I spent the afternoon with family yesterday to celebrate the birthday of one of the tiny humans.  It's intense how they grow up and with a brother who is a photographer, we have plenty of proof of just how quickly that happens.  We did a big family photo last fall, it was fairly low stress, minus one snake that I was the only one daring enough to pick up.  The previous family photo in 2011 was far more eventful...

 

This past Sunday I took part in a time-honored tradition, the family picture.  It got me thinking about old family pictures that I’ve seen and when I say old, I mean sod house, get the kids out of the field, no one smiles because Ma’s tired from Irish twins type of picture.  Always extremely posed and everyone dressed in the best clothes they had, but never a smile amongst them.  Apparently, the lack of smiles wasn’t because life was hard, but rather due to the slowness of exposure time, which in early photos, was up to 10 minutes.  Yeah, can you imagine the fake smile that anyone could hold for 10 minutes?  

But back to my current family photos, with our digital cameras and instant gratification.  Since my little bro, Tiny T., is a photographer, we had access to all the equipment we would need, plus his fabulous mother-in-law agreed to come along and snap the group shot.  

I should have known this would be a partial clusterf*ck, just by virtue of it being an all-family activity.  It’s intrinsic.  

It all started when my mother sent out an email “Calling all kids and dogs.”  I didn’t have to ask, I know that adding the dogs to the photo was her ploy to make me feel involved and want to be there.  I am very grateful that she understands how much the Bitches mean to me and that they are my children.  Both of my brothers have spouses and kids, so they have their little families going on and inevitably, the big photo always turns into little group photos of the off-shoots of the family and without my Bitches, I am a headshot that would probably make a good obituary photo.  (Although let it be known that I would like the Bitches to be in a funeral photo.  And cremate me.  WILL THIS HOLD UP IN COURT?)  Don’t get me wrong, I love my life, my Bitches, and Man Friend, but those solo moments are simply a reminder that I am solo.  Family stuff like that is tricky.  I have a tendency to believe that you make your family.  Family doesn’t have to have a legal binding or shared gene pool.  That doesn’t compute with a lot of people.  

So I was really glad that Momma M. asked for the dogs to be involved.  Here’s the fun part: Logistics.  The family consists of 11 humans and six dogs.  Five of said humans are children aged six or less.  Two of said children have not yet one year under their belts.  The oldest dog would be my Alli and she’s only six.  Dixon the terrier who thinks he’s a Dane is close behind her in age and what he lacks in size, he makes up for in panache.  Add my Joey, a third GSP named Ranger, the Lab puppy called Magnum, and Buddy, the world’s biggest Golden, and you have a busy photo.

The fun started before I even left town.  The plan was to take the pics at 5:00 p.m. at the park in Dell Rapids.  That’s where my mom grew up and my brother and his family live now, so there’s some history there.  Since there is an issue of chronic lateness with us and since I was double-booked for the evening, I wanted to make sure the pics started promptly at five.  So I sent out a text that said, “Can we please start promptly at five tonight cuz I have another commitment.  Thx.”  

I said please and thank you.  But somehow it turned into a couple shitty texts in which someone told me to not come and I said I wouldn’t if it wouldn’t hurt my mother’s feelings.  I wasn’t in the mood for a speech about how we haven’t had a family pic since December 1988.  

So then I ended up on the phone with the other brother and then he was calling the mother and then the other brother was calling him and the first brother was calling me again.  But the good part was that everyone was on the road to Dells by four, so things looked good for my start time.  

The second part of the agreement was that the humans would wear jeans, or denim slacks, as Momma M. might say, and either a brown or navy shirt or sweater.  I had a fabulous pair of skinny Levi’s, some boots, and this really cute almost cowl-neck, low slung brown sweater that was super cute when I was getting ready.  It wasn’t super cute when I got out of the car and the wind was gusting.

There I was, trying to walk the dogs up to the bath house, them pulling like mad cuz they wanted to go in the river and run in the park.  I wasn’t interested in wet dogs since we were there for business.  Then Alli slipped her leash.

At this point, I have Joey in one hand and a leash in the other, and my sweater isn’t covering anything.  Everyone knows that I am wearing a gray Vicky’s push-up bra.  I am Tits McGee.  And I am screaming like a banshee, hoping to keep Alli out of the river.  

She ran into the bath house and under the bath house, but thankfully came back dry.  Then they saw Dixon and tangled me up in their leashes.  I dropped about six f-bombs and threw an Oscar-worthy fit.  Between the stress of the whole mess, the text fight, wind, leaves, Tits McGee, and dog leashes wrapped around my legs chaos, I had a meltdown.  I think I screamed something about not wanting to f*cking be there.  Sigh.  

At least I don’t suppress my emotions anymore.  

Thankfully, my dad grabbed Alli and got me untangled.  And Tiny T. was ready to take pics of me and the Bitches.  His wife had to tuck my sweater into the back of my bra to keep the pornographic element out of the shot.  Somehow, in just a few clicks of the camera, Two Bitches and a Dirty Lady were captured.

Brats for life.  

Brats for life.  

The big group shot wasn’t quite as smooth.  Every time the kids were set, a dog would move, or vice versa.  A couple times, Joey, who was in my lap, would start licking baby Will’s face, which he thought was great, since he loves the Bitches.  But then they wouldn’t be looking at the camera and would be blocking me.  The camera just kept clicking and I’m guessing the outtakes might be better than the actual shots.  Momma M. kept messing with my sweater.  We certainly weren’t grumpy-faced and holding frowns for 10 minutes.

It’ll probably end up being a holiday photo or something.  As we were taking the pic I realized what a dog family we truly are and think that “Not A Pussy Amongst Us” might be the perfect caption for the fiasco.