Sunday, December 30, 2018

For the Love of Christmas - Week of Dec. 24th

"Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love." ~Hamilton Wright Mabie

The morning of Christmas Eve, Jane and Cam had a field trip planned.  Heidi's Farmstand, our favorite fresh vegetable, fruit and baked goods store was only open one more day before closing until May of 2019, their typical cycle due to harvesting.  We've been frequenting the Farmstand for 9 years and Ms. Pat has been working there even longer.  We had to wait for Cam to be out of school, since she only works in the mornings, to plan our visit.  Ms. Pat has saved our Christmas cards year after year and always tells Cam he is an inspiration!  She even treated our 11-year-old to a freshly baked donut of his choice.  What a great way to start the day.

Oma and Opa arrived in the afternoon and we all made our way to Thornapple Covenant Church for the traditional Christmas Eve service at 4pm.  The familiar carols brought to life by live instruments and all of us singing was Cam's favorite.  We enjoyed our annual Raisch family homemade chicken noodle soup and bread for dinner afterwards.
After sharing fruit and Christmas cookies, we settled into the living room to chat.  These four sisters have been a part of our lives since before Cam was born.  Even though two are now in college, seeing them all together feels extra special.

The next morning, Christmas Day, we relaxed and eased into the revealing of stockings and unwrapping presents.  A few notable surprises for Cam from Oma and Opa- a heated mattress pad for our son's bed and over-sized wooden dominoes.  Family gifts included an air fryer, sound bar for the tv, a cordless vacuum, Cricut crafting machine, cordless glue gun and portable printer.

Well before Christmas, Auntie Karen saw a commercial for the new adaptive controller from Microsoft for the Xbox One and told us she wanted to give it to Cam.  The gift is priceless because it allows our son to be independent, make choices and have control over the buttons!

Oma, Jane and Cam headed out to see the ballpark lights the next evening.  As you drive through, the displays are beautifully arranged.  Cam's favorite was the manger scene and there were too many arrangements set up to count them all.   The entire drive only takes about 15 minutes but the sparkling assortment was well worth the price of admission.

Three days after the holiday, we welcomed aunts, uncles and cousins into our home for the annual Jellema Family Holiday Party.  Typically, we engage in sledding fun and some outdoor activities.  However, the green grass can still be seen in our yard, so an indoor snowball fight downstairs (with fluffy fake orbs) had to suffice.

After sharing a buffet meal and conveniently, while all of the younger cousins were downstairs, jingle bells were heard and Santa Claus arrived at our home with a bag filled with two presents each per kid.  Watching the wide-eyed children squeal with excitement is a tradition that's been going on in this extended family for almost 40 years.

Oma and Opa helped us all week, keeping things tidy, making store runs, and most importantly, hanging out with Cam.

The gifts given and received between us range from the most useful to creative and just plain fun.

We are thankful for them all and most thankful for the people who give of themselves every day in our lives by their constant support, heartfelt kindness and true thoughtfulness.
Camology Quotes:

Brody, Cam's best buddy from school, requested a playdate with Cam on Sunday afternoon.  Due to the difficulty of having Cam's powerchair enter other's homes, this was a rare request.  To say Cam was excited was a bit of an understatement!

"Mom, this is the first time a school friend has asked just me to come over.  It is so special!"

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Pizza with the Principal - Week of Dec. 17th

Cam's delicious-looking
gingerbread house, made at school
Last month, Cam received a high honor from his school.  He was nominated to have "Soup with the Superintendent" along with a small select group of others.  His awesome attitude and listening skills were the reason for the privilege, his teachers indicated.  However, on the day of the superintendent's visit, Cam was home sick with a stomach bug.  He took the news with maturity saying that maybe he would be able to go next year. 
Cam's small class showing
off their inclusive soccer T's
Chris and Jane talked about it and decided they would like to 'gift' a pizza party to Cam's small class.  After a few emails, Cam's teacher agreed it was a great idea and thought it would be fun to have the principal there too so it could be called "Pizza with the Principal!"  All of this was supposed to be a surprise, but little did we know the last week of school before break happened to be very popular for ordering pizza and delivery times could not be guaranteed.  Chris picked it up, drove it over and stayed for the delicious feast.

Christmas came early to the Weatherford family when Auntie Jo and Will came for dinner on Thursday.  After a chicken fajita feast, we opened gifts.  Cam's godmother found a small robot that her godson can control with two buttons on a wristband!  What a cool toy and using it solo is a huge bonus.

On Friday, Miss Amanda arrived after school with more Christmas gifts.  She gave her buddy the Candyland game (one of Jane's all-time favorites) and a Cars pillowcase to match his blanket she had made the year before.  He also received a Captain America sweatshirt.  Jane was given a beautiful neck scarf and bible verse in a handmade frame that one of her friends had painted.  Such heartfelt gifts from our sweet Amanda.

On the last day before holiday break, Cam was given something he didn't want- a stuffy nose!  It was a tough night of sleep, but we all rallied to meet Aunt Carol (Miss Amanda's Aunt, who is now Cam's adopted aunt) and Uncle Jim for lunch.  Early festivities continued for our meeting at Chick-Fil-A, a family favorite.

As Cam opened two books by Max Lucado, we were reminded of Papa Ken, as both of the stories help explain heaven.  Next Cam opened a game called "Guess Who" and he informed us he'd played it at school.  Chris and Jane had never seen it before, so they were happy Cam already knew all about it.  The movie "Secondhand Lions" was also opened and we look forward to watching it as a family.  Lastly, a laser remote-controlled car for Cam that he can work!  It's the character, Cruz, from the movie Cars3.

So many thanks for such awesome early gifts from all!

Sunday was a day of rest, but we decided to take in a movie since Auntie Jo and Will had given us movie passes.  Cam chose the new "Grinch" movie and noted that there were far too many previews before the show began.
We all gave the feature presentation a resounding thumbs up.  As we were headed out, our sweet son said "I want to thank them for showing that movie- it was really good!"

Camology Quotes:

The Elf on the Shelf shenanigans were coming to an end, but this morning showing caused a big reaction from Cam:

"Hey, how is he going to stay hanging upside down all day?!  That is not healthy at all!"

Sunday, December 16, 2018

The Gift of Santa - Week of Dec. 10th

Centerpiece from FTCH party
"Sometimes the most real things in the world are those which we cannot see.."

Frederick Meijer Gardens
Santa has its origins in truth. St. Nicholas was a real person who was born around 270 AD and grew up to become the adored Bishop of Myra, a Roman town in what is now Turkey. St. Nick dedicated his life to helping the poor. On Christmas Eve, he became a secret gift-giver for many impoverished children in Myra, leaving coins and treats in the shoes they left out for him. Santa’s red suit is inspired by the Bishop of Myra’s traditional red bishop’s cloak. The ‘elves’ are inspired by the orphan children who often helped St Nicholas give to all of the children on Christmas Eve.

Cam still believes in the idea of Santa, although the targeted questions are upon us.
Gift giving seems equal to its popular cousin of gift receiving.  This week, our fifth grader experienced two field trips at school.  The first was to Target with a small group to purchase Christmas gifts for his parents, complete with a list and cash.  After a financial lesson in the checkout lane, the troop headed to IHop restaurant where the students were treated to lunch of their choice with the teachers.  When Cam arrived home from school, it was difficult to determine which was more exciting - the shopping excursion or dining experience.  On Friday, the same group ventured around the corner to Frederick Meijer Gardens where the students looked at Christmas tree decorations from around the world and the large electric train display.

Oma and Opa arrived on Friday afternoon and Oma joined us at the Mary Free Bed Kid's Christmas party hosted in memory of Dr. Swanson.  The yearly event provides pediatric patients with the opportunity to share a festive evening together.  Yesterdog's catered and although hot dogs seem to taste best in the summer, their steamed buns and choice of toppings made for a delicious dinner.
We sat with Cam's buddy, Miss April and saw many other friends.  One of our favorite PT's, Mr. Micah, was dressed up in a reindeer outfit complete with ornaments adorning his beard- such commitment!  After eating, everyone gathered in the lobby for sing-a-longs and activities.

It was getting to be late and one of our sweet volunteer friends, Ms. Jen, quietly asked if Cam might want to say hi to Santa so we could head home.  Down a secret hallway we followed her, and from behind a door, there was the red guy!  Cam couldn't believe it and we were so thankful for the quiet moment amidst all of people.  After saying goodbye to Mr. Claus, we made our way out and all of the kids had the opportunity to pick a present.  Everyone was pretty tuckered out when we arrived home.

Saturday was reserved for cookie decorating time with Oma, a holiday tradition these two have taken on every year.  Oma is such an amazing baker and she brings her homemade cookies ready for frosting and holiday sprinkles.
That evening, Oma and Opa gave us the gift of Cam-sitting while Chris and Jane attended the FTCH holiday party downtown.  A big thanks to Mr. Steve for assisting as well!

Sunday morning sent Chris northbound for snowboarding with Greg and Oma and Opa back to Montague for church.
Cam helped Jane wrap presents and Stella lent her "assistance" as well.  Our Sunday evening dinner with the Raisch family topped off a great week!

Jen L, Cam & a Santa :)
Camology Quotes:

Cam has been honing his humorous sayings skill set.  
At bedtime this week his favorite new advice:
"Don't let the Santa bugs bite!"

Sunday, December 9, 2018

The Christmas Card - Week of Dec. 3rd

The 1st Christmas Card
The custom of sending Christmas cards was started in the UK in 1843 by Sir Henry Cole. He was a senior civil servant (Government worker) who had helped set-up the new 'Public Record Office' (now called the Post Office), where he was an Assistant Keeper, and wondered how it could be used more by ordinary people. Sir Henry had the idea of Christmas Cards with his friend John Horsley, who was an artist. They designed the first card and sold them for 1 shilling each. The card had three panels. The outer two panels showed people caring for the poor and in the center panel was a family having a large Christmas dinner. Some people didn't like the card because it showed a child being given a glass of wine! About 1000 were printed and sold. The original cards were advertised with the slogan: "Just published, a Christmas Congratulations Card; or picture emblematical of old English festivity to perpetuate kind recollections between dear friends"! 
Christmas Cards appeared in the United States of America in the late 1840s, but were very expensive and most people couldn't afford them. In 1875, Louis Prang, a printer who was originally from Germany but who had also worked on early cards in the UK, started mass producing cards so more people could afford to buy them. Mr Prang's first cards featured flowers, plants, and children. In 1915, John C. Hall and two of his brothers created Hallmark Cards, who are still one of the biggest card makers today!

Ever since Cam's first Christmas, we've sent Christmas cards every December.  We don't have any crafty artists in our family, but Jane creates a rhyming poem attempting to cover highlights of the entire year.  It truly ends up being a mini novel. 
For the past 5 years, Holly and Ryan Gauper of Gauper Photo have taken our family pics.  We normally don't wait until this late date for our mini session.  On Sunday, we met up with Oma and Opa in downtown Muskegon to witness Holly and Ryan work their magic.  Somehow, everyone is smiling and they capture our crew.  It was an extremely chilly afternoon and the brisk wind left us all shivering.  Cam was a total trooper, though, and we all had a good laugh over the picture of his classic "I'm so done" face.  Everyone agreed we are targeting September next year.

After photos, we headed to the cottage to pick up some things and Oma promised Cam some hot cocoa.  She didn't have any instant, so proceeded to make the homemade Hershey's hot chocolate on the stove.  Cam was so impressed!  He asked if he could have this kind every time:)

We arrived back in Grand Rapids in time for our annual Sunday dinner with the Raisch's.  An extra added treat was munching on the delicious homemade caramel corn made by Mr. Steve.  It truly is the most scrumptious we've ever tasted.  Thankfully, our kind Cam is open to sharing the sweet treat with the rest of us!

Camology Quotes:

We began the Elf on the Shelf tradition many years ago.  This week the elf appeared once again.  Cam cannot wait every morning to see where the elf might be.  He was found hanging from a lamp, perched in the tree, holding onto a flashing light in the kitchen and on one particular morning, he was in the living room.  As Cam rounded the corner, he declared,
"First things first I need to find the elf.. well, I guess I'd better not go in my hammock today!"

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Home and Sick- Week of Nov. 26th

“No matter where I go, I’ll never forget home. I can feel its heartbeat a thousand miles away...” ~ Brenda Sutton Rose
After saying a sad goodbye to Mr. Ken/"Papa" with a visitation on Monday and funeral on Tuesday, Jane had to fly out west for work on Wednesday morning.

Upon landing in San Diego late in the day on Wednesday, she sent the picture view from her hotel room, to which Chris replied, "about the same here" depicting a snowy backyard.
Jane completed a presentation Thursday morning and headed for the airport.  She then discovered that Cam had been sick during the night on Wednesday and had to stay home on Thursday.  Poor buddy had a very upset stomach.  Super hero dad saved the night and day caring for his son and finishing up multiple loads of laundry due to the unfortunate side effects.

Cam's mom was more than happy to hang out with her son on Friday and by afternoon, he was feeling good again.  Per Cam's teacher, two other kids were out ill, so the 24-hour bug hit a few of them.
Saturday morning, our eager son was ready to tackle projects.  The first was moving in some extra furniture to store for Miss Amanda.  Cam supervised the transfer of a couch, chairs and tables to be set up in the lower level.
In the afternoon, Cam asked if he could assist his dad with hanging the Christmas lights "to make the outside shine!"

By early evening, we were ready to drive to Muskegon to meet Oma and Opa to celebrate Oma's birthday!  Everyone agreed that Olive Garden was the perfect place.  Cam asked Jane to reserve a table online while we were en route.  However, it indicated there was no wait.  When we arrived, there certainly were quite a few people looking for a table as well. 
Cam directed Jane to be certain to inform the hostess that their online reservation was most definitely not working.  After waiting for a bit, we were seated and hungry.  The delicious dinners and complimentary dessert (thanks to Oma's birthday) hit the spot! 
It tasted especially good to Cam who literally missed almost two whole days of eating this week.

Camology Quotes:
"Papa's" family wanted Cam to have some very special things that belonged to Mr. Ken.  A plaque complete with a clock and his police badges was on the list.  The minute Cam received it on Saturday he requested it be hung on the wall in his room where he could see it every day.  Cam has excellent hearing and noted that he could hear the new clock unless his fan was closer.  Chris jokingly asked his son, "Oh, you think your hearing is better than mine?"  And moving right along in step with his dad, Cam replied:
"Yes Dad.  You're old!"