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.