Sunday, November 26, 2023

A Dozen Feasters - Week of Nov. 20th

"Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude." ~A.A. Milne, "Winnie-the-Pooh"

Cameron has always liked the idea of traditions.  It seems that almost every time we have encountered something new or different, he has asked if this is now a tradition. 

For the last few years, Cam and his mom have driven to a local turkey farm to acquire their Thanksgiving bird. 

Otto's Turkey Farm, located in Middleville, has a rich history.  Scottish Immigrant, Charles McQueen, purchased this farm in May 1846. In his later years, he parceled the farm off to his three daughters, Kittie, Isabella, and Alice in gifts of 160 acres each. Kittie, who received the  existing 160 acres, married John Otto in 1892 and they continued farming this land. John and Kittie had one son, Harold, who purchased the land from his parents and in turn sold it to his son, David, who sold it to his son Tom in January 1984, with an additional 40 acres of woods that David had added to the original farm. Today, Tom Jeri Nick and Nate operate the farm with Nathan and his wife Jillian in line to purchase the farm and represent the sixth generation to farm this land, while endeavoring to be good stewards. They set about making turkey a healthy meat to eat everyday, all year long.

When you enter the parking lot, two individuals guide you in and indicate where to park.  Upon entrance to the building, you're asked what size turkey you're looking for and less than 2 minutes later, your fresh bird is presented to you for purchase.

Jane picked up Oma and Opa Wednesday afternoon and we were excited to have them with us for the next two nights.  We all enjoyed watching a funny movie that evening and it was difficult to determine who enjoyed it more!

On Thursday morning, we began preparations for the upcoming feast.  The stuffed turkey entered the oven at 10am.  For the first time, we prepared the mashed potatoes afterwards and readied the sweet potato casserole.

By mid-afternoon, we welcomed our cousins Mike and Eric, Coco, Max and their kiddos and Ms. Ann.  The house was full of activity as we munched on appetizers and visited with everyone.  

As we moved items from the oven to the table, it filled up quickly.  The silver penguin bun warmer is a special centerpiece that was used by Jane's grandmother and is now the Weatherford holder of crescent rolls.  Coco's homemade carrot soup is a delicious first course that is one of her family traditions.  Oma always makes her fresh cranberry relish, adding a beautiful color to the meal.  After a few rounds of dishes being passed and lively conversation, everyone slowed down.  

We waited a bit prior to the move to dessert and had quite an array...homemade apple pie, homemade pumpkin cheesecake truffles, peppermint chocolate bark, ice cream and whipped cream.  The kiddos had fun trying out the whipped cream and Cam declared himself officially stuffed!

After a restful night, we were ready to tackle holiday decorations Friday morning.  It has been a tradition for Cam, his mom and grandma to add the ornaments.  Chris is always the one to handle the top of the tree decorations, including the angel.
We discovered a family treasure of Oma's that now adorns our mantle- a handmade wooden creche that she purchased in Austria in the 1950s.  It is in mint condition and she is happy it is now displayed again.

We know we are fortunate to have our extended family with us during a holiday and having a house full of laughter and liveliness is one of the best feelings.

Robert Brault is quoted as saying "What greater blessing to give thanks for at a family gathering than the family and the gathering."  We couldn't agree more!

Camology Quotes:

Cameron is acutely aware of directions and locations.  His geographical instinct is much like his father's- spot on.  When traveling to the turkey farm, though, he seemed a bit misdirected.

"Mom, this is not the way we usually go."

Yes it is, Cam.  There is actually only one way to get here.

"Nope. The GPS must be off today." 

Hmm, I guess it contracted a virus! 😉

Sunday, November 19, 2023

On Overdrive - Week of Nov. 13th

"I have always had this energy, which I think of as overdrive." ~Terence Stamp

Clearly, the birds roaming in our backyard have no idea that turkey day is only a week away.

Cameron headed into the doctor's office Monday a.m. still unable to shake the crazy cough.  They ordered a chest x-ray and prescribed Z-pak to help settle the illness.  He remained at home three days this week.  We were a bit uncertain if he would be well enough to attend the first power soccer tournament in Michigan right in Grand Rapids.

Cam rallied, as he typically does, and wanted to attend with his teammates.  The tournament was scheduled for Saturday and Sunday at the Special Olympics of Michigan (SOMI) building, just 25 minutes from our home.  The Mary Free Bed team is named Overdrive.

SOMI was hosting the first ever Power Soccer Tournament in Michigan on November 18-19, 2023. This tournament was open to all United States Power Soccer Association (USPSA) teams. 
Special Olympics Michigan (SOMI) is making major construction milestones transforming the once South Christian High School into the world’s largest inclusive sports facility - the Special Olympics Michigan Unified Sports & Inclusion Center. With state-of-the-art renovations nearing fifty percent complete inside the building, work is now set to begin on the campus’ 17-acre outdoor sports complex. The exterior complex includes an eight-lane collegiate-level track, five natural grass soccer fields, three pickleball courts, a putting/chipping green, 10 bocce ball courts, an athlete promenade, and an outdoor plaza.

3 games were played on Saturday and 1 game on Sunday.  The team gathered in a room where they were each fitted with a foam board attached to the back with their name and number.  Light and dark jerseys depict the "home" or "away" team for each match.  Chris adds the front "plate" to Cam's power chair, while other kids are transferred into a lower chair designed for power soccer.  Cam's dad also set up a table for Lori's Voice, one of the sponsors for the tournament.

Cam was sent into play for one of the games on Saturday.  During the timeframe he was with his teammates, they scored their one and only goal!  He was a part of the assist and could not stop smiling afterwards.  

The experience with the Overdrive team promotes friendships and inclusion.  Each member has some type of physical challenge.  They are all excited to be a part of a sport with kids ranging in age from first grade through adulthood.  We knew Cam was having a good time since he opted to have lunch with his teammates instead of going out to dine somewhere.  It definitely was a bonus that the food was from Chick-Fil-A!

Chris and Jane weren't certain how the weekend would progress since Cameron had been fighting a virus.  They knew they scored big Sunday afternoon when Cam announced that he wanted to create a short movie about the Overdrive Power Soccer Tourney!

See Cam's one-minute video here:

Camology Quotes:

Cameron definitely comes up with some crazy phrases.  Every week or so, he requests assistance from his mom to trim his nails.  He has a reference for when they are ready to be cut.

"Mom, these nails are crispy!"

What does that mean, Cam?

"It means they are overdone!"

Sunday, November 12, 2023

Crazy Cough - Week of Nov. 6th

Sick by Shel Silverstein

"I cannot go to school today," Said little Peggy Ann McKay. "I have the measles and the mumps, A gash, a rash and purple bumps. My mouth is wet, my throat is dry, I'm going blind in my right eye. My tonsils are as big as rocks, I've counted sixteen chicken pox And there's one more—that's seventeen, And don't you think my face looks green? My leg is cut—my eyes are blue— It might be instamatic flu. I cough and sneeze and gasp and choke, I'm sure that my left leg is broke— My hip hurts when I move my chin, My belly button's caving in, My back is wrenched, my ankle's sprained, My 'pendix pains each time it rains. My nose is cold, my toes are numb. I have a sliver in my thumb. My neck is stiff, my voice is weak, I hardly whisper when I speak. My tongue is filling up my mouth, I think my hair is falling out. My elbow's bent, my spine ain't straight, My temperature is one-o-eight. My brain is shrunk, I cannot hear, There is a hole inside my ear. I have a hangnail, and my heart is—what? What's that? What's that you say? You say today is. . .Saturday? G'bye, I'm going out to play!"

It was a challenging week for Cam.  Unlike Peggy Ann McKay, he didn't pretend to be sick but truly had an annoying cough which sidelined him for the first three school days. He rode the bus on Thursday and had a decent day.  That evening, he agreed to keep his scheduled haircut and we all enjoyed dinner at a Mexican restaurant right next to the barbershop. 
On Friday, Cameron was very proud to be able to honor his dad at the high school Veteran's Day assembly.

Friday evening, Ms. Amanda stayed with Cam while Chris and Jane attended a fundraiser for the Adaptive Ski Association of West Michigan at the Downtown Market.  Although they didn't win anything from the auction, they were excited to see the new ski sleds and snapped a picture of one for their son.  As a family, we will return to the slopes in January with the Adaptive Ski group.

Saturday was a relaxing day at home for Cam.  On Sunday, we met Oma and Opa for brunch in Spring Lake.  The Village Baker serves breakfast and lunch and offers an array of homemade breads and pastries.  Cameron chose a BLT sandwich while the rest of us settled on breakfast items.  

It was good to see the sunshine and after our leisurely meal, we headed to Grand Haven and noticed that the village of Spring Lake was already decorated for Christmas.  

Our destination was Oma and Opa's place which is one of Cam's favorite locales.

Even though we haven't celebrated Thanksgiving yet, we helped Oma arrange the holiday items around their abode.  It was fun to see everything so festive. 

Cam is a big fan of Alexa.  Oma uses it to set timers and play music.  We asked Alexa to play one of Opa's favorite bands, The Glenn Miller Orchestra.  While he was resting in his recliner, he began quietly snapping his fingers and smiling.  It was a highlight for Cameron as he noted how truly happy the songs made his grandpa feel.

Our time with Oma and Opa always goes by so quickly.  As we said goodbye, we noted that it wouldn't be too long until we were together again.  Thanksgiving is less than 2 weeks away!

Camology Quotes:

When Cam is dealing with any illness during the school year, he has a difficult time determining when his body is well enough to return to activities. Thursday morning, he announced a new plan. 

"I am making a confident cheat sheet to know all of the things that make me confident that I can return to school."

Sunday, November 5, 2023

A Treat for Cam's Parents - Week of Oct. 30th

Everyone can usually name their favorite Halloween treat.  Cameron has always had an affinity towards chocolate.  The Weatherford household did not see any trick-or-treaters Tuesday evening.  Even though we didn't see a substantial amount of snow, it definitely deterred the kiddos.  Fortunately, or unfortunately, an ample amount of full-size candy bars remained at our home.Cam's top pick is Reese's peanut butter cups.  We were curious how they came to be... The H.B. Reese Candy Company was established in 1923 by H. B. Reese in Hershey, Pennsylvania. The official product name was "Penny Cups" because they could be purchased for one cent.  Reese had originally worked at a Hershey dairy farm, and from the start, he used Hershey chocolate in his confections. Reese's Peanut Butter Cups were his most popular candy, leading Reese to eventually discontinue his other lines. On July 2, 1963, the Reese brothers merged the H. B. Reese Candy Company with the Hershey Chocolate Corporation in a tax-free stock-for-stock merger. In 1969, only six years after the Reese/Hershey merger, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups became The Hershey Company's top seller.Reese died in 1956, passing the company to his six sons, Robert, John, Ed, Ralph, Harry, and Charles Richard Reese.

Wednesday evening, Cam was back at power soccer practice.  Now that he is getting into the groove of things, it is an activity he looks forward to every week.

On Friday, a very long-awaited treat was in store for Cam's parents.
Our dear friends, Steve and Patti, had offered to spend the night with Cameron. They considered it their anniversary gift to Chris and Jane!  It also marked the first time in 8 years that Cam's parents had spent the night away solo. 
The amazing gift was only possible because of Cameron's willingness to take part in the plan.  

Chris and Jane took the afternoon off of work and made their way downtown.  They enjoyed a leisurely lunch, afternoon coffee, nice dinner and many rounds of ping pong.

Ms. Ann arrived after school to tutor and offered any assistance she could provide.
Steve and Patti appeared before dinner time.  An extra treat for Cam was a pizza and breadstick dinner- his favorite!  They played Uno together and watched a classic movie, "The Apple Dumpling Gang."

The evening was a success for everyone! An important reminder for us all: friends and family who give the present of themselves with their time and energy provide the most priceless gift of all!  

Camology Quotes:

There were many questions and inquiries from our overly prepared son leading up to Friday. He
knows his routine and all of the technology surrounding it.  Even though we knew he was a little nervous, his sweetness was still evident as Cam and Jane ventured down the driveway to meet the school bus Friday morning.

"Mom, I really hope you and Dad have a wonderful time at your hotel tonight!"