Sunday, April 4, 2021

Taking Care of My Oma - Week of Mar. 29th

“Becoming a grandmother is wonderful. One moment you’re just a mother. The next you are all-wise and prehistoric.” ~Pam Brown 
“A grandmother once said that children are the investments and grandchildren the dividends.” ~Selma Berg

When Cameron was little and speech was still a bit out of reach, he called Jane's mom Oma.  After all of these years, the name has stuck even though he can clearly say Grandma now.  As a youngster, Oma was very protective of Cam and now that role has reversed.

This week, we welcomed Cam's grandparents for six days.  Jane's mom was scheduled for a parathyroidectomy very early Monday morning in Grand Rapids.  Cam's final instruction to his mom: "Take care of my Oma."  

Upon arrival home from surgery day before dinner, his grandma was in good spirits and Cam requested a full report.  After understanding the medication and recovery routine, he made it his job to remind and check in as often as he could.

Since Cam officially began his spring break on Thursday, he had two full days at home with his grandparents.  Oma and her grandson looked through and read Jane's grandmother's biography.  It was written more than 15 years ago in collaboration with Cam's mom, grandma and great-grandmother.  Cam laughed at some of the old pictures and stories.

A trip to Brody's Be Café made for a tasty afternoon treat.  Both Cam and Oma tried the new mint shake which they both declared delicious!  Opa and Jane enjoyed their coffees and the relaxing atmosphere was a welcome change for everyone.

Grandson and grandma took some time to look through a Prankopedia book and with Jane's help they played a funny joke on Chris.  An almost empty potato chip bag was filled with whipped cream.  Cam convinced his dad to try a chip and he ended up with a handful of the dessert topping instead.

As we helped Oma and Opa pack up to head home on the weekend, Cam reminded her of her medicine and things to remember.  

At any point over the last 13 years, if you were to happen upon Cam and his grandma together, most likely they would be laughing or smiling at each other, or deep in conversation.  It's so good to know someone is looking out for you and for Cam and his Oma, it seems that taking care of each other is an inherent part of their bond and always has been.

Camology Quotes:

This week we were on a quest for a certain brand of frozen apples.  They were nowhere to be found.  In the news, the large barge was stuck in the Suez Canal blocking international goods traffic for many days.  Cam asked his mom about the apples again.
Cam, I've looked at our local stores and Oma has checked her stores too.  We cannot find them anywhere.
"Mom, do you think they are stuck on the barge in the canal?"

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Planning a Party - Week of Mar. 22nd

"Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now."  ~Alan Lakein 

The author Peter Graham said this about becoming immersed in a good book: "We become the hero or heroine.  We are the ones who thwart evil.  We laugh as we socialize with characters we have never met but feel they are as close as our family.  We cry when we lose a good friend."

At school, Cam's class has been reading "Because of Winn-Dixie" and the teacher is weaving lessons and assignments as an outcome.  In the book, the main star is Opal.  Near the end of the story, she plans a party.  The class assignment was to design their own party with all of the particulars.  The following is Cam's proposal.

  • Time/Place: Cam's house at 2:30pm
  • 5 people you will invite: Mom, Dad, Brody, Mrs. Wells, Oliver
  • Activities at Party: We will play Uno and play Yahtzee and we will watch The Greatest Showman and go on a walk.
  • Other Items Needed: Toys, Games
  • Food: Drink and dessert, fruit, chicken tenders, cupcakes, fries, water.
On the weekend, we headed over to Brody's Be Café to help dismantle the outdoor igloos and place them in hibernation for the spring and summer.
Brody's mom, Jenny, and owner of the café was very happy to see Cam.  He was ready to assist so a wagon was affixed to the back and loaded up so he could take trips to the dumpster across the parking lot.  Jenny told Cam that he would absolutely be hired when he turns 16!  In the meantime, volunteers are always welcome.

Every weekday morning, Cam heads out quite early (6:40a) with Chris to make the trek down our long driveway to meet the school bus.  We believe Cam is "larger than life" but this snapshot truly depicts that in his enormous shadow!

GVSU Public Radio (click here)  Jane was interviewed about Cam on local public radio to discuss MI-UCP.

Camology Quotes:

We know that it must seem at times that Cam is always a happy, go lucky kiddo.  Like every individual, he has his moments. One of his greatest strengths is his ability to be honest and forthright.  For an in-school assignment this week, the kids were asked to write about what makes them sad.  This was Cam's typed entry.
When I feel Sad
Cam- 3/26/21
I get sad when I throw a fit.  I also get sad when I yell at my parents.  My parents don't like when I yell.  I get sad when my parents are made at me.  I get sad sometimes.

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Spring has Sprung - Week of Mar. 15th

"No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn."  ~Hal Borland 

Spring cleaning is a physical purge of items but can also refer to refreshing your mind and attitude.  

With our area of Michigan experiencing some unseasonably warm weather, it was the perfect week to tackle both aspects.

First up was the outdoor area.  Cam and his dad gathered up all of the driveway markers set up for winter snow plowing as guides.  These are intended to keep Chris on the driveway instead of the lawn during snow removal time.  As a family, we all agreed we would not experience another storm of the white stuff this spring...fingers crossed.  It was such a nice, pleasant day making sunglasses a pre-requisite for hanging out.

On the inside, a long-awaited adjustable bed arrived for Cam.  He was evaluated in December and through the process of insurance approval and amendments, it was a three-month journey.  We weren't notified in enough time to move out his current bed, so the new bed remained in our living room for a day.  Stella, our cat, seemed to assume her endorsement was required.  She proceeded to jump up and sniff away.

Sometimes, Cam has a hard time accepting what is provided to him.  He asked if someone else could use the adjustable bed more.  We explained to him that his doctors felt that the bed would help him have more comfortable rest.  Fortunately, Cam was also ready to give away the piece he had been sleeping on.  The trundle bed he slept in for the last 8+years was a welcome donation to his buddy Liam and brother David.  

At NHMS, Cam took part in an organized game of kickball in the school gym.  With his powered wheelchair, or powerchair as we call it, he is able to drive while in standing mode.  While some may view driving combined with playing as an unfair advantage, this smiling kid is overjoyed to be a part of it all!

Camology Quotes:

We have said that Cam has an internal clock.  He seems to instinctively know when it's time for meals and activities.  Sometimes though, even inherent timing takes a break.
Cam, it's time to start getting ready for bed.
"You've got to be kidding me!"

Sunday, March 14, 2021

All About Cam - Week of Mar. 8th

At some point in the last 13 years, Chris and Jane took on new names.  In addition to work roles and community projects, the most important titles they now have are "Cam's mom" and "Cam's dad" which is how they are known when being introduced to people they have never met but who have come in contact with their son.  Cam's parents humbly and proudly accept these titles.

An online publication reached out to Jane for a phone interview due to the feature video and story of Cam on the MI-UCP website.  The story below is written by Maryalene LaPonsie.  We think she did a great job of capturing our family story.  Click here to read the story online

Area Family Featured as MI-UCP Success Story 
posted 03/11/2021 Maryalene LaPonsie -  Unsung Heroes

As a 7th grader in the Forest Hills Public School District, Cameron Weatherford gets to experience life in a unique way. Like many of his classmates, he’s enrolled in choir and robotics and has spent time in the pool for swimming lessons. He’s a fan of the beach, loves to laugh and enjoys dressing up for Halloween as much as the next kid. However, Cam, as he’s known to friends, has cerebral palsy, and that means he is taking a somewhat different road through life – a road he travels with his power wheelchair. Living with a disability can be challenging, but Cam and his parents, Chris and Jane, have encountered many people and organizations who help lighten the load by providing support and resources. MI-UCP, formerly United Cerebral Palsy of Detroit & Michigan, is one of those organizations. Offering a portal of resources to families on issues such as guardianship, insurance and finances, MI-UCP has helped in the Weatherford family learn and adapt to life with cerebral palsy. Recently, the family was named a MI-UCP Success Story, and Cam is now featured on the organization’s website. 

Disorder Affects Ability to Move 
Cerebral palsy is one of the most common motor disabilities in childhood, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It’s a disorder that makes movement difficult. Some people, with minor cases of cerebral palsy, may have an awkward gait but otherwise not have any outward sign of a disability. Others may never walk independently and need a wheelchair for mobility. Cerebral palsy can also be accompanied by other conditions such as seizures, an intellectual disability or problems with vision, hearing or speech. The cause of cerebral palsy is usually not known, but Jane Weatherford stresses it’s not a disease you can catch. In Cam’s case, he was born premature at 30 weeks via an emergency c-section. That may have caused the cerebral palsy, but there is no way to know for sure. “We tend to lean on the positive side of life,” Jane explains. Rather than dwell on the how and why, the family focuses on the here and now. She says disability or not, “You love your child unconditionally.”

Community Support: To Give and To Receive 
Over the years, the Weatherford family has been given the opportunity to meet amazing people and make a difference in the lives of others. “Mary Free Bed became a vital part of our existence,” Jane notes. The family encountered fabulous therapists there who have helped address Cam’s motor control issues. To give back, Jane has coordinated a Halloween Heroes event at the hospital for the past five years. While the event couldn’t occur last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it typically involves volunteers making up to 30 costumes for those in wheelchairs. Children choose whatever costume they would like, and the sky is the limit. Then, everyone celebrates the holiday with a special parade to show off their costumes. Jane says, “That has been the most rewarding project I have ever worked on in my life.” Meanwhile, Alternatives in Motion was a much-needed ally while the family worked to get insurance coverage for Cam’s power wheelchair. “The insurance game is ridiculous,” according to Jane. “It was a one-year journey to get a power wheelchair.” For now, Cam enjoys spending time with his good friend Brody Cole, who is the namesake for Brody’s Be Café in Ada. He has also connected with the therapy program at Grand Valley State University where he earns a paycheck for his work with students there. However, the future holds unknown challenges, particularly since Cam is an only child. “We were very concerned about what it will be like when he gets older,” Jane says. That’s where MI-UCP was able to help. The organization offers a comprehensive portal of information as well as services such as benefits counseling, grants for assistive technology and a representative payee program. 

Acceptance and Inclusion for Everyone 
Raising a child with a disability can be challenging for parents, and Jane says nothing is more welcome than a smile and hello from others. It can be an isolating experience to be out and about and feel as though people avoid you because they don’t know what to say or do. She encourages people to take the time to greet children with disabilities in the same way they would reach out to any other child they encounter in the store, at the playground or elsewhere. Even if the child doesn’t respond to your greeting, the adult with them with undoubtedly appreciate the gesture. “Guaranteed: you’ll be making that parent’s day,” Jane says. Kindness won’t erase the difficulties associated with a disability, but don’t underestimate its positive impact. Visit the MI-UCP website to read more about Cam’s story and see photos of the family in action. MI-UCP has also put together the following video highlighting the Weatherford family. 

Camology Quotes:

We often refer to Cam as our personal project manager.  If you tell him something needs to be done, let's just say he will not let you forget about it.  When he asked about our tax return, we told him we had plenty of time to get to it.  Every evening this week, the same conversation ensued.
"Mom, we need to do taxes.  When are we going to do taxes?"  "Let's do taxes now."
We will get them done.  I think your dad is doing something else right now.
"But we must do our taxes.  There is a deadline."
Yes but that is not for another month.
*Weekend update:  Cam wins.  Taxes were completed and submitted online Saturday afternoon.  We made certain Cam was a witness.

Sunday, March 7, 2021

The Patient with Patience - Week of Mar. 1st

Patience is not simply the ability to wait - it's how we behave while we're waiting. ~Joyce Meyer 

A.A. Milne, the author of Winnie the Pooh is credited with the quote, “Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day.”  

Being patient seems to be a resounding lesson we are all struggling with on a daily basis.  Of course, there are times when it's easier to wait than others.

Nearly every week, Cam and Jane drive to the Center for Physical Rehabilitation where Cam has physical therapy.  This Thursday was no different as they entered the building.  Patrick, Cam's physical therapist, is a very popular PT and sometimes he is finishing with a client or answering questions for someone else.  Jane and her son are usually greeted by Carrigan who told Cam that he is the nicest person she sees every week.  Near the end of Cam's session, Jane was called over because Patrick had an unexpected surprise for Cam.  He told him that he was so impressed by his willingness to wait that he decided to make Cam his very own award: "For Cam, the most patient Patient!"  Upon arrival home, the blue ribbon accolade was placed in a pivotal spot next to baseball medals.

On Saturday, we ventured over to Brody's Be Café.  Even though Cam and Brody see each other every day at school, it seems extra awesome to unexpectedly run into each other on the weekend.

The boys ate lunch together and chatted about random things.
We tasted a delicious mint shake which was a new concoction the café was trialing.  We highly recommend any item at Brody's Be, but Cam and Jane are pretty partial to a minty flavor.
The remainder on the weekend centered around a project Chris is working on for our home gym.  As always, Cam is the appointed safety supervisor and ever present helper, ensuring his dad stays on task and remains out of harm's way.

We are seeing signs of spring already in the first week of March... the birds singing quite loudly in the morning and the wildlife congregating in our backyard.  It is a reminder that seasons do change if we can all just find a little patience.

Camology Quotes:

Jane and Chris take turns reading a different book with Cam at bedtime.  Jane and Cam are currently reading Henry Huggins.  Anytime Cam hears a phrase or word he isn't familiar with, he immediately asks.  In the book, Henry was talking to another boy and using a somewhat "old-fashioned" phrase.
"Mom, what does none of your beeswax mean?"
It means "none of your business" or "pay attention to your own things"
"Is that figurative language?"
Cam, where did you learn about figurative language?
*laughing* My teacher Mrs. Wells of course!

Friday, March 5, 2021

I Have A Question - Week of Feb. 22

"Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.  The important thing is not to stop questioning." ~Albert Einstein

"The art and science of asking questions is the source of all knowledge." ~Thomas Berger

Cam has always been curious.  Over the years, he has developed a habit of declaring he has a question prior to actually asking it.  It may seem redundant but in actuality it helps you pay attention to what's coming next.  During the drive home from his weekly PT appointment he said, "I have a question."  "Why do the lights automatically turn on in the car dashboard?"  And sometimes he will input his keen answer by responding himself with yet another question... "Is it because there is a sensor?"

At school, the class has been reading "Because of Winn-Dixie" by Kate DiCamillo.  The themes include friendship, loneliness and courage.  In the book the main character, Opal, asks her dad to tell her 10 things about her mom and she writes them down.  One of the class assignments was for each student to write 10 things about their own mothers.  Here is Cam's list:

  1. Favorite color is pink
  2. She is nice
  3. She is kind
  4. She makes good dinner
  5. She likes hanging out with me
  6. Likes to watch movies
  7. She likes to dance
  8. Listening to music
  9. Helping me with work
  10. Hanging out with people

Jane was very touched and impressed since she and Cam had never talked about these things specifically.

On Saturday, we had made plans to visit
Oma and Opa.  They told us it may be our last chance to see the ice on Lake Michigan because it was disappearing quickly.  Since it has been a fairly mild winter, it was truly the least amount of ice we have ever seen on the lake in February.

Even though it was windy and a bit cooler, the sun felt warm.  We enjoyed lunch as a family and then worked on small projects together.  

Chris set the drone off flying and took some amazing pictures of the water's edge and the shoreline.

The time always goes by quickly and we always leave smiling.

Camology Quotes:

After finishing the 'Winn-Dixie' book, the kids also watched the movie "Because of Winn-Dixie" during school and then had discussions following.  At bedtime that evening, this conversation took place.
"I have a question.  Mom, have you ever seen the movie 'Because of Winn-Dixie'?"
No, Cam.  I have seen a lot of movies but I've never actually seen that one.
"I think if you think about it long enough you will remember that you've seen it."

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Husky Twins - Week of Feb. 15th

"To appreciate the beauty of a snowflake, it is necessary to stand out in the cold." ~Aristotle

Secretly, we think Cam was hoping that if he had to stay home from school due to inclement weather, virtual learning would be in order.  The district sent out communication indicating that a "snow day" would still be considered a day off of school.
Early Tuesday morning, Cam woke up a little before 5a asking if he still had school.  His mom assured him he did.  Everyone fell back asleep.  At 5:15a, a text was received indicating school was canceled due to the snowy conditions.  Our son was able to sleep until almost 7am and Chris and Jane worked to rearrange some work meetings to be able to adjust.  After enjoying an entire 5 days of in-person learning last week, the weather thwarted that option this week.

Back at school, though, it was a stellar week.  Cam and his principal, Dr. Simpson, discovered they happened to be wearing the exact same shirt on Wednesday!  They were both representing their district, Forest Hills Northern with the Husky emblem.  Luckily, someone snapped a picture and Cam's teacher was excited to send it along.  
Typically, the kids play an online quiz game called "Kahoot" driven by teacher questions about something they are studying.  Each student independently chooses their answers.  It is one of Cam's favorite activities.




At home, we marvel at the trust our cat, Stella, has in regards to Cam driving his power chair around the house.  Every evening, the same scene plays out.  Our son announces he is going to get ready for bed.   Stella is perched near the stairs, watching all of the action.  Cam starts his trek down the hallway and our feline doesn't move an inch.  Somehow, each of them has built this trusting bond without even realizing.

Without any skiing on the agenda for the weekend, it was time to catch up on home projects and tackle Cam's homework.  His assignment: create a "life skills" video showing an activity you complete on your own.  After much deliberation and a multitude of ideas, he settled on taking out the garbage.  This is actually no easy feat.  After the large garbage container is attached to the back of Cam's chair, he has to carefully drive down our incredibly long driveway.  He took his task very seriously and completed his video in one take!


Camology Quotes:

In Cam's room, there is a moon situated on the wall.  It has a remote control and lights up.  Ever since he was younger, Cam has given a "moon countdown" right before lights out at bedtime.  One night, his usual countdown of "5,4,3,2,1 go out" was replaced with "89312 go out".  Jane questioned why he used different numbers?
"I have software called Countdown Codes for Moon Time."

Sunday, February 14, 2021

5 Days a Week - Week of Feb. 8th

"If you go back a few hundred years, what we take for granted today would seem like magic - being able to talk to people over long distances, to transmit images, flying, accessing vast amounts of data like an oracle. These are all things that would have been considered magic a few hundred years ago." ~Elon Musk 

"I have always had this view about the modern education system: we pay attention to brain development, but the development of warm heartedness we take for granted." ~Dalai Lama

We calculated that this was the very first week Cam was in person at school for five consecutive days since last March.  He has been far more fortunate than many of his peers across the country.  Each day, our 13-year-old eagerly boards the bus for school.  He is learning the art of elapsed time and will typically talk about how much time it is until dinner, nighttime routine, and the next school day.

This week, Cam's grandparents were with us for five nights due to scheduled appointments in Grand Rapids.  We had a good time planning dinners and relaxing in the evenings.  Oma and Cam continued filling in his quarter book and it seems no matter what they are doing, laughter typically follows.

On Saturday morning, as they were packing up to leave, we were fortunate to see a few deer making their way through the snowy backyard.  It seems no matter how often we see the wildlife, we never tire of the scenery.  

The colder temperatures stayed with us all week and Sunday was Cam's final adaptive ski lesson.  Jane had promised her son she would ski with them.  As we were getting ready to leave for the slopes, the temperature settled in at 12 degrees.  

Since Cam had followed through on his commitment, his mom definitely felt compelled to do the same.  We were all armed with hand warmers and bundled up.   Cameron kept assuring his mother there was nothing to be nervous about.  After the second run down the snowy hill, Jane was in complete agreement and Cam said it was an awesome day for skiing.  

As we all chatted near the chairlift, a woman approached our skier and asked if he was Lorelei.  He promptly said "no" and a group near us quickly called her over.  Since Cam was so bundled up, you couldn't even see his face with his mask on.  After the woman left, we all had a hearty laugh.  Scott, who rides up the chairlift with Cam, told us at the top of the hill that our son couldn't stop cracking up and talking about the mix-up.

On the drive home, a detour was made to surprise Jane with a gorgeous bouquet of flowers and pick up delicious warm Starbucks drinks for all.  

February 14th is very memorable for the Weatherfords.  It is the day Chris and Jane met, the day Chris proposed and the date of their honeymoon.

Jane declared it was one of the best Valentine's Day ever!  Family skiing, beautiful roses and a day full of laughter ranks pretty high up there.

Camology Quotes:

Cam is a fan of giving and receiving hugs.  He especially likes a group hug with his parents.  For Valentines, he gave his mom an extra big squeeze and told her:
"I am giving you affection."