Monday, April 28, 2008

babes in the woods

river crossing, mama love, originally uploaded by varenia.

We don't have air conditioning. Seriously. So, in an effort to get outside and beat the heat (and to satisfy Rye's desire to "camp"-- even if only for a day) we trekked to the mountains.

Was it any cooler? Not really. On the hike out of the mountain Richard checked the temp on his watch, and it was still 95 degrees! Yikes! I was definitely grateful at that moment I wasn't sitting in the sweat box we call a home.

The up side to 95+ degrees is that it makes the chlling-freezing-biting cold river sound inviting! Especially after hiking up at least three miles to get there, we were ready to shed it all (ok, not ALL) and splash it up. We're so glad summer is on the way!

My creation

Sunday, April 27, 2008

self-portrait sunday

self-portrait sunday, originally uploaded by varenia.

The Self-Portrait Challenge has been calling me for a long time, so I decided to give it a go. The themes are announced monthly now, I believe, but I don't know if I'll follow them religiously, really just the act of creative self-portraiting is challenging enough for me at this point. So this is my first one! I got some help from Rye, who loaned me his baby brown.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

how does your urban garden grow?

strawberry, originally uploaded by varenia.

Part lesson in teaching sustainable living to the family, and part enjoyment, Richard has been tending to our backyard "urban garden" and we're starting to reap some of the benefits of the work put in.

Living in Southern California, particularly in this area where land by the square foot is astronomically expensive, our backyard is teeny-tiny-- runs the entire length of the house, but is only about 10 feet deep. So we resisted gardening in it because we didn't want to take any space away, but finally I guess Richard couldn't hold out any longer. He is especially fond of hot peppers, all kinds, and had been growing them in containers, but was feeling the need to take the project one step further. So he planted a garden, and what great timing! With the cost of food going up and up, it is such a joy to go out to the backyard and pick our own peppers, chives, and onions. Hopefully we'll have cucumbers, strawberries, and tomatoes soon.

I'm not really a "nature" photographer, I much prefer taking pictures of people, but the garden has given me a chance to explore some of the things I don't normally do with my camera, and I've actually been enjoying it more than I thought I would. I love watching how the fruits and veggies are sprouting, and the different forms they are taking through the lens of the camera.

tomatoes, bougainvillea, and cucumber


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

the aftermath

More pics from the birthday, I was exhausted last night but really wanted to post the cake and the little girl loving her cake. I'll let the photos speak for themselves. Enjoy!

funny girl
mama love
yummy cake

(I know I'd said I would let them speak for themselves, but the last photo cracks me up. It's Apple, after she finished eating her slice and decided to make playdough out of it. The look of glee on her face! I knew my kids were "hands-on" but I never expected this... )

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

earth day birthday

happy birthday, three, originally uploaded by varenia.

My firstborn daughter. My apple-girl. My earth day baby. Three years old today.

Please, don't let her grow up so fast, seems like just YESTERDAY I was holding her, newborn, all pink (ok, red) and round and rosy and so overwhelmingly feminine, even at birth.

We did all the sweet girls favorites, decorated for her party, hit the beach (balloons in tow, of course), finished the cake (pink raspberry with strawberries on top, yum), read lots of stories, colored, colored, colored, and partied. Quite a fiesta.

This mama is all tuckered out, but I'll post the post-beach party pics tomorrow, when I come down off my sugar high/crash and burn. What a great day.

Monday, April 21, 2008

it takes three

april 2008

We're loving that spring is here at last! Even if it is a little inconsistent, it's still usually warm enough to hit the beach or take a stroll down the boardwalk while eating a popsicle.

Is there such a thing as a perfect season? I don't know, but I think if there was this may be it. Ever since moving to the beach almost four years ago (yikes! has it been that long?) I have been determined to spend just one summer soaking up the sun daily, taking nature walks down the pier or the rock jetties, or hitting the waves. That was before I decided to have another baby. And another. Something about hitting the beach with a newborn (how do I always manage to time it like that?) that isn't quite what I had envisioned for myself when we moved here.

So this is it. The summer I've been waiting for. Even though Piper is only 14 months, it's amazing the difference a big brother and big sister can make. We were at the beach a couple of days ago and I saw a young couple tag-teaming to keep up with their toddler, who I learned was 15 months. They were having a blast, but definitely far from relaxing! It reminded me of our first summer here when Rye was a toddler, constantly chasing him across the sand, constantly entertaining him, trying to find just a moment to lie in the sun and take a breath. The young couple kept glancing at us, me on my beach towel, spread out in all my Mama-glory, and the three kids spread out around me, digging, building, occasionally dashing into the water. When the toddler boy made his way over to play with Piper, his parents asked how I did it, how did I keep the kids all in one place, how do I keep the baby from running amok, how do I seem to be having a moment to myself?

It really dawned on me in that moment. I don't do it at all. The kids do. I think this is one of the benefits to have more children, and I'm noticing it more and more as they grow. They regulate each other, keep tabs on each other, and pretty much just find their siblings to be so much fun that they want to hang out together, even Piper. Why would she want to run down the beach when she has Rye, the one-man-sand-shoveling-castle-demolishing show? And Apple, the little Mama, always waiting with a cracker in hand for the baby, or to "help" with the sunscreen?

I know there are trade-offs for everything in life. Richard and I often wonder (although can never clearly picture) what our lives would be like if we just had Rye, or had waited several years between children. Yes, in some respects I'm sure there are a lot of things that would be easier. I'm also sure I wouldn't get the same looks from strangers as I take my brood on an outing to the market, or a doctor's appointment. I pretty much can't go anywhere without one person remarking, "wow, you have your hands full". But, oh, the sweet trade offs. I don't think I'd trade "easier" for the way my son yells "PIPES!" each morning to greet his baby sister, or the sweet way they are all working on birthday gifts so diligently for each other (makes no difference that it's only Apple's birthday, she's decided the siblings need gifts too.)

So, yes. My hands are full. I knew that getting into this. What I didn't know was that my house would be so full of laughter, my heart so full of joy. I look around at my sweet babes, and know this is just how it is supposed to be. And 80 degree weather doesn't hurt either.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

pink, pigs, party, and pizza

With Apple's third birthday QUICKLY arriving, I've found myself creating a bit more. Not really a choice with my little one, so vocal about what she wants ("what are you going to sew for me, Mommy?") and then telling me how to do it ("I need a stuffed animal! I need a piggie! You sew it now, Mama!")

So here they are. Mela the Pig, and a matching crayon roll that hopefully will surprise the birthday girl. The crayon roll has a slot for 12 crayons, and a slot for a notebook/stickerbook, which I thought would be handy for travel.

I know I sound redundant with every birthday that passes, but I really can't believe she'll be three! When I asked her what she'd like to do for her special day, she told me she just wanted pink, pigs, party, and pizza. She's turning into quite a remarkable little girl, who knows her own mind, not so much of a baby anymore. While I do find three in some ways to be a difficult age, what with independence the all-encompassing desire, but competence often lacking, there is something so magical about a teeny tiny child, with a body so little and a mind so big.

I can't wait to see what three is like with Apple.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

buried treasure

making shapes with "treasure"

Rye and a friend reminded me of the joy of finding "treasures" and all of the lessons they can teach us.

This friendship began with a rocky start, with the little boy in blue following Rye around screaming something at him that I didn't understand, and neither did Rye. Rye just told him, "I don't want to play like that!" and kept running away, but his new friend had PERSERVERANCE :). He wasn't about to let my boy get away without playing, in that way that persistant kids have. Thank goodness for the Treasure. Once Rye discovered them, millions of these (not quite acorns and not quite berries, maybe they're nuts?) the boys immediately became cohorts instead of chaser and chasee. It was really beautiful to watch how quickly children can form a bond, over something as simple as the fallings from a tree. They hatched a plan to recover the treasure, worked out how they were going to transport it to the top of the "tower," how they would divy it up once they got it there, what they would do with it once divided, and how they would protect the treasure from invaders (13 month old Piper, mainly, who wanted to eat them.)

Once again I was reminded if I just trust in my ability to parent my children, especially Rye (I think because he's the oldest I worry the most about him) in THIS day, in THIS moment, the future will take care of itself. Rye has always been notoriously shy, and not a people person. I've often wondered, and worried, if he'd ever initiate play with other children that he didn't know, and how on Earth he may go off to Kindergarten one day. But I've also always felt, deeply, if I equip him for whatever we're facing each day, and for each specific situation, he will be fine. And he is. He's learning how to make friends, and enjoying their company. He is seeing the value in risking out,outside the safe circle of our family and family friends. I don't think that that is something that I could have pushed, even if I'd wanted to. He has had to learn to see the value in other people, our similarities, and differences, for himself.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

piper on her way

P on her way

I haven't blogged in SOOO long. Everyone finally seems to be feeling better, even Mama. What has it been, a month or so? Jeez.

We got out of the house today... yay! Had an amazing time at the park... and had an amazing time getting there.

I hope to get back on the horse, and write more consistently this month. Healthy wishes for everyone!

Sunday, March 2, 2008


, originally uploaded by varenia.

The babies are not well. Little Miss Apple, especially, shadowed me all day when not taking up residence on the sofa. Is it completely crazy and horrible of me to say that I enjoy when my children are sick? Not that I don't want lifelong health for them, and of course I know that they're miserable and that makes me sad, but as the babies grow so big and independent and collaborative with each other, my role has become more of a facilitator, and less of an all-encompassing EVERYTHING to them. And as it should be. But, oh, just every once in a blue moon it is so SWEET to just lie on the sofa, hold my dear, sweet, huge child, or children, and be still. To breathe them in, snuggle them close, and just relish the moment.... It amazes me how unconditionally I can love them, so effortlessly, but what surprises me tenfold is their unconditional love of me. The pic is Rye's (dictated) Valentine love letter to me, "I love Mama because...". He loves the gooey stuff, hugging and kissing, (he always has, the lovebug), and making stuff together, but get this-- he even loves it when I'm brushing his hair and it hurts him. That's unconditional love.

Friday, February 29, 2008

got etsy love?

I know you've seen these photos before, individually, but I've been thinking I should come up with something collage-ish to attach to my shop related emails, networking stuff, etc. so here it is. After the initial sales period my little shop has slowed down to a halt, but I got a lot of love and advice on the forums today, mostly suggesting patience, which is never easy for me! And of course, to list more items, but I have been having a hard time staying motivated with slow, er, no recent sales. Catch 22. I guess it's back to the drawing board. I am excited about the pants I'm working on, which I hope to have done by Sunday. Fingers crossed. :)

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

polka dots rock!

The Halter Dress in Happy Dots. So darling, I wasn't really planning on this being Apple's Easter dress, but I think it just may have to be...

The Halter Dress in Happy Dots

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

the grass is always greener...

The Halter Dress in Grass, originally uploaded by varenia.

Finally, after a few mock-ups, I've finished my retro-inspired baby halter dress for Spring/Summer. I LOVE this bright green (grass, I call it) and the turquoise and gray. So lovely and fun for the sunny weather. The best part is the reversibility, as any mama of little ones knows! Dirt on your dress? Stuff on your shirt? Just flip it around! I have other fabric choices in the works...

The Halter Dress in Grass-- Rear View

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Simple Crafting

The Simple Bib in Mums , originally uploaded by varenia.

Today was a low point in my world of sewing and crafting. I worked so hard drafting a pattern for a summer dress, and nothing was coming together. UGGHHH. I was getting so frustrated I just had to step away from the project for a little bit, and decided to switch gears and do something totally different for awhile, so I whipped up this bib for the shop. Turned out pretty cute, especially for an everyday simple bib, the type of thing I like to throw on Piper casually as she decimates whatever I place in front of her. I'm pondering creating a second type of bib for the shop, something nicer, more of the going out to dinner or having a birthday variety, with chenille backing instead of flannel... Feels good to be productive even in the midst of a complete pattern-drafting-sewing-coordinating disaster.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

new banner!

Here's my new banner now presiding over my Etsy shop! It's courtesy of pixelbypixel, and I love the bright green! Just lovin' it.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

looking toward spring

The Apple Pinafore, originally uploaded by varenia.

I have been putting together a small collection of pieces for my Spring Collection for Whole Grain Baby, and this is the first complete piece! I love the combination of these prints, both from Alexander Henry. Apple has this on over jeans for the cooler weather, but I think it would be really cute over a skirt for the summer, or even with just bloomers. Now available on Etsy.

Monday, February 18, 2008

the birthday post

Happy Birthday to Me!, originally uploaded by varenia.

Celebrating birthdays always makes me feel so blessed, by family and love and abundance. The aquarians took over the household this weekend, and we had such a blast partying hard like a 5 year old. Or a 1 year old. Or a 3-in-two-months kid. Yes, we had to sing to dear Apple, too, who just couldn't quite grasp why both of her sibs got candle blowing time, and singing to, and she didn't. So we sang away. So sweet.

I can't quite grasp that my dear, handsome first-born is FIVE! That seems huge to me, full-fledged little boy-ness for sure. And of course, the little babe, precious Piper. Cheery and smiley and toddling around like a little duckling of a one-year-old. Divine.

In a way this is more of a New Year for me than January 1st, I feel like this young, growing family is shifting gears now, moving and morphing into something even more magical every day. I also have my new shop up and running, on Etsy, and I am sure that will prove a challenge and a creative outlet for me as well, something I am really embracing right now.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

the birthday pinafore

the piper pinafore, originally uploaded by varenia.

i finally finished this darling (if i do say so myself... sorry, i'm so hard on myself when it comes to my sewing, but this one really makes me smile) dress-slash-pinafore for piper's first birthday. i love just about everything about it, including the fact that it's completely reversible to red and cream colored polka dots on the other side. you know how i am about polka dots.

and almost as exciting, the completion of this dress has prompted me to go ahead and open the etsy shop i've been pondering for quite some time. i've already set it up (there's a link in the sidebar directly to the shop), but am still working on getting my listings together. yay! to start it'll be primarily blankets and select pieces (like the pinafore) for babies and toddlers.

Monday, February 11, 2008

a corner

dark, lovely corner, originally uploaded by varenia.

richard is continuously grumbling and poking fun at the way i obsessively move our furniture around. i can't help it, maybe it's a short attention span, or some sort of decorating a.d.d., but as the family grows and changes i really, really feel the need to shift our space to keep up, and to compliment all of us who live here. so i keep on truckin', so to speak.

i'm currently obsessed with this bench, that used to be in our kitchen, and now resides in the living room, storing blankets, pillows, toys, books, dolls, and all of the other ins and outs of the day to day life of three preschoolers and us bigger folk.

sunny days

little man, originally uploaded by varenia.

the weather has been so delicious outside the last couple of days, it's been hard to want to stay in and work on my sewing, although i still have plenty i wanted to get done before piper's birthday. i still haven't even started her blanket, these placemats have taken me much longer than anticipated! it's the binding. definitely takes some getting used to, but i mastered my first ok-looking corner last night. yay! i can't wait to get these done so i can get to work for my babe's first birthday!

Friday, February 8, 2008

tag! i'm it!

i was lucky enough to be tagged by New England Quilter! thank you! check out her blog, she has a really cute heart basket perfect for Valentine's day, or any other day.

here's 7 things you may not have known about me:
1. my living room is painted bright, sparkling apple green
2. i am really into describing colors (see #1 above)... nothing is just "green" to me :)
3. i'm currently meditating on placemats
4. i really, really like vegetables
5. my youngest baby just started walking!
6. my hair is naturally curly
7. i have a strong aversion to the smell of ketchup

people i'm tagging:
1. mi
2. desiretoinspire
3. needle book
4. thishandmadelife
5. ravenhill
6. ohsundayschool
7. missmarzie

Tag Rules
1. Link to your tagger and post these rules on your blog.
2. Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird.
3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blogs.
4. Let them know they are tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

belated post

owl-dog in simple tote, originally uploaded by varenia.

i've been meaning to post a photo of the tote and owl-dog i crafted for a young friend's birthday, so here they are. they were a lot of fun to make, i got so attached to the softie i almost didn't want to let it go... :). luckily, my little friend will probably let me visit whenever i want.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008


apple and i have been working on placemats. they've been one of the most enjoyable projects so far, very free-form, and simple, and such cute results. i think i'm going to stretch out of my comfort zone and quilt and bind them. we'll see how it goes. i'd like to have them done before rye's birthday, on friday.

Monday, February 4, 2008

pink ladies

polka dot ladies, originally uploaded by varenia.

whenever i ask apple what kind of apple she is (granny smith? fugi? personally, i think she's a golden delicious!) she tells me she's a "pink lady"! how true. that girl is pink to the core. interesting, because i know growing her up as a baby i went out of my way, with both of the girls, to find really cute non-pink clothing and accessories for them, yet my babe still insists she's a pink lady. funny how she's so her own person that way.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

i really, really heart heather ross

i just caught a sneak of the new fabrics coming out in may. good thing my birthday is in may, i know what i will be asking for! the mermaids are my absolute favorite, and i am seeing some new curtains for the living room, maybe in the seahorses, in a blue and brown colorway. yum yum.