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."

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Artic Blast - Week of Feb. 1st

 “Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.” ~William Arthur Ward

Tuesday morning, Cam was back in business and beyond excited to be returning to school!  As he headed out the door, Jane told him he hadn't stopped smiling.  He said "I am grinning from ear to ear!"
He never exhibited any symptoms during quarantine.  We were all beyond thankful for his good health.
It was a rare dose of sunshine that arrived in the afternoon as a super smiley Cam debarked from the bus and headed up the driveway.  He was full of news from the day's activities.

On Thursday, PT and swimming appointments were on the agenda for our son, eager to return to his routine.  PT is up first with stretching, standing and walking.  Immediately following physical therapy is swimming therapy.  
Currently, we are at the same location for both sessions which is very convenient.  Ms. Mandy is Cam's pool instructor.  Even though the pool is smaller than average, it has plenty of space for the continued stretching, floating and kicking and is set at a pleasant 95 degrees.  There is also a hydraulic lift which Cam thinks is so cool.  As a bonus for Jane, Ms. Mandy was able to answer every question her student had about the lift and how it worked.

By the time, Jane and her son left the PT appointment at 5pm, it was snowing like crazy!  The first real snowstorm had arrived and it did not disappoint.  A text message arrived before Cam went to bed indicating that school was already canceled for Friday!  We couldn't believe it.  By morning, though, as the white stuff continued to fall and the temperature was in the single digits, we were relieved that no one had to brave the incredibly cold and blowing conditions.

On Sunday, the high temp forecasted was 12 degrees.  We gave Cam the option of skipping skiing due to the incredibly chilly conditions.  Chris and Jane were pleasantly surprised when their son opted to keep the scheduled time.  As we headed out to Cannonsburg, we weren't certain how long Cam would be able to withstand the cold.  Jane silently guessed 30 minutes.  Once again, the parents were mistaken as Cam went up and down the hill multiple times for an hour.  He declared it was his best ski lesson yet!  We explained to Cam on our drive home that we did not think he would want to hit the slopes because of the cold.  He told us "it was awesome!"  We told him that being able to follow through on a commitment is pretty awesome too.  As an extra bonus, the hills weren't quite as crowded, perhaps due to Superbowl Sunday, but more than likely due to the extreme frosty surroundings.

Camology Quotes:
Cam was able to sleep until 7am during quarantine so when Tuesday arrived, it was back to a 6am wake up.  Cam called out to us at 5:55am.  When we asked him if he was ready to get up, he responded with a typical teenager comeback:
"Technically, I am not awake until my alarm clock goes off!"

Sunday, January 31, 2021

An Unexpected Quarantine - Week of Jan. 25th

The definition of Quarantine: 1 : isolation of people, animals, or things (as plants) out of a certain area to prevent the spread of disease or pests. 2 : a period during which a person or animal with a contagious disease is isolated. 

"If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude." — Maya Angelou  

On Tuesday evening, Jane's cell phone received a message and an email from a school official appeared in her inbox. 

Cam was exposed to a student on his daily bus ride to school who had just received a positive test result for Covid-19.  The letter indicated that the individual had last ridden the bus on Friday.  The official correspondence went on to say that Cam was now required to quarantine through Monday, Feb. 1st.  He was not required to get a Covid-19 test unless he started showing symptoms.  If he did not exhibit any symptoms, he may return to school on Tuesday, Feb. 2nd.  All of this detail was read at 7:55pm as Cam was settling into bed.  Needless to say, this led to 50 more questions after we broke the news to our son.  He fully understood the quarantine since it's become a standard discussion of daily life.

At the dawn of a new day, (and what a beautiful dawn it was) Cam did what he does best.  Accept and move on and keep on  He joined zoom meetings with his class and headed into extra tutoring sessions with Miss Ann.  

He helped his mom complete her first "fast lane" - pick up grocery online ordering experience- with their local store.

Due to the quarantine, Cam's PT, swimming and ski lessons were all canceled out this week.  That didn't damper his spirits, though, because there was still fun to be had at home.  On Saturday, our neighbors were sledding in the backyard when Chris and his son decided to get out the drone and watch their friends close up.

We finally perfected our bread recipe with the expert help of Patti.  The soft, delicious loaf was just what we all needed.

Cam and his dad worked on their Xbox skills showing intense concentration.  

To round out our week, an unexpected brochure arrived in the mail from MI-UCP, the Michigan United Cerebral Palsy organization.  Maybe you recognize the cool kid on the front?

Camology Quotes:

Cam rode in the van for the grocery pickup this week.  On our drive back home, he exclaimed...
"Mom, why would we ever go into the store again?!  This is awesome!"

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Mr. Manners - Week of Jan. 18th

"Niceness is the psychological armor of the people-pleaser."  ~Harriet B. Braiker
"Good manners will open doors that the best education cannot." ~Clarence Thomas

In the mid-18th century, the first, modern English usage of etiquette (the conventional rules of personal behavior in polite society) was by Philip Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield, in the book Letters to His Son on the Art of Becoming a Man of the World and a Gentleman (1774).

Using your manners has always been very important in our daily lives.   "Please" and "thank you" are only a portion of good etiquette and proper language.  Once Cam was able to verbalize his thoughts and speak in sentences, his gracious way of asking for things and being grateful was paramount.   Our son does need to ask for assistance and help more often than most.  We have always explained to him that others always want to be treated with respect and remembering your manners and being thankful show that.  Just like most kids, he still needs reminders now and again, but by and large, he truly is one of the most polite 13-year-olds we know...of course, we may be a bit bias.  

The Raisch family dropped off an extra holiday present for Cam this week- an edible snowman birdfeeder!  We love consumable gifts and found the perfect spot in our backyard.  The birds found it right away and after a few days, they had put enough weight on it to switch from vertical to horizontal.  We watched cardinals, chickadees and even a woodpecker take turns on the snowman.  Cam had a perfect view from the sunroom to see all of the activity.

Most evenings, when it's too dark to see the birds outside, the indoor entertainment turns to our cat, Stella.  Chris made a "toy" for her containing catnip in a clear plastic container and tied it to the railing.  Every night, she bats it with her paws and at a glance shows the playfulness of a kitten vs. the 14 year old cat she actually is.

On Sunday, it was time to hit the slopes again for Cam's second ski outing at Cannonsburg with CCSA.  
Due to the colder temps this week and a bit of light snow, the hills displayed more white stuff with most of it being artificial.  
Although Cam was still a bit nervous, he settled right into the routine of riding up the chairlift and flying down the summit with his arms outstretched.

Chris was able to catch some awesome video of his son once again while Jane remained at the bottom of the hill waiting to see Cam come into view.  

Everyone was more at ease this week with round two and even though it was chilly, the group lasted almost 90 minutes.
Following the adaptive ski lesson, we had transferred Cam back to his chair.  Without any prompting, he quickly said "Thank you very much!" to his CCSA team of helpers.

Camology Quotes:

Sometimes we remain silent if Cam forgets to use his manners and he typically picks up on the hint.  On one such occasion this week, he quickly changed his request...
"May I please have your help with this?  Please and thank you!"
"You cannot resist, can you?"

Friday, January 22, 2021

Adapting to Skiing - Week of Jan. 11th

“The Mountains do not recognize disability, Only Determination” ~Jim Milina

Many activities and advantages are born out of necessity. 

 Adaptive sports began as a means to rehabilitate veterans from World War II, Korea, and the Vietnam War.  Among the early pioneers of adaptive skiing was Jim Winthers, a WWII veteran who was a member of the U.S. 10th Mountain Division – the Skiing 10th, an elite group specifically trained for alpine warfare. In 1953, Winthers was director of the Donner Ski Ranch in Northern California. Reunited with two buddies who lost legs in the war, and using techniques he saw in Europe, he taught them to ski on one leg.  He later was sought out by Jim Graham, a former skier who lost his leg to cancer and wanted to learn Winthers’ techniques. Two years later, Graham and Winthers and two others began developing techniques to impart skiing and teaching methods at weeklong clinics.  Eventually, Graham and Dan McPherson became the first and second certified ski instructors with a disability.   

Locally, Cannonsburg is the closest place to ski.  Fortunately for our family, the CCSA is part of the organization.  The Cannonsburg Challenged Ski Association (CCSA) was established in the early 1980’s as a volunteer effort to offer individuals with disabilities the opportunity to participate in winter activities. CCSA started with only ten students, one outrigger, a bamboo pole and one sit ski, and has now evolved over the years into a professionally trained organization with a full range of adaptive equipment, ready to serve a wide variety of needs.

When we arrived for Cam's skiing lesson after lunchtime, we had ample time to get ready.  Our son's preference to be early paid off.  The parking lot was full but we were able to snag a close spot, which we were thankful for due to the soggy mud surrounding all of the cars.  It was close to 35 degrees and the slopes were busy.  
The 3 individuals assigned to Cam were Scott, Sydney and Kristin, all GVSU students.  It was no surprise to Chris and Jane that Cam needed the adult adaptive ski versus the youth one.  
Outfitted with his new gear from Christmas, Cam was ready to go.  He told us he was excited, but a bit nervous.  The CCSA team was ready to get Cam on the chairlift.  The lift is stopped momentarily to enable the crew to position Cameron appropriately for the ride up the hill.  Chris was able to follow just a few minutes behind the team each time.  

We watched Cam's confidence grow with each run.  Even though his ski caught the snow a couple of times leading to some minor wipeouts, he was unharmed and ready to continue.  (Thankfully, Jane missed seeing both of these!) After multiple runs down the slope, his two-hour lesson was almost complete.
We have definitely learned to be more appreciate of activities and we are grateful to have our own community offer such awesome programs!  
Lesson 1 of 5 = ✅

Camology Quotes:
During the weekly ride to PT and indoor swimming sessions, Cam and his mom typically chat about their days.  Jane had an especially long day of work and suddenly let out a very loud yawn.  As she glanced in the rear view mirror, she noted her son similarly expressed the same.  Cam's mom couldn't help but smile and say...
"Yawns are contagious and I made you yawn.. hahahahaha!"
  "Mom, that is no laughing matter!"

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Droning On - Week of Jan. 4th

 The theme of our 2020 holiday seemed to be "the gifts that keeps on giving."  We continue to enjoy homemade bread with our bread maker, putting puzzles together, wrapping in blankets and exploring the outdoors from a different viewpoint.  By far, the largest but 'smallest in size' gift was a drone for our family. 

 A drone, in technological terms, is an unmanned aircraft.  Essentially, a drone is a flying robot that can be remotely controlled or fly autonomously through software-controlled flight plans in their embedded systems, working in conjunction with onboard sensors and GPS.  Today, drones are used for a wide range of functions, including monitoring climate change, delivering goods, aiding in search and rescue operations, and in filming and photography.  Of course, UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) are also an increasingly important part of the military in many countries. American armed forces alone have a fleet of tens of thousands of drones today, compared to just a few twenty years ago. This is dwarfed, however, by the number of drones in private use. According to the FAA, there were 1.1 million drones registered in the U.S. in 2019 compared to 1000 in 2015.  

The nighttime picture is a photograph taken by the drone high above our home with Christmas lights illuminating the perimeter.   The other aerial view shows our garage with Chris standing on the sidewalk, the nearby Thornapple River, and our nearest crossroads.

In another still shot, the drone is 'spying' on Cam in our sunroom.  In order for us all to 'see' where the drone is, Chris sets up a zoom meeting that we connect to so wherever the drone is heading, we're able to follow.

Over the weekend, the sunshine made a rare appearance and we headed over to Brody's Be Café to see what things looked like from up in the sky.  We settled ourselves by the back entrance after the Café closed for the afternoon.

It's amazing how different everything appears from above.  The architectural beauty of how our areas are designed is impressive.  It's always good to see things from a different perspective.

Camology Quotes:

Since Cam continues to be our rule-following, law-abiding citizen, he insisted that his dad contact the FAA regarding our drone flying times.  As his father tried to explain it was not a requirement for every flight path, but Cam was unconvinced.
  "Dad, we are really close to the airport.  You have to file a report.  What if we get in trouble?  Don't they need to know?  The FAA can find us, you know."