I don’t know whose idea it was at first. Shannon’s certainly smarter than me, and much more clever. At the time though, I was the money supplier for such extravagances. What I can pinpoint and tell you is almost the exact time within a few days. It was October, 1991. Where it began.
|Shannon & Josh, 1976…|
Twenty-six years ago there were 3 likely venues to choose from. Penny’s, Sears and Olan Mills. The Sunday paper carried coupon specials that were hard to beat. Get your baby’s picture taken for $1.99, sometimes as low as 99 cents. For that sum you could choose one 8 x 10 from maybe 3 poses. An incredible deal. However, these businesses made their money by guilting you into buying more than one picture. These photographers were ruthless and relentless in their bid to make money off us poor unsuspecting new parents. They had been well trained not to take no for an answer. They’d lump some locket sized charms, wallets, 5 x 7’s all in different (the cutest) poses to wear you down until you’d pay just about anything for those damn pictures and get out of there. Because your kid was never gonna be that cute, wear that outfit or have that same adorable smile ever again. It happened often enough to this hapless, helpless mom when my kids were small (and cute, wearing adorable outfits from my Mom, with beaming angelic smiles). Walking out of those store I’d be half crying/cursing for spending money-we-could-ill-afford-on-pictures.
|Shannon 1, 1971…|
By 1991 we were a little better off. The kids, Shannon 20, Joshua 16, and Adam now 12, were long past getting their picture taken every 3 months because they changed so much and fast. But our granddaughter Ariana was getting close to her first birthday.
|Ariana, 10 months, 1991…|
We had already had several pictures of this exquisite child taken at various ages in different stores. Ari was a natural, stunning with the most beautiful almond shaped eyes and arched eyebrows. With this many years in service as a mom and now gram, I wore a tough coat of armor when being accosted by the hard selling band of photographers. And I was honing Shannon’s skills early as a young mom. She could offer a steely-eyed glance that would burn the lips right off their smiling face as they hit paragraph 2 during the sales pitch. Makes me a little teary. Yup, I taught her well.
|My favorite picture, Adam & Joshua, 1980…|
So unless Shannon’s going to argue the point, I will take the credit of the bath time pictures. Ari was 9 months old, probably having her picture done at Olan Mills. I may have had a lot of resolve in saying no to enormous picture packages, but had not yet acquired the set of skills needed in saying no to buying bundles from Olan Mills. When I bought these bundles, there were time constraints involved. I had a year to schedule 3 different photo shoots. I could fake a sick kid, or say the Hubs was out of town on business and stretch it out a couple extra months if I needed to. They actually were pretty lenient. Olan Mills always did a good job getting cute poses, and didn’t seem quite as crestfallen when I said no fourteen times. In a row. At one sitting. So Shannon and I were trying to come up with something different when we took Ariana in for yet another round of pictures. One of us (ok, me) thought maybe a bathtub shot would be cute.
Well, the bathtub pictures turned out simply adorable. My favorite part was Ari’s little curled toes. By now Ari had her first set of white high tops (as every baby should. BTW, my Hightops & Onesies story from May, 2017 is rather funny. I know, I was surprised too. Read it some night when you’re having trouble falling asleep). Anyway, I always had a tough time getting her high tops on that chubby little foot of hers. When I noticed her toes curled up tight as a drum on the picture I realized why I was having so much trouble.
Zoom forward 10 years, 2001 (which really took all of 3 minutes). Landon, (Drew to the rest of the world) is now about 9 months old. Shannon and I decide to have his picture taken with some kind of bathtub scene like we did with Ari. Turned out just as cute. Those dark ringlet curls all over his head like a halo. In one of the pictures he’s holding a basketball. Of course. He has yet to let go. I decided to have Ari’s and Landon’s professionally matted and framed with matching frames and mats. Our master bathroom in North Muskegon is huge with a whirlpool tub. I hang both pictures on one wall above the tub. Man does that look cute.
Wait, we’re not done. Late 2004, Miss Peyton is now 9 months old. Her bathtub shots were all gauzy and she was chewing on a bead necklace. It’s adorable. I go back to the frame shop (still open, thank heavens) with Landon’s picture so they can match the blue mat and metal frame. And kind of wonder if I’ll have anymore grandkids? Shannon seems kind of done, but there’s still Adam and Josh with no kids between them. Oh what the heck. Just in case, I order 2 extra mats and frames. For future use. If there’s ever a need.
Sure enough, God gifted us with an incredible grandson named Graham in 2009. I reminded Sarah and Adam every month of Graham’s life about our family tradition of bathtub scene pictures around 9 months. Sarah had G’s appropriate picture taken at the same age as the rest of the grands. It too turned out so cute. When I spot Graham’s little leg high in the air, I just smile. I kind of thought my last picture frame would be wasted. None of the kids seemed to be having any more babies. The wall of four tubby time pictures of our grandkids have been my favorites since I hung the first one up.
Months after we moved back to Jackson, our bathroom remodel was finally done. But it’s less than half the size of our old master bath. I’ve stood with those 4 framed grandkid pictures a dozen times, staggering the frames, holding them up and down, straight, from the ceiling, to no avail. Trying to figure out a way to get them on a wall without overpowering that rather small space. Cannot. Be. Done. So back in the spare bedroom they’d sit on the floor. Forlorn and dusty.
And then along comes Jovi! The best surprise package this family’s had since 2009. Our amazing first great-granddaughter. How times have changed. I don’t think Olan Mills is even still in business. Haven’t had pictures taken at Sears or Penny’s in years. I’ve been keeping tabs on the months flying by and reminding Ari to get a bathtub picture when Jovi’s 9 months old. Which Ari did by a talented young photographer named Faryn Steel yesterday. I’m sure these are some the preliminary shots aimed to tease us (well done Faryn), but my oh my. Jovi. This baby is simply too cute. She melts my heart. Melts. My. Heart.
|A mommy snapshot of Jovi, 5 months…|
What to do about our darling picture less bathroom? Now I’ve got another fabulous picture to squeeze in a too-small-room. I think I’ve come up with a plan. I’m going to take all of the pictures out of their custom frames, resizing them all to 5 x 7’s with a mat, or 8 x 10 without a mat. Try and find a hanging pattern which suits my one big wall in the bathroom. Hubs is great at figuring that stuff out. And I’m instructing him to leave an inconspicuous spot open. For another bathtub shot if the need arises. Just in case…
|Jovi photographed by Faryn Steel, 10-17…|