simple joys: seasonal candles

I’ve been seriously getting in the mood for the next few holiday filled months – Charlie’s birthday, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, and then another little one’s birthday to celebrate in February! It’s not feeling much like fall yet in Florida – and probably won’t until it’s snowing everywhere up north. Not the worst problem in the world. Even here though – the air is feeling just the tiniest bit lighter – humidity letting up just a fraction and cooling off enough in the evenings for a jaunt around the neighborhood.

I’ve been bringing the fall feeling into our house bit by bit over the last few weeks. A yarn pumpkin garland on the mantle (a great how to here, if you’re up for a seasonal craft), a wooden witch and scarecrow from mom, mini pumpkins in every windowsill, gourds on the table and ghosts on the front porch. But my real piece of simple seasonal joy comes after Charlie goes to bed every night. After gently shutting his bedroom door, Mike and I tuck away the last of the dishes in the dishwasher and straighten up the day’s ephemera – pushing chairs in, tossing dirty socks in the hamper, stray blocks put in their basket. I throw snacks into lunch boxes and put coffee grounds and water in the pot for the next morning before making my way back into the living room.

But before that ever satisfying moment of sitting down on the couch and being done for the day – I’ve been taking a detour to the mantle to light the current candle on rotation – Apple Pumpkin. There’s nothing particularly fancy about it. I picked it up a few weeks ago at Wal-Mart for a few dollars. There’s just something about a candle burning bright that makes it feel so cozy and festive in the house. It’s nearly down to the bottom of the jar (I burnt my finger trying to light it the other day), which means I’m about due for a brand new candle. A five dollar investment that has been bringing me such a nice little spark of joy lately. It’s a nightly event that adds to the festive air of the holidays – Cranberry Mandarin for Thanksgiving, Frasier Fir for Christmas, and pumpkin everything in between. Just a little flame of happiness sitting on the mantle for cozy weeknights at home.

simple joys: reading in bed

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In the spirit of celebrating life’s simple joys, you’ll find a new series here every now and then. Every day, we are left with the vast responsibility of our feelings – both good and bad, positive and negative. I’m hoping this series will help bring focus to the small, simple things that bring joy and happiness to my everyday life, and maybe yours too! I hope they might inspire you {and me} to look at your little life in the big world with a fresh perspective, realizing how nice it is to be positive, and perhaps to appreciate the ritual of making your morning oatmeal, or that ray of sun coming through your window just so, even the beauty of your empty *empty!!* laundry basket. Maybe – over time – we’ll see that there’s a certain kind of satisfaction in noticing that the daisy sitting on your coffee table really is beautiful, and you really are so lucky to have it hanging out in your house. And even if you do inadvertently walk through a spider web with your face while taking the dog out, your coffee really does taste amazing this morning…


I had nearly forgotten that I used to religiously read in bed each night. Then, this weekend, Mike came in with the mail and handed me a rumpled manila envelope with my name on it. Tucked inside the package was a book. A pass along from my mom who knew I had badly been wanting to read Little Fires Everywhere. Joy of all joys! How does one forget that they used to do something religiously for 29 years of their life? It was as natural to me as breathing. I simply could not happily fall asleep unless I read a chapter before bed. Physically I could, that is. But I was happier and would go to sleep with ease if I read a chapter of my book while settling in for the night.

Well, the valid explanation is that Mike and I welcomed a baby into our life who upended everything about our nights. And so my chapter a night habit took an almost six month hiatus because of the baby slumbering next to our bed each night. I loved having Charlie in our room, tucked in his little bassinet. Or even better, tucked in between us in bed. I loved hearing him breathe in and out, even as a metronome, and being right there next to him to nurse him through the night when he stirred. It was time to move him over to his crib though. He sleeps so much better with room to roll over and sleep on his belly or side if he wants to. He stirs and settles himself. But it still gives me little jolt of sadness to think about him in the room down the hall when he used to live right with us night after night. But just a little jolt. Maybe it’s a jolt of nostalgia rather than sadness. If I’m honest, we’re all sleeping better with him in his crib. It was time.

Reflecting on it now, the first couple weeks of crib sleep were a little tense for me. I was torn over wanting him to continue waking up through the night to show that he still needed me, and wanting him to sleep well so that he could get the sleep he needed. The whole wanting your baby to stay a baby, I guess. He’s to the point of sleeping through the night every now and then (two nights in a row this week!) which is a good thing. I’m coming to terms with the end of night wakings. I may be the minority, but I’ve always known that I would miss them when they ended. The snuggling of a sweet baby when the rest of world is asleep just can’t be beat. But our nights are starting to feel a little more like they did before we had Charlie. We have a routine down. Mostly. There are, of course, some nights that are exceptions. But it feels like now, nights (after 7:30pm) are steering back to being about Mike and spending time together, rather than the stress of if Charlie would or wouldn’t wake up. They’re also steering back toward going to bed a few minutes early so I can read my chapter in bed.

I forgot what a peaceful end to the day it is. Just a few pages to settle me down, to quiet my mind and move on from the day. Having a light on in the bedroom at night seems like such a luxury! Finding my pajamas when I’m going to bed instead of at 7pm when I’m starting to get Charlie ready. Flinging the covers off the bed, cracking open my book, turning a page as loud as I’d like, setting my glass of water down on the side table after taking a noisy drink, saying ‘night and I love you’s aloud to my husband. Ah! Luxury! Simple joys here. Its a simple joy to have – getting to read in bed. A thing I have loved all my life, and am remembering to love again.