Thursday, September 28, 2017

Little Rumble

Yesterday, we said goodbye to our Little Rumble.

Rumble was a retired race dog, who we adopted seven years ago through the Newfoundland chapter of Greyhound Pets of Atlantic Canada (GPAC-NL). He spent the first three years of his life on the track, before retiring and finding his forever home with us.

Rumble has been such a big part of our family, and he has been a wonderful companion to Brennen. He was always so gentle and careful with him, and would walk along with his wheelchair, never pulling ahead or veering off to the side. Rumble was not just a good dog. He was the best dog, and we loved him very much.

Rumble has been on a steady decline these past couple of months. It started with him just acting a bit funny - staring off at nothing, pacing around the house at night, a lack of appetite, losing clumps of fur, and it seemed to go downhill from there fairly quickly. We brought him to the vet for a check about a month ago. They did some blood work, which didn't show anything obviously wrong, and we were referred to the Veterinary Specialty Centre, where they performed an ultrasound just last week. The results were inconclusive, meaning that, again, there was nothing obviously wrong.. but there was obviously something wrong. By this point, he had stopped eating altogether, and had lost a ton of weight. Andrew and I have been up with him all night, every night this week, and he was not doing well. We could not allow him to suffer any longer, and so we consulted the vet and determined it was time to say our goodbyes.

We are heartbroken, and feeling a tremendous sense of loss right now. Rumble was our boy. Our big baby.

Rumble loved to run, and we loved to watch him! He was in his element when let to run free. In his earlier years, he could fly like the wind, doing loops around us but always coming back to stop at our feet. He was built for speed - a canine athlete who could hit 45 mph in a double suspension gallop. Greyhounds are the second fastest animal on Earth, just behind the cheetah, and Rumble loved to show us what he was made of!

We are still a little in shock, not really believing that he is not coming home. There is an emptiness in the house, although it is full of activity. We miss our sweet Rumble. Our family is not the same without him, but we are better for having had him in our lives. He was the perfect dog for us - loyal and loving and super laid-back. He was a gentle giant who craved attention and would sit up on your lap if you let him. Rumble had no concept of how big he was, and would try to squeeze into the smallest spots just to be close to you.

I will miss his wet nose nudging my elbow. I will miss the sound of his heavy paws on the hardwood floor. I can imagine that for many years to come, we will be saying things like, "Remember when Rumble ate a whole cheese log off the coffee table?!" and "Remember that time Rumble got away from Mom and Dad's house?!" - To follow up on that, we were all out by the lake, and he wandered off. It was no time before I received a text saying, "Julie, is Rumble missing?" I'd hardly had time to realize that he was missing! Someone nearby saw a Greyhound walking casually down the road (by himself), and knew that wasn't right. They picked him up and called our friends at GPAC-NL. One of the members recognized him, and knew to contact me. Unreal. It was seamless - like the whole thing had been planned. My love goes out to our GPAC friends and family. We are so thankful for your support all these years. You guys do great work, and I am so proud to have rescued our sweet boy through such a compassionate organization.

Rumble had a wonderful life, and he certainly enhanced ours. We will miss him forever, and remember him often.

A dog doesn't care if you are rich or poor, educated or illiterate, clever or dull. Give him your heart and he will give you his.” 

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