The Skies Glowed At The Ballunar Liftoff Festival

It’s My Birthday Mom

Normally my wife would wake up my son for school but this morning it was my son who woke her up. Still with dreamy eyes, my wife heard my son say, “mom wake up, it’s my birthday,” as he gently shook her shoulders. My other half said that she can’t forget how happy my son’s face was that morning. He was glowing with the most beautiful and transparent smile she had ever seen.

For days now, my son had been doing his birthday countdown. A week ago he told me with a huge smile on his adorable face, “seven more days dad!” He made me remember how I was as a child. I too would count the days when I could blow my birthday candles on my mom’s home-made chocolate birthday cake and open my presents. Back then, there were only two occasions I’m getting my toys. They were Christmas and my birthday. So yes, a birthday was “the big day” for me as well.

After school I told my son, “we are going to see the biggest birthday balloon in the world.” Looking surprised he replied, ” we are going to have huge balloons on my birthday?” I excitedly answered back, “yes, we will!” We both haven’t seen an air balloon before and what can be more timely that seeing them on his 6th birthday.

Every year, Houston is known for its fun and well celebrated Oktoberfest. One of those highlights is the Ballunar Liftoff Festival within the NASA compound. I’d been dreaming to see both the festival and the NASA Space Center for years now but never got the chance to make them into reality. Today, both dreams came true. It was breathtaking!

Our First Steps To NASA

I could still vividly remember the famous words of Neil Armstrong as he climbed down the ladder to make his her first step on the moon,  “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind, ” in that glorious and historical day of July 20, 1969. When I watch the replay in You Tube, I could still feel my heart pound in excitement and suspense like it happened only yesterday. It was this event that made every child’s dream to venture into space and be an Astronaut one day possible. It made them dream that anything can happen as long as you put your mind and heart into it. It made most of us realize that we can all reach our very stars. May it be the stars we gaze upon on a clear night or the stars we based our hopes and dreams upon.

My son together with the kids of my friends were all excited to visit the different booths at the festival. One of our favorite was the Kettle-cooked popcorn booth called Ma and Pa. The owner cooked a fresh batch for us so the kids can see for themselves how it was made. I could hear a lot of them saying, “so cool!” My son was smiling and laughing with his friends as he stared at the popping popcorn.

When it was time to taste them, it made everyone say, “Oh, wow!” They were so delicious.

Happy 6th Birthday

Before the first air-balloon rose up, we all got together to share a yummy Birthday Halloween themed cupcakes. We also had some all time favorite pizza and fried chicken. It felt great to share this special day among family and friends. It was in a true sense, a day of celebration.

Best Birthday Present

If there is one thing children can’t wait to receive on their birthday, it’s getting their birthday present. As for presents, most kids only have one thing in mind, ” toys,” lots of toys.

My son kept reminding me weeks before what he wanted for his birthday. Every time we go to Target for our groceries, he would pull my hand and lead me to the toy section to  show me his dream Lego Star Wars collection. He would read the age recommend section of the box and would tell me, ” see dad, this one I could build by my self.” And he did. He would also point to the other collections and say, “this one I could get when I turn 7 , this one when I turned 8 and that one when I turned 9, okay dad?” I would smile back and say, “well see.” Usually that’s enough assurance for him to hope that he’ll get them one day. I would whisper to him as we leave the store, “just promise me you be good, okay?” Smiling sweetly he’ll whispered back, “yes dad, promise.”

To me, the best birthday present is having my family at my side. To share the rest of my days surrounded by their love and laughter. To walk with them in following their dreams.

The Skies Glowed That Night

As the first air balloon slowly inflate. We all gathered near the area where it was. We were all excited as the fire emanating from the base of the balloon lighted up. My son and his friend were jumping in excitement as they play with their luminous rings.

As the American Flag waved in between the two balloons and the crowd singing the country’s National Anthem, I felt pride and honor in being a part of a beautiful nation with many possibilities. The words, “the land of the free and the home of the brave” lingered in the air as the air balloons glowed stunningly across the clear Texan night sky. It was an amazing vision.

What Makes Us Glow

The Ballunar Liftoff Festival was more than a glowing spectacular experience. It was in a sense a moment to reflect on what gives us glow in our lives. Is it success in a chosen profession? Is it the love of a person? Is it making friendships? Is it following you heart’s passion?

To me, it is all of these. When I look at my wife and son at the start of my day, their presence gives me an inner glow that makes me believe that I can do anything, be anything and face anything. I’m a better me because of them.

When I close my eyes in prayer, God’s presence gives my soul a glow that only a loving and patient creator can give. His words of encouragement sustains me from the hurts and frustrations that I meet now and then.

When I go to work, the thought of knowing I’m easing somebody’s pain and caring them back to health gives my heart a sense of purpose and reason.

When I write, capture images and share them, it makes the fire of my passion glow brightly. It gives me hope that I can make a difference.

What makes you glow? What inspires you to follow you dreams? What is the best gift your ever received on your birthday?

Whatever it is that makes you feel that you can fly and reach for the stars, I hope it brings you happiness and comfort in this lifetime. We all deserve to be happy and have our dreams come true.

A blessed day to all you. Hope this post made you glow or at least helped you find what it is that inspires you and shine like the heavens above us.

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About Island Traveler

A devoted husband and father who tries to make a positive difference in the lives of his family and friends. A person who finds inspiration and strength on those he loves and who loved him in all aspects of his life.
This entry was posted in Events, family, Inspiration, Love, Post A Week 2011 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

62 Responses to The Skies Glowed At The Ballunar Liftoff Festival

  1. misswhiplash says:

    That was truly wonderful Mr B..Happy Birthday to No.1 son!
    and May the Good Lord Bless you all

    lots of love

    • Thanks Patrecia. I can’t believe how time flies. My little boy is growing so fast. Yesterday we taught he lost his first tooth and did not tell us about it. We asked him what happened to it. He said, ” I ate and swallowed it dad.” I replied, “what?” alarmingly. The he laughed , ” just kidding dad!” He still has his tooth but started to loosen up in preparation for the permanent ones. He now knows how to throw a joke! Take care. Each visit is like hearing from a good friend indeed. Thank you and God bless you too and your family.

  2. Gloverlee says:

    Heartwarming and spectacular, as always!! One of my dreams is to actually ride in a hot-air balloon — but your pictures of the balloons are almost as great as the “real” thing!

    • Thanks Gloverlee. It’s also my dream to ride it one day. It’s not impossible right? I’m glad you enjoyed the post. It was a memorable experience to see something that beautiful glow and lit up the sky. Have a blessed day….

  3. semprevento says:

    it’s beatyfull!!!!!
    mi sono commossa!!!
    baci a voi tutti!!!
    e auguri !!!!

    • mi sono commossa!!!
      baci a voi tutti!!!
      e auguri !!!!
      Beautiful words that inspired my heart this morning. In a way, they made me glow. thanks and Have a wonderful weekend my friend.

  4. MOL says:

    This was great to read and the pictures were great. Love the cluster of humongous balloons. Happy birthday to your son. He’s six now? Time flies.

    • The best memory for me on this magical night was having him sit on my shoulder as he gazed at the glowing hot air balloons. I used to carry him on my shoulder often when he was smaller but now he is getting heavy. Soon enough he will be the one carrying me. ha, ha, ha. Thanks for the comments. Best wishes to you and your family.

  5. WOW what a great birthday. I am sure this is one you will both not forget. Happy Birthday #1 son

    • Thanks. Yep, it’s one birthday we won’t forget….and it didn’t cost much too. Makes me realize that you don’t have to have a lot of money to find real joy in life. All it takes is time, a little love and an adventurous spirit. Have a wonderful weekend …and Halloween.

  6. wolke205 says:

    Happy Birthday to your son :D Great post as usual :)

  7. xandreverkes says:

    This made me smile!! Thanks for sharing…. Gorgeous!! ;) **

  8. auntyuta says:

    What wonderful 6th birthday celebrations. This is a day your son will always remember. Terrific pictures to go with it! And all those beautiful comments. They’re truely written from your heart. Thank you so much for sharing!

    • I agree that the comments were all beautiful and heartfelt including the one you sent me. Thank you. I appreciate each kind and encouraging words. When I was watching the hot air balloons , for a moment I thought, I wish all my blogger friends are seeing what I was gazing upon. The least I could do is share the photos of the event. Wishing you and your family love and happiness. Have a great weekend.

  9. Frank Bishop says:

    I bet that was awesome, seeing all of the balloons lit up at night. That seriously looks like a lot of fun. We don’t get cool stuff like that here in STL. You are lucky on several levels; good entertainment, loving family, and a great picture taking ability.

    • When you love what you do, you can almost do anything! I enjoy capturing moments and events. Such occassions only comes once and I don’t want to wake up one day with many regrets. I wish to preserve them too for as long as I can so that one day when I’m old and my memory starts failing I have this Blog to refresh my thoughts and relive the good old days. I do feel lucky to have a supportive and loving family. They keep me going everyday. Have a blessed weekend my friend and Happy Halloween. Thanks.

  10. This was such a lovely post IT! Your son must have had such a fun time. A birthday to remember! Your son is going to have so many happy childhood memories to cherish when he grows up. I wish you and your family much peace and happiness. :)

    • As always, beautiful and inspiring comments my friend. I do hope to create the best childhood I could give for my son. It’s the least I could do for the love and happiness he gave me and my wife. Because of him, we both found our sense of meaning and purpose in this world. I think in a way, all parents feel like that. I too wish you and your family God’s bountiful blessings and joy. I also wish you success in your goals in life. Thank you.

  11. thirdhandart says:

    A dream come true birthday party for sure! Great photos and wonderful words!

  12. eof737 says:

    What a fantastic birthday celebration. Happy Birthday to your son! I love the colors, the photos, and the story you wrote with it. I’ve never been in a hot air balloon and I find them so colorful and interesting… What a wonderful day! :-)

    • Thanks Liz. Yes, the colors were amazing. I’m hoping to see them take off next year. It was done the day after as the sun rises. That could had been awesome too. I was a wonderful day indeed. Have a blessed weekend my friend.

  13. Louise says:

    Happy Birthday to your amazing son! We are doing the birthday count down here too.

    Thanks for sharing your wonderful pictures and memories!


    • Thanks Louise. Glad to know that another boy out there is doing the same thing. Your son is almost the same age as mine, right? I bet they share a similar taste in their choice of toys. Wishing you a blessed day and have a happy trick or treating.

  14. john tugano says:

    Happy 6th birthday to your son,IT.No doubt your son was very happy about his celebration and so with your treat..Witnessing those large hot air balloons is really amazing especially in the eyes of have kindled the kid in me,bro..

    • Bro, I too felt like a kid that night. It was my first encounter with the majestic balloons. I was busy watching them in awe at one point and did no notice there was a hole in front of me. My right foot went in with a twisting motion. Ouch! It hurt so bad. I still have a bruise until now but it was worth it. Unforgettable night. Have a great weekend and wishing you a wonderful “All Soul’s Day.”

  15. Connie T says:

    The balloons are nice in the dark. Sounds like you had a wonderful day. Happy birthday to your son.

    • Thanks Connie. My son had a blast on his Birthday and that was just a part of it. He had another party at a kid’s arcade the day after, this time with his friends and classmates. He looked so happy . I felt blessed that God gave me the opportunity to experience this moments. Best wishes to you and your family.

  16. ristinw says:

    Happy Birthday to your son! :D May all his wishes come true and many happiness and joy to him!!! :D

  17. aRVee says:

    Happy Brithday to your son my friend. What a wonderful present you had given him, and those big balloons, are big enough for a birthday present, huh lol (kidding)… He, you and your wife must have enjoyed watching them lifted up on the air live… Must have been a very wonderful experience. What a way to celebrate your son’s birthday!

    Have a great day my friend and stay blessed!

  18. cocomino says:

    Happy Birthday! NASA is very interesting. Space journey is always dream for children all the world. :cool:

    • NASA is one those places that is a must visit when you are in Houston. As a kid, I only read about it in magazines or see it on T.V. but recently I was actually there and I think it’s really cool. Thanks. Have a great weekend my friend. Best wishes to your family.

  19. Happy Birthday to your son. I love how you celebrate events in such a memorable way. Beautiful pictures.

    • Thanks Georgette. 2011 was a turn around year for me. I promised myself that I will celebrate the events that comes my way as memorable as I can. Certain events in my family and friends made me open my eyes of how fleeting our lives are. What happens tomorrow is really beyond our hands. I’m glad we took part in this festival. It made my son so happy…and me! Have a blessed weekend my friend.

  20. Cheryl says:

    Love this array of photos! Brought back a wonderful memory – my wedding present to my husband 13 years ago was a hot air balloon flight that included a champagne breakfast. What made it even more incredible was we had to arrive early enough to be part of the crew settin gup and filling the hot air balloon!

    • That is so romantic Cheryl. That must had been so beautiful . Hearing stories like this makes all of us believe that fairy tales come true and that love is possible. Thanks for sharing an incredible and memorable event in your life. Wishing you and your family all the blessings…..Happy Halloween my friend.

  21. wordsfallfrommyeyes says:

    This page is an absolute treasure of joy and family. The photos are so clear, magnificent, but more than anything my GOSH what a great life you are living :) I love the thing with all the ropes, that you hang from – looks fantastic. Great stuff, Island Traveller.

    • Thank you. It’s a good life but the fun part I try my best to make an effort at. I have my shares of economic struggles but we can still experience memorable adventures even if we don’t have much financially. All it takes is giving our time, being creative and making an effort to show we care. The trip cost me only $30 dollars but I gained a priceless memory with my family and friends. Best wishes to you and your son. Have a blessed day my friend.

  22. Caroline says:

    Wow, that is such an amazing birthday celebration. The photos are wonderful and I’m sure it’s a day your son won’t forget. Thanks for sharing.

  23. jakesprinter says:

    You always have a great picture collection thanks for sharing

  24. Great post of photos and memories. Thanks for sharing that special time with us. I hope your son have many, many more birthdays of love, peace, joy and prosperity. Blessings to you and your family, my friend.

    • I do hope and pray that he will have a lifetime of wonderful birthdays filled with love and happiness. He is a sweet kid and all children should grow up in a happy, comfortable and safe place where they can freely be themselves and follow their dreams. Wishing you and your family all the blessings in life. Happy Halloween.

  25. Angeline M says:

    How wonderful that you make birthdays for your son so special. He will always remember these times. And so will you and your wife. My husband and I now talk about the times we did special things with our kids when they were little, and that was quite a few years ago!

    • I too hope that one day when my wife and I are older, we would recall and reminisce the great and happy times we shared with our son just like you and your husband. On a lonely night when our kids are already in college or have a family of their own , these memories will warm our hearts and remind us that we gave love and were loved back. A bit nostalgic but these memories will make us smile and rejoice one day. God bless you and your family always. Thanks for the beautiful comments….

  26. The Ballunar Liftoff Festival sounds like a fantastic event! I remember watching TV with my sister, parents and grandparents when the first men landed on the moon – it was a thrill to share the historic event with my family. I was 12 years old then and my grandmother told me, with a twinkle in her eye, that one day I would be telling my own grandchildren about this day.

    • And it did come true. The walk on the moon is one of those events that we will all remember , regardless of age. It was the moment that man’s dream of space came true. it is sad though that the NASA space mission is now shut off and lot’s of people lost their job and their dreams. May be one day, we’ll see them explore space once again. Have a blessed day Barbara….best wishes to you and your family.

  27. Great photo and info … it is a wonderful way to celebrate a very special birth – day …
    Belated Birthday wishes to your son .. ~~~~ : – )

    • Thanks Isadora. Happy events in our lives need to be shared. it’s a great way to bring positivity in the world were lately is crowded with a lot of troubles. It feels awesome to know that my blogger friends are part of his birthday celebration. Everyday I can relive how special his day was. God bless you always.

  28. jhirzel88 says:

    I got no idea what my actual favorite toy was. I remember Hot Wheels. When I turned 8 years old, I got a twisting roller coaster thing where you could roll toy cars on. Hot Wheels was a big thing back then.

    I like learning about Space. I remember Neil Armstrong’s video from a documentary that I watched. You’ve seen more than I have though, so you know what that experience was like when he first landed on the moon.

    • Hot Wheels is timeless. My son enjoys it too but lately it’s all about Lego Star Wars and now he discovered Lego Aliens. As for Neil Armstrong’s epic journey to the moon, it will always be a legendary and unforgettable event for all of us, Old or young. Thanks for sharing a one enjoyable comment. best wishes to you and your family.

  29. To all who shared their glowing thoughts , thank you so much.

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