Home Tour 2014 (Blog Hop)

I have such mixed feelings about saying good-bye to our Scottsdale house. As of right now, Max has been working in Alabama for almost four months. That's four months of me living as a single-parent in the house while we try to sell it. On one hand, I miss Max like crazy and want my family to be back together. I wish the house was sold and that Parker and I were already in Alabama with Max (especially on days like yesterday when Parker is teething and not napping, and I'm hit with a stomach bug, ugh). Then I get that little whisper of house-love in the back of my head. The pang of nostalgia. I desperately want the house to sell, but it's going to hurt just a little. This was our first home. We bought it as newlyweds, a ginormous southwestern on a huge lot that needed love and updating. We tackled so many DIY projects here, our "hobby" during our first years of marriage. It's the only home Parker has ever known; it's where we rocked him, read to him, and fed him in a high chair for the first time. He took his first steps in this house. He sniffed the orange blossoms in the spring as a newborn, and again as a one-year-old walker, and it's hard to imagine that we won't be eating those oranges come winter. I don't want to forget a single square inch of our Wrangler house, our first home. So to celebrate it and our four-and-a-half years in the house, I'm inviting you on a tour! Come on on...

Walking through the front door you enter our great room. We switched out the light pergo floor for this distressed black walnut wood, and also swapped the turquoise sponge painted light fixture for a crystal chandelier. This room was completely empty for some years, and we are still missing a rug for the dining table!

A closer look at our formal sitting room which we furnished right before putting our house on the market, a "staging" if you will. Most of my memories are of this room being bare naked, however I'm in love with the new chairs and it's been my favorite place to read this summer!

Opposite is our formal dining room.

This is the current view of the great room from the staircase, complete with Parker's new teepee from his Grandpa & Nana!

Walking further into the house, you pass under the catwalk. The den is on the right (it also used to boast sponge painted turquoise light fixture goodness).

Alternate view of the den, with view of the theatre on the top left, catwalk on the top right, and built-in aquarium on the bottom right. Max took that space from a wet bar to an aquarium, pretty much entirely on his own. Also, that banister used to be whitewashed pink wood! Gigi and Max did a ton of work to get it looking the way it is now! See where the den started here, yikes!

The kitchen sits opposite the den. I had big plans for the kitchen. I wanted the same dark hardwoods we put in the rest of the house, white cabinets, white subway tile backsplash, and white and gray marble counters... unfortunately we didn't get to any of this (but maybe the next owners will!).

There's a lot of space to work with in the kitchen, and the breakfast nook looks out on the backyard (I also looooved being able to cook and do dishes while looking out at the pool and yard). 

We usually have our family calendar up on the bulletin board. 

The door between the den and kitchen opens up to the yard. 

I will miss our .84 acres!

Back inside, we have a powder bath on the first floor (those stripes and that art were all me!).

You'll also find our super cute laundry room. The crystal chandelier was an accident - we purchased it for the front entryway and it was too small, so we put it here. Now, I can never have a laundry room without a chandelier!

Finally, you will make it to our mater bedroom. Parker slept here in his cradle for the first six months of his life!

Wedding photo collection *heart*

And then the master bath.

Heading upstairs, we have three rooms clustered together with this bathroom in the middle.

To the right is my craft room/extra guest room. It has a great view of the Pinnacle Peak desert mountain area. 

 If I had it my way, I'd have a chalkboard in every room.

The craft room also has two big bookcases that hold all my old favorites.

 Parker's room is to the left of the bathroom. It's bright and happy, just like I imagined it.

Again, we love our chalkboards and love our books!

I always have something cute and seasonal on Parker's chalkboard. I usually look here for inspiration and then freehand something similar.

Parker loves looking at the canvas of himself as a baby, and always wants his numbers recited. 

The guest bedroom is across from the bathroom. It houses my old bachelorette cottage furniture, plus Parker's old cradle (until we figure out what to do with it). 

Across the catwalk upstairs is Max's "wing" of the house. He has his own bathroom and a ginormous office (we laid that hardwood ourselves!). "Office" is a euphemism. This is his lab. And if you can believe it, this was after he cleared a bunch of stuff out. To his credit, this room is what allows him to rig ridiculous things for the house. He made it so we could use our iPhones to turn off an on lights, view our security cameras, play house music and turn the pool fountain and lights on. Seriously, all that from our phones. Plus, I can give him just about any broken item or gadget and he can fix it no problem. I've become ridiculously spoiled (and I also have a warped perception now of what's "normal").

Our "theatre" is also located upstairs - there's seating for thirteen! We hosted Superbowl here two years ago when the 49ers played. Max installed the projector in the ceiling himself, and the picture is fantastic. We spent many a night here watching larger-than-life movies play out on the wall.

I hope you enjoyed touring our first home! We will probably never again have saguaros in our yard - living in the desert was certainly an adventure!

Thank you to Ashley at Life on the Parsons Farm for nominating me for a house tour!! I loved her tour and cute house details like the year decals on her interior doors!

Watch for tours from these fabulous ladies next week. Let the blog hopping continue!

First, there's Mandy over at Mandy Living Life. An Arizona native, she blogs about life, travel, and her quest to visit every MLB ballpark in the U.S.

Then there's Christina at Keeping Up With The Patricios. She's a California girl with two adorable kiddos, and writes about crafting, cooking, decorating, and holidays. 

Finally, follow Camille! A mamma-to-be living in California's Bay Area (be still me heart, I miss you, Bay Area!), Camille writes all about being married and preggers at Meet the M's

I can't wait to tour the houses that belong to these sweet bloggers! 

Parker's First Trip to the Dentist!

On Wednesday, I took Parker to the dentist for the very first time!

If you are in the Scottsdale/Phoenix area, this is the place for kids to go! Our pediatrician actually recommended we go starting at one year, but Parker still seemed so young then! For us, waiting until one-and-a-half was perfect. He understands and follows directions so much more now and even has his own sign for brushing his teeth. I was able to explain to him what was going to happen, and felt that he would be able to handle it.

We were completely surprised walking into Desert Ridge Pediatric Dentistry - the entire office was in theme! I felt like we were on a space station!

Really, down to every last detail! This is where the hygienists walked out to collect patients. Parker made lots of friends, waving at everyone and blowing kisses. He was a hit with the staff!

Parker loved the waiting room play area. He giggled every time he went down the slide and would sign "more" over and over.

The hygienist took us to our room (again, even the hallways were in theme) and I let Parker try out the big chair! She talked to us about good oral hygiene habits, then Dr. Libby came in! She had Parker lay down in my lap while she looked at his teeth and then brushed them. We sang his current favorite song (The Wheels on the Bus) and he did really well, just a few tears at the end when the dentist started talking to me about his front teeth (they are being affected already by his finger sucking!).

Parker was rewarded with a balloon, ball, bag of dental goodies, and big water cup! The hygienist put the balloon on his wrist and he thought it was the best thing ever!

Heading out of the office, little man was all smiles! 

Thank you so much to Dr. Libby and co for making Parker's first dentist trip such a great experience! 

Toddler Tuesday: Reading With Your Toddler

We love books in this house. Love, love, love. It's totally the former elementary school teacher in me. I'm very old-school about my books, too. No Nook over here, or Kindle, or reading on the iPad. I prefer my books have paper pages that I can turn. Books are big with Parker, as well. Today I'm chatting about our love of books, and how we make reading a priority in our house. (This entry is also guest posted today over at Life on the Parsons Farm for Toddler Tuesday.)

Hi again! It's Mande from Sweet Home Alabama! Mamma to 18-month old Parker, wifey to super scientist Max, and currently in the process of relocating from Scottsdale, Arizona to Huntsville, Alabama. I had the pleasure of guest blogging for the Toddler Tuesday series last month, telling about our experience with baby sign language. Thank you to Ashley for having me back again, this time talking about reading with your toddler!

As a former elementary school teacher, this subject is SO near and dear to my heart, and for so many reasons. First, being able to literally introduce reading to a fresh new being is the most amazing thing.  There's the sharing of the love of books, and all the bonding and cuddle time associated. There's the watching as your baby grows from a passive participant to an active one, turning pages, pointing to pictures and verbally naming them, and making connections between those images and the world around him. And of course, there are the incredible, wonderful, long-term and meaningful benefits of reading daily with your child from the start (just click herehere and here for articles confirming this).

How can you make reading a normal part of your daily routine? Here are the ways we've made reading a priority in our house...

1. Book Access
For every basket of toys, we have a corresponding basket of books. This has been the best way for us to store Parker's board books in a way that is easily accessible, both for us and for Parker. I liken it to veggies in the fridge - if they are front and center, you are more likely to grab for them, as opposed to having them hidden away in a bottom drawer. We keep the book baskets in the places we spend the most time - the den, our master bedroom and Parker's nursery. Since Parker can reach in and get the books, this system also fosters independence and autonomy. The basket system works wonderfully for sturdy board books, which we read almost exclusively since our little man is tough on his literature. Regular picture books might not hold up so well being tossed in a bin.

2. Consistency
Parker is always, always read to before naps and before bedtime. It's something he has just come to expect, and automatically selects books now when we enter his room at those times. Even if we are having a crazy busy day and haven't sat down to read yet, we will come his first nap. Once the routine is established, it's like having a standing appointment in your schedule and you'll be sure to get quality reading time each day. We even took it one step further, and we read the same exact book before lights out each night. We'll go through a few at bedtime, but the last one is always Goodnight Moon, and has been since Parker was three-months old.

3. Making it Fun
Sometimes Parker wants to run around like the crazy ball of energy he is, and he turns away if I hold up a book. Reading is not something I ever want to force; so when he wants to run around I run around with him. I really want reading to have positive associations for him. Other times, Parker will pick out a book on his own, bring it over to me, and will sit in my lap and want the same book read to him over and over and over. And over. He'll flip the last page, turn the book to the front again, and immediately begin signing "more." I try my best to go with what he's feeling, always making it happy and fun. Part of this is being "present" and an active participant in the reading process, pointing out colors, naming objects, asking questions, reading in voices... Parker also loves books with flaps that he gets to open and close, and song books, too.

4. We Turn Off the T.V.
Like, literally. If Parker is awake, the television is off. Simply not having this source of entertainment as an option (or tablets, phones, etc.) has both freed up more time for books and has made them Parker's top source of entertainment.

Happy reading, y'all!
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