Sunday, August 16, 2009

Pre-K Graduation and Summer Vacations

Summer was a blast! We started off with Kai and Sierra's graduation from Pre-K. They had a cap/gown ceremony and both had speaking parts. They're growing up so fast. We stayed on the go the remainder of the summer, including a 2 weeks road trip for our vacation.. awesome time (and well documented below). Kindergarten starts in two weeks so we'll be settling into our new routine. We'll miss our freedom but Kai and Sierra are excited. There are lots of pictures from our summer below:

PreK Graduation



2 Week Road Trip Vacation

Miscellaneous Summer Adventures


Pre-K Graduation [top]

Pre-K Graduation was a special day for us. Kai and Sierra were in different classes, so they had different ceremonies (about an hour and a half apart). Kai went first so Sierra sat with us in the audience. She was noticeably nervous, knowing she was next. They both did a great job andremembered all their lines.





Kai's graduation program


Sierra's graduation program

Kai's Pre-K diploma


Sierra's Pre-K diploma


Kai was ready for his part. He wasn't nervous at all.


Kai was the greeter for his class. He welcomed everyone to the graduation and asked them all to stand for the pledge of allegiance.


The Pre-K boy's program was about sports. Kai's part was related to football and the Mean Joe Green soda commercial.


He was proud of himself... he nailed it!


For the music part of the program, they sang a Bob the Builder song. Kai played the boom whackers.



"Whew, I made it!"


Kai posed with his teachers (Miss Connie and Miss Kenyatta).


"Yeah - it's almost my turn." We were killing time outside while we waited for Sierra's program.


We stopped for a family picture (Dick was taking the picture and Kai was worried he was going to sit on his new found snail, hence the looking down.).

Dick came to celebrate with us.


Kai rescued his snail.


Sierra got to be the flag holder during the pledge of allegiance in her program.


Sierra's class program was on the State of Florida and the alphabet. She had two parts. This one was on G for Gulf Coast.


Her second part was Q for quiet time. She was nervous, but did a great job (didn't smile much, but did super).


Sierra also played the boom whackers for her music portion.


She was all business when it was diploma time. She marched over, picked it up and turned around back to her seat. The profile shot was the best we could get.


Sierra posed with her teachers, Miss Debora and Miss Brittany.


2 week vacation - road trip vacation [top]

Our big vacation this year was a 2 week, 7 state adventure. It was a road trip from Florida through the Southeast states: Georgia, Tennessee, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina.

We stopped at every touristy place we could find and had a ball. We were sad when it all ended. We could have continued with the vagabond life for a bit.



We made the kids map books so they could follow along with our travels (and make a scrapbook from brochures along the way).


We were neatly packed in and ready to roll (different story by the end of the trip).

Atlanta, Georgia was our first stop, but we didn't quite make it the first night.


We stopped at a Days Inn for the night.


"Hotel living is great!"


"We can't do this at home."


We stopped at our friends, Jim, Ilene, Sam and Cora in Atlanta. Here is Sierra with Cora riding their horse.


Sam and Kai are waiting for their food.


We didn't stay long but had a great visit and miss having them around.


Our next stop was Gatlinburg, TN. However, along the way, we stopped in Helen, GA.


We mined for gold and jewels.

Mom remembers doing this as a child. It was a great memory and cool to share with Kai and Sierra.


"Woohoo, we're rich!"


Helen, Georgia is a little town that looks like Bavaria, Germany. It was a nice break in our travels.


We took Forrest with us, so we couldn't do any restaurant dining. We took a break outside for a hot dog.


We couldn't resist taking a spin around the block with "Sweet Tater," the horse with the hat and braids.

Our carriage ride was short, but we had fun (even Forrest, who got to ride along).



Kai and Sierra fed Sweet Tater after our ride.


Forrest enjoyed driving through the Great Smokey Mountains.


We finally made it to Tennessee.


Our cabin was beautiful and very high up.


The master bedroom.


Our pool room.


Kai and Sierra's room.


The living room.


The kitchen/air hockey room.


Sierra attempted to play pool.


We had a hot tub on the back porch. It would get in the high 60s at night, so it was perfect weather for it.


The boys are hanging out.


Sierra called this house "her house." She latched onto it and decided she wanted to keep it (but she can't afford the mortgage yet).

It's a rough life...taking a bath while watching Nemo.


We hiked up to Clingmans Dome (the highest point in the Great Smokey Mountains).


It was a steep hike, but we made it.


"We're on top of the world."


"It was a beautiful day!"


It was an awesome view from the top.



The walk back down the mountain was much easier.


"I'm so cute."


Clingmans Dome


We let Kai and Sierra roll the windows down on the way down the mountain. Sierra would crack up every time a car would pass and extra wind would come in the car.


The Tennessee/North Carolina State line was in the middle of the Great Smokey Mountain National Park.


We did lots of reading on the trip. Kai and Sierra can both read now. It's often out loud and at the same time, peppered in with "Mom, what's this word?" It's exciting to watch though.


Sometimes, they would try to "read in their heads."



We went swimming in a local river (the Pigeon River). It was slick on the bottom, so we didn't wade very far.


The boys ventured off a little ways down river.



Sierra and Mom spotted a baby lobster.


"Say cheese."


"Don't hate me because I'm beautiful."


"Check out my dirty bottom."


Kai found a little pool to soak in.


We went to Ober Gatlinburg (had an alpine slide and some other cool rides).


We took the chair lift ride up to the top.


Daddy and Sierra enjoying the scenery.


"Hi mom"


Pretty girls...


"Get ready girls, you're going down."


"Hey, I got taller."


Daddy was goofing around on the kiddie slide.


Sierra LOVED the pirate ship ride. You can't tell it from this picture, but she wanted to ride it over and over again.


This is the pirate ship ride.. sways up from side to side.

Kai and mom could only stand 2 rides on it with our empty stomachs.


"There's the smile!" Actually, Sierra loved screaming on this one.


This is a picture of the alpine slide. They wouldn't let us take a picture while we were riding down (darn safety rules), but it was fun.



We went up to the top of the mountain to check out the view.


"Thanks for humoring mom by posing for another picture."


"We're going down, down, down."


While staying in TN, we drove over to Cherokee, NC for a day.


We went to the Cherokee Indian Village.


On our tour, we saw how they made pottery.


We saw how they made baskets.


These men were making various carvings.


Kai and Sierra likes touching the dead animal skins .. yuck!


This nice man posted with us on the way out.


Dad made sure mom made it into a few pictures this time.


This was the outdoor drama we saw while in Cherokee. It is put on by the Native Americans.


This was the sign for the Indian village.


Kai and Sierra took their own spending money. It was burning a hole in their pocket. We hit some good tourist shops in Cherokee. This was one of Sierra's purchases.


Kai decided to buy the "Chief" hat.


Both of them also bought a Daniel Boone hat (Mom sprung for the tiny lollipop).


The play was good. It was a little over Kai and Sierra's head. Kai was asking questions the entire show.


After Tennessee/North Carolina, we moved on to see Grandma Nancy in West Virginia.



She was impressed at how well Kai and Sierra were reading.


We took a tour of Organ Cave in Lewisburg, WV.


Fortunately, we brought some long pants and jackets (at least everyone but Dad did).


There were some really pretty formations inside.


Everyone is so happy to be posing for one more picture.


This one looked like it had snow on it.


Kai posing in front of the "ice cream cone."


This cave used to me a saltpeter mine in the Civil War. It helped produce the majority of the gun powder for the Confederacy during the war.


Kai got to be the leader for part of our tour.


Yeah - mom make it into one more picture.


Kai spent some time reading to Grandma.


Sierra made a bed for her and Mick.


The Higgins'

Poor Forrest got an impacted anal gland the day we were supposed to leave Lewisburg, so we made an emergency trip to the vet. We visited with the horses outside while we waited for her.


It was a long journey to Virginia, with Forrest in our laps, wearing a cone on her head (so she didn't mess with her incision).


We finally made it to Virginia, after dinner. Kai and Sierra really enjoyed seeing their Cousin Hunter again.


They had big fun playing in the pool. Although Kai met his first horsefly... no fun.


Uncle Jeffrey and Forrest went cruisin' after dark.


"I'm smiling now but in a minute a big horsefly is going to bite my head and I'm going to scream."



We got to ride in the 4th of July parade, in Eclipse VA (Uncle Jeffrey pulled us behind his 4-wheeler in a trailer). We threw candy to everyone on the side of the road.



Sierra really enjoyed being "queen." She was blowing kisses to everyone.


It was hot, but fun.



"Oh yeah.. .Sierra had a horn. It was a loud trailer trip."


"We're ready to roll."


"It was an adventure."


"Make a crazy face."


The red/white/blue Higgins'


The church had a lot of activities for the kids. Sierra was a little too little for this one.


Kai LOVES Hunter. He was glad Memaw found them matching outfits.



We went down on the pier for the annual raft race.


Sierra and Memaw hanging out.


Kai and Sierra made it in the local newspaper.


They were tickled to see themselves in the newspaper.


After all the July 4th festivities, we went to Uncle Jeffrey's to play some more.


Forrest enjoyed running around with no lead, even though she had to wear her cone.


It's fireworks time.


We watched the fireworks from the pier.


It's crazy face time again.


"Tickle, tickle, Memaw"


"Pawpaw, look how big that one is!


We had a nice view away from the crowds.


Our next adventure was Water Country.


Sierra was leery to go on the slides, until Kai tried them out first. Then she went and had a ball.



It was a cold/rainy day. We weren't able to stay the entire day, but had fun while it lasted.



Kai's first experience with the wave pool was a big hit. He didn't want any help. Memaw stayed close by just in case he changed his mind.


Baby Forrest had a good time. However, after the wave pool, he and Sierra both had blue lips, so we called it a day (except for Uncle Jeffrey, Hunter and Kai, who would have stayed all day in the rain if they could).


We keep having more fun. Our next day was a trip to Busch Gardens, Williamsburg.


Aunt Kit and Hunter went with us. Kai and Sierra were taller since our last trip here, so we were able to ride a lot of new rides with them.


We had an extra treat. Kai and Sierra's cousin Seth came out for the day as well.



Seth and Kai hanging out.


Kai got to ride his first "big" roller coaster. He was tall enough and loved it. Unfortunately, we recently found out that Busch Gardens is tearing it down (it's 25 years old).


They were big enough to ride this one all by themselves.


"Memaw won us these lizards."


After Kai went on the Big Bad Wolf (the "big roller coaster"), we asked Sierra if she wanted to ride it and she said "no, I'm not big enough" (but she was the exact height to ride it). We didn't push her. Then later in the day, she finally decided that she wanted to give it a try. She did great!


"I'm so tough."


"I bought this cool hat with my spending money."


Nice picture with Memaw & Pawpaw.


Here's the crazy face picture.


More rides...


Hunter and Kai are ready to go.

Forrest is walking Pawpaw.



Sierra found Sesame Street characters.. it's not a good day at a theme park without seeing characters. (Here she is with Bert and Ernie)


"Woohoo, we're in luck, there are lots of characters here." We ran into Grover.


We moved on to Cookie Monster.


Zoe, Abby Cadabby, and Grover posed with Sierra.


We found Big Bird after that.


The grand finale was Prince Elmo.


Pawpaw and Mama.


We took a family flume ride.


Sierra usually rides under Daddy's shirt.


Our last day in Virginia, we spent at the pool. They love going off the diving board.


Kai played with his water cruiser.


Even though it looks like Memaw is trying to drown Kai, she's actually teaching him to turn his head to the side when he swims.


"Come and get me."


Kai with his cousin Torri.


Kai and Sierra went off the diving board, over and over and over again.


We had a small picnic so we could visit with everyone. Seth came out, so we could see him before we left.


Our cousins, Michelle and Joshua


Aunt Sherry and cousin Joshua.


Sierra is getting Aunt Sherry and Uncle Pat wet.


Kai and Sierra had a big time playing with their cousin Torri.


"Big hug... we won't see you again for a while."


Kai pushed Forrest around.


"I'm a fish."


Family fun in the pool.


The girls are resting.


We left Virginia and traveled to our final destination, Myrtle Beach, SC.


The kids approved of our hotel (although it wasn't a favorite for Mom and Dad). We were right by the stairs and elevator (as well as the lower pool), so it was VERY LOUD all night.


Here is a view from our side of the building.


We went to dinner at Planet Hollywood.


We were surprised to find the Power Rangers inside.. one of our favorites.


We got a little wet after dinner. We hadn't been to the beach in forever.


"Ayehhhh.. I'm getting wet."


Our hotel gave us a free ball, so we played with it on the beach."






Kai picked up some poison ivy in Virginia. Thankfully, it was a mild case, so Benedryl and the sun/ocean cleared it right up. Kai did remarkable keeping his hands off of it. You tell him not to scratch and he didn't (he just talked about how much it itched all the time.)


Sierra was digging her "bath hole."


Kai was ready to go surfing.


Daddy decided to help with the digging.


"Ahhh.. finally my own bath at the beach."


Sierra won't try boogie boarding yet, but she likes being dragged around in the surf.


"I love my Mama."


This was a poor attempt to get a shot of everyone at our hotel's water park.


"I'm going fast."


"This waterslide is awesome."


"Here I come."


Kai and Sierra would have ridden this slide all day.


Here come the girls.


Another trip down the water slide.



Crazy boys.




With our hotel package, we were able to go to Family Kingdom, which had a lot of carnival rides.


Sierra's first order of business was going on the ferris wheel.


"I'm so handsome."


"Let's get this party started."


"I'm too sexy for myself."


Hands up are a common theme on rides now.


Daddy decided to ride the old wooden roller coaster.


The kiddie bumper cars were a huge hit.


We got to the park early so Kai and Sierra had the place to themselves.


"I'm coming to get you."


"Mommy, hold one, we're coming up on a sharp turn."


Sierra is kayaking through a teepee.


Riding the Speedy Gonzalez roller coaster.


Sierra never passes up the carousel.


We have ridden this ride at some of the fairs. It's a fun one.


"Yikes, this swings me around fast."


Our new favorite ride is the Hurricane. Daddy wouldn't go on it at first so Mom took everyone.. we went forward very fast. Then they reversed us and we went fast backwards.


"Hold on."


We took another nightly stroll on the beach.


"Is Mom the only one smiling?"


Another beach day... digging holes with Daddy.


"I'm pooped."


Sierra still has to keep her face shielded from the sun. We have at least 6 more months of heavy sunscreen/hats and daily massages for her scars. She's a trooper about it though.


Kai loves riding the waves.


"Take that Power Ranger move."


Our hotel also had a putt-putt golf course. Kai got a hole in one.


It was a 9 hole course, and no one was there to play, so it didn't take too long (Daddy was out playing "real golf.").


On our last night, we went back to Family Kingdom. It was pretty with everything lit up.


Daddy and Sierra found another pirate ship to go on. They dragged mom on it once, but that's all the stomach could take.


Sierra made Daddy and Kai go on it a few more times (they are 2nd row from the back).


We also convinced Daddy to go on the hurricane ride.


"We're going fast now."


"Daddy is a nut."

Our next ride was the airplanes.


"We're on top of the world (at least the ferris wheel)."


We were freezing because Kai made us all ride the flume ride and it was a cool, windy night.

"Daddy, what do you think of this ride?"


Kai and Sierra spend some more of their money in Myrtle Beach. They bought two more hermit crabs (Mango and Tiger Snake).


We're almost home. We lucked out on the weather during our trip. The temperatures were very mild for the summer months and the humidity was really low... until we got back to Florida. It was back to hot/humid.


The car was a mess and the kids were comatose... it was a great trip!



Miscellaneous [top]

Since our last post, we celebrated Mother's Day, Father's Day and had some mini vacations and visitors. There are several pictures below:

Sierra's class had a really nice Mother's Day tea party. They had practiced/prepared a little program for the Moms.


Kai and Sierra's teachers were kind enough to work out their Mother's Day celebrations to be at different times so Mom could make it to both of them. Kai's class had "Muffins for Mom."


Miss Debora even brought in her nice china for our tea party... brave woman.


It was such a special day.


Sierra made this nice frame with her pictures.


She put in in the bag she'd decorated.


Both Kai and Sierra decorated Mother's Day cakes.


Kai made a cookbook as his gift.


The teachers interviewed each of the kids and asked them how to make certain recipes. Kai was asked how to make Blueberry Pie. His response was: "6 blueberries, 10lbs of white sugar and 10lbs of dough. You get the pan, place the blueberries and dough into it (do not mix). Put the pan in the oven for 20 mins at just the right degrees. Let cool and enjoy with a glass of milk."

Sierra also completed this questionnaire on Mom. It seems her perception of Mom is an older (65 years old), tall (67 feet), thin (70 pounds) woman.


Sierra wanted to pose like Penny in this picture (Penny from Bolt).


We spent Mother's Day by the pool.


Kai's such a big boy now.


Daddy entertained the kiddos while Mom rested on the side.


Mom tried to teach Kai and Sierra how to use their arms to swim this summer.


They did pretty well, but we still need practice.



This is an old favorite for Kai and Sierra (although they're getting a little too big for Dad to hold them).



Kai's balance has gotten better since last summer.


They're happy even underwater.


One Sunday afternoon, we decided to have a family golf day (at a cheap local course).


Kai is very focused and really enjoys going to the driving range with Daddy.


Power Ranger Sierra.


It's a proud day for Dad. He always wanted to have the kids old enough so he could enjoy a day like this with them.


Thanks Bill. When the Magic were in the NBA finals, he got Kai and Sierra these jerseys. They were able to wear them to school on game days.


Magic are #1.


Sierra is ready for her Luau party at school.


Kai's class had an end of the year pirate party... argghhhh.


Dick and Cathy took us to Gators for Kai and Sierra's graduation present. Sierra got her face painted as a tiger.


Kai decided to go with the Magic theme.


Kai did not spend all his vacation money, so he decided to buy a rocket with the rest. It was a good purchase. He and Daddy have gotten a lot of enjoyment out of it.


We went to Fort Lauderdale for Arlen's 40th Birthday party.


It was hot down there, but we had a blast.



Liz and Kai dancing the night away.



Sierra in her party dress.


Kai enjoying a non-alcoholic beverage by the bar.


We couldn't pass up a day at the beach while we were down South. The beaches are so pretty.


The surf is perfect for Kai and Sierra's age.


Sierra is evaluating her spiritual options.


"Look Dad, the recession might be over.." Daddy and Sierra reading the Sunday paper.

We started doing some charity work, with our church, that Kai and Sierra could participate in. We give away food to people in need. There are usually smaller items like bread and juice they can help carry.



Here they are carrying juice to someone's car. They do pretty well. It's a 4 hour shift, and we sometimes need to remind them why we're there and that "today isn't about you, it's about other people." They seem to "get it," although last week, Kai stated "we're helping these people because they don't have money and can't buy food." That would have been ok, except it was as he was loading milk in their car. Out of the mouths of babes....


Our cousin Seth came for a visit from Charlotte for a week. We were sad to see him go. We had a fun time.




We went with Kathy, Bill, Kerrigan (and her friend Kelsey), and Kyle to West Palm Beach to see DMB. Kerrigan let everyone bury her in the sand for entertainment (which was good since the water was too rough to go swimming... there were three tropical storms brewing in the Atlantic so the waves were high).


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