Sunday, September 17, 2017

House For Sale

You guys, I can't believe I am writing this post, but here goes..

We are selling our beautiful home!

Andrew and I designed and custom built this house just five years ago, and it was the perfect home for the three of us. We have made so many wonderful memories here. We have worked here, and played here, and hosted friends and family here. While we built this home to be accessible and functional for Brennen's needs, ultimately we wanted our home to be a place where everyone felt safe and loved and where we could spend our days creating beautiful, exhausting, and real life moments that we would treasure for a lifetime - and we have certainly accomplished that.

Shortly after we moved in, our house was featured on (see HERE).

We are still so in love with this house, but the reality for us right now is that we need more space.

We had not ever planned on expanding our family to include two more children (and all of the 'stuff' that comes with them!), but as we well know, life doesn't always go as planned! Opening our home (and our hearts) to our foster babies has changed our lives in the best way possible. We have a busy house, full of so much love and every day is a new adventure. We are loving our life and we wouldn't change a thing, but we need another bedroom, and could really just use some extra space!

Andrew and I want our children to feel a strong sense of 'home', of belonging to this family and being loved by us. We have already begun building our 'Ultimate Dream Home version 2.0' and we are super excited about that! I will try to bring you along for the ride as we work on our new home, but there is so much to do and my brain is still catching up to all that is happening.

It is a bitter-sweet feeling, because we really do love our home here.

We love the open concept. It was important for me to be able to see Brennen at all times from wherever I was, but it has proven to be super functional and practical for many other reasons. The truth is that an accessible or universally-designed home will accommodate everyone and has many conveniences that we hadn't even thought of.

From Universal Design NL:
"Everyone will benefit greatly from a home with universal design features, as it makes life more comfortable and enables ease of access and movement throughout everyday tasks. A home that is constructed with universal design will also be a safer and more welcoming home, easily accommodating your family members and visitors of all ages and abilities. As you grow and age, your housing needs will also change. Planning for these changing needs and abilities helps you better customize your home’s features and can also reduce the need for costly future renovations.
Homebuyers who invest in a universally-designed home will benefit from an open, modern design that will be immensely useful to them in all stages of their lives – from parenthood when frequent in-and-out stroller use and active kids are in play, right through to retirement when mobility issues may become a reality. Consider how everyday scenarios will be much easier with universal design – you’ll have a safer home with the added convenience of layouts that allow easy clearance and access for movers, service personnel and equipment if ever you should need them. Finally, universal design can also make your property more valuable and appealing when re-selling."

The hallways are wide (4 feet), and all doors are 36". The garage is built up to be level with the floor, creating a "no step", level entry into the home. There is a ramp from the driveway to the backyard, which leads to an above ground, walk-out basement and beautifully landscaped yard.

We had a bathroom connect to Brennen's bedroom with a pocket door, and the bathtub was raised to make bathing him so much easier. This tub has certainly saved my back on many occasions!

The playroom gets tons of natural light and has provided countless hours of fun for our little ones. We are so proud of this space, and will certainly miss it when we go.

And this room (the nursery) has to be my favourite. I just love the feeling I get when I'm in this room, knowing that we are providing a safe and loving home to these precious little ones. I get emotional just thinking about it. It's the personal details and the love that goes into making each room as cozy as can be, that really creates the feeling of "home" and brings us so much joy.

I can't even believe that we are selling this house, but it has served us well and now it is time to move on. This little family of mine is everything, and home is wherever we are together!

Want to buy my house?! You can see the MLS listing HERE.

If you are interested in a private viewing, contact Erica at 709-330-0575.

Friday, September 15, 2017

A Quick Trip to Montréal

This week, the 71st Annual Meeting of the American Academy for Cerebral Palsy and Developmental Medicine (AACPDM) is taking place at the Palais des congrès de Montréal in Montréal, Quebec. The purpose of this conference is to bring clinicians, allied health professionals and researchers from around the world to present on innovations that are improving the lives of individuals with cerebral palsy and other childhood onset disabilities.

While I wasn't able to attend the full conference, (I just could not fathom leaving Andrew with three children, countless appointments, and a million other responsibilities for a full week), I did make a quick trip to Montréal to attend a couple of the meetings and seminars that I was specifically invited to.

I spent some time at McGill University, meeting with Dr. Keiko Shikako-Thomas, Canada Research Chair and Assistant Professor at the School of Physical and Occupational Therapy of McGill. Keiko is head of the Jooay team, which has created an app that aims to connect children and youth to leisure activities. I was invited to a brainstorming event on the best ways to promote leisure participation of children with disabilities and to engage families in the community. I will have lots more to say about this in another post!

McGill is such a vibrant campus, full of history, with its beautiful old Victorian mansions interspersed among modern architecture. Chartered in 1821, McGill is among the oldest and most distinguished of North American Universities, and is among the most prestigious universities in the world. McGill is a world leader is research excellence and has four affiliated teaching hospitals, and with 40,000 students from 150 countries, it has the most international student body in Canada.

The University campus is located in downtown Montréal, at the foot of Mount Royal, Montréal's grand mountain park. I took some time in between meetings to climb the 400 stairs to the top of the mountain. I was completely overdressed for the 26 degree heat, and not wearing appropriate footwear for such a climb, but the views were spectacular, and it was totally worth it!

I also had the opportunity to meet with Dr. Peter Rosenbaum, whom I have been working with on the F-Words in Childhood Disability. Dr. Rosenbaum is a Professor of Paediatrics at McMaster University, Canada Research Chair in Childhood Disability, and Co-Founder of the CanChild Centre for Childhood Disability Research. 

It was great to chat with Peter about the F-Words research project, the work that has been done so far, and where we hope to take it from here. Peter is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to childhood disability, and he was very interested to know about Brennen and how he's been doing since his spinal surgery. Peter will be presenting on the F-Words in Childhood Disability in Montréal on Saturday at the Community Forum. If you are in the area, you should check it out! 

Also, it was just announced that Peter will be the recipient of the 2017 Award for Individual Leadership from the Canadian Association of Paediatric Health Centres!

"Formerly known as the CAPHC Contribution to Child Health Award, the CAPHC Award for Individual Leadership annual award was created to recognize outstanding leadership by an individual who has dedicated their career to making a difference in the health and well-being of children, youth and families in Canada. The award specifically recognizes creativity and initiative to promote positive change and long-term improvement."

Well deserved! Congratulations, Dr. Rosenbaum!!!

I spent some 'free time' exploring the city. I enjoyed walking around Old Montréal, and the Old Port, and I discovered some wonderful art galleries. I ate ALL the smoked meat poutine, did some window shopping, and really made the most of my short time in the city.

I had a wonderful time in Montréal, but even after a few short days, I was anxious to get home to my family. I have said it before, and I will say it every time - the best part of being away is always, always coming home.

-Julie xo

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Tulip Tales: Emma Jane

I am thrilled to be able to share this space today with my dear friend, Sherry. Sherry is one of those power house Moms that makes you wonder how she does it all. Sherry knows that raising children is the most important job we possess, and I have learned so much from her over the years about strength, resilience, and rising above adversity. Sherry has three incredible children, and this is Emma Jane's story.


I remember this carnival ride from when I was younger. It was a huge flat circle, and you stood up in it against the outside wall. Once the carnie got it started, it spun faster and faster, all of your weight pressing into your back, your body paralyzed by the centrifugal force, and it would continue until you were ready to scream for the ride to stop. Almost by magic, it would stop, and then - after swearing you would never ride it again - you would. 

That is the closest thing to how I felt leaving the hospital with my daughter Emma Jane after receiving her diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes. The paralyzing pressure would come in waves, pinning me to the wall as I struggled to breathe. And then, interspersed with the waves, little bits of relief. The day I felt like I finally understood what ketones were, and the days when I felt like I had played some small part in 24 hours of stable blood sugar, I’d fist pump in victory as I fell asleep, thinking “yeah, I got this,” only to wake up for a night check to see 3.1 on the meter - or worse, 1.2 - and we'd start spinning again.  Slowly, over time the light creeps in, that paralyzing feeling starts to fade out, your confidence builds, you feel stronger, smarter, and you can separate yourself from the disease. 

You realize that the very reason you hate Type 1 diabetes is because you can’t control it. No matter how strong you feel when the ride comes to a stop, you know it’s going to start spinning again. You just have to ride it out. Then, suddenly, a year has passed. You look back at photos of your child, right before the diagnosis - her arms so thin they look ready to snap, the dark purple bags under her eyes, and your heart can’t help but hurt. You know you shouldn’t feel guilty, but you do. You wince when you see that photo of her eating a huge apple, or drinking a mug of hot chocolate and visualize how high her sugar must have been. The danger was invisible to you then, and now it’s almost the only thing you can see.

Diabetes is real, and my precious child still has it. Somewhere in your mind you kept thinking it wasn’t real, that tomorrow you’d wake up and you wouldn’t have to put a needle in your child every time she ate a meal; you wouldn’t have to coax drops of blood out of her tiny fingertips a dozen times a day. You wanted to think that this wouldn’t last, but it did.  But you also lasted. You woke up each night when you should have. Maybe it took you a bit longer to roll yourself out of bed at 3 a.m., but you did it. Even more importantly, your child, the one who fought and screamed at you for hurting her on those bleached white hospital sheets, shes getting stronger. Braver. Now she’s checking her own blood sugar, she’s not even flinching when you stick her with that syringe, and she only winces slightly when the insulin is a little too cold.

Celebrate all of those tiny victories. Celebrate the time you nailed that bolus for that huge freaking cupcake or kept her from going low when she was out sledding for six hours. Reward your kid for when she didn’t fight you over a finger poke. Really, really importantly, reward their siblings for how they grabbed a juice box for you, for when her sister approached you calmly and said, “I think she’s low” and when you tested, her blood sugar was 3.2.

Every year brings new challenges, but it is important to recognize that living with Type 1 diabetes can also bring togetherness, new experiences and joy. Even though the ride won’t stop spinning, we’re all on it together.

Here is how it all began.

On the morning of September 3, 2011, there was a lot of excitement with back to school shopping for Emma Jane's first day of Grade 1. She was looking forward to seeing her friends that she had met in Kindergarten, and she couldn't wait to meet her new teacher. Our excitement quickly changed, when for fun, we took out my father in law's glucometer and started finger poking each person in our family, changing the lancet and going to the next person just like an assembly line to see what their sugar was. How exciting was that, we thought?! I remember the anticipation waiting for the meter to beep, everyone with their heads together trying to be the first to read the number as it beeped and the numbers popped up. 

Emma Jane was quick to put out her finger, as if it was a game she had to win. When the meter beeped and the numbers came up I leaned down to make sure I was reading it right. Must have been a mistake, I thought, and we tried it again. Same number - 29!  Hmmm...that's strange, I thought, and thinking nothing of it, figured we could wait an hour and try again to see if it changed. I went about my day not even thinking it was serious. A little past the hour we double checked and sure enough her number read the same thing - 29. Terry said, "Sher, I think you should call the help line at the Janeway just to see what they say".  

We are no strangers to the Janeway. I have spent many hours and more nights there than I can count. The staff, nurses, doctors, and rehab team are no doubt our second family. Everyone there knew us, as we have a twin that was born 13 weeks premature and weighed only 2 pounds each. They spent 6 months in ICU and NICU and we had been back many times for surgeries, therapy and appointments since their birth. When Emma Jane was born, she was a ray of sunshine in a whirlwind of emotions. She was healthy. She spread happiness on our darkest days and she completed our family.

I called the helpline at the Janeway and I knew the routine. I said to the girl that I was a bit alarmed because we were all fooling around checking blood sugars and my daughter's came up over 29, what should I do? In my own mind I really didn't think it was serious. I had no clue what it could have meant or what would happen next. She quickly replied, "Mrs. Jones, you should pack a few things for her and bring her right in right away".

I look back on that day and I was so naive. It was as if time stopped, yet things were happening so fast around me. Emma wasn't sick and I kind of felt foolish going to emergency. Gosh was I wrong! I checked in and they were expecting us. They rushed us to the room inside and I remember texting Terry and saying, "It must be serious, they took us right inside to triage." They immediately started an IV and gave Emma a needle, telling me they were trying to get her number down. This was routine. The nurse at the desk picked up the phone and I could hear her ask if they could send the doctor down from upstairs as they had just received a 5 year old girl, Diabetic. I sat by Emma's bedside and I felt a flood of emotion rush over me. Diabetic? We are the only ones in this room.. was she really talking about us? I called her over and asked if she had just said Emma was diabetic. She tried to reassure me that the doctor was on the way and would speak to me soon. I knew what this meant. It wasn't something a band-aid could fix. This was serious.

That day is forever etched in my memory. I can't erase hearing the nurse say those words. It echos over and over in my mind. Your child is diabetic.Your Child Is Diabetic, YOUR CHILD IS DIABETIC. It's life threatening. There is no cure and she will live the remainder of her life battling this disease. I can still close my eyes and see Emma crying. What were they saying? It was hard for me to hear. I can't imagine what her 5 year old mind was trying to process. She cried with every needle poke. Laying in the hospital bed with her sad eyes screaming at me to make them to stop hurting her. I couldn't stop them, this was our life now. How could we go on giving her several needles everyday? I would be the bad Mommy, always giving her a needle. I put my head down and cried uncontrollably. I felt overwhelmed. I wanted to blame someone. Did I do this? Was it something I did during pregnancy? I even blamed God. "What did I do to deserve this", I repeated over and over in my head. Surely God knows my plate is full already?

Here we are, over 6 years later. Some days I'm not sure how we got here, or how we have survived this long. We have overcome and faced many challenges, hospital stays and scary moments. Emma has gotten braver and more mature. Her understanding of her disease has grown much broader, but we continue to take it one day at a time. When the sun rises and our first blood sugar reading is done, then our day is based on that. Life with Type 1 diabetes is unpredictable and just when you're getting comfortable, it throws an axe at you to make sure your not slipping. One thing that remains constant is our family's support for each other and for Emma. We will fight this battle with her until there is a cure. Every day we pray for a cure. Until then, she will always be our spunky, beautiful, fun loving, bubbly little girl.


Sherry, you are one incredibly strong mama. I know that your family has been through so much, but I look at your beautiful, happy children and I know you are doing something right! 

Emma is so mature, so responsible, and so kind-hearted. She has always had a connection with Brennen and she is so very sweet to him. She is an all-around good kid - as are all three of your children! They are all thriving and doing incredible things, and that is a direct reflection of the way you and Terry have raised them. I know that some days are easier than others, and that some days you feel like you are absolutely drowning, but don't let the hard days overwhelm you. Take it one day at a time. Ups and downs are what life is all about! 

Thank you for sharing Emma's story. I love how you say, "living with Type 1 diabetes can also bring togetherness, new experiences and joy. Even though the ride won’t stop spinning, we’re all on it together." So true, and so relatable, no matter our journey.

If you would like to be featured on Tulip Tales, please email me at:  Please include a brief description of your child and their condition, along with any pictures you would like to share. I will contact you with specific questions.


Friday, September 8, 2017

YYT Love

We just love living so close to the ocean on Canada's far East coast. Andrew and I take every possibly opportunity to get out and enjoy the scenery and we are often rewarded with beautiful sunsets over wide stretches of rocky beaches. We can't get enough of our rugged coastline - gazing out at the ocean as far as the eye can see, it is easy to get lost in the sound of the waves crashing onto the shore. 
We are islanders, and the ocean calls us home.

This week, I am excited to collaborate with Marquee Noir.

"Marquee Noir views apparel as more than simply making a fashion statement, but embodies that personal sartorial choices are an extension of an individual's personality. Through our clothing we share pieces of ourselves with others."

I am an East End girl, and I'm proud of it! As soon as I saw this shirt, I had to have it! ;)

Marquee Noir apparel has a "focus on individuality and expression. Most pieces are based on minimalism offering clean versatile aesthetics which enable garments to be "dressed up" or "dressed down" depending on the setting and whether going for a more street-wear look verses something more contemporary or preppy."

Marquee Noir understands the importance of keeping Canada green and beautiful by preserving our ecosystems. For every purchase, a tree is planted in an effort to sustain the environment and preserve its resources.

 I am also loving this YYT sweatshirt, and I feel like I might live in it this fall. 

Shop more fun styles here:
Use my referral code 'JulieB' to get 15% off your purchase, and free shipping in Canada!

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

The Organic Farm

You guys, it's September already, and I don't know how that happened. Time just flies when you're having fun! Brennen headed back to school today - his first day of Grade 6! He was super excited to go back and had big smiles for his teachers when he saw them. He has such wonderful support at school, we are very fortunate, and I couldn't be happier. We can't wait to see what this year will bring!

We have been busy enjoying these last few days of summer, checking things off our bucket list, and soaking up the sunshine before we shift gears and head into the cooler and cozier months. And we're not the only ones! The city has been crawling with people like us who are determined to spend more time outside than inside.

There were a few things we had been trying to fit in before Brennen went back to school, and thankfully the weather has been cooperating enough for us to do just that. This week, we visited The Organic Farm in Portugal Cove - St. Philip's. Owners Mike and Melba Rabinowitz have been successfully growing organic produce in our short season and unpredictable climate for over 40 years, and we were thrilled to be able to explore the farm and learn about all of the good things that happen there! Andrew and I were very familiar with Melba's work in the areas of early childhood education and social development, but we had no idea what she had going on out here at the farm!

"The mission of the Organic Farm is to provide leadership in the development of safe and sustainable farming by using best practices in land development, greenhouse and field production, food safety, and innovative and creative approaches to growing short-season vegetables and herbs on the Avalon Peninsula. The farm makes available organic produce to local families and limited commercial markets; provides employment, internships and mentoring; carries out research and demonstration activities; and provides consultation, education and site visits for farmers, environmental groups, chefs and cooking classes, government organizations, entrepreneurs and children and families."

I have to admit, my family does not adhere to a strictly organic diet, but after visiting The Organic Farm, I might have to look a little closer at our food choices. Organic food really is better for you, and it tastes better too! Honestly. Organically grown foods generally taste better because nourished, well balanced soil produces healthy, strong plants. It makes sense. The integrity of the crop reflects the quality of the soil in which it was grown. There's a metaphor for life in there somewhere!

There are so many reasons to eat organic. Research shows that organic foods are higher in vitamins, minerals, enzymes, antioxidants and nutrients like omega 3 and other essential fatty acids. Another big reason is that organic farmers use sustainable methods of pest control instead of pesticides and herbicides - chemicals that are harmful to our health and to the environment. Certified organic standards do not permit the use of toxic chemicals in farming and require responsible management of healthy soil and biodiversity. The Organic Farm has an Environmental Farm Plan and is committed to sustainable agriculture.

The lush green fields here were testament to the care that goes into maintaining a quality product from the ground up. Organic farmers take time to ensure that they are always caring for the air, water and soil, growing high quality vegetables in a sustainable and ecologically conscious way.

The Organic Farm grows a wide variety of unique and tasty leafy greens and root vegetables. Spinach, arugula, lettuce, kale, collards, chard, kohlrabi, rhubarb, cabbage, beets, onions, leeks, garlic, radishes, carrots, potatoes, scallions and squash are just some of them!

In the geo-thermal greenhouses, you can find over 20 varieties of tomato, sweet and hot peppers, zucchini, eggplant, cucumbers, beans, snow peas and snap peas. During the season, Mike is available at the farm every Saturday to answer questions about growing organically, and to give tours of the farm and the greenhouses. They also host tours for chefs, community gardeners and others who want to taste and see the many vegetables, herbs and edible flowers that grace the vista of the farm.

The herbs were so fresh and aromatic. I wanted to take them all home!

If you are in the area and have the opportunity to visit The Organic Farm, I highly recommend it. And bring your kids! It is never too early to instill in children an appreciation for where our food comes from. The beauty of the grounds and the quality of the crops being produced here is really quite impressive. Mike and Melba are doing incredible things for the community and for the environment, and they are to be commended.

Mike says, "We not only want to leave a productive farm to our children and the community, but we also want to leave a proven sustainable system of effective soil, water, and land management."

The Organic Farm also has a table at the St. John's Farmer's Market, where they sell fresh produce each Saturday from 9 - 2.