Playing with Photos

I am starting to really experiment with photos and how to manipulate them after the shot is taken. I use a "point and shoot" camera right now, which means that I don't have a lot of control over the final product. The camera works pretty much on auto and if I don't use the flash the pictures come out very out of focus.

I was reading my new favorite blog, Confessions of a Pioneer Woman, and she talked about brightening up pictures after you take them. I don't have a fancy program right now, just whatever came with Windows, but I think it works pretty well. Example, here is an original picture, straight out of camera:

After I played around with the brightness and contrast levels, I ended up with this:

Definitely a brighter, more vibrant picture. Maddie pops! The background is a bit glaring, but not that bad for what I am using. I am planning on purchasing Photoshop Elements which will be more effective and hopefully teach me a lot. Another future dream is a DSLR camera, probably the Nikon D60, but that is a purchase for another day!

Here is a Katie before and after, just so she doesn't feel left out! (This was brightened and cropped.)



Since I am new to this whole blog thing, I was trying to spice up my page with "things you can put on the side" as I incorrectly call them. I found this site www.widgetbox.com and it has a ton of "things you can put on the side" - I want to get pregnant again just so I can add a baby ticker! (No, I'm not.)

You can get the weirdest widgets there - from Maukie the Virtual Cat (scratch him between the eyes) to a Baby Diaper Calculator (I don't even want to know...).

I haven't decided which one I am going to add, yet. Hmmm ... suggestions?


Oh, I want this part to be over. So very badly.

I finally have the girls convinced that their beloved ba-ba's are "broken," which Katie repeats forlonly but matter-of-factly several times a day. She sighs in the middle of coloring, "Ba-ba broken," and resumes with her favorite color yellow.

However - now I am dealing with a liquid strike of sorts. Maddie barely peed at all yesterday, which of course sent me straight to the phone to call their doctor (who I love to death)...

"Is she dehydrating?"

Chuckle. "No."

"They aren't getting any calcium now!" (I don't have a single cavity and I think my brothers each have one - and I am determined for that gene to be passed along to the girls. I know ... that's been predetermind - nature vs. nurture, etc.)

Chuckle. "Give them an extra yogurt. Give them their vitamins."

Through this conversation, Maddie consumed two cups of water/juice mix. Good - now at least dehydration is off my mind.

Katie is a bit easier to deal with - I have resorted to holding her in my arms and she will drink a good portion of her milk that way. She isn't crazy about holding it on her own, though. Case in point: yesterday morning she bit down on the sippy cup spout and pulled the cup part down. Cup opens - milk everywhere - she is soaking wet sitting in a puddle of milk in her high chair. Ugh. Andy, my knight in shining armor, gives her a bath before getting ready for work.

Don't even talk to me about potty training.

Poll: Which cup is the best? Leave me a comment! I need to know!

The moment where it all began .... (Maddie on top, Katie on bottom)


Andy's eyes

Just two of the reasons I love him.


They may have won the battle, but ...

Andy's attempt at sippy cups:

7:30 am: Pitter patter of little feet running in the kitchen. Giggle giggle.

7:31: Clicking of the high chair straps. "Ba-ba?"

7:33: Crying. "No cup!"


7:40: Banging - cups falling - kids wailing. Strangly, no sound from Andy.

7:41: Complete and utter silence.

Back to basic training, Private Carroll.


Calgon, take me away

This past week has been ridiculous in so many ways. Andy was away in North Carolina and I really really really don't like being in this house alone. My mom used to stay with me whenever he went away (which thankfully isn't often) but last time she said I snored (AS IF!) and she didn't sleep at all. Since my mom goes work when the rooster crows, I figure she needs here rest and I told her I'd be OK alone. But really I'm not.

I sleep with the light on. I sleep with the TV on. I sleep with toys stacked up in front of the backyard door from the playroom because the deadbolt is broken - and won't plastic keep the burglars away?

It poured this week and all Wednesday night the lights flickered. Great.

Last night the TV went out - and it freaked the ever-lovin out of me. I was convinced that someone cut the line - even though it would have made more sense to cut the phone line. Maybe they just wanted me to miss the last few minutes of Project Runway - burglars are mean. After calling Andy and being more frustrated with him than was necessary ("Come home and fix it!") - I finally turned the power strip on and off several times until the cable box rebooted. I'll never know how all those peacock feathers ended up on that dress.

Then, I get the GREAT idea that THIS will be the week I break my girls from the bottle! Because I don't have enough stress in my life. Yes, I meekly say, my girls are still on the bottle. I know, I know - they should have been off by 18 months, 12 months, 9 months, never have started one in the first place. But after my attempts at tandem nursing failed, I pumped. A lot. And I had to find a way to get those nutrients into my babies. From ages 2 months to 8 months they drank 4 ounces every two hours. Let's see ... 12 bottles, times two ... 24 bottles were being washed and dried EVERY DAY. (Many of you were there for that craziness - go on ... raise your hand ... be proud.)

Once they started on solids and really began to eat the bottles subsided little by little and now they only get three a day. I don't think I noticed or cared very much until this summer when I started tons of playdates that no one else's two-year-old drank from a bottle. Embarassment set in. I remember we were at a birthday party and all the sippy cups were being plopped on the table and I reached into our bag for the bottles - Andy looked at me wide-eyed and shook his head quickly. It was time.

That was 2 months ago.

My efforts this week have been so-so. The first day the girls thought the sippy cup was a great - "Isn't Mommy being cute giving us this new toy? Take a drink? Sure - just this once!" By day two it was "Umm .. didn't we do this yesterday? No - really - you had your fun." Days three and four I gave in (I knooooooow ...) and today it was outright screaming and flailing and banging and throwing. Everyone in a ten mile radius heard, "BA-BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!"

Andy came home tonight (yay!) and he knew the plan. He does the morning shift 99.9% of the time and the three of them have their routine down pat. I warned him about the threats I have been receiving in little crayon scribbles if I ever dare to give them a sippy cup again. He said he could handle it - and went to bed.

I am off to bed myself now. I'll let you know who won.


I Love This Picture!

This picture is great. It totally shows the girls and their personalities in so many ways!

Katie is a drama queen. Many people think it, I actually say it. She freaks out at the smallest things - the other night she started screaming because she couldn't eat spaghetti ("cobetti") with a spoon. It wasn't that I wouldn't give her the spoon - she had one - she just couldn't figure it out and it frustrated her to no end. But along with the drama is perseverance and spirit. She will do something over and over until she gets it - and will say "Mama helps you" if she needs me. She also loves to dress up - she picked out that outfit herself - down to the bells on her ankles. The hat is too small for her but she HAD TO HAVE IT and we squished it down. She is such an individual and I hope she never loses that.

Maddie is a stubborn one. She cannot be persuaded to do something she does not want to do. When I want to change her diaper and call her over to the changing table, she flings herself onto the closest object and sighs/grunts loudly. I copy her and start flinging myself all over the place, too, and that cracks her up - she laughs in a hearty belly laugh like Tim the Toolman Taylor - but she still is not coming to the changing table. She is still my baby in many ways and is a little rag doll. She loves to "flop", as you can see above, if we are trying to get her to go somewhere or do something she doesn't want to - she just relaxes all her muscles and falls to the floor. But her concentration level is amazing - and once she gets involved in a task she stays there a good while. She takes a book and says, "I reading" and will mumble her way through it. If it's a book we read a lot she remembers and recites most of it as she turns the pages. Her memory is great.

I always wonder what they will be like when they get older - I can't wait to see.


Ladies of Leisure

A few months into my pregnancy with the twins, I looked at Andy and said "uncle." I was barely getting through the day with the headaches and pure and utter exhaustion and told him no matter how much we had to cut our budget I wanted to stay home. He said fine, and within three weeks I was done with work. My doctor actually credits my not working to the fact that the girls were born almost full term, I had no pregnancy complications, and they were such good weights. (Although he didn't endorse it - I have to be honest! He told me to keep going.)

My friend Carol went through the same thing. When she was pregnant they were also moving and completely remodeling their new home and she stopped working to become, as Andy loved to call her, "The Foreman." She was dealing with contractors and decisions all the time and she needed to be available during the day.

My mom nicknamed us "ladies of leisure" although we were anything but! Carol was going nuts with the new house and I was out for the count most of the day. I look back on it now and wonder why we didn't go out more - we were on the phone constantly anyway. We did manage a few outings around Christmas to do shopping, but it was ridiculous the way we would just waddle around the mall looking for the closest bathroom. If I wanted to stop and look at something she would keep going - mainly because it wouldn't take me long to catch up with her! (Here's a pic of us at her babyshower...)

Anyway - now we have our little girls and although we still may not get together as much as we'd like (life has a way of doing that) when we DO hang out the girls have a great time. Sydney watches in awe as Katie and Maddie beat the living life out of each other while Carol says a prayer of thanks that she doesn't have twins. But when they start to play - or hold hands - or walk together - it is precious.

Last week Carol and Sydney came over to go swimming in our kiddie pools. Now, my girls and I love the cold in every way, shape, and form. Carol and Sydney love the heat. (Carol and I classify the day as a "Carol Day" or a "Rosie Day" based on how cool it is out.) So ... I fill up our pools when we go out there -and they are cold! Carol fills her kiddie pool up a few hours before so that it is nice and warm. So when I filled up the pool, Sydney thought it was too cold while my girls were splashing away. I have two little plastic adirondack chairs, so I put them in the pool and the three of them of them thought that was just the greatest thing ever. Sydney went in and sat on a chair and was happy. Katie sat in a chair and was happy. Maddie had the rest of the pool to herself and was thrilled. Carol and I agreed they looked like little old ladies sitting there - and so THEY are the NEW "Ladies of Leisure."


I know this is kinda small - but I made this at
http://wordle.net/create. You paste in a body of text and it creates this "cloud" of the words in it. The words that are the biggest are the words you used the most. This wordle is from my post "The Week Things Happened."

Andy was excited to see his name is the biggest.


Lazy Days of Summer

This past Saturday we all went to our friends Rosanna & Brian's house for a BBQ and had such a fun time. Their yard is all fenced in so we could let the girls run and wander and just have to keep an eye on them - and they were so good. We brought our little picnic table with us and crayons to keep them busy. We set them up in the shade and they were thrilled. Rosanna had bubbles and hoola hoops and bean bags for them to play with, too, so they were busy busy busy.

Of course all that playing wears a girl out, hence the need for a rest ...

We had a great time catching up with friends we haven't seen for a while and made some new ones, too. Eventually it was time to go, and as I was buckling Katie into her carseat she said, "We come again soon?" and nodded her head. I guess they had fun!

More good news! Rosanna announced that she just entered her second trimester and there will be a little baby arriving in January! We are so happy for them! Congratulations guys!


Thank you Grandma, Grammy & Poppy!

I know I said this in my last post, but Andy and I could not do half the things we do if it weren't for our parents. They are ALWAYS willing and wanting to be with the girls - and often shoo us out of the house just to be with them alone (and feed them ice cream). From day one they have helped us with feeding, holding, playing, and everything in between with the girls.

Below is a slideshow of the pictures they took while Andy and I were in Connecticut. After seeing these I will never feel bad again about leaving them for a few days - they had a blast.


I have tears in my eyes - from laughing



The Week Things Happened

Andy and I had a wonderful time in Connecticut. The traffic was "on the other side" both ways and we listened to the radio instead of "The Big Comfy Couch" CD over and over and over and over ....

I don't have any pictures yet because we used a disposable camera so we could leave the digital one with the grandparents, but as soon as I get them on a CD I will post them. The aquarium was so much fun - Andy was like a little kid in the touch tank! We kept saying how much the Maddie and Katie would have loved it, but at the same time we could see them splashing water everywhere! I think in a few years we will go back up just the four of us for a family vacation.

Of course we had a great time at the casinos, too! I won $80 playing craps (I learned to play years ago on a cruise) and we met a lot of nice people who just wanted to keep the game going and have fun. We ate at fabulous (albeit casual) restaurants and wait until you see the huge plate of raw oysters and clams that Andy chowed down.

While we were exploring downtown Mystic we stopped at a local pub for a pint and talked to some of the locals who were so nice to us and we learned all about how much they love where they live. It was a great experience we wouldn't get any other way. Andy loves trying new beer and even though I really don't drink, I sampled a chardonney (I don't even know if I am spelling that right!).

Of course the trip would not have been complete without a back injury for Rose! Yep - I fell in the shower on Tuesday morning, right before we were going to Mystic Seaport. It shook me up a bit and I have a black-and-blue nail (and bum) to show for it, but thankfully it wasn't too bad. Although when I went to my chiropracter when I got home it sounded like firecrackers going off in my back.

We missed the girls so much and we were so happy to see them when we got home! My mom and Andy's parents ran the place like clockwork (even with all those empty ice cream cups in the garbage can) and the girls hardly even knew we were gone. They absolutely love being with their grandparents and it makes us feel so good knowing that they probably have more fun with the three of them than with us! Thank you Grandma, Grammy & Poppy!!! If it weren't for you guys we would never be able to do half the things we do!!!

One more happening this week - on Thursday morning our main line from the house to the sewer backed up - but thankfully Andy's dad saw it before any real damage was done. The slop sink in the basement was filled to the brim and then the toliet on the first level overflowed. We had the plumber over and $300 later I was able to use my water again! It's always something.


Five Years

Happy 5th Anniversary, Andy. I love you forever.


The Countdown Starts!

How excited am I? We are taking our first vacation alone since the girls are born! Starting tomorrow! Is it wrong that I am this happy?

Our five-year anniversary is Sunday and we going to Connecticut for three days. We are going to do the Mystic-Mohegan Sun trip. On our schedule is the Mystic Aquarium, Mystic Seaport, Mohegan Sun for dinner and 25-cent slots, and general exploring. It looks like rain everyday but we don't care a bit! I have actually been feeling like I have been coming down with a cold and was afraid that we wouldn't be able to go, but Andy declared that even if we stay in the hotel room and sleep for three days WE ARE GOING.

The girls will be well taken care of - my mom will watch them the first night and Andy's parents will watch them the second. I am sure I will miss them and call a million times, but I know that the girls will have the time of their lives (and so will the grandparents).

If we win big at Mohegan Sun I'll be sure to let you all know, although you'll probably hear me screaming all the way in New Jersey.

Here is a picture of us on our Honeymoon in WDW 5 years ago.


Pictures from the Fourth

Andy and my mom took the girls to the Annual Fouth of July BBQ at the Spagnuolo's - where they also celebrated my cousin Emma's 11th birthday. I ended up staying home because my semi-cold has turned into a sinus infection (I believe) and it feels like someone is stabbing my head with an icepick. I really hope my doctor is open tomorrow morning.
My mom was on camera duty and took some great shots of the day - it looks like all the kids had a great time outside. Enjoy!

Happy Fourth of July!

Happy 4th everyone! This picture is actually from 2006 - my cousin Mary Ann got the bibs and the hats for the girls that year. (Thanks, Mary Ann!)
I'll take some pics today and post them up later.
Have a fun day!


"Shed"ding the Pounds (from the garage)

Andy loves a good project. He loves doing things himself (when he has the time, that is) and nothing is too big! His latest project is our new shed. I wanted to be able to park the minivan in the garage during the winter and during the nicer months have it be an extension of the driveway for the girls to play in as they get older. My brother, Eric, recommended a Rubbermaid shed for all Andy's lawn toys - so off we went to The Home Deep. Andy and my mom put it up this weekend, and it went up really quickly - and then they got to the roof. Apparently "this" piece had to fit into "that" one and it took them a while to sort it all out. But they did a great job and it came out wonderful!

Because we are a bit of a rolling hill, Andy and my Uncle Pat built a platform to place the shed on so it would be level. (Thanks, Uncle Pat!)

Andy then put planks on it and then the base of the shed.

He-Man and She-ra (Andy and my mom) brought the walls and ceiling over the area one-by-one. (Thanks, Mom!)

Putting up the walls and the center beam for the roof.

I still have to take a picture of the finished product! Stay tuned!