Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Butterfly Turns 13

To celebrate Butterfly's 13th birthday, Steady Man and I planned a special evening with just her in mind. About 4 p.m., her schoolwork was set aside and I whisked Butterfly off to the salon of my favorite hairstylist. Both of us received haircuts. Butterfly, who longs for her hair to be waist-length, opted for a trim, however, she did get her first professional up-do.

At home, we hurried to change into our dress-up clothes. Butterfly's, purchased a few weeks earlier, was a black and gray wispy affair with delicate shoulder straps and a rosette waistline. Steady Man, already dapper in in his purple shirt (previously requested by Butterfly) and silvery tie, waited patiently for his dates.

The chosen restaurant, a surprise for Butterfly, was The Melting Pot. 

We selected it because Butterfly absolutely loves to cook and she had never previously experienced a cook-your-own-food, fondue-style restaurant. Already at Butterfly's seat at our table in a private enclosed dining room, a perfect red rose awaited her, as well as a birthday card signed by the staff. 

We ordered the four-course experience and each was delightful. Butterfly tried duck for the first time and enjoyed it, but will opt for something else "next time."

Butterfly was given a butterfly necklace with a tiny diamond, taken from my own wedding ring, placed in its center.

Steady Man gave her a blessing.

Steady Man and Butterfly danced.

Steady Man presented Butterfly with an exquisite gold key and explained that it represented the key to her heart. He asked if she would return it to him for safe-keeping, to trust him to guard her heart and to help her evaluate future admirers who may seek to win her heart. She gladly returned the key to Steady Man. 

It was a perfect evening that we hope will become a treasured memory for Butterfly.

Monday, November 11, 2013

He Asked for the Key to her Heart: Lizard Turns 13

For Lizard's 13th birthday, Steady Man and I decided to surprise her with a special date with her parents. On the morning of the chosen Saturday in November, I informed Lizard that she and I were going shopping. We went to a local mall where she tried on many party dresses. The one she loved best was a floor-length red gown with a modified sweetheart neckline on a lightly bedazzled bodice with shoulder straps and a statement belt. To complete the look, we also bought new black heels and visited the hair salon for Lizard's first updo. Although she didn't know where we were going, she knew this was going to be a special day. At home, after she was dressed and ready to go, Steady Man presented her with a wrist corsage. 

Our destination was the historic and elegant The Jefferson Hotel in Richmond, VA for afternoon tea. Twelve US Presidents, including Harrison, McKinley, Wilson, Coolidge, Taft, both Roosevelts (Theodore and Franklin Delano), Truman and Reagan, both Bushes (George H. W. and George W.) and Obama have been guests at The Jefferson Hotel.

Afternoon Tea at The Jefferson Hotel. We were given a secluded alcove in which to enjoy our tea. 

Lizard opens her first gift from her dad: a beautiful key. 

Steady Man explained that the key was symbolic of the affections of her heart and he asked her if she would trust him to protect her and to "hold the key to her heart" for her during her youth. 

Lizard was thrilled to return the symbolic key to her heart to her dad for his protection.
She was also amused that her first gift had been given back and wondered if her next gift would get to stay in her possession. (Spoiler alert: she gets to keep it.)

Birthday Creme Brulee with an edible Happy Birthday-emblazoned chocolate wafer.

Lizard's next gift was a necklace that features a small gemstone from Amy's wedding ring.
(Amy still wears her wedding ring. She got a bigger gemstone for her 20th anniversary). 

Steady Man then gave Lizard a blessing. He spoke of the many things about Lizard that bring him delight, about his hopes and prayers for her future and about his love for her. Lizard basked in this attention from her dad.
The photos tell the story best.

Taking a tour around the hotel. 

We hope that Lizard will remember and treasure her 13th birthday celebration with her parents all her life.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

A China Plate for Butterfly

Recently, I surprised Butterfly with a mother/daughter date one beautiful Saturday morning. We headed to Lavender Fields Farm, a local organic herb garden, to take their wreath class. This particular class has turned out to be a requisite mother/daughter event for our family. I made my first wreath at LFF with my mom. About two years ago, my oldest daughter Lizard and I took the wreath class together (I blogged about that here) and now it was Butterfly's turn.

Like I desired with Butterfly's sister before her, I wanted to celebrate the completion of a devotional book we worked through together, Growing Little Women for Younger Girls, by Donna J. Miller and Christine Yount. In a sense, the event was intended to mark a graduation from little girl to young lady. Our first activity was to make living herb wreaths.

After making our wreaths, we entered the tea room where a special china place setting had already been laid at Butterfly's place setting. (The idea for this event came from the book, Gentle Passages: Guiding Your Daughter Into Womanhood, by Robin Jones Gunn)We talked about how she is like a china plate, meant to shine as she reflects God's glory through her life and her service to others. She agreed that she didn't want her life to resemble in any way my paper plate that was destined for the trash can. We discussed how a china plate is special and should be handled with care and it should be protected from harm. At this point, Butterfly exclaimed that she really understood now why her dad and I are careful in choosing what books, movies and activities she experiences.

The china set we bought for Butterfly is called Shenandoah. It has a delicate pink flower with a pale yellow background, two of Butterfly's favorite colors. Lizard and I selected it for Butterfly at a local antique shop some months ago. It turned out that many of the dishes in the set were covered with dust and grime, but I was delighted to find that their sparkle returned with the help of a sink full of soapy water and a bit of gentle elbow grease. As I was washing Butterfly's china, just a few days before our trip to LFF, I discovered that one of the dishes had a chip. I was disappointed and hoped that Butterfly, who wouldn't even know about the china until our special day, wouldn't even notice that particular dish for a long time.

Somehow, when I secretly and carefully packed up a single place setting of Butterfly's china into a picnic basket that I would later give to the staff at LFF to place at our table, I unknowingly packed that chipped plate. I was chagrined to have to acknowledge that imperfection when it was debuted to Butterfly. However, God made the moment beautiful, as we were led to discuss that even with a chip, the plate was still exquisite and able to serve. We decided that really, all of us are chipped plates. We make mistakes (lots of them), we do get hurt and sometimes we are even damaged, but if we ask Jesus to wash away our sins and allow Him to heal our hurts, we can again shine brightly for Him.

In many ways, Butterfly's china plate event mirrored her sister's event, but not in every way. Besides the chipped plate, there was one other surprise that set Butterfly's day apart. She was given a custom art print, made by a talented Christian artist who has a shop on Etsy called Willow of Wonder. The girl in the image is based on Butterfly. I suggested she wear the same dress the day of our event, because she was wearing that dress in the photo I sent to inspire J-- at Willow of Wonder. When Steady Man and I were working with J-- to select a scripture or song lyric for Butterfly's print, we decided to look at some of Chris Tomlin's lyrics, as he is one of Butterfly's favorite singers. Butterfly's pose, with arms lifted high, led us to choose "I lift my hands to believe again. You are my refuge, You are strength. As I pour out my heart, these things I remember. You are faithful God, forever!" We also felt this lyric reflected Butterfly's joyful personality well. I couldn't have been more pleased when Butterfly first laid eyes on her art print. She was ecstatic. She loved it. She realized it really was her and she was in disbelief that something so beautiful was made just for her. When she read the lyrics, she exclaimed, "That's my favorite song!" Well, we didn't realize that when we chose it and I told her so. Then she reminded me how she had once made up hand movements to that very song and then I remembered, and I silently thanked God for leading us to choose that song lyric.

On the back of Butterfly's plate, I wrote her a message and gave her a scripture. For this particular occasion, the NLT version reads best:

'In a wealthy home some utensils are made of gold and silver, and some are made of wood and clay. The expensive utensils are used for special occasions, and the cheap ones are for everyday use. If you keep yourself pure, you will be a special utensil for honorable use. Your life will be clean, and you will be ready for the Master to use you for every good work." II Timothy 2:20-21