NOT the Blissful follow up you were expecting

Okay, before you get your big girl panties in a frenzy, yes, Blissdom Canada 2013 was fill of bliss.

Yes, I came home feeling spoiled, inspired and loved.

The wine was great,  the food was excellent (as was confirmed by my scale this morning), the sponsors were terrific, the speakers were phenomenal. Tears of every kind were shed.

I learned a little, felt a lot and above all was reconnected with my dreams and for all of that, I do want to give a few shout outs…

First off, all you Blissdom Girls (& couple boys) you’re fabulous in every sense of the word. You ROCKED this challenge and proved that Canadians have all it takes to be the success we dream of. You are inspirations and I’m honoured to be able to call at least some of you my friends!

Sleep Country Canada – Although I didn’t win your Tempur-Pedic bed, “Bliss” is a welcome addition to our family. Thank you.

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19 Crimes – Thanks for delicious wine, the cool t-shirt and for allowing me to wrap myself in your silky Australian accent. (Yes, ladies I was enraptured by the man, please don’t pretend that you weren’t!)
Good luck on your big launch this new year. I’m sure your “preferred location” will be absolutely fabulous! (And, just so you’re not lying awake worrying about me, my husband did let me in the house even though I didn’t win one of your gorgeous baskets.) ;) Image

Cottonelle – If I could make a  suggestion for next year, KLEENEX! Blissdom Canada likes to bring out our tears and we can never find KLEENEX. Please, next year, could you bring that in your arsenal of awesomeness? That being said, #LetsTalkBums… Thank you for saving us from the standard 1-ply hotel TP! My bum is feeling very loved. :)

The BeautyTeam – You took a 40-year-old tired, and very sick mom and made her feel like there was still some beauty to be found! Thank you for that. Image

Tim Hortons – I’m not going to thank you for the donuts that made my scale jump to crazy heights this morning but I am truly grateful of the #timspiration and the peppermint tea I lived on this weekend as I fought a cold while attending Blissdom. Thank you. Your staff was tremendous and I loved having to the chance to connect with them.

philosophy – THANK YOU! Tiffany introduced me to “keep the Peace” and she has officially changed my world. #Fact

UNICEF – Always nice to get a chance to catch up with all that you do and are striving for. Image Plumpy Nut was an experience, I now truly appreciate my running water but, even more importantly, I’ve been challenged to make bigger changes in my world and I’m hoping that you will be a big part of it. #StayTuned

McDonald’s - Thanks for not bringing fries and Big Macs – my scale thanks you too. ;)

Canadian Lentils – All I want to say is “YUM!” ….Delicious, delicious, delicious!Image

Maple Leaf Foods – You’re right! Bacon makes everything better!

Chevrolet – Although I was EXTREMELY disappointed to miss your test driving session on Thursday, I was happy to see you’re pretty faces at Blissdom again. corvetteThank you for the power station and for introducing us to the Chevrolet Hockey Helmet Program & “Chevy” – that kid’s got some moves!”

And since I could go on all day with specific mentions of sponsors, I’ll just leave it at this…. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you.

 

 

Now on to the good part and why this is NOT a “Blissful” follow-up…

I am shutting down this blog.

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Yes, after spending three days at the best blogging conference in the county, this post and one more (to let you know my plan) will be my last.
I will no longer be blogging on “A bear, A ladybug and A peanut”.

Thanks Blissdom Canada for giving me the courage & support to bring this to an end. I love you all!

Stay tuned, I promise you’ll all want to see where this weekend has led me, I just have to fill my husband in first. ;)

Lots of Blissful Love,
Jen 

I should be getting ready for Blissdom!

Ok, I should be getting ready for Blissdom Canada 2012 but I just read a post on the Blissdom Facebook page that tore at my heart. Someone mentioned a friend who was terrified to come. Their nerves and insecurities getting the best of them and I wanted to reach though the screen and hug them!

So, seeing that I should be packing, I’m going to have to make this quick!

A lot of you already know that last year I blogged about my experience attending #140 Conference in Kitchener in September in “What People Think”. I let the cat out of the bag that I was TERRIFIED to walk into any situation alone and a conference setting just amplified this.

The response from that blog was overwhelming. EVERYBODY understood. EVERYBODY could relate to my fears. And EVERYBODY wanted to make sure that I didn’t feel that alone again!

A month later when I was getting ready to attended my first Blissdom conference, I blogged “Got the Shoes” and talked about how scared I was again. I went into the hotel lobby that weekend with the same fears & sick feeling in my gut but within minutes was greeted with smiling faces, welcoming voices and comforting hugs.

For those those who are feeling similar jitters or who are all out sick to your stomachs with fear, be strong and get to registration, once you arrive there will be lots of people to lift your spirit and calm your nerves.

Look for me and I promise, we’re ALL going to have a great time!
See you tonight!!

Crazy? Nuts? Or An Addiction in the Making?

Back to school came and went and with it came routines, schedules and the never ending shuttle service I am chauffeur to.
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The lunches, dance classes, swimming lessons, supplies, paperwork and never ending check requests all for the under 8 contingency of my family but this year I have made a vow to make time and find the money to take care of me too.
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Some of you may know that a couple years ago I lost 60lbs. I accomplished this goal by following the Weight Watchers program and walking… A LOT of walking. I averaged 30 to 40 kms a week. And I succeeded. I reached my goal. Lost the weight. Felt good. Hell, I felt great but somewhere in the process lost the initial key that helped me start my journey.
The key: That one thing that forced my hand; that kept me motivated to stay on track…
I lost the belief that my needs are important. That, my health is a priority. That I must take time for me.

And so, when I finally reached my goal, I started to slack. I would allow others to distract me from my walks. I would have the dessert I didn’t need. I stopped counting my points and let it all go. I gained back all but 6 of the 60lbs I’d originally lost.

Now, I know it’s not about the number on the scale. (Don’t get me wrong, I don’t like the number on my scale but) Its about feeling good. Being able to participate in the things I love. It’s about being able to play with my kids without hurting myself. It’s about being the best I can be and I knew I wasn’t doing that.

Fast forward to this past July. I saw myself and cried. I wasn’t happy. I wasn’t strong. I wasn’t being fair to myself or my family because I’d let myself get so far away from everything I could be… Again.
I immediately said, enough. I need to be as focused on myself and my needs as I am on my kids. I need to take control of a situation that only I can. And so, I got back on the Weight Watchers wagon, tracking what I eat and making good food choices but the exercise portion seemed to flop and fail.

I tried to start walking again and, following some suggestions from some other friends, tried an app to teach me to run but nothing lasted. Summer was busy. I’m home alone with the kids. There were lots of excuses to let myself not do the work and so, I didn’t.

By the middle of August I had lost over 16lbs. Then I went camping for two weeks with the kids.
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S'mores, hotdogs, snacks and too many meals out helped me put back on 7 lbs of those I'd lost. Shame on me but the time away taught me a clear lesson. I feel horrible when I don't eat properly. Headaches, fatigue, crabbiness and a general feeling of unwell plagued me our whole vacation.
It was not how I wanted the summer to end but it gave me a chance to really look at myself.

What I learned was two fold. One was, healthy portions of good food is imperative and two, I need help to get my fitness level back on track.

Introducing "The Tank".
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Three years ago a homegrown Goderich boy started a Crossfit training group in the shed of his family’s apple farm. Ok, maybe not a “boy” but a certified Chiropractor who’s goal is to “unleash potential”.
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Today that group has grown into a much talked about "place to be" for anyone serious about getting their physical selves back on track. James (aka Koi) now has so many “fISH” he runs 6 classes a day and has had to move to a bigger location. It's not pretty and you're going to get dirty but they get the work done!
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And that's where I now find myself three mornings a week! CrossFit! Can you believe it!
The reactions I got from people when they heard I'd joined Koi and all his #fISHY friends were curious.
The people who had heard about the group but had never been, thought I had completely lost my mind. While those who had participated in the past or who were still involved, said I'd love it. They predicted an addiction would take hold….once I made it through the first week.
Honestly, I was terrified! Scared out of my skull! I mean… I walk, I can't run, I've never tried lifting weights. What was I thinking?!?!
But I went. And, even though after the first day I was in more pain then I've experienced EVER, I went back and I didn't give up. As predicted, the first week was HELL but it did improve. The people are fantastic, Koi is stellar and I found as the month moved forward I looked forward to my "Tank Time". Until one day my baby bear was sick and I realized the "addiction" had begun to sink in. When my priority should have been my child, I found my concern was focused more on "how will I get to The Tank for 9am?!?!"
Now for all my CAS friends, I took care of my sick child (my priorities aren’t that screwed up) but I did make a point to make it to the nooner! :-)
Fast forward to this week, the start of my second month…
I’m down 10.8lbs since I started at The Tank and 20lbs since I started Weight Watchers in July. I am able to swim 1000m and over the past month have cut 10.5mins off my best time. I’m rowing faster, lifting more and finding myself growing stronger.
Finding myself (again) is a process and I recognize it will take time but I’m thrilled at how my body is changing and how much better I feel both physically and mentally.
This month 10 lbs… Next summer a whole new woman! ….but wait! I need a fish name! Any ideas?

Do you take care of yourself? Are your needs a priority or does everybody else come first?

Watch what you say; you never know who maybe listening.

Awhile back I forward on a wonderful post by a another mother of a precious little girl named, Rowenna. The blog talked about not referring to children with the diagnosis of Down Syndrome as “Downs Child” or “Down Child” or any other way where the diagnosis is the child and not something the child has.

Simply put, you wouldn’t call a child with chicken pox “Chicken Pox Kid”, an over weight woman as “Obese Woman” or a boy with cerebral palsy “CP boy”. These diagnosis don’t make the individual. The individual HAS the diagnosis.

That being said, after posting this particular blog, I received a comment from a friend of mine from Mabel’s Labels who mentioned a situation she was in where a mom of a child with Down Syndrome was head counting her kids and said “now, where’s my little downsy? oh, there he is”… ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!?!?

My friend commented that she was very taken back. She has experience with autism and made the comment that she has never heard anyone use the “hey, where’s my little autistic” phrase.

My biggest frustration with having a child with Down Syndrome is society’s genuine ignorance to these individuals, their capabilities and inturn how to change these perceptions. To have a parent call her child that in a public forum makes me sick to my stomach.

Person first. Diagnosis last. It’s not complicated; just common everyday respect.

This past weekend I had the privilege of meeting another family of a child with Down Syndrome while out celebrating Canada Day in true Club 21 style at the Goderich Canada Day Parade.
Please understand, this family is very supportive and excepting of their child and his diagnosis but still some family members are using inappropriate language. Referring to having “one of those kids” or “Downs kids” etc.
I have two big problems when I find myself in these situations. First, I get so hung up on the language they are using that I can’t hear the actual conversation. Even though I know they are trying to support our kids, their choice of words is so insulting and segregating that it negates all that they are trying to say. Second, I don’t know how to begin to correct their error without insulting them because again I realize in this case there is no ill intent. Give me a blog to vent on, fine. Let me rant on twitter, great. But put me face to face in a situation that’s supposed to be fun and positive and I clam up.

Teaching “People First Language” is great and very important but how do you have that conversation in a face to face situation without insulting the uneducated speaker?

And for all those parents who should know better, I challenge you to choose your words carefully. You never know who may be listening.

How do I pick? …HostelBookers #7 Supershots Challenge

Leave it to a friend to remind you to take some time to reminisce as well as get you back on track with something that is important in your life yet you always put off for another day.

Last night I received a tweet from @tweepwife (www.lifecache.ca) challenging me to search through the thousands of photography files that have built up on my hard drive and participate in the HostelBookers 7 Super Shots.

What I found through the search was that I love my photos and sharing with others should be something that I dedicate more of my time to. What I also determined was narrowing the choices to only seven was hard!

So I limited my choices to those taken in past the 18 months and this is what I’ve decided to share as I walk down memory lane….

1. A photo that… Takes my breath away

This photo is a moment I captured when my father-in-laws barn burnt down. It takes my breath away for a few reasons. First the colours & composition just worked. It showed the viewer exactly the intensity that those of us present felt at that moment. You can feel the heat, power and allure that a fire of this magnitude creates. The living body a fire becomes is breath taking and every time I see this picture, I am reminded of that fact.

2. A photo that… makes me laugh or smile

The moments I cherish most as a parent are those I see the true love and devotion my kids have for one another. When they give each other a hug of support or take the time to sit and read together. Or, as in this photo, when they take each others hands and together run into the world full of hope, love and excitement. Catching these moments on film are few and far between but when I do, it allows me to relive that feeling of pride as I sit back and smile in reflection.

3. A photo that… makes me dream

What makes me dream isn’t the actual photo but the subject it highlights. For those of you who know my family, one of our goals is to change the way the world sees my daughter. To change the preconceived notions surrounding Down Syndrome and all individuals our society deems “less” in some way. Everyday I see the beautiful smile, bright eyes and determination in the face of my ladybug and I remind myself that together will meet all of her challenges head on. We will build her up and make all her dreams come true. We will strip away the labels and show society that she and all of her friends have something to share with this world. That is our dream.

4. A photo that… makes me think

To appreciate the true magnitude of this image, click to enlarge

Our family had the opportunity to travel to Washington DC last year. During our tour of the area we showed our children many monuments and buildings of significance. My son found the Korean War Monument most preeminent but for me Arlington Cemetery gave me the greatest pause. The vastidity was overwhelming and I spent much time thinking of the individuals & families who suffer as a result of the hatred within our world.

5. A photo that… makes my mouth water

Last summer we visited Nashville for a conference about Social Media & Agriculture hosted by AgChat. Before we departed this lovely city we took some time to visit the local farmers market. The colours, the smells, the freshness of the produce touched every sense as we walked through the stalls. This is just one of the numerous images from that day that, as farmers, we felt showcased the value of agriculture as well as tempted ones taste buds to reach out and grab a bite!

6. A photo that… tells a story

This is a photo that I’ve shared online before but that captures a very precious story for our family. My husband was raised on a dairy farm. He spent his whole life around cows and as a family we had hope to raise our children the same way. Unfortunately, that dream will not come to fruition as the dairy portion of his family’s farm was retired last July. Prior to that our kids spent many hours in the barn helping with chores and acting as the “Welcoming Committee” to new arrivals. Having this moment with our girls and a brand new “steaming” calf captured on film is priceless and is a token for them to remember being a part of their family’s history.

And finally my last pic for this challenge.
7. A photo that… I am most proud of (My National Geographic shot)

First, I need to clarify… I don’t necessarily believe this is the photo “I’m most proud of” but I could see it in a National Geographic spread. I wanted to include this image in this challenge because it’s different than the others I’ve shared and, in my opinion, the movement, colour and composition are bang on. I was thrilled with this shot and wished at the time I had a magazine to share it with. This photo was taken on our Floridian vacation in one of the perfectly lit Sea World Aquariums. Jellyfish always seem to draw me in with their fluid movements and gracefulness and this picture captures that for me. I find these exotic creatures fill me a calmness few other things in this hectic world can and I’m grateful to have this photo to remind me of that feeling.

As I bring this post to a close I would like to thank @tweepwife for getting me back to my blog and my photography. This challenge reminded me that I have passions of my own and I need to take the time to embrace them again. To fill my soul so that I may fill others.

And now, I spread this challenge to others. – I have choosen seven bloggers (instead of the requested five) to give it their best shots in the HostelBookers 7 Super Shots:

My choosen Agriculture reps include…
@JPlovesCOTTON from http://janiceperson.com
@kmrivard from http://kellymrivard.com
@AR_ranchhand from http://agricultureproud.com

My choosen Down Syndrome reps include…
@CarrieWChildren from http://www.carriewithchildren.com/about-carrie-with-children
@DownSideUp from http://www.downssideup.com/

And two extras who I would like to represent Huron County with the brightest lights…
@sarahnadian from http://atransparentlife.com/
Melissa Wormington (who’s not on twitter but who’s blog should be seen by many!) from http://melissawormington.blogspot.ca

Go to it girls and guy! Show the world what you’ve shot!

Jen

Illness, Commitments, Loss and Indifference

I started off this year with high hopes of writing often. Photographing everything and documenting all our highs, lows and daily grinds…

Ya, that didn’t happen.

So what did? Life, I suppose, but that’s no excuse.

I started off ok but then January 25th my youngest got sick and then, shortly afterwards, I got sick.

Now I don’t mean I had a cold, or a headache or anything minor that I could or should have pushed through (although, I did try to for the first 5 days). I mean I got sick. Pneumonia to be precise. Three full weeks in bed with the inability to move, eat or even get myself to the washroom. Ya, sick.

Then, a week after I first got laid up, my little ladybug got sick. First with pink eye, then with an extreme asthma attack, followed soon after by pneumonia. Ya, that’s just how we roll around here. If it isn’t one thing, it’s another! Anyway, pneumonia isn’t fun for anyone but for my ladybug it can be very dangerous. She has very narrow airways and any kind of congestion is bad but once it gets to the pneumonia stage she’s walking on thin ice.

But I’m sick, remember?! Step in my husband Wayne.
Let me premise this with the statement that Wayne is a fabulous father. Helpful. Loving. Engaged. But when it comes to the medical knowledge of our kids, well, that’s my department. Wayne does not do doctors, hospitals or needles… EVER.

But he stepped up. He held down the fort so to speak. He came through when the chips were down.

Even when, just as I was starting to get some wind back in my sails, our youngest fell to the virus in our house, Wayne held strong.

Fast forward to the end of February – we’re all run down and still coughing but life is starting to return to normal. Wayne takes us to Ottawa with him while he attends a conference. We visit friends. We visit museums. We rest.

Then my mother delivers some tragic news. My Aunt Lynn (a fabulously positive and determined women) passed away. After successfully beating cancer twice in her lifetime, complications arising from her third fight took too big a toll on her body and she could fight no more.
We were on our way home from Ottawa but Wayne couldn’t attend the funeral. He had commitments he couldn’t postpone or miss so I took the children on to Midland alone. Still recovering from being sick, I tried my best not to cough on everyone and not to spread pink eye that was still circling through my children over and over again.

When we finally returned home, much delayed and fighting exhaustion I was indifferent. Lost. I felt disconnected from everyone and everything. I couldn’t get motivate. I put on almost all the weight I had lost prior to getting sick. I couldn’t write, tweet, or engage.

I celebrated my thirty-ninth birthday during this time. I wasn’t depressed about my birthday (I don’t get to worked up about my age, my son turning 8 soon is another story!) but still so indifferent.

In comes March Break. Usually I am not a fan of March Break but this year proved much different thanks to the weather.
I am a sun girl and this week has offered up weather that literally makes my heart sing! We’ve been outside everyday soaking up the rays. We took a trip to the Welland Canal. We’ve walked on the beach. We’ve started our seeds for our garden.
Things are looking up!

So, although I did completely dropped the ball on my New Year’s Resolution and even though I’m not a fan of excuses, I’m going to let myself off the hook for the past (almost) two months and try to just get back on my horse.

How have your new years resolutions been going? Anybody else dropped the ball? Are you going to start over or give up?

Jan 7 – Too Cute for Words






Tea parties have become a regular thing in our house this Christmas Holiday. Usually we get buns, soup, strawberry pie, grapes, juice and of course tea. Today, Sammy (the bear) got special service because he wasn’t feeling well.

LOVE days at home!
Jen

Jan 6 – Winter Walk

Not really the winter weather we’re used to in Huron County but the milder temperatures definitely make taking some afternoon walks much more pleasant.

Unfortunately there wasn’t enough snow for the toboggan and too much wet sticky snow for the wagon.
:-/

Jan 5 – Smiles for Daddy

My husband was away this day and the kids wanted me to send him some pictures for many different reasons.
Little Bear wanted Daddy to see her pompoms.

Our Ladybug wanted to send hugs.

and Peanut, he thought it would be fun to pose with his bear.

So for this day, you get three glimpses into our silly world!

Jan 4 – Animals from Down Under

No, not the kids!
My sister is living in Australia for the next year or so and sent some fun little cut outs for the kids to put together.

Animals from Down Under

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