A Day at the Museum

While Barb and Tod were here for Thanksgiving, they took Harper to the Children’s Museum while I stayed home with Finn. She always loves it there and it’s a great way to burn some energy. I’m so glad Tod took all these pictures so I can see how much fun she had.

There’s an outdoor climbing structure that she’d never really climbed on before.

Harper at the Children's Museum

It’s pretty high up, so I was quite impressed to hear she made it all the way to the top! I love the thumbs up she gives them when she makes it to the top.

Harper at the Children's Museum

Harper at the Children's Museum

Harper at the Children's Museum

There’s also this cylinder that blows scarves and I’d never seen it before. These pictures make me laugh at how excited she gets feeling the scarves land on her face. Pure joy.

Harper at the Children's Museum

Harper at the Children's Museum

Harper at the Children's Museum

Harper at the Children's Museum

Harper at the Children's Museum

She tried the water room this time too, but wasn’t as big a fan.

Harper at the Children's Museum

Harper at the Children's Museum

Harper at the Children's Museum

Harper and Gram had fun making shadows.

Harper at the Children's Museum

Harper at the Children's Museum

Harper at the Children's Museum

Harper at the Children's Museum

Harper at the Children's Museum

Harper at the Children's Museum

Harper at the Children's Museum

harper at the museum

A new children’s museum opened late last year in Austin and we finally made our way there. We got there before it opened and there was already a line to get in. Harper was a bit reserved at first, not sure what to make of all the kids. But we found a toddler area where she could run around and climb on things and she loved that. She got more out of the experience at this age than I expected. She didn’t want to leave!

Austin Children's Museum

Austin Children's Museum

Austin Children's Museum

Austin Children's Museum

Austin Children's Museum

Austin Children's Museum

Austin Children's Museum

Austin Children's Museum

Austin Children's Museum

Austin Children's Museum

Austin Children's Museum

south by south woah i’m tired

I applied to be a volunteer photographer for SXSW this year since it was my first year and it would be a chance to go for free (plus get some good practice in.) I applied last fall and I actually found out I was accepted on the same day I found out I was pregnant! Luckily, by March I wasn’t feeling so nauseous anymore, but it was still exhausting.

I rented a wide angle lens from a local camera store and I bought a monopod and a backpack to hold all my gear. Along with the external flash my husband gave me for my birthday, I think I had all the gear I needed. The only thing I was missing was more experience. But boy did I learn a lot that week. I ended up taking over 2,000 photos.

I photographed 5 full days in a row – 8am to 5pm. It was a lot of fun, exciting to see all the crowds, and I walked around a lot so it was good exercise. There were probably 100 or so photographers covering all events all week. I mostly covered Interactive panels, some Film panels and even a video game session. This involved getting to the rooms early, grabbing a spot in the front and floating around the room throughout the session. I felt pretty important with my press badge and volunteer t-shirt. When I wasn’t in an assigned session (I probably had 3 or 4 a day) I either rested, ate, walked around the trade show or sat in a panel for fun.

Me at SXSW 2012

I got downtown early every morning to ensure I got a parking spot in the garage and then checked in with my crew chief at one of the hotels. I spent most of my time jumping between the Austin Convention Center and other area hotels. Most were walking distance, but a couple of times I took the free shuttle. Once, while it was raining, I hitched a ride on a rickshaw to get across town and left my umbrella in it. Ten mintues later, the rickshaw driver came into the hotel and found me to give me my umbrella back! I couldn’t believe how nice he was! That made my whole day.

The Austin Convention Center on the first morning started out relatively quiet and calm, but then by mid-morning it was a madhouse, especially with everyone was still needing to register and get their badges. I’m glad I got there early (I had to register for my badge like everyone else) because some people sat in the line all day.

SXSW 2012

SXSW 2012

The registration line at SXSW 2012

I spent the first few hours walking around scoping out the joint before my first session.

SXSW 2012

SXSW 2012

SXSW 2012

SXSW 2012

There were these little cell phone lockers with chargers in them in case you needed to charge your phone without being able to babysit it. Brilliant!

AT&T phone lockers at SXSW 2012

My panel photos aren’t too exciting. They all kind of look like this:

DJ Spooky (yes that’s his name and he knows a lot about renewable energy):

SXSW 2012

The boys from Basketball Jones:

Basketball Jones guys at SXSW 2012

Basketball Jones guys at SXSW 2012

Basketball Jones guys at SXSW 2012

Bob Metcalfe (co-inventor of Ethernet and current Director of Innovation at UT):

Bob Metcalfe at SXSW 2012

One of my sessions covered a Star Wars video game. That one was interesting. There was a huge crowd of fans and the whole place was dark with lots of gaming and cosplay going on.

SXSW 2012

SXSW 2012

SXSW 2012

There were lots of video game stations set up where kids could play and even a live head-to-head competition event.

SXSW 2012

SXSW 2012

SXSW 2012

SXSW 2012

SXSW 2012

SXSW 2012

SXSW 2012

One afternoon I had some time to kill in between sessions so I walked through the trade show to look at all the booths and hopefully score some free t-shirts (I went home with 5.)

Trade show at SXSW 2012

SPACE CAMP!! I always wanted to go to space camp as a kid. I guess visiting the space camp booth is as close as I’ll get.

Trade show at SXSW 2012

Hey look Dad – I’m an astronaut!

I'm an astronaut!

Dell's trade show booth at SXSW 2012

Trade show at SXSW 2012

Trade show at SXSW 2012

Trade show at SXSW 2012

Trade show at SXSW 2012

Trade show at SXSW 2012

Trade show at SXSW 2012

Trade show at SXSW 2012

Trade show at SXSW 2012

Trade show at SXSW 2012

Trade show at SXSW 2012

Trade show at SXSW 2012

A record being etched at SXSW 2012

Trade show at SXSW 2012

Trade show at SXSW 2012

Dell's booth at SXSW 2012

Dell's booth at SXSW 2012

Outside, these guys from Skype were trying to get me to crowd surf. Um no thanks.

Skype crowd surfing at SXSW 2012

I also had some time to squeeze in a few Film panels for fun. I saw Mark Mothersbaugh, Richard Linklater and Jimmy Fallon!

Mark Mothersbaugh at SXSW 2012

Richard Linklater at SXSW 2012

Jimmy Fallon at SXSW 2012

At the Jimmy Fallon session, I sat way in the back and had to stick my zoom lens between people’s heads. I was lucky to get one or two good shots!

Oh, and I managed to meet up with my old friend Judd Apatow. Well…we’re old friends now that I shook his hand and got my picture with him.

Me and Judd Apatow at SXSW 2012

All in all, the week was exhausting, but a great experience. I had never seen so many iPhones and iPads in all my life. So if my baby ends up looking like an alien, I’ll know where all the radiation came from.

See the rest of my SXSW photos on Flickr.

up to the highest height

A few weeks ago, we decided to head down to Zilker Park to check out the kite festival. We knew it would draw a crowd, but we underestimated the traffic. We were going to take the free shuttle bus, but the line to get on the bus was a block long. So we figured we’d drive towards the park to get as close as we could and walk the rest of the way. After sitting in the car for probably 45 minutes, I decided to get out and walk and Drew was going to hang back and get a parking spot.

I decided not to stay long, just wanted to grab a few shots and check it out. We’ll go back some other year when we can get there early and stay for a picnic to really get the most out of it.

It was a beautiful day for kite flying!

Zilker Kite Festival

Zilker Kite Festival

Zilker Kite Festival

Zilker Kite Festival

Zilker Kite Festival

Zilker Kite Festival

Zilker Kite Festival

this time of year when christmas is near

Well, it was our first Thanksgiving in Austin and we decided to go big…like everything else in Texas. We had Drew’s whole family down! For most of them, it was their first time visiting, so we wanted to show them around town. And I was really excited to cook my first turkey in my new kitchen!

Drew’s dad and sister were the first to arrive. We started the holiday at the Oasis on Lake Travis for a sunset meal.

Oasis

The Oasis was decked out in holiday decor, even though it was warm enough to sit outside. Yes, this is still weird to me.

Oasis

Oasis

Oasis

Then we went to Uncorked, a wine bar, to have a flight of wine before my brother-in-laws flew in later that night. We sat outside on the patio with a great view of downtown.

Thanksgiving in Austin 2011

Thanksgiving in Austin 2011

The next day, it was turkey time baby. I put on my new apron that Drew’s Grandma made for me (I love it!) and got the snacks started while the turkey was in the oven. Thank heaven for my sister-in-law – what a big help she was. She and I were cookin’ like it was elimination round on Top Chef.

Thanksgiving in Austin 2011

The turkey was perfect!

Thanksgiving in Austin 2011

The meal went off without a hitch.

Thanksgiving in Austin 2011

Thanksgiving in Austin 2011

Even the kitties got to partake in a little turkey action.

Thanksgiving in Austin 2011

For the 2nd half of the weekend with Barb (Drew’s mom) and Tod, we walked down SoCo, the Ladybird Lake trail and ate dinner at Eastside cafe. We also went to the Zilker botanical garden. Unfortunately the nice weather turned a little cool and windy, but it was still better than northern Illinois – so they were all good sports.

Downtown Austin

Downtown Austin

Zilker Botanical Gardens

Zilker Botanical Gardens

Zilker Botanical Gardens

Zilker Botanical Gardens

Zilker Botanical Gardens

Zilker Botanical Gardens

Zilker Botanical Gardens

Zilker Botanical Gardens

Zilker Botanical Gardens

Zilker Botanical Gardens

After the botanical garden, we walked around the UT campus a bit before everyone headed back to the airport.

Thanksgiving in Austin 2011

Thanksgiving in Austin 2011

All in all, it was a great holiday weekend with family and we were so excited to have them visit. The cats were so excited from all the excitement, they slept all day. Oh wait, they do that every day.

*Blog post title is a lyric from the song “This Time Of The Year” by Ray Charles

the prettiest whistles won’t wrestle the thistles undone

A few weeks ago, on a tip from my sister, I made my way to BookPeople downtown to a book signing for Wildwood by Colin Meloy and Carson Ellis. Colin Meloy is the lead singer and songwriter for The Decemberists, one of my favorite bands. Carson Ellis is a children’s book illustrator and Colin’s wife. The book looks fantastic, similar in style to Carson’s songwriting.

*Blog post title is a lyric from the song “The Hazards of Love 1” by The Decemberists

i love it when we’re cruisin’ together

Back in September, I had a Groupon for a riverboat cruise on Lady Bird Lake. It was a fun way to see the city and get some pictures from a different perspective. Quite a bit different than the Chicago architecture tour we went on, but I like the quaintness of cruising down the little lake in Austin.

Riverboat Cruise

Riverboat Cruise

Riverboat Cruise

Riverboat Cruise

You can see stains from the bats that live under Congress Bridge.

Riverboat Cruise

Riverboat Cruise

Riverboat Cruise

Riverboat Cruise

Riverboat Cruise

Riverboat Cruise

Riverboat Cruise

Riverboat Cruise

Riverboat Cruise

Riverboat Cruise

Riverboat Cruise

Riverboat Cruise

Riverboat Cruise

Riverboat Cruise

Riverboat Cruise

Riverboat Cruise

Riverboat Cruise

we’ll be walking in the sun and share our joy with everyone

As part of the ACL festival last weekend, Dell and Google+ hosted a photowalk in Austin where a bunch of photographers got together to walk along the lake and snap photos. And anyone was invited! Even the @scobleizer was there! (That’s Robert Scoble for you non-tech geeks.)

We started the morning by meeting near the lake to get a group photo.

Austin Photowalk with Dell and Google+

Austin Photowalk with Dell and Google+

We saw this mysterious, futuristic contraption on the lake as we walked along the trail. Someone said it was a docking station for kayaks and canoes. I think it was probably a time machine.

Austin Photowalk with Dell and Google+

Austin Photowalk with Dell and Google+

A photographer brought a model. She was a real trooper – she even laid down in the dirt at one point.

Austin Photowalk with Dell and Google+

This was my entry to the contest at the end. It is the bottom of what used to be a fountain. Very sad – that’s what the drought has done to Austin. Crumbled under my feet.

Austin Photowalk with Dell and Google+

Austin Photowalk with Dell and Google+

This father sun duo drove up from San Antonio very early that morning.

Austin Photowalk with Dell and Google+

Here’s Robert Scoble photographing Thomas Hawk laying in the dirt that used to be the fountain. Lotus Carroll (a blogger and photographer) is standing over him.

Austin Photowalk with Dell and Google+

Austin Photowalk with Dell and Google+

Austin Photowalk with Dell and Google+

Austin Photowalk with Dell and Google+

Austin Photowalk with Dell and Google+

Austin Photowalk with Dell and Google+

Austin Photowalk with Dell and Google+

Austin Photowalk with Dell and Google+

Austin Photowalk with Dell and Google+

Austin Photowalk with Dell and Google+

Austin Photowalk with Dell and Google+

Austin Photowalk with Dell and Google+

Austin Photowalk with Dell and Google+

Austin Photowalk with Dell and Google+

Austin Photowalk with Dell and Google+

Austin Photowalk with Dell and Google+

Austin Photowalk with Dell and Google+

Austin Photowalk with Dell and Google+

Thomas Hawk walks along the trail with Dave Cohen and Vincent Mo from Google+.

Austin Photowalk with Dell and Google+

Austin Photowalk with Dell and Google+

Austin Photowalk with Dell and Google+

Austin Photowalk with Dell and Google+

Austin Photowalk with Dell and Google+

Austin Photowalk with Dell and Google+

Winning.

Austin Photowalk with Dell and Google+

Austin Photowalk with Dell and Google+

Robert Scoble chats up some photographers during our break for breakfast tacos.

Austin Photowalk with Dell and Google+

Austin Photowalk with Dell and Google+

Austin Photowalk with Dell and Google+

After we arrived back at our destination, all the photographers picked one photo to upload on one of the Dell laptops they had setup in the hotel. The hosts of the event judged the photos and handed out prizes to the winners. A lucky few won tickets to the ACL festival!

Austin Photowalk with Dell and Google+

Austin Photowalk with Dell and Google+

*Blog post title is a lyric from the song “Walking In The Sun” by The Zombies

the focus is sharp in the city

Chimpsy was offering a Groupon for a photography fieldtrip in Austin, so I thought it would be a good opportunity to get some tips and walk around the city with the sole purpose of taking pictures. There were about 10 of us with varying skill levels. We met at Progress Coffee in east Austin and walked around a few blocks experimenting with composition, aperture and shutter speeds.

Here are some of the shots I took. I mostly wanted to get some interesting views of all the colorful, eclectic places on east 6th street.

East Austin

East Austin

East Austin

East Austin

East Austin

East Austin

East Austin

East Austin

East Austin

East Austin

East Austin

East Austin

East Austin

East Austin

East Austin

East Austin

East Austin

East Austin

East Austin

East Austin

East Austin

East Austin

East Austin

East Austin

East Austin

East Austin

East Austin

East Austin

East Austin

East Austin

East Austin

East Austin

East Austin

East Austin

East Austin

East Austin

East Austin

*Blog post title is a lyric from the song “The Camera Eye” by Rush

release the bats!

Over Labor Day weekend, we decided it was finally time to go see the Austin bats. Why would we want to go see bats? For some reason, the largest colony of Mexican Free-tail bats in North America have decided to live under the bridge in downtown Austin during the warmer months (March-October.) Late August is the best time to go because the baby bats that were born during the summer are old enough to accompany the mommy and daddy bats on their nightly hunt for food. (Usually the baby version of anything is really cute, but not in this case.) There are around 1.5 million living under the bridge. So it is a big attraction in Austin. The more bats the better!

We had no idea that this was an attraction until we got here and everyone told us we had to go see the bats. That didn’t sound so great to me, but I thought it’d be a good photo opportunity. Turns out, it’s hard to photograph those suckers when they fly so fast. Plus, they’re really small.

We got there early to get a spot on the bridge and as we walked under the bridge to get to the other side, you could hear the bats starting to squeak and flap as they woke up. And it smelled really bad. Tons of people had already started gathering around the bridge.

There was everything from birds…

Austin Bats

…to kayaks…

Austin Bats

…to hyrdobikes…

Austin Bats

…to larger bat-viewing cruise boats. They all gathered near the bridge to watch the bats fly out.

Austin Bats

We staked out a spot on the bridge and waited for the sun to set.

Austin Bats

Then we started hearing a faint flapping sound and suddenly the bats started pouring out below us!

Austin Bats

Austin Bats

Soon, they started making a corkscrew formation as they headed east along the lake.

Austin Bats

Austin Bats

Austin Bats

Austin Bats

Austin Bats

Austin Bats

The whole colony took around 3 or 4 minutes to fly out. They eat hundreds of thousands of pounds of insects every night. That’s probably why they are so welcome in Austin. My pictures didn’t turn out as well as I’d hope, so maybe next time we go I’ll photograph from underneath the bridge.