Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Holidays are over & Happy New Year !

We had a great holiday season. It started with a visit from MeMaw and PawPaw for Thanksgiving and ended with an after Christmas visit to VA/WVA (with lots of chaos in between). Right before MeMaw and PawPaw's visit, we sold our company and started work as employees for the first time in 11 years. So far, so good!

The first semester of 2nd grade went well. Kai was evaluated and approved for an advanced academic program at school. He'll start this semester and is very excited (he'll spend one day a week in the program). He was also honored in an "All A Honor Roll" breakfast. They had a ceremony and he got a lot of free coupons for various things around town (which we all like). He is also a "reading fool," (currently LOVES Goosebump books) and is several grade levels above where he should be. It's been fun watching him laugh and have "ah-ha" moments as he's reading. We're proud of him and excited for his new opportunity!

Sierra finished the semester very strong, with all As and Bs. She works very hard for her grades so we are proud of how well she did. Her tenacity to "stick it out" finishing homework and studying for tests is awesome. She is also a great reader and above grade level (Alvin and the Chipmunks is her favorite topic). Sierra still loves anything art related. She was one of 12 people chosen (out of about 700 in her school) to be honored at a local art show. She wasn't overly impressed with the honor, but we were!

The photo diary is below:

MeMaw & PawPaw's Thanksgiving Visit



Santa Visit


Christmas Activities




Christmas Day


VA/WVA Trip - Happy New Year!





MeMaw & PawPaw's Thanksgiving Visit (back to top)

MeMaw and PawPaw arrived the Friday before Thanksgiving. They were able to stay for 10 days, so not only did they spend Thanksgiving but they were able to help us decorate for Christmas (and went to see Santa with us). Below are some of our pictures.


We went t Mt. Dora for the day.


Sierra is hanging out with MeMaw.


PawPaw took a break from taking pictures to pose with Sierra.

It was a nice day outside.


MeMaw and PawPaw went to lunch at Kai and Sierra's school.


PawPaw took Kai and Sierra to the Science Center


Sierra was posing on the little car at the Science Center.


PawPaw and Kai are ready to measure our tree.


Keep looking...


Crazy Kai!


We found a winner!


Sierra riding the horse at the tree farm.


Kai took a spin around as well.


The tree farm, got a cool moon walk thing. Sierra tried it out on her belly.




They're in the air at the same time.


Sierra bouncing Kai up and down while he sits.


Our happy boy!


They had a zip line we tried out as well.


We had to beg Sierra to try it out but she liked it once she did.


She's an animal lover to the core.


MeMaw and her Kaz grandbabies.


We're ready for Christmas.


Check out the snowman's glasses (donation from Sierra).


Decorating the tree.


Sierra's first Christmas ornament. This is the a picture from the first day we met her.


Here is one of Kai. The Santa hat we brought him barely fit his head that day.


Kai can reach about 3/4 way up the tree.


Ho, Ho, Ruff...


Santa Baby Leroy!

"Can we have this candy cane?"


Sierra telling Santa #2 what she wants for Christmas.


Kai posed for PawPaw but wasn't happy about it. He noticed this one was a fake and didn't want to pose with him - why did he think he was a fake?

1) He had tattoos
2) He had dark hair
3) He should know what he wanted already since he saw him 2 days before!
(and he couldn't even have been a helper either because he didn't have pointy ears, therefore, he must have been a fake!)


Santa Visit (back to top)

Our annual Santa visit is 1/2 for the kids and 1/2 for Mom to get pictures. We can't have too many more years of interest on Kai and Sierra's part so we take advantage of the annual photo shoot. Paw Paw took a few pictures while we were in line waiting too.





































Christmas Activities (back to top)

We had a couple of fun outings to get in the Christmas spirit. Jim surprised us with Trans Siberian Orchestra tickets. It was a lot of fun. We were lucky enough to have seats on the end of a row. The creator came by and gave them an autographed program and t-shirt (of course the t-shirt is big enough to be a night shirt but they were thrilled).

We also went to Seaworld Christmas Celebration. They did a beautiful job again this year. They seem to add a little extra each year - very pretty!

After we got back from our trip, we went to Gaylor Palms to see the Shrek ICE exhibit. It was the last day to use Kai's free coupon and it was packed (and freezing inside).

This was our Christmas card this year.


Elf on the Shelf visited us this year. Kai and Sierra named him Fred. He moved every day when we left the house.


We would come home and find him in all kinds of mischief. He would also go back to the North Pole every night to report on Kai and Sierra's behavior (so he was in a new place when we'd wake up in the morning).


This was one of Fred's hang-outs.


MeMaw also found Sierra the Christmas Alvin and the Chipmunks characters - SHE LOVED THEM!


We couldn't take the good camera into the concert. These few pics are from the phone.


The first 1/2 of the concert was Christmas music with narration in between songs (which Kai didn't like and it made Sierra almost fall asleep).


Then the second 1/2 they rocked!


Kai and Sierra liked that part best.


The day before Christmas Eve we got out of work a little early and headed to Seaworld. Daddy took the kids on one of the rides. Sierra is tucked away under Dad's shirt and Kai is braving the front seat (sort of)!


Red shirts, red trees!



Slow motion shot of Kai's penguin in the dark.



Since it was Christmas, we let Kai and Sierra play the games (an event they usually only do with MeMaw and PawPaw). Sierra and Kai both won stuffed Penguins.


Red trees...


..and more red trees. They were beautiful...couldn't stop taking pictures of them.


The children's area of the park was all decorated this year. This was a new addition.


Kai and Sierra posing for mom (since they know that's mom's entertainment).


Riding the spinning cups together.



Sierra didn't want to try this so Kai went alone (of course he gets beside the only girl screaming on the ride so it felt like he was next to his sister).


This was one of the street acts which was pretty entertaining.


The Shamu Miracles show was awesome!


Aside from the red trees, also couldn't stop taking pictures of the Shamus.


More Shamu, different lighting.


Another Shamu... it looked cool to see them live and another angle of them on the monitor!


We went into the Polar Express ride.


They have the Polar Express train out front.


Sierra jumped in front of every decoration to pose.


Sierra stopped to see the Frosty character. Frosty looks cold, but it was in the 80s so he/she was probably cooking in that costume.


Cool dude!


Nutcracker decorations.


Kai joined in the "take a picture of me here" game.


One last SeaWorld shot on our way out of the park.


The "Shrek the Halls" ICE exhibit was very cool.


They did a fantastic job depicting the characters - all our of ice.


Well, some of the eyes and accessories were made from things other than ice.


Kai waiting in line for the big ice slide.


Sierra opted to go on the small one.


They had ice tunnels to go through.


The pink dragon was amazing. It had to weigh a ton.

This was the last Shrek room.


The exhibit ended on a religious note. This was the angel before the nativity scene room - made all of ice.


Kai's hair when he took his hat off. He looked like Johnny Test (a cartoon character he watches).


Sierra doing a Kung Fu Panda move.





Christmas Day (back to top)

Ooooh... almost Christmas. We went to dinner with Dick and then church on Christmas Eve. We spend Christmas day at home so Santa would know where to find us. It was a nice leisurely day. Dick came over for breakfast and dinner so we have some family to celebrate with.


Kai and Sierra with the decorations at church.


"She's getting heavier."


After Christmas Eve church service, our tradition is to let Kai and Sierra open one present each. Kai opened Sierra's, which was a Harry Potter Lego Wii game.


Forrest is ready for Christmas!


Sierra opened her cool car from MeMaw.



It wouldn't be a normal day around our house unless Sierra had some sort of glasses on. She LOVES glasses.

Sierra even thought Santa needed some.


Kai liked his Harry Potter Wii game.

We're ready for Santa. The cookies and carrots are out.


More Wii in Christmas pajamas... almost time for bed.


Sierra re-arranged the Christmas stuff animals so there was room on the fireplace for their Santa presents. She said "for some reason he prefers to leave them here so we need to make room."

Quiet Christmas Eve... we're ready.


Santa came! He left their new DS3's and pokemon cards.


Santa and the reindeer must have liked our treats (Kai and Sierra even found pieces of carrots in the driveway the reindeer left... messy eaters).


"Wow - he came!"


Forrest had an Angry Bird toy in her stocking.


Sierra was very happy with Kai for the Angry Bird poster he got for her.


She had it on the wall on Christmas Day.


Christmas day mess!


Sierra bamboozled mom into making a scavenger hunt again. Unfortunately, many of the clues were outside and it rained on Christmas Eve night.


We made due and did "find the prize."



Sierra's bag was almost as big as her.


They're carrying their loot in the house.


Kai got a new remote control car.


Sierra got a huge stuffed horse.


Another of Sierra's presents was a little claw machine. She is obsessed with playing the claw game wherever we go.

The "DS trance" begins.


He's a happy, happy boy.


Mom got a new lense for her camera so we went on a stroll to try it out.


There is a macro capability with it, so I got to get some great close-ups.

Pretty flowers - all through the lense.


More beautiful close-ups.


I am in love with this lense. The close-ups are amazing... no computer enhancement necessary.


Kai let me "play" with him on various focal points.


Time to play at the park.


We had such a relaxing day, we didn't even brush hair!


Handsome boy.




More macro shots.


Forrest Clause!


"Ok Mom, one more and we're done"


We're almost ready for dinner. We were so busy at work before Christmas that we cheated for dinner. Mom cooked dessert and the beef tenderloin but bought the rest (it was good and nice to have the extra time to play).


"DS games and a horse, what more can a girl ask for?"


Eddie and Rebecca came over for a visit.


We went outside after dinner to race Kai's car.


Kai really likes his car. It moves really fast and even has headlights and taillights.


Dick surprised us with our very own putting green for the playroom. We'll get a lot of use out of this.


VA/WVA Trip - Happy New Year! (back to top)

Time to head North for the cold weather! We headed to VA, where MeMaw and PawPaw picked us up from the airport. We spent the night there and then headed to WVA the next day. We got to visit with Grandma Nancy and our Higgins' side of the family for a few days and then headed back to VA for the remainder of the trip to visit with the Ward side of the family. Kai and Sierra really enjoy seeing all their Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles and cousins. It's a real treat since they only see them a couple of times a year.


We're "airplane ready."


Before we headed out to WVA, Aunt Sue (visiting from NJ) came out to meet us for breakfast (at 7AM)!

Sierra reading her Alvin and the Chipmunks Chipwrecked book (a Christmas present) at Grandma Nancy's.


Sierra learned how to give a wet-willy.


At least Grandma is cooperating.

Aunt Allison gave Mom and Sierra new hairdos. Sierra enjoyed her pampering.


We got to see Uncle Mike while were there.


Thanks Aunt Allison - it looks awesome.


Pretty girl!



Sierra wanted her picture taken with Mick.

Grandmas and the girls.


Great picture of Sierra with Grandma.



Pat came for a visit while we were in town.

We went to dinner with Kai and Sierra's cousin, Ryan and his wife Stacy.


Grandma with cousins Ryan and Even.


Aunt Nancy and Carly.

Aunt Allison and her friend, Ronnie.


Sierra and Evan in a thumb war.


Even got the privilege of being down the end of the table with Kai and Sierra - they were thrilled to have someone to entertain them.


Downtown Lewisburg was decorated pretty.



We got our server to take a family picture. It turned out good except Grandma Nancy hid herself behind mom.

Our two Angry Birds!



Back in VA, we went to visit Aunt Sherry, Uncle Pat, and our cousins Michelle and Joshua.

"Uncle Pat has me trapped!"



Poor Joshua! He's been turned into a jungle gym.

He also gives a nice horse ride.



We went to visit Bud (Kai and Sierra's Great Great Grandfather).



We think he remembered us a little.

We send picture post cards every few weeks so he "sees" us a lot. Maybe that helped so we looked a little familiar.



One last family shot - Bud's getting "pictured out."


Uncle Jeffrey and Aunt Kit took us to their property in the country. We got there right as the train was going by.


It was really loud. I don't think we've ever been this close to a train.



It's time to go 4-wheeling.


"Does anyone need a ride?"



Daddy and Kai are riding the real one.



Mom played some more with close-ups.


Forrest brought along his 4-wheeler too.




Awesome detail!

The f-stop on the lense goes down to 2.8 - great blur in the background.



We're ready for another spin around the woods.

We found a few red leaves in the brown of the woods.



Red tree pictures before Christmas, brown leave picture after.


Holes to the sky.



Kit and MeMaw hiking back to the picnic spot.


What a cutie - cousin Forrest.


Hunter is getting so big. He took Sierra for a ride on his 4-wheeler.


Sierra liked riding the little ones with Forrest as much as the bigger ones.

Hunter ... almost 11 years old.


PawPaw was going to go for a spin but his hip wasn't cooperating.

Uncle Jeffrey is cranking up some tunes in the Jeep.


After a few rides, Jim let Kai drive.

MeMaw enjoying lunch.


Uncle Jeffrey and Aunt Kit.


Our little monkey.


Cruisin' in the woods.

Daddy and Sierra.



Sierra and Mom.

More macro pics.


Such pretty views getting so close to nature.


This one looked like a cocoon.


Hunter is flying (not really... Mom is panning the camera).

If you look close, you'll see a little lady bug taking a stroll.


We don't have gumballs in Florida (at least none near our house).

Uncle Jeffrey is a madman!


He had a big time playing with the kids.


Speedy Gonzalez!


"Get ready, we're getting ready to bolt."




"Hang on, Dad - it's going to get bumpy!"


Sierra's expressions everytime they passed were priceless.


We love our Daddy!




"Stop tickling me."





One of the most favorite pics from the trip!



Krispy Kreme hats and a donut with sprinkles = good morning.


Sierra and Mom walked down to the pier to play with the camera some more.


"I'm cool."


It was a windy, cold day on the water.


Neat macro shot of a pinecone.


Chuckatuck Creek.

Hole in the piling....

... picture through hole in the piling.


"I'm so cute."


Puddle Reflection.


See the rope...

... see me pull the rope.


The "underworld."


Sierra met a friend. In case you didn't know, all black/white/gray tabbies are named Leroy.

A yellow flower in MeMaw's yard



New Years' Eve - we're ready to party.


The fire is blazing.



The sunset was beautiful on the river.


They have such a beautiful view every night.


Forrest is almost as tall as Sierra (and he's only 4).


The kids had video games setup to play.


Chili toppings


Kai's chillin' above the fire.


Cousin Amanda.


A creepy skull Hunter found in the woods.


Our cousin Ellie.


Warmin' up by the fire.


Carla, Bunny, and Amanda.


Cousin Jenn and Cousin Amanda.


Kai has rosey fire cheeks.


Thomas liked the chicken feathers.



Aunt Bunny with Ellie.


Uncle Ken and Cousin Jenn.

Aunt Bunny visiting the chickens with Ellie and Thomas.


Seth and Carla.


Happy New Year!


Fireworks time.


The girls are warming up next to the fire.


Baby New Year!






Party time!

Not sure what's Sierra is doing here but it looked funny.


Ready for 2012!


"Bring it on, Baby!"


It's officially 2012!



We all stayed awake until midnight.


Aunt Kit with Smokey and Bandit.


Watching the ball drop.


Now it's time to spend the next few months, writing the wrong date.


Happy New Year!


We left on January 1st to come home.


Back to reality!

Miscellaneous (back to top)

In addition to all the fun described above, we had lots of other miscellaneous adventures (see below).


Daddy finally set his drum set back up (after taking it down when K/S were babies). Sierra likes it.


Kai and Sierra are running cross country with school now. This was their first race.


Kai is over to the right, crossing the finish line.


The girls and boys ran in separate races.


Sierra crossing the finish line.


They both got blue ribbons (so did the other kids in the race).


Kai made it on the All A Honor Roll wall.


Sierra got a picture with Kiwi the Koala (school mascot) at Kai's breakfast.


Kai receiving his award with Kiwi and the principal.


Posing next to the picture of the 2nd Grad All A Honor Roll recipients.

The school fund raiser was entertainment books again this year. Kai and Sierra pooled their sales and ended up being top 10 in the school. They got to go to FunSpot for free!


They love these type of rides.

We were surprised that a cold front moved in the night we went. Dad was freezing (shorts and no jacket).


The girls were a little warmer (Sierra had one of mom's jackets on but it kept her toasty).


The boys are ready to go-kart.


There were slides you could race on.


Dad went on this go-kart track alone (it was the one the kids weren't big enough to ride on).


Mom and Sierra did bumper cars.


We had fun crashing each other.


Say cheese!


Dad did the spinning ride. Make a crazy face!


Great fun and on a school night!


Kai got VIP of the week. This was his poster for class.


Kai was on the news too.


We had to go see Chipwrecked on opening weekend. Sierra had been waiting forever for it. Her friend, Jade (who was an extra in the movie), went with us.



Sierra was invited to a ice skating party. She did pretty good as long as she was hanging on to someone.



Thanks MeMaw/PawPaw for our new Magic shirts.



Kai/Sierra also got a free magic ticket for selling entertainment books.


We lucked out and saw a really good game.


Of course, when things got loud, Sierra took the opportunity to scream.


The Magic won!


Good night - with our Magic pajamas.


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