The Lord(s) of the Rings

December 5, 2009

Because Martha had been teaching and then had Parent-Teacher on Thursday when the boys got their X-Rings, we agreed to get together here on Friday to celebrate.  Just before I was heading out the door to go curling, Martha called and asked if we’d be up for lobsters if Stephane could find the truck.   Who would say no to that?  I pulled a package of puffed pastry out of the freezer to thaw and was out the door.

When I arrived home from curling, Martha & Stephane had just arrived and D’Arcy was upstairs putting the kids to bed.  Sarah & Olivia did come downstairs once for some hugs, but then went right back up to bed for the night.  We poured some drinks, put the salted water on the barbeque to boil and I wrapped some cheese, rosemary & port jelly in the puffed pastry and put it in the oven to bake before serving with crackers.

Stephane wanted to know if D’Arcy had truly been surprised and was amazed when D’Arcy told him that he’d had absolutely no clue!  I couldn’t have pulled it off without Martha & Stephane’s  help!

We talked about the Ceremony and laughed at how awful the guest speaker was.  The content of his speech was definitely geared to the younger graduates and not to the mature students or children or parents who might have been in attendance.  D’Arcy & Stephane knocked rings and the night was all-around fun!

We had seafood casserole & asparagus to start and then moved on to our lobsters.  Martha’s hands break out when she cracks open lobster, so Stephane opens hers for her.  Since he’s so fast at it, he started all four of them for us.  I appreciated not having lobster juice all over me!  I brought out the section of D’Arcy’s cake that said “RING” for dessert and we had champagne.

Not bad for an impromptu dinner!

The Lords of the Rings

The "Master" (of Education) at work!

Martha & Stephane

Seemed an appropriate dessert!

More knuckle bumping (we decided that was a more appropriate pose than holding hands!)

Lots of laughter!

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An X-tra special day!

December 4, 2009

I had been keeping a very big secret from my husband since September; maybe before since I came up with the idea a long time ago.

D’Arcy has been taking his Masters of Education in Administration at St. Francis Xavier University (St. FX) for the past four years.  He started when I was pregnant with Olivia and on bed rest.  During the month of July for three years, he would drive back & forth to Antigonish every other day to take courses.  During the school year, he would take courses online and at night.  The past two years, he has been researching & writing a Thesis on Post Secondary Decision Making.  All this on top of teaching full time, helping with the B&B, volunteering & raising four children.

(We’re really proud of him!)

Back when he decided to begin his M.Ed, he had a choice of Acadia University or St. FX.  As he was making his decision, he casually mentioned that if he went to St. FX, he could get an “X-Ring”.  I’ve never forgotten that.  He lost his undergrad ring from Dalhousie while he was canoeing back when we were first married and we never replaced it because there were always many more priorities.

Back in September, with the help of Martha & Stephane (who is also finishing his M.Ed at St. FX), the university, the jeweller & our parents, I was able to order him an X-Ring without his knowledge and register him for the X-Ring Ceremony which takes place on the same day each year, the Feast of St. Francis Xavier.  Click here for background on the ring, the ceremony, and why it is such a big deal.

I planned that we would tell him that he was getting the ring on his birthday last Friday and invited both sets of our parents and his sister Erin to join us for dinner.  The Sunday before, I found out that the ceremony was actually in the AFTERNOON, not the evening like I had originally thought, so I spent last Monday emailing D’Arcy’s Department Head, who along with the Principal of the school were able to get him the afternoon off to attend the ceremony.  Phew.

When D’Arcy’s birthday came, I told him that I would be making supper for the family and left it at that.  Based on the cakes I’ve been making for the kids lately, I told him his cake would be his present.  He went to school and I went to work decorating.

When he got home from school, I sent him off to curling with the boys and set the table.   When he got home, he looked at the table and commented that it was set for more than the six of us.  I reminded him that I had told him we’d have a family dinner and to be patient.  He figured out easily that I had invited our parents, and when his mother called from the road because it was raining so heavily, he tried to make her think she had spoiled the surprise.  Meanie.

My mother had brought cheese cubes and bacon-wrapped-water-chestnuts as appetizers and Olivia was concerned that she was allergic to them.  We explained that water chestnuts are actually a root, not a nut and that they were safe for her.  She proceeded to eat at least eight, delivering her toothpicks to either my mother or Aunt Erin!

I had made Grandma’s Seafood Casserole on puffed pastry for supper and Auntie Ruth was able to arrive in time to join us.  Before we knew it, dessert time had arrived.

When we were making the cake, Sarah asked, "We're making him a cake of Grandma & Grandpa's key?" (The key to their house is on a St.FX keytag!)

Starting to realize what the cake symbolized

Explaining how I had managed to pull of the surprise with everyone's help!


Yesterday was St. FX day, so D’Arcy went to school until 11:00.  The boys had an In-Service day, so we all went to Antigonish with D’Arcy to watch him get his ring.  We were pushed for time, so dropped him off to go pick up his gown and I took the kids through the McDonald’s drive-thru to get lunch.  Parking was a nightmare, but I finally found a spot on campus and the kids ate in the van.  We rushed over to the gym, but when we arrived, we were told that the gym was full.  (Only graduates & faculty actually attend the ceremony; family members & friends watch from the gym through a live feed on big screens.)  The girl proceeded to tell us that they would take us to the Conference Room upstairs, but we had to wait because the procession was about to start.  We then heard the bagpipes, and the graduates started to parade by.  Because they had mixed up D’Arcy’s last name, he was actually at the front of the line and we got to see him as he marched by us in his gown!

When the students had gone by, we were led upstairs to a large conference room with three big screens.  The chairs were full, so the kids & I sat on the floor in front of the front row.  We couldn’t have had a better view!  I had taken a bag full of books & crayons & paper and the kids were really good.  Olivia whispered to me a fair bit, but at least it was whispering, not talking, and they didn’t ever get up and run around.  I had five different people come up to me afterwards to compliment their behavior – it was a pretty dry two hours for kids!

Unfortunately, because of the lighting in the room, it was hard to get a good photo, but we had a perfect view of D’Arcy & Stephane both when they got their rings and on the way out when they knock on the kneeler from the church.  Sarah made me laugh when, in between when we saw D’Arcy & were waiting for Stephane, she muttered, “Godfather, stop being such a slowpoke.  Stop dilly-dallying and get up here!”

We were able to get some photos afterwards of D’Arcy & his new bling!

While watching, the ceremony is on the screen in the background

Part of the Cult

Posing at the kneeler from the church where the graduates knock their rings. Olivia's only tears were when she thought we were leaving before she could knock on it! I sense another future X-Grad in our midst...

Tonight, Martha (who was teaching and had parent-teacher in the evening) and Stephane will come over and we’ll have a small celebration together to celebrate the boys’ impending graduation.  I am so grateful to everyone who helped me make this happen for D’Arcy!

Now to get that Thesis finished…