Sunday, December 31, 2017

A Very, Very White Christmas - Week of Dec. 25th

🎜𝅘𝅥𝅯 I'm dreaming of a white Christmas - Just like the ones I used to know- Where the treetops glisten, And children listen- To hear sleigh bells in the snow.  I'm dreaming of a white Christmas- With every Christmas card I write. May your days be merry and bright - And may all your Christmases be white 🎝𝅘𝅥𝅮 ~ Bing Crosby, White Christmas

After a couple of years without the white stuff, we experienced the snowiest Christmas on record in 27 years for our city of Grand Rapids as more than 5 inches fell that day.
In the quiet of Christmas morning, the bright lights of the tree made the living room glow and feel cozy.  We were thankful to remain in our home to celebrate the day together as a family.

Cam woke up early on Dec. 25th,
but patiently waited for Oma and Opa before asking to open stockings.  It was a leisurely day for us.  After discovering the contents of our stockings, we had a delicious breakfast before settling in to open presents.  The whole experience lasted for quite some time as we watched each person unwrap before the next.  It is a day when the joy of giving equals or exceeds the joy of receiving.
Later in the afternoon, Chris and Cam tried out their new gaming chairs downstairs and Chris braved the elements to snowplow the driveway.  He entered the house looking like the abominable snowman!

So many special gifts were everywhere we looked.. from each other, from Oma and Opa, from our sweet relatives and friends we call family across the country.  Chris' dad, Grandpa Jim, sent us an Instant Pot and for Cam, a cool room projector with a note that said "I wanted to give you the world, but I settled for the stars."
We all had a relaxing evening on the couch as Jane curled up in her new "Wonder Woman" blanket, handmade and given to her by the best husband and son a girl could ask for!

 Two days after Christmas, we welcomed our cousins, Aunts and Uncles for the annual family Santa Party at our home.  A few of Cam's cousins have let it be known that the 'real' Santa is the one that comes to Cam's house for the party.
Each kid receives two small presents from the white bearded man.  We share a potluck dinner and try to catch up with everyone during the short time that goes by much too quickly.  We were so very thankful for the extra assistance from Oma and Opa with setup and cleanup duties.  Without them, it would have seemed a monumentous task.
Part of our annual Santa Party normally includes sledding, but it was far too chilly outside to partake in outdoor activities that day.

However, the weekend brought the sunshine and although it didn't warm up a great deal, the sun allowed us to brave the outdoors to take advantage.
Last year for Christmas, Chris and Jane ordered a cool sled for Cam that one of his parents could ride behind and due to the mild winter, it wasn't used even once.
This year, though, it seems we may have ample opportunities to test its capabilities.

As we close out 2017, we are thankful for our family, friends and blessings which seem to grow exponentially with each passing year.

Camology Quotes:
One of our traditions includes driving around to see the Christmas lights.
We enjoyed having Oma and Opa with us for almost five whole days during the holiday.  Here are a couple of his grandparents' favorites from their stay.

"You need to be more specific, Oma..."
"I wish Christmas was every day and Oma and Opa were here every day!"

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Traditional Tidings - Week of Dec. 18th

Outside of 2017 Christmas card
Inside of 2017 Christmas card
"At the heart of every family tradition is a meaningful experience." ~Unknown

As the fast-forward button continued to race towards Christmas, we progressed through our list of checking things off. 

Amanda and Cam exchanged their gifts on Friday since she wasn't going to be with us on Christmas day.  It seems these two know each other quite well.  You see, without realizing it, each of them had made a duplicate gift independently and without awareness.  Amanda made Cam a "tie blanket" with Lightning McQueen.  Cam made a similar blanket (with his dad's help) featuring hearts on one side and animals on the other ("because I know you like hearts and animals, Ms. Amanda!")  They giggled for quite some time about their gift-giving, mind reading skills and then proceeded to snuggle up in their respective blankets to see just how cozy they were.

On Saturday, Jane and Cam headed out to Heidi's Farmstand and Bakery since it was the last day they would be open for the season.  Ms. Pat works at Heidi's and we met her close to eight years ago.  She loves seeing Cam and always tells him to pick out a sweet treat just from her.  Not only did he have a donut to take home, but he also was given a reindeer headband to wear.  Cam looked at Ms. Pat exclaiming "you made my day!" and her happy tears began.  We will miss seeing her until they open again in May, but we stocked up on goodies and were thankful to be driving in the sunshine.
Upon our return home, Emma popped over for the annual gingerbread house build.  This year, though, Jane found a chocolate train for the two friends to put together and decorate.  As a bonus, Cam snacked on some chocolate decorations while Emma chose the colored candy decor for a treat.  The train along with its chocolate cars looked very festive when completed.

Sunday was Christmas Eve and Oma and Opa arrived in the early afternoon.  Our annual tradition includes attending the Christmas Eve Thornapple church service at 4pm with the Raisch family.  Even though Cam isn't wearing a smile in this pic, he looks so forward to attending every year.  He now tries to sing along with the carols and listens to the message.
Immediately following church, we gathered at the Raisch household for delicious homemade chicken noodle soup and the best homemade bread.  With full bellies, we still all squeezed in a few hand crafted Christmas cookies to top off our meal.  Cam and Emma exchanged gifts and Cam commented that Emma "made his day" when he opened the "Cars3" movie from her.

The most memorable part of the evening, though, was an unexpected surprise.  While chatting in the living room, a knock on the door produced some members of the church youth group to sing for us.  They began with Rudolph and ended with Silent Night.  Cam couldn't believe it!  He also loved the jacket and lighted cap adorned by one of the guys.

When someone "makes Cam's day" it isn't an embellished comment.  For Cam it's a true commentary of how a moment, an event makes him feel.  Being surrounded by our special friends, Patti & Steve, Anna, Sarah, Megan, Emma along with Oma and Opa, the Weatherford fam of Chris, Jane and Cam most definitely felt like the evening of fellowship truly and collectively, made their day.

Camology Quotes:

Cam had school right up through Dec. 22nd of this week.  His teacher, Ms. Kathy sent an email to Jane on Friday after Cam was on the bus with her favorite 'Cam moment of the day'...

"A great day by the way... At the end of the day, Cam said about the upcoming break-  "have fun, but don't have too much fun without me!"

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Christmas Creations - Week of Dec. 11th

Christmas cookies and happy hearts, this is how the holiday starts. ~Unknown

Baking seems to put everyone in a good mood...some may think it's the scent of vanilla, or maybe the satisfaction of creating something so delicious from a smattering of ingredients.  In our home, it may be best described as feeling wrapped in a warm blanket.
Cam had the opportunity to be an assistant as well as a supervisor for the holiday baking.  We found a sugar cookie kit made by a couple of kids who donate all of their proceeds to the local children's hospital.  The kit included the dry ingredients and Amanda and Cam just added in the eggs, vanilla, baking soda and shortening.  It was Ms. Amanda's first experience of rolling out homemade cookie dough and using cookie cutters and we think the dynamic duo did a fabulous job!
A few days later, Oma arrived with Christmas tree cookies ready for decorations.  After adding the frosting and embellishments, these special treats were set aside for our family Santa party, scheduled for a couple of days after Christmas.  In between all of these activities, Cam assisted Chris with making homemade peanut butter.  For the project with his mom, Cam enjoyed making candles.
We had our family pictures taken a bit later this year, but Holly and Ryan Gauper did an awesome job (as always) just in time for induction into our Christmas card.  Just a couple of the forty they sent us electronically are shown here.  A memorial garden in downtown Muskegon was the setting and Cam turned on his best cheesy grin.  Since Jane handled the holiday card creation, Chris and his son busied themselves with "Operation Postage" as they stuffed the envelopes, added
tags, return labels and stamps.

The Elf continued his shenanigans in our household, providing an exciting start to every morning. 
Cam's first priority upon leaving his bedroom is finding where the little guy landed. 
His parents' priority is remembering to assist in this endeavor!

Camology Quotes:

Cam sees his physical therapist, Patrick, on a weekly basis as he continues to strengthen his leg from hip surgery.  Patrick and Cam have some pretty interesting conversations during their sessions.  On one occasion, Patrick asked Cam about having issues with his leg feeling discomfort during the day.

"Not necessarily, but typically I do stretching at school."

Sunday, December 10, 2017

MFB Holiday Party - Week of Dec. 4th

"The best way to spread Christmas Cheer, is singing loud for all to hear." 
"We elves try to stick to the four main food groups: candy, candy canes, candy corns and syrup." ~ Elf, the movie

Cam's Elf on the Shelf appeared again and our son's favorite morning activity is an investigation of where the Elf may be.  Apparently, he also likes peanut butter and bananas for breakfast too.

When the calendar turns to December the events begin to appear.  On Friday, Cam was anticipating his first holiday gathering of the season: Dr. Swanson's Christmas Party.

Dr. Swanson began this festivity years ago by hosting the celebration with Santa every December.  Even though he passed away last year, the tradition continues.
Swanson had a long association with Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital, where he was a member of the medical staff, served three terms totaling eight years as chief of staff and treated patients for more than 50 years. Swanson hosted an annual Christmas party for young patients, dressing like a cowboy to entertain the children. “Dr. Swanson’s Christmas Party” continues today; more than 300 current and former patients and their families enjoy gathering for the festivities and gifts.

Cam wanted to arrive in time to eat pizza at the party.  After a delicious slice, everyone gathered in the lobby to hear a singing group who engaged the kids and adults during the songs.  A 'snowball fight' broke out with white loofah sponges, a bubble machine produced 'snow' and bells provided to all enabled a lively rendition of 'Jingle Bells.' 
It was fun to see many friends and therapists.  April pictured with Cam has been in the MFB Halloween for the Rest of Us parade for two years now.  She and her mom, Kathy, have become such sweet friends of our family.  The Balloon Man was also at the party creating different animals for the kids.  Cam requested a giraffe and received a monkey balloon as a bonus.  After seeing Santa, each child is allowed to pick a wrapped gift from Santa's workshop area.  Upon arriving home, Cam opened his gift- a wooden board game with marbled stones called Mancala.  It's a game of strategy where you attempt to collect more stones than your opponent.  Our thankful boy wanted to write a note immediately.  His parents finally convinced him to wait at least a day.
Saturday evening was the holiday party for FTC&H where Chris works.  He and Jane dressed up and had a nice evening out.  They couldn't wait to show Cam one of the eating options displayed- different types of candied bacon hung by clothespins!

Stella getting into the
holiday spirit!
Camology Quotes:

Cam and his parents were discussing the purchase of an extra pair of snowpants to keep at school.  Chris wondered why this was necessary.

"Dad, I need to go on the swings.  I mean c'mon...who doesn't like to play on the swings?!"

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."