Thursday, April 26, 2012

White Tree {My big Sis's Photo Shoot}

I haven't done a "White Tree" post in awhile, so I thought today would be the perfect day! A few months back, I asked my sister if she would let me take some pics of her precious family. Since I am in the learning/practicing stages of my photography endeavors, I thought a big family would be a challenge. My sister has six kids (one of my nephews is not pictured). We didn't try to make this a big deal; we just wanted some sweet pics of her and her children. Here are some of the results! 

These two are very similar, but at a recent wedding I went to, the photographer was taking pictures through a leaf. I thought it was kinda neat, and I wanted to see how it would turn out using the fall tree branches.

So here are five of the six kids! Aren't they good looking? Ok, I'm a little biased. But, seriously! Now I do have a question for any of my photographer friends out there: how in the heck do you keep the attention of kids during a large family shoot like this? If you can tell, I almost got it in this one, but my darling nephew refused to just look at me :)

This horse also refused to get out of my pictures, but the kids actually love it in this one!

Individual Shots:

The twins (they don't get their own names; they are just referred to "the twins"). But if you really want to know, their names are David and Nathan! 

This beauty is Kadie. How gorgeous is she?

This is Trenton. He thought he was a super model. Seriously, I have like 20 shots of just him posing. 

This is Abigail. She is the most precious little girl!

Brothers :) If only they got along like this all the time!

They look so happy... 

And lastly, my gorgeous sister, Tiffani! Not only is she a wonderful sister, but she is a wonderful mother! 

I hope you enjoyed these pics! Like I say every time, I am still learning and I would love your comments! The biggest challenge I had with this shoot was trying to manage that size of a family. One-on-one shoots are much, much easier! Posing six people was a little challenging, but I still have a ways to go. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Musical {Easter Parade}

This week's musical was a new one for me, Easter Parade! I have owned it for awhile now, but for some reason, I had yet to watch it. Now however, I can add it to the "must see" list I am making for all of you musical lovers. 

Pics via google
Since watching the film, my boyfriend has been going around singing "Easter Parade," which of course is the most famous songs from the show. You may recognize the lyrics, "In your Easter bonnet, with all the frills upon it, You'll be the grandest lady in the Easter parade." If not, I can get my boyfriend to sing it to you :)  

Garland and Astaire

The main thing you need to know about this musical is that it stars Fred Astaire and Judy Garland. There is the obvious reason why it is an instant classic. Their singing and dancing is absolutely wonderful. Astaire steals the show with his dancing, and Garland steals the show with her singing... it's a win win!

"Drum Crazy"
The film was released in 1948 and featured music by Irving Berlin, which if you have watched a few classic musicals, you should know Irving Berlin is a musical genius. He actually wrote the song, "Easter Parade, " years before this musical was written. One performance to mention is Bing Crosby's in Holiday Inn in 1942. With the song's success, this musical was written around it. And as a result, the film did rather well. Financially, it was both Astaire and Garland's most successful film. It was the highest grossing musical the year it released, and it won an Academy Award for "Best Original Music Score."

Ann Miller as Nadine Hale
The film begins with Don Hewes, a 1912 Broadway star, in New York City buying his "sweetheart" and dancing partner, Nadine Hale, an Easter hat and presents for the Easter Parade. When arriving with his gifts, he finds out that Nadine has taken a solo act, and he is left with no partner and upcoming gigs. Out to prove to Nadine that he doesn't need her (and hoping to get her back), he grabs the first women he sees and is determined to prove that he can make anybody a star. Enter Hannah Brown (Garland). He does succeed in making her a star, but he never expects that he will have to sort out feelings that he has for both Hannah and Nadine. The musical ends in New York City at the Easter Parade, where he shows up with the girl he truly loves.

"It Only Happens When I Dance With You"
With Berlin's musical genius behind the wheel, the entire musical is full of wonderful songs. Some of my favorites: "Happy Easter," "Drum Crazy," "It Only Happens When I Dance With You," "A Fella With an Umbrella," Steppin' Out With My Baby," "A Couple of Swells," and of course "Easter Parade." One song to especially pay attention to is "A Couple of Swells." It is considered one of the most famous musical numbers in the show, and it is one of Astaire and Garland's most famous songs. 

"A Couple of Swells"
I included a video for you guys because I wanted you to see Astaire's performance in "Steppin' Out With My Baby." About five minutes into the video (you better watch, or skip, to the five minute mark), the film-makers include a slow-motion effect to show off Astaire's dancing. It is brilliant. Everything surrounding him is moving in real-time, but he is projected in slow motion. At first while watching the film, I kinda giggled because "slow motion" has come so far since 1948. But, then I watched as Astaire blew me away with how easy and flawless his moves were. It is seriously incredible. I actually looked it up in the American Film Institute Catalog and found out that it was the "first-ever slow motion synchronization with sound." How awesome is that! 

 I honestly didn't know that this film was going to be so good. I knew that it would be good, but I wasn't expecting it to be "new Easter tradition good." Don't wait until next Easter though, go watch it now!

Monday, April 23, 2012

My Thoughts on Earth Day

I try to be as eco-friendy as I can without being a crazy tree-hugger, and I usually treat "Earth Day" just like any other day. This year isn't too different except my sister invited me to come listen to her preach at her church, and knowing my sister, I knew it would be "earthy."

Pic via google 
My sister is the reason I even reduce/recycle as much as I do. If I don't, I get lectures all the time. She is really into protecting the earth and reducing waste. I appreciate this aspect of her, but I'll admit, sometimes I think she is kinda cra cra (this is short for crazy)! But I, of course, wanted to support her at her church and I went, even though I most likely have strep throat (I secluded myself from everyone though, so I wasn't out spreading this junk). 

My lovely sister, Jill!
I am really happy I did. She preached about the connection between "creator God" and "covenant God." She wanted to get across was that the God that Christians serve and worship also created the heavens and the earth. We often get tied up in the fact that we are God's creation and focus so much on the human aspect of Christianity that we forget to appreciate the "creator of the universe" aspect of Christianity. That to serve God, we should also take care of the rest of what he created. We sometimes take our "earth" for granted and forget that just like us, God created it. She said something that really hit me, "God cares about more than just us; he cares about all of his creation." I hate to admit that I have never really thought about that, but it is time that I do. 

So, I wanted to give a little shout out to Earth Day! I recently discovered the whole "Meatless Monday" thing - have any of you heard about this, or am I way behind? I am thinking about giving it a try (just personally, probably not start a campaign or anything). If the title doesn't give it away, you don't eat any meat products on Mondays. What good does that do? Well, if everyone just cut out one day of meat-eating, extreme amounts of animals would be saved. Don't get me wrong, I like meat. What I don't like is that we mass produce animals just for food. I don't mind animals for food, but the whole mass production, assembly line thing kinda breaks my heart. One meatless day would also reduce our carbon footprint drastically.  

So, do any of you participate in "Meatless Monday?" Or is there something else that you do to help the environment? Like I said earlier, I am not a tree-huggin' hippie, but I do love to help in anyway that I can to preserve the earth. 

I would love to know your thoughts or tips in honor of Earth Day! 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

One Million Bones

I fought myself on whether or not I should give a shout-out to this organization on my blog. It's not that I don't think the organization is awesome or working for a good cause; it is mainly because I know most people don't want to be bombarded with my personal "politics." And don't get me wrong, I love charities and activist groups; it's just that I don't like to come off like I am jumping on some "band wagon" and then never doing anything about it. 

Well, when Kony 2012 hit the internet a few weeks back, I actually stayed as far away as I could from it. Not because I didn't appreciate the severity of the cause; it was because there was so much tension between my friends, rumors of the true intent of the organization, and then the final breakdown of one of the creators of the campaign. I wanted to do the same thing when I heard about "One Million Bones." I thought it was another genocide awareness group that everyone will get pumped up about and then fade into the background. If I get passionate about something, I want to be able to make a difference. Long story short, I gave "One Million Bones" a chance and learned that by participating in their initiative, I was making a difference. 

So, what is "One Million Bones?" It is an organization that is collecting 1,000,000 hand-made bones to symbolize the deaths of genocide victims. With every bone made, the Bezos Family foundation donates $1 to CARE for their work on the ground in Somalia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In the Spring of 2013, the 1,000,000 bones will be on display at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. 

How cool is that? I think it is pretty awesome! That is why I was so happy that I could get involved in OKC. Southern Nazarene University held an event for "One Million Bones" and they opened it up to the community to come make a bone! So I did. I made two actually. OKC's involvement doesn't stop there. We are actually holding our own event at the State Capitol on April 28th at noon!

My two bones!
If you wan't to know if there is anything going on in your state, click here. There are ways to participate even if you can't make it to an event. 

Two of Johnny's bones!

My boy!

Well, I hope I didn't just become the crazy advocate lady next door, 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Musical {Opera Edition}

Ok, ok... I know there is a major difference between a musical and a opera, but I really wanted to share with you the opera that has taken over my life! This entire semester, I have been helping out with a local opera as stage manager (more headache then I was expecting)! That is why I have been almost nonexistent the past two week, and because I was trying not to get blown away by a tornado - thank you Oklahoma.

I got tied up in this opera for a few different reasons: the school I graduated from is the host, the man I take voice lessons from is the music director, and my lovely boyfriend is in the cast. I was obviously destined to commit three days a week to this show for the entire semester. But as exhausted as I am, I have had a lot of fun. I never thought I would enjoy an opera, but this particular one is quite humorous. So, if you ever really want to check out an opera, I suggest The Barber of Seville!

This is our particular poster for the show, obviously!

If you have ever heard the famous lines "Figaro... Figaro... Figaro... Figaro... Figaro... Figaro... Figaro... Figaro... Figaro... Figaro!!!," then you have heard something from The Barber of Seville. The opera is by Gioachino Rossini and it originally premeried in 1816. It is one of the earliest Italian operas to be performed in American, and after 200 years it's popularity is still evident on the modern stage. It is considered one of the greatest masterpieces of comedy within music (I stole most of this info - yeah from wikipedia, don't judge).  

The opera was originally done in Italian, but since then, many versions have surfaced - English being one of them. Our particular production is done in English, which is good because an opera is already hard enough to follow! The show follows the attempts of Count Almaviva trying to win the heart of the beautiful, Rosina (who is also the love interest of Dr. Bartolo, her guardian). With the help of Figaro, the local barber, the Count takes on multiple disguises in order to be around Rosina, but risking to be caught by Dr. Bartolo at the same time. Rosina despises Dr. Bartolo and wishes to marry the Count, but no love story could be that easy! So, the opera humorously captures the efforts of Figero and the Count as they try to trick Bartolo and steal Rosina's affection.

That is just a brief break down of the show, but of course, it is so much more then I could say in one short paragraph. I didn't even mention my boyfriend's role in the show. He plays a slimy, greedy "creep" (as we like to call him)! His character is Basilio, which is a friend of Dr. Bartolo. He is going to hate me, but look at this wig he has to wear - bahahaha! Sorry, sweetheart :) I have been calling him Gaston for a couple week now! 

How embarrassing is this picture?! I may get broke up with!
There are way to many songs to break down for you (since it is an opera), which if you don't know, an opera is straight music all the way through. Our production has roughly thirty-eight songs, but we had to cut some of the music. However, my personal favorites are "Largo al Factotum" or "I am the Barber of Seville", which is Figaro's opening aria (this is where "figaro, figaro.... comes from); "Let Me Teach You the Art of Slander" sung by Basilio; "Hey, You People" sung by the Count disguised as a drunken soldier; "Rigid and Motionless" sung by entire cast; and "Heaven Bless You, Now and Ever" sung by the Count, disguised as a music teacher, and Dr. Bartolo. There are different titles and versions of all these songs, so if you've heard it called something else, we are probably both right!

I know this is a little different then what I usually do, but I wanted to introduce you to my life the past few months! I doubt this will be a big "must see" among my readers, but if you have ever wanted to try an opera, I would suggest this one!  Make sure you go see it in English, unless you just happen to know Italian :) If you are in the Oklahoma City area and want to check our production out, email me and I will get you details! 

Oh, and I found this cute little clip on youtube, I thought some of you might like. Woody is singing the original version in Italian, hehe! 

Final synopsis: musical lovers, give opera a chance :) I wasn't disappointed! 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

I'm back and Monday Musical!

Hello long lost friends! I have been away for over a week, eek! Please let me explain why I have been nonexistent. My sweet boyfriend is participating in an up coming Opera, Barber of Seville. Well every year around this time, I never get to see him because of his strenuous practice schedule. This year I had an idea so I could still spend time with him while he prepared for his yearly musical - volunteer to be stage manager for the show! Oh how excited I was, but now all I am is exhausted. 

I have been working all day everyday trying to make this show a success. Even when I am not at practice, I am preparing for it in some way. And starting last week, more practices have been scheduled (hence my absence). The show is the next two weekends, and then I will really be back for good. But, I have been neglecting my dear little blog and my Musicals, so I will try to keep up these next two weeks even though it is crunch time! So, here it is... 

I actually managed to watch one this week, so I would stop slacking on my blog promises! And I am glad I did. It was a much needed break and such a fun show - Gentlemen Prefer Blonds! Not only was this my first time to see the show, but it was also my first Marilyn Monroe film (how it has taken me so long, I have no idea). And I've always known it, but man was she gorgeous.

The film adaptation was released in 1953 (the musical releasing in 1949), and it's two stars were, Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell. Russell was a wonderful assets to the movie, but of course, it is Monroe's performance that has stuck with people for ages. The musical is actually rather short; it is only an hour and a half, which for musicals is nothing. But in that little time, Monroe beautifully captured the essence of the gold-digging Lorelei Lee!

The basics of the film are rather humorous. Monroe and Russell play two young showgirls - Monroe desperate for a man with money and Russell desperate for true love. After Monroe gets engaged to a millionaire, her and Russell sail to France to wait for her fiancĂ©. However, the boat ride to France proves more eventful then expected! 

Marilyn's performance is reason enough to watch this musical. Of course, she plays a ditzy blond who can weasel her way out of anything, but you can't help but love her. 

I wasn't too familiar with the music in the show, but I was happy to finally see Marilyn's rendition of "Diamond's are a Girl's Best Friend!" Which was all I hoped it would be! But even without the music, the dresses and costumes were to die for! And I have to admit, I may have fell a little in love with Marilyn after watching the show. 

Monroe's "Diamond's are a Girl's Best Friend" - look at that gorgeous dress!

So musical lovers, go check out Gentlemen Prefer Blonds! I will definitely be adding some more Marilyn to my musical list! What is your favorite Marilyn movie?