Sunday, October 25, 2009

Ballunar Liftoff Festival 2009

Every year at NASA/Johnson Space Center since 1994, there is a Ballunar Liftoff Festival and ever since we heard about it, we were looking forward to going. Well, it was this Friday-Sunday so we decided to go over on Saturday.
When we got up in the morning, we looked out our bedroom window and we could see hot air balloons rising up. There were several of them flying around the area. Since NASA is only about 2-3 blocks from us, we could also see the skydivers coming down in their parachutes. It was quite a sight to see.
This is what we saw out our balcony.

More balloons in the distance.

We ended up going over to the festival mid-morning, but we ended up missing the balloons at first. They take off from there early morning, land somewhere else, then they don't come back to the air field until later that evening. There was a bunch of other things going on until then though, so we just checked it all out. There was live entertainment on stage, food vendors, craft booths, and rides for the kids.

This is a model airplane that they were flying around. When we first saw it in the air, it looked real. They had model planes along with model helicopters.

All day long they would have a team of skydivers land in the air field. There were 3 teams total and each team took turns going up in the plane, then jumping out. When the plane dropped off one group, it would head back to Ellington Air Field about 10 miles away, and pick up the next group, and thats what they did all day. I couldn't imagine jumping out a plane once, let alone doing it several times in one day!!

Kenzie and Aydan holding puppets from one of the vendors.

Also at the festival, they had a salute to law enforcement and there were some police cars, firetrucks, and ambulances from nearby towns. Here is Kenzie and Aydan in the back of a police truck. The officer said they use it mostly for water rescues.

Here they are in front of a police Hummer.

Sitting in a firetruck.

One of the fireman offered to take a picture of all of us.

Kenzie in front of a fire rescue boat.

After another skydiving performance, Kenzie was helping this skydiver pack up his parachute. She thought that was pretty cool. He said he has had triple by-pass surgery and skydiving doesn't bother him a bit! Yikes, you would have to push me off the plane. I couldn't do it!

This is the entrance to Johnson Space Center. We were until mid-afternoon then went home for a bit because we were all getting pretty tired and wore out. We headed back in the evening when we knew the balloons would be coming back and we could see them landing on our way back.

They landed in a parking lot, then each one was packed up into their truck or van and brought back onto the air field. Here, everyone unloaded their balloons and got them ready to be inflated again.

Here they are starting to get air into them. It took a while before they were all up and ready.

You can kind of see the Energizer Bunny balloon. Its ears are sticking up behind the Curves balloon and you can see its white tail. I think that was the biggest balloon there.

They gather all the balloons at night as part of what they call the Balloon Glow where all the balloons light up at once. It looks pretty cool when they do it.

We took this one from farther away so you could see more of the balloons, but this still doesn't show how many there were. There's a bunch more behind all of these. It is one of the biggest balloon festivals in the world.

We had a good time. I'm glad we went; its not something you get to see everyday.
Check out the post below for pictures from the NASA open house we went to.

Johnson Space Center Open House

Part of the Ballunar Festival, was an open house at NASA/Johnson Space Center. We were pretty excited to see Johnson Space Center since we hadn't been there yet. Once you were inside the gates of the space center, you could get on a tram that was taking people around to different buildings and each building had a tour.

They called this robot the Spidernaut.
Mock up of a shuttle
This is a mock-up of the space station that they use for astronaut training.
This is actually a small piece of a meteor that hit the Earth.

This is the back of one of the rockets. There's so many different tubes and pipes I don't know how they know what's what!

Another picture of the back of a rocket. These engines are enormous in real life!

This is the front of the rocket that detaches from the rear part after liftoff.

A few different rockets at Rocket Park.

A woman offered to take a picture of all of us. It's very rare for us all to be in a picture together so we really appreciated that.

There was a lot to see there and we didn't get a chance to go to all of the buildings, so we will definately be going back sometime. Separate from Johnson Space Center but in the same area is Space Center Houston, which is more kid-oriented with different activities for them to do and they also have an IMAX theater. We had a great time, and luckily the weather was great for us to be outside.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Flairs Dance Clinic

Saturday Kenzie went to a dance clinic given by the Flairs Dance Team at Clear Lake High School. She had a lot of fun! There were a bunch of kids there from age 4 through 9th grade and each age group had their own performance. The first video is part of Kenzie's group's performance. Its hard to see her; she is in the back by one of the instructors. The second video is part of the Varsity Flairs' performance. Everyone did such a good job; it was really cute watching the little kids to their moves!

Aydan at the Park

Saturday, we took Aydan to the park while Kenzie was at her dance clinic. The weather was perfect; mid 70's and sunny.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Flashback Friday

This was taken October of 2007. Doesn't seem like that was 2 years ago!! Kenzie would have been 5 1/2 years old and Aydan was only 9 months old! What a chunker!! So much has changed since then! The kids are growing up way too fast!!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Houston Zoo

On Monday, I had the day off (thank you Christopher Columbus!) and Danny took a personal day off work too. Kenzie had school and we took Aydan to daycare. We wanted to do something together without the kids (that may sound bad, but I'm sure you other parents understand). Ever since we moved here, we haven't really had a chance to spend time together child-free. We love our kids to death, but sometimes you just need some time to relax without them. We were going on a 'date' as Danny called it :)

We had planned over the weekend that we would go to the Houston Zoo, as long as the weather was going to be decent. So we got ready in the morning, got Kenzie off to school and Aydan off to daycare and headed to the zoo. We actually drove to the park and ride for the metro rail and rode the metro up to the zoo, which is near downtown and the museum district in Houston.

The weather started off cloudy and we did get rained on a little bit when we first got there but luckily we brought an umbrella. The rain didn't last too long, then the sun came out and it warmed up a lot.

On certain holidays, the zoo has free admittance and Columbus Day is one of those holidays so there were quite a bit of people there for a Monday.

While we were walking around we saw everyone that had brought their kids and in a way I felt bad that we had gone without them but it was also so peaceful and easy by ourselves. We didn't have to have a stoller and diaper bag and snacks and drinks and extra clothes and sippy cups, the list goes on and on. There was no fighting with them to stop climbing, running, and yelling. We didn't have to worry about Aydan getting wore out and wanting held or Kenzie needing to use the bathroom every 10 minutes.

Anyway, here are a few pictures we got while we were there.

Sea otters

Zebras (like you don't know that)

This cracked me up for some reason. He just looks ticked standing there all stiff and hardly moved.

Pink Flamingos!!! So cool!

Some sort of monkey with cool hair!

Checking out the giraffes.

More giraffes

Oh look! Giraffes


Funny elephant, notice how his back legs are crossed! Just chillin'.

We didn't get to look at all the exhibits, we thought we'd save some excitement for when we come back with the kids sometime.
After the zoo we rode the metro to downtown and ate lunch at the tunnels. The tunnels is an underground food court basically that people go to so they don't have to walk around outside in the heat. Its really neat. I don't know exactly how big it is but it runs all over downtown Houston underground. You can access it from several different buildings and once you are down there its like a maze of tunnels with different restaurants, businesses, banks, doctors offices, etc... Its almost like an underground mall.
After we were done eating we decided to go see a movie. The theatre we went to didn't have a whole lot to choose from that was playing at the time we got there so we settled for 'Pandora' which was not very good, but thats okay; it was just nice to do it. It had been a year since we'd seen a movie in a theatre.