Sunday, March 11, 2007

We've had a lot more "firsts" over the last 2 1/2 months...

  • First day of preschool
  • First Valentines Day party (exchanged Valentines with classmates)
  • Our first "2nd Gotcha Day" (our 2 year adoption anniversary)
  • Went camping for the first time (tent camping)
  • Picked strawberries for the first time
  • Went to Chuck E Cheese for the first time
  • First Japanese Steakhouse experience (and using chopsticks)

Kai and Sierra start preschool

This was a HUGE first for us. We went from having Kai and Sierra home 5 days a week (with mom and dad home with them 3 of those 5 days) to 5 days of preschool. The first day went surprisingly well, but we had some sporadic tears (mostly from Kai) off and on over the next week. The tears seemed to be for our benefit because the teachers said he stopped right after we left. There are video cameras in the classroom so we can watch them throughout the day, which has helped with Mom's "weaning period."

Kai and Sierra have done awesome at school. They have a very full schedule (rotating to a new lesson/activity every 15 minutes... which is suitable for their attention span). They can recognize their names when they see them, and can write some of the letters already. They practice tracing their names every day. They work on their numbers, colors, shapes, letters etc. in multiple languages (Arabic, Japanese, Chinese, Spanish and Sign Language). It's really amazing to see how much they've flourished there.

They like going to school, but Kai loves to say "See ya Monday" when he leaves with Daddy on Fridays. He's quick to wake up on Saturday and say "No school today. No church today." He's a home-body at heart. Sierra on the other hand could go to the "school park" every day.


Daddy and Kai walking into school for the first time.


Sierra was on the move... ready to go to school.


Aren't they cute... It was a bittersweet day.


Daddy showing Kai and Sierra where their cubbies are (where they keep their backpacks with extra clothes).


Kai and Sierra recognize their names now and can find their own cubbies.


This is Kai and Sierra's schedule. They aren't at school the full hours available, but do go a long day 3 days a week and then 2 days Mom and Dad pick them up early.


Daddy helping Sierra with her homework. They have homework on Tuesday and Thursday nights (easy stuff like coloring, tracing shapes, tracing name papers). Sierra loves doing her homework, Kai prefers to watch TV or a movie.


Kai and Sierra are very different in many ways (which we love). Sierra absolutely loves coloring, drawing lines and circles. Her paper is on the right and Kai's is on the left. They did these by themselves.

We have a sticker chart for school days. After about 1 month of school, Sierra decided to "lay down the law" with the other kids (she bit a few). Of course, she got in trouble, but to be proactive, we created a sticker chart. They each get one sticker if they pay attention and stay in their seat (as much as a preschooler can) during the day and a 2nd sticker if they are "nice to their friends" and "keep their hands to themselves." This has worked very well for us.


Kai and Sierra's class in their Chinese lesson. Poor teacher... it was hard to keep the kids focused when they knew the Valentine's Day party was being setup behind them. Mom and Dad came to watch and take pictures.


Our first Valentine's cards. Sierra picked Dora for her friends and Kai picked a combo pack with Toy Story, Cars, Monsters Inc. and the Incredible's. There are 30 kids in the class, so Mom had to fill out 60 Valentines.




Kai with his plate of treats. He wasn't fond of the green cheetos. Mom thought it might be a way to get more vegetables in him, but no luck. He had no problems inhaling the cupcake, though.


"Hey, see me wink. I can also blink pretty good too."


We love our Miss Pam (their lead teacher). There are 4 teachers in their class: Miss Pam, Miss Lymari, Miss Erin and Miss Kim


The Valentines goody bag. Kai and Sierra loved their cards from all the kids. Surprisingly, most of the parents loaded them up with candy too. They got one piece and the rest is in a bag for work.

2nd "Gotcha Day"

This day is a special one for our family. Two years ago on January 11th, we officially became a family. We celebrated by getting the kids from school early and going to Disney for the day. It was a fun day!


Sierra on the Buzz Light Year ride at Magic Kingdom.


"Daddy, I got another one."


"No hands." Kai loves this roller coaster (he did promptly put his hands down when it started going downhill).



Sierra wasn't so sure about the Goofy roller coaster this time (Our little dare devil is becoming a bit more cautious. She's been on this ride several times and liked it, but now decided "no roller coasters.")


"We love Snow White... but not the witch.. she's not nice."


"I'm big enough for my own horse now."


3-D movies have become a family favorite.


"These glasses are awesome... If I take them off in the movie, things get blurry.. then I put them on and it's clear.. off, on, off on.. cool"


Our First Camping Trip

We have always loved camping, but had not tried it with Kai and Sierra. We decided to give it a whirl and had a blast. Not knowing how Kai and Sierra would react, we decided to only stay one night and went to Disney's Fort Wilderness. It was great because they offer transportation (by boat and bus) to all the Disney parks, so we could use our season passes. They also had tons to do at the camp ground. There were great parks which Kai and Sierra loved, a petting zoo where they were able to ride a pony, and an outdoor sing-a-long/movie with Chip 'n Dale.

They both loved roasting marshmallows (we had to do it over our grill since they didn't allow open pit fires at the sites). Aside from the marshmallows, the highlight was the sing-a-long with Chip 'n Dale (fondly referred to as "Chick-a-leal"). We have never seen Sierra so excited. When she saw Chip 'n Dale coming up the middle aisle, she started to run so fast to reach them that she fell down in the rocks. She got up and kept running to reach them. She pushed people out of the way (including their security helper) and tried to go up on stage with them (again pushing another security helper out of the way). She was yelling "Chick a Leal, it's me... it's me, Era" (she calls herself "Era" instead of Sierra). Mom was running after her, apologizing to everyone she plowed down and pushed.

Luckily we didn't get thrown out.. we got back to our seat to watch the rest of the show and then Chip 'n Dale came around to see every child in the audience. We were 3/4 of the way back and it was killing her to wait her turn.

After the sing-a-long portion, they showed Disney's Tarzan movie on a huge outdoor screen.. this was Kai's favorite. Kai was actually requesting the movie the entire sing-a-long. He was excited to see Chip 'n Dale but seeing an outside movie was awesome. We were all getting tired, so we didn't see the entire show. He was disappointed to leave, but quickly recovered after we gave him his own flashlight to shine on the way back to our tent.

It got cold that night... too cold, but we'd brought plenty of blankets, so we made out ok. Here are some pictures from our adventure.


Sierra on "Nemo" the horse.


"Take the picture already, Mama..."


"I've got my marshmallow stick."


"This tent is cool."


"Thanks for the flashlight Memaw and Pawpaw."


Our "home" for a night. We only tried it out for one night... just in case. It was a success so we'll definitely be going back."


"Roasted marshmallows are awesome. I'm staying a safe distance from the fire while Daddy puts my next one on."


"Is there anything better than this? Mmmmmm."


The Chip n Dale Sing A Long.

Fat chance getting Sierra to look up for our picture after patiently waiting for "Chick a leal.". He's lucky he got away from her.


Nutritious breakfast (chocolate donuts) in the 40 degree weather we woke up to.

Other Miscellaneous Notes

Kai Highlights   Sierra Highlights

Kai still has an aversion to most vegetables, but we can still get him to eat some. He loves fruit, but his favorite foods are any kind of pasta and rice - he's a carb man.


Sierra still loves vegetables and fruit over anything else. If these are on her plate, she usually eats them first.

Kai is talking much better, but there is still quite a bit that is difficult to understand. He gets along fine at school, and we understand him, so we're not having any issues. He practices his pronunciation all the time by repeating words in songs, and words in books we're reading. He also likes to repeat what Mom and Dad say. He has a leapfrog toy he uses to practice phonetic pronunciations of different letters (of course "K" is his favorite).



Sierra comes out with new things every day.. here are some funny pronunciations:

  • "in da body" = everybody
  • "boo boo on da knee" = I have a boo boo on my knee (same old "injury" she brings up all the time... it's an old scratch)
  • "I do it" = I'll do it myself
  • "Do it self" = I'll do it myself
  • "Era do it" = I'll do it myself (seeing a theme here)

Kai is our "hall monitor." He is much more likely to follow the rules and likes to "rat out" his sister if she's not. One of his favorites is "busting" her for getting into the movies. He'll stand where he can see both Sierra and Mom/Dad, then yell, "Mommy, Yawyaw... look, look, trouble." They both like to "help" in disciplining each other, "No Kai, trouble, enough, not happy"

  Sierra loves stickers. Our house, windows, and furniture is decorated with them.

Both Kai and Sierra look out for Mom and Dad, saying things like "watch out... be careful." We went to the Science Center one weekend with our friend Avery. Kai and Sierra were looking at the snakes. Kai threw out an arm to protect Sierra from them (saying.."Back YawYa "). It was sweet. Of course, she told him to get off her.

  Sierra likes to lie on the rug in the kitchen while we're fixing dinner and say, "Pet the cat," <-- she pretends to be a cat.

We've opened our pool for the season and Kai has taken right to it. We still need to work on his rotation for breathing to get him up to speed from last year, but he is already like a fish in water.


Sierra has been a little nervous about getting in the pool this season. She loves staying on the steps, playing in it, but doesn't want to swim like she did last year. It's ironic because she was the brazen one last year... no fear.

Kai and Sierra still love reading books. Kai has a talent for remembering right where we left off the night before. He insists on Mom reading the book on the way to school the next morning.   Sierra is creative. She'll put a sticker on her finger and say it's a band aid (with Kai beside her saying "no, sticker"). She likes to pretend play a lot. She also loves to draw.. give her some paper and crayons and she's set.
Kai's a big helper. He loves to help in the kitchen and help Daddy outside in the yard.   Even though Sierra has her own big girl underpants, she likes to wear Kai's (in particular his Shrek ones). We're sure the teachers think we're nuts sending our little girl to school in boy underwear, but some things aren't worth the battle. Daddy has drawn the line with letting Kai go to school in girl underpants (not that Kai has asked to).
Every day when we pick Kai up from school, he runs to Daddy (unless Daddy isn't there, then Mom gets the attention). He's definitely Daddy's boy.   Sierra comes to Mommy every time when we pick her up from school. We know it won't last forever, but it's the best feeling in the world to have them run to us so excited - it's the best part of the day.
Kai in a "neat freak." He always pulls his sleeves up before eating (so he doesn't get food on them). He has a fit when any food/drink spills on him. Today at school they had cupcakes for a classmate's birthday. After eating, Kai was the only child out of 30 that sat there and wiped up his face, shirt and table area with his napkin (the other kids ran off messy and the teachers needed to corral them back to wash up).   Sierra thinks every map she sees is Kazakhstan (she saw a post card the other day with a map of Florida - she turned it around for us to see and said "dis Kazakhstan") <-- she actually pronounces Kazakhstan pretty well.

Here are some final miscellaneous pictures:


We got to pick our own strawberries - they were good.

Don't tell anyone.. but I'm eating the merchandise.


Daddy took us to our first trip to Chuck E Cheese on our early day from school.


Sometimes we go to Gators for family night. They have face painting and animal balloons for the kids. Kai always get the snake.


On this night, Sierra chose the frog (she gets a different one each time).


Another Disney 3-D movie.. this time the Animal Kingdom Bug Show.


"You're blurry Mommy."


"If Daddy didn't have his hand in the way, this would have been a cool picture."


"Ok, hurry and take the picture before Daddy pulls me away from this sheep again."


This is a good depiction of Kai and Sierra's different personalities. Kai loves electronics (anything on the computer or TV/movies, whereas Sierra loves writing/coloring on paper. Here Kai is working on his computer (courtesy of Anna/Jude) and Sierra is tracing her hand on her little notebook.


Sierra practices her funny faces all the time (for an audience or in the mirror). She often starts a series of them with a statement "Mommy/Daddy, look at me."


Kai likes to join in the mix but so far it's not his forte. We have no doubts he'll pick up some new ones from his sister.


Yeah - we're finally tall enough to go in the SeaWorld moonwalk.


Happy Birthday to Daddy (Sierra sings it "Happy Earth Day to U")


Mom let Kai and Sierra pick out their cards for Daddy's birthday. Kai picked out a "Nephew Batman card" then proceeded to cover Batman's face inside with a sticker because it looked scary. Sierra chose a "Little girl Snow White card." She decorated the inside with stickers and lots of crayons.


Sierra loves to read books to us ...stating "I read for you..."


We had the honor of taking Teddy (the class bear) and Flat Stanley (Cousin Amanda's class project) to Disney's MGM studio. We wrote a story about where Teddy and Flat Stanley went on their visit so they could be read in their respective classes. Here they are with the Little Einstein's.


And here they are with JoJo and Goliath from JoJo's circus.


We went to Kobe Steakhouse for Kerrigan's 11th birthday. Sierra loved the chopsticks. In fact, she ate her entire meal with them. We were shocked (although it's not totally surprising since she's always had great manual dexterity).


Kai gave the chopsticks a whirl but then switched to a fork. He couldn't get his noodles/rice in fast enough with the chopsticks (his two favorite foods).


Our Kazakh cuties.


"I love Kerrigan."


"Cake time."


The Higgins' girls.


The Higgins' boys making a "mean face." Daddy has Kai saying "Boys are #1." When Mommy says, no girls are #1, Kai says "no, number 6" --- I'm not sure how girls moved so far down in the pecking order.


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  A Jim & Carla Creation - 2004