Sunday, March 22, 2020

Prep, Plan, Prepare - Week of Mar. 16th

Some say that a cardinal is a representative of a loved one who has passed. When you see one, it means they are visiting you. They usually show up when you most need them or miss them. They also make an appearance during times of celebration as well as sadness to let you know they will always be with you.

It was our first full week of Cam home from school, adjusting to staying in and keeping busy.  Homework reigns supreme, but there is "free choice" time and Guess Who is definitely Cam's top pick for a game.

We quickly realized that many others in our community were in the process or prepping and planning by visiting stores and stocking up.  What we did not expect was the sheer emptiness of shelves with various items completely and utterly missing.

On a quick trip with Cam to the grocery in a less busy hour, he exclaimed "Whoa, you have got to see this!"
Even though we weren't able to find everything on our list, Jane was able to grab bread and toilet paper at our Walgreen's and with a freezer full of meat, we felt much more prepared to remain home as much as possible.
On Thursday, Cam was able to take a
road trip with his dad to Lansing where they needed to drop off equipment at a satellite office.  Father and son were gone all morning and returned at lunchtime, thankful for a change of scenery.

With zero activities on our weekend family agenda, we all pitched in to make one of our favorite pasta dishes first made by cousin Coco.  It's called Pasta Panache, but we call it Coco's Premiere Pasta since she first introduced us to it.  The recipe is a delicious combination of garlic, prosciutto, asparagus, cream cheese, and light cream.
Once all sauteed and combined, you put Jarlsberg and fresh Parmesan cheese at the bottom of a bowl, pour in the other ingredients and combine.  A cup of pistachio nuts on top and mixed together make this recipe one our all-time favorites!

Over the weekend, Chris needed to test out a new monitor for videoconferencing from his home office.  Luckily, he has the best technical assistant available.
Cam practiced muting and switching views and checking himself out in the monitor.  Jane and Auntie Karen were both a part of the conference too, accessing from other devices.
We had quite a few laughs and enjoyed our virtual time together.
Cam awaits your meeting request- his calendar is fairly open these days!

Camology Quotes:
Cam has been listening to some of the news regarding the health crisis.  He has asked many questions and absorbed the information.  When his parents went to check on him in his bathroom one evening, he immediately announced:
"Mom and Dad, Back up"
"Keep backing up.... more"
Cam- is there a super stinker in there?
"No, I am practicing social distancing!"

Sunday, March 15, 2020

In the Blink of an Eye - Week of Mar. 9th

"What a Difference A Day Makes" ... Or "a month," "a season," "a half" -- just pick your time period. It's meant to convey how things have changed dramatically for a team or individual, usually in a positive manner, but not necessarily. This is one of those cliches that has been so pounded into the ground that the source has been lost to obscurity. It's from the song "What a Diff'rence a Day Makes," a hit for Dinah Washington in 1959 and then again for Esther Phillips in 1975. 
What a difference a day makes 
Twenty-four little hours 
Brought the sun and the flowers 
Where there used to be rain

On Tuesday, March 10, Jane was scheduled to fly to New York City for a work conference.  At 12pm on Monday, March 9, the conference was canceled as well as company travel due to the growing concern over the coronavirus, Covid-19.  Thursday evening right before midnight, Cam's parents received a district-wide message that schools would be closed from Friday, March 13 until at least April 6 due to our Michigan governor wisely ordering closure.  Yes, what a difference a day makes.
Cam has had many questions and a cough or sneeze follow with his immediate inquiry, "Do I have the corona?"
We are constantly reassuring, but also being honest in that we do not have all of the answers, because this is unknown for everyone.
Like our son has shown us consistently in so many ways, we are choosing to remain positive.  Because of his outlook, we enjoyed a weekend of practicing walking, cleaning the house and fulfilling chores.
On Saturday, Cam arrived at his scheduled haircut at Jude's Barbershop in Cascade.  His stylist, Heather, was wearing a mask and gloves as a protective precaution due to her pregnancy.
When Cam saw himself in the mirror upon completion, he exclaimed "Wow, this is awesome.  Look how awesome I look!  Thank you Ms. Heather!"  She genuinely told him that he absolutely made her day and she certainly wished all of her clients would be so ecstatic!
Stay positive, all, and please, make someone's day brighter 😀

Camology Quotes:
Chris has worked to adapt so many different things for Cam.  After a few attempts in the past, a system was devised for our son to be able to take the garbage down the long driveway to the curb.
When asked to assist or help with these types of projects, he is eagerly asserting his independence...
"I'm on it, mister!"

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner - Week of Mar. 2nd

It's funny how you can say a phrase over and over and not realize its source or beginning...

The exact origin of the phrase winner winner chicken dinner is disputed, but it may have come from gamblers. The most popular origin story of the term is that a chicken dinner at a Las Vegas casino used to cost $2, the same amount as a standard bet. So, if you won a bet, you won a chicken dinner!
Deep discussion about chicken dinner
On Saturday evening or should we say early afternoon, Cam attended his very first chicken dinner in Hubbardston, Michigan for the cost of $10/person and $5/kid.  We arrived promptly at 4:30p to meet "Uncle" Bill and "Aunt" Pat (Jane's cousins).  We rode there with Coco and Libby (Bill's nieces) and Coco's fiance, Max.  Jane and her son had never attended the famous chicken dinner so they weren't quite sure what to expect.  Let's just say it was beyond Cam's expectations.
Upon being seated, fresh rolls and butter were provided.  After being asked what we wanted to drink, a hot plate of fried chicken, homemade mashed potatoes and gravy, baked beans and coleslaw all seemed to arrive simultaneously.  Directly following our meal, an entire dessert cart (not tray) appeared at our table with three levels of a multitude of pie and brownie choices.  Cam was impressed by the sheer speed of the entire event.  He's very accustomed to waiting quite awhile in restaurants and this chicken dinner was clearly a five star review for him.

Back at home that evening, Coco and Max asked Cam if he would accept the honor of ringing the church bells for them at their May wedding.  He was super excited and quickly yelled "Yes, yes, for sure yes!"

Chris and his son added a new piece of equipment to their garage workshop- a Carbide 3D machine.  It took them awhile to get it set up, but they produced their first output over the weekend.  The wooden sign proudly says "Cam Weatherford thanks for helping with our first project."
As with most family activities, we know this first design will be one of many more to come!

Camology Quotes:
Chris and Jane have decided that Cam's days at school far outrank their work days as it relates to fun and creativity.  
This week their class all helped out with a rice krispie treat recipe.
"I made rice krispie treats at school today, Mom!"
Awesome!  Did you bring any home?
"No.  They can only be eaten at school."

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Cafe Cronies - Week of Feb. 24th

"I have no special talent.  I am only passionately curious." ~Albert Einstein

"No Smile" Passport Pic
We assume a lot as adults.  When a kid asks a question, there are times when we don't know the answer, we kind of bluff our way through it.  With Cam, we have found it is better to plead ignorance and check the information to be certain.  So, when he started asking multiple questions about passports, it was best to ask someone at the post office versus us trying to respond.
It turns out when you apply for a passport, your application is sent to Philadelphia or Texas.  From there, it is sent to any number of states for processing and creation.  It is a state department responsibility and not a homeland security one, as some might assume.
Friday morning, Jane and Cam were off to turn in Cam's passport application and picture for an upcoming trip to Canada.  Fortunately for us, a very patient postal worker answered all questions to Cam's satisfaction.

Brody had made plans with his buddies to meet at the coffee shop on Saturday late morning.  Cam and Liam were more than happy to comply with his request and their respective parents looked forward to the visit as well.  Cam and Brody have known each other since kindergarten and Cam and Liam were in preschool together.
We all met at Brody's be Cafe to hang out for a bit.  The boys wanted to play Uno and the card game filled with skips, draw twos, wilds and color changes ensued.  The cafe buddies filled the coffee shop with laughter!

Ms. Ann has been providing tutoring for Cam two days a week after school.  In addition to that, she's been able to stay other times as well.

Sunday was a day of projects for Cam and his dad, while Jane attended a bridal shower for Ms. Amanda.  In the early evening, Ms. Ann arrived to spend time with Cam and teach him all about a skein holder for yarn.  None of us had ever seen this contraption so it was a lesson for everyone!
While the yarn spinning class was underway, Chris and Jane headed out for dinner and a concert downtown, a Christmas present for the two of them.
Cam woke up soon after we arrived home, making certain we were there.  He asked what time we came in and we responded, "much too late for a school night!"

Camology Quotes:
At a school meeting, Cam's teacher noted how kind and empathetic our son is towards others.  At home we are often taken aback by the sudden burst of sweet words.  You would think they would be followed by a request for something, but surprisingly, they never are.
"Mom and Dad, you are the best parents for me.  I am so happy you are my parents!"

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Ice Ice Baby - Week of Feb. 17th

“I take to the open road, Healthy, free, the world before me.” ~Walt Whitman
“Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead, where there is no path and leave a trail.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

When the unexpected situation arises, try to have a backup plan, or an Oma.
On Monday, Cam's grandma came into Grand Rapids for an appointment and to stay the night with us.  Her plan was to leave Tuesday a.m. after Cam boarded the school bus.  The thing is, Cam did not get on the bus because school was closed due to icy back roads!  Oma graciously agreed to stay until late afternoon so Jane could attend scheduled work meetings.  Since our son loves school, a cancellation is not his first choice, but spending the day playing games with his grandma sure was fun!

School was in session the remainder of the week and Cam and classmates had a field trip to hear the symphony.  He is pictured here with his friend, Addisyn.
On Saturday it was time for a family road trip!  We traveled northward to meet Oma and Opa at Country Dairy for lunch.  It is one of our favorites.  Not only can you order lunch, but they have all different kinds of cheeses, ice cream, dairy and meat you can purchase.  We think the most unique offering is the "bottomless" chocolate/white milk, meaning you can refill your cup as many times as you wish.  It truly is the best chocolate milk we have ever tasted!

Afterwards, Cam asked if we could use google maps to direct us to the cottage.  It took us a different way we had never been.  We were exploring the open road all because of our inquisitive boy.
We were excited to be at Oma and Opa's to see the newly formed ice on Lake Michigan.  It is much less of a frozen tundra than in past years, but still a sight to see.
Cam and Jane worked to assist Cam's grandparents with passport application completion online.  It was a bit of a history lesson with them trying to remember dates and birthplaces.  Even though the wind was brisk, the sunshine was inviting and we were reminded that spring is not too far away now!
Camology Quotes:
As Cam continues to grow, his power wheelchair does not.  A replacement chair is currently in the lengthy insurance process, but in the meantime, adjustments need to be made on his current one.
Luckily, Cam's dad is incredibly handy and is able to manipulate the different areas on the chair when others may need to take it to a professional.  After Chris was finished with the changes, Cam tried it out.
"Dad, I fit great.  Thank you for going the extra mile!"

Sunday, February 16, 2020

All About the Love - Week of Feb. 10th

"Loving is not just looking at each other, it’s looking in the same direction." ~Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
"They invented hugs to let people know you love them without saying anything." ~Bil Keane

When Cam was younger, the week of Valentine's Day was filled with preparing what to pass out to his classmates.  The ever popular card with a sugary treat was favored by most.  Our family favorites were always the handmade ones.  For quite a few years, we opted for creating bookmarks or coupons.
It seems our son definitely prefers the 'older kid' activities of the 5/6 building.
Before Friday, though, a field trip to pick up the half cow we ordered was on the list.  Ms. Ann now lives right next to a farm and we decided to split a cow between Ms. Ann's family and ours.  Chris and Cam headed over to Byron Center on Tuesday evening.  However, the large but not deep boxes made for a hilarious return trip as meat began to scatter everywhere in the back of the van.

At school this week, the room was decorated and the kids took some funny pictures.  The Northern Trails 5/6 building began a tradition of bowling for Valentine's Day quite a few years ago.  Cam thinks it far exceeds the card exchange of grades past.
Both 5th and 6th graders end up at one of two bowling alleys for a couple of hours to enjoy an outing with their friends.

Saturday eve became our Raisch dinner time.  We feasted on Thanksgiving in February by cooking a boneless turkey breast, homemade stuffing, mashed potatoes and veggies.  At dinner, Patti was telling us about an article she read announcing the opening of a new place- Bro's Doughs on the East Beltline.  We were intrigued, so Patti, Jane, Emma and Cam all trekked over after dinner to check it out.
At Bro's Doughs, they think there's nothing wrong with pre-made doughnuts, but their establishment believes in a better way to doughnut. And that "way" is one made before your eyes - quick, fun, and mini! As you come in the door, they fry your mini doughnuts right in front of you and top them while they're still warm. There are 50 flavor options to choose from!
The toughest decision was deciding which creation to pick.  Both families gave a resounding thumbs up and our recommendation to try it for yourselves.

It's funny how love can be shown in so many ways- a small gesture, kind words, a helping hand. Even animals have their own way of showing us love.
A hug can be more powerful than the words "I love you" and a twelve year old who still asks for hugs is one of the greatest Valentine gifts of all.

Camology Quotes:
At the bowling alley!
Story update:  Thanks to Cam's tenacity and ability to keep his parents focused on a goal, we received our replacement gift card in the mail this week from a package that was lost at Christmas!

Jane was discussing the high school sweetheart dance while Cam was listening...
"How do you do the dance, Mom?"
I'm not sure what you mean, Cam.  It's a dance you go to with other people.
"Ohhhh.  I thought you had a to learn a certain dance called the Sweetheart Dance just to go there!"

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Roll With It - Week of Feb. 3rd

"Go with the flow" relaxed and accept a situation, rather than trying to alter or control it.

At the beginning of every day, it is a good motto to repeat.  We have come to realize it's an imperative reminder when it comes to accessibility.  There are truly things that are simply out of our control each and every day.  The weather, traffic, reactions...the list goes on.

Miss Ella, Cam, Bexley (Sophia's brother)
We knew the weekend would be a busy one for us with activities scheduled throughout.  Chris ended up needing to attend a funeral on Saturday so it was a Jane and Cam day.  We work so well together as a family unit that when one of us is away, it is adaptation time.

Our Saturday morning started off with a birthday party for Miss Sophia turning 1!  Sophia's mom is Katherine, one of Cam's first caregivers.  The donut-themed party began at 10am.  Cam and his mom started out in the heavy snowfall with a manual wheelchair loaded in the van behind the power one he was in.  With some lifting assistance we made it into the house with Cam in the manual chair.  It's tough for him not to be able to drive around and have his own independence but Miss Ella (Sophia's cousin) decided she wanted to take Cam around on her own.  It's always telling that kids have no apprehension when it comes to acceptance.
After eating delicious donuts, a cake in the shape of a huge donut and fresh fruit, we were on our way to grab a quick lunch at home.

Next up was a fresh haircut for Cam at Jude's.  Immediately following, mom and son were off to a suit store.  Ms. Amanda's upcoming wedding with Cam's role providing ring security required us to determine if he could be fitted similar to the groomsmen.
Upon entrance, we were greeted so warmly by the owner who guessed Cam's size immediately.  He assured us he had the proper items, but the ring security boy would need to try on the outfit first.  Jane was a bit puzzled how they could make it happen without Chris there, but like most challenges, they overcame and succeeded!  The store owner suggested a bow tie for Cam instead of a long tie.  We all decided the ring security kid looked very handsome!

Experiences given as gifts are proving to be a great present for our fam.  Sunday was the long-awaited date for our Grand Rapids Griffins Hockey Game at our downtown Van Andel Arena.  The tickets were a Christmas present for all of us.

Cam, in his infinite wisdom, insisted that he and his mom complete some pre-research prior to the event.  Our organized son helped Jane find the seating chart online as well as the best place to park.  Even though his mom indicated that she and Chris knew the arena, Cam's insistence paid off.  Not only did we park in a great spot with a short walk to a side entrance, but we were only an elevator ride to our seats which were directly down a hallway when we were on our correct floor.  Our Griffins team prevailed 5-1 in the exciting game.  In another planning moment, Cam requested to have dinner before we left the Van Andel Arena.  Luckily, they have chicken tenders and fries...a genius move on our son's part since the snowy weather and slower traffic greatly delayed our drive home!

Camology Quotes:
Nearly every weekday, Jane and Cam make the trek down the long driveway to wait for the bus.  Typically, they have some fun chats along the way.

"What is for dinner, Mom?"
I think we will have tacos tonight.
"That sounds good.  He won't be riding the bus, though."
What?  Who won't be riding the bus?
"Mom, sorry I went off topic!"