St. Louis Zoo

The final leg of our trip to St. Louis included a visit to the zoo. Of course I’m always drawn to the history of places, and the original buildings with their detailed architecture are beautiful! A lot has changed since the last time I was there. Trees are bigger, the sea lion and seal exhibit in the center has been redone, and it’s very easy to get lost in there now with all the growth. Of course, it rained not long after we got there and kept raining. We put on rain ponchos and tried to keep trudging on, but it got to be too much for our injured party between the rain and the hills. Her ankle couldn’t take it for very long.

Here are the places and animals we did manage to see…

The Fabulous Fox Theatre in St. Louis

Going to a live show is an amazing experience. The first live theater production I ever saw was The Nutcracker at St. Louis’s Fox Theatre. I don’t remember if I was 18, 19, possibly 20 – it was definitely before I was married. I went with my fiance’s mom, his sister, and his now sister-in-law. I remember the total awe I felt as we walked in the doors and fully understood immediately why it is called the Fabulous Fox! The Chinese-inspired ornate details everywhere give a feeling of luxury that makes your evening (or day) even more special. It’s the total package!

I suppose not everyone considers attending a live show to be special. Perhaps they take such things for granted. As someone who currently can only afford to go to a show if the cheapest tickets remain available long enough for me to swoop them up, I consider it to be extremely special and make sure I soak up every minute of the experience – from getting ready to the final bow! The additional eye candy around every turn of the Fox Theatre makes that experience anything but boring!

Here are many (probably TOO many) photos from a tour I took with my girls and my in-laws when we were in St. Louis for a short visit in July. {Click first picture to view full size images.}

Oh to be a photographer for the big shows! Here are some school productions I’ve shot.

Adam Levine Said What?!

The Voice | May 28, 2013

Did you all hear it? I didn’t! I saw a post on a social network about it earlier today and finally saw a video clip of it this evening. The camera wasn’t on Adam when he said, “I hate this country.” Apparently the entire Twitterverse heard it because it went nuts going off on Adam for saying it! Watch for yourself (about 1:14 into this clip)…

Really, people? You sure find the strangest things to take seriously and get all high and mighty about. Have you never said something that could be misconstrued? Ever?! It was a moment of passion, a quick slip of the tongue. Someone just let the air out of his tires and he let words fly from his mouth. That has never happened to me! {If you believe that one, I have a bridge to sell you in the Sahara.}

Moving on to what really matters about last night’s show… I expected Judith and Sasha to go home. Each week, I had trouble even remembering Sasha’s name. :? I guess I can see more people buying her music than Sarah’s, though. I was a little concerned about how surprised and excited Shakira was when Jimmy Neutron … I mean Carson announced her as one of the saved. Even Sasha wasn’t that shocked. I think she was more shocked by Shakira’s reaction. It made it look like she expected her to go home.

More on the Jimmy Neutron reference… on the subject of saying things you wish you hadn’t. When Carson called Usher “Urkel” for wearing the big glasses, do you think he thought of Michelle’s reaction to his comment? Besides, Urkel’s glasses were red. :P

I did get the top two right, though. Early in the season, I didn’t expect much from Michelle, but she is definitely one of my favorites. She has shown that she can sing from the gut as well as from the heart. She and Danielle are the best left on the show now. Danielle is just so … so … perfect. And I don’t believe in perfection! Can there be two winners?

Lauren | Season 1 – Silencing Women in Military

Featuring Troian Bellisario (Pretty Little Liars) & Jennifer Beals (Flashdance)

This is a web series with short episodes. Season 1 is just 3 webisodes long. I am hooked! CAUTION: The subject matter is for mature audiences. It’s very powerful!

Lauren | Season 1 Feat. Troian Bellisario & Jennifer Beals – YouTube.

Senior Picture Controversy

One-Sided Spin on Rite of Passage

When I saw this Huffington Post story posted on Facebook this morning by Chris Parente, shared from the Colorado Everyday Show page, it struck a nerve … a BIG nerve. I have my topic for today’s blog post! Writing comes easily when it’s something you’re passionate about, and I am passionate about the value of photographs!

Colorado Everyday Show Facebook Post on Senior Pictures

This sparked comments that were mostly bent in the same direction. Some said they took their own photos in their backyards. Some had friends, aunts, and even a high school photography student take their senior photos (note: no one shared copies of these photos). Someone said they’d rather go to Sears. I guess they didn’t hear that Sears closed their portrait studios. ;) One person said that for $1200, you can buy an amazing DSLR [camera] and take your own photos. :D OK! Because that’s all it takes to make a great photo. Pffft! Here was my immediate comment when I saw this post:

But it’s OK to spend hundreds on an iPhone (probably more than twice with newer models constantly coming out), thousands on Apple computers, who knows how much on designer clothes and shoes? Future generations will consider photographs priceless treasures. Sure, snapshots will also be treasured, but splurging a LITTLE on professional portraits (be they senior photos, family portraits, or just because) not only gives you amazing quality but, if you find the right photographer, you also have a great time in the process! I can tell which senior photos in a yearbook were done by professionals and which were DIY. Buying a “fancy” DSLR camera is not all it takes to get fabulous photos. If you don’t learn and fully understand all that camera can do and just shoot in “P” mode, you’re not going to get photos that look any better than a pocket digital camera. True story! I think the price is overboard in this particular story. There are many photographers who do NOT charge that much (myself included). I believe everyone deserves great photos without breaking the bank. What I don’t understand are the professionals who make everyone look plastic. Now there’s a whole other story. :D

Then I tuned in and watched the segment on the show and came back to post this additional comment:

I just watched the segment and think you guys spun a pretty one-sided twist. But I guess that’s just how media works. What can ya do? Senior portraits, in many cases, are more for the parents than the teenager. So it’s not about spoiling a child in most cases. It’s one more thing to make senior year special. It doesn’t have to be that expensive. You read Maritza’s comment in favor of hiring a professional photographer but then added a comment about looking back on it and hating it hears from now. If it was done professionally, chances are pretty high you are not going to be embarrassed by the photos years from now. It’s the backyard snapshots done in harsh high noon sunlight that you’ll be embarrassed about.

The $1200 mentioned by the Huffington Post is apparently a national average. I can see that. There are very wealthy parts of the country that probably spend twice that on senior portraits, and there are areas who spend a fraction of that. The average amount spent on senior photos around us is probably closer to $300 or so.

Special photos for senior year is not a new concept. I went to a studio to have mine done nearly 30 years ago. I have no idea how much they cost, but I’m sure they were more than having the photographer hired by the school do them. It wasn’t a vanity issue then at all. That’s exactly the spin they were trying to put on it in this report. Vanity and being spoiled. There is a certain amount of vanity these days with all the social media networks. However, these photos are used in graduation announcements as well, and they represent a time in a teen’s life where they are transitioning from childhood to adulthood. Some are leaving the nest to go off to universities. Some are staying home to attend local universities, colleges, and trade/technical schools. Some are entering full-time jobs immediately. A few are getting married and moving out (or not moving out).

Senior portraits commemorate a rite of passage. That’s a priceless thing!


Shameless plug time! I’d be remiss if I didn’t promote my own photography here. I offer senior portrait photography as well as family and individual portraits and smaller weddings. See my website and my photography blog!

Heaven Fest 2012

Mention Heaven Fest to someone who doesn’t know anything about it, and they seem to draw their own conclusions – much like their reaction at the mention of the “C” word (church) or the “J” word (Jesus). Why do so many people thing all Christians are crazed holy rollers? Do you even know me? :lol:

So this was my first Heaven Fest this weekend, and I really enjoyed it! It was hot and windy, and super fine dirt was blowing everywhere, but it was still a great time! Info on the site said not to bring professional type cameras, so I left mine at home. I didn’t want to carry the extra weight around that long in the heat anyway. It also said not to bring chairs taller than 12″ off the ground (stadium and low beach chairs were OK), but so many people had their regular folding camp chairs there! Now that’s one rule I would have liked to have broken as well. Logging a mental note for next time.

We made it there in time to start our day listening to Read You & Me. I work with two of the band wives! This band tours with Heaven is For Real Ministries around the world and were recently in Singapore. :)

This was Aaron Shust performing (photo below), and you can see the two main stages in the background. It looks dreadfully cloudy here, but most of this is due to the dust in the air. Some clouds did cover the sun, but it never rained!

Trace Bundy was cool. We actually got a spot under a small tree with some shade. I spread out a beach towel and put my bag behind my head to relax and enjoy his music.

Superchick was probably my favorite. They told the story behind writing We Live, which made cry a little. Tricia closed the set with a song from her solo album, You Are My Shepherd.

Jeremy Camp and Switchfoot were the last two bands on the main stages. Jeremy was awesome! We left before Switchfoot played. Hey! It was a long ride home!

As soon as we got home, we had to shower. That’s how bad it was. I’m sure I ate some dirt, and I know my lungs have never had this much dirt in them. It took a couple hours of coughing Sunday morning to clear them out!

Labels – Breakfast Club Style

There are labels for kids in high school. You can start to see the formation in elementary school, and they continue to take shape in middle school. Definitely, by high school, they are usually pretty clear.

I still don’t know what label I wore. I think (and others will probably have different opinions) I was pretty generic. I didn’t hang out with any one type of person. While I wasn’t close friends with people in any specific clique, I did get along with all types of people – still do.

The character, Brian Johnson, from The Breakfast Club said it best:

Saturday, March 24, 1984. Shermer High School, Shermer, Illinois. 60062.Dear Mr. Vernon, we accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole Saturday in detention for whatever it was that we did wrong…and what we did was wrong, but we think you’re crazy to make us write this essay telling you who we think we are. What do you care? You see us as you want to see us… in the simplest terms and the most convenient definitions. You see us as a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess, and a criminal. Correct? That’s the way we saw each other at seven o’clock this morning. We were brainwashed.

(That date was my 17th birthday, by the way!)

As we get older, we don’t so much use the labels we used in high school. However, the labels are still there. We see one another in terms of “types”. We are working parents, stay-at-home parents, executives, multitaskers/over-achievers, even hermits. Deep down, we’re still brains, athletes, basket cases, princesses, and criminals. Some of us learn to coexist and get along. Some still can’t (won’t?) associate with anyone other than the same “type” as themselves under any circumstances. I’m still the one who will associate with any “type”. I’m sort of a chameleon that way.

What type are you? What type were you in high school?

Vive le Weekend!

Albeit a short weekend, it’s still a day off! As of this moment, I have 37.5 hours left before I have to clock in again. About 14 of those hours will be spent sleeping. How much can I do in 23 hours? For starters: this blog post!

There are so many things I need to get done. One might think that just because you have time off work, you must spend all of that time doing personal things that need to get done. I protest! I think it’s important to spend at least half of your time off doing things you enjoy doing as well. I enjoy being lazy resting. I just worked 11 days in a row, including 50 hours in the past six days. I think some rest is not only well-deserved but downright necessary!

I have a couple of movies I bought for $1.99 each at a nearby Blockbuster that’s closing. I plan on watching at least one of those. I also must give my seriously neglected camera a workout. I long to create a new piece of jewelry, too. However, you can’t force creativity to happen in a small window of time. So that may not happen … unless I watch movies at the same time. I do enjoy multitasking!

The main things I need to do are office related (including taxes). After working so much, personal office work is the last thing I want to do, though. :roll:

Nope! Twenty-three hours is just not enough time! Once a new manager is in place and the new staff is put on the weekend schedule, I think I might press for a full 4×10 work schedule so I can have my Sundays back. Having a full two days off in a row is more important to one’s mental well-being than I realized.

Vive le weekend!

It All Ended Here…

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 & 2 and the remainder of the stack of tissues I took with me to see the end of it all.

…just after noon Mountain Time today. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 made me cry (3 tissues worth), complete with ugly cry face. Make fun of me all you want; I refuse to feel any shame in that. Movies that I consider to be good do have a profound affect on me, and there’s nothing wrong with allowing yourself to feel that emotion. The slightly underwhelming ending had me, and it felt like many others, leaving the theater in a somber mood. It’s over.

I think the epilogue was added to give us closure – life does go on, but it also leaves us wanting the story to continue. I wanted to see a cleaned-up and rebuilt Hogwarts. No such luck. I want to know who the Headmaster is 19 years later. I want to know what became of certain other characters that weren’t shown in the epilogue. Was that a circle of life that is now somehow going to repeat itself?

Rowling could have written endlessly, and I don’t think we would ever be completely satisfied. This is why I’m curious about a new experience in the works: Pottermore. It seems like it will encourage a whole new generation to buy and read the complete series. I hope kids do keep reading and not just rely on the movies. Reading brings a whole different experience as each reader imagines the wizarding world and all its characters in their own unique ways.

For now, we’re left to mourn the end of a magically imaginative era while we wait for this final movie’s release on DVD.