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.

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