Don’t judge a family by a picture

I have a friend down the road who is a photographer. She’s very good. For as many years as she’s been posting her pictures I have wanted her to take our family pictures. Alas, we’ve always found a higher emergency for our money. However, this year, I am a working mom, Yo. I make a few pennies a month and thought I’d rub them together to get our pictures done…FINALLY! The date was solid and the pressure was on to SELL some TEA. Then three of my tea parties cancelled.

“Dude, I’m not waiting any longer!” I said to myself. The Reverend HATES pictures and so it’s like ripping off a band-aid. You just have to go for it or regret it every second you slowly pull. Ok, so not a clever word picture but whatever. I forget what I was trying to say.

The pressure was on, not only to sell some tea, but to also find some clothes to put our family into that didn’t clash horribly.

Have I said already how incredibly painful it is for our family to have our picture taken? NO? Well, then listen to this story because it’s only a snippet of what our lives are like when we try to get all of us smiling at the same time. I knew that if anyone could make us look happy it would be Kristen.

When I had booked our appointment, with the pretty photographer, we hoped for good weather. Then it was the coldest day ever in September, so we postponed for a later date. We could not have asked for more beautiful weather. In fact, I had bought a sweater for myself, on the coldest day, in anticipation that it could be cool on our evening adventure. But it wasn’t. Of course. It was HOT. H-O-T, hot. I nixed the sweater and hoped for the best. My shirt was the only thing that wasn’t matchy matchy with the rest of them. Sigh.

The other part of moving the date was that both of our daughters had dance starting that very night. What I had hoped would be a lot of prep time to get everyone looking spiffy turned out to be a scream into the finish line. My oldest daughter had 2 dance classes that night because they were trying her out to see in which she would fit. This one or the other? Can we say sweaty hair?

I got our outfits all ready and clean. Big fat pat on the back for not scrambling last-minute to scrub a stain off of a shirt. Oh wait. I did that. I coiffed hair, put outfits on at the exact last-minute and then went like a madman to pick up my daughter. Somewhere in there I made chicken fingers and put them on a plate for her. She ate while I worked with her sweaty hair. The girl did NOT want it up. It would have been so lovely if I had been just given a chance. Nope. I love puberty. With a wave of the brush, I gave up and we whizzed out the door.  She ate while we drove and I hoped she didn’t have chicken cooties stuck in her teeth and that the sweat wasn’t visible to the naked eye.

We made it on time and family pictures commenced. First the group shots. Those started with a fun “I’m NOT going to smile!” Kristen then tried to get some individual shots. The boys were in fine form. All I had to do was yell out the word “Fart!” and they were all smiles and laughs. The girls? Well, let’s just say they didn’t kill each other.

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The Reverend and I were getting cozy and kissing for the camera. Look Reverend, family pictures are FUN!!  Suddenly, we heard what we thought was “Get off my Sh** you Butt-head!” and realized, with great relief, that they were playing “Ship”. The name calling just became that much less horrifying.  We love drama. Super hard to get all serious and cozy with that kind of drama going on behind us. I could NOT stop from smiling.

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Then, there was a sisterly moment, when the two of them were posing on a precarious ledge. One got a little “feisty” and they both fell backwards on the grass. I laughed, then realized one of them actually got a little hurt and was crying. I thought we were done for, for sure. Alas, we moved into other more serene (ha ha) poses.

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We survived the Family Picture adventure that we had all dreaded. It had it’s ups and downs and it’s fair share of belligerent behavior but we made it. We even got to kiss each other more (The Reverend and I) than we’ve been able to kiss each other for…well, for too long. That part was down right enjoyable! And I was right! Kristen was able to make us look like a Loving family despite all the outtakes she had to sift through.

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Oh wait, I know the “normal” pictures are around here somewhere…

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Oh goodness, I guess there is no way to look normal after all

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How about this?

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There we go. A winner! Although I think the crazy, ill-behaved pictures suit us just fine! 🙂

And the awesome ending, as I was talking with Kristen, was when I noticed my daughter chewing something in the van. When asked what she was eating, she held it up triumphantly and declared `Chicken!` with a winning smile. Where was the smile beforehand I ask you? No where. But for a cold crusty who-knows-how-old piece of chicken…there it was.  For a moment I wondered just where had she gotten chicken and just how old was it? She’s been known to eat mysterious items. As I pondered where she had gotten it, I realized that it was from supper and she had found it on the seat…so much less awful. We live the life of Napolean Dynamite.  Tater tots in the pockets…yup. Been there.

That concludes our edition of Painful Picture taking  with the Reverend’s family.

And the end of the story really is in how God provided 4 more parties to help me earn what I needed to pay for the rest of the photo session. God knew I needed those family pictures as a great reminder of what HE had built and put together and provided the money for us to enjoy them.

Why we braved the scary weather

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A few weeks back the Reverend and I decided that  our 20 years of marriage may need a little tweaking here and there, So, we decided to take advantage of a Marriage Retreat that was being held for Pastor’s and wives. It happens right before the Pastor’s and Spouse Retreat in Lake Louise. I am spending some time confessing to God that I am a little jealous that some pastors will be spending  the much of the whole week in the mountains. We chose that this year, and that’s OK. I hope they all have a fabulous time recharging and reconnecting.

We’ve had challenges in the past for finding childcare for the four days of the Pastor’s Retreat, which is held during the week. So, we figured that a 2 day Marriage Retreat in the mountains was a much more doable feat, child care included, than the four days. We were right we found excellent options for the children when we split them up into pairs. That way, while we were gone, we knew the chances of their weekends also going well were higher than if they were all together. The set of boys came to Calgary to stay with relatives and the girls hopped from place to place back home. Both were eager for their mini-vacations from each other.

Our travel destination was lovely Canmore, Alberta. I may start thinking of this place as home. We’ve been here a few times in the last few years, thanks to our family that owns a place here, and lets us use it now and again. We are thankful for a church division who sees marriages of their pastoral staff as important and that our church made a way to make our marriage a priority as well.

Speaking of travel…it was supposed to only take us a few short hours but I had chest pain in serious amounts as we hit the mid-way part. I thought I was having a heart attack! I had been reading a book, all quiet and relaxed (mostly) when chest pain and tingling hit. It was freaky. We ended up calling 911 from the roadside. Thankfully, it was probably just a reaction of the gluten that I’d had just a bit before.  You can barely find adequate solutions in fast food places when eating GF.  Officially, it was a “panic attack” that I’ve not had the like of since the early 90’s. I have had a smaller scale reaction to gluten happen before but never that kind of chest pain/sensation. The Dr. sent me away with a “Go to your Dr. at home because you must get a few things checked out.” and off we were. Back on the icy roads of Alberta weather (Storm watch kind of stuff). We were all so thankful it wasn’t my heart!!

When we got to the hotel and saw our room, we were about to go check to make sure they put us in the right room. It was so incredible. Clean kitchen! I had a clean kitchen without working for it! Delightful. The Living area had a fireplace, right beside a window that could give us a spectacular site of the mountains if we weren’t socked in with clouds and a snowstorm for part of the time. We had a bedroom with a TV! The bathroom…oy vey! Such a beautiful place. A glass shower plus a separate large bathtub. Then, THEN I opened a door and there was a laundry machine with soap. “They expect us to do our laundry…what?” I thought to myself. Like I was going to! Who stays at these places anyways? It was a beautiful hotel. The hot tubs outside looked incredibly inviting when we looked off from our balcony. The snow was drifting down and the steam was rising up. It was an ideal time for a frigid walk to a warm delightful piece of relaxation.. I looked forward to my foray into the heated water…except I forgot my bathing suit. Darn!!  I didn’t think the other patrons would appreciate a chubby skinny dipper dive bombing their hot tub….it’s a high-class place and all.

Second thing we did was take off all of our clothes…and this is where you should turn away…just kidding!  Our travel clothes seemed much to formal to order pizza and watch movies in our room so we entered into hibernate mode and put pj’s on.

I am nervously excited that we get to spend this time together. We are blessed to have a church that values our marriage, a District who provides the retreat for the pastors and excellent caregivers for our children, who we trust will have a great time.

Oh, and I’ll make sure to buy a  bathing suit, just in case you were nervous about the whirlpool thing…