2014 by the Numbers

2014, the year of the move. Our lives were flipped upside-down in spring of this year when Max was contacted about the CTO position on the other side of the country. Here's how our year breaks down...

6 - Number of months living apart (ouch) after Max accepted and started his new job in Alabama. It was just me and little man in Arizona!

4 - Weekends spent house hunting for our new home

37 - Number of homes toured looking for "the one"

2 - Number of houses that made Mande cry (we saw it all, including a bathroom with two toilets, houses with four and five levels, secret passageways, and bedrooms that all connected door to door)

1 - House sold (Scottsdale)

1 - House purchased (Huntsville)

1,773 - Miles driven on our road trip to Alabama

16 - Plastic collectors cups we have picked up in our short time living in Huntsville (they seem to give them out at every restaurant here)

0 - Nordstroms in our new area (we do have Anthropologie, H&M, Sephora, Michael Kors, and Kate Spade, so I can't complain too much)

24 - Flights flown by Parker (repeat trips to Dallas, California, and Huntsville). He's our frequent little flyer and does so well on the plane. He loves looking out the windows, especially at take-off and landing. We are still following the advice of the American Academy of Pediatrics and give Parker zero screen time, so he is kept happy the old-school way with crayons, books, and playing with mamma or dada. In a pinch (like on our recent thirteen-hour travel day when Parker didn't nap and got cranky) we'll whip out our iPhones and let Parker scroll through our "pa"s (pictures), but for the most part he just likes observing the world around him.

37 - Flights flown by Mamma (Parker's trips plus solo trips to California, Huntsville and Mexico)

79 - Flights flown by Dada, he wins (or, depending on how you look at it, loses, as most of these were for business travel which I hear is so not fun)

But, his frequent business travel also means he collects perks for us like first class upgrades, holla!

7 - Nights spent in our new house!

25 - Degrees fahrenheit for the low in Huntsville this last night of 2014, brrr!

Just a tad different from last year's picture, no?

More to come on our new house, and how we plan to make it a home in 2015!!


Christmas Card 2014

Each December, I just love mailing out holiday cheer!  This year, our Christmas cards also served as our moving announcements. Multitasking for the win! We used photos that Max's sister snapped for us over Thanksgiving. Parker is obsessed with the SLR (and all things with blinky lights and buttons). He just wanted to point at the camera with a curious face, so we had to pull out all the stops to get him to giggle instead. This included Auntie's boyfriend lighting sparklers and twirling them around next to the camera. You know, anything to get that smile!


Linking up here for the Christmas Card Party!

Huntsville Ballet's The Nutcracker

Since we were married in 2009, Max and I have attended Ballet Arizona's The Nutcracker as a holiday date night each year. We skipped last year as we had a nine-month old who wouldn't have made it through the show (and wouldn't take a bottle, so leaving him behind wasn't an option). This year, we vowed to keep up our tradition in our new state. I found out that Huntsville Ballet Company does a production of The Nutcracker so I snagged tickets for this past weekend. The Huntsville area is literally ten times smaller than the Phoenix Metropolitan area (400,000-ish people compared to 4 million), so going in I knew it wouldn't be the same. Still, it ended up being a lovely show with a smaller town feel, and I was delighted that Huntsville even has its own symphony orchestra!

We weren't sure how our little man was going to fair during such a long show. We made a point to let him run around the halls pre-show, and did some front-loading on what was going to happen (we would sit in our seats, the lights would dim, and we would listen to music and watch the dancers while we stayed very quiet). 

Parker had his own seat which we tried out for a bit pre-show, but he was too light for it to even stay down so we ended up putting him in our laps. Once the lights dimmed for the first act, the Exit signs began to glow and Parker started identifying them by exclaiming "Eyeh! Eyeh!" and pointing them all out. Exits signs are a favorite right now and they must all be identified (along with stop and yield signs). We whispered that it was time to be quiet, and once the dancers came out Parker was interested in watching them. 

The funniest thing was the intermittent applause that occurs during the show. The first time Parker just kind of looked around, realizing that everyone was clapping. The next few times he caught on, but once everyone had stopped (so literally, the applause was over and then he started clapping!). By the end of the first act he had it down, and as soon as applause started he would energetically join in, clapping furiously in front of his body (and adding squeals by the very end of the show). 

Parker did get wiggly at the end of the first act, which was perfect timing since he could run around during intermission. Most of the second act he spent lounged out on Dada, sucking his finger and watching the dancers. He preferred the livelier songs as opposed to the slower ones, and the very cutest part of our entire outing was when a dancer dressed as Little Bo Peep came out. Parker knew she was supposed to have some sort of animal with her, so he started saying "mooo" (except it sounds more like "mmmmm" when he says it). Then, little child dancers dressed as sheep came out and Max whispered that they were sheep, not cows. Parker perked up and started saying "baa! baa!" over and over! Of course we didn't want him calling out during the show, but he was pretty quiet and it was so darned cute! Max tried distracting him from the sheep by pointing out the wolf dancer, which confused Parker as he didn't have a sound for the wolf, ha!  Those sheep made a second appearance, and also came back for the curtain call, and each time Parker would add a "baa! baa!" 

And that's right, I said "curtain call" - we made it to the end! Parker was getting antsy by the very end, but since we were so close to finishing we wanted him to see the curtain call, what happens at the end of a show, and how everyone leaves once it's finished. Plus, this was a time of continuous applause, so Parker got to go crazy with his clapping and squealing which he loved. It was amazing seeing him learn something new like group applauding, and we were floored by how well he did as an audience member! We are so very happy to be sharing our tradition with our little man. 


(Still) Moving

Relocation. Really, it should be a four-letter word. We have been "relocating" since June. It was five months of single-momming it in Scottsdale with Max working on the other side of the country, followed by the last month of living out of a suitcase. I am ridiculously happy that we are all back together, but I miss my clothes. Silly, I know, but I currently have two pairs of pajamas that I have been wearing since October. They pretty much need to be washed after each wear because a certain almost-21-month-old is constantly covering them in yogurt at breakfast. Why so messy you ask? Oh, because we are still eating on the floor in our one-bedroom rental. Which reminds me, I miss high chairs, and tables and couches, too. And our Christmas decorations. Don't get me started on the Christmas decorations. You see, we were only supposed to be in the empty one-bedroom for a week. We were set to close on our Alabama house on December 1st. Just a few days prior to that, some problems were uncovered on the seller's side that delayed closing, which also affected our move. We had to cancel our move-in date, keep our things in storage, and extend our stay in the condo. Just this past week were able to secure another move-in day, whew! I know we are extremely lucky to have movers, and to not be doing the heavy lifting. We are lucky that our closing even happened, and that we own a house. This was also a move of choice, and an incredible opportunity for Max's career and for our family. But really, I'll be happy to not ever again have to do meals like this:

Not that it seems to be bothering little man. He's pretty happy with life, period. 

And really, the delay moving in is giving us a chance to explore the new house, do some cleaning and even have some painting done.  

Parker is already feeling right at home whenever we visit.

 Looking forward to when "visiting" changes to "living" - counting the days! Hi, New House!


Galaxy of Lights

We decided to head out for some holiday fun in our new city this past weekend, first stopping at Huntsville's Galaxy of Lights. This was a drive-through lights show, similar to the Fantasy of Lights in Los Gatos, California where I used to live (in fact, my old bachelorette cottage was just down the street from the park that housed Fantasy of Lights, so every holiday season the area would be jam packed with cars at night trying to get in!). 

Huntsville's show is set up at the Botanical Garden. I'm guessing the "Galaxy" in Galaxy of Lights is a nod to Huntsville's nickname, Rocket City. In fact there were space and rocket themed displays lining the entrance. There was also a fun 12 Days of Christmas light display countdown in the line to get in, so Parker had to endure Mamma and Dadda singing all twelve verses to him, eek! 

My favorite section was this fairy wonderland canopy. It was a huge tunnel to drive through, and went right through a dense wooded area, making it all seem like a magical forest. 

Parker squealed and giggled almost the whole time and loved all the displays. He called out any objects he could identify and was such a happy camper. 

We will definitely be back next year, and even have plans to bundle up and take Sandy (top down once we're in the gates!), as well as popcorn and hot chocolate!


5 on Friday

This was our first week living in Alabama! There were three of us in the one-bedroom temporary condo, eek! Here's how it went down...

1. Monday
Dada was off to work so it was just me and Sweet P, on our own in our new state for the first time. We went grocery shopping at Publix and I even had dinner on the table when Max came home from work. And when I say "table" I mean "floor" because we basically have no furniture in our temporary condo so it's picnics for days here. Literally.

2. Tuesday
Our first rainy day! Parker and I checked out Storytime at the Huntsville library (it will be just a walk away when we move into our new house!).

3. Wednesday
I had my first I'm from California and people can't understand me moment. I was dropping off Max's dry cleaning and I walked in with Parker and my bag of laundry and announced that I had some men's shirts and slacks to drop off, but it was my first time in the store. The woman at the counter just stared at me. I was waiting for her to ask for my name or phone number, but she just stared. Later I realized it's because she had no idea what I had said. Something similar happened on our first trip out here, but I was the one with the language barrier (I couldn't understand a word of what our rental car agent was saying). So weird to be on the other end! Max has always said I have a California accent, and now I might believe him! We met Max for lunch this day and did a walk-through of the new house, then Max was off to the airport for a business trip and P and I would be flying solo for the rest of the week.

4. Thursday
Parker and I hit up Bridge Street Town Centre to get our shop on. I get tired of feeding my son on the floor so I vow to eat out for the rest of the meals until we get our house, ha!

 5. Friday!
The most exciting day of all - we bought a house!! We had been having some issues with closing (not on our end) so it was SUCH a relief to finally get it done! Parker was perfect for the whole closing, and I had power of attorney for Max so it was a lot of signing for me! But it's done and we couldn't be happier. Max returns tonight and we can't wait to get our move on! Happy Friday!


Road Tripping Day Three

Sweet P and I enjoyed an extended stay in Dallas with Gigi over November, and we were rejoined by Max for Thanksgiving. That Saturday we tackled the entire rest of our cross-country road trip. Here's what we were looking at as we piled in the car late Saturday morning. Oy. 

We had Max's one bedroom condo waiting for us in Alabama, so we vowed to do the entire drive in one day and just be done with it.

Lucky for us, this second leg of the journey was much more scenic. We had a gorgeous day to be driving and got to see all the changing fall colors. 
Sweet P again was amazing. He loved looking out the window and spotting all of his favorites (yield signs, water and radio towers, stop signs, trees), and also spent some time enjoying his books.

Family selfie! 

We spotted this awesome town in Arkansas!

Parker got a little fussy so we put on Taylor Swift and he was happy again! He took a little nap and literally woke up with an excited battle cry. It was hilarious! He was SO happy to be waking up in the car with so much to see.

It was dark when we rolled into Tennessee. We hit Cracker Barrel in Memphis for dinner (and to stretch our legs). Parker made the rounds and probably circled the restaurant and general store a hundred times. 

Little Man fell asleep soon after we passed into Mississippi as it was getting late!

We reached Max's condo in Huntsville around midnight. It was a long day but we made it!

Road Tripping, Days One & Two

After an exhausting move day, and not hitting our beds at Little America in Flagstaff until 1am, we thought for sure little man would let us sleep in the next morning. Not so. Parker was standing up in his pack-n-play in the hotel room by 8am, saying he was ready to start the day. He must have been very excited for our road trip to Alabama ;) Originally we figured we would fly, but Max suggested that we take our time. Also, this way we would be able to bring our important things that we didn't want the movers to be handling. It ended up being a great decision because road trips equal lots of family bonding time.  

The temperature in Flagstaff when we got up was probably thirty degrees cooler than the weather we had left in Scottsdale, and the view out the window was so pretty! 

We ate breakfast at the hotel restaurant and decided to take it easy on the road. We stopped at Meteor Crater in Arizona (the crater was way bigger than we expected, very neat to see!). 

And Parker had fun running around. 

He actually got a nap in after this!

Border crossing to New Mexico.

We decided we would drive to Albuquerque and stay for the night, but we had no idea where we were going to stay. I sent a help message on Facebook asking for suggestions and within minutes had people responding! So sweet! I ended up booking us (from my phone on the road) at the Hyatt resort at Tamaya, just north of Albuquerque. I was a little apprehensive about leaving Pepper in the city lots at we were toting all of our too-important-for-the-movers items. The Tamaya resort was really spacious and removed, so it was the perfect choice for us. It was very, very "Southwest" but we really liked it.

We did dinner at the resort and headed out bright and early the next morning. It was a shame we didn't get to enjoy the beautiful grounds more! The leaves were changing colors and the scenery was gorgeous.

We drove through McDonalds for breakfast and coffee. Neither Max nor I could remember the last time we went to a McDonalds for breakfast, but on this road trip it did the trick! Plus, since it was drive-through and we ate on the way it took almost zero time! This would be our heavy-driving day so every minute mattered! Our goal was to make it to Dallas, about a ten hour drive away.

For the most part, little man was AH-mazing. He was so happy just talking, reading, singing and being together with Mama and Dada. He also loved looking out the window. He pointed out big trucks, radio towers, windmills, water towers, cars, yield signs, stop signs... he actually had too much fun this day to sleep.

When he did get crankstery, it was Taylor Swift to the rescue. Y'all, I'm not even kidding. Since he was a wee one, he has loved T-Swift. I put it on and it instantly calms him. #swiftyfanlikemamma

Texas crossing!

I'm not gonna lie. This day got long. Especially with a little man who did not want to sleep. But we were together as a family and that made my heart so happy!

We kept thinking for sure little man would pass out, then he'd just go back to being entertained by the scenery! (Which, btdubs, was not at all entertaining. This day was miles and miles of desert and tiny towns). 

We ended up pulling into Dallas around 9pm after a full day on the road. Here we would get to stay and recuperate at Gigi's house until the second leg of the trip which will bring us to Alabama! Stay tuned!

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