Monday, June 29, 2009

New Favorites

Now that the babies are pulling to stand, it's their new favorite activity. They try to pull up on people, on doors, on gates, on the exersaucer, on the CAT. It's nuts, and tiring. I cannot even count the number of head bumps and noggin bruises we have daily. I am sure it will get worse before it gets better. Helmets anyone?

In these pictures you can see them standing at the coffee table, which is now bare. They have their nesting cups, which are another current favorite. Gillian cannot STAND to let them be in tower form; drives Michael batty, since he likes to build towers!


Standing at the activity table.

Rare moments of rest.


Father's Day!

Obviously, this was Michael's first Father's Day, so, I tried to let him take it easy that Sunday. You know, I wanted to change all the diapers, wash all the bottles; all the stuff he does but doesn't like doing. Unfortunately, I ended up not feeling well at all on Father's Day, so I didn't really get to spoil him, but he swears he didn't mind at all.

We invited Grammy Lynn, Grandpa Frank, Uncle D, and Aunt Mercedes for lunch. It was another lovely day, so we enjoyed the deck again. Michael requested hot dogs and hamburgers for lunch. Fine by me, easy cheesy. We got a few cute pictures of the Daddy and the Grandpa too.

Note the snoot face on Gillie.

One very happy Grandpa!

A shot of Gillian looking cute in her dress. Daddy thought she looked "too girly," but she IS a girl!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

I'm No Expert

Over the relatively brief history of this blog a couple of people have asked about the equipment and settings used to take the pictures for this blog. So, I thought I would write up a brief description. Though, I want to state up front that I'm not an expert, just a guy who likes to take photos. Anyway...

Most of the pictures are taken using a Nikon D50 digital SLR. Generally this camera will have a Sigma 30mm f/1.4 prime lens attached. For whatever sadistic reason, I usually have the camera set on full manual mode and for spot-metering. My guess about my preference for spot metering is that I've read one too many books about Ansel Adams' Zone System, and want to know the basis of the exposure I'm using (note this doesn't lend itself to quick picture taking).

I'm not a big fan of flash photography (though I did recently get a Nikon SB600 speedlight). This dislike of flash probably what most defines the photos on the blog. That, and that they're almost all taken at the same focal length (but these two facts are related). If you don't like flash, you pretty much have to have a fast lens (fast = wide aperture = small f/#). Most of the zoom lenses that come in the DSLR kits from the major vendors are relatively slow (f/3.5 on the wide end, f/5.6 when zoomed). On the other hand, prime (or fixed focal length) lenses with wide apertures are more common. This means you can let in a lot of light and shoot without a flash in many situations that would otherwise require one.

As an example, I extracted the aperture settings from the ~1100 photos that I've taken with the D50 so far this year. The histogram below shows the clear tendency to wide open apertures.

The lens I mainly use is a Sigma 30mm f/1.4. It was not expensive, but not really cheap either. Both Nikon and Canon (and I would assume Pentax, Sony, etc.) make 50mm f/1.8 lenses that are relatively high-quality and inexpensive! I used to have a Nikon 50mm f/1.8 and really liked it. The only downside is that on a digital camera body, the 50mm focal length gives a field of view that's pretty tight (you end up backing up all of the way across a room to get a photo of a group of people).

Anyway, I guess the whole point of the post is "Go Fast Primes!"

Monday, June 22, 2009

Daddy Takes Nice Pictures

Just thought I'd share some nice pictures that Michael has taken in the last few weeks.

A boy and his cat:
Colin loves Schmo. When he sees Schmo, Colin makes a happy noise and makes a bee-line for the poor cat. Schmo hasn't figured out that he needs to move to higher ground to escape; instead, he will move five feet and lay back down. So far, we haven't had any incidents, but we keep a close eye on them. And yes, Schmo STILL weighs more than Colin.


We share. Actually, most of the time, they do share nicely. I know that's not going to last!

Dickiedoo Comes to Visit

Two weeks ago, my dad, AKA Dickiedoo, came for lunch. We had a very nice visit and the babies really enjoyed playing with their Grandpa. The weather was beautiful so we all enjoyed lunch on the deck.

Look at that happy boy:

Gillian has Dickiedoo, and Grandpa Frank, wrapped around her little finger, I do believe. She hasn't yet tried to use that to her advantage, but I'm sure it's coming!
Fun times.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

2 Cute 2 B 4gotten

Some cute pictures that I forgot to add in the previous posts.

First, Gillian post-wedding. Being the cutest thing around, second only to the bride, takes it out of you!

Secondly, Colin doing headstands. He made this maneuver about 25 times a day for about 3 days. I think it was a preamble to crawling. Pretty darn cute, though.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Off-Topic (Not Twin Related): Loblaw

It cracks me up that Jessica goes to a grocery store in Canada called Loblaw's. All I can think of is Scott Baio's character on Arrested Development: Bob Loblaw.

P.S. Bob Loblaw supposedly had a blog... the Bob Loblaw Law Blog.

P.P.S. Arrested Development was one of the most hilarious shows ever and it's horrible that Fox treated it so badly.

Some Bean-y Cuteness

She loves her Daddy.

In general, Gillian is a happy, happy girl. She is pretty serious, but she's happy. She gives Michael and I smiles all the time, and her laugh is contagious!

Michael tells me that Gillie was playing peek-a-boo with Colin in the drapes. I haven't seen them do this yet, but I can't wait!

Stand Up! Stand Up!!

We have documented Gillian's crawling skills, and Colin's previous lack of crawling skills, but NO MORE! As of yesterday, Colin is an official 4-limbed crawler! He's still pretty slow, but it's effective! Gillian's belly crawl has developed into a tri-pod approach to mobility. She uses two hands and one knee, and moves the other leg along with her. It's odd, but effective.

Look at that boy go!

Race ya!

More excitingly is that both babies are now independently pulling to stand!! Gillian started on June 1st with this skill, and Colin followed up on June 12th. Our new baby gate seems to be the preferred start point for standing, but they will both pull up on the coffee table, activity table, and the excersaucer.

When I went to Emily's shower yesterday and Michael had the kids all day to himself, he took lots of good standing pictures.

Colin's first stand!

Gillian at the coffee table. We need to get our bumpers put on!

Some serious work to be done!

We did it!

Smiley stander!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

David and Mercedes Get Married!!

On June 6th, Uncle David and Aunt Mercedes got married!! We were really looking forward to this big event, mostly because it was about darn time, but also because Michael and I were looking forward to an evening of fun without kids!! Colin and Gillian attended the ceremony with Grandma RoRo and me (Daddy was one of the groomsmen), and then went home with Grandma for an on-time bedtime!

Grandma RoRo and Grandpa Greg helped me get the babies ready for the wedding, and it took all three adults to get us out the door on time! We did have time for a few quick pre-wedding photos!



And, one shot with Mommy. Yes, our outfits matched. I was trying the idea out.

A quick shot of Gillian's peep-toe shoes.

In the meantime....Uncle D waits...


The ceremony was beautiful! And Aunt Mercedes looked like a radiant princess!! Colin roared his approval when he saw her walking down the aisle! Both babies were well behaved during the ceremony, but Gillian would not sit still! Eventually Grandma RoRo took her to the back of the church, but Colin sat with me and ate a book. He particularly enjoyed the singing!

The happy bride and groom:

Michael has described the post-wedding chaos as "a baby feeding-frenzy." Neither of us could hold onto a baby for more than 3 seconds. And, I swear, nobody was ASKING, just taking!! It was pretty funny! I had to fight to get both babies for 2 minutes to get a family photo taken! Unfortunately, none of them are good. If anyone has one of the four of us that's any good, we'd love to see it!

Grandpa Frank gets a Gillie-bean, briefly!

Great-Grandma Hannold visiting with Colin; she did visit with Gillian too, but I don't have a picture of it.

Grammy and Grandpa got both babies!

Even the bride got a baby! (This is where the Maid-of-Honor thought, "Oh no, that's not good. We're never going to be to dinner on time!) Look how patiently Uncle D waits for his new wife...

After a few "official" photographs, the babies went home with Grandma RoRo and, I am told, they were very well behaved and loved every minute of it! Michael and I had a nice time at the reception being child-free!

Congratulations to the NEW Mr. and Mrs. Uhl!!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Changing So Fast!

I don't write many sappy, sentimental Mommy blogs, but I might now. My babies are GROWING UP!! They are 7 1/2 months old now and everyday they learn something new and grow up just a little more. Even when they were sick last week, they kept exploring and doing new things!!

Both babies are now rolling both ways, and can get from tummy to sitting independently. Gillian, as you have seen, has developed a crazy land-shark way of crawling. Sometimes I think she's going to get moving on her hands and knees, but the belly crawl is so functional for her, that I doubt it. She has also pulled herself to stand several times now! Colin is still not fully crawling, but he's getting closer each day. He gets up on his hands and knees and rocks, then lunges onto his belly. He's a pretty good scooter too, and he'll roll sometimes too. He patches it all together. They will both "walk" if you hold their fingers! It's so funny to see such tiny little babies (they're still in the 5th percentile for weight/height) do such "big" things!

They are so eating so many solids, and so well! We started off so slowly with solid food, but they are really enjoying it and seem to like a lot of different things! Gillian will eat just about anything you offer her. The only thing Colin doesn't seem to like is avocado. He does prefer carrots to pretty much anything though! They started eating the little Gerber Puffs last week too! Colin just scoops them up and tries to stuff his hand in his mouth without much success in getting the Puff released into his mouth, but he tries! If you put the Puff in his mouth though, he'll eat it up! Gillian hasn't really tried to put one in her mouth herself yet, but she'll eat them out of your hand.

About a 5 weeks ago, Colin and Gillian started sleeping through the night. Finally. FINALLY! I was beginning to suspect that this event would never, ever, in my life, happen. I thought it was a mythical event that only happened to other parents. But, one night, TA DA! Since then, we have really solidified our naps and, most of the time, our night time sleep! They are usually asleep before 8:00 and, most mornings, make it until 6:00 or after. Gillian is actually the one prone to wake up at 5:30 am, which is funny as all get-out considering she has been the better sleeper for the past 6 months. See me laugh at how funny that is???? Anyway, I am very proud of how well they sleep at night and how well they nap. Michael and I worked very, very hard on this front over the past 7 months and it is WONDERFUL.

Colin and Gillian are also becoming such social creatures. Gillian, in particular, notices her brother and what he's doing. Mostly I think she keeps tabs on him in case he's doing something more fun than what she's doing so she can go steal his fun. She crawls to him and steals his toys, or tackles him. Most of the time he takes it in stride, but occasionally, he'll let out an unhappy wail that I can imagine will someday sound like, "MOOOOOOOOMMMMM!!!" They are not strange with people at all; they will pretty much go to anyone who wants to hold them and be happy as clams. They are full of smiles and giggles, and are really starting to babble! Of course, I would love to hear more consonants out of them, but they are starting to razz and I've heard some "mmmmm" sounds too. They will take turns back and forth "talking" with me too, which I love!

I look at them sometimes, sitting up like big kids, playing contently with all sorts of toys and think, "Wow, this is going so fast!" Sometimes I think, they are going to be babies FOREVER! Hurry UP, already! So, it evens out! My days are still hard sometimes, and still LONG a lot of the time. The work is just neverending, as any mother (or father) can attest to. It is such a huge responsibility, and honor, to be charged with molding these little creatures into adults that will make the world a better place. Wow.

See, told ya, sappy.

Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease

So, the reason I am so behind on blogging is that the kiddos got sick last week. It took me a while to figure out that they are sick because, on the surface, they seemed perfectly fine! No fever, no runny nose, sleeping well, nothing of the usual signs of illness! However, there was a BIG uptick in crankiness and a BIG down swing in appetite. After four days of fighting them to eat and the appearance of Colin's 9457th rash, off to the pediatrician we went. Didn't take her long to diagnose hand, foot, and mouth disease; apparently it's rampant around here at the moment. Anyway, it's a common, relatively harmless childhood virus. It causes blisters on the hands and feet, and ulcers in the throat. Fortunately, we had a very mild case with only a few mouth ulcers. We dosed them up with Tylenol for a few days and they seem much happier now. I am hoping that their appetites are on the rebound, and they do seem a little hungrier today. The joys of childhood.

Memorial Day Weekend

Sorry we are so far behind on the blog! As we found out this weekend, we have a LARGE reading audience; for which, we are very, very appreciative, I might add!

Memorial Day weekend we headed up north to spend the weekend with family. My birthday also happens to fall around Memorial Day every year (as does Sarah's, Becky's, and my Aunt Sue's), so it's nice to be "home" then! The weather was beautiful, so we got the kiddos outside a lot. They really like being outside; they enjoy the breeze and sunshine. They also don't seem to mind touching grass and leaves, which some kids hate!

We had several nice picnics with our various families, and we went to Sarah's First Birthday Party! Unfortunately, we don't have any pictures from the birthday party! I am always so amazed at how well Colin and Gillian do in crowds. Generally, they lead a pretty quiet lifestyle, so I'm never sure how well they will react to noise and chaos. Fortunately, it doesn't seem to phase them! And, everyone compliments them on how pleasant and cheerful they are. Makes a Mommy proud!

Some picture from Memorial Day weekend:
Colin getting some love from Grammy Lynn and Mommy, he doesn't seem to mind a bit, does he?



Spending some playtime outside:

Don't you LOVE all that red hair???

Always the serious girl...

Having a swing with Grandma RoRo and Grandpa Greg.

Gillie sharing a deep thought with Grammy:

A girl and her Grandpa:

Doesn't she look like she's doing a jig?

And, she had fun with Joe too!