Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Picture Debacle

The day didn’t start off bad.

In fact, it was going quite well.

I had met my friend Amanda at the park which meant that I got some adult talk in.

Natalie had run around the park which meant that she took a nap.

This made me happy because we had family pictures later in the day. This meant that she would be in a good mood.

But then Tom’s cell phone rang and I knew right away it wasn’t good news.

I could hear one of his co-workers yelling. Seriously yelling. I didn’t know what was happening. Tom kept saying, “Dude, I honestly didn’t know. I didn’t know,” over and over again.

This wasn’t good.

I knew it wasn’t good.

Then Tom said, “I have family pictures today,” and I could hear his co-worker yell, “I don’t give a flying FUCK about your family pictures.”

That’s so unprofessional, for one.

For two, how rude.

When Tom hung up he sighed. “I have to go.”

“Go where?” I demanded. I was already on the verge of bursting into tears. Even though it was Tom’s day off, he was being called in.

“My dog keeps throwing up. Apparently he ate something in the vehicle when I worked with him. So I got yelled at for not noticing. But I just went in this morning to clean his kennel and he wasn’t throwing up,” Tom explained. “I seriously didn’t notice him eating any part of the vehicle. I also got accused of leaving the dog in the car by himself which I’ve never done. Basically I have to drive to Fort Carson to take him to the emergency vet.”

Fort Carson, by the way, is in Colorado Springs.

Colorado Springs, by the way, is about three hours away from here.

(And by the way, Tom is a K-9 handler in the Air Force.)

“I’ll probably have to stay overnight. I was told to pack a bag,” Tom said and then brushed past me to rush upstairs to grab some clothes.

I followed at his heels. “But our pictures are less than an hour away. Surely they can let you take the pictures before you go...” I trailed off, already full aware of what the answer would be.

“I have to go. Now,” Tom said, throwing clothes into a bag.

So that was that.

I called Wal-Mart to try and reschedule. But they were booked. The only day they weren’t booked was Friday but Tom goes back to work then.

So I decided to just go. After all, Tom hates taking pictures anyhow. This was our family picture from last year:

He looks constipated.

Who wants someone who looks constipated in the picture anyhow?

I did.

I told Tom dramatically before he left, “You tell the Air Force that they’ve ruined my day.”

I know.

I need to chill out. I wish I could be like those supportive wives who will calmly press their palms together and say, “Well. Things like this happen and we’ll deal with it.”

When we got to the Wal-Mart studio, the kids were in fairly good moods.

Well, Tommy was ticked because he didn’t like the sweater I picked out for him.

“It makes you look handsome. It’s from Gymboree,” I said.

“I hate Gymboree,” he grumbled.

That’s just blasphemy and I chose to ignore it.

The photographer seemed slightly clueless. She set us up for a family photo and she didn’t do anything to get Natalie to laugh. She just was all, “Smile. SMILE!” Lady, to get my kid to smile, you have to act like an ass.

Another photographer who obviously knew what she was doing had to keep popping in to help. She kept saying, “I’m sorry to interject, but…” and then she’d tell Clueless Photographer what she had to do.

It was when I tried to get individual shots of the kids that everything spiraled out of control.

Tommy did fine.

But then when I set Natalie down, she flipped out.

And I’m not just talking about a minor flip out.

I’m talking about a FLIP OUT. You’d have thought that she was just informed that her favorite character from Yo Gabba Gabba had died.

She screamed at the top of her lungs.

The Smart Photographer came rushing in and tried to do all the tricks in the book to get a kid to smile.

Nothing worked.

I think it made things worse. Because when she started coming at Natalie with a feather duster, Natalie yelped and pressed her face into my knees.

I suppose a feather duster can look quite sinister to a child. Maybe she thought it was a bird that exploded on a stick? Who knows?

I kept saying, “It’s okay. I think we got enough pictures,” but Smart Photographer did not want to admit defeat.

“I’ll get her to smile,” she said firmly. I half expected her to punch her fist in the air. (Faster than a speeding bullet it’s SUPER PHOTOGRAPHER…)

Maybe she’s never dealt with a kid like Natalie.

Natalie is....

Strong willed. That’s a polite word for bratty, right?

I mean, don’t get me wrong, she can be sweet. But she can also be complete and total brat.

So can I.

So can most women.

The Smart Photographer dug frantically through her pile of Stuff that Makes Kids Smile. Nothing worked. She tried to hand over a bear that surely had to be covered with swine flu germs but Natalie wasn’t having it.

“NO BEAR!” Natalie shouted. “NO BEAR FOR NATALIE!”

This is when Tommy had a meltdown. He has Aspergers and can be quite sensitive to loud noises. He especially hates it when people cry. So he covered his ears and started to rock back and forth. Then he shouted, “STOP CRYING, NATALIE!” And then he fell down to his knees and screeched, “Why? Why won’t Natalie stop CRYING?” I’m really not sure where he gets his dramatics from....

It was complete and utter mayhem.

I didn’t think it could get any worse.

But it did.

Because I started to cry. I couldn’t calm my kids down, I was upset that my husband wasn’t with us, the entire world has gone Twilight crazed and I’m afraid.....

“Oh,” both photographers said and gaped at me.

I imagine they are used to children crying.

But adults?

“I’m…sorry…” I sniffled. “I just...I just...”

A tissue was pressed into my palm. Natalie still wailed in the background. Tommy was now balled up on the floor.

“It’s okay. How about we check out the photos we do have?” the Smart Photographer suggested.

I hiccupped. “Okay,” I said meekly and followed her over to the computer.

I showed the kids the playroom and this helped perk them up.

Hey, a bunch of diseased toys we can play with!

The Smart Photographer did the sales pitch about the photos. She mentioned something about a package that was $249 and I giggled. She looked up with a start.

“What? Do I have something in my teeth?” she asked and moved her tongue over them.

I dabbed at my cheeks with the tissue. “Nothing. It’s just, I don’t love my children’s image that much to drop $249 on them.”

Does that make me a bad Mom?

The Smart Photographer looked taken aback. She quickly recovered and started rambling on about other packages.

This is when Natalie went, “Bye,” and started to walk out of the studio and into the store where the People of lurk.

I grabbed her and she went limp on me. Even though she’s only around twenty pounds, she has the ability to make it seem like she’s 100 pounds. She just drops all her weight so I have to struggle to keep her up.

When I sat back down, the Smart Photographer continued on.

I was distracted because Natalie kept trying to leave.

I think I agreed on something because the Smart Photographer suddenly went, “And we’re done!”

We are?

Then when I went up to the counter to pay, the Smart Photographer slid a Portrait Members Card at me.

“What’s this?” I said, twisting the card in my fingers.

“It’s your member card. It’s only $10 with the package you bought. You said you wanted it,” she said with a frown.

I did?


Probably when Natalie tried to rush out of the store for the tenth time.

Or maybe it was when Tommy started trying to make his armpit make noises.

“So that’ll be one hundred dollars and six cents,” Smart Photographer said.


One hundred DOLLARS?

On pictures?

What in the HELL did I agree on?

I must’ve looked perplexed because Smart Photographer went, “You got the bronze package…”

What’s the hell is that?

A BRONZE package?

“Oh,” I stuttered and slid my debit card at her.

What is GOING ON!?

I guess I’ll figure out exactly what I ordered when I pick up the pictures on December 1st.

Since I spent so much on pictures, this now means I have to cut back on what I buy on Black Friday which makes me slightly cranky.

After the picture debacle, I had to pick up a few things from Wal-Mart.

Tommy threw a fit because I wouldn’t buy him a Transformer.

“Your entire room is filled with Transformers,” I reminded him tiredly.

“But I don’t have the ice cream truck!” he argued.

“Well, I don’t have a lot of things that I want. You have to learn to deal with it,” I said through clenched teeth.

“You’re the meanest Mommy ever! I’m not your son anymore!” Tommy said and stomped his foot.

“Believe me, you’re my son. I have the stretch marks to prove it,” I answered.

“I’m so mad!” Tommy whined.

“Do you mean mad as in angry or mad as in crazy?” I wondered lightly. “In England, the word mad means crazy, you know.”

Tommy’s brow furrowed. “What?”

“Cheer up,” I said and ruffled his hair.

He just crossed his arms over his chest and pouted the rest of the time. He looks like his father when he pouts.


Tom called me later when he got to Colorado Springs.

His dog seems to be okay.

He should be home today.

Since I’m a Portrait Club member (and I’m still not sure what this even means), we’ll try again for family photos at some point.

Maybe when Natalie understands the phrase, “If you cooperate for pictures, you can pick out a toy under ten bucks.”


  1. its totally okay.. i think i woulda cried too.. but in the end.. i think you handled it wonderfully!!

  2. Oh my goodness! Talk about a day from hell! I've never been to a 'professional' portrait studio with my kid, partially because I'm poor, partially because I'm 100% SURE it would turn out like this. I think I would have cried, too. . .I can't WAIT to see what you ordered!

  3. What a nightmare!

    Tom suffers from Grinstipation. It's a classic man trait.

  4. Planned family pictures NEVER go right!

  5. Oh how we've had a time or two at the portrait studio like what you went through. Veeery frustrating. But...I'm stuck on last years pic and the loooong beautiful hair!

  6. Wow, I definitely would have cried too!

  7. I'd have cried too. What an outing. Glad the dog is okay. You are better than I, I would have canceled and gone to Sears, Target...yeah, why aren't you going to Target for these? Kmart, JCPenney's.

  8. Oh my gosh! I was ready to cry for you. I don't even know what I would do if they told me $100+ for pictures. Yes I do, I probably would have cried again.

  9. and this is why i dont have a family portrait. phew! for xmas cards last year, i used a great pic of the kids...(the button thats on my blog homepage) and used a tropical xmas background. it worked, cuz im lucky enough to live in san diego where its 70 degrees on xmas day.

  10. I would have cried too. Definitely...

  11. miraculously enough though...sometimes i miss the snow i had when i lived in VA...sometimes.

  12. This kind of assuages my guilt at having had family photos exactly twice.

    Yours were cute!

  13. I'm glad the dog is okay. That's the most important thing.

    *looks for the sarcasm font*

    Well at least YOU looked great in last year's picture!! You take better pictures of the kids... You ought to be the photog...

  14. What a horrible day. Im glad you made it through and I hope next time you go it works out better.

  15. What a horrible day! You can get an awesome photographer or just a sad, sad one at Walmart.

    We know, we've been through very similar scenarios.

  16. What an ordeal indeed! I probably would have starting bawling before the kids!

    Those better be some damn fine pictures!

  17. I didn't know the Air Force had a K-9 corps. What kinds of planes do the dogs fly?

  18. I so would've been crying too! What a stressful day!

  19. Been to Sears; been to WalMart. Know what you're talking about. If you have them in your area - go to Portrait Innovations. Their basic package is $9.99 and gives you more pictures than you can possibly ever need. Every other sheet is $15 (I think?). They do a fabulous job. They do try to up-sell you though. The only thing is; schedule the very first appointment of the day....

  20. Crikey. Sounds like a day from hell. Surely the only thing for you to do was cry, I would have joined Natalie in a full blown tantrum. It can only get better tomorrow, right?

  21. Ugh, awful, hate family pictures, kids never co-operate. The photographers are always retarded. I learnt a long time ago to not get sucked into any packages. One photo is plenty, thank you!

  22. I can't help but laugh, sorry! That's happened to me on more than one occasion and I can only imagine what the photographers musta been thinking when my whole family had a meltdown right in front of them. That's why I no longer pay big bucks - it never pans out! Hopefully, it will be better next time!

  23. Awww.. you poor thing! We just had family pictures made last Saturday and though they turned out okay (my kids are both 15) - I still was not impressed at all with the photographer nor the pictures - BUT still ended up spending $133 on SOMETHING though I'm not sure what exactly - so I feel your pain lovie! HA! Hopefully the next time will be better for all of you and your husband will be able to attend since it is family pictures! LOL Big hugs girl! :o)

  24. Here's my advice: do the individual shots of the kids first. That way, if they're feeling uncomfortable by the time you get to the family picture, they have Mommy or Daddy holding them to make them feel better.

    Not a photographer, I just work with kids.

    Stupid dog.

  25. How horrible for you! (But not liking Gymboree is blasphemy? Hilarious!) Your experience sounds like many I have had at Sears' Portrait Studio. I don't do Christmas pictures anymore. I'm too fragile.

  26. OH my goodness!!! That sounds so traumatic! I wonder why the Clueless Photographer was even working there. EVERYBODY knows to get a child to smile, you have to make an ass of yourself. She must have come from Pluto. Not Venus.

  27. Oh my goodness. You poor lady! Way of that lady to take advantage of you being crazy busy with 2 kids. You have just made me SO GLAD that Corey andhis mother take pics, so she does ours every year. Free and easy. I even put the prints on the company card.

  28. You poor thing! What a day.

    We used to do Christmas and Easter photos, but it was too traumatic. We only do Christmas now and it gives me a whole year in between to forget the previous years fiasco.

  29. I use a photographer that comes out to wherever I want (somewhere where my kids are comfortable like their favourite playground or our own house) I pay about $200 for this but I only feel the need for pro photos every 2 years anyway and I get ALL the photos they take on a disk so I can print what I want when I want for the rest of my life!!! The kids never freak out because they are in a place they are comfortable and I like that I am getting unique photos.

  30. I feel your pain...I dread family portraits too stressful and expensive.

  31. Geezo wot a palava!!

    Also took some Chrismtas shots last night.

  32. Geezo wot a palava!!

    Also took some Chrismtas shots last night.

  33. Geezo wot a palava!!

    Also took some Chrismtas shots last night.

  34. Geezo wot a palava!!

    Also took some Chrismtas shots last night.

  35. Geezo wot a palava!!

    Also took some Chrismtas shots last night.

  36. I hope you indulged in a drink or two when you got home. And maybe some chocolate to wash it down. **hugs**

  37. Aww honey *hugs* What a tough sounding day!! Love the piccie from last year...cant wait to see what you spent so much money on this year!


  38. Trying to get shots of kids is the worst! I don't know why anyone would want to do that all day long at a studio!

    And after all the work of getting everyone settled down and photographed the bill knocks you over! I know all that work you do and then to get a bill like that at the end, ain't fair is it Lol!

  39. Oh wow... I have never delt with a studio taking my family pictures. I did have them take my kids but not a family one. I had a friend take my family one and well it didnt go well either! I had my baby cousin with me and since i wasn't holding her she decided to cry like she was dieing the whole time and my kids kept makeing faces and wondering off since we were in the yeah it sucked!
    Sorry Tom wasnt there for one this time. Cant wait to see them if you post :)

    BTW you have a beautiful family.

  40. We had a melt down a week ago today, so I feel your pain. I can also tell you that we don't go to portrait studios or buy packages of pics. I know a photographer here and he will go to the park or your house or wherever...and he charges $100 for about 2 hours. He will give you all the pics on a cd and you can print off whatever you want or upload to or whatever. I think it's a great deal. Especially when the kids are on their own turf/at home, you get better moods usually.

    You deserve a big hug & a big award for getting through that unscathed!

  41. Trying to get kids to pose for pictures is in ordeal in itself and going alone with two kids makes it that much worse. I would have done the meltdown cry too.

  42. First...girl, I had no idea you were beautiful!! I knew the kids were cute, now I know where they get it from!

    Second...I totally get the frustration with Tom's job. I grew up in an AF household so I get it and my husband's job, while not as important as the service, pretty much ruins plans on a routine type basis. I just tell him "I hate your job" and flounce off dramatically. I also make a lot of plans that don't include him.

    Third...the picture thing? Been there, done that. Feel the pain. Harken back to the year 1994. I have an autistic 4 yr old, a 3 yr old and a 16 month old. We had to take them out and walk in the mall to calm them down, then come back and try again. The people at Sears portrait studio are very nice, the best photographer there had been dealing with my kids since they were born and yet it was horrible. By the time we finally get a picture I have sweat dripping down my back and all I want to do is throw myself on the floor and throw a tantrum!!

    Nowadays...we just set the digital camera on timer and do it ourselves. Usually outside which makes us all happier!


  43. Dude. You deserve a BIG margarita after that.

  44. I love the family photo from last year! You're a fine-looking group-- this year's photo should be hilarious, from what you describe. I so hate it when the people taking the pictures aren't engaged, and don't seem to 'get' how to do the job!

  45. Mmmm - I don't wanna laugh at you, but that is good stuff when it's someone else. I have so been there and my least favorite part of the whole ordeal is when I spend too much on something I didn't want to spend too much on. I hope the photos are amazing!!

  46. I love it - A bird exploding on a stick! The way you describe your day - it may not be funny to you - but it's a hell of a treat to the the rest of us! Hope the pictures turn out!

  47. I'm so sorry things worked out the way they did hon. Here's to hoping the rest of the holidays go smoothier. (Hugs)Indigo

  48. I think I have a mini-breakdown every time I take the kids for pics. Whether it's a family pic or individuals, it's always a disaster. Thankfully, all it takes is one good shot and no one else knows how horrible the session was!

  49. Bird exploded on a stick caused me to laugh so loudly I scared the cat. Sorry you had such a rough day but glad you could turn it into comedy gold for our benefit. And that limp thing Natalie did? Mo Willems wrote "She went boneless" to describe that act in Knuffle Bunny. And it was my favorite line in the book because it perfectly describes the maneuver we all know so well.

  50. I have totally given up on fam pictures b/c My hubs hates them and I always end up in tears. Bummer. The good news is you look beautiful in that pic!


Thanks for the comment!

Share This

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...