The forecast for the morning of my next family portrait assignment called for rain. My next assignment didn't care — they thought that rain would be good for playing in. Could be good for candids, they told me.
"That would make for some cute pictures, I think," Eric, the father, told me.
"If it's warm rain, let's go for it," Christie, the mother, responded.
"Whatever happens, happens," Eric said, smiling.
"All right," Christie answered.
It would not be a warm rain, but this family's energy could not be stopped. I liked my new assignment.
We ventured off to The Chicago Botanic Garden on one of the last cold, rainy mornings before this summer's hot and dry drought, and made the best of it.
Eric and Christie learned to embrace "action-adventure" parenting quickly — having two sets of twin will drive that into you.
On the other hand, they generate some of the action themselves: they put their 5-year-old boys and 2-year-old son and daughter to bed with CDs that play "lullaby versions" of Metallica and Led Zeppelin. When I stopped by their home for our pre-shoot interview, I should have asked them to play me a few; "Enter Sandman" is a fine title for a lullaby, but I have not yet imagined how the musicians converted "Hush little baby, don't say a word...and nevermind that noise you heard" into something that will soothe and comfort children.
Eric with his little girl...
...and Eric with his main girl.
Eric and Christie married in 2000, after meeting at their workplace. Eric is in the health industry; Christie became interested in accounting in high school, where a vibrant teacher brought the subject to life for her. The two worked at the same biotech firm, and her beauty captured his attention.
The family first expanded with the addition of Moose and Rocko, the calm, wise old beagles who supervise the action upstairs whenever Eric and Christie have to referee an air hockey dispute or sort out a toy-car accident scene in the downstairs playroom. Rocko and Moose are brothers from the same litter.
"We seem to do everything in pairs," Christie says.
The boys were fascinated with walking on anything that was not the path.
Both of the human pairs are fraternal, and all are old enough to start showing personalities. Their house is now host to athletic, techie and tomboy traits.
Christie found a moment for herself in the garden.
All this growing means a lot of going: swimming lessons, bicycle lessons, kindergarten preparations and more. That's not enough, though — the kids still have energy to burn. Tag is a serious sport in this house, and Henry, the youngest son, loves getting caught.
"They'll pile on him, and he'll just laugh," Eric said.
"This family takes it one day at a time," Christie added. "It is chaos."
"Good chaos," Eric said. "Lots of wrestling, tackling and tickling."
If this is what chaos looks like...chaos looks good.