Sunday, May 13, 2018

Live, Laugh, Love, Repeat - Week of May 7th

Flowers to Oma from Opa
In our sun room, three word plaques read, "Live" "Laugh" and "Love" all in separate windows.  It is a mantra our family attempts to follow every day.

The real source of "Live, Laugh, Love" is Bessie Anderson Stanley's 1904 poem, "Success." Stanley originally submitted the work in the form of an essay for a contest held by Brown Book magazine that asked entrants to define success:
He achieved success who has lived well, laughed often, and loved much; Who has enjoyed the trust of pure women, the respect of intelligent men and the love of little children; Who has filled his niche and accomplished his task; Who has never lacked appreciation of Earth's beauty or failed to express it; Who has left the world better than he found it, Whether an improved poppy, a perfect poem, or a rescued soul; Who has always looked for the best in others and given them the best he had; Whose life was an inspiration; Whose memory a benediction.
Funny how the condensed version is still seen everywhere more than a hundred years later.

We were excited to have Oma overnight with us due to an appointment she had in Grand Rapids.  Pictured with Cam, grandma and grandson are working on the gift that keeps on giving from 'Auntie' Karen.  Little Passports is delivered monthly to Cam and includes a booklet all about one of the 50 states.  He's received more than half of the states thus far!

On Saturday, we were relieved to see the baseball game wasn't cancelled since the rain held off for us.  Home Depot helpers took the field and Carlos found Cam.  Normally, the Depot volunteers show up for the last game of the season, but this spring, they were at the third game.  You wouldn't think this would matter, but Home Depot is the only group that actually provides free lunch for participants, families and friends.  Now, since a couple of parents (namely Cam's) did not have this information in advance, our ball player was a bit bummed he had already eaten lunch and was too full to partake in munching on a hot dog.  Like most things, though, Cam took it in stride.  After his game was over, we wanted a picture with the Cam Fans- Ms. Amanda and Ms. Brooke.  Brooke was teasing Cam and grabbed his baseball cap and put it on backwards.  As you can see, a best buddy and teammate, Brody, quickly decided Cam needed that cap back on his head!  A big thanks to Ms. Amanda and Brooke for hanging out with us.
Chris and Cam were working on a little project for Mother's Day and Sunday morning, revealed their efforts.  The boys had put together a special slide show for the homemade digital frame complete with picture messages for Jane.  They also gave her a new Alexa for her office downstairs and a shirt with the words: "I am not a princess, I am Kahleesi" which is a Game of Thrones reference pointing to the fact that Kahleesi is a strong (albeit short) woman who fiercely protects those she loves.

After a delicious breakfast and Alexa setup, we made our way to the cottage to install the homemade bathroom door and finish up a few other items.

Of course, we were anxious to see Oma to wish her a Happy Mother's Day too.  Jane and her mom exchanged sweet gifts and we shared a delicious brunch of homemade crepes, one of Oma's specialties.  As Jane knows, one of the best things about having Oma as a mom is that Cam has her as a grandma.

To all of Cam's grandmas, aunts, aunties, godmother, cousins and close friends- we'd just like to say, Here's to the best of the best on Mother's Day!

Camology Quotes:
Miss Barbara, one of Cam's former teachers, sent Jane an email about a write-up recently recognizing their school.
The Special Olympics organization creates resources for schools and programs throughout the country to help others implement programs. In a newly released edition of “Playbook Resources,” Meadow Brook Elementary School is highlighted as a leading elementary school and a Unified Champion School. “Playbook Resources” are designed for educators, students, and Special Olympics Programs. Each playbook is broken down into sections that, along with the additional resources, will assist a school in becoming and sustaining Unified Champion School status.
According to the playbook, At Meadow Brook Elementary School, K–4 students have the opportunity to sign up to be LINKS—that is, Loyal, Interested, Nurturing, Kind Students. One hundred and thirty-five students participate in LINKS/UCS; each student in the cognitively impaired program has a LINKS partner for each school day, leading to lots of opportunities for inclusive youth leadership, whole school engagement, and inclusive sports. Inclusion occurs throughout each school day, every day. When possible, students keep these partners throughout the years to allow friendships to deepen and bonds to grow.   
When Cam saw his picture featured (one taken a few years ago), he remarked "That's pretty cool!"

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Look for the Helpers - Week of Apr. 30th

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” ~ Fred Rogers

Cam is a planner, checking on schedules and events well before their time.  His thoughtfulness and caring soul always shine through. 
Jane had to fly out to Oregon for work very early Monday morning.  Chris sent a text after her first flight..."Cam wanted to confirm his haircut is next Monday (he doesn't believe me) and he also wants to know if you had breakfast."  With a long morning of travel, the sweet message definitely brightened the day.
At a layover in Denver, it was encouraging to see a sign reserving an area for accessibility.  Cam was definitely excited to see the multitude of iPad's in an airport!

On Saturday, our favorite baseball player was ready to play ball with his WMML Toronto Blue Jays teammates.  The first game at 10am awakens the field.  We arrived a little early to meet the volunteers from JR Automation.  A helper named Kim found Cam and we immediately recognized her from last year!  She was so excited to see her buddy again and quickly asked if she could hang out with him.  Of course, Cam readily agreed.
We recently learned that there is quite a long waiting list for organizations who want to sign up to assist with the WMML games.  It is humbling to know that so many are awaiting a chance to team up with this group of kids so happy to have the opportunity to be immersed in America's treasured pastime.
The bat box pulley system Cam benefits from to launch the ball is in full use this season with many more kids taking advantage.  As we watched our boy head into home plate, the 'Cam fans' (Oma and Opa, Chris & Jane) gave a rousing cheer!
After the game and a quick snack, we followed Cam's grandparents to the cottage.  The bathroom remodel project is nearing the end.

While Chris and Jane worked on installing grab bars in the shower and cleanup duty, Oma and Cam took to organizing a few drawers, separating piles into keep, giveaway, and toss.  Cam is a very effective organizer and always willing to be the best helper.

After sharing a delicious dinner, we were thankful for the progress made and the shrinking list of items.  Taking one last look at the sun, the Weatherford family took to the road once again and happily found their pillows not too much later after arriving home.

Camology Quotes:
As Cam and Miss Amanda were heading off to PT this week, Jane was talking about the arrival of Ms. Molly's baby, Ethan.  Amanda remarked that Cam's swim instructor, Ms. Laura, was also pregnant and Jane noted that Cam's hair stylist, Ms. Amelia was about to have a baby as well.  Not realizing Cam was acutely aware of the conversation, the listening ten-year-old remarked, 
"It's that time of year!"

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Bikes, Baseball and a Birthday - Week of Apr. 23rd


“Life is like riding a bicycle. In order to keep your balance, you must keep moving.” ~ Albert Einstein

The morning was cool, the air was crisp, and the sun was shining.  Saturday was one of those activity-filled days that would have been tough to squeeze one more thing into.  First stop on the list was Mary Free Bed for the event, Bikes For The Rest of Us.
{More than 75 children and adults with physical disabilities were introduced to adaptive bicycling during Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital’s annual Bikes for the Rest of Us event on Saturday. Each participant was paired with a therapist to determine the necessary adaptations that will enable them to pedal alongside their able-bodied friends. “This event helps Mary Free Bed promote health and wellness beyond rehabilitation,” said Maria Besta, manager of Mary Free Bed’s Wheelchair & Adaptive Sports Program. Bikes for the Rest of Us has taken place for more than 25 years. Thanks to a donation from the Mary Free Bed Guild, eligible participants receive funding to help offset the cost of adapted bikes and equipment. More than 70 volunteers, including Mary Free Bed therapists, nurses and staff members, and community volunteers donated their time and talents to help make the event a success.}  
Cam was first asked to chose a bike helmet (to keep!) and then made the rounds to determine if any recycled bikes would work for him.  We came close to finding a used model, but ended up ordering one similar to the blue sporty bike he fit quite well in.  Jane & Cam even ended up on the evening news, WoodTV8, for just a few seconds (blink and you'll miss it!)


Directly from downtown, we headed north to the West Michigan Miracle League where the Zeeland High School boys baseball team were our volunteer helpers.  One of Cam's buddies from preschool, MacKenzie is also on Cam's team along with his best bud, Brody.
Cam Fans in attendance included Oma and Opa as well as Cam & Brody's teacher, Ms. Kathy and her husband, Kevin.  The sunshine kept us all smiling while the hot cocoa kept us warm.
After a quick lunch at home, next up was a birthday party for one of Cam's longtime friends, Liam.  For his 10th celebration, the occasion was Olympic-themed.  Games and races were all set up when we arrived.  
With the inflatable oversize soccer ball, every boy enjoyed a turn moving across the field.  The party-goers split up into teams of bubble-blowers and bubble-poppers.  A race around the yard, water balloon toss and other activities filled the time.   The weather turned a bit warmer, coats were shed, and outdoor time reigned.  Liam's mom, Betsy, even had a medal ceremony and everyone was honored with a medallion.
After some delicious homemade birthday cupcakes, Liam happily opened his presents and we said our thanks and goodbyes.  Cam also left with an Olympic gift bag complete with treats.


Next stop was to head north for a sleepover at Oma and Opa's to work on finishing the bathroom remodel.  After a couple more trips to Lowe's (in the evening and morning), we had made progress, but were unable to cross the finish line. 

The big lake reminds us that the setting sun fades away so we'll be ready to begin anew the next day.


Camology Quotes:
At school, Cam uses a speech to text software program that allows his words to be automatically typed into a document.  The following was one his teacher, Ms. Kathy sent along.  She included the comment- "Cam filled my bucket today with some nice voice-typing!"

"I like school. I like being in Ms. Kathy's class room. I like doing math. I like reading."

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Making the World More Accessible - Week of Apr. 16th

“We need to make every single thing accessible to every single person with a disability.”~ Stevie Wonder

Accessibility- the quality of being able to be reached or entered, the quality of being easy to obtain or use, the quality of being able to be easily understood or appreciated. 

Cam deals with the challenge of entering and moving through places on a daily basis.  Some places claim to be accessible, but there are most definitely varying degrees.  Without complaint, our son powers through a situation, often times indicating that we should contact the owner or business if something should be changed.
Our family considers the Lake Michigan cottage/aka Oma & Opa's home, the perfect getaway.  Since it was built in 1969, the doorways and design were not intended for wheelchair access.
Oma and Opa have wanted to assist in our mission to make areas easier to utilize for Cam.  Together, our families combined resources and funding to embark on the cottage bathroom remodel project.  Chris took the week off of work and joined forces with Emma's dad, Mr. Steve (a licensed contractor) to tackle the job.  Jane was very surprised when Monday was declared a snow day for Cam's school district.  With the mom vehicle full of supplies destined for the cottage, Cam and Jane ventured northward.  As they entered the highway, Cam declared "Huh, can you tell me why we have a snow day, Mom?"  We were very thankful for the clear roads, though, as well as our Aunt Joyce and Annie to keep Cam company while Jane dropped off the packed car.  Oma arrived to hang out with her grandson at the Schulze cottage.

Chris and Steve worked steadily, staying at the cottage for a total of three nights, while Oma and Opa stayed for two nights with Jane and Cam in GR.  As we were quick to recommend, the first portion of any remodel is loud and dirty.  We were not only thankful for Cam's grandparents staying with us during this time, but also for the extra help and great company!  The guys worked on through the week and made good progress gutting the bathroom, re-configuring the entrance as well as the build out of a new shower.


Saturday evening, we gathered together with the Raisch family for our weekly dinner.  It's funny how traditions begin and continue without one even realizing the importance or impact of its placement. 

On Sunday, Chris, his supervisor, Cam and Jane drove to the cottage to continue working.  Jane, Opa and Uncle Joe led cleanup duty while Chris worked on grouting and light installment with his trusty sidekick.
 
Of course, for a portion of the time, Cam also took a break from his supervisory role to entertain his grandma.



Camology Quotes:
Some evenings right before we say goodnight to Cam, he will recite his "deal" which includes a set of promises to his parents.  On one such night, it was apparent he has been listening to quite a few 'how-to' videos with his dad.

"Sleep all night, use your manners- please, thank you and excuse me... Go to my website and don't forget to subscribe to my podcast!"

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Cam's Concert - Week of Apr. 9th

“Music is the fastest motivator in the world.” ~ Amit Kalantri

Last year, Cam wasn't feeling well when the 3rd and 4th graders performed together for the annual spring concert.  Now, as a 4th grader, our son was anticipating the Tuesday night concert and feeling great!
As an extra special treat, Oma drove into Grand Rapids to see the musical.  Cam's grandma actually taught music in a school system a "few" years ago.
Cam's concert was titled "From the Inside Out, A Celebration of Positive Character."  Since the third and fourth graders were combined, there was a total of 9 different classes!  11 musical numbers were performed and Cam proudly played the drum for his part.  We cannot thank Oma enough for making her grandson feel extra special at his first concert appearance.

Most mornings, we have a regular routine but some days, a few surprises make us pause.  We often see deer in our backyard, but have never seen them sitting down and looking so peaceful in no hurry to move.

Although Stella has her own agenda while Cam is getting ready, she does like to hang out in the occasional sink and Cam graciously approves of her temporary housing in his bathroom.

A first for Cam this weekend was taking on the role of babysitter assistant.  We had the pleasure of watching baby Jackson for a few hours on Saturday.  Since he had met us just the week before, we were hopeful he would remember his new buddies.  As expected, he was a model infant and gave Cam and Jane plenty of smiles.
We can't wait for our next sitting adventure!

Camology Quotes:
When baby Jackson arrived at the Weatherford home, he was sleeping.  Cam quietly said to him mom.
"Mom, I will listen for baby Jackson.  When I hear him whining, I will come and get you right away!"

Jane had a big laugh when Jackson tried putting his entire hand in his mouth, to which Cam commented.
"Ewww, gross, Jackson.  What are you doing?!"

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Playdates & Playmates - Week of Apr. 2nd

"In the Spring, I have counted 136 different kinds of weather inside of 24 hours." ~Mark Twain 

The first week of April is typically spring break for Cam.  Jane and Chris tend to try to take vacation from work during the summer months so our family has not typically traveled during this time.  Lucky for Cam, Miss Amanda had the week off from her student teaching and was house-sitting as well.
Each day of break, Cam and Amanda ventured a few miles to the house where she was caring for pets.  It seems the animals took a real liking to Cam.  Priscilla Pigsley, the guinea pig, has the same coloring as our cat, Stella.  However, we all agreed that our feline family member may not have taken a liking to the rodent.
Roxie, the dog, however decided he was definitely going home with Cam.  Besides their pet adventures, Amanda and Cam made it to the library, Spoonlickers, and physical therapy.

On Friday, we were so happy Liam could come over for a visit and to play.  Cam and Liam have been friends since preschool, attend Meadow Brook together and both hope to have a future in law enforcement.  After some crazy pretend banking transactions, these two couldn't stop laughing.

Saturday turned out to be another playdate when Auntie Jo and buddy Will arrived for lunch.  After a delicious meal of Chick-Fil-A, the boys settled into a movie while the moms caught up.  The two godsons exchanged Easter gifts.  Will and his mom gave Cam the Game of Life.  Will has played many times already and did a great job sharing the rules of the game with the rookies, Cam and his mom.

Sunday brought a few very special visitors...when Jane was in college, she took care of three wonderful kids, the youngest of whom was Lauren.  When Cam was born, Lauren was in high school and visited him in the hospital after school nearly every day.  We nicknamed her 'Big Sis' Lauren.  After she moved to Colorado, our visits were far and few between.  Just recently, though, she moved back to Grand Rapids and is married with a newborn of her own.  And, to top off all of that good news, her son is named Jackson!  We had the best time catching up and chatting with Lauren, Aaron and baby Jackson.  Cam is anxious to test out some babysitting skills of his own.

Camology Quotes:
Some mornings are for the birds (or turkeys, like this one in our front yard).  Once in a while, a work situation may pop up for Chris or Jane before Cam gets on the bus.  On one such morning, Chris was juggling quite a few things prior to heading to the office.  Cam always keeps things in perspective for us, especially in moments like these...

"Dad, are you ok?"
Sure, Cam.  
"I am going to make it a great day.  You make it a great day too, Dad!"

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Grandparents Galore - Week of Mar. 26th

"Papa" & Cam
"To keep the heart unwrinkled, to be hopeful, kindly, cheerful, reverent that is to triumph over old age." ~Thomas Bailey Aldrich
“Every ending will meet its own end, for every ending is destined to be swallowed up by a beginning.” ~ Craig D. Lounsbrough

Grandparents are a gift.  Cam's Grandma Sue writes creative letters full of questions and updates which her grandson happily receives every few weeks from Kansas.  Grandpa Jim sends the neatest gifts from California.
Oma and Opa see Cameron as often as they can, which in the winter months becomes difficult due to the treacherous roads.

Cam sees Miss Amanda every weekday and her Grandpa (Mr. Ken) lives right behind our house, on our old street.  We have known Ken as a close friend and neighbor for 17 years.  Since Amanda often talks about her grandfather, he has come to be known as "Papa"to Cam as well.  So, our family was delighted when we were invited to have dessert with Papa and his family to celebrate his 80th birthday!  In preparation, Ms. Amanda and Cam worked on two projects- a picture book and a list of Alexa questions to be used with the Amazon technology tool.
Both were a big hit with Papa! The excitement of the gifts gave way to the anticipation of treats.  Cam enjoyed the array of delectable homemade desserts- apple pie, raspberry pie, strawberry shortcake, brownies, and butterscotch bars.  Cam requested some of the strawberries in sauce for his brownie and proceeded to ask Jane if they were "melted" berries.  Papa's daughter, Carol and husband Jim, recently completed construction of the new home they are living in.  It's completely barrier-free with the largest hallways and space Cam has ever been in.  That was a treat in itself!
Sisters Emma & Anna on each
side of Cam, Bex & Emma H in back

On Easter Sunday, we began our morning at church with the Raisch family along with their good friends who attend Calvin, Emma H. and Bex.  They are from Zimbabwe and Cam just loves their accents!
The service was beautiful and the music was was so joyful and the live band accompaniment always seems to bring it closer.

After church, we drove home in the sunshine.  Oma and Opa arrived after lunch to spend the afternoon and stay overnight with us.
Oma has always made an Easter basket for Cam and this year was no exception.  Included was a new book, Peter Pan, since we had recently seen the play.  Next came the famous egg hunt outside and clever Chris expertly hid the plastic colored assortment.  Oma had filled the ovals not with chocolate, but with wooden letters to unscramble and create sentences!
A delicious dinner included non-traditional steak and hot dogs, twice baked potatoes, broccoli and rolls.  Of course, Cam and Jane made deviled eggs and Cam reminded Oma that we needed her famous cheese sauce to complement the vegetables.  Dessert was provided by Oma and Opa- angel food cake with delicious fresh strawberries.

Luckily, we all stayed awake long enough to play some games and enjoy each other's company.

Whether grandparents are far or near or an extended family member, like Papa, they create a special bond, one that transcends that of a parent.
Like the quote says..."A grandparent is someone with silver in their hair and gold in their heart."


Camology Quotes:
When Ms. Amanda was assisting Cam with teeth brushing one evening, she noticed that the electric toothbrush was turning red. 

Cam, I think your mouth is bleeding.
"Um, what am I eating Miss Amanda?!"
Cam, don't swallow!

(upper right corner 'hole' is lost tooth and tooth was successfully retrieved, thanks to Ms. Amanda)