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