Thursday, March 26, 2015

Viva Las Vegas!

For the second half of spring break, we did something we hadn't done in a while and not once since Ellie was born...we went away without the kids!  Ma-mas came to stay with the kids for two nights and three days so the parents could visit Las Vegas! (Neither of us had experienced it as adults before.)  We met some long-time good friends of ours there and had so much fun!  We walked the Strip many, many times, gambled just a little, ate and drank quite a bit, and saw a Cirque Du Soleil show.  We explored Fremont Street and enjoyed our hotel.  We brought home a pink piggy bank for Penny, a mini Statue of Liberty for Cooper, and funny stories of general Las Vegas craziness. (The $300.00 steak, "You Gotta Have Faith", the mohawk guy, and the like.) I hope we get to make the adult getaway an annual thing!
The Strip through our hotel room window.
We arrived in Vegas at 6:30 a.m!  We couldn't check in and our friends hadn't arrived yet.  What else were we to do?
Truly I'm not much of a gambler, but I did enjoy the experience.  My big winnings for the weekend...
Komodo dragon at the Mandalay Bay Shark Reef.  Took this guy's picture because he looked like he was smiling.
We visited Fremont Street, or "the old strip."  Very cool and seemingly more authentic than the strip.  (We weren't impressed that you could eat at a Chili's or an Outback on the strip.)
Picture sent to me via Ma-Mas on our first morning away.  We had a blast and came back relaxed and refreshed...but we missed these faces terribly!  I think they had fun...we came home to painted rocks, new dry-erase board drawings, and homemade cake with sprinkles.  (We chose Spring break to leave the kids because we thought it would be easier on Ma-mas if she didn't have to worry about getting three kids to school, dance class, soccer practice, etc. and got to just chill out at home.  They stayed busy though!)

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

15 Months Old!

In just a few months our little baby Ellie has transformed into a toddler!  In January she started walking...and I mean walking!  In just one weekend she went from having taken a few tentative steps to almost running all over the house.  By February she was walking all over house with some kind of toy in hand and opening all the cabinet doors.  Now she has figured out that she LOVES to be outside and would spend an hour or more walking up and down the driveway if I let her.  She has really reached that "fun" age where constant movement, playing, and discovery are the name of the game.  Some other facts about our big girl are:
  • She weighs 21.7 lbs and is 30.25 inches long.  She had a well-baby checkup this morning and received three shots.  Her health and development are good but she did not enjoy the visit.  As soon as we started to take her clothes off she started screaming!  I guess she's old enough now to remember her last visit and how it wasn't fun! Poor baby! 
  • She sleeps very well and on a consistent schedule.  She has dropped from two naps to one, but it's a good one!  A lot of the time I have to wake her after two and half to three hours so we can go pick up her brother and sister from school!
  • She eats well...when you feed her her favorite foods!  She loves yogurt, eggs, bacon, applesauce, any kind of cracker, toast, chicken nuggets, raw carrots, celery, cucumber, apples and french fries.  Mama is constantly giving her new foods to try and sometimes she eats them but mostly she feeds them to the dog.  We just keep on trying though.  Surprising to Mama is her unwillingness to eat what I thought were baby staples like pasta and most fruits.  Luckily she has decided she likes baby food that comes in a pouch so we are able to get some vegetables down her!
  • Ellie still loves to drink from a straw but tolerates a spouted sippy cup too.  She enjoys water, drinkable yogurt, and almond milk. (Can't tolerate cow's milk, just like her siblings couldn't at this age.)
  • Ellie loves to baby-jabber all day while playing.  She loves to point at things and say "ah?" as if to ask what it is.  She has learned to do this when she sees something she wants.  She likes to say "ball" and "an" (fan).  She can point to Daddy, Mama, Cooper, Penny, and Brewster when you ask her too but really doesn't see the need in naming us.
  • She can find her nose, ears, belly button, and feet. 
  • Ellie likes to dance!  She will not only bust into her moves when she hears music, she seems really intrigued when we watch Penny dance at her class.  We can say, "Do the chip (or whatever snack we are holding) dance!" and she will!
  • Ellie loves to be outside and goes crazy when she sees the chickens!  When it is time to go back inside, she throws a fit! 
  • The art of throwing a fit is still being perfected, but she is well on her way!  She has figured out how to throw herself on the floor in such a way that gets her point across but doesn't hurt. (We are wondering if she is going to fall into big sister's footsteps and start the "terrible" twos early.)

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Spring Break 2015!

We had a fabulous spring break!  Even though the week started out with less than spring like weather, we made the most of every day.  We got to sleep in (a.k.a. we were awake but we didn't have to rush off to be anywhere), NOT do homework or be on a schedule.  It was glorious, but now we are all yearning for summer!  (11 more weeks of school to go!)

First up, we spent the weekend at the lake house, which was fun since it had been a VERY long time since we had done that.  On Saturday we made the drive to Austin for a friend's birthday party at  Chuck E. Cheese.  All the kids had fun even if Penny was wary of the pizza (rightly so) and "that mouse."  The other notable thing of the trip was that Cooper very sweetly let Penny use most of their game tickets to buy a princess figurine.  All he wanted was some Nerds candy.  (Have I ever mentioned how much I adore that boy??)
On Monday the kids and I braved the awful rainy weather to see a movie.  We saw Paddington, which was really cute.  The real victory was all THREE kids were as good as gold.  Ok so I didn't get a picture of this day...I was lugging a squirmy baby, a purse full of stowaway water bottles and baby snacks, and an umbrella, and shepherding two kids out of the rain and into the movie theatre.  Yet I didn't "have my hands full."  We were just in the moment and it was awesome!
Tuesday was the BEST day! We finally gave in to Cooper's pleading and went to Fiesta Texas!  Cooper was scared of all the rides at first, but once we talked him into riding one that had a big drop, he was hooked.  He then proceeded to ride every ride he wanted twice.  First with Daddy, then with Mama.  
Penny was very particular about what she would ride, but I know this girl had fun too.  We rode the carousel twice just for her and got her some ice cream dippin' dots.  Plus she was wearing a pink dress that day so all was right in the world.
Little Ellie didn't get to ride much but was such a good sport.  She even took an hour nap in the stroller!  Here she is having her first experience with dippin' dots.  
Super Penny!  At the end of the day, we divided and conquered...Daddy and Cooper went to ride the train (again) and Penny, Ellie, and Mama went to find something else to do.  Penny finally decided to ride the airplane ride, but couldn't because she was too little!  Luckily I was able to smooth over her disappointment by spotting a "every player wins a prize" booth.  You mean I pay $5.00 and my kid is guaranteed a pink super hero cape?  Done and done!

And that in a nutshell was the first half of Spring Break.  For the second half, Ma-Mas came to town and stayed with the kids for two nights so Mama and Daddy could enjoy a long-awaited getaway.  That is a whole other post.  Happy Spring everyone!

Saturday, February 28, 2015


For our first winter in the hill country we were glad to actually have seasons, but now, on the last day of February, we are ready to see the end of this...

Saturday, February 21, 2015


A recent warm day gave way for three siblings to enjoy the weather and each other...


Monday, February 2, 2015

Who Are You Callin' Chicken?

Cocoa, Maia, Elsa, Peck, Peanut, and Zoe enjoy the "woods".
Back in November (two days before Thanksgiving in fact) we added to the general chaos around here by adopting six baby chickens.  As I have only briefly mentioned them before, and they have taken on such a significant role in our daily life, I thought I ought to provide an update on these funny girls.  At least, we think (and hope) they are all girls.  The kids adore playing with, holding, and petting the chickens.  Quite often Cooper can be found carrying Elsa around the yard as she is the smallest and the nicest.  For now Mama and Daddy meet the basic needs of chickens such as feeding, watering, and cleaning out the coop, but we look forward to teaching the kids animal care and responsibility as they (both kids and chickens!) get bigger.  
Peanut and Zoe peck around the cedar "woods" by their coop.  These girls are still too young and its too cold for them to be laying eggs yet, but they are well on their way to "free range" status.  Predators are a big problem (as we have heard from the neighbors) around here so we keep a close eye on them and make sure they are locked up in the coop at night.  During the day, however, they are free to leave the coop and peck around the yard. It's hilarious to open the coop door in the morning and watch them all come flapping and clucking in a frenzy outside. 
They are starting to roost!  On very cold nights the chickens can be found all huddled in a heap under the heat lamp but they are starting to act less like babies and more like hens as they have started roosting.  Pictured here are Zoe and Cocoa.  Its true, chickens may be adorable but they are dumb.  We got them a bigger, better watering bucket and it took them a MONTH to figure out how to use it!  To their credit, they are animals of instinct.  When we go to put the chickens up in the evening, they are usually already bedding down for the night.  Only a few times ever have we had to coax them in.
And that's our new girls in an eggshell!  #kirkfamilychickens

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Ranchin'...Naiser Style!

After this past snowy Friday (Yes, snowy.  It snowed for nearly four hours in Boerne on Friday morning, very exciting even though nothing stuck), we enjoyed another break in the weather!  This past weekend was still chilly but had lots of sun!  We got to spend this glory at another ranch with our friends the Naisers.  The kids played so hard and only came inside when we made them.  They played so hard in fact, that Penny even took a nap at school when she went back (she never does that.)  The weekend was marked with lots of sunshine, wildlife, polaris rides, sitting by the fire, rock throwing, puddle-jumping, walking and running around.

The kids just couldn't get enough of the old truck in the yard.
Penny had a blast jumping in "muddy puddles."
"Dad!  Look what I found!"
This little one basically made the switch from crawling to walking over the weekend.
Geology nerd shot.
I always get a kick out of photographing these two.  It's easy to catch them looking like they are up to something.
Picnic time!
Thanks again Naisers!  We had a great time!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Break in the Weather = Ranchin'!

Last week was the beginning of a break in the cold, wet, icy, nasty weather we'd been having.  Kids and parents were both overjoyed and relieved to spend some time outside!  We took advantage of the 70 degree weather and a school holiday to head to the ranch for two nights.  We enjoyed lots of sun and a weekend spent with Ma-Mas, Pa-Pa, and Uncle Clint.  
This little boy was beyond thrilled when for the first time he got to watch Daddy (and Mama, and Pa-Pa, and Uncle Clint) shoot a rifle.  He has been extremely curious about guns and shooting ever since December when we let him watch "A Christmas Story" for the first time.  We thought this was an excellent opportunity to teach him about gun safety and respect.  (Though it made this Mama a little sad...he is getting too big!)
Penny will not be left out!  While she did not enjoy the loudness of shooting, she did enjoy her new pink safety glasses and ear protection and wore them most of the weekend.
Ranchin' baby!  This little girl could be found taking tentative steps on the porch or on Mama's or Ma-Ma's hip for the weekend.  Here she is trying to figure out a kid's chair.
And she got it!  Lounging on the porch and basking in the sun?  No problem!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Goodbye Sweet Ralph

Amongst all the fun and joy of the holiday, we had some sadness too.  Our sweet black lab Ralph passed away just a few days before Christmas.  Ralph by far was the sweetest dog I had ever known and we all miss him.  For nearly 14 years Ralph was the companion of first David, then myself and my dog Dooley, then the kids and Brewster. Ralph was a typical lab in that he was sweet, wonderful around children, and LOVED the water.  Ralph enjoyed anywhere he could run free, chase things, fetch things, or find good chewing sticks.  He was happiest at the beach, the lake, the ranch, or trying to "worm" up into a warm lap.  (Not easy as he was 85 pounds in his heyday.) I believe all dogs have souls, but Ralph's was easy to see.  We love and miss you Ralph!
Ralphapotumus Maximus Duderino Kirk
aka "Ralph"
February 1, 2001-December 22, 2014
How Ralph the car or anywhere, he wanted to be as close to you as possible.  Back in 2003 when David and Ralph moved to Corpus Christi, Ralph rode on top of the stuff in the fully packed car so he could see and be near.
Ralph enjoying a favorite spot.
Being a good sport for a Christmas photo with his life-mate Dooley, whom he lost this time last year.  It feels like the end of an era of sorts...both of our first "kids" are gone.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Everybody Had a Holiday!

We enjoyed our first Christmas in Boerne this year!  We stayed busy and had LOTS of visitors.  It was fun to enjoy the holidays in a place that actually has seasons, even if cold weather isn't our favorite.   Ma-Mas, Pa-Pa, and Uncle Clint joined us for Christmas Eve and night and we enjoyed the good company, good food, and good fun building legos and playing with toys.   After Christmas we spent two days in Houston visiting Nonnie and the cousins.  After THAT we had several old friends stop in to watch the Aggies win their bowl game.  And after THAT the Eggers joined us for New Year's!  We were so thrilled that we got to spend so much of the holiday with so many people! Such a great way to end the year!
Cooper and Penny got to play in the hot tub on Christmas Eve.   Ellie wished she could too!
Santa came!  Three kids and three extra people visiting meant LOTS of presents!  Our cups ran over this year and we have a ton to be thankful for.
The after picture...
Coop got a camera for Christmas!  We can't wait to upload from the Cooper-cam!
The name of the game this year was legos.  Penny really enjoyed Uncle Clint helping her build.
We spent the weekend after Christmas in Houston.  Here is Nonnie and all six of her grandkids.  This was another two days of good company, good food, and good fun.  (Nonnie and Mama got a kid-less trip to the fabric store, and Mama got a quilt binding lesson.  Two extra presents for Mama!)