Sunday, September 10, 2017

Rocking summer like a hurricane... and a hurricane!

When the kids are away, the parents will play. One of our summer highlights was a vacation we took with friends this summer to Punta Cana. We stayed at a beautiful brand new resort called Secrets Cap Cana, explored the countryside on go carts, and drank a magical concoction called an Iceberg! Super thankful Nana and Mimi could watch Dakota and Baby Dirk for us. 

Speaking of our kiddos, we have enjoyed all the extra time we have had with them too. We took a mini vacation to New Braunfels, celebrated July 4th with a parade around Bauerle Ranch, celebrated Dakota's 3rd birthday with a Trolls-themed party at Altitude, visited a Dinosaur Park in Bastrop, enjoyed a beach weekend in Galveston, and a Dam Fam get together in Alvin.

We really enjoyed our fun weekend vacation in New Braunfels. Kota loved dressing up at the children's museum and the s'mores at movie night at T Bar M Ranch in New Braunfels. We had one very scary moment, when we were playing in the kids pool. The pool was shallow, but had a gradual slope toward a deeper end, which was 3 feet. I had turned around for one second to say bye to some friends we had made at the pool, and when I turned back around I saw Dakota was reaching for a toy in the deeper end, that was just over her head. I plunged into the pool after I saw her trying to doggy paddle towards the toy with her arms moving furiously. I didn't even wait to see if she could swim to the toy or not; I just dove in. It was a terrifying split second decision. Dirk had just left the pool, and Baby Dirk was hanging around the edge of the pool. That moment made me realize I can never be too careful around pools. We just finished swim lessons for the summer and Dakota can hold her breath for ten seconds, but I am also making sure she wears her floaties whenever we are in the pool. I don't think my heart can take any more scary moments like that one!

Our lil Super Hero Dirk Ryan! Baby Dirk's favorite word right now is "SHOES!" He loves his checkered Vans and will carry them around in the morning saying "Shoes, Shoes" until I put them on his feet. He is also polite and says "Dank Yoooo" whenever anyone hands him anything. He has been getting to spend time with this sweet little girl named Willa. They are so cute together. We are loving that he gets to go to school with Dakota again. It's so fun that they are learning the same songs together. His favorite song is from Dakota's favorite movie Zootopia. "Oh oh oh oh ohhhhh," he'll sing the first line from Shakira's Try Everything. And he drops it like its hot! ha

Another fun outing we had was Blues on the Green at Zilker Park. We brought the kiddos and braved the heat to see Jackie Venson and Shiny Ribs. Luckily there was some cloud cover, and there were so many dogs there to keep Kota and Baby Dirk entertained. They loved the big park and the live music. We love sharing our favorite things about Austin with them. Hopefully next year we can enjoy from the SUP boards!

Altitude trampoline park has been a life saver for us. When the temperature has reached triple digits, it's been so nice to have a place we can take the kids and jump all their energy out. Baby Dirk has particularly enjoyed it and runs around fearless. He jumps into the foam pit, even if it is more like slow-motion falling. Dakota will "can into ball" into the foam pit. They love to run down the long trampolines too. Dakota has really been working on her forward roll and will roll all over the trampolines. The best part is the naps they take afterwards.

A huge highlight for my summer was watching this beautiful baby girl named Lola make her way into the world. It was incredible to witness, and I am so thankful to her Momma for letting me be a part of it. I am loving watching how quickly Lola is growing up- she has such precious lips and cheeks! I can't wait to see the beautiful girl she is going to become.

I loved getting to bring Dakota and Dirk to the Dam Fam Get Together in Alvin at The Kohuteks. We had so many new Dam Fam kiddos- it was cool to see them all playing with each other. There were three newborns there- Cora, Desmond, and Maya - and all the Dam Fam moms had their laps full! We had our usual friendly competitions of Spoons, Horseshoes, and a fun pool volleyball game. Dakota especially loved getting her rainbow Snowcone from the Kona Sno Cone truck. It felt like a great homecoming!! 

For Kota's birthday, we got tickets to Brick Fest in Austin. This was a new type of festival for Dirk and I, but we were pretty impressed. They had miniature golf, a derby race with cars you built out of Legos, and a pool of uncomfortable blue Legos. My favorite was the Glow in the Dark legos! And I shouldn't admit it, but watching Kota's car slide past Daddy's in the derby race. ha! She cried the whole time, because she didn't want to give it up once she built it.

The most breath-taking moment we had as a family was an outing to Hamilton Pool. We had to reserve a spot on a waiting list 3 months in advance, but it was so worth it. This gem was fun, absolutely stunning, and one of my new favorite places in Texas. The website says - The preserve's pool and grotto were formed when the dome of an underground river collapsed due to massive erosion thousands of years ago.
It was like nothing I had ever seen before- a naturally shaded grotto with waterfall tricking from above. Even Dakota was amazed, and jumped into pool, right after Daddy. I was surprised by all the large fish, and the hike that we made to reach the pool. It wasn't a long hike, but quite rocky and carrying the kiddos was a workout. I hope we can come back again soon and enjoy this spot!

This same weekend Mimi came to visit and went with us to the Duck Derby downtown. We didn't come out as Lucky Ducks and win any cars, but we loved watching the ducks come into the finish line. The derby benefits the Boy and Girls Club - so is a worthy donation, if anything. Dakota and baby Dirk loved having Mimi come visit!

Other new happenings- Dakota is training as a ballerina! We are taking a tap/ballet combo class at Alisa's Dance Academy. The tutu is her favorite part, but she pays very close attention in class. I love when they grab their scarfs and dance around with them to "Let it go!" Baby Dirk is so sad he's not in the class. He cries at the door when Dakota goes in, and looks at me like life is not fair!!! Even Noodle has been wanting to join the dance party. haha 

Also, we finally at age 3 broke down and cut Kota's hair. It was getting so tangly in the back whenever she would wake up from nap time. I was terrified that she would lose some of her curls, but it curled right back up into ringlets. She got to watch cartoons, and a lollipop for sitting so still. I know we will be getting Baby Dirk's hair cut soon (cue alligator tears)....

Bedtime routines are a little bit different. Dakota and I "read" I Spy books and take turns telling each other to look for different things in the books. I'm amazed at the things she can find already. I have yet to introduce her to Where's Waldo, but I know she'll get a real kick out of those books. I love when she wants to read a book to me, and I let her make up the story. She was a wonderful imagination. Daddy usually helps rock Baby Dirk to sleep, but I sneak in Mom nights too. I will sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, and I swear he picks a few words to sing out loud along with me. He always fights falling asleep, but one the eye rubbing starts, he doesn't last too much longer. He'll start taking his deep breaths, and then he's out! 

The end of summer came quickly and abruptly. Hurricane Harvey hit Houston hard, causing flooding like Houston has never seen. We had some water, but mostly had wind damage. This past weekend, Dirk and I were able to go to Houston and help some people try and pick up the pieces. It's something I hope I'll never have to go through. We were fortunate that our families did not sustain any damage to their homes, but many of our friends had water in the their homes. It's unbelievable to me how much of the city was underwater. What really was amazing though, was seeing how many neighbors were helping each other out. Neighbors were in kayaks, big trucks, whatever they could use, rescuing other stranded neighbors. It made Dirk and I miss our hometown, and felt so strange being here in Austin watching from afar. It helped us see, home is where your heart is - and much of our hearts are still there! 

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Cannon-balling into summer!

The first official 2017 Doud Cannonball took place at the Tanglewood pool this past Memorial Day weekend....Or as Dakota calls it, "Cornball!" We are hoping to have her diving off the diving board by the end of the summer, because she is becoming quite the swimmer.

Our baby boy is now ONE! He had such a fun party, and we felt so loved by our friends and family that came to help us celebrate. I think the highlight for the kids was the bounce house with a slide. And the margarita machine was a hit with the adults! It was so fun, and I hope to make this an annual fiesta. Look how adorable the cousins are in their dresses!!! Baby Dirk's girlfriend Willa was there and too cute for words. This video sums up Dirk's highlight.

The poor birthday boy somehow caught strep throat and had a 104 degree temperature in the wee morning hours of his birthday. We had to call the triage number for our pediatrician just to make sure he didn't need to go to the ER. Luckily we got him in to see his pediatrician on his birthday, and he got better with antibiotics in time for his party! 

Uncle Derek might have liked the bounce house as much as the kiddos. He certainly loved pelting Aunt Jess with the balls inside of it! 

Mothers Day weekend was amazing. We headed to Six Flags San Antonio and rode roller coaster rides (the kid versions) and played at the water park. I didn't realize how many rides Baby Dirk wasn't able to ride, but Dirk and I took turns letting Dakota get the full theme park experience. We both rode the tennis shoe roller coaster with her. At first, I was nervous she was not going to be a fan, but after our first mini-drop, she was all smiles. I love the picture of her and Dirk with their hands up! She loved how high we went in this airplane ride. It won't be long until she is riding the big roller coasters.

Daddy surprised me with a gorgeous hotel, Hotel Contessa on the Riverwalk. Baby Dirk and Dakota had so much fun playing in the curtains in our room. It is the best thing ever to watch them play with each other. Fingers crossed this continues as they get older. We walked down to the Riverwalk and Kota loved the ducks! I think she "talked" to each one we saw. After dinner at Rainforest Cafe, we headed back to the hotel for the evening. The next morning I met up with my BFF Amber and her Mom and some friends for a Moms brunch at McAdoos. It was a)Delicious and b)So amazing that Dirk and Joe watched the kiddos! 

I felt spoiled for sure! I also had a Mommy & Me photoshoot prior and got the pictures just in time for Mothers Day. They are stunning and something I wanted to commemorate that this may be all the children Dirk and I have. It's hard to think we are done, but sometimes it's even more difficult to imagine a 3rd in the mix. As much I would love to have a third, I try to balance all the questions- will we be able to give all three the attention they crave? (I sometimes worry about this with just 2!!!) Can we afford it?  And then what happens if one more, is actually twins? Hard swallow... We haven't made any permanent decisions, but we are going to pray about it this summer and see where that takes us. 

 I love how different Dirk Allen is than Dakota. He's not as cautious as she is, wanting to climb on top of everything. He is definitely the extrovert out of the two of them. He's waving to everyone now. And at swim school his favorite part is the bye-bye song, and he is the only child in the class that waves and smiles the entire time he is being spun around on the frog float! And then he gets angry when his turn is over, reaching out for the float for me to put him back on it. He loves water and spinning car wheels around. When Dakota takes his walker, he will find something else with wheels on it and entertain himself with that. He started walking this past weekend, taking 6 steps on Memorial Day. He only says a few words, Ma-ma, twoooo, Da-da, Oww!, and Bye. When I see him break into his wide grin, I am reminded how fortunate I am to call him my baby boy.

Even though it says "Never Grow Up," I do want them to grow up... but I want them to do it a little more slowly. Dakota is going to be 3 in three short weeks. She is chatting up a storm, growing into her own little person that cracks me up! When she sings, "I'm going to wash that man right out of my hair," I see her future in a high school musical unfolding. She is a wonderful big sister, and only needs a few reminders to share and not hit. She  is picking up social cues- saying please, excuse me, and thank you! At school, they say she will check on her baby brother and bring him toys. Often times when she is repeating things she hears, she sounds like an expert on the matter. I simply adore the girl she is growing into.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Boobonnets, Easter Sunday, & Camping Out, Camping Outside!

The past few weeks have been jam packed with events, it seems like life has been set at a fast and furious pace. Between mine and Dirk's work events, swimming lessons, the home projects we've started, and weekend birthday parties, we don't get much downtime....that was why I really liked the idea of going camping for our 5th anniversary - with our kids. I couldn't think of anything better than spending time outside with each other, as a family. We reserved a cabin at Inks Lake and had the best time exploring the State Park and Longhorn Caverns nearby. Dakota had us singing her Bubble Guppies song "Camping Out, Camping Outside" on repeat. She loved the ducks, but her favorite part she told me was the s'mores. She actually cleaned her plate with a wipe, because it was so messy and she likes things to be neat. Baby Dirk was not fond of the hiking or even the caverns, but did love finding duck poop, sitting outside in our papasan camping chair, and playing in the water at Devils Watering Hole. Dirk Ryan was our fabulous chef, and got to cliff dive at the same watering hole. It wasn't the most romantic anniversary outing, but we loved introducing Dakota and Baby Dirk to camping and are looking forward to the next State Park!

Below is one of my favorite recent pictures! I was running back behind our neighborhood and found this gorgeous patch of bluebonnets. I always think of my Granny when I see bluebonnets, and couldn't help but think of how fond she'd be of all her great grandchildren if she were here. 

I loved our Easter weekend in Manvel. We got to hang out with the cousins at Derek and Jessica's, go to Blakely's 2nd birthday party at Urban Air, and see lots of family on Easter. Granddad managed to get Dakota to put lip gloss on his ear (Silly Granddad) and Katie joined the big leagues in Easter Egg hunting. The cascarones were fun, as always, and Dirk managed to grab almost all the prize eggs. 

I finally was able to meet the adorable Lillian, and she is just the most precious one year old girl. Mimi and T-Paw and Naynay surprised us all with Easter presents! We are so lucky and loved. 

Each and every year, I am more moved by Easter Sunday and how it brings our family together. I was sad I didn't get Easter Bunny pictures this year, but at the same time I was ok with it, because I never want Dakota and Dirk to misconstrue what Easter is really about. We celebrate that He is Risen! But we'll always hunt for eggs because its fun. And Devin and Dakota were hysterical to watch. It's a favorite holiday.


Dakota and Dirk and interacting more each day. Most of it is the most adorable toddler and baby giggling and babbling. I have caught them holding hands from their different car seats while driving to school and most times Dakota is a super awesome big sister. 

Here's a few from the Doud's First Official Camping trip. Inks Lake was a great pick - only an hour and a half away and lots of shallow water spots we could enjoy. We saw deer, squirrels, geese, ducks, two different kinds of lizards, a snake, and a few stray cats. The weather was gorgeous and only a few pesky mosquitoes. It was so memorable and a great way to celebrate. Happy 5 Years to us!!!