Sunday, December 3, 2017

Warm Temps, Warmer Hearts - Week of Nov. 27th

“When given the choice between being right or being kind choose kind.” ~Wonder, by RJ Palacio

Whether enjoying time with friends at school, at home, or someone else's house, it's never a dull moment in a week with Cam.
At school, a delicious recipe made with his class looks like a pretty healthy snack with tasty fruit on top of toast.

The mild temps continued and made for a bright weekend.  On Friday evening, Cam had his first bought of insomnia, waking up around 1am and never really getting back into a deep sleep.  It may have been comical had it happened in someone else's home.  Every 30 minutes or so, Cam asked "Is it time yet?" or "Is it morning now?"  We all finally gave up resting around 6am.

That didn't stop us from having a productive day, however, and in the late afternoon, we were so happy to have a visit from Katherine and her son Bexley, along with Katherine's mom, Ms. Ann.  Cam and Ann had a delightful conversation on the couch catching up on things.
Bexley was fascinated with the big ceiling fan in the living room.  Cam wanted his buddy Bex to have his chair and tray he had grown out of.
Our ten-year-old was feeling pretty sleepy until Bexley proceeded to provide lots of entertainment by showing Cam how he could get "stuck" in the blue chair by sitting on one of his legs.  Bexley and Cam even enjoyed an early dinner together and we were thankful for the visit to keep us all engaged and make it through the evening.

Sunday's sunshine took us to the big lake at Oma and Opa's.  We decided it may be the last time to trek on the beach before the snow descends.
The landscape is ever-changing at the cottage and an interesting looking piece of driftwood had landed on our beach.  Chris and Cam had to attempt a drive over the big log.
Aunt Joyce and Uncle Joe stopped by and even though the sun was warm, it was quite windy on the beach.
Cam hid behind some large brush trying to stay camouflaged while we all looked for him.
Oma and Opa treated us to a homemade casserole and Oma's famous sour cream cinnamon coffee cake.  After a bit of playtime, we headed to Muskegon for a last-minute photo shoot for Christmas pictures.

Sunday evening we always appreciate our time with the Raisch family sharing our dinner together.
Emma set up a game of Uno with Cam and they played until our meal was ready.

A lifetime friendship between these two reminds us that the special friends we meet along the way help us appreciate the journey.

Camology Quotes:

Cam and Amanda were able to take a walk on Friday since it was a half day at school.  It was a beautiful afternoon as the shining sun kept these two smiling.  After Amanda took this picture and showed it to Cam, he remarked:

"We are glowing.  We look like angels."

Sunday, November 26, 2017

I Am Thankful For... - Week of Nov. 20th

Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it. ~William Arthur Ward

Using your manners on a daily basis is a constant reminder for us all.  Saying 'please' and 'thank you' are not only important words, but they express respect and kindness.

Two years ago, when Ms. Michelle was watching Cam, they created pine cone turkeys with the message "I am Thankful For..." and it serves as a reminder to always recall what blesses us. 
This year, Cam's school calendar included the day before Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving day and the day after the holiday as break time from school.
On Wednesday, Ms. Amanda and Cam tried out a tasty new recipe which included two of our family favorite cereals- Cocoa Puffs and Golden Grahams mixed with marshmallows, peanut butter and chocolate.

Thanksgiving is a special time for many, gathering families together for a delicious feast.  We were especially excited to have Oma and Opa with us for two nights!  On the official holiday, Cam was given the special task of helping his grandpa make the stuffing for the turkey.  Cam asked for a "farm fresh" turkey this year because "it tastes better and is healthier."  Please note he has only had one farm fresh turkey and that was last year...
Our ten-year-old has grasped onto tradition and is moving full speed ahead.  His special request was a small green bean casserole and rolls.  Much like his parents, Cam has an affinity for bread of any type.  In fact, he tried to sneak a crescent a little bit early as we were bringing food to the table.  Each person seated had to say what they were thankful for as part of our blessing.  Cam was very thankful for all of the delicious food he was about to eat, and after a little encouragement, mentioned everyone at the table as well.  Oma and Opa were thankful for their health, family and good friends.  Chris and Jane both listed Cam, all grandparents, relatives, special friends and the many people we consider family. 

Our group was relaxed and content after dinner.  We had finished decorating the Christmas tree.  It looked beautiful and Cam decided a new tradition needed to take place.  With the milder weather, he was hopeful there would be some spectacular light displays nearby.  We weren't disappointed after we came upon two houses completely decked out with lights and ornamentation.

To top off our evening, each of us enjoyed a bit of homemade apple pie with vanilla ice cream.  In all of the activity, our picture-taking fell by the wayside and we neglected to capture a family photo.  Our bellies and hearts were full and overflowing with thankfulness, especially for the extra time with Oma and Opa.
Imagine if everyone, each and every single day had to begin with saying out loud what they are thankful for! 

Camology Quotes:

Cam is very aware of when he has eaten enough.  Many times, he will indicate he's done prior to finishing a dessert or treat.  After he finished his Thanksgiving meal, he announced:

"I am up to the Full line."

Sunday, November 19, 2017

"That Warms My Heart" - Week of Nov. 13th

Some weeks breeze by due to busy schedules, while others lag because of unexpected developments.  Cam picked up a nasty cold in the beginning of this week characterized by a runny nose and slight cough.  As the week progressed, we realized if we had bought stock in Kleenex, we'd be much better off.

Routines are part of daily life and when they are broken, it can be tough to figure out replacements.  On any given weekday, the school schedule is one that our fourth grader delights in.  Being home sick for two days in a row is not Cam's preference.  He would much rather be working at school.  To cheer him up, his teacher sent pictures she had taken of Cam and his best buddy, Brody as well as another friend, Audrey.  Ms. Kathy also provided some links for homework so her student would have some extra studying.

People often remark how sweet Cam's smile is.  He has a temperament to match.  When Jane told him how handsome he looked one day, he looked up and said "That warms my heart, Mom, thank you."  Certainly, he's heard the phrase before, but when it comes from a ten-year-old and sounds so sincere, it truly is heartwarming.

By the end of the week, our son was feeling better and returned to school.  We all agreed that this year's school pictures are one of his best!

On Saturday, a family project included putting up the Christmas tree. Cam supervised the effort assisting with the re-arrangement of things to clear out a space for the holiday's main attraction.
Chris thought we should try setting it up as part of Cam's chair which led to much laughter and Cam's explanation of why this would never work.

True to our sweet boy's nature, he insisted that decorating the tree must be delayed until Oma and Opa's arrival for Thanksgiving!

Camology Quotes:

It helps to have a partner in crime.  Chris found an item online he wanted to purchase and Jane was asking about some specifics which were being challenged when Cam chimed in.

"Doesn't Mom have a good point, Dad?"

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Rinse, Walk, Repeat - Week of Nov. 6th

“Swimming is simply moving meditation.” ~Cesar Nikko Caharian 

Most folks know Michigan switches from fall to winter quite rapidly.  However, we were still surprised to the see the white stuff falling on a school day so early in November.  It didn't stick on the ground for long, but it made Cam utter these words, according to his teacher, after arriving at school that day..."Ms. Kathy, please tell my mom to bring in my snowpants!"
Luckily, we didn't need to resort to such drastic measures.

Cam's weekly November routine includes a swimming lesson after school on Mondays.  Since it's downtown, one of his parents has to pick him up at Meadow Brook, get his swim trunks on, have a quick snack and head out.  He's had the same instructor for 3 years now and Cam always asks Ms. Laura how her day was.
She typically has him walk in the pool and on this particular day, Cam started counting 'one Mississippi, two Mississippi' etc. to traverse the width of the pool.  As Ms. Laura fitted Cam into a vest, Jane was in the splash zone as her son kept kicking in attempts to get her wet.  The therapy pool at MFB is toasty warm and the atmosphere is quiet and relaxing.

On Wednesdays, Amanda and Cam head over to his physical therapy appointment at 5pm.  Patrick is the PT working with Cam on a weekly basis.  Since Cam's hip surgery, it's been important to continue to practice walking and stretching.  Apparently, Mr. Patrick seems to have a gift for making Cam laugh as well!

Oma and Opa arrived Friday afternoon to spend the night with us.  Oma wanted to get a head start on Christmas shopping with Jane.  A quick trip to Heidi's on Friday produced an array of vegetables, fruit and bread as well as homemade caramel apples.  One of the cashiers there, Ms. Pat, has known Cam since he was a toddler and loves to give her buddy a treat.  This time, it was a delicious chocolate chip cookie, and not a small one either.

Saturday morning, Oma and her daughter headed out for some shopping fun.  In the meantime, the boys group of Chris, Opa and Cam trekked over to Forest Hills Northern High School to pick up a pre-ordered apple pie that Cam contributed to for a fundraiser.  When they asked how many total pies were made, the boys were surprised to hear that 1300 was the number.
It was such fun to have Oma and Opa with us!  Cam and his grandma made homemade applesauce and we were thankful to gain three containers of the sweet goodness.  Cam also taught Opa how to play Uno for the first time and proceeded to beat him after teaching his grandpa the card game.

Another weekend project included Chris and his son programming a security camera for our home.  They may have actually used it to try to sneak a peek at Christmas presents being transported from the car to the basement.  Jane reminded her boys this is not the intended use of our security camera!

Camology Quotes:

As Jane and Oma were headed out for their Christmas shopping on Saturday morning, Cam was curious.

"Are you going to get presents for me?"
Yes, you, Dad and Opa.
"You are my most favorite Mom!"
Thank you, Cam.  But you are still not getting any presents early...

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Parading Around - Week of Oct. 30th

“That fire you see can't last. Still, as it burns, it lights everything.” ~ David Kirby

As we rounded the corner to October 31st, there were still a few events left on the docket.

Monday, after school marked the candy collecting costume parade at FTC&H where Chris works.
Each year, the employee's families are invited in to an indoor trick or treating as each child has a bucketful of choices at nearly every desk.
This yearly event is something Cam has been a part of since he was a toddler.
It's also a perk to be inside if the weather takes a turn.
Although it was chilly, the rain stayed away and for this, we were grateful.

On Tuesday, the actual official day of Halloween, Cam had big plans.  First up, an afternoon costume parade at his elementary school, Meadow Brook.  Since our ten-year-old is now in 4th grade, this is his final year for parading around the school gym with his classmates.
Liam & mom Betsy.  Running joke b/t the
"moms"- our boys will never look at the
camera at the same time!
Parents, relatives and friends can arrive early to be seated in the gymnasium so they can see every costumed kid go by.  Cam has been a part of this tradition since kindergarten. 

On his final turn around the last corner, Jane may have held back a tear or two remembering all of the costume parades over the years and the community of students, parents and teachers enjoying the creativity of everyone.

Second up on the Halloween agenda was a trek to the local Cascade fire station.  Beginning at 5:30p, they open their doors to welcome families.  Kids receive a bag stuffed full of candy, a toothbrush, toothpaste and floss.  Donuts, cider and treats are displayed for all to enjoy.

And last but not least, neighborhood fun!  We opted to visit with our Windcrest neighbors this year stopping at most every house on the block.  The Raisch fam had a toasty warm bonfire out front and a bowlful of Cam's fave chocolates.  He requested a taste to keep up his energy for the evening.
The homemade octopus was one of our favorite costumes since spreading the boy's arms provided the last 2 tentacles.  Next to Cam are the "Daniel Boone" boys, Thad and Peter.

Thursday, Chris and Jane were invited to be guests at the Mary Free Bed Gala honoring the fourth largest rehabilitation hospital in the world!
It was a special treat given to us by Molly Krauss. 

Cam was happy that Miss Amanda could hang out with him while his parents had fun dressing up and sitting with Molly and friends. 

The dinner was most delicious and we sent Cam a picture of the tables to which his response was "Wow, that's cool!"
They even showed our Halloween For The Rest of Us video, a project the Weatherford fam and Molly couldn't be more proud of!

On Saturday, Cam's parents enjoyed a long overdue date night to the movies.
Cam, in the meantime, was pleased to decide his own dinner of choice and partake in an evening of playing police.
It's tough to say who had the better night!

Camology Quotes:

One evening, Cam said his coat looked weird and something was wrong with it.  We explained to him that his mom's coat was on top of his. He thought the whole thing was quite hilarious.

"Dad, say 'Cam, you are funny!'"
Cam, you are funny.
 "I'm glad you think so!"

(Near the end of the video from the visit to his Dad's office, Cam says "there's no candy here."  There was, he just couldn't see it and panic almost set in :)

Sunday, October 29, 2017

H4RUs 2nd Annual Parade! - Week of Oct. 23rd

"Occasionally in life there are those moments of unutterable fulfillment which cannot be completely explained by those symbols called words. Their meanings can only be articulated by the inaudible language of the heart." ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

This was the week we had been waiting for, anticipating, working towards.  It just so happened that some other appointments made for an extra busy schedule.  On Tuesday morning, Cam had a powerchair "checkup" to be certain everything was in working order since he'd had some battery issues.  Everything passed inspection. 

eightWest TV Interview (Click on eightWest TV Interview, then press the play button to see the story)
Early Wednesday, we were invited to a local tv program, eightWest, for an interview regarding our Halloween project with Mary Free Bed.  Chris transported two costumes to the station, Cam's and April's so Lightning McQueen and Skye from Paw Patrol could make an appearance.  This was the same place our son had been last year, so he knew exactly what to do.  During the segment, you'll notice Cam nod his head and slightly bump it on his costume.  When we asked him afterward what happened, he commented, "Mom, I was bored."  To which Chris replied, "Same things happens to me in meetings, Cam."

In our family, we have talked about all of these different volunteers who have come together to help with the Halloween For The Rest of Us project.  What began as an idea Molly Krauss had because of our Christmas card pictures, has turned into an event led by Mary Free Bed Guild members, Owen-Ames-Kimball construction company and Grand Valley State University Engineering and PT students.  Most often, people volunteer for something because of a connection to a cause, an effort, a program or person.  To see all of these people volunteer their time on multiple sunny Fridays and Saturdays (a rare occurrence in Michigan's fall weather) was unreal. 

And it seems once people get involved, they want to stay involved.  Jake Stephens, a engineering student, volunteered with us last year and again this year for 3 entire days.  He not only constructed, but also designed, painted and embellished.  He told us he loves seeing the kids smile and made every effort to recruit fellow students.  The powered helicopter blade on April's Skye costume was created by three female engineering students determined to create the real deal for Miss April.  There were many moments during the creation of the costumes that made us all stand back as we watched the process take shape.

On Thursday, Cam had an appointment at MFB to pick up his new AFO's.  When we walked in, some Mary Free Bed employees actually recognized Cam from the tv show!  Friday was our last costume building day with 4 costumes on the schedule.  We recruited helpers last minute and Jane even picked up Cam due to a half day of school.  He was happy to lend his assistance and eat pizza for lunch just like all of our other volunteers.

Saturday marked the official parade day!  The weather didn't cooperate and we had to enact the backup plan of stay indoors.  Originally, the intention was to be led by the Forest Hills Central Marching Band.  Since it was a bit difficult to bring a 100+member band into a rehabilitation hospital, the band director asked for a couple of volunteers to play quietly as the parade traversed the halls.  Even though we had never planned for 18 costumes to go up and down elevators, it all came together.  The 3rd and 4th floors were a part of our route and then the 5th floor requested a sighting as well. 

Therapy dog w/shoes!
What struck us was that our 18 kiddos using power mobility or manual mobility were able to see adults in similar situations.  18 therapy dogs joined us too so there was a dog for every costume!  And the smiles...the smiles and laughter were everywhere! 
And our Cam fans were out in full force too- Oma and Opa, Aunt Mary, Uncle Ray and their sons Tom and Mike along with spouses Sam and Cheri.  And the younger cousins, Harry and Ollie and Wendell were there to cheer on Lightning McQueen.  Cousins Coco and Libby as well as Cam's teacher Ms. Kathy and aide Nancy showed up too.  Patti, Emma, Sarah and Megan were right up front to see the lineup.  Ms. Amanda even wore a costume accompanied by her boyfriend Nick, his mom, Mary and sister Brooke.  Mary had a Lightning McQueen bucket full of things for one lucky boy!

Oma and Opa spent the night with us and were a tremendous help keeping things in check and staying with Cam as the busy atmosphere was a little crazy at times.  We were most thankful for all of the support from our family, extended family and special friends.

Chris, Jane and Cam met Molly at Mary Free Bed on Sunday for final cleanup duty.  Jane was teary-eyed remembering every person, all of the activity and special moments that took place.  Cam was happy there was still some twizzlers left from our building fun.

One day, our son may realize the enormity of how his Halloween costumes which began 7 years ago, have started a tradition in our Grand Rapids community, one we hope will continue for many, many years to come.

Camology Quotes:

Our ten-year-old is a compassionate soul.  During the building process, Jane created idea boards with Cam's help for each kiddo.  For Carson's board, his mom indicated her son couldn't have anything on his head.  On parade day, with the planning changed to indoors, there were many questions from Cam.

"Mom, will the band still play inside?"
Just a few people are going to play, I think.
"What if it is too loud?"
Well, you could wear headphones.
"But Carson can't wear headphones, Mom, he can't have anything on his head."