October 31, 2008

Children's Museum Oct. 22

We went to the Children's Museum again today. I was planning on taking Katie to a big playground downtown that we've driven by a few times, but she asked for "the museum". Can't say no to that! They just opened a new exhibit by the Texas grocery store HEB (the ONLY choice around here) -- a miniature HEB. Katie couldn't get enough of it! I loved the fact that she put Elmo and the basket in her cart, and I was proud that she chose only fresh ingredients. :) We'll be going back to spend more time, there, I'm sure.

First Mastersingers Concert Oct. 17-18

I sang my first concert with the Mastersingers this weekend; we sang Brahms' "Schicksalsleid" (Songs of Destiny) with the San Antonio Symphony. The second half was the symphony doing Mahler's Fifth Symphony. It was a fantastic experience to be with such a professional choir and professional orchestra. Dave came to Saturday's concert (our friends from PA, Keith and Lori Lysiak, babysat Katie at their house in Helotes outside of S.A.) and he was really impressed. It didn't hurt that we performed in the beautiful Majestic Theatre. It's worth taking a look at their virtual tour.

Now we move on to December's Messiah concert, and November's concert with Andrea Bocelli!

Pumpkin Patch Oct. 16

Katie's Kindermusik class went to a local pumpkin patch for their class on October 16. They had songs and stories, as well as face painting. And Miss Ana bought all the kids a little pumpkin to paint. Katie knew exactly which one she wanted and carried it around all morning!

October 24, 2008

Petroglyphs - Mon., October 13

On Sunday we recovered from the rest of the weekend; the highlight was going to my dad's church and hearing him preach! (This photo of the sanctuary was from a few days earlier when we stopped in to check it out.)

We got up early (again) on Monday to go hiking at Petroglyph National Monument. Only the Rinconada Canyon trail was open because of washouts from a major storm Saturday. But it was amazing! Dad and Cynthia had been to the park several times, but never hiked this trail. I'm glad he could go with us. These marks were made by indigenous people 400-700 years ago (some may be up to 3000 years old!), with additions left by early Hispanic settlers in the 1600s. Even with human depradation, they're well-preserved. Rinconada Canyon is home to 1200 petroglyphs; we saw probably only 100 (I think I photographed all of them). It was a beautiful day, with spectacular scenery.

After that sublime experience, we packed up and headed home. We stopped in Lubbock overnight (nothing remarkable there that we saw) and got home on Tuesday, just in time for me to turn around and head back out for rehearsal. No rest for the weary. :)

October 22, 2008

Dinosaurs - Sat., October 11

Cynthia finally had some time off during her concert (and work) week, so she went with the three of us to the NM Museum of Natural History in downtown Albuquerque. Katie wanted to see dinosaurs! Very cool museum, with the paleontology exhibits -- their main attraction -- organized in a timeline starting with the Big Bang. We all enjoyed it, even the museum person in me.

Dad met us in Old Town for lunch afterward. See Katie's new dinosaur (a gift from Grammy)? She can say "stegosaurus" now, too...

Sandia Tramway - Fri., October 10

If the tiring morning at the Fiesta wasn't enough, we decided to take advantage of the beautiful weather and take a ride up the Sandia Tramway. There was a long wait, because of all the people in town for Fiesta, but the ride up and the scenery at the top was worth it.
You can see for many miles past Albuquerque and to the east -- very cool. Katie LOVED the tram, and wanted to just ride up and down!

Unfortunately, the winds picked up while we were at the top, and we weren't entirely sure we were going to be able to ride back down (they have emergency non-tram measures in place if necessary, so we could have gotten off the mountain). But we did, eventually, just after more waiting.

To top off the day, I went with my dad to see the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra and Chorus (Cynthia sings soprano with them) perform Mendelssohn's "Elijah". Wonderful music and great story, of course. I was glad to go.

October 21, 2008

Balloon Fiesta!! Fri., October 10

We got up before dawn on Friday morning to watch the mass ascension -- ALL 750 balloons took off in the morning. It started with a Special Shapes Rodeo (they all launched first), but traffic prevented us from getting there for most of that. We saw them from the road. Here's a taste:

The sheer number of balloons was just astounding! We spent a lot of time saying "look at that one -- oh, look at that one"! Here's Katie, doing just that:

I took probably 100 photos; I won't post them all, just a few. These two will give you some sense of the enormity of the event:

We all had our favorites - Katie's was purple; mine was the globe (around the middle are flags of the world):

And of course I took some photos just for fun:

We were tired at the end of the morning, although we saved enough energy for the International Balloon Museum, which was cool.

October 20, 2008

Special Shapes Glow - Thurs., October 9

We finally made it to the Balloon Fiesta on Thursday night for the Special Shapes Glow. We've been looking forward to seeing all the balloons for a long time, and we've been spending time online looking at photos. Katie loves the shaped balloons most, not surprisingly, so we wanted to make sure to see them. This is when they were first starting to inflate -- you get a small sense of how many there are:

The Glow is an event where the balloons are tethered and get fired up so that they glow at night. It's really cool, and we enjoyed ourselves thoroughly.

Here are a couple of "Glow" photos:

And a movie of the "Creamland" cow being inflated. This balloon is HUGE (you should have seen how many people it took to get it totally deflated and flat), and the video is over a minute long. It was fun to watch all the parts of the cow fully inflate.

First day in Albuquerque - Thurs., October 9

Because we got in so late on Wednesday, we didn't even try for the dawn balloon launch on Thursday! But they fly right over my dad's house, so we saw this at breakfasttime:

Instead, we went down to Old Town Albuquerque, which is really picturesque. They were all set up for the thousands of tourists in town for Fiesta (there are no events during the middle of the day, so everyone spreads out throughout the area), so we fit right in!

Road trip! Wed., October 8

Today we road-tripped across Texas to Albuquerque, NM! My dad, Steve, and his wife Cynthia (now known as Boppa and Grammy) have been there for a year and we hadn't been able to visit. We timed our trip to coincide with the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta - more about that later.

It took us 14 hours - 12 on the road - to get there, and Katie was pretty good about it. Luckily she loves to "read" books in the car. We are a little tired of her Kindermusik CDs, though... It helps that the speed limit in Texas is so high. And there was interesting scenery, actually. Acres and acres of wind turbines, which we all thought was really cool.
We also saw lots of working windmills (a big hit with Katie), and lots of working oil pumps. It was West Texas, after all.
We stopped for dinner in Roswell, NM. We missed the aliens, but not all the alien kitsch. It was pretty funny.

October 5, 2008

Oktoberfest Oct. 4

Fredericksburg, TX is a town about an hour or so outside of San Antonio that has German roots. I visited it when we were here in 2002 as part of a tour that went there and to the LBJ ranch (not too far away). Locally, they're known for their Oktoberfest celebration. Our friend Keith drove us up there so we could sightsee. We went through typical Hill Country -- lots of ranches, scrub, and hills. But Oktoberfest was pretty fun; it would have been better if I was a beer drinker, I'm sure. We heard a lot of polka, ate German fair food, and didn't get too sunburned.

Here are Katie, Dave, and Keith in front of their giant stein at the entrance.

SWRI Picnic Sept. 27

While we're here, Dave is working at the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) in Division 16. That's only important because there was a Division 16 picnic last Saturday, at a big park just north of town. They had food and lots of kids' games. It was good to meet the guys (yes, mostly guys - they are electrical engineers, after all) that Dave works with, and for Katie to see other kids. She was the smallest walking kid there, so she got first crack at the little kids' pinata (they were lined up by size). Needless to say, she didn't do any damage to Cookie Monster.

All the kids got to choose a door prize -- Dave and I were very proud of our little girl choosing a rubber dinosaur! It is pink with purple spots, but still... And Katie can say "triceratops", which caused many jaws to drop all afternoon. I got a SwRI t-shirt, so now I have San Antonio souvenir. She also did pretty well throwing beanbags into the hole. I think she liked throwing something without chastisement!