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.

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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
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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. :)
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Chubby, sandy hand clutching her treasure. Toddlers. *sigh* (She fell asleep on me within two minutes of leaving the beach.)
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The end. #Boatcation
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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
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San Juan
Old San Juan, Puerto Rico
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Way better than the forts we build at home. #FortEnvy
Old San Juan, Puerto Rico
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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

So, braces are a teenager thing, right?

Wrong.

I figured orthodontists and talk of braces wouldn’t be a worry I’d have for at least a few more years, but after being a fly on the wall at a conference full of of dentists and orthodontists last year it turns out a child’s first visit to an orthodontist should occur no later than 7 years old and extreme issues can be avoided with minor intervention now. Which is to say, Addie’s teeth are a wee bit crowded in her mouth, each year I’ve watched them shift around and my worries of her dealing dental issues until she is old enough to have braces are false. A few small adjustments now will make for a happy mouth (and (most likely) no braces) later.

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When we told Vivi we were going to Cleveland for the weekend she asked if he was nice and if he had toys at his house.

downtown
downtown 2
historical
baseball
garden vivi
garden addie
Cleveland, for the first time.
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garden 2
garden
Cleveland, for the first time.
jacks
Cleveland, for the first time.
Cleveland, for the first time.
Cleveland, for the first time. jack flaps
rock two
Cleveland, for the first time.
Cleveland, for the first time.
science
Cleveland, for the first time.

She’s still wondering who Mr. Cleveland is, and she was a little disappointed she never got to see his house — but all in all she was pretty pleased with him, his museums, his bowling alley, and his pancakes.

We all were.

******

Pictured Above: Western Reserve Historical Society, Cleveland Botanical Gardens, Jack Flaps, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Great Lakes Science Center. Special thanks to the Cleveland CVB for providing us with accommodations, meals, and attraction passes.

“LET’S GO TO THE PARK! I’m going to bring all my bunnies. Can I wear them in my backpack? I want little bunny on the outside. BUNNIES! WE’RE GOING TO THE PARK!”

#BunnyWearing #MultiplyingLikeRabbits

Nothing but smiles and giggles the whole way to the park, no complaints, no signs of distress, nothing but shiny happy toddler. She even found a big rock and declared it “…big enough and clean enough to be my rock.” Whatever, the kid loves collecting rocks. Just ask our washer and dryer. She collected a dandelion bouquet for me and we jumped over all the “hairy sidewalks.”

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PARK! SWINGING! SLIDES! MERRIMENT! JOY! Bark in my shoe. MORE SWINGING! UNDERDOG! SUNSHINE! PLAY PLAY PLAY!

Under Vivi underdog.

“Time to go.” You see, as the mother I am able to calculate the amount of energy needed for Vivi to make it home without a meltdown in the middle of the street or me having to carry her three blocks. Compound that knowledge with the amount of energy already used at the park and divide it by the previous night’s sleep as well as the fervor in which breakfast was eaten multiplied by how much water she drank compared to her last potty break, it was time to go. Parents? You know this math.

Something in my math was wrong and everything went to crap less than half a block away from the park.

You guys? We forgot the rock. The big rock that was clean enough to be hers.

Forget that I managed to keep Vivi alive, pull of 27+ flawless underdogs, and keep all three bunnies accounted for, the rock was somewhere all alone.

I knew we couldn’t go back for the rock, her little tank was emptying fast and if we went back for the rock there would be even more tears, sobbing and my arms full of 35+ pounds of sweaty terror in my arms for five blocks.

There was foot stomping. There was wailing. There were heartbreaking sobs when I wouldn’t let her pick up a decorative boulder from someone’s yard.

At some point during the first street crossing, we lost a bunny — only we didn’t realize it until half a block later.

“You sit here and watch me go back and get your bunny, okay?”

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*sniff sniff hiccup* “Okay.”

The sniffs turned to wild sobbing demands as soon as we started up again “I WANT TO SNUGGLE! I NEED A CUPCAKE! DADDY! MY SISTER! I JUST WANT TO WATCH MICKEY MOUSE!”

I tried to distract her with a dead fish, but she wanted to pick up the dead fish to replace her big clean rock so I had to distract her with a pile of rocks instead.

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With a rock in each hand and two bunnies under her arm (by the way she was PISSED when she saw that little bunny had snot and tears on him. LIVID. “THROW HIM AWAY!”) we were only two houses away from home, Mickey Mouse and snuggles. In an attempt to wipe hair from her tear soaked cheeks she ended up clocking herself in the head with one of her replacement rocks.

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By then she just gave up. Life just wasn’t worth living anymore. In one short walk back from the park she realized how cruel life can be and crumpled into a heap 20 feet from her own front door.

Basically it’s how every adult wants to act when life gets real crappy but we’re not allowed to because we’re adults.

Next time you see a perfectly sane adult lose their mind, think of the sobbing toddler inside them who just wants a clean rock to call their own and a snuggle with their mama.

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When I agreed to write about Schoola it was because I really liked the idea behind it.

But I also believe in using the stuff I write about so I went ahead and signed up for my own donation bag and placed a clothing order to see how the process works.

I requested the bag on Thursday, July 31st and it arrived Monday August, 4. I also placed an order for several items July 31st, received a tracking number Saturday, August 2 with delivery a week later.

How Schoola Works

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