Life with toddlers {p,h,f,r AND tt}

~ {pretty, happy, funny, real} ~

Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life ~

Every Thursday, at Like Mother, Like Daughter!

And also linking up with Michaela for Theme Thursday: Crop
(I’m putting my comments on cropping/editing at the end of the post so if you’d like to see them, that’s where they’ll be)

The post should be titled “Life with toddlers.. and a 5-yo”

I’ve been thinking about getting back into trying to photograph those little moments/messes that the kids make. Not really as a way to keep much specific memory of them. But more of a way to try and take a more positive outlook on this stage of life.

I wrote this post a few years back (Dear Mama of a Toddler: take a picture) but I’ve really kinda moved away from that. Maybe because the toddler at the time got just a bit older, I dunno.

I’ve been doing this for a couple of weeks now (when I remember) and I noticed something. I’ve been just a little bit calmer. Maybe coincidence, maybe not. And I can’t say that things have been all… what’s the line?… unicorns and rainbows, but internally at least things seem to be a little bit calm. At least for the moment.

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Zachary very deliberately took books out of the shelves in the boys room and lined them up on the bathroom floor.

He’s actually been doing this a lot, all over the house with various items (magnets, blocks, other books, etc…). I love watching his concentration while he’s doing it. So deliberate!

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Z has also taken to putting things into shoes. This one just happened to be mine so I noticed it. The other day someone spilled some Cheerios on the floor. I didn’t think much of it until I realized that I had swept the floor, but not the Cheerios (I assumed they had been eaten). Then… not one, but two children went to put on boots today only to take them off again and dump out a pile of Cheerios.

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Another favorite past time of Z’s is to hide toys and other things, like his milk bottle, in cabinets (and that little drawer under the stove that isn’t used all that much – that was the milk bottle – yuck!). Iron Man hung out with the cutting boards for a few days.

I wonder sometimes what passes through his mind when he puts things places. Like, what connections is he making?

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This last one was made by Johny. We recently opened this package of word magnets and for some reason it made sense to him to line them up on the freezer/fridge crack. He was very intentional about it. And also very happy to have accomplished it. Spent a good 5-10 minutes getting them all lined up just so. Of course it only lasted a few minutes as someone is always going in the fridge around here.

As I said at the beginning, I have loved being on the lookout for these little things the kids do. Things that in a couple of years they’ll no longer do. Things that I know someday I’ll miss, even if I don’t necessarily miss them now.


Onto the cropping stuff… So, I should probably just go out and say it:

I edit every photo that goes on the blog
(with very, very few exceptions)

Maybe not a lot, but all the photos are in some way edited. The main reason is space. I put a lot of pictures up here….. ok…. mostly only pictures up here lately, and if I used them full sized, I’d run out of room real fast, plus I also hope that the poorer resolution will keep them from being stolen.
So, I have Lightroom (the main editor I use on the computer) set up to resize and add a watermark to all the pictures that I export from there.

And… since I have all the pictures in Lr already it’s pretty simple to tweak them just a little to get them how I’d like. Usually I do simple adjusting to exposure, especially for phone pictures that always seem to be just a little “off”. Most of the time I’ll also crop a little.

A final note about editing. I read somewhere quite a while back, if you have to spend more than 60 seconds to make a picture “better” then it’s probably not worth saving. So I try to keep that in mind and I don’t spend much time editing a good portion of the daily photos that are up here.

Also, this all refers to the “regular” pictures I put up. Some of the more “artsy” ones that are floating around here, or Instagram, or the other photo blog are way more worked on, since those are the effects I’m after.

And here’s the photos that I put up today, straight out of camera:

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Advent ~ week 2


Good Thursday evening folks. Just a quick little check in with how our Advent has gone this past week. I’m joining in the Theme Thursday #holylens linkup (link at the end of the post), so those photos are spread throughout. {If you’re not familiar with #holylens, it’s a daily photo prompt based on the daily readings from scripture ~ search it out on Instagram or FB}


Our St Nicholas Day celebration went off just fine. The kids kept reminding/asking me when/if it was *THE* day yet, so I had a hard time forgetting. We usually do real simple: Shoes out by the fireplace and in the morning they have a candy cane, some chocolate gold coins (however I can split one of those mesh bags evenly, usually 3-4 pieces) and a new Christmas-y book to continue building our collection. This year I decided to also give them their ornament at this time.


Some real moments for your enjoyment:
* Zachary’s book didn’t come (ordered too late… still waiting for it to arrive)
* Karl’s book did come (but not until today, Thursday… I wrapped up a library copy for him to open)
* None of the ornaments were completed. Three of them are now, and Zachary’s will be done as soon as I sit down and finish it.

Note for next year: Order the books before November.

And that’s about it. I usually have a picture book of St Nicholas Stories, but I forgot to get one from the library.


As far as daily happenings in the Advent reading department, we’re doing them as we’re able. I try to read at least one Christmas-y book per kiddo out loud. Sometimes they get in a few more. We’re also reading The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, which I’m loving (I’ve read it numerous times), but I’m not sure if the kids are getting anything out of it. They do sit quietly and listen though.


Prayer while lighting the candles:

O God, as light comes from this candle, may the blessing of Jesus Christ come to us, warming our hearts and brightening our way. May Christ our Savior bring life into the darkness of this world, and to us, as we wait for his coming.

I don’t remember where I found this one, but when I first said it last week it was on a morning where I was… shall we say…. more than a little grumpy. And my heart was definitely in a cold spot, but I said the prayer and it was like a little shining light of hope, that we can make it through the hard days.


Very briefly, I just barely made it to Mass for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. The options for our parish were lunch/nap time, dinner time, or bed time (in Spanish). If I wasn’t pregnant I would have ventured to take the kids by myself, but I just can’t handle them all for even a short service. Anyways, I found a “bilingual” Mass at another parish and made that one after rushing through a few things.

I felt so weird being there, because most everyone was Spanish. But I just keep thinking there had to be a reason for me to be there. It was a beautiful service. I had never been to a regular Spanish Mass (been to Easter vigil and a few weddings), but this was different. I was really able to see a lot of love for Our Lord. Especially when Father held up the Body and then the Blood, he just held it up, and people began praying in tongues. Now, I don’t have the gift of tongues, and I have rarely seen it outside of a Charismatic (non-Catholic) church, but I just felt, if ever there was a moment for the Holy Spirit to come upon people, why not THAT moment? Felt chills for sure.


Have a blessed third week of Advent folks!


Linking with Micaela @ California to Korea {also if you’re on Instagram check out #holylens, or feel free to do so on FB} and with Like Mother, Like Daughter

Week one of Advent ~ a p,h,f,r post

~ Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life ~
Every Thursday, at Like Mother, Like Daughter!

Testing… testing… 1.. 2… 3…

This thing still work?

Ok, good. Been a little while since I’ve posted anything other than strictly photo posts. And, well, actually I guess this post is a photo post too, but maybe it’ll be just a little more than “here’s a picture – have a nice day” type of post.

It’s a good thing Advent is a season of waiting and preparing for the feast of Our Lord’s Nativity because if I had to have everything done as of Nov. 29 I’d of failed. I’ve really been thinking of doing a little bit more in, say, the decoration department, on specific holy days/feast days (For example: decorate the tree on Gaudete Sunday). But, nothing is set in stone there, or organized in my mind, so we’re just kinda winging it over here and trying to not do too much at once.


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This is going to be our Christmas Tree this year. It stands maybe 3ft tall. It’s propped on a coffee table pushed against a window in hopes that Z. (age 13 months, and totally into everything toddler-ish) will not do too much damage to it.

The story of this tree: It was pulled out of the basement at the apartment we used to live at (about five years ago). Before that it had sat in said basement for a few years and before that I don’t know… It used to have functioning fiber-optic lights (which stopped spinning last year and died completely this year). It also used to have a strand of normal colored Christmas lights, which also stopped working this year. So…. I took off the old regular lights (which were clipped on???) and restrung it with the white lights. {I guess this could fall into the “real” category}

Anyways, at night it looks nice. And once we get all the ornaments on I’m sure it’ll look just fine 🙂

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Oversized wreath, adding cheer to our living room. Thank you Jesus for friend’s daughters wanting to earn a few extra dollars by helping out around the house and who are willing to straddle radiators and tables and put screws in the wall the old-fashioned way (with a screwdriver).

I think I may put a few decorations on it, but… I don’t know yet. I’m enjoying just looking at it for the time being. Also, it’s “real” evergreen so it adds a nice Christmas-y smell.


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This week I started “circle time” in our homeschool. This is a loosely formed idea about spending a chunk of time first thing in the morning doing literature reading, Scripture reading, memory work… things like that.

So far we’ve managed to get to our read-aloud book all days and we’re set to finish it tomorrow (which is good because I’ve run out of library renewals). But this set aside time first thing after breakfast has really helped to get the mornings going and it’s also allowed us a chunk of time to spend reading our Christmas picture books.

Last year, I was disappointed that we didn’t really get a chance to read them as much as I wanted to, but this year we’ve already made good headway in getting to books on the stack.

This time has also allowed us to do our other Advent countdown things:
* Tony Wolf Advent Calendar (this one on Amazon) the kids LOVE it. This is also filling in for our Jesse Tree this year. I guess it doesn’t technically fall under Jesse Tree category, but I’m finding myself needing a break from trying to make that happen this year.
* a seek and find Advent devotional for kids that I’ve had for a few years, but never used. So we’re trying it this year.
* {Ideally} we’d be including our Names of Jesus countdown chain (idea from Abbey @ Surviving Our Blessings) The chain is made, and hung up… and that’s as far as we’ve gotten. But it doesn’t seem like it would take much time so we may do a few double-up days to catch up.
* {Ideally} we’d be doing the Advent calendar that my mother-in-law mailed to the kids. It’s pictured at the end of the post, but I just found it again today after it fell out of the school shelf… oops… so tomorrow!  😉

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We’ve managed to get our candles made and put in a wreath. Most breakfasts and dinners we  manage to get it lit. And I’ve been doing a verse of O Come O Come Emmanuel…. some of the time. Other than that we haven’t managed to do any other prayers or devotionals around the wreath. Although, again, I did just come across a few things I printed out last year… so maybe soon?


I don’t know if I have any “funny” Advent photos yet. And other than Zachary insisting that ALL Christmas books remain on the floor: At ALL Times… I don’t really have any funny stories just yet.


Definitely lots of Real.

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Empty hooks waiting for stockings over our fireplace (and under our Little Oratory – which bonus: is MORE clean now than it was last week)

Also, should be noted that we still only have five hooks up, even though last year we had six stockings (?) and I’d love to add a new hook for the new baby. So… more hooks needed. Soon. Because one of the things I planned on doing on a specific day was hanging the stockings on St Nicholas Day. Just seemed like a good idea…

phfr advent 1-6Errrmmmmmm…… Our Nativity will be going here.

Just as soon as I get the rest of Thanksgiving stuff cleared away.

{Note Advent Calendar waiting to be used}


I have a few other Advent-y thoughts that I’m planning on {much more briefly} jotting down tomorrow. So until then.

Also I’ll put the link in for the Like Mother, Like Daughter {phfr} post in the AM.

a peak into a summer-like day {p,h,f,r}

 ~ Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life ~



We finally have some blackberry blossoms. To be honest, I’m still surprised they keep coming back, since they’re in some pretty good shade. We don’t usually get a lot… well, maybe we do, but we usually eat them as soon as they’re even remotely dark, so I don’t actually know how many we get. 🙂

Our rose bushes have really taken off. They were wet today because of some “watering” by the kids. And I love some raindrops on roses…

Have I mentioned the story behind these roses? The one on the left was an anniversary gift I gave to Jared the first year we moved here. The other two photos are from a bush that was given to me by my grandparents for Mother’s Day (?) I think about three years ago.

Always makes me happy!



Zachary got to go into the wading pool for the first time today. He. Was. Thrilled. This child LOVES bath time, so getting to be in water was just so much fun!


(even the water dumped over his head by a “helpful” older brother didn’t really phase him)


(taken immediately after the water dump)


Not sure what the game was, but I totally love seeing their imagination at work – discarded tools from daddy’s truck, old flower hangers, ice cream scoops, sandbox toys and water equal so much fun and goofiness for them

I also really love seeing my boys together.


After a while they decided that the plants needed watering. I told them to go for it, especially because Someone… *cough* me *cough*…. is REALLY bad about getting them watered….

….So in order they watered: A Weed, A dead blueberry bush. Parsley

Of course that left “Mr. Chubs” with no in-pool entertainment

Until he found a leaf…

… at which point I decided that since the water was mostly gone at this point, it was just time to call it a day.


Linking with Like Mother, Like Daughter for {p,h,f,r} and Coombe Mills for Country Kids

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall 

just spring {p,h,f,r}


~ Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life ~ Every Thursday, at Like Mother, Like Daughter!

Just popping in to share some photos from the previous weeks. Seems like that’s all I share these days. But I hope you enjoy taking a peek!

We’ve been spending a lot of time outside, which is good. I’ve been taking pictures, which is good. But I haven’t always had the time to get them posted (not so good).


Pear trees, hyacinths, little baby lilies and even the grass. So much hopefulness that shows up in spring. I pretty much can’t get enough of it!



We had a company yard sale the other day and the kids had a lemonade stand, which I think I mentioned. But as expected they tired of it… They ended up finding some nails, hammers and wood and having a great old time sitting on the wood pile.

I’ve been enjoying looking back through these pictures, as they were taken over the last few weeks. It’s made me happy. Today and yesterday were really long, and ended with me being a little more snappy than I wanted (or needed) to be. I was reminded, by my husband (who is ever so level-headed) that they are just 5, 4, and 3 years old (and the baby, but I wasn’t snappy at him). So I’m resolving to do better tomorrow, and *try* to just let them be 5, 4, and 3 years old.


This child of mine tries my patience on most days. But… he is just so hilariously funny.

A gem from the other day, we were at my nephew’s birthday party, Karl trots down the stairs from using the “facilities”, walks behind Jared, pats him on the back, says:

Jared, I just went pee, OK?


onions (1 of 1)

We had onions come up in this spot by the fence in the front yard. It’s a great spot for these (and garlic) as there isn’t tons of sun, the soil is a little rocky, and nothing else grows there. Plus we don’t use that particular section of the front.

So, anyways, I was super excited that these onions I planted way, way late last fall came up. They had been sitting protectively in my onion basket all summer, so I wasn’t sure they’d come up. But they did!

And then I forgot to tell my brother, who wonderfully mows our yard for free freeze-pops, that I had planted onions there…

Maybe they’ll come back again? And the garlic too?


~Ruth Anne

Linking with Finding Beauty, Like Mother Like Daughter (link above)