Sunday, September 26, 2021

Upgrade, Please - Week of Sept. 20th

"It's not a faith in technology.  It is a faith in people." ~Steve Jobs  

"The advance of technology is based on making it fit in so that you don't even really notice it, so it's a part of everyday life." ~Bill Gates

Both of Cam's parents have careers that deal with technology.  It is fitting that Cameron seems to gravitate toward it as well.  He is always asking poignant questions relating to how things work or why something was designed a certain way.  This week, the latest iOS (Apple) software upgrade became available for Cam's iPad and his parents' smartphones.   And of course, Cam was first to update his device.  He then proceeded to fearlessly test out all of the new features.  Beginning the very next day, Cam made it his mission to remind his parents (every 5 minutes or less) that they needed to complete their updates immediately.  Suffice it to say, Chris and Jane successfully upgraded their devices and learned about the 'latest and greatest' from their son.

We had a surprise visit from cousin David who flew in from Texas on Thursday.  He landed in Grand Rapids close to dinnertime and we invited him to a home-cooked meal at our place, just ten minutes from the airport.  Cam proceeded to request a play-by-play of David's entire trip and peppered him with questions throughout.  Our cousin loved seeing all of the drone videos and pictures Chris had taken of the Lake Michigan shoreline.  We sent David on his way north to his cottage with some scrumptious homemade strawberry jam.

Friday was an outdoor morning at school for Cam.  It was a half day so the kids enjoyed activities on the soccer field and track.  It turns out that the picture of Cam as the "goalie" made it to the Forest Hills Northern Middle School Instagram page.  He was pretty thrilled by the whole thing and couldn't wait to tell Oma and Opa, who just happened to be at his home on Friday afternoon.  They drove into GR to spend time with our family and to attend Cam's awesome baseball game on Saturday morning.

We have been so fortunate with our fall weather this year and Saturday was no exception!  The morning was cooler but filled with bright sunshine as we made our way to Rockford for the 10:00 am game time.  The Hope College Women's Basketball Team was on board as volunteers for the three-game event.  The Fifth Third Bank videoboard is an awesome addition to the West Michigan Miracle League field.  As parents, we were asked to send in a picture that could be displayed.  Cam chose the pic of him in the shades and the crowd seemed to approve of it as well.  Each picture is shown as the player arrives at the batter position.

It was a big 'Cam Fan' day at the ballfield- Mary Jo (one of Cam's sitters) and her mom, Ms. Cris (Cam's former parapro), Oma & Opa, Coleen (A.I.M. Exec Director), Mrs. Festian (Cam's current parapro) and of course, best buddy Brody who plays on the same team as Cam.

We are reminded, constantly, of the people who remain a part of Cam's life even though they don't see him on a daily or even a monthly basis. It is a testament to the mark he leaves on others and the ability he has to draw people in over and over again, no matter how long it has been since they have actually seen each other.

Sunrise from the Weatherford house

Camology Quotes:

At bedtime, Cam is quite insistent on experiencing darkness in his bedroom.  It seems at times he may even be a bit dramatic with his need for the room to be dark.  As noted by a recent comment at his early time to bed in relation to his curtain and setting sun.

"The light from the curtain is boring into my eyes!"

Sunday, September 19, 2021

The Best Part of Me - Week of Sept. 13th

"Before you speak ask yourself if what you are going to say is true, is kind, is necessary, is helpful. If the answer is no, maybe what you are about to say should be left unsaid."  ~Bernard Meltzer

There was a time when we didn't know if Cam would ever be able to fully express himself with a large vocabulary.  When he entered kindergarten he was comprehending everything, but unable to find his voice with multiple words and sentences.  It seemed to Chris and Jane that Cam went from saying 3 words at a time to full and complete sentences.  Perhaps that is the reason, when fulfilling a school assignment this week, that Cam pegged the best part of him as his mouth.  His class studied and reviewed a book entitled "The Best Part of Me" and in a discussion group they had to write out/type and share thoughts.  Cam's output of his best part, his mouth, produced the following: "I can say nice things. I like to smile. I like to laugh. I can talk to my friends. I love talking to my peer helpers."

Ever since Cam was little, his parents have always thought he has an infectious smile.  Of course, they are a bit biased.  On Friday, Cam experienced his first field trip in almost 2 years.  His small class went to Frederick Meijer Gardens where they toured the indoor and outdoor exhibits and ate a sack lunch.  Upon leaving the gardens, they stopped for a delicious treat at The Pumphouse Frozen Yogurt Bar.  Cam declared it "best field trip ever!" upon his return home from school.

Saturday's schedule included a 12:20p game at the West Michigan Miracle League.  The sun was shining and the breeze was light which enabled Chris to fly the drone high above the ball field.

Ms. Amanda drove to our house to ride with us to the game.  Our good friend, Coleen, the Executive Director for Alternatives in Motion met us at the bleachers for her first-ever WMML experience.  The red batter box set up two successful hits for Cam.  Since our game was the last of the day, we stayed and chatted with Brody and his mom, Jenny, for a few minutes.  The remainder of our Saturday was filled with home-based projects.

Our family was northward bound on Sunday to visit Cam's grandparents and cousins.  We couldn't believe our good fortune for another beautiful day.  Once again, the winds were light and the drone flew high to capture some amazing Lake Michigan shots.  Surprisingly, the water was relatively warm and the first sandbar was right up to the shoreline.  Cam was so surprised how clear the water was too.

After a delicious flank steak dinner with cousins and friends at the Haroldson cottage, as well as Oma and Opa, we made our way back to Grand Rapids.  It turns out another member of the family is a bit obsessed with H2O.  Although our cat Stella doesn't swim in Lake Michigan, she is certainly intrigued with water.

Camology Quotes:

Coco and Max's daughter, Calla, is awaiting her passport in the mail.  Cam and Oma were chatting about this and Oma told her grandson that Calla was waiting for her visa.  Cam didn't quite hear his grandma correctly...  "What?!  Cousin Calla cannot have pizza!  She is too little!"

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Back to the Ballpark - Week of Sept. 6th

"Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much." ~Helen Keller

In each person's lifetime, there are certain events that take place when everyone remembers exactly what they were doing on that day.  For Cam, it will most likely be the Covid-19 virus and the schools abruptly closing on March 13, 2020 for the remainder of the year.  For Cam's parents, it is September 11, 2001.  

At school this week, our eighth grader discussed Patriot Day with his class.  They talked about how President George W. Bush proclaimed Patriot Day to be held each year on September 11 as a day to remember the people lost during the tragedy and the patriots who fought to rescue and defend our freedom.  The class discussed the 9/11 memorial that was constructed by Michael Arad.  It includes three symbols: a waterfall representing tears while it masks the noise of a busy city, a void which represents the enormous loss and the reflective pool symbolizing remembrance.  All 2,977 names of those deceased are etched around the waterfall.

Saturday, September 11 marked the opening day for the fall season of the West Michigan Miracle League.  Cam has played for WMML for more than 7 years.  This season is a double bonus since our son knows his Coach, Mr. Mark.  Mark's son, Carson, is a longtime Miracle League player and he and Cam have known each other since preschool.  The assistant coach is Zach, Carson's younger brother.  As always, our request to have Brody and Cam as teammates was honored!  The buddies are the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and this weekend marked the first of five games.

For the September 11 game, the flags flew at half staff and a moment of silence was recognized for the 9/11 tragedy.  Chris brought the drone and captured some great shots on a calm day with very little breeze.

In the "Cam Fan" section was Cameron's 3rd and 4th grade teacher, Ms Kathy and her husband Kevin.  Kathy hasn't missed seeing at least one game every season since she taught Cam.  

Also present was Cam's current teacher, Mrs. Wells, along with his current para-pro Mrs. Festian.  Jane has known Mrs. Festian since Cam was in grade school and it's such fun to have people cheering him on. When our ball player hears the cheers, his smile grows even bigger.

The president, Tony Comden announces every game and introduces each player via microphone.  Each player bats twice and is in the outfield two times.  Tony has bestowed our son with the nickname "Cam the Man!" and intros him with that phrase each and every time.  The batter box is an apparatus Cam has used for a few years now and it allows him to independently swing the bat with the assistance of the homemade box donated to the WMML.

The volunteers were back again this season for the first time since the pandemic began.  The women's Hope College softball team were in full force assisting the players at the 3 separate games that day.

Perhaps the best bonus of Saturday was having Cam's best buddy, Brody, with us for the entire day.  The boys watched a movie together ("Ratatouille"), played games and requested lunch from their favorite eatery, Culver's!  These two are always looking out for each other.  Having been friends since kindergarten, they are definitely aware of one another's habits, likes and dislikes.  In the movie they saw, this is a favorite quote, "If you are what you eat, then I only want to eat the good stuff!"

Camology Quotes:

Cam is a rule-follower through and through.  When Brody wanted to play music on our Amazon Alexa, Cam made certain it was the "clean" version.  Before lunchtime, Brody said he would like "2 cheeseburgers please" and his buddy Cam knew he was only supposed to have 1.  After Brody's announcement and out of care and concern, he said to his best friend: "Um, Brody, we are going to have to text your parents about that request!"

Sunday, September 5, 2021

Community Outreach - Week of Aug. 30th

"Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on Earth." ~Muhammad Ali

"Volunteers don't get paid, not because they're worthless, but because they're priceless." ~Sherry Anderson

When Cameron was born, his parents weren't active volunteers in the community.  Because of Cam, Chris and Jane are now board members and helpers for different events and organizations.  One of the many we support as a family is Lori's Voice.  In their quarterly newsletter, Chris, their newest member of the Board of Directors, is featured on the front page with Cam.  The following is the article (along with pictures) that was posted:
 Life's a Beach: A Michigan beach is a gift enjoyed by many. The above photo says it all, our very own Board member Chris is having a blast with his son in their version of a beach wheelchair. As you may know Lori’s Voice has provided beach wheelchairs at many Lake Michigan parks and continues to add more as people and park management requests. Unfortunately they are not always available, so Chris and Cam, through trial and error, developed their very own – dubbed the “Cam-mobile”. Since not everyone is as creative as these two we continue to provide them for many to enjoy. In addition to the sand and surf some of our kids want to explore the forest or modest hiking trails. Well, we have begun to fill that need as well. Enter the all-terrain power chair. Pictured here, these chairs run on tracks rather than wheels so they are capable of handling a wide variety of surfaces, opening up a whole new world of adventure. Beach wheelchairs and all-terrain chairs give freedom and independence to our kids – a freedom made possible by our Lori’s Voice donors and dedicated volunteers.

It is always difficult to "say goodbye" to summer.  Labor Day weekend hints at the unofficial farewell.  Lake Michigan also seemed to sense the wind down with cooler water and bigger waves.  
It didn't deter us from having a nice time on the beach hanging out and watching the seagulls.  
The water flow appeared to be directly from the west, which is unusual.  
The waves arose to meet each other as the whitecaps greeted the inbound and outbound swells.
We are reminded how invaluable the Cam-mobile is for our son to experience Lake Michigan and the beach.  Now, as a fourteen year old, he is content with sitting and conversing versus the need to be constantly entertained.   A friendly seagull kept us all captivated as it edged closer and backed away over and over again.

On the cottage deck, the winds were strong and cool, but at the water's edge, the sunshine warmed the sand and all of us.  We dined on grilled kabobs, veggies and homemade applesauce as we watched the sun fade slowly towards the horizon.  We are always thankful for the time with family and that Oma and Opa can be on the beach with us too.

Back in Grand Rapids, Cam had a bike ride around the driveway to test out the repairs he and his dad had completed.  The adaptive bike is headed to Cam's school next week where he can ride it outside as well as inside the school gym during the colder months.

Ghandi said "The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others."  
If you're a fan of Cam, then you're definitely a fan of helping and giving back.  We hope this coming week leads you down both paths.

Camology Quotes:

On Friday, we decided our dinner would be chicken parmesan and pasta. Cam requested his chicken parm and pasta to be placed in a tortilla.  Jane told him she really didn't think this would be a great combination.  Her son replied: "It is good in my book!"