Tuesday, November 16, 2004

The Joy Of Amazing Your Kids.... (or Watching Their Eyes Shine)

Sometimes, being able to make a dream come true for your children is worth its weight in gold. Long before I began to design needlework, when I first moved to Moncton to find work and marry Nick, I ended up in radio. I wrote copy at one of the local radio stations that used to bear the call letters CKCW and CFQM (the Country sister station). Eventually, I learned to do some voicing as well as radio cut-ins before moving on to work at an ad agency. I stayed in touch with a few friends, including Terri who came with me to Retreat this past weekend. It was during the drive up that I learned this year’s Canadian Idol, Kalan Porter, was coming to the station today for some interviews and to meet some contest winners. Terri also mentioned that some of the staff were bringing their kids to meet him at a separate, private event in the afternoon. So, knowing how much Erin “idolized” Kalan, I asked if we could be included. It never hurts to ask, right?

I found out yesterday that our attendance at “Operation Kalan” was approved by the powers that be, but only if I promised to keep the whole thing secret. I asked Erin to come right home after school because we were going somewhere as a surprise... but left it at that. When she came home, I made her change into a nicer top and brush her hair, so she was immediately suspicious. Just before the taxi arrived (This happens to be Nick’s week to be the driver in the car pool) I told her that she might need to bring the envelope on the kitchen table along with us. Inside was the drawing that she had made of Kalan and the runner up Teresa, right before the final night of the contest. I’d mounted it to some scrap booking paper so that there was room for his autograph if she wanted to keep it, or a message from her if she chose to give her drawing to him. The look on her face and the screech she let out were priceless.

Off we went to the radio station, about half an hour early so that we could get inside before the fans arrived. Sure enough, by the time Kalan and his entourage pulled up, there was a crowd of screaming teenagers (and some adults too) outside in the parking lot, trying to get a glimpse of their Idol. Into the station he came and I watched Erin become totally star struck and shy. She even tried to hide behind the door when he came into the boardroom! There was more time before his radio interviews than they had expected, so they decided to do the staff meet & greet early. Other people introduced themselves and got pictures, then Erin shyly gave him the drawing and posed for pictures. The glossy photo slicks had to be saved for the session with the contest winners, but they made some black and white photocopies which he autographed for both my girls and the other guests, much to Erin’s delight. Then, the girls and I posed with him for a family shot while Terri used my camera.

I must say that this gracious and talented young man was warm, inviting and as impressive in person as he was on TV. When it came time to leave the station, about 10 minutes before Kalan’s departure, many of the people in the crowd kept asking why WE go to be inside. I just ushered my kids through the chaos to where Nick was waiting and replied with a VERY satisfied grin “I used to work here!”

Pulling a few strings and watching your oldest child go to bed with stars in her eyes..... priceless!!

Monday, November 15, 2004

Retreat Bliss and Back To Reality...

There’s nothing quite like the feeling of getting away from it all, especially if your are going to a wonderful location with other women you admire, great food, laughter and a whole weekend in which to stitch!!! For those of you who have never been to a Stitching Retreat, I highly recommend it... you will be hooked!

This time, I brought a new friend along. Terri is a diehard stitcher and has helped me in Nashville before, but she’d never been to Retreat, so I coaxed her into coming. We drove up at supper time on Friday and discovered that most of the people were already there, set up and stitching away! We found some space on the stage and set up our stitching nooks then made our way down to one of the cabins to claim some bunk space. I always take a mattress from one of the top bunks and just sleep on the floor because for some strange reason, bunk beds aren’t made long enough! Once we got our gear into the cabin and our bed space staked out, we trudged back up to the main lodge with the last of our stitching accessories and snacks in time for the 7:00 pm registration.

The rest of the weekend went by in an absolute blur. From late night snacks and silly jokes to the Saturday morning craft sale at a nearby church, from Silent Auctions and raffles raising over $700.00 for charity to an ornament exchange, there was never a dull moment. I even got plenty of stitching done!! With the peace and quiet of someone else cooking all the meals and no small children or husband to interrupt, I was able to spread out all my floss, braid and overdyeds to get the border of my new dragon just the way I wanted it at last. I stitched up the whole top band, including the beads, so I am hoping that “Dragon of the Deeps” will be ready for Nashville. I also worked on stitching up one of my Dragon Doorstop painted canvases and finished knitting a scarf.

One of the other cool things about Retreat is that some of the stitchers form little circles and give themselves names or themes for each retreat. The group from Fredericton took the ornament I designed for this year’s Just Cross Stitch Ornament Issue and each made up their own version using my design and Tracy’s button (she is part of their group). It was such fun to see a dozen versions of the ornament hanging from people’s lights!!

Saturday was made even cozier by the fact that the snow began to fall early in the morning and kept up all day. Many of us stayed up late on Saturday night because you just don’t want that Retreat magic to be over. We found out on Sunday morning that Nova Scotia had been blanketed by more than 35 cm (more than a foot!) of the white stuff, but Moncton got less than 15 cm (approx. 6 inches). We were all so cozy and warm that it made us feel very much in the holiday spirit for the ornament exchange.

After lunch on Sunday, everyone packed up and headed home much refreshed (except those heading home to Nova Scotia). Terri dropped me off at St. Pat’s where Erin was having her swimming lesson and then it was off to church for the taping of the Sunbeam Choir’s two songs for a CD that our church is putting out. Erin was very proud to have a solo verse but found it strange to listen to her own voice when played back. Having worked in radio for many years, I am used to how different my voice sounds on tape to my own ears, but this was her first time hearing how she sounds to others. We finished just in time to head to the movie theater to see The Incredibles (though we missed the trailers and the first 2 minutes of the movie) and we laughed ourselves silly as a family.

Nick was wonderful and took both of the girls to choir tonight so that I could finally get to my blog and recapture some of that peaceful feeling that tried to evaporate at bedtime last night when they were both grumpy. I think I can handle reality now... at least for a little while!