Category Archives: Family History

Lemonade

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Back in January, I wrote and shared the following post:

The Sourest of Lemons

If you didn’t see it originally, you can read through it.  The general gist of it is talking about the experience I had with my miscarriage in January.  My husband and I found out I had experienced an Anembryonic Pregnancy (blighted ovum).  We found out when I was thought to be around 13 weeks.  I had a D&C surgery a few days after, and really had no clue what the next months ahead would be like.  Was getting pregnant going to be easy, hard, or somewhere in between?  Would this just happen again?

Beginning of March, I take two positive pregnancy tests.  Call my OB/GYN because I was concerned that perhaps these were false positives; hormones still floating around in my body from the first pregnancy perhaps?  I had three blood tests to see if the HCG hormone levels were rising properly.  They were.  I had an ultrasound at what was guessed to be 5.5 weeks.  Couldn’t see much, but the tech did capture a video clip that showed a little blip of some kind.  Came back the following week and the tech could confirm that YES, an embryo and fetal pole had developed.  We saw a heart beat.  This was all new to us, since we never saw this the first pregnancy.


I was an anxious mess the following weeks, as we had to wait until after Easter holidays for the First Trimester Screen test.  This was the test where we found out the sad news in January.  Even though we saw the heartbeat at 6.5 weeks, and even though I was gaining some weight and having other pregnancy symptoms…I still didn’t believe this was real.  We drove to Calgary on April 24th for the appointment.  Once the ultrasound wand hit my belly BOOM-Baby.  Baby moving around.  Stretching out.  Fist pumping.  Yawning.  There was a baby!  


I measured at 13 weeks 5 days, and baby was about 6.4 cm long.  While some of our close family and friends knew what was happening (and various others who I couldn’t keep my mouth shut around) we had not made it public knowledge yet.  While I wanted to go home and announce it that very night, we waited until the following day.

April 25th

This is a day that since April 25th, 2004, I have dreaded.  It was the day my dad passed away.  While in the past few years I have been able to handle the exact day better, the days leading up to it and around it are always tough.  There’s usually a breakdown of some kind.  It has generally been a sad day since 2004. 

We wanted to make April 25th a happy day again.  We wanted to make that day into some sweet Lemonade.

I know my dad has been watching over me all these years.  There have been lots of moments where he’s been a proud, beaming father.  There have been other moments where I can guarantee he was swearing at me for being a f&$king idiot.  I know that on this day, April 25th, 2017, he was excited and sharing it with everyone—proud that his baby would be having a baby.


I think about you every day dad.  I am so lucky to have had a dad like you.

Je Me Souviens.

August 2016—All in One Post!

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So, I did around 3,500 miles this month!….

In my car.

I haven’t been active here lately, partly due to my roadtrip!  On July 31st, I packed up my trusty 2009 Pontiac Vibe and hit the road.  Along with the essential clothing, toiletries and podcasts to entertain, I also packed my 9 year old beagle, Snoopy.  Where were we heading?  We were going across the border south east to my hometown of Franklin, Wisconsin.  We had stopovers planned in Longville, Minnesota (my aunt and uncle live there).  Snoopy is an excellent travel companion; I honestly cannot say that enough.  He just curls up and sleeps the whole time, does not fuss, and is excited to arrive to any destination.  So I kept myself occupied by listening to a variety of podcasts and when I really started losing it I would talk to Snoopy.

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All packed and ready to hit the road!

 

We made it to my mom’s on August 4th, and we stayed until August 22nd.  During that time, I was able to see all of my family that lives in the area, attend a closing day of Badgerette Pom Pon camp (I worked for Badgerette for 5 summers), watch the State Distinguished Young Woman show with my friend Maureen (I won 2nd alternate back in it’s Junior Miss hey day), go to two travelling beer gardens, see a bunch of my friends back home, eat and drink my way through both Wisconsin State Fair & Zoo Ala Carte, go to my favourite Mexican restaurant 3 times, play in a bag toss tournament, and so much more.

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“Swimming” with Snoopy in Lake Wabedo in Northern Minnesota

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When you are in Longville, MN, you go to the Meat Raffle at the bar….and win!

 

The main reason I drove was so I would be able to bring back the remains of my childhood that was still housed at my moms.  It wasn’t that she was forcing me to take it, but I have been gone since 2008, so I figured it was time.  Yearbooks, photos, games, puzzles, Barbies, Littlest Pet Shop, etc, etc, etc….It is now all back in Alberta.  I also packed up some New Glarus Beer, a ton of Wisconsin cheese, 32 bottles of Sprecher soda, and who knows what else.  Snoopy and I arrived back in Lethbridge on August 24th.  Wow, it felt good to get back!  We both missed his daddy Dan and his brothers Woodstock and Faron.

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That’s for DAMN sure!

 

During that trip, I also started running.  I had done my first 5km run prior to the trip in a numbing time of 33:43.  I had walked and jogged a bunch during it.  That was on July 28th.  Remember, my foot surgery was on June 10th.  I had been given the clear I could start running after my 6 week post op on July 21st.  I did my first humid (SO HUMID AND HOT) Wisconsin run on August 7th.  It was a little 20 minute jaunt that average 9:40 per mile.  Oww.  On August 11th, I went out to try and beat my July 28th 5km time.  I did so handedly, running a 30:02!  So close to that sub 30!  I did a couple other 1-2 mile runs during my time in Wisconsin, but I wanted to try and get under 30 minutes.  On August 16th, I set out to do that.  I ran that 5km in 28:20!  These gains I have made in less than a month since coming back into running are huge.  I was going nuts not running for over 6 weeks, and taking this time to get my newly fixed foot used to running (and running properly) has been great.

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5km well under 30 minutes!

 

Since returning to Lethbridge, I am happy that the humidity is gone.  I have ran on August 25th, 26th and 27th, and the weather has been glorious.  The biggest highlight was yesterday, the 27th.  I went out to run a sole mile with the goal of getting between 8:00-8:15, a pace I was always easily able to obtain on my runs, and my sweet spot for my Boston qualifying pace.  I finished that mile in 8:14!  Guess what world…LAMMERS IS BACK!

And guess what today is?  Today marks the start of WEEK 1 of my GOOFY CHALLENGE training plan.  I have put together a very non-aggressive 19 week training plan with the goal of “comfortable completion” of the 2017 Walt Disney World Goofy Challenge, which is a half marathon on Saturday, January 7th followed by a full marathon on Sunday, January 8th.  The even more special thing about this race is that I will be running my 2nd WDW full marathon alongside my best friend Ali.  It will be her very first full marathon!  I will be there to support her through those dark moments (especially between miles 15-23!!!)  She has run half marathons before, and I have set her up with a training plan to coincides with her Spartan Race and Crossfit schedule.  It will be a weekend to remember!

 

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The original “Pottage Pose” from the marathon portion of the 2014 Dopey Challenge in WDW

 

 

19 weeks is a LONG training plan.  When I ran the Vancouver Marathon in 2015 and Boston in 2016, I had an intense 16 week plan.  This plan does not include speedwork.  It just has two easy runs a week plus a long run on the Saturday.  Then, in late October, I add another mid distance run on Friday, which will help prepare me for the two day challenge that Goofy presents.  I am not going for any speed records at this race; I want to get my body back into running shape so I can begin to push myself again come the new year!

I have updated my 2016 race schedule, as I have a few local events in October and November.  I will be recapping those after they occur, and I will definitely be keeping you posted on how my Goofy training goes.  Until then, I need to get ready for my first day back at work tomorrow….Teachers start this week, with students coming in the day after Labour Day.  For teachers, this is our “New Year”.  Happy New Year to all the teachers, students and parents out there! 

Medicine Hat “Rattler Run” 10km 2015-Race Recap

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On Saturday, April 25th, 2015, I participated in the Medicine Hat College Rattler Run 10km.  This is the second time I have ran this event, the first being in 2013.  Back in 2013, I set a personal best of 48:39.  I remember being so elated at that moment of setting this time, and being able to place 1st in my division.  Since then, I have been able to bring my 10 km time down to a 43:47 at the Moonlight Run in Lethbridge this past March.  I was anxious to run this race in Medicine Hat, as I was familiar with the course, and hoping for another personal best.

This day also held importance to me going into the race as the 11th anniversary of my dad’s passing.  When I registered for the event a few weeks prior, I knew it was fitting to be running a race on this day.  I would have him in my mind all day and be running this race in memory of him.  I stated on my Facebook page the day prior to the event how the event’s motto is “I Run for Me” and to promote healthy and active lifestyles for everyone.  My dad lived a healthy and active lifestyle and was a fitness role model for myself, and while I would be running this race for ME, I was more so going to be running this race for HIM.

Medicine Hat is about 1 hour and 45 minutes away from where I live in Lethbridge.  I have driven this distance before for races, usually to Calgary though, but the unique thing about this race is that the start time is 11 am.  I could sleep ‘in’ to a normal time, and still do the drive and make it to race packet pickup and warmup with plenty of time to spare.  I made it to Medicine Hat College at around 10 am.  Packet pickup was a breeze and it was of course great to see Randy and the crew from Racepro working the timing!  I also had enough time to do a good warmup, so I headed out for a 2 mile warmup at an 8:34 average pace.

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The events offered on race day were the 10 km, the 5 km and the 3 km distances.  The 10 km would begin first, with the 3 km following shortly thereafter, and finishing with the 5 km runners.  I was getting anxious at about 10 minutes prior to race start so I just milled around aimlessly outside doing skips and high knees.   When the announcer called for the 10 km runners to assemble, about 5 minutes before start, I headed right up to the front to get in good position.  I actually ended up standing next to a local runner from the Lethbridge area (Taber to be exact) Billie-Jo.  She recognized me and then I immediately recognized her.  It was great to chat before the race start and she left me with the words to “Go chase those boys!”

We were off and I headed out with the mindset of trying to get a 6:45-6:50 pace per mile.  With my interval running I had been doing lately, I knew this was possible….if I was on flat surfaces, with no hills and no wind.  I held a 1st place female position for the first mile, which took us over an overpass and onto the trail system.  The trail system is VERY curvy and lots of ups and downs!  The “Ups” were never that steep, and the “Downs” weren’t either, but there was enough of them to really get you!  At mile 1, a female runner passed me.  OK, I thought….since I was not in Lethbridge, I did not know who this runner was, so I really had no idea what she was capable of.  I kept her in my sight for the next mile and I was able to overtake her by the end of mile 2.  I kept telling myself to never look back, and to only wait until the turnaround to see how close she really was.  I could hear her breathing pattern initially, and then when I couldn’t hear her breathing I knew I was far enough ahead, for now.  I just would keep on trucking.  I ran mile 1 in 6:34 and mile 2 in 7:08.  I did not like that 7:08.

The turnaround was near mile 2.5 and I was still in the lead.  2nd place female was not far behind, but there was a pretty good gap between me and three.  Since this next portion was just heading back on the same route, I knew what was coming ahead.  It was motivating running towards other runners and seeing people I recognized from Lethbridge races.  I ran miles 3 and 4 in 7:01 and 6:52.

By this time, we were back to the overpass, and instead of heading back where we started, we looped around the backside of the college.  This was a very sparse area of the course, with no spectators and no other runners heading past you in the opposite direction. I knew I just needed to keep pace.  There was an aboriginal gentleman who I was running behind the whole race who I caught up to, and stayed about a few steps ahead.  His cadence was the same as mine, so I decided to keep with him.  The crazy thing about this man, though, was he was running the event in SANDALS!  Very thin sandals with a strap around the heel and then through the toes.  I don’t know if he normally trains barefoot, or just always with sandals, but it was a sight to see!

I was able to keep pace for mile 5 and then I knew I wanted to kick it in for the last mile.  We were heading towards people finishing the 5 km and would be hooking up with them for the final straightaway.  Seeing more runners ahead motivated me and I was able to push hard for that last mile.  I also never looked behind me to see where that 2nd place female was, which I will never know if that was a good thing or a bad thing….but it doesn’t really matter….because I finished ahead of her in a time of 41:30!  My final two miles had been 7:03 and 6:45….it was just what I needed!  I stopped shortly after the finish line and was shaking, grabbing my quads….I turned around and saw female #2 finish right after me.  She was right on my tail!  Turns out, my chip time only beat hers by 9 seconds!  Gun time was only 12 seconds!  I thought she was farther back, but apparently not.  I had won the female division in the 10 km—-a first for me!

I was so excited about this win but I knew I needed to keep moving so I didn’t tighten up.  I ran a 2 mile cool down at an 8:55 average pace to total my mileage to 10 miles that day.  Heading back in to the college, a nice spread of post-race refreshments were set up.  I immediately zeroed in on the chocolate milk and bananas!  I had brought clothes to change in to, as I didn’t want to be sitting in disgusting race clothes during awards and more importantly, my drive back to Lethbridge.  They held the awards in the College cafeteria, which was a great setting for the 10 km awards (which were last) but it seemed a bit crowded for the 3 km and 5 km awards, as there were a TON of young kids there and their families.  It emptied out quite a bit for the 10 km awards, which made it nice for us runners, as before it was too hard to hear or see what was going on.

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I sat with the Lethbridge contingency of us who were out at the race, which was nice since a few of us were called up for awards….so we had a cheering section!  I first went up when they called for the 26-35 age group for women (I know, weird age groupings!) and then again at the end when they announced overall in each gender.  This was my “Olympian” moment I guess, as I have never earned a 1st female overall in such a large event…I think this is my third 1st female overall ever, with the last two being from smaller 5 km races.  I am also really proud that my time was a personal best….not just by a little, but by a lot.  So I know personally I worked as hard as I could!  If I had been able to get 1st overall with a time slower than my personal best, I wouldn’t have honestly have been as proud.  Another sweet thing was the prize money—-$200!!!  That cash is coming with me this weekend when I fly to Vancouver for my main event!

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Would I do this event again?  YES.  It is extremely well organized and well worth the commute to Medicine Hat.  If you are looking for a competitive 10 km, this seems to be a good one, for both the male and female divisions.  This is also a unique event in that the whole family really can participate….if one parent wants to do the 10km, an older kid do the 5 km, and the other parent and small child do the 3 km, that would totally work.  The registration was also very reasonable.  The early bird pricing for race registration was $20 for race registration, and the late registration (after April 7th) was $30.  You could also pay with cash day of for $40.  This was the same price for ALL RACE DISTANCES!  This did not include a shirt, however-a shirt would have cost an additional $15.  The Rattler Run was in its 35th year, and I totalled the finishers in the 10km, 5km, and 3 km by looking at the Racepro.ca website- there were 754 participants.  This race reminds me much of Lethbridge’s own “Moonlight Run” in that it is a “tradition.”  Albeit, smaller in scale, but still recognized in the community, appreciated, and thriving.  This was a great event for myself, not just because of my personal accomplishment, but because of the significance that the date April 25th holds.  That date does not need to be a sad day; it needs to be celebrated.  And I am more than grateful that I could celebrate by doing something my dad would have been proud to watch me do.

Strength Training as Cross Training…and More…

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I mentioned a while back that I was attempting to get into the fitness centre twice a week to do weights and strength training with my friends from work, JJ and Shannon. I figured this would be helpful for my Spartan Races….which it has! I have had a tough time sticking with going on both Monday and Wednesday morning, partly because I get lazy in the morning. Unless it is a race day or a long run with Runners Soul Marathon Club on a Saturday, I love to SLEEP. This week, I could not pull myself out of bed on Monday for our workout (I felt just exhausted and beat from my half marathon the day before). But, I did get myself up and out of bed in time for our Wednesday workout…..but OUR workout turned out to be just a ME workout.

JJ and Shannon ditched me Wednesday. Alright, alright, they didn’t ditch me…just on Monday when I ditched them, they decided they wouldn’t be coming in Wednesday (Shannon was going to be at Curling Zones that day). I just didn’t find out about this until I got to work at 6:50 am and no one was there. For a split second, I was tempted to just change into my regular clothes and bail. Then, I thought of just going in and doing the elliptical. It wasn’t until I actually walked in the doors of the fitness centre that I realized I should just stick with what I was going to be doing all along—arms and abs.

I still am not wise when it comes to being in a weight room, but I had luckily remembered 7 of the 8 exercises from the circuit we did the Wednesday prior. We did this circuit three times, with a short break in between. I laid out the mat for bicycle abs, the Swiss ball for the other thing of abs, got a plate ready for whatever the thing is where you are inclined on your stomach and lift up….got barbells set for lunges and bench press…got a bar out with light weights for what I think is called “Military Press” and some other squat thing…and since I couldn’t remember the 8th thing, I took out a box to out under the hand grips by the chin up bar so I could reach and do hanging abs. Wow….I am such a fish out of water in the weight room, can you tell? I seriously don’t know what any of the proper names of things are…I just follow JJ and Shannon around.

It would be boring to go on and try to explain everything I did, because it would also be painful to try to interpret what the hell I’m saying. But I will say this—immediately upon starting my first set in the weight room solo, I thought of my dad. And I couldn’t stop thinking about him. The weight room was his place of worship. It was his safe haven. I had these images in my head of heading into our basement to go ask him a question and stopping outside the back room…his weight room. If he was in the middle of a set I knew to just stand and wait and then talk to him after. I remembered the random home video from the late 1980s we have of him doing bench presses in the basement while I’m dribbling a basketball next to him. I have mentioned before that he would mention to me on occasion about trying to lift, and I always shot him down. He never pushed, though, because he wasn’t like that. As I grew up, he could clearly see it “wasn’t my thing” so we left it at that. But having all these thoughts in my head early on a Wednesday morning made me push myself.

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I never pictured myself in a million years in a fitness centre, alone, doing a weight training circuit. But this Wednesday, I was. I started this blog to honour the memory of my dad, I started all my crazy running to help deal with my loss…and now I have found that being alone in the weight room is another way to reflect and just live. I felt alive. And I felt like he was there with me. He always is.

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The pictures of my dad before the last paragraph are from 1995. He had undergone triple bypass surgery in June of that same year. These were taken in November. He was 43 years old. Heart Disease can effect anyone.

Father’s Day

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Last week, I avoided doing school work during my prep by choosing to clean my classroom shelves. I still had binders from my classes at UW-La Crosse! I had emptied many in the past and dumped them, but the few that remained in the bottom corner must be ones I thought I may use??…well, I still had some of my “methods” classes down there. Language Arts binder, Reading Methods 432…yeah, don’t need these anymore. The binders were in great condition, so I emptied the contents into the recycling bin and was going to call it a day.

Until I found my journal entries in the back of my RDG432 binder.

This RDG 432 course I remember clearly. It was fall of my senior year, and we met once a week on Monday. The class was 3 hours long. I initially dreaded it, because I really had no interest in teaching reading or language arts, but I came to enjoy it. Part of it was the professor, Michelle Boge. She was very humorous, approachable, and realistic. The journal entry activity was something she did with us at the start of a few of our classes, as it was something we could do in a classroom of our own. She wasn’t going to read them, but they were meant to get us to reflect on a broad topic for 5-8 minutes and write. Michelle would write a statement on the board for us to copy down, and then we had to write whatever came to mind. One entry I did was on chocolate chip cookies, one was on my first job of being a caddy. And the one below was on my dad.

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Was this a happy day I wanted to relive? Not really at all. But it is still a day engrained in my mind. Is there anything I can do about it, now 10 years later? Not really. Except not beat myself up over it. I have matured and I have come to better terms with the situation. I have handled the loss of my father by running for him, using that time during my races to reflect on our family and the times we spent together. I am still not 100%, nor will I ever be, but I can say I am in a better place than I was in October 2006.

It’s never too late to say “I Love You.” I love you Dad—Happy Father’s Day.

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Quest in Quebec City, Part II

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The post below is a continuation from two days ago. It is my recap/reflection on the experiences I had while in Quebec City!

On Thursday, April 24th, we arrived at Musee Bon Pasteur. I was looking forward to this visit—the second floor was advertised to have an exhibit featuring the orphanage my dad was born at! When my husband and I walked through the doors, the receptionist did not know any English. Dan spoke with her to let her know I did not speak French; she then asked if we wanted an English-speaking guide. I am very appreciative that they had an English speaking guide in the facility, because visiting the museum would not have been the same without Sister Claudette’s guidance!

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Sister Claudette met us and gave us an overview of who the Sisters of Good Shepard are, and how they were formed. The story is quite incredible, and I encourage you to go to Musee Bon Pasteur and read about how this group of women found each other. She knew we were most interested in the items on the second floor, so after her 15 minute overview on the history on the first floor, we headed upstairs.

This is where everything came out. She first asked to see what information I had with me. After pulling out the envelope with the ominous “680 Chemin Ste Foy” address on it, she quickly told us why we were confused when we went their yesterday—-because it’s actually at 1210! The addresses had shifted over the years! She gave us a postcard with an old photo of La Crèche St Vincent de Paul so we could use it when we went back to find 1210 Chemin Ste Foy.

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We then looked at the handwritten letter together, and Sister Claudette then had a surprise for us. The sister who had signed the letter was a very prominent Sister at La Crèche, and there was a photo of her on that floor of the museum! Sister James Philip had signed that letter in 1954! Below is a picture of the letter next to her photo—these items are displayed on the original baptismal font that was used at the original St. Patricks! This font was used on my dad’s baptism on June 10th, 1952, three days after he was born (we know this because of the statement on his baptismal abstract which was produced in 1957; we can only assume, and Sister Claudette agreed, that this abstract was needed by my grandparents for when he went through his American Citizenship)

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Lots of other artifacts were on site for viewing in the museum. There are pictures, which reminded me of yearbook photos, of the doctors and sisters who were at La Crèche during certain time frames. There are also pictures of the children being looked after. Sister Claudette said these photos were taken in the 1950s

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Sister Claudette then explained to us more about the timeline of my dad’s adoption. He was born on June 7, 1952, and we knew from original paperwork that he was adopted and brought across into the US on July 4, 1954…this approximate two-year window is important. She explained to us that when a woman gave birth at La Crèche, the choice was to sign the child over for adoption right away, or wait a maximum of two years. In those two years if she felt fit to take care of the child on her own, or in some cases if she had then wed the father and came back, the child would be reunited.

My grandparents worked with the help of Catholic Charities in Illinois to set up an adoption. The Catholic Charities sent a letter in May 1954 that a boy had been selected for them. They drove up to La Crèche to meet my dad. I would love to know if photos of this occasion had existed somewhere in my grandparents hands, but they moved so much all over the world they may have been lost. One thing I should have assumed but was never certain was my dad’s birth name. We knew it was Luke, as written on the old envelope. But that was the English spelling. Sister Claudette confirmed that the name on the “Alien Registration” form that was used when moving to the US was his given name—Luc Parent. This was not chosen by the birth mother, though. We learned that the doctors and Sisters had a list of generic first names and last names they went through and gave to the children. So my dad was given Luc Parent!

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It was an amazing visit. Absolutely memorable. I will never forget it! We learned so much in that short time at the museum. Plus, there is still a chance to learn more. Later that day, Dan phoned a number given to us by Sister Claudette. It was for Centre Jeunesse-Centre for Adopted Youth. There’s an outside chance they will let me provide my dad’s information for the archives, in case anyone from his birth family has tried looking for him. This is something traditionally the adopted child must do, but we may as well try. Problem was, we called twice, and the person on the other line had horrific English, and Dan’s French was just as bad. An English speaking worker was supposed to call us back by yesterday but hasn’t. I will tackle this feat over the next few weeks.

And 1210 Chemin Ste Foy? Well, we went the following day. On April 25, 2014, we walked the two miles to La Crèche St Vincent de Paul. My dad had passed away exactly 10 years before on April 25, 2004. How did I feel?—rejuvenated.

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Quest in Quebec City, Part I

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Oh wow. Where do I start? I am still trying to take everything in from our amazing trip out East to Quebec. I am going to share the family history highlights we uncovered on this trip, but also try to keep this post short. The post will be broken up into two parts, and I hope the pictures will speak for themselves.

If you have read my blog before, you now know my dad was an orphan from Quebec City. He was born on June 7, 1952, at the La Crèche St Vincent de Paul, a home for children born to unwed mothers. I have always wanted to go to Quebec City so I could be immersed in the surroundings, and hopefully get some answers in the process.
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The first we did upon arriving in Quebec City was trek from the Via Rail station to our hotel. During the trek we passed St. Patricks Church—I knew this name from all my years of looking at the papers we had of my dad’sthis was where my dad’s baptismal abstract was from! We went in and spoke with an incredibly friendly receptionist. She informed us that the original church burned down and all that remained was the front. An active St. Patricks church in Quebec City does exist, but it is not the one from the 1950s. The old building inside was rebuilt and now houses a cancer research centre. She was trying her best to help us with finding any thoughtful information. She told us to come back tomorrow, as she wanted to get us a name of a fellow who knew a lot of history of the church.

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The next day we stopped back at the former church, where the receptionist had a piece of paper for us with contact information for C. Robert McGoldrick. We thanked her greatly, and on we went to 680 Chemin Ste Foy, the address I had stared at so long on an old 1950s envelope. This address was that of the orphanage!

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The walk to the “site” of the orphanage was about 2 miles. When we got closer to where 680 was, I started getting excited. But then, there was nothing. No 680. Just a green space between a giant apartment building and some townhouses. This was not big enough to house a whole orphanage…I was so confused. Had it gotten torn down and part of the land was built on? Nonetheless, we took a picture and moved on to phone Robert McGoldrick.

Robert answered and Dan spoke with him briefly. He told us to look up Saint Sacrament Parish, on the corner of Holland and Saint Croix. Even though the original St. Patrick’s burned down, he said any documents that may have been saved would be here. This was a lot to take in! What could they have there?

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We now headed back 2 miles to Old Quebec where something very exciting was waiting—a museum with an exhibit featuring La Crèche St. Vincent de Paul. This is Musee Bon Pasteur (Good Shepard Museum). I had found this museum while searching things online some years ago. This was where I had to go. This was where I would find answers!….

Part II to be posted tomorrow….

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Watch Out Quebec—-Here I Come!

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Being a student and now a teacher, I always have been fortunate enough to have the luxurious week off called “Spring Break.” Lots of people go on crazy Mexico vacations, cruises, or down to Panama City Beach. I either went no where, or to Disney World. I realized this a few days ago when thinking of this blog post—three of my trips to Disney World were taken during Spring Break. One in high school, one in college and one while being a full-fledge teacher. It’s about time I go somewhere different during Spring Break!

I have always wanted to go to Quebec City; my dad was born there and I wanted to look up some family history, be a part of where he was born. In the last years, I tried looking at flights and possibilities during our February break, but the cost was something Dan and I could not take on. I bought a little Quebec City Guide book from Chapters and dreamt of going in the future. I kept looking through the old papers I have of my dad’s adoption, the handwritten letter from the nun, and the envelope with the address of where La Crèche St. Vincent de Paul once stood….680 Chemin Ste Foy, Quebec City. And finally, this fall, I was able to put our trip into official action, using my Air Miles to book us a round trip flight out of Lethbridge to Montreal.

Dan and I are flying into Montreal on Monday, staying for two nights, taking Via Rail out to Quebec City for three nights, then back to Montreal for our final night. I asked Dan this morning what he is most excited about, and he answered “the fact we don’t have every night planned out.”

Usually I am very type-A and over planned. That is best exhibited on Disney trips when I have dining booked 180 days in advance, rides booked on FastPass+, and I am on blogs multiple times a day. For this trip, after making the flight reservations, nothing else was booked until January. That is when I found the wicked deal on Via Rail for two reserved coach seats—-$133.38 round trip!

On April 5th I decided to give Priceline a try. I tried holding out as long as I could, wanting to wait as close to our departure as possible so I could get the best deal. I bid on three hotels successfully—in Montreal, we will be staying downtown at Le Centre Sheraton Montreal and Intercontinental Montreal. In Quebec City, we will be right in the heart of Old Quebec, as the Hilton Quebec. I was able to get hotels at $100, $95 and $94 a night, respectively. I am very pleased with the rates!

We have two dining reservations set while in Quebec City, both at restaurants within walking distance. On the Wednesday night, we will be at Cafe St. Molo, which is rated #30 out of 1130 restaurants in Quebec City. It serves traditional French cuisine in a casual atmosphere. The other restaurant I chose is Le Saint-Amour, which is more of a fine dining location. It looks absolutely gorgeous, the menu looks to-die-for and it is ranked #5 in the city! Along with these restaurants, we plan on eating as much random pub food as possible, and will also be trying any and all microbrews we can get our hands on. We have already been instructed to go to Dieu de Ceil in Montreal for their beer, and we will also talk to locals for their recommendations. We love good food; we really do. So I can’t wait to take part in these dining experiences!

Another planned activity was set last week, after the NHL playoff schedule came out. The Montreal Canadiens have game 4 of the playoffs in Montreal on Tuesday night, so we were able to get tickets! I have been to MLB, NBA and NFL games, but never an NHL game. Dan hasn’t been to an NHL game in a solid 10 years, and the fact we will get to see one of the original six teams during playoffs is very exciting! Timing just worked out in our favor!

I have many other things saved on Trip Advisor, as far as local attractions worth seeing, pubs to go to, etc. None of these events are booked or set in stone…just in the back of my mind! We are planning on spending an afternoon walking to those addresses in Quebec City that I have, and also going to the Musee Bon Pasteur, a museum that has an exhibit featuring the orphanage. I have no idea what to expect in regards to my emotions…will I be a bucket of water upon landing in Quebec, since this is a trip I have wanted for so long? Will the waterworks not begin until officially arriving off the train in Quebec City? How am I going to hold it together on April 25th, which marks the tenth anniversary of my dad’s passing? I have waited so long for this trip, and I have no doubt in my mind it will deliver….a memorable week is about to take place! Je Me Souviens!

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Spring Cleaning 2014-Some Things You Can’t Get Rid Of

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Last weekend, my husband and I participated in my annual “Purgapalooza”, AKA Spring Cleaning. I don’t know how we acquire so much crap between two people, but we definitely downsized. Value Village reaped the benefits of our clothes that don’t get worn, books that don’t get read, and other knick-knacks that we had for no reason. It feels good to Spring Clean—I get a sick satisfaction from it.

But with any deep cleaning and reorganization comes random unexpected reflection. For instance, I reorganized all the photo albums in our house and it’s great to look through old photos. I also streamlined some of my final boxes of stuff from back home in Wisconsin, and seeing my old Nintendo set with all the random games made me smile. But, there was one special thing I found that caught my eye and caused me to have very memorable flashbacks-Pass the Pigs.

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What is this? Well, it’s a travel game from Milton Bradley. My parents bought me it sometime in the mid 90s. It’s basically a dice game, but with rubber pigs. My dad and I got a kick out of it. I remember us playing it poolside at various hotel pools, like the Pioneer Inn in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, or various Embassy Suites. See, my dad rarely used his sick days and personal days and I believe he could bank them to be used later on. So there would be some weekends that my parents and I would just drive out of town to an Embassy suites for a night or two, just to go do something. We’d swim, we’d hit an outlet mall, maybe mini golf, we’d enjoy the appetizer happy hour and cooked-to-order breakfast. And my dad and I would play these silly travel games.

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The thing that made me smile the most when I found this game was the fact that there still is a score sheet attached from the last game I played with my dad. Apparently I beat him, 61-55 points. Who knows if we were even playing it correctly, or if I was cheating keeping score. But seeing this score sheet makes me happy. I plan on always keeping that piece of paper, and I plan on always keeping this game. Pass the Pigs survived Purgapalooza 2014.

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A Post From The Husband

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backstory…this morning, before I left for my District Math Committee Meeting, I asked my husband Dan if he would write a guest post for my website. At first, he thought I meant “write it right now!” but he then realized anytime today would be ok. After dinner, he wrote the piece below. All I had asked was for him to write something from his point of view…whether it be about my races this last year, his trip to Disney, him running in some of my races with me…this is what he wrote….

The shutdown of Pearson Airport in Toronto made me fully realize the gravity and importance of this Disney Marathon Trip. After spending a night in Calgary because our flight to Toronto was delayed, we showed up early to the airport to find that the flight was straight-up cancelled. As we received more information on the current situation and continuing cold weather that was to come at Pearson Airport, it dawned on us that the tickets in our hands were not going to get us to Orlando.

Andrea broke down; I mean she really lost it.

But with good reason, right? At first glance, there’s plenty for her to be upset about. An entire year’s worth of training to prepare herself for the longest race challenge of her life. $3500 plus worth of fundraising over that same year of training. Blog posts, twitter and facebook groups and friends (Wang Nation!). She wanted me to experience Disney with her and Linda. She was doing this trip to commemorate her Dad…

But the tears that came out suggested that there was more to it than that.

I wanted to help, but other than a shoulder to cry on, I couldn’t offer her much. Andrea’s the intrepid traveler, I’m pretty much useless at an airport without her telling me where to go. Not that it mattered, though. Andrea’s too determined to stay broken down. In Canada, there’s essentially two Airlines. The big airline, Air Canada (which we had our original tickets that transferred in Toronto) had nothing else to offer us with Toronto in bad weather. So Andrea looked up the smaller airline Westjet. It turned out there was a direct flight to Orlando leaving in three hours with a few seats left. She bought the tickets on her iphone, we walked to the Westjet check-in and were waiting by our gate within an hour of the breakdown.

My wife just doesn’t take shit from anyone. Not me, not her mother, not even the weather, apparently. Sure, she can get knocked down. But she won’t stay down. She always gets up. Always.

And I think this is why the tears flowed so heavily at the airport. The hardest thing Andrea’s had to deal with in her life is the death of her father. Grieving has not come easily for her. Andrea and Linda have had trouble communicating about their shared loss. Andrea says that they’re too much alike, and without her Dad there to provide a buffer between them, their emotions get the better of them, and they wind up yelling at each other.

Her Dad’s passing has kept Andrea down for a long, long time. I think she broke down in the airport because the weather was robbing her of her opportunity to commemorate her father and move on with life. Although the race itself is an achievement, and she wanted to see me experience Disney World, this trip was about Andrea getting back up after being knocked down from her father’s passing.

I’ll admit, the weather got to her. She was shaking with fear. But she always gets back up. She doesn’t take shit from anyone. I’m told she gets it from her father.

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