Oh What Fun! Christmas 2016

Leighton’s 2nd Christmas was every bit as fun as I thought it would be! I feel like I hear it all the time, but the holidays truly are infinitely ¬†more magical once you have a child to experience them with. We spent well over a week celebrating with my family and then with Craig’s in Nashville, and it was a wonderful way to make it last just a little longer.

christmasweek2016-blog1

We had a little family dinner and gifts at our house with my parents, brother and sister-in-law before the two of them went out of town. Leighton spent the majority of the night begging for iced tea from Grandpa’s cup and playing with him in her kitchen. He was down on the floor eating fake food and having a ball with her, which was such a fun sight.
christmasweek2016-blog2

img_7615

img_1960

To take a break from cooking for the week, we had a somewhat low-key Christmas Eve with my parents at Atlanta Fish Market. Leighton was pretty restless and ended up sitting on the floor behind another table of people, just playing with her lunchbox. She doesn’t really appreciate a good meal yet. ūüôā
img_7712

We came home and put her right to bed so we could set up for Christmas morning. This was the first time I’ve been really excited to set up Santa’s gifts, and we couldn’t wait to see what she thought of everything the next morning. She’s still way too young to understand what is going on, but¬†the anticipation was exciting nonetheless. Seeing this photo almost makes me wish we could keep our tree up all year. Except not really, because pine needles were¬†everywhere. Also, Craig picked out her dish washer on his own and didn’t tell me about it until we put her gifts out. I love that he thought of something he knew she’d absolutely love, because she’s obsessed with helping unload the real one.
christmasweek2016-blog3

Leighton made a beeline for her new table and chairs and then set her sights on her fancy¬†new dish washer. She was clearly very excited once she figured out what it was, and it even has a button to turn it on the wash cycle. She wasn’t much for gift opening, but she did dig into her stocking and carried her new sippy cup and bag of Yogis while we opened gifts. She racked up with a portable DVD player for the car (Santa hoped that it would be helpful on the upcoming drive to Nashville), a magnet board and fabric alphabet magnets, a growth chart, some clothes, board books, and a puzzle. She also got some fun goodies in her stocking, which¬†has always been my favorite part. Coco was very pleased with her big bone, a toy, and an assortment of treats.
christmasweek2016-blog6

christmasweek2016-blog4

christmasweek2016-blog5

christmasweek2016-blog7

christmasweek2016-blog8

christmasweek2016-blog9

After our little family Christmas at home, we drove up to my parents’ house for a big breakfast and opening presents in our pjs. I hope this is a tradition that we’ll continue for¬†years to come! Leighton wasn’t at all interested in opening presents there, either, so she pulled Grandpa outside to play on her new slide and wander around in the yard. Both were happy as clams. ūüėČ
christmasweek2016-blog10

christmasweek2016-blog11

christmasweek2016-blog12

img_7807

The day after Christmas, we drove up to Nashville to spend the next several days with Craig’s family. We had such a nice time, and despite having lots of plans to see friends and family, it actually felt pretty relaxing. We ate a lot of home-cooked meals, Leighton had some serious play time with family, we got to see a couple of my best girlfriends and visit one of their new homes (and her new puppy!), and even managed to take¬†a few freezing walks around the neighborhood in the mornings.
img_7771

img_7782

Leighton was a huge fan of her new shopping cart, if you couldn’t tell from the photos below. She hilariously kept trying to get inside it like she does at the grocery store.
christmasweek2016-blog13

img_7832

img_7860

img_7853

img_7859

img_7874

img_7880

christmasweek2016-blog14

christmasweek2016-blog15

christmasweek2016-blog16

img_7889

img_7893

Her DVD player and new lift-the-flap book saved our delayed trip on the way home, thanks to some extra traffic outside of Atlanta. We had such a wonderful Christmas week, and it was sad to see it all come to an end. But it was also fun to end the year on such a great note, spent with family and some dear friends. I am already looking forward to the holidays next year!
img_7912

two thousand sixteen

unnamed

I feel like 2016 just began, and yet here we are, celebrating the end of another amazing year and looking forward to the next one. One thing I’ve learned this year is how much more quickly time really does seem to fly once¬†you have a child. I partly feel like time has been stolen from us, just moving so quickly on its way… but I am also grateful for each moment and day we have together. Thankfully, I’m no stranger to the camera, so this year’s adventures, both big and small, have been¬†pretty well-documented.

We rung in the new year with 2 other families at a cabin in Helen, GA. Leighton hadn’t quite figured out the party blowers yet, but she had a great time celebrating with her friends Chase, Landry, and Drew!

IMG_2742IMG_2751

The first few months of the year brought many baby milestones, including rolling over, sitting up, and eating her first foods. She is still obsessed with apples to this day, but she also has a host of other favorite foods.

4d3d884b-86ac-4dd6-aec6-0c1c64cf4d63

IMG_4199

JennyPerryPhotography-LeightonHayes6MonthsWEB-51
Leighton’s 1/2 birthday was of course documented with not one, but two photo sessions.¬†I¬†did one at home with her tutu and festive party hat, and then we had one done at my favorite local photo spot, Whittier Mill Park. We hired Jenny Perry Photography to capture our little family in our first professional session since her newborn photos, and I couldn’t be more in love with how they turned out. They are truly images I will cherish forever.
blog-Leighton6mos1

JennyPerryPhotography-LeightonHayes6MonthsWEB-14

JennyPerryPhotography-LeightonHayes6MonthsWEB-71

Leighton’s first Easter was spent with Craig’s family in Nashville, and it was such a lovely weekend. Her bunny-smocked dress for church was a tad big, but she was so darn cute in it, especially when clutching onto her basket that was the same size as her.
IMG_4841

In March, we started The Music Class, a local series of classes for infants and toddlers. We go to this class weekly and have such a fun time learning about rhythm/tone, various instruments, and playing with the kids in class. Leighton also enjoys rolling around the classroom floor on a regular basis.
IMG_0254

In April, we traveled to Franklin to attend Craig’s 15 year high school reunion from BGA. I’m still wondering how¬†in the world we are old enough to have been out of high school for 15 years…
IMG_0160

img_0116

Craig and I¬†celebrated our first Mother’s Day and Father’s Day with our little lady. They were such fun days filled with good meals, pedicures with mom (on my day), some boat time on the lake (on Craig’s day), and family time.
IMG_0418

IMG_0692

IMG_1961

We celebrated weddings of friends¬†in Newnan, GA; Blowing Rock, NC; and Nashville. The wedding in NC brought our¬†first time both being away from Leighton for a long weekend, and it went so well, thanks to L’s bff, Granny Ann. We also had wedding anniversary #7 (!!) and went out for a delicious dinner at The Mercury at PCM — I mainly wanted to go because of the firework cake!

img_1459

IMG_0764

IMG_1690

img_6171

img_6214

img_6626

Leighton went on not one, but two beach vacations this spring and summer. She liked the shell-filled sand at my grandmother’s beach house in St. Augustine, but she was not so thrilled by the sugar white sand in Rosemary Beach. She did, however, love being in the warm ocean of the Gulf, and she also enjoyed all the time she got to spend with her grandparents, uncle, and aunt!

StAug10

StAug12

IMG_5246

IMG_3046

IMG_3191

In July, we traveled up to Chattanooga, TN for our first little family trip with just the three of us. It was a quick weekend — we rented a cute Airbnb house and spent a couple days wandering the town in the most sweltering heat, visiting the aquarium, riding a carousel, and eating at a few really yummy local spots. We finished up our trip by catching a couple of Craig’s sister Cassie’s softball games during a tournament they had in town.

IMG_2429

IMG_2529

IMG_2467

Just a few days after turning 10 months, Leighton took her first steps! She’s been on the move ever since. She is a toddler tornado, to say the least, and I love the sound of the pitter patter of her little feet running all over our house — usually chasing Coco.
IMG_2845

I turned 33 in August, and Craig treated me to an overnight staycation. We stayed at the Intercontinental (which spoiled me with a birthday cake at our door), we walked and ate lunch on the Beltline, played games at Skyline Park at PCM, and had dinner at Aria. The next day, we took a guided city tour via bikes and saw some really cool parts of town, including a history of the graffiti and mural art in Atlanta. Such a wonderful way to ring in another trip around the sun!

IMG_3606

IMG_3607

IMG_3619

IMG_3639

In September, we celebrated Leighton’s¬†big milestone 1st birthday! We took her to the zoo for the first time, had a family cookout, and wrapped up her big weekend with a circus-themed birthday party, surrounded by about 60 of our closest friends and family members. I just can’t believe she’s already one! She loved the cake, by the way. She may not look like me, but she is definitely my child.

leighton1stbdayparty-mhpblog-26

leighton1stbdayparty-mhpblog-18

Craig turned 34 in October, and we ate our weight in goat cheese cake by his request. I took him on a surprise day date for lunch and shooting at a new gun range in Midtown, and we had a couple yummy dinners to honor our favorite guy.

img_5453

img_5460

img_5484

Something I’ve always wanted to do finally came to fruition this year… family Halloween costumes! Because Leighton loves to dance (aka bobble her head around), we thought she would make the most perfect hula girl. We dressed as Hawaiian tourists, and the weather couldn’t have been more un-seasonally appropriate¬†(read: WARM) for our¬†costumes. She was a big hit everywhere we went!

img_5825leighton-halloween-2016-mhpweb-7

Coco Bear turned 6 in November, and Leighton is more enamored with her than ever. She is the sweetest puppy sister, always tolerating L’s pets, pokes, and screams. It does help, though, that L loves to share her snacks and meals with her.

img_6505

Our neighbors have a little girl who is just a few months older than Leighton, and they have become the best of friends over the past several months. They play together in our yards and run down the street to greet each other with a giant hug. They also adore their slightly older friend who also lives on our street, which is so cute. We’re so thankful to have ended up with such wonderful neighbor friends.

img_7094

leighton-halloween-2016-mhpweb-21

One of her best new tricks this year is her “mean face,” which she loves to give to us and pretty much every stranger she meets. She’s also learned to throw her hands over her mouth any time we say “OH NO!” — both are downright hilarious, and she knows it.

img_6295

img_7378

We’ve really enjoyed starting some new Christmas traditions with L this past month. Christmas light/blowup hunting around our part of town, cookie baking and decorating, visiting Santa, and riding the Pink Pig. The holidays truly do become infinitely more magical through the eyes of a child!

img_7557

ll-santa

2016 was an absolute whirlwind, and it was perfect in pretty much every way. We’re so blessed to be surrounded by amazing family and friends who never fail to¬†support and love on us. Melissa Hayes Photography continues to grow, and I’m so humbled and honored to have the opportunity to work with such amazing clients, many of whom have become friends. This was my¬†first full year as a work-from-home mom,¬†and it’s better than anything I hoped or prayed for.

I could not be more thankful for this little family we’ve got, the adventures we¬†have, and the laughs we share on a daily basis. Each month is more fun than the last as Leighton keeps growing, learning, and finding new ways to make us lose it over her silly and sassy antics. Of course there are¬†some tired days or frustrating moments peppered in here and there, but we are healthy and safe and happy, and that’s all that matters at the end of the day. My¬†morning alarm clock goes off to the tune of “uh-oh!” and “da-da” on repeat, and I get to rock our baby to sleep almost every night. There is truly nothing better at this stage in my life.

We have so much to look forward to in the coming year, and I am excited to¬†share our stories with y’all. Cheers to 2017!

Leighton @ 15 months

img_6014

Height + weight: 30.25″ // 24 lbs

Milestones: Once she hit her 1st birthday, we completely weaned off nursing and bottles. She did both seamlessly and didn’t even miss a beat with moving onto whole milk and only drinking from sippy cups, which made the transition a lot easier for me, too!

img_6016

Likes: Food! She’s pretty much up for trying anything we put in front of her, which is more than I can say for myself… ūüėČ Over the past few months, she’s tried chicken fingers, butternut squash souffl√©, pb&j sandwich, chicken casserole, tomatoes, fried clam strips (such a weird thing, but totally one of my favorites!), pimiento cheese, cheese quesadillas, animal crackers, cheddar bunnies, veggie straws, french toast sticks, popcorn, and grits. Oh, and a grilled marshmallow and peanut butter sandwich… yum!

img_6367
img_6053
img_4772

It’s clear that Leighton is already a big dog lover. She is obsessed with Coco. She likes to share her snacks with her, lick her fur, and give her aggressive pats on the head. Coco takes it all in stride and is so gentle and patient with her. I took L to PetsMart recently and she was enamored with the dogs staying in their pet hotel. They have a big window looking into the doggy play area, and I’m pretty sure I could have left her there all day if that were an acceptable thing to do. We go back by there weekly now.

img_6505
img_6503

Since the weather has been so nice, she loves going outside in the afternoons to play in the street and our yards with her bff neighbor, Emmy. (Not to worry — the street is within our small neighborhood and we stand next to them while they play.) They run down the street to each other and hug, which is just heart-meltingly cute. Emmy has quickly learned that if she hops in one of their cozy coupes, Leighton will push her. Smart girl.

img_6307
img_6536
Dislikes: Still not the biggest fan of diaper changes or having her face wiped off after a meal. 

Being told “NO!”… which poses a problem, because it happens fairly often. She has taken to throwing whatever is in her hands when we tell her to stop doing something, so we’re trying to curb that behavior.

img_6295

Fun stuff + firsts: She has learned to play peek-a-boo; she started by covering her face with her bath towel while she was laying down on her changing table after bath time. Now she loves to play that game by hiding her face in her carseat when Grandma is in the car with us. She has also learned how to fake cough… she is quite the little drama queen and class clown.

We celebrated Leighton’s 2nd Halloween and Thanksgiving seasons, and I am quickly learning that holidays are so much more fun each year as she grows older. I can’t wait for Christmas!

leighton-halloween-2016-mhpweb-7

img_6392

img_6573

Her favorite words right now are dada, uh-oh, dog (dod!), and uh-uh. She usually says uh-oh when she purposely drops something, and she says uh-uh to argue with me all the time. I’m also teaching her to say “Go Dawgs!”

She can roll her eyes on command, which is all sorts of hilarious – and we’ll probably be regretting it at some point. She also makes a great “mean face,” which involves lowering her chin and staring up at us with a very stern look. She knows it’s hilarious, and she has already done it several times to try to get out of trouble. I’m slightly worried that she already knows how to do that at one year old.

img_6924

Now that she’s only napping once a day, we have a lot more free time. We go to music class weekly, and we’ve started trying out different parks around town. She has a new fondness of slides and will demand to ride them over and over and over again. On days that I’m feeling brave, we’ll run errands to Target, Old Navy, the grocery store, and anywhere else that I feel confident I can keep her entertained with snacks and a shopping cart ride. I’ll sometimes drop Leighton off to hang out with my mom at their house so I can go to the gym, and I know she loves running around in their yard, playing the piano, and scaring their cats.

img_5253

img_6968

img_5710

img_5471

img_5358

Leighton is getting a bigger and bigger personality by the week, and we just can’t get enough of her antics. She’s becoming the best little hugger, and she gives amazing, slobbery kisses. We love her so very, very much!

img_5744

img_6445

img_6300

img_6554

img_6873

img_6963

unnamed

leightonchristmasjammies2

leightonchristmas15mos1

Christmas Jammies: A Photo Tradition

Leighton¬†isn’t quite as easy to photograph as she was this time last year since she’s constantly on the move! She¬†is just shy of 15 months old, which is hard to believe. Last year, I photographed her in the cutest Christmas pjs, so I decided this will become a yearly tradition. I had to bribe her with blueberries to sit in the¬†rocking chair, but whatever works, right? At least it was something healthy. It’s only fitting that she really smiled once she got hold of the remote control, which is her absolute favorite. She sure keeps our hands full, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. What an incredible year it’s been, and we’re so excited for our 2nd¬†Christmas with our red-headed¬†little elf!

leightonchristmasjammies2

leightonchristmasjammies3

leightonchristmasjammies4

leightonchristmasjammies5

leightonchristmasjammies6

Just for fun, here’s a comparison from last year to this year. She’s still got those big blue eyes and puckered lips (and still not a lot of hair), but it’s amazing how much she’s grown!

leightonchristmasjammies1

And before we decorated the tree, I couldn’t resist getting some sweet shots of her checking out Christmas lights for the first time. She was pretty enamored when we first plugged them in, but in true LL¬†fashion, the only way to keep her still for photos was with¬†snacks. ūüėČ

leightonchristmas15mos1

leightonchristmas15mos2

ThankFULL 

img_6573

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. ūüôā ¬†Leighton was OBSESSED with their two daschunds and spent a good part of our time there following them around and yelling “dod! dod! dod!”

img_6611

img_6575

img_6570

img_6592

img_6603

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. ¬†There 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!

img_6583

img_6610

img_6597

img_6596

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.

img_6619

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.

img_1687

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.)

img_6623

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

Christmas Traditions

img_6390

It may not be Thanksgiving yet, but we’ve already gotten started on some new¬†Christmas traditions around here. We decided at the last minute to visit¬†Santa last year at a childrens’ store on the Westside, which was great since she was so little. This year, though, I wanted¬†to 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. ūüėČ

img_6392

ll-santa

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¬†it — I’m not sure she really knew what was going on.

img_6374

img_6383

img_6385

img_6388

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

img_5825

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!

leighton-halloween-2016-mhpweb-7

leighton-halloween-2016-mhpweb-8

untitled-1

leighton-halloween-2016-mhpweb-1

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 ¬†“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!

leighton-halloween-2016-mhpweb-9

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.

img_5779

img_5762

img_5769

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√Īata 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! ūüėČ

img_5826

img_5839

leighton-halloween-2016-mhpweb-16

leighton-halloween-2016-mhpweb-17

leighton-halloween-2016-mhpweb-21

leighton-halloween-2016-mhpweb-23

leighton-halloween-2016-mhpweb-25

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.

img_5847

img_5844

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!

img_5757

Fall Bucket List Items: Around Town

Every October, I have two local activities that are at the top of my list. I can’t go without seeing a performance of The Ghastly Dreadfuls, which is the Center for Puppetry Arts’ adult Halloween show. It’s a cabaret-style performance with singing, dancing, and lots of puppets — and it’s always just what I need to get into the spooky Halloween spirit. I scored a ticket from one of my old coworkers so that I could go to the staff preview, which is my favorite way to see the show. I got to visit with tons of old puppet friends, and they make the best audience because everyone knows the cast. It’s a fantastic, fun, well-done show, and if you’re in Atlanta this month, it’s a must-do!

img_5284

My other fall favorite is visiting the Scarecrows in the Garden at the Atlanta Botanical Garden. We made a daytime field trip out of it with my mom this year, and Leighton loved checking out the new childrens’ play area. She hugged a kid she met, walked up and down and all around the wooden play area, and wanted to take home the giant mums. There were so many impressive pieces; a few of our faves are below. We ended our little field trip with lunch at Tom + Chee, where Leighton had her first grilled cheese! She loved it… the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. 

img_5702

img_5686

img_5685

img_5691

img_5687img_5696

img_5693

img_5682

img_5681

img_5699

This year, we also added a new activity — Boo at the Zoo! My mom and I took Leighton last weekend while Craig was at the Auburn game, and we had the best time! I was shocked at how many people were already there by 10am, but thankfully the zoo is big enough that it didn’t feel too packed at all. We brought L’s wagon to tote all of our stuff (and her when she’d allow it), which was such a big help. Leighton dressed up in her hula girl costume, and it was a huge hit all over the zoo! She got a few pieces of candy, which she held onto with a firm grip, and she gave lots of high-fives to Zoo volunteers and staff who were giving out the candy. We spent most of our time in the childrens’ area, which we didn’t make it to last time. We rode the train and the carousel, petted goats and a pig, and met a lot of walk-around characters at a special party tent they had set up for the event. I can’t wait to go back next year!

img_5575

img_5535

img_5576

img_5552

img_5572

img_5546

happy 34!

unnamed

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

img_5097

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.

img_5074

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.

img_5080

img_5084

img_5088

So many giant pumpkins!
img_5093

img_5086

img_5098

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…

leightonpumpkinpainting-2

leightonpumpkinpainting-4

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
leightonpumpkinpainting-11

leightonpumpkinpainting-14

leightonpumpkinpainting-10

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

unnamed