December 30, 2008

Kelley family together at Christmas

Dave's mom Martie (or Nana to Katie), and brother Doug, both flew in for a week over Christmas this year. It was hard being without Dave's dad, but good that we were together in a place that had no memories. And, as usual, Katie was the tonic for everyone.

We took it easy over the week, partly in consideration of Martie's health, but also to spend relaxed time together. We did make it to some of the missions -- the two that I had not been to yet -- to give Martie a taste of that part of San Antonio's history.

Christmas Eve and Day were very fun with Katie really getting in to Santa this year. She left him a snack -- Hershey's kisses (thanks for sending them, Dad and Cynthia) and water. And the first thing she wanted to know when she woke up Christmas morning was whether Santa had eaten his snack. She ran up and down the hall several times to double-check, flapping her arms in excitement. And she loved opening her stocking presents and all the presents under the tree. Martie's box of gifts that she sent ahead of herself didn't arrive until Saturday, so we had a second Christmas on Saturday. Everyone was happy with their gifts, especially Miss Katie -- who had presents from all over the country. Now we begin the post-holiday tradition of thank-you notes. :)

In the afternoon, Katie (and Nana) had a nap, while Dave, Doug, and I went for a walk downtown at Brackenridge Park. It was a nice warmish sunny afternoon -- we weren't the only ones out in the sun:

Oh, yeah, and it was my birthday. I got to eat chocolate cake all weekend. I definitely don't feel 43.

We also went to the Alamo and the Riverwalk -- the one mandatory place to take all visitors. And Nana got a chance to push Katie on the swings! Katie's been asking since this summer, when Nana and Granddad took her to the park in Lewisburg. Here's the whole gang on the Saturday after Christmas:

Both Martie and Doug flew home on Monday morning.
It was good to be together for the week.

December 26, 2008

Celebrating Christmas, San Antonio style (part 4)

Dave's family was here for Christmas (more about that in the next post), and we tried to expose them to the local traditions, too. The biggest one is tamales for Christmas Eve. That's the primary food for Christmas Eve dinner -- either they're cooked at big tamaladas (tamale cooking parties) in people's homes, or they're ordered from one of the local places. Those places make thousands, and lines start at 5 am every day in the week before Christmas Eve. Not being a morning person (or willing to stand in line that many hours), I got them frozen and steamed them at home. :) So we ate pork, chicken, and bean-and-jalapeno tamales for our Christmas Eve dinner.

Of course it was only after Christmas that I read the Bush family had them for Christmas Eve at Camp David. I guess we have one thing in common.

Merry Christmas, y'all!

December 24, 2008

Celebrating Christmas, San Antonio style (part 3)

This past Saturday we drove up with our friends Keith and Lori into the Hill Country, to two cities known for their light displays. We started at Marble Falls -- with dinner and PIE!! at the Bluebonnet Cafe. The pie is so good that Katie needed two hands to eat it!

Marble Falls' riverside park is lit up in December with light frames (I can't think of another way to describe it) of all shapes and sizes and colors. You enter through a tunnel that is all dazzling white lights, bright as daylight, then you are surrounded by color. It was really neat. This is just a taste (as is the photo at the top of today's entry).

On our way home, we detoured through Johnson City (of Lyndon Johnson family), which we had read decorates their courthouse. Wow, do they ever! Check this out:

And their city park is full of lights and cutouts. Katie liked the sleigh (because she could finally touch a display), but especially Rudolph.

But by far the most spectacular display I have EVER seen was at the Pedernales Electric Co-op in Johnson City. It helps to be your own electric company. The entire building is surrounded by these big trees with enormous canopies, and every one was fully lit. It was as bright as daylight, and amazingly beautiful.

December 19, 2008

Crazy weather, part 2

This morning (December 19) I woke to the sounds of the groundskeepers MOWING THE GRASS! In the fog, no less. We've had two days of non-stop, thick, fog. I tell Katie it's like living in a big cloud. It lifted this afternoon, so Dave went biking.

This crazy weather week started with us hiking in Government Canyon, again, in our shorts. (Look who hitched a ride in the backpack with Katie!)

Then on Monday we wore winter coats. Today I am hot in jeans and a short-sleeved shirt. Our poor family who's visiting next week can't figure out what to pack -- it's supposed to range from the 20s on Sunday night to the 70s on Christmas Day. I could get used to the 70s, I suppose, but not the great swings. I'll keep you posted.

December 17, 2008

Celebrating Christmas, San Antonio style (part 2)

This past weekend (Dec. 12-13) was the annual performance of Handel's "Messiah" by the San Antonio Symphony and the Mastersingers. I actually haven't sung it in a few years, so it was fun to revisit it. We sang almost the whole thing -- 2 1/2 hours of music! The guest conductor, Jean-Marie Zeitouni, is a conductor with the Montreal-based Violons du Roy, and he was fantastic. He is young (30, maybe?) and that was fun -- he came to rehearsal in jeans, used words like "freaking out" and "ditzy" to describe musical styles, and just was more relaxed than many conductors. He brought with him the four soloists, who were all fabulous. A lot of singing this week and weekend, but worth it. It's starting to feel more like Christmas.

Of course it's so warm that we had on short sleeves when we got our Christmas tree...

And then on Sunday night we went downtown to the Little Flower Basilica for La Gran Posada - the Mexican commemoration of Mary and Joseph's journey looking for lodging on Christmas Eve. Lots of singing, a grand procession, and much pomp and circumstance (which I always love), mostly in Spanish. The evening ended with bunuelos, Mexican Christmas cookies (fried tortillas with sugar and cinnamon). Sorry I didn't get any photos (it didn't feel right in the basilica, and the fluorescent lights in the social hall made the pinata photos I took too dark).

December 12, 2008

Crazy weather!

As nice as it is to have warm temperatures in December, we both feel a little -- OK, a lot -- discombobulated. It just isn't right to have Christmas in what feels like September! More leaves are finally changing, at least. But it's been warm enough many days to go outside to the playground in the morning, or for me to read the paper on our outdoor balcony during Katie's nap.

And then the next day we'll need to turn the heat on and wear our jackets outside. Last Tuesday the afternoon high was 85, and by the time I got out of rehearsal at 10 pm, we were dodging sleet in 45 degrees. It might be cold at home in PA, but at least it's consistent.

I'm sure I'll be posting more about the weather down here. It's a source of constant amazement to us.

December 10, 2008

Celebrating Christmas, San Antonio style (part 1)

We're trying to take advantage of all the things that make the holidays different here -- events and traditions that we either have never heard of before, or that we don't have at home.

Last week we went to the Witte Museum's big winter holiday bash for kids. We did hear some Celtic music (familiar, of course) and a family mariachi band (now familiar enough that Katie recognizes the style of music); ate tamales, nachos, and sugar cookies; and made a wax candle and a Christmas ornament. Katie is a whiz with colored glitter glue!

And on Saturday Katie and I went to a harp concert. Our friend Laurie is a member of the San Antonio Harp Ensemble, and they have a big Christmas concert each year. It's always on a Sunday afternoon during naptime, so we went to their "warmup" concert in a local hospital lobby. Katie was fascinated with the harps and the music.

While we were there, sitting quietly, Dave was pedaling hard for charity. He rode in the "Mission to Mission" charity bike ride, held the first Saturday of December each year. Yes, it is warm enough to do that every year. I think he rode past three of the four missions on the Mission Trail as part of his 34-mile ride. Kudos to him! I haven't been on my bike since we've been here, unfortunately, but Dave's been getting in some good time on his road bike. That's one big advantage of warm weather and no rain. :)

December 9, 2008

A friend in town - December 5

A friend from central PA, Ian Proud, was in town for a conference this week and we met him for dinner on Friday. It sure was nice to see a face from home! He brought the Pennsylvania cold with him, but it made the lights on the Riverwalk seem a little more Christmasy (that's what you see hanging from the trees in the background).

December 1, 2008

Thanksgiving - Doug visits!

Dave's brother Doug drove down from Denver for Thanksgiving week. We had a great visit, although busy. It was his first trip here, too, so we tried to get a lot of sightseeing in, in addition to my concerts and Thanksgiving and the big UVa-Tech game on Saturday (that's all I'll say about it this year, sigh).

Doug went with Katie and me to the Children's Museum on Wednesday; we went with my new friend Kim and her boys Luke and Jacob. Here's Luke, checking out his and Katie's groceries (Katie just LOVES that toy grocery store at the museum):

On Thanksgiving Day it was in the 70s, so we spent as much of the day outdoors as we could, and ate our big dinner after sundown. We visited the Alamo, of course, and saw the big Christmas tree there and walked around the Riverwalk. It was odd being outside in shorts, but nice!

On Friday we drove out to Natural Bridge Caverns and went underground for one of the tours. We all found it really interesting, including Katie. Very cool trip.

And in the afternoon we went up the Tower of the Americas back in downtown San Antonio. Here's Doug with Katie at the Tower.

Saturday was more relaxed for the girls, but the boys spent the day touring the Spanish Missions -- by foot in the morning and by bike in the afternoon. They both enjoyed themselves very much, and I'm sure it was good for them to spend time together.

Katie asked this morning where Uncle Doug was; she's happy that he and Nana are both coming for Christmas in just three weeks!