Posted in family life, phfr

{pretty, happy, funny, real} – mostly sweet potatoes

I got some pictures of our baby sweet potatoes in the garden!

{pretty} and {happy}

One of the little slips didn’t make it – I think it was just too small to be transplanted – but I kept one of the purple potatoes and both orange potatoes in their jars anyway, so I’ll be able to replant in that location when the more sluggish slips have reached a better size.


Right now, they look like they’re doing rather well! Even the orange potatoes, which have been slower to root, have a few slips with both good little leaves and decent-sized roots, so maybe I will plant them sometime this upcoming week.


Of course, the difficulty with having those tiny new plants in the garden is that the boys have to show some caution now when digging in the dirt. Rondel is pretty good at understanding the idea of being gentle with the baby plants, but Limerick seems a bit more oblivious… I just hope they will learn and that the sweet potatoes will survive!



Apart from the garden, Rondel’s sense of humor has been growing all the time. Last night he came running out of the bathroom with an extra pair of underwear asking to wear both. When we told him that only one pair would fit on his bottom at a time, he decided the other pair should go on his head! And he found another hat to top off the ensemble:


I think the laughter he brings just might make up for the sleep deprivation he causes…

What’s been going on in your world? Head on over to the link up at Like Mother, Like Daughter to share with everyone else!

Posted in musings

fighting for joy

In gardening news, Rondel and I planted most of the purple sweet potato slips this weekend! Some were a lot bigger than others, so we’ll see if they all make it or not… the orange ones will need to grow a bit more in their jars first, but we left some space for them.

In other news, I was thinking this week about how joy can’t be taken for granted but must be fought for, sometimes by tooth and nail. I can’t just assume that relationships and circumstances will happily accommodate me, nor can I assume that my response to adverse situations will be one of cheerfulness and contentment. If I want to have joy, I have to do the hard work of maintaining it in my heart.

Practically, I know that there are a few specific things that consistently impair my ability to be joyful: issues with my husband, a lack of prayer, and sleep deprivation. (Hormones also play a role but there’s less I can actively do about that!) So when the morning starts off with a misunderstanding or argument with my husband, it tends to color my whole day in blacks and grays; by default, I either become sad and depressed or bitter and resentful. If joy really matters to me, I have to be willing to swallow my pride, bury my anger, and actively seek reconciliation and understanding again. Sometimes it’s as simple as a “sorry for what happened – I love you” sort of text – and yet, while it may be simple, it sometimes seems like an impossible task.

But it all comes down to whether or not I really want to live with joy. I don’t believe that I will always be able to have joy, no matter how hard I strive for it, but I do believe that it is a very different thing to be overwhelmed by my emotions and sinful tendencies but to still be fighting with all my strength for hope and peace and joy, than to raise the white flag to the general progression of discontent and stress and insecurity without a second thought. And after all, our joy is directly commanded by God. It is not a trivial or selfish thing to fight for it, but something that pleases Him and blesses everyone around us – so it is very much worth the effort that it takes.

In the emptiness of bleak despair, He is my fullness and hope.

In the piercing pain of loneliness, He is my comforter and my companion.

In the gnawing fear of inadequacy and rejection, He is my helper and the lover of my soul.

In the storm of brokenness and sin (my own and others’) that threatens to capsize me, He is the source and sustainer of my joy, and it is under His flag that I fight when I fight for joy.

Posted in family life, phfr

{pretty, happy, funny, real} – working in the garden

For the first time in my desert gardening adventure, I’m going to be attempting a crop over the summer. Our scorching days not being particularly friendly to most plants, I’ve avoided the summer so far – but this year, we’re going to be planting sweet potatoes! I’ll have to take another picture of the slips I started soon, because they’re really starting to take off, especially the purple potatoes, which have the most beautiful red-veined leaves.

Anyway, to grow sweet potatoes we needed to seriously amend our soil, because the native soil where we live is the kind of clay you can build with – dense, compacted, hard, and thick: pretty much the opposite of what root vegetables need! So we spent Saturday mixing in two huge sacks full of compost from a local farm into our raised bed, and the boys, particularly Rondel, had a wonderful time exploring the dirt and helping with the work.



He was so focused and engaged with the task at hand! He first helped me water the mint and oregano, which we had to transplant to the trench garden from the raised bed to make room for the sweet potatoes, and the continued to water the dirt in the raised bed as we mixed in the compost. We had the kiddie pool filled up in case anyone needed to cool off, since Saturday was pretty warm, and it provided Rondel with a way to fill up the watering can on his own.


In addition to wanting to help with the tasks of preparing the garden, Rondel couldn’t resist sticking his hands in the dirt and discovering what it felt like at various stages of wetness, from completely dry all the way to soggy mud.

The garden has always been his happy place, where he pushes his sensory boundaries and lets his imagination run wild, and I absolutely love seeing him get dirty and sweaty and so incredibly captivated by natural things. This is our little piece of nature in the midst of the city, and something about it speaks to his heart.


Limerick also wanted to use the watering can, once Rondel put it down, and after a while he kind of got the hang of it – but at first he just turned it upside down like a bucket:



Aside from the watering can diversion, however, Limerick was not thrilled about our family time in the garden. He was tired and hungry and generally grumpy, and constantly demanded bubbles.

have you tried taking pictures of bubbles as you’re blowing them? it’s more luck than anything that one of these bubbles managed to be in focus…

And it’s so hard to say no to him because I always wonder if I’m just saying no because of my own selfishness and laziness instead of for a legitimate reason, and because he sometimes gets very fixated on things and has a lot of trouble moving on to something else when I say no. It’s hard not to pull out the bubbles when your baby is crying for them and it’s not a difficult activity to share with him – but on the other hand, I don’t want him to think that he can get whatever he wants by crying for it. Right now I’m trying to be firm with boundaries that I care more about and just caving on the bubbles… I do love bubbles myself anyways…

Head on over to the linkup at Like Mother, Like Daughter today to share some more everyday joy and contentment!

Posted in musings

orange blossoms in the spring

The orange blossoms are beginning to open.


The scent of them in the air – spicy, sweet, alluring, richly complex yet somewhat warm and light – is one of my favorite things in the whole world. I can’t think of another smell quite so wonderful (although the smells of yeast bread rising and new babies snuggling come pretty close).

In the sunshine, in the middle of the day, in the backyard or kitchen just feet away from our tree, the smell makes me want to bask in the sunlight, dance with my boys, overflow with hugs and kind words – it elevates the positive, surrounds me with energy, fills my heart with simple joy.

In the twilight, caught on the edge of the cooling breezes, it makes me think of balconied rooms hung with muted orange, lit with candles, where a woman awaits her lover as the curtains rustle over the open window. It is the seductive, entrancing scent of the blossom that hints at love as it breathes in on the wind.

(I told my husband these thoughts and his eyebrows shot pretty far up… he brings me back to earth pretty quickly sometimes 🙂 )


The bees are loving the blossoms as well. Our tree has more blossoms than any other tree I’ve seen around town, so there isn’t much out there to draw the bees away from us yet. But so far they ignore the babies, and the babies notice them just enough to say “bumblebee! buzz buzz buzz” and then move on 🙂 Hopefully we’ll make it through the spring without any stings! If not, I suppose bee stings are a part of life.

What is blooming near you all?

Posted in family life, phfr

{pretty, happy, funny, real} – thankful for the things I do have


We may not have much space, especially outdoor space, but we have room for the beauty of green growing things:

I’m not confident we’ll get any harvest, but at least the corn is pretty while it’s growing…


We may not have lots of space to run around, or big places to explore and build forts and play games, but we have the security to play with carefree happiness in the space we do have:

IMG_2252 IMG_2219


We might not have space for me to back up enough to capture the whole of our tiny yard in a picture, but we have space for the boys to play together where I can capture them both at once like Rondel asked me to:

Limerick splashing Rondel, who is really learning to put up with a lot.
Parallel play – and the impossibility of getting them to look at the camera, or at me!


We may not have woods and grassy hills and flowers so they can touch and see and smell the wonders of nature, but at least we have a garden so they can feel the dirt on their hands… and taste it in their mouths! The realities of toddlers!

There’s dirt in his mouth, on his face, and on his hand!
No clue why he’s eating the pot… I don’t ask anymore

To be real with you, it makes me happy deep in my heart to see Rondel with dirt in his mouth and on his hands like that. The garden is one of the few places where he’ll relax enough to get truly messy: he’ll use his whole hand to dig in the soil instead of using one finger or a scoop/tool like he prefers to do with sand or play dough. (He won’t even touch gooey or slippery things, like cornstarch slime or Jello…) I know that letting him get dirty and become comfortable with his hands and body in the soil will have huge payoffs for his sensory processing skills, and since he really hates getting messy at other times (even with food) this is our stepping stone to improving his tactile processing skills. For me, even if nothing in the garden bears fruit, it’s worth it just to see my boy getting dirty without being bothered or wanting to be cleaned up instantly.

Go visit LMLD for the rest of the link-up! I hope you had a wonderful week as well 🙂

Posted in family life, phfr

{pretty, happy, funny, real} – enjoying the end of summer

The garden is starting to take off! I think this is one of my favorite times of year, when I get to watch the new life springing up out of the ground. We’ll see if they make it to an actual harvest though 🙂 I don’t have the greenest thumb in the world!




And of course it is still warm enough here to play at the splash pad in the afternoons (and probably in the mornings too, to be honest – our highs are just beginning to flirt with the 90’s when storm fronts come through, and then they jump back up to triple digits). Rather than mourn the lack of any significant autumnal season, we’re choosing to enjoy the summer fun as long as we can. Honestly, too, those late summer storms make this one of my favorite times of year: the nights are sometimes cool enough to leave the windows open, the mornings are fresh and clean-feeling, the days are softly warm and perfect for water play, and in the evenings the great dark clouds roll in with thunder and pouring rain.





Rondel’s developing his own will, figuring out how social dynamics work, and beginning to test some boundaries (not much, though – he’s a pretty compliant child). I’m actually really enjoying seeing his own preferences and opinions grow, and watching him learn how to express them in appropriate ways! A funny side effect of it is this little fake pouty face that he makes when he wants someone to do something in a very specific way, and he knows that it’s a kind of ridiculous want, so he tries to pout when he doesn’t get it but can’t quite keep a straight face.



When do babies normally start holding their own bottles? Limerick can’t seem to coordinate his. Sometimes he’ll try to pick it up by the nipple and then stuff the nipple in his mouth (sort of in the same way that he’d pick up a bit of food and stuff it in his mouth), and a couple times he’s managed to get his hands around the bottle part and lift it up, but then he doesn’t seem quite sure how to get the right part into his mouth. So in the meantime we hold it for him when he gets thirsty.


(That’s my hand holding the bottle… his are passively at his side. Sigh.)

I hope all of you in other parts of the country are enjoying your beautiful fall weather! Join me at the LMLD link up today!