happy 34!


Today our favorite guy turns 34!

Craig, I dare say that 33 was probably the best year yet for you (and me), which may have just a little something to do with that red-haired fireball known as LL.ūüėČ

We have you totally outnumbered in the Hayes household, but you don’t seem to mind much. You have such a go-with-the-flow personality and are always up for (almost) any of my crazy ideas, projects, and plans. You cook almost all of our dinners and sometimes even do the laundry… sometimes. hehe

Even though you’re an Auburn and Tennessee fan at heart, you’ll still travel to Athens with me to cheer on the Dawgs (or at least tailgate) each season.  You’re an avid country music fan, but you also have a shared love for my Phil Collins and JT playlists.

It’s been so fun to witness your relationship with Leighton growing over the past year. She’s the spitting image of you, and she loves saying “dada” alllll the time, even when I ask her to say “mama.” You’re the most amazing dad to her and Coco and you’re the best husband and best friend to me.

You’re handy, smart, silly, handsome, and the rock of our family. We are so fortunate to have you all to ourselves, and we love you more than you’ll ever know!

I look forward to watching what 34 has in store for you this year. Hopefully it will include a lot of laughter, adventures, and more joy than you thought possible. Happy birthday, my love!

Fall Bucket List Item: Pumpkins


I didn’t make an official Fall Bucket List for this year, but I do have several things in mind that I want to do/make/see/eat throughout the fall. One of the first items involved lots of pumpkins — pumpkin picking, pumpkin painting/decorating, and eating all the pumpkin things. So we headed up to Burt’s Pumpkin Farm in North GA for a weekday field trip with my mom. Going on a weekday is highly recommended if possible, as we had the place almost to ourselves.


Leighton was much more interested in running through the rows of pumpkins and picking up wood chips than choosing pumpkins to take home,¬†but I don’t think anyone was surprised by that. Burt’s is a definite drive from Atlanta (took us well over an hour), but it’s worth it for the pretty drive and the¬†massive selection they offer.




So many giant pumpkins!



Later in the week, we set up shop to paint a pumpkin with this little goblin. I’ll just say that I’m thankful I decided to buy washable paint…



She was more interested in painting herself and trying to lick the plates of paint, so I finished up her pumpkin… isn’t that how it usually goes with things like this anyway?ūüėČ



Now the house is fully pumpkined-out and ready for Halloween!


september recap

I’m not sure how the rest of September flew by so quickly, but it certainly did! After Leighton’s birthday, we had some other fun things going on the last couple weeks of the month, so I thought I’d recap here before we get into full-on FALL mode. Who’s excited about that?!

I got to spend a long weekend in Asheville, NC on a girls trip celebrating one of my best friends on her bachelorette party. It was my first girls trip in a couple years and also my first time leaving Craig home to man the house with Leighton…. just a tad scary — mostly for him! :)¬†Asheville is such a beautiful place, and the Grove Park Inn (where we stayed) lived up to the hype!

We spent the weekend eating way too much good food, hanging out at Wicked Weed Brewery downtown,¬†doing a wine and beer tour all day Saturday, enjoying the mountain views from the GPI (no actual hiking took place), and just having a fun time with D’s girls.












Leighton spent a lot of time this past month playing with her new toys, riding her trike and cozy coupe around the ‘hood, trying her first kids meal, going to music class, and making a big mess during meals. Oh, and she’s now mastered the big, slobbery, open-mouthed “kiss/lick”¬†when you ask her for a kiss.










We welcomed three new baby friends into the world this month, and I was fortunate enough to be asked to photograph all these sweet babies! My job is the best. I had a fun little girls night out last week with my old coworkers at our new fave meeting spot, Krog Street Market. Among other things, I had the most amazing frozen sipping chocolate, pictured below.



We also started prepping for Halloween before we headed up to Nashville for a wedding last weekend. Our house is now officially Halloween-ed. Bring on Fall!


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.


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!

Leighton was correct in her “DIRD!!!” exclamation when we got to feed¬†birdseed to a parakeet.

And I definitely had a nightmare that night about a giant snake being on my pillow. I wonder why.

The birthday girl in her adorable donut jammies::

Girlfriend looks excited here, but we soon found out that she clearly prefers frozen store-bought pancakes to my homemade blueberry ones. #moreforme

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!

Smash cake #2 was a big hit!

Birthday party day!

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!

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


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


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.


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!


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.


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!

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.


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.


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!

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…


Leighton is ONE!


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


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! 


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.¬†


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.


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!¬†


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!





















Happy 1st Birthday, my baby!


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 —

— 1 month —

— 2 months —

— 3 months —

— 4 months —

— 5 months —

— 6 months —

— 7 months —

— 8 months —

— 9 months —

— 10 months —

— 11 months —

— 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!


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?

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.


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.

Krog St Tunnel — thanks for the great photo, Robyn!


You’d never guess that this piece is a self portrait¬†painted by a 70-year-old lady named Dot, would you?




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!


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.



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!




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.



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.


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

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.



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.


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!

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


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.


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!


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.¬†


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! 


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!¬†