Our Babymoon to Laurel

My mom and her friends often laugh at some of the modern traditions of having a baby: things like gender reveals, push presents, and babymoons. This type of fanfare just wasn't part of pregnancy for them like it has become for us. Of course, neither was straying away from deli meat or chicken salad, things that grace the no-no list for pregnancy today. 

Although I just came back from my second babymoon, I sometimes feel cliche or cheesy talking about it. But, I find the heart of it to be wise and wonderful. No matter what our life circumstance, it's important for Woody and I to consistently invest in our marriage, and in the weeks before welcoming a new member to the family, I find it especially valuable to take some intentional time away together. So, babymoon, it is!

32 weeks with Baby girl!

32 weeks with Baby girl!

Before Fox was born, we combined our babymoon with our anniversary trip, and we traveled to Fairhope, AL, to stay at The Grand. With Baby Girl, we also wanted to have a babymoon, and decided to do something low key and close. It was important to stay budget-friendly, and we didn't take as much time away as before since we have Fox and needed to figure time away from him and childcare into the equation.

This narrowed us down to the Southeast, and there are several places that are old favorites, but we wanted to try something new. We ended up choosing Laurel, MS, a decision which left many people asking, "what's in Laurel?"

We're longtime fans of HGTV's Fixer Upper (which inspired us to buy our own fixer upper), and when it went off the air, we decided to take a chance on the new HGTV show, Home Town based in Laurel, MS. We don't watch much TV, and Fixer Upper felt like big shoes to fill, so we didn't immediately fall in love with Home Town. We kept watching though, and it quickly became a favorite of ours. 

We love the hardworking attitude and authenticity of the show's couple, Erin and Ben Napier. As old home owners ourselves, we also enjoy seeing historic homes come back to life. Both of us having lived much of our childhoods in small towns, there was something about the homegrown, Southern community of Laurel that took us back to our roots. On top of that, we caught up on most of Season Two of Home Town during this pregnancy, so making a trip to Laurel in person felt like a real treat.

We picked Labor Day weekend, and fortunately, most things in Laurel had regular hours that weekend. If it continues in a similar direction as Waco, TX, after the years of Fixer Upper filming there, it won't be long before Laurel becomes busier and more booming. While it's been a charming town for a long time, I really loved the idea of getting to visit while it's still in the smaller stages of growth and notoriety that can come once there is a TV show about your town.

We had a great stay, and we already can't wait to return! Part of the beauty of visiting a new place is finding your own way and creating adventure, but I love having some solid recommendations, too, so here's a glimpse of our trip to Laurel:

Laurel MS Babymoon
Laurel MS Babymoon

We took this selfie right as we arrived. We were so excited to finally be on our babymoon! Our first stop was the Laurel Mercantile, and they had this adorable guide to Laurel from Erin and Ben of Home Town. I had already researched places we wanted to go, but this guide added to our list and confirmed some we already had in our plans.


We booked the Sweet Somethings Bed & Breakfast through Airbnb. The space looked just the right size for us, was at a great price point, and was nestled into the heart of downtown making it a convenient and enjoyable way to experience Laurel.

Upon arrival, we ended up meeting Joseph, the owner of Sweet Somethings, and he was so kind! He gave us our keys, showed us to our room, told us about the property, and let us tour some other rooms at the B&B. He also helped with dinner recommendations. It was just the start of the Southern hospitality we would experience all weekend long.

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Sweet Somethings B and B
Sweet Somethings B and B
Sweet Somethings B and B

We lived in a downtown loft our first three years of marriage, so this took us back! We loved it. It was spacious and comfortable. Also, included in our stay was breakfast from the bakery. All we had to do was walk downstairs where we were greeted with tasty smells and cinnamon rolls blanketed in icing.

Sweet Somethings Bakery
Sweet Somethings Bakery

Eating, shopping, & SightSeeing

Laurel MS Babymoon

I reached 32 weeks pregnant with Baby Girl on this trip, and it was special having her tote along for all the fun.

We first saw Pearl’s Diner on the show, and as big fans of Southern cooking, we knew we had to make a stop. We ended up getting to ride out a quick afternoon rain shower as we feasted on some delicious fried chicken, the sweetest sweet tea, and more Southern hospitality.

Laurel MS Babymoon Pearls Diner
Laurel MS Babymoon Pearls Diner
Laurel MS Babymoon Pearls Diner

We got several recommendations to visit Guild and Gentry, a men’s store downtown. Woody enjoyed shopping, and I enjoyed the “Ladies Lounge” pictured below. Taking a moment to rest my feet was just what I needed to refuel for the afternoon.

We also got to meet Caroline, the owner of the shop. We talked as if we were old friends, and she is also expecting a baby girl about a month after we are! She and her husband’s home was renovated on Home Town, so it was fun talking to her about that. She is investing back into the Laurel community as they grow their men’s store with a barber shop and humidor room, and she shared some of the town’s history with us. Woody also got a pair of pants while we were there, and they’re some of his new favorites.

Laurel MS Babymoon Guild and Gentry
Laurel MS Babymoon Guild and Gentry

We did eat things other than Southern food (I promise!), but another delicious stop for some Southern cooking was Estelle’s for Sunday lunch. We both got the buffet and filled our plates with classic Southern favorites and a few nostalgic childhood dishes like creamed corn and jello.

Laurel MS Babymoon

The new Scotsman General Store opened a week before we arrived, and it was a treat to go see it in its early days. We bought old, classic candy and sodas, and got to stand around and talk with some of the owners. Again, everyone was so friendly and easy to talk to. It’s not hard to see why the town of Laurel is growing and thriving with such kind people caring for and investing in it.

Laurel MS Babymoon
Laurel MS Babymoon

You can see into Ben’s wood shop from the General Store. I liked looking at the pieces in progress. He wasn’t building while we were there, but it was interesting to see the place where so much hard work and artistry happens.

Other spots that we loved, but I don’t have photos of include:

Lee’s Coffee and Tea: this was my favorite! I had a delicious sandwich, chocolate oatmeal no-bake cookie, and the perfect iced latte.
Mimmo’s: Garlic Knots. Enough said.
Boutique on Central: I found some adorable, unique pieces at a great price, and of course, the staff was as sweet as can be.
Southern Antiques: one of many home decor stops. I love designing rooms, and these home shops were like a playground!

Laurel MS Babymoon

We ended our stay with a sweet stroll around Laurel’s historic neighborhood. Walking neighborhoods is one of our favorite things to do, and it was nice spending the last little bit of our trip holding hands, avoiding puddles, and talking. We got to see several of the homes that we’ve seen renovated on the show, too. I really enjoyed getting a feel for the heart of the place that we’d previously only experienced on a screen. 

We highly recommend a trip to Laurel. It was simple and enjoyable. We ate well, rested well, and shopped well. We met great people and felt like we found a home away from home where we can return to enjoy so many of the things we love about small towns and Southern life.

I’m happy to answer any questions about our trip, and I also always love favorite destination recommendations from you! 

Inspiration for Fox's Big Baby Room

Being that Fox is only 18 months old, I just can't bring myself to call this his "Big Boy" room! With Baby Sister coming this fall, we're moving him into a bigger room and keeping the nursery for her, but he's still a baby, he's just now the "big baby" and she's the "little baby." So, Big Baby room it is. :)

We thoughtfully designed his nursery to work for his newborn days and to grow with him, so many of the elements will stay the same. We're adding a few touches and new items to fit the new space and/or to replace things that are staying in the nursery like the rocker and dresser/changing table. 

original nursery inspiration

Here is some of the original inspiration for his nursery, and collectively I feel the images reflect the design of his room pretty well. For his new room, I want to add a few touches of color as well as some more play items.

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nursery elements moving to his new room

These are the items that are currently in his nursery that will be making their way into his new room!

Gallery wall

Crib and Honey Bears painting

Books (I'm super excited to create a little reading nook for him. He loves books!)

Side table, lamp, and mirror

New pieces

Fox's new room is larger than the nursery, so we needed a larger rug. The rug we love in the size we need was more expensive than we wanted and not very plush. We went with this very highly reviewed natural rug, and we'll layer a smaller version of the blue rug we love on top. It's the best of both worlds!

Sometimes working within a budget leads to an even better solution than you might've reached with unlimited funds. In our home this means Momma (stickler for style) and Daddy (stickler for budget--with an eye for style, too!) are both happy.

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Wayfair (Erin Gates by Momeni)

Since the rocker will stay in the nursery, we need a new chair for Fox's room. We spend a lot of time reading in his room so it's important to have a space to continue to do this as he grows. We were so excited to get this floor sample chair at a great price from one of our favorite local furniture stores. It's in a pattern we love and that works great with the style of Fox's room.

patterned reading chair
leather pouf.jpeg

Hayneedle through WalMart

We ordered this leather pouf a few months ago, but since Fox's room isn't ready for the new items yet (it's still operating as a guest room/office/catch-all), we've been using the pouf in our living room. Woody and I are both thinking we're going to have to get another one because we love it so much!

I also want to get some floating shelves for his reading nook, and I haven't decided if I'll move the ones from the nursery or leave them and get new ones for him. I love these Pottery Barn ones, but found a more affordable option at Target. I'm going to wait to decide on shelves until we're further along with the rooms. 

We never ended up with curtains in Fox's nursery, just the matchstick blinds we already had in there. The blinds work great with the style of his room, but we're to the point where we want to invest in some blackout curtains for him. He's never had blackout, and I've always thought it's probably helpful that he's accustomed to sleeping in a space that isn't perfectly dark, but his new room lets in more light, and I want to make sure he has a cozy place to rest and sleep. 

curtains 1.jpg

Target (Cloth + Co.)

Finally, I want to add some fun, playful elements for our active, growing boy! I'm going to put this teepee on his Christmas list hoping a grandparent may want to gift it to him!


I don't know why, but I just love this little alligator! It's such a fun pop of color, and I hope he'll enjoy playing with it!

Well, there you have it! We're getting closer to having his new room cleared out of guest room/office/catch all items, and I am giddy to get going on this project! After I've spent time designing, researching, and imagining, I'm ready to see it all come together.

Most of all, I'm ready to see Fox enjoy his new space that will better fit the stage he's in and the stages to come. Initially, it was hard for me to imagine moving him out of his first room, but when I realized how fun this could be for him I felt much better. Once the space is done, I'll share how it all turns out!

If you have any tips to share for transitioning a child into a new room or things to consider for a toddler room, I would love to hear!

Why I chose a natural labor and delivery

When it comes up in conversation that I had an unmedicated birth with Fox, people usually respond in similar ways, "Wow, you're my hero. That's amazing." It's certainly a nice sentiment, but I usually respond with "That's very kind, but if there is one thing being pregnant and giving birth taught me, it's that there's no easy way to bring a baby into your family. Whether natural, epidural, c-section, or adoption, there are hard things about all of them."

Having a baby is a special and intimate experience, unique to each woman, child, and pregnancy, and while an unmedicated birth was a great path for our family, I don't consider "natural labor" to be the sainthood of childbirthing that its sometimes treated to be.

The truth is, while its valuable to be educated and have plans (or hopes) heading into giving birth, we simply cannot control it. I am so grateful that my body and my baby cooperated with a natural labor, but I know that's not always the case. 

It can be hard not to have hopes or expectations about how birth will go, but what I try to keep at the forefront of my mind is that I want a healthy mom and healthy baby most of all. Also, while there are some medical interventions that would not be my first choice, I'm so very glad I live in a time and place where those options are available and safe. 

Before I continue, let me also say that nothing in this post is intended to offer medical advice. This is simply my thought process and my story. As always, you should definitely consult a medical professional for any of your birthing decisions. 

birth story
birth story
birth story
birth story

My mom had both me and my sister without medication. When she had me, she said that the hospital wouldn't even give her the epidural until she was dilated 7.5 centimeters, and at that point she figured she might as well just go all the way. With my sister, she had a natural labor with a midwife and home birth. She says that if she had ever had another baby, she would've chosen a home birth again. My sister and I are 10 years apart, so I remember a lot about the beginning of her life, including my mom's birth plans.

Having always known my mom had natural labors, it was an option that stayed at the forefront of my mind. In the months and years leading up to getting pregnant, and certainly once I was pregnant, I really had to do some digging into my motivation for choosing a natural labor.

Was it to "fit into a club?" Reach a goal? Impress myself? Impress others? Do what I think was expected of me?

Deep down, I was scared that I couldn't do it, and that maybe I didn't want to. However, over time, and through research, I realized that a natural labor actually was the most appealing to me. If I could help it, I preferred not to undergo the surgery of a c-section, and the epidural didn't sound appealing to me either. I didn't like the idea of the needle in my back, not being able to feel what was happening, being numb after birth, or the possibility of it not taking at all or only partially working, all of which I only knew about from friend's experiences or what I learned in birthing class.  

Probably the thing that confirmed my decision the most was that I did not talk to a single person who'd had a natural birth who wouldn't choose to do it again. Having never given birth, I wasn't sure what to expect, but that caught my attention. On that note, I certainly had many friends sing the praises of the epidural so I wasn't completely closed off to that either (again, with no experience in giving birth, you can only think about it so much because you just don't know the full story!).

So, my plan going in was to go natural as long as I could, and if at any point I felt like we needed to get the epidural I could. Also, if I ended up needing Pitocin to help my labor progress, I was pretty certain I would elect to have the epidural because I've heard contractions on Pitocin are very intense with little break in between, adding another factor to going natural. And, with my main goal of healthy mom and healthy baby, I certainly would not deny a c-section if it were the best way to keep both me and my baby safe.

birth story
birth story
birth story
birth story

My labor was long, but healthy, and Fox never showed any signs of distress. Now that we know his personality (calm and content), that is not surprising at all. Unmedicated contractions and pushing were certainly intense, and I do remember asking Woody, "why did I say I didn't want the epidural?' and at one point telling my nurse that maybe I should just get it. Both of them, very in tune with my heart in the matter, were so supportive and encouraged me to keep going, and looking back, I'm glad I did. 

Fox had a healthy arrival, and once he was here, any pains or discomfort from my labor seemed to fade into the background. All of the sudden, what had felt so intense and all-consuming seemed like a small thing compared to the enormity of meeting our baby boy. 

birth story
birth story
birth story
birth story
birth story

As for our Baby Girl due this October, I'm hoping to have an unmedicated labor again. My heart is in the same place as before: healthy mom, healthy baby is top priority. I'll labor unmedicated as long as my body and baby cooperate, and from there, we will pray and make the decisions necessary to safely deliver our daughter into our arms.

If you're pregnant reading this and considering your own birth options, I don't know that I feel qualified to offer advice, but I can share the things that help encourage and prepare me heading toward labor and delivery:

  • Ask questions, gain knowledge: The more I know going into it, the more equipped I will be to ask the right questions and take the best steps for me and my baby.

  • Don't compare myself to other women: My story is my story, and I know God has a plan for this baby and this birth. As much as I may be familiar with other people's stories, I don't know the whole picture, and making such important decisions out of comparison will not be helpful.

  • Be empowered: I trust the doctors, and I also know that I am my best advocate. I don't have the knowledge or experience they do, but I can ask questions like "what would happen if we don't take that route?" or "can we wait to decide for 30 more minutes?" or "are there any other options that are safe to consider?"

  • Be flexible: We just can't control all the aspects of childbirth. Being informed, empowered, and asking questions will help me, but at the end of the day, maintaining flexibility is so valuable in staying calm and focused on the priority of delivering my baby in a safe, healthy way for both of us.

I hope my story helps encourage you as you think through and prepare for labor and delivery. It truly is a beautiful thing and an amazing gift. God made our bodies to carry and deliver babies, and I believe there is nothing to be afraid of. As always, to the new mommas, longtime mommas, hopeful mommas, expectant mommas, and future mommas, I'm cheering you on!

All photos from the day Fox was born by Mary Margaret Smith

Baby Girl Nursery Inspiration

I feel like I'm in my element designing a nursery for our baby girl. While Fox's little boy nursery was a fun design challenge for me, as a longtime lover of florals, romantic colors, and feminine touches, the only challenge for a girl nursery is how to narrow it down!

One thing that I've learned is that you can't have it all, so its helpful to pick the items you love the most (anything you feel that you "can't live without") and build your design from there. For Baby Girl's nursery, this ended up being a floral bouquet fabric from Fireflies and Fairytales that I just couldn't let seem to let go. This fabric (shared below) gave me a good feel for colors and overall feel, and I was able to pick up items here and there that would work. I'm also a firm believer that if you pick out things you love, it will all work. Of course there are styles and colors that work better together, and I always consider that, but filling a space with things that light your heart up is one of the truest ways to design a space you'll love and will feel so uniquely you.

We're still bringing her room together with decisions to make and items to buy, but its shaping up to be so lovely, and I'm excited to create this space for our newest addition that we'll be welcoming in October. 

Room Inspiration

I use Pinterest for all my design projects, and pinning images of rooms that I like helps me identify patterns of colors, feel, and design elements that are consistently catching my eye. This helps guide me back to center when I get sidetracked in the design process. Enjoy these room inspiration photos!

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Baby Girl Nursery Inspiration 3.jpg
Baby Girl Nursery Inspiration 4.jpg
Baby Girl Nursery Inspiration 5.jpg

Delicious Designs

baby girl nursery inspiration.jpg


Baby Girl Nursery crib.jpg

Custom Curtains

Baby Girl Nursery curtains.jpg


Baby Girl Nursery wallpaper pink.jpg

Rug Choices

Would LOVE some input here! Share your favorite in the comments below.

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Caitlin Wilson

Baby Girl Nursery artwork 2.jpg

Some of the items shared here I plan/hope to get, and some are just for inspiration. I love taking the time to research and find things I love and then determine if it works with the style of the room, the other items I've already selected, and my budget. Regardless if a certain item ends up being "the one" it can serve as great inspiration as I shop around, and I've often found great deals at places like Home Goods or Target on items that are so similar to ones I love, but at 1/3 the price! Now, that is a good feeling. 

I'd love to hear any thoughts or questions you have or brand or item recommendations to share!

We're having a baby!

Children are a gift from the Lord -Psalm 127:3

We're so excited to be adding another little Woodcock to our crew this October! Some of my friends laugh that I was basically ready to have another baby the moment Fox came out of the womb. While I wasn't actually ready, the desire for another baby was already planted in my heart. And in his 16 months, there have been days I've looked at Fox and said aloud, "you make me want to have a million babies!"

Baby W announcement

I'm not one of those women who has felt her entire life that she was put on this earth solely to be a mother, yet I have always imagined and dreamed of children. Woody and I weren't in a rush to have babies when we got married. Although we were somewhat "older,", me in my late twenties and him in his early thirties, we figured the days of having kids super young had already passed so we might as well enjoy our first few years of marriage before adding little ones.

This ended up being a great path for us, and we're so thankful for the 4+ years we had growing just the two of us. And now that we're in baby mode, I have the attitude of embracing it fully and keeping those babies coming! 

Baby W 2 announcement
Baby W 2 announcement

The Road to Baby Two

We talked regularly about taking steps toward Baby two once Fox turned one. Of course we would have to see how we felt once we reached that point, but that was where we both felt comfortable. 

His birthday is in February, but come November, I was starting to feel antsy to be pregnant again. I tried to be patient, feeling as though Fox's first birthday was really the right plan. I not only felt it was "our plan," but it's what I had a peace about from God up to that point as well. In a sense, I didn't feel fully "released" to take steps towards getting pregnant yet, I just wanted it. 

Then, in January something surprising happened. When my body let me know I was not pregnant that month, I felt disappointed. Knowing we hadn't really been "trying" I was surprised to feel this way. I prayed about it trying to be honest with God about my feelings. Even though I was disappointed, deep down, I didn't feel like the timing was right. And, there was a sense of knowing God had the right child at the right time for our family. God often speaks to me through giving me a peace in my spirit, and as I prayed, I felt in my heart Him give me a peace of "Fox's first birthday." This confirmed for me what I had been sensing all along, that we could pursue another baby when Fox turned one.

What is so beautiful about this story (and I'll share it without TMI--afterall, we all know how babies get here!), is that over the next several weeks I would not only learn that I was pregnant, but that our baby was likely conceived on Fox's first birthday. 

I know, that might've still been TMI, but it's an important part of the story!

When I realized this, I sat in awe. God had told me "Fox's first birthday," and in my human understanding, I took that as when we could start "trying," when in fact He was telling me when our baby would be conceived. This brought so much peace to my heart. After a very hard year in my faith walking through postpartum depression and anxiety, experiences like this with God mean even more to me than before. 

Baby W 2 announcement
Baby W 2 announcement
Baby W 2 announcement

Rarely does a day go by that I don't think about how precious the gift of life is. I love being pregnant because I feel so close to creation, and more importantly to the Creator. Pregnancy also keeps me very aware of how BIG God is, how beautiful His design for life is, and how little control I have.

There are so many different paths and stories of motherhood, and I often feel conflicted trying to make sense of it all as I pray for my own babies, believe with friends for babies, and mourn when things don't go the way we all wanted. This makes it hard for me to talk about pregnancy and babies without acknowledging that we all have our own stories, and that there is space here for every story.

 If it comes to your mind, we welcome your prayers for our baby girl to be healthy and strong. I pray often that she would be whole, complete, lacking nothing, and we welcome anyone to join us in that prayer. 

If you're pregnant or at any point in your journey of motherhood (a journey that begins long before having a child in your arms) I'd be happy to pray for you, too. Just leave a comment or send me a message. 

Thanks for sharing in this exciting announcement with us, friends.

All photos by Rachel Coffey (love her!)

Fox's Nursery

I grew up with a sister, and I've always been a girly-girl, so when we found out we were expecting a little boy in 2017, I knew it was going to be a new adventure. I was excited about it, and honestly, soon after knowing I was a "boy mom" I could feel God starting to uncover new parts of my heart.

baby boy nursery

When it came to the nursery, I wanted to create a space we could all enjoy. It needed to be peaceful, pleasant, perfectly boy, good for a baby, but not so "baby" that it couldn't grow up with him for a few years. 

I'm naturally drawn to florals and feminine colors, but I think our baby boy nursery is where my love of the color blue was born. There isn't a ton of blue in his room, but I just learned to love so many different shades of blue through the process, and I incorporated them along the way. A space fit for a boy was a design challenge for me, but it was fun to dig deep to bring together a room that would honor our son and be a space where he could feel loved and comfortable. 

The walls were already gray (SW Repose Gray), so we stuck with that. I loved the white and natural wood of the Babyletto cribs, and this choice set some direction for the room. We ended up accenting the room with wood and neutrals, some pops of kid-friendly color, and blues in artwork and accents. 

baby boy nursery
baby boy neutral nursery
baby boy nursery

We found the felt cactus at a local art show, the pillow was a gift, the lamp and throw are from Target, the rocker from a local furniture store, Barnett's, and the Peter Rabbit plate is an heirloom from Woody's childhood. I love mixing in new and old, store-bought and handmade, and most of all, meaningful pieces anytime I design a room.

baby boy nursery with pops of color
baby boy nursery with pops of color
baby boy nursery with pops of color
baby boy nursery with pops of color

I saw the idea for the floating shelves as a bookshelf and loved it. Being able to display the brightly colored books was exactly the kind of pop I was looking for to keep a mostly neutral space fun and kid-friendly. We found our shelves at Ikea. The painting above the crib is by a local Birmingham artist, Jayne Morgan, which I had commissioned as a gift for Woody our first Christmas together. I love the playful images and colors, and having original art in his room was important to me as it is throughout our home. The crib sheets are another fun pop, and the little brown bear was one of my favorite friends when I was little. 

baby boy nursery neutral with pops of color
baby boy nursery with pops of color
baby boy nursery with pops of color

I really hoped to find a dresser for Fox that he could use throughout his life. I looked for solid wood, classic pieces, but I just could not find one I loved in our price range. So, we ended up going practical and economical with an Ikea dresser. It's worked wonderfully with plenty of space, and I love the look of it, too.

His gallery wall is made up of a combination of original art, prints, and a couple architectural pieces. I also adore his Letterfolk board, which we used for his monthly photos. 

baby boy nursery neutral with pops of color
baby boy nursery neutral with pops of color
baby boy nursery neutral with pops of color
baby boy nursery neutral with pops of color
baby boy nursery neutral with pops of color

Better than any piece we ever could've found for his nursery, was finally getting to be in that space with him in our arms. We had dreamed about him, talked about him, and carefully curated all his items awaiting his arrival. Getting to finally enjoy the room with that little person that all the preparation was for, was the sweetest part.

baby boy nursery neutral with pops of color
baby boy nursery neutral with pops of color


Crib // Babyletto from Amazon
Dresser // Ikea
Glider/Rocker // Barnett Furniture
End table // Wayfair
Painting above crib // Jayne Morgan Art
Wooden mirror // Target (similar)
Floating bookshelves // Ikea
Lamp // Target
Felt cactus // Love of Felt
Crib sheets // Petite Pehr
Rug // Green Gates Market
Letter Board // Letterfolk

Nursery Photography // Mary Margaret Smith Photography

Party Planning Guidelines

Planning parties is fun for some and overwhelming for others. While I happen to be one that loves it, I've had plenty of experiences where I've felt more overwhelm than enjoyment.

The truth is, there are so many ways to host a meaningful event. As an enthusiast for thoughtful celebrations, I've compiled a list of guidelines that I hope will help free us and keep our hearts in the right place when it comes to parties.

This list is far from exhaustive, so feel free to comment with anything you think should be added!

1. Know what's important to you.

Focusing on what matters to you is the surest way to decrease overwhelm and increase enjoyment in party planning. I love thoughtful details like paper invitations that arrive in the mail, themes that run through the decor and food, and creative party favors. You may enjoy serving the best food, having fun activities, playing great music, having a huge crowd, or keeping it small and intimate.

Doing what is natural and important to you will energize you. Trying to be someone else and plan the party you think you "should" plan will exhaust you. Don't do this to yourself. Embrace what is authentic to you, and people will feel the care you've invested and love it.

Something as simple as tying a ribbon on a specialty food item or dropping a piece of fresh fruit in a glass can take something from ordinary to special. These images are from my bridal shower in 2012, and I still love these details as much as I did then!

Something as simple as tying a ribbon on a specialty food item or dropping a piece of fresh fruit in a glass can take something from ordinary to special. These images are from my bridal shower in 2012, and I still love these details as much as I did then!

2. Know what's important to those you're celebrating.

If you're hosting a shower or party in honor of someone else, ask them what is most important to them. This will help you put your energy into the areas that really matter to the guest of honor.

Remember, just because something doesn't matter to you, doesn't mean it's not important to someone else. For instance, I have friends who don't have a preference on invitations, but they know I love paper invitations, so for my baby shower, they made sure there was a lovely invitation in the mail. Similarly, I had one friend who had no interest in opening gifts at her shower and another who did, so we planned each event accordingly.

As much as we may want to do everything, budgets and time often limit how much we can put into a party we're hosting, which is another reason knowing the specific things that matter most to your guest of honor will ensure they feel loved in all the right ways and that your time and budget are put to best use.

Rachel had a very specific aesthetic for her December baby shower, and it was so fun to run with it! She was expecting a girl, but didn't want anything overly girly, so we embraced the rustic, outdoorsy vibe that felt more her. Her cake is still one of my favorite party elements! To create the teepee, we just got sticks and greens from our yard, used floral tape and twine to keep it together, and it made a gorgeous statement piece.

Rachel had a very specific aesthetic for her December baby shower, and it was so fun to run with it! She was expecting a girl, but didn't want anything overly girly, so we embraced the rustic, outdoorsy vibe that felt more her. Her cake is still one of my favorite party elements! To create the teepee, we just got sticks and greens from our yard, used floral tape and twine to keep it together, and it made a gorgeous statement piece.

3. Remember you can't do it all and do it well.

At work, we have this saying, "We're a Ruth's Chris, not a Golden Corral." This simply means we focus on doing a few things well instead of doing everything subpar (if you're a Golden Corral fan, forgive the analogy). 

The same goes for party planning. If you'll focus on doing a few things with excellence, you'll really be able to make an impact instead of spreading your efforts so thin that nothing is quite how you like it.

This is why its helpful to determine what matters most to you or to your guest of honor, list the priorities, and plan accordingly. If you have time for some extras, great, but if not, you'll ensure the most important things are covered and you won't feel like you're leaving something on the table. 

My Birmingham baby shower for Fox was so sweet. With lots of touches of soft blue and plenty of fresh flowers (my fave), it was the perfect blend for this Boy Momma to be!

My Birmingham baby shower for Fox was so sweet. With lots of touches of soft blue and plenty of fresh flowers (my fave), it was the perfect blend for this Boy Momma to be!

4. Ask for help.

You don't have to impress anyone by doing everything by yourself. I have a friend who loves having people in her home and can make a dessert that will keep you coming back for more, but party details just aren't her thing. She knows I love them, so she invited me to help with her daughter's first birthday. She created a budget and let me give her some ideas and help execute them, and it turned out so sweet. I got to do something I love, and she was able to focus on the parts of the party that were natural and easy for her. 

If you need help with food or cutting a cake or selecting decor, don't be afraid to ask people for help. Chances are, you'll give someone an opportunity they'll love or get to support a local business, and make it easier on yourself to boot!

baby shower
baby shower
baby shower
baby shower
baby shower
Amy's shower was planned with thoughtful, handmade details and paid tribute to her animal themed nursery. One of the hostesses spray painted inexpensive animal toys for decor, and we gave Amy a few unpainted ones for her baby to play with when he was old enough. We also used her son's name and monogram to add a personal touch.

Amy's shower was planned with thoughtful, handmade details and paid tribute to her animal themed nursery. One of the hostesses spray painted inexpensive animal toys for decor, and we gave Amy a few unpainted ones for her baby to play with when he was old enough. We also used her son's name and monogram to add a personal touch.

5. Focus on the people.

It's so easy for me to get lost in themes, colors, details and all sorts of party planning fun, but at the end of the day, it's the people that matter. There is no greater compliment to me than for people to come into my home and feel warmth, enjoyment, and ease. Connecting people and creating an environment where they can enjoy themselves is the most rewarding feeling.

The details are simply a way to show people you care, and if you can keep this in mind, it will help your heart stay in the right place. There's nothing wrong with receiving a compliment on your perfectly crafted floral centerpiece, but remembering that the joy it brings your guests is the point (not the pat on your back) will make your celebration more meaningful and rich. 

Whenever I find myself starting to get in a tizzy over little details, I try to pause, reflect on my guests, and think about what they will enjoy experiencing most. Almost every time that helps me slow down, refocus, and find joy again in planning. 

I hope this list helps free you to more fully enjoy planning your next celebration. Also, if you have more tips to share, I'd love to hear them!

I'm back!

Wow, it feels good to be back in this space. You'll notice a fresh look to the site as well as a fresh address (mattyewoodcock.com) thanks to the help of my talented friend Emily of Emily Wells Design. Yay! That's fun!

Photo by  Rachel Coffey

Photo by Rachel Coffey

Since the last time I wrote in this space, I feel like I have become a new person in so many good ways.

When I stopped writing here, it was because I felt the need to retreat a little. Not out of any negative feeling, but more out of solitude. After walking through a miscarriage in March 2016, and then getting pregnant again later that spring, my heart was experiencing so many different things. Sharing publicly didn't feel right, or even possible. It's not that I didn't want to share, I just felt the need to spend time focusing inward and being with my people as we walked through that season. Essentially, it just wasn't the right time, and I listened to that.

I knew the time would come where I would be ready to write and share again, and even now, I don't know exactly what it will look like, but I'm so happy to be back. I've missed writing and connecting here.

Catching Up...


Since I've been on my spontaneous "sabbatical," so much has happened!


We found out in June 2016 that God had given us another baby. We were pregnant! What a joy-filled day that was. 

We got to see our baby for the first time in July 2016.


And we found out he was a boy in October!



Our son surprised us with an early arrival on February 2, 2017 (his due date was February 21!), and we named him Fox David Woodcock.

Fox David Woodcock, February 2, 2017

Fox David Woodcock, February 2, 2017

I could spend a lifetime blogging cute photos of him and waxing poetic about our love for him, but I'll spare you...for now. ;) 

Well, ok, here's just one...

Fox's first birthday

Fox's first birthday

We know he is the perfect boy for us. God gave us absolutely who we needed in a child, and he lights up our lives.

After having Fox, I experienced postpartum depression and anxiety. It was the hardest, darkest season of my life, which is something that is still hard and sad to say because it was simultaneous to one of the most wonderful seasons of my life, the first year with our son. 

I have walked a road of healing, and I am doing so much better now, praise God. I had the honor of sharing my story on my friend, Katie's new podcast, Untethered. If you're interested in what that season looked like and how God sustained us through it, I'd love for you to listen. And, if you or someone you know has walked through anxiety or depression, I hope it will be a source of light and hope.

I tell the fuller version of this story in the podcast, but after going back to work for several months after Fox was born, Woody and I prayerfully made the decision for me to move part-time starting in 2018. My leaders and coworkers were all so supportive of this decision, and it has been a great transition for our family. Not always easy, but it has been the right thing for us. 

So, here we are. 2018 has brought a new season of refreshment for our family, and we are so deeply grateful.

As for what's next? There is lots on my mind, and what you can expect to see here in the coming months is, well, who knows! ha! I do have some fun posts planned with party planning ideas, and I'll talk about goals, too.

If there is anything specific you'd like to hear about, let me know! 

Thanks for being here, friends. It's good to be back. 

xo. Mattye