking into the house.  He had to bring it in to show Cam and then Stella was curious.  Cam's dad seemed a bit perplexed that no one in the family was scared of the small reptile.

Early in the week, Cam started coughing a bit and didn't quite feel himself.  He requested a pickup early from school and stayed home the next day.  We had a puppy visit from our friend Mary.  Her dog, Jada, had two Berna doodle pups and she wanted them to meet Cam.  The adorable dogs loved running into the grass, sniffing everything.

By Friday, Cam was feeling better and was relieved about his negative covid test.  Chris was volunteering at a charity golf event for Lori's Voice that afternoon.  Jane and her son drove to the course in Marne after dinner.  They saw their friend, Erica, who recently received her Trak chair, able to travel over nearly any surface.  We all thought it looked so cool and Erica showed us the controls.

Upon waking up on Saturday morning, Cam declared he was feeling normal again.  His WMML baseball game was scheduled for 10am and it was truly a perfect weather day to play ball.  Brody was back in action and the boys had a great time on the field together.  The video scoreboard shows each player's picture when they are up to bat and the cheering is always present for each and every kid. The Aquinas Girls Softball team were the volunteers for the day.  Cam's helper, Ellie, snapped a photo of our group including Brody's mom and grandma.  Prior to leaving the ballfield, we solidified our plans for that evening.

Cam and his best bud Brody had purchased tickets for the Homecoming Dance.  Neither of them had formal dates, but they wanted to go and hang out with their friends.  We had received communication from the boys' teachers that there would be over 1,000 kids there.  Dressing up was a requirement.  

We all met at Ucello's for an early dinner.  The delicious meal was capped off by a chocolate cake dessert.  We arrived at the dance a little after 7:30p.  It was scheduled from 8p-10p.  

After a short photo op, the freshman boys made their way inside. Cam's parents and Brody's mom drove to a nearby restaurant.  When we arrived back at the high school before 10p, we saw Brody outside.  After parking and walking up, we asked him where Cam was and he told us he wasn't sure.  Cam headed out the door in short order, cracking up because they had been looking for each other knowing it was about time to be picked up.  When Jane asked her son if it was fun, he loudly responded, "Yes!"

It was a late night to bed and a bit of sleeping in the next morning. After a few hours, we packed some things for lunch and headed to Grand Haven, excited to see Oma and Opa.  The sunshine was abundant and we planned a picnic lunch in their courtyard.  

With all of the accessibility, Cam wants to visit more often.  We're pretty certain this would be just fine with his grandparents!

Camology Quotes:

Cam and his parents are actively involved in the community, volunteering for non-profits and serving as board members.  We were surprised and excited to see Cam's picture appear with one of our favorite local broadcasters, Tessa. Tessa moved to west Michigan a year ago and the longer commercial introduces her to our local viewers.  In fact, the photo appeared long enough for Jane to snap a picture of the tv.  When she showed Cam the next morning, he took it in stride.
"I remember that night and I like that picture. I'm glad they used it."

Sunday, September 11, 2022

Baseball Begins - Week of Sept. 5th

"Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back, everything is different." ~C.S. Lewis

Everyone typically remembers at least one school picture, whether it was favorable or not and perhaps a memorable outfit or two?  

In some online surfing, we discovered that School Photographers of America has done extensive research with national archives. They came to the conclusion that the first organized company to formally facilitate school photography traces back to 1922.  

Cam's school pic was taken at his freshman orientation.  The photographer noted that Cam was one of the happiest kids he'd ever seen.  For the past few years, we've chosen the digital download option versus ordering the printed package of photos. This week, we received the email with his school photos. It's fun to look at the different backgrounds and we print our favorites at home.  

Oma and Opa arrived on Friday to spend the night.  While Cam's parents enjoyed a date night out, Ms. Ann and Cam's grandparents had a fun evening staying in.  They dined on a pot roast meal and tasty ice cream for dessert.  Together, the crew watched a Disney+ show called "The Wizard of Paws" which follows a pet prosthetic engineer who customizes prosthetics for animals of all sizes.

Saturday morning, we were all ready to watch Cam play ball!  The West Michigan Miracle League is located in Rockford, Michigan and its mission is to provide kids (and adults) who have physical and cognitive restrictions an opportunity to play baseball.  There are 6 kid teams and 2 adult teams most every season.  

The coaches choose which "team" they will represent.  Coach Mark is a big Notre Dame fan, so Cam is part of the Fighting Irish team with his best bud, Brody and Mark's son, Carson.  The volunteer helpers for the day came from Hope College Girls' Softball team.  It was a beautiful sunny morning and our 10am game time kicked off the first game of the day.  Cam had two great hits with the batter box and everyone was excited to be back on the field.

Prior to leaving for the game, Cam generously offered to treat everyone to lunch from Culver's!  He had received a generous birthday gift card from Auntie Karen and insisted on using it.  Oma and Opa are almost bigger fans of the Wisconsin franchise restaurant than Cam.  As our ball player always says when partaking in a Culver's meal (directly from the commercial), "Welcome to Delicious!"

Camology Quotes:

Stella, our cat, has been a part of our family for 16 years.  She clearly acts as if she controls our household and her meows have even seemed to become more demanding in her later years.  When Cam is going through his nightly routine, she typically hangs out lounging on the floor in his room.  Jane went in to check how things were going and Cam announced the following:
"Stella is minding my business.  She is not minding her own business, she is minding mine!"

Sunday, September 4, 2022

The Moving Crew - Week of Aug. 29th

“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” ~Walt Disney

Beginning a new week brings unknown possibilities.

Monday afternoon, Cam and his mom just made it up the driveway after his bus dropped him off before a deluge of rain poured over our neighborhood.  After the drips subsided, our deer friends made themselves comfortable in our front yard right outside our dining room.  It always strikes us as funny that they seem oblivious to activity inside our home.

The week went by quickly with Cam's schooling and his parents working.  When Friday came, we all had a day off- Cam for the long Labor Day weekend and Chris and Jane to move furniture for Cam's grandparents.  The day was warm and sunny.  After the furniture was brought to Grand Haven via Chris' truck, Ms. Ann and Cam drove the van to meet us at the new apartment.  As the bed was being assembled late in the day, things weren't connecting correctly.  Oma walked in and immediately noticed the cause of the issue...the headboard was facing the wrong way!  After a quick readjustment, the moving crew was back in business although Cam continued laughing about the entire ordeal for quite some time.

Meanwhile, in the living room, Opa was thoroughly testing out the recliner just to be certain it was in the proper location and ensuring the comfortability level.

Our crew tasks were completed a little after 5pm.  We drove a short distance to an older family favorite restaurant, Russ'.  Cam ordered chicken tenders (they were out of perch, his first choice) with onion rings and steamed vegetables.  The rest of us picked out our favorites and everyone shared desserts.  The ride back to Grand Rapids was full of laughter, reliving the moments of the day.
After sleeping in a bit on Saturday, we packed up for the cottage to spend the afternoon with cousins and Cam's grandparents.  
We all had lunch together and then headed for the shoreline.  
Although we didn't go swimming, it was still good to have beach time and family time.
As we gathered our things to head out, we felt sprinkles.  Once we were in the van, the rain found a steady rhythm.  We decided to spontaneously eat dinner at a mexican restaurant in Whitehall before we began our journey back home.
The Labor Day weekend unofficially signifies the end of summer in Michigan, but we still like to think summer has a bit more gorgeous weather to squeeze out before fall officially arrives.

Camology Quotes:

Cam had his yearly doctor visit this week. While the nurse was taking his vitals, he asked her:
"How do you know what the numbers are for my blood pressure without having them showing?" (i.e. digital readout)
The nurse went on to explain how she listened for the first beat in her stethoscope to provide the top number and the last beat heard is the bottom number.  Jane thanked them both since she couldn't have adequately provided the same response herself.

Sunday, August 28, 2022

Fired Up Freshman - Week of Aug. 22nd

“How did it get so late so soon? It's night before it's afternoon. December is here before it's June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?” ~Dr. Suess

Monday, August 22nd marked the first day of high school for Cam.  It didn't seem possible our kiddo was starting his freshman year.  Pivoting from a 8:00am wake up time to 5:50am is a bit of change, not only for our teen, but for his parents as well.  Nevertheless, Cam was so ready to begin the school year.  As tired as we all were, his smile filled with anticipation was infectious.
Jane received the coolest text from Cam's bus driver, Ms. Christy, on Tuesday a.m. after the bus dropped off the kids at the high school.  She informed Cam's mom that when they arrived, there was a huge tunnel made in the form of a husky, the Forest Hills Northern school mascot.  The marching band was playing the fight song when they were unloading.  Ms. Christy said that "Cam was so excited and feeling the music.  It was so intense.  His school spirit is huge!"  Luckily, she was able to grab a quick picture of our 9th grader going into the Husky Tunnel.  When he arrived home that afternoon, Jane's son told her it was such an awesome start to the day!

After surviving the first week of school, we were all looking very forward to the weekend.  As is typical of our Saturdays, we traveled north to the cottage.  We dined outside on the Haroldson deck for lunch prior to relocating to the beach.  It was a picture perfect day, although the water was a bit chilly for swimming.

Late that afternoon, we were off to Grand Haven to drop off some things for Oma and Opa.  Chris and Cam arrived first to install the wall mount for their tv and then Jane arrived with Cam's grandparents to unload more items.  After all of that hard work, we were treated to a delicious meal from Mancino's, less than two miles from Oma and Opa's new apartment.  Another bonus is being able to eat outside in a beautiful courtyard which is within walking distance of their new place.  Every time we are there, Cam asks the same question upon departure: "when we will come back here?  I love it!"

Camology Quotes:

Our nightly routine includes reading books with Cam.  We have always done this and take turns with Chris reading one night and Jane reading the next.  Each parent reads a different chapter book.  When it's a "mom" night, our cat Stella will typically lay on the floor.  One night this week, she was sitting by the end of Cam's bed.
"Mom, Stella wants to be up on my bed.  She likes to listen."
I'm not so sure, Cam. Maybe she wants to stay on the floor. (Jane gives in and picks her up and deposits her at the end of the bed.)
"See Mom.  I always know what Stella wants."

Sunday, August 21, 2022

Fifteen's Routine - Week of Aug. 15th

“Sometimes, You will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.” ~Dr. Seuss

It was hard to believe this week of August 15th was also the week Cam would be 15 years old!  To commemorate the occasion, here are fifteen things you may or may not know about Cam...

  1. He is kind
  2. He is empathetic
  3. He loves projects
  4. He loves leading and supervising projects
  5. He learns visually
  6. His comprehension is pretty impressive
  7. His memory is even more impressive!
  8. He loves chocolate
  9. He loves bread
  10. He loves his family and spending time with them
  11. His favorite activity with his dad is working on computers and programming Amazon Alexas
  12. His favorite activity with his mom is organizing, cleaning and baking
  13. He is a routine-driven person
  14. He is honest
  15. His heart is pure gold!💝
On Monday, Cam went blueberry picking with his dad.  They gathered more than 5 pounds of berries to bring home.
Wednesday, August 17 was Cam's birthday and it started off on a high note.  Our teenager slept in until after 8am.  After waking up and getting dressed, he was greeted with his favorite breakfast from Sundance restaurant: scrambled eggs, bacon, toast and spuds (the best breakfast potatoes, per Cam).
Oma and Opa were with us for the entire week so it was an extra treat to see his grandparents on his birthday.

Jane took the birthday teen out in the afternoon for a drive through the Tropical Smoothie Café for a chocolate peanut butter cool freeze.
Cam's only request for his special day: Olive Garden for dinner.  
Oma, Opa and Ms. Ann all accompanied Cam and his parents out for our dining festivities.  There were plenty of breadsticks and salad to go around.  Since it was Cam's birthday, he was able to score a free dessert of his choice!  They were out of chocolate lasagna (probably not a bad thing) so instead, we all shared warm Italian doughnuts with chocolate dipping sauce.  Each of us can highly recommend.  We left the restaurant with full bellies, big smiles and 6 leftover containers.

Oma and Opa gave Cam two shirts emblazoned with "Cam, the man, the myth, the legend" as well as a baking conversion chart.  The birthday teenager received multiple Amazon gift cards from friends and family.  Grandma Sue sent a handmade quilt with Cam's high school mascot featured from some t-shirts sewn in.  And Jane's co-worker, Cyndi, sent a most delicious array of ice cream packed in dry ice.

Friday's agenda included Jane and her son driving to Muskegon in the morning.  It was the grand opening of Renew Mobility (formerly Alternatives in Motion) Muskegon location.  Jane is on the Board of Directors and Cam is one of their Youth Ambassadors.  Ms. Tessa who is also a board member and a local news anchor was on the scene as well.

We were grateful to have Oma and Opa with us for the week.  We enjoyed meals together, watching movies and just chatting.  Friday evening, Cam's grandparents enjoyed dinner at home with him while Chris and Jane met their cousins at a restaurant close by.

Saturday morning we were on the road again with a planned stop in Grand Haven to drop off some items for Oma and Opa's new place.  
Afterwards, we made our way to the Haroldson cottage for a second celebration of Cam's bday, orchestrated by cousin Coco and friends, Molly and Jude.  
Even though it wasn't a beach day, we were still able to be together and hang out.  Cam loves our cousin's dog, Lucy.  The sweet dog made it easier for Cam to pet her by sitting in the rocking chair. 
We feasted on grilled chicken, potatoes and veggies and fruit.  Coco had two dessert cakes for Cam- a chocolate ice cream one and Reese's peanut butter cup cake.  Coco, Max and Calla gave Cam an Apple gift card, popcorn bucket and treats to enjoy for movie time.  Our dear friends, Molly and Jude presented Cam with a Culver's concrete mixer and a Culver's gift card.  
They all know Cam so well!

Camology Quotes:

We typically use our cell phones for navigation, not because we don't know which way to go, but moreover to be alerted to accidents or delays.  Cam also provides his own narrative during the trips.  
At one point, Jane questioned his directions to which he replied, 
“I’m just following the GPS, not going some random way.”

Sunday, August 14, 2022

Getting Oriented - Week of August 8th

“Intelligence plus character- that is the goal of true education.” ~Martin Luther King Jr.

As we approached mid-August, the activities were kicking into high gear.  On Tuesday, Ms. Amanda and Cam went to meet up with Brooke and her kiddos at Boulder Ridge Wild Animal Park in Alto, Michigan. Previously, there was a tram (with a ramp for Cam's chair) that would take park goers on a safari ride.  With recent changes, Boulder Ridge opted to pave their former bus path to allow everyone to travel at their own pace.  Cam indicated he thought it was better with the pavement and enjoyed the time with the animals and new friends.

That evening (Aug. 9th), Ms. Ann offered to hang out with Cam while his parents enjoyed a night out for their 19th wedding anniversary!  They dined at the downtown Real Seafood Co and enjoyed sitting outside at the JW Marriott afterwards.  A big thanks to Ms. Ann and Cam for making it such a memorable occasion.

Wednesday included a few more outings for Cam and Ms. Amanda. 
There was a visit to check on Amanda's new puppy, Otis, who took a liking to Cam.  Another stop to Chow Hound turned out to be a surprise encounter with one of Cam's favorite people, Ms. Rachel.  Rachel is the executive director for Brody's Be Café, and according to them both, Cam will be a future employee of the café when he turns 16 next year!

On Thursday, bright and early, Cam woke up before 7am.  Why so early? Because he was scheduled for Forest Hills Northern Hill School Freshman year orientation at 7:30am.  He arrived on time and listened to the instructions from his principal and other school leaders. Besides online forms and upcoming events, one of the most important reasons for attending the orientation was to have your school picture taken and obtain your official student id for the upcoming school year.  The photographer noted that Cam was definitely one of the happiest students he had met!

That evening Cam supervised furniture building for his dad as they worked to put together a coffee table for Oma and Opa.  The entire instruction booklet showed pictures with the letters of the different numerous parts.  Cam deciphered and called out the next steps to Chris.  As a team, they successfully completed the building task without any assistance from Jane, much to her delight.

Friday marked Ms. Amanda's last official summer day with Cam.  
She surprised him with a Dunkin' Donuts breakfast complete with a breakfast sandwich and munchkin donuts!  The duo had a fun morning and before we knew it, we were saying 'see you soon' to our Amanda when it felt like it was just yesterday that summer started.

Chris and Jane had the afternoon off of work, so they loaded up the van with the furniture to drop off to Rosy Mound for Oma and Opa.  
After a successful trip to Grand Haven, the Weatherford fam continued on their way to Maple Beach in Holland that afternoon.  At the original Jellema family cottage, Uncle Jon and Aunt Betsy, along with their four kids and their families were all gathered together.  The troops came from South Africa, Germany, Vermont and Illinois.  

We don't see these cousins too often and it was so good to catch up, if only for a short time.  It was cool enough to sit around the outdoor campfire sharing stories and laughing about old memories.  
Cam loves a good tradition and we hope this one continues for many years to come.

Camology Quotes:

Much like the deer we often see in our backyard, sometimes the moment calls for some serene calmness.
Trying to pack in the outings, Jane asked Cam if he wanted to venture out to the local farm stand.  His response was perhaps one of a typical teenager...
"Mom, I've done a lot this summer...I need to relax!"