more birthday weekend fun

We spent the entire weekend celebrating Leighton’s 1st birthday… as it should be, right? Friday was spent outside at Zoo Atlanta, and I think Leighton had almost as much fun as we did.ūüôā She pointed to lots of animals, calling them all “dut” or “dird”… so we have some work to do on identifying animals, but we’ll give her a break since she’s only 1.

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I think our favorite animals were the pandas. The mama panda came right over to the glass where we’d parked¬†Leighton’s stroller and just sat there looking at her for a solid couple minutes. Then she did a forward roll and walked off – ha!
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Leighton was correct in her “DIRD!!!” exclamation when we got to feed¬†birdseed to a parakeet.
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And I definitely had a nightmare that night about a giant snake being on my pillow. I wonder why.
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The birthday girl in her adorable donut jammies::
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Girlfriend looks excited here, but we soon found out that she clearly prefers frozen store-bought pancakes to my homemade blueberry ones. #moreforme
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Saturday night was spent celebrating with our families, my childhood best friend, and one of her boys at my parents’ house. Craig smoked a brisket, mom cooked, and we had the best ever mac n cheese from a local restaurant, Dave Poe’s. Nicole and her family drove up for the weekend, as I’d mentioned in L’s birthday party recap, and we were so happy to have them here with us. We don’t see each other often, but when we do, it’s like no time has passed. Friends who are like family are simply one of life’s best gifts!
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Smash cake #2 was a big hit!
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Birthday party day!
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After the last party-goer left, family presents were opened, and most of the house was cleaned up, we ended the weekend with Mexican at one of our favorite local places¬†with Craig’s brother, his¬†girlfriend, and Nicole’s family. Leighton ate practically an entire dish of black beans (in addition to her whole dinner¬†that we brought for her)… I’m pretty sure she thinks that beans are a facial-quality material. I thought we might have to hose her off in the kitchen sink before leaving the restaurant. She was clearly pleased with the situation, though!
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What a wonderful weekend we had celebrating our baby girl with many of those we love most! We couldn’t have asked for a better 3 days together for this special milestone birthday. Here’s looking forward to this coming year as we move into toddlerhood! Wish us luck!

A Big Top Celebration for Our Big 1 Year Old

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We celebrated Leighton’s birthday all weekend long, and we capped it off with a big top celebration at home on Sunday the 11th. Being the obsessive party planner that I am, I had been thinking about and planning her party for months. Spreadsheets and lots of Pinterest researching were involved, of course.ūüėČ

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I fell in love with these adorable cotton candy invitations months ago, so we went with the circus/carnival theme and decorated the house in pink, gold, and turquoise.

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We¬†stocked up on lots of treats — 3 kinds of popcorn, iced animal crackers, mini sprinkle cupcakes, sandwiches and chicken nuggets, and fruit. I think the most popular, though, was the¬†King of Pops cart filled with the most delicious popsicles in town!¬†Guests also got their own bag of strawberry and pink vanilla cotton candy as a part(y)ing gift!

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We painted this cutie pie chalkboard easel to use as a welcome sign and will add it to her playroom, so it was a win-win. And I totally didn’t need them, but I couldn’t pass up the YAY party cups (above) when I found them.

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I don’t have any photos of it running because we forgot to even turn it on until later in the party, but I made a slideshow of our favorite photos (so, so many of them!) from Leighton’s first year. I’ll probably turn it on from time to time and let it play in the background because I love it so much!
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The kids had a blast running around the house, playing with toys, and throwing corn hole bags off the deck for an updated version of the game. Even with so many people there, Craig and I felt like we were still able to talk to everyone and enjoy our company, which was so nice.

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One of the best parts of the weekend was having my childhood best friend come up with her husband and two boys to celebrate with us. They drove 8 hours to be there for the party, and her boys even chose to miss their football game so they could meet Leighton. It meant the world to me to have them here, as she’s always been like the sister I never had. And on top of that, she was gracious enough to photograph the whole party for us. I can’t thank you enough, Nicole!

The grand finale, of course, was Leighton’s smash cake. This was the 3rd one she’s had, so she has become a pro at the whole ordeal. I chose a pale pink, pretty simple cake that was covered in sprinkles on the bottom half. I’d seen this exact cake on Pinterest, and I have a deep love for sprinkles, so I knew this was the one. We got mini cupcakes from our favorite cupcake shop to match! Leighton¬†was a bit dainty at first, but once she dove in, she wouldn’t stop! We had to take the cake away from her before she either ate the whole thing or got sick (or both). I think it’s safe to say she has a sweet tooth. And now Craig and I are working on finishing the rest of her cake because it’s way too good to let go to waste.

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It was so much fun celebrating with our families and so many of our friends and their little ones. It truly does take a village to raise a child, and we are forever grateful for ours. We threw this party as a celebration of¬†Leighton, but also¬†as a way of saying “thank you” to part of our village. Our transition to parenthood this¬†past year wouldn’t have been nearly as smooth, amazing, and fun without all of you¬†amazing people who love on us and our baby every day!
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For anyone who may be planning their little one’s 1st birthday (or any birthday) soon, here are the source links for some of our favorite party things!

Party sources::
Invitations: Minted
Lunch food: Chick-fil-A* // Jimmy John’s¬†sandwiches
*side note about the chicken nuggets: CFA nuggets are always a huge hit with kids and adults alike, but the party was on a Sunday, when they’re closed. Their catering site offers an option to order nugget trays that are cooked and then cooled so that they can be reheated in the oven when needed! It was super easy, and the nuggets tasted just like they normally do. All 320(!!) of them were gone in less than an hour!
Smash cake: Cakes by Darcy in Roswell, GA
Cupcakes: Smallcakes in Smyrna, GA
Popsicle stand: King of Pops
Cotton candy favors: SweetopiaCottonCandy on Etsy
Popcorn bags: Mavora on Etsy
Tent cards & signage: Fiddle Sticks Boutique on Etsy
Cake topper: ItsyBitsyPaperCuts on Etsy
Birthday stats board: ChalkType on Etsy
YAY cups: Swoozie’s
Coloring sheets: Valerie Pullam on Etsy
Chalkboard easel: IKEA
Wreath: DevinsDecor on Etsy
Birthday onesie: Iloveco on Etsy
Birthday skirt: Hanna Andersson
Birthday hat: PrideandPrincesses on Etsy
Photography: Nicole Adams Photography of Arcadia, FL

And because there are just so many photos to share, here are a few more…

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Leighton is ONE!

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Height + Weight: 28.5” // 22¬†lbs 9 oz¬†

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Milestones: Although she started walking at 10 months, it’s amazing how much her skills have improved in such a short time. She can easily walk all over he main floor of the house, going from room to room and picking up various toys, pushing kitchen chairs around, and making funny noises as she chases Coco – all without falling down. And when she does lose her balance, she’s usually right back up and at it again.¬†

She’s still saying “dada” a lot and we’re not sure if she always knows what it means, but when Craig came home from a weekend trip recently, she yelled it right when he walked in the door. I wasn’t there to see it, but I’m betting it was one of his favorite moments yet. We’ve been working on the word “duck” because she loves to walk into her bathroom to grab her duckies out of the tub. She calls them “dut” and says it all the time! She’s started saying “ToTo” for Coco, “dird” for bird, and she’s trying to say “dog,” which comes out as “dod.” I’m also teaching her to say “toot!” when she honks the horn on her cozy coupe that she got as a birthday gift from her grandparents. So cute!



Lastly, we hit a huge milestone together: making it to a year of nursing! Before she was born, I’d hoped we could make it to a year, but I really had no idea how it would go. Thankfully, things just clicked very early on, and our little journey was successful. As you can tell, she’s never looked underfed.ūüėČ I’m so thankful we got to hit this important milestone together, and while I’m thrilled to be done with the pumping aspect, I’m a little sad to be completely finished with this phase of her life. But now… onto other things that I know I’ll also cherish!

Likes: Food! This month, she has tried grapes, cornbread, cantaloupe, part of an ice cream sandwich, arancini balls (which she wolfed down!), pasta, polenta, veggie burgers, strawberry yogurt, shrimp, and birthday cake! 

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She has discovered how to open and close doors, and she likes playing with and throwing all the pink balls we’ve acquired.¬†

Her favorite toys are our iphones (of course – every baby is obsessed with them!), my car keys, Coco’s toys, kitchen magnets (sensing a theme here that none of these are actual toys?)…. and she also loves her musical toys¬†and plastic bucket of shapes.

She loves being clapped for, and she also enjoys saying “ooooooo!” and pointing at random things/the air.¬†

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Coco is still her favorite, and she now loves walking over to wherever she’s laying so she can “pat” her on the back – several times, and usually not so lightly. Thankfully, Coco is incredibly patient and gentle with her.

She likes playing in the bathtub, doesn’t mind having water poured over her head, and opens wide when it’s time to brush her little teeth.¬†

Dislikes: Being put on her changing pad for diaper changes is pretty much the most offensive thing ever. 

She’s starting to get mad or upset when she’s told “NO.” She slaps her hands together – almost like she’s wiping away the “no.” We can’t help but laugh.¬†

Fun stuff & firsts: Craig’s¬†family got to keep her for the first time (when she was actually awake) while we were in Franklin to host a wedding shower. Aside from her peeing everywhere while sweet Cassie was changing her diaper, I think they all had a pretty good time together!¬†

We recently moved everything¬†out of the¬†basement bedroom and set it up as a playroom for L, and she absolutely loves it! It’s like she knows that it’s a space made just for her. She has a little table in the middle of the room that’s covered in foam blocks right now, but I envision her using¬†it for playing and coloring as she gets a little older. We’ve moved most of her books into that room, filled the walls with felt animal heads and some of my funny hybrid animal illustrations from college, and added foam floor tiles and a mini ball pit. It’s a happy place and I’ve had so much fun decorating and setting it up for her.

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Leighton sleeps an average of 11 hours a night (hallelujah!) and is working on becoming a better napper. She’ll currently nap twice a day for 45 mins – 1.5 hours, depending on the day. She eats three great meals each day and will try anything we put in front of her — usually with both hands.ūüôā If she doesn’t like it, she usually throws it across her tray or just drops it on the floor while looking at us, like she’s daring us to scold her.¬†

She has learned to “dance” when prompted or when music comes on, and her signature move is what my dad called “the bobble head.” Justin Timberlake’s “Can’t Stop the Feeling” will guarantee some head-bopping moves almost every time!¬†

Her 5th, 6th, and 7th teeth are coming¬†in this month. She’s going to have way more chompers than I did when I turned one!¬†

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It’s hard to believe that this first year with Leighton has come and gone so quickly, but it’s been the most joyous year of our lives. She¬†is our everything, and we are so thankful to have been chosen as her parents. We couldn’t imagine life without our LL!

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Happy 1st Birthday, my baby!

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They say that when it comes to children, the days are long, but the years are short. Oh, how “they” hit the nail on the head. I really cannot believe I’m already sitting here writing this first birthday letter to you, my sweet baby girl. It seems like both yesterday and an eternity ago that I was holding you on my chest and you grabbed onto my finger just seconds after being born. It’s almost like you were saying, “I’m so excited to finally meet you, too!” From that life-changing moment, you have become my best little friend, my favorite little person to do both nothing and everything with, and the absolute love of mine and your daddy’s lives.

The past year has flown by at the speed of light, but we’ve managed to pack in so many exciting, fun things together as a family. And with the big moments come all of the small, everyday, in-between moments. Many of those are the priceless memories that I’ll cherish forever. There are far too many to name them all, but these were some of my favorite memories from the past year…

Watching you learn every new trick and hit every new milestone – holding your head up so big and proud at just 6 weeks old (!!), smiling and laughing, rolling over, finding your feet, sitting up on your own, army crawling at 6 months and then full-on crawling at 8.5 months, pulling up in your crib and then walking along it and anything else you could find, and walking on your own at just 10 months old! Hearing your first words were the sweetest sounds and still make us laugh at your adorable pronunciations of duck (dut), dog (dod), and bird (dird). You said dada first (yay for daddy!) and seem to have no plans for saying mama anytime soon.

Introducing you to both of my grandmothers and your daddy’s grandparents (who all live out of state) before you were a month old, which is a pretty impressive feat. It was so neat to see each of them holding you for the first time.

Taking you to my mom’s family’s beloved beach house in St. Augustine, FL. It’s where I grew up going to the beach, where your daddy and I got married, and it’s one of my most favorite places in the whole world. It was so fun to show you the sand and dip your toes in the ocean for the very first time. I hope we get to take you there many, many more times over the coming years.

Nursing you in the middle of the night, when it was dark and quiet (except for that sound machine), because it was a little ritual for just the two of us. (Although I am very happy to be sleeping through the night now!)

Seeing you and Coco become best buddies. She is so incredibly patient and gentle with you, and your face lights up every time she enters the room.

Hearing the endless funny sounds you make, which never cease to make your daddy, Grandma, and me laugh on a daily basis. If only I could bottle up those sounds to replay forever and ever… but I guess videos on our phones will do.

Feeling your tight grip on my finger and seeing your chubby little hand grasp my shirt while I am feeding or rocking you. Your touch is the sweetest and the softest.

Celebrating each of your first holidays over the past year as if they were the first ones for your daddy and me, too. I know these will only get more fun as you grow older, but it was pretty special getting to pick out your first Christmas stocking, fill your first Easter basket with goodies, be spoiled on my first Mother’s Day, and spoil your daddy on his first Father’s Day. You make every holiday infinitely more special and fun.

When we’re out in public with you, people often comment on your big, beautiful eyes (“Oh my, look at those ¬†blue eyes!”), your red hair (“Where did that come from?!”), your chunky thighs (“I just want to squeeze them!”), and your sweet smile and wave/high five combo (“What a happy baby!”). You’re always a conversation starter with strangers, and you’re such a friendly little ¬†babe!

You are into everything, so curious and aware of what is going on around you. You’re pretty fearless and independent, except when you want your mama. Then it’s game over, and you must be in my arms immediately! (I don’t mind, because I know that it won’t always be that way.)

The first year of your life has gone by entirely too quickly, and I’m thankful for each and every one of those days that we’ve shared together. We were able to make it possible for me to work from home so I could be the one to care for you, and it’s certainly not lost on me that this is an enormous privilege. Getting to spend every day with you has been a dream come true for me, thanks to your hard-working daddy and tons of help from your grandparents in Marietta. In fact, my parents moved away from their home in FL (where they’d lived for almost 30 years) to be close to you, little girl! They could not have been more excited to be a big part of your life, and I’m forever grateful for their help. Your Grandma is your #1 babysitter and definitely one of your very favorite people.

You are the twinkle in your daddy’s eye, and I have no doubt you’ll be thick as thieves as you get older. And while he probably wouldn’t take to the Internet to write a long-winded letter about how much he loves you (that’s totally my thing), I know that he has loved you deeply since before you were born. It was obvious in the delivery room when he was pushing so hard alongside me that the nurse had to tell him to stop before he hurt himself.ūüėČ He spent countless late-night hours swaddling and rocking and singing to you as a newborn (he swore that country music was your favorite). He comes into your room almost every morning before work to sit with us for a few minutes while I feed you, he begs you for your slobbery kisses, and he hugs you so tight that sometimes I think you might pop! You are so very, very fortunate to have him for your daddy.

You are happy and healthy. You are growing, learning, and thriving. You are hilarious, sassy, and so darn cute. You are my best little friend. God truly outdid himself when He gave you to us!

Ladybug, you are my favorite way to wake up, and before I go to sleep every night, I scroll through our photos from the day because I already kinda miss your sweet face. I love you more than words could ever express, more than all the stars in the sky, and more than all the kisses I could ever give you (and that’s a lot). Thank you for giving me the best year of my life so far. ¬†I look forward to what each new day brings in the coming year as you move into toddlerhood. I know we’re in for a good ride with you, little firecracker!

Happy 1st birthday, my baby.

— brand new —
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— 1 month —
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— 2 months —
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— 3 months —
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— 4 months —
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— 5 months —
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— 6 months —
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— 7 months —
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— 8 months —
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— 9 months —
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— 10 months —
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— 11 months —
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— 1 year —unnamed

Seeing ATL by Bike

To cap off my birthday staycation earlier this week, we booked a tour with¬†Bicycle Tours of Atlanta. We’ve lived in Atlanta for just over 10 years now, but there’s still so much we don’t know about different neighborhoods around the city. When I found this company online, and then saw that it was rated #1 for outdoor activities on TripAdvisor, I knew I wanted to check it out.

We got up early on Wednesday morning and drove down to Studioplex in the Old Fourth Ward (which is an interesting building to check out on its own) to meet up for our tour. Turns out, we were the only ones signed up for that morning, so we got our own private tour with Robyn, the owner of the company! Taking a staycation in the middle of the week has its perks.ūüôā

After getting a quick lesson on the bikes and using gears (since we haven’t done that in a long time), we headed out on a 3 hour, 8 mile tour of the city. We started on the Beltline, and we stopped periodically to hear some stories and bits of trivia about different art pieces along the way. The story behind this giant installation, “The Art of Reconciliation”¬†by William Massey, is really interesting. I’m not going to spoil all the fun by sharing Robyn’s stories here, so you’ll just have to take the tour to find out more!

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The backside of the installation, which I’d have never thought to look at when just passing by. Can you spot the various pieces of “trash” used to create this piece?
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Fun fact: The owner of the building that houses Junkman’s, Savage Pizza, etc. in Little Five Points asked a local mural artist to paint the back of the building so that other street artists wouldn’t continue covering it in graffiti. From what we understood, mural work is respected by fellow street artists and is usually not “tagged” or painted over.
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Art by Greg Mike near the Krog St Tunnel. His work is recognizable not only by the colorful, surreal style, but by the chipped tooth in the mouth. We had fun looking for his other works along our ride the rest of the morning.
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Krog St Tunnel — thanks for the great photo, Robyn!
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You’d never guess that this piece is a self portrait¬†painted by a 70-year-old lady named Dot, would you?
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We found more Greg Mike work with the chipped tooth! This was part of a multi-artist collaboration, and I¬†loved the “Where the Wild Things Are” inspiration. #staywild
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Like I said, we’ve lived here for 10 years now, and there are still so many neighborhoods that we have yet to¬†really explore. Sure, we’ve been to shows and restaurants¬†in Inman Park and Little 5 Points, have walked the Beltline, and have driven past Oakland Cemetery too many times to count. But seeing these places by bike is a much more¬†up close and personal way to get to know the city that we call home. We rode into The Stacks Lofts complex in Cabbagetown, which has amazing history and also houses one of the coolest, most unique pool areas I’ve ever seen. We rode through part of¬†Oakland Cemetery, which I’m sort of embarrassed to admit I’d never been in until now. It’s such a beautiful, fascinating part of Atlanta, and I can’t wait to go back for an event or tour. Who knew that they host about as many weddings each year as burials??

I’m so happy we tried out a different way to see Atlanta. It doesn’t hurt that we got in some good exercise, too. Robyn, who started Bicycle Tours of Atlanta, is such a lovely lady and is truly a wealth of knowledge about the various neighborhoods of Atlanta and the history that consumes them.¬†This is something I’ll suggest to anyone¬†who is new to the city, visiting for a weekend, or even who has lived here for years.

Also,¬†Robyn was kind enough to offer a 15% discount to you guys for any future tours booked by¬†Labor Day (9/5/16)! Just use code: MELISSA at checkout. I hope you’ll check them out soon!

Celebrating 33 with a Staycation

When Craig asked what I wanted for my birthday this year, I asked for an experience instead of tangible gifts. He happily agreed to my idea of doing an overnight staycation in Atlanta, so he booked a room at the Intercontinental Buckhead, and I got to planning. (Of course I wanted to plan my own birthday outing, right?)

My amazing mom kept Leighton for the day and night so we could have a fun little mid-week getaway all to ourselves. We started the staycation off with a walk on the Beltline and took a break for lunch at Ladybird Grove & Mess Hall — somewhere that we’d yet to make it to, but that has been on my list for quite a while. It¬†did not disappoint! We shared the fried pickles (the basket¬†included fried red peppers, which were our favorite) and a couple beers along with our sandwiches. He had the Torta Cubano and I had the Spatchock Chicken Melt – both were super filling and tasty. The decor inside is like a campfire mixed with a lodge with a big screened porch and tons of outdoor seating to enjoy the Beltline. I can’t wait to go back!

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We wandered around Krog St Market (and may have made a stop by Little Tart Bakeshop) and then walked the Beltline back to Ponce City Market to kill some time until Skyline Park (the Coney Island-style rooftop park) opened for the afternoon.
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Skee-ball is one of my favorite games ever — it totally makes me feel like a kid again! So we of course got a few rounds in, and it was so nice being there on a weekday because we practically had the place to ourselves. We won a little plush duckie for Leighton, which was so fitting, as she just started saying “dut” (for her rubber ducks) this week!
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We also rode the Heege Tower, which is so not scary like it looks, and it gives an even better, 360 degree view of the Atlanta skyline.
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Another perk of being there on a rather empty day… we beat the bartender there, so the manager treated us to samples of a few of their most popular drinks! They included 2 frozen options, which were yummy and so refreshing on such a hot day.
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We finished up with a friendly game of putt putt… I can’t even remember the last time I played this game. It was a little tricky, so that’s what I’ll blame my loss on….ūüôā
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Ah…. so nice to check into a hotel (or house/wherever we’re staying) and not have to haul half of our house in with us! Our room had the prettiest view of so, so many trees and Stone Mountain in the distance! We spent a little late afternoon time at the pool, helped ourselves to the complimentary lounge bar and snacks, and came back to the room to find a birthday cake and balloons from the hotel! Nicely done.
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We capped off the most amazing day with a wonderful birthday dinner at Aria¬†in Buckhead. The atmosphere is dark and romantic, and the food was delightful. I loved my beef short ribs, and Craig loved his scallop dish. Even though I’d already had the best peanut butter cookie at the hotel earlier (and a couple bites of that birthday cake), I couldn’t resist the warm caramel and chocolate cake for dessert.
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Despite originally wanting to sleep in on this staycation, I ended up booking a tour with Bicycle Tours of Atlanta for the next morning, and I am so glad I did! Waking up early was not welcomed, but once we got going on our bike tour with the owner, Robyn, I think we were both happy we decided not to be totally lazy instead.ūüôā We rode for 3 hours and covered about 8 miles on¬†part of the Beltline and through the neighborhoods of Inman Park, Candler Park, Old Fourth Ward, Little 5 Points, and more. It was such a cool way to see the city!

Robyn was kind enough to offer a discount code for my blog readers! Use code: MELISSA to receive 15% off any future¬†tour booked by¬†Labor Day (9/5/16). I’m going to share more photos and tidbits we learned in a dedicated post, so check that out soon!
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We had the best 24 hour staycation. It was just what I wanted and just what we needed. A little relaxation, a lot of fun adventures, and some solid time for just the two of us. Best of all, we didn’t even have to go far to do that! Our city is filled with so much to do, and I have a new appreciation for the greatness that is the “staycation.” Before it was even over, we decided this needs to become a regular thing. A big thank you to Craig for treating me to an amazing birthday gift of adventure, great food, and time together!

Leighton @ 11 months

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Weight: approx¬†20 lbs 15 oz (in late July at a doctor’s appt)

Milestones: She walks!! At just 10 months and 2 days, she officially took her first multiple steps all on her own! Each day, she takes more consecutive steps before plopping down on the floor, but she’s always right back up again. She also learned how to climb the entire basement staircase… (with me right behind her and holding on, of course). She’s one determined and fearless little girl.

Just a few days after hitting 10 months, we realized she’d cut her top front tooth (on the right)! Other than waking up slightly earlier several days in a row, we haven’t noticed any signs of teething or fussiness, thankfully. And while on vacation, she cut her top left tooth – soon she won’t be so snaggletoothed.ūüôā

She’s learned how to point and clap, so her little bag of tricks is growing quickly.

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Likes: Food! In this month of the finger food adventure, she’s been introduced to (and likes) strawberries, black beans, Hawaiian rolls, Greek yogurt, baked sweet potatoes, silver dollar pancakes, pears, potatoes, yellow bell peppers, pinto beans, peaches, and yogurt… oh, and cheese dip. So far, the only things she’s not a big fan of are meatballs and mandarin oranges. (She doesn’t know what she’s missing out on…)

She loves being clapped for when she does something good, and she’s obsessed with the rubber duckies who live in her bath tub. Every day, she makes a beeline for her bathroom to go rescue them.

Dislikes: She is generally quite happy, except when we take one of her favorite things away from her (my wallet and car keys tend to be the top favorites). She’s also still annoyed almost every time we put her on the changing table, but there’s no getting around that.¬†

Fun stuff & firsts: Leighton has started “dancing” to music (rocking back and forth). It’s the cutest! She can stand up on her own without needing to pull up on anything, and she walks around the house with her arms up, following Coco wherever she goes. Coco is not a big fan of this game, but she tolerates it because she loves LL.

We had some fun play dates, picked blueberries at our friend Anna’s new house, and are in the process of setting up LL’s playroom down in the basement. She loves it so far!

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New sounds include “ooooooo!” (usually while pointing at the air) and “na-na-na-na.”

One of our favorite things she currently does is pick up an item and flip it over and over again in her hands, and then she’ll grab another item and stack them together in one hand to carry around the house. These items range from teething toys to notepads to sunscreen bottles. She doesn’t discriminate.¬†

We’re saying “NO” a lot now that she’s walking and free to roam around (with supervision) and get into things. Sometimes she listens and stops whatever we’ve told her not to do. Sometimes she completely ignores us… but I’m pretty sure she knows what she’s doing.¬†

One of her favorite things to do is push the kitchen chairs around the room until she runs into a wall or counter. She also has a serious newfound love for her little bucket of plastic shapes (which she’s had for months). She’ll carry the bucket all around the house, pull the shapes out, put them back in, and bang two together. Aside from random items like coolers and plastic cups, I’d say this is her favorite toy right now.¬†

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Leighton took her second beach trip this year Рwe went to Rosemary Beach, FL for a full week with my family. Read about it here! 

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It’s hard to believe that this our monthly update before Leighton turns one. She’s walking, babbling, and so silly. She loves to wave, clap for herself, and give very slobbery kisses. ¬†The time flies so quickly, and she just keeps getting more and more fun!¬†

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A Big Family Vacay in Rosemary Beach

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We used to take a yearly vacation with my family, and those trips have always created fond memories for us. The past couple years went by without a trip coming together, so this year, we decided a beach vacation was in order. We rented a gorgeous home in Rosemary Beach, FL for a week with my parents, brother and sister-in-law, and her parents. We’ve been to the area a few times for weddings, and we’ve always wanted to go back for a longer period of time to just relax and enjoy the quaint little towns that line 30A.

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On our way down, we stopped to visit our grandmother Nannie in Samson, AL, and I’m so glad we made time for that. We hadn’t seen her since Christmas when Leighton was just 3 months old… so needless to say, a lot had changed! She got to watch her walk all around the house and see her wave and clap, which are our favorite new tricks of hers. She also made us her famous lemon cake to take down to the beach. Yum!

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The week went more quickly than I thought it would. We spent our lazy days trekking back and forth from the white sand beach, hanging at our pool, eating out and cooking at the house, riding bikes and taking long morning walks through Rosemary down to Alys Beach, and enjoying everything else Rosemary has to offer. Oh, and baking in the unbelievably hot, humid weather. I’m from Florida, and I really don’t remember it being this hot.

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My favorite day started with a nice couple mile walk along 30A while Leighton snoozed in the stroller (our morning routine), followed by a lazy morning at the house with Leighton before eating lunch and then heading down to the beach by ourselves to enjoy a little sun. Craig acted as the imaginary net for Andrew and Lauren’s very competitive paddle ball game in our pool that afternoon, and then we had our own little happy hour on the patio with a game of Buzzword, snacks, and wine.

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The day was followed by of a home-cooked meal of flank steak, au gratin potatoes, green beans, and rosemary bread and peach cobbler from the local farmers market that we’d picked up that Sunday. After putting L to bed, we hopped on some beach cruisers with Andrew and Lauren and rode down to Seacrest Beach to listen to some acoustic music under the stars (and amidst the many bikes for rent). Andrew had us in hysterics over the pineapple bucket hat he’d bought at the souvenir shop and would not take off, despite the many pleas from Lauren. We told him that 1995 wanted its fashion statement back, but he did not care, as usual. It was a pretty perfect vacation day.

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On our last full day, the boys played golf while most of us girls went to The Pearl (the local boutique hotel) for a few hours of pool time, lunch with a view, and massages. After chasing an infant around for several days and having many fun but not-so-relaxing trips down to the beach, it was a much-needed escape for mama. It was hotter than I would have liked (as it was the entire trip), but it was so nice to sit by the quiet pool with a mojito and a magazine and not have to entertain a tiny human in the hot hot sun. My most amazing mom offered to babysit Leighton so I could enjoy an afternoon of pampering and relaxation, and it was much appreciated!! We truly are so fortunate to have such an incredible grandmother for Leighton… she loves spending time with her, but she’s also so very generous in giving her time so that we can have a little time to ourselves – even when she’s also on vacation. I can’t thank her enough for everything she does for us!

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Leighton wasn’t a big fan of the sand, but she seemed to enjoy hanging out in the ocean with us, taking beach naps (as long as I held her, which I didn’t mind), eating lots of puffs and yogurt melts (a new discovery for her this week!), playing with her toys (and coolers) in the beach house, and getting lots and lots of love from her grandparents, aunt, and uncle. I think she’s really going to miss all of her fans now that we’re home!

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It’s always nice to come home after being away for a week, but it was such a wonderful trip together! This was our first Sims family trip with grandbaby in tow, and it was certainly one filled with laughter and great memories.

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A Few of My Favorite Things (153)

[hanging with Craig’s family]
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[weekday pool time]
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[her new favorite toy]
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[stuffed shells bolognese]
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[Friday play date]
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[every dinner date should require B.W.D.]
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[Decatur Square]
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[Craig’s most recent project]
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[our resident comedian]
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[homemade donut ice cream sammies]
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What a busy week! Craig’s family came to visit for a couple days¬†after his sister’s tournament in¬†Chattanooga, and we spent our time visiting, eating Craig’s delicious smoked pork shoulder, playing with Coco and Leighton, and getting some pool time. Leighton and I went to our weekly music class, which she seems to enjoy and get more out of with every week. It was so funny watching her roll around on the new, plush carpet in the music room this week – haha!

Friday was a day of two dates for us — a playdate with our friends at their Avondale Estates neighborhood pool, and a dinner date with my favorite guy. We love The Iberian Pig in downtown Decatur, but we haven’t been back in a few years. I earned a gift card from using Opentable.com for so long, so this¬†was the perfect opportunity to use it. The bacon wrapped dates, charcuterie and cheese selection, pork cheek tacos, and everything else we had were even better than we remembered.

Aside from fun, we also managed to spend a decent amount of the weekend working. I had a photo session for one of my sweet little newborn clients who just turned 6 months, and Craig finished up re-doing much of our deck. He has been working tirelessly on it¬†whenever¬†he has free time, and it looks so great! It’s much more sturdy to hold up to our crazy Coco, who likes to jump on the railings and bark at things, and it looks better, too. And if that weren’t enough, he spent the entire day Sunday helping a friend re-build HIS deck! Good, good man.

Hope y’all have a nice week!

Chattanooga Getaway

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Last weekend, we took a little family getaway to Chattanooga, TN. Believe it or not, I’ve never been there, despite the hundreds of¬†times we’ve driven through there on our way to and from Nashville over the years. Craig’s little sister had a softball tournament scheduled for the weekend, and we surprisingly had some free time, so we decided to make a trip up.

First off – why have we never made a point to go there before now?! It’s so easy to get to from Atlanta… it took us an hour and 45 minutes door to (Airbnb) door. And it’s such a pretty place once you get away from the interstate!

We got in town Thursday afternoon, and after checking out our adorable cottage-like rental house, we headed over to the Coolidge Park area. The park area is beautiful and pristine, and the location by the river couldn’t be nicer… but it was SO.SO.HOT. We almost immediately regretted the decision to put Leighton in the stroller to walk around, but we quickly found the antique carousel, and she and I thoroughly enjoyed our ride. We joked that she looked a little seasick when we got off, but I think she had fun.

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I got a ton of great restaurant recommendations before going on our trip, and one of the most popular suggestions was Taco Mamacita. Since it was near the park, we continued our walk and sweated our way to dinner. It’s located in a funny little shopping center that is obviously quite old (in a sort of cool, retro way), but there are a few great places sprinkled throughout. Dinner was delicious and super fast, which is greatly appreciated when dining with an impatient infant. I loved their California Club taco, and Craig raved about the Sloppy Jose (which included Fritos in the taco!). We wandered over to Milk & Honey for gelato, and Leighton was a HUGE fan of the couple tastes she got! I think we’ve created a monster.

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We spent Friday morning feeling like locals… early breakfast at Aretha Frankenstein’s for the thickest pancakes we’ve ever seen and then a long walk through the neighborhood while Leighton snoozed. Thank goodness we planned to spend the main part of the day at the aquarium so we could get out of the heat. The aquarium consists of two big buildings, one for “river journey” and one for “ocean journey.” It was a long outing for the little lady, but she was a pretty good (quite vocal) sport as we walked through the exhibits. I think our favorites were the butterfly room, stingray touch tank, funny penguins, and the multitude of jellyfish tanks.

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After leaving downtown, we took a little detour up to Lookout Mountain and walked/drove through some of the neighborhood streets admiring the view and the incredible mountaintop homes. I had no idea that an actual neighborhood would be that far up the mountain, and so many of the homes were absolutely amazing!

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We headed back downtown for a quick dinner at Lupi’s Pizza, which we really liked, and then drove straight back to Milk & Honey for more dessert. (So bad!) We also picked up some pastries for Saturday’s breakfast, including a homemade Nutella pop tart with sprinkles… talk about being right up my alley.

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Saturday was spent going back and forth to the softball fields for Craig’s sister’s 3 games. Despite the heat, Leighton was a trooper, and we got to see Cassie’s team win 2 of their games for the day. Go Music City Mustangs!

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Due to baby’s bedtime (which we pushed back a decent bit for vacation purposes), we spent each night hanging out on the front porch swing or the back patio drinking wine, talking about how much were obsessed with our baby, and trying not to be eaten alive by killer mosquitos. Aside from those pests, it was the perfect way to wind down and relax after being on the go all day.

By the way, this was our first experience with renting through Airbnb, and we were very pleased with the process and the home we chose! It was so nice to have a whole home (especially a kitchen!), porch, and yard to utilize while traveling with a baby. We took advantage of the walkable location and enjoyed exploring the neighborhood and picking out our favorite homes. A big plus was that the house was just a couple minutes’ drive from pretty much everything we wanted to do, and it felt like we were locals for the weekend. Never would have had that experience by staying at a downtown hotel! Whenever possible going forward, I think we’ll try to rent a home when we take Leighton with us on vacation. If you haven’t tried it yet, get $30 off your first booking!

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We had a lovely time in Chattanooga. We’ll just plan to come back next time in the fall so it’s not 100 degrees outside.ūüôā