When we were trying to get Vivi here, my entire though process revolved around getting and being pregnant. Every decision I made in or around my house included the fact that one day a baby would be in it and so I had to plan accordingly. I’d think about what kind of baby gates I would need and where, I thought about where I would store toys and how we would arrange car seats and strollers. I’d think about holidays with a baby and how long we could travel with her as a lap child and I’d think about how many times we could go to Disneyworld before she was 3. I fantasized about how I would spend my days with this baby, how I would document my pregnancy and what I would do differently in regards to labor and delivery.

I knew she was out there waiting for us. I felt it, I just didn’t understand why it was taking so long to get her here. (I get it now.)

I also knew I wanted another girl. Yes, healthy babies above all else, la la la, but I wanted another girl.

So what does life feel like now? It feels complete. I don’t think about getting pregnant, my mind doesn’t revolve around pregnancy math and fertility appointments. I don’t feel a nudge that someone else is out there (something I felt STRONGLY even when Addie was only days old) and there is no second guessing our decision to be done even under the spell of a tiny newborn. We’ve cleaned out the closets and rid ourselves of baby stuff.

It feels really good.

We’re meant to be four. Four is good. Four feels right. Four is right for us.

I look forward to the things we can do together, as well as the things I will soon be able to do once Vivi is in school. I have all these projects and jobs I’ve wanted to pursue for years but didn’t or couldn’t because I was either too caught up in wanting to be pregnant, being pregnant or keeping a baby alive. I would never say the time I spent trying to get pregnant was wasted, the things I learned about myself, about Cody, and about other women are invaluable. They were lessons on empathy and compassion that can only be learned the hard way, and unfortunately I did hurt people in my single-minded and obsessed desire to have a second baby. I while I regret hurting others, I appreciate the subsequent lessons on redemption and forgiveness.

If you’re not sure you’re done? You probably aren’t.

If you know there’s someone (or someone else) out there waiting to join your family, don’t give up. Even when you’re convinced you will be swallowed whole by disappointment, jealousy, and pain—don’t give up. Six years felt like an eternity, but now that she’s here, those six years were nothing when compared to what I get to experience every day with these two little girls. It only took six years and nine really hard months to make the most spectacular thing I’ll ever witness, these two together.

November 2014

There are two phrases in particular that light my fury on fire, perhaps there are more (I’m sure there are) but for now, let’s discuss these two because maybe they’re you’re pet peeve too or perhaps you say them yourself not knowing how much damage they can cause.

1. “Someone forgot their medication.”

There’s a difference between finding a prescription bottle someone left at a hotel and sarcastically accusing someone of irrational behavior because they forgot to take a supposed prescribed medication for a mental illness they may or may not actually have. It’s the latter of these two that cause my fists to ball up. For a long time, whenever I would have a bad day Cody would ask “Did you take your medication?” as if the little while pill at bedtime would control every emotion I possess. It drove me crazy because I felt as though he expected me to have no range of emotion at all and that he put all of his hope for a “normal, happy wife” into a pill. Knowing I take medication and accusing me of forgetting it is one thing, accusing a stranger you know nothing about? That’s entirely different. That’s how stereotypes are born and bred. It puts shame not only on mental illness (because clearly we could all be controlled if we were medicated) it is also an unfair judgement of the person being accused. Before claiming someone “forgot their medication” to the person next to you under your breath, take a step back and try to figure out why the person is distraught in the first place and acknowledge that you’re not always on your best behavior in public either. Does that mean you forgot your medication too?

2. “That’s just the way I am.” or “That’s just the way he/she is.”

People can change. I’ve seen it, I’ve changed myself. It’s one thing if I insist on giving my friends a hug when they’re crying, because that is the way I am. However it’s entirely different if you excuse someones a**hole behavior under the guise “That’s just the way he/she is.” No one gets to be a butthead to other people for no reason. “That’s just the way I am” is just an excuse and when you have people excusing your own bad behavior? Whew, that’s when you know it’s gone too far and it’s time to start working on being a little nicer/more understanding/less selfish in general. Vivi likes to hit, scream and cry when she doesn’t get her way. I can’t tell other parents “Oh, that’s just the way she is.” because the other parents would cry foul and Vivi wouldn’t have any friends. However when an adult throws a fit to get their way or uses some other impolite tactic of persuasion — oftentimes their behavior is excused or begged to be reasoned with “because that’s just the way they are.”

No.

We can all do better. Don’t excuse others bad behavior and if you find yourself excusing your own with “That’s just the way I am” really think about how you’re presenting yourself. I for one do not want to associate with people who are unwilling or unable to change, expecting instead for others to bend and accept their unacceptable behavior.

Now, let’s put this into practice:

OKAY: You see a prescription bottle in the back of a taxi so you give it to the driver and say “Someone forgot their medication.”

NOT OKAY: Someone has been waiting in line at the DMV for several hours when they are told they will have to come back tomorrow with more paperwork and the person gets understandably upset. Upon witnessing the person demand to see a supervisor you lean over to your seatmate and whisper “Someone forgot their medication.”

OKAY: I will always have fair skin so there’s no use in tanning — it’s just the way I am.

NOT OKAY: Your brother is being incredibly rude and condescending to your wife, you respond with “You’ll just have to forgive him. He doesn’t understand, it’s just the way he is.”

Are there phrases that chap your hide? (Like ‘chap your hide’ or ‘nail down the details?’)

 

UPDATE: Congrats to Meredith S. and Matt W. for winning the two Wii U Bundles!

Another product post, sorry, but when Nintendo asked if me if I wanted to give away two Wii U bundles to you guys I couldn’t say no.

Addie was asked to be a part of the Nintendo Kids reviewer program several months ago and she’s been taking her job very seriously.

Originally I set her up to write a portion of this giveaway but her little blurb contained so many ALL CAPS DECLARATIONS FOLLOWED WITH WAY TOO MANY !!!!!!!!! I figured I’d bottle her enthusiasm for another project that we’re working on.

I have always been partial to Nintendo as they don’t offer bloody, nasty games where you could run over prostitutes with cars, or gut pirates with your bare hands.

[Read more...]

My friend Heather is a self-proclaimed $7 box of at-home hair color kind of girl, but after today she may very well be spending $20 more on her hair color while I may end up saving $70.

We’re both in love with the Madison Reed at-home hair color I tried on her today. (Full disclosure, I spend a lot on my hair and I’m very loyal to my hairstylist, so I didn’t want to risk messing up all her hard work with some mail order hair color which is why I enlisted Heather, because $25 hair color was a huge step up from $7 drugstore hair color, she agreed.)

Finding a color for her was easy using online recommendations, the packaging was gorgeous (which really shouldn’t matter, but it does) and Madison Reed solves all the problems I hated about at-home hair color from before. Every kit includes two pairs of gloves, barrier cream to keep color off your skin, a cap to keep color-drenched hair under control, a wipe to clean off any stray color as well as enough shampoo and conditioner to last for several washes. It also smells spectacular, absolutely no gross chemical smell and the directions are clearly printed inside the box.

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If you have a whole bunch of hair there’s even an option to add an additional color bottle for $10 at checkout. Brilliant.

Since Heather came to my house with some pretty sweet roots, some grays, and her hair previously colored we balanced out the timing leaving the color on her roots for about ten minutes before applying the rest and leaving it on for around 20 minutes. Another huge bonus? Once we rinsed out her hair her skin was free from hair color and her scalp wasn’t dyed a strange color.

This is where we let the before and afters do the talking. Because I can’t tell you anything you can’t see right here:

Madison Reed Before After

GORGEOUS, RIGHT?

We used Sardinia Red – 6NCG and it was the exact color Heather dreams of. She admitted to hoping she would be apathetic about the results so she wouldn’t feel the need to spend any more than $7 on her hair. She’s been converted. I think I have been too (sorry Kristine! I promise I’ll never let anyone else cut my hair! So there’s that?)

Madison Reed Information

Want 50% off your first order? Use code Better4U at checkout. You’ll also have the option to have your color automatically delivered every 4-10 weeks (you choose!) or make a one-time color purchase.

One more before and after because I can’t get over how gorgeous this color is on her (if you’ve ever gone red then you’ll know how hard it can be to get red right.)

Madison Reed BA

(I also convinced Heather to give red lipstick a try last month and I’m so happy she listened to me.)

Disclosure: This post sponsored by Madison Reed. Everything said within is my honest opinion, especially since I’m the one with pretty boring hair at the end of the day compared to Heather’s ravishing red. Links are affiliate.

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. :(
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My #Boatcation crew, two bottles of sunscreen down, 4 days to go.
Fuzzy headed Caribbean alarm clocks. Free tote bag with purchase. #Boatcation
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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
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NO FUN TO BE HAD HERE. MOVE ALONG. #CarnivalSunshine
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These two.
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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.