This morning I took the kids to get their annual portraits done.  I am very grateful that we only do our family portrait every other year because the only thing that could have made this morning more unpleasant would have been to add more people making funny faces to the mix.

We always go to JC Penney for photos, which you can mock all you like, but they’re cheap and they get the job done.  Actually, they have one really good photographer, and if we get him, everything usually turns out fine.  We have been fortunate enough to get the good photographer for two or three years in a row now.  Which means our luck should be running out soon.  I keep meaning to find an alternate studio to get the family portraits done–preferably one that’s closer–but I keep forgetting until it’s time to get the portraits done and there’s no time to find a different, closer studio.  And so I go to JC Penney again and the pictures turn out fine again, so I forget about it again.  But the experience is still really unpleasant.

Elvis used to give us the most trouble at picture time because he wouldn’t look at the camera for more than an eighth of a second.  One year the only decent picture of him was one of him on the floor playing with a train.  You could see some of his face in it, at least.  But for the last couple of years the big problem has been Mister Bubby, who is apparently at that awkward age where the only thing he’ll do in front of a professional photographer is grimace.  Well, to be fair, he has a wide selection of grimaces that he uses–some with double chins, some without–but none of them is particularly acceptable for a picture I’m paying money for.  I nearly gave up on a group photo today because he wouldn’t stop furrowing his brow.  In the one photo where he wasn’t furrowing his brow, Elvis wasn’t looking at the camera.  I don’t vividly recall the shot I ended up selecting, just that I disliked it the least, overall.  Everyone was looking at the camera, MB’s grimace was subdued, and the only one who looked kind of weird was the otherwise-photogenic Girlfriend, who was giggling and shrugging her shoulders and her hair was tucked into her shirt.  Whatever.  It’s over now.

Originally Princess Zurg wanted to dress all in black, which didn’t thrill me, but I let my husband be the bad guy and tell her she had to wear a color.  She threw a fit, of course, but eventually she consented to wearing either red or purple.  Naturally, she doesn’t own anything red or purple, so she ended up borrowing a purple sweater of mine.  (Yes, it’s August, but it was 10 a.m. in Portland, so it didn’t matter.)  She probably looks better in it than I do.  She certainly fills it out differently.  Ahem.  She did her own makeup, which was much more subdued than usual.  I was pleased with the end result.  She looked quite nice, and I don’t think she took any weird photographs.  Even her braces looked good.

Usually I bathe Girlfriend at night, and when her hair dries right before she goes to bed, it looks perfect and beautiful.  Then she sleeps on it and she wakes up and it looks a little bit crazy.  So last night I skipped her bath and bathed her this morning, but instead of her hair drying perfectly and beautifully like it usually does before bedtime, it dried a little bit weird.  Naturally.  But at least it wasn’t crazy.  Not like mine.  Fortunately, I wasn’t getting my picture taken today.

Elvis was reasonably cooperative during the actual photo session, even if most of the pictures of him ended up emphasizing his buck teeth.  I’m hoping he looks a little less goofy when all of his permanent teeth come in, but he’s definitely going to need braces at some point.  That should be awesome.

Mister Bubby looked fine, except when he was supposed to smile.  But I’ve been over that already.

I had enough foresight to bring along the kids’ babysitter to this appointment so that she could mind them while I waited for the images to be brought up on the computer and figured out which ones were the least offensive.  Unfortunately, this was when Elvis decided to go insane.  He’s been doing that a lot lately.  Heck, all of the kids have been.  I’d wonder what it is, but I suspect it’s just bad parenting, so I don’t like to analyze it too much.  Anyway, Gertrude (the babysitter) took the kids down to the playground on the main floor, but MB decided he would rather be with me, so he went back upstairs, without telling Gertrude, and then Gertrude had to drag still-insane Elvis and now-going-insane Girlfriend back upstairs to look for him, and blah blah blah there was much insanity to be had during this time.  Gertrude really earned her meager wage today.  I almost felt guilty.  (About not being able to pay her more, not about having demon-spawn children.  I am past feeling on the latter.)

Finally–finally–we were able to leave JC Penney, but on the way home we had to stop and pick up PZ’s friend because she’s spending the afternoon here–which I told everyone about beforehand, but suddenly everyone had to go insane about it.  It didn’t help that Elvis has developed an obsession with this Stevie Nicks CD that he has to play every time we’re in the car.  (Yes, Stevie Nicks.  I’d explain it, but…I just can’t.)  It might have been more tolerable if we hadn’t taken a road trip to the Enchanted Forest in Salem yesterday and had the fresh memory of listening to that CD four or five times in a row just right up there in our conscious minds, but I don’t know.  It doesn’t matter because it couldn’t be helped.  What’s done is done!

But right now PZ and her friend are hanging out upstairs, MB rode his bike over to his friend’s house, Girlfriend is playing happily by herself, and Elvis is…huh.  I should probably go look for Elvis.  No, never mind, there he is.  He’s walking around talking to himself.  That’s okay.  I’m going to take some pain relievers and eat some lunch.  Tomorrow I will decide what I want to do with the rest of my life.

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