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!"

Sunday, October 20, 2019

What a Zoo! - Week of Oct. 14th

"Being busy is better than being bored. Bored left a long time ago. Busy is always around for me." ~Tabitha Robin 
"The zoo is a pretty safe place to fart." ~Anonymous

Life seems busier this time of year with all of the Halloween project activity.  Thankfully, though, there are still those scheduled events that help us pause and appreciate everything else going on.
A field trip to the zoo was on Cam's agenda this week.  Due to a busing issue, Jane drove Cam to the John Ball Park Zoo and Chris was set to pick him up.  The weather was a bit dicey with rain showers, so Cam's dad arrived a bit early just in case the
gang wanted to head back to school.  Not only was he able to hang out with the kids, but Chris enjoyed the zoo maybe just as much as Cam and his classmates.

Each and every week, our son tackles the challenge of physical therapy, meeting with Patrick to go through various stretches and exercises.  Now that Cam's hip is healed, he is back to practicing walking.  It's hard work and one of the most important things for Cam is sticking to the schedule.  If there is too much talking, our rule-abiding citizen will always interject with "aren't we supposed to be doing x now?"

Saturday morning had a twist as our street that had been removed to dirt level was in the process of being re-paved.

As a family, we worked at Mary Free Bed once again.  Mary Jo and Cam supplied our volunteer crew with homemade brownies and cookies- the perfect boost we all needed!
One of our Grand Valley volunteers, Meredith, was back for another round of costume creation.  Ms. Molly guided Mary Jo & Cam along with Meredith on their own field trip to the main hospital.  Due to growing number of costumes being created for wheelchairs, we have had to relocate quite a few.  One of the favorites is most definitely "baby shark" seen here being modeled by Meredith.
Cam & Mary Jo
Molly & Cam
The group was also able to see the handiwork of others who had created a Star Wars theme for a pediatric party at the hospital.

Back at HH HQ (Halloween Heroes), everyone was busy sawing, gluing, sewing and embellishing.  It's hard to believe that 4 years ago, Ms. Molly called Jane in June and said "I was thinking about how you have the picture of Cam in his Halloween costume every year on your Christmas card... what do you think about trying to do that for the pediatric patients at Mary Free Bed?"  Our project has not only grown in size, but it's grown friendships as well.

Camology Quotes:
It seems the Weatherford household was a bit worn out this week.  One evening at bedtime, the following silly conversation took place...  
Cam: "I'm tired."
Dad:  "I'm tired. I don't know who's more tired, Cam- me or you." 
Mom: "What about me? Don't I get a vote?"
Cam:  "Mom, your vote will be encrypted for security reasons." 

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Time Well Spent - Week of Oct. 7th

"It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are." ~e.e. cummings

Aristotle said, "Good habits formed at youth make all the difference."  We know, Cameron, like most kids has developed both kinds of habits, but for the most part, all good.
As it goes with many in the pre-teenager stage, Cam does exhibit some of those wonderful responses to questions, such as his mom asking who are the girls in the picture from school?  "Just my friends."  "Yes, but what are their names, Cam?"  "Mom, they are just my friends!"  And, hence the realization that our son is most definitely getting older.
Thank goodness for the moments, though, that he still humors his parents.  Thursday evening, we found out there was going to be a silent fire department parade, quite by accident.
Cam and his mom were grabbing supplies at the local hardware store when they noticed people starting to line the streets, so they inquired as to what was happening.  Jane and her son drove home and asked Chris if they should all go check it out.  A resounding yes from each family member and we were off to find the procession.  We had a front windshield view as at least 15 fire department trucks from adjoining areas all drove down 28th street with lights flashing, but no sirens.  It was very cool to see!

We were back downtown at Mary Free Bed on Friday and Saturday to continue our community project.  Cam and Mary Jo spent Saturday morning together baking homemade cookies for the building crew!
They arrived right before the lunch hour, perfectly timed to coincide with the pizza delivery for all of our dedicated volunteers, including our cookie delivery service!
Cam enjoyed meeting some new families and volunteers and chatting it up with others.  As parents, we can't help but feel a great sense of pride in our son who realizes that even in the smallest offering of homemade cookies and conversation, it is still not only time well spent, but one of the best ways to spend your time!

Camology Quotes:
Cam's current morning bus driver let us know this week that he was being moved to a different route.  For the fourth time this fall, Cam would be meeting a new morning driver.  He pondered this for a few days questioning why the change, which of course his parents didn't have any answer for other than consolidation and efficiency.  While heading to PT, Cam was still talking about it and announced...  
"In all my 10 years I have been working with base, they have never changed my driver this many times!" 

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Giving Back - Week of Sept. 30th

“As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands- one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.” ~Audrey Hepburn
“Volunteers don’t get paid, not because they’re worthless, but because they’re priceless.” ~Sherry Anderson
“If you think you are too small to be effective, you have never been in bed with a mosquito.” ~Betty Reese
Cam & his dad working on the
wireless connectivity at
Brody's Be Cafe
We give and receive in so many ways on a daily basis.  Sometimes giving feels more rewarding than receiving.  As Brody's Be Cafe heads towards its opening day in Ada, its motto is "Fill up your soul, let your cup runneth over" which is a fitting phrase for the intention of inclusion and kindness.  Chris and Cam worked to finish up the wireless connectivity at the cafe this week.
Mr. Micah (PT) & Cam

As we headed toward the weekend, Cam assisted his parents with preparations for their family community project- Halloween Heroes with Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital.  This is our 4th year heading up the wheelchair Halloween costume endeavor.
On Friday, Chris and Jane spent the day working on wheelchair costumes for outpatients after their son boarded the bus for school.
Saturday morning, Cam was ready to do his part too!  He traveled with us downtown to the hospital ready to work.  Before 11am, though, it was time to head out to the WMML field for our baseball player to participate in his last fall season game.  It was a chilly, but sunny day.  The Home Depot volunteers were in full force and Ms. Catherine, from HD, found Cam for the 3rd year in a row to be his helper!  Talk about a fun reunion.
Cam & Coach Nicole
Cam & Ms. Catherine (Home Depot)
The awards ceremony was right after the game where the medals are presented.  Ms. Mary Jo was hanging out with Cam for the day and her mom, Ms. Cris (Cam's former classroom aide) came to watch the action as well.

Ms. Cris, Cam, Mary Jo, Brody
Immediately following the ball game, it was back downtown for Cam, Ms. Mary Jo and Chris.  Cam did an excellent job of greeting families and helping make choices for costume embellishments.  He and Ms. Mary Jo also strolled over to Biggby in the main hospital for a well-deserved coffee run for our volunteers.  So many families commented how nice and polite Cam was as he echoed to each family on their way out- "thank you for coming today."  We accomplished so much with our team of workers with two more weekends on the horizon.  We were all tuckered out that evening, but as we often say "it's a good tired."

On Sunday, Chris headed to eastern Michigan for work while Jane and Cam steadily completed chores.  Auntie Jo and Will popped over for lunch since we hadn't seen Will since way before his September birthday.  He was anxious to show Cam his new hover board he received from his mom.  Cam though it was "so cool" how it moved.  It was, as Cam said "awesome to see them."
That evening, we dined on breakfast for dinner with the Raisch fam which was super delicious, easy and greatly appreciated.
School Pic 2019

At bedtime, Jane and her son were talking about the day and all of the helping that had taken place downtown for Halloween Heroes.  Cam wanted to make certain that all of the kids had picked their very own costume and not their parents.  Jane asked "why is that so important to you Cam?"  "Because Mom, it has to be their choice.  It is their costume and we are making it for them, not their parents." 
Jane also thanked Cam for letting another kiddo, Diana, use a portion of his costume from last year that he and his dad had made.  Her son asked why it was such a big deal and his mom told him, "That Cam, is a perfect example of giving back!"

Camology Quotes:
We realized that some construction trucks had come through and removed the manhole covers on our street, leading us to believe it may be repaved soon.  Jane commented that it may make things interesting for Cam's school bus.  
Cam indicated: "It is already interesting!" 

Jane and her son were running errands one evening and Jane indicated their last stop would be Walgreens.  As she took a shortcut home, Cam noted his mom had missed a critical turn.
Jane said: "See Cam, I need you in the car to help me remember these things."
To which Cam replied puzzled: "Mom, I am in the car."