Monthly Archives: June 2012

Drink of the Week: Innis & Gunn Canada Day 2012 beer

Happy Canada Day this weekend! No cocktail today for the DOTW. Canada Day weekend calls for a nice cold beer, don’t you think? And while this one isn’t made in the country, there are evidently enough Canuck-loving-Scots around to make a limited edition oak-aged brew possible. One like the Innis & Gunn Canada Day 2012 beer.

Toast all-things-Canadian with a delish brew that comes in a special package with Canadian art.

At any rate, it’s yummy — malty and sweet, with hints of vanilla and toffee. It has a rich complexity suited for celebrating a diverse country’s birthday. And if you’re into carton artwork (I mean, who isn’t?), you’ll love the sugar maple saplings design by B.C.-based artist Gary Whitley.

Sure, you could toast July 1 with a made-in-Canada microbrew, but repeat after me: Barrrel. Aged. Beer. Mmmm…

Climbing Kili for a cause

By now many of you know Blake and I are climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro for our 15th anniversary and also in support of Bennett’s special needs preschool, Renfrew Educational Services. Read my blog page all about The Climb and The Cause.

We hiked the Inca Trail in 1999. Success! We’ll gain another mile in elevation getting to the top of Kili.

As you probably also know, Kili is a tough climb. It’s not technical so much as really, really high, so it’s the altitude that poses the biggest risk of one (or both) of us not making it to the top.

We’ve both hiked a lot in the Canadian Rockies, but not as much at high altitude. To prepare for the climb we are doing lots of day hikes and trying to walk at least 10,000 steps a day, including tons of stairs. From what I’ve heard about Kili though, no matter how much you prepare, a lot of the climb is mental — believing you can do it and pushing through the hard bits.

If you’ve done the climb or other high altitude treks and have any tips we’d love to hear them. We’d also love your support! We are trying to raise $5,895 to go toward our son’s school — I think knowing we’d reached our fundraising goal would help inspire us on the summit push. Onward and upward!

When I say my kid is special, I mean “special” special

On the outside, my son Bennett looks like any typical four-year-old boy. He’s cute, has a naughty streak, loves to jump on the trampoline and relishes tormenting his big sister. But all is not as it appears in his school picture.

Bennett also has a genetic condition called 18q- . He’s missing a small piece of one of his 18th chromosomes. This means he has been slow to hit milestones like walking and talking; it also means he has a difficult time playing and interacting with peers. On the whole his symptoms looks a lot like global developmental delay or autism (which he has also been diagnosed with).

Only one in 40,000 children in North America are born with a Chromosome 18 abnormality. When my husband and I decided to try for a second child and play what we used to half-jokingly refer to as “genetic roulette” (because we were, at ages 36 and 35 respectively, somewhat “older”), this condition was definitely not on our radar. And anyway, who really thinks they’re going to have a baby that makes them want to stop reading What to Expect the Toddler Years because he can’t stack blocks, or walk, or put two words together? In those early years, it was easier to put down the book and hope Bennett would catch up, than entertain the thought that something was wrong.

Saying it’s hard to parent a child with special needs is an understatement. It’s a slog. It’s tiring, it’s isolating and it’s scary. We worry about Bennett’s future (will he be living in our basement and bagging groceries at age 30?). And sometimes, because that thought is so frightening and depressing, all we can do is joke about it (humour really is the best medicine). Last week I chatted with a neighbourhood friend at the playground about Bennett and shared that he’s recently been potty trained (yay!) and he lost his first tooth. My take: “We’re so glad he was potty trained before he lost the tooth. I would have been beside myself if he was wandering around in diapers with a big gap in his mouth.” There’s a certain order to milestones, after all.

But joking aside, what happens when you have a child with special needs is this: your illusion of the perfect life with perfect children is shattered. There won’t be skiing at age four and hockey at six and lots of friends. There may not be university or marriage or future grandkids. The not knowing is scary, and sad. So I mourn the experiences I thought I’d share with my son. But I also work hard to celebrate his little milestones, like learning to dress himself, because for Bennett, that’s huge — it’s one small step on his slower, windier road to independence (and one step away from my basement). I also embrace and enjoy the awesome things we do together, like riding the Lake Louise gondola or playing on the beach in Mexico.

I also try and accept Bennett for who he is, and appreciate what he has brought to our life. More patience. More love. Way more hugs and kisses. He may not be skiing next winter, but you can bet he’ll be riding the magic carpet.

We love you B!

Bennett is currently attending preschool at Renfrew Educational Services where he works with therapists on his speech, fine motor and gross motor skills. He has made huge strides over the last two years and he will be attending kindergarten there in the fall. To say thanks and give back, Blake and I are raising money for Renfrew. Read more in Wednesday’s blog.