Category Archives: Farm Life

A big city girl now raising a family on a farm…

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.

Image

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.

Image

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 

Advertisements

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.
20121012-212215.jpg

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.
20121012-212316.jpg

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.
20121012-212247.jpg

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".
20121012-212015.jpg

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”.
20121012-212029.jpg

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!
20121012-212038.jpg

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?

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

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 3 – New Books!

Nice and cozy on a snowy blowy day!

Merry Christmas from the Blacks….

For those who don’t know, every year our family dog, Shakespeare, takes on the monstrous task of writing our family Christmas Letter. This year is no exception. However, he’s taking a different approach this year in order to save a little cash and a whole lot of trees. This year’s letter has gone digital!
Shakespeare has hit the internet with his own blog, “Shakespearean Greetings“.

To all our friends and family, I hope you enjoy Shakespeare’s maiden post and stop by often to hear all about our comings and goings from the dog’s point of view.

Merry Christmas!

Tell me what you really think.

This is just a quick post to ask all my friends, family, tweeps and readers a favour.

Please describe Wayne K Black.

Wayne K Black

Yup, that’s it, tell me what you really think of my husband.

In a sentence or even just a word…
What kind of person is he (in your opinion)?
Would he make a good leader for the Ontario Federation of Agriculture?
What are his strengths? Weaknesses?
What does he need to work on?

In the interest of full disclosure, I will be taking these comments and with the help of some friends putting together a video for his OFA Presidential Campaign ….unless of course the opinions expressed convince me to beg him to change his mind! 😉

Thanks everyone! I can’t wait to hear your replies.
Jen

Ok Twitter, show me what you’ve got!

For those who dont know, I’m a city girl who married a farmer. I’ve never claimed to be all knowing about agriculture issues (marketing is my cup of tea) but I like to think I’ve learned a lot in the ten years I’ve lived here.

Wayne Black

My husband, Wayne Black, was born and raised on the family dairy farm and continues to follow his family roots. That being said, Wayne isn’t “just a farmer”. (Honestly, I hate the term “just a farmer” just as much as I hate the “I’m just a mom” statement. The skills and importance of both professions is highly underestimated – but that’s a blog for another time.)

Why I say Wayne is more than “just a farmer” is because of his involvement with the industry & our community off the farm.

His credentials include:
> Past president of the Huron County Federation of Agriculture (HCFA)
> Current Director-at-Large on the Board of Directors of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA)
> Youth Director on the Agriculture Adaptation Council (AAC)
> Current participant in Advanced Ag Leadership Class 14 (AALP)
> Economic Development Blueprint Taskforce
> Deputy Warden for Christ Church Port Albert

Plus, he is a fabulous husband, father and cash crop farmer who is out there everyday on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn speaking out for farmers and opening the lines of communication between farmers and consumers.

But now, Wayne has a new goal for himself.

On November 20-22, at the annual OFA Convention in Toronto (DoubleTree by Hilton), Wayne will be running for the organizations’ President position and we need your help!

I’m going to be blunt (some would say bias).
I think Wayne’s the best person for this position and his voice in the industry should be enough to win him this election BUT, there are “expectations” from the older generation that we need to provide for them to consider voting for Wayne.
In other words we need to provide a fully stocked hospitality suite to “convince” them that Wayne is the man for the job.

So we’re going to play the game but we want to do it on our terms.

We want to provide catered #LocalFood, #LocalWine and highlight our #LocalFarmers and #LocalBusinesses. We believe in the power of #SocialMedia and we want take this opportunity to introduce the OFA community to our network.

With all that being said, what does any of this mean to you?!

We need help to pull this off!
As always in our world, money is tight but we want to do this right.
We want to find a local caterer who will use local food.
We want a suite that will welcome ALL delegates.
We want to be fresh, young, innovated but still responsible and strong.
We need a suite that will showcase Wayne as an influencial voice in the province and will allow him the opportunity to introduce some of his supporters and network.

We need ideas!

Yes, I’m a city girl but I know very little about hosting a hospitality suite for farmers. My idea of a fabulous party is CocktailDeeva teaming up with Mabels Labels to create MabelBliss…. but that idea together with rum drinking farmers doesn’t quite blend! So please, if you have ideas, suggestion, or if you know someone who could help, let me know.

Let the ideas flow!

Dear Blog,

Purple Hyacinth "Please Forgive Me"

I’m sorry. I haven’t meant to neglect you. I didn’t mean to leave you unattended for so long.

The real world became very overwhelming during the summer and, as hurtful as it is to hear, you weren’t my first priority. Oh, who am I kidding, you weren’t a priority at all!

In my defense, I thought of you often. I had stories to share, titles to entice, subjects to dive into all swirling around in my head.

To prove my intention to do right by you, I have a list of headlines & activities that I’m sure you would approve but alas, the articles were never shared. The sagas never revealed. The adventures never told.  I beg your understanding.

My kids were home for the summer. My calendar was full to the brim. There were trips to the pool and journeys to far off lands. There were traumatizing acts of nature. Food to be processed and stored. Ultimately, there were people who I love dearly who needed me. Priorities.

But I’m here now! My family members are back into their routines.

My case load has lifted (as lifted as it gets).

I still have my list and I’m ready to share.

I do care passionately about you and your well-being.

Please forgive my absence.

Jen

 
Here is just part of my “LIST TO WRITE” that accumulated over the summer.
I get so many ideas in a day, I’d love to hear what you’d be interested in reading about.
• Our trip to an Egg Farm.
• Down Syndrome as a derogatory comment ?!?!
• My husband – my biggest supporter and critic all in one.
• Miss May
• The disappearance of the Value of Community
• Music Therapy, Brain Gym, Body Talk – the other therapies
• Three Kids, One Husband, A Van and Two VERY DIFFERENT Trips.
• Kentucky State Fair
• AGCHAT – Nashville will never be the same….or is that WE’LL never be the same.
• Stress and Irrational Fears
• FUF3 – Our home town is getting destroyed and we’re living it online, 1,100km away with Twitter
• Farmers Feed Families
• Chili Sauce, Tomato Sauce, Apple Sauce and Salsa!
• #140 Conference Ontario – Don’t Think, Dream Big & Do it!
• You’re only a big deal if you’re a big deal at home first!