Family portraits: the good, the bad, the out of control

Lately, I've gotten several holiday cards from family and friends. It got me to thinking about our experiences with family photos. The title of this post pretty much sums it up. In our years of being a family, we've only attempted trying to get all of us in the same photo three times. Here are the stories.
The Bad: Family Portrait of 2007
It was November, Nico was 2 months old and Mateo had just turned 2 years old. I was exhausted and hovering around 235 lbs. I was still "adjusting" to having two kids. In other words, I was barely maintaining my sanity on a day to day basis. I scheduled our photo session for a Sunday morning since the boys were usually the least cranky in the morning. I figured this early time was probably our best bet. The night before, Max went to a party. He called me later to inform me that he was going to stay at his friend's house that night since he had "had a few drinks". Max is really not a drinker, so I figured he was just being responsible and didn't want to drive. I reminded him about our 10 am appointment and hung up. The next day he came home around 8:45am. And he really didn't look good.
"Do I have to be in this photo?" was the first thing he asked me.
"Not if you don't want to, I guess." was the tearful response I gave.
"No, no. Nevermind. I'll go." he said quickly, "Just let me take a shower."
While Max took a shower I changed both boys diapers and tried on seven different shirts, concluding that I looked fat in all of them. Not much of a mood lifter.
Max got out of the shower, and from the depths of his closet pulled out the ugliest shirt I had ever seen and put it on. I opened my mouth to protest, but realized that 1. it was almost 9:30 and 2. Max looked like he was going to throw up. So instead, we all got in the car and started driving to the studio. I glanced over at Max and realized that although he had showered, he hadn't shaved. And despite the cool November air, his face was covered in sweat.
When we entered the studio we were hit with a blast of hot air. Even though it was in the 60s outside and most of the other families there were dressed in Christmas sweaters, the studio thought it was a good idea to crank up the heat. Max held Nico and fanned himself with a nearby magazine while I tried to change Mateo into the holiday outfit I had packed in his diaper bag. Mateo screamed and refused to wear the pants or sweater. We walked into our session with Mateo wearing a beat up pair of red summer shorts. Max looked awful and I didn't look much better. Nico slept through the whole thing. Mateo screamed and squirmed. As the photographer snapped several photos, I looked over at the next family waiting for their turn in the studio. The kids played quietly. The mom was slim with perfect hair and make-up. The dad was clean shaved and smiling. No one seemed exhausted. No one seemed hung over. No one seemed overwhlemed by it all. I tried not to cry until we got to the car.
The Good: Family portrait of 2008
A year later, things were looking up. Nico was 15 months old and Mateo was three years old. I had been religiously doing Weight Watchers for a year and was at a weight I hadn't seen since high school. After last year's bad experience, I had decided to play my cards differently. First off, I pick out all our outfits well in advance to avoid another ugly shirt fiansco. Then, I scheduled our photo session for a weekday evening, for obvious reasons. Max was shaved and showered. I had on makeup. And the kids were marvelously behaved. We got compliments from the photographer. For a few fleeting moments, we were that family! We had it figured out. It was the Halley's comet of family portraits for the Bisbal family. We most likely will never see something like this happen again in our lifetime.
The-out-of-control: Family portrait of 2010
Two years later, Daniela had joined our family, and we had come to accept the chaos we lived in as normal. We attempted this photo session in the summer with the idea that the no one else would be in the studio. We were right, and it was a good thing. Believe me we needed the room. It probably would have been easier to get a bunch of squirrels to perform a synchronized swim routine than get a great shot of the Bisbals. Both Nico and Daniela refused to cooperate. Nico did jumps and somersaults all over the studio, but refused to sit still or even look at the camera. Daniela arched her back and screamed in protest when I tried to sit her in my lap. Max and I expected it, though, since they hadn't been much different on the car ride to the studio. The photographer was not so patient. After a few shots she declared that "this probably isn't going to work". Yeah, it probably wasn't. I could have told her that on the phone when I made the appointment. Most things we attempted that year, like grocery shopping for instance, we knew "proabably weren't going to work" with all three kids. We realized that getting a family portrait that year was like asking the ocean not to move. An impossible task, but we attempted it anyways because you never know. Lightening has been know to strike twice.
After writing this, I found all these photos to post. The 2010 and 2008 photos were on my facebook page, but I had to go looking for the 2007 one. As I took a picture of it with my digital camera, I thought to myself, hey this is actually a really good picture of us.