Farewell to 2015


To say that 2015 was incredible would be the understatement of the year. It started out with so much excitement and anticipation, literally finding out 2 days into the new year that we had a baby on the way. That excitement only multiplied as we got to see baby Hayes in our first ultrasound in early February, and then again later that month, which is when we shared our news with the world.


I documented my pregnancy with weekly photos and blog posts and took bump photos at some of our favorite spots around Atlanta, as well as pretty places while on vacation.



We had no shortage of trips this year, with 5 weddings taking place 5 months in a row — and all of them were out of state (Tallahassee, Asheville, Rosemary Beach, Nashville, and Charleston).



In mid-April, we had the most exciting ultrasound of all — the gender reveal!! Craig almost passed out when we found out it was a girl! And I, of course, could not have been more thrilled! We were going to be in Asheville that weekend for my friend’s wedding, so we had cakes and cupcakes filled with pink icing delivered to our families to share the news before we made the public announcement (a photo of Coco in front of the crib filled with tons of pink balloons).


In mid-May, we treated ourselves to a Babymoon/6th Anniversary trip to Puerto Rico. It was perfect – we laid by the pool overlooking the ocean, ate way too much, walked the streets of PR, and just enjoyed being together on one of our last vacations before becoming parents.

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Several of our best friends showered us with a couples BBQ in Nashville in June, and it couldn’t have been more special! We were surrounded by Craig’s family and our Nashville friends (and some extra special Atlanta friends who hosted it), and there was lots of pink, BBQ, and donuts!!


On the drive to our friends’ wedding in Charleston in mid-July, we finally agreed on a name for baby girl – Leighton Lane! We laughed that her nickname might become LL Cool Hayes (in reference to singer LL Cool J), and it kind of stuck with our friends while on that trip.


My sweet sister-in-law threw me the most gorgeous baby shower in August, with just over a month until Leighton’s arrival. It was absolutely perfect – a garden party theme filled with paper flowers, my favorite treats, and my favorite ladies.


Later that month, we celebrated my last birthday before becoming a mommy, as well as my dad’s 60th!

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I spent the last couple weeks of my pregnancy preparing our home and (not so) patiently waiting on Leighton to make her debut. And just like her mama, she made a timely arrival… only missing her due date by a few hours! On Thursday, September 10th, our lives changed forever as we welcomed Leighton into the world and into our hearts. It was simply the best, most memorable moment of our lives.


Since then, we’ve been adjusting to life with a new baby. There have been a number of sleepless nights and trying times, but there have been many more laughs and heart-melting moments shared and memories made together as a little family. Leighton is growing and changing every day, and we’re learning right along with her. 

Along the way, both Craig and I quit the jobs we’d had for the past 9 years. I am now focusing on my photography business, and Craig went into business with my brother and dad. So many changes all around, and we couldn’t be more thankful for God’s perfect timing!

When Leighton was just a month old, we traveled to Jacksonville to celebrate my grandmother’s 90th  birthday, a truly special occasion. Later that month, we celebrated Craig’s first birthday as a daddy! Our first baby, Coco Bear, also turned 5 in November!

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Leighton has now had her first Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, which is hard to believe. She’s a great little traveler, and we look forward to lots of family vacations with her in the coming months and years. Many of my favorite memories from growing up revolve around the traveling we did, and I hope to do the same for Leighton!


2015 has been the most wonderful, life-changing, tiring, happy year of our lives – what a blessing! Despite being more exhausted than I ever thought possible, I’m happier and more fulfilled than I’ve ever been, and I feel humbled, honored, and so very thankful that God chose us to be Leighton’s parents. Here’s to a whole new year of adventures in 2016!

Leighton’s First Christmas


It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and this one was no exception, as it was Leighton’s first Christmas! Even though she doesn’t have a clue what fun we’ve been having this season, it’s amazing how much more exciting and special every holiday gathering, party, and activity becomes once you have a child to share them with.


Coco has also enjoyed Christmas — she got some new toys and treats, and she loved having my family and Lauren’s family over for our annual dinner, which we did a couple nights before Christmas this year. We had fried turkey, popovers, and lots of delicious sides and desserts. I made a butter pecan cake (I got the recipe from Craig’s grandmother over Thanksgiving), and it was a big hit. On Christmas Eve, we headed to Lauren’s parents’ home for a big group dinner with lots of their family and friends. Andrew and Lauren cooked an Italian feast, and we stayed for hours visiting with everyone. These two nights have  become some of my favorite yearly traditions. Also, Leighton turned over a new leaf this week and decided she’d let lots of new people hold her, which was a very welcomed surprise!




On Christmas morning, we got up with Leighton to see what Santa brought her, which was fun for us, even though she doesn’t yet understand just how exciting this is. For her gifts, we went with the “want, need, wear, read” gift guideline, and she got a couple things from each category. Her “want” was a colorful Bla Bla Kid travel play mat, which is so cute and soft! For her “need,” she received a pink suitcase with her name embroidered on it (and the cutest little matching travel case) for all of our upcoming trips. She also got a silicone bib, a Wonderwoman bib/cape, and a set of baby spoons because she’ll soon be starting on rice cereal (how is that possible?!). She got several new colorful headbands and a tiny pair of gold moccasins for “wear.” And finally, for “read,” she got 2 board books to add to her collection — Noah’s Ark and Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type. 


She had her 2nd Christmas at my parents’ new house in Marietta. They cooked a big breakfast, and we all opened gifts — Leighton was thrilled to get the pony she wanted! (Don’t tell her it’s not real.) I can’t get over the adorable clothes she received, as well as a really cute personalized book, The Little Girl Who Lost Her Name, and a sweet wooden name puzzle that my dad had made for her.


To continue our celebrations, we headed to Nashville to spend the rest of the weekend with Craig’s family. Leighton surprised us even more by letting several people hold her at the big family dinner…a Christmas miracle! She was spoiled with more generous gifts, including additions to her growing wardrobe, some learning toys and a pink swing, and THE CUTEST baby bathrobe with her nickname, LL Cool Hayes, embroidered on the back. It totally looks like a boxing robe, which is pretty hilarious to envision.


We had a fairly low key couple days with Craig’s family, but we did manage to coordinate a big lunch with several of our friends who went to high school with Craig. It was great to catch up and introduce LL to those who hadn’t yet met her.

It’s hard to believe that Leighton’s first Christmas has already come and gone, but what a memorable week it was! I can only imagine the holiday fun we’ll experience with her as she gets older!

A Few of My Favorite Things (141)

[L’s favorite outfit of the week]
[Garden Lights at the Atlanta Botanical Garden]
[L’s first visit to Auburn]
[the best baby accessory]
[family Christmas in South Alabama]
[Christmas caroling around Samson]
[anyone recognize Santa?]
[L’s first dolly is a hit!]
Oh what a fun weekend! We traveled down to Samson, AL for our annual Sims/Smith/Finch family Christmas over the weekend, and we had the best time introducing Leighton to yet another set of extended family. She’s been such a trooper with our car travels these past couple months, and while I think it was bit overwhelming for her to see so many new faces at once, she was a great little traveler. We got to spend quality time with my grandmother Nannie, aunts and uncles, cousins, and their many kids, and it’s so wonderful being able to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas together.

My aunt rented giant bounce houses and slides for the weekend, and I’m pretty sure my brother was one of the “kids” who enjoyed them the most! Craig has his turn playing Santa this year (shh, don’t tell!), we ate way too many sweets, we met some new additions to the big family, and Leighton got her first dolly. It was a lovely weekend, as always!

We also stopped through Auburn on the way down this year. We took my mom to Momma Goldberg’s for lunch (an Auburn staple) and L signed her name on the wall (actually, she wrote LLCoolHayes… of course). We visited downtown and got some AU goodies at J&M Bookstore, where my dad worked when he was in college, and then finished off our detour with milkshakes from Toomer’s Drugs. It was the perfect little pitstop!

I can’t believe it’s already time for Christmas this week. We’re looking forward to lots of fun gatherings and dinners this week with family — and of course, sharing this holiday with Leighton for the first time!

A Few of My Favorite Things (140)

[Stella & Dot outfit of the week:: Essential Fringe Necklace // Engravable Bar with Leighton’s birthdate // ZoZuBaby headband]10585c8b-1ee5-4074-a74d-b35688a6bb17
[baby elf in her Hanna Andersson jammies]
[6th annual Christmas ornament exchange]
[Lights of Life]
[Leighton’s first visit with Santa]
[festive attire all around]

It’s hard to believe that it’s already mid-December, but it’s been so fun getting in the Christmas spirit this week!  I had not one, but two Christmas ornament exchanges and girls dinners this week — one at Mezza Luna with my Springbluff college girls and one at American Food & Beverage (our 6th year in a row!). I ended up with 2 animal ornaments to add to my collection — a felt mouse wearing winter attire and a hot pink glass balloon animal dachshund. I love them!

We drove up to Life University on Friday to check out the huge light display on their campus, and we finished off our night in the burbs with dinner at Outback (blooming onion and all – yum!). On Saturday, we went to the Tinsel & Twine event at Westside Provisions District. It’s a free event at one of our favorite shopping/dining areas, and they had fake snow, carolers, free hot chocolate from West Egg, and a great Santa Claus with free photos! Leighton did great with being handed off to a stranger, which was surprising, and we had a fun morning walking around in the crazy warm 70+ degree weather. My mom had a slumber party with Leighton that night so that we could don our tackiest Christmas attire for our friends’ tacky sweater party. It’s not often (or ever) that we leave the house both wearing sweater dresses… hopefully Leighton isn’t scarred for life by her father’s outfit!

Leighton @ 3 months


Height + Weight: Approx 23″ | 13lbs 4oz (We didn’t have a monthly checkup, so we measured her ourselves for an estimate.)

Milestones: Oh my goodness, we have such a chatterbox on our hands! A couple weeks ago, we noticed that instead of crying when she woke up in her crib each morning, she was starting to “talk” — making lots of little noises and entertaining herself for quite a while before she started to get upset and really want to be picked up. Her coos and noises are absolutely adorable… we keep saying we wonder what stories she’s trying to tell us. 🙂

She is obsessed with her tongue! She sticks it out all the time and looks like a little lizard — it’s the cutest thing ever. 

Likes: She has become so incredibly smiley, especially when she’s lying on her back in our laps or on her changing table! And for some reason, getting to lie there in just her diaper is like icing on the cake to her!

Of all the baby-holding devices that we use to help us around the house from time to time, she seems to really enjoy the 4moms Bounceroo the most. I put her in it in our bathroom every morning and we listen to music while I get ready for the day. She’ll stay in that seat and be happy about it much longer than when in the swing downstairs. She probably just likes staring at the bathroom lights, but I’ll take it!

She’s also really started to enjoy her activity mat. She’ll happily lie there staring up at her monkey and puppy friends hanging above her head. It’s fun to see her focusing on objects, occasionally reaching out for them, and enjoying “play” time more and more!


Dislikes: Still being made to wait to eat once she’s decided she’s hungry. She also really dislikes being put in her car seat, but she usually calms down once the car starts moving… and then does not like it when the car stops. Makes long red lights fun. 🙂

She has started to get rather attached to me, which of course makes me feel like a million bucks, but it is also hard because I’d love to hand her off to everyone who wants to get in some baby snuggles. Hopefully this phase will pass before too long so that friends and family can enjoy holding her as much as I do! 

Fun stuff  & firsts: She had a very exciting first this month — our friend Amy’s son Jack, who is 2, managed to sneak in a kiss when we came to visit over Thanksgiving, and it was pretty darn sweet. 

We celebrated Leighton’s first Thanksgiving and took a road trip to Nashville to be with Craig’s family. This was her first time going to Tennessee, and we had so much fun introducing her to all of his extended family, as well as several of our friends. She’s now checked off 3 states in just 2.5 months — next up, Alabama for our Sims/Smith/Finch family Christmas!



A Few of My Favorite Things (139)

[Stella & Dot outfit of the week:: Havana Pendant necklace // Artisan Stretch Bracelets // Stitchfix top // green Old navy skinny jeans // gold Tieks flats]
[Christmas tree is trimmed]
[L’s ready for winter]

[12 weeks and obsessed with her tongue]
[happy birthday to the best mom and grandma!]
[decking the halls with Stella & Dot]
[sweet baby Raine]

I feel like I’ve said this every month, but how is it already December?! My mom and I started the month off with a trip to the Outlet Shoppes of Atlanta earlier this week (I still don’t understand how they get away with claiming Atlanta when they’re actually 45 minutes north in Woodstock, but I digress…). We didn’t really plan it this way, but it was the best time to go — the place was empty on a weekday morning after the madness of Black Friday, but all the sales were still going on. Score for us! We got Leighton that adorable peplum puffy coat from GAP Kids, but she was clearly not a fan!

We celebrated my mom’s birthday with lunch and dinner out on Thursday, and Leighton turned 12 weeks that day, too. It’s been so amazing having mom here full-time, and I know it was extra special for us all to be together for her birthday… especially when they didn’t have to turn around and go home to Florida afterward!

I kept busy with 3 more photo sessions (lots of babies being born!) and my holiday Stella & Dot trunk show/sample sale. It was an amazing turnout and so much fun to spend the afternoon with neighbors, friends, old coworkers, and my mom. It was also Leighton’s first trunk show – she loved it so much that she passed out and slept through a good bit of it. 

I’m looking forward to this coming week — girls Christmas dinners and ornament exchanges, a tacky sweater party, lunch with a friend, and finishing up the year for MHP with 4 more photo sessions.