family pictures (so, cast your vote).

On Christmas Day, we flew up to Portland, Oregon to spend the holidays with my family. My brother and his family flew in from Idaho, and my sister and her family drove down from Washington state. We invaded the house we grew up in, throwing suitcases and bags and blankets in our high school bedrooms. A home that once housed five humans and a dog grew to eight adults, four children, two dogs and a tiny invasion of ants when we cranked the heater up a little too high.

We ate homemade cinnamon rolls with cream cheese frosting on Christmas morning, and feasted on crab shipped in from Alaska, due to an unfortunate set of events on the high seas. We opened a generous amount of presents and we adults traded nights off by going to the movies, one night after the other.

While the holidays tend to peak on Christmas Day, we postponed our peaking another three days, for December 28th is The Matriarch’s birthday. And The Matriarch (who also answers to “Noel,” “Gaga,” and “Mom”) turned 70.

And 70 is a big number.

70 is a lot of years and stories and memories on this earth.

70 x 7 is the number of times we’re to offer forgiveness, and 70 is the smallest weird number (a term I’m not really prone to understanding, but that I think is cool, nonetheless).

I’ll tell you the story of The Matriarch’s surprise party later on, but for now, indulge me in the morning’s first activity: family pictures.

Tara of Sela Photography did a phenomenal job capturing our family, so if you’re ever in the Oregon area, be sure to look her up! Meanwhile, will you help me decide which pictures we should print for our gallery wall?

First, meet the cast of characters, starting with The Matriarch and the Patriarch:

We’re totally normal, I swear. Photo cred: Sela Photography.

The Idahoans…

Brandon, Jared and Melissa. Photo cred: Sela Photography.

And the Washingtonians…

Mikey, Tony and Aleah. Photo cred: Sela Photography.

We took pictures in downtown Salem, exposed brick and urban scenery our setting. Tara started out attempting to get all eight of us smiling, which seemed to work well but for a very cranky Cancan:

I love the JOY sign she provided. Photo cred: Sela Photography. 

Then she moved on to individual shots of each family, where joy continued:

Mid-clap. Photo cred: Sela Photography. 

We tried to wrangle the cousins together, but how does one successfully get four squiggly, wiggly boys to all look at the camera at the same time? Impossible, I say.

The fifth cousin, Frodo’s monkey pacifier, also joined in. Photo cred: Sela Photography. 

We moved inside for the second half of the shoot, to another exposed brick area of the historic Reed Opera House (a favorite place for weddings and high school proms alike):

I can’t get enough of this picture, even if Frodo’s holding a piece of garbage. Photo cred: Sela Photography. 

While Tara continued to get individual family shots, the HBH (Hot Black Husband) wrangled our youngest son:

Here’s to hoping upside down never grows old. Photo cred: Sela Photography.

Finally, we did get this shot of our family of four, which I love:

Open mouths, eyes closed, tummy exposed. Photo cred: Sela Photography. 

Perhaps the question isn’t what of the above pictures we should adorn our walls with, but what pictures we shouldn’t adorn them with – because they’re all that glorious. I’m grateful for real-life joy captured in this time together. Aren’t you?

xo, c.

So, what do you think? What pictures should we blow up and make famous on our living room gallery wall? 

10 thoughts on “family pictures (so, cast your vote).

  1. What about Mid-clap, Upside-down and Open mouths… I love these photos… A journey of life right here right now. Plus the Patriarch and Matriarch look awesome too. I love her stance. She’s goin’ for it.

    1. I do think I’ll end up printing the mid-clap, upside-down, open mouth photo …love that one. And I sure do love the Matriarch too. 😉

      Cara Meredith

      writer, speaker, musician.


  2. Open mouth, tummy baring…says JOY all over it, and walking like an Egyptian mama…love it…but numerous uno is Frodo. Just Frodo. Love love love.

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