I have heard that the Omaha zoo is one of the best in the country. I’ve been to lots of zoos across the country including the San Diego Zoo and the DC zoo and thought how could it be so good? We had been living in St. Louis as well and the zoo in St. Louis is free and the thought of paying to visit a zoo didn’t exactly thrill me. I mean we were at the zoo in St. Louis a few days before and then we drive to Omaha to pay to visit a zoo?
However, my friend Marissa said that if we’re visiting Omaha then we MUST visit the zoo. Marissa lived in Omaha for four years so she knew what she was talking about. She also recommended to spend the whole day there. I read some things about the zoo ahead of time and thought I was prepared for the zoo. However, I was totally blown away with how amazing it is. I knew to pack swim suits for my kids because I had heard there was a splash pad there. We were visiting in the summer time so we also packed lots of drinks, sunscreen and snacks. There are not more animals or more exotic animals there than other zoos but each exhibit is thoughtfully done.
An example of how the zoo’s exhibits are enriched is the elephant area. There is an elephant crate that you could walk through. I felt like I could get a good sense of how large these animals were. There was also a safari jeep and helicopter that the kids could climb in.
My son was reading the zoo map and his eyes immediately locked in on the children’s zoo area and it says “learn through play”. He kept saying we need to go to the children’s zoo because we learn through play. We came early and stayed till the end and we could have stayed longer at the zoo.
These summer family pictures were actually taken last year but they are too good not to share. All of the pictures were taken by Butterfly Chaser Photography. I have to give a give a shout out to my husband because the circumstances of taking these pictures were a little crazy. We were in the middle of a move when we took these pictures. Literally, in the middle of a move. We were moving from West Texas to Jacksonville Florida and stopped in College Station, Texas to take these pictures. Why would anyone do such a thing? Here’s how our little conversation went.
“Hi Honey, we need new family pictures. Can we take some?”
“Can we take some soon. I mean I’ve always wanted Butterfly Chaser Photography to take family pictures for us (she did both of our kids newborn photos).”
“How will that work? We live in West Texas. She’s 7 hours away.”
“Well, we are moving back east. Can’t we stop there on the way?”
“You mean with all of our stuff?”
“I’ll have to think about it.”
College Station was the first city we lived in Texas. So, it had some sentimental value. We had used the photographer before and love her work. We ended up getting our pictures done. Getting outfits together and bringing some props with us while we were moving was a bit crazy but I just love the pictures & Butterfly Chaser Photography. We finished outfits and props about 12 hours before we took the pictures. These were all taken at the George Bush Library.
My thought process on the kids and I’s clothes: I had this idea in my head that I wanted the colors mint & coral. They were popular colors at the time so there were quite a few options. I found my daughter’s dress first then built everyone else’s clothes around hers. The color mint was hard to find in the styles I wanted so it transformed a little bit more to a sea green. I told my husband our color scheme and he is left to fend for himself (his choice)! One of the most thorough suggestions of what to wear is from Paint the Moon.
1) Wear Comfortable Clothes: East Texas in June is really hot even at 9am. It was especially humid and muggy that day. So, I knew I had to dress everyone in the least amount of clothing as possible. I chose clothes that everyone could play in and not feel restricted. We all wore clothes that we felt beautiful and handsome in. If you feel like you are wearing something nice then you are more likely to be confident in your photos. If you don’t want to follow posted suggestions for pictures- don’t. The most important thing is for you to feel comfortable with what you are wearing.
2) Make Every Article of Clothing Count: I liked how my dress had texture. The cardigan and necklace added some layers. I also added some extra details and layers by a bold lipstick color and Sally Hansen nail polish strips. Even though I knew they were such a small detail, they made me feel prepared for the photo session. I had my son wear colored shorts because he didn’t have any other layers. His shirt and shoes had color and texture to them . My husband had texture in his shoes. His neutral shorts balanced out the color every where else. My daughter had a fun textured necklace and shoes. Her necklace also added a little gold and yellow to the pictures which complemented the lemons. I chose not to give my daughter a bracelet because I didn’t want her to fiddle with it during the photosession.
3) Stay Hydrated: Bring snacks and cold drinks. I brought snacks for the kids (and wipes) to eat half way through the session. It was worked out timing wise because we had a ten minute down pour. So, the kids ate during the down pour. I knew it was going to be hot so I had this idea of a little lemonade drinking to add a lifestyle element. It was perfect timing. After we had taken some portraits we did a few lifestyle things. We set up the lemonade, lemons and blanket and let the kids drink. No one had to look at the camera. Everyone was just having fun drinking cold lemonade! And boy was it welcome on that hot morning.
4) Choose Fun Activities: Try to make the photosession fun so your kids and hubby will do it again! We did lemonade, a bubble machine & a water balloon fight to cool off at the end of the session. I discussed these activities with our photographer ahead of time. This way she knew timing wise how long to allot for different activities. None of these activities took long but they took planning. I brought some of the props (and our photographer brought part of the props). Side comment: remember my collection of glass jars? Well, turning them into lemonade glasses is another use of glass jars.
5) Have Fun: My kids had so much fun. Since we had things planned for them to do (and eat) they were good sports and entertained the majority of the time. I asked my husband if he thought I was calm during the photosession (because they can be stressful- will we get a good family picture? will I have lipstick on my teeth? will my kids behave/cooperate?). He said I was calm during it but getting ready that morning I was a little crazy (I’ll go for that). While Butterfly Chaser Photography was taking individual pictures of the kids, I remember just taking a step back and sitting down and just enjoying being outside. I could see her and the children but I didn’t even watch. I did everything I could do to prepare so I just accepted how everything went. I embraced the tears we had after someone got nailed with a water balloon. It only lasted a few minutes and I actually love that picture. This was my family at this time and I love them.
What have you done or worn for summer family pictures?