Last night, I attempted the task of dragging Ella to Target to capture some holiday cheer on film. I braved this adventure alone as Mike was driving to Wellsville to look at a dresser we found on Craig's list.
I was barely prepared as I had in my head the pictures weren't suppose to take place for another week. I made the appointment a few weeks prior to Thanksgiving and hadn't official written it on any calendar, so in my universe it didn't really exist. The phone call from the studio on Monday night caught me slightly off-guard. Luckily, I had found a dress on Black Friday, but I had even settled on that. Maybe I was being picky, but none of the holiday dresses I saw throughout my search really stole my heart. So, I selected a traditional red velour dress. Of course after I found the dress, I couldn't find anything for Ella's hair. So, on Monday night after the piano was delivered and Ella was tucked into bed, I ventured to Target to look for hair bows, only to discover that their holiday hair display rack was completely empty and I a bit baffled. Rather than get too frustrated, I reminded myself that Target is a big store and I am a creative individual. Surely, I could find something to substitute as a hair decor piece. I cruised through the accessories section, the beauty aisles, the Christmas home decor section, and settled on some ribbon and a Christmas stretchy bracelet. As I handed the clerk my discoveries, I proudly thought to myself I will make my own holiday hair bows for these pictures.
Fast forward to Tuesday night. I leave work early to get Ella, so we will have ample time to get ready. I feel prepared and am optimistic that we can remain on schedule and on task. The first clue the night wasn't going to go as I had hoped was Ella wasn't in her classroom, but rather the playground. I make it down there to find a girl with chaffed checks and a runny nose. I encouraged her to quickly walk up the stairs or let mommy carry her, and she reminded me that she sets the pace not me. One lesson that I've learned is it's easier to match her slower pace then try to force her into my pace because eventually it will cause a major meltdown and then we are no further ahead and both of us are even more frustrated. Miss Independent also wouldn't let me help her in the car. She wanted to shimmy into the back seat and plop herself in the car seat. We finally pulled off the postal dock a 1/2 hour later from when I first arrived. Luckily, the traffic gods were shining down on me and I used our quick drive home to prepare Ella for the night and wearing her pretty dress.
We arrived home at 5 pm, giving us 40 minutes to get her ready. I let her bang on the piano as I gathered the tights, hair bands, shoes and dress. Without too much of a battle, I was able to get her dressed. Her hair was another story. She refused to sit still. I finally bribed her with a snack. I worked fast and the end result was perfect. I told myself to quickly throw her in the car seat and get to Target because somehow it was 5:35. I turned to grab my bag only to turn around and discover Ella attempting a somersault. In my head I'm screaming NO!!! in slow motion. I quickly composed myself before uttering any words and just encouraged Ella to go downstairs, so we could get in the car. I dug out the lint brush because even though I had vacuumed the night before, Ella's dress managed to attract a healthy quantity of Yoshi's hair. We make it down the steps when she spots her stocking cap on the rocker by the door. She says to me, "I wear it." I encourage her to let her baby doll wear it, which she insisted we bring along. She grudgingly obliges me, but then says, "It don't fit" as we walk into the garage.
I open the car door and throw my bag on the passenger seat. I turn around to find that Ella has pulled on her cap, so that it completely is covering her eyes. The same cap the girl refuses to wear any other day. I can't help but laugh and realize that I have lost the battle and her hair, while for a moment was perfect, it just wasn't meant to be. I also realize I never completed the improvised hair bows, so much for my good intentions.
We arrived at Target and shockingly they were ready for us at our scheduled time. The lady graciously gave me a few seconds to roll the lint brush over her dress and adjust her hair. I couldn't recreate my earlier masterpiece, so I settled for slightly lopsided pigtails with stray hairs falling out. For all that had transpired, Ella was in fairly good spirits, which all changed once the photographer attempted to position her. She tried props, including fake ceramic cookies that Ella attempted to eat and and a gift box with over sized ornaments inside. Ella was frustrated that the prop cookies were fake, so again as a bribe to encourage her participation in the pictures, I told Ella that she could have a cookie after her session. The lady was continually snapping pictures, but I knew Ella was positioned awkwardly and the photographer was playing nice to appease me. In fleeting moments, Ella would flash her beaming smile, but for the most part she wore a stoic look.
Being the good sport I am, I offered to sit with Ella for few pictures hoping that would increase her comfort level. Ella only wanted to sit in my lap and after a few minutes just laid her head down on me. I thanked the lady for her understanding and knew it was best to just call it a night. I think the photographer sensed my disappointment and defeat and said to give her 15 minutes and we would go over what she captured. When I told her the ordeal was over, Ella reminded me I had promised her a cookie, so we were off in search of another treat for the night.
I called Mike to inform him of the debacle. He reassured me that we probably had one good one in the whole batch. I wasn't feeling as optimistic. We ventured back to the studio after Ella settled on a miniature cupcake as her reward. I was shown the slide show and was a bit taken back. They were not jaw dropping good, but from what I had anticipated, I was surprisingly pleased. Of course, the best ones were ones that they enhanced by either cropping or dumping on specialty paper, which meant they were more expensive that the standard sheet. How my night had gone, should I have expected anything less. While she wasn't posed just right or her dress was gathered oddly, they actually captured Ella's sweet smile and her glowing personality. How could I not purchase them? After spending a lot more than I had planned, Ella and I ventured for home not before I picked up some Mickey D's for dinner. Proper nutrition was definitely not achieved last night, but I didn't have the energy to do much more than pull through a drive-thru.
The pictures won't be in for a few weeks. I hope they don't disappoint. Regardless if they do, I am just happy that she and I survived another adventure together, and now I realize why we neglected to have any professional pictures taken since last Christmas.