Friday, September 17, 2010

You asked....

Okay, so Meg left me some questions the other day in the comments section and I thought I would write this post to answer those. In addition, I received an email a few weeks ago with some photography comments/questions and I figured I might as well throw that in here too.

Meg's questions: I was wondering if you could post an update on Sticker Charts. I'm thinking about starting one for my girls. What kind of things do your girls get stickers for doing? Also wondering, do you have the girls dress themselves? Do they pick out their own outfits? Do you organize the night before school? How you do you do it? :)

We kind of stopped doing the sticker charts because they really weren't that effective. The girls would earn a sticker if they stayed (and slept) in their own beds all night. Allie and Anna stay in their beds more often than not (or they used to.) The reward for five stickers was picking out a sheet of stickers. Allie was the first one to earn stickers. She played with them for a bit and then abandoned them somewhere. Her sisters found the abandoned stickers and peeled and played. Not effective.

We were having a difficult time coming up with rewards. We didn't want it to be food related at all and we wanted something that was instant, like being able to pick out a sheet of special stickers. Being able to go somewhere alone with Mommy or Daddy does not happen all that often (logistics) so we didn't want that to be a reward. If they had to wait two weeks, would it even be effective?

Emily really didn't seem to care at all about the sticker chart. She's super attached to me and when she wakes up in the middle of the night, she wants to cuddle with Mommy. I'm positive the thought of earning a sticker for the sticker chart does not even enter into her mind when she jumps out of bed in the middle of the night. And when she does come running into my room and I ask her if she wants to go back to her bed so that she can get a sticker, she firmly says, "No," and I end all discussions before she wakes up her sisters and complete chaos breaks out.

We usually have an American Girl catalog floating around the house somewhere. The girls like to look at the pictures of the dolls and pick out their favorites on each page. Emily goes through phases where she insists on having me read a particular book to her every night at bedtime. About a month ago, she had to look at that catalog every night. She doesn't quite understand that the clothes and accessories are for dolls - she thinks that she can wear the little outfits.

Emily picked out the changing table and diaper bag and kept asking me to get them for her. Over and over. Every night. The girls usually don't ask us to buy them stuff and we usually don't just buy them stuff so it's kind of funny how kids just learn this. For example, we can go shopping at Target and walk out of there with nothing specifically for them and they don't care.

I told Em that if she could sleep in her own bed straight through the night for two nights in a row, then I would get her a changing table. I figured that there was no way she would be able to do it. And wouldn't you know that the little stinker managed to pull it off! Now, I wasn't going to go buy the stuff from American Girl so that weekend while shopping in Target, we picked up this Circo set (on sale for $11, I might add) that included a dolly pack-n-play with a changing table attachment just like real pack-n-plays.

While in Target, Allie and Em really wanted this big thing that cost $100. It was like a doll station with a nice changing table and a place to give your dolly a bath. So although they agreed on the $11 set, it isn't really a changing table and Anna keeps ripping it off of the pack-n-play and Elmo's naps in the pack-n-play cannot be disturbed. {Sigh}

Onto clothing. Allie and Em can dress themselves for the most part. They still need help with shirts. They can undress themselves fairly easily. I usually do not have them pick out their own clothes because it takes FOREVER when they do and then they pick out things like a sweater when it's 95 degrees outside.

If I'm not dressing them alike (and dressing them alike really is for convenience), I will bring down three outfits and have them each pick one. It usually works out. Sometimes, there's a little bit of "but I want to wear that one" but it's easy to fix. For example, on the day of school orientation I brought those three dresses downstairs and told them to pick. Em grabbed the green one. Allie insisted on the solid pink. That left Anna with the other pink one. She kind of shrugged as if to say, "Okay. Whatever. It's just a dress."

Yes, I organize everything the night before school. I barely have enough time to get myself out of the house in the morning so this is a must. I've been laying out three different outfits but assigning them. On Tuesday, Allie wanted to wear what I had put out for Em. Em didn't care. Okay, switch made.

Meg - I know that was a lot of detail but I hope it answers your questions.

I'm going to change the topic to photograpy. I received the following email from Heather and I have to tell you that it totally made my night when I read it!

I randomly came upon your blog while searching something on yahoo...and the pictures caught my eye. I love photography and have a Rebel T1i, but my pictures are nowhere near what yours look like. Is it because of the lenses you use? Or the speedlight? Your pictures are PERFECT like they're out of a magazine! Just wondering if the lens makes all the difference. Thanks...

I did respond to Heather (I don't know if she is still reading) but I wanted to post this here to make a point. It's not the camera or the lens that makes a great photo, it's the person using the camera. (And a Speedlight does help. Sometimes.)

My camera, a Nikon D50, was purchased almost four years ago. It's considered an entry level camera. Nikon stopped making this particular model years ago and I'm sure the technology of it is at least five years old. I don't have very expensive lenses. My 35mm that I shoot with (a lot) cost only $200. The 85mm that I use will run you $400 to $500. These are not considered to be "pro" lenses. I use the Speedlight indoors when I have something to bounce it off of (like a low ceiling) because my camera does not handle an ISO higher than 400 very well.

I guess my real point is that anyone with a camera can produce great images. It takes a lot of practice. You really have to know everything about your camera, how to compose, what the ideal lighting situations are and how to use light. And keep practicing!


Usagani Triplets said...

I love reading your blog. This is the first time I'm commenting. I'm also the mom of spontaneous triplets, although mine are very young and fraternal. I have recently taken a class on Love and Logic. I thought I would throw this out there as an alternative to the sticker chart - even though your girls are only three, according to Love and Logic, they are old enough for an allowance. It could be in the form of money or even tokens. Then you allow them to use the money as they please (how far can $3 go at Target?? or they learn to save to get what they want). If you use the tokens, then you can make certain activities "cost" a certain amount of tokens (TV time, video games or whatever they happen to be interested in). Anyway - thanks for making me smile every night!

Jen said...

Long time reader, first time commenter. Since you were answering some questions...I have wondered where you came up with the name of your blog?? I have twins boys that will be three in October and I have started playing around with photography, so you have me hooked with your stories about raising toddlers and your photo tips. Thanks! Please do share the back story if possible.

Sarah said...

Hi to both of you. Thank you for commenting!

Jen - no real back story. I wanted a name that was unique. I just kind of came up with it.

Meg said...

Fantastic answers! Thanks Sarah! :)