my 1st mother’s day

IMG_0365

There’s really no better way to start my first Mother’s Day than by being woken up by my favorite two people in the whole world. I usually get up first thing with Leighton to feed her, but Craig got her up and brought her into our room so they could give me presents (which included these super soft Mama Bear and Baby Bear tshirts) and cards in bed – so sweet!

IMG_0390IMG_0393

We met my parents, brother and sister-in-law for brunch at Paces & Vine, which we’ve been wanting to try since it popped up in the Vinings. I wanted about half a dozen things on the menu, but I chose the Chorizo Frittata with grits, and it did not disappoint. Biscuits and blueberry muffins, the malted waffle, and the chilaquiles dish were all highlights, too. Miss LL was a little angel during our meal – she’s gotten so much better at hanging out in her high chair, as long as she has things to play with (usually a spoon or straw instead of her actual toys).

IMG_0410IMG_0413IMG_0418IMG_0437IMG_0439IMG_0448IMG_0455

Afterward, we showered my sweet mom with some gifts and played with Leighton and Coco, and then mom and I got to sneak off to Polished for pedicures and mimosas. Yay! This has become our new yearly tradition, and I love it.
IMG_0457IMG_0456

Mother’s Day ended with the most delicious home-cooked meal at my sister-in-law’s parents’ house. My brother seriously should have been a chef, and I’ll happily eat his creations any time. On the menu: grilled skirt steak, blistered tomatoes, polenta, crusty bread, and a couple salads. Oh my, those tomatoes! And the polenta and steak! I’m still so stuffed as I write this.
IMG_0469

We sat on her parents’ new deck, enjoyed the beautiful evening weather, and played with their Dachshund, Meyer. As you can see below, Leighton was a big fan of this dog that is about the size of Coco’s head. Meyer enjoyed having her ears pulled and feet massaged by tiny baby hands.
IMG_0465IMG_0470

I made this butter pecan bundt cake with caramel icing, which is a recipe that Craig’s grandmother gave me last year. I appreciate that it’s super easy, but it looks impressive and is SO GOOD. It was almost demolished, but I did get to bring a little bit home. I’ll probably have it for breakfast. ūüėČ
IMG_0454

It’s absolutely wonderful having my parents living here now to celebrate these special days (as well as so many of the regular, run-of-the-mill days), and we had such a great time visiting with family. Craig and Leighton made me feel extra special, and we all got to do the same for our amazing mom. She’s the best mom we could ever ask for, and she’s also the perfect example of how to be a loving, selfless mom to Leighton. I’m so happy we have her nearby to be such a big part of our lives now.

Sunday was the best day, and I still just pinch myself that this is the life I get to live. I’m forever thankful to call this happy little ladybug my baby girl. 
IMG_0406

Leighton’s 1st Easter

IMG_4688.jpg

We went up to Nashville (well, really to Franklin) to spend Easter weekend with Craig’s family, and it was egg-cellent! ūüėČ That was our first time back to visit since Christmas, so Leighton had changed quite a bit and had a lot of fun playing with all of her TN family.

IMG_4782

Thankfully, since we didn’t have to worry about time off from work, we were able to make a long weekend out of it, which was so nice. We celebrated Craig’s brother’s 23rd birthday with a cookout, had a delicious brunch with a bunch of friends at Tupelo Honey, and ate a lot of good home-cooked meals with his family.

IMG_4793

IMG_4816

IMG_4838

On Sunday, we went to church with Craig’s family — Leighton made it about halfway through the service before being over it, which was all sorts of fun. ūüėČ She woke up at 5 that morning, so needless to say, she was not too happy to have been awake for over 4 hours at that point (and neither was I!). But aside from wrangling what felt like a tiny baby alligator while standing in the back, it was a lovely Easter service. ¬†Afterward, we ate a massive lunch feast at Craig’s aunt and uncle’s house with about 50 family members. The kids had an egg hunt in the backyard, and I can’t wait for ¬†Leighton to be big enough to participate next year!

IMG_4841

IMG_4906

IMG_4879

IMG_4891

IMG_4909

IMG_4884

IMG_4907

Leighton got three more Easter baskets (she already got one from my parents, which included a flamingo beach towel and an adorable pink bunny, both with her name embroidered on them). Craig’s parents gave her a pink swing to keep up there for our visits and a cute spring outfit… and we’re going to keep all of her candy for ourselves. Sorry, baby! Craig’s grandparents also had a basket of goodies for her, including some yummy baby food, board books about animals, and a silver bank and cup/fork/spoon set from when Craig was a baby. His grandmother made the sweet little macrame basket years ago, which she gave to Leighton to keep.

IMG_4744

IMG_4902

I had so much fun putting together Leighton’s first Easter basket. In true “planner” fashion, I’d started thinking about it a couple months ago. We got her a cute white basket and pink gingham liner with her name embroidered on it, and I just love it! She got two swimsuits, a sweet pink and white embroidered bib, a Winkel toy, and a couple springy cotton headbands. I love buying her books, so we included one with illustrated Bible stories and a board book about a funny dog named George — and of course a chocolate bunny, which I’ll eat for her. ūüėČ

IMG_4635

It was so nice celebrating this special holiday weekend with Craig’s family and having a few relaxing days to visit with everyone. With each visit, Leighton is able to interact with everyone more, and it’s been so fun seeing her laugh and play with each of them. We can’t wait to come back next month – this time, for Craig’s 15 year high school reunion! Eek!

Ringing in 2016

Welcome to 2016, friends! To ring in the new year, we actually headed back out of town (for the 3rd weekend in a row) to the mountains in Helen, GA. We rented an amazing little cabin with 4 of our friends and their 3 kids, so we had a total of 6 adults and 4 kids… total insanity, but so much fun. Despite being exhausted, we managed to make it well past midnight on NYE! Leighton celebrated early with her sparkly gold top hat and a party blower, which she preferred to eat and slobber on.

IMG_2716
IMG_2722
IMG_2743
IMG_2742
IMG_2736
IMG_2745
We took a quick trip into downtown Helen for lunch one day. I really wanted a funnel cake, but we settled for giant pretzels and beer cheese sauce at the Troll Tavern instead. ūüôā
IMG_2746
We each took turns cooking dinner for everyone and ate like kings all weekend. We spent our nights by the fire roasting marshmallows for s’mores after the kids were asleep, playing “Fibbage” (a fun trivia game using the tv and our iphones), and telling stories and laughing for hours until we all snuck quietly back into our rooms so we wouldn’t wake the sleeping babies.
IMG_2751
The cabin was on top of a hill with the prettiest view of the mountains, especially at sunset.
IMG_2717
IMG_2747
This is the best dessert ever. Leftover s’mores ingredients used to make a dip. So good and so bad at the same time. A perfect treat to end our weekend away!
IMG_2761
I love how vacations seem to make us more tired than we were before going, but they’re still always worth it. We laughed and commiserated about non-sleeping babies with our friends, and we made another batch of memories to add to the ever-growing list. It’s certainly an adventure to travel with so many little ones in the same house for several days, but we wouldn’t have had it any other way. I’m so thankful to have incredible friends to share in this crazy, busy, exciting season of life. Here’s looking forward to another year filled with love, laughter, joy, travel, and many adventures!

Farewell to 2015

e9078d4b-5be0-453e-85bc-6f875d57f538

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.

b6b830c3-7aa9-42cd-b35d-1094e4444612

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.

unnamed

unnamed

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).

IMG_8560

IMG_9157
IMG_9589

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).

blog-IMG_2296

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.

unnamed (20)
unnamed (21)

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!!

blog7
blog11

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.

blog7
blog-nursery11

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.

blog-shower1
blog-shower9
blog-shower17

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

unnamed
unnamed (1)

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.

IMG_0241
IMG_0240

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. 

unnamed
IMG_1040
600265b9-0c81-4182-afb0-1a83ec5b3c2a
f912873d-fabe-4dad-8574-c473f50be4a0
7185fd6c-beec-4ac1-ba56-6381e23512f0
IMG_2202
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!

unnamed (4)

324bc8ff-db3f-4c6b-b851-d654926f9dc9

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!

blog-LeightonFall2
2c421dc4-e3f0-4b18-8d7b-17fd835513ef
1e4d824f-ae06-4000-9af0-793f9802df78
IMG_1888
ebd48b7b-8c92-499c-aca8-dd522cff61e6
704a3153-e5c8-43e8-80f4-430721b042d4

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 1st Thanksgiving

Last week we celebrated Leighton’s first Thanksgiving, and oh how much we have to be thankful for this year!! The addition of our little girl to our family is of course the biggest blessing we’ve received not just this year, but ever.

Our first trip to Nashville with baby in tow was definitely different than last trips, but we had so much fun trekking around the city introducing her to family and friends. We spent 4 nights there with Craig’s family, but we managed to pack about a month’s worth of visits in while we were there. And along the same lines, we packed half our house to make the trip! Here are a few of our favorite moments from the trip (not pictured are visits with several other friends — somehow, I forgot to snap any photos!).

The perfect baby traveller is a sleeping one::
IMG_1814
Cheering on Aunt Cassie at her basketball game::
IMG_1824
4 generations with Craig’s grandparents and a portrait of his mom, Karen::
IMG_1888
IMG_1895
I think it’s now confirmed that L looks just like her daddy::
IMG_1836
IMG_1896
IMG_1908
IMG_1906
Thanks for my Gobble onesie, Addison!
IMG_1922

Thanksgiving #2::
12299320_994450433951629_2009683306865888208_n (1)
Craig’s family¬†surprised us with a mini shower and sent us home with all sorts of goodies!
12279201_994450757284930_1864759656578848375_n
A fun afternoon at Arrington Vineyards::
IMG_1948
Quality time with some of my best girls::
IMG_1964
L didn’t quite cooperate for a photo with Craig’s parents, but we’ll take it!
IMG_1971

The holidays have always been something I look forward to — spending time with loved ones, eating delicious food, doing nice things for others, and taking time to really appreciate our many blessings. Having a baby has made these occasions so much more special and memorable, and I know that feeling will only multiply as she gets older.¬†We can’t wait to get back to Nashville next month for Christmas!

Leighton’s First Halloween

blog-LeightonFall5

Halloween marked Leighton’s first official holiday, and what a fun one to start out with! We dressed her up as a cupcake because I joked throughout my pregnancy that she might come out as a cupcake or donut due to the amount of desserts I ate. ūüôā I found the cutest knit cupcake hat on Etsy and finished off the simple costume with a brown onesie to look like the “cake” portion of the cupcake.

blog-LeightonFall7


IMG_9776
IMG_9779

Our neighborhood gets really into Halloween and has a big potluck outside in our green space, followed by a parade of kids in costumes and trick-or-treating. Even before we had Leighton, we’ve always loved this neighborhood tradition. We’d set up shop in the driveway and hang out with the neighbors well after the last trick-or-treaters had passed through. This year, my mom got to join us for the fun and also helped watch L so we could enjoy the night with everyone. Craig set up our fire pit and Adirondack chairs on the driveway, as well as our new Coolest cooler speaker (that also holds drinks this time) and a wagon filled with candy. The fire drew in all sorts of visitors until way past the last round of trick-or-treaters!

Some of my favorites from the neighborhood costume contest were the tiny astronaut, the little green race car (complete with working headlights),the Orange Cabbage Patch Doll, and the family of vampires and a miniature bat.

IMG_1234
IMG_1253
IMG_1233
IMG_1249
IMG_1232
IMG_1237
IMG_1256

Little cupcake managed to sleep snuggled up next to me in her carrier for the majority of the festivities, but she promised that she’d be up for more fun next year when she’s 1.
blog-LeightonFall2

Fall To-Do List 2015

unnamed

I’m sure most people would think I’m nuts for making any sort of to-do list when I have a 3-week-old baby at home. But I have a thing for lists, and there are so many fun (and a few practical) things going on this season that I don’t want to miss out on or forget to do.¬†Here’s my list of things to do¬†this fall::

1.Pick out pumpkins! We likely won’t make it to an actual pumpkin patch this year, but as long as we have some by our front door, I’ll be happy.

2. Find a Halloween costume for Leighton. We have a great neighborhood, and every year, we all celebrate with an outdoor potluck and kids parade through our streets for trick-or-treating. I’m so excited to finally have a little one to dress up this year!

3.¬†Scarecrows in the Garden¬†at the Atlanta Botanical Garden. For the past several years, I’ve gone to this event with my puppet coworkers, and it’s my favorite fall tradition. This time, I’m meeting up with them for the Thursday night Fest of Ale and am planning to bring my mom and Leighton along for some outdoor fun!

4. Celebrate Craig’s 33rd birthday in October — his first one as a dad!

5. Eat lots of pumpkin bread (from local Smyrna bakery, McEntyre’s).

6. Go back to the Center for Puppetry Arts for a spooky adult puppet show! The Ghastly Dreadfuls show is back, and it’s my absolute favorite! If you’re in Atlanta in October, I highly recommend getting tickets.

7. Make Craig’s delicious¬†chili recipe¬†and¬†several other soups and stews this season.

8. Make Leighton’s birth announcements and work on her baby book.

9. Take Christmas card photos and send them out before Thanksgiving.

10. Visit the Center again in November for the grand opening of the newly expanded Museum! This project has been years in the making, and I’m really looking forward to going back to my old stomping grounds to see the finished product. It’s such a huge accomplishment for everyone involved!

 

a very merry christmas

I hope everyone had a very merry Christmas/Hanukkah/anything¬†else you may celebrate! We had a really wonderful week off work visiting Craig’s family and several of our friends in Nashville and then heading back home to Atlanta to spend some time with my family. I just love this time of year — especially the lights, music, food, and fun. For me, it’s a season of giving, spending time with those you love, and being thankful for our great, many blessings. ¬†Here’s a recap of our holiday week…. it’s hard to believe it’s already over and that we’re focusing on the coming new year!
IMG_7308
IMG_7320
Early Christmas dinner at Craig’s grandparents’ house with¬†his¬†little sister and his brother’s girlfriend… and Coco who was not interested in smiling for a photo.
IMG_7337
IMG_7325
IMG_7338
The lights in the Cottonwood neighborhood in Franklin put the Atlanta neighborhoods to shame. So many festive houses!
IMG_7351
Happy Hour @ Urban Grub with one of my besties
IMG_7341
IMG_7350
IMG_7358
IMG_7362
Christmas with the Sims family in ATL (notice Riley is much better than Coco is at posing for photos…)¬†
IMG_7374

Yep — this was my Christmas night dinner!¬†
IMG_7364

One of my favorite¬†Christmas traditions is hosting a big dinner at our house every year for our family and my SIL’s parents who live in town. It’s so fun getting together with them, and we just love the chance to host everyone. My dad always fries a turkey, and this year, Coco got a prime spot for carving.¬†
IMG_7383
IMG_7381

As part of dessert, we served some of the icewine I brought back from Napa (which is actually made in Canada). It’s super sweet, but it was fun to share.¬†
IMG_7387

Here’s looking forward to what 2015 has to bring!!

a hayes halloween!

[A gypsy and Steve Urkel from Halloween in the 90s]
IMG_6351

¬†Halloween as an adult is definitely different than it was back in the day (see below for example), but it’s still so much fun to me.¬†We plan a big staff potluck at the Center for Puppetry Arts¬†every year, and I think this was our biggest turnout yet. Some colleagues show up in costumes, and my favorite was the homemade DORITO suit! (No Doritos were harmed in the making of this costume — the construction is¬†way more impressive than that.) We feasted on chili, slow-roasted pork wrapped in banana leaves, “zombie guts” (cajun sausage), “gall bladder stones” (mini pita pockets filled with pasta, beans, and veggies), spooky s’mores cupcakes, and so much more. I love how creative my coworkers are¬†with their dishes.

IMG_6366
IMG_6359

IMG_6363

Our neighborhood is the absolute best¬†on¬†Halloween. It’s overrun with young children on a daily basis anyway, but¬†I love seeing the streets filled with lots of tiny superheroes, princesses (Elsa this year, obviously), animals, and other funny costumes on 10/31. And the family costumes are even better. This year, the winner was the family of five Legos — so creative and actually pretty simple to make with cardboard boxes, paper cups, and colored paper or paint. Genius!¬†
IMG_6386

IMG_6373

In addition, our next door neighbors go all out with their scary decorations — but they don’t set up until the day of Halloween to make it extra exciting. My absolute favorite detail this year was the table full of fancy skeletons dining on jello brains and drinking witch’s brew.¬†
IMG_6376

IMG_6384

IMG_6383

Happy Halloween from the Hayes family!
IMG_6387

a happy 4th

This year marked the first-ever 4th of July that Craig and I spent at home — meaning not at our friend Hunter’s family lake house, as we’ve done for as long as we’ve been together. (And Craig was on a 16-ish year streak.) While it was sad to see our longtime tradition end, it was nice to be in town for the long weekend and still get to spend it with several of our friends. We spent most of the day at our neighborhood pool and then had a cookout with friends at our house.

unnamed (2)

unnamed (16)

unnamed (11)

Craig got up bright and early Friday morning to start a beef brisket on our new ceramic smoker, and while it required a lot of attention, it was well worth it (I think so anyway).
unnamed
Friends contributed with mac n cheese, baked beans, orzo salad, and cornbread salad. I also made bruschetta with basil from our garden and tomatoes from our neighbors’ garden — so good!
unnamed (15)

I love that our neighborhood is so festive and loves to get together. Everyone gathered up by the pool for a little fireworks show and lots of giant sparklers. Such fun!
unnamed (20)

unnamed (19)

unnamed (18)

unnamed (12)

We ended the night with s’mores over the fire pit. One of our friends had NEVER had a s’more before — so un-American, right? ūüėČ
unnamed (13)
Our 4th was so nice — the most PERFECT weather, pool time, friends, great food, and fireworks. Can’t ask for much more. I hope you all had a wonderful holiday weekend!