ThankFULL 

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Another Thanksgiving has come and gone, and it’s hard to believe that the Christmas season is upon us. We stayed in town last weekend to celebrate the holiday with my family, and it was a lovely, relaxing, nice way to spend the past few days.

Thursday was spent at my brother’s in-laws’ house. They are so gracious to host a big Thanksgiving meal each year for their family, and they always include us when we’re not traveling. I love that our families mesh so well that we like to spend holidays together. ­čÖé ┬áLeighton was OBSESSED with their two daschunds and spent a good part of our time there following them around and yelling “dod! dod! dod!”

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My brother fried a turkey and my dad fried his specialty okra, and we had about 7 different kinds of potato dishes, as well as a couple veggies thrown in for good measure. I made my grandmother Nana’s famous pumpkin chiffon pie, and it turned out a lot like I remember from childhood. ┬áThere was enough food to feed probably 3x the large crowd we had, so we got to take home leftovers, which is one of the best parts!

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We spent the rest of our day napping, watching football, and just relaxing/eating leftovers. It was glorious. And speaking of thankFULL, we have so much to be thankful for this year! Our healthy, happy, thriving baby girl comes in at the top of the list, though. We’ve had the most incredible year, and I’m so grateful for the abundant blessings we’ve been given.

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I snuck in a couple family photo sessions over the weekend, but work is finally winding down after an insane two month holiday rush. One of my college friends who now lives out of state dropped by to visit and meet Leighton Friday afternoon, and it was so fun catching up! We had a little family date at our new fave Mexican place down the street, and those ritas and cheese dip hit the spot after all that turkey day food.

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We totally jinxed ourselves talking about our great fake Christmas tree that we’ve had since we got married, because Saturday morning when we put it together, 1/3 of the tree wouldn’t light up. Go figure! So off to Home Depot we went in search of our first real tree. We were crunched for time due to friends coming over to watch football, and we miraculously both agreed on the first tree we looked at. It’s a pretty big guy – probably 8′ tall or so, and it smells AMAZING!! I grew up with real Christmas trees, but I’d forgotten about that smell. No need for “Christmas tree in a can” this year! (Craig may disagree – he has a slight obsession with that scent.)

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We’ve trimmed our tree, and our halls are decked, so it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas around here!

Christmas Traditions

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It may not be Thanksgiving yet, but we’ve already gotten started on some new┬áChristmas traditions around here. We decided at the last minute to visit┬áSanta last year at a childrens’ store on the Westside, which was great since she was so little. This year, though, I wanted┬áto go with a Santa set-up that was a little more grand. We made a weekday trip to Lenox Mall in Buckhead and it was the best idea ever — not a single person in line! She wore her Christmas striped jammies and looked like the cutest little candy cane. We had Santa all to ourselves, and while Leighton was NOT a fan, we got some priceless photos. She can usually be convinced to give a high five to just about anyone, but she just swatted his hand away… poor guy! I guess he’s probably used to it. She did muster up a wave before we walked off, so hopefully she’s still on the nice list. ­čśë

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We also had to try out the famed Pink Pig, which has been an Atlanta tradition for years. Again, going on a weekday before Thanksgiving proved to be a great idea. No line, and we were in and out in less than 15 minutes. She was much more open to meeting Priscilla Pig, who was a giant walk-around character, and she seemed to like the little train ride. Or at least she didn’t dislike┬áit — I’m not sure she really knew what was going on.

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Leighton is still small enough to not really understand most of the things we bring her to, but it’s so much fun starting these family traditions that we’ll always cherish. And those Santa outtakes… they’re exactly what I expected, and I’ll love them forever. Screaming Santa photos are kind of a right of passage… right?

Next up, decking the halls for Christmas — but not until Thanksgiving is over! Gotta give Turkey Day its moment. What other fun holiday traditions should we try out this year?

BOO! A Halloween Recap

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Halloween was Leighton’s first official holiday last year, so it’s been really fun to see how drastically different everything was for the holiday this year. We’ve been all over town taking in festive events and parties with friends, and we topped it off on Monday with a big neighborhood celebration.

First — the costume. I’d been thinking about what she could be for months. Since she is too young to have an opinion one way or the other, I wanted to take advantage of that and come up with something unique. We finally settled on a hula girl, but more specifically a dashboard hula girl… you know, the little plastic souvenir that bobs around on car dashboards. When she hears music, she “dances” by bobbing her head around and bouncing up and down, and we’ve joked that she looks like a bobblehead doll… so a dashboard hula girl made perfect sense! I’d been dying to have a family costume (they’re really the best thing ever), so Craig and I went as Hawaiian tourists. Shoutout to Craig’s dad for his large assortment of Hawaiian shirts that we borrowed!

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I found the most adorable, handmade crocheted hula costume on Etsy, which consisted of a skirt, coconut bra, lei, and headband. We added in a ukulele and pineapple cup as her props, and we dressed her wagon up with some leis and ┬á“Aloha” and “Greetings from Hawaii” signs that you might find on the base of a dashboard hula girl souvenir. I’d bought a nude long sleeve onesie because it’s typically so chilly on Halloween, but the weather could not have been more perfect for Miss Hula’s costume!

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Some friends hosted us Sunday night for our 2nd annual kids costume preview party, and we had such a great time! Leighton played with our friends’ kids and their ride-on toys, ran around their yard, ate homemade pizza, and tried to eat some stickers — basically the best evening ever.

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I love creating traditions like this and making memories for our little family. It was so nice for Leighton to have some more kid playtime since she’s home with me everyday, and she loved it. She’s definitely not a shy child, which I’m thankful for.

On Halloween night, our neighborhood hosts a big party, which has always been our favorite yearly activity with our neighbors. We kicked it off with a potluck in the common area, complete with dinner and Rice Krispie pumpkins, ghost dirt cups, and monster cupcakes. The kids ran wild around the grassy area, and we had a pi├▒ata and costume contest… Miss Hula won 3rd place for girls’ costumes, too! I don’t think she cared much about her trophy, but we’ll of course be displaying it on the bookshelf in her room! ­čśë

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As the sun set, our street was filled with trick-or-treaters running from house to house. We pulled L around the block in her wagon and stopped at a couple houses for treats. She was pretty pumped about the stickers and animal crackers she got (so great for a little one who doesn’t need a boatload of candy) and also managed to eat her way through a kit kat wrapper to get to the treat. She spent the next hour running around our yard and driveway, which is pretty much her favorite activity right now. My mom was kind enough to keep an eye on her and even put her to bed so that we could visit with our neighbors and hand out candy to older kids who come through from surrounding areas. We love the “after trick-or-treating” time with the adults — just hanging out in the driveway eating leftover candy and drinking some of our neighbors’ famous witch’s brew.

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I can already see how experiencing holidays with a child makes everything so much more magical. Even though she’s only one and doesn’t really know what’s going on, it was so fun planning her costume, taking her to holiday events and parties, snapping a million photos, and making these memories that she’ll be able to look back on one day. I hope you all had a festive, fun Halloween!

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