Sunday, December 26, 2021

A Happy, Merry Christmas - Week of Dec. 20th

It was hard to believe that Christmas was only a few days only.  
Sometimes we wonder where things originate.  
The phrase "Merry Christmas" made us do a bit of research. 
The greeting dates back to at least 1534 in London, when it was written in a letter sent to Henry VIII's chief minister Thomas Cromwell from bishop John Fisher. Scholars also note the phrase was used in the 16th century English carol "We Wish You a Merry Christmas." 
It's important to note that "Happy Christmas" hasn't faded completely- it's still widely used in England. This is believed to be because "happy" took on a higher class connotation than "merry," which was associated with the rowdiness of the lower classes. The royal family adopted "Happy Christmas" as their preferred greeting, and others took note. (In fact, each year, Queen Elizabeth continues to wish her citizens a "Happy Christmas," rather than a merry one.) So when did "Happy Christmas" become "Merry Christmas" in the U.S.? Historians believe it might boil down to a simple grammatical lesson. "Happy" is a word that describes an inner emotional condition, while "merry" is more of a behavior descriptor—something active and maybe even raucous. Consider, for example, the free-spirited act of "merry-making" versus the state of simply "being happy." As both words evolved and changed meanings over time, people slowly stopped using "merry" as its own individual word during the 18th and 19th centuries. It stuck around in common phrases like "the more, the merrier," as well as in things like Christmas songs and stories, largely due to the influence of Charles Dickens. The Victorian Christmas went on to define many of today's Christmas traditions.
Gearing up for some merriment ourselves, we were excited to welcome Oma and Opa Wednesday afternoon.  Cam proudly showed off his blanket that he made in class as a present for his family.  
After a trip to Heidi's Farm stand, Cam and his grandma were on a mission to make more applesauce. Two separate batches were done in record time.

With all of the festivities, one member of the family who doesn't get as much attention is our cat, Stella. 
Cam was insistent on giving her a gift. Jane picked up a new cozy pet bed for her.  Cameron talked to Stella about it and presented it to her.
After leaving it upstairs, our feline completed a thorough investigation and deemed it worthy of her resting in the new napping place.
Christmas Eve was relaxing and spent indoors. Late in the afternoon we all watched a nearby church service online.  We dined on delicious flank steak and mashed potatoes and leisurely capped off the evening watching the classic movie "Santa Claus" with everyone.

On Christmas Day, we all slept in and took our time with gift giving activities.  Each of us always seems more excited for someone to open a gift given almost more than revealing gifts received.
Highlights included battery-operated heated gloves and hand warmers for the family, books for all, a robot hand for Cam, a smoker for Chris, a handmade neon sign for Jane's office, games for the family, puzzles, new clothes for all and a mini laptop for Jane.

Chris and Cam spent a good part of the day assembling the robot hand while a tasty ham was cooking for Christmas Day dinner.  Cam's grandparents and Jane busied themselves with putting things away and reveling in all of the goodies.  Oma read two new books with her grandson while they were both wrapped in a warm blanket.

With each passing year, moments and memories seem to carry more meaning.  Our thanks go out to Oma and Opa for their company,  delicious holiday treats, extra help and gifts!  And a big thank you to Ms. Ann who had fun with Cam in the beginning of the week while Chris and Jane finished up work activities.
Although we didn't see any extended family this holiday, we were content with our small group.  If good things come in small packages, great things come in small gatherings!

Camology Quotes:

Leading up to Christmas, Cam's excitement seems to heighten with each passing day.  During his shower one evening this week, he was almost shouting when chatting with his mom.  Jane noted that he was talking very loudly to which her son replied...
"Ok, I can turn my volume down, Mom!"

Sunday, December 19, 2021

Cam Coupons - Week of Dec. 13th

Atlanta businessman Asa Candler had a brainstorm in 1887 when he created the first coupon. At the time, brainstorm referred to a brief period of insanity, but you can't question the Coca-Cola co-owner's sanity when he hit upon this invaluable marketing device. Looking for a name for the new marketing device, the Coca-Cola co-owner turned to the French language; deriving the word coupon from the French word "couper," meaning "to cut."

Cam arrived home from school mid-week with "Cam Coupons" for his mom and dad.  As an assignment/gift, he had to think of things his parents would appreciate.  His seven coupons consisted of: "I will take out the trash for a week" -- "I will help clean the table for a week" -- "Help with a project" -- "Help plan the meals and make a grocery list for a week" -- "I will not yell at my friends or my parents" -- "Watch a movie with mom and dad of their own choice" and "Free hugs for a week whenever you ask" which is Jane's personal favorite.

The week started off a bit shaky as both Chris and his son seemed to have picked up a nasty cold.  After laying low last weekend, Cam stayed home from school on Monday and Chris was home for the remainder of the week. Jane somehow remained healthy.  After being tested and cleared, the weekend brought normalcy back to the Weatherford household.  

It was a busy week mailing packages and Christmas cards.  Our quality control supervisor, Cam, made certain we finished our tasks and began checking things off the list.  

Our tradition of sending cards involves each family member and it is a labor of love.  When the last card is mailed, we collectively cheer, especially when finishing before Dec. 25th!

Our family joke is that one of these years, we may need to send magnifying glasses along with our cards😉

Camology Quotes:

Cam and his mom are not accustomed to seeing Chris sick.  As a former Marine, he seems to power through everything.  His coughing made his voice crack, which is also very uncommon.  One evening, Cam exclaimed...
"Dad, is your voice broken?! Stop this silliness!"

Sunday, December 12, 2021

Singing Sweetly - Week of Dec. 6th

"The only thing better than singing is more singing." ~Ella Fitzgerald  

"A bird doesn't sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song." ~Maya Angelou

Inclusion is defined as the practice or policy of providing equal access to opportunities and resources for people who might otherwise be excluded or marginalized, such as those who have physical or mental disabilities and members of other minority groups.

Since 5th grade, Cam has been a part of choir.  It is a great example of how inclusion works in the school system.  Music has always been a part of our lives and Cameron gravitates towards lyrical songs.  He now anticipates Christmas music playing full-time on the radio station when he's riding in the van.  

The choir concert on Tuesday evening provided the opportunity for the middle school to sing 3 songs on stage.  Cam was so excited for the concert and couldn't wait for the event.  His best bud, Brody, teacher Mrs. Wells and aide Mrs. Festian are all pictured.

The concert was livestreamed online and one of Cam's former nanny's, Katherine, snapped the fun photo of her laptop while listening at home.

On Thursday, the small group from Cam's eighth grade made their way to Target for a Christmas shopping outing. As homework, our son had to make a list of people he wanted to purchase gifts for, figure out how much money he needed, and bring a list of the items along with cash to school for the field trip.  

Our son purchased an item each for his parents and grandparents.  The kids had pizza in their classroom upon return and wrapped all of the gifts at school!

It is no secret that Cam's favorite treat is chocolate.  He prefers chocolate to any other type of candy.  When Ms. Ann brought a present from her daughter Katherine and family, he opened it before dinner.  Upon discovery, he let out a very loud "Oh Yeah!" and if you'd been a witness, you would have sworn he just unwrapped a winning lottery ticket!

Camology Quotes:

Cam has been a part of the Forest Hills Northern School District since he entered kindergarten. Ever since that young age, his teachers and other students have stood out for their insight and sensitivity relating to including our son in different activities.  We were sent a picture of Cam's fellow choir students creating an impromptu tunnel for him after practice.  The best part of the picture was the message along with it from Mrs. Festian...
"Those kids did it all on their own. Love it!"

Sunday, December 5, 2021

Holiday Parade - Week of Nov. 29th

 "Taking pictures is savoring life intensely, every hundredth of a second." ~Marc Riboud

"You can look at a picture for a whole week and never think of it again. You can look at a picture for a second and think of it all your life." ~Joan Miro

This is 7th year that the Gaupers have taken our family photographs. Each session we have with them is always creative and a different location. Cam's grandparents have been a part of this tradition with us. A seemingly normal spot in downtown Grand Rapids was the chosen locale. We received our digital photos in email, ready for download.  Once again, we're amazed that less than 30 minutes produces such great pics. We highly recommend Ryan and Holly for any professional photo needs.

Squirrels are always active in our backyard.  This time of year they are seeking areas to hide their winter supplies.  As Cam's dad discovered, our outdoor grill cover became a target for the active wildlife.  Upon detection, the Weber was moved away from the railing which served as an easy access.  We were all impressed by the creature's creativity in seeking a place to conceal their food.

On Saturday morning, we readied ourselves for an outdoor event in downtown Ada, the annual Santa Parade.  It was cancelled last year, so there was a good amount of excitement surrounding the small village.  Our family signed up to volunteer for Brody's Be CafĂ© and be a part of the actual parade itself!
It was chilly, but the sunshine definitely helped acclimate all of the spectators and participants.  Chris had the honor of towing the "coffee cup" in the parade.  Cam and Jane wore aprons and hats to help advertise the non-profit coffee shop. 

That same evening, Chris' company held a holiday party.  Ms. Ann stayed with Cam and as predicted, they had a great evening watching a Christmas movie.  Cam's parents were home well past his bedtime and most thankful for Ann's insistence that they not return early. 

One of the reasons we always anticipate our family photo digital delivery is the fact that we begin the arduous (but fun) task of creating our Christmas card poem and determining which pictures to use in the layout.  Cam loves our tradition of figuring out all of the wording and display of photographs.  In fact, without his insistence, the entire project would most certainly be delayed.  We have found over the years that many things may not have even come to fruition without the quality management oversight of our son.

Camology Quotes:
Cam had a doctor's appointment at MFB this week with one of our favorites, Dr. Voss.
Since we hadn't seen her in quite some time, we were commenting about the absence of our Halloween Heroes parade at MFB and wheelchair costume building.  We also made mention that Cam had reached the age of thinking he may be too old for Halloween costumes.  His dad immediately commented with his quick wit:
"Huh Cam, Well, maybe you're too old for Christmas presents..."
"Dad!  That is a curse word!"

Sunday, November 28, 2021

Full of Thanks - Week of Nov. 22nd

“Gratitude is a quality similar to electricity: It must be produced and discharged and used up in order to exist at all.” ~William Faulkner

Cam only attended one day of school this week.  His outpatient eye surgery was on the calendar for Tuesday.  The hospital called indicating his procedure was scheduled for 2pm and we were to arrive at 12:30pm. Most kids and adults would chime in with complaints left and right. Cam, however, was only thinking about his dinner plans for Tuesday evening knowing he wouldn't be allowed to eat a meal until then. His chosen request- chicken pot pie for his post-surgical meal.
Our backyard-
Thanksgiving morning!

Tuesday morning, Jane and her son drove to Middleville where Otto's Turkey Farm resides.  Supporting a local business and picking out how large our fresh turkey needed to be were high priorities. Upon arrival and making our way into the store area, we were asked the turkey size. We love leftovers and requested a 23-25 lb bird. We left with a 24-lb'er!  

After returning home, it wasn't long before we departed for the hospital to meet our timeframes. Cam's eye work to be conducted was for strabismus surgery (also: extraocular muscle surgery, eye muscle surgery, or eye alignment surgery) which is on the extraocular muscles to correct strabismus, the misalignment of the eyes. Dissolving stitches were in place behind his both pupils. Everything went smoothly and the recovery nurses indicated that Cam was one of the most polite teenagers they had ever met. And true to his request, he enjoyed chicken pot pie for dinner that evening.

On Wednesday afternoon, we welcomed Oma and Opa, ready to spend three nights with us. Although Cam was in recovery mode and his eyes looked very red and uncomfortable, he rallied and enjoyed spending time with his grandparents. He and Oma busied themselves making apple pie.
On Thursday, grandpa and grandson gathered all of the ingredients for homemade stuffing.  It is a tradition they started years ago.

While the stuffed turkey baked in the oven, we all watched the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade on tv and then football games.
When we gathered at the table for our big dinner, Cam said the blessing and each person individually took a turn to say what they were thankful for.  Most everyone said family, good health, good friends and the meal before us. After the feast, we had a break before partaking in Oma and Cam's apple pie ala mode.
The next day we had all decided we could decorate as a group. Chris had readied the tree with built-in lights and Opa carried the ornaments from the storeroom.  It's amazing how much faster everything gets done when so many are pitching in.  We also began the task of Christmas poem creation and determining photos to be displayed on the cards.  Within a few hours, it looked very festive in our home and we treated ourselves to a take-out dinner after all of the hard work.
We were grateful and most thankful for the extra help and extra time spent with Cam grandparents.
It is telling how different generations have expressions that are simply unknown to the younger set.  We were sorting through things when Oma said, "Ok, let's trim the tree!" Cam responded by saying, "Oma, we don't trim the tree, we decorate it!"

Camology Quotes:

After being under anesthesia, hungry, and with sore, itchy eyes, we were surprised to hear Cam's politeness and good manners in full swing at the hospital.  On the drive home, we were talking about the different nurses and the experience of the day.  Cam does have a tendency to think about others and suggested the following:

"Can we do a survey? They were exceptionally nice."

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Project Preso - Week of Nov. 15th

A literal blanket of leaves
in our backyard
"Before anything else, preparation is the key to success."  ~Alexander Graham Bell 
"The best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today." ~H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Cam's parents are very familiar with presentations.  
Jane presents almost daily for her job via video, now from her home office. Last week, Cam was given an assignment to research a biome and provide a computer slide presentation to his class.  His topic was the rainforest.  Ms. Ann, his expert tutor, worked with him to plan out the exercise, making certain they had plenty of time.  After finishing daily homework, the rainforest topic was reviewed.  Cam's slides had to contain certain elements and Ms. Ann insisted that these were his own words and thoughts.  She calculated that Cam spent a total of 7 hours on the project when they finished it up Friday night! We were all commenting how good it feels to finish something you're assigned to do.

After all of that hard work, we had a fun Saturday planned out.  In the afternoon, Cam and Jane went to pick up Cam's best buddy, Brody and his mom, Jenny.  The boys had been talking about seeing a movie and the chosen one, "Addams Family 2" was playing at the local theater. Of course, we first secured popcorn and treats for our matinee.  Following the fun showing, we strolled over to Buffalo Wild Wings for a tasty dinner.  Jenny and Jane were pretty impressed with both of their boys using such nice manners with the waitresses. On our ride home, we all commented that the movie/dinner combo should become a regular occurrence.

Chris and his son went together for their handsome haircuts this week.
Cam's dad, always ready for fun, found a ring light in the barbershop to snap a fun pic.  It seems that some traditions, like this one, will remain timeless no matter how old these two are.

Camology Quotes:

Sunday afternoons, father and son can usually be seen working on a computer project. Chris now has his desk in the sunroom where Cam's homework area is also located.  It seems our kiddo definitely has a mind for technology and for helping his dad have patience when it comes to troubleshooting.

"Dad, do not give up! Try opening a private browser."

Sunday, November 14, 2021

The Nature of November - Week of Nov. 8th

"A wounded deer leaps the highest." ~Emily Dickinson 

"From all kinds of flowers, Seek teachings everywhere, Like a deer that finds A quiet place to graze, Seek Seclusion to digest All you have gathered. . ." ~Namkhai Norbu

November typically marks a big seasonal shift in the weather, especially in Michigan.  The deer begin their trek through our backyard to hide from hunters and the ground is suddenly covered in frost some mornings.  Since Daylight Savings Time ended on Sun. Nov. 7, our early ventures to meet the bus are much lighter.  We do feel so fortunate to catch the beautiful sunrise we often see from our perch on the hill.  Each one, although similar, seems to contain a different hue and design.

Veterans Day fell on Thursday this week and Cam arrived home with a typed message for his dad. 

"Thank you Dad for serving in the military. You are really kind for being in the military. Thank you for serving. I appreciate you for serving in the military. Thank you!"  Chris told his son it was the best part of his day. We are so very proud of Cam's dad for his four years of service in the Marine Corps.

Cam also received a "Crew" award at school for being an exemplary student and from the picture it definitely looks like he was happy about it too.

Friday evening we saw our first round of actual snow that stuck to the ground, but only for that night.  It did look white and fluffy and the roads weren't affected so it's the best kind of snowflakes to see for the initial arrival.

Saturday was a busy day.  We left Grand Rapids around 10am to drive to the cottage with a list of things to accomplish.  Oma had made us her famous chicken tetrazzini for lunch and it tasted so delicious accompanied by her homemade applesauce.  While Cam and Jane assisted with computer help, Chris and Opa handled the outside water turnoff and finished off a few other tasks.  Lastly, we used the thermal plastic to close off a portion of the dining room to make things a bit warmer with the colder weather setting in.  When we left around 3:30p, the wind was chilly but the rain held off.  

Upon arrival back home, we welcomed Ms. Ann who had planned to hang out with Cam for the evening.  This would be the first time Cam's parents would stay out past Cam's bedtime in almost 2 years! As Cameron has grown, it's a bit more challenging for a single individual to transfer him into bed, but Ms. Ann took on the challenge and crushed it!  Chris and Jane enjoyed an evening at a non-profit function and truly delighted in the picture sent of their happy son in bed.  The evening couldn't have been better for Cam or his parents...and we think that Ms. Ann may have enjoyed herself as well.

Camology Quotes:

Our cat, Stella is now 15 years old which is 76 years of age in a human equivalent. She has settled into a strange routine of wanting to be placed onto Cam's countertop to be able to meow for fresh water in the sink. One evening as Cam started his bathroom routine and Stella was drinking H2O, he was thinking to himself and looking at the shower instead of at his cat. Suddenly, we heard uncontrollable laughter from the bathroom and when Cam could finally breathe again to tell us what happened, this was the punch line.  

"I was not looking at my cat and I turned and she was right in my face. Stella got in my personal space!"

Sunday, November 7, 2021

The Gift of Grandparents - Week of Nov. 1st

“Sometimes our grandmas and grandpas are like grand-angels.” ~Lexie Saige 

“Grandparents can be very special resources. Just being close to them reassures a child, without words, about change and continuity, about what went before and what will come after.” ~Fred Rogers

We know Cam is fortunate to be able to see his grandparents.  His dad's mom, Grandma Sue, lives in Arizona but keeps in contact and we enjoyed a long visit in May.  Chris' dad is in California and that trek is a bit further. Jane's parents live a little more than an hour away so they're able to make the drive to us and we to them on a fairly regular basis. There is a natural trust and admiration between grandchildren and grandparents.  Cam's excitement over an Oma and Opa impending stay has never faltered. 

At school, time is regularly spent in the gymnasium and Cam's gym teacher continues to challenge him with different activities. Once again, we are beyond thankful for the care and consideration of our son's mental and physical needs in the school setting.

Cam had a scheduled half day on Friday, arriving home to Ms. Ann ready and waiting at the bus.  The two were busy working on schoolwork for the afternoon.  

Oma and Opa arrived mid-afternoon and settled in with us for the weekend.  Cam's grandma brought her famous applesauce which is a staple at every dinner.  We had two family meals all together and declared they were some of the best ever!  Jane and her mom completed some early Christmas shopping on Saturday and Cam assisted with computer projects over the weekend.

Sunday was a busy day.  Chris, Cam and Jane arrived at Brody's Be CafĂ© at noon ready for outdoor igloo setup.  We had a stellar team of people helping out and the Cole family brought homemade chili as well as tortilla soup.  The weather was mild and Brody provided musical entertainment as Cam supervised the stand up of both igloos.

Directly after the cafĂ© activities, we stopped to pick up Oma and Opa at our house to head downtown for our annual family photo shoot.  We couldn't have chosen a better day, although at the time it was scheduled, it was unknown if the Michigan climate would cooperate.  It will be a few weeks before the photos are sent and we can share our favorites.  Cam's grandparents said goodbye late in the afternoon. The time together has become more precious as we continue to grow our ever-expanding vault of memories.

Camology Quotes:

As Cam's 'sleeping on the weekend habit' has settled into a regular occurrence, he is becoming savvy to his ability to carefully plan his Saturday and Sunday mornings.  At 7:30am, he called out to Jane with the following request: 

"Mom, can you please take the banana bread out of the freezer and put bacon in the oven?  I am not ready to get up yet!"