Sunday, December 28, 2014

Christmas Celebrations - Week of Dec. 22nd

 The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that St. Nicklaus soon would be there...

Oma and Opa arrived Christmas Eve day.  There was no snow in sight, but we were happy there were clear roads to drive on.
Cam was diagnosed with an ear infection the day before, but was in great spirits and feeling better.
We joined Emma, Meg, Sarah, Anna, Steve and Patti at the early church service for caroling and worship.   Emma sat next to Cam and Jane's favorite part of the service was Cam trying to sing "Silent Night."
After dining together eating Patti's delicious homemade chicken soup, it was time to head home to prepare.  Cameron picked out two cookies for the Santa plate and carrots for the reindeer.

Christmas morning, Cam awoke excited and anxious to see if Santa had eaten the cookies and taken the carrots!  Satisfied that the plate was sufficiently empty with just crumbs, we embarked on an unwrapping adventure.  Cam's one request from Santa was a big blue ball- one used for exercise to practice balance and also just to play on.  He screamed with pure delight when he found it.  Another favorite was a VW bus play tent, ready to test out with his buddy, Emma.  After all of the hustle and bustle, it felt good to relax and enjoy family time.  That evening, we took a tour of some elaborate lawn decorations for the holidays.

On Friday, the Weatherford family hosted the annual cousin family party and our best buddy from Chicago also arrived, 'Auntie' Karen.  The annual cousin party is pretty special because Santa actually makes a house call to see the younger cousins and pass out a couple more presents. While the kids are playing downstairs, they suddenly hear the jingle bells and know it's time for Santa to arrive.
This tradition has been in our extended family for more than 25 years!

We're thankful for Oma & Opa staying with us for a few days and being overly generous with their time and gifts.  We love that our friends are also family and we're able to share traditions and time with them.

Cam received many special gifts this year from near and far- many thanks to Grandma Sue, Grandma Mary, the Cornell Crew, the Schulzes, the Jellemas, Auntie Jo & Will, Auntie Karen, Leslie, Erin & Alison, and Alena.

From our family to yours, we hope you received more out of giving than getting, more out of being together than the planning that takes place to get there, and the most out of the giggles, laughter and love surrounding us all.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Yoga Time - Week of Dec. 15th

 As the holidays approach, each day has a packed agenda.  Taylor spends time with Cam after school three days each week.  They are always busy with different activities.  She had her buddy open an early present too!

This was the last week of school before Christmas break and Cameron was scheduled for a yoga session with Melissa.  She's been working with Cam and is a PT grad student at GVSU.   The different stretches are great for our first grader and not only is Melissa a certified yoga instructor, she's also seemingly certified in making Cam smile and laugh!
On Friday, Mr. D took time out for a quick picture next to his bus.  The ride to and from school is a highlight of Cam's day.  Mr. D always beeps when he leaves and Cam watches for him to turn the corner before heading up the driveway.

Over the weekend, we traveled to Grand Haven for a visit with Aunt Betsy and Uncle Jon.  To Cam's surprise, there were some Christmas presents for him to open.  His uncle's artistry shows through on the wrapping paper.  A diesel train has now been added to his collection and he also opened a GVSU t-shirt.
Jane told Cam all about playing in her aunt and uncle's house as a child with her cousins. Her one request was a quick picture on the stairs.
It was good to spend time talking and laughing and we hope to make the trek again soon!

When our family arrived home that Saturday evening, we hosted Emma as well as Auntie Jo and Will for dinner, games, and a present exchange.  We all took part in an I-Spy mystery game on the Wii and found it to be more challenging than expected.

After a long day of travel, presents and games, a great way to relax is a warm bath, complete with bubbles.
It seems that Stella has taken to joining Cam during bath time...just to watch, of course.  Cam would never be able to stop laughing if she actually jumped in!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

MFB Santa Party & Boys Weekend - Week of Dec. 8th

“Kids believe in Santa; adults believe in childhood.” ~ Cate Kennedy

An annual holiday event for Cam is the Mary Free Bed Dr. Swanson Christmas party.  For the last three years, the invitation for the party has featured Cameron's pic on the front.
This year, more than ever before, Cam was excited to see Santa and all of the characters.  Auntie Ronda accompanied us, much to Cam's delight, and hers.  We can't thank her enough for joining in the fun. There are three different areas to visit when one arrives- arts and crafts, cookie decorating, and Santa with his elves.

The order of agenda, predicated by Cam, was Santa, cookies, and crafting- he had very set priorities!
After talking to the elves and hanging out with the white bearded guy, we made our way to cookie decorating.  The cookies were huge and we all took part in adding frosting and sprinkles and then happily partaking by devouring our artwork.  As we headed to the craft area, we realized it was too late as the supplies had been packed up.  Luckily, we ran into Marci, our good buddy who nicknamed Cam, "Camarooni" and she was able to find a couple of ornaments for Cam to take home.  Upon arrival there, our patient boy opened his present from Santa- a light up, magnetized race track!

Over the weekend, Jane flew to Asheville, North Carolina to spend the weekend with one of her best buddies, Leslie.  Jane had so much fun in the mountains and seeing Leslie's wonderful fam.

The boys stayed home and with Emma's assistance, completed a gingerbread house kit and wrestled with the setup of the cool racetrack.

For our favorites who are near and those too far away, we are grateful for time spent and awesome memories made!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Our 1st Pro Photo Shoot - Week of Dec. 1st

“What I like about photographs is that they capture a moment that’s gone forever, impossible to reproduce.”  ~Karl Lagerfeld

“Life is a journey, photography is thy shepherd.”  ~Destin Sparks

Ever since Cameron's life began, we've used photos to tell a story, to remember an event, to catalog changes, and to celebrate small victories.  When the opportunity arose to be have our family photographed by professionals, we decided to give it a try.  It was an incredibly cold day- the wind chill was in the teens.  We had 30 minutes outside at the Gerald R. Ford Museum with Holly and Ryan ( and you'd have no idea from looking at the pics we were close to frostbite!  

The smiles and laughter captured were the real thing as is our unwritten family motto to always find a way to see humor even in adversity.  In less than two days, we were sent a link to 67 professionally edited photos.  The low resolution pics with their trademark are shown here, but we were also provided the high resolution pictures with a photo release for reprinting. Such a cool experience and Cam was such a trooper in the frigid temps.

This week we celebrated Oma's birthday by meeting Cam's grandparents for dinner at Olive Garden. Since Cam is ever thankful for bread, this was an awesome dining experience for him.

We also hosted Katherine and Paul, the newlyweds, for lunch on Saturday.  Katherine and Cam made a most delicious batch of brownies!
Cam and Katherine had a dance party after Paul and 
Cam finished off the chocolaty batter. Cam loved seeing these two and the connection between Katherine and Cam will always be there.

With the hustle and bustle of holiday preparations, remember to make those connections with others, take time to reach out, and take a few cool pics along the way...

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving 2014! - Week of Nov. 24th

Each and every day we can find something to be thankful for.  It's seems fitting to have an occasion set aside to celebrate giving thanks.

Oma and Opa arrived the day before Thanksgiving all set to spend two nights with their grandson.
Oma is the best baker we know (we may be just a bit biased) and Cam thoroughly enjoys helping her and learning the process.  This year, the consensus was to make mini pies instead of full-size desserts.  The choices- strawberry cheesecake or apple pie- and of course, one could choose both. We were happy to have Ms. Ann join us since she is extended family!

Before we enjoyed a delicious meal, each person had to say what they were thankful for.  When it was Cam's turn, this patient boy who'd been staring at the delicious array of food, said he was thankful for...bread!  When we all laughed, we asked if there was anything else he was thankful for, and he responded with "butter."  We all agreed these were very appropriate choices!

On Friday, we happily welcomed 'Auntie Amanda' and her sweet ten-month old daughter, Sally.  They arrived in Grand Rapids ready to hang out and have some pro pics taken downtown.  The weather was especially cold that day, but the pictures were fun.  Watch for next week's post to see our favorites.  Amanda and Sally spent the night and truly, we don't think we've ever seen a baby sleep so well and be so content in a new place.  Cam loved playing with her and when they had to leave early on Saturday, he kept asking Jane throughout the day, "where's Sally?"

To make up for the loss of a playmate, we took Cam over to Fruitbasket Flowerland to see Santa and a couple of real reindeer!  The sun was actually shining and the immense amount of snow we received the week before had all vanished.
Cam thought the reindeer were pretty cool, but he was especially excited to see Santa for the first time this year!

We certainly are most thankful for all of you reading this blog!!  Hope everyone had a great turkey day!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Snow before Thanksgiving?! - Week of Nov. 17th

A big surprise this week came in the form of two snow days for Cam!  For someone who enjoys school so much, being home unexpectedly on a weekday was not in the game plan.  And since it was still a bit early for 20+ inches of snowfall, Cam didn't even have his new snow pants for the season.   So, we filled the days with games and activities inside as well as some neighborly visits.

School was back in session on Thursday- Cam (and mom) were very happy to be making the trek down the driveway to wait for the bus.
At Cam's elementary school, they've started a "Link" program, whereby kids with different abilities are linked with their peers who volunteer to be a "Link" buddy.
"Link" is about creating connections within a diverse group of students and ensuring that all students are acknowledged for what makes them different and what makes them and all of us the same.
On Friday, Cam and buddies played boccie ball at school.  The game has been modified slightly to include a ramp that Cam uses to push the ball independently.  Cam definitely enjoys participating in boccie!   

The students in the program all eat lunch together and on this day, the local school district newsletter folks came by to take a group picture of everyone.  Can you find Cam in the sea of blue?

Cam was also in blue when he met Ms. Brittan.  She came to visit with her mom, Mandy, who is such a good friend to Jane.  The two kids had fun playing together and we hope to get them together again soon.

With every new experience, one hopes there is always the opportunity to make a new friend...

Sunday, November 16, 2014

1st Sign Bearer - Week of Nov. 10th

Some people come into our lives and quickly go...Others leave footprints on our hearts and we are never, ever the same...

This week, we were all given the honor of being a part of Katherine's wedding to Paul.    It was a week of preparation, planning, and practicing some picture-perfect smiles!

As master and mistress of ceremonies, Chris and Jane tried to fulfill some of their duties prior to the big day.  Chris used his dremel skills, with Cam's supervision, to create the table numbers and sentiments etched into small pumpkins.  Jane was entrenched in crafting projects with Ann to add special homemade touches for the reception and ceremony.

Cam himself was given the honor of being the Sign Bearer in the
Fabric covered the other side of the sign
so the fabric could be flipped over for the
drive back out!
Sign shown to congregation
upon exiting..
wedding!  Katherine created this term and the sign!  Each day as the wedding drew closer, Cam kept asking "when wedding?"  On the day of the rehearsal, he wore a special V.I.P. (Very Important Person) shirt given to him by the sweet couple.  To be a sign bearer, one needs a sign to bring down the aisle.  The sign itself was attached to Cam's powerchair:  he went down the aisle right before Katherine showing the sign reading "Here Comes the Bride!"  After the happy couple were pronounced man and wife, he drove back out after them with the other side of his sign reading "& They Lived Happily Ever After."

This was the very first occasion Cam attended where a tux was required.  Although he wanted to wear it to school, Jane convinced him to wait until the day of the wedding.  Cam proudly carried out his duties as Sign Bearer and the wedding ceremony went off without a hitch!  Oma and Opa were invited to the festivities as well and we cannot thank them enough for being such a big help on this most important day!

Cam enjoyed dancing with the bride, Ms. Ann as well as his mom and dad.  He even took a spin around the dance floor in his powerchair.

There are moments in life and people in those moments that truly take your breath away.  This day, these people, so many moments...

We are humbled by the graciousness of our wonderful Katherine who gave us the gift of herself for almost three years as Cam's dedicated nanny.  We are blessed to have our circle extended by Katherine's mom, Ms. Ann, Molly & Gordy and Christopher and now Paul and his family.  Without our Cam, we wouldn't have the immense pleasure of knowing these people.  We are beyond thankful for them all!

At the end of the day, it's about the love, the magic, and the footprints that will always be in our hearts...