Monthly Archives: February 2012

Wow 30 Years

I remember a number of years ago hearing that times had changed and people no longer worked at the same job for their entire career, but to expect to have a number of different positions. This has definitely proven true with the myriad of opportunities available. But there are still exceptions and the Big Guy at my house is one of them. He was honored on the weekend for 30 years of service with the Lloydminster Agricultural Exhibition Association. Hard to believe.  Many, many changes in that time. Marriage, three fabulous kids,  the Saskatchewan Building, new horse rings, renovations, parking lots, various boards, so many many events – fairs, bull sales, stock shows, conventions, concerts , musical rides, chuckwagons, trade shows,  trips, parties,  4H shows.  Of course the recent expansion to the Exhibition Grounds.  And most importantly, people. Along the way, he has had the opportunity to work with and meet an incredible number of great people. Our hats off to you Mike for 30 fantastic years. You have done an amazing job and we could not be more proud!

“Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life,” – Confucius

– Kelly


Inspiring Women

Quick!  Think of someone who inspires you!                                   

This has been a fun question that Kelly and I have been throwing out to various groups of people in an attempt to gather information for our first big conference in Lloydminster, Alberta.

The conference is called Inspiring Women.  We have long wanted to attend a conference for women that would feature various womens’ issues.  We wanted it to be educational, we wanted it to be fun, and we wanted to come away from the day feeling rejuvenated and excited to welcome new challenges.

We were fortunate to have been invited to a conference just like that last year in Vermilion.  Their keynote speaker was Linda Edgecombe.

Linda Edgecombe left us feeling excited to put one foot in front of the other and to start making new things happen in our lives.  She challenged the participants to consider how old their stories are.  For example, are you still telling people about the time you won a red ribbon for high jump at track and field in grade 11?  If you are, and if you are older than 18, it’s time to create some new stories of success.  She told us to stop thinking so much and just start doing.  She reminded us all of the voice in our head that says things like “well, I’d like to do that but first I better get this laundry done” or “if I had more free time” or “I would be more successful if my family was more supportive”.  Stop thinking stop thinking stop thinking.  Start doing.  Add to all of this motivation the fact that Linda Edgecombe is hilarious, and you have a fantastic keynote speaker!

We drove home discussing how great it would be if ‘someone’ would put on a conference like that in Lloydminster. 

We waited for a while, but ‘someone’ didn’t come through.  We mustered all of the energy and enthusiasm that we had gathered from Linda and began planning.

Lloydminster’s first annual Inspiring Women Conference will be on Thursday, February 23.  It is being hosted by KT and Company, a business that Kelly and I have developed to create our events from – events that are unique and locally focussed.  In keeping with our local focus, we will be featuring 10 women who are local to the Lloydminster area.  Three will be speaking as a panel, and will share their own stories of personal and professional success.  Five will be facilitating break out sessions on financial planning, nutrition and fitness, and creating balance.  Two more will be showcasing their skills by giving quick tips on how to improve your look when you are short on time. 

And of course, we have booked our keynote speaker – Linda Edgecombe.

The Vermilion conference was great.  It had fantastic speakers, informative booths, wonderful food, and it was hosted in a town that is less than 1/6 the population of Lloydminster.  We are sure that our city can host an event like this and make it memorable. 

The businesses and associations who we have approached for sponsorship have shown us that Lloydminster is very prepared to host this event.  Our major sponsors are Alberta Works, the Lloydminster Source newspaper, RBC, Elements/Planet Beach, Lakeland College and the Women Entrepreneurs of Saskatchewan.

The door prize sponsors really came through also, including prizes of clothing, gift certificates, advertising, restaurant meals, luggage, a camera, and the opportunity to attend a Celebration of Achievement Award Ceremony and Networking Dinner – featuring Arlene Dickinson of Dragon’s Den.

And so here we are, 10 sleeps away from our first major event.  We are so very excited to see how the first annual Inspiring Women Conference will turn out.   Businesses are booking tables for their employees, interested women are coming forward wanting more information or a ticket for themselves. 

We know that it takes a year or two for a new event such as this to establish itself so we will be patient.  Having said that, we can hardly wait to see the day when all of Lloydminster and area is being run by men for one day, because the women have taken a day to invest in themselves. 

We know that participants will leave at the end of the day feeling inspired, rejuvenated, and excited to achieve their goals.  Mark your calendar for February 23 and come join us.  You don’t want to miss it!

“We learn best to listen to our own voices if we are listening at the same time to other women – whose stories, for all our differences, turn out, if we listen well, to be our stories also.”  – Barbara Deming, political activist and author.


I Know How Lucky I Am

This morning I had a bit of extra time, so I decided to swim some laps at the pool in town.  I really love the water, so swimming is a great way for me to blur the line between fun and exercise.

I arrived at the pool at 10 AM, and was surprised to see all of the young moms and dads with toddlers who were there.  Apparently, now that my kids are mostly grown, I had forgotten that this is also the time for ‘Teddy Bear Swim’.   Teddy Bear Swim was a favorite of ours years ago when we had two little boys at home, and we needed to do something that would help to tire the boys out so that I could have a nap….and sometimes when I was lucky, the boys would sleep too.

Entering the change room, there was the same struggle going on that I remember from 16 years ago – the struggle of getting one toddler out of his winter gear, while the other one starts to wail because he is too hot.  Turning to the wailing toddler means that the first one runs away with only one leg in his snow pants, dragging the other leg behind himself through all of the murky water that lurks in every corner of a change room at the pool.  The good thing about that dragging snow pant leg is that you can quickly step on it to bring the run away to a fast stop.  Sometimes he falls and bangs his head on a bench or into the lockers, but the main thing is that he didn’t run out into the pool area and drown, or worse, into the men’s change room where you can’t follow.

I quietly smiled, and with no struggle whatsoever….except for the stupid clasp at the back of my suit…entered the pool.

The lane pool where I am having a relaxing swim is completely separate from the pool where Teddy Bear Swim is happening.  Teddy Bear swim is a time that the pool staff sets aside specifically for moms and dads to bring their pre-school aged children for a swim.

Although it’s separate, I can still see some of the things that are going on in the other pool.  As I quietly stroke through the water I can see the Mom with two little boys taking her third trip up the stair case to the top of the water slide.  I can see the ‘pure joy’ on her face as she grabs one by the hand, and hoists the smaller one onto her hip for another adventure up the steep and slippery cement stairs. She is probably wondering, as I did, why the boys think this is fun.  The slide usually scares them a little at the end, especially when Mom comes hurtling around that final corner and lands on them in the catch pool, nearly drowning everyone involved.  As always, after a few tears and apologies from Mom, the boys will want to go again.  I am really glad that I don’t have to climb those stairs today.

I can hear the squeals of delight mixed with sheer terror as the lifeguards turn on ‘the mushroom’.  The mushroom is a 7 ft tall plastic structure that will randomly shower little water droplets down onto the kids who gather below it.  For some kids this is fun, and kind of like being caught in a little rain shower.  For other kids, this is someone’s attempt to drown everyone.  They are going to have nightmares and will never want to put their pinky toe into water again. 

Who thought that this was a good idea?!?

I was that kid.  I understand their shrieks and screams of horror, running away as fast as their fat little legs can carry them.  Which is not very fast considering that they are carrying an extra 30 lbs of water in their ‘little swimmers’ diapers.  Mom or Dad will catch them and spend the next 15 or 20 minutes on the very edge of the pool, trying to coax their little future Olympians back into the water.  I am really happy that I got over that fear of drowning…mostly.

Daddy to the rescue

I can see the Dad who really just wants to sit in the hot tub for a while.  As he gingerly lowers himself into the scorching hot water, he coaxes his little girl to come in with him.  While it took him the better part of 3 minutes to gently and carefully lower himself into the heat, she skips down the steps, splashing him and everyone else as she goes.  She proceeds to splash and swim and play around in the hot tub, filling her mouth with the water and spitting it on her Dad, she is having the time of her life.  The other parents who were enjoying the hot tub while holding their babies on the edge do not share her enthusiasm.  One by one they leave, looking for another, shall we say – less splashy area to visit while their little bobble heads enjoy a ‘play date’. The Dad doesn’t appear to care at all about the fact that he has no one to share the hot tub with.  He stretches out and encourages his daughter to play some more.  I decided that I’ll skip the hot tub for today.  Ever since my auntie told me that hot tubs were a haven for STD’s, (when I was about 7 years old), I haven’t really liked them much.  I know that Auntie’s story can’t be true, but I hear her voice every time I enter a hot tub, and it kind of kills the ambiance. 

Who's having more fun?

After 30 minutes of ‘swimming laps’, which involves a little bit of front crawling, some back stroke, and a lot of doggie paddle – I decide to enjoy the sauna.  It’s something that I remember wanting to do when I used to come with the kids, but I never felt really great about taking them into a sauna.  This was partially because I was unsure of whether the extreme heat was good for their little bodies, but mostly because I knew that they lacked the social graces to sit in a sauna with other scantily clad adults.  I just wasn’t prepared for the kinds of conversation that they might strike up in such a small, quiet place.  Conversations like “Mommy is that lady going to have a baby?” or  “Why does that man have such hairy legs?” are a sure bet when little guys join you in the sauna.

As I settled back to enjoy the warmth and the smell of hot cedar, I noticed that a window was set up perfectly so that I could gaze out at the pool where Teddy Bear Swim was happening.  I looked out at the parents who were doing such a fantastic job of watching over the daredevils who wanted to jump off the sides of the pool, coaxing the less confident into trying something new, and saving the lives of the oblivious ones who just ventured into the water without a care, falling into the depths and being scooped out so they can do it again.  I realized just how lucky I am.  I am that woman who I envied all those years ago. 

I'm pretty sure that Daddy would no longer approve of this little 'off the shoulder' number.

I have to admit though, that a little piece of me envies them.  While I don’t want to go back to the seemingly endless days of tear, nose and butt wiping – it would be great to grab one of my little fat babies and give them a big belly zerbert again.  I could try, but I’m pretty sure the boys wouldn’t think it is as funny now as they used to.  And they aren’t chubby anymore, so it wouldn’t work as well.

The time had come to stop playing….I mean exercising.  Returning to the change room, I met with another memory that I had long forgotten.  In the morning when you arrive at the pool, the change room may have a few damp corners, but that’s nothing compared with what it’s like after an hour or two of toddlers and mothers going in and out. 

Can I get out yet?

The state of the floor concerns me.  I can’t tell for sure if it’s just water that has dripped off of swimmers, or if a toilet has backed up.  I don’t want to think about it.  What I do want is a pair of very tall stilts to maneuver myself through this warm, wet area that is littered with random very long hairs, and bits of balled up wet mystery paper.  It could be Kleenex, or an old piece of diaper, or….toilet paper.  Definitely something that I want to avoid looking at or walking near, and also definitely something that my toddlers would have slid and fell in, and would have had stuck to the side of their face.

I am so happy that I only have me to move through the obstacle course of wet paper and hair elastics to my locker.

I change into my clothes.  I am very aware and grateful of the fact that I am the only one that I have to try to fit into the little area behind the curtain.  I am also aware and grateful that I can be relatively sure that none of the three-year olds here today are going to fling open the curtain while I am changing so that they can get some help with putting on their shoes.  I am relatively sure of this, but I still keep an eye on that curtain just in case.  I noticed that the pool staff had a very large sign on display reminding parents to respect others’ privacy when bringing children into the change room area.  I can only imagine the story behind that sign.  It probably wasn’t nearly as funny as I am imagining.

As I leave the pool for the day, I am so grateful for the stage of life I am in.  Sometimes it’s easy to forget that life is progressing along the way that you hoped it would.  It seems like only yesterday I was one of these car seat carrying moms who thought the day would never come when I could do something alone and for myself.  The day has come, and I am grateful for it.

And – if I have grandkids one day, I will be so thrilled to take them to the pool so that I can relive it all over again!

Explore Local

Kelly and I decided to make yesterday a professional development day.  We were happy to have been invited to a seminar that was hosted by Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development. The focus for this event was to research the possibilities of improvingAlberta’s local food system.

We have been involved in selling, buying and eating locally grown food for years.  Both of our families enjoy sitting down to a meal that was completely grown in our yard, something that happens frequently enough that we sometimes take it for granted. 

When I announce to my family, “just so you guys know, everything on your plate was grown in this yard”, they like to challenge me with comments like “Oh really Mom?  What about the salt?  What about the barbeque sauce?”

I have enjoyed that challenge, and have now learned to make a great barbeque sauce from our own tomatoes.  However, that salt thing is a challenge that I’m not quite up for.  Neither is soy sauce, or coffee, or bananas.  I have heard that roasted dandelion roots can be boiled into something that ‘tastes just like coffee’…but as someone who doesn’t even like to stray from my particular coffee brand….I won’t be drying dandelion roots any time soon.  I would be happy to try it if someone delivers it to my door one morning, but that’s probably the only way I’ll test the dandelion root theory.

So there’s the rub.  No one should ever expect to be perfect, not in any thing, and that includes eating locally.  My feeling is that if you are just considering where your food comes from, that’s a step in the right direction.  See where it takes you. If you start to compare the stickers on apples in your grocery store and go for the ones grown near you, that’s another step in the right direction.   If you ask your butcher where your meat was grown, and you want to choose the meat grown near you, fantastic!  You will create change by voting with your grocery dollars.  If people continue to buy more locally grown food, the grocery store will continue to stock more locally grown food.  This reminds me of the rule of price and demand….something I learned in my University economics class….possibly the only thing that I learned in my University economics class.

Sometimes you will spend more money if you buy an apple that was grown in your area compared with buying an apple that was grown  in Mexico.  It’s strange when this happens, but here are a few explanations. 

The first reason is that people will work for less money in Mexico.  That means that most of your money went to the oil company who sold the fuel to drive your apple to you.  Think about that the next time we experience high gas prices…..we’re paying high fuel prices again in the grocery store when we buy food that had to be trucked to us from long distances.  These fuel prices are disguised as food costs.

Another reason that our local food can sometimes be more costly is because of the fact that our inputs are higher – our fuel costs are higher, our fertilizer costs are higher, our infrastructure costs and taxes are higher than those in some of the other countries that are exporting their food to us.

Here’s a reason to buy local food. It’s fresher.  This is not exactly shocking when you consider the bumps and bruises and various temperature changes suffered by raspberries travelling to you from across several countries as compared to raspberries travelling to you from down the road. 

Here’s an economic reason to buy local food.  The money you spend stays in your community.  If you own a sporting goods store and you buy chickens from the farmer in your area, he will have more money to buy new skates for his kids.  That money will come back to you. 

If your community is doing well financially, there are benefits to you personally.  Buying locally supports your own local economy.  A healthy local economy means good roads, new stores, updated sports centers and interested investors.  While the government of Chile thanks us for our support when we buy their cucumbers, I will spend the extra 10 cents and support my own economy.  This is especially true in the unbalanced economic times we are experiencing now.

Buying locally is about more than just food.  It is about supporting your local farmers, musicians, artists, skilled laborers, chefs, entrepreneurs, photographers, professionals and more.  Its fun when you set out to find all that you can access locally, it’s not at all difficult, and you meet some really great people in the process!

So here’s a big congratulations to the Government of Alberta for exploring the possibilities regarding local food.  The facilitators – Bill Reynolds and Shari Hanson – did a fantastic job; the Workshop was a success with the sharing of big ideas, and with the great connections that we all made as producers, promoters, government representatives, and eaters. 

I even met a lady who can show me how to raise bees!

Now I just have to find someone who can show me how to not be afraid of bees, and I’ll be ready to start growing my own honey!  This process is going to be very ‘bloggable’.  I think Kelly better get out her video camera and follow me around during my inaugural bee keeping days, it should be good for a laugh!

If you’re interested in learning more about local food, check out these websites that we learned about yesterday.

“You can say this for ready mixes – the next generation isn’t going to have any trouble making pies exactly like mother used to make.” – Earl Wilson