Sunday, November 27, 2011

Family Fitness Challenge Series - Marilyn Denis Show

Fake workout photo!

Submission Photo
On September 9, 2011, I read on the Marilyn Denis website that they were willing to assist a family get back into shape by providing them with a nutrition team as well as a fitness team.  I thought to myself, "Let's try!"  Stacey, Jocelyn and Jennifer were over at the house that afternoon and I asked them to consider submitting our family... well, actually, just the four of us.  Campbell, Vince & Kerby don't need to lose any weight.  Greg does, but he lives in Moncton so he probably wouldn't be able to be part of it.  So we started to brainstorm ideas on a picture to submit as per the website's application.  It also asked to send in your story.  I had no idea what to write for a story.  "Dear Marilyn Denis, We're fat.  Help!"  What story does she want?  We took some duct tape and wrote the word "HELP" on our backs and then took a couple of nice shots of us together as well as a playful shot of us doing a "workout".  I did write a little blurb about our family and our desire to look the best we can for Kerby's wedding and a little history of ourselves.

On September 30th, I received an email thanking us for our submission and a request to continue on the application process and provide them with a short video of our family and why we should be chosen for this series.  After a bit of shock, even to be considered for a national television show, I called the girls and told them about the latest request.  Giggling we decided to ask Kerby for help.  Until that point, she had no idea that we had even submitted anything and her part of our story.  She got very excited that we wanted to be healthier and also lose some weight.  If you don't know Kerby, she is a bit of a fitness nut.  She had all kinds of ideas for a video and music to put it to.  I had no idea and was really out of my element.  Kerby had us video tape ourselves separately and tell a 30 second blurb of why we wanted to lose weight.  That's harder than it seemed.  We also took some video footage of us at the school's gym doing some exercises and stretching poses.  She also asked us to video tape how close we lived to each other by having us drive from our house to Jenn's to Jocelyn's and back home again.

Kerby gave all that footage to Jeremy, her fiance, and he edited it.  As it turned out, Jocelyn had requested tickets to go to the Marilyn Denis Show in August and had received confirmation of tickets for October 3rd.  I emailed the producer and asked him if he wanted us to send our video in by email, or if we could drop it off on the Thursday when we went to the show.  He emailed back and said that if we had it ready to drop off that would be great.  A second email followed shortly after that and another request came to meet us at the show! Jocelyn and I were so excited!  We met with another producer that day and she inquired about our eating habits, fitness regime, likes and dislikes and availability.  We left that show hopeful that we'd hear back from them.

Two weeks went by and we hadn't heard anything.  I sent them another little picture of us at a Colon Cancer run that we had participated in that was published in the Hamilton Spectator.  Just a reminder that we were still waiting.  I know I thought we should be chosen, but really, it's a canadian wide hunt for a family.  We really aren't that special and there are a ton (pardon the pun) of overweight families.  I kind of gave up hope and stopped talking about it with the girls.  Well, lo and behold, over a month later on October 9th, I got an email saying that they hadn't forgotten about us and that they were in the process of finalizing which family they will be choosing.  Hope flickered again.  I called the girls to tell them.  They all had a bit of stunned silence and then a nervous giggle shortly followed.

You can only pretend to know the shock I had on Tuesday, November 22nd, when I opened my email and read this:  "Congratulations!  You guys are going to be the family we feature on the show for the family weight loss series!  We will launch this in January and it will run until June. However, we will probably start filming some of the stories with you sometime in December.  I just want to make sure all of your schedules are flexible and what days/hours work best for you so I can begin organizing a shooting schedule.  We’re very excited about this and I hope you are too!"

Yup - shocked  I tell you.  I called the girls and, oh, my word.... we couldn't believe it.  In fact... couldn't believe it.  So excited about the opportunity to have people walk along side of me and my girls, that I love so much.  I want them to have a better life than I have had being overweight and all the emotional crap it puts you through.  I want to be a great looking family for Kerby's wedding.  I want to live a healthier life and hopefully because of that, a longer life.  I know it's going to be hard work.  I know it's going to be challenging.  I know it's going to mean a lifestyle change...but


As things are confirmed and updated, I'll be posting here.  Pray for us!!!!

Time Flies When You're Having Fun!

WOW!!!  I can't believe two weeks has passed since I've posted last.  PHEW!  I have to try and keep up with my life!  There have been some really nice things going on.  One of which is last Friday, Kerby had all of her bridesmaids, with the exception of one that is studying in Germany, come to Cambridge to go bridesmaid dress shopping.  We hosted them all for supper that night too.  We tried to make a hectic nice very and elegant for them.  They did pick out a dress too at the end of the night!  Tick one more thing off the things to do list.

Jocelyn and I attended a baby shower for someone who used to be our neighbour for a few years.  It was in St.Catherines so we thought that we'd head over across the border to purchase our family turkey as well as a couple of turkeys for the youth group's church christmas dinner.  Turkeys were a great price at .48 a pound!  That's about a quarter of the price usually sold here.  We thought the church dinner would require two, our family would require one and then Jocelyn would need one for the Kitzman's christmas dinner.  Wow!  It took us a long time to buy enough groceries, $25 worth, with all the discounts that were offered at the grocery store in order to purchase the turkeys at the sale price.  So, my first order of groceries was just over $114 and with the discount card, all those groceries including a twenty five pound turkey came to about $39!!  Can you believe it?  We had to go through the check out three more times in order to get the other turkeys with additional groceries.  Two hours had passed by and we headed back to the border.

The customs officer stuck her head out and asked us the usual questions... "How long was your stay? Do you have any tobacco or alcohol to declare?  What was the purpose of your visit?"  It was at that point we said that we were just there to get some groceries and turkeys.  She asked us "How many turkeys did you purchase?"  That was where it all went down hill!  I proudly piped up and said, "Four!" as proud as could be. WRONG!  Her eyes got huge and her tone of voice became loud and authoritative and said, "You can't bring four across the border.  Didn't you know that you can only bring one turkey each?"  I am thinking in my head, "If I knew that, I wouldn't have bought two." but knew enough not to say that out loud.  Then she said, "You can buy turkeys in Canada you know."  At which point I'm thinking to myself, "All these groceries we can buy in Canada." but, again, I knew better than to say anything.  Then, she leans out the window, sticks her thumb up and raises her arm above her head, and says, "Taxes on the second turkey are through the roof!"  Big gesture there.  "Still I'm thinking to myself, "Lady, do you want the stinking turkeys?"  I resisted the comment.

With that she gives us back our passports as we sat there waiting for her to give us a slip to go and pay those taxes that would be "through the roof".  She looks at us like we are stupid or something, and says, "Have you brought back turkeys before?"  At which point, I'm thinking if I had I'd be too scared to say so!  We respond that we hadn't brought any back before, and then she tells us not to do that again.  "Thank you.", we replied and drove away without having to pay any additional border crossing fees.  WOW!!!  I hope the youth enjoy those turkeys!

Well, this weekend there was Black Friday shopping.  Jocelyn and I have gone for quite a few years now, and this year made our annual Thursday to Friday journey.  Get this!  When we got to the border Friday, I claim my purchases, Jocelyn claims her purchases and then the customs officer asks us if we have any tobacco or alcohol to declare.  We say no.  Then she says, "Any turkeys?"   What the heck???  I've crossed the border a gazillion times over the years, and not ONCE did they ever ask me if I have any turkeys to declare!  I think Jocelyn and I have been flagged as "Turkey Snatchers!"  Funny thing is, we did stop to see if the turkeys were on sale and were going to buy two more for families that need one in our community.  Good thing the sale wasn't on though for our sake.

I wonder what would have happened!!!  :)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

A Week's Gone By

This week has been a week that went by really fast.  Last weekend I got some sort of virus that attacked my voice and then it just sort of lingered throughout the rest of the week with a nagging cough.  I left work early on Monday to come home because I just couldn't stop coughing.  I stayed home Tuesday and Wednesday as well.

Wednesday we had a birthday party for Stacey.  All year long I was convinced she was turning twenty years old.  Well, lo and behold, she was actually turning twenty one!  Where did I lose a year?  In fact where have the last twenty one years gone by?  I remember the week prior to Stacey being born very vividly.  I had a Health and Safety training session at Colson Casters the day before her due date.  Her due date was November 8th.  The Sales Manager had two tickets to a Toronto Maple Leafs game at the old Maple Leaf Gardens arena.  He gave them to me as proud as can be.  I couldn't say no, but at the same time realized it wasn't too bright to go so far away from home with your fifth pregnancy on your due date.  I took the tickets and thought I could give them away.  I called Vince at home and told him about the tickets.  He was so excited.  He had always wanted to go to a Maple Leaf game.  (Why?  I am not so sure.)  When I said that I couldn't go, it was hard for him to hide his disappointment.  He understood why we couldn't go and said that there would be another time.  A few minutes later I suggested that he still go and that he take his brother Brian.  He paused for a bit and then asked me if I was sure, and then he said he would get back to me.

About two hours later, Vince came to the office and brought me a single red rose.  He was so grateful that he could go to the game.  He then began to be a little concerned about it being my due date and all.  I told him that if the baby was going to arrive before he got back, I would understand and he could meet the baby then. He hesitated a bit but gave me a kiss and almost ran out the door before he could change his mind.  I finished my Health and Safety training and I could feel some real tightening begin to happen in my abdomen.  I got home, fixed supper for the kids and began to watch the hockey game after the kids were in bed.  During the evening, I had several small contractions.  I was secretly relieved when the game ended and I knew that Vince would be on his way home.

Vince got in shortly after midnight and he was very animated about the events of the night and his first professional hockey game.  We went to bed and he still was talking about the night when I fell asleep.  A few hours later, I was awaken by such strong contractions.  I woke Vince up and we timed them and they were come fast and strong.  We called the doctors office as instructed and were told to head out to the hospital.  We had my things already packed, called a neighbour to watch the kids and out we went.  My neighbours, Colin and Anita Vanderploeg, must have heard the commotion outside our door as we gave last minute instructions for the kids' morning routines to the neighbour.  The Vanderploegs slid open their bedroom window screen and stuck their heads out and waved goodbye and good luck.  We arrived at the hospital shortly after 4:00 am and our little pink bundle was born just over an hour and a half later.

We hadn't decided on a name.  I decided that her middle name would be Rose after the red rose Vince had given me the night before.  Good thing he didn't give me carnations or a chrysanthemum, eh?  So our little bundle was known as Baby Rose for about four days.  We couldn't decide on a name.  We finally agreed on Stacey and registered her birth as Stacey Rose Stahlbaum.  Twenty one years later.... where did the time go?

Our family celebrated Mark's birthday on Thursday this week as well.  He's so much fun to give a gift to.  Everything seems like a big deal to him.  He is so easy to please.  He wanted a couple of new sweaters so that's what he got with a dress shirt and a movie.  Mark did a little fashion show for us as is customary to those that receive clothes as gifts in our house.  Stacey, however, didn't ask for clothes this birthday.  Well, she did ask for gloves or ear muffs, but she wanted a filing cabinet.  Jocelyn and I laughed hard at this when we saw her birthday list.  What child do you know asks for a filing cabinet?  Yeah, didn't think you would know of any!  I did find a really nice credenza style two drawer filing cabinet.  She was so thrilled with that gift.  It even locks.  She was fun to watch set that up in her room too.   She did warn Kerby, however, that she wasn't allowed to put anything in it.  I bet it will stay locked until Kerby moves out next summer after her wedding.  Those two are funny to watch.

This weekend was low key.  It was fun to reflect on the week.  So much happened and yet it doesn't seem like it was really.  We were busy at the warehouse setting up and getting ready for the input of information to begin.  I wonder what the next twenty one years will hold, God willing.

Sunday, November 6, 2011


This was a super busy couple of days!  Thursday we picked up office furniture for Swaziland.  Friday I met with a friend for breakfast and then went to the warehouse to move furniture around.  We had our first committee meeting to plan out this year's approach for the Library.  Saturday I went to a training session for our church to discover our strengths and how we can use them.

Today, the I.Can Foundation held a Fashion Show and I was invited to be the guest speaker and then I had been asked to go to the Life Church in Stratford to share how they helped us with building libraries in Swaziland.    Now you might think this blog is about Swaziland, but it's not really.

I woke up on Saturday morning with laryngitis!  Do you know how hard it is to be a guest speaker and not be able to speak?  I was supposed to give an announcement about our commitment to Swaziland for this year, and I squeaked it out.  I went to the Fashion Show today and shared how the whole Library Project got started and squeaked that out too.  Several ladies came up to me throughout the rest of the day and asked many questions and indicated that they wanted to support in different ways.  But, as I was walking out of the building with Stacey, a young lady said, "Thanks for telling us that story.  It was really well done."  I smiled that smile that I give when I really want to say something, and then said, "Thank you."  I turned to Stacey and said, "It wasn't a story.  It was a reality."  I was incensed.  In fact, I think I was insulted a little bit.  I'm sure she didn't mean it that way, but that's how I felt when she said that.

A story is fake.  Stories are what I read every day to our primary students at school when they come into the Library at school.  I didn't tell a story today, I told an event that took place between October, 2009 to today.  Anyway, I stewed over that for a little bit and then decided that it wasn't worth getting my knickers in a twist about.  I just wanted to be make sure she knew that what I said was real.  What I said really happened.  What I said was true.  Then I thought back to the training session on personal strengths.  I should have known why I took that so personally, but in reflection now, that's my personality.  My first dominant strength is "Responsibility".  So, what's that?  The definition given in the StrengthFinders assessment is this psychological ownership for things I commit to; we feel emotionally bound to follow our commitment through to completion.  Our reputation is important.  People with this strength feel that honesty and truth are very important characteristics that they measure things by.  So that made sense then why I felt so insulted.  She probably didn't mean "story" the way that I took the definition and it's probably why I really wanted her to know that I was telling the truth.

At Stratford's Life Church, guess what... same sort of thing.  After I shared, a member from their church prayed for me but before she did she said something that made me cry.  I'm glad that people get why I do what I do.  She said, "Thank you for bringing those books.  Your family sent so many books, and you sent the one most important book.  The book that gives life to each one that reads it."  I sat and wept as she prayed over this next phase of the Library Project.  A man came up to me and asked me how did we ever co-ordinate so many things at one time in such a short period of time with no experience.  Ya... I know... I wonder that all the time.  My only answer was "God asked us to do it and He had to provide the way."    He said, "You must have had to make changes as you go and you said you worked with a bunch of people.  You must have had to be flexible.  All I could do was say, I didn't have answers to most questions we had at the time, so we had to try different things.  He then expressed that he'd have given up.

On my drive home I reflected on the night.  What that man said to me was my second strength - "Arranger".   These people enjoy managing all of the variables, aligning and realigning them until we are sure we have arranged them in the most productive configuration possible.  Ok, honestly?  enjoy manging all of the variables?  Well, I do get a little satisfaction in finding solutions.   And then it happened - my third strength - Communication.  I really don't like talking in front of anyone. Especially when I squeak like a mouse because of laryngitis!   I love talking to people I know, but not to groups of people that I don't know.  And I don't really understand why I have to do it.  Doesn't God know how hard that is for me?  Doesn't He know that I like to do things, but in the background, not out in front.  As I was packing up the display, another lady came over to me and said that I shared our story really well.  She said that I was a gifted storyteller.  She said she could have listened for hours.  The definition of "Communication" as a strength is an ability to make an event come to life to a listener.  We can take a dry idea and enliven it with images and examples and metaphors.  We use dramatic words and powerful word combinations.  Our words pique their interest, sharpen their world and inspire them to act.

Thursday, November 3, 2011


This is going to be one of those crazy months where there is lots going on and the excitement sort of drains you.  My church's District Youth Council voted last night to support a youth GO Team for Swaziland in August 2012. This is so exciting to be helping a team be part of building libraries in Swaziland.  When I think of Swaziland, I cannot explain the sense of belonging that I have.  It's totally an unexplainable thing.  I've never been a fan of traveling or never felt the need to be part of different cultures.

I just feel an inward sense of commitment and family there.  Having said that, I want to tell you that this commitment is going to be keeping me busy for the next ten months!  This week alone, we are busy sorting through the mounds of books that have been collected.  Some of the books that we've received to date will not be appropriate for an elementary school library.  We're busy recycling those books in different ways.  Books that are damaged are being recycled in our Paper Recycler bin.  We receive a whole whopping $7/ton.  Although, we have a lot of neighbours around our church that are putting their own fine paper recycling in that bin and on the average of about every three weeks, that gets dumped.  The Paper Recycler then sends in a cheque for the tonnage.  Easy money and it goes toward Swaziland container fees.

Tonight we are going to the TD Canada Trust in Kitchener and are picking up furniture that is being replaced. I understand that we'll be getting several desks, credenzas, filing cabinets, chairs and office chairs.  Each of these items will be shipped at the end to Swaziland.  We'll be receiving three desktop computers this week as well and getting our internet hooked up.

Saturday, we'll set up a small display and information booth at a training day for church leaders in Oakville.    Sunday we are featured at the I.Can Foundation's annual Fashion Show Fundraiser.  Some of the proceeds there will be going to this project as well.  That wraps up at 4:00 pm and then we'll be driving to Stratford to present to a church there.  The Life Church in Stratford did a book drive for us the last time and they wanted to hear about an update.

November 14th, I'll be presenting to a Baptist Church in Kitchener.  They had read about us in the newspaper in March, 2011, and wanted to have more information.  I am not sure where this will lead but we'll find out.  Maybe they'll partner with us, or maybe this will encourage someone there to start a library in a country of their choice.  Who knows?  God will lead this project and others as He determines.

There are several more meetings and things going on this month.  I'll keep you updated as they progress.