easter sunday.

We had friends in town staying with us for Easter weekend, so last weekend was extra fun. They have a little guy just two months older than Charlie and it was so funny to see them rampaging the house together. Charlie did a great job playing, but by Sunday he was very sensitive about sharing his toys. It’s tough to be 18 months old with a new baby brother and a million toys that suddenly aren’t just yours to play with.

We went to church Sunday while our sweet friends got Easter lunch ready at our house and when we got home the boys did a little Easter egg hunt in the backyard. Charlie was into it until he realized that the eggs were filled with fruit loops. Then he just wanted to pick each one up and eat everything in it and then look for the next one. Needless to say, he did not gather the most eggs.

Mike’s mom gets all of the grandkids Easter outfits every year (9 outfits!) This year was a win. Charlie looked so dapper in his little bow tie and Ben looked like quite the baby gentleman in his romper. God must have been looking down on us because it was by far the best mass we’ve been to with both boys.

Who else loves Easter? Spiral ham, spring veggies, flowers, bunnies! I feel like it’s the official beginning of spring which makes it truly a time of renewal and fresh starts.

simple joys: fresh flowers.

Yesterday was a gloomy and gray day in Florida. Ben and I ventured out to the veggie market in the morning for a change of scenery after two cups of coffee and an hour of baby talk. Tucked into the baby wrap, he quietly looked around at all the bins of fresh produce with mouth agape, no interest in his binky (unfortunately, a common theme). We settled on a bunch of yellowing bananas and a pint of fresh raspberries for Charlie’s meals the rest of the week.

Then, we made our way over to the tomato tables, squeezing past other shoppers in the narrow aisles, shooting smiles at those craning their necks to get a peek at Ben. The Florida tomatoes are at their best right now. Deep red and shining, you just know that they’re going to have that distinct fresh summer taste when sliced. We needed two for BLTs tonight (one for munching on with a grind of salt during dinner prep and one for the sandwiches). I picked the best of the pile that I could find after looking them over, as one does, smiling at the small woman across from me doing the same. My hands were getting full, but I couldn’t resist adding a pint of heirloom cherry tomatoes for salads. The colors were too pretty. I scurried over to the checkout counter before anything dropped.

A kind lady crooned over Ben’s little face curiously (and still quietly, thank goodness!) peeking out from his cocoon on my chest while waiting in line. She marveled over his one month old status (So alert! Well, he was a little late so he’s very awake to the world. So big! He was 9 pounds at birth! So lucky to have him! Agreed on that.)

We left with our bag of goodies, but I just couldn’t resist walking down to the flower market just two buildings over. And it’s tulip season! Tulips are my favorite spring flower and they just don’t grow here. Ditto for hydrangeas, daffodils, ranunculus, poppies and all the other beautiful spring flowers that I love. A bunch of tulips were just the thing to liven up the kitchen table this week. Ben and I went into the cooler to hunt down the perfect bunch and found this shy shade of pink near the back. Isn’t it pretty?

Do you ever buy fresh flowers? For some, it’s a weekly treat and it just may become mine too. Okay, okay, not every week (my husband sighs in relief). But maybe now and then. It’s brightening up our house and my mood immensely every time my eye falls on them. Just another simple little joy to be grateful for today!

thanksgiving in north carolina.

This may be belated, but I wanted to share a few pictures from Thanksgiving! I didn’t take nearly enough pictures, but here are a few at least! img_9705

We celebrated a chilly Thanksgiving break in Charlotte this year with Mike’s family. It was so fun to get all the (very active) cousins together again. The last time we were all together was this past summer at the beach! We didn’t venture out of the house for much other than fresh air in the yard. LOTS of food was consumed though. img_9765img_9750

Charlie on a plane was a different experience this time around as all he wants to do is run! He fell asleep after terrorizing everything for half of both flights. Happy terrorizing at least.

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We are so thankful for everyone and everything in this beautiful life!

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diy advent calendar

img_9877I want so badly this year to really appreciate and make the most of every moment of this holiday season. It just goes by in the blink of an eye, and I feel like if you don’t try to enjoy it, then it seems to be over before it even began. Charlie is becoming a very curious (too curious sometimes!) and aware little person and it’s been so fun to see him watching the lights go up around the neighborhood, in stores, and in our house. To say he is interested in these little boxes that popped up on the kitchen windowsill overnight is an understatement.

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I can’t take credit for the design. I browsed Pinterest (of course) for ideas and found so many! I toyed with an calendar of envelopes on the wall, jars on the windowsill, but settled on a modified version of this cute one from Oh Happy Day that uses small boxes with trees hot glued to the top. I adjusted for what I found at Michaels (small boxes, a set of 21 holiday trees for $10, and bought some pinecones and bells to fill the last 4).

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I’ve been wanting to do an advent calendar to celebrate the season for the last few years, but while I could have done it, it seemed silly to make one for just Mike and I. I also still don’t feel like Charlie needs gifts of toys or chocolate every day like most traditional advent calendars, so ours is one of easy festive activities like drinking hot chocolate, watching a christmas movie, or taking a walk around the neighborhood to ogle lights. Some are activities for Charlie, and others just Mike and I, so it’s a nice little combination of holiday activities.

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A few are pre-planned weekend activities like getting our christmas tree, going downtown to our town’s christmas tree lighting, and taking Charlie to sit on Santa’s lap. I can’t wait for December to begin so Charlie can open up the first box! I love how it turned out, and am planning to make this an annual tradition that our kids will look forward to.

 

 

pumpkin carving at home.

img_8755This past weekend was just the absolute best. Last year at pumpkin carving time I had a big postpartum belly with a newborn slumbering in his bassinet, but this year our one-year-old was fully awake and involved in our weekend festivities. The weather was giving us it’s very best Florida fall (60’s in the morning/evening and 80’s during the day), and we took full advantage by spending every minute we could outside. Saturday we went to the beach for the most beautiful day with a boy who is obsessed with the waves and sand. I finished up Charlie’s halloween costume with Hocus Pocus and hot chocolate after bedtime, including lots of help from Mike.

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Sunday though! Mike put Charlie’s new birthday wagon together, and we took him for some spins around the yard. Ah! He loved it. His smiles as we took very slow turns around the backyard were so good. After an afternoon siesta, we finally carved our pumpkins. They mold so fast in the heat down here and Sunday was the absolute last day we could carve with other things happening this week. After some adult knifework, Charlie got into it and dug his hands into the pumpkin goop. It was a MESS. Thank goodness for having a backyard. Mike and I ended the weekend with roasted pumpkin seeds, an honorary lighting of the pumpkins, and Ernest Scared Stupid (Mike’s favorite Halloween movie).

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It was just the kind of weekend I want to bottle up and keep on the shelf to look back at anytime I want a little burst of love for our family and for this season of life!

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What did you do this weekend? Something wonderful I hope!

handmade halloween cards.

We sent out these little handmade Halloween cards over the weekend. Aren’t they sweet?

I saw a tutorial on Pinterest a couple weeks ago and immediately put them on my crafting list. I love browsing Pinterest for ideas, and it always gives me a little burst of festivity around this time of year. Right now my feed is a a cornucopia of holiday crafts, decor, cozy foods, and baby things.

These cards were a fun little way to kick off the holiday season. I’ve tucked a couple away to remember Charlie’s tiny hand at one year old and sent the rest off in the mail to all of our nearest and dearest.

Click here for instructions for how to make some handprint cards of your own!

In other crafting news – I made this pumpkin yarn garland for the mantle a couple weeks ago, and started knitting a bright red, festive hat for a very special gift come Christmas.

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.

an herb garden

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Charlie and I dug out the little garden bed in front of our house yesterday as one of my spring break projects. Today I’m heading to the garden store to pick up some topsoil and herbs to plant. We used to have these leafy little plants out there that just didn’t look great, but let’s be real, having nothing out there looks even worse. I’m loving the idea of having some functional but still attractive plants in front. Fresh herbs can’t be beat. They should do well in the space too. They’ll be in part shade most of the day. I’ve tried gardening here in the past, but just can’t quite get the hang of the seasons in Florida (mildly hot to extremely deathly hot). I may even let Mike plant a pineapple, which is probably the only thing he has ever requested to plant at our house. I’ll share photos once it’s all done! Right now it just looks…dirty. 🙂 High of 90 here today! Charlie and I are headed out for a walk, a nap, and then off to the garden store. Spring Break Day 2 commence!!