midwest trip - the city museum

I don't really know where to begin with The City Museum. I could start with how I had no idea it existed until my cousin demanded we go... Or how it's an abandoned-shoe-factory-turned-whimsical-metal-wonderland... Or how the four of us (aged between 16 & 26) all turned into 9-year-olds for about 4 hours... Or you could just read all about it here or here.

It is truly the most bizarre place I have ever been, so obviously, I would highly recommend visiting if you ever find yourself in St. Louis. My description will not do it justice. From a beatnik bar to a skateless park to a ferris wheel on top of the building to caves that go on & on & on... There was absolutely no way to capture all of it with a camera. You can take a video while you go down the 10 story slide (while Phantom of the Opera plays on a restored organ) but you're sort of in a mixture between a stairwell & an alley, so the video doesn't do it justice. How do you capture climbing into a school bus that is hanging off the side of a building? Or room after room of archeological/bug/bottle collections? I didn't even try to take pictures of us climbing through the indoor tree house & you are quite welcome for that (read: not flattering, & bruises for dayyyys).

If you feel confused &/or overwhelmed by all of this information, then my work here is done, because I was pretty much both of those things the entire time we were in there. But it's somehow magical, all at the same time.

The transformation from adult-to-child was swift, like lighting.
Couldn't keep up with these two.
A personal favorite from the stained glass room
How we wait for rooftop elevators.
I so badly want to describe to you what it's like climbing metal 10 floors above the city
 towards a praying mantis, but it's a rather you-had-to-be-there sort of thing.
Lissy & Trent
Riding a ferris wheel together is some sort of couple's rite of passage... So swoony!
& then you slide down from the places you climbed up.
This is the look of "we are no longer children with flexible little limbs."

I was so excited by the many possibilities of visiting St. Louis as an adult with driving capabilities, so though we were stiff, sweaty, bruised & exhausted, we made the executive decision to eat dinner in the city. & again - IF you find yourself in St. Louis, you MUST eat at Range. One of my lovely followers on instagram recommended it to us, & we all almost cried over the amazing meal that met us there. The perfect finish to quite the long day.

& now I really want one of those lemonades. Oh, Jaaaaareeed...


midwest trip - to the zoo

Having worked at an outdoor park, where people visit on 100 degree days & all the employees walk around asking, "WHYYYYYY ARE YOU HEEERRREEE???" I laughed a little as we all unloaded from the car into the 103 degree weather, & there we were... At a zoo. Thooose people. But a visit to the zoo is just part of visiting Missouri, & we considered this visit to be non-negotiable. & really, how much can you complain when there's frozen coca-colas, hippos and misting fans to go around?

My grandpa has volunteered at the St. Louis Zoo since I can remember, & as kids, we knew we had hit the grandpa-jackpot because he could call the elephants over to us. "Donnnnnnna, Donna, Donna!" he would call & it worked like a charm every time. Best grandpa ever.

Grandpa & Grandma McLean - The cutest.
Cooling off in the misting fan
Hey there handsome, mind if I take a selfie in your sunglasses reflection?
The new underwater sea lion exhibit
In the butterfly house, which are the most magical of places

It was really a pleasure to revisit this zoo as an adult & realize how much of my knowledge & love for animals came from my grandpa's tours as a kid. This realization came to full fruition that day when I teared up seeing the first baby elephant I ever saw (Raja, born in 1992) come out into the elephant yard with HIS newest baby. It was quite the full circle moment & when I say full circle, I obviously mean full circle of life & here is where I very loudly break into "NAAAAAAAAAAA ZIWET INYAAAAAA" which Google says are very much not the correct lyrics to the start of Circle of Life but whatever, right?

Up next: An afternoon at the City Museum


midwest trip - at the ballpark

BACK AT THE RANCH... After 7 years of together-ness, I finally got to bring Jared to my midwest stomping grounds. My grandparents have lived either in St. Louis or right outside of it my entire life, so seeing the Arch from the backseat of the car was always the sign that a long journey was over &  grandparents were near.

The first 3 requirements to marrying an Essmann girl are pretty well-known. 1) Must have a love or high tolerance for musicals, movies made in the 50's & Beauty & the Beast 2) Must shower the dogs with love & affection 3) Must commit to a lifetime of undying, passionate loyalty & devotion to the great St. Louis Cardinals. Let the record show that the rest of these requirements involve beer, swearing an oath of some sort to my father & passing the Trent (our cousin/closest thing we have to a brother) test.

Jared committed to the life of a Cardinals fan pretty early on in our relationship, but I think his allegiance was really sealed during the 2011 World Series. I hadn't been to a game since the new stadium was opened, so attending a game this summer was really non-negotiable. In fact, we may have swapped around our vacation dates based on their home schedule.

Are you freaked out yet? If it makes you feel better, both my parents are St. Louis natives, so this enthusiasm runs deep in my (Cardinal red) blood.

 Perhaps not the most flattering picture, but it was pretty great watching everyone convene to the kitchen in their unique Cardinals garb before we left. I took the lips + hat route, just to balance things out ;)
This is the Trent I spoke of before. Super menacing, right? Love you, cuzzzz.
We sent the adults & the underaged on ahead to the stadium while the big kids made a pit stop at the brewery down the street.
 Smells like baseball.
Pretty excited to see that this was who was throwing the first pitch.
This was during the 9th inning when we almost gave up an 8 run lead.
As the great Jack Buck would say.
Happy Bethunes!

All in all, a really fun evening. Especially since the last time I was at a game, Mark McGwire hit one of his 70 homeruns (I know, I know), Jim Edmonds was still running the outfield & 9 year old Kelsey was telling her dad not to worry - She was going to marry a baseball player so he could get better seats.

Marrying a guy who wears baseball shirts is close, right?

Up next - A day at the St. Louis Zoo (because I just can't get enough of zoos)!


midwest trip - emily's wedding

A million years later, I'm 90% done with get all of these vacation photos sorted! I wasn't kidding about just how many pictures there are. I was going to start my little blog series of our trip with a good ol' fashioned post about being on the road, but quickly discovered that most of those pictures are of 1. someone sleeping 2. someone eating 3. a sunrise 4. a sunset or 5. scenery. *snore* You're welcome. & actually, some of the scenery still made it through so...

We made the 18 hour drive to my grandparents house in St. Louis in one day (Please hold your applause. Actually, don't. It was seriously impressive.) but Jared & I packed up the very next morning to head up to Indiana to jump into wedding festivities with Emily. As my maid of honor, Emily pretty much kept me sane on the days leading up to our wedding, & it was all we could do to attempt to return the favor. We really loved having some down time to just catch up & introduce Jared to her family + our old stomping grounds.

Em & I spent four of the best years of our lives (I mean... You know.) living next door to each other in Carmel, Indiana. We tried to take Jared on a tour of Carmel, but as 10-14 yr. olds, our lives revolved around anywhere we could scooter to. Our lifelong friendship was forged in about a 2 mile radius of our houses. Needless to say, it was a pretty short tour.

The next 48 hours were wedding wedding wedding = my happy place. Emily & Trent had their ceremony in a chapel on the St. Mary's College campus where Em graduated from this year, & it was a truly beautiful ceremony + mass (but also appropriate amounts of funny - Cheers to Father John, the best priest I've ever had the pleasure of drinking with). I sobbed. I always do, even when I'm the planner, so you'd think I would have especially mastered the subtle eye/nose wipe or at least remembered to wrap a tissue around my bouquet but NOPE. It's fine... It's fine. We made our way to the lake that we spent many a summer weekend on to enjoy the reception at the club house. Emily loves the 4th of July more than any human being I know (besides like, Francis Scott Key, maybe), so it was only fitting to end the evening setting off wishing lanterns before the lake's firework show started. Perfection.
We spent 4th of July in the car driving to Indy, but that didn't keep us from dressing to match the holiday. Hurray America!
 But also, corn.
Home sweet home!
But also, turbines.
Between the rehearsal & gorging ourselves on Italian-holy-yum at the rehearsal dinner.
After the ceremony with my love on the gorgeous grounds of St. Mary's
Lakehouse reception!
So, it's a well known fact that my dad sings to my mom every time they dance together. But this was like, INTENSE. We laughed, but so did mom. 
So happy my baby sister made the trip with us!
Oh, you know. Just photo bombing the dance floor. Please take note of our audience on the right *buries face*
Blogging is a full time job, derrrr.
Bride & her mama, sweet Anne.
During the sibling dance. Presh, right?
Emily made a special request that we dance to "The Luckiest" at my wedding, so it was only fitting that we do the same at hers.
Sobbed. I sobbed. Again. There's a video to prove it.
Pro-tip in regards to wishing lanterns: Test them first. Then game plan accordingly.
But my, they were gorgeous.
This fireworks show was probably an hour & a half long. Tres impressif!

I can't wait to see the professional photos, but in the mean time, these + our videos will do. It was such a precious day, & I am SO excited to welcome Emily & Trent into a lifetime of family vacations & married couple get-aways. 

Up next from our midwest adventure - Jared's dreams come true at Busch Stadium! Well, baseball dreams.

Which is actually just my segway out of this post so I can eat the macaroni & cheese that I just pulled out of the oven. Awwwwwwyeahhhhh.