Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Christmas 2019

It's hard to believe another Christmas has come and gone (though our holidays are not over yet!) Andrew is like a certified Christmas elf. He loves the hustle and bustle and has been proclaiming for months now that this year was going to be the B.C.E. (Best Christmas Ever). I don't know how we could actually measure that, as there have been some pretty amazing Christmases in our past, but this was certainly a good one!

I entered into this holiday season with the highest of intentions to do less - buy less, worry less, spend less, stress less - and I think I've been mostly successful. We've been enjoying some down-time, a reprieve from our usually full and crazy schedules, and have been spending our days watching cheesy Christmas movies, drinking holiday teas and keeping cozy at home. It's been magical.

Here are some photos from Christmas Eve at our house!

I love this time, this rich season of shared excitement, of anticipation, of going out with a bang. The old traditions that slip away to replace new, slightly modified versions. And tonight, as I write by the light of the Christmas tree, with my two sweet babes cozied up in their matching jammies, I marvel at the beauty of parenthood. It is, by far, my very favourite gift.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, friends.  May your days be merry and bright!

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Happy Christmas to All!

I haven't been posting on my blog as often as I once had been - not for lack of inspiration, but more about trying to manage all of life's daily adventures. The way our life looks now is not a mistake. We were made for this. We have learned lessons and had struggles, but I am continually thankful for this little family of ours, and for the one person who's experience matches mine. I am proud of us. I don't know if we've quite figured out how to do it all well - it will be our life's goal - but we are working on finding a balance between letting it be hard and trusting that we can do it, knowing that we have each other.

Merry Christmas.. from my mummers to yours!

Monday, October 14, 2019

Read Our Lips

On October 3rd, the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association - Newfoundland and Labrador (CHHA-NL) launched a brand new self-paced online learning course called Read Our Lips.

Read Our Lips is an innovative social enterprise that will contribute to the programs and services of the CHHA-NL. Read Our Lips is the first of its kind in Canada and consists of online lessons that teach adults how to lipread by learning to identify and watch for important movements of the mouth, including the lips, jaws, teeth, and tongue. This technique is an important part of overall speech reading. The full Read Our Lips online course has been created and produced in Newfoundland and Labrador and will be sold online throughout North America, and the world. It is affordable and available to anyone with access to a high-speed internet connection and a computer, tablet or smartphone.

Leon Mills, Executive Director of the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association - Newfoundland and Labrador, says:  

"Many people believe that technology like hearing aids and cochlear implants fix hearing loss, and while such technology is indeed a great help, the reality for many of us who live with hearing loss (which is about 1 in 5 of the adult population in Canada) is much different. Background noise, distance from the speaker, room lighting, and so many other factors play a role in how well someone can hear. 

Combined with an individual’s existing hearing ability and technology, lipreading, an important part of overall speechreading skills, can significantly improve an individual’s ability to communicate and, most importantly, to understand someone’s speech. We believe that the Read Our Lips online course will be another important tool to help people with hearing loss to understand more speech, have better comprehension, improve their self-confidence, and ability to communicate with confidence."

My dear friend, Alison Butler is the Coordinator of Education and Awareness for CHHA-NL, and she has been highly involved with the creation of this program. (You will see Alison in many of the videos connected to this course!) Alison was excited to announce the launch of Read Our Lips, and she did an awesome job of describing the course.

Alison says, "Many individuals don't recognize the signs and symptoms of hearing loss and for many who develop hearing loss later in life, the process is so gradual that they may not even realize or notice their challenges for years."

Alison also explained that hearing loss is widely misunderstood by the public at large. It is not always an issue of not being able to hear sound, but it is more often about the clarity of sound or not being able to hear clearly. When speech starts to sound unclear, many people struggle with communication, but don't necessarily recognize these symptoms as hearing loss."

Hearing loss occurs gradually in most of us as we grow older, and so it is likely that we will all experience hearing challenges at some time. The alarming truth is that Newfoundland and Labrador has the fastest-aging population in the country, and we are going to have to find ways to support our seniors in living as healthy and as independently as possible. Heck, we are going to BE those seniors. Time does not slow down, and we are all getting older. I constantly lament over how fast the days go by, how big my son is, how quickly things change. The world has a way of unforgivingly reminding us all of how old we are getting, so why don't we do something to help us age gracefully - to improve our chances of aging together in a healthy way.

Health Canada defines healthy aging as "a lifelong process of optimizing opportunities for improving and preserving health and physical, social and mental wellness, independence, quality of life and enhancing successful life-course transitions."  

Making the most of our health is key to positive aging, and I am all for that. All people have the ability to live well, in spite of their limitations. For individuals with hearing loss, the ability to lipread makes a tremendous difference in the quality of conversation and helps people feel connected. Read Our Lips is going to improve communication and connection for thousands of people. I truly believe that this is a course we all should take.

If you are interested in learning more about lipreading or the online course, visit www.readourlips.ca to access a free course introduction and lesson preview. 

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Spark the Conversation

I am super excited about the launch of "Spark the Conversation" - a creative contest for students from K-12 in Newfoundland and Labrador to get them thinking about inclusion and accessibility.

"Spark The Conversation” is a creative contest where young people are asked to draw or design a picture of how the concept of inclusion makes them FEEL. The hope is that these efforts will spark a broader conversation on how accessibility in the built environment benefits us all.

Organized by the Universal Design Network Newfoundland and Labrador (UDNNL), in partnership with the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador - Disability Policy Office, The Coalition of Persons with Disabilities, and Boom I.T., we are excited to launch this initiative which we hope is the start of many great conversations on the important topic of accessibility. It is our hope that this campaign drives age-appropriate conversations between parents, students and educators. Young people are often keenly aware of simple solutions that can benefit everyone. Teachers can also feel free to use this resource as a jumping-off point for conversation about accessibility in the built environment and start the creative ball rolling.

Universal Design is about creating environments, from the design stage, that are accessible to everyone and have the most flexibility of use. True accessibility works for everyone!

The contest begins today, September 27th, and submissions will be accepted up to and including October 18th, 2019. Winners will be announced at the Home Show in Mount Pearl on March 28th, 2020. UDNNL intends to post all submissions for public viewing on their website once the contest has concluded.

I am so excited to see what the kids will come up with!!

Find more details HERE or at udnnl.ca

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Kite Festival

It's been a busy couple of weeks! We are officially two weeks into the new school year, and I am happy to say that things are going pretty darn well! The initial feelings are always the same for me - panic, worry, and wondering if we are going to make it through. The difference between Brennen's first school year and his eighth, however, is that the panic doesn't last as long. I know we will make it through this year because we've made it through the previous seven. Brennen is in Grade 8 this year, and I actually feel like I can finally exhale and let go of some of my own nerves about his junior high school experience. Brennen is in good hands, and as a parent, that is all I can hope and pray for. He loves going to school - his days are full of fun and activity, and he is happy when he comes home. Sometimes I wonder how we got here.. how it all happened so fast. It seems like just yesterday I was worried sick about my boy starting school, being there for hours each day without me, and not knowing how on earth I would be able to let go of control and hand him over to somebody else. But we have come a long way since those early days, and my boy has proven to me over and over again that he is a tough kiddo, and he is rocking the education system! He loves his life, and we are so fortunate to have so many people on our side who help empower Brennen to not only survive the school year, but to truly thrive! We couldn't be happier!

On Sunday, we attended the PAL Kite Festival in Bowring Park. Like in previous years, this year's festival was full of exciting events, including a kite flying contest, bouncy castles, face painting, BBQ and live musical entertainment! All proceeds from kite sales and donations this year go to Choices for Youth, an organization that we are proud to support.

"Choices for Youth is committed to building programs, systems, and opportunities that are focused on providing individualized support for young people, celebrating who they are, and working together to unlock their potential to build a brighter future."

Some photos from the Kite Festival!

My nephew, William got off to such a great start with his little kite.. but it ended up looking like this:

It's ok, buddy. I lost my kite over the top of a tree. The struggle is real.

See photos from when we attended the Kite Festival a couple of years ago, HERE!

Sunday, September 8, 2019

"Making Fish"

On Labour Day weekend, Andrew and I were able to sneak out of town for a bit, trading the busyness of the city for some tranquility around the bay. We visited friends in Green's Harbour, where we were treated to the most gracious hospitality I think we have ever experienced. What a beautiful way to spend the last few days of the summer! I should have been a bayman.

See the article below on the history of "making fish" in Newfoundland!

"Hard Racket for a Living" — Making Light-Salted Fish on the East Coast of Newfoundland

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

TD Summer Reading Club 2019

As much as I hate to admit it, we are nearing the end of the summer. It just seems to go so fast, especially considering that the weather didn’t start to pick up for us here in Newfoundland until mid-July. While we have packed a lot into a few short weeks, there are still some things on my summer bucket list and a few key things I want to experience with Brennen before he goes back to school. One thing on our list this year was to make more time to read together, and I think we’ve done a good job of that!

Brennen and I have been participating in the TD Summer Reading Club – Canada’s biggest bilingual summer reading program for kids of all ages, interests, and abilities, where kids can:

- Join activities happening in local libraries
- Read books online and get reading recommendations
- Track their own reading and collect stickers and online badges
- Connect online to share jokes, stories, book reviews, and more with other kids across Canada

As part of the TD Summer Reading Club, you receive a summer reading booklet, stickers, a web code and a reading goal sheet. You set a goal of how many books you want to read over the summer, and the great thing is that ALL books count – even books that a grown-up reads to you!

Studies show that kids who keep reading all summer do better when they return to school in the fall. Participating in a summer reading club is a great way to build excitement about reading!

Our local library has a wide variety of books available in alternative formats, and we like to try them out once in a while. Brennen does not read Braille, but we like to let him feel the texture on the pages of a book while we read the story, and he seems to enjoy this!

Brennen received an Accessible Notebook, which includes sections from both the pre-reader and school-age notebooks. Accessible tips have been added to support kids who have vision loss, a learning disability or a physical disability making it difficult to hold or turn the pages of a book.

We had a great time participating in the TD Summer Reading Club once again this year. I read a quote once by an author who said that her hope for all children was that they “feel free to imagine themselves as whoever they want to be in the fictional world, because that is, after all, a stepping stone to imagining yourself as whoever you want to be in the real world.”

I think this is what I hope for Brennen, as we are reading stories together. I hope he is able to imagine himself as a character in the books we are reading, and to use his imagination to take him on all sorts of fun adventures!

What are some children's books that you are loving? I'd love to hear about them!