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.