Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Swiftly Go the Years...

How is it that time can pass so quickly? Since I have become a mother, it seems as though time has accelerated. Didn't I just have this baby? This tiny little feeding and sleeping machine, snuggled against me, unable to move. Unable to laugh yet, and unable to smile even.
Yes, this baby- the one with 5 teeth, the one crawling almost as fast as I can catch her, after the cats, squealing with delight at her own mobility.
This one, who now has an attitude, preferences, opinions. This one with a sense of humor and a distinct personality...
I guess when I look at the calendar it was really almost 10 months ago. But it feels like it has gone too fast. Maybe I didn't soak it up enough in those early weeks, maybe I was too worried if we were doing our best.
Maybe I did relish in the newness of this little person and I just don't remember. I think I was so enchanted that I saved those early baby days in a safe little place inside me, tucked away to bring out much later, to savor when the years have swiftly passed.
Just in case, I better get down on the floor, and give this baby a big hug and kiss right now, and bask in who she is today. Tomorrow will come too soon.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Maine Coast Wedding

Maine weddings have a different feel than those held elsewhere. A real treat is a wedding on the Maine coast, with the smell of the salt air and the sound of boats in the harbor as a backdrop to such a special event.
I had such a wedding this past weekend in Camden, with perfect, quintessential Maine summer weather, two of the sweetest people for a bride and groom and a great group of guests and family to celebrate with them.
The ceremony, at the Camden Amphitheater, was backed by Camden Harbor-a perfect day!
The reception took place under a tent by the garden at the Windward House Bed & Breakfast, a gorgeous spot that felt like a comfortable, private family residence more than an inn. The inn keepers are very friendly and hospitable, a treat to work with. The bride chose tangerine and red as her colors and the bride's maids looked simply delish in their chiffon dresses.
Scrumptious catering, accompanied by friendly service was provided by Megunticook Market and photography by Annie Higbee, one of the nicest photographers I have had the priviledge of working with.
D.J. Jeff Rockwell engineered the sound at the Amphitheater and provided musical entertainment and emcee duties during the reception. Luscious mango and red rose bouquets were created by Bunny at Lily, Lupine and Fern, who also laboriously worked to ensure the aisle runner was secure, despite the ocean breeze!
Working with a talented team of professionals simply makes my job better and easier. We all do our part to ensure each couple's day is just so. Though I could not cook all of the food, take the pictures or orchestrate the introductions, I oversee the general management of logistics-my husband even calls me the "Tactical Logistics Commander" sometimes. I like to think that he really means TLC, or that I provide tender, loving care to my clients...That is my goal, but I could never do it without all of the professionals who handle their own elements of the event.
I am always a little sad when I say goodnight to my bride and groom, as though they were just that-mine, for the day. I miss them and it takes me a few days to get over the fact that my part in their lives is over.
So Goodnight, Jaime and Dennis! I enjoyed working with you and sharing your wedding day with you and your family. My very best wishes to you as you embark on this journey together-have a great life!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

A few of my Favorite Things

I love the bittersweet end of the summer- the days you savor when the breeze gets a bit crisp and the sky just looks like fall is coming. The crickets sing their sweet songs almost around the clock and when you walk into the garden they fall silent, as if they see you , but you can't see them. The crickets might just be my favorite detail of late summer. My lavender hydrangea makes it solo performance and I know what lies ahead... We try to squeeze in a last few evening fires in our backyard with friends and family, complete with S'Mores and a cocktail or two. I find that it is in those minutes, staring into a fire that we connect, catch up and reminisce. A few new stories are usually told, but more often we recollect-past fires, events, tales and happenings. Occasionally, after the baby is asleep my husband and I will build a fire and sit out there talking with the baby monitor humming next to us-just the two of us. Sometimes it feels like it has been a while since we have actually talked. I mean really talked, not about diapers, crying, first teeth or Cheerios, but about the things we used to talk about. I love the way the fields and the bay look at this time of year, still green, but with a tell- tale golden hue-the hue that just precedes the first blush of foliage starting to change. This time of year infallibly reminds us of our annual pilgrimage to Quebec City, Canada. We have celebrated many a wedding anniversary there and just last year we went again, if only for me to waddle the streets patronizing each patisserie and creperie, 36 weeks pregnant. I think about our daughter having been there with us, though on the inside, and that we didn't know it at the time, but in 3 short weeks, we were to meet her in person. I like to think that she enjoyed the pastries and crepes I diligently sent down the line for her that week. We have both been wanting to make our reservations to go again this year-I get a text message from my husband almost daily from work,"Quebec is in the air" it reads... Oh, to eat steak and frite at our favorite little restaurant, translated, it means "crazy little pig"- we love it so much there, that we have even come to call out daughter "Le Petite Conchon Dingue" for crazy little pig... When I look at these pictures, I am transported, a reason I love photos-they instantly take you to a place you haven't been in a while, evoking the feeling, the smell, the sounds of a place. This one evokes my pensiveness about impending motherhood and how the little creature that was on the inside would impact our life out here. This picture depicts how I felt then, a bit transparent, faded, tired and scared. I look at that belly and I remember how it felt to be pregnant, the smell of the food in the air that night and the sound of the horse drawn carriages around us- the feeling of love. A few of my favorite things: summer's closing routine, evening camp fires, Quebec City, crepes, pastries, remembering, long term love and photographs.

Monday, August 18, 2008

One Year Ago Today

One year ago today I had one of my most challenging weddings. One of the most beautiful and one of the most "Maine" weddings. It was a rogue day in August when it is actually blustery and cool-the wind didn't die down until evening and the temperatures dropped. At a rural, antique family farmhouse, in the field, the sun shone all day on the nuptials of this couple from New York City and Massachusetts. I worked on this one for 17 months-with the bride, her father and her mother. What an effort... A tireless effort that taught me a lot about business, human nature, patience, diligence and manners. I still have dreams about this wedding... It couldn't have been so perfect without all of the creative, humorous and determined efforts of the other service providers who worked with me. I had the delight to work with photographer Sharyn Peavey, the pictures in this post are 3 of the many gorgeous shots she took that day. Sharyn even saved my then very pregnant self by sharing her Odwalla bar with me at the cocktail hour, a generous gesture that I won't soon forget. Later she shared her pictures for my web site. What a dear woman-and her pictures are simply edible-she has an eye and a way with light that is other- worldly. Not to mention a spunky personality, wit and style-who doesn't love a gal with those characteristics?!? (Sharyn Peavey Photo) Alda Stitch created the ethereal flower arrangements and worked her magic once again to everyone's amazement. (Sharyn Peavey Photo) Yes, those are purple ostrich feathers in the bride's bouquet! Laura Cabot created the delish food and she worked on the details of this one with me to the very end-organizing rentals, discussing logistics, salmon stacks and portable toilets into the wee hours on many a night. I thank the heavens for that woman's sense of humor! Tracy Carson provided musical entertainment, and even sorted through the mother of the bride's many hand written notes that evening, to ensure all the right songs were played. Tracy was so relaxed and at ease-he calmed my nerves even! Judy Emery at Party Fundamentals helped me again and again, when the father of the bride insisted we change the dance floor size. Twice. The morning of the wedding. Judy has the patience of a saint. (Sharyn Peavey Photo) The bride e-mailed me upon return from her honeymoon-to tell me that her wedding day was truly the best day of her life. Even though it was a year ago, I won't likely forget this one. A happy bride, a beautiful wedding, a gorgeous Maine day, a couple starting a new life adventure together, and it was truly the best day of their lives? That is why I love what I do.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Three of Us

Family. My definition of family has transformed since I have made my own little family. I heard my husband say, "the three of us" the other day- and it hit me, though our daughter is 9 months old, I don't think I have really yet thought of us as "three".
I used to think of family as the group of people who were related to us, before our daughter was born. We were family to those people too, but somehow, we didn't think we were family to each other, my husband and I. I suppose we thought of ourselves as a couple.
Now we are 3-not just a couple. And it feels sort of separate-from the rest of the group of 12 who are immediately related to us. We realize that we are part of that bigger group-but we feel that "the three of us" is somehow a separate little group-something we didn't expect to feel when we became parents.
Just another little unexpected surprise about parenthood, I suppose. So many things have been unexpected about going from "the 2 of us" to "the 3 of us". So many sweet, best, worst, best again, fleeting little details. I wonder how it feels to go from "the three of us" to "the four of us"...

The Secret Family Recipe

It was a busy night in the kitchen. After Ava goes to bed, I become a little elf, furiously crafting, painting, cooking, sewing, cleaning and busying myself with all of the things I set aside while she is awake. I have come to pride myself on my clean kitchen, laboriously cleaning up after each meal and sweeping almost constantly. (we do have a small human living here, who is crawling with wonderous speed, yes, on the floors, so I feel I must do my part to ensure she has a healthy living environment.) Or maybe I just have obsessive compulsive disorder, manifesting itself as a germ issue. The jury is still out. The picture below illustrates how un-clean my kitchen was when I was done with last evening's frenzy. I think I was a bit out of control. My husband will tell you that I am always out of control-"frantic" I think he calls me. Regardless of what my husband thinks of my fabulous preparedness skills, I decided it was time to think about holiday gift giving-you know, because it really is right around the corner... and one wants to be ready. We decided to make all of our gifts this year, and my parents had just generously let us take our fill from their garden. We gathered a basket of cucumbers, fresh dill and I set about making the now famous "Pleasant St. Wicked Violent Tartlin' Dill Pickles" that I made for the family last year. I have still not heard the end of the requests for more. I would share the recipe here, but you see, it is a secret family recipe, as in, it is a secret from the family. I decided last year that in order to make these THE family pickles, I would have to ration their distribution, you know, build up the demand by limiting the supply. So it has come to be that these pickles will only be made for the holidays. I know a thing or two about supply and demand, my past life was spent in sales.
Before my husband could come in the kitchen and exclaim, "Get a HOLD of yourself!" as he will, when I am, well-frantic, I whipped up 12 jars of pickles and just for fun, had my try at my first batch of strawberry jam. I finished canning the 12 jars of jam when my dear husband came in from the garage and saw the mess I had made. He looked left out, if only for a second. He scanned the room, noting my ruined (yes, another one) T-shirt, strawberry jam spackled fore arms and the smell of pickles in the air.
"What am I going to make for Christmas?!?" he asked, sounding so dejected that I actually felt sorry I had not included him in my cannery activities. I assured him that he would find just the perfect moonshine recipe, or other home brew to rival last years "Old Hag" that is still causing lapses of memory for folks even today.
I spent the wee hours until midnight undoing the mess I had made while we discussed the impending holidays. I love the late, wee hours we spend planning, plotting and scheming our creations.
It was a busy night in the kitchen to be sure.

Back in the Saddle

This weekend I did my first wedding in ten months. I was nervous-would I still have IT? Would I still be able to pull it off? I thought I might have lost my edge (along with my short term memory and fashion sense) when I had my daughter. It has been a long time for me to be professionally dormant. Especially from the days of doing 40 something weddings a season.
The night went perfectly, professionally speaking. But it was hard, personally. I haven't been away from Ava for more than a few hours since she was born. Until Saturday. My husband put her to bed, I missed a nursing session and I didn't get home until way after she was asleep. I kept a picture of her in my suit jacket pocket, just so I could take a peek at that little face every now and then.
My husband called me just as I was orchestrating the bride and groom's announcement into their reception. "How do I get her to stop crying?!?" My heart sank-how do women do it? How can you have it all, when it is so hard? I needed to be 110% present with this couple, on a most important day of their lives, to ensure their once in a lifetime celebration went smoothly-to exceed their expectations. But the only place I wanted to be was rocking my baby to sleep. The only place I really needed to be was at home. Hard times.
I told my husband, " I can't help now" what else could I do? I put a smile on my face and opened the door to the reception, a booming voice from the band called out, "It is my pleasure to announce Mr. and Mrs. Kelley..." the guests cheered. The bride looked at me and whispered, "Thank you". She was happy. I can do this, it is worth it, I love my job. This is why I started this business, to make a difference in people's lives, to help them, to give them a once in a lifetime, perfect milestone.
As dinner was being served, my phone vibrated in my pocket. It was a text message from my husband, "Finally asleep." it read. I breathed a sigh of relief and felt happy-balanced, whole. My baby was okay, my bride was okay, everything would be okay.
As the Hora began and the guests started dancing in a circle, lifting the groom up in a chair, all clapping and joyous, I felt grateful for how full life is and how lucky I am. I went home with sore high heeled feet and checked in on my sleeping baby. Maybe you can have it all.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Mighty Mighty Moss Tones

My husband's brother and his wife just finished building their new house and are feathering their nest. My brother in law really likes green-well, if you ask him, he will tell you, "I like the moss tones". We as a family suspect that "the moss tones" may be the ONLY colors he likes. There have even been color blindness rumors... As a result, their whole house has been painted and fixtures chosen, in the moss tones family. My sister in law's birthday was this week and I had some interior design fabric samples in my fabric stash (from my crafty mother) Two details that led me to think I would whip up some pillows for their living room, in moss tones, of course. There is some velvet, chenille, and nubby textures that I am sure their cats, Mio and Cleo will appreciate as much as their humans. I snuck in a little khaki giraffe print for the cording, but I suppose one could classify khaki as a moss tone... Oh, the moss tones, the mighty, mighty moss tones.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Just Like That

Just like that, a new human is here. Here, on earth, on the outside. My friend's new daughter arrived on the outside last week. She was a bit large and the doctor thought it best if she come out the emergency exit, as I have come to call it. Yes, a Cesarean, C Section, Cesarean Birth, however you enjoy labeling the method.

When I first learned that my own daughter would be coming through the emergency exit, as nature's exit wasn't going to cooperate-I felt a crush of disappointment. As though I wouldn't get credit, or have really given birth, if the emergency exit was made. Would it hurt? (could it possibly hurt worse than the labor I was in!?!) Would she be okay? I had never had major surgery before. I mean, had anyone read my 7 page detailed birth plan!?! I specifically noted on page 2, item #3 that I did not want a Cesarean birth!! Scary to say the least, but being pregnant was pretty scary for me too.

Alas, I had no choice, it was out the emergency exit or not at all. So into the operating room I was wheeled.
I emerged with a very different attitude about medical miracles, and an appreciation for how lucky we were that the emergency exit is even possible. I also felt pretty good, certainly not in pain. And after a few months of mental closure, I even started to give myself credit for my daughter's birth. As though I had studied and practiced for 9 months and I was sure to get the recognition I deserved. Ha!

I emerged a very different person all together.

When my friend learned that she too, had no viable choice, we discussed the situation. I showed her the video of my experience, she asked questions. "It is best, we are so lucky to have this option", I assured her. (Could these words be coming out of my mouth?!?)
And into the operating room, my friend was wheeled. I worried about her-will she panic? Will they get the anesthesia right? Will the baby be okay? Will my friend recover well? How will she heal with a toddler at home and now a newborn? Then I remembered who I was dealing with here. The girl who has faced (almost) everything and never stumbled. This mama is tough as nails. She can handle it.

And just like that, Aubrey Elizabeth was delivered, through the emergency exit, to the outside.Welcome aboard Aubrey! I love you already, just like that.

You Don't Need a Suntan to be Beautiful (and a Few Other Things I Never Previously Believed)

It never fails to amaze me that human babies have real parts, they are just, well...miniature. How is it biologically possible for such a tiny finger, toe or foot to be formed? Yes, yes, I know the scientific answer-but I mean really-isn't it just wonderous that it is even possible?!?
Succulent, precious, unmarked. Irredescent shimmery skin...Ahh to be young and supple once again! I would have forgone the many hours attempting to get as tan as possible.
With my own daughter, maybe, just maybe, I can finally prove my father's mantra to be true: "Pale is beautiful". Perhaps she will listen. Perhaps she will believe. Perhaps that is simply wishful thinking.

But until I can't control it any longer, I will make sure she is protected from the sun, sweet, pale, shimmering and unscathed by the sun's rays.

Dad, if you are reading this, you were right. Yes, I said it-RIGHT! I finally think pale is beautiful!