Sunday, May 15, 2022

The "Cam Effect" - Week of May 9th

"Cam Effect" - noun. Representative of something that denotes different abilities or accepting challenges. Something that reminds the person of Cam W.

It happens more often than not...a family member, friend, or even acquaintance will tell us about a story they heard or experienced, or something that occurred in the past or present that made them think of Cam.

Recently, cousin Liz sent us an article she read about the organization Wheel the World.  It was launched in South America to provide accessible vacations and destination information.  And while at a physical therapy appointment, Aunt Betsy's PT was talking about a pediatric PT graduate class he had at Grand Valley.  Aunt Betsy mentioned her nephew Cam working with that program over the years.  Her physical therapist told her Cam was a celebrity there!  

Cam's last choir concert of the year was scheduled for Thursday. Unbelievably, the western Michigan temps were in the high 80's most of the week.  The eighth graders all wore their Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat shirts, which made for a very colorful stage. For the last song of the evening, Cam activated the standing mode on his chair.  Brody's mom, Jenn, gave him a big hug after the concert.

Friday's school day was spent at the local minor league baseball team's field to watch a game played by the West Michigan Whitecaps. The temp was unseasonably warm, but the kids were there in the morning and stayed just past lunchtime.  By the end of the day, Cam's seasonal allergies had really kicked in due to a combination of the blooming landscape and high pollen.  He arrived home with watery eyes and running nose.  After a dose of Benadryl and a good rest, he declared he felt "150% better" in the morning.

That was a big relief since Saturday was another WMML game.  Cam's best bud, Brody, was dropped off at our house prior to the game and we all rode together to the Rockford field.  Not only did Ms. Stephanie, fabulous aide, hang out with the boys on Friday at the baseball game, she also made it to the West Michigan Miracle League for Saturday's Mud Hens game.  It was a beautiful morning for our 10am start time.  Afterwards, we met up with Brody's dad and then made our way northward towards the cottage.

We arrived at Lake Michigan a little after 1pm and commenced grilling our lunch.  Oma and Opa, Max, Coco, Calla and Max's brother, Eric and our family shared a delicious meal and dessert.  The lake looked inviting but it's still much too cold to swim (~50 degrees F).  

The afternoon was spent watching Max and Eric assemble a climbing apparatus for Calla.  Luckily, Cam was providing supervision and assisted the guys along the way.  

The power wheelchair Cam uses inside the cottage is definitely too small for him.  The adult chair was provided by Alternatives in Motion when Cam was just 6 years old.  Stay tuned for an Alternatives in Motion event next week where Cam will be featured as one of the "highlights."  We just have to be certain this local "celebrity status" doesn't go to his head 😉

Camology Quotes:

Once again, we realized the importance of listening to our son's wise advice.  After our first week with the new ceiling track/lift, the remote suddenly stopped working Wednesday night.  After some collective frustration, Chris was able to use the buttons on the motor to maneuver but wasn't able to fully guide it where it needed to go.  Cam remained calm and after troubleshooting with the installer, a new remote was on order.  In the meantime, Cam had a suggestion:

"Dad, pull the emergency power cord and leave it off all night, please."

The next morning, not expecting any change, Chris grabbed the remote and... it worked!

Sunday, May 8, 2022

Husky of the Month - Week of May 2nd

Cam has been a part of the Forest Hills Northern school district since kindergarten.  In the 7/8 middle school building, every school day begins with CREW.

The CREW experience:
  • Our Husky CREW encourages all members of our school community to work together to build meaningful relationships, reflect on and monitor academic progress, and to focus on character development.  CREW is a place where all students feel like they belong and can succeed.
  • Positively CONNECT to the Husky CREW Community
  • Be Respectful - RESPECT yourself, others and our community
  • Show EMPATHY -Understand and appropriately respond to the feelings/actions of others
  • WORK Hard - Always Be your best! No exceptions, No excuses!
Proud Parents!

When departing the bus last Monday, our 8th grader announced there was a letter from school in his backpack that Jane had to read.  He was so excited to share the news that he had been selected as one of the Students of the Month!  Cam and his parents were invited to attend a short ceremony before school on Thursday.  The principal read a slide depicting the student's picture and a paragraph of the teacher's nomination sent in.  The following was read by Dr. Simpson and written by his teacher, Mrs. Wells.

"Cam displays the CREW principles of Connect, Respect, Empathy and Work.  Cam is very respectful, organized and empathetic to all of his classmates and teachers.  Cam has displayed a positive attitude towards all of his daily activities and work even when the work is challenging.  He thinks of others' feelings and makes efforts to praise and include his classmates daily.  Cam has many gifts but one of the most important is that he is able to see and empathize with his classmates in a sincere and kind manner.  Cam is mature beyond his years and is always prepared for his classes and thinks ahead about upcoming assignments and activities.  We are really proud of the learning that Cam has had over the past two years."

Mrs. Wells was able to see Cam's part in the ceremony and we snapped a picture of the two of them before classes began. The honored students even had the opportunity to grab some tasty bakery treats and drinks before they headed back down the hallway.

Saturday marked the second WMML game of the season and picture day for the players.  Best buds, Brody and Cam, were scheduled to play at 12:10pm.  It was windy but not as cold as the first gathering a week before.

It was a big "Cam Fan" day!  Ms. Barbara, Cam's K-2 teacher arrived along with Ms. Cris, former aide, and her daughter Mary Jo (a Cam-sitter).

Auntie Karen drove in all the way from the Chicago area, battling weekend festival traffic. She even brought Oma and Jane beautiful bouquets of tulips for Mother's Day. 

Friends from Hungry Horse camping, Lauren and Tyler found their way to the ballpark for the first time.  Oma and Opa joined us as well and we had planned a picnic lunch for our little group.  Karen brought the most delicious homemade chicken salad we had ever tasted!  Oma's homemade potato salad and some tasty treats from Cam's house completed our outdoor feast.

We were excited to have Oma and Opa with us Saturday night and we all watched a family movie together- "Remember the Titans," a personal favorite of Cam's parents.  

On Sunday, we celebrated Mother's Day with a delicious late brunch. Oma and her daughter exchanged cards and gifts.

Cam gave Jane a special card he had made at school along with a cookie jar filled with all of the dry ingredients to make chocolate chip cookies.  Jane told Cam what he wrote was a treasure to her. "Dear Mom, You are nice. You are kind. You are respectful. You are pretty. I love you very much. Cam."

Camology Quotes:

On Wednesday, the long-awaited ceiling track system was installed in 6 hours!  For our family, it is life-changing, allowing us to transport Cam from bed to bathroom.  We also discovered our son will be able to walk with assistance from the track.  Cam thanked the crew profusely for all of their hard work.  Chris and Jane realized it will take a few days to become acclimated to the new technology.  Cam came to this realization as well and once again, provided the most mature response.

"Mom, I need to start my bedtime routine 5 minutes early because you and Dad need extra time."

Sunday, May 1, 2022

WMML Spring Season Opener - Week of Apr. 25th

Mud hen: a marsh bird with short wings and long legs that inhabits swamps or marshes.

The Toledo Mud Hens officially came into existence in 1896.  The team adopted Mud Hens as its name in 1896, because the team played its games at Bay View Park. A nearby swamp was home to a large number of mud hens. Eventually, the Mud Hens joined the minor league International League, becoming a Triple-A ball club. Today, the Toledo Mud Hens are a farm team for the Detroit Tigers. The team's mascots are Muddy and Muddona, male and female mud hens. Fun fact: Actor Jamie Farr played a character on the sitcom M.A.S.H. Farr's character, Maxwell Klinger, from Toledo, Ohio, was a major fan of the Mud Hens. Klinger commonly wore Mud Hens gear, provided by Mud Hens General Manager Gene Cook, on the show. Because M.A.S.H. was one of the most popular television programs at this time, the demand for Toledo Mud Hens merchandise skyrocketed.   

Saturday marked the first game of 2022 for the West Michigan Miracle League.  This season, Cam was assigned to the Mud Hens team with his best bud, Brody.  In the spring, the WMML chooses minor league team names to represent the players.  
Oma and Opa arrived on Friday afternoon so they could ride with us for the early baseball event.
The chilly, windy morning had us all bundled up for the game.  Chris brought handmade quilts from Lori's Voice to hand out to the players and spectators.  Once again, the batting box pulley system that Cam uses to connect the bat to the ball was in full swing.  

The volunteers were called in just the previous evening due to a group cancellation and we profusely thanked Hannah and Kristi for supporting the players.  In the stands, we welcomed Ms. Kathy (Cam's 3rd/4th grade teacher) and her husband, Kevin as well as Ms. Michelle (Cam's former nanny) and her granddaughter, Ada.
Cam was so excited to be back on the field and our Cam Fan contingency cheered as loudly as we could!
It seemed to take a few hours before we all felt warm again and the rest of the day was spent relaxing.

On Sunday, we all slept in and Oma and Opa left Grand Rapids after lunchtime.  Jane and her son seemed to have a role reversal moment when he asked to have a picture taken with just his grandparents.  We are so thankful Jane's parents are willing and able to travel to Grand Rapids to spend time with us.

In the afternoon, Cam, Chris and Jane headed over to Brody's Be Café for operation igloo removal.  The weather had not been cooperating to allow for a larger group.  Cam insisted he be an active helper instead of a supervisor.  Chris loaded up the wagon with the heavy sandbags and Cam drove them into the garage.  As we took apart the poles and connectors, Cam placed them into the large bin.

The three team members were able to complete the dismantle effort in just 90 minutes.  Projects always seem to go faster when there is laughter, music and joking thrown in.  
We all felt a sense of accomplishment and that extra good feeling that can only come from helping others!

Camology Quotes:

Cam likes things the same way.  When something has changed, he notices right away.  He is also very truthful, sometimes maybe too truthful? 😉 One morning, Jane was running behind and hadn't "fixed" her hair yet.  Cam was looking at her rather oddly and said, 

"Mom, you look pretty no matter what your hair looks like."

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Sunrise Smiles - Week of Apr. 18th

"A flower blossoms for its own joy." ~Oscar Wilde

The sunrise can be seen most mornings Cam and his mom make their way down the driveway to wait for the bus.  Monday's looked pretty cool and Jane's son actually asked her to snap a picture.

Monday after school, Cam said he didn't feel right and had a tough time finishing homework.  We canceled his swimming and PT lessons for that eve.  By the next morning, he had a full blown cold complete with stuffy/runny nose, watery eyes and the occasional cough.  

We were beyond fortunate that Oma and Opa were with us until Wednesday so Chris and Jane continued forward with their daily jobs.  Cam was able to hang out with his grandparents in between nose blows.  He ate chicken noodle soup and had daily doses of honey to ward off the cough.  On Wednesday, he insisted on a covid test which was negative.  His spirits were rising and we snapped a pic with Oma and Opa before they left.  Cam stayed home on Thursday just be certain he was well enough to return to school on Friday, which he did.

After a long week at home, Ms. Ann came over Friday afternoon to spend the evening with her buddy while Cam's parents headed out for dinner.  Saturday was a beautiful day to be outside and start on the ever popular yard work.  That evening, Cam recommended we go out to breakfast on Sunday to one of our favorite local spots, Sundance.

It was a bit windy and not super warm, but we all agreed to sit outside.  It was our first outdoor dining experience of 2022.  As we awaited our delicious meal, Cam exclaimed, "Wasn't this a good idea I had?"  Jane responded with "Well, I guess you'd better pat yourself on the back, then!"  To which Cam immediately complied and did, in fact, pat himself on his own back. 😁  

Camology Quotes:

We returned to Mary Free Bed on Friday afternoon to pick up Cam's new custom seat, designed to help him sit up more in his power chair and add comfort.  We met a new OT, Ms. Mary, as we were almost finished.  She talked about some new ideas we could implement and kept apologizing for disrupting as we were getting ready to leave.  We all agreed we wanted to hear her input and although it will mean another appointment, we are always thankful for professionals who advocate.  When we were driving back home, Cam offered his own opinion.

"I think Ms. Mary had a different perspective.  I wanted to say to her, if you have an idea Ms. Mary, let it out!"

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Back to Business - Week of Apr. 11th

" 'Twas Easter Sunday.  The full-blossomed trees filled all the air with fragrance and with joy." ~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

"Let everything you do be done in love." ~1 Corinthians 16:14

When there's a break in the action in the daily activity of life, it can be satisfying to fall back into the typical routine.  Although early Monday morning produced quite a few yawns at our 6am wake up, there were also lots of smiles.

Cam was happy to be back at school after spring break and celebrated a friend's birthday.  His swimming lesson was canceled on Monday, but he still had PT.  The pool he uses had a chemical reaction issue and it had to be drained.  Cam had numerous questions about this and his instructor, Ms. Mandy, was happy to explain it all to the attentive listener.

Mid-week, we headed a few neighborhoods over to pick up dining room chairs someone else was parting with.  Ours were nearly 20 years old.  We took two vehicles to be certain we could transport all 6 of them.  Cam told the homeowner that their house looked like "The Incredibles" home from the animated movie.  When we looked up a picture of it, he was actually spot on!

Saturday morning, father and son were busy making monster cookies.  After lunch, we loaded up our treats and headed for Zeeland.  Our new friend, Erica, was testing out a rugged power chair that can be used on trails and the beach.  Her mom told Chris we could try it out.  It was a blustery, chilly day but Cam still took a whirl outside.  The garage was a bit warmer so he drove around in there as we asked questions.  This type of powered wheelchair is meant for the beach and hiking. Cam said it was very comfortable and he felt safe in it.

As an added bonus, there was an outdoor cat in the garage who had kittens just 3 days prior.  They brought one over to Cam to see up close.  It was the littlest kitty he had ever held!

We were thankful for our visit and the knowledge gained.  We didn't get to see our friend Erica on this trip.  Now begins the task of determining what grants are available for the ultimate off-roading vehicle for Cam.

Sunday, we welcomed Oma and Opa to celebrate Easter with us.  They arrived bearing gifts- an Easter lily, chocolate treats and a very cool wind turbine for Cam and his dad to put together.  Since Cam's grandparents arrived at lunchtime, they also brought their delicious homemade sausage egg casserole.  With fresh fruit, it made for a perfect brunch.  

As we relaxed that afternoon and enjoyed a traditional ham dinner, we forgot about snapping a family pic.  

However, Oma keenly observed an outdoor visitor watching our activities, or possibly just looking for its own dinner.

Camology Quotes:

Friday afternoon, we picked up Cam early from school for an appointment at Mary Free Bed.  The 1pm start time was scheduled to last at least 2 hours for Cam to be fitted with a new custom seat on his powerchair.  Since we knew we'd be there awhile, Jane offered to walk to the Biggby Coffee shop, located at the other side of the building, to grab drinks for everyone.  Cam asked for a mocha caramel Frappuccino and Chris said he would copy his son.  Jane arrived back in the room and promptly had Cam try the drink.  He took a long sip, stopped, and looked at his mom while asking, 

"Mom, this has coffee in it!  Didn't you order me one with no coffee?"

Jane admitted her accidental mistake and they all had a good laugh. Chris graciously offered to walk back and order the "correct" drink.  In the meantime, Cam felt it necessary to tell this story each and every time someone walked into the room.  It did make the time go by more quickly and we certainly continued to have a good laugh each and every time!

Sunday, April 10, 2022

A Break in Spring? - Week of Apr. 4th

“Spring, an experience in immortality.” ~Henry D. Thoreau
"April hath put a spirit of youth in everything." ~William Shakespeare 

Cam settled into his spring break week but the weather wasn't exactly "spring-like."  That didn't deter any fun planned for the time off, though.  

Ms. Ann continued tutoring Cam, working on spelling, reading and math.  Oma and Opa arrived on Tuesday to spend 4 nights with us.  Cam made up daily stories with Ms. Ann that he then read to his family each evening. 

Oma and her grandson love baking and they completed a delicious batch of homemade applesauce as well as Energy Bites.  The Bites are made with just 5 ingredients: oats, honey, peanut butter, mini chocolate chips and vanilla extract.  On Friday evening, we secured take out from JT's partaking in scrumptious fish and chips, one of Cam's newer favorites.  After an early dinner, we all gathered in the living room to watch the West Side Story movie.  Even though it was a long movie, we all gave it a thumbs up!

Saturday morning, we said goodbye to Cam's grandparents and thanked them for all of their time and help.  Right after they left, Chris & Jane and son made their way to a place they'd never been to. With an appointment to have the van's windshield replaced, we came upon the fact that a restaurant was located right next to the windshield replacement place.  

Sine Ms. Ann had been aware of our plans, she told us that this restaurant actually had the highest online ratings for Byron Center. And much to our collective surprise, it was the 76th Street Truck Stop Diner.  It is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  Due to its popularity, the diner was quite crowded when we arrived and met Ms. Ann.  We were seated quickly and given lots of attention.  Even though it was almost lunchtime, we all ordered breakfast and no one was disappointed!  Cam had two blueberry pancakes the size of his plate and declared them the best ever.  We all agreed it would be a good idea to return next month and try out the lunch menu.

Saturday evening, we found a family movie to watch, quite by accident.  Jane was reading an article about top movies to see as a fam and The Mitchells vs. the Machines was one of them listed.  The movie was released in 2021, is an animated film and filled with humor for all ages.  

Each of us laughed out loud and we were happy we took a chance and watched something none of us had even heard of.

Camology Quotes:

Chris loves to joke around with his son and his son believes he is the funniest human on earth.  The best part is- they truly never tire of the puns and pranks. Almost daily, Cam's dad (as he was leaving for work) would tell Cam to have fun at school at which point, Cam would remind Chris he was on spring break.  One evening upon arriving home, Chris asked Cam how his day at school was and without missing a beat, Cam replied:

"Don't ask me today, Dad, ask me next week!"

Sunday, April 3, 2022

Phase 1 Construction ✅ - Week of Mar. 28th

"I think I have the coolest room in the house now." ~Cameron J. Weatherford

When a project is ongoing, it's gratifying to see stages completed.  We always say Cam is a trooper and he's proven that once again while living in a semi-construction zone.  He doesn't complain and continues to be appreciative of the efforts.

Little things can make all the difference...Cam's dad arriving home with a beautiful bouquet and outfitting his son's chair for "Neon Day" at school.

With only three days at the middle school this week prior to break, each day was designated for school camaraderie. Monday- Pajama Day, Tuesday- Neon Day and Wednesday- Beach Day.  Cam doesn't really have any super bright clothing so Chris ordered battery-operated lights for his power chair.  Tuesday morning, his bus driver Ms. Christy told him he "looked like a spaceship or a hovercraft as you were driving down your driveway!"

On Friday, Cam had his booster shot and Saturday was spent indoors on the couch since he didn't quite feel like himself.  Previously, we had planned to attend a Robotics competition at Kentwood high school.  We were relieved the event could be seen online so we could still catch the action.

Sunday morning, Cam declared he felt just fine again and asked if we could go out for a family breakfast.  His parents let him choose the location and he picked IHop.  We couldn't remember the last time we had been there.  It was a delicious breakfast and we decided we would try to go out for a morning meal at least one time every month.

With our Phase 1 of construction completed thanks to Mr. Brandon at Lakeshore Barrier Free, we were able to put Cam's room back together with pictures up on the walls and his WMML medals displayed.  Now, we wait until the ceiling track arrives and that installation will take place next.
In the meantime, Cam has been enjoying his new expansive space and Jane, who works from home, is most thankful that this first round of construction came to an end. 😉

Camology Quotes:

Chris and his son love to play pranks.  On April 1st, we said Good Morning to the Amazon Alexa as per the normal routine.  After providing the weather forecast and daily information, Alexa indicated that a new feature had been added called "what's that smell?" using new smell technology.  Alexa asked us to imagine bacon cooking and then did a countdown 3..2..1 and we heard a whoosh sound.  Alexa said "did you smell it?" We all said "No!" Alexa continued with 2 more smell technologies, both of which we indicated we did not smell.  After a short pause, we then heard Alexa say...

"April Fools!"