Monday, February 25, 2013

A Little Bit of Boasting

I got to take my first daughter to the New Beginnings program at church last night, which is basically a special evening introducing the program she'll be joining later this year when she turns 12. There are only 2 new girls coming into the youth program for 2013, so she got some spotlight time all of her own, and they asked me to write an intro for her. Here it is:

Sage was the first granddaughter in her whole extended family, born in hot, humid, Houston, Texas. She was 3 ½ when her family first spent a summer in [this state], and 4 ½ when she moved here for good. This ward has been her home ward the whole time, as she's grown, been baptized, and now is on the cusp of Young Womanhood.

There are some really wonderful, but often hidden, qualities about Sage. For example, she's a keen observer of the world around her, especially details about nature, animals, color, and landscapes. She combines those powers of observation with a very tender heart and a desire for all creatures to be happy and taken care of. She'll stop and see every puppy or kitten but also every mantis or cricket she finds.

She's very neat and responsible, even though it's often overshadowed by the combined chaos of her siblings since she shares a room with her two sisters. She's a bit shy, but still loves to be around people and to be included in groups. She reads constantly, and has an incredible imagination. Combine her love of reading with the fact that she's definitely a morning person, and that means that she's often the first one awake, curled up on the couch with a book.

What I love most about Sage is watching those moments when she quietly blossoms. She's not dramatic, but she can really surprise you with her wit and intelligence right when you're least expecting it. She brings home paintings and art projects that belie her age, and I've kept them in a special place separate from all my other kids' school artwork. I love watching her run or ride her bike when no one else is around, she breaks free and glows with delight. I don't want to embarrass her, though that's hard to avoid; but she has such a sensitive awareness of the world around her that sometimes things are a little too much and she'll withdraw so that people don't get to see her when she really shines.

The name Sage was chosen to mean someone who was wise, respected, an anchor to those around them. It also happens to be a lovely herb, not showy but soft and fragrant, and we’ve planted a “Sage garden” including various varieties around our mailbox. Either way, the name fits her and we’re so glad to have her.

Adding to my bragging, if you don't mind indulging me a tiny bit, is the fact that my son Ian stayed home with the other kids during this evening event, and of his own initiative made us a batch of fresh bread. He had heard me mention that we were out and would have to figure something out for school lunches in the morning, and he went ahead and got two loaves rising in the pans before we even got home from the church thing. He stayed up a few minutes extra to put them in the oven when it was time, because he wanted to have done it all without my help. It was wonderful bread, and each of us thought of him when we ate it today...what a guy.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Valentine's Adventures

This may be a rush job, as I've already used up all my available writing time today on personal projects, but I wanted to give a quick rundown of possibly the most over-the-top Valentine's Day my husband has yet put on (which is saying something).

He spent all sorts of evenings and weekends on errands and holed up in the basement before the holiday itself, and then the day of he took the whole day off work to arrange a complete Secret Agent/Spy Mission for me.  He made a thematic playlist to start the day off.  He brought me flowers with a secret note lodged inside, leading to a Walkman hidden in a vent with a cool tape-recorded message as to when I would be "extracted" since I had been a sleeper agent and our network was compromised.  Then at the appointed time, he actually handcuffed me (plastic dollar-store, of course) face-down on the driveway and put a bag over my head to drive me to our lunch reservation.  Let me just say: you totally get car-sick inside those bags, and that's if you're not even scared for your actual safety.  Then he gave me the most amazing vintage photos with a guy circled in each one and fed me the "backstory" for the fictional villain I would be trying to keep ahead of, sent me off for a few hours by myself until I should check a "secure terminal" for some kind of message.  If any of you read our family blog, that's the explanation behind the recent enigmatic post...

So, then I had to proceed to that place and retrieve a dead drop, which was almost out of my reach and would have landed me in a decently deep river if I stretched too far.  Inside was a sling shot and two kinds of candy to use as ammunition (and, ahem, as snack while I waited for the go-ahead) when I infiltrated the palace in Tangier, Morocco to retrieve the stolen thumb drive before the villain could get it.

The kids were guarding the house -- I mean, Moroccan palace -- heavily, having gotten home from school by this point and being in on the game with S.  But though I received some water gun spray and tripped the lasers (fishing line strung all across the stairs), I made it into the house where fancy dinner was to be served while I looked for my contact.  S. got into his old, extremely oversized tuxedo and served a beef/sweet potato stew, spicy jumbo shrimp, and a serpent cake, all on his own from our international cookbook.  Wow.  Wow.  (OK, so I helped out with the shrimp in the interest of time, but he really planned ahead and pulled off more cooking than I think I've ever seen him do at once.  And no, the serpent cake is just coiled up like a serpent, no snake meat involved.)  He had the kids in cool construction-paper fez hats (fezes?) and fake mustaches, holding up magazines in front of their faces when I came to the table, and they dropped the magazines in unison to reveal the full get-up.  Hilarious.  Oh, and another themed playlist with indigenous-type Moroccan music in the background.

Finally, the end-game took place in which there was a sudden treachery, a faked death, and an electric-shock key fob.  So much fun.!/playlist/Secret+Mission/82861596!/playlist/Secret+Location/82861139

Thursday, February 14, 2013