Every year I struggle at the last minute trying to get the “perfect” christmas card family picture. Not really sure why. Probably because I am right brained and put way too much creative thought into what I want the outcome to look like. My dear husband and children are always such good subjects. Trying to help me make it a “good one”. Everybody has thier own creative ideas in what we should do, where we should go, what we should wear.
But this year, well I started a little earlier. Like 8 months earlier. I had the realization that in December in Oregon, it’s just too cold and wet to try and take an outside picture. Which are my absolute favorite. We all love being outside, so it seems like where we should go for a good picture. Wrong. It’s usually raining, very overcast, and very cold. So after buying all the children thier Easter clothes, and totally falling in love with the colors and patterns, I had this amazing vision of us all on the beach. Barefoot. Warm. Happy…
So the planning began. Our winter here seemed to go on and on. Summer finally picked up in July. I started looking at the calender for a day when we could have a beach outing and accomplish the mission at hand. Finally in August, during Eric’s week off, we picked a day for our trip. We live a few hours from the beach, so it makes for a super long day trip. Now, even though I have been to the Oregon Coast a few dozen times, I always seem to forget a few VERY important things. Like the wind. Which thus creates windchill, making the temperatures feel so much colder than it actually is. I grew up on the East Coast, where the beach in the summer is hot. The water is warm. There are no rocks or cliffs that can kill you if you are not careful. In fact, I actually took a picture (it’s a little ways down) of all the “Warnings” that are posted when you pull into the parking lot. Makes you more cautious of the water.
So with all that said, a picnic lunch packed, everybody clean and ready for pictures, we were off. Here was the plan…
Show up at beach
Dress children in thier clothes for picture.
Change into play clothes/swimsuits.
Eat picnic lunch.
Spend afternoon playing on the beach and in the water.
Go in to Olde Town and eat clam chowder and fish and chips for dinner and shop.
But….things just never seem to go as planned. No matter how organized you are. When we got over the mountains and down onto the beach, the sun was shining bright. Not the overcast day that had been forecasted. The wind was howling. Eric guessed 40 mph gusts. And because of the wind, it was very cold. I walked down to the beach. There was full sun everywhere. Which meant awful shadows on everybody’s faces. Not good. The wind made your hair fly straight out. Not good. So I quickly had to come up with “Plan B”. I quickly decided that even though I badly want to get a good picture taken, it was just not going to work right then. Which really only left one other thing to do. Play. Try to make the picture thing happen at the end of the day. Eric quickly pointed out that our clean, polished looking (ok, at least hair and teeth brushed) children were going to be covered in sand the minute we let them down to the beach. That their hair would be wet and matted by the time they finished swimming and playing. But really, what else could I do. Throw a fit, demand a picture when I knew it would not be want I wanted? Ruin their day just because I could not control the surrounding circumstances??? No Way!!! I assured Eric if we didn’t make it home with a picture I was just fine. We would try something else. So after devouring their lunch, they were all off, running down the hills to the beach. We played all afternoon. We froze. We were just about blown out to sea. We climbed rocks and looked at starfish. We found a super cool cave inside one of the rock cliffs. We studied marine life all over and around the water’s edge. Rocks and shells were collected. And then we decided we were all starving and that it was time to head into town. All the while I was scoping out cliffs and rocks that would soon be providing some shade from the glaring sun.
As we got out of the car, I gave each child one dollar. Not much, I know. But they all felt rich. And there was a candy store down the street, and I knew that it would save me much decision making if it was their dollar and not mine. I really love giving them money that is totally theirs “no strings attached”. I think it allows them to learn a few lessons. First, they have a budget. There is no overspending. No borrowing. There are things they want that they can’t buy, and the older ones all understand this now. Second, they have to make a choice. How exactly are they going to spend it. Some of them try to get the best barging for their dollar. Some buy exactly what they desire. And others just try to get the most pieces of candy they can. Not a single child asked me to buy them anything. Definitley worth $6.00.
Dinner was delicious. Almost everyone of the children like clam chowder. Those that didn’t ordered corn dogs. We got a couple of orders of fish and chips. We left completely stuffed and the children all eating their candy store purchases. So by now, everybody was dirty, windblown, and sticky. Not so picture perfect anymore. But I wasn’t ready to give up yet. As we loaded everyone up in the car, I looked at Eric and asked him if we could drive back to the beach. I thought there might be this one cliff that would give us the shade we needed and maybe, just maybe the wind had died down some. He pointed out it was already 6:30 and that if we went back and took pictures it would be close to midnight before we got home. But, knowing how much I was hoping to leave with mission accomplished, he drove us back to the beach. He sat in the car while I once again scoped out the place I had in mind. And it was perfect!! The wind had died down and the cliff gave us some added shelter. And the sun had dropped enough, that there was plenty shade to keep any of us from squinting.
I raced back to the van, only to find that somehow (even having 7 children, never has one of our children done this before) Julia had pooped in her car seat while buckled in. Only none of it stayed in her diaper. And she had found it and picked it up and rubbed it in her hair before any one of the other children even realized. It was EVERYWHERE. And worse then that, somehow, the extra package of wet wipes never made it into the car. So we had about 7 wipes left. Which were already predestined to wipe all the food and stickiness off the children’s faces. Definitely not even close to enough. And even worse than that there was only fridgid cold water in the bathroom with no soap or paper towels. I was feeling so discouraged. But not defeated. Not yet anyway. I’ll leave the poop cleanup details out and just let you imagine. It was worse than you are thinking. Julia never has a dull moment in her life.
After everybody was all cleaned and dressed and hair combed, we walked down the hill to the chosen spot. I have this awesome little remote for my camera and so we set up the tripod, did a few practice shots and then started shooting. The children were beyond awesome. For being tired and full of sugar, they were amazing. Lots of happy smiles and help with the little ones. We tried all different kinds of poses. And then some extras just for fun because I love the beach and we had truly had a wonderful day and I wanted to capture those last few moments!
So for all of are friends and family, I won’t tell you exact which one we are choosing for the Christmas card this year, but you do get a preview! Sorry if you like the surprise. But the day was way too memorable not to write it all down and add the pictures for us to look at years down the road. The first dozen or so are from our playing and then the matching clothes was the photo shoot. And I just want to state that my husband and children are amazing. It was because of them that our pictures are beautiful. I just bought some matching clothes and picked a spot. They laughed and smiled and helped us make memories for a lifetime!
PS~ Just for fun, I thought I would take a vote for the favorite family picture. I numbered the ones that are in the contest, 1-6. The number is ABOVE the picture.
On top of a cliff.
Why you should be careful…
Julia’s little handprints after eating her lunch.
And let the photo shoot begin!