The Journey To Family Photos

What you see: a precious photo of my family that shows our adoration of its youngest member,  taken in the perfect golden hour by Captivating by Keli


What you don’t see is the journey it took to get here:

Book a session with a photographer that is both professional and basically a magician.

Wait to share this information with my family until a moment in time when they are well rested, full of sugar, and distracted by their favorite TV show. 

Schedule a hair appointment for myself. (I am realistic enough to know I have no plans to lose my “baby” weight from that youngest member, but at least I can cover my grey hair and grown out roots.)

Even though I have four months to prepare, I wait until two weeks before to decide I should probably start thinking about our outfits.
Which is suuuuuper easy to do with seven people who take their athleisure wear seriously. 

I pick an outfit for myself that says, “When I try extra hard, I can pull together a look,” while simultaneously making sure my chunky arms are well covered. 

Then pick out an outfit for my husband that subtly says, “If you want to remain married to me, you will wear this because it’s the basis for our color scheme.” 

I wait way too late to order clothes for the little people and naively hope that at least one pair of pants from last year fits.

Obsessively check the status of that order everyday to make sure it will arrive in time. (It does, whew!)

Go to my hair appointment. 

Remember that everyone else needs haircuts, too, and rush them to the nearest Super Cuts.  

Tell them I want the cut that looks nice but doesn’t look like I waited until the day before to get it done. 


Arrive at picture day. 

My toddler, who is the best sleeper ever, decided to wake up at 4 am and party. 

I am tired, but I am READY. 

I plan out the day, figuring out the timing for everything to come together with the least amount of emotional turmoil. 

My entire day is filled with, “Do we have to? Why do you want pictures so badly? You know what we look like. Can I wear different shoes?”

I break down and cry. That sort of mom guilt cry that is very real but also gets the results I want.

You know the one. I say, “This will literally take one hour of your life. Life, you may remember, that I gave you. As your mother, all I am asking is for you to cooperate for sixty minutes. This is the first family pictures we’ve had in five years, and I want them to be good. Is that too much to ask?”

My son retorts, “Oh good! In five years when we take these again, I will be in college.”

I make a mental note not to think too much about that. 

My daughter assures me, “These pictures don’t have to be perfect, Mom.”

Ummmm…with the amount of money and effort I put into them, YES THEY DO!!
Then I remembered that same daughter lost my lipstick, so I went to Ulta to get a new one. 

They are helpful but make sure to tell me I need some blush on my pale cheeks. (Thanks?)

I rushed home and told everyone it’s time to shower, brush their teeth, and get dressed for the event. 

{Insert more complaining and whining and groaning than seems humanly possible.}


My oldest child, who assured me that he tried on his pants last week, informed me that his pants, in fact, do not actually fit. (When will I learn not to trust a child?)

My tween daughter put on her outfit. That looked super cute last week but now is THE UGLIEST THING SHE HAS EVER SEEN. And proceeded to go into an emotional tailspin, screaming empty threats in between the tears and angst. 

My middle son, who likes to go against the flow, willingly got dressed with a happy heart and a smile on his face. Who knew that, while everyone else raged, he would play it cool? 

My youngest son had what I would call a…gigantic tantrum. In which he kept asking me how much I planned to pay him for this photo shoot (spoiler alert: zero dollars). And wailed about how embarrassing it is to wear a collared shirt in a public place. 

My toddler pooped. But otherwise was oblivious to the situation.


I squeezed my muffin top into my Spanx and tried not to sweat off my make-up (which included blush…thankyouverymuch, Ulta person). 

Ten minutes before we needed to leave, my husband decided he should probably stop mowing, take a quick shower, and get ready. 

I contemplate whether or not this is grounds for divorce. 

We miraculously leave on time. 

I spend the drive over to the beautiful park threatening my children. Guilt, coercion, manipulation. I unload it all. My husband backs me up, so I decided we can stay married. Good thing, because I’d hate to have to photoshop him out of the pics. 

We arrive at the destination. 


Our amazing photographer does the hard work of making my ragamuffin crew look like the Pinterest perfect family I dream we will one day be. 

My children mostly respond well to bribery. (And threats.)

Except the toddler. 

She is cutting a tooth (which explains the 4 am wake up call). She would not eat a snack beforehand. And she has decided to use this opportunity to display the fullness of her toddlerdum. The only person who is allowed to hold her is Dad. And even Baby Shark won’t force a smile. It’s dire. 


I haven’t worn boots in, like, three years. So my feet hurt.

My daughter forgot to wear socks, so she has blisters. 

One of my boys keeps asking how much longer he has to wear his itchy outfit. 

I try to make him laugh by playing the John Cena theme song. My older kids die of embarrassment. My son tells me to stop playing it because it was the F-word in it. A nearby six year old says the actual F-word, so I don’t think his parents will much care. 


We make it 78 minutes before falling apart. 


Everyone is alive and will only need minimal therapy. I am still married. My kids all stripped down their clothes the minute we got in the van. WE DID IT, you guys. We survived family pictures. 


Because being a mom is weird, I drove away from the park feeling so grateful for my family. And so happy for this moment in time we captured. These days are crazy and they are far from perfect, but they are so very fun. This is the family I prayed for as a young girl, and I can’t believe how graciously God answered. 


When I arrive home to this sneak peek, I high five my past self for hiring a photographer who is both a professional and a magician. Because I can assure you, capturing these smiles while hiding my three chins can only be accomplished by the absolute best. 


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