One year ago today we received the call we had been waiting for for almost a decade. The China Center for Adoption Affairs had finally matched us with a healthy little girl. Although it took 3 additional months of paperwork before we got to meet the little girl on the blue chair, we couldn't help but look at our 2015 Christmas tree wondering how different 2016 would be. Miss Amelia Jade, you continue to be a gift.
Wow! For so many years this was a day I dreaded. Going to church and having to pass by the sweet children handing flowers to all the mothers or even leaving the grocery store to the seemingly "one size fits all" farewell of Happy Mother's Day. A few years ago, I just started pretending that people were saying "Happy Birthday" instead which allowed me to respond with genuine gratitude instead of bursting into tears or scratching their eyes out for being so insensitive.
Having my mum's extended visit include my very first Mother's Day was a thoughtful treat. It still doesn't feel real to me so the anticipated emotion was left in her capable hands. For me, there were no tears and no overwhelming sense of "arrival." It felt like many other days in the past few weeks with a neglected to-do list (including this post that I began 2 days ago!) What was missing, however, dims in comparison to what was: countless well wishes from sweet friends and family that have been waiting SO LONG with me, a gorgeous handbag to commemorate the epic occasion, and most importantly this lovely, silly, sweet, and sassy little girl who calls me MAMA. Alas, the long awaited tears... I've arrived.
Wow, time sure flies when you’re having fun! I’m embarrassed by how long it has been since my last post. As a first-born child of German descent I am the girl who doesn’t allow too much fun before the chores are finished. After a very busy 2015 wedding season (23 for the year) and all the ironing that piles up while I’m celebrating other people’s love stories, the holidays, and snow shoveling there is little time left for the “fun” of sharing our latest and greatest with you. Alas, the silence in broken and I can cross “BLOG!!!!” off my ever growing to-do list.
Speaking of waiting… you may know, we have been in the queue for a Chinese adoption for over 9 years. When we signed up the wait time was 8-12 months, but that is clearly not the way it turned out. I’m elated to report that we recently received “THE” call from our adoption agency and we’re headed to China in just a few days to pick up our daughter! Along this journey many people have reminded me that God’s timing is perfect, to which I would sarcastically respond “Whatever that looks like” while rolling my eyes. Well, what do you know? THIS is what it looks like! Our little miss turned 2 years old on January 10, my Dad’s birthday!
On the day she was born, we had fabulous house guests in town, which required champagne. Now, it’s true that almost every visit “requires” champagne so she could have been born on any number of days, but who am I to argue with perfect timing? A few days later, I spoke at a Ladies Breakfast at church and shared my story of infertility and all that nonsense. I shared our status in the adoption process as well. That opportunity served as an invitation for a few women to journey with us in prayer for this process; THAT was the first day she spent in the orphanage!! You may remember from an earlier post that my friend Indelisa came for a visit. In addition to the gallery wall in the dining room, she helped with a long over-due project of framing ABC cards for our then non-existent-daughter’s room. We spent an entire afternoon assembling them, thinking of the little girl that would stare at them someday; praying that “someday” would be sooner rather than later. THAT was her first birthday!!! And, yes, there was champagne!
We are not allowed to share many details here, but once she is ours I will happily share all the sweetness that Lady Amelia Jade Harrop embodies. Eeeek!
Today's post comes from a very special guest blogger, my sweet nephew, James Bryan Hall. JB and I have made tons of fabulous memories over the past 9 years, but lately he has been making some pretty epic ones all on his own. Last year, he joined the Scouts and it has been nothing but fun ever since. Here is what he has to say about it...
The reason I love scouts so much is because we get to do lots of fun things. For example,I love to go to camp! The camp I go to is called Camp Lassen. They have lots of cool things there. They have archery and pellet guns. The last time I went, I got a bullseye in archery! There is also a lake that is 56 degrees. It is really cold, but also really fun! They have a really fun climbing wall to! It is the highest one I have ever seen! I have reached the top many times. It is kind of scary looking down. I'm the only one in my family that has reached the top. Not even my dad could reach it.
Because of scouts I am more courageous and adventurous. Thank you for helping me become a better person by supporting my scouts. I love you and miss you Aunt Wendy!!!
Cue the "awww!" So besides being crazy proud of this guy, why am I telling you all of this? Well, if you are reading this and I have ever sponsored your child in a walk/run/read-a-thon, purchased wrapping paper or Girl Scout cookies, or any other creative thing their school or sports teams had to sell here is your chance to return the favor. Enjoy some popcorn and help support the scouts! Shameless request to be redeemed here.
Simple Pleasure #3 ~ The Garden
I know I've said it a hundred times, but summer in New England has been a far more challenging transition for me than winter. When voicing my plans to relocate, people would always comment on how cold it was and ask if I was "ready" for the winters. Freezing, snowy, long, etc. My answer was always, "yes, of course!" I have a coat addiction so I knew I'd be warm as well as adorable. Plus, you can always put more clothes on. No one EVER mentioned the summer. Heat, humidity, and mosquitos all missed the list of warnings. No one said, "Hey, your fabulous antique house isn't air conditioned (nor do the windows open, nor are there 3 prong plugs to accommodate a window unit anyway!!") No one said you can't eat dinner outside because there are so many mosquitos that you feel like you are on the menu. Thankfully, it is just a season so it passes almost as quickly as it arrived.
Although hot and humid are my least favorite weather conditions, the garden is thriving. We got into the habit of weighing our tomato harvest after watching the numbers add up at our friend Jeff's house from his prolific potted tomato plants. Last year we had 13 varieties of tomatoes for a total harvest of 67 pounds. What a great return for our efforts and an incredible cost savings were I to purchase those same heirlooms at the store for $6/lb. This year, Keith started seeds for almost all of our plants in the basement, some as early as February. He meticulously spritzed them with chamomile tea and peroxide to ward off disease and kept them as warm as possible with lights and mylar blankets. His hard work has most certainly paid off! The garden is producing like crazy. I wish I was in the habit of weighing more types of produce as I harvest it but so far, we've picked 158 pounds of tomatoes! Yes, you read that correctly. Ninety one and a half pounds in a 7 day period alone. OH.MY.GOODNESS. Now you know why my blog posts are so few and far between! If you aren't getting married this weekend or fruit flies aren't hovering on you on my kitchen counter then you get pushed to tomorrows list!
Beyond tomatoes, we are growing the following:
2 types of green beans, shell beans, 6 types of potatoes, sweet potatoes, 5 types of squash, 2 types of cucumbers, 6 types of melon, blueberries, strawberries, leeks, shallots, rhubarb, carrots, parsnips, fennel, salsify, celeriac, peppers, asparagus, 10 types of pumpkins, kale, brussels sprouts, and a partridge in a pear tree!
Simple Pleasure #2 ~ Chicks!
It's no secret that I am completely enamored with my little flock and now we have babies. Yippee!! We had a hen go broody - what in the world does that mean, you ask? Well, maybe not you, but my former CA self would have certainly halted the story there. Just in case you're like me, or the old me, "broody" is when your hen decides she wants to be a mom. Instead of laying her egg and cackling proudly as she joins her cohorts in the field, she sits on it, in a trance, without eating or drinking for 21 days! She also gathers the eggs of her friends and adds them to her pile, or "clutch". Magically, since she has no hands! Anyway, I tried for weeks to break her of it by lifting her off the nest, collecting MY eggs and shooing her outside, but within a few minutes she'd be back on the now empty nest waiting for another egg.
As the saying goes, if you can't beat them, join them; so we let her be. It's kind of amazing how all of this works too. I collected 6 beautiful eggs from all 3 breeds of chickens over the next few days (you can collect eggs for up to a week before putting them under your broody hen. They don't start "cooking" until she sits on them. Fascinating!) Assuming they were all fertilized since "Red" is pretty diligent about his role as a ladies man, I anxiously waited the 21 LONG days for some action. Sadly, they didn't all make it, but we do have 5 little peeps running around now. Hooray for baby chicks!
The thing I'm realizing about living where there are true seasons is that they actually make time pass more quickly. Yet again, I'm scrambling to tell you the latest while the next season is breathing down my neck! Technically I have a few more weeks, but Labor Day does mark the unofficial end of all things summer so I will bust out a list of some of my favorite things about these last 12 weeks. And, yes, I'll be wearing white linen while I do so. Time is ticking for those favorites too.
Simple Pleasure #1 ~ Sweet Peas
This beloved flower was first brought to my attention by my dear friend, Sharon when she grew them in her own secret garden in Palo Alto. They inspired us so that they were the catalyst for our very first garden party that ended up as an annual event for 10 years.
Last spring, I diligently planted hundreds of seeds along the fence of the rinding ring imagining their beautiful presence winding around everything. Well, word on the street is that sweet peas don't like it hot and they cannot tolerate weeds. That communicates to me they have no business showing up at the Phineas Wright House! Maybe 3 actually lived long enough to produce a flower. Ugh!
This year, sweet Keith, started the seeds in the basement (like all good New England farmers do!) and we transplanted the starts into a weed free bed along the garden fence. Success! No one told these little ladies that they don't like it hot either. They peaked in July, about the time I was withering, and I clipped thousands of fragrant stems for weeks. Hooray for sweet peas!
Ah, what a delightful addition to the itinerary for my dear friend, Indelisa, and I. We chose the Portes de Vanves market with the understanding that it is smaller, more manageable, and refined ~ just like us! With a long row of inviting booths overflowing with treasures on our right and left, we devised a plan to not even peek at the right side until we finished with the left. When we got close to the end of the row, we felt we were making great time and would have just enough to finish the second half before a leisurely lunch. And then we realized we hadn’t even reached the market yet!! Oh, so much goodness. Running from vendor to vendor in hurried panic we decided we would simply need to come back the following morning. Among our bounty: skeleton keys, stamps, embroidered ribbon, egg baskets, vintage cheese labels and tons of menus dating back as many as 75 years. But my dearest prize was the 2 cooper pots I scored for a modest amount. I imagined myself just like Julia Child walking around the market with the weighty haul. Since this little outing was at the beginning of our month long visit to France, I creatively lugged those pots all over the country (Note the photo of handles sticking out of my cute orange carry-on bag!). Fast forward to the security line at Charles DE Gaulle Airport when my beautiful pots were confiscated for fear I would use them as a weapon! The injustice of it all!
On a happier note, the many menus collected have since been framed and artfully displayed in our dining room. My sweet friend, Indelisa braved a New England winter to visit and make her mark on the Phineas Wright House. She has such a great eye and I love that every dinner in that room reminds me of our fun time collecting the treasures and than finally hanging them up. The wall also includes menus from fabulous dinners Keith & I have shared over the years as well as an antique framed chalkboard to boast tonight’s menu. Bon Appetit!
I imagine it is common for one to like the month that hosts their happy birthday. With fond childhood memories of surprise pool parties, more ice cream than one person wearing a bathing suit should ever consume, new bicycles, a guinea pig, fancy dinners at fancy restaurants ~ all just a few days following the last day of school. What's not to love?
Marrying a prince has made my adult birthday memories pretty epic as well with a surprise trip to Paris. long leisurely dinners at fabulous restaurants, getaways with friends in tow, lots of champagne, and quite a few lovely baubles. As much as I love a good party and being the center of attention for that matter ~ something profound happened to me when we moved to New England. Everyday feels like my happy birthday. There is so much to discover and savor and celebrate that one day is just not enough to contain it all. I am filled with gratitude to God, the giver of every good and perfect gift and filled with contentment for the enumerable blessings that surround me every day. An amazing husband, two sweet dogs, hilarious chickens, and a garden that is beginning to show a return for our labor.
To June ~ cheers!
This month the girls turn one year old and I can happily say it has been fun and fabulous to discover that I have a genuine affinity for raising chickens. From the time they arrived I have enjoyed watching them explore their surroundings, giggling at their awkwardness, and surprised how smart and not so smart they can be. Sadly, we lost 2 girls early on to a hawk… (moment of silence) but we have yet to loose one to Harriet. It’s been close on a few occasions but the chickens have learned to scatter when Keith or I scream, “HARRIET! NO CHICKENS!!” As they transitioned from baby chick to full-grown fat and fluffy chicken, I did take notice of a bossy one among the flock. She pushed her way to the front of whatever line was forming, pecking a few ladies along the way. Then she started “cock-a-doodle-dooing” which I thought was quite strange, but not completely unheard of. Then her feathers started to change from the other hens bringing some serious gender identification issues. I referenced my nightstand copy of “Storey’s Guide to Raising Chickens” and learned that this does in fact happen and should rectify itself after the first molt. I shared my newfound wisdom with my neighbor and long-time chicken keeper, Jonathan, to which he promptly announced “Zsa, Zsa”, he calls me that sometimes, “That is a rooster!” And so it is. Given my blessing to become anything he/she wants to be, Red, has grown up into a proper looking rooster and does a fine job of keeping the ladies safe and in-line. Our little flock of 9 hens are producing 7-9 of the most delicious eggs a day and I could not be happier to add chicken raising to my list of favorite things.
Hi - I am a wedding and event planner that just moved from the San Francisco bay area into the Phineas Wright House, in Bolton, MA. Here, you will find stories about our New England life, the fabulous discoveries that each day brings and all the things that make me smile. Thanks for visiting!
As Seen On