How have you been?

I’ve been well. For once this long silence wasn’t a result of depression, it was just a result of me doing other stuff.

Nothing personal.

It also hasn’t helped that Vivi is the epitome of toddler in every sense of the word, and I have to be constantly present for that child or she will lose a limb, chop the limb off another living creature or do some other irreversible damage to something I value (like the button she found in the car that turned on a light WE DIDN’T EVEN KNOW EXISTED.) I decided last night that if we rounded up a bunch of our toddlers and put them in a glass enclosure we could charge admission, like a zoo with tiny little drunk people that are drunk on perceived power and the sound of their own voice. Today she started the day out by throwing herself to the floor because the notebook I gave her had lines in it.

When I asked her yesterday if she was all clean after her bath she stuck her hand in her butt, sniffed it, then proclaimed “YEP! ALL CLEAN!” in case you were curious about the personal hygiene standards within our home.

Today is the three-year adoptiversary of our cats. Three years guys, happy to have you, stop licking my face.

Schmoopsie.
Hopefully this little nudge will be the proverbial uncorking I need to get back to business as usual. Perhaps you’re familiar with the feeling?

1. We call Addie 'Addie Paddy Puddin' Pie' which gets shortened to Paddy then lengthened to Paddy Wagon.   2. Vivi may be the best photo bomber in the universe, as she silently walked right in front of Addie and did this as I took the picture, then silent
You know that “picture paints a thousand words” cliche?

I tried finding a thousand words about a picture when I was in Jr. High as part of some school assignment and you know what? It’s hard as hell to come up with a thousand words about a picture.

But this one, (well, that one ^ up there ^) I may not have a thousand words about it, but I do have an awful lot of feelings about it. I may even have a few hundred words about it.

I took this on Saturday at a pizza place Urban Spoon told us about in Brandenburg, Kentucky. We spent the morning at Squire Boone Cave where Addie and Cody ziplined and Vivi managed to trip over every single rock on the ground. I took it because we call Addie Paddy Wagon and have for a really long time. Cody started singing “Addie Paddy Puddin’ Pie” to her years ago and as nicknames go, Addie Paddy Puddin’ Pie turned into just Paddy then into Paddy Wagon. I still call her Paddy most of the time, I sometimes wonder if people actually think I named my child Patty and if they judge me for it. (Not that I care, because I don’t. People name their kids much stupider things than Patty.) Anyway, that’s why I took the picture, because she’s our Paddy Wagon and there was a paddy wagon. (It’s also why she’s pointing to the sign and to herself.)

Beyond the Paddy part, those shoes she’s wearing are the only pair that really truly fit her right now. Somewhere over a two week span in the summer the kid’s feet grew TWO FULL SIZES meaning her feet are real close to being the same size as mine which is weird because didn’t she just come out of me? And the t-shirt, we got it from Kohl’s last year and it was easily the best mom-override I have ever enacted. (She didn’t want it because she didn’t get it and I said “I DON’T CARE I GET IT AND IT’S FUNNY AND YOU’RE GOING TO WEAR IT.” It’s now one of her favorite shirts and people comment on it all the time.) Those legs? Still not sure where she got those stems from because both Cody and I are far more trunk than stem in the leg department — always have been.

Now let’s talk about this restaurant. The food was amazing and we learned if  starved our kids for an afternoon they could eat a teenage boy under the table. It was called Jailhouse Pizza and it was built in an old jailhouse where Jesse James once did time. Before we went in we saw two confederate flags which will always be weird for us and just outside the restrooms there was a framed hangman’s noose on the wall, we suddenly wondered what we had gotten into.The women’s cells were on the lower level (and yes, you could eat in them) while the mens’ cells were upstairs (you could also eat in those as well.) Our waitress said something about the floor but with Vivi being Vivi nobody really heard what she said. As we were leaving I showed Cody a hole in the floor they had covered over with plexiglass that we had missed before. Addie ran upstairs to dance on the glass floor above our heads and that’s when we realized we were standing right below a trap door where hangings used to take place and our kid was dancing where people had died.

While the noose on the wall in front of us made more sense, we were all a little unsettled by the realization.

Now back to the photo and the other person in the photo. You know her as Vivi, we know her as Buddy, Vivi-inator, Vivienne Jean Baby, Veevster, Veever Believer Bear, the Vivster, Tiny Dancer, Medium Sized Dancer, babydoll, the little one, the Vivmonster and the loud one. She was wandering around minding her own business but when she saw me raise my camera to take this picture of Addie she walked right in front of her and struck this pose for no other reason than to be kind of weird, funny and obnoxious in a way only Vivi can truly pull off. Her shoes once belonged to Addie and every toddler should have a pair of Keens. The cowgirl suit also belonged to Addie (a gift from my grandma) but Addie never actually wore it. Vivi found it in the dress-ups the day before our trip and never let it leave her body except to sleep, and even then we had to coax her out of it. In the morning she woke up, put her Sheriff Callie suit over her pajamas and only then would she agree to eating breakfast and having her morning pee. There was a hat too, but the hat was holding her acorn collection in the car.

These two little girls fight like crazy, and I mean like literal crazy. Addie gets all pre-teen passive aggressive, eye-rolly and foot stompy while Vivi gets all toddler-hulk-scream-rage at Addie. The two fighting styles don’t match at all and it usually ends with Cody and me screaming “JUST LOVE EACH OTHER” because trying to reason with both of them at the same time is like trying to reason with a cat who is dead set on eating a pissed off wasp — everyone loses. But they still love each other for a few minutes each day and those few minutes are magical.

bus stop vivi

Adam and Vivi-0175

*farts* “Whoa, that was my butt waking up.”

*****

*seated at a very busy restaurant, large man walks by* “That’s a very big boy, I’ll bet he has a very large bellybutton on his butt. But you don’t. You have hair!” (Butt Bellybutton = Male Genitalia.)

*****

*Addie comes home from school, Vivi is very excited. She hugs Addie then disappears. Addie sits on the floor to do homework. A few moments later, Vivi shows up naked and waggles her bare rear in Addie’s face for absolutely no reason.*

*****

“Vivi! Don’t lick the walls!”

“Why?”

“Becau…*LIIIIICK*…se.”

*****

“Okay, poo-poo-head.”

“You don’t call me, or anyone else, poo-poo-head. Understand?”

“Yes. Sorry…pee-pee-head.”

*****

Vivi is eye level with Cody’s butt bellybutton at the moment and is obsessed with randomly throwing punches at it. I’ve heard Cody yowl from three rooms away more than once.

*****

“Will you please cut a banana for me?” *proceeds to cut banana for Vivi and serve it on a plate* “NOOO. YOU CUT MY BANANA AND THE ROCKET SHIPS ARE GOOOONE!” *melts into hysterical tears.* For the record, banana “rocket ships” are the pointy bits at each end I generously trimmed off because Addie never liked their total lack of symmetry.

*****

“What’s your new friend’s name?”

“Piper!”

“No, Harper.”

“Parper!”

“HAR-per.”

“PAHR-purr.”

“Harper.”

“Piper.”

“Whatever.”

*****

"Vivi? Do you like boatcations?" "Yes, I do very much. Thank you." #Boatcation #CarnivalSunshine
Vacation, you're both doin' it real, real well. #Boatcation
One of the main reasons we chose this ship was because of these beauties right here. Unfortunately, they have been out of commission since we boarded. :(
IMG_20140914_025800
My #Boatcation crew, two bottles of sunscreen down, 4 days to go.
Fuzzy headed Caribbean alarm clocks. Free tote bag with purchase. #Boatcation
IMG_20140914_031254
Between the ropes course and swimming all day she may come back stronger than Chuck Norris.
After seven days on a cruise ship, she learned how to sleep in. #Boatcation
IMG_20140915_002932
NO FUN TO BE HAD HERE. MOVE ALONG. #CarnivalSunshine
IMG_20140914_030427
IMG_20140914_031454
IMG_20140914_030536
IMG_20140914_030621
IMG_20140915_002751
These two.
IMG_20140915_002324
IMG_20140915_002518
IMG_20140914_025603
IMG_20140914_025336

Most of our time was spent on the water slides, can you tell? One major bummer is the big slides weren’t working for the first four days (half) of our trip. Since school was back in session, there weren’t many kids on board so it didn’t seem to be a huge priority to get it fixed, but the families who were on board were pretty bummed. The ship we were on, Carnival Sunshine, was actually retrofitted and relaunched last year (originally built in 1995.) While we could tell it was an older ship (based on layout) everything on it felt fresh and updated. There were a lot of differences between it and the Breeze (Launched in 2012. Addie, my mom and I went on it last year) but the experience was just as enjoyable. The staff of the Sunshine seemed much more personable, perhaps because it is smaller so was easier to keep track of people? (Breeze passenger capacity: 3,690 – Sunshine: 2,642) I also have to say that the Red Frog Pub on both the Breeze and the Sunshine found some of the best acoustic performers I’ve ever heard on land or sea. Good job, guys.

And in case you’re all “Where’s Addie?” Addie made friends. SHE MADE FRIENDS. SHE RAN OFF WITH HER FRIENDS! My little introvert made friends! We barely saw her but we didn’t really care because she was HAVING FUN WITH HER NEW FRIENDS! (Total benefit to cruising with kids her age: she was able to sign herself in and out of Club Carnival so she could go to the activities she wanted to (she loved anything crafty as well as the scavenger hunts) then leave when things got too loud.) We had walkie-talkies (Vivi called them docky-dockies) so we could stay in contact.

Carnival’s partnership with Dr. Seuss throughout the ship was pretty adorable. The Green Eggs & Ham breakfast was $5 per person and there were actual green eggs on the menu. There was also a Dr. Seuss parade and storytime as well as Seuss themed activities in Camp Carnival. I hate to compare, but Carnival did an amazing job with its partnership while Royal Caribbean’s partnership with Dreamworks left a lot to be desired. (It was very unorganized, un-relateable to the much younger/much older crowd, and the costumes were terrifying.)

Do you have any questions about cruising? Specifically with little humans? I’m going to be doing another post about “What I Wish I Had Known” as well as “What Totally Worked” in regards to traveling on a boat with progeny.

Find out what we did and what we paid for entertainment/food in each port here. (Because knowing stuff like this will save you a ton on a cruise.)

Carnival generously provided us with our cruise fare. Any additional expenses, gratuities, and travel expenses were our responsibility. Opinions, as always, are my own.

There has been one item on almost every to-do list for the past three years, chances are you have a similar one on yours — or at least the thought in the back of your mind. “I need to organize and back up all my photos and videos.”

You with me? Good, keep reading:

Since you’re still with me, chances are the thought of backing up and organizing all your photos fills you with a certain sense of panic or doom. For me, it’s the fact that I use 5+ devices to take photos and videos which makes the task — in a word — monumental. While my DSLR photos are really well organized, my phone and point and shoot cameras usually just end up getting their memory dumped in a folder appropriately named “Phone Dump” with the intention of going through them later. (Later has yet to happen.)

I upload a lot of photos to Flickr, which is considered my back up of a back up, but I haven’t established a very efficient way of searching them and at the rate they change their desktop site around and the lack of functionality with their mobile app, I’ve been left using a few choice words in Flickr’s direction here recently. I also have two external hard drives, one dedicated to photos, the other for weekly backups of my entire computer. Again, I have all my photos in each location but there just isn’t a very good way to search or browse them (despite being fairly well organized in tidy little folders.)

Enter ThisLife, a new service from Shutterfly.

[Read more...]

Partner in crime. (Crime = making sure Vivi doesn't drown, much.) #Boatcation
...and maybe a less terrifying portrait?
Things became a wee bit ominous in the land of turkey and cake. #Boatcation
IMG_20140914_030957
IMG_20140914_031848
IMG_20140914_030756
IMG_20140914_030328
The girls happily helped me give Cody boobs and mermaid hair.
One year ago at this same beach Addie befriended a toddler because she missed her sister. Today they get to play together. :)
IMG_20140914_025955
IMG_20140914_025857
IMG_20140914_030054
IMG_20140914_030154
IMG_20140914_030238
IMG_20140914_031648
Chubby, sandy hand clutching her treasure. Toddlers. *sigh* (She fell asleep on me within two minutes of leaving the beach.)
IMG_20140914_025713
IMG_20140914_024943
IMG_20140914_024744
IMG_20140913_211358
IMG_20140914_025231
The end. #Boatcation
IMG_20140914_024844

What we did on each stop:

Grand Turk: There was a beach and Margaritaville pool right off the pier, rather than taking a taxi to a more private beach we figured we’d go with what was there. The girls were able to witness a beer belly competition. So, that was fun to explain. (Free, aside from a little souvenir for my sister.)

Puerto Rico (Old San Juan): You can find all that here. ($10 admission to the fort, $3 for pastries and $6 for water. Lots of water.)

St. Thomas, USVI: We took a taxi to Magen’s Bay ($8 per person each way + $4 beach admittance for Cody and me.) This was our favorite day, Magen’s Bay was perfect for Vivi, the water was shallow with no waves, the sand was soft with no rocks and there was plenty of shade. There were also iguanas, to which Vivi declared “DINOSAURS! LET’S CATCH ‘EM!” We brought our own snorkel masks as well, because I’m pretty sure I got sick in November from a dirty rental snorkel. Lunch for the 4 of us at the beach was $24.

St. Maarten: We left the girls on the ship and headed out to Maho Beach to hopefully see this. Sadly, all we saw was traffic (one lane roads around the WHOLE island + a traffic accident = long time in a taxi.) I had the world’s most tasty frozen beverage and if you ever find yourself in St. Maarten (Dutch Side) ask for Delores to be your driver, she took us around the entire island on our own little personal tour. We then had a coconut smoothie that changed both of our lives forever and ever, amen. ($50 for round-trip ride, $18 for various drinks and snacks.)

Cody’s Sister’s Apartment: Free! Hooray for family in Orlando with a sparkling blue pool!

San Juan
San Juan PR
Old San Juan, Puerto Rico
San Juan
Old San Juan, Puerto Rico
Old San Juan, Puerto Rico
San Juan
Old San Juan, Puerto Rico
Old San Juan, Puerto Rico
San Juan PR
IMG_20140908_180443
San Juan
Old San Juan, Puerto Rico
IMG_20140909_000115
Way better than the forts we build at home. #FortEnvy
Old San Juan, Puerto Rico
IMG_20140908_235615
Old San Juan, Puerto Rico
It's not gas, just a fort.
Morro wall
Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

Nothing wraps up climbing a bazillion 300-year-old stairs like buying pastries from the back of a truck on a street corner.

Old San Juan? We dig you.

(Pictured: Old San Juan, Castillo San Felipe Del Morro and Santa Maria Magdelena de Pazzis Cemetery)

Last week Cody took Vivi into the restroom at a restaurant so she could do her business. When she was done, he asked her to stand with her nose in the corner so he could do his as well.

Afterwards she burst out of the restroom and shouted “DAD DIDN’T SIT DOWN AND HE PEED OUT OF HIS BELLYBUTTON!” as soon as she saw me.

Threenager.

Last night on FaceTime she asked my dad if he was pregnant.

She also currently hates trees. (She has for awhile, one evening she simply got out of the car, looked around and said “I hate trees.” Her position has yet to change.)

She blames all of her farts on the cat, even at two a.m.

She is terrified of spiders and believes that any injury or illness is called an ‘ankle’.

We’re all headed out on a cruise next week in order to answer the question that has been plaguing Cody and me since our first cruise, can you actually leave a cruise relaxed if you have a toddler in tow? (Specifically a toddler like Vivi?)

She woke me up by throwing (her clean) underwear at my head and screaming “MOM I’M HUNGRY.” this morning.

I WISH I WAS THIS EXCITED ABOUT SWIMSUIT SEASON! (suit from H&M)

I took both girls to the library this afternoon, and without getting too specific — Vivi has had some trouble when it comes to potty training. Today I was the mom who had to pull her toddler out of the children’s section of the library, as she screamed and sobbed “I don’t want to go!” I knew she had had an accident, and in an effort to keep drama to a minimum I didn’t fully survey the damage before heading straight for the restrooms at the front of the building. It wasn’t until we made it to the front (after walking by dozens of people) that I realized her accident had made a much bigger mess than I had ever anticipated. Add in the fact that she insisted on keeping her skirt above her head as we walked out…and I’m really sorry to anyone who was at the library today.

*insert defeated sigh*

It was one of those moments when I want to tell those who choose to be child-free, “YOU MADE A FINE CHOICE FOR YOURSELF. I ENVY THAT YOU WILL NEVER BE COVERED IN POO AT THE PUBLIC LIBRARY.”

Tonight that little toad crawled into my lap smelling of soap and cookies and said “You’re the best, mom.” and I thought “You know what? I kind of am.” and I realized that even though I don’t love this job all the time, it at least has enough perks to keep me around.

Her eyebrows more accurately represent what's lurking inside her, not that impish grin and button nose. #WolfInToddlerClothing #WatchOutBoyShellChewYouUp