Monday, July 03, 2017

Picture Perfect

Our last professional family picture was 5 years ago. Five! Tate has more than doubled in age. He wasn't even alive for our only other family picture. Both of which were for our church directory. I ponder getting one taken each year but since I'm the procrastinator, and David only takes charge of circumstances that actually appeal to him, here we sit, with zero family photos adorning our walls. 

Let me just go ahead and state another reason we haven't had one taken since 2012. They. Are. Stressful.

When we journey down to the beach each Summer, I toss in some coordinating clothes for the kids and envision getting the perfect shot of them beaming sweetly as the waves cascade around their feet and the sun sets. It usually ends up with tears, squinty eyes, and someone getting soaked because they got too close to the water. All of this captured with my state of the art photography phone. 

So this year, I decided to turn this whole fiasco over to a professional. An innocent third party the kids would be embarrassed to punch each other in front of. 

So I booked it. And so began the rest of the planning. 

First up, announcing the joyous news to my wee little subjects. They took is about as well as they'd take the news of having to get all their nose hairs plucked out one by one. But they picked up on how excited I was so they kept their objections to a minimum.

Next up, outfits. Oy.

David and Tate are super easy to shop for and wear whatever I bring home. I took my more challenging family members {ahem, girls} with me to shop for outfits. Nope. Apparently it's not as fun to shop for something you care nothing about. When we didn't come up with anything at the first 2 stores except their attitudes, I slowly drove back by our house and tossed them out onto the lawn. Or at least that's what I imagined doing. 

I ordered my dress online and matched everyone else to it before it had even arrived. Big gamble. But luck was on my side. When my dress came in I eagerly tried it on. I'd saved a screenshot of it on my phone to refer back to when I was shopping for the other outfits. As I stood in front of the mirror, turning from side to side, I sighed, "I mean, I think I like it. But I don't look like the girl in the picture." 

Drue doesn't mince words, and rather than offering some positive feedback such as, "Oh, I think it looks cute", she simply said matter-of-factly, "'re not a model."

As our vacation departure grew closer, the thought of the picture weighed heavily on my mind. And I would blurt out random instructions from time to time. More like a drill sergeant preparing troops for boot camp, rather than a Mom offering suggestions for our beautiful family memory that was about to be made. 

"Whatever I pick out for you to wear, that's what you're wearing. End of discussion."

"I want real smiles, people. Not the fake ones you rehearse 50 times before you post them to Instagram. Genuine ones! We're paying good money for this!"

"No kickboxing in the hallway! Have you lost your mind?! Our picture is in less than a week!"

And when Drue's boogie board flew up and caught Reese in the eye, I simply exclaimed, "Our picture is tomorrow!"

All the clothes came together nicely. I found David a light blue linen button down. "What do you think?" I asked him. "Sure. I mean, I'm never going to wear it again though", he confessed. Fine by me. I only needed him to be in it for one hour. 

He ended up wearing it twice before we even had our picture taken. The second time I ironed it I hissed, "This shirt is of the absolute devil! These wrinkles! Ridiculous! Linen is from the underworld."

The week we were leaving for Alabama, Tate developed a gum infection out of nowhere. The dentist prescribed antibiotics and recommended he have a baby tooth extracted. You guys! I made him smile first to be sure he wouldn't look like a hillbilly before I agreed to move forward with his treatment. That is the moment I realized I may be going a tad overboard with my preparations. 

I tried to plan every possible picture pose down to the last detail. What if she gets a shot of our hands intertwined together and everyone sees my ragged nails I pick to bits? So I bought fake ones at Target and painstakingly glued them on during our car trip South. 

As David checked us into our beach condo, the kids grabbed carts from the lobby. My fake nails started popping off one by one as I hurriedly tossed out duffels from the truck bed so we didn't exceed our 10 minute time limit in the circle drive. Alas, our sweet hand pictures were not to be, as the next day David's wedding band flew into the Gulf during a game of catch. 

I supervised Tate putting on his sunscreen at the beach. But later that evening a large red sunburnt splotch appeared by his right eye and cheekbone. I'm sure it could have been edited out, but I did threaten to touch it up with some of my concealer. "Nooooooo!" he replied, horrified. Then proceeded to check the mirror every 7.2 minutes to see if it had begun to fade on its own. 

The next night was it. Picture time had arrived. I pressed everyone's clothes and gave them each the speech that they were not to eat and/or drink anything once they put them on. "So be sure and eat something beforehand. If you pass out during the pictures, we will just prop you up and continue."

I took a deep breath, slipped on my dress, and looked in the mirror. Panic set in. How had I not remembered I have no idea how to do my makeup or hair? Sure, I get by enough to go to work or Wal-mart, but for a documented keepsake memory? Heck. No. 

Not to mention the humidity in Alabama mocks me. And sets out to undo any type of hairstyle I attempt. I frantically pulled up a few You Tube tutorials and got to work. Then proceeded to ask David and the girls, "Too much eye makeup? Not enough? Should I trim my bangs real quick?" I got an emphatic "NO" for that last question. 

We were off. I didn't let David wear his super sensitive linen shirt in the car knowing the seatbelt would ruin my labor of love ironing job. More instructions on the way. Tate is going through a phase where he contorts his body in all directions rather than have the girls touch him in any way. David said, "No crying. If she asks the girls to touch you or put their arms around you, just no crying."

We pulled off the road, under a bridge, to a private part of the beach. Reese, our eternally fearful child, looked around uncertainly and said, "This is shady. She doesn't have her own place?" 

"How would one go about securing a real beach...sand and a tiny studio?" I asked. "I'm pretty sure she's still legit."

The session went well. She was super sweet. All she would say to the kids was, "Now look at each other" and they would burst into fits of cherubic giggles as she snapped away. Who were these people? Long flowing curls, dresses I remembered ironing, thin blonde boy with tousled hair...yep, they were ours. 

David and I don't often gaze lovingly into each other's eyes. So we usually ended up bursting into laughter when we were posed that way. And I would say through my clenched smile, "At least I still have my wedding ring. So it looks like we're married."

After the last few photos were snapped, we all piled back into the truck. "Did I do good smiles, Mom?" Tate asked. When I assured him he had, he shared, "That's probably because I was thinking of baby pugs trying to walk and falling over." Whatever works. 

"Why don't you guys smile like that for me though? It takes like 50 tries!"

Reese simply said, "Well, she was fun." 

I'm in love with the sneak peek she posted today and can't wait to see the rest. 

Until then, I'm off to bury David's linen shirt in the backyard. 

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