Sunday, June 26, 2022

The Trek to Traverse City - Week of June 20th

"People don't take trips, trips take people." ~John Steinbeck
"Look at life through the windshield, not the rearview mirror." ~Byrd Baggett
"A bend in the road, is not the end of the road...unless you fail to make the turn." ~Helen Keller

Whenever we have an upcoming event or trip, Cam is all about making lists and reviewing the plans.  He remembers everything needed for himself as well as some choice things sometimes forgotten by his parents.
Prior to departure, he and Ms. Amanda kept themselves busy and went to visit Amanda's dad and dog.

Friday morning, we headed to Grand Valley State University where Cam was scheduled to work with the graduate students. As always, Dr. Lisa told "Professor Cam" to be sure the students were asking the right questions and brainstorming.
After lunch, we packed up the van and hit the open road, northward bound for 2+hours.  Our destination was Traverse City to attend a welcome reception and wedding for our good friends, Molly and Jude.

Traverse City's name is almost self-explanatory- it is named after the Grand Traverse Bay. Indian hunters and French traders were the first people to spend time here, and it was they who gave the region its name- La Grand Traverse, because of the “long crossing” they had to make by canoe across the mouth of the bay.
Traverse City produces more than 75% of the world's tart cherries!
We arrived later in the afternoon and checked into our hotel.  Even with all of our preparatory communication, there was still a bit of a snafu that we finally settled prior to heading out.  The welcome reception party was hosted by the bride and groom from 4-7pm.  We met the groom's family, some of whom had traveled from New Zealand as well as western Canada.  Most of the bride's family and friends flew in from Oregon.  We left the reception close to 6p and drove a short way to downtown Traverse City where we dined at the Mackinaw Brewing Company.  Saturday was an exploring day for our family.  Chris and Jane wanted Cam to see the top of the Indigo Hotel to eat lunch.  It overlooks the Grand Traverse Bay and the view is spectacular.  
From there, we made our way to the Old Mission Lighthouse, about 25 minutes from where we were staying.  The lighthouse was established in 1870 and is located at the 45th Parallel or halfway between the North Pole and the Equator.
After a brief tour of the area, we were on the road again and found a fun place to have dinner, The Peninsula Club.  
Cam agreed to split a dinner with his mom of sauteed whitefish, rice pilaf and roasted asparagus.  Jane was truly in shock when her son declared it was delicious.
The next morning, we enjoyed our hotel continental breakfast and headed to the indoor pool.  Since there was a chair lift for Cam to use, it was easy to enter and exit.  The water wasn't too warm so we didn't linger too long.  After finally finding a spot for lunch in the busy downtown area, we made our way back to hotel to change into our fancier duds.  All of the Haroldson cousins arrived at our hotel in the afternoon and the entire group of us made our way to The Peninsula Room, the wedding location.
The ceremony itself took place outside with a view of Lake Michigan.  The breezy locale was a beautiful setting and Chris was able to use his drone to capture some aerial shots prior to the nuptials.
We all walked around the building where an outdoor cocktail and appetizer hour took place in the warm sunshine.
The remainder of the evening included a fabulous dinner (salad, short ribs, grilled salmon, mashed potatoes, roasted asparagus) and dancing until late into the evening.  Molly and Jude couldn't have been happier and we all had so much with them and our cousins.  Cam brought his knee blocks so that he could be in standing mode for the dance floor.  Our son was pretty proud of himself staying awake past 11pm.

Sunday morning, we reminisced at the hotel eating breakfast with our cousins and talking about the previous night's activities.  Our return trip was uneventful and we were happy to arrive home late in the afternoon.  We also (somewhat surprisingly) retained a couple of wedding favors during our journey: Two bags of Cherry Republic Chocolate Covered Cherries!

Camology Quotes:

Jane and her son were checking out the top restaurants in Traverse City prior to leaving.  Cam was viewing the list and when his mom mentioned #7: The Bay Bread Company, his response was:

"Oooohhhh Mom, that could be dangerous!"

Sunday, June 19, 2022

Adapting - Week of June 13th

"For most of us, technology makes things easier.  For a person with a disability, it makes things possible." ~Judy Heumann

Adaptive is a common word in the Weatherford household.  Whenever we have an outing, activity or event, we need to determine if we can adapt or if it's best to forgo.  And there are specific things that are set up to be adaptive in the first place.  Mary Free Bed (MFB) offers multiple "Adaptive Sports Clinics" aimed at inclusion for all kids and adults focusing on different areas.  We had signed up for the MFB Adaptive Kayaking Clinic, having tried it out the previous year.  Ms. Amanda and Jane headed out with Cam after an early lunch on Wednesday.  

The kayaking is popular and there were quite a few people we knew.  Recently, Millennium Park had an adaptive canoe/kayak launch installed on the end of their dock.  It provides a stabilizer for the boat while others are loaded in.  Cam made certain we read through the instructions so we knew what to expect. It took a bit of adjusting, but we were able to load our kayaker in and he was off.  While Jane and Amanda enjoyed sitting on the end of the dock with their feet in the water, Cam was cruising around Millennium Park on a very warm day.  

Luckily, there was a nice breeze that made light ripples on the water.  It turns out that getting in is easier than getting out.  Now that Cam is taller, it's definitely more of a challenge for maneuvering.  Fortunately for us, a local water patrol sheriff had just docked his boat and came over asking if we needed assistance.  We gladly accepted his offer.  Deputy Tilson then proceeded to help the other families.  We were able to find an online form to thank him for his act of kindness.  His lieutenant reached out to Jane in email indicating it would be a part of his personnel record.  Deputy Tilson himself sent an email as well, thanking us.  After all of that kayaking work, tropical smoothies were picked up on the drive home.

Friday early evening marked Brody's birthday celebration.  He invited 5 friends, including Cam, to Celebration Cinema movie theater to see the new movie, "Lightyear" which is the prequel to the Buzz Lightyear character appearing in the Toy Story movies.  Jane and her son enjoyed the movie and the Buffalo Wild Wings dinner afterwards!  Cam's exact review of the flick: "It was a little intense, but overall I really liked it."

On Sunday, we celebrated Chris for Father's Day.  Cam decided, all on his own, that he wanted to give his dad tickets to a Whitecaps Baseball Game for our whole family!  Cam's dad was pretty surprised and impressed to see the tickets for late July all printed and ready to go.  After a quick lunch, we headed to the cottage to enjoy some time on the beach.  Although the lake isn't quite warm enough to swim yet, the sand felt good on our feet.  It was the first ride of the year for the Cam-mobile.  Even though Cam continues to grow, the last one he and his dad made still functions for this summer.  We were all entertained by cousin Calla, intent on gathering items from the beach.  Our thanks to Oma and Opa for providing most of our dinner to celebrate all of the dads: Chris, Opa and Max.  The feast of grilled steak, smoked sausage, asparagus, salad, bread and fresh fruit hit the spot.  Coco made her delicious homemade chocolate chip cookies for dessert.  Now that Cam can drive his powerchair right into the Haroldson cottage, it makes for a longer, more relaxing stay for him.  And although we didn't go swimming on Sunday, we know those days aren't too far away...

Camology Quotes:

Cam certainly keeps a mental calendar and is always reminding his parents of things that need to be done. He's also aware of when something goes wrong once, it is best to be on the lookout for the next time.  Our family has an upcoming trip planned with a three-night hotel stay.  Cam kept telling his mom she needed to call and verify everything was all set.  Jane kept putting it off and finally called on Tuesday.  Sure enough, the accessible room was coded incorrectly and we were scheduled for a hearing-impaired room versus a larger room for accessibility.  Luckily, we were speaking with a manager who was able to correct our reservation!
"Cam, we would've been in big trouble if you hadn't reminded me to call the hotel."

"We always need to check, Mom!  Especially because the last hotel didn't have it right either!"  

Sunday, June 12, 2022

Ending to Beginning - Week of June 6th

"Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end." ~Semisonic, Closing Time 

We are always told that time seems to accelerate the older you are. As parents, we are acutely aware of this with each passing year.  

Tuesday evening was deemed "Class Night" for the Forest Hills Northern Middle School 8th grade class.  Some referred to it as 8th grade graduation while others saw it as the official transition to high school.  8th Grade Class Night Video:  The event was livestreamed online and lasted a little more than 1 hour.  Each eighth grader had to turn in 6 words to show when they went across the stage to accept their certificate.  Displayed on the large screen was the teen's school picture along with their quote.  Cam's was very fitting: "It was awesome! It was fun!"  

Wednesday marked the official last day of school with dismissal before 11am.  When Cam was off the bus, he and Jane were on their way to meet Chris.  Their destination was Clock Mobility where a brand new handicap accessible van (value of $75,000) was being presented to a family.  The gift was provided by Lori's Voice, the non-profit organization where Cam's dad is a board member.  The family from Brighton with five kids was very appreciative.  Lori's Voice provided a catered lunch and Chris picked up a Costco sheet cake.  Every local news outlet was in attendance since this giveaway will happen multiple times.  Any time Lori, the founder of Lori's Voice, sees Cam, she always insists on a picture of the two of them.

Thursday was Jane's birthday and typical of Cam and his dad, she felt very loved.  In the morning, the guys gave her a big certificate for a family movie night and in the evening, Chris brought home one of her favorite takeout dinners and told her that her car would be detailed the next day.  Cam picked out the most fragrant candle for her in a beautiful wooden bowl.

Helping non-profit organizations is a typical family activity for us.  The All Ford and Mustang Car Show of West Michigan is sponsored in part by Lori's Voice.  Chris signed up to volunteer at the event and after he was settled, Cam and his mom drove over.  Jane and Cam were able to watch Chris speak over the microphone about Lori's Voice and the importance of the non-profit, providing necessary equipment to kids with disabilities.  Cam stayed with his dad, talking and meeting people.  Jane had some shopping time and came back to pick up her son.

Sunday late morning, we drove to the Haroldson cottage to have lunch with Coco, Max, Calla and Oma and Opa.  Surprises awaited us.  We were able to hold baby bunnies and they were incredibly soft and cuddly.  Oma and Opa brought an ice cream cake from Country Dairy, a birthday present for Jane and an 8th grade graduation card for Cam.  Perhaps the biggest surprise of all was thanks to Max...

When we arrived at the Haroldson cottage, we noticed an addition leading up to the door.  Where there were previously steps, there were now two new ramps, built by Max.  Cousin Calla took advantage of the new ramping by choosing to crawl up and down. This also meant that for the first time ever, Cam was able to drive with his regular powerchair into their cottage!  

Camology Quotes:

Jane was working upstairs on Friday morning and mentioned to Cam that it would cool if he and Chris could set up some remote control software for her so she could log into her work computer without having to go downstairs.  Cam, the in-house IT specialist, relayed the following to his mom.

"No Mom, that will not work because your work will block that software."  

(of course, he is absolutely 100% correct in his assessment!)

Sunday, June 5, 2022

WMML Spring Season Final - Week of May 30th

 "Every child deserves a chance to play baseball." ~WMML Motto

There are organizations that exist purely to promote joy.  West Michigan Miracle League is one of those non-profits that was founded to provide an opportunity for kids with physical and cognitive disabilities to play baseball and experience being a part of a team.

When Cam started playing baseball nearly 10 years ago, he was nervous and uncertain.  With a fall and spring season every year, we watched his confidence grow and apprehension slip away.  Every day in his room, he sees his WMML medals and is reminded of the joy and excitement that every game brings.

We welcomed Oma and Opa late Friday afternoon, making the trip into Grand Rapids for the next day's event.  Saturday marked the final game of the 2022 spring season for the West Michigan Miracle League. The volunteers for the game were all part of our local minor league baseball team, the Whitecaps.  

The 10am start time brought out a host of Cam Fans: Ms. Kathy (Cam's grade school teacher) and husband, Kevin, Patti (our dear friend and neighbor), Coleen (Alternatives in Motion Exec. Director), Katherine (Cam's former nanny) and husband Paul with their kids, Bexley and Sophia. Of course, Oma and Opa were in the cheering section as well.  

The other big names in attendance were Lori and Dave Hastings, the founders of Lori's Voice.  It was a bit cooler at the field and the Hastings always offer up handmade quilts provided by their volunteers.

After a celebration lunch from Culver's, we settled in for a relaxing afternoon.  Cam's best bud, Brody, joined us for a couple of hours to watch a movie.  Having Oma and Opa with us for a second night meant another fun family dinner and more time to hang out together.  

This was the last week of full school days for Cam.  Some afternoons, before the Cam arrives home, Jane catches a glimpse of something else on the lookout for the big school bus heading down the road.

Camology Quotes:

Jane and her son were working on completing projects Sunday afternoon.  Chris had left on a short business trip for the first time in more than two years.  Cam and his mom talked about how he could do some creative yearbook signing.  Jane printed the sticker labels, but her son decided what they would say:

"Cam Weatherford 2022. This has been a great school year! Thanks for being my friend. Be kind. See you in high school! Class of '26"