Sunday, January 4, 2009

Cruising and Christmas

We've been waiting 18 months for our Disney cruise and it finally arrived. It made for a busy December. We left on December 6th for a week in the Caribbean. Grandma, Memaw and Pawpaw joined us. We got to celebrate Memaw's 65th birthday and Memaw and Pawpaw's 40th anniversary. It was a big week.

Less than a week after we got home, Sierra had minor surgery (for her chronic ear infections). After a speedy recovery, it was time for Christmas and New Years. We're finally past all the festivities and back to normal (there are mixed reviews about that amongst various family members).

Below is our Christmas card this year. We were able to use one of our family shots from formal night on the cruise.

Given how "trigger happy" Carla and Pawpaw are with the camera, the picture volume is more than normal. There are links below to the respective picture categories.

Santa & the Higgins' 2008

Christmas/New Year holiday 2008

Santa Pictures(top)

We went for our annual visit to see Santa. We never go to the particular mall where "the real Santa" visits. As we were approaching the door, Kai asked "This is Santa's house?" We explained that he was just visiting so the children could tell him what they wanted for Christmas. Grandma, Memaw and Pawpaw were in town for the cruise, so we got some good family shots (fortunately, it was a slow day for Santa visitation and the photographers enjoyed that Kai and Sierra were cooperative).

In preparation for our Santa visit, Kai started collecting all the toy magazines from the Sunday paper. He would circle the ones he wanted. We noticed that he was also circling others and putting an X through them. We asked why and he said those were the ones he really wanted, but were too old for him now. He wanted Santa to know that he would like them when he was older.

Sierra actually decided on a gift this year (in the past, she has been disinterested in anything, often saying "nothing" when asked what she wanted for Christmas). She wanted a "cooking oven." Below are their wish lists and our pictures:




Here is the list Kai made of his top 3 wish list items.


This is Sierra's list of her top 3 wish list items.








Christmas/New Year Holiday (top)

We had a nice Christmas at home this year. Normally, we travel back to VA/WV to visit our family after Christmas, but we weren't able to this year. We missed seeing everyone, but enjoyed our time together with friends in FL.


Christmas morning - Santa came!


Kai was mom's big helper after we decorated our tree. There were needles everywhere, which he vacuumed up.



Memaw and Pawpaw sent Sierra a "Get Well Bear/Balloon Bouquet" after her surgery. She ran out the door to meet the delivery man just 5 hours after getting home.


Kai visited Santa again at his school Christmas party.


Sierra missed her Christmas party (it was the day of her surgery), so Kai called to tell her he hoped she was feeling better.


Instead of baking cookies, we decided to make a Rice Krispie Treat house.


Here is Sierra's house.


We attended our church's Christmas Eve service outside. It was a beautiful night.


Our family tradition is to open one present on Christmas Eve. Kai and Sierra both chose the biggest box they could find under the tree.


Sierra loves the Backyardigans. You can see she was excited. Kai's present was an animal safari set.



Kai's class made some reindeer food (shredded wheat with shiny confetti in it). We put on the lawn so the reindeer would see it and not miss our house.


We tracked Santa on Norad. We saw him as he passed through Kazakhstan.


Santa finally made it to Longwood.. we hurried to bed before he got to our house.


On Christmas morning, we saw that Santa had come and so had the reindeer. They ate most of the cookies and carrots we left out.


Yeah - present time!



Santa left Sierra her "cooking oven" and some other goodies.


Kai was happy that Santa left his Power Ranger Megazord and Hulk hands.


"It's a good day."


"Ok, I've posed for you, now can I open my other gifts?"


"Hey, why is my name on this girly wrapping paper?"


Kai and Daddy tease each other all the time about liking "girly things." Kai got Daddy some girl hair and a purse as a joke.


Sierra thought the perfect gift for Daddy was a very large peppermint stick. After giving it to him, she nagged him to eat it (and share) for a week before he finally gave in.


Sierra got the job of crawling under the tree to retrieve the last few presents.


"Thanks for the camera Memaw and Pawpaw." Sierra walked around all day taking pictures (even of the parade on TV).


Kai used his camera to take a picture of his loot.


Sierra was anxious to make donuts for breakfast in her new oven.


Mr. Dick came over for Christmas dinner and we had our 2nd Christmas.


Kai showed Dick how to use his new camera.


"Don't make me angry, I'm the Hulk."


Sierra got a new basket and horn for her bike. She LOVED it.


Kai liked his new basket and horn as well.They're quite loud when they're honking at the same time.


We spent New Year's Eve at Kathy and Bill's house. Kerrigan showed Kai how to use the Wii.


Katie helped Sierra play.


Jim and Kai played Mad Gab with the girls.


Kathy and Kyle joined in the fun.





Disney Cruise (December 6 - 13, 2008) (top)

We had a great time on our cruise. When we left and came back, it was in the 50s.. but during our week in the Caribbean, we had beautiful weather. It was a little windy on a few days, but nice.

We traveled to St. Maarten, St. Thomas, and Castaway Cay. Kai and Sierra spent most of their time with us, but did check out the kids clubs for a few hours (which gave mom/dad a little break to read on deck). There are LOTS of pictures of our travels...




The Disney Magic was our cruise ship.


Each of us (including the kids) got our own room keys/onboard charge cards (although Kai and Sierra didn't have charging privileges).

Kai and Sierra wheel their bags on board the ship.


Minnie was there to greet us.


We were able to check out the kid's club while we waited for our room to become available.


Kai liked all the toys in the kids club.


Goofy showed up on deck for our first lunch.


Our room is ready!


It was cozy and plenty of room for us.


Our balcony was really nice.


The bathroom was divided into two rooms.


"It's all about me"


The smokestacks even have the Mickey emblem.


"Woohoo, we found the free ice cream."

"We all look lovely in life jacket orange."


"Party time"


"These cool ribbons they gave us for the going away party are awesome."


Jim, Sierra, and Nancy (Grandma) smile for the first of about 1000 pictures during the week.


"I see the ocean."


The ship was decorated with beautiful Christmas decorations.


The lobby looked amazing.


One of the restaurants had artwork on the walls that lit up during dinner.


We watched the pilot leave the ship after we'd gotten out of the canal.


Our couch miraculously turned into bunk beds each night thanks to Gerich (pronounced George), our cabin attendant (Kai and Sierra switched bunks each night).


We remembered to brush every night... needed to get all the extra sugar off our teeth.


Our first morning on the ship, was our character breakfast. Mickey, Minnie, Pluto and Chip n Dale all came by our table.


Grandma finally got to meet Minnie in person.


Even adults can have fun with the characters.


"Check out my Minnie napkin ears"


Kai (in his Peter Pan napkin hat) and Sierra with Mickey... can you tell which one is more enamored with the characters?


Dale loved mom's Chip ‘n Dale t-shirt.


Trifonio, "Trif," (from India) and Abraham (from the Philippines) were our servers for the week.


MeMaw and Pawpaw liked getting their pictures taken with the characters as much as Sierra did.


The Mickey Mouse pool was Sierra's favorite. She even dragged Daddy in the cold water on a few days.


Kai spent most of his "pool time" on the Mickey slide.


"Mom, watch out, we're going to splash you."


Sierra convinced Grandma to get in the water and sling her around a bit.



Jim waiting for the Dallas game to come on via satellite before formal night (he was the only one in the bar in a tuxedo ...and the game never came on).


Mom prepping everyone so we could get a nice Christmas card picture.


The girls cleaned up nice.


Sierra is Daddy's little girl.


Happy Anniversary Memaw and Pawpaw! Our 2nd night out to sea, Memaw and Pawpaw celebrated their 40th anniversary.


The serving staff came out to sing to them.


Memaw hates having her picture taken, so all the camera action was a lot of fun for her.. ha ha.


The staff brought them an anniversary cake, which we had as our second dessert ...gluttony at it's finest.


Grandma Nancy, Jim, Kai and Sierra all dolled up.



Daddy wanted a nice tux shot with Kai as a "pre shot" to look back on next to Kai's wedding picture some day.


Kai is Mommy's best little man.


The Higgins'/Ward clan on formal night.


They had a giant gingerbread house made (it's smelled awesome when we walked by it every day).


Here are Kai and Sierra fighting it out in front of the gingerbread house (they decided to wrestle when it was picture time).

Our nice family picture we used on the 2008 Holiday card.


MeMaw and PawPaw's formal picture.


This is a picture from our first show.


They shows were great.


And Pawpaw got lots of pictures.


The sunsets were beautiful.


The Mickey Mouse pool (minus all the people) about 6AM.


Sierra is pretending to be a tour guide (with Jim as her "group").


Kai is chilling out watching a movie on the outdoor screen by the pool.


"This is an awesome vacation."


Here comes Super Kai! (Kai made a super hero outfit in the kid's club and was very proud of his garbage bag, construction paper creation).


"Come on, give me a kiss."



Sierra often was not hungry for dessert. One night she told Mr. Trip, that she wanted nothing. He brought her a plate that said "Nothing." From that point forward, she asked for "Nothing" every night. She'd proceed to lick off all the syrup.


Sierra was in heaven with all the Chip ‘n Dale access she got. She often "stalked" them on the ship.


We inadvertently dressed in holiday Tie-dye for Christmas.


Sierra learned the hula from Lilo and Stitch in the kids club one day. She showed it to Donald Duck who decided to dance with her.

Sierra thought Donald was awesome.


MeMaw and PawPaw thought Donald was awesome too.


St. Maarten was beautiful.


Pawpaw posed for his picture after the morning excursion (hence the crazy hair).


A Royal Caribbean ship pulled in next to ours in St. Maarten. Kai wanted to know why their ship was bigger.


Our pretty girl having fun on the beach.


Pawpaw in St. Maarten (our ship is over his shoulder).



Daddy chillin' out on the beach.


Memaw is ready to go shopping for some bargains.


The one picture Jim took of Carla (on a windy day at the beach) was strategically posed to get another women in the background.... what a great keepsake (it made for a good laugh).

The storms blew in quickly in the islands. We made it back to the boat before this one hit.



St. Maarten rocks

Kai won't be happy when he sees Pawpaw messing up his Power Ranger move.


Pawpaw drove the Rhino Rider on our excursion.


Memaw didn't want to get beaten to death on the excursion, so she graciously let Carla take her place (yeah!)


We drove around the island and then stopped to go snorkeling.


The water was a little chilly, but we got used to it after swimming for a bit.


The day was a little rough on the water (you can't see that here) but beautiful.


Our tour guide had a ton of personality.


PawPaw bought the photo for us as a keepsake. It was a great day.


The picture came with a certificate of achievement which was funny.


We went to the shows each night after dinner. One night they showed the movie, BOLT, in 3D.


Grandma on pirate night (they gave everyone bandanas to wear).


Kai and Sierra went to dinner with Memaw, Pawpaw and Grandma one night so Mommy and Daddy could go out to a nice dinner (they had a "fancy restaurant" on the ship where you could make a reservation).


The menu was great.


Pirate Mickey was ready for the big party on deck.


Pirate night was a late one for us. Kai was fading fast.


Sierra was full of energy until we put her to bed.


Sierra showed Chip her hula dance.. he was impressed and joined in with her, which made her night.

Kai perked up a little after the party got started.


Here is Memaw in her pirate garb hanging out with Pirate Goofy.




Sierra getting a better view of the party.


Pirate Mickey came sliding in on a zip line to kick off the fireworks display.


The 20 min firework display was incredible.


Sierra found one of the pirates from the party on the way back to our room.


He posed for pictures.


The Goofy pool had the large movie screen (to watch movies while you swam).


The Mickey Mouse pool had the slide and little baby pools.


At every port, the crew was cleaning up the ship, including touching up black paint everywhere (that didn't even look like it needed painting).


We got several slices from the Pinocchio Pizzeria.


We spent more time in the hot tub than the pool (it was a little breezy at sea and the pool water was a little chilly).


St. Thomas was our favorite island. It was so pretty... and our best "weather day."


This was one of our views as we pulled into port.


There were sailboats everywhere you looked in St. Thomas.


We found Pinocchio posing with Sierra.


We took the sky ride up to the top of the mountain in St. Thomas.


We had a great view on the way up the mountain.



There were 3 ships in port the day we arrived. Kai again, gave us commentary on our "little ship," the bigger one, and the biggest one.

"Is this Sierra or a circus act?"


We posed for a picture at the top of the mountain.


"Can you see us, Mom?"


Grandma bought us all pina coladas.


The top of the mountain was called Paradise Point (for good reason... it was beautiful).


Sierra posed by St. Thomas on the map.

We had a great view going down the mountains on the sky ride.


While we were riding the sky ride, Memaw and Pawpaw were on an excursion on another part of the island.


They saw some beautiful spots.


They went kayaking to some great spots.


...and went snorkeling (saw lots of a fish and a barracuda).


Here is an iguana on a leisurely stroll past our ship.


The Disney Magic had Goofy hanging off the back painting.


Each day we came back on the boat from the islands, we were greeted by a welcome home sign.


Sierra was thrilled that Chip remembered her dance from the pirate party. When he saw her on deck, he recognized her and started doing the hula.


Lilo came up to say hi.


After the hula, Chip tried to teach Sierra how to use the hoola hoop.


Mickey joined the deck party.


After stalking Chip ‘n Dale, Sierra found Goofy to dance with.


Here is another beautiful sunset.


The view from one of the ship's portholes.


Goofy grabbed Memaw for a squeeze in the hall.


"Another end to an awesome day."


Abraham showed us a cool trick (he balanced a fork on a toothpick).


"Smile again!"




The Higgins' family team (Tiger Speed) at the Mickey 200 (a car race where the car is made out of vegetables).



Here is our car.


"Good team effort."


We didn't win the race, but we won the most "Mickey" car (we told them ours was made to look like WallE).


"Haven't we gotten our picture in front of this tree before? Yes, but not in these clothes."


Sierra is looking pretty on semi-formal night.


Kai and Sierra were best buddies on the cruise.


Family shot on semi-formal night



Semi-formal night with Grandma.


Memaw and Pawpaw on semi-formal night.


We had fun freaking people out that were coming up on the elevator.


This was another excellent show we saw on the ship.


Here is the closing act.


Welcome to Castaway Cay (Disney's island).


It was a bit of a dreary day on this island. We had fun but it was windy.


Sierra had to stop at each character along the way.


The Flying Dutchman (boat from Pirates of the Caribbean) is docked at Disney's island.


"Arghhh, matey."


The three pirates.


We found Jack Sparrow on the way to the beach.

"Hey, look, another character... smile Stitch."


"What luck, we found Goofy too!"


Memaw and Pawpaw can now check Goofy off their list."


We played a great scavenger hunt game they had on the island. We had to find clues and decode the packet they provided. At the end of the scavenger hunt, we found a treasure box.


Kai and Sierra each got a Disney coin.


Memaw and Pawpaw participated in the hermit crab races.


They got to wear these stylish hats.


Their crab didn't win, but it was fun to watch.


Kai and Sierra went digging for dinosaur bones.

Sierra is VERY ticklish. Daddy was having fun trying to get sunscreen on her.


"Let's dig for treasure."


On the way back to the ship, there was a snack station with sugar cookies, egg nog, and hot chocolate (which was really good since it was a little cool out).


Kai and Sierra posed in front of all the Christmas decorations outside the ship.


"If we crack up and smile really big, can this be the last picture?"


"Merry Christmas."


A view of Castaway Cay from the ship.


The water was beautiful when the sun came out.


Unfortunately, someone had an emergency and needed to be air lifted to Miami.


Here is the menu from our last meal.. our farewell dinner.


Our last night on the ship was Memaw's 65th birthday.

We had a little party for her. Sierra prepared goodie bags for everyone.


We brought her present to dinner.



Our great wait staff was back to bring another cake. What's one more dessert when we've been eating like pigs all week?


Our lead waiter, Zan, was great. He was from Macedonia.


We didn't get a picture of our cabin stewart (Gerich) but we did get a picture of his creations every day. The kids (and the adults) were amazed by his towel/blanket animals every day.


2008 - THE END!

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  A Jim & Carla Creation - 2004