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Great Grandpa adoration complicates picture day

GAYS MILLS - Growing up, I never had an official family portrait. My mom was never much for having her photo taken, so finding a picture of her not giving you a put-the-camera-down scowl can be difficult.

Having my picture taken isn’t always my favorite thing. Still carrying those extra baby pounds I vowed to be rid of by now causes me to prefer to hide behind the lens instead of pose in front of it.

However, since I had my own little rascal I’ve decided that having photos of the Schendel-Dremsa family all together, looking posed and fabulous was necessary.

Lucky for me, Chasca has years of experience posing for photos and will do so without much complaint. Try as I might to get a candid, dorky photo, he usually always spots me and changes his expression to a perfect model-esque “this is my good side” look. Watching him do this has inspired me at times to put my best face forward for pictures, easing the blow later when I look at them. 

We secured a spot last year with a wonderful local pro, Darcy Ledman. She had also taken Thatcher’s newborn photos in her small studio outside of Liberty.

I had cooed over the images of other newborns my entire pregnancy; awaiting the moment we would have our own memory printed on fine paper.

Thatcher was the perfect newborn and allowed Darcy to manipulate him into all sorts of unnatural positions. He slept so perfectly that the shoot lasted much longer than anticipated and the seven-day-old infant awoke nearly three hours later with a hungry howl.

Consuming breast milk with greedy vigor after the three-hour dry spell wasn’t the greatest idea, as the young lad promptly spit up all over his car seat with impressive velocity. 

Last fall’s pictures marked Thatcher’s five months in the outside world. Of course, usually one aims for six months as a milestone picture marker, but we didn’t book soon enough to get a November fall color slot.

I stressed for weeks over the photos, coordinating outfits and buying new pants. I’ve never been one to apply makeup really well, but I gave it a shot in the car ride over to the location. We were running late and squabbling at each other about this fact as we cruised along.

Of course, we arrived at the location slightly early, even beating the photographer there, causing our half-hearted squabble to be all in vain.

The session was extremely easy, as Thatcher was basically immobile. He could kind of scoot around at that point, dragging himself like a slug from spot to spot, but his attempts at escape were easily foiled.

He happily sat in yellow potato basket and propped up against a pumpkin, appropriately smiling and cooing while we barked, clicked and squeaked a rubber chicken at him. He sat peacefully in his dah dah’s lap, smiling on cue for the group shot.

This year we tried something different.

Thatcher is a huge fan of his great-grandparents so I thought doing the pictures at their cabin was a natural choice. Grandma Janet is a great photographer; he’s comfortable at the cabin so he won’t freak out, what could go wrong?

I never really factored in the idea that he would not want to hang out with mom and dad, when Grandpa and the two cats were scampering about.

We arrived and put Thatcher in his costume for the photos and were ushered into place by Grandma. Grandpa was positioned in a way that would cause Thatcher to look at the camera while really giving the eyes to his Grampy. This should have been our first hint as the little creature wiggled free from his Da’s arms and scampered joyously to his Grandpa.

“Chasca! Chasca! Hold him!” Grandma squealed while continuing to take photos.

When we reviewed the shots later (several locations with the same outcome) you can see Chasca laughing, me rolling my eyes or clenching them shut, and Thatcher pointing, squealing or just a blur as he is running away.

After we had given up and reviewed the photos thinking we would need to make another attempt in the future, the light changed and we gave things one last shot.

The stars somehow aligned and Grandpa and the cats both were out of view for a few solid moments, resulting in two lovely photos, which are wall worthy.

I’ve had some thoughts though following this whole debacle and after reviewing how well Thatcher will sit with his grandparents, I think I’ll take one of those continuing education classes on the wonders of Photoshop and learn how to doctor the shot up, somehow magically replacing our faces with the Grandparent’s, all while Thatcher looks like a darling, well behaved child.

Or, I guess just lock Grandpa and the cat in the house next year and learn to love the blooper reel.