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.

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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. 🙂
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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.
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The cabin was on top of a hill with the prettiest view of the mountains, especially at sunset.
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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!
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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!

Leighton’s First Christmas

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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.

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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!

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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::
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Cheering on Aunt Cassie at her basketball game::
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4 generations with Craig’s grandparents and a portrait of his mom, Karen::
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I think it’s now confirmed that L looks just like her daddy::
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Thanks for my Gobble onesie, Addison!
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Thanksgiving #2::
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Craig’s family surprised us with a mini shower and sent us home with all sorts of goodies!
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A fun afternoon at Arrington Vineyards::
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Quality time with some of my best girls::
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L didn’t quite cooperate for a photo with Craig’s parents, but we’ll take it!
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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

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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. 🙂 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.

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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.

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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.
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