Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Family Portrait

We've been trying for years to get a good family photo. The last decent one was taken when Sky was six months old (so, roughly seven years ago) by our tried and true family photographer. The guy captured the senior years and weddings of just about everyone in my family. In fact, he's the one who suggested duct tape when my crummy bridesmaid gown ripped down the seam just minutes before my sister's sweltering outdoor wedding. (I still love him for that). I should probably just call him and set up a shoot. But, see, we don't live close to my folks anymore, so scheduling it and getting there isn't all that easy. Plus, he may have retired.

We managed to get a couple family shots done while we lived in Tokyo.  None of them particularly well-planned. The first picture we took on the day of Sky's entry into preschool. We literally travelled from the school to the photo studio so we could take a picture of ourselves in our entrance ceremony clothes. Nothing quite like schlepping small children (Sky age 3, Pink P 4 months) across Tokyo, on public transportation, in our dress clothes, on a hot day, in order to sit down for a formal picture. Fortunately, the glisten had disappeared from my brow before the picture and you can't smell me through the lens.

The same year, we decided to take Big Sissy's coming-of-age photos. Young adults in Japan have a ceremony in January of the year they turn twenty. That year, we were living in the States, so we didn't have a chance to take Big Sissy's formal pictures. Since we couldn't take pictures then, we took them when she came to visit us in Japan. Big Sissy looks great in the kimono. The rest of us look like we wandered in off the street. When I packed for the trip back to Ren's hometown, I wasn't thinking about taking a picture while we were there, so I didn't pack any of the appropriate clothes. No one matched. At all. We had flowers and stripes, beiges and pinks, blues and maroons. Bachan wore a plaid skirt with appliqué flowers on her sweater. Add to that the fact neither Sky or Pink P had grown into their clothes and you can get a sense of what we looked like. Think: The Clampett Family Does Japan. 

So a month or so ago, when our church announced that a professional photographer would be coming to do family pictures for the church directory, I thought it would finally be a chance to get a decent picture. I carefully planned for it. I made sure Sky and Pink P had haircuts (or, in Pink P's case, hadn't recently had one of my haircuts). I purchased outfits for the kids that fit and that were in colors that complemented each other. I scheduled the picture at a time that would ensure we weren't rushed in any way. Sky, Pink P, and I discussed what having our picture taken would entail and practiced a social story about it. The day of the picture, I came home early and gave the kids baths and made sure they had something in their tummies before we headed off to the picture.

Everybody did awesome. Ren was a trooper as he hobbled to the studio with his newly reconstructed back. Big Sissy carried Stow while I held Sky and Pink P's hands. When we went into the studio, everyone stood exactly where they were instructed to stand and smiled exactly when they were instructed to smile. It seemed too good to be true.

After the picture, when we sat to look at the digital proofs, I realized it was.

Everyone else looked great. Perfect, actually. But I looked very much like a mom of young children whose husband had just had back surgery and who was in need of a good night's sleep, some make up, and a haircut. (I could have also used a good trainer and a stylist, but that's probably asking for too much.)

The funny thing is that I didn't realize I needed sleep, make-up, and a haircut until I saw the pictures.

(Here's my artistic rendition of what we looked like):

Epic. Mom. Fail.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Thai Food and Sushi

Before you go any further, I should probably admit that this is a blog post about nothing. 

No, that's not entirely true. It's really about how I had one sane afternoon and how that made me realize I should try to have more of them. (I also realized that maybe I shouldn't travel all the way across the country to experience sanity, but I'm still working on the details).


I did an amazing, unbelievable, absolutely unfathomable thing. I went to see a movie. And not just any movie, an art film at a theater for independent films. I can hardly believe it. And you know what I did before the movie? I. Ate. Thai. Food.

 I know. Right?

The movie was Jiro Dreams of Sushi. So not a movie Ren would agree to see at the theater. He has a clear policy about this kind of thing: if it's not chock-full of special effects, no need to spend money to see it at the theater. (This makes a lot of sense, actually,  but it also means we almost never see movies I want to see.) The only special effects in Jiro were the camera angle and the extreme zoom. Who knew a piece of sushi could be so stinkin' dynamic? Ren's right, it probably wasn't worth $7, but time spent alone seeing a movie I wanted to see without anyone spilling sticky drinks on my shoes, dropping popcorn in my lap, or crawling all over me totally was. 

The Thai food was from one of the carts in a cart pod down the street from Powell's Books (a way cool place, by the way). Red curry with tofu on rice. Heavenly. Especially since I can't get that kind of thing where we live. Forget the fact I had to sit at a picnic table, barely sheltered from the wind and rain in order to eat it. I'd totally do it again.

So yeah, I had to pawn my kids off on my spouse, my parents and Big Sissy (a logistical challenge to be sure), I had to endure a brutal work/flight schedule in order to get out to Portland to give my paper, and I had to pump like a madwoman in hopes that Stow didn't totally wean himself, but those twelve hours of freedom, the first hours of freedom I've had in a long , long time, were so very, very worth it.