Wednesday, August 31, 2016


"Sorry it's so windy on that side. We're going to fix it soon."
- My automatic apology to anyone sitting shotgun in the van on the highway who has to endure the wind factor since having my neighbor bust it out at the start of summer when I realized Jack had locked himself in there for over 3 hours. (For visual purposes, just know that it involved an off duty cop in his boxer underwear, me in a dizy panic on the phone with 911, and a pretty impressive hammer that smashed through the passenger side on the second try about 15 seconds before Mike rolled into the driveway. With a spare key.

"We don't have toothbrushes."
- Rex, to his dentist who was trying to show him how to properly brush.

"She wants to be my girlfriend but said not to tell anyone."
- Arlo, on a new crush. Who is a grade higher than him and only exists for now in heart shaped emoji forms on the occasional text when he can actually find his ipod.

"I'm gay.  I'm going to marry a guy with a big truck and have lots of dogs and just go to skateparks everyday without any girls allowed."
 - Rex, after our conversation / explanation detailing the definition of "gay". Deciding it was for him once Arlo informed him in more simplistic terms, that gay guys also just "don't like girls."

"This kid, the mean one with the black eyes? He threw me down at lunch time, stepped on my backpack and then ate my sandwich. He also tried to bite me but I got away."
- Rex, answering "how was school today" with another far fetched tale stretched so far it has him staring in a Tarentino inspired universe where the everyday perils of elementary school always involve some kind of unjust violence that he has to thwart with meager ninja skills when no one's looking. And he didn't even have a sandwich that day. . .

"So where'd this one come from?"
- Mike, referencing another "ugly 70's chair" I brought home recently. That he isn't allowed to openly berate because of the ugly 60's car he brought home the same day. An unsaid agreement we have to not to critique each other's craigslist scores unless it involves passive aggressive sentiments that just cannot be avoided.

"No, I don't want to be in the band. I want to own the band."
 - Leon, like a boss. Just when I was feeling sorry for him being consistently left out of the whole imagined rock start band his brothers and cousins are forever assuming as part of their near future."

"Don't get any ideas"
- Mike, to me upon entering the movie Captain Fantastic. Who's plot revolves around a handsome sub culture hippie raising his 6 kids on the outskirts of society in a school bus that proved a little less inspirational to Mike than seemingly anyone else who watched it.

"I did. But everyone thought I was in the hospital."
- Leon, on whether he shared the photo of him reading (as was part of his homework assignment) in bed, shirtless, with a white sheet tucked under his arms and stark white walls giving the illusion (to 1st graders anyway) that he was reading Captain Underpants while recovering from a mystery illness.

"Who, the man from China?"
- Rex, in response to me asking Arlo who the new neighbor was. Still working on erradicating his natural tendency towards gross stereotypes. (The man, for the record, came all the way from Anaheim.)

"I mean, I'm not trying to adopt another child here, I just want my fish to have a friend." 
- Me, to the young girl at Petco who so sweetly denied my request for a second goldfish once she grilled me on what kind of tank I owned (none) and how long the other fish had been in the family (16 hours) Apparently old school glass bowls aren't up to par to raise 2$ goldfish these days. And fish need 72 hours to adjust before adding companions. Apparently. And the fact of keeping four boys alive on the daily won't grant you any bonus points either. Altogether 40 minutes I spent in the fish section debating and defending my desire for another one which, in all honesty, might very well be more than I think I gave to any of my subsequent pregnancies. But don't tell Emily (the fishelist) that.

Whoa, who ARE you? You look like my mom, but better than my mom."
- Rex's reaction to seeing me in skinny jeans, with straight hair and some makeup on heading out to Back to School night. Who also gave me an impressed thumbs up on my sunglasses choice too. The only one in the family who notices when I'm not wearing house dresses and a bun.

"I'm just not trying to see anymore babies birthed in the forest"
- Best friend, on social media earth moms delivering offspring under oak trees cycling her explore page currently.

"On the bright side, he is very confident. And he likes to tell a lot of stories."
- Rex's speech therapist. On the "bright side."

"But can't we just watch Beyonce?!" 
Boy's plea for a late night bed time extension in honor of the Queen. #granted

"Mom, can you tell dad what the friend zone is?"
- Arlo, attempting to keep his dad on the up and up. A conversation that led to him also explaining the difference between "Drake" and "Dre" because if it's not a country song written 40 years ago his dad is generally clueless.

But can you BELIEVE someone would do THAT?!"
- Arlo in utter shock learning that the boy crushing his cousin had (without any warning) decided one day that he didn't like her anymore and decided instead to ask out her friend. Unaware that such atrocities happen to the best of us. Every, single, day.

I can't. I'm suppose to help Brookie paint her room today.
- Leon, declining a neighborhood offer to play zombies in lieu of helping his cousin recolor her walls in a turquoise share they picked out together online.

"My butt."
- Still one of the only discernible sentences Hayes can manage.

"No, he's not writing anymore songs they always have penis in the title and he keeps trying to sound like Axel Rose."
- Arlo, on his reasons for firing Rex as lead singer. For the 57th time this summer.

"ok can you buy me a tech deck at target?"
 - Rex's response to me testing out three things every parent should tell their child daily, according to a random parenting site. "I love you. I see you. I am so happy you were born."

Dad said it will take him all day and night. 
- Arlo, on what his father said about the detail car guy coming over to clean my old jeep.

Yah, that's not really a perk. And where is the RV parking?"
 - Mike on a recent house hunt that included a community chicken coop.

"All my friends think Leon's nicer!"
 - Rex distraught about his friends always siding with Leon. Because, common sense.

"That's me, with a 6 pack, when I'm 12."
 - Rex, explaining the self portrait he brought home showing bold lines across his stomach while surfing with a shaka sign.

"No, Ho Ho. NO!"
- Hayes, to Jack. Every morning when he tries to steal his bacon. Jack who is named Jack but commonly called "Ho Ho" now too as a result. #Hayespeak

photo by Darcy Hemley

Monday, August 29, 2016

Capsule Wardrobe, Part 2

Bare with me, on how slowly this topic is unfolding here but I've said countless time before how awful I am when it comes to follow up blogging "series." Plus I'm learning as I go just how complicated getting rid of clothing can be when I stop to consider how how much I invest emotionally, to a closet full of things I really haven't worn in ages. Kind of ridiculous, actually. Because it's what the seeds of hoarderism feeds on, right? Keeping things we don't need simply because of what they represent? Elimination, of any kind, has never come easy to me. And when the stress of it comes to surface, I tend recoil. Meaning flat out avoidance that leaves me with half assed outcome every time. 

By way of better understanding the weight of this feat I categorized my own wardrobe's into five major issues. And no, I'm not doing the "hold it in your hand to weigh it's personal worth" trick the pros preach about. It's more like, pull it off the hanger, name the last time it's been worn and guess the probability I would miss it if gone. 

Number one issue being
The overbought 
 meaning the items we tend to buy and buy again. I've had discussions with my girlfriends and they all admit to having that one thing they search for and purchase repeatedly. Even when the reality of it, is that they come to exist, more or less, as one in the same. Maybe it's the item that best suits your style or what you feel most comfortable in, but whatever the case when you pause to analyze your wardrobe you are quick to pinpoint those couple things you are prone to overbuy / over own. For me they would be the classic cotton white button down (a beloved wardrobe staple sixth grade) and a nice "worn" denim shirt. I have long standing obsession with trying to find the perfect one in each variation but seem to find something slightly off with each of the versions I own. Which only adds fuel to a never ending hunt to secure this ideal. In the meantime, I tossed out three of the four and vow to keep this tendency in mind while shopping in the future. 

The sentimentally attached
The old things we keep but never plan to actually wear again. Namely, the canary yellow mini dress I wore for my college graduation. Which Arlo has pulled out a number of time to scoff at such an absurdity. One, because it's boldly yellow, and two, it looks sized for a nine year old. It's nothing I would ever dare consider wearing again and yet I can't seem to bring myself to toss it out because of the sentiment attached to it. Same thing goes for a handful of other things I've picked up along in which memories outweigh practicality. The first purse Mike bought me when we were dating, the skirt I wore in a photo early on while pregnant with Arlo. Things I haven't quite figured out who to weed through. Even knowing how freeing it is to severe yourself from such distractions. Which is really what they are. Anything in your wardrobe space that isn't something you would deem beloved or essential is just taking up space. I can accept that but am slow moving when it comes to doing something about it. 

In the meantime, I just decided to put those items in a box together to sort through last. Once I have the confidence that comes with a good solid paring down behind me. 

The what ifs
Namely I'm looking at you killer vintage Levis I bought when I was 22 that barely fit back then. Who's presence still haunts me on low days when I start to fantasize about a reunion with these stupid "skinny jeans" should I ever decide to give up dairy, carbs, beer and generally well rounded meals three times a day. Because I know the college coffee / stress diet was the only thing keeping me in them then. And there were good times, indeed. But over a decade later the fact of them still hanging in my closet is obviously verging on some pathetic mid life desperation. And man, they just really need to go. . .  

The staples
What I pick without second guessing. The denim jacket, the Indian dresses, the few new favorites, the cable knit sweaters, floral skirts and regularly worn cotton stripped button downs. 

The oldies 
All vintage, for me is painfully harder to part with. But I think about how regularly I thrift so once I am tired of a piece I try to donate it to make room for others I might pick up on a second hand run. New items I may wear briefly but with less guilt because it was cheap AND recycled. Which is 90 percent of what my wardrobe consists of. 

End point being, I'm only mid way through this whole process. It's time consuming and time these days in general is so scarce. I work on it when I can and not in any systematic way like the self help books suggest. Just item by item. Digging up little pieces of the past that live in paisley printed tanks and undersized old "glory day" denim digs.

Part 3 will share the outcome. I hope. Looking nothing like this minimalist dream scenario above, but better. Smarter, and a lot less sentimenal.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Around Here

Summer's fruit of choice, and reason for ants running rampant around this house.

Windowsill selfies

Baby batman adorned by his brother

A new Wiki Stick obsession in full effect

Victoria's treehouse serenades

Sunday's surf line

Paired down drawers

ARQ's adorable fall colors

Newly thrifted brass incense plate

The much debated chair I couldn't resist

Lessons in TinType photography

Filthy feet

Anne's traveling trunk darkroom

The outcome

Monday, August 22, 2016

Reflections on TWO

The first of all my boys to bear an obvious resemblance to your mommy. A fact I can't help but feel fond of. My boy who wakes every day two years old and counting, with winded curls tinted by our days in the sun, and determined hands that arm a temper that blooms sometimes quicker than his heart. A car flung in the jolt of fury, at a brother who seems to taunt trap or betray you. A hand smack to the dog who steals your treat. A tug of hair jerked in anger when they take away what is yours. Because from what you can tell, everything is yours.

The second year is tough. "The Terrible Twos" they call it. And sometimes on low days our frustrations rise to match yours. When we are too tired to remember all the things you still don't know. We scold you when you scream at us, and speak slowly when you are content. Careful to stretch out the words that fall out our mouths as we pour your cereal or point at cows in passing fields. Hoping you catch the rhythm it takes to train your own tongue and repeat the things we all pause to show you daily. Like your brothers did, at 18, 14, 12 months old and less. But language is still your own. A silly, mangled variation we've all come to translate and accept. Jack is Jack but you call him "Ho Ho." A skate board is a skateboard but you call it something else too. There are fits when we get things wrong. That keep you red faced and pouty when you feel defeated by the weight of your own limitations.

Out in the garage though words exist in less important ways. You become the silent shadow that trails behind the boys who scour corners of the garage looking for screws and tools to adjust their wheels. Singing songs and tying shoes. A wrench is a wrench and you know where it is when he asks. A cup of water you bring when you sense he might need that too. Your favorite hours are spent out there barefoot and filthy, watching them build and break and test and mend things. Car parts, teepees, surf and skateboards. Watching the edge of a knife carve tiny canyons in the wood plank your brother works on every day after school. The engine that comes apart and then back together to power the rusted bus he will let you stear on his lap once he is done, where you will sit enchanted by such refined skills and ingenuity inherit in the men that crowd these spaces. They show you how things work and you keep a steady eye on the lessons they hand over. It's a different world out there, away from the low hum of the cartoons in the living room in the afternoon while I clean the counter, or the hypnotic drum of clothes in the wash as you rake through a basket of blocks. You cry for them from inside, when you are clean and ready for bed. Little hands pressed in desperation at the side door. Hand prints I wipe away every day only to see replaced every time I leave the room.

You are smaller than them but counted the same. Refusing to head caution. Or try new foods. To willingly rest your head on my chest like you use to when you were new because you are too eager now. Growing in front of me limb for limb, like a reckless cub who only grows braver and wilder every day.

You are two. You tell us so with two fingers stacked side by side. You reach for a hand to hold on busy streets, and a stuffed dog to hug on the long car ride home. You adore the boys in the backseat who come spilling out of the car and racing around skateparks after school while I unbuckle your carseat, knowing the time isn't yours yet. So you roll slow with rounded knees on that little board handed down by one of them, around safer sidewalks at home. And you keep your cars in a metal lunch pail and clap your hands when your favorite movie is on TV. You look to their faces to see how your actions are being digested and favor your father when he is home because he bleeds magic into those big ugly machines and because the grease on his hands matches yours some days too.

Two and determined, two and unwilling, two and full of equal parts love and rage - depending on the hour of each new day. Two, and still learning how to love and fight and be.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016


Trying to convince my family (and maybe even parts of myself) of the perks that come with country living. We looked at another house this weekend in a remote corner of the canyon that included a wonky bridge and dirt road leading up to the property. As well as a "community chicken coop," roof top garden, and nice sized garage for all of Mike's "projects" that have to be accounted for anytime we consider a relocation. The relator helping us lives in the lot below and informed us of how tight knit the neighbors there are. Bearing tales of annual Valentine brunches, off beat Halloween fests, welcome potlucks, and progressive dinner parties which set my heart all a flutter envisioning living in a town that sounds like Mayberry married Twin Peaks, and probably sold me harder than the luxury pantry off the side of the kitchen that needs to be gutted.

Organizing my collection of old books to add to the shop this week. A heartfelt severing considering how painfully attached I am to anything I own in print. Always have been always will be. But it's a process. And I'm learning.

Settling into the new school year routine. Sandwich assembly line in the morning, laundry piled to my neck by night. Bed time so far has been the hardest. Reeling in the hour when they are still use those stretched late summer nights. Things have actually been a littler smoother than I expected. Which, of course, came as a lovely surprise. Six hours (three I keep for myself while Hayes naps) feels like a dream when I try and remember the last time I had so much time carved out for myself on a regular basis. I'm still not as productive as I'd hoped. But that might be it's own life long feat.

Drinking Ballast Point. On hot summer weekends like everyone else right now seeing how it's the only IPA I can tolerate, even enjoy. My brother in law swears by the pineapple version but I've yet to come across it yet so for now, the Sculpin though is working just fine for me.

Planning Leon's 8th birthday party beach bash. Which still floors me. Thinking how quickly 8 years has arrived. Especially seeing how all those months spent on bed rest, weighed by worry during that pregnancy, really doesn't seem like it was that long ago. This year he's requesting a new bike as his gift. To keep up with the crew of boys who walk (or ride or skate) to school with us every morning.

Looking into acupuncture. To help mend the cycle of migraines I've been battling this past year. A topic I'm hoping to flesh out in greater detail here soon. I swear health and wellness takes on a whole meaning in your 30's. So I have a three part series I keep hoping to finish but timing is always the issue. . .

Clearing out the house to ready it for a listing on the market. Day by day, tossing, donating, weeding through. Mostly clothing, which always proves a stupid amount of clutter when you finally force yourself to deal with it. Speaking of which, I haven't forgotten about the wardrobe capsule follow up - I just need more time addressing it. Clothing can be such a strange and emotionally charged thing, it's never as easy to eliminate as we expect. But I'm doing better. And taking notes on what I cling to and what I over buy. Results should be amusing when I'm through. If only because of the college era section I was forced to face this week. Lots of mistakes to fess up to. The ghosts of 2004 - exposed soon.

Hoping for a beach trip this weekend and the mountains soon there after. One with the Rv and one in the Airstream. To give them both proper attention. And remind them that on regular weeks we still neglect them both the same.

Loving the new Aldi grocery store that opened up near our house! It's like Trader Joe's cheaper, duller sister, and it's AMAZING. Even if I have to pay a quarter to use their shopping carts.

Praying this August heat wave lets up soon. The humidity is hard on my hair. I know it because when we were all watching the Janis Joplin documentary on Netflix two boys remarked how she and i had the "same exact" hair. Mine though, not on purpose. . .

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Shop News

Check out our new Here Comes The Sun tee featured today on Design Love Fest, along with a string of other great seventies style teeshirts on the scene right now.

This one below by Stoned Immaculate being my friend Anne's favorite, which we were actually swooning over this weekend. Music, it's a good friend to keep.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Venice Beach

It's always funny to me how the same boiling enthusiasm we hold for the start of summer is revived weeks later. Reborn come the impending school year. To bring us back to order. Hand us back into the good grips of routine.

I know for me, come the end of July I am usually edging towards a seasonal breakdown. To the point where I half jokingly told a friend even the breath of my kids at the breakfast table was riding on my frail nerves, having been fundamentally exhausted by a jam packed summer where days roll into ragged weeks carved out in the sun. So many kids swarming my house all hours of the day, to feed, scold and check in on. The six of us constantly on the go. Scrambling to keep things in order during our brief stints at home between camp weekends, road trips and pool parties. It's all the good stuff, the kind of stuff we live for, but just like all the best things, bares an expiration. And all I know is come the start of September, I happily surrender. Which, I suppose, is the whole grand idea behind summer break.

We spent last weekend before school started in Venice Beach. On a last minute booking of a cheap motel I snagged in Hermosa Beach, simply based on it's close vicinity to the skate bowl they've been eager to visit all year long. Getting there before the crowd is the only way to let an outsider in. Before the regulars show up and claim it entirely. We made it there with a solid hour to spare. The boys finding their way around the concrete slopes of the park. Leon chasing Pokemon and Hayes, making friends with the homeless and hunting a flock of uninterested pigeons hunting bread crumbs.

On the way home, after an early lunch on the boardwalk with strange tasting garlic burgers and a Hare Krishna festival sing-a-long, we headed home. Stopping to entertain my one and only Venice Beach day wish. A drive by of Fiona Apple's corner lot bungalow where we paused just long enough to catch a glimpse of her opening the gate for a friend with an armful of flowers. The shadowy wisp of her thin outline and long hair being enough to satisfy the 17 year old fangirl in me. And remind the boys that modern Venice hero's exist outside of those gritty Dogtown documentaries. Even if none of them were quick to appreciate the revival of Shadowboxer I let play on the whole car ride home.

Either way, I'm soaking up the new long hours I have now with just one at home. Part of me misses them at certain hours on certain days, but I can say the laundry is done and a quiet house, for the most part, isn't so hard to get use to.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Here Comes The Sun

The newest tee landed in shop today. As requested by Rex, who's been long obsessed with the song. This version in limited stock, available in sizes 2 -12 & 15 percent off through Monday using the discount code "here comes the sun" at checkout. 

Happy weekend,

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Topanga Canyon Tea House

"Why did they all come to Topanga? The musicians, the actors, the weirdos, the hummingbirds? Nature. Surrounded by parks, conservancy land and the Pacific Ocean, Topanga is a Golden State sampler of rugged mountains, shady creeks and cold, salty surf.

People ride horses through it. Mountain bike in it. Hike it. In just under an hour you can disappear into the shade and raw beauty of the canyon and then come out the other end overlooking the Pacific. From there you can head next door to scope celebrities in Mailbu or continue 15 miles up the beach to Zuma, a whole other vibe and the title of another Neil Young album worth listening to." - Via CNN's article on Topanga: Malibu's Hippie Cousin.*

The last time I visited Malibu was back in college. Mike and I went for a long drive one weekend in the opposite direction of our normal route on PCH and stopped for coffee and lunch and then hung around the outer ridge of PCH and browsed the furniture shop on the corner with antique rugs and Acapulco chairs on display out front. Fantasizing about being able to afford such stately pieces, especially the Spanish goods that suited the old Spanish bungalow we had just closed escrow on. I remember being surprised by how low key the town looked. With all the money and the movie star homes I had long associated it with, I remember expecting something much fancier to define the downtown of such a wealthy city. The shock though, a refreshing surprise.

Good news is, all these years later, Malibu looks exactly the same. Mom and Pop General stores on every corner, health food haunts, and strange vintage shops dotting otherwise sparse strips in between. Rich hippie folk mixed with your standard hard core surf crews. Aged country charm that helps suck the pain of yet another traffic clogged beach highway right out of your bones so that suddenly you don't notice (or care) that you've been stuck at the same traffic light for the past 12 minutes.

For this get away, probably one of the last of our summer season, we rented a treehouse cabin in Topanga last week just a few minutes from the beach that I fell in love with online after reading how it was formerly a Japanese Teahouse transplanted here in the canyon next to a handful of other hippie houses lining this lush wood planked commune nestled in a green swim of old Oak trees. Where the deck extends the length of the house and the upstairs loft, accessible by ladder and entered through a hobbit style door frame which proved an instant hit with a house full of kids. And then there's the simple glory of that tree swing out front that throws you clear out over the brush below. A thrill I was quick to remember the first time I hopped on. Combine that with the secret tree house in the Oak out back and you realize how simply kids are still entertained by the allure of school outdoor draws. We had 9 kids at one point and not a single complaint. Even the frogs coming up in the drain from the bathtub in the shed were met with squeals of delight. Country living at it's finest.

Most of our time was spent on deck. Eating Olive bread and goat cheese. Drinking beer and reading. We made it to the state beach for a few hours and also squeezed in some second hand magic at Hidden Treasures - the local shop dedicated to outfitting Burning Man participants. The kids were more than impressed. And I hope I never forget the sight of stumbling into Rex helping Iris pick out a metal studded bra she was legitimately hoping to own.

Anne came out for the day and lugged her camera down to take a tin type photo of the canyon that turned out spectacular. I've never seen the process in person so it was amazing to watch it come to life on a metal plate once the solution set. Like a polaroid on acid. An image born there in the shaded trunk of her car as makeshift dark room.

Hidden Treasures
- In which we had to explain the g-rated version of Burning Man and then discovered what all of our children would look like in costume should they ever decide to make it there. 

Topanga State Beach 
- in which Iris sweetly dragged the decaying shell of a full lobster for me to appreciate

By the time our three days were up I had grown a whole new love for the canyon side. How it can make the heart of a life long California girl swell in new ways despite countless days spent on so many beautiful beaches along the coast. This one holds it's own, an air inherit in the kinds of thing West Coast day dreams are built on. 

We're planning on coming back around Christmas. Maybe a different cabin next time. With friends and good wine. To celebrate the holiday in the trees. Kids in the dirt. Beach down the street. Magic in the air.

Where California Dreaming becomes reality.

Cabin Info HERE

*read the whole article!