Rock on!

March 6, 2010

Get it?  Rock on?  Yes, this post is all about curling!

Yesterday, the boys & I had an experience of a lifetime – we went to Halifax and met Kevin Martin and the whole Canadian Olympic Gold Medal Winning Curling Team.  Not only did we get to talk with them, get photos with them, and end up being interviewed for television, but the boys got to hold the Olympic Gold Medal!  (Sorry, but that’s so exciting, I think it needs to be capitalized!)

This plan all came together at the last minute.  I had known a couple of weeks ago that the Hot Shots Competition would be happening at the Brier yesterday afternoon and that it was general admission.  I thought about taking the boys, but it didn’t go much further than that.  Thursday night, one of our guests whose children are also pre-Junior curlers, asked if we would be going and told me that Kevin Martin was going to be there signing autographs with his gold medal.  When I heard that, my mind went into overdrive, trying to figure out how we could get there.

I first asked the boys if they’d like to go?  Duh.  Then I called my mother to see if she would be able to take the girls for the day?  No problem.  Next, I called the boys’ curling coach, Todd, to make sure curling was at four and explained to him what we were going to do, and that we would be back in time for practice.  As soon as I hung up, I realized that his daughter Lindsay, on the boys’ team, might like to come too, so I called back and invited her along.  Lastly, I called Madison’s family (whom I’d never met because D’Arcy usually looks after curling practice pick-up and my parents usually drop them off) and invited her so that the whole team could go together.  It was somewhat awkward, since I don’t know how willing I’d be to send the boys off to the city with strangers, but at least they had met D’Arcy and were able to find out more about us through Todd.  She was so excited to go, and I told her mother that she was welcome to come along too if she would like.

In the morning, we discovered that it wasn’t just Kevin Martin, but the whole Canadian curling team  that would be there.  I was happy to see that the snow had stopped and the roads were clear.  When talking to my mother about our plan, we made the connection that she had actually taught Madison in Grade Primary and that she was one of my mother’s favorite students!  Small world! Our friend Hope (who is 80) arrived at the door with a newspaper clipping for them to autograph.  I offered that she could come along, and she laughed but said she couldn’t stand that long.

With great excitement, we went to the school to pick up Evan, Alex & Lindsay.  Evan brought along a biography he’d written of Kevin Martin in the hopes he would sign that.  Lindsay’s mom (Alex’s teacher) was there to see them off.

The drive to Halifax was smooth, with the kids chattering away excitedly in the back.  We were able to find a parking spot with little problem and went through the underground tunnels to the Metro Centre.  Not knowing if we needed a ticket even though it was general admission, we stopped at the Box Office to inquire about protocol.  We were told that Team Martin would be signing autographs at 11:30 and the doors would open then.  I asked if that was what the group of people waiting by the doors was and the man told me yes, but that the team would be signing on the Brunswick St. Concourse so it would probably be faster to wait up there.  When we got to the Brunswick Street door, we realized that people there were waiting outside.  We made the decision to go back to where we were, inside & warm, figuring that we were early enough that we would surely get to meet him.

We got in line and then the kids went with Madison’s mom in search of a bathroom while I stayed in line.  They didn’t find a bathroom, but they did find the Nova Scotia Sports Hall of Fame!  It seemed appropriate to get their photo taken in front of the curling display:

And since we still haven’t totally come down off Olympic Fever, we thought we’d get a team photo in front of Sidney Crosby’s mother’s dryer, complete with dents from his hockey pucks!

It didn’t take long before we got the kids to come back downstairs as the doors would soon open.  When they did, we all went upstairs in a nice, orderly fashion, and got into a new line – about 20 people away from Team Martin!!

In line, the team is sitting in front of the blue background

It's almost our turn!!

An Olympic Gold Medal!! They are quite heavy - Kevin Martin told them they can only wear them a short time before their necks get sore!

They were all so great with the kids and seemed so pleased to see young curlers!

Johnny Mo told them they HAD to be holding the medal in the photo! (It wasn't hard to convince them!)

Kevin Martin leaned into Evan and said "Your mother's hands are shaking!" I think Madison's mom got a better one...

One of the tv reporters caught sight of Kevin taking an interest in what Evan was showing him.  It was the biography he had written (which) Kevin did sign for him.

A drawing of Team Martin on the Podium, beating Team Howard in the Olympic Trials. Not sure Team Howard would have liked this picture so much!

Alex was somewhat put-out that I chose Evan to speak on camera rather than him because he considers himself the better speaker.  I tried to explain that Evan is the one who has been following curling since he was four years old and has been curling for three years.  Also, Evan is the “skip” of their team and had written the project that got them noticed.  I think he understood.

Getting miked

Being interviewed for television

After this television interview, they were also interviewed by the Canadian Curling Association’s reporter.

I think that our nephew Chris would be happy to know that on camera, Evan commented that he got interested in curling to start with because his cousin played and he loved to watch him!  Chris played on Team Fitzner-Leblanc up until he moved to Calgary last year.  Chris & Ian have curled together since they were seven years old and dreamed of going to the Brier.  I would imagine that it’s hard for Chris to be so far away right now; I know it’s hard for his mom, Kim, that he’s not here sharing this with Ian & the team!  We were lucky enough to run into Kim at the beginning of the day, so I got a few shots of her with the team too:

After all the excitement, we went inside and found our seats for the “Hot Shots” Skills Competition.  Each curler on each team plays six specific shots that are worth points.  The top eight highest scorers go on to the finals. (today)  The second for Team Manitoba got an almost un-heard of 29/30.  They played six teams at a time and Team Nova Scotia was in the second group, so we were only able to stay long enough to watch them warm-up, but at least they saw us and knew we were there wishing them well!  We got a text from our niece, Meghan, when we got home that Ian is in second place with 25/30 going into the finals!

While the first group was curling, we noticed that Team Gushue was sitting behind us.  (For those non-curlers, they are representing Newfoundland, but were the Gold Medal winners in the 2006 Olympics!)  We went over to get their autographs and while there, the guys asked the kids who they were rooting for?  Madison declared, “PEI!”, while the boys stated, “Nova Scotia!”  The Team laughed and one said, “Well then no autographs for you!”  They realized what they had done and everyone had a great laugh!  We got their autographs, but unfortunately didn’t get a photo.

We got to see how they re-surface the ice, in between groups.  It was fun to watch them shave, pebble & “rock” each sheet of ice.  Even more fun was learning that team Gushue likes to throw around the football while they’re waiting!


"Pebbling" the ice

"Rocking" the ice

Team Howard

Brad Gushue

We gave a huge cheer when Ian & team hit the ice!

Taking photos of their heros

Too soon, we had to get ready to leave so that we’d be home in time for – curling practice!  We had a fun, but windy drive home and the kids were still bouncing when we got to the Curling Club.  Todd was able to get some practice out of them.

When practice was over, we all went upstairs to the bar to watch their television segment.  They were very excited and the men who were there having a drink were teasing them, asking for their autographs!

It was such a fantastic experience.  We all tried to stay awake to see them again at eleven, but it was futile.  Too much excitement and we were asleep in our chairs.  Good thing we taped it!  Now to practice, practice, practice and get ready for their first competition as a team.  I wonder if we’ll be seeing them at the Brier or the Olympics someday?

Oh yeah – hurry hard!!


February 26, 2010

Not sure if we’ve been watching too much Olympic coverage lately, but our girls are certainly very patriotic these days!  They can identify all the different sports and Olivia rushed in to tell her brothers that the “replays” were on this morning!  At suppertime last night, anyone driving past our home could have taken in the Olympic Parade – Sarah & Olivia in full voice, singing “Oh Canada!”

(Photo taken with my phone, so not the best quality)

I never quite know what I’ll see when those two are playing together!


February 23, 2010

We collect Delta Privilege points.  Between Chris & Lisa’s wedding & the Tourism Conference among other events, we were eligible for Platinum status this year.  As a Platinum member, we get free room upgrades, free internet, turn-down service, etc. at each stay.  The best bonus is that we “earned” $300 which could be used toward room and/or dining charges.  The only catch is that status in the program may vary from year to year, depending on how often you stay and the year expires on February 28th.  We love the atmosphere & the staff at the Delta Barrington, as well as its convenient location downtown.  We’ve not been disappointed any time we have stayed, and even wrote a glowing review on Trip Advisor for them after our summertime stay.

We got a letter in the mail last month, explaining that the expiry date was coming up, so we looked at the calendar, chose a date, and booked two rooms for Saturday night.  (As a family of six, we no longer fit into one regular hotel room.)  We just put “Surprise” on the calendar for the kids, in case it fell-through, and booked out on Saturday night.  The kids had a wonderful time trying to guess what the surprise would be.

On Friday at suppertime, my parents took the girls to their house for a sleepover so that we could watch the Olympics and get ready in peace.  We lit a fire in the tv room, ate store-bought pizza (a novelty with Olivia out-of-the-house) and pulled out the couch.  D’Arcy marked and we all watched the curling & the skeleton races.  We told the boys what we would be doing the next day and they were happy to hear that we’d decided to dedicate the weekend to our family.  We turned off our computers and just hung out.

Both boys play basketball on Saturday mornings and usually D’Arcy takes them while I stay home with the girls.  Since the girls were with my parents, I planned to go watch the games.  On our way to Evan’s game, we dropped some clothes & snowpants off so that they could go outside & play while they waited.  As I rushed in the door, I discovered a pale-looking Sarah, wrapped up in a blanket on the couch.  My mother informed me that she had been throwing up in the night, but she wasn’t sure if Sarah was sick or had just eaten too much too fast.  I told them I would be back to pick them up in an hour when the game was over and we would decide what to do from there.

Evan’s game was great and he scored a couple of really nice baskets.  Alex was disappointed that I wouldn’t be able to watch his game, but I explained that by going home, it would give me time to make lunch and be sure that everything was ready to go.

We got on the road close to 2:00, packed up with more than enough “stuff” for overnight!

Belongings for six of us for 24 hours! It may be the first time in 11.5 years that we've traveled without a stroller!

We had to stop at Canadian Tire along the way to buy water-wings for the girls, the only thing I forgot to pack.  We got to the hotel right at three and got checked in to adjoining rooms.  The concierge remembered us from our stay when Chris & Lisa got married, but I suspect we’re not an easy group to forget!

We got settled in and the girls immediately put their bathing suits on!  We tried to hold them back for a few minutes while we waited for our “welcome tray” of cheese, crackers & fruit.  (Another perk!)

After what seemed like FOREVER, I'm sure, to them, we were ready to head to the pool!

We were too busy having fun to take any photos while at the pool.  We decided that it was the perfect time-of-year to have an overnight (as opposed to March Break) because there were only two other families with similar age children, rather than the teenagers who seem to over-run the place during school holidays.  One family was from here – their little boy had on the same t-shirt from last summer’s basketball camp that our boys did!

After swimming, we all had baths & showers and got ready for dinner.  We peeked into the bar hoping to be able to watch Olympics while we ate, but there were so many reserved tables we headed to the restaurant downstairs instead.  As it turned out, they were expecting a large group, so the dining manager got us a table in the bar afterall!

We had taken the game “Science Diction” with us to play while we waited and all went smoothly.  We had one blip when our kids ordered “Shirley Temples” and I didn’t think to ask what was in them.  Just as Olivia started to sip, I thought to ask if there was pineapple juice in them and of course, there was!  Olivia wasn’t too impressed when we took it away from her, but the server came right back with a safe one and there was no harm done.

It is nerve-wracking to eat out when your child has food allergies, especially at a new place.  We explained her allergies to the server who was very understanding and cautious.  We didn’t ever feel like we were putting her out.  She discussed with the chef what Olivia is allergic to and they sent her a “safe” plate with cheese pizza & cut veggies.  It turned out the dip for the veggies was ranch dressing (egg) – eek! Luckily, it was in a ramekin, so we took it off her plate.  Evan was quick to share the ketchup from his fish & chips and all went well.

The boys, snazzed up for dinner

All four, ready for dinner

The three boys, waiting for our food

The girls weren't quite as co-operative about posing...

Olivia's pizza & veggies

We went back up to the room after supper and got into our pyjamas.  We all piled into our room and watched Olympics while playing “Lotto” (a bingo-type game the girls love).  Although we didn’t take many pictures, Alex got most of the action on his video camera!

Sarah put herself in charge of handing out game pieces, thus rigging the game!

When the time came for Olivia to go to sleep (about 9:15), she wanted me to lie down with her.  I took her into the kids room and we cuddled.  Of course, I fell asleep.  D’Arcy woke me a couple of hours later when he was bringing the rest of our sleeping children into bed!

They were all up bright & early on Sunday morning and were raring to go for a swim.  We swam, got cleaned up & packed up and went downstairs for breakfast (also included as a Delta Privilege members) .  I had taken a safe muffin, some oatmeal & some grapes for Olivia because breakfast is especially nerve-wracking for us.  (Peanut butter & eggs everywhere!)  While the rest of us ate from the buffet, she insisted on Froot Loops (like her sister) and yogurt with apple juice to drink; she had half her muffin from home.

It was about 11:30 by this time, so we checked out and headed to Costco for a few things.  The boys really wanted to use some money they’d saved to buy the Winter Olympics game for their wii, so we thought we’d look there first.  The girls were asleep by the time we pulled away from the hotel, so D’Arcy stayed in the van with them, marking while the boys & I went shopping.

We didn’t have luck with the game at Costco, but did at the second store we tried.  We then went in to see Grandma & Grandpa to have a visit there.  When we arrived, the girls were cranky from just waking up and the boys (Alex) were cranky from being overtired.  They whined & bickered until D’Arcy & I laid down the law and got them set up playing monopoly.  They all came around and we had a good visit, with a delicious ham dinner.  We ate until we were stuffed, with Erin, Brian & Morag all arriving before we left.

A little reading with Dad

While Grandpa gets his first look at the Thesis (well, the first part of it!)

He insisted he was "NOT TIRED"!!!!

Monopoly got them all cooperating again - eventually...

D'Arcy "wasn't tired" either...

We got home about 7:30, unpacked the van and got everybody tucked into bed.  I went to sleep while D’Arcy tackled the laundry and watched the hockey game.  He woke me at midnight to watch the ice dancers…

The kids were still reveling in the weekend yesterday morning and the boys thanked us profusely before heading to the bus stop.

When the mail came yesterday afternoon, I discovered a letter from Delta.  Inside, was a note saying that because of our loyalty, we’ve automatically been reaffirmed as Platinum members for next year!  Thank you Delta – we feel very privileged indeed!

The Olympic Torch

November 17, 2009

The Olympic Torch celebration was in Truro tonight, and Alex’s choir was singing, so we headed over to Victoria Park.

I remember back in 1988 when the Olympics were in Calgary, I had two friends who were lucky enough to be chosen to run with the torch – Sandy & Suzy. In my memory, there was a big event for the torchbearers that we attended on the grounds of the then Teacher’s College and Sandy won a 13″ tv. They’ll have to correct me if I’m wrong…

Tonight’s Olympic Flame celebration was NOTHING like the one 21 years ago! This was held in Victoria Park, where they had set up a huge soundstage. There were drummers, dancers, athletes, singers, choirs, guest speakers, you name it!

Unfortunately, Sarah has an ear infection, so we decided to leave her at home with her grandfather who doesn’t like to get chilled. Since we were leaving Sarah, we left Olivia too and it was just as well. They wouldn’t have seen much in the stroller, but it would have been too long & too cold for them to be on their feet. They were happy enough to stay home and play “I Spy”!

I couldn’t believe all the tents that were set up when we first got to the park – the event was much bigger than I had anticipated. We got Alex checked in backstage with his choir and found my mother waiting for us there. Earlier today, I had been joking about the itinerary that stated the kids would sing at 7:00, then the torch would enter the park at 7:08 and the kids would sing again at 7:26, but they really did have it timed pretty much that precisely. There is no question that this was an extremely well thought out and well planned event!

The kids sang “O Canada”, which again brought me to tears… How lucky are we to live in Canada?! Gary & Fernando, our guests from Houston (Fernando is actually from Mexico City, but works in Houston) came and joined us, and we ran into Martha, Stephane & Chloe. (Gabriel is in the choir with Alex.)

It was a really fun, really exciting night, capped off with fireworks! The boys, Evan especially, are getting excited for the Olympics and Evan hopes to go himself one day as a curler. I hope to go watch him someday…

Ginna with her future Olympian(s) She was taking her B.Ed and was in class during the Torch celebration in 1988

Evan was facinated by these drummers

This athlete was amazing - the things she could do with a hula hoop!!

Some of the crowd, waiting for the Torch to arrive

Martha, Stephane & Chloe

With Fernando & Gary, our guests from Houston.

Fireworks in the baseball field