Puppy Love

This week, we were happy to welcome the St. John Ambulance Therapy Dogs back to our centre!  Our children just loved their first visit with us, and they were excited to see the little dogs again! These pups are so affectionate and friendly.  It was a great way to brighten up a rainy day!

Thank you, Panda, Missy and Abby.  We look forward to seeing you again!





ECE Week

May 25 – 31 is ECE Week in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Whether you work in an early learning and child care centre or a regulated family child care home, this is a week to celebrate the important work that Early Childhood Educators do with children and families!

Click HERE to view a statement that was given in the House of Assembly by the Honourable Clyde Jackman, Minister of Child, Youth and Family Services.

Minister Proclaims Early Childhood Educators Week


Happy Easter!

To celebrate Easter, the children at Little Tulips Family Child Care had an Easter egg hunt, coloured paper eggs, made hand print bunnies, read stories about Spring and devoured some yummy treats! We love to celebrate the holidays and to make exceptional days out of ordinary ones. We take every opportunity to create meaningful celebrations with our family and the children in our care.

Easter CollageI ordered an Easter Treat Box from Angela and Kate, the two girls behind “Happiness is Homemade Baked Goods”. A portion of the sales of their treat boxes went to the Janeway Children’s Hospital.  “The Janeway Children’s Hospital Foundation is a registered Canadian charitable organization created to raise funds to benefit the healthcare of Newfoundland and Labrador’s most precious resource – our children.  Easter is such a joyous time for children, let’s help make it extra special for those who are living with health and medical issues.”

Always happy to do our part!

However you celebrate Easter, let it be colourful, let it be meaningful, let there be memories!

Happy Easter, peeps!


Happy Anniversary to us!!

This month, Little Tulips Family Child Care is celebrating it’s first anniversary!
That’s right.. we are one year old!

DSC_0466sIt has been an awesome year, and a busy one! We have had some very special visitors to our home, including horses and therapy dogs. We have been entertained by story-tellers, local musicians and performers, and we have created partnerships with some wonderful organizations like Project Grace and 3E Love.

We work closely with the Janeway Children’s Health and Rehabilitation Centre and have had visits from physiotherapists, occupational and speech therapists, early intervention specialists, and developmental and behavioural practitioners. We have hosted ISSP meetings and have witnessed the remarkable things that can happen when people work together!

Great things are happening here every day. Over the past year, we have witnessed our children achieve many milestones in their lives, including learning to crawl, walk, communicate and gain independence. It is a tremendously rewarding role that we have as educators and child care providers, and we don’t take that for granted.

DSC_0472sWe are extremely thankful to the many individuals who have been a part of our success this past year. We have a wonderful home visitor and Inclusion Consultant, and I know they both enjoy spending time with us.

We have an amazing little group of children here, and we are thankful for the opportunity to work with each and every one of them!

We are striving to make a difference. We are striving to improve the quality of life for children with special needs, their families, and our community.

DSC_0430sThanks to kim at carter’s Cupcakes for our lovely treats!

We are excited to see what the next year has in store for Little Tulips!
Here’s to many more!

-Julie and Andrew


Fun with Drums

Our friend Gillian from Project Grace came by recently with percussionist Jonathan Hicks to do a drum session with our group.  Jon brought a variety of percussion instruments, from large congas, and a djembe, to chimes, and small shakers from around the world.

Drumming is often used in music therapy. Therapists use drum and percussion experiences to help children with special needs in the areas of motor strength and control.  We noticed that our own children enjoyed standing up to the tall drums and would shift their balance as they tapped with both hands.

Drumming and drum circles can also contribute to significant social and emotional improvements for the participants involved. For children with special needs, drumming can be a powerful tool to help them address many areas of development, such as communication, fine and gross motor, social, emotional and cognitive needs.

We had a great time trying out all of the instruments.  Thanks so much for sharing them with us!


Holland Bloorview

I am honoured to have been invited to write for BLOOM, a magazine and blog created by Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital.

Holland Bloorview is Canada’s largest children’s rehabilitation hospital and provides specialized programs and clinical care for children and youth with rehabilitation and complex care needs.

Louise Kinross, the editor of BLOOM, is a parent to four children, one of whom has a rare genetic disorder and multiple disabilities. She is also communications manager at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital.  Louise was interested in our Little Tulips Family Child Care program, and asked if I would write about how having a child with special needs led me to create Little Tulips.

Click HERE to read the article I wrote for BLOOM, and to learn the origins of our child care program!


Drop the Bass!

Recently, the father of one of our children came in to play the double bass for us!  I have to admit, I was not overly familiar with the double bass (ok, I thought it was the same as a cello), but I learned a lot!  The double bass is also called an upright bass, bass fiddle or bass violin.  It is in the violin family and is the largest and lowest pitched bowed string instrument. It stands about six feet tall, and towered over our little ones!  They enjoyed plucking on the strings and feeling the vibrations through the body of the instrument.

Being a Dad, he was well versed in children’s songs, so we had a great time singing along to some classics like “Old MacDonald”, “B-I-N-G-O” and “Mary Had a Little Lamb”.  Thanks so much for sharing your music with us!  It was a new experience for all of us!


Oh The Joys of Discovery Toys!

The Discovery Toys company was founded by an early childhood educator in 1978 and it continues to grow from a passion for education. Discovery Toys is committed to bringing fun, safe and developmentally appropriate toys and products to children and adults of all abilities. Their products have useful applications for children and adults with developmental disabilities.

Discovery Toys combines multiple levels of learning in every toy.  Various elements of math, science, and language are incorporated into all of their products and they are designed to engage and develop a child’s motor skills and higher levels of thinking.

Discovery Toys strives to incorporate a unique play experience into each of their products that stimulates multiple centers in the brain simultaneously – an experience that promotes both critical thinking AND open-ended imaginary play.

Veronica Vardy is an Independent Discovery Toys Educational Consultant.  She recently visited Little Tulips and brought in a selection of toys for our children to explore!

For more information or to contact Veronica, visit her website HERE.

Shop Discovery Toys exclusive collection of award-winning Toys, Books, and Games!
“These high-quality toys are so much fun, the kids will never guess they are LEARNING!”


International Day of Acceptance

coverJanuary 20th, 2014 is the 5th Annual International Day of Acceptance!

This is a day to promote the social acceptance of disability and to honor the late Annie Hopkins, founder of 3E Love and creator of the International Symbol of Acceptance (wheelchair heart symbol).

Join us in telling the world that you are accepting of people with disabilities.  As parents, siblings, relatives, spouses, children, care-givers, teachers, friends – you can have an impact on the future if you wear your heart on your sleeve and proudly demonstrate your acceptance of others.

Let’s join together to:
Embrace diversity. Educate your community. Empower each other. Love life!

Diversity is the one true thing we all have in common. Celebrate it every day.

Start the conversation of acceptance.
To learn more and get involved, visit www.DayofAcceptance.com

banner* A huge thank-you to our family and friends who have been so accepting and supportive.  You guys are awesome!!

If anyone else would like a ‘wheelchair heart’ shirt, we will be ordering more very soon!
Send me a message and I’ll make sure you get one!  juliebrocklehurst@hotmail.com
Proceeds go towards our program for children with special needs!


Tulip Tales: Brennen

I am excited to introduce a new feature to our blog, called Tulip Tales!  Each month we will feature a child with special needs and share their amazing story.

I will start with my own.


Brennen is eight years old, and has a diagnosis of Spastic Tetraparetic Cerebral Palsy, Seizure Disorder, Global Developmental Delay and Cortical Visual Impairment.

First, here is a little background on Cerebral Palsy.  Cerebral Palsy is not a disease. Cerebral Palsy is an umbrella term for motor disability. It is caused by damage to one or more areas of the brain, usually occurring during fetal development; before, during, or shortly after birth.  “Cerebral” refers to the brain and “Palsy” to muscle weakness. Cerebral Palsy itself is not progressive (i.e. brain damage does not get worse); however, secondary conditions, such as muscle spasticity, can develop which may get better or worse over time. Cerebral Palsy is not contagious.  It is not genetic, and is not hereditary.

We are not sure why Brennen has CP, but we are sure that he must have suffered a lack of oxygen to the brain before birth, either due to a stroke in-utero, or if the umbilical cord was tight around his neck.

Brennen was born full-term, two days before his due date, in Sacramento, California.  It was a normal pregnancy and delivery, although I replay it constantly in my mind, trying to recall if there was something I’d missed.  I was sent home from the hospital with a “healthy baby”, and we were over the moon with joy and love for our precious baby boy!  Until.. he started crying…and crying…and crying. He would not stop.  Ever.  You might think I am exaggerating, but it is the truth.  He didn’t do anything but cry for 5 whole months.  I knew there was something wrong, but had no idea what.  We went back to our doctor every other day.  She told me he was a “colicky baby” and he would outgrow it.  That didn’t happen. Feeling like I was not being taken seriously, and getting no sort of resolution, Brennen and I left California and came home to Newfoundland where we had the loving support of my family.

DSC_0128KFsAlmost immediately after arriving back home, we got in to see a pediatrician at the Janeway Child Health Centre.  Though I knew there was something wrong with my child, I was not prepared for what I heard on that first encounter.  Words like “serious”, “urgent” and “critical”.  All of a sudden we were in an emergency situation and needed a battery of tests to be done right away!  We were sent to neurology, cardiology, genetics, ophthalmology and audiology, among others.  Brennen had a CT Scan, MRI, EEG, EKG and ultrasound all the matter of days.  It was a whirlwind of tests and probes.  I couldn’t believe what was happening.  I knew that Brennen was behind on his milestones (ie. hadn’t met ANY), and I knew something was not right, but I wasn’t prepared for what they were about to tell me. My perfect little baby boy had something seriously wrong with him and there was nothing I could do about it.  It was such a helpless feeling.  I knew they were testing for conditions that I couldn’t even bring myself to contemplate.  We were referred to physiotherapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy, all to begin immediately.

When Brennen was eight months old, after blood test after blood test had come back negative, we were given the diagnosis of Spastic Tetraparetic Cerebral Palsy.  Spastic meaning stiff muscle tone, and tetraparetic meaning that it affects all parts of his body.  As difficult as that was to hear, it was almost a relief.  They say the scariest thing in life is the unknown, and now at least we knew what we were dealing with.  It wasn’t going to go away.  It wasn’t going to get better, but it wasn’t going to get worse.

272559_10150721311560510_659030509_20072950_856431_oAs well as I think I handled the diagnosis, I was surprisingly knocked off my feet by the suggestion that I join a “CP Support Group”.  Was it THAT bad that I needed a support group?!  Support groups, I thought, were for people dealing with some sort of horrific tragedy or loss.  I wasn’t one of those people, was I?  What I was about to learn was that I was going through both of those things, and all of the emotions that go along with them.  The tragedy of what had happened to my perfect unborn baby, and the loss of the child that I thought I was going to have.  It was a mourning process, for sure.

When I think back on those early days, when I thought I was alone in the world, and that I would never have any sort of “normal” life again, I wish I could go back and tell myself that it really was going to be ok.  When I look at our life now, and look at my sweet eight-year-old son, I could never imagine life without him.  Brennen is a happy little boy who loves life and spreads that love with everyone who knows him.  He brings us so much joy every day and has taught me more about life than I ever could have imagined.

Brennen_ICUThe past eight (almost nine!) years have been filled with doctors’ appointments, surgeries, therapy sessions and ISSP meetings.  We have had struggles with the school system, and with the benefits of “inclusion”.  We have spent a small fortune on medical equipment and therapy devices.  We have learned who our friends are and who they are not.  There have been dark days, but they make the good days that much better.  This whole unexpected journey has taught me so much about myself, my relationships, and about love in general. I never could have fathomed that in such a short time, Brennen would change my world in the best way possible.  Life is good, because he is in it.


JP Mullowney

If you would like to be featured on Tulip Tales, please email me at: juliebrocklehurst@hotmail.com  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.

*Note – The ‘Tulip Tales’ series will continue over HERE!