Sunday, November 27, 2016

Giving Thanks - Week of Nov. 21st

Thanksgiving should be a daily occurrence...not the turkey dinner but the reminder to give thanks every day and be grateful.  We are grateful for so many people in our lives.  Our family, our friends, (many of whom we consider family) and those we are connected to and have met only because of Cam.  In some way, as you are reading this, know that you have enriched our lives and we are simply thankful.
We did celebrate the holiday with the traditional offering of a stuffed bird dinner with all of the fixings.  Jane ordered up a 23 pound turkey for 7 people which possibly, just maybe was beyond what was needed.  Regardless, Opa and Cam worked to make the stuffing, stuff the turkey and prepare it for cooking. Cam took his supervisory duties quite seriously.

Healthy gift from Oma & Opa!
We were so happy Aunt Mary and Uncle Ray joined us to partake in this celebration.  As we all went around the table and said what we were thankful for, everyone was filled with emotion and gratitude.  
Do we still look stuffed?
Cam's thankful speech..."I am thankful for my family and my friends, especially my parents.  Amen."  
If he hadn't been so hungry, we're quite certain his speech would have been longer.  In all of the activity, we neglected to get a group picture to capture the moment but we won't soon forget the delicious meal, great company, and fun conversation.

With our tree all decorated, we decided to try a family photo the day after Thanksgiving to test out the technology on Jane's watch to remotely control her phone for taking pictures.  The first snapshot clearly shows some of us looking at the watch for the countdown.
To work off some of our delicious food, Cam enjoyed a swim at the Y with his parents and was excited to see a local trooper parked outside upon departure.  He wondered what the officer was doing there and noted that since he was in uniform, he probably wasn't there to work out.

Also over the weekend, we had a quite a chuckle, or is it a gobble, over the fact that turkeys seemed to be surrounding our house.  These two in the front yard actually jumped up on the porch and looked in our windows.  Possibly they were feeling a bit brave with the holiday in the past.

Camology Quotes:

Our son certainly knows how to pull some heartstrings...
Amanda asked Cam before Thanksgiving what he was thankful for.
"I am thankful for you, Miss Amanda."

Sunday, November 20, 2016

May We Help? - Week of Nov. 14th

“You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.” ~John Bunyan 
“When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed.”  ~Maya Angelou 
“There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up.”  ~John Holmes

What a difference a day makes.  The white stuff didn't stay on the ground but it seems Michigan has the uncanny ability of bringing snow when it's least expected.
We did have many welcome events this week, though.  Oma arrived to stay with us for two nights and Cam couldn't have been more excited.  The pair worked on some mending together and Jane thinks Cam will easily exceed her sewing skill set very soon.

The Weatherford family brought a new artificial tree home and decided to place it in the living room versus having it remain in its box for 2 weeks.  Since Oma was with us, we were able to put the ornaments on in record time.  Jane had to throw in a little silliness by having the decorators wear special reindeer headbands...Auntie Karen should recognize these!  Oma always brings her smile and abundant love and we are always grateful for her visits.

Cam and Amanda wear the same style shirt on certain Fridays to participate in the LINKS Project Unify program at Meadow Brook Elementary.  Amanda is now a volunteer aide at Cam's school as part of her college education.  It's pretty exciting for our nine-year-old to see his sweet friend Amanda during school sometimes and after school!

Chris and Cam welcomed the solution to a task given by the May We Help organization.  Chris was asked to devise a way for a young boy with limited mobility to use a video game controller.  He and Cam were trying to determine how to build a new device when Chris realized if he could stabilize the unit, the boy should be able to use it.  Some unique foam material and handmade wooden frame did the trick. (More Photos of end result)

Incidentally, those of you reading this blog help keep it going.  We now have over 500 posts and without your support, Jane wouldn't have the need to continue to produce.  Thanks to all of YOU for helping us!

Camology Quotes:

Jane was asking Cam for some additional help.  And his reply, instead of the typical standard one...
"Your wish is mine."

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Leaving Fall Behind - Week of Nov. 7th

"Each moment of the year has its own beauty" ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

We've had the mildest of autumn seasons in Michigan.  Although there has been some colder days, by and large, the need for a winter coat hasn't surfaced yet.
Chris and his son were busy raking leaves into the woods, which is a definite bonus versus the tedious task of bagging.  Cam's ingenious dad figured out a way to situate the leaf blower on Cam's chair so as he drove forward the leaves would blow towards Chris' rake.  The team effort paid off and the duo cleared all of the fallen foliage in the back yard.

Cam's swimming lessons started up again with a slight change.  This fall he is taking solo lessons with Ms. Laura at the new Mary Free Bed therapy pool.  The setting is quiet and the pool is very warm.  Cam, our routine schedule boy, had many questions for his swim teacher including, but not limited to, the following:  "what happens if you are late?  what do you do if you get here early?  how do you get here?  which way do you take to get home?  how many lessons do you teach in a day?"  Amidst all of the questions, there was still time for instruction.  Cam's favorite activity is using the floating weights, allowing him to kick his legs while holding onto the bar.
Of course, there is always time for a few giggles before the end of the lesson!

One of our favorite weekend activities was seeing Mr. Ken, Amanda's grandpa, (a.k.a. "Papa") at a rehab facility following knee replacement surgery.  He was so excited to see Cam.  We brought pictures from the Halloween parade which Ken proudly displayed.  He thinks it's pretty cool that Cam likes to call him Papa, just like Amanda.

And our Ms. Amanda introduced Cam to a guinea pig for the very first time.  This pet belonged to a friend of hers and has such an auspicious name... "Priscilla Pigsley" who has all of the same colors as Cam's cat, Stella.  Cam was quite certain, though, that Priscilla and Stella may not get along too well.

Will & Cam
Camology Quotes:

Buddy Will and Auntie Jo joined us for dinner Saturday night.  We unsuccessfully tried to pass off sweet and sour chicken as chicken nuggets.

Mom:  Do you think you and Will are going to be friends forever?
"Yes, Mom!  Those were not really chicken nuggets.  I did not think so either  :-).

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Treats Come in Different Packages - Week of Oct. 31st

“Rest and be thankful.” ~ William Wordsworth

Halloween seems to have lasted for a month around our house but October 31 was the last hurrah.
Oma stayed with us to share in the last of the festivities and we were so grateful to her extra helping hands and warm heart.
Monday was a half day of school for Cam and the kids maybe tackled a solid hour of work before getting ready for the costume parade in the gym.
Principal Shaw led the way with Cam, buddy Liam, and fellow Meadow Brook students following.  They take one lap around the gym where parents, relatives and friends are seated, and then proceed to the hallways past every classroom in the school.  The principal asked Cam and Liam to hang out so that they could see all of the other kids and people could stop and say hi.
What one may assume could lead to pandemonium in a grade school with kids from kindergarten through fourth, is actually a very organized, fairly quiet and well-behaved event.

That same afternoon, we made a trek to visit the Grand Rapids Police Department.  Cam and his parents wanted to thank them for all of their support and surprise showing of the real SWAT vehicle at the parade.  Oma and her grandson had whipped up some delicious chocolate chip cookies divided into multiple containers and Jane had printed off some pictures from the parade event for the officers.  It was a surprisingly warm afternoon and many policemen came outside to greet Cam, even the Chief of Police himself!

Trick or treating was still yet to come!  It had already been quite a full day so grandma and grandson took advantage of some cozy couch time to sneak in a quick rest.

After an early supper, we were all rejuvenated and ready to tackle the candy gathering tradition.

We began the evening one
street over, to spend time with our good friends and neighbors.  The weather remained mild which meant lots of kids were out accompanied by smiling parents.  One of our favorite costumes was worn by a sweet girl who adorned her pants with packages of "smarties" candy- thus, her outfit was named "Smarty Pants!"  Her brother, shown with purple balloons was a bunch of grapes- so creative.  Buddy Emma was dressed perfectly as a black cat, complete with whiskers, a tail and ears.  Cam had a bucketful of candy upon arrival home and his most memorable Halloween yet!

Over the weekend, the weather was too good to resist sticking our toes in the sand maybe one last time until spring.  We traveled to Oma and Opa's on Lake Michigan to spend just a couple of hours in the afternoon.

The sun shone brightly and we watched one of the neighbor boys actually dive in the lake (we were assuming on some sort of dare) while we chose to only stroll next to it as we ventured north a bit.  The beach has expanded a great deal since the end of summer and it's always an odd feeling to not see lots of people on the shoreline.

We enjoyed many "treats" this week...having Oma with us, meeting many from the Grand Rapids Police Department, participating in a school parade, spending time with friends and appreciating a late fall day on Lake Michigan.  One might even go so far as to say..."better than chocolate."

Camology Quotes:

Cam has been trick-or-treating for quite a few years now and has decided that he definitely prefers the chocolate treats to anything else.  This year, however, he encountered something different.  At one of the houses he was given a small bag of Baked Lays Potato Chips.  After leaving the house (and being out of earshot), he declared...
"Mom!  This is a really weird thing to give for candy!"  :-).

Saturday, November 5, 2016

The Grand Marshal - Week of Oct. 24th

"Success, like happiness, is the unexpected side effect of one's personal dedication to a cause greater than one's self."  ~ Viktor E. Frankl

Sometimes we don't understand where a project will lead until we are in the midst of it all...

During the week, Cam enjoyed making homemade ice cream at school.
Chris and Jane don't recall making tasty treats in their own elementary school years and explained to Cam that classroom science experiments have come a long way!
We know this expert analysis led to a delicious snack which had to be enjoyed during class instead of making a trek home.

Our family community project "Halloween for the Rest of Us" was rounding the corner to its reveal and parade.  On Friday, Cam's parents headed to Mary Free Bed and checked up on the finishing costume touches with Molly Krauss, and new friends, Annie and Jim.
From the commencement of this joint effort between Mary Free Bed, the Weatherfords, Owen Ames Kimball and GVSU Engineering, Cam was asked to be the Grand Marshal for the big parade.
We had to explain the definition of this title to our son.  A grand marshal is an honorary title given to an individual by the organizing committee of a periodic parade event. Similar to guests of honor at fan conventions, a grand marshal is selected on any basis relevant to the theme or nature of the parade, and often leads the parade from the front.
We told Cam what an honor it was to be asked to lead this parade because of what it meant to the kids and families as well as each and every volunteer that helped create costumes for the kids.
Like every official parade, this event was led by a real marching band, direct from Forest Hills Central.  Not only did they march, but they expertly included some fun dancing too.

Cam was intent on his grand marshal duties and made certain he was keeping up with the band.  So many relatives and friends made their way to Wealthy Street to join in the celebration: Oma & Opa, cousin Coco, the Cornell fam cousins- Sam & Tom, Harry & Ollie, Aunt Joyce and Uncle Joe, Auntie Jo and Will, Anne and Amanda and Amanda's Papa, Mr. Ken, Ms. Kathy (Cam's teacher), Dick "Mr. D" (Cam's bus driver) and dog Molly, family friend Melinda and her relatives, Aunt Betsy's brother, John and wife, Kim.
Sergeant Baker & Cam

There were over 100 people who joined in the parade around the long city block.  When we all arrived back at Mary Free Bed, a big surprise awaited Cam and all of the kids--- a real Grand Rapids Police S.W.A.T. vehicle!!  Sergeant Baker, who drove the vehicle, participated in the festivities on his day off.  Once again, others giving of themselves to create a priceless memory.

This guy started it all!
Every local news crew was in attendance for this inaugural event and our favorite reporter was Miss Tracy.  She spent the most time talking to all of the kids and asking questions.  Her story and video can be found online here:  Fox 17 Video & Story

Priceless smile!
As we celebrated dinner out that evening with Oma and Opa as a thank you for all of the extra help, Cam asked "Will I be a Grand Marshal ever again?  It was fun!"
It's impossible to pinpoint a favorite moment from this day.  The impact on the community and those involved, including us, won't be forgotten.

Camology Quotes:

Cam's teacher regularly sends updates in email.  This week's entry:
Just so you know that Cam pays attention to everything...this afternoon he asked me where Mr. Shaw (the principal) was.  I told Cam he had been at a meeting all day and wondered how Cam knew.  

Cam: "I noticed that he wasn't around"  :-).