Monday, January 28, 2019

Riding the Trails

This past weekend, we borrowed a Hippocampe from the City of St. John's and were super excited to take Brennen out on the trails! The Hippocampe is an all-terrain wheelchair that offers individuals with disabilities access to areas that would be impossible to navigate in a standard wheelchair.

It comes with three sets of wheels, including a ski kit for the snow and balloon wheels, which are perfect for going over rocks and sand, making beach and water-related activities accessible. We had a ton of snow here last week, but over the past few days it has all but disappeared. We were hoping to use the ski kit to take Brennen out on the trails while Andrew and I snowshoed along with him, but there wasn't enough snow for that. Instead, we headed to Voisey's Brook Park and used the double back wheels, which were perfect for off-roading and bumping over the ice-packed trails.

We live in Newfoundland and the reality of that means we have more winter weather than any other season of the year. This includes below freezing temperatures, heavy snowfalls, and other forms of freezing precipitation. We don't mind the weather, and can actually enjoy it if we are dressed appropriately and have the right equipment. The Hippocampe makes getting out for a walk on a sunny January afternoon a possibility for us, and Brennen loves it! The patches of ice and hard-packed snow were no match for these big wheels.

How wonderful it felt to be standing under the cold blue sky, surrounded by nature - Andrew and Brennen and I, with red cheeks and chapped lips foraging a trail on a snowy path. It was perfection. Some days are really challenging, I'll be honest, but on this day I felt so much love and peace and gratitude for where we are right now.

We do our best to enjoy our winter climate, and take every opportunity to get Brennen out in the elements - including the cold and ice and snow - to appreciate the unspeakable beauty this world has to offer. We look forward to trying out the Hippocampe with skis after the next big snowfall.. which I'm sure is just around the corner!

The City of St. John's has adaptive equipment available to individuals who require their use. An ice sledge, hippocampe, snow coach and sit ski are available to rent at no cost, but must be pre-booked by calling 709-576-6972 or emailing

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Send Happiness Project

You might remember my post last year about Petit Mail - a kids story postcard subscription created right here in Newfoundland by local mom and entrepreneur, Alison Butler. Brennen and I loved receiving the postcards in our home mailbox, and we had lots of fun together exploring the activities that the cards suggested.

Brennen is a fun kid. He has changed the lives of everyone in our family. We were not expecting his disability when he was born thirteen years ago, but because of it, I have learned so much about myself, the world around us and what really matters.

Brennen has been doing really well lately, and we are fortunate to be able to enjoy these fun activities at home, but part of raising a child with a disability means that we spend quite a lot of time in the hospital. In recent years, we have spent more time than I would like to count admitted to the Janeway for one medical procedure or another. Brennen has had several major surgeries (like this one) that have found us living in the hospital for days that turn into weeks that turn into months. It is part of our life, and one that we have come to accept, but it never, ever gets easier.

Being 'frequent fliers' of our local children's hospital means that we have gotten to meet some truly remarkable families, each facing their own set of healthcare challenges. We know families who have children with complex disabilities and medical conditions, children with cancer, and other life-threatening illnesses. We know children who go through some of the hardest situations imaginable, and they do it with a kind of resiliency and strength that I've never seen before. These children clench their teeth through countless blood draws and examinations, and they withstand treatments and procedures that would make the best of us weak. These kids are tough but vulnerable and they have touched my life in a truly profound way.

Wanting to give back, Alison recognizes that there are many children in our community who could use a pick-me-up, and has created the Send Happiness Project -  delivering snail mail to children who might need an extra smile in their day!

Brennen and I will be personally helping to deliver these special cards, and every purchase will be matched with a donation (1 purchased = 1 donated).

Our goal is to brighten the days of 500 children in 2019!

I'm going to be honest with you. Brennen and I were planning to deliver a postcard to our dear friend Kaiden Little this week, but his mom wrote me on Monday afternoon to let me know that he'd passed peacefully away. Our hearts are broken for his family. Kaiden was a true warrior. He had been diagnosed with Neuroblastoma at the age of three, and he fought hard like a true super hero right to the end. Kaiden was six years old.

There are so many children in our local children's hospital who could use a smile today. If I have learned anything from having a child with a disability, it is that more than anything, these children need love. They need to know that they are valued, they matter, and that people (many people!) care about them.

Purchase a “Send Happiness Project” story postcard or letter and we will deliver a Petit Mail story to a child, in person, to brighten their day!