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19 posts from March 2007

March 23, 2007


Family FotoFun Friday Challenge #24 
Post your pictures on your blog and leave a link and a comment here before 3/30/07. 

This week's photo challenge is "Bubbles".  Want to play?  Here are the very simple rules.

Bubbles1_smSydney and Suzanne's Daddy suggested this week's Foto Challenge and boy was it challenging!

Initially, we thought it would be easy -- fun even.  So we got our bucket-o-bubbles and the camera and headed out to our backyard. 

We set everything up but before I could even remove the lens cover from the camera, Maddy grabbed the bubble wand and pressed it to her lips and blew a big wet raspberry through it!  Even though I was doing my best to give her instructions, she did this at least a dozen more times with the same results (no bubbles, nasty soapy mouth).  Finally she gave up and passed the wand to Gwen who knew better than to put it on her mouth but still couldn't blow softly enough to produce bubbles.  So she decided it might be more fun to turn the bubble bucket upside down and dump the liquid out instead.

We have a little battery operated bubble machine so we switched to that and did manage to get some nice bubbles for the girls to run through.  They loved it! But taking pictures while operating the bubble machine is impossible since both tasks require four hands so our photos were really pathetic.   We had tons of bubbles but they all popped before I could put down the machine and pick up and point the camera.   To get the photos you see in the collage, I had to add some bubbles using a cool effect from my photo editing program.  Click the image to see a larger view.   

Family FotoFun Friday Participants
1. Now We Are Six
2. A Mei Mei for Avery
3. Random Thoughts
4. Journey with AnnaClaire
5. Sophie Makes Six
6. season star
7. season star
8. a bicycle built for three
9. Cannon Fishbowl
10. waiting4news99
11. The Princess and the Pea
12. Mei Mei Journal
13. Hiking Through Life with Ian and LiLi
14. Sophie and Sage
15. Wee Sit Family
16. Waala Family Adventures
17. Wo Ai Ni!
18. Motherhood and Other Ramblings
19. mexican chopsticks
20. LadyBug Journals
21. ska-doodle
22. From Here to There, the Ladybug and the Dragonfly
23. Our Three Daughters
24. Twins!
25. Jeff\'s Place
26. nikki
27. Smith Family\'s Adventures
28. Cindy Theriot
29. Are They All Yours?
30. Oohs and Aahs
31. Two "Twin" Terrors

March 21, 2007

I almost didn't mention this

Banana1I wasn't going to blog about this but, in retrospect, it is sorta funny (and Gwen is NOT sick).  So here goes:

M3 called this morning and asked if we were heading to the mall for our usual romp in the germ-pit.  Even without the added enticement of a play date, we'd never miss our daily chance to partake of dried baby body fluids and share some fresh ones of our own.  And, of course, the play date just gave it so much more meaning!  Especially since Mommy hardly ever gets to talk to an adult during these recurring adventures (Mall Moms are snobs).

So, we rendezvoused with Mama Salsa about 10:15 and Maddy quickly settled into her self imposed role as Westgate Mall Toddler Play Yard Ambassador by welcoming the twins and trying to explain that they needed to take off their shoes, not leave the play area, etc.  Meanwhile, Gwen took advantage of the fact that I was being distracted by M3 to race to our stroller, retrieve a banana we'd just purchased, peel it nekkid, and shove the top 5 inches of the freshly exposed fruit into her greedy mouth. 

I was only about 5 seconds behind her and caught up in time to ask her if she was okay and offer my hand as her personal spitoon.  She nodded and grunted "I'm otay" and scurried off after a little girl who was stretching the neck opening of her angrily protesting little brother's shirt by dragging him around by it.  it's understandable why Gwen would surely want to participate in THAT fun!   

I settled onto the bench seat and glanced around for M3 and the babies but didn't find them before Gwen reappeared with a very disturbed look on her face and some banana colored spittle dripping down the front of her shirt.   Like any good mother, I stuck my bare hand under her chin and asked her if she wanted to spit out the banana.  She did and my hand quickly filled up to near overflowing with something the consistency of rice pudding.  But before I could properly dispose of my gooey gift, she heaved and VOMITED a half gallon of banana/Pediasure/Golden Grahams/godknowswhatelse right onto our feet and the floor between us.

Almost immediately, a crowd of toddlers gathered and some well meaning parents offered napkins while I stared at the mess -- and Gwen -- and my hand filled with goo -- and tried to decide what I needed to fix first.  I decided to empty my hand since it seemed like a no-brainer that two hands might come in handy for the rest of the tasks ahead.  So I told Gwen not to touch anything and leaped over the bench seats and ran to the trash can about 15 feet away.  Then I returned as fast as humanly possible and jumped back over the seats to find Gwen kneeling in the vomit trying to mop it up with the paper napkins the adults provided. 

Luckily, I carry a full box of tissues and a full container of Huggies baby wipes in the stroller (and antibacterial wipes in the diaper bag) so I got everything cleaned up but nobody was in the mood for a play date after that.  Gee, I can't imagine why!

And that's how our first mall play date with M3 went! 

Sharing good pictures

I'm not a professional photographer and probably will never be one because I don't have the patience to learn about all the technical stuff that goes along with that job.  But I love taking good pictures and I've had moderate success doing it.  People always ask what camera we use, what software, etc.  So here I am -- sharing all of our secrets.  Enjoy!

Our Stuff:

  • CameraCanon Rebel XT 8MP  (update:  We now have the Canon 5D)
    This camera is big.  Much bigger than its little 8 MP counterpart (which we also own but never use) but totally worth every extra ounce and inch.  When you think about how much extra stuff you get to haul around with a new baby, this camera is nuthin'.  Besides, there's almost always a stroller nearby if you get tired of carrying it.  Best yet, it takes GREAT pictures!  When you have kids, you figure out pretty quickly that their perfect smile won't wait for a slow camera shutter.  You need the speed otherwise you'll just end up with pictures of the back their precious little heads as they turn and run away from you! 

    A few more things about this camera:  It's fully automatic so you just point and shoot.  If you enjoy challenges, there are other settings that allow you to have more say in what the camera does.    I always use the Automatic mode but sometimes use the closeup mode (like I did for this picture of the tulip).  Someday, I might learn what the other modes do!

    Why do you need 8 (or more) megapixels?  You need this for printing photos.  Even if you don't print 8x10's, you probably need to crop images and print them as 4x6's.    You don't get a really crisp result if you don't have the image resolution to print whatever size you're printing.   

    When we got our first digital camera, I routinely reduced the image size so they wouldn't take up as much space on my hard drive.  WHAT A MISTAKE THAT WAS!  Yes, the photos look good on my computer but I can't print any of them (all our wedding and honeymoon photos).  I learned from that mistake and , now, I NEVER mess with the original of any of my photos.  I always make a copy before making permanent changes.
  • LensCanon EF-S 17-85mm (our new lens for the 5D is this one)
    The camera came with a lens but I don't remember ever using it.  We always use this one.  It's got great zoomability and it's not too big and clumsey. 
  • FlashCanon speedlite 430EX
    The flash that is built into the camera is usually sufficient but we have this one too.  It makes a big difference indoors!
  • Camera BagDomke F-5XB
    We searched high and low for the perfect bag -- and found it.  It's been with us to China twice.  It holds all our gear (and even our passports) but it's about half the size and weight of our diaper bag.  Best of all, Daddy will happily carry it! 
  • Collage softwareFotoFusion by LumaPix
    I love this program! It makes it so easy to work with large numbers of high resolution images and backgrounds, etc.   You can even drag and drop images onto the canvas.  One of my favorite tricks is to use a background that is the same color as the background on my blog and have the text or other graphics "flow over" onto it.  It's a really cool effect.  Check out this picture to see what I mean.   I use this for almost all of my collages -- even if I'm only adding a drop-shadow.
  • Photo editingPaintshop Pro Photo X2
    I paid $100 for this program several years ago and consider it some of the best money I've ever spent. Some of the great things I can do with PSP is straighten images, fix perspective, fix color and light problems, remove unwanted objects (and people!), crop, and reduce image size.  There are 500 other things too.  This is probably the most important piece of software on my computer!

Some photo taking tips:

  1. Have good light in front of your subject (avoid intense backlighting).  Outside photos are almost always twice as good as inside photos.
  2. Take 200+ picutures and hope that 5% turn out "okay".  1% might be "awesome"!
  3. Encourage kids to smile by engaging them in play.  Be goofy.  Have one parent engage the kids while the other takes lots of pictures.  One of my favorite pictures of Andrew and the girls is this one.  We did it by having Andrew spin while holding them and stop in front of the camera just long enough for me to take the picture.  They LOVED this game and I got one of the best pictures ever!
  4. If you're taking pictures alone, experiment with taking pictures while NOT looking through the view-finder.  Just play peekaboo with your child and pretend to ignore the camera (while pointing and snapping away!)  Hope that something ends up in the picture!  After time, you'll get better at taking pictures "in the blind".  The pictures for the Elmo FFFF Challenge were taken this way.
  5. If you have a very young child, try using some earthquake putty to adhere a tiny toy to the top of the camera.  They'll smile ear to ear when they see it!  (at least for the first 20 seconds)
  6. When all else fails. Just ask your child to smile.  You might be surprised that they can do this (fairly well) on command!

March 20, 2007



Last week, as we enjoyed the sunshine and the 80 degree temps, we really thought we hit the weather jackpot -- skipping spring and launching directly into summer.  But today we got a wet dose of reality.

The girls don't like it but Mommy sure does!  I love rain.  Especially when each tiny droplet combines with thousands of others to create a roaring white noise that numbs the senses.  It's chaos but it's beautiful.  Really, I don't know anything that sounds more peaceful.  It might just be the perfect soundtrack for an afternoon spent baking.  Now, if I only knew how to bake...

The tulip in the top photo is ours.  It's one of 150 bulbs we planted a few months ago.  Now, every weekend is like Christmas as we step into our backyard and enjoy our new gifts.  Every few days, more flowers spring from the ground and unwrap themselves for our pleasure.   Now, if we can just convince Gwen that we should love our flowers from a distance and not kiss them with our feet!

Here are a few more pictures I snapped today in the rain. (click each for a larger view)





I can't even think of a title for this one!


Q: What do you do with an accident prone child?
A:  Wrap their head in bubble wrap! 

Yes folks, I'm probably totally crazy to post this.  Some might think I was crazy to let Maddy do this in the first place.  (Please be gentle with your comments)

The kids love bubble wrap (thanks Grandpa!) and have had hours of fun stomping on it and squeezing the little bubbles between their fingers in anticipation of the oh-so-satisfying "Pop!".  It's addictive and I've found myself unable to resist the allure of the little round bubbles too!

Bubblewrap_maddy_smI wanted to blog about their new toy so I grabbed the camera and approached subject number one.  She flashed me a little sly smile and demonstrated her expert popping skills then decided to switch to a game of bubble-wrap peek-a-boo!

I'll admit that there's something disturbing about looking at your child's face covered tightly in plastic bubble wrap!  Yes, I read all those warnings about not letting your baby play with plastic bags.  But, heck, she's almost three and it's not like she's not going to be able to pull the small piece (not a bag) of bubble wrap off of her own face if she can't breathe. 

She's quite a little goofball!  You can see how tickled she was with herself.

Next week, I'll feature pics of the kids playing with knives.  (just kidding!)

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