Sunday, December 1, 2019

Be Thankful - Week of Nov. 25th

Cam and classmates, Teacher & aides
The "why" questions still continue for Cam and in reality, we all continue to question things even as we grow older.  As a family, we got to wondering where the tradition of having Thanksgiving on the 4th Thursday came from.  We found the answer in an article from NPR...
In 1789, President George Washington declared Thursday, Nov. 26, as a "Day of Publick Thanksgivin," according to the National Archives. But in the years following, the date for the holiday was announced by presidential proclamation and was celebrated on various days and in different months. 
Delicious fruit basket
from Oma & Opa
When President Abraham Lincoln made his Thanksgiving proclamation in 1863, the last Thursday of November became standard. Then came the big date dispute of 1939, when two Thanksgiving holidays were observed. You see, according to the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum, a five-Thursday November fell in 1933, and some retailers asked President Roosevelt to move the holiday to a week earlier. The president denied the request, and Americans ate their turkey on the last Thursday as always in 1933. But Roosevelt was president for a long time, long enough for another five-Thursday November to roll around in 1939. Once again, some business leaders asked if the date for the holiday could be a week earlier to give people more time to shop for Christmas, and this time Roosevelt agreed to do it. This raised a hue and cry as many people felt that he was catering to large retailers so they could make more money. 
 Sixteen governors decided their states would have Thanksgiving on the last Thursday of the month as usual, and that's how some people ended up celebrating it a week earlier or later than others — for two years. Roosevelt stuck with the second-to-last-Thursday schedule, some states stuck with the last-Thursday-of-the-month schedule and finally on Dec. 26, 1941, Congress passed a law making Thanksgiving the fourth Thursday of November.
This week, we were extra thankful for so many reasons.  On Tuesday, Ms. Michelle, a former nanny of Cam's, surprised us with a visit!  She lives in Florida now and was in Michigan for a short time.  Jane set up the date but wanted Cam to be completely unaware.
He could not believe his eyes when she popped around the corner!  She told us about her mission trip to Guatemala and had some festive Christmas lights for Cam to wear and a thankful chalkboard.  Ms. Michelle stayed for dinner and asked Cam if they could play one of his favorite games.  He chose "Guess Who" and they played quite a few rounds.
On Wednesday afternoon, Oma and Opa arrived to spend two nights with us. We are always grateful to have them with us for the holiday.  Always ready for a project, Cam and his helpers, Jane and Oma, decorated the Christmas tree.
Later in the morning on Thursday, Opa and Cam prepped the turkey with homemade stuffing and Jane and her mom headed over to Starbucks to grab coffee for everyone.  While they were there, Jane chatted with Rachel, one of the baristas she became friends with.  It turned out that Rachel wasn't planning on going anywhere for turkey dinner, so we invited her to our table.  She arrived later with a beautiful orchid and coffee.  It was such fun to have her and she was so appreciative of the homemade spread complete with our big bird, dressing, gravy, mashed potatoes, yams, green bean casserole, rolls, cranberry relish and then Oma's famous apple tarts.  Cam's blessing of our dinner was quite abbreviated, which may have had something to do with his hunger level.  After feasting, we were all thoroughly stuffed and ready for relaxation.
Friday morning, Oma wanted to see Brody's be Cafe before they headed back up north.  She and Jane chatted over delicious peppermint mochas and Oma loved the atmosphere and welcoming spirit.

It turned out the Weatherford family was due back at the Cafe later that afternoon.  Chris, Jane and Cam were signed up to volunteer with igloo setup at the back entrance.  It took well over 2 hours and Cam insisted on staying out in the cold with his dad to be sure it was connected properly.  The second dome installation was much faster than the first.  After the string lights went up, it all looked simply magical.
Seating was added for six with a heater and warm, cozy afghans in each igloo.

The set up seemed just in time since early Sunday morning, we awoke to a beautiful blanket of snow.

 Camology Quotes:
When Ms. Michelle arrived, Chris had an idea to get him to come to the door.  He called out to Cam and said there was a special delivery from Amazon just for him. Cam countered with:   "I cannot sign for Amazon.  I am just a boy, not an adult!"

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Believe in Yourself - Week of Nov. 18th

Cam & Brody
“Like flowers; we may all look different on the outside, but we can all grow together in the same garden.”

Mister Rogers taught many of us concepts and understanding when we didn't even realize we were learning by watching his show.
“Part of the problem with the word 'disabilities' is that it immediately suggests an inability to see or hear or walk or do other things that many of us take for granted. But what of people who can't feel? Or talk about their feelings? Or manage their feelings in constructive ways? What of people who aren't able to form close and strong relationships? And people who cannot find fulfillment in their lives, or those who have lost hope, who live in disappointment and bitterness and find in life no joy, no love? These, it seems to me, are the real disabilities.” ~Fred Rogers, The World According to Mister Rogers: Important Things to Remember

At school this week, Cam had the opportunity to test out the "hug boat" made out of inflatable vinyl for his reading time.  At PT, he worked on his sitting and balance with Mr. Patrick.

Saturday mid-morning, Jane received a message from Jenny asking if she could volunteer for a few hours at Brody's be Cafe since they were short-handed.  Cam's mom asked if he wanted to come along to assist as a greeter.  He was more than excited to pitch in.  One of Cam's best friends, Brody, is the inspiration behind Brody's be Cafe.  The Cafe's message is to encourage all to "be"..."be-lieve" "be yourself" "be kind" and the list goes on.

Brody's be's mission statement: To offer a coffee shop that provides a safe and enjoyable work environment for individuals with intellectual and developmental delays along with other special needs. To create a place of acceptance for all people in the community; a place to receive, and give back. Brody’s be Cafe will provide an opportunity for people with, and without special needs, to work together. This cafe will provide a place where everyone can come together to feel purpose, importance, and to realize that we aren’t all that different on the inside.

Cam & Ms. Jenny,
Owner of Brody's be Cafe
After a busy afternoon of greeting, helping and even float decorating for the upcoming holiday parade, Cam told his mom it was hard work, but a lot of fun.
Cam is a future employee, Jane is a member of the Cafe's board of directors, and Chris is their unofficial network administrator.  As a family, this non-profit venture means so very much to us for so many reasons.  The next time you're close to Ada, be sure to stop by at 7267 Thornapple River Drive and then drop by our home since you're only 5 minutes away!
Camology Quotes:
Cam has always seemed to have an internal clock.  He instinctively knows when meals are without knowing the actual time and his teachers have indicated the same thing at school.  Cam's teacher has told his parents, "he honestly knows his schedule better than I do!"  On Sunday, Jane was drinking a preparation medicine for a routine medical procedure.
Every hour, the following messages were heard:
"Mom, did you set your timer?  Are you drinking your medicine?  Do you know when your next dose is?"

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Winning the Lottery - Week of Nov. 11th

A new project began at the Weatherford household this week.  Father and son decided that the tradition of installing the outdoor Christmas lights year after year needed a technology upgrade.
With all of the experience and knowledge of Halloween costume lighting, the boys transferred that background to create a plan for LED lighting outside.

Cam is always intrigued by science and wants to know how things were made and when.
The first Light-Emitting Diode (LED) with practical use was first documented in the 1950's.  Gallium Arsenide had started experimentation with the use of the semiconductor that subsequently led to the development of the very first LED with practical use. In 1962, Nick Holonyak, Jr. invented the first LED that could produce visible red light.  
LEDs create light by electroluminescence in a semiconductor material. Electroluminescence is the phenomenon of a material emitting light when electric current or an electric field 
is passed through it - this happens when electrons are sent through the material and fill electron holes. An electron hole exists where an atom lacks electrons (negatively charged) and therefore has a positive charge. Semiconductor materials like germanium or silicon can be "doped" to create and control the number of electron holes. Doping is the adding of other elements to the semiconductor material to change its properties. By doping a semiconductor you can make two separate types of semiconductors in the same crystal. The boundary between the two types is called a p-n junction. The junction only allows current to pass through it one way, this is why they are used as diodes. LEDs are made using p-n junctions. As electrons pass through one crystal to the other they fill electron holes. They emit photons (light). This is also how the semiconductor laser works.

Nightly work of connecting the reels of light together and determining how to get power to the roof-line without running multiple extension cords became a part of every evening discussion.
Each week, Cam continues to work diligently at PT.
The weekend brought a visit from Mary Jo on Friday evening while Cam's parents wrapped up the Halloween project
with a recap and dinner.
Saturday morning, Ms. Ann arrived to hang out with her buddy all day and into
early evening.  Chris and Jane were off to Ann Arbor to see the big U of M football game up close and personal, thanks to Ms. Molly and her mom, Bobbi.  The game was chilly, but exhilarating as we watched with over 111,000 other people.

Back in Grand Rapids, Ann and Cam spent the day playing games, visiting Heidi's farm stand and even finishing some school work.  Ms. Patti stopped by a couple of times to help out and it was a treat for both Cam and his parents to have separate fun-filled days.  We are grateful for these priceless gifts.
When Ms. Ann accidentally left her winter vest behind, Chris took the opportunity to send a pic of him modeling the coat.

Although Cam's dad didn't hold onto the warm garment, Cam's mom was given a big surprise this week that she was more than happy to keep.  At school, Jane met with Cam's teacher for a conference update.  After hearing a glowing report, she stopped in the media center to check out the scholastic book sale.  While there, Cam's mom purchased some raffle tickets for a gift basket.  It was filled with a new cookbook, treats, candles, soap and a warm blanket.  Jane couldn't believe it!  Cam declared it was like 'winning the lottery!'

Camology Quotes:
Cam had a physical at the doc office prior to his physical therapy.  He had a flu shot plus 3 other shots for 12-year physical.  Cam has always done well with medical shots and seems to barely flinch.  I told his PT, Patrick, that he was a champ. 
Patrick said, "wow Cam, you're tough!"
To which Cam replied:
"I'm as tough as a cookie that has been in the freezer for 4 days!"

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Military Manners - Week of Nov. 4th

"May we think of freedom, not as the right to do as we please, but as the opportunity to do what is right." ~Peter Marshall

While Chris attended a conference this week in Orlando with 30,000 other people, Cam entertained 2...his mom and Auntie Karen back in GR and had a few fun-packed days.

At school, the kids were getting ready to go see a Grand Rapids Griffins hockey game.
The Grand Rapids Griffins were formed in 1996 and have played in the American Hockey League since 2001. They are the only amateur team to have been affiliated with the NHL professional team, the Detroit Red Wings. In total, 165 players and goalies have gone on to play at least one game in the NHL. Additionally, 15 Griffins have gone on to win the Stanley Cup. Even though they are one of the younger AHL teams, the Grand Rapids Griffins have seen recent success in the past five years with winning the Calder Cup in 2013 and 2017, which is basically the Stanley Cup for AHL teams.

Cam was a bit unsure about how loud the game would be but he declared it was so much fun and the best field trip ever!  While they were waiting for a school bus for pick up, two complete strangers walked over to Cam and gave him the goalie hockey stick from the game!!  What an amazing gift and one that our son is excited to play with outside.

On Thursday, Jane and Cam had a couple unexpected events in the evening.  First, at Physical Therapy, one of the PT's Cam has worked with over the past 2 years was moving out of the area and it was Cam's last time to see her.  Ms. Julie has always teased Cam about skipping PT to go get ice cream.  So, Mr. Patrick surprised everyone by providing some delicious ice cream treats for all to share!

Jane received a text during PT indicating she and Cam needed to pick up some fundraising food at his school before 7:30p.  They got back in the van at 6:50p ready to head out.  Unfortunately, the van battery was dead.  Luckily, Mr. Patrick found a co-worker with some jumper cables and after several chilly minutes, Cam and his mom were back on the road.  They made it to school in time, but left their van running.
The week went by quickly and Auntie Karen's expert assistance has become synonymous with "lifesaver."
Jane and Cam headed out Friday evening to pick up Chris at the airport and both declared, "we sure did miss you!" and not just because the van battery died😉

Camology Quotes:
In preparation for the field trip to the Griffins Game, each student was asked to write a letter to Veterans to bring to the game.  
Since Cam's dad is a former Marine, he was very proud of his son after reading the following letter Cam wrote:

"Thank you for being in the military.
I think it is very kind of you to keep us safe.
Thank you for serving America."

Monday, November 4, 2019

Busting out the Backhoe - Week of Oct. 28th

"Everything is better when we stick together." ~ The Lego Movie

The Lego Construction backhoe costume, chosen by Cam, and designed by father and son, made a few more appearances this week.

Lego has quite an interesting history...The Lego Group began manufacturing the interlocking toy bricks in 1949. Movies, games, competitions, and six Legoland amusement parks have been developed under the brand. As of July 2015, 600 billion Lego parts had been produced.The Lego Group began in the workshop of Ole Kirk Christiansen (1891–1958), a carpenter from Billund, Denmark, who began making wooden toys in 1932. In 1934, his company came to be called "Lego", derived from the Danish phrase leg godt which means "play well". In 1947, Lego expanded to begin producing plastic toys. In 1949 Lego began producing, among other new products, an early version of the now familiar interlocking bricks, calling them "Automatic Binding Bricks". These bricks were based on the Kiddicraft Self-Locking Bricks, which had been patented in the United Kingdom in 1939 and released in 1947. Lego had received a sample of the Kiddicraft bricks from the supplier of an injection-molding machine that it purchased. The bricks, originally manufactured from cellulose acetate, were a development of the traditional stackable wooden blocks of the time. The Lego Group's motto is det bedste er ikke for godt which means "the best is not too good".   This motto, which is still used today, was created by Christiansen to encourage his employees never to skimp on quality, a value he believed in strongly.

This is the final year for a school costume parade for Cam.  His friends all dressed up and his teacher and aides were all decked out in construction outfits to be a part of Cam's crew!  The construction backhoe completed a lap around the gym.  Cam's principal said she would make certain the pic she took of him made it in the yearbook.

The very next day was trick/treating at Fishbeck where Chris works.  Jane picked up their son and headed over to the office at 4p where Chris hooked everything up and proudly accompanied his son through the first floor.  One of Chris' colleagues, Mr. Mike, can't wait to see Cam every year.  He actually had 4 large size bags of m&m's set aside just for him.

As we bid farewell to all of the Halloween festivities, a few commented that Cam would have surely won most every costume contest in town. 
For Cam's parents, the best reward is seeing their son's reaction to his creative compilation and truly, seeing other kids comment how cool and awesome it is.  It really is the best invisible trophy.
Cam's Cousin, James
Happy Halloween!

Camology Quotes:
Cam is back to his walking routine at his physical therapy appointments and likes to adhere to instruction and homework.  

Cam: "Mr. Patrick, could you write me a note that says I need to walk at home if I don't walk at school?"
Mr. Patrick: Sure, Cam.
"Actually, never mind.  I will write myself a note!"

Sunday, October 27, 2019

A Heroes' Parade - Week of Oct. 21st

The dictionary defines a hero as "A person who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities."
Maya Angelou may have a better definition: "I think a hero is any person really intent on making this a better place for all people."

It was our final week of parade preparation for our Halloween Heroes project with Mary Free Bed.  Cam had a haircut scheduled during the week and on Friday, he had a half day of school.  Ms. Ann awaited his bus arrival while Jane and Chris were in the final day of costume building downtown.  Not wanting to miss out on all of the activity, Cam and Ann made their way to HH HQ where our team of volunteers were quite busy, creating 3 new costumes for inpatients in one day and finishing up 6 others.  It was a very long day ending with more preparation and finishing touches for Cam's creation, housed in our own garage.  Our son's Lego Construction Backhoe was finally ready for it's reveal.

Saturday was the big day for Halloween Heroes!  This was the day all of our costumed kids are able to participate in a parade designed just for them!
Oma and Opa drove in before lunch to provide much needed assistance with all of the craziness yet to come.
We arrived at Mary Free Bed a little after 12p to review the time frame with our volunteer crew.  Our HH kids, ready to see their finished costumes for the first time were scheduled at staggered intervals to help things run smoothly.
The Kindness Club from Forest Hills Central middle school were on board for the second year to read to our costumed kids while they were waiting and provided face painting for those who were game.  The Forest Hills Central HS Marching Band readied their 120 talented members to form 'tunnels' on each side of the circle drive.
60+ volunteers took 8 full days spread out over the course of 5 weeks to create 34 original costumes for kids with different types of abilities.  The most important factor for our HH leadership team, which includes Cam, is that each kiddo chooses the costume idea themselves and approves of the design before creating begins.

After each Halloween Hero was announced by name and costume, two lines of 17 were formed on each side of the circle drive.  As we were waiting for all of the announcements, we spotted Ms. Amanda, Nick, Brooke, and one of our dedicated volunteers, their mom Mary.  Across the sidewalk, Ms. Michelle and Mary Jo and her mom, Ms. Cris were also there.  All of a sudden, a 7-foot tall space cowboy appeared and under the costume was Ms. Julie's boyfriend, Jeff.  What a great addition to our event!  The West Michigan Therapy dogs, as well as GRPD and GRFD were in full force too.

We followed the marching band with Cam as our Grand Marshal and paraded by St. Mary's hospital around a full city block, clocking in at exactly 1 mile.  Along the way, people and patients cheered and folks driving by honked and waved.  Even though rain was forecasted, it held off for our special event and we were unbelievably thankful for dry conditions.  We passed cousins Bob and Cheri along the way and arrived back at Mary Free Bed to a crowd of people.  Each of our kiddos had a professional photo taken as well.
Two of Cam's very good friends were both in the parade.  Liam was a commander of the USS Voyager and April dressed as Luigi from Mario Cart.  When Cam saw her, he said "Hey April, when did you grow a mustache?" and proceeded to laugh hysterically at his own joke.
Mary Free Bed created a video and the local news station interviewed Cam and his mom for a few seconds.
Mary Free Bed VIDEO
WZZM13 Story
Saturday couldn't have gone better and Oma and Opa treated us to dinner that evening.  We can't thank them enough for all of their help.
As we were discussing the day's events, it's easy to see that all of us have heroes who surround each and every day 😃
Camology Quotes:
Cam continues to hone his comedic skills, usually in the evening, right after his shower...  

Cam: "Do you know me?"

Hi, I'm Dad. Who are you?

"Oh my goodness. We've been together for the longest time!"