I have a strong backbone.
There are few things that really truly scare me
And Donald Trump's hair.
From the time I was 10, I have always loved a good horror movie and I think Halloween is fun.
But there is one thing that strikes fear into me every single time it is mentioned, and the name of this thing is:
Family Portrait Day.
I cannot remember one solitary time that it has not ended with me eating my own hair and asking around for a Xanax.
But still, like a good mom, I schedule pictures at least once a year.
I want their experience to be different from Justin's.
Justin, who's childhood was basically him taking care of himself.
A childhood which led to us as adults sitting on his mother's couch one day looking through old photo albums and smiling as we looked at the page dedicated to his oldest brother Anthony.
But when we turned to what we expected to be Justin's page, it was literally completely blank.
Two blank pages in an entirely full album.
We thought maybe that was the end of the album, but we were wrong.
We turned the page and the pictures resumed.
Justin was mysteriously missing.
Almost entirely undocumented.
I am also determined to make the pictures THEMSELVES better than what I had.
They will be Un-permed.
They will be Un-mulleted.
No bright blue fake-sky backgrounds.
It's almost criminal. Right?
This is the precise reason my bag of tricks for getting the girls ready includes flat irons and tweezers and bobby pins and concealer.
Fruit snacks and toys and clowns on unicycles.
A book of magic. A sack full of props.
I want them looking good and looking at least MODERATELY happy.
But no matter how much I prepare and plan and plot and shop for outfits, we ALWAYS end up stressed out, snapping at each other, re-pinning hair and dashing around the house in a mad search for The Coupon.
This time was no different.
Justin had to work the morning I'd scheduled the girls, so it was all on me.
I laid out their clothes the night before.
I sat down and plotted what hairstyles they'd have and what I'd need to bring to keep Tessa calm and centrally located.
I told Chloe we were going to have "Princess pictures" because I've learned from experience and trial that if you insert the word "Princess" into basically everything, she thinks it's great and she is convinced she just HAS to do it.
"Look, Chloe. Mommy made PRINCESS spinach."
I set my alarm for 3 hours before the appointment and thought I'd be sitting around with cucumbers on my eyes I'd have so much luxurious time to kill.
The morning was off and running when Chloe pryed my eyelids open and begged for breakfast. Typical enough.
Alena needed her shirt ironed. The dog threw up. Tessa woke up. The dog threw up again.
"ARE THERE NO MORE PAPER TOWELS?!?!"
I ironed and cooked and got showered and did hair and sprayed hair and found shoes and packed snacks.
I did almost everything but write a will. (And looking back, that might not have been a bad idea.)
I raced around like there was a million dollars at stake and when I was in the end stretch and had completely redone the girls hair AGAIN
(Because doing somersaults around the living room has a tendency to mess up a good do)
I got in a fight with my mom.
(Because, really, what's a good family picture day without at least one fight beforehand?)
Everything was done.
I looked around and it looked like a bomb had gone off in a department store and then vandals had egged the aftermath.
Good thing Justin was gone.
I shoved the girls in the car and threatened them about all the bad that would become of them should they ruin or pick at their hair.
I basically told them to hold their breath and not blink for the 3 miles we'd have to drive to the studio. And don't tell me ANYTHING is "itchy."
We came screeching in the parking lot with one minute to spare only to walk in and have the lady tell us that she was running late and it would be another 20 minutes at least.
Oh good grief.
We were there 6 minutes and already Tessa had said, "Mommy, I go home." 15 times and Alena had checked the mirror at least 7.
"No, Alena. I can't see through your shirt.
Yes, I'm sure. Your bangs look fine.
I DO know something. I picked out your outfit, didn't I?"
Oh. Thank God.
It's our turn.
We're going in.
Everyone is smiling and it seems like this MIGHT actually work.
Tessa did not love it.
Didn't like it or even SORT of want to tolerate it.
The only way I could get her to hold still for more than 2 seconds was to practically throw fruit snacks at her like a caged animal.
If one was to pan out from the shots we got, they would see bags of empty fruit snacks strewn about like shrapnel.What she wanted to do, apparently, was lay down on her stomach sprawled eagle with her face buried in the drape.
Alena and Chloe did great on their own, but then the group shots came.
Oh the group shots.
If one wasn't pulling the other's flower out of their hair, then they were poking each other's eyes or putting their hands in each other's face just as the flash went off.
"Tessa's squishing my leg."
"I was blinking."
"Chloe! Stop. Stop. STOP."
When one would smile, another looked like they'd been on a four day bender.
When one looked at the camera, the other was looking at them.
It is seriously easier to capture and pin down a wild ostrich - and yes - I have actually had to do that before, so I know.
When we left we walked to Sees to get the photographer some sort of gift as bribery so that she'd allow us back next year.
When we came back to look at our proofs there was a family in the hall soothing a screaming baby in a pig costume, rolling their eyes and discussing maybe having to try another day.
Oh good. We're normal. Ish.
I guess when I really think about it, it's the funny pictures that maybe DIDN'T work out so well that end up being the favorites anyway. Those are the ones you really remember.
Like Alena's two year picture where she was scared of the back-drop, so the only way she'd get a shot was to be holding my hand for dear life in the picture.
Or my brother's second grade one where for some reason the photographer kept telling him to lean a little further over...now a little more....and a little more, until he is completely diagonal in the shot.
Or my friend Natalie's kids' Christmas Santa picture where Santa is smiling, but all three of her toddlers are screaming like there's a massacre going on.
It's about real life.
Not about no stray hairs.
It's about documenting the crazy.
Keeping the memory that at this point, right here,
THIS little piggy liked fruit snacks.
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
I've been so busy the last couple of days that I haven't had a free moment to properly document the happenings.
And believe me, there's much to document.
Anytime my best friend Lisa is in town, things happen.
Or maybe things mostly stay the same but they're just more fun when she's here.
It is not uncommon to have physical pain lasting days from the laughter we have together. I've actually torn muscles before.
Lisa's flight came in on a Wednesday, so we worked it out that I would pick her up from the airport and then we'd stay in a hotel that night for a sort of mid-week girls' weekend.
Just me and her, a notepad to fill with our genius ideas, and time that stretched out before us.
I headed out that morning with a coffee in hand for the drive to the city.
All was perfect.
Great music on the stereo, coffee in hand, no fighting in the backseat, a break from the Yo Gabba Gabba cd on repeat.
Just the view of the Golden Gate bridge peaking up above the fog like a postcard made it worth it all.
(I am omitting the part that happened here about my tire pressure light going on, me having visions of dying in a fiery blaze due to a blow out and driving around Novato for what seemed like forever in search of a tire shop.)
45 minutes after crossing the bridge, there she was - standing out in front of the airport.
Her 14 suitcases filled with fabulous fashion and makeup and one Toy Story guitar laying beside her.
She was doing her half pucker/smile that means,
"Hello. I can't WAIT to see what kinds of shenanigans await us."
Our hotel was close by, but before we checked in we decided to grab some lunch since she hadn't eaten in 10 hours and the mini package of Disney fruit snacks I had dug out from the recesses of my purse weren't cutting it.
If we had been in the van there would have been plenty to snack on.
Stale Cheerios stuck to the side of the floorboard, old half licked lollipops, a few fuzzy raisins, and for the REALLY desperate -
An entire cup of dried coffee that could potentially be sucked out of the console carpet.
BUT, we were in Justin's car.
He may even dust his registration......
The fun began when we were seated and our waiter appeared, having only one eye open and asked us if we 'had any questions.'
Questions about the FOOD, or questions about....er....OTHER things?
....Like, say, the status of his eye.
Lunch was spent laughing and catching up on all sorts of tales that to an innocent bystander may have sounded like folklore, and then ended with the always standard conversations on current hair color opinions.
Questions like, "But does it make me look Goth?" and "Do I look like a jr. higher?"
She assured me my hair was not brassy.
Now that is a true best friend.
We checked into our hotel next door and headed off to find our room.
And find it, we did.
We drove slowly looking at the room numbers on the doors.
Just great, we thought, the cleaning cart was out front and the door was open.
Did they give us a room that wasn't even clean yet?
Lisa offered to get out and examine what was going on, and I sat there in the running car watching her tap the half opened door lightly and then go in saying, "Hello?..."
She was in there for awhile.
I started to wonder what was going on, when suddenly she reappeared with bulging eyes and a traumatized expression, making a bee-line for the car.
"WHAT?! What happened?!"
"Lisa. Seriously. WHAT?!"
"There's someone in there."
"Are they cleaning still?"
"Um. No. They're taking a dump. In our bathroom."
*pause here for an opened mouth*
"Yeah....There is a maintenance man in our bathroom, going poo."
"Going poo?! How can you know that?"
"Ker.......He had the door open. He made EYE CONTACT."
Then she told the tale of how the maintenance man,
who we later found out was named Jaime,
had heard her calling out, cracked open the door, looked her in the eye as he sat on the pot and begged - "Five minute. Five minute."
That was five minutes we did NOT give.
It really wasn't my desire to check into our room and have to light a match immediately upon entry. If I have to smell it, I need to have a personal relationship with the person who did it or I'm a no go.
We went back to the front desk and promptly requested another room telling the concierge that there was still someone in it.
He pulled out his radio.
"Jaime! Jaime! Are you in room 184?"
"Uh....All done, Boss. All done."
"What were you doing in there?"
"Um.....I had to fix something, Boss. Small thing. All done now, Boss."
"Why did you not report that there was something that needed repair? I don't see a maintenance report!"
"Finished now, Boss. All done."
Regardless, we got our new room - sans stench - and it was great.
Our trip was filled with what all trips with Lisa are filled with - Unreal amounts of laughter, nail painting, makeup, fabulous ideas that have potential to make us millions, and pictures.
There was even an event of getting kicked out of the pool because apparently it was for laps and not just having a good time.
Hey. I'm sorry if I'm not doing laps.
It's hard to do laps AND have a discussion about the couple swimming in the pool with flippers on.
I mean - WHO wears flippers in a hotel pool?
Clearly they HAD to be European.
I cannot possibly go into detail about everything that we did, but I can say it involved someone trying to break into our room, and later us getting locked out of our room in our pajamas at 2am, Some cheesecake and a colorful metal bird.
The fun continued the next morning at Starbucks where we stopped for coffee before a day of jewelry shopping.
It was one of those days when everything was funny and fun.
The sun was shining. The air was fresh.
We were about one woodland creature away from a Disney forest dance scene.
I think the Starbucks cashier wanted to clock out and come with us wherever we were going because she was so busy ogling Lisa's outfit and saying how fun we were that the line was building up and wrapping around the counter.
Ventis be darned, she had girl talk to do.
I was starting to worry we'd be mobbed for blocking up the line.
WAS worried until a lady literally got out of line and came over to us to tell us that she needed to let us know that we were so infectious with our laughter and fun that we were making everyone around us happy.
That everyone in line had been discussing that we had made their day with our happiness.
That will forever remain one of my favorite compliments of all time.
There would be no mobbing after all.
And I think I almost saw the glimmer of a tear in the cashier's eye when we walked away.
Then - we shopped.
We got rings at the Lucky counter.
Hers, a very Kat von D-esque ring that takes up half her finger and - to put it as she does - "Quite possibly has magical powers."
Me, a snake ring that would make Cleopatra tremble with delight.
It was great.
They may possibly make a movie out of it some day.
And that was just the beginning.
With Lisa, going to the drug store is an adventure.
There could not be a better Best.
It's just so nice to be GOTTEN.
To have someone just GET why it's funny to give people Latin names such as
"Wispus Albinus Tropicalis" if they wear an entirely tan Bahama outfit with a straw hat and have a white wispy beard.
Or "Matrimonius Twinnicus" for the couple who look more like brother and sister than lovers.
She jumps in.
She contributes fabulously.
She is the single funniest person I've ever met and the two of us combined almost cause implosions of joy.
She completes me.
When she left to head back to Toronto yesterday, it was all I could do not to plaster myself against the glass of our front room window and mouth
"TAKE ME WITH YOU." as she drove away.
But I have my dignity. At least SOME of it.
She had me at Hello.