Blue Sea Lake Never Leaves My Heart

Growing up, one of the best things in my life was summer break. Yes, for all the reasons a kid might like that time of the year – no school, no tests, no homework.

But I had another reason. Each summer, I would spend time at my godparent’s cottage in Messines, Quebec with their sons and extended family. They have two cottages side by side on Blue Sea Lake and lots of family nearby to drop in for an early morning coffee or lunch. I loved it! Coming from a large family, it was fun to get some time “alone”, but I also thrived on all of the excitement of the cottage and the setting couldn’t be nicer, with clear and clean water nestled within a border of thick trees and quaint cottages.

In the weeks and days leading up to departure, I would make a “master list” of what I wanted to do while I was there – go for a swim and a boat ride, walk around the circle, have a bonfire, visit the island. The list was always flexible though. Because you never knew who would show up to this family cottage and what adventure you might have day to day – treasure hunts, building a teepee, going on long bike rides to the village. It was idyllic.

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Parents of Preemies – Ottawa

A few months ago I joined a facebook group called Parents of Preemies – Ottawa. It was founded by a local Kanata woman, Nicole.  Even though for us, our preemie days are long over and other than a speech delay, there really were no issues after we left the NICU, this group is something I wish had been around in July 2007 when Mr. J was born.

1)   What is PoPOttawa?

PoPOttawa  or Parents of Preemies- Ottawa is an online based resource and support to parents who have premature children in the city.  Whether  parents have newborn preemies or if they are grown, all parents are welcome to join in.  Part of our awareness is that prematurity doesn’t end at the NICU;  parents want to share their past and present experiences with others,  PoPOttawagives parents the ability to connect to others locally who can relate and empathize.

PoPOttawa is divided into three parts at this point: the website, PoPOttawa  that is the resource hub where parents can find local or outside resources to help them as well as a blog with articles written by other parents; the second part is a Facebook based support group and facebook pagewhere parents can connect directly to other parents; and the third part is the Packages for Preemies where donations of articles parents with preemies still in the hospital may find useful.  All are maintained by volunteers throughout the group of parents.

2) How did PoPOttawa come to be ?

I had my son in November 2012 at 33weeks. Up till that point I had a pretty normal pregnancy and had never really thought of babies being born earlier than 36weeks and till that point the only way I had heard of the ” NICU” was from watching ER years ago.  My husband and I both felt so overwhelmed having a baby prematurely.  At times we felt isolated since we didn’t have anyone to talk to about what we were going through or the “typical” preemie issues.  No one we know understood anything about CPAPs or O2 or NG or bradycardia  or  laying in bed at night without the baby but still hearing the alarms of the vitals monitor going off in the mind. We couldn’t have made it through that difficult time without the help of others. We had friends and neighbours bring us food and packed lunches, since I spent day and night at the hospital, and items we needed since we had nothing when he was born. It meant the world to us then and we are still forever thankful for the kindness that was shown.

Recently, a friend of mine had a preemie,  and I wanted to make sure she had the support and resources we lacked during our time so I created PoPOttawa.  I also thought it was a chance for me to give back to the community for all the kindness we were shown.  Since the group started in March 2014 the out pouring of support from all over our city has been incredible.  The group continues to grow daily from parents of all different walks of lives but we all share one thing in common : our babies were born too early.  Donations for packages have also poured in from all over as well which is truly a testament of the fantastic community we live in. They used to say it takes a village to raise a child and I really think that is still the case.

3) How can people help or get involved with the project?

Send me an email. This initiative is all about community involvement and I love to hear from everyone with ideas, comments, questions or wanting to help and contribute.

4) How can someone request a package?

By sending me an email.  Tell me whether boy/girl  and which hospital in the city and we can arrange pick up or drop off at the hospital.

You Don’t Have to Create Your Own Charity to Teach Your Kids How to Give Back


I’m a proud graduate of the Public Relations program at Algonquin College and I remember that more than once we were tasked with something to do with raising funds for a charity. There was a lot of work that went into preparing communications plans, organizing events and working media relations as we tried to break the fundraising record set by the class before us.

To be sure, those fundraisers were gratifying and I’m sure the recipients of the funds were thrilled with all the work we put in. But, once our project was done, we went back to learning graphic design or advertising rates or how to take a photo with an SLR camera. The fundraising was a component of the class.

As parents, we can make fundraising, or at least the idea of helping other humans, a component of the way our children grow up. And they don’t need to take classes to do it or raise tens of thousands of dollars to know they’re making a difference. Helping someone else with one loonie they didn’t have before your work is helpful. And I have a few ways your kids can help raise a few loonies, make other kids happy and just in general bring smiles to the faces of others..

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Outdoor Summer Fun


We love to spend as much time outdoors as we can in the summer.  To make sure it stays fun for everyone, I make sure to do a few things:

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CHEO Turns 40

Before my son was born, I had never given a second thought to having a children’s hospital in our community. CHEO was barely on my radar screen, and my only connection to it was through the media should it be mention on the radio, or in the news.

After my son was born, CHEO still didn’t really register for me. My friends were young and just starting their own families and no one had any real experience with taking their child to the hospital. But as a new mom, I became more aware and more in tune with illnesses that might affect young children. I understood the need to protect him from illness and injury, and the stories I heard about ‘other peoples children’ battling diseases like Cancer and Cystic Fibrosis, or being treated for injuries caused by the typical childhood accident, were now more important to me and carried a different weight of parental concern.

I am lucky to have a very healthy 10 year old boy, who has rarely needed to visit CHEO. We’ve had to wander through the doors of the Emergency Department for a suspected broken leg (age 2), pneumonia (age 2.5), and a concussion (age 9), and I’ve lamented the long wait late at night in the ED and then been grateful of the nurses and doctors who took such care and attention with him.

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  • AuthorJulie

Be a CHEO Hero This Weekend!

Last year my kids and I had the privilege of being included in a short video with the Prime Minister’s Wife, Mrs. Laureen Harper, for a great campaign with CHEO (Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario) for their upcoming telethon! I always say YES to anything that is involved with CHEO, since as you may (or maybe not!) know, but we have spent a quite a lot of time at CHEO with our son Mason and his clubfoot diagnosis and treatments over the past 3 years. I am also proud to be a “CHEO Mom & Dad Blogger“!

For our family, our CHEO Hero is and always will be Dr. Willis. When we found out via ultrasound in utero that our son was going to be born with a club foot, I was devastated. I was afraid that he wouldn’t walk, that he wouldn’t be ok, and that we wouldn’t be either! Over the course of 3 years, we came to realize how wrong we were in those fears, and how the amazing process that Dr. Willis and his team follow to correct club foot really is, and how it helped out son. Mason is still going to need one more major surgery on his foot in the upcoming months, and we will once again rely on CHEO and the expertise of Dr. Willis, but we are know we can trust that they will do what they do best!

Going on the same theme as last year, you can be a Hero for CHEO again in a couple ways!

1 - Supe-Yourself into a super hero of your own! You can Be a Hero for CHEO  by creating your own superhero avatar & sharing it on Facebook and/or Twitter! Thanks to an anonymous Crusader, CHEO will receive a $10 donation for every superhero YOU create! So help out the kids & make one today here: At last count, I believe they were over the $8500 mark that had been raised with super hero avatars!

Here is the ones I created for myself and the kids! ; )

Crystal Lou, Mason Moo & Ava Lou

Crystal Lou, Mason Moo & Ava Lou

2 - Another way you can be a Here for CHEO is by donating at this weekend’s CHEO Telethon! It takes place this weekend (June 7th & 8th) in Ottawa, and is broadcasted on CTV and you can also donate here. Every dollar matters no matter how big or how small and it all goes back into CHEO – our hospital, our children’s hospital.


Something else that is fun that CHEO has going on this weekend, is an open house! Have you ever wanted to ask a neurosurgeon what it’s like to perform brain surgery? Wondered what it’s like to receive a new kidney? Helped a researcher extract DNA?

CHEO’s open house on Saturday, June 7 is the perfect opportunity to talk to experts and find out how a hospital operates! Come and celebrate CHEO’s 40th anniversary the telethon and experience CHEO’s commitment to care, research, kids and families. CHEO will be open to all on June 7 from 12 PM to 4 PM only. Visitors of all ages will get a behind-the-scenes look. You can visit research labs and a surgical suite, see a butterfly garden and our famous Karsh portraits, learn about child and youth health and meet fascinating people from CHEO’s past and present.

For more information on the CHEO Open House, please read more here! Sounds like a fun event for both adults and kids alike!

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