Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Return to the Motherland Part 3: The Balloon Fiesta

Besides visiting family, the main reason for our trip was to see the Balloon Fiesta. The last time I saw any balloons was my senior year in high school, and the last time I went to the park was 11 years ago, before the current park was even built. For anyone unfamiliar with the Balloon Fiesta, it is the largest gathering of hot-air balloons in the world. There are literally thousands of balloons. It claims to be the most photographed event in the world and though that is probably impossible to prove, it is easy to believe. It is the most picturesque event I've ever seen.

It's also the only event that allows the crowd right on the field with the balloons. There is this awesome feeling of community as you walk through the crowds next to these giant wonders. It really is indescribable.

Thursday morning we went to my great uncle's house to watch the Special Shapes Rodeo (it's a special mass ascension for the unconventional shapes, though there are still quite a few traditional balloons as well). Sammy lives just a couple miles from the Balloon Fiesta Park so we packed up some hot chocolate, breakfast burritos, and hung out on his back balcony. The hill behind his house made it tough to see the balloons as they took off, but as they came toward the river and back around near the park, they passed right in front of - and in a few cases, over - us.

Thursday night we went to the park for the Special Shapes Glowdeo. This one's tough to explain if you're not familiar with the Balloon Fiesta. In the evening, the balloons inflate, but stay tethered. Once the sun goes down, they fire the burners all at once and the balloons light up.

It was a great night and was perfect for the kids - the weather was nice, we got to walk around and see all the awesome balloons, and there were fireworks afterwards. And we ran into my friends Christie and Gillian.

Inside the Energizer Bunny

It's really hard to get a picture of the actual glowing with a point and shoot, so we just got a short video to try and give you an idea of what it's like:

Waiting for the Fireworks

Saturday morning was the main event. We went to the park for the last mass ascension. The thing about the Balloon Fiesta is that it's early. And I mean EARLY. The first wave of balloons goes up at 7 am. So we had to get to the park and ride at 6, which meant that we left the house at 5:30 am. Yikes. Plus, it's really really really ridiculously cold.

The kids enjoyed the morning's events for about 15 minutes, then they lost it. Between the cold, and being tired and hungry, they were miserable. We toughed it out through the first wave, then headed out. But it was still gorgeous.

Airabelle Takes Flight

Monday, October 26, 2009

Return to the Motherland Part 2: Out and About

One day we headed down to Old Town. We had an appointment with a photographer to have family portraits taken. It was pouring rain when we left the house, so of course by the time we made it to Albuquerque, the weather (and the light) were perfect- that's New Mexico for you. If you go here you can see a preview of some of our shots. {Family, if you want access to all the shots, and the option to order any, let me know and I'll send you log in information as soon as I have it}

After the photo shoot, we just wandered around, found a great little place to eat, and then headed to the Rattlesnake Museum. We heard about it watching The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson and it did not disappoint. Zoe loved every second.

That evening we headed over to my parent's neighbor's house. The Gliddens have lived next door to us FOREVER and they are the nicest people in the world. Plus they have horses and dogs so the kids had a blast.

Later in the week, I took Zoe to the playground at Algodones Elementary and enjoyed seeing her run around my old stomping grounds (though none of the super-cool play structures were there when I was a kid).

That leaves only one more thing - The Balloon Fiesta! (coming soon)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Return to the Motherland Part 1: The Homestead

We left for NM on Sunday, Oct 4. We decided to take James' Civic because of gas. The ride was great - we only stopped twice and we were all relatively comfortable. My parents were both sick, which soon translated to us getting sick, but we tried to enjoy ourselves as best as we could. As a side note, the last time we were in New Mexico, Zoe was 11 months old.

We had a small birthday celebration for Owen and the kids got some great gifts. Zoe got 4 pairs of princess shoes. I don't know how she stays upright in them, but she wears them every day.

Here is a close-up shot:

When we started feeling better, my Gramma came over for dinner. She looked better than she has in years and we had a nice evening. She loved the kids and neither one of them ran shrieking away from her, though Owen seemed to be considering it.

After a bath and getting ready for bed, even Owen warmed up to her and got some snuggles in.

My parents' place is overflowing with delicious apples so we picked a few before we had to leave.

Lastly (for this post), here are some great panoramic shots of the front and back of the house:

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Monkeying Around

For Owen's actual birthday we had a few neighbors/ friends over for cake. It was a quick "party" as our guests had meetings to get to and one-year-olds don't care all that much. I wanted to have it outside and had a vision of our backyard decked out in streamers and balloons, then reality hit - I couldn't get the decorations in the colors I wanted and it was so windy we couldn't go outside anyway. Oh well. Such is life.

We had a great time eating a super cute monkey cake, which I served with banana split ice cream.

For those of you interested, here is what Owen is like:

He is super tiny - the 1st percentile for weight and only the 25th for height. What he lacks in stature, however, he makes up for in tenacity. We most often compare him to a bulldozer or a wrecking ball. He just plows through everything and picks himself up as soon as he is down. The week after his birthday he started making a conscious effort to walk - instead of just a few steps here and there. I use the term "walk" loosely as it is more of a stagger. It's pretty funny/ unnerving to watch as it seems like he could fall at any moment.

He is super snuggly, but his definition of a snuggle is head butting. That kid has a majorly hard head. He is always into something and we can't leave him alone for a second. He eats EVERYTHING, even things he's not supposed to. He loves grapes and bananas and loudly exclaims "NANA" whenever he sees a banana. He can sign "more" and possibly "done" but we'll never know since, when given the choice, he always wants more. We usually just get tired of feeding him after a while.

Owen loves to clap his hands, shake his head, and laugh. He HATES being on his back and so diaper changes are still an adventure/ nightmare. He takes a pacifier for naps and bedtime and he loves to cuddle up with a blanket. We have one that we usually use, but he's not too picky.

Owen is still always happy (unless he's hungry). Now that he's one, though, he's decided to take life a bit more seriously: