Fall is truly my favorite time of year. I think part of the magic for me is the transient nature of the season. One day it’s summer, then a cold front drops the temps drastically and has me reaching for my coziest sweater. In between we get a few perfectly crisp sunny days that just make my soul lighter. Is it just me, or is fall always way too short? In an effort to stay truly mindful and present in the midst of this brief season I’ve made a list of some of life’s simple pleasures that are bringing me joy right now.
1. Our neighborhood playground
A major selling point of our new neighborhood was the fact that it has a large and well-maintained playground. I knew our daughters would be delighted by this amenity, but didn’t realize how much value it would add to our family life as a whole. Every night after dinner we’ve been taking a walk up to the playground. It’s sometimes empty, but about half the time there are kids playing and Chris and I got a chance to meet some new neighbors. A few days ago I decided to give myself a sanity break and take the girls up to the playground during the witching hour (from 4-6 at our house). We happened to see our next door neighbors heading out to the store, and Charlotte invited them to join us when they were done with their errand. Sure enough they did, and the girls (they have two daughters also) spent a glorious hour and a half making a dozen piles of rubber mulch all around the play structures while the adults chatted on a nearby bench. Having this communal spot has already made us feel so much a part of our new community. I can’t wait for Halloween, which from what I’ve heard is basically a huge trick or treating block party.
2. Fall Scented CandlesThis one is cliche, but for a reason. Last month on a whim Charlotte and I spent a delightful ten minutes sniffing all the new fall candles on the end-cap at Target, and I couldn’t resist bringing one home with us. I chose the Heritage Pumpkin scent from their signature soy collection. I’ve developed the habit of lighting it every afternoon during nap time, while I try to grab a few minutes to myself curled up on the couch with my Bible study or a book. There’s something to be said about adding a delicious smell to heighten an enjoyable experience. I also light it while I’m cleaning house, which makes a my chores a bit brighter. 😉
3. GrandparentsLast weekend we took an unofficial fall break and headed to Branson for three days. We met up with old friends, rode all our favorite rides at Silver Dollar City, and even got to enjoy some down time. We stayed with my parents in a three bedroom condo and it was perfect. When we came home exhausted from the amusement park my parents happily took over kid duty. They played Charlotte’s imaginary games with her, and let Tessa crawl all over them to her heart’s content. Chris’s parents watched our dog for us while we were gone, and when we went to pick her up we spent a relaxing hour chatting with them while the girls played with all the toys in what is affectionately known as “Grandma’s toy shop.” What an incredible blessing it is to have both sets of grandparents close by to be a part of our girls’ lives as they grow. I know not everyone has this privilege, and I’m so incredibly humbled and thankful that we do.
4. The New THM CookbookFor those of you who wondered, yes, I am still a Trim Healthy Mama. 🙂 I stick to the plan about seventy-five percent of the time, and this way of eating has become second nature. (For those of you who are unfamiliar with THM and want to know more you can look back at this post where I give lots of details.) I have been stuck in a rut however with some of the recipes, so I was so excited to get the new cookbook (thanks Mom and Dad for the early Christmas present). There are three hundred new, family friendly recipes that I’m dying to try. So far I’ve made the Creamy Verde Chicken Chili, which was so divine I’m adding it in to my fall and winter meals rotation. I also made some chocolate chip cookie bars, which are packed with protein and even a sneaky vegetable (pumpkin). Charlotte can’t get enough of them, and asks to eat one for breakfast, lunch, dessert, and snack time. Since they are so healthy I don’t even feel guilty about saying yes!
5. My Drive Home from SchoolThis is kind of an odd one, but it really brings me so much joy every morning. Charlotte’s school starts ridiculously early (compared to our slow-moving starts to our preschool days) so we are out the door at what feels like the crack of dawn. It’s been a while since I’ve seen a sunrise with any regularity, and it feels like a reward every time. I take a back way home from dropping C off to avoid the heavier traffic on the main road that runs by our neighborhood, choosing instead to drive through country lanes bordered by cow pastures, woods, and a few stately homes with beautifully manicured lawns. This morning there was a mist laying low over the meadows and it looked like something out of a picture postcard. This unexpected daily dose of nature’s wonder has made getting up early much less of a drudgery than it might have been. We’ll see how I feel when it’s still dark outside.
Your turn! What simple pleasures are adding beauty, community, or enjoyment to your life this month? I’d love to hear all about them!