A Two Margarita Kind of Day

by Stefani on 15-April-2009

There are two photo shoots each each year that just about do me in… the one in which I try to get the perfect Christmas card photo and the one in which I'm after the perfect spring Bluebonnets photo. 

The Christmas card photo is bad enough, but really that one is just a matter of taking a WHOLE bunch and one of them will come out close enough, generally. 

The bluebonnet photo is a whole other beast. 

I thought I was prepared this time. I dressed them in shorts but took jeans, thus preventing either the "it's too hot" or "the flowers make my legs itchy" arguments. I coated them in bug spray. Nana came along so that there would be TWO cameras flashing, TWO voices begging them to just let us get ONE good one, and of course Nana is always quick with the icecream or candy bribes, so that helps too. 

But no. 

Even with all my planning we failed to get a single decent dang shot, unless you count the ones with just flowers in them. 

Most of the photos looked about like this:  

Most of Them Looked Like This

Grumpy, "I don't want to be here" faces. 

It's not like they don't like flowers. They do. 
It's not that they aren't used to being photographed. They are. 

It's that whole "sit still and all smile at me and please do it all at once" thing that wasn't working for them. 

That and the fact that they ALL wanted to hold their baby cousin, like right now.  Nothing like a good game of "Three Surly Punks Pass the Baby on the Side of the Road While Two Women Try To Get a Good Photo, Just One, While Not Freaking Completely the Heck Out and Driving Away Without The Children!"

What? You haven't heard of that game before?

The All Wanted to Hold the Baby

At least this year no one lost their shoes. 


Then we had THIS bright idea: 

Did NOT work

It was short lived.

But you know, as bummed as I am that I didn't get that "hang over the mantle shot," I think we did pretty dang good. 


We captured a little bit of a fleeting moment… flowers blooming, four crazy kids that I love, a sunny day I'll never get back. 

Chubby Hands and Blue Blossoms

And afterwards there was mexican food and margaritas – a surefire cure for Bluebonnet photo blues. 


In the case that you haven't, we recommend you get your hands on Tomie De Paola's Legend of the Bluebonnet and also the Legend of the Indian Paintbrush. 

Indian Paintbrush


Book of Days families… there's a new post at the Ranch blog!

Myrnie April 16, 2009 at 12:08 am

Aw…I think those photos are just magical! The colors are amazing.

Diane April 16, 2009 at 4:10 am

You goof!

You ladies certainly deserved the Mexican and the margaritas after such hard work!
; )

steadymom.com April 16, 2009 at 4:56 am

I think those are amazing – I really like the 2nd one. Seems like a mantel shot to me!


heather April 16, 2009 at 5:04 am

you’re crazy lady!

i love these… especially the last one that has all four kiddos, each with their own unique and happy expression. i commend you for even attempting such a task!

Kerry April 16, 2009 at 5:05 am

I agree with Jamie. The 2nd one is a good mantel shot. I always think that these kinds of pictures are just as good if not better than the more formal, posed ones. I can completely understand how frustrating it is not to be able to get the shot that you are envisioning in your mind though. Glad you could recover/ celebrate with some good food and libations!

Stefani April 16, 2009 at 5:08 am

You know what I think it? In any other photo in the year, I like the casual, catch ’em as they are shots. I even dig some of those in the bluebonnets. But in both the Christmas card and the spring bluebonnet photos, I’m always hoping for just ONE where they are all happy and looking at the camera. I want just ONE where I can see all their sweet faces. You know? Two smiling face shots a year. Is that so much to ask? Apparently yes, it is :0) Oh well. I am happy with a lot of these though, and I know in years to come I’ll be happy to take whatever of this moment I can get!

melissa April 16, 2009 at 5:11 am

stefani, I think you did great. You DO great. If I had 3 boys, every day might be a two-margarita day for me. Your patience is vast, friend!

Diahn April 16, 2009 at 5:17 am

I would hang that third one over my mantle any time, friend. Gorgeous!

Carrie April 16, 2009 at 5:35 am

I totally understand. I get so frustrated when my camera memory is full because the day before I didn’t load the pictures and there are a ton all of the same thing just trying to get the perfect photo. But anyway, I think some of those pictures you got have a lot of personality. You could definitely hang the second and third and even the fifth. I love them! And bravo on that Indian paintbrush shot. Lovely!

kelli April 16, 2009 at 5:48 am

I’m new to your blog and have really enjoyed it -thanks for sharing. I grew up in Texas and remember being that kid in the bluebonnet photos:) I think you got great shots!

Jennifer Barnes April 16, 2009 at 6:32 am

Okay, where were these? The only patch I’ve seen is off 1431 to the south by I-35, not that I drove around much looking for them… These actually look good despite the bluebonnets not being crazy-go-wild thick this year. I won’t be getting the pictures this year but in future years, I will probably attempt it. My husband is grumpier than my boys when it comes to bluebonnet pictures, so it makes it doubly hard to get out there and take them with “help.” I *almost* think I should try it by myself but then I think about keeping a 3 year old and a 2 year old from running out in the road while I tend to a 4 month old and then I realize I am not superwoman.

I agree about the 2nd one from the top of your post being an excellent mantle shot. As far as getting them all to look at the camera – the best I’ve ever been able to do in shooting groups of people (more than 2) is to set the camera on super-fast mode (5 shots per second kind of thing), take a BUNCH of the same pose and then go into photoshop later and clone a smile or a face (of the uncooperative one) over to the “best” picture.

Lia April 16, 2009 at 7:02 am

Cute kids, some pretty flowers, and a couple of margaritas sounds like a pretty dang good day to me!

Cristie Baron April 16, 2009 at 7:13 am

Oh, the bluebonnet pictures…..We lived in San Antonio for a couple of years and I could be found in the spring bribing my toddlers along the roadside. I feel your pain. At least there are margaritas ;-). I think they turned out fabulous…..catching them in the true essence of boyhood. I think they are mantle worthy!

k April 16, 2009 at 7:21 am

I am so glad I am not the only one that has tried for years and still cannot seem to get “That” shot. I do love to see all the wild flowers though!

Lee April 16, 2009 at 7:22 am

WE didn’t have much luck this year either– My normal good photo bluebonnet patches were a either missing or very sparse this year. My little guy’s pictures merely capture that we took pictures about the right time this year (With the largest patch of bluebonnets I could find, which only included 8 flowers LOL).
I think your pictures look very sweet, especially the second one.

melissa s. April 16, 2009 at 7:31 am

You got some GREAT shots!!!!
Last year we just bit the bullet and sent out a collage of the outtakes for our Christmas cards.

J.T. April 16, 2009 at 7:44 am

Thanks for the chuckles and for sharing the fun shots of your boys!

Jen April 16, 2009 at 7:46 am

Yes, the photos are great. Isn’t this always how it happens. I gave up trying to get them to do anything but what they want in a photo and it always turns out great. I think I was yelling by the end of the Easter photo try. The ones that did come out well were overexposed because I forgot to change the ISO!

Kathy April 16, 2009 at 7:47 am

Super cute! A friend of mine pointed me in the direction of a field of indian paintbrushes–so we did that this year. It was near a cliff, so I had to wrangle to keep them away away from the cliff edge! Luckily I had 2 little photo hams that day. The crazy things we do for pics….

honeyflake April 16, 2009 at 8:08 am

i’ll agree with the other comments here – the pictures are really very sweet. and so great as a whole set. it really looks like a beautiful day!!! 🙂

Sam April 16, 2009 at 8:13 am

I think those are beautiful photos!

Kelly April 16, 2009 at 8:27 am

I’m in agreement with the above commenters – I love the second one! I’m a fan of the more candid shots myself. Maybe that’s because I can’t get my three boys to sit & smile either. 🙂

Visty Lindgren April 16, 2009 at 8:43 am

I think your pictures are lovely, but strangely, it’s not a sunny day you might want. A cloudy day makes for less shadows and less kid squinting. Or, if it’s always sunny, go in early morning or sunset. That’s when you can lie them down in the grass and have them look up at you. It looks like you might have been there around high noon, which can be the worst time to take pictures.

The candidness of the photos is good. The boys were primed, you just need to make a big fart noise and they will all suddenly look at you and laugh. Or, have them look at you and say, “Whatever you do, DO NOT smile. Don’t do it…don’t smile. Be very, very serious…” They will bust up naturally. And it won’t look forced.

Either way, these are great. If the bluebonnets are still there, feed everyone dinner and then rush them out again today at sunset.

tams April 16, 2009 at 8:55 am

great photos.
that’s a lot of bodies to photograph, you did well.

Stefani April 16, 2009 at 9:00 am

Oh yes… for sure it was the wrong time of day. But we were working with a baby’s schedule a bunch of other factors. It was around 3 in the afternoon. And they weren’t facing the sun… just giving me a hard time.

We’ve been trying to get these photos for probably a month now and finally decided we just needed to do it, for better or worse, before the flowers were gone.

And yea… I’ve always been a big fan of letting my kids say all the dirty words they can muster during photos (which to them means “poop” or “butt”). It usually works, but for some reason that didn’t cross my mind this time.

Honestly, we were there only about 15 minutes. It wasn’t so awful. And you now I usually prefer the candid shots, but I just wanted one where I could see all their faces. Oh well. We got what we got and I’ll be glad to have them!

Stefani April 16, 2009 at 9:10 am

Well luckily, I have a mom who loves taking photos and most especially loves taking photos of her grandsons. She lives in Georgetown and drove all over creation to find a good spot for us.

If you decided you’re going to attempt it, drop me an email and I’ll give you directions.

Dawn April 16, 2009 at 9:51 am

Oh, the stuff memories are made of… you know they only give you a fuss to get the ice cream bribes 🙂

Our Green Nest April 16, 2009 at 10:20 am

I think they look great! We tried something similar recently with our babe and her 2 cousins and got just about the same results :).

Dayna April 16, 2009 at 10:30 am

I think you did an amazing job of capturing real life – and that sure is mantle worthy in my book 🙂

Karen April 16, 2009 at 10:37 am

Even with the problems you mentioned…I think you got some great shots! 🙂

Kayla April 16, 2009 at 10:45 am

These are cute! Sorry you had a hard time, but I can totally relate to the two margarita photo shoots (Christmas photos every year) I really think it is impossible to get the one you set out to get.

Kerry April 16, 2009 at 10:56 am

I love that you almost always have such a positive outlook on things. (except when you don’t ;)!) That’s why coming here every day is like having coffee with a good friend! I had my own frustrating photo shoot this afternoon. Trying to get a good smiley pic of my little one. She just started sharing big grins with us over the weekend but refuses to smile for the camera. All in due time.

Visty Lindgren April 16, 2009 at 11:04 am

I know what you mean! When my bigger kids were little, I just had a bunch of series photos: one kid was looking and the other one not, then the next picture the two reversed. Stinkers.

Stefani April 16, 2009 at 11:09 am

I didn’t even show you the worst of the bunch. I’m always worried that they’ll hate me for this blog when they’re teenagers, so I try not to show the too embarrassing ones… fingers up their noses and weird face contortions. Anyhow, I think the trick is going to have to be to let go of that “perfect photo” idea and just have some fun. Maybe, just MAYBE the flowers will hold out and I can bribe my way back to the side of the road for one more try 🙂

Kelly April 16, 2009 at 11:12 am

I like these better than when everyone is staring at the camera. These are real. You have a gorgeous family.

Relyn April 16, 2009 at 11:15 am

How funny. I must go visit Visty’s blog. I was beginning to write my comment and tell you my toot noise idea and the. “Do NOT smile” thing when I read her comment right above mine. I guess we think alike. When I do the toot noise, I keep a very serious, embarrassed expression. They laugh more if they think I really did toot.

I do like your photos, very much. I especially like the bare feet. Looks to me like you got great photos, family time, and two margaritas. Not a bad way to spend a day, hunh?

Heidi April 16, 2009 at 2:41 pm

Me, nah, I’ve never had photo taking episodes like that… Bwa-ha-ha!! I relate to trying to get 3 little boys to sit still and all manage to look at the camera at the same time without ridiculous looks on their faces. Hey, that second picture is terrific, though.

hanna April 16, 2009 at 3:04 pm

You know I really think these photos are just perfect. They capture a moment and show the character of the children that a more posed photo wouldn’t do I reckon.

Amber April 16, 2009 at 4:15 pm

I have only two children, and getting them both to look at me and smile at the same time is near impossible. I think you did very well considering you had twice as many. And the bluebonnets are truly lovely.

Julie Alvarez April 16, 2009 at 4:27 pm

Poor you! I can imagine the feeling.
Well, I like ALL the pictures here! So, as I see it, it was a success.
(You made me remember distinctly the feeling I had when I was little and wanted to hold a baby, the itching that came with that wanting, like right now. And how I loved it… Holding someone’s baby made me feel so very important.)

Jennifer April 16, 2009 at 10:31 pm

You crack me up! Though you didn’t get what you wanted, the photos are wonderful anyway. I could totally relate to your predicament.

Melissa April 17, 2009 at 6:26 am

I think you got some pretty great shots- the one with your youngest holding the baby and the second from the last with all the boys smiling. They are all so cute! My kids are the same way- especially my son. My son says he hates to have to smile on command- well, he has a point, it just isn’t a natural looking smile. I always try to give them something to laugh about- like I make an even bigger fool of myself than normal and that usually works. We take soem goofy shots and there is always one that I snatch when they are unaware and just laughing that comes out great. Try it!

Cassandra April 17, 2009 at 7:06 am

I absolutely LOVE the photos. As nice as it is sometimes to have all the faces looking at the camera, I think your photos really encompass the beauty of the day. My girls are so used to me telling them to not just stare at the camera, to just keep doing what they’re doing, that when it comes time to smile at the camera, they have a really hard time. And I only have two, so I can just imagine your three active boys! Maybe the two margaritas would be better BEFORE the photo session 😉

Judith April 17, 2009 at 7:41 am

I think the photos show real life and real personalities. Some times those mantles shots are just a little too staged. My 5 yo daughter has the stock “smile, mommy’s taking a picture” smile that is oh so fake looking. I like the photos best when I catch with a genuine smile, having fun and not worrying about the camera. Nice photos!

Lorilee Kopp April 17, 2009 at 8:06 am

I tried and tried to comment yesterday and my computer kept crasing. AGH! But I had to return to tell you how much I love these photos! Spring and flowers and babies! Too cute!

Jennifer O April 17, 2009 at 11:45 am

I love the Legends of the Bluebonnet and the Indian Paintbrush! I lived in Texas from ages 8-13, and I still love bluebonnets! And Blue Bell ice cream – I think it’s gotten to Atlanta, but not to DC where I now live.

Joy April 17, 2009 at 4:02 pm

Awww…they look really sweet. I love the bright bluebonnets! We read the Legend of the Indian Paintbrush not too long ago; my kids had a great time making their own illustrations for it. 🙂 http://blaserkids.blogspot.com/2009/03/project-ful-weekend.html

TheOrganicSister April 17, 2009 at 6:33 pm

I think the perfectly posed photos are highly overrated anyway. I love the ones you captured of the boys just being themselves. They’l hold more memories that way. 🙂


Ansley April 17, 2009 at 6:35 pm

I know how hard it is to get one child to cooperate, I can’t imagine 3/4!
I’m sure the margarata whipped your memory clear so you can do it again next year!

Lynn Harris April 19, 2009 at 9:11 am

This brings back memories of when my boys were the age of yours. Our spring break trip one year to see my sister in Carlsbad, NM took us through Texas in the height of blue bonnet time. We did the same thing- pulled to the side of the road, plopped the boys in the flowers and took lots of photos. This was back in the predigital days. We took more than one roll of film and didn’t know how we had done until after we were home and had them developed. All I say now is “Thank goodness we have digital cameras!”

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