Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Family Photos - I'm in!

It's that time of the year, when beautiful pictures flood your mailbox and everyone seems to have the perfect life. The holiday letters that accompany these cards can sometimes make your eyes cross at the self-proclaimed awesomeness of the families highlighted. I mean - seriously - am I going to write a letter about my child pulling her pants up all by herself? This was a huge accomplishment in our house, but will my list of card recipients truly understand that? Then what do I highlight? The multiple hospital and doctor trips? The many new therapist we've welcomed into our home? I mean, really, this is how I see my year sometimes. But, then I take a step back. I breathe and realize that those holiday letters are meant as a gateway into other people's adventures. Those families are proud of accomplishments that are so beyond my daily expectations, but they don't make them any less important, and the same should be said about the accomplishments achieved in my house. They are special, and they are important because they are ours. Truth be told, I don't have time to write a holiday letter. I will be lucky to get all the address labels adhered to the envelopes and get the cards out on time!

I love holiday cards. I love getting them, and I love making them. For the last eight years, the cards have been pictures of my littlest loves in beautiful outfits or Christmas pajamas. When they were very young, I went to the overpriced photography studio at the mall and spent a small fortune having cards made. The sessions were always very tiresome and meltdowns often ensued. I remember thinking, "what is wrong now?". Silly me! I had my very sensitive little girl dressed in itchy dresses with tights and shoes that hurt. I made her sit still in a foreign environment where the lights were too bright and noises too loud, and I seriously wondered why she wouldn't smile. I shake my head at myself sometimes in disbelief of how naive I was. About six years ago, my dear friend started a photography business. She is extremely artistic and has a wonderful eye. (If you're in the CT area, it's Athina Loveland Photography) Athina would come to my house or meet us wherever we wanted to go with the kids. She would catch the smiles between the tears, and she wouldn't think twice about rolling around on the floor with the kiddos.

After eight years of featuring just photos of the kids, I decided enough was enough. I spent way too many years hiding behind the photographer, making silly faces. Yes, I may have dark circles under my eyes from lack of sleep. Yes, I may need to lose some weight and my hair could use some coloring -- but you know what? None of that matters. I finally saw that when my girls looked up at me when I was getting ready for a meeting. I was struggling with what outfit (limited selections) to throw together to look professional and proper. I thought I looked a mess, but my middle daughter looked up at me and said, "Mommy, you look beautiful!". Suddenly the self-critical filter fell out of my eyes and I saw what my daughter saw. I saw a Mommy full of love and laughter and smiles. I saw someone who would be there no matter what. I saw their comfort and their lifeline. I saw me for how my girls saw me, and for the first time in a long time, I saw beauty. From that moment on, I decided that the Husband and I needed to be in as many pictures as possible with our girls. We aren't getting these years back, and we know all t0o well, that you never know what tomorrow may bring.

This year, Athina met us at the Yale campus, and chased my one-year old around to capture her radiant and mischievous smile. She encouraged my four-year old to display her sassy side, and sensing that Little Miss M was having a rough day -- she captured her thinking and laughing in all her beauty. We took multiple full-family shots, and I love each and every one of them. I sat down to assemble our cards, especially since www.shutterfly.com was having such amazing specials over the weekend, and I struggled to pick out my favorite photos. I wanted all our card recipients to see what my girls see when they look at the Husband and I. I wanted them to see love and true happiness.

As the family gatherings approach, make sure you are in photos! Give someone else your camera or your phone. Little Miss M loves to take pictures, and it's a great way to keep her with a larger group of people. The photo booth app on the iPad is great for this too! And if no one wants to take pictures, then use the "Selfie" function and take them yourself! Make memories, because someday you will look back and want to remember this day and all the others, because it's real life and we were there.


Amanda loves pictures and prefers photographers who capture emotion and feeling with their talent.

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