Unlike some people, I don’t hate grocery shopping. I do a lot more grocery shopping now that I have kids than I ever did in our DINK (Dual Income, No Kids) days, when J and I probably dined out four days a week, maybe more. I’m also getting better at it – I check the flyers every week, buy in bulk, clip coupons, and have even asked the store to price match their competitors. I can pack a shopping cart (and the trunk of my Civic) like I’m playing Tetris with boxes of cereal and jugs of milk. I’ve even stopped buying a donut on the way home with my shopping cart coin.
When I came back home to Canada after our first big trip to Europe, I resolved not to shop at the giant supermarket anymore. I had fallen in love with the idea of buying fresh bread and produce every couple of days from local bakeries and markets, like the French do. I would support local businesses, my food would be fresh, and I would walk home with my baguette and my fresh veggies, with the Eiffel Tower in the distance and accordion music in the background, my perfectly tied scarf waving in the gentle Parisian breeze…what’s not to love, right?
My determination to shop like a European quickly crumbled, however, when I got home and realized the nearest bakery – that actually made bread, not just fancy cookies and wedding cakes – was 20 minutes away, by car. And farmer’s markets are only available here in the summer. Not to mention the price factor. So, reluctantly, I shop at the giant national grocery chain, which has increasingly become more like a department store. You can buy housewares and clothes, get an eye exam, buy insurance, open a bank account – all under one giant roof. And the shopping carts seat two kids, while the farmer’s market, even when it’s open, is less than hospitable to a giant tandem stroller. Sigh.
This week, said giant national grocery chain was offering a promotion at its photo studio in honor of Mother’s Day. You could get two poses and two sheets of photos, totally free. No appointment necessary! No strings attached! Great, I thought. I wanted to get photos of the boys for their upcoming first birthday. What’s a better price than free? Now I don’t have to comparison shop!
We started on Monday. (Naturally, as with everything twin-related, nothing is a fait accompli in just one day.) I dressed the boys in brightly colored, coordinated-but-not-matching golf shirts and plaid shorts. We went to the location closest to my house. The “photographer” (who I’m sure I’ve seen working behind the deli counter) took us in right away.
Quickly it became apparent that no matter the skill (or lack thereof) of the photographer, photographing twins together is no easy feat. It’s actually incredibly difficult to get both twins looking at the camera at the same time, and even harder to ensure they’re both smiling. Thirty or forty takes later, we had oodles of pictures of one of the boys looking cute, and one of them looking distracted or angry. Several of the pictures looked like they might be featured on AwkwardFamilyPhotos.com.
After 20 minutes of making funny faces and silly noises in an unsuccessful attempt to coax simultaneous smiles out of the boys, I figured that since I wasn’t paying anything for this photo shoot, I couldn’t ask the photographer to keep trying. I selected the best of the mediocre shots that we got, and went home, pretty pleased with myself for getting free pictures.
But they weren’t great pictures, so I decided I should try again the next day at another location. Free is free!
The next day I got the boys dressed and dragged them out to another photo-studio-in-a-grocery-store. It was right after lunch, and they were a little more rambunctious. R in particular was challenging. We kept having to restrain him, because the second I would put him down, he would launch into a full speed crawl in whatever direction looked most interesting to him. As a result, we now have pictures of him sitting in a novelty bathtub (fully dressed, and holding a rubber ducky), pictures of him perched precariously in a basket, and pictures of him lounging on a brown suede chair (what you can’t see in the picture is me, less than two feet away, ready to spring into action when he inevitably decided to escape the chair by plunging headfirst off the side of it). In most of those photos, D is sitting or standing off to the side of whatever prop we’re using to contain his brother, looking pissed off that R is getting all the attention. The photographer in this store seemed to have some actual photography experience – she was endlessly patient with the boys, and the photos, while not great, are certainly better than anything I could produce at home (not having any novelty bathtubs or baby-sized baskets, and all).
The photo promotion runs until Sunday. Which leaves me four more days to try and get a decent photo out of these guys for free. Which means I have to try and keep their cute little golf shirts clean for at least another day or two – perhaps the hardest part of this entire project.