Tag Archives: local haunts

harry potter: three things

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This past Friday night we went to Powell Hall to listen to the St. Louis Symphony perform the musical score during the showing of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. You might remember that we won tickets to the show at the release party at Left Bank Books, and we were all really excited about the evening’s adventure. I expected big things, but I was completely blown away by the actual performance.

We had amazing seats – the first row of the Dress Circle which is the first balcony. We were just to the right of the center aisle, in the first four seats, and we had about two feet of legroom in front of us. Deluxe. I’ve written a thank you note to the event director for finding those seats for the four of us. The concert was such a treat.

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The movie played with just the dialogue (and subtitles), and the symphony performed every single note of the score. Watching the movie in this way shifted the way I thought about the movie – and highlighted just how important the musical score is to a story like this. There were maybe three dialogue-only scenes in the entire movie when the instruments were still. Even the simplest moments of the movie had some sound. I had chills from the very start when Dumbledore extinguishes the street lights on Privet Drive one by one, and the instruments captured that sound in the most magical way. I’m still floating a bit from the experience.

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Both girls are very immersed right now in understanding and learning about the back story – E’s studying the Hamilton score like she’s researching for her thesis, and F’s nose is buried in one of E’s books on the Harry Potter series. I’m enjoying the connections they are both making to other texts, and am delighting in this immersion. I’m also feeling grateful that they both have educational experiences that allow these sorts of deep dives and immersive studies. I remember the thrill of experiencing those moments myself.

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Which leads me to my third bit here – if you love the Harry Potter series as much as we do, then you simply must listen to the podcast Harry Potter and the Sacred Text. The podcast is hosted and produced by an engaging and thoughtful group of former and current divinity students, and each episode is devoted to a chapter in the series, starting with the first chapter of the first book. Using various techniques from a variety of faith practices, they examine the text in a thoughtful and rigorous manner. The text itself is not sacred – but the way in which we can make the time to immerse ourselves within it and make connections to themes in our daily lives and the world around us can be sacred work. It’s truly lovely, and so far I think that it’s certainly appropriate for anyone of old enough to enjoy the books themselves. If they are covering topics that might be inappropriate for younger listeners, they are careful to announce that at the beginning of the episode.

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That’s where we are right now – immersed in the books that we love and finding connections through the text to the broader world we live in and enjoy. A good story is a magical thing, isn’t it?

scenes from a weekend: mardi gras edition


Mardi Gras

This weekend was the big Mardi Gras celebration just down the street from our house. Our city boasts the second largest Mardi Gras event outside of New Orleans – and it can get a little crazy around our parts. Since we don’t have off street parking (yet!), our Saturday becomes an “out” day or an “in” day – we either camp out at home for the day, or, if we venture out, we stay out until after dark. Otherwise we’re parking blocks and blocks away from home and walking.

E took the ACT at a nearby university on Saturday morning as part of the Duke TIP program, and F had a 9:00am indoor soccer game, so we had no choice but to have an “out” day.  E tested for four hours, and M and F headed out to Frisco Train Store to play with some trains after the game. We met up for lunch and then headed over to one of M’s library projects to while away the afternoon hours. After the girls finally made their selections, we hung out with friends for a few hours before heading out for a late dinner, and finally, home!

And while our Saturday Mardi Gras strategy ended up being avoidance, on Sunday the girls participated in the their own Mardi Gras parade down Cherokee Street. This one was organized by their aftercare instructor, and the kids pulled the floats they’ve been working on after school over the last couple of weeks. The Saint Boogie Brass Band led the parade, and it was just a fun afternoon of music making and float pulling.  We rounded off the afternoon with cones at I Scream Ice Cream, and now we’re half-watching a football game and gearing up for the week ahead.

It’s about to get cold again here, but it’s been a nice weekend of moderate temperatures and bursts of sunshine to usher in February.

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admiring: family portraits at central library

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If you’ve been reading here for awhile then you might remember that we found a family photographer that we loved. We did a fall photo shoot with Yvonne Niemann almost three years ago, and the photos we chose are here. Unfortunately (for us), she moved to Athens, GA last year, but luckily she still occasionally comes back to visit (and book sessions), so she emailed me a few months ago to see if we were interested in a spring session.

We were, and we started to talk about locations. Since our last photos were taken in the fall, in nearby Lafayette Square Park, we decided we’d do this session with a little more architecture in the background. She suggested Central Library downtown, and that seemed like a perfect fit.

The session was so easy, and the weather was perfect for it. It only took an hour, and it was about as stress free as possible – and this is coming from someone that gets stressed out about photos. I don’t enjoy picking out clothing, getting ready, keeping kids in line and smiling and wrinkle-free, and I really don’t like being in front of the camera. Yvonne makes everything seem easy. She’s completely organized and professional and everything she does behind the scenes seems flawless – her correspondence, website, process. In person she’s the same way, but there’s also this really natural warmth about her that makes the entire experience (you know, the real experience – straightening hair, sucking in your stomach, smiling big enough but not too big, bribing / threatening / cajoling your kid non-stop while also staring most affectionately at them) impossibly calm. She works magic, plain and simple.

I’ve said this before, but I really mean it now. Take more pictures of your family. Hand the camera over to someone else. It doesn’t have to be once a year, or even once every few years. It can be just once. Pick a special place, put on something clean, do something that reminds you of what you love most about your family at this moment, skip a few dinners out and invest in a few photos that you will love now, but will absolutely treasure later. The only hard part of the process is choosing the best ones.

Here’s a link to the slideshow of our photo shoot that Yvonne graciously let me post here. She comes back in town occasionally, so contact her and get on her list. Or if you are lucky enough to live even remotely close to Athens, GA, then give her a call. 

P.S. Yes, E is almost as tall as me. The next time we get photos made I expect to be the shortest one in them.

P.P.S. The mouse made an appearance. As did The Secret Garden. And Wonder, sans book jacket.