We’re still recuperating from our wonderful wedding weekend but are reminded of the great time we had every time we walk past my bouquet.
The kids are asleep, the house is quiet and I can finally recount our most marvelous weekend over which we celebrated my sister-in-law’s beautiful country wedding. Before I share the details, I should preface how this wedding came to be.
My new brother-in-law is infatuated with all things equestrian and country and his infatuations seem to have rubbed off onto my sister-in-law. A wedding complete with horses, a country band, and a hoedown is what the bride and groom desired and an authentic country wedding is what they and their guests were treated to on a gorgeous early fall day.
The ceremony was held inside a barn built in the 17th century in the heart of Pennsylvania’s horse country. The chuppah was draped in linens gifted to the bride’s great grandparents on their 25th anniversary—in 1939. The flowers were a perfect representation of fall without succumbing to the typical oranges, yellows and maroons. The flower girls wore jean dresses with tule tutus hand-sewn by the mother-of-the-bride.
The reception was held inside a large tent erected on a beautiful green lawn surrounded by the lush countryside. The reception started after sundown and so the tent sparkled in the distance. The guests walked from the ceremony to the reception tent on a path lit by lanterns. It was so romantic, so ethereal. The walk to the tent itself set one’s mood for the spectacular feast that awaited once there.
Inside the tent the tables were long and rectangular with beautiful runners and low floral arrangements highlighting the antique [looking] plates. The guests didn’t just feast on the table scape but were treated to an amazing feast complete with a pie and ice cream stations, wedding cake and a bourbon tasting bar. When in Paris… or in the heart of Pennsylvania’s country country, one should be entertained by a country band. I had never seen a country band play the hora, but this one did and did a pretty good job of it too.
The bride and groom looked so happy, so in love that they seemed to be in a world of their own. The real magic of the day was, however, in the family and friends that came from far and wide to share and celebrate in this couple’s special day. Evan, myself and even Sophia all had special roles. I was a bridesmaid, Evan a groomsman and Sophia a little flower girl. Additionally, Evan … with some input from me, selected all the liquor for this wedding which we both thought to be an awesome responsibility; a good party has to have good drinks. I had to bring our nanny from Maryland to babysit Eliza and then Sophia so that we could attend and participate in the wedding. Being a nursing mom who was also a bridesmaid and a mother of a young flower girl was no small feat and I am relieved that Sophia walked down the isle, that Eliza took the bottle and that I was able to enjoy such a great party … and get a few pictures of my own.
There won’t be a Friday Moment this week because there have been too many precious moments and no time to capture any of them. Instead, we are savoring each one hoping to burn them into our memory. Time is flying and the seasons are changing, the girls are growing and there is nothing left to do but embrace the chaos of it all. Sometimes it is important to understand that you aren’t in control or in charge and let go a little bit—those are the times you can truly enjoy life.
My mom has an aunt who is an extraordinary person. She is sage, kind and giving—the type of a person I aspire to become. She hosted my mom and her sister during their college years while both attended pharmacy school and then, years later, she hosted my sister while she attended university before we emigrated here. I never lived close enough to her, but I have over the years developed a great rapport with her and correspond with her (in Russian) to this day. Our correspondence offers me good practice of my written Russian and a link to my past which inevitably will shape my future. But this post isn’t really about my great aunt; It would take more than one post to describe just how amazing she is and how much I try to learn from her.
Not every aunt is like my mother’s aunt and my mom is fortunate to have had someone so amazing in her life all since birth. This weekend, I learned that my kids are just as fortunate to have an aunt like my mother’s and what’s more, an uncle too.
This is a celebratory month for our family and this past Friday, Evan and I dashed off to Philadelphia to celebrate his cousin’s engagement. My mom was working the evening and so my sister, her husband and my nephew convened at my parents’ house to look over Sophia and Eliza. My sister hasn’t ever babysat our girls because she doesn’t live close to us but I had no doubt she would rise to the challenge.
I peeked through the front door of my parents’ house and at precisely 5 PM I saw my beautiful sister carrying a box full of games and puzzles. She was ready for
battle babysitting. My nephew and brother-in-law followed shortly thereafter. Evan and I dashed out the door to make our event and knew full well that all would be well at home. We received regular updates and pictures, too.
I would be remiss not to mention that things do not always go according to plan and despite my sister and brother-in-law’s best efforts Sophia didn’t take a bath and Eliza refused the bottle. These things happen and it was not due to lack of love, care or trying. They both get an A for effort. Effort is all that matters. In fact, this is exactly it—Eliza and Sophia are so very lucky to have these two wonderful people in their lives who make time for them and care about them.
Sophia and Eliza paid in love and kisses. I will never forget seeing how Sophia ran and hugged my sister right after she arrived. It was love and I know now that is how it will always be.
We’ve been rather quiet about our culinary adventures as of late. We haven’t gone hungry of course—mostly because we’ve accepted culinary first aid from my parents and are otherwise preoccupied with a few secret projects which will be revealed in due time. I did manage to make luxurious chicken soup with thin noodles, shredded roasted chicken breast and still toothy vegetables. While it may seem like a lot of work for a few weeknight dinners, it really wasn’t. The chicken stock was made in a slow cooker while I went to work and the chicken breasts take about an hour to roast. I sautéed some veggies while the chicken roasted and threw in noodles two minutes before serving.
The key to this soup being an amazing success is the deconstructed manner in which it is cooked. All the components are cooked to perfection and assembled just before being served. Everything is just right and together, the soup sings with a symphony of textures and flavors. It was perfection. I need to make sure to use the slow cooker a lot more often. The fall and winter seem like the perfect seasons for the type of dishes it is best suited to.
In life, there are no do-overs but there are sometimes second chances. In welcoming Eliza, I’ve had a second chance on mothering and as I anticipated, I’ve done a few things differently. Another second chance I’ve had is the choice to go back to work after my maternity leave ends. I’ve done it, I’ve gone back to work; This week marked the first few days and I am still happy with my decision the second time around.
On the one hand, it is difficult to leave little ones behind and head off to work, but on the other hand, I recognize that life is about making choices and there is no better time to teach my children that than now. It is probably just me, but I am happier when I’ve been at work and made a contribution of my own and outside the home.
Very few things in life beat a warm welcome I receive when I get home. Back in the days when Sophia was an infant and up at all hours of the night, my mom told me that there will come a time when I am welcomed home by a bouncing little girl screaming “Mama, Mama”. This lovely picture she painted seemed so far away. No longer far away, it is finally here. My afternoons’ happy reunions are complete with bright and cheery “Mama, it’s Mama!!!” followed by hugs and kisses so delicious that I’d choose them, ALWAYS, over chocolate or anything else earthly.
In a way, I am taking an easier road because I haven’t yet a harder job than that of a stay-at-home mom. I salute everyone who makes that choice and can’t stop counting my fortune to live in a place where we have choices.
I don’t want to admit it, but the signs that the seasons are changing are everywhere. I am not ready for stews and heavy, cold weather food but something warm and comforting seems very appropriate. I turned to a slow cooker cookbook that I have and found a chicken curry recipe. Sounded delightful and I was intrigued by how easy it was. It was almost a one-pot wonder and I started to doubt just how delicious it would be knowing how easy it is to make. I worried for nothing—it was delicious. Flavorful without being overpowering yet stimulating to the senses.
Since dinner required very little effort and the weather was so gorgeous, we had plenty of time for an after-dinner walk followed by playtime. Happiness is making time for all the important things in your life.
A great weight has been lifted from my shoulders and, literally, my basement. We are very fortunate that my mother-in-law and sister keep us stocked with lots of toys, gear, and books. While that is great, it also means a basement full of toys, clothes, and gear. Anyone who knows me personally also knows that I do not like clutter, and this great load was causing me quite a bit of frustration: There were many things that we have outgrown, all of them well cared for and used with much love. It was, in other words, time to say goodbye, to pass them on to others who will bring them into their homes, use and love them as much as we did. And so, this weekend, my in-laws rented a panel van and came down to get many of our toys and gear.
What is left I will wash, fold, and donate. Even though I may never meet those who would use our things, it doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t show them that the items they are receiving were well cared for. I could never, ever, ever, ever give something that wasn’t perfectly cleaned. I remember getting baby clothes, a swing, stroller, a bassinet and much more from my sister and Evan’s aunt and uncle when we welcomed Sophia. Everything was in pristine shape, clean and tidy and that is how I will pass it on to the next hands.
So I am not just patting myself on the back for donating and recycling, I am patting myself on the back for getting my house de-cluttered! It wasn’t all hard work and no play at our house though. We were able to play and have fun and catch some of those special moments on film, too.
All that packing and cleaning and playing will make one quite hungry. With summer’s end fast approaching, we couldn’t resist a last hurrah to the bountiful harvest of the season and a nod to our travels in our previous (pre-kids) life.