Sunday, July 31, 2022

Special Sauce - Week of July 25th

"I want to fill a jar with a lot of clapping, and sell my applause next to the applesauce in a grocery store. You can eat the praise you didn't earn, but did pay for."  ~Jarod Kintz

Ever since Cam began eating different foods as a baby, he has had the privilege of partaking in the most delicious homemade applesauce in the universe.  Perhaps Jane is a bit biased since she has also eaten it as far back as her toddler years. Oma learned the art of making applesauce from her mother and the tradition has passed on. Applesauce-making was a multi-night event in our home this week.

The ingredients include early transparent apples, sugar and a chinois strainer.  A chinois (English pronunciation: shin-wha) is a conical sieve with an extremely fine mesh. It is used to strain custards, purees, soups, and sauces, producing a very smooth texture. It can also be used to dust food with a fine layer of powdered ingredient. Chinois is a loanword from the French adjective meaning Chinese. French cooks call it this not because this kitchen tool comes from China, but because it resembles an Asian conical hat, also known as a rice hat.

This week we welcomed Johnny's family (Dave, Vy, Drew and Jack) into our home for the impending wedding of their son, Johnny.

Sarah, our good friend and neighbor was set to marry Johnny on Friday afternoon at Post Family Farm.  That afternoon, Cam's parents left work early for this festive occasion.  The weather couldn't have been better since there was no humidity and the temps were very mild.

The Raisch sisters looked beautiful as bridesmaids and Sarah was a stunning bride. Johnny and his groomsmen were equally handsome with leather suspenders.  Cam was sporting his own suspenders that he originally wore for Ms. Amanda's wedding and continues to showcase them.  After dining on delicious food from Mission BBQ, the heartfelt speeches were one of the highlights.  Fresh donuts were available for dessert and then the dance floor was open.  Sarah and her sisters have always felt like siblings to Cam. For many years, they all saw each other on a daily basis.  We had great fun dancing and said our goodbyes close to 10pm.

Saturday morning, we said farewell to Johnny's wonderful family as they headed back to NY and we made our way to the cottage after lunch.

The lake water was warmer and we a spent a bit of time relaxing. Later in the afternoon, we left for Grand Haven to visit The Village at Rosy Mound.  We had dinner in the courtyard there with Oma and Opa.

Sunday included another outing, this time to our local minor league baseball field for the Whitecaps Game. This was a planned excursion that Cam thought up for Father's Day. It just so happened that Chris' work had reserved one of the private decks for the Fishbeck employees on the same day.  Not only did we attend the game, but we also were able to partake in free food and drinks. And, the Whitecaps won the game!

Spur of the moment ideas can be fun.  After the game, we made an unplanned stop for dinner at Logan's Roadhouse.  It was delicious and almost seemed better since it was impromptu.  Cam's dad remembered that there was a Weatherford street sign right across from Logan's.  Before heading home, we captured a quick picture of our last name, assuming that it wasn't exactly something we could borrow and bring home.

Camology Quotes:

Anyone who has spent time with Chris is aware of his awesome sense of humor. Cam has inherited that gene as well. When Cam's dad continuously tries to make him laugh, he sometimes is surprised when his son calls it out.
"Dad, I have known you for 14 years. I know you are a jokester." 

Sunday, July 24, 2022

Family First - Week of July 18th

“How did it get so late so soon. It’s night before it’s afternoon. December before it’s June. My goodness, how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?” ~Dr. Seuss

It's funny how quickly you can fall into a routine without even being aware of it. We became accustomed to Grandma Sue announcing "good morning" each day with her joyful smile and settling in to work on her quilting project. Jalayna was the first one up every morning, waiting for her cousin Cam and present for reading stories every evening.  Her constant gymnastics made us all feel more energetic and her giggle always made Cam laugh even harder.

With three days left to spend with Cam's Uncle John, cousin Jalayna and Grandma Sue, we tried to pack in lots of fun.  Games were played Monday morning as Jalayna was determined to test out every board game in Cam's collection. 

After an early lunch, we made our way to Saugatuck for our Dune Rides reservation.  It's a 40-minute ride over the dunes and in the woods filled with a history lesson including, but not limited to: details about the white pines being cut down to re-build Chicago after the Chicago Fire in 1871 decimating the area, the lost city of Singapore, Michigan which is buried under the sand dunes, and the University of Michigan State planning group to ecologically repair the past damage for regrowth.  It was fascinating to hear and the ride on the dune buggy does include a few thrills.  Our driver was very knowledgeable and personable offering to take everyone's pictures.  After a stop for frozen yogurt, we made our way back home for rest and relaxation.

That evening we headed out for a nice dinner.  Everyone dressed up for our reservation at Bowdie's Chophouse.  As long time residents of Grand Rapids, neither Cam nor his parents had ever been.  It was a feast to remember.  We ordered multiple side dishes as well as salads, steaks for the guys and fish for the ladies.  The hostess was very sweet agreeing to take our family photo upon exiting.

Tuesday was set aside for beach time and we all migrated to the cottage in two vehicles with six people now in tow.  Chris's brother, John, hadn't ever been to the lakeside home.  The water was warm enough for swimming and beach time was relaxing.  Grandma Sue, Oma and Opa stayed on the deck watching the activity and catching up.  Layna discovered the walkie talkies and insisted she and her cousin Cam use them most of the afternoon.  As an added bonus, we had a fish dinner at the Haroldson cottage and dessert before heading back to Grand Rapids.

Wednesday came too quickly, but our family wasn't heading to the airport until 7pm so we had the entire day together.  We asked Jalayna if there was anything she wanted to do that we hadn't done yet and the playground was on her to-do's.  Cam and his cousin and Jane headed over to the Cascade Park after lunch to check that one off the list. It was incredibly windy and although we thought we might blow away, we mostly just laughed about it.
Our new tradition is seeing how tall Grandma Sue and Jalayna are next to Cam while he is in standing mode.  And we were able to capture a great pic of Chris and his brother, John.  After a home-cooked meal, Cam's dad drove them to the airport.

Thursday and Friday had us back in the swing of things but missing Grandma Sue, John and Layna was at the top of our list. Ms. Amanda kept Cam busy and they wore their matching "We go together like peanut butter and jelly" shirts to Grand Valley on Friday.  Cam was scheduled for two sessions working with the graduate students and both groups were great.

We traveled northward again on Saturday eager to see Oma, Opa and our cousins. After a bit of beach time, we gathered together for the best summer dinner- burgers, hot dogs, brats, summer sausage, potato salad, veggies and more. We had a great time visiting with everyone!  As we were leaving, an impending storm was making its way across the lake.  The sky looked threatening and upon arrival back home in Grand Rapids, a deluge of rain seemed to sweep across our driveway and street just after we made it inside. 
It was quite the storm that evening, but the Weatherford household was fast asleep after an exciting day.

Camology Quotes:

After Chris took his mom, brother and niece to the airport, Cam and his mom were left alone in the very quiet house. Communicating is always key and expressing emotion unlocks and releases what we are feeling.

"Mom, I am very sad that they're gone." 

Me too, Cam. I'm more sad than I thought I would be.

"I am really sad. I need some time alone."

Sunday, July 17, 2022

The Choice Conundrum - Week of July 11th

 "F.O.M.O." - Fear of Missing Out

As we all settled into our routine together with Cam's Grandma Sue and Jalayna, our home seemed energized.  

Amanda arrived Monday morning to take the kids on a hike through the nature park while Jane worked.  Another daily activity on the agenda was to have Grandma Sue walk down the driveway for exercise with her grandchildren.  Layna opened a "salon" in our living room to do everyone's hair.  Monday afternoon, Cam headed out for his swimming and PT session while his cousin Layna was sad she couldn't go with him.  This was our first FOMO exposure of the week.  The second came Tuesday morning.

Summer school runs from Tuesday through Thursday during the last three weeks of July. The fear of missing out is a strong pull for our teenager. He wanted to stay home with his grandma and cousin, but he also wanted to attend the summer session.  After much discussion and conflicted emotions, Cam decided to make his way to the bus stop.  That afternoon, the cousins were able to visit with a dog named Jada and meet Ms. Amanda's bunny, Ollie.

Wednesday evening, Chris wrangled Cam and Layna into the van for an evening at Dave & Buster's to play games and eat there as well.  Grandma Sue and Jane had a lovely fish dinner at home and chatted away until everyone arrived back home.  At school, Cam enjoyed an outdoor activity after class work inside.  They made s'mores outside using the sun's reflection to provide enough heat to melt the chocolate and make the marshmallow gooey inside. Jalayna and Jane enjoyed some pedicure time Thursday morning and by Saturday, we were ready for beach time!

After an early lunch, we loaded everyone into the vehicle traveling northwest.  The trip to the cottage normally takes just a bit over an hour but during construction season in Michigan, our trip was an extra 20 minutes.  Upon arrival, we were all anxious to be on the beach.  Chris and Cam took an unexpected tumble down the boardwalk, but both of the guys were fine after a bit of cleanup.  It was incredibly windy on the beach and a little cooler so Grandma Sue and Cam stayed on the deck with Oma and Opa.  Layna had her first kayak ride with her Uncle Chris.  Dinner on the deck was delicious as we all enjoyed looking out over the water.

Sunday morning, we busied ourselves cleaning and awaiting Jalayna's dad's flight arrival.  We decorated for his impending birthday party.  His actual birthday was July 15th, but we were celebrating on July 17th.  John, Chris's brother had originally sent his itinerary that noted he was due in at 6:30pm.  However, while Chris and his niece were at the store, John texted that he had landed and it was 4:15pm!  It was a huge surprise when our doorbell rang and there was Cam's Uncle John jokingly telling his nephew he had just walked all the way from the airport.  It was the best evening for us all, laughing, sharing dinner and eating birthday cake.  We all went to bed a bit earlier that eve gearing up for the next three fun days ahead!

Camology Quotes:

While we can't rename Camology Quotes to Layna's Laughs, we are dedicating this week to Jalayna.
There was a great deal of game-playing in the Weatherford household since July 5th.  Every single board game, card game and dice game was examined and reviewed.  Some especially fun moments were when the cousins would determine games to play that didn't require any props.  "School-time" was one such activity.  Layna was the teacher while Cam and his Grandma Sue were the students.  And Grandma Sue was pretending to be a troublesome student and kept asking the teacher "why?" with each instruction.  As Cam was cracking up and couldn't stop laughing at the entire scene, Layna had come to a conclusion and stated...

"I am not ready to be a teacher!"

Sunday, July 10, 2022

Arrival from Arizona - Week of July 4th

"I think Michigan keeps you sane and on an even keel through the ups and downs. In Michigan, I do fireworks, shovel snow and live life." ~Jeff Daniels

Many historians believe that fireworks originally were developed in the second century B.C. in ancient Liuyang, China. It is believed that the first natural "firecrackers" were bamboo stalks that when thrown in a fire, would explode with a bang because of the overheating of the hollow air pockets in the bamboo. 

Cam requested our very own Weatherford holiday tradition: breakfast at a local restaurant.  We arrived at Sundance for our morning meal right before 9am on Monday.  Knowing that our closest Cascade community would already be blocked off for the 4th of July parade, we opted to travel a few minutes further to Ada.  We found a spot close to the road and enjoyed the fifteen minute display of emergency vehicles, mounted police, the armed forces and a princess, among others.
On Tuesday evening, we welcomed Grandma Sue and cousin Jalayna all the way from Arizona!  As they settled in on Wednesday, we dove right into activities.  Cam's cousin extracted nearly every game in the hall cupboard and Ms. Amanda made banana bread with the duo in the afternoon.

Thursday morning, we all had a good laugh when Cam and Amanda returned from their stroll through the park with one of the most interesting signs we had seen.  The notation of an aggressive deer took us all by surprise!

Cam insisted that his cousin, Layna, choose which wild animal park to visit on Friday.  After researching both of them online, the Deer Tracks Junction was the final decision.  We arrived after lunch and it wasn't as busy as we had expected.  Our adventure began by petting baby goats, one of which really wanted to eat all of the straps on Cam's chair.  From there, we found the baby pigs, bunnies, guinea pigs, camels and more.  Grandma Sue even wrangled a camel for a great photo opportunity.

Two other areas awaited us at Deer Tracks.  The first was the "Plop Plop The Ice Cream Shop" located in the main area boasting homemade ice cream.  After enjoying the tasty treat, Cam and Jalayna thought it was hilarious that the stuffed bear appeared to be "after them."  

Back in the van, we were then headed to the Drive-Thru Safari, also a part of the Deer Tracks Experience.  Each carload is allowed to buy a bucket of feed for the animals, but only certain ones can have the food.  And the rules stipulate they are not responsible for any damage to vehicles caused by the animals.  We all noticed that the llamas, especially, are very greedy and very pushy.  Grandma Sue and Jalayna had a tough time holding onto the bucket.  As we made our way to the exit, the vehicle and everyone in it remained unscathed.

Saturday early afternoon, we pulled into the cottage parking lot ready for a beach day.  While Grandma Sue and Oma and Opa caught up chatting on the porch, the rest of us headed to Lake Michigan.  We had no idea how unbelievably windy it was.  The waves were a bit too big to maneuver the Cam-mobile so we stayed beach side as Layna jumped the water at the shoreline.  Cousin David arrived in time for dinner at the outdoor picnic table.  We dined on burgers, hot dogs, veggies, fruit, chips and homemade applesauce.  Oma made a special Oreo cheesecake in honor of Chris's birthday complete with delicious strawberry sauce and Country Dairy ice cream.  None of us left hungry that evening!

Sunday was Cam's dad's actual birthday.  Jalayna called a "family meeting" and asked that we host an official party for the bday guy. We all busied ourselves blowing up balloons and making certain that Chris had his favorites for all of our meals.  And typical of Cam's dad, as we were trying to be certain he was having a great day, he continued to make it memorable for each of us.

Camology Quotes:

While eating breakfast on Thursday morning, we were talking about different things to have in the a.m.  Grandma Sue mentioned that she really enjoyed shredded wheat with coffee in it.  Jane requested she repeat what she had said to be certain she heard it correctly.  Cam's mom responded that it sound pretty gross. Meanwhile, her son had the perfect response for his own mother:

"Mom, don't make someone's yum a yuk!"

Sunday, July 3, 2022

Beach Bound - Week of June 27th

"Positive feelings come from being honest about yourself and accepting your personality, and physical characteristics, warts and all; and, from belonging to a family that accepts you without question." ~Willard Scott

Summer school takes place for 4 weeks, beginning the last week of June, skipping the first week in July and finishing out the rest of the month.  Cam loves school and therefore attending in the warmer months is fine by him, especially since it only encompasses Tuesday through Thursday and he's home by 12:30pm.  
Jane picked up a new outside office mate while her son was away with his studies.

On Cam's first day of his summer learning, our family left home a little after 3pm to head to the cottage for cousin Calla's first birthday celebration!  We had the important duty of picking up the bday cupcakes at our favorite Dutch bakery in Muskegon, Ryke's.  Everything was decorated and we feasted outside on appetizers and a delicious meal of grilled meats and an assortment of sides.
Although we didn't linger too long since we all had to be awake early, we were happy to be a part of the fun and see much of our extended family.  
Driving home, we talked about how we remembered meeting Calla after she was born and she was the "newest" newborn Cam ever met. 

During the week, Amanda and Cam found time to add funny filters to some pictures they took together.  Ms. Ann stayed with Cam Friday evening while his parents enjoyed dinner out and a movie.

Saturday morning, we loaded up the van with a new gas grill for Oma and Opa and ourselves.  The sunny day practically predicated that we would be on the beach.  Upon arrival, Oma had a delicious lunch all ready for us and then we made our way to the sand.  The cousins were near the water and Lake Michigan was bearable to swim in. Cousin David, who had recently driven in from Texas, joined us later in the afternoon and stayed for dinner.  After a grilled meal on the porch, we were able to see the sunset as a family and my oh my, it was a beautiful one.

Camology Quotes:

Sunday evening, as expected, Cam could hear the fireworks and was not happy knowing it would interrupt sleeping. Jane realized that he might be able to see them from his room so opened his curtains. Chris went one step further and launched the drone to capture live video and pictures. Cam definitely realized the difference.

"You're right! It's much better if I can see them instead of just hearing the loud noise."

Sunday, June 26, 2022

The Trek to Traverse City - Week of June 20th

"People don't take trips, trips take people." ~John Steinbeck
"Look at life through the windshield, not the rearview mirror." ~Byrd Baggett
"A bend in the road, is not the end of the road...unless you fail to make the turn." ~Helen Keller

Whenever we have an upcoming event or trip, Cam is all about making lists and reviewing the plans.  He remembers everything needed for himself as well as some choice things sometimes forgotten by his parents.
Prior to departure, he and Ms. Amanda kept themselves busy and went to visit Amanda's dad and dog.

Friday morning, we headed to Grand Valley State University where Cam was scheduled to work with the graduate students. As always, Dr. Lisa told "Professor Cam" to be sure the students were asking the right questions and brainstorming.
After lunch, we packed up the van and hit the open road, northward bound for 2+hours.  Our destination was Traverse City to attend a welcome reception and wedding for our good friends, Molly and Jude.

Traverse City's name is almost self-explanatory- it is named after the Grand Traverse Bay. Indian hunters and French traders were the first people to spend time here, and it was they who gave the region its name- La Grand Traverse, because of the “long crossing” they had to make by canoe across the mouth of the bay.
Traverse City produces more than 75% of the world's tart cherries!
We arrived later in the afternoon and checked into our hotel.  Even with all of our preparatory communication, there was still a bit of a snafu that we finally settled prior to heading out.  The welcome reception party was hosted by the bride and groom from 4-7pm.  We met the groom's family, some of whom had traveled from New Zealand as well as western Canada.  Most of the bride's family and friends flew in from Oregon.  We left the reception close to 6p and drove a short way to downtown Traverse City where we dined at the Mackinaw Brewing Company.  Saturday was an exploring day for our family.  Chris and Jane wanted Cam to see the top of the Indigo Hotel to eat lunch.  It overlooks the Grand Traverse Bay and the view is spectacular.  
From there, we made our way to the Old Mission Lighthouse, about 25 minutes from where we were staying.  The lighthouse was established in 1870 and is located at the 45th Parallel or halfway between the North Pole and the Equator.
After a brief tour of the area, we were on the road again and found a fun place to have dinner, The Peninsula Club.  
Cam agreed to split a dinner with his mom of sauteed whitefish, rice pilaf and roasted asparagus.  Jane was truly in shock when her son declared it was delicious.
The next morning, we enjoyed our hotel continental breakfast and headed to the indoor pool.  Since there was a chair lift for Cam to use, it was easy to enter and exit.  The water wasn't too warm so we didn't linger too long.  After finally finding a spot for lunch in the busy downtown area, we made our way back to hotel to change into our fancier duds.  All of the Haroldson cousins arrived at our hotel in the afternoon and the entire group of us made our way to The Peninsula Room, the wedding location.
The ceremony itself took place outside with a view of Lake Michigan.  The breezy locale was a beautiful setting and Chris was able to use his drone to capture some aerial shots prior to the nuptials.
We all walked around the building where an outdoor cocktail and appetizer hour took place in the warm sunshine.
The remainder of the evening included a fabulous dinner (salad, short ribs, grilled salmon, mashed potatoes, roasted asparagus) and dancing until late into the evening.  Molly and Jude couldn't have been happier and we all had so much with them and our cousins.  Cam brought his knee blocks so that he could be in standing mode for the dance floor.  Our son was pretty proud of himself staying awake past 11pm.

Sunday morning, we reminisced at the hotel eating breakfast with our cousins and talking about the previous night's activities.  Our return trip was uneventful and we were happy to arrive home late in the afternoon.  We also (somewhat surprisingly) retained a couple of wedding favors during our journey: Two bags of Cherry Republic Chocolate Covered Cherries!

Camology Quotes:

Jane and her son were checking out the top restaurants in Traverse City prior to leaving.  Cam was viewing the list and when his mom mentioned #7: The Bay Bread Company, his response was:

"Oooohhhh Mom, that could be dangerous!"