Say Cheese Please!

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So we did the seemingly insurmountable task of getting our family pictures done. Over Camera Guy’s dead body, we went to a studio in Sears.

Thus is the curse of being the photographer’s family. Everybody else gets amazing portraits, but we can’t get our own young-ins to sit still for a second to smile. Luckily we had a coupon for a free portrait so I dragged Princess for a haircut, got Chubbers in his Dockers and off to the mall we went.

So we had an appointment. But when we got there, the studio was dimly lit and no one was around. It was eerie. If someone had whistled and beckoned to us from behind the hallway wall I wouldn’t have been the least surprised.

We got a late start, about a half hour because the photographer was late. A half hour , I’m learning, is very valuable on toddler time. They were fed, changed, clean and happy. But the closer we crept to naptime, the more fiesty the troops became.

Finally the girl (who had to have been like 19) gets us into the studio room. Everyone is set. We all are matchy matchy, feeling good, there’s no one in the waiting room, and I’ve got a bag of tricks.

Then I look at Chubber’s hair and realize I forgot to comb it. I assumed the studio had a box of disposable combs for things like this. Nope. So a 15 minute scramble through the diaper bag ensued… resulting in tilting the bag upside down & shaking it, determined that amongst the cheerios, raisins and diaper cream there HAD to be a comb! A half hour elapsed again, and no comb was found.

So we licked our hands and pushed his hair the side. Que Sera….

Onto photos. A big letter “x” appeared on the studio screen for the kids to sit on.

“Now make sure they sit right on that “x’ ” photo girl stressed.

I almost burst out laughing.

“They’re 2 and 1….um….. I can’t get them to sit in the tub, let alone sit on that 3 inch “x’ ”

But we tried, we tried for oh, about…. let me not exaggerate here: 2 hours.

Totally. Not. Kidding.

Yes, believe me. We tried very hard to make it work. Things just kept preventing blissful family picture from occurring. Sometimes the barcode on Princesses shoe was showing, or Chubbers was holding the football in front of his face, or lipstick was on my teeth, or Camera Guy was looking like he was in a coma, or Chubbers decided to play peek-a-boo with his forehead fat.

Exasperated the photo girl cried out “Mom & Dad, you’re going to have to make them smile”

Exasperated I cried back “If we could do that, we wouldn’t be here!”

“I have an idea” She reached into the toy bin and pulled out a baseball bat.

I gasped in horror and started to throw raisins at her bald head. But then she just used it to tickle their bellies…so…

Either way, it was overly strenuous for all of us. And when we finished (more like quit emphatically) we realized there were 4 other families waiting in the lobby and she was the only photographer scheduled for the day. (I made sure I took the bat away from her before she saw the line)

In the future I am going to be much more leery of those free portrait coupons.

2 hours later and we had come away with the following :

1. One empty exhausted bag o’ tricks: snacks, toy medicine dropper, toy car, ballerina bunny, rubber duckies, umbrella, football & lollipops.
2. Two red-eyed kids from crying
3. Zero photos of them together. In that lovey dovey sister brother cuteness, that we never see anyway, but would have been nice for the picture.
4. Two near-migraines
5. One family photo where husband looks Asian.
6. 2 huge laughs from when they tried to sell us the “Gold” package that started at $1000, but would offer us at a special reduced rate of ONLY $800 ( how kind, we’re supposed to pay you
400 bucks an hour to drive us loco? I don’t think so, the kids know how to do that already for free…)

All in all it was a learning lesson. Which I learned nothing from immediately and was instead suckered into buying the $10 portrait card which was good all year round for a free 8×10 any time I came in! As much as I wanted! (Oh goody! Now I can accelerate the speed of loosing my mind at an even faster and more concentrated rate than I was already doing!)

You wouldn’t believe what happened when I got home, either.

I found the comb in the front pocket of my diaper bag.

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"Good bye, world. Pray for me as I embark on this journey of living free of Facebook. It won’t be easy, their will be many challenges, but hopefully this countercultural lifestyle change will broaden my view of life deeper than it has been…" These are the words I have written in my journal and as I re-read them or rather, re-write them I realize how hysterical this is. Really? It’s like I’m writing a letter to my relatives as I head off to do mission work in some 3rd world country. The whole thought of leaving Facebook does sound entirely preposterous to anyone on the "outside". The decision sounds akin to announcing that I’m leaving the planet. People look at me with the same quizzical look I used to get when they found out I was homeschooled, that "who does that?" look. Yep, I’m used to it… But the more I think about it, the more I’m convinced. Facebook has to go. Camera Guy is totally on board, we’ve talked about it endlessly, weighed the pros and cons, and ultimately chosen the daunting motion of deactivation. There is almost a certain thrill attached to it though, the thought of life beyond status updates.

What is it that is so huge about this? Why are we so concerned? So worried of what will happen if we leave? Who’s children will we never see? Who will we never talk to? Never hear from? Why are we wasting so much energy on this, why are we even talking about this at dinner? It’s Facebook for pete’s sake! It took some serious stepping back to realize the people who are truly our friends, we have a normal friendship with: we talk on the phone, visit in person, and send Christmas cards to. Everybody else, well….let’s be honest: we’re just being nosy. I didn’t realize the full grip of Facebook until my old roomate from college, Ellen called me. We chatted incessantly as usual about everything we had dug up via Facebook recently. Ellen made a lot of points about it. She made me realize how Facebook has this way of keeping you down, or stirring up annoyed feelings, or angry feelings even just by reading the stupid news feed. It’s like some prison of vice, where you are just constantly obsessing over what you are doing, and why its so important and then what is everyone else doing. It made me wonder how many times priests hear "Facebook" in confession. I mean I know I’m not the only one who finds all my downfalls much more exacerbated just by logging into that social network. Gossip? Super easy now. Pride? Bingo, status updates! Judgemental? Lust? Anger? Greed? ummmm sloth? You betcha! It was time that something had to change. Do we really need to know what each other is doing every second of our life? Information overload!

Camera Guy and I sat in bed one night, trying to remember when we first got on the network. 6 years ago! It doesn’t seem that long ago, but when we tried to think, we had a hard time remembering what pre-Facebook life was like. What did we do then? We asked ourselves…What else was there? Sad day. This is not how life is meant to be lived! Now it’s not all bad, we have enjoyed keeping in touch with people we may have otherwise lost touch with. But now, now that the dust of graduation and goodbyes have settled and we can sift out the friendships from acquaintances we think its time to make our exit. Time to return to a simpler way of life, with personal notes, phone calls and visits, even e-mails! We’re ready for this! Starting in 2011, the Thimons’ will be free of Facebook and hopefully better off because of it. As Ellen described when I asked her how it was going, "It’s only been two weeks….but you will be amazed at how many times a day your mind still thinks in the form of a status.." But she wouldn’t go back. It’s an empowering feeling to keep your life your own, out of the speculating eye of the world. Kudos to her, and cheers for us! Here we go!