Saturday, December 19, 2009

Holiday cards: The backstory and the outtakes

Geez, with that title you would think that this belongs on VH's Behind the Music or something.

I am happy to announce that I was successful in designing our family holiday card this year. The designing in Photoshop Elements took approximately twenty mintues once I decided on the pictures to use. And of course the final pictures were from an informal photo shoot. That appears to be the way to go these days with my children.

Okay, since I learned many lessons during this process I will be highlighting them for you throughout this post.

I can't be the only one who buys holiday clothes believing that her children will wear them to all of the holiday events and for pictures for holiday cards. I started obsessing over what to purchase back in September. Last year, I waited for holiday clothes to go on sale and lost out because I couldn't find three of what I needed in the girls' size. I also debated over whether to dress them in formal clothes or nicer, casual clothes. Formal clothes would mean having to buy formal shoes, which would not be an easy (Anna's feet are extremely narrow) or pleasant task. I also thought that less formal clothes would be more comfortable seeing as we would be attending several holiday events this season.

Lesson #1: Never buy anything unless it is on sale.

I was so excited when I found the gingerbread girl collection online at Gymboree because not only were the clothes adorable but I could easily come up with three coordinating outfits. Outside of some hairbows purchased on clearance at the outlet store, I had never purchased anything from Gymboree. The store normally seems to be a bit out of my price range. I broke my number one rule and purchased outfits at the regular sales price.

Lesson #2: If you buy clothing items at full price, do not believe the store's alleged price adjustment policy. Take the packing slip, return the clothes to the nearest store and buy new ones at the sales price.

The next day all of the clothes that I purchased went on sale. I had ordered the clothes online so when I received them eight days later, I noticed their price adjustment policy on the sales receipt. I promptly called their customer service number and explained the situation. The only question she asked was, "Did you use a coupon?" Ah, no. I think this was an attempt to tell me that they wouldn't adjust the price. After giving her my order number, I was placed on hold for ten mintues. When she returned, I was told that I would see a credit on my next statement. When I asked her for a dollar amount or reference number, I was told that she just places the request. Uh, what kind of system is that?

And so you can probably guess what happened when we received our next credit card statement. That's right - no credit.

If you can't tell, this happened a month ago and I am still obsessing over it.

Now, I don't know if others with same sex multiples who buy non-matching clothing do this but when I purchase three different outfits, I sort of have in mind who is going to wear what. I don't know if this is odd either but the girls don't have their own clothes. They share everything.

See these adorable kitty pants

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Anna thinks that they are hers. I only purchased one pair of them and to date, Em and Anna have both worn them. Anna spotted them in a pile of clean clothes to be put away about a week after these pictures were taken. The pile sat outside their door for a week or so and everytime Anna would see it, she would say, "Those are my dirty kitty pants."

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When I pulled out the holiday outfits, Em did not want to wear hers. She did not want to wear anything. Period. Allie decided that she wanted to wear Em's outfit. Okay. It was a little weird for me though because I imagined Em wearing the pink jumper and Allie wearing the green skirt.

Lesson #3: Formal photo shoots at night are probably not a good idea.

I thought that it would be easiest to take the holiday card photos at night seeing as I could have the assistance of two adults if I needed assistance. And I did. The girls can either be in a really good mood at night or a grumpy mood. Especially when I whip out new special clothes and tell them that we are going to take pictures.

Lesson #4: If you think three toddlers are going to sit on a piano bench and look up at the photographer, think again.

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Lesson #5: A messy blanket on the floor is going to look, well, messy.

Lesson #6: If an adult is going to entertain the girls, he should be standing behind the photographer not off to the side.

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Lesson #7: If Old Navy labels a pair of boots as "slipper boots," they are in fact slippers not boots.

Allie was the only one who would wear hers anyway. I was not sure if they were slippers or boots online but the fact that the picture saying, "Complete the outfit," showed a dress and a coat and the slipper boots, which to me looked like an outfit that a toddler would wear OUTDOORS, I safely assumed that they were real boots. They were not. And Old Navy size 5 is much much smaller than a "real" size 5.

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Grammy thought it would be cute if the girls leaned on the piano bench with their chins propped up by their arms. The girls couldn't quite figure out how to do that at first. Here was Allie's first attempt.

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And all three together did not work out. This is the best I could get.

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We ended that photo shoot after 100 pictures or so and I moved to Plan B. I decided to try a photo shoot during the day by myself while Rich as at work.

Lesson #8: One adult attempting a photo shoot with three toddlers is a strenuous act.

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Anna was not a happy camper. She wanted nothing to do with that photo shoot at all.

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I quickly gave up and moved on to Plan C for the cards, which entailed using some pictures that were not posed. We just mailed our cards out today so I will not be posting a copy of it here until Christmas.

Items to note:

*Allie is wearing the pink sweater jumper, Anna is in the plaid and Em is working the green skirt.

*In the first set of pictures, they are holding little bags of M&Ms. Bribes.


Anonymous said...

You do not know me and I don't know you, but I know this: those "unposed" pictures you just posted are absolutely precious! How I wish I would have realized when our (now 23 year old) daughter was small that her personality would come out in the lack of posing she did for pictures. It would have saved SO many battles!!! So, don't feel bad that yours aren't prim & proper (smile), they are just so everlasting C.U.T.E.!
I love your site because my 95 year old father in law is an identical twin! Yep...both still living.
Keep up the great photography, writing and loving those little tykes!

King Quads said...

Love's so true too. I think they are all great pictures though. I can't tell you how crazy I act trying to get mine to all at least look at the camera and when I look back the good pictures are the ones where they aren't. Your girls are beautiful and I love their outfits!

Pyjammy Pam said...

hee hee hee hee! you got some awesome pictures, though! i love the piano ideas. the bench one is cute, but you can't see all of their outfits, which are KILLER. love love love!

Jayme said...

I love outtakes, and your outfit choices :)

Kelli said...

Well since I also have 2 year old triplets, I can tell you that you did a great job. My holiday photo didn't turn out as well as yours, all 3 are in it and that's the best I can say! I so hear ya on the Old Navy slipper/shoes, they did not fit us either!

Anna and Jay said...

I love the second photo on the piano bench! So cute! I twins that are 11 months old and I tried for days to get a photo of them for birthday card invites. IMPOSSIBLE!

Dale said...

The outfits are precious - the pictures are wonderful. I took the pictures for the cutest card for my son and DIL and their 3 girls - an idea for next year. She put 9 out-take photos on the front of the card and inside was one perfect picture and underneath it says, "Hallelujah!"
Wishing you a holiday season filled with miracles. If she puts on her blog - I will send you the link. Everyone has loved the card.

Meg said...

Great photos!! I love the last one - that's hysterical, and truly life in the moment!! :)

kmcclelland said...

By the time I got to lesson #5, "A dirty blanket on the floor will look like a dirty blanket," I was laughing out loud!

I love the picture of the three of them leaning over the piano bench, chins (sort of) resting on hands. It's so sweet!


katy said...

I absolutely LOVE the last two, they're hilarious. The ones on the piano bench are ridiculously cute as well... aw who am I kidding? They're all ridiculously cute!! I usually have my husband do a puppet show above my head when I'm trying to do "posed photos" so it at least looks like they're kind of looking at me :)

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Sarah said...

I love all the pictures - but especially the last two. I tried a holiday photo shoot with a 3 year old and 17 mo old twins, and after lots of tears - theirs and mine - we just decided to do a card with separate pictures of the kids. ;) But your girls look so cute in those outfits!

Cassie said...

You always do a great job and your girls seem so cooperative! My boys think its funny to cover their face when I get out the camera....or run and hide! I was hoping to get a cute picture of my boys in their Christmas pjs by the tree on Christmas morning, but none of them turned out 'card' worthy! We didnt get around to Christmas cards this year, but still hope to get out New Years cards!

I usually do not dress my boys the same, and they do share some clothes. But my boys are all different sizes! Cole being the smallest, usually gets the hand me downs! :) When I buy clothes I usually have my mind set on who they are for! I try to color code them too :)And coordinating outfits are my fave!