Two weeks before it's time to do the ol' family photo, I suddenly start looking at myself in the mirror. I start at my feet. Those are okay. Then I go up a little bit. And then it spirals out of control. I suddenly start these thoughts that are all "I wonder if I can lose 40 pounds this week? Surely it's doable?" Followed by the ever present. "Screw it. I like McDonalds."
Once we get that out of the way, I start planning what we should wear. I spend hours thinking about it, but don't ever actually go shop for it. So by the time I actually do make it to the store 24 hours before the photo shoot, THERE IS NOTHING TO BUY. What do you mean they don't have those perfect outfits I've planned out in my head??? I suddenly start these thoughts that are all, "I wonder if I can sew everyone an outfit from scratch in 24 hours? Complete with boots that look just the way I want them to that come in wide calf. Why in the hell are there so few wide calf boots?" Followed by the ever present, "You don't know how to sew. And you don't have a house elf to do these things for you." Y'all may think I'm joking but at least daily I think about how life would be different if I only had a house elf. Harry Potter has effed up my life royally.
So here's what happens. I settle. I buy 5 bad options for me because it's all there is. I pick out whatever I can find on the rack and just bring it home. Half of it doesn't fit the kid it's supposed to fit. And then there is NO TIME to change it. I'm suddenly angry at the kids that their arms are two inches too short for that one sweater left in the store that even remotely coordinated. I start thinking in my head, "Why are the arms in this sweater so long!? BY GOD! WHY CAN'T THEY MAKE SWEATERS FOR KIDS WITH T-REX ARMS!?!?!" Followed by the ever present "Get on the google and figure out if t-rex arms on kids are terminal."
Then I start re-trying on my outfits and decide that I am 32 not 22 and everything I picked out makes me look like I think I'm Taylor Swift. I realize that in the light of day a short cream lacy dress, turquoise necklace and cowboy boots make me look like I'm about to enter a midlife crisis. Midlife crisis is not the look I'm going for. I send this picture to my mother to see how it would coordinate with all the rest of the family. She sends a picture or her leather jacket. She's going to pictures as a biker. At least I see where I get my lack of fashion sense.
Yep. Definitely not 22. Also- could that hair brush possibly have any more hair in it? Yuck.
Meanwhile, a friend comes over. I'm in jeans and a shirt instead of my usual bathrobe and no bra and my friend says, "Woah! You look hot." I instantly decide that this is the outfit I will wear and I will cling to it like a life preserver. Coordinating with the rest of my family be damned. Someone thought I looked hot. My life is officially made.
I got my husband a sweater with some purple in it so that he can match the girls. I do not tell him that just hours prior his sons made fun of his purple sweater. His inner dialogue before pictures is "how can I grow a full, luxurious head of hair overnight." Followed by the ever present reminder our kids give him, "Daddy. I can see your skin on the top of your head." Sometimes kids suck.
If this is not already wrought with more first world problems than a person can deal with, then the day of actually taking the pictures arrives. In this case, my bestie was taking our pictures. She came to our house to do them. Along with 12 others sessions. At my house. For reals. My kids were kinda losing it with so many people in and out. When the first session rang the doorbell at 9am it's possible that I showed up like this.
I look super happy, no? The day of pictures (or church or whatever else) usually goes like this. I get up and do everything. All the things. Because everyone else in my family thinks that these beautiful things just happen. They must also be delusional and think that a house elf does everything. Oh wait! Nevermind... I see it now. I AM THE HOUSE ELF! Damn you Harry Potter.
So I'm dressing people and drying hair and finding missing shoes and ushering people in and out of the house in my skivvies. I am sweating profusely. When one is already sweating profusely, it is not the time to put on spanx. But a photo shoot with no spanx is considered sacrilege in this house. But with spanx, there is the delimma- Do I put on the spanx that separate my boobs but also make them look disproportionately enormous? Or do I put on the ones that make my boobs looks the right size but also mush them into one giant uniboob? These are hard problems, y'all.
Then it's our families turn. My friend says, "Let's start on the couch." So I go there and sit down. I look to my left and my right and there are no people there. They are in the kitchen. Eating greasy pepperonis in their only clean clothes. LORD HELP ME.
We start, it's fine. It's cold outside and my kids from Congo are shivering. If it's below 95 outside they are cold. But the pictures are going okay. Until we change locations. And then Miles goes down like a rock. He's our kid that is the ham for the camera and all of a sudden he was just not having it. His MO became- make this scowling face in all of the pictures...
I call this face "Screw this! What's the point of touching this fence and looking like it's fun?"
Miles just continues when we head inside to warm up and take a few more in the house. He kept making a thumbs up in all the pictures.
The photographer said, "Miles, thumbs down!" and instead of putting his thumbs down, he took her literally and made a thumbs down (complete with frowny face) for the whole next series of pictures.
And then there is the "let me show you my chest hair" series of pics...
We take tons more pictures. Some good. Some not so good. We have this pattern... The photographer tells Scarlett to look at the camera. Then the next five pictures are of Kamron staring at Scarlett giving her "the look"that says "LOOK AT THE CAMERA OR ELSE!" Oh the irony.
My mom wanted to have some pics made of the whole family so my brother and his family and my grandmother came over for some multigenerational fun. I think all that multigenerational fun took the last little ounce of goodness my kids had left. Our last little series of photos might just be my favorite of all times. I think I'm going to frame these...
This one is the best one of the series. Really. I feel like this could be an ad for an after school special about drugs. Only my kids look like the cautionary tale. "Do drugs and you'll look like these kids".
I just wanted a cute pic of their multi colored hands that said, "Brothers and sisters forever." You'd think that marker I wrote it on there with was poison. They said, "YOU ALWAYS MAKE US DO THIS!" "It's TOO HARD to hold our hands up." "We quit!" It's possible that I may have lost it.
That's me jumping in to have a come to Jesus with my kids. "I DO NOT MAKE YOU DO THIS EVERYDAY! WHEN HAVE I EVER MADE YOU LAY LIKE THIS WITH WORDS ON YOUR HANDS? NEVER!!!! I NEVER ASK YOU TO DO ANYTHING. THIS IS IMPORTANT TO ME. JUST STICK YOUR FREAKING HANDS OUT AND SMILE!!!!!" The words that bubbled up inside of me were "Stop your crying or I'll give you something to cry about." Somehow I had the wherewithal not to turn in to my father and spew that one. I can remember being a kid and thinking, "If you want me to stop crying then why are you going to give me something to cry about?" But I really wanted to say it....
But my come to Jesus did not, in fact, make them more like Jesus. Unless Jesus dissolved into a puddle of tears when his mom yelled at him. In which case they became exactly like Jesus.
OH THE HORROR.
(This is the picture they are going to put in the background when I win my mother of the year award) Actually, this is the picture I want on my tombstone because THIS will be what put me there.
And this is why I dread family pictures like the plague. That is, until I get the disk of pictures in the mail and the good ones look like we didn't fight all morning. It's a pure photography miracle.
Sigh. It's worth the whole ordeal to get those good ones. It's also what makes us dumb enough to do it again every. single. year. It's like labor pain. Human behavior. It's a crazy thing.
Major thanks to Ellen Joy Photography for our gorgeous photos! (And the outtakes as well- those are my faves!)