Sunday, January 16, 2022

Isolation Mode - Week of Jan. 10th

When you put all of the safeguards in place that are possible and you still have an unwelcome visitor...

Cam departed the bus after school on Tuesday and seemed tired.  He started coughing and didn't sleep well. We kept him home on Wednesday and learned two other kids in his small class were also home and not well.  On Thursday morning, we were informed one of his close contacts was Covid positive so our entire family tested.  

Cam was positive, while his parents were both negative.  With school protocols, we were informed that Cam could not return to school until Jan. 24.

As a family, we were most thankful for Cameron's mild symptoms.  The cough lingered through the week but seemed better each day with additional rest at night.  With some extra time available, a Christmas present that had arrived from Cam's great grandma Mary was finally completed.  An evergreen tree kit complete with seedlings to germinate was the first step in the process.  The seeds were watered daily and finally ready to plant. 

A Christmas treat container served as the planter for the seedlings.  The process is to begin their growth cycle inside so they can be planted outside in the spring.  We'll be able to watch it's progress on a daily basis.  

Cam requested additional projects and kept his parents busy finishing tasks and moving onto the next item.  As a family we accomplished quite a bit, cleaning up and sorting, updating our picture magnet board and computer work.  

After all of the efforts, Chris surprised his son by picking up a tasty treat from Tropical Smoothie.  Cam's favorite drink is a chocolate banana peanut butter smoothie.  This should not be shocking since his popular go-to goody is a Reese's peanut butter cup!

Camology Quotes:

Cam is a consummate ruler-follower.  He took his positive test result very seriously, but also matter-of-factly.  When Stella was meowing at him one evening and close to him, he immediately informed his cat of his status.
"Stella, I cannot pet you because I have covid so please do not come close to me."

Sunday, January 9, 2022

Snow Daze - Week of Jan. 3rd

 "Snow flurries began to fall and they swirled around people's legs like house cats.  It was magical, this snow globe world." ~Sarah Addison Allen 

Cam was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan and has always lived there. As a Michigander, the winter weather will inevitably find its groove and settle in.  This week was the turning point and Wednesday and Thursday turned out to be snow days, meaning no school for Cam for two consecutive days.

A new semester started at school and our 8th grader electives are choir and GLI.  GLI- Global Learners Initiative is a program the Forest Hills Public School district is piloting for middle school students. Its aim: ALL Learners Achieving Individual Potential, Building Meaningful and Productive Lives in a Global Society.  It includes a literacy component focused on inclusion, equity and global society.  Cam is looking forward to being involved in GLI this semester.  His mom completed the training to be a GLI Champion when he was in grade school.

Even though Thursday was a snow day, Cam had an appointment at Mary Free Bed to be fitted for new AFOs (ankle foot orthotics).  The AFOs help Cam's feet remain in a stable location and assist with standing in his chair.
Jane and her son headed out in the snowy weather in the late afternoon.  They took it slow and even arrived five minutes early.  The process is very interesting to see.  Fiberglass is placed in a tub of warm water and then unwrapped around Cam's leg and foot to create a makeshift cast. It hardens very quickly and then is cut out.  Cam chooses a pattern for the special plastic that the AFO's are made out of.  It takes 6-8 weeks for the orthotics to be custom-made and sent to Mary Free Bed.
On Friday, Cam headed back to school relieved to have his normal routine back in place.  As he shared with his parents, "I am not a fan of snow days!"

Camology Quotes:

As part of a GLI assignment, Cam had to choose a quote that was inspiring to him and why.  He had to research and decide independently. 
The quote he chose was by Dr. Suess: "The more that you read, the more things you will know.  The more that you learn, the more places you will go." When asked why he chose that quote, his response:
"It makes me want to read!"

Sunday, January 2, 2022

Bring on 2022! - Week of Dec. 27th

"Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties." ~Helen Keller

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

The end of the year seems to sneak up on us.  The anticipation of the holiday season, all of the activity and then suddenly the final date of December shows up on the calendar.  Although we missed out on a white Christmas, some light snow arrived this week to blanket our area.  Cam always likes to hear about random facts and the one we found online indicated that there have only been 11 "green Christmases" in Grand Rapids, Michigan since 1902.  This year, 2021, marked year number 12 which means there have been 107 snowy Christmases since 1902.

This week, Ms. Amanda spent a few hours each day with Cam. The two exchanged gifts and Amanda really outdid herself this year.  A blue shirt with the words "We go together like peanut butter and jelly" was Cam's surprise but the bigger unexpected piece was the matching shirt Amanda had.  We all agreed it was one of the coolest gifts ever.  To keep occupied, the duo worked on projects and found some fun New Year's Eve accessories.  They also tried a recently opened treat place in town- The Detroit Cookie Company and declared it most delicious.

On New Year's Eve day, Jane and her son picked up best bud, Brody and his mom, Jenny to head to the movie theater in the early afternoon.  With reserved seats and delicious popcorn, they watched Sing 2.  It was a great show and truly rivaled the first Sing.  The music was so good and we were all moving in our seats to the beat.

January 1st was our productive day to take down the tree and holiday decorations.  It's always bittersweet to remove the festive ornaments.   As we said goodbye to 2021 and welcomed 2022, it's true that time seems to go by more quickly with each passing year.  When we think back on the entire 365 days and how things have changed, we remain optimistic for good things to come in 2022.  Cam says "I hope everything you do brings good cheer and I hope everything you wanted to do in 2021, you get to do again in 2022!"

Camology Quotes:

It's evident that Cam loves his dad's jokes. Frequently, at bedtime, some zingers are told by both father and son. Often, they are ones we have heard before but once in awhile, an original stands out.  Cam shared the following and if you're a techie, you'll understand the punchline...
"Knock knock. Who's there?  Cookies. Cookies who? Website cookies!"

Sunday, December 26, 2021

A Happy, Merry Christmas - Week of Dec. 20th

It was hard to believe that Christmas was only a few days only.  
Sometimes we wonder where things originate.  
The phrase "Merry Christmas" made us do a bit of research. 
The greeting dates back to at least 1534 in London, when it was written in a letter sent to Henry VIII's chief minister Thomas Cromwell from bishop John Fisher. Scholars also note the phrase was used in the 16th century English carol "We Wish You a Merry Christmas." 
It's important to note that "Happy Christmas" hasn't faded completely- it's still widely used in England. This is believed to be because "happy" took on a higher class connotation than "merry," which was associated with the rowdiness of the lower classes. The royal family adopted "Happy Christmas" as their preferred greeting, and others took note. (In fact, each year, Queen Elizabeth continues to wish her citizens a "Happy Christmas," rather than a merry one.) So when did "Happy Christmas" become "Merry Christmas" in the U.S.? Historians believe it might boil down to a simple grammatical lesson. "Happy" is a word that describes an inner emotional condition, while "merry" is more of a behavior descriptor—something active and maybe even raucous. Consider, for example, the free-spirited act of "merry-making" versus the state of simply "being happy." As both words evolved and changed meanings over time, people slowly stopped using "merry" as its own individual word during the 18th and 19th centuries. It stuck around in common phrases like "the more, the merrier," as well as in things like Christmas songs and stories, largely due to the influence of Charles Dickens. The Victorian Christmas went on to define many of today's Christmas traditions.
Gearing up for some merriment ourselves, we were excited to welcome Oma and Opa Wednesday afternoon.  Cam proudly showed off his blanket that he made in class as a present for his family.  
After a trip to Heidi's Farm stand, Cam and his grandma were on a mission to make more applesauce. Two separate batches were done in record time.

With all of the festivities, one member of the family who doesn't get as much attention is our cat, Stella. 
Cam was insistent on giving her a gift. Jane picked up a new cozy pet bed for her.  Cameron talked to Stella about it and presented it to her.
After leaving it upstairs, our feline completed a thorough investigation and deemed it worthy of her resting in the new napping place.
Christmas Eve was relaxing and spent indoors. Late in the afternoon we all watched a nearby church service online.  We dined on delicious flank steak and mashed potatoes and leisurely capped off the evening watching the classic movie "Santa Claus" with everyone.

On Christmas Day, we all slept in and took our time with gift giving activities.  Each of us always seems more excited for someone to open a gift given almost more than revealing gifts received.
Highlights included battery-operated heated gloves and hand warmers for the family, books for all, a robot hand for Cam, a smoker for Chris, a handmade neon sign for Jane's office, games for the family, puzzles, new clothes for all and a mini laptop for Jane.

Chris and Cam spent a good part of the day assembling the robot hand while a tasty ham was cooking for Christmas Day dinner.  Cam's grandparents and Jane busied themselves with putting things away and reveling in all of the goodies.  Oma read two new books with her grandson while they were both wrapped in a warm blanket.

With each passing year, moments and memories seem to carry more meaning.  Our thanks go out to Oma and Opa for their company,  delicious holiday treats, extra help and gifts!  And a big thank you to Ms. Ann who had fun with Cam in the beginning of the week while Chris and Jane finished up work activities.
Although we didn't see any extended family this holiday, we were content with our small group.  If good things come in small packages, great things come in small gatherings!

Camology Quotes:

Leading up to Christmas, Cam's excitement seems to heighten with each passing day.  During his shower one evening this week, he was almost shouting when chatting with his mom.  Jane noted that he was talking very loudly to which her son replied...
"Ok, I can turn my volume down, Mom!"

Sunday, December 19, 2021

Cam Coupons - Week of Dec. 13th

Atlanta businessman Asa Candler had a brainstorm in 1887 when he created the first coupon. At the time, brainstorm referred to a brief period of insanity, but you can't question the Coca-Cola co-owner's sanity when he hit upon this invaluable marketing device. Looking for a name for the new marketing device, the Coca-Cola co-owner turned to the French language; deriving the word coupon from the French word "couper," meaning "to cut."

Cam arrived home from school mid-week with "Cam Coupons" for his mom and dad.  As an assignment/gift, he had to think of things his parents would appreciate.  His seven coupons consisted of: "I will take out the trash for a week" -- "I will help clean the table for a week" -- "Help with a project" -- "Help plan the meals and make a grocery list for a week" -- "I will not yell at my friends or my parents" -- "Watch a movie with mom and dad of their own choice" and "Free hugs for a week whenever you ask" which is Jane's personal favorite.

The week started off a bit shaky as both Chris and his son seemed to have picked up a nasty cold.  After laying low last weekend, Cam stayed home from school on Monday and Chris was home for the remainder of the week. Jane somehow remained healthy.  After being tested and cleared, the weekend brought normalcy back to the Weatherford household.  

It was a busy week mailing packages and Christmas cards.  Our quality control supervisor, Cam, made certain we finished our tasks and began checking things off the list.  

Our tradition of sending cards involves each family member and it is a labor of love.  When the last card is mailed, we collectively cheer, especially when finishing before Dec. 25th!

Our family joke is that one of these years, we may need to send magnifying glasses along with our cards😉

Camology Quotes:

Cam and his mom are not accustomed to seeing Chris sick.  As a former Marine, he seems to power through everything.  His coughing made his voice crack, which is also very uncommon.  One evening, Cam exclaimed...
"Dad, is your voice broken?! Stop this silliness!"

Sunday, December 12, 2021

Singing Sweetly - Week of Dec. 6th

"The only thing better than singing is more singing." ~Ella Fitzgerald  

"A bird doesn't sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song." ~Maya Angelou

Inclusion is defined as the practice or policy of providing equal access to opportunities and resources for people who might otherwise be excluded or marginalized, such as those who have physical or mental disabilities and members of other minority groups.

Since 5th grade, Cam has been a part of choir.  It is a great example of how inclusion works in the school system.  Music has always been a part of our lives and Cameron gravitates towards lyrical songs.  He now anticipates Christmas music playing full-time on the radio station when he's riding in the van.  

The choir concert on Tuesday evening provided the opportunity for the middle school to sing 3 songs on stage.  Cam was so excited for the concert and couldn't wait for the event.  His best bud, Brody, teacher Mrs. Wells and aide Mrs. Festian are all pictured.

The concert was livestreamed online and one of Cam's former nanny's, Katherine, snapped the fun photo of her laptop while listening at home.

On Thursday, the small group from Cam's eighth grade made their way to Target for a Christmas shopping outing. As homework, our son had to make a list of people he wanted to purchase gifts for, figure out how much money he needed, and bring a list of the items along with cash to school for the field trip.  

Our son purchased an item each for his parents and grandparents.  The kids had pizza in their classroom upon return and wrapped all of the gifts at school!

It is no secret that Cam's favorite treat is chocolate.  He prefers chocolate to any other type of candy.  When Ms. Ann brought a present from her daughter Katherine and family, he opened it before dinner.  Upon discovery, he let out a very loud "Oh Yeah!" and if you'd been a witness, you would have sworn he just unwrapped a winning lottery ticket!

Camology Quotes:

Cam has been a part of the Forest Hills Northern School District since he entered kindergarten. Ever since that young age, his teachers and other students have stood out for their insight and sensitivity relating to including our son in different activities.  We were sent a picture of Cam's fellow choir students creating an impromptu tunnel for him after practice.  The best part of the picture was the message along with it from Mrs. Festian...
"Those kids did it all on their own. Love it!"

Sunday, December 5, 2021

Holiday Parade - Week of Nov. 29th

 "Taking pictures is savoring life intensely, every hundredth of a second." ~Marc Riboud

"You can look at a picture for a whole week and never think of it again. You can look at a picture for a second and think of it all your life." ~Joan Miro

This is 7th year that the Gaupers have taken our family photographs. Each session we have with them is always creative and a different location. Cam's grandparents have been a part of this tradition with us. A seemingly normal spot in downtown Grand Rapids was the chosen locale. We received our digital photos in email, ready for download.  Once again, we're amazed that less than 30 minutes produces such great pics. We highly recommend Ryan and Holly for any professional photo needs.

Squirrels are always active in our backyard.  This time of year they are seeking areas to hide their winter supplies.  As Cam's dad discovered, our outdoor grill cover became a target for the active wildlife.  Upon detection, the Weber was moved away from the railing which served as an easy access.  We were all impressed by the creature's creativity in seeking a place to conceal their food.

On Saturday morning, we readied ourselves for an outdoor event in downtown Ada, the annual Santa Parade.  It was cancelled last year, so there was a good amount of excitement surrounding the small village.  Our family signed up to volunteer for Brody's Be Café and be a part of the actual parade itself!
It was chilly, but the sunshine definitely helped acclimate all of the spectators and participants.  Chris had the honor of towing the "coffee cup" in the parade.  Cam and Jane wore aprons and hats to help advertise the non-profit coffee shop. 

That same evening, Chris' company held a holiday party.  Ms. Ann stayed with Cam and as predicted, they had a great evening watching a Christmas movie.  Cam's parents were home well past his bedtime and most thankful for Ann's insistence that they not return early. 

One of the reasons we always anticipate our family photo digital delivery is the fact that we begin the arduous (but fun) task of creating our Christmas card poem and determining which pictures to use in the layout.  Cam loves our tradition of figuring out all of the wording and display of photographs.  In fact, without his insistence, the entire project would most certainly be delayed.  We have found over the years that many things may not have even come to fruition without the quality management oversight of our son.

Camology Quotes:
Cam had a doctor's appointment at MFB this week with one of our favorites, Dr. Voss.
Since we hadn't seen her in quite some time, we were commenting about the absence of our Halloween Heroes parade at MFB and wheelchair costume building.  We also made mention that Cam had reached the age of thinking he may be too old for Halloween costumes.  His dad immediately commented with his quick wit:
"Huh Cam, Well, maybe you're too old for Christmas presents..."
"Dad!  That is a curse word!"

Sunday, November 28, 2021

Full of Thanks - Week of Nov. 22nd

“Gratitude is a quality similar to electricity: It must be produced and discharged and used up in order to exist at all.” ~William Faulkner

Cam only attended one day of school this week.  His outpatient eye surgery was on the calendar for Tuesday.  The hospital called indicating his procedure was scheduled for 2pm and we were to arrive at 12:30pm. Most kids and adults would chime in with complaints left and right. Cam, however, was only thinking about his dinner plans for Tuesday evening knowing he wouldn't be allowed to eat a meal until then. His chosen request- chicken pot pie for his post-surgical meal.
Our backyard-
Thanksgiving morning!

Tuesday morning, Jane and her son drove to Middleville where Otto's Turkey Farm resides.  Supporting a local business and picking out how large our fresh turkey needed to be were high priorities. Upon arrival and making our way into the store area, we were asked the turkey size. We love leftovers and requested a 23-25 lb bird. We left with a 24-lb'er!  

After returning home, it wasn't long before we departed for the hospital to meet our timeframes. Cam's eye work to be conducted was for strabismus surgery (also: extraocular muscle surgery, eye muscle surgery, or eye alignment surgery) which is on the extraocular muscles to correct strabismus, the misalignment of the eyes. Dissolving stitches were in place behind his both pupils. Everything went smoothly and the recovery nurses indicated that Cam was one of the most polite teenagers they had ever met. And true to his request, he enjoyed chicken pot pie for dinner that evening.

On Wednesday afternoon, we welcomed Oma and Opa, ready to spend three nights with us. Although Cam was in recovery mode and his eyes looked very red and uncomfortable, he rallied and enjoyed spending time with his grandparents. He and Oma busied themselves making apple pie.
On Thursday, grandpa and grandson gathered all of the ingredients for homemade stuffing.  It is a tradition they started years ago.

While the stuffed turkey baked in the oven, we all watched the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade on tv and then football games.
When we gathered at the table for our big dinner, Cam said the blessing and each person individually took a turn to say what they were thankful for.  Most everyone said family, good health, good friends and the meal before us. After the feast, we had a break before partaking in Oma and Cam's apple pie ala mode.
The next day we had all decided we could decorate as a group. Chris had readied the tree with built-in lights and Opa carried the ornaments from the storeroom.  It's amazing how much faster everything gets done when so many are pitching in.  We also began the task of Christmas poem creation and determining photos to be displayed on the cards.  Within a few hours, it looked very festive in our home and we treated ourselves to a take-out dinner after all of the hard work.
We were grateful and most thankful for the extra help and extra time spent with Cam grandparents.
It is telling how different generations have expressions that are simply unknown to the younger set.  We were sorting through things when Oma said, "Ok, let's trim the tree!" Cam responded by saying, "Oma, we don't trim the tree, we decorate it!"

Camology Quotes:

After being under anesthesia, hungry, and with sore, itchy eyes, we were surprised to hear Cam's politeness and good manners in full swing at the hospital.  On the drive home, we were talking about the different nurses and the experience of the day.  Cam does have a tendency to think about others and suggested the following:

"Can we do a survey? They were exceptionally nice."