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’Tis the season… of chaos.

How is everyone hanging in there? I always think I have it so together about a month before Christmas and then all hell breaks loose about two weeks out. Shopping is done, for the most part. Baking, not so much. Wrapping? Not a single gift has been looked at since being shoved in the closet or hidden under a down comforter.

Ugh, I dread the wrapping.

I always try to psych myself up for it by convincing myself it will be peaceful, relaxed and merry. I pour myself a glass of wine, turn on the first of my annual gift-wrapping movie line-up (The Holiday, Love Actually and The Family Stone, to be exact) and then commence. Within three minutes, I’m calling the lost tape and scissors unimaginably inappropriate names and I can usually hear Brian from the other room cursing whatever he’s trying to put together.

It’s magic.

I really did think we were on the ball this year. Or, let’s be honest, I thought I was on the ball this year. I am the CEO of Christmas in this house. Brian is my executive assistant.  I know when I say that, it may sound demeaning, but I swear it’s not. I think a better description would be that I’m like a disheveled, drunk CEO who gets business done – but also leaves a trail of chaos in my wake.  And poor Brian is the poor assistant/AA sponsor that has to clean up behind me and get me back on track.

Have you seen Sixteen Candles? You know that scene where the two grandmas are making breakfast and kooky Grandma #1 is flipping pancakes while holding an incredibly ashy cigarette and talking away – all while Grandma #2 is holding a spatula under the cigarette trying to catch the ash before it falls into their breakfast.

I think you can guess whose who in the above scenario.

Anyway, one thing we did get done and off the list was our annual holiday card. We actually got this one done pretty early, because I was tired of laying awake at night worrying that a) it wouldn’t look exactly as I envisioned it; and 2) someone else would beat us to our idea.

That’s so ridiculous, right?  I mean, who else out there wastes time thinking up Christmas cards like this, right?

I’m not sure if you know this about us, but we take our holiday cards very seriously. Not a matching-pajamas-kind-of-serious (I think those are totally cute, by the way) or a nice-family-photo-where-everyone-is-smiling-serious.

I mean serious.

Here’s a few cards from Christmas past just so you fully understand.

 

Unfortunately, we did not break the internet that year.

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I’m kind of mortified how this one actually ended up being a prophecy of sorts. At the time, we didn’t know who the two primary candidates would be.

So, yeah. Christmas cards are kind of a big deal for us.

I’m not sure why we started to really get into them to this level.  I think about four or five years ago, we made a ridiculous one of us holding our pets and people thought it was funny.  And, we’ll kind of do anything for a laugh, so every year after, we decided to up the ante a bit.

This year’s card was, by far, my favorite.  We are huge Game of Thrones fans and so we knew nearly a year ago what this year’s card was going to be about.  I obsess over our costumes and the scene – and even the wording on the cards.  Luckily, my husband is nearly as obsessive as me.  So, we make a really great team in the weird department.

This year, I thought that I’d post some photos of the process.  A lot of people think that we take several shots of all of us together until we get a good one, but what they don’t realize is that we rarely ever shoot everyone in the same shot.  We usually have sessions one by one, so these photos are probably even trickier to do than people think.  This is where my husband gets all of the credit.  He’s a photography genius, in my opinion.  He knows exactly where everyone needs to be in order to have us look like we are all together in the final piece.  And his artistic eye, editing and photoshop skills are phenomenal.

We always shoot Ivy first and once she is done, we all breathe a collective sigh of relief. Ivy’s part is a big part of what keeps me up at night every year, because you never know what a toddler is going to do (or not do). She blows my mind every year – and she usually has the most complicated role.

Talent lunch break.

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What you can’t see here is me to the right, kneeling and showing her how to breathe fire – and her mimicking me.  Hannah is ducking behind the stool to make sure she doesn’t fall.

 

I’m not going to lie, I’m not above bribery when it comes to Ivy and these shoots.  This year I think we got away with just a cookie.  Last year, she got a trip to Target and the toy aisle.

Have you ever tried dressing your two-year old up like Donald Trump? Don’t you judge me! 

After Ivy is finished with her shot, things are a little more relaxed – though my husband would likely beg to differ. I readily admit I’m a bear when it comes to the shots we take and my opinion on if they look how I feel they should.  In my defense, I spend so much time and preparation studying the actual characters we portray and how they stand, what they wear, etc. that it would seem such a waste if we didn’t do it right.  Right?

Case in point: I’m irritated that my Lannister lion pendant didn’t show up in our finished photo.

See what I mean?

But we do have fun, I promise!  Hannah loves getting dressed up every year – even though half the time, she has no idea who she’s dressed as.  This year, she looked over some photos of Daenerys and she was really excited.  (I think she kept that wig on for a full hour after her shots were done.)

 

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It doesn’t look difficult, until you’ve been standing there for 30 minutes with one arm elevated while having your dad and step-mom repeatedly tell you to put your shoulders back, stand up straight and keep your elbow level.  

As you can see, we do these sessions from our house.  So, we clear out our living room and put up the backdrop.  And every year, as we are dressed up like strange characters, I pray that no one comes to the door.  It would be mighty awkward for Cersei Lannister or the Mother of Dragons to be greeting the FedEx guy at 10 am on Saturday in suburbia.

Brian was having a hard time trying to look menacing while also not looking narcoleptic.

It’s 5 o’clock somewhere. Am I right, Cersei?

Oddest GoT couple ever.

 

Besides Brian’s awesome photography skills, he also had double-duty this year as he was both Jon Snow and Santa.  It cracked me up how this confused so many people. They thought we brought an extra in for our family card!

Peace out, Santa!

So, there you have it. Some behind the scenes fun!

I hope you all liked our card this year.  I know that our cards can be confusing to people who aren’t familiar with the shows or current affairs we’re covering, but we try to make them just crazy enough that everyone will get some kind of amusement out of them.

As for next year, I can honestly say I have no idea what we’ll be doing.  But I’m guessing 2017 will give us something to work with.

xo,

Jen