I've been trying to answer all of your great questions as we go along, but they've been building up steadily. So here's a whack at a whole bunch at once:
Q from Tiffany about the Easter portraits: Are you kidding?! That is the cutest thing I have ever seen!!! Please tell me, were they well behaved... will I ever get cute 2 year old pics?
A: Funny! Actually they *were* surprisingly well-behaved. But the secret was that we promised if they were good they could go to the bakery next door and pick out cookies AS BIG AS THEIR HEADS. Not even kidding. And they held us to it (see pic at left after we put them back in their "street clothes").
Q from Carolyn and Brent: I love checking out your blog - the girls are so pretty! What camera do you have? I love the clarity!
A: I use a Nikon D300 for most pictures. Rod gave it to me for Christmas. Suh-weet! It definitely gets two thumbs up. Fast as heck, and (with the right lens, like my Sigma 30mm f:1.4) can take non-flash pictures like nobody's business. I'm still learning how to use it properly, so hopefully the pictures will continue to get better each month. I also have a tiny little purse camera that goes everywhere with me. It's an old beat-up Canon Elph. Slower-than-molasses, but takes good pictures (eventually). Most of the videos you see, and most pictures taken away from home (like this fun one of my mom and me) are taken with the purse camera.
Q from K about the Easter portraits: Is that the Neapolitan silk dress from Gymboree?
A: Good eye! Yes, Ro wore a Gymboree Neapolitan dress and Ree wore a slightly modified dress from Macy's. Ree's originally had a green sash, and Ro had a matching green and pink plaid dress to go with it. But after falling in love with the Neapolitan dress at Gymboree I "had an idea." (My mom has learned to cringe at those words.) Got some chocolate-brown silk duppioni material at the fabric store (Catherine was out visiting at the time and helped me search high and low for it) and begged my long-suffering mom to sew Ree's new sash so the two dresses would complement each other. Hooray, that ole' plaid dress was returned in a heartbeat! (here's a new pic from the photoshoot -- thought this one was dang cute too)
Q from Jeni about the Easter portraits: I love those photos. Did you take them? If not, where were they done?
A: Thanks! They were done at Kiddie Kandids. They have stores in a lot of the malls, and their photographers are always sooooooo patient. Love them. One little behind-the-scenes peek, in the upper right shot where it looks like Ro is whispering a secret in Ree's ear, we had actually asked her to give Ree a kiss and she reached across the bench, yanked her poor sister's ear close, and nearly ripped it off her head while giving it a loud smooch. My mom and I just about died laughing.
Q from Britttany Robinson: If you had only been referred one daughter, what would her name be?
A: You know, I'm honestly not sure. We had our list narrowed down to three girl names (Ruby, Ro, and Ree) and one boy name (Joe), and figured we'd wing it from there. We planned to just go with our gut feeling once we saw our referral picture. We never thought we'd end up using two of the names at once, but it sure worked out perfectly. The second we saw the girls' pictures, we instantly knew (without even discussing it) that the laughing little girl in blue was Ree, and the contemplative little girl in pink was Ro. I really didn't think we were going to use any of the girl names at all, by the way, since I was convinced our referral would be for a boy. The funny thing is that our agency had something like 50 referrals that month and 6 of them were little boys, so I guess I wasn't so crazy after all.
Q from Tracy about the tuba mouthpiece picture: Cute pictures/story. But it leaves me wondering why you need so many mouthpieces to play the tuba? I would have thought one would have been enough? Oh, the things you learn by reading the internet....lol.
A (from Rod): This question is kind of like asking my wife why she needs so many pairs of shoes. *grin* Tuba mouthpieces have different shapes and sizes to change the sound of the instrument. Small mouthpieces sound brighter, and larger mouthpieces sound darker. The mouthpieces have different sized bores (small hole in the bottom tube), different sized rims (big hole that goes on your face), and different shapes inside (bowl, cup, funnel). The weight of the mouthpiece and the material also make a difference. I have held on to the mouthpieces that I've bought over the years, and probably have 40 or 50 in various places. For example, I carry 3 of them around with my small tuba, and 4 of them go along with my big tuba. I don't switch from my main mouthpieces very often - I like them both a lot and the others are there "just in case." I also keep one in the car, just in case I show up to play somewhere without one. Now you are all prepared for the question if it comes up on Jeapardy or in Trivial Pursuit. :-)
Q from Christina about the tuba mouthpiece picture: Wow - a lot of mouth pieces you have there! I have like 3 for my trombone and my bf has 4 or 5 and that's more than enough! Too funny. I hope Rod has found one he really likes! Question - is a professional musician? Just wondering...
A (from Rod): I have a tuba degree from one of the top conservatories, and I played full-time in a symphony orchestra for a few years after graduating. The odds of playing tuba (or really any brass instrument) in a major orchestra that pays a living wage are worse that being a starter in the NBA, and I eventually decided I didn't want to live the hand-to-mouth existence of a freelance musician so I started another career that I really enjoy. I still play with professional groups, but I obviously don't do it full-time. I also get to be picky and only play the gigs I really want to do, since it's not my main income. I'm very lucky to have these playing opportunities, but between M and the twinadoes, work, tuba, and a little downtime I am typically a very busy boy!
Q from a whole bunch of people: How did you do that digital picture frame and matte on the easter bunny photo?
A: I found neat web sites (like this one here) that let you download free "actions" for Photoshop. They perform all kinds of slick tricks with just a click or two of a button. Google "free Photoshop actions" and then download any that catch your eye (your Photoshop help section can teach how to download and run actions if you've never done it before). The action I used for the easter bunny photo was called "Dave's Frame & Matte on White Background" from that site linked above.
Q from Chrissie: Do the girls eat fairly well? I remember a few months ago you posted a picture of a hamburger you shaped into Mickey Mouse. I thought to myself then that is pretty good if a toddler eats the hamburger with accessories it was so cleverly arranged with (good job, by the way on that!).
A: They're REALLY good eaters. Especially if they're going through a growth spurt. Whoooeeee, don't get between them and their "purple meat" (steak) or you might lose an arm. I think their favorites might be pasta, tomatoes, yogurt, chocolate (I just asked Ree what food she liked and she said "chockit, more chockit!"), restaurant rice (not Mama's rice, to be specific), veggies if they're in the mood, sunflower seeds, cheerios, bacon, pickles, black olives, canned mushrooms (not fresh, oh no no no), edamame, any kind of sweetened cereal (which we use for potty treats), ranch dressing (see pic at right of Ree hugging the bottle), catsup, french fries, and warm lactose-free milk (heated for 1 min 10 secs, no more no less or you will be called on the carpet). Oh, and they've never met a fruit they didn't love. I guess that's enough to paint a picture (yikes what a picture). They're not particularly fond of chicken, and they don't really like "kid foods" like hotdogs, chicken nuggets, or mac and cheese.
Q from Lisa: Where in the world do you get those amazing and funny t-shirts? They always crack me up as they seem to say it all.
A: The girls' t-shirts come from all over the place. The recent "President Not Princess" shirts came from an online store called Uptown Liz, and a bunch of the others like "I am the walrus" (a line in a Beatles song) came from CafePress.com. I just keep my eyes open for anything that makes me laugh, although admittedly I've got a warped sense of humor.
Q from rubyiscoming: Cuties! Where are the lil sneakers they are wearing from? The black ones? Are they Adidas?
A: Yep, they're pint-sized Adidas Samba Millenium shoes, ordered from Shoebuy.com. I know it's silly, but I am positively in love with those shoes!
Still more questions to answer, if you can believe it, but it's getting late and I MUST go to bed. I've still got all of the questions about whether we get grilled about their twinships every time we leave the house and if people ask us about adoption all the time, especially in front of the girls, but that's a complex explanation that really deserves its own post. G'night all.