1 more week to prepare

Hard to believe, but I only have one more week to prepare (my bags, my body, my mental state...) for my Kilimanjaro adventure.

After the time and effort that has gone in to raising the funds for the Make-A-Wish Foundation (and not on my own - with a lot of support from many) and strengthening my body - this trip is going to take me much farther outside of my comfort zone than anything else in the last several months. 

I'm anxious. I'm excited. I'm nervous. I'm a little scared. And some days... I'm a lot scared.

I know I'm not the first to do something like this. Nor will I be the last. Kilimanjaro is big, but it's not that big. Raising over $16000 is big, but it's not that big. But as far as my personal life experiences go, this will be one of my biggest adventures yet.

And I'm humbled by the support of people around me.

I've already started receiving "best wishes" from many friends and colleagues who I won't be seeing again until it's all said and done. I've been prayed for at church. But it's not just "have a nice trip" kind of send offs. It's "I'm rooting for you", "we'll be thinking of you", and even "I admire what you're doing".

And I'm holding on to all these comments and all that support, so that I can pull it up if and when things get rough on that mountain.

I'll also be holding on to a few "tactile" objets to remind me of important reasons for taking on this project in the first place.

- a little pendant with emerald and diamond like gems that will remind me of my husband and girls (May and April birthstones).  Not that I'll need a reminder. I don't want to leave my family for 2 weeks. I do want to take this time for me and make them proud.  And even though my girls are very young, I hope that this is something that will speak to them as they get older.
- a picture of a special little boy - Justin Guestier - the son of one of Brandon's colleagues who was born barely a month before Layla. We nominated Justin for a wish and found out very recently that he was accepted. I'm very excited to see (so close) the power of a wish - for a child and their family.
- a "Kids in the park" tuque. This children's weeknight "club" raised $100 for the Wish Foundation over the fall.
- a picture of little Layla Grace... the little girl whose story started me down this road last year.

... and all my gear. Girl "pee" aid and all (!)


Less than a month...

29 Days...

I can't believe that I'm so close to starting the final chapter of my "Summit for Wishes" adventure. But I am. In less than a month my bags will be packed and I will be boarding a plane for Moshi, Tanzania. The realization is quite surreal actually. Maybe even a little crazy.

When I think back to April, when I first decided that I needed to do something that would have a positive impact on children suffering from sickness or disease, I don't think I could have imagined the events of the last several months.

And when I think back to the first phone call and asking for more information about the Make-A-Wish foundation's SUMMIT FOR WISHES fundraising activity; the excitement that followed that call... and the doubt and questions that plagued me before (and for quite some time after) making the decision to sign up; I am happy and proud to say that I did it (the fundraising!) and that I really am going to do it (the hike!).

Who would have thought?

I have a feeling that this next chapter will be one of the hardest yet. As anxious as I am to experience it all, this trip and this trek will take me so far out of my comfort zone. And while I don't expect to have any great epiphanies or "aha" moments, there's a part of me that is hoping and praying for them.

Don't get me wrong, this adventure has already been incredibly interesting. At times, very fulfilling... and at other times, very frustrating... The only constant that I can see from my current perspective is that it was, is and will no doubt continue to be a very important learning experience for me.

So what is it that I'm hoping to find on that mountain? Well for starters I really hope I make it to the actual summit (!) Assuming that goes well... I’m hoping that at the very least, the incredible views of Africa will take my breath away and that I will be encouraged and motivated by the experience. And that I will make my loved ones proud of me.

But if I could get anything and everything I want to get out of it... sigh... I hope that I will be inspired (to what? I don’t know... and by what? I’m not sure). I also hope to gain some personal clarity and perspective from the hours of walking (and thinking!)...

It doesn’t sound like much when I write it down. But I have a feeling that it’s a tall order...

So why do I want more clarity? Why do I want to be inspired?

It’s almost certainly more complicated than what I’m about to write... but I’m starting to realize that this journey of mine didn’t really BEGIN in April. And it probably won’t END with Kilimanjaro.  And I'm not saying here that I'm going to start a new fundraising project or find another mountain to climb.

If you’ve followed my personal blog A.O.K. (which has been very neglected these past few months) since I started it in June or July of 2009... you may have an idea of where I’m coming from.

I’m 29 years old. I’ve been married for 6 ½ years and been working in a “real job” for close to the same amount of time. I have 2 beautiful girls who I absolutely adore. I have a home, a car and a dog to walk. I have love and laughter in my life. And still I find myself asking an innocent and hopeful child’s question:

What do I want to be?

Will Summit for Wishes help me answer this question? Will Kilimanjaro? Or is it all just a part of the journey? Is the experience in the “climb” and not so much the “destination” (to quote Miley Sirus! Goodness...)?

Maybe one day I’ll have the answers... Regardless, I don't want to give the impression that I am not proud of how far I’ve come... I am. And I can’t wait to see if I can “handle” the mountain too.



40 days...

Never trust internet applications to calculate for you. I posted a countdown clock on my facebook page yesterday and it told me there were only 37 days left until my trip... and tonight, it's telling me there are 40 days left. Silly.

Still - 40 days does not sound like very long. Especially when you add the holidays, and one busy weekend after another added into the mix.

I'm starting to get anxious... in good and bad ways... on many different levels... about the actual trip.

The vaccinations are pretty much done (except for a twinrix reminder at the end of December) which removes a huge stress for me. Only people who have known me for a long time, or who know me well, can really understand how big of a deal it was for me to go (by choice) and to get not one, not two... but FIVE needles. I am starting to believe that phobias can be overcome by having good experiences in situations that were once very negative.

Although the needles were very difficult for me, it went really well. I had a good friend with me (thank you Jacquie) who didn't try to tell me to get over it but held my hand and was really there for me. (thank you for understanding that my fear is NOT logical... can cannot be overcome by reason!)

Now I'm looking at my equipment list... figuring out what I have left to get. There aren't very many details left to take care of... except figuring out the whole "satellite phone" thing... since I don't think I can go 10 entire days without any contact with my family... with my babies. (Even when I studied in France before Brandon and I were married, we e-mailed almost every day and talked every few days...)

I'm also thinking again that I should be making an appointment to officially write out my/our will. I'm wondering if I should prepare for the absolute worst and write letters to my girls and husband... that I can tear up and burn when I return home safe and sound (!) and I'm realizing that it's a completely different thing to travel alone when you're a mom.

As a mom, I have more concerns, I have more worries... the WHAT IF questions seem so much bigger than they used to. I've never been scared to fly and of course I find myself more worried than ever... and it's hard to know what to do with the passing "what ifs" that go through my brain. Tuck them away and pray for the best?

I'm thrilled with how well the fundraising has gone... (I'm over the $8000 for Make-A-Wish!!!) but it's hard to believe that these last several months, and all the work, is just half of the project. The other half starts on January 4th.

In 40 days...


An intimate but successful SOIRÉE

And I'm spent!

This past Sunday, a fatigue (that I haven't felt the likes of since being post-labour) hit me with like a brick wall. With that fatigue came a sense of a giant weight being lifted from my shoulders because after surviving an incredibly busy fall (at work, at home, in ALL spheres of my life)... I now have one more successful event under my belt (and checked off my list!).

Oh... and did I mention that I have now PASSED my initial $8000 fundraising goal for the foundation. I think that requires a big HOURAH... or maybe an evening of red meat and dancing ;-)

My November 6th "Soirée for their Wishes" was great. I got to dress up... I got to eat steak and drink wine... AND I got to dance :-) I really did enjoy the party... and more importantly, all of my wonderful guests who came out to support this fundraising initiative.

Here are some of the details...

the guest list

Attending the soirée was an interesting mix of people from my life (or Brandon's life). Family, friends, co-workers... new and old, french and english... wild and tame (!)

A couple weeks ago, I was seriously considering cancelling because I had just under 30 people confirmed. A week before, we were at about 35. A few days before, we had jumped to 48. I don't know how he did it, but Brandon convinced several more of his colleagues to attend and one colleague in particular (for who the cause is close to home) filled a table of 8.

Although it was about half of the number I was hoping to bring together, it was a really nice group of people and enough "tickets" to make the fundraiser worth while.

the decorations

In the weeks coming up to the party, I tried to think of a simple (and cheap) centrepiece for the tables. At first I wanted to put examples of the types of wishes that the Make-A-Wish foundation realizes for sick children... but by the time I got around to it... I didn't have very much time left (who me? last minute? never!).

After some google image searching... I put together this "Share the power of a wish" mini poster. I bought some ribbon and star-shaped Christmas decorations at the dollar store... and then on Saturday morning, Layla and I painted and decorated (with LOTS of glitter) big stars to place under my photo shop creation.

I was pretty happy with the final product. I think the glitter I sprinkled all over the tables made some people (dressed in black) a little nervous... hihihi :-P

the food and service

I have nothing but gratitude and appreciate for the management of The Bifthèque Boucherville who treated us to tasty food. I regret a little that I didn't opt for the roast beef - in appearance, it was the least appealing - but the taste - oh my goodness! I had one bite of my father-in-law's and it practically melted in my mouth. So much flavour, such good texture. I have never tasted roast-beef like that! 

Since it was a fundraising event and the Bifthèque was trying to help us cut costs, our waitress (the lovely Stephanie) was on her own with a bus boy for the evening. One waitress for 50 people... she worked hard for her money! She did a fantastic job.

The food didn't quite end with the bifthèque dinner menu though. One of my lovely friends, Aimée, worked her magic and helped me bring together a selection of incredible desserts that were served later in the evening.

We brought the desserts out a bit late, so not everyone got to benefit from Aimée's chef/food blogger expertise. I was definitely into the home-made marshmallows, fudge and all the other goodies on the table. It's pretty amazing how I can eat and dance at the same time (not pretty... just amazing!).

the party

I think (I hope) everyone had a good time... and some, maybe even a great time.

It may have looked rigged to some, but the honest to goodness winner of the grand prize for the evening's raffle was none other than... my DAD. I really hope he takes advantage of the $250 VIA RAIL voucher and goes VIA 1 somewhere! He deserves it... and I have no idea if he's actually ever taken the train (he probably has, as an ex-navy guy, he's travelled around the world... but I've only ever heard stories about ships... not trains).
The dancing started off a little slow after dinner... but for a good 45-60 minutes, the dance floor was PACKED and people were moving and grooving to the music.

After a few bad picks by the DJ (sorry Pierre!) the dance floor cleared for a while, but it opened again when there were less people remaining... and a bunch of us ladies rocked it for a while.

I kept trying to convince Brandon to come and dance with me...

And he finally did... when the SLOW music came on :-)

Thank goodness for girlfriends who like to dance!

The Fundraising

After expenses, the evening raised just over $1000 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. It doesn't sound like a lot for an evening fundraiser, but when the expenses are taken into consideration (food, DJ, etc.), it's not only very good, it brought the total fundraising total up over $8000.00 (8197.69 and counting!).  

It means I don't actually HAVE TO keep on fundraising. If I do, it will be for fun because I have one last idea that I might like to try... bottling wine and selling it for the holidays. Let me know if you're interested and it may just help me to make up my mind as to whether it's worth it or not(!)

Just give me a few days to recuperate before I decide ;-)

A huge thank you to all who helped, came out, and support the soirée.


A very special Halloween donation

I received an e-mail from a friend who lives in the Waterloo/Kitchener area who was looking for a creative way to contribute to my Make-A-Wish fundraising efforts. For every trick-or-treater who stopped at her door this Halloween, she donated $2 to the cause. But that's not all, she also passed out small "info sheets" to the trick-or-treaters so pass on the project to the people in her community.

Thank you Stephanie, Chad, Teaghan... and little one on the way!

Stephanie with Teaghan - Happy Halloween!

From Stephanie: "We had 46 trick-or-treaters, so I'll be sending you a $92 cheque in the mail this week. :) I cut out a bunch of stars out of cardstock, labelled each of them with "$2" and put them in a basket. Each trick-or-treater got some candy, but also took a star from the pile and put it into a vase I had at the door. I also handed out a little 1/3 sheet explanation...So, a fun time was had by all, and we get to participate just a little bit in your very cool Make-A-Wish project."

“Wishing” you a Happy Hallowe'en!

Our friend, Andrea, is climbing to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro to raise money for the Quebec chapter of the Make-A-Wish foundation (She's from the Montreal area). For every trick-or-treater who comes to our door, we will contribute $2 to her fundraising effort. So...thanks for coming out tonight!

The mission of the Quebec Make-a-Wish foundation is to bring hope, courage and joy to children suffering from life-threatening illnesses. Andrea is climbing in memory of Layla Grace Marsh and in honor of her husband, Brandon, who is a survivor of childhood leukemia.

More on the 2011 Kilimanjaro Climb: http://www.makeawish.ca/chapter/quebec/news/read/1830

Andrea's Blog: http://okwithandrea-kili2011.blogspot.com/

Thanks again!


5300 feet (not quite the summit)

On Sunday, I travelled down to Mount-Washington with a group from the Make-A-Wish foundation.  A hike to help in the training process as we prepare for Kilimanjaro, a chance to get to know some of the people I'll be experiencing this adventure with... on the highest mountain in the North Eastern United States (6288 feet).

The last time (and only time) I climbed Mt-Washington, I was 15 years old. I remember making it to the summit but taking the wrong way down (the long and windy road). When I went it was summer. Beautiful weather even though it was a little chilly at the summit.

As we approached the mountain... on a beautiful fall day... we could see clearly that the only clouds in the sky were around the summit... and that there was plenty of SNOW. Yes... SNOW. Kind of exciting, right?

Part of the point of this trip to was get used to the hiking "layering" system. The objective with all of the pricey breathable/quick dry/ water repellent/etc. clothing is to stay warm, but not sweat. Basically you want to be "almost cold" - but not.

So what was I wearing? Super leggings (by craft), amazing and waterproof hiking boots (by lowa), 2 pairs of sock (one nylon liner and one Merino wool), a poly/nylon tank, a polyester "jogging shirt" (by reebok), a soft-shell (by MEC and borrowed from Isabelle) and a great 2010 olympics polar hat (courtesy of my garage sale donations!).

And what's in my back pack? goretex jacket and pants (Thank you Isabelle!), hiking poles and gloves (thank you Nellie!), a couple pairs of pants, extra socks,  food (snacks anyways, I forgot my lunch) and of course my camelback full of water and great blister band aids - just in case (thank you Stephen!)

It's a really good hike... but unfortunately we only made it to 5300 feet. The wind and visibility issues beyond that just made it NOT SMART to continue.

Check this out....

The video just doesn't do it justice. The experience was... exhilarating... I LOVED IT. Though it is a little scary to imagine what might have happened if one of us had fallen in the wrong place. I have NEVER felt wind like that in my life.

Of course, we still managed to get out the Make-A-Wish banner and "mark" the moment. :-)

... and then we headed back down... and back home. A big trip for one day!


Generous spirits

I'm heading to Mt-Washington tomorrow for some "mountain hiking" training/practice and I should probably (no... definitely) be setting the laptop off to the side and closing my eyes to get in as much sleep as possible before the alarm goes off at 5:45 a.m. (er....)

But I just had to share this picture with you...

A suprise breakfast "fundraiser"
These are three (of four) children of good friends of ours (more like family).  This morning they surprised their parents and older brother with breakfast for a donation.

This isn't the first time they have reached out to help Summit for Wishes. Back in April, when I was selling 2 jars of my very first batch of pancake mix to their parents, K (middle) went to her room and came back with some change - to help me reach my fundraising goal. In the summer, they came to each fundraiser, getting their face painted on Canada Day, eating hot dogs at the IGA bbq (and manning the Bake sale table too) and setting up a lemonade stand (R... on the left) when we did the garage sale.

Their parents have been incredibly supportive - they were probably the first ones I talked to this about and have been encouraging me in big and small ways ever since. But the support that comes from the kids, the little gestures... wow. What can I say? I am touched by their generous spirits, their excitement for my "summit for wishes" project... and their simple and sincere desire to help and somehow be a part of it.

Thank you just isn't enough.


Soirée for their wishes - Soirée pour leurs voeux

I am very happy to invite you to attend a very special fundraising event - "Soirée for their wishes" on Saturday November 6th at the Bifthèque Boucherville. As one of the bigger fundraising activities for my Summit for wishes project, I’m hoping to bring together 100-125 people to raise funds for the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Quebec.

This soirée is the perfect opportunity to get out for an evening of good food, dancing and fun – all for a very good cause!

TICKETS are $50.00 (each) and include the cocktail, a 4-course meal and midnight dessert buffet!

6:00 p.m. Cocktail
Rum punch
Mini spring rolls
Mini Florentine quiches

7:00 p.m. Supper
Blooming onion
Tender Roast Beef OR Filet Mignon served on a bed of asparagus OR Citrus-flavoured Halibut
Ducle de leche

11:00 p.m. Dessert again!
Dessert Buffet

Space is limited, so talk to you friends and reserve your ticket today!

click to enlarge
 J'ai le plaisir de vous inviter à vous joindre à moi pour une activité de financement très spéciale! L’événement « Soirée pour leurs vœux » aura lieu le samedi 6 novembre prochain au Bifthèque Boucherville. Étant une activité de financement pour mon projet Sommet pour leurs vœux , je vise à rassembler 100-125 personnes afin d’amasser des fonds pour la Fondation Fais-Un-Voeu du Québec.

Cette soirée est l’occasion parfaite pour sortir et avoir du plaisir en mangeant de la bonne bouffe et en dansant (si ça vous tente bien sûr!), et ce, pour une bonne cause!

Les billets sont en vente à 50 $ chacun. Ils incluent le cocktail, un repas de quatre services et un buffet de desserts un peu avant minuit!

18 h Cocktail
Punch au rhum
Mini rouleaux de printemps
Mini quiches florentine

19 h Souper
Oignon fleuri aux trois sauces
Côte de bœuf au jus OU filet mignon étagé aux asperges OU flétan au citron vert
Dulce de leche

23 h Encore du dessert!
Buffet de dessert

Les places sont limitées. Réservez la vôtre dès aujourd’hui… et passez le mot!


Finally! Time to break them in!

After weeks of trying pair after pair of boots (and learning that I have weird feet that are wide in some spots and narrow in others), and with two pairs left to be returned - I finally chose the ones that I'm going to keep - and took the plunge by wearing them outside for a short hike in St-Bruno this afternoon. One small blister later... I'm pretty happy with my decision.

Let me present you the LOWA VIVIONE. It's not exactly the "look" that I was expecting to end up with (and I don't know why, but I'm not thrilled with the blue), but after trying over 30 pairs of boots, these ones won for several reasons. 1) They're leather-leather which adds dramatically to the way my foot feels "enveloped" when I slide it in to the boot, 2) they're slightly wider in the ball of foot (which is a really big issue for me) and 3) they are lighter and less bulky than most models.

Backcountry.com describes the Vivione Women's Hiking Boot as being designed with a host of women's- specific features for ultimate comfort and support. These include a special last, a slightly more padded cuff and tongue, an Achilles notch, and extra ankle flex.  All of these features apparently make the Vivione ideal for long on-trail hikes carrying a moderate load.

Sounds good to me - and you'd be amazed what a relief it is to have finally DECIDED on the boots. No more shopping, no more wondering... blisters, bring it on! I'm ready to break in these babies.



Announcing "Soirée for wishes" and another round of pancake mix...

There hasn't been much action on this blog for the last couple weeks... or on facebook... or on twitter... because I`ve been swamped and slightly overwhelmed in other areas of my life. As I pull myself out of the jumbled mix of good and bad, successes and mess ups of the last couple weeks... I feel like I'm coming to a point where I can think clearly again. Even though I'm still undecided about my hiking boots (ugh - who knew I had such weird feet... I always thought they were relatively "nice"!).  Anyways... 

After meeting with the owner of Le Bifthèque Boucherville this morning, I am thrilled to finally announce that tickets are officially on sale for:

 As you can imagine, I'm very excited about this fundraising activity because essentially, I get to throw a big party while raising funds for an incredibly good cause. The tickets ($50) include the cocktail, a 4 course meal (option 1: filet mignon or option 2: fish) an evening of fun and dancing and a dessert buffet sometime around midnight. I'm expecting (and hoping) that tickets will sell very quickly, but I still am offering a little special for those who buy their ticket in the very first few days of sales. Benefit from 10% off if you buy yours before September 30th!

Contact me to reserve/buy your tickets.

And that's not all...

Back by popular demand... I'm taking orders for another round of pancake mix. It's the same drill as before: $5 for 500 ml (20-24 pancakes) and $8 for 1 litre (40-50 pancakes). Send me your order (ok.with.andrea@gmail.com) by Tuesday, October 5th to have your mix in time for the next long weekend!


Can't always EXCEED expectations...

The fundraising has definitely taken a back burner these first couple of weeks of September. I'm busy at work. I'm busy at home. I'm making time to train... and after reaching the $11000 mark after the ladies brunch, I'm a little less stressed about making it to my objective before January 2011.

I had plans to make it to $12000 with the basketball tournament this coming weekend... but it seems that while the tournament should have been a relatively easy (and fun) fundraiser to organize - geared towards a specific group of people (the league my husband plays basketball with) - it may actually be cancelled because not enough teams have confirmed.

Although I'm a little disappointed, I'm not actually upset. In the end it all comes down to the fact that most people are busy... and not everyone has "Kilimanjaro" and "make-a-wish" on their brain :-)

I keep telling people that this project is a huge learning experience for me. I'm learning about fundraising (what works, what doesn't, where you make the most money for the least amount of effort). I'm learning about people and not to be surprised when things don't meet by expectations (in both good and bad ways). Compared with the incredible success of the pancake-mix or the yard sale fundraisers (which both completely exceeded my expectations) I thought the BBQ and Brunch were a lot of work for the amount of money raised... but then I thought the basketball tournament would be "easy money" and it's not looking so promising at L-3 (and counting!)...

I'm also learning that I still have a lot to learn :-)

Like when it comes to hiking equipment.

Ooof. I have no idea what I'm doing - (which makes me even more grateful for the loan of a good part of the special equipment I need from my friend Isabelle). But there are still things I need to buy "new"... just for me...

Like hiking boots... which I thought was taken care of...

I'm more than a little frustrated to say that I need to buy new hiking boots. The Merell switcbacks that I purchased a few days after signing up for this whole adventure are just barely too small. I realized this when I took my first hike at Tremblant at the beginning of August (way to late to return the boots) and my toes hit the inside when I walked downhill. I'm frusterated because I feel like I was mal-advised by the guy in the store... I'm frusterated because I should have thought to research the purchase of something as important as boots for a treck the size of Kilimanjaro. Should have, could have, would have...

Too late now... the merell's will hopefully sell for a decent price on craigslist or kijiji... as they were only worn for a total of about 2 hours!

After a trip to the local Pleinair Entrepôt I've found a couple that I really like (... and that are very comfortable - feel like they would require minimal `breaking in` - important with the first make-a-wish group hike coming up in less than 2 weeks!)

I`m doing my homework this time... and I came home with the brand and model of my favorite boots (which included the LOWA GTX, Baffin and Banff and the KayLand Colorado).
The reviews for the GTX and Baffin are through the roof. For example the GTX got a:  "FIVE THUMBS UP! The best all around hiking boot I’ve ever worn. As I’m wearing them, I would swear they were custom built just for my feet." The Baffin got: An all-leather boot still made in Germany! Such a thing is rare these days. We were happy to see these dark brown beauties - even happier when we slipped them on. The all-leather liner is a special touch... instantly comfortable. Beefy alloy lace loops won't rust and a full rubber rand. These boots should last a long time, if cared for."

Good to know... though I'm still convinced that no matter the review they have to feel good to me... as it will be my toes that they keep comfortable, dry and warm (as needed!).

I still need to check out the Mountain Equipment Co-op around the corner (literally, their newest store is within walking distance)... but the idea of getting the boots as good quality as the LOWA`s for at least 20 percent off is certainly tempting.



My first "care package" and other fun stuff...

I received my very first care package for "KILIMANJARO" in the mail last week.

While I realize that care packages usually come when you're away from home, this one was a little nontraditional in that 1) it was sent to my home and 2) it actually came from far away (Ballymoney, Northern Ireland)! In the package, however, were items that I will find very useful when I am far away from home next January - on my way to the summit of Kili.

The "sender" of this special delivery is Stephen - an old friend who was a camp counsellor with Brandon several years ago - who himself, climbed to the summit of Kilimanjaro a couple of years ago.

The package took me completely by surprise (and it's hard to surprise me - Brandon will attest to that!) and Stephen wrote a small note on each item to explain why he was sending me these things:

1) a 3.0 L Camelbak: Best bit of kit. saves stopping every 10 minutes to get bottle from your pack. iodine tablets taste id hard to get used to but after 2 days you'll drink anything! P.S. Make sure you take bottles as well. they are good to dilute energy drinks.
2) a DriStore waterproof roll top sack: Great for keeping your vital supplies dry. And I don't mean your camera batteries... I'm talking about socks, base layer & underpants.


3)Compeed Blister Gel Plasters: Thankfully I didn't need these on Kili - but I did beforehand getting the boots broken in.

Thank you so much Stephen. Not only am I encouraged by the gesture (and the thought that went into it) - I appreciate the tips. I really hope I don't need the fancy blister bandaids on the mountain... and that my feet stay happy for the entire trek! ;-)

That's not all though...

I also received a bag full of mountain equipment/clothing that I am borrowing from my colleague and dear friend Isabelle.  The bag Isabelle brought me last week has everything from base layers and cami's to an expedition jacked (doudoune) and pillow case! Her stuff is going to save me from having to buy all of my equipment new (and obviously A LOT of money!). THANK YOU ISABELLE... for more than the clothes... for being a source of knowledge and advice when it comes to both fundraising and hiking... for encouraging me and providing a whole lot of moral support since day 1 :-)

If you're curious what type of equipment a trip like this requires - check out my "equipment list".

Equipment is great... but I also have to get my personal equipment (a.k.a my body) ready for this adventure.

(click on image to view)
This past Monday I went to GLOBAL FITNESS (the gym that is sponsoring my training) for my physical evaluation. I would be lying if I said I wasn't nervous... but in the end I'm pretty happy with how the eval went down.

Some important "before" stats (no point being shy now!):
Height 5 f 7 1/2
Weight 143 lbs
% body fat 23 %

The highlights...
- It was nice to have someone (who knows what they're talking about) tell me that it would be very unhealthy for me to weigh under 130 lbs.
- Richard (my trainer) identified almost immediately that I'm "quad dominant" and will be adapting my program to strengthen my hamstrings to avoid injury.
- I learned (very quickly) that I perform much better under pressure and it really does make a difference to have someone "coaching" you through an exercise. I attribute holding the plank for about 45 seconds longer than I thought I could because Rich was talking me through it and making me visualize my objectives.
- I also managed to do 10 push ups (man push ups) which may not be impressive to everyone... but trust me... I was impressed with myself!
- I'm in pretty good shape "naturally" especially considering that I haven't been working out and I've had 2 babies in the last 3 1/2 years! I certainly can't complain about that.

I have my next appointment (to get my program) on Friday and I am very anxious to get started. I know that it's important for me to be well prepared for the mountain. I plan on doing the best that I can to be in great shape AND to avoid injury due to lack of preparation.

So I guess it's obvious that I'm moving into a new "season" of Summit for Wishes prep. The fundraising is not forgotten, but it's becoming more important for me to focus on the physical prep.

à suivre (to be continued)....


An almost stress-free brunch...

August is almost over... and I can feel the stress and chaos in my life subsiding. Despite some "rocky moments" of family sickness (strep throat!) and undesirable weather (the one crappy weekend of the entire summer has to fall the weekend of my bbq fundraiser!) - the month has been good to me... and in particular, it has been good to my "summit for wishes" fundraising campaign.

Centre pieces
After weeks/months of planning and preparing for the ladies only Brunch for wishes, everything came together so nicely on Saturday morning. No last minute running around, no panic attacks... everything seemed to go so "smoothly". Sure, I have a list of "lessons learned" and things I might do differently were I to do the same type of thing again... but to be completely honest... I'm very happy with how the brunch came together - and with the response from the all the lovely ladies that attended (65 in all).

Andrea "speaks"
The food was excellent - courtesy of the biftheque (tea, eggs, bacon, ham, potatoes), Liberté (cream cheese and yogurt), Van Houtte (coffee), Aimée of Simple Bites (home-made scones and jam), Sylvia and Isabelle (muffins!).

Andrea and Ève-Marie

The speakers were moving and inspiring.  Ève-Marie of Salut, Bonjour! captured the brunch guests were her less than `pretty` experience of Kilimanjaro in 2009 - reading us excerpts from her personal journal. She certainly inspired me (and scared me a little)... and motivated me to start training and preparing for the mountain part of this whole experience. I can't wait... and I consider myself "warned" (oof!)

And Krystal, a Make-A-Wish recipient, moved most of us to tears with her personal wish story. Krystal has suffered from cystic fibrosis since the age of 2 and had the chance to have a wish granted when she was 15 years old. Her wish... to surf in Hawaii. Her story demonstrated so clearly how wish granting has such an incredible impact on the lives of children (and their families) - truly bringing hope, strength and joy into their lives.  

Krystal shares her "wish" experience
I truly enjoyed giving out the door prizes to brunch attendees. There was some pretty incredible stuff sitting on that table...

1) 2 passes to the thermal baths at the Montreal Scandinave Spa
2) 4 AVON baskets (courtesy of Trianda Barton)
3) A Simple Bites basket
5) A set of hand-made thank you cards for http://www.justmeprints.com/
6) A gift certificate to café céramic
7) 4 pairs of beautiful earrings from 4CDesign

Obviously - an event like this certainly leaves me with a lot of people to thank... and I hope I don't forget anyone!
    • Le Biftheque `rive-sud` (for the the room, the excellent service and a lot of the food)
    • Copie Express  Taschereau- for printing the brunch tickets (free of charge!)
    • Liberté (yogurt and cream cheese - delish!)
    • Brossard Bagels (best bagels on the South Shore)
    • Van Houtte (coffee... of course!)
    • Ève-Marie Lortie
    • Krystal Freake (and Isabelle Benoît)
    • Trianda Barton (Avon)
    • Aimée Wimbush (Simple Bites)
    • Marie-Josée Arel (Tupperware)
    • Elena Roussakis (Just Me Prints)
    • Céramic Café
    • Carolyne St-Onge - for helping me set up the brunch... contacting the biftheque, thinking to invite Eve-Marie Lortie, finding a sound guy, making lots of beautiful key chains to sell for donations, and helping to set up and take down the "stock".
    • Isabelle Laplante - for coming early and leaving late (despite her growing baby bump), moral support and of course for her delicious muffins!
    • Sylvia Skuse - for baking more of her amazing muffins.
    • Catherine Sanchez - for an amazing "contact" in the food industry!! Merci beaucoup Oliver...
    • Magalie Renaud - for coming early and being ready and willing to help whenever and wherever possible. (and for translating all my promo stuff!)
and last but definitely not least...

Brandon Rodgers - my very supportive husband... who has my back and puts up with all my running around and organizing (for the brunch and for everything else)... and who has gone to bed alone too many nights recently while I `finish one more thing`... I love you very very much and your support and encouragement are key to what I've accomplished so far... and what I will accomplish in the weeks and months to come!

There's lost more to share, but I don't want to write a novel... so... I'll end with a brief update on the fundraising totals...

Drum role please... :-)

I have now raised (with the help and support of those near and far) $ 11 013.04. 

That is 69% of my fundraising objective (approximately half of which is for the foundation and half of which is to help me afford to get to Kili) 

WOW. I am thrilled with how far I've come so far...  and while I've learned so much in these last few months of fundraising, I know I have lots more to learn... as I start to prepare for the physical challenge that Kilimanjaro presents for me (both mentally and physically) and as I literally learn to slow down - pole pole.



Another one down... more than half way!

The last few weeks of my life have been busy. Mini-vacations, sickness in the family, my first "hike", my first yard sale, regular life, regular work, a fundraising weekend at IGA... and now... the final preparations for my ladies brunch fundraiser. The number of to do lists floating around in my head is finally starting to decrease and I feel like I'm regaining some sense of normalcy. Sort of. ;-)

Aside from the lessons learned from my most recent fundraising activity - I'm really excited to announce that we have passed (by far) the 1/2 way point of this crazy project. With less than 5 months to go to Kilimanjaro, the total amount raised stands at $ 9600 - pretty exciting if I do say so myself. I'm not done yet - but I feel like I've made it far enough that I'll be able to start sharing the focus between the fundraising and the physical training aspects of this adventure.

Which brings me to my next announcement...

A local gym, Global Fitness, has agreed to help me prepare physically for the hike. I'm so excited (and a little scared) to start intensifying things and literally get my butt into gear to climb that mountain! I will keep you informed on my progress... first things first - a physical evaluation next Monday - eek!

Now... a very brief recap of the weekend fundraiser at IGA...

We started on Saturday morning... Esther, Sara, myself, Jordan and Zachary. I thought the coffee and muffins in the morning would be big hit, but to be perfectly honest, it wasn't at all. On both Saturday and Sunday we sold a total of 20 coffees or so. Not quite enough to justify renting the 100-cup coffee maker for the weekend (!)

The bake sale was however a fantastic addition to the BBQ fundraiser. Not only were we allowed to set up right in front of the cash registers... my volunteer bakers contributed some AMAZING stuff... from beautiful (café worthy) muffins to rocky-road bars, classics like brownies and rice-krispy squares and mini-cheese-cakes (yes... mini-cheese-cakes!) - there were lots of takers. We ended the 2nd day with a couple of chocolate chip muffins - everything else SOLD for at least $1 per item.

After the success of our face-painting adventure on Canada Day, we thought we would draw all the kids with this addition to the fundraiser. Unfortunately the weather left us backed up (and hidden) so we had very few face-painting customers... the ones who did come got Carolyne's full attention - and mad-skills. She is one GIFTED face-painter! Next time, we'll set her up with the bake sale table so all the kids bug their parents to let them have their faces painted ;-)

The best thing about this fundraiser... the help! My bakers, my sellers, my BBQers and of course... my buyers.

The Bakers...  
Aimée, Charlene, Sylvia, Arlene, Carolyn, Rachel (& Layla!), Carolyne

The Helpers...  
Brandon, Zachary, Jordan, Jacquie, Rachel, Sara, Esther, Calvin, Jacques, Derek (M), Derek (S), Carolyne, Alejandro, Magalie, Michael

And I cannot forget - my weekend babysitter - the best MIL ever - Carolyn!

And those who stopped by just to encourage me (us)... you know who you are :-)



Crazy August - First Hike, a Garage Sale and more to come...

What a crazy month it`s been - and we're only half way through!

The month started off with a mini-vacation to Tremblant with my in laws. I took the opportunity to take off on my first hike in my "Kilimanjaro" boots.

The hike was brief - as the boots are "intense" and need to be broken in slowly. It was also steep enough to make me question this crazy project.  As my breath became more laboured my thoughts wandered. What the heck am I doing? How can I possibly think I can do something like this? ... and of course the occasional thought of how I would respond to a random bear attack seeing as I was hiking alone (you can say it... crazy!)

We were barely back from Tremblant and I was almost literally knee deap organizing all the garage sale donations. We held our first ever "garage sale" the 2nd weekend of August - and though I had my doubts (and fears) about whether or not it would work out - it was a HUGE success. Like $950 of success!

I have a few things that I have to say about the whole garage sale experience.

  1. Thank you so much to everyone who donated their old stuff. As your donations piled up I was getting worried that no one would show up and I'd be left trying to figure out how to ship it all to the local salvation army... but without you, I would never ever have made it to almost one-thousand dollars!
  2. I was super worried about the fact that we live on a street that is tucked away - with little to no traffic. I don't know what we did right - but here are some tips if you want to get lots of people (and $) at your next yard sale. We passed around flyers, I announced the sale all over the Internet (facebook, craigslist, kijiji), and we posted the bigger remaining items to sell afterwards (making us an additional $200).
  3. A yard sale is a great way to meet more neighbors. One neighbor came over just to "encourage me" and give me $20 though she didn't need anything. Another one paid something like $10 for a glass of lemonade. Some just introduced themselves and we got chatting. 
  4. All the "real work" for a garage sale is before and after. the actual sale is quite fun. If the weather is on your side. We basically spent the day outdoors, chatting with people - and I'm telling you - it's incredible how good you feel when someone leaves your place happy with a purchase or deal that they've gotten (like over $300 of maternity clothes for $20!) :-) 
My particular garage sale culminated with delicious seafood pasta - courtesy of our good friend Leino. Thank you again Leino - it was delish! Absolutely delish!

Unfortunately the evening went much better than the next few days... the scarlet fever that Layla came down with just before our Tremblant vacation was still lurking somewhere and I am down with strep throat.

Forced rest? Maybe.

One the antibiotics kicked in... it was time to head back to Tremblant - but this time for work. It's fun work - but LONG days and I'm not particularly rested... But worse than that - my poor husband was left at home to hold down the fort - and he came down with strep throat too. Yuck.

We're all on the mend now... and using the next couple of days off to prep for the next things to come... (to be continued)


Basketball Fundraiser

UPDATE (August 28th)





(Français ci-après)

BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT "for their wishes" (see flyer)
A fundraising event more for the men...

Saturday, September 11
11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Centre Sportif St-Noël Chabanel (facebook)
$150 per team (recommend 7-8 players per team)
Centre Sportif St-Noël Chabanel (St-Jean-Sur-Richelieu)

Do you play ball...? Relatively well...? Put together a team of 7-8 players and join us for an "intermediate" level round-robin basketball tournament to raise funds for "Summit for Wishes". We're looking for six (6) teams to participate - so that each team plays at least 3 games.

Not convinced? We'll also have a BBQ going most of the afternoon - bring a little extra cash to buy some hot dogs and snacks - proceeds of which will be going to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.  

It's going to be fun... so register your team today!

Tournoi de Basketball - pour "leurs voeux"!
Ce fois-çi c'est plus pour les gars...

(déscription en françai à venir)

(version français)
(English version)


Garage Sale W.E. is here!

Update on August 9th:
The garage sale was huge success - raising an additional $750 for Summit for Wishes!!!
Thank you to everyone who donated stuff or stopped by and paid a little extra "just because"
The crazy month of August (and fundraiser after fundraiser) will officially start tomorrow morning at 9 a.m. when we open our "driveway" and "carport" to the neighbours and anyone looking for a good deal.

I've been collecting the old "stuff" of my family, friends and colleagues for several weeks and after going through everthing this evening, I'm honestly a little overwhelmed by everything we have... from a 6 person tent to bathroom cabinetry... to kitchen dishes, maternity clothes, toys and not one... but two high chairs... THERE IS A TON OF STUFF.

I also made my first official "sales". $10 for a small pile of toys and crayons and maybe another $25 thanks to the ad I placed on craigs list.

All that's left to do is put up the signs, pick up some lemonade and pray for lots of deal hungry visitors!

I have no idea what to expect... and I'm really hoping to be blown away by the outcome (in a good way!).



Brandon's story (part II) DIAGNOSED

One of the reasons that I'm participating in "Summit for Wishes" is to honour the memory of what my husband and his family went through when/after he was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) in 1985. Their story has touched me in so many ways - and so I'm sharing it with you...

In "Brandon's story - part 1" I gave a very general introduction to this series. In part 2, I'm telling you more about when he was actually diagnosed.

Brandon dresses up for Halloween in the hospital -
one week after being admitted and placed in isolation.
Like so many children who get sick - Brandon was an active and healthy toddler who became lethargic, tired and cranky almost overnight. Confused by the change in his demeanor, his parents took him to the doctor and were basically told that he was just spoiled. Unfortunately it wasn't that simple...

The day Brandon was diagnosed, he wasn't even at the hospital for himself. His older sister had hurt her ankle. When they knew they were going to the hospital to have it checked, they called ahead to see if they could have blood tests done on him since they would be there anyways (despite the "spoiled" diagnosis, they were still very concerned about the changes in him).

After a small finger prick... the doctors knew that something was terribly wrong. And within an hour, Brandon's parents found themselves sitting at a table with hematologists, oncologists and psychologists; hearing words like "cancer", "your son" and "treatment" in the same sentence. The official ALL diagnosis came a little later that day. His first blood transfusion came that evening.



Une invitée très spéciale - A very special guest

(Francais ci-après)

I am thrilled to announce that Ève-Marie Lortie (principal anchor for TVA’s popular morning show Salut, Bonjour!) will be joining us for the “Brunch for Wishes” Fundraising event! Don’t miss the opportunity to come and meet Éve-Marie and hear about her own KILIMANJARO experience (in 2009)!

About Ève-Marie Lortie:

Born and raised in Saguenay Lac St-Jean, Ève-Marie Lortie began her career in radio. Starting as a journalist in Grands-Saults, New Brunswick and Timmins, Ontario, she has also worked in the Quebec region. In 1996 Ève-Marie made the move to television and since 2003 she has been the main anchor person on TVA’s popular morning show – Salut Bonjour!

In 2009, Ève-Marie participated in the TVA’s “Kilimandjaro – Un sommet de générosité” – an activity that raised over $1 million for the Fondation Centre de cancérologies Charles Bruneau.

For more information about BRUNCH FOR WISHES - click here


J’ai le plaisir d’annoncer qu'Ève-Marie Lortie (présentrice de nouvelles officielle de Salut, Bonjour!) sera parmi nous lors de l’activité de financement « Brunch pour leurs voeux ». Ne manquez pas l’opportunité de la rencontrer et d'en savoir plus à propos de sa propre aventure au KILIMANJARO (en 2009)!

À propose d’Ève Marie Lortie :

Originaire du Saguenay Lac St-Jean, Ève-Marie Lortie débute sa carrière à la radio. D'abord journaliste à Grands-Saults au Nouveau-Brunswick, puis Timmins en Ontario, elle a aussi travaillé dans la région de Québec. C'est en 1996 qu'Ève-Marie Lortie a traversé au télévision et depuis août 2003, elle est la présentatrice de nouvelles officielle de Salut, Bonjour !

En 2009. Ève-Marie Lortie a participer à « Kilimanjaro : Un sommet de générosité » - un aventure qui a amassé plus de un million $ pour la Fondation Centre de cancérologie Charles-Bruneau.

Pour plus d'informations au sujet de l'événement Brunch pour leurs voeux - cliquez ici