Friday, September 11, 2009

Labor Day Weekend Part II (alternately titled "Never Trust County Websites")

You would think after our first failed attempt at getting the girl's photoshoot done that we would realize that Labor Day weekend was created for less stressful things, like playing Parcheesi, and eating food that doesn't require stovetop preparation. But, never ones to be discouraged by trifles, we rebounded and decided that Monday would be the perfect time for a retry.

We had chosen some botanical gardens run by Pinellas county to be the spot of our photoshoot. Theia's and Eliza's 1 year pictures had been taken in the middle of beautiful gardens, and we wanted the same look for Ingrid's. We had driven around, asked around, and googled around for weeks looking for some place in Florida that actually had flowers (and didn't charge highway robbery for the privilege of seeing them). Florida has its high points to be sure, but its only colors are blue, tan, and dingy green. Finally some friends tipped us off to these awesome gardens that have FREE admission.

I'm sure all of you with multiple small children can understand and appreciate the meaning behind my words when I tell you that the entire day revolved around getting the girls photoshoot done. We knew we wanted evening lighting, so we had to leave by 4:15 in order to get there by 5 and have two hours to do our thing before the gardens closed. Everything had to be timed perfectly. Morning activities had to be cut short in order to get the girls lunched and down for a nap so they would be in a frame of mind conducive to being photographed. Six little ruffled and ribboned outfits (two changes each) had to be ironed while they slept. I won't even mention that this was my second time ironing them since they had to be rewashed after the bean fiasco. We woke the girls up promptly at 3:30 and put them through an assembly line bath before buckling them in their carseats and setting out for Ye Olde Botanical Gardens.

We drove the 30 minutes to the gardens and were greeted by a closed gate through which we could see a decidedly uninhabited parking lot. Undaunted, we said to ourselves there must be another entrance, since the website boldly boasts "Open every day of the year" (if you don't believe me, check it out for yourself HERE). We drove out to the road and around the corner and found another entrance, padlocked with a sign that said "Use other Entrance". Our friend Jenni had kindly agreed to come and be an extra pair of hands since she lives near the gardens. She arrived and informed us that she drives by that entrance all the time and it is always open. She even stopped a cop and asked if there were any other entrances. After driving around stupidly to the other entrance a few times, we concluded that there was probably a group of mutinous county employees off enjoying a Labor Day barbecue somewhere, or perhaps a bean bake.

Jessie and I were so frustrated that we could have cried, or maybe bitten something. But Jenni was there, so we couldn't do either. *

It turned out to be a good thing that Jenni was there, since she helped us salvage our evening and actually enjoy it. She suggested that we take the girls to a nearby park so they could play since they had been cooped up in the van for quite awhile by now. Once there, she even convinced the now surly parents to get the camera out for a few shots of the girls. These are not to be considered their official pictures, but Jessie managed to get a few shots that are worth posting while we wait for the real thing.

As I was writing this post, I recalled that we actually had a similar experience last year when we tried to do this. I posted about it HERE. I guess we should have expected that the number of attempts necessary to achieve success just increases with each child. When it was just Theia we woke up one day and said "How bout we head over to the the gardens and take Theia's pictures?", and we did it. When we added Eliza to the equation it took two tries. Now we have three, and we are planning our third attempt for tomorrow afternoon. If that fails, I might just have to bite something and call it a day.

*Jessie would insist he never thought of crying, or biting anything.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Labor Day Weekend Part I (alternately titled "Burnt Beans")

There is a new saying in the Wert household especially for Labor Day. It goes something like this: "Come to us all you who labor and are heavy laden, and we will give you... burnt beans".
We went into the three day weekend giddy with anticipation of a leisurely, revitalizing time. Our only finite plans were to get the girls 3, 2, and 1 year pictures done. We have been planning this for weeks, and a three day weekend seemed the perfect time to attempt it. So, accordingly, bright and somewhat early on Saturday morning we set out to find the perfect little white dress for Ingrid to wear in her pictures. Being the economical and efficient woman that I am, I put a pot of chick peas on to boil as we were preparing to leave the house, with the intention of turning them down to simmer while we were gone, thus having lunch half made by our return.
We spent two hours exhausting every children's store at the nearby outlet mall with no luck, since retailers have this deluded belief that people only want to buy brown corduroy jumpers, orange sweaters, and striped tights in September, regardless of the 97 degree temps that are likely to stick around for another two months. But, I digress. We decided to head home and put the girls down to nap while I made a run to our trusty flea market where a used children's clothing booth never fails to please (why didn't I think of that in the first place??!).
On the way home I suddenly drew my breath in with a gasp that caused Jessie to tap the brakes and frantically scan the traffic ahead since such a sound (he surmised) could only be caused by one who was witnessing a catastrophic accident unfolding before her eyes. But, the catastrophic accident was only unfolding in my mind's eye, as I suddenly remembered the beans.
I told Jessie about my cause for alarm, and hoped while I was speaking that perhaps he had seen the boiling beans and had thought to turn them down before we left. He informed me that he had seen the beans boiling, but had not turned them down. He had cocked the lid and yelled to inform me that they were boiling, so I could do with them whatever women do with boiling beans. I of course never heard this, so we then both walked out of the house with the knowledge tucked back somewhere in the cobwebby abysses of our brains that there was a boiling pot on the stove.
By now we were really worried. We scanned the horizon for billowing clouds of smoke. We were relieved to see our house looking quite ordinary from the outside when we pulled onto our street, but I could see the hazy gray through the window in the doorway as I was coming up the front walk.
The entire house was filled with smoke. Every closet, nook, and cranny. Jessie and I ran around opening windows and turning fans on. Jessie removed the accursed pot of beans, which by now was nothing but a pile of nearly disintegrated glowing black embers, and we high-tailed it out of there. After eating lunch out and visiting the flea market together (although we realized that pictures were absolutely out of the question by now) we headed back to our house. We were greeted by a powerful wave of eye-watering stench when we opened the door.
We put the girls down for a nap but quickly realized that we could not stay there. I was developing a headache and was feeling quite nauseous from the smell. Fortunately for us, Luke and Lesley's family are in New Mexico right now and they had given us permission to use their house while they were gone. I packed up enough food and clothing for a few days while Jessie ran out to buy some odor-eating stuff.
I'll skip to the end for now. We came home Tuesday night to find that our house does not seem to be a biohazard threat, and no longer smells like all the chimney sweeps in Mary Poppins had held a bean-bake here. It now only smells like several chain smokers might live here. But, we have hopes that the smell will be gone entirely before too long, since we are systematically cleaning everything that can be cleaned and spraying Febreeze pet formula on everything else (that stuff really works).
I do have more to say about our weekend (notice that this post is titled Part 1) but I will save it for later. I just might go and do another load of smoky wash right now.

Part 2:

Friday, September 4, 2009

Sunset is...

Sunset is
our favorite time to
go to the beach.
When the view
up the sand
is mostly unbroken
by the sight of
throngs of

When the waves lapping the sand
are gentle enough for
little people to
without fear
of being knocked over.
When the horizon shows off every shade in God's majestic palette over the space of only two hours. And with the
as a backdrop
you can be sure
to catch
some breathtaking images
very little effort.