Sunday, July 7, 2019

Jamming to Joliet - Week of July 1st

If you wait for inspiration you'll be standing on the corner after the parade is a mile down the street. ~Ben Nicholas 
In 1967, the Beatles released the song 'Strawberry Fields Forever' which was a fitting tune to kick off our week.  After heading to Heidi's Farm Market for an entire flat of Michigan berries, our counter was laden with 8 quarts of strawberries or 32 cups total.
Ms. Amanda, Cam and Jane set up an assembly line and Cam kept us all in check.  First, we crush the strawberries until we have 2 cups.  Then, we add 4 cups of sugar and let that sit for 10 minutes.
In a saucepan, we place a package of Sure-Gel and 3/4 cup water.  We bring it to a boil, stirring it for 1 minute and then add it to the crushed berries and sugar, then stir for 3 minutes.  Put in containers with lids, let sit 24 hours, then find a place in the freezer.  Chris helped us finish up the remainder of the strawberries the next night.

Thursday was the 4th of July and our tradition of heading over to the Cascade Independence Day Parade was on the itinerary.  Cam took part in the annual bike brigade which starts out our local event.  Then the firetrucks and decorated cars and floats follow.  It was a warm morning and by the time the parade ended and we headed back home, the air conditioning felt so refreshing and cool.  The remainder of the day was spent packing and enjoying a visit and dinner with cousin, David.
Friday morning, we waited for Oma and Opa to arrive to begin our trek to Joliet, Illinois to celebrate the wedding of our extended family member, Sarah Huey to Steve Foody.  We arrived at the Holiday Inn around 2pm.  The newer hotel featured a spacious handicap room with plenty of room for Cam's chair to maneuver.
We checked out the pool and Cam did a bit of swimming.  There was also a sauna which was a new experience for our boy.
Saturday was the day of the wedding and our handsome son couldn't have looked more dapper.  Every time we passed by someone, they commented how nice his suit was and how great he looked.
Before we ventured to the reception, we drove by the house Jane grew up in on Briargate Road, just three minutes from the church where we witnessed Sarah and Steve become husband and wife.
It was another short trek to the Jacob Henry Mansion, the reception location.

In 1873, wealthy railroad magnate, Jacob A. Henry built his imposing mansion on Eastern Avenue, which was then referred to as "Silk Stocking Row." He employed a master craftsman from Germany along with three cabinet- makers to fashion the elaborate carved interior. 
It took three years to complete and has 16,800 square feet consisting of over 40 rooms. The main floor is most elaborate in carving and the black walnut and oak is hand rubbed to attain the satin finish. Each room contains an ornately carved fireplace. The deeply recessed windows are guarded with shutters on the inside. These fold back into casings for the sunlight to enter and also serve as storm windows in the winter. Sliding or pocket doors, carved and inlaid separate the rooms from the main floor. Its main feature is a magnificent staircase made of solid walnut with a half-landing surrounded by 119 hand carved octagonal spindles of burled walnut. 
 The Jacob Henry Mansion won the Architecture Award at the American Centennial Celebration in Philadelphia in 1876, and is claimed to be the largest and best example of Renaissance Revival architecture still standing in the state of Illinois. Today the lovely and fully decorated mansion, a National Historic Landmark, is well known for its beauty, Old Victorian charm and furnishings, as well as its delicious meals and entertainment, making the Jacob Henry Mansion Estate the perfect place for a special occasion.

There was a photo booth set up as well as appetizers and drinks.  Once we had our pre-dinner snack and drink, Cam asked "So, what do we do now?"  Jane responded with, "Well, now we sit and visit and talk to people until we go into the other room for dinner....  Can't you just wait to get married?!"  Cam rolled with laughter at that one.

The bride and groom couldn't stop smiling and neither could we.  Sarah's parents, cousins, aunts and uncles are our extended family and we typically only see them once a year, if that.  To have an entire evening with all of them was perfect.  The father of the bride, Jim, has known Jane since she was born and he kept telling Cam how much he liked his suit.
Our kiddo couldn't quite last the entire evening, so Chris brought him back to Holiday Inn where Auntie Karen was waiting to stay with him, while his parents continued visiting with the family.  We cannot thank her enough for helping us make certain Cam didn't fall asleep at the reception.

The next morning, we enjoyed a hearty breakfast and a visit with Auntie Karen and her sister, Sue.  We said goodbye to a few of our extended family as some ventured down for breakfast.  We were able to get on the road by 10am to begin our journey home.

As we came upon the Welcome to Michigan sign on the highway, we all had a good chuckle as the orange cones appeared in full force.  During the summer months, it definitely seems like the slogan "Pure Michigan" could be replaced with "Pure Construction."

Camology Quotes:
Prior to our strawberry jam making session, Cam announced...
"If my math is correct, we will need 11 pints of strawberries."
Close, it was actually 16:)

Sunday, June 30, 2019

A Little Water with Your Picnic - Week of June 23rd

If ants are such busy workers, how come they find time to go to all the picnics? ~Marie Dressler

Back in the "olden days" as Cam would say, Mister Rogers sang about a beautiful day in the neighborhood and a beautiful day for a neighbor.  He sang about wanting to have a neighbor just like you.  Mister Rogers most definitely had a neighborhood like Windcrest.

Even though we moved one street over from our former neighbors 7 years ago, we are still invited to the annual picnic.  Each and every time, we typically meet new homeowners who feel that special vibe we did when we first moved in.
One of the Windcrest residents works for the Cascade Fire Department.  As a surprise treat, the fire engine arrived after everyone had eaten a delicious potluck meal.  The fireman unraveled a hose, let the kids try it, and another firefighter controlled a sprayer on the top of the truck.  Chris was chatting with one of the guys when they were packing everything up.  Cam's dad asked how much water they had just used and the response was "about a thousand gallons."
On Thursday, Jane traveled to North Carolina for the weekend and back home, Ms. Amanda kept Cam busy.
Her new job as a kindergarten teacher will start this fall and she was given the keys to her new classroom.  She and Cam ventured over with the van loaded up.  They expect a few trips over the summer as Cam eagerly volunteered to help her set things up.

For Saturday, the boys had an outing planned about an hour away.
The 2019 Great Lakes SUP (Stand-Up Paddleboarding) Challenge was on the agenda.

West Michigan, specifically the Grand Haven/Holland area, is one of the origins of Stand-Up Paddling on the Great Lakes.
There were multiple races scheduled at Kirk Park, which
is located 12 miles north of Holland along the shores of Lake Michigan.

Luckily for the boys, Auntie Karen was heading that way too.
Chris unloaded the Cam-Mobile from the van so that a beach side seat could be possible.
It was a warm morning, but thanks to Auntie Karen's umbrella, she and Cam kept cool in the bright sunshine.
We also discovered through some research that there is an adaptive paddle board system.  It incorporates a crafted standup board, an all-terrain surf chair, a custom ramp which allows the wheelchair user to roll onto the board unaided, and a mechanism to lock it securely in place. Outriggers on either side lend stability as the rider skims across the water's surface.
It's very encouraging to see so many activities available in adaptive form!

Camology Quotes:
Cam requested another haircut from our friend, Melissa.  
Melissa's son, Mason, came over too, but was reluctant to have his trimmed.  However, after some comprising, Mason was allowed to "shave" off some areas himself before passing the clippers to his mom. Later that evening, Jane commented how great Cam's haircut looked.
Chris said, "I guess I should've asked for a haircut too."
"Dad, you should check to see if Mason is available! (insert Cam laughter)" 

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Water Therapy - Week of June 17th

"I'm not going to make any plans, I'm just going to let the universe surprise me." ~Hot Tub Time Machine, 2010.
"There must quite a few things a hot tub won't cure, but I don't know many of them." ~Sylvia Plath

In the first home Cam grew up in,  a small hot tub on the back deck was part of purchase.  He enjoyed it for a couple of years, but was too young to remember.  Fast forward to the summer of 2019 and Chris decided it was time to surprise his wife and re-introduce his son to the outdoor activity.
After an enormous amount of work, the water was perfectly warm and ready for visitors.  The weather, however, didn't cooperate until the weekend.

On Friday, Cam was scheduled to work at Grand Valley State University with the graduate PT students.  It was nice to see some familiar faces.  They noted Cam's strength in his legs is returning.

Saturday marked our planned visit from Cam's former nanny, Katherine (also known as Ah-Dah, Cam's first name for her) and her family, husband Paul and kids Bexley and Sophia.  Katherine's mom, Ms. Ann, joined us later as well.  It was fun to hang out and share a delicious lunch on the deck.  Cam even chose some of his former favorite toys from his "Katherine Days" to pass along to Bexley.  After lunch, nap time was calling and we said farewell to our friends.
Auntie Jo arrived for dinner and we dined on Buddy's takeout pizza and had a great time sharing laughs.

On Sunday, we decided to surprise Oma and Opa at the yearly famous chicken barbecue held at their church, St. Peter's By the Lake in Montague.  It is quite a big production as they cook hundreds of whole chickens, make homemade mashed potatoes, offer vegetables and dinner rolls as well as your choice of homemade desserts.  We all agreed it was such a delicious, tasty lunch.
Oma and Opa do so much for their community through different church projects.  We were happy to meet their friends and introduce Cam to everyone.  After a relaxing dinner back home, the weekend was a wrap.
Now please excuse us, while we head out to enjoy our new hot tub!

Camology Quotes:
Most Fridays, Miss Amanda will stay with Cam until his bedtime while his parents head out for a relaxing dinner.  On Friday, Jane forgot her phone so she asked Chris to text Amanda to let her know. Subsequently after that, the following text messaging conversation took place...

Amanda's phone: "Cam asked what time you will be home tonight."
Chris phone: "Home before 10pm."
Amanda's phone: "Cam says "8:30p.  I bet it is one his jokes!"
Chris phone: "He is a smart kid."
Amanda's phone: Cam said "It was a joke.  I knew it!"

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Chat Pack - Week of June 10th

Most people are nice and just want to have a chat. ~Ben Nicholas 

On the first week of summer vacation Jane had realized she needed help with Cam Care since Ms. Amanda was still working at her charter school for two more weeks. Oma graciously accepted our offer to hang out with her grandson for three days while Jane worked this week.
 The dynamic duo kept themselves busy per usual. On the agenda this week was making homemade goodies including applesauce and healthy granola bites. Cam and Oma also finished up a science project and his daily summer homework. They ventured out on daily strolls and for the most part, the weather cooperated.
Cam’s grandma also found our Michigan Chat Pack – a deck of cards with open-ended questions about things in our state.
The following was a list Oma wrote of what Cam indicated would make a better Michigan.
• Handicap Ferris Wheel
• The Cam Weatherford Festival where they have homemade watermelon slushies
• Cam-Mobile Factory
• Dune Rides for power wheelchairs
• Add an elephant and elephant ride to Boulder Ridge zoo
• Cam Weatherford’s Ice Cream Shop

Friday was the Adaptive Sailing Clinic at Reed’s Lake, a yearly event Cam has taken part in the past few years sponsored by Mary Free Bed. 
Even though we felt a few sprinkles, the rain held off and our family enjoyed a pontoon ride.
Then Cam and Jane embarked on their sailing adventure with Capt. Mary. Our captain explained how the darker water signifies where the wind is strongest on the small inland lake. She also told us how her mother and grandmother were both expert sailors as well.

Signs like this were posted
all along the racetrack.
Saturday was packed with our morning beginning at the Berlin Raceway where the annual fundraiser for Lori’s Voice "Walk for the Challenged" was being held. Multiple news crews were on the scene to cover the event.
The purpose of Lori’s Voice is to provide funding for equipment, educational resources, or expenses related to medical treatment of individuals up to the age of eighteen who have neurological, muscular or other degenerative conditions resulting in permanent impairment or mobility issues.
Cam's buddy, Ms. Tracy from
Airway Oxygen

Lori & Dave Hastings-
Lori's Voice founders
Lori's Voice is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization which was founded and established to help young people with disabilities. This organization evolved from Lori Hastings great love for children and the realization of so many challenges young people face when living with a disability. Living with a disability herself, Lori understands the medical needs that are not covered by insurance. Lori's Voice takes great pride in the fact that their entire organization along with their fundraising activities is completely handled by volunteers. No one at their organization takes a salary.

In the afternoon, we attended Jenna’s open house in Caledonia. Jenna and her family lived in our former neighborhood for years and we’ve stayed close. We are delighted to know that Jenna will be attending Grand Valley State University in the fall. Cam wore his GVSU shirt to honor her choice. She also told us she plans to be a special education teacher and we are thrilled to know that she is joining an elite group of individuals with such big hearts.

On Sunday, the boys continued preparing for the arrival of the new hot tub! Cam’s supervision kept his dad going for three hours outside. These two are the most dedicated team of workers ever!

Camology Quotes:
Cam finds humor in many situations.  When he saw this video Jane recorded of Stella in her office one morning, he immediately commented.

"Mom, you have to put this on blog.  It is so funny!  I want everyone to see it."

Sunday, June 9, 2019

5th Grade Farewell - Week of June 3rd

“How lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” ~ A.A. Milne
"Sunsets are proof that endings can be beautiful too." ~Anonymous

It's hard to believe the last week of school was upon us.  Since Thursday was a half day for Cam, it was determined to be the best afternoon for the annual end of school cookout.
Ms. Kendra (OT) and Ms. Kate
(Speech) from K-4
This was Year 5 for the backyard party and even though our fifth grader changed schools from lower elementary to the 5/6 building, Cam insisted that his teacher friends from K-4 still be invited to the festivities.

It was a warm afternoon, but not too hot with just enough cloud cover for a pleasant deck experience.  Due to schedules, only one of Cam's classmates could attend- his best school buddy, Brody.  However, his teachers, Ms. Barbara and Ms. Kathy and aide, Ms. Cris and daughter Mary Jo, Ms. Kendra and Ms. Kate from Meadow Brook were all there.
And this year's crew from Northern Trails 5/6 were in full force- teacher Ms. Konkle along with her team of Ms. Jo, Mrs. Holt and Mrs. Tietema.  We are thankful Cam will have Ms. Konkle again in the fall for 6th grade.
We also celebrated Ms. Amanda being offered and accepting a job as a kindergarten teacher at Meadowlawn Elementary.  We're so excited she'll have her own class.  Cam is excited to help organize her classroom this summer!

Friday's half day signified the final day of 5th grade for Cam.  Chris and Jane decided to celebrate with their son by taking him out to a new place for dinner.  Buddy's Pizza, which originated in Detroit, now has a restaurant on 28th Street in Grand Rapids.
Buddy continues to serve The Original Detroit Style Pizza, made from scratch soups, and Antipasto salad. Over time they've added a variety of items to their menu including gluten-free pizza, multi-grain crust, pastas, burgers, sandwiches and more - each prepared just as they would have been in 1946 — with the freshest ingredients and an acute attention to detail. 
It was such a nice evening, we decided to eat outside.  We all declared it was delicious and determined we'd definitely be back.

On Sunday, Jane celebrated a "decade" birthday with her boys.  It was also the day of the Grand Rapids Triathlon, which meant that driving on the road leading out was highly discouraged due to all of the runners.  Chris and Cam went to check out the race and were quickly volunteered as helpers to assist with passing out water and alerting the runners to available power snacks on the table.
After they finished their impromptu volunteering stint, it was a perfect, relaxing day for the whole family.  Jane could hardly believe it when her husband and son presented her with a picture book for her bday, including a snapshot of her present to be delivered in 2 weeks- a hot tub!  Talk about being blown out of the water...

Camology Quotes:
Cam is always cognizant of the happiness of others and continuously interested in technology.

"Mom, you are the the most beautiful mom I could have!"

"Thank you, Cam. Let's figure out who else has a birthday today." 

When Jane pulled up Google and moused over, she couldn't believe it! 'Happy Birthday, Jane!'

"Mom, how in the world does Google know it is your birthday?!"