Sunday, March 15, 2009

Our 4th Family Birthday and Camping Season

During the last few months, we have taken a few camping trips, took the kids to their first circus, and celebrated Jim's birthday. We also celebrated our 4th Family birthday. As usual we mix a lot of fun in with our day-to-day normal life and capture everything on "film."

We did have one unhappy event concerning Sierra. On Valentine's Day, she was bitten in the face, by a dog. There is no other way to describe it, other than a horrible nightmare for all involved. After having plastic surgery early the next morning, she looked rough, but more like herself (although she had stitches and scratches on other areas of her face, the worst damage was to her cheek muscle and left side of the mouth). We're happy to report that she is doing GREAT! She's healing well (although the doctor has prepared us that it will take a year to fully heal... looking progressively worse over the next 6 months and then progressively better the subsequent 6 months). We do Vitamin E massages on her 3 times a day (and will continue to, for the foreseeable future). This, the sunscreen and her big green sun hat should help with the scarring long term. She still loves animals (especially dogs... go figure), and after a 2 hour plastic surgery with only local anesthesia, she was happy to see her doctor for the follow-up (again, go figure). She is a happy little girl and we feel very blessed that it wasn't much worse.

We can't thank everyone enough for their generosity to both Kai and Sierra throughout her recovery (gifts, food, cards, phone calls etc). She was showered with gifts (and so was Kai for being the big, brave brother), which made this more of a "holiday" for her than a recovery period. Memaw and Pawpaw dropped everything and drove down from Virginia the day of her surgery, to help for the week... which was more appreciated than words can describe.. We love you!

Sierra's teachers have been tremendous throughout her recovery. She is on restricted activity for 6 weeks (we can't risk reinjury to her face or she'll be back in surgery... she still has all stitches on the inside of her mouth). They have made her a "job" for the day. The girls choose jobs everyday and one job is to play with Sierra. Sierra gets to take toys outside during playground time. She sits in the shade with her "friend for the day" and they play. Instead of feeling ostracized for the 6 week period, she has felt like a queen. They have been amazing and feel our anxiety while having to watch her like a hawk. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Below are some pictures of our escapades over the last few months.


Our 4th Family Birthday (Gotcha Day) - January 11

Most people don't get this extra holiday each year but it's a special day for us. It's the day we became a family. We always do something special and this year, Sierra made us all cakes in her Easy Bake Oven. We each blew out a candle and sang happy birthday to ourselves. Our day fell on a weekend so we spent it down at Disney. Below are some pictures.



It's hard to believe 4 years have passed. We're very grateful for our family.


Sierra decided she liked roller coasters on this day (as long as she was under Daddy's shirt).


Kai has loved roller coasters as long as he's been tall enough to ride them.


The carousel is a big favorite for Sierra.


"Woo-hoo... roller coaster #2... Daddy get your shirt ready."


"Say cheese."


Our friends, Grace, Rob, and Barbara celebrated with us.



We tried the Haunted Mansion for the first time. Sierra liked it (she's not afraid of the dark). Kai decided he didn't want to ride it again (he is afraid of the dark).


After our Disney day, we stayed overnight at the Mona Lisa in Celebration (a nice, new hotel Daddy got a good deal on).


"Show me some Power Ranger moves."


The pool was really pretty at night.


It was a little chilly at night but the pool was heated so everyone had a nice swim.


"Yeah. We finally get to go on the new Toy Story ride." (We have tried to go on 3 separate occasions and the line was too long.)


"You're going down."




"Does someone have $.50? I want to win me a Sierra."


Everyone pacified mom, by posing for a few family photos.


Sierra was THRILLED that there are now BOLT characters. She's decided on this as a theme for her birthday this year (after seeing it on our Disney cruise). This was a real treat.


Bolt and Rhino tried to get Kai to take his picture. After chasing him around for a few minutes, they finally gave up (Kai isn't much of a character guy).


Daisy and Donald Duck were happy to pose with Sierra. Kai was very patient while Sierra waited in all the lines.

"Happy birthday to us. Happy birthday to us. Happy birthday to us, happy birthday to us." We all ate Sierra's Easy Bake Oven cakes for our birthday.



Camping in Wekiva - January 25

We went camping the last weekend in January in Wekiva State Park (about 5 minutes from home). Because it was so close, we brought Forrest with us. It was a little too chilly the first night but other than that, it was a beautiful weekend and another fun camping trip.



Our campfire time is one of our favorite parts of camping.


The desserts are a big hit.


"S'more anyone?"


The ghost stories (friendly ghosts) have become an intricate part of the fun.


"I'm so cute."


Kai and Sierra took their cameras on one of our hikes. Here they are photographing some unidentified poop.


We stopped for a snack/juice break.


"I found a walking stick."


Kai is lining up to take the perfect shot.


"Watch out. It's a scary tiger."


Kai and Sierra both found a good log to play on behind our camp site.


"I'm not doing anything to get in trouble."


Kai and Sierra are dancing at lunch.


We took Forrest since it was so close to home.


Sierra found a pet caterpillar.


She also found a pet lizard in the shower. She was devastated when it didn't stay in her bucket.


The Higgins' boys by the fire.


Our family canoe trip down the Wekiva river.


Mom did actually go on the camping trip (the extended arm shot is our only proof).


Sierra helped paddle us down the river.


We passed a few alligators. They stayed away but never took their eyes off of us.



Class Field Trip - February 13

Carla chaperoned Kai and Sierra's first field trip. They went to see the Velveteen Rabbit at a local theatre. The bus trip with 60 children was loud, but the kids were well behaved and had a great time. Kai and Sierra loved having mom along.



Sierra is all buckled in and ready to go.


Mom was actually the chaperone for the boys class.. on the back of the bus.


Our beautiful Sierra.


The Starchild group is ready for the show.

"Come on mom, sit down."


After the play, we all had a picnic on the lawn.


"I caught the football."


Sierra and her friend, Kiyla.


Sierra's class posed for a picture.

Make a wish...



Camping in Silver Springs - March 7

We planned another camping trip to a state park about 2 hours away. It was another great weekend. The weather was perfect and we saw a lot of wildlife (alligators, turtles, wild turkeys, a tortoise and lots of birds, iincluding a big woodpecker. We were still in Sierra's "low key" period so it was a little nerve wracking, but she did great.



"Smile or crazy face?"


"Yeah, another camping trip."



"It's freezing!"


"I'm so cold, my boo-boo is purple."


Another one of our camping traditions is getting mini boxes of "unhealthy cereal." We don't eat these at home so it's a real treat.




Sierra goes with mom to the grocery store and had been eyeing Lucky Charms for a month so she had those picked out. Kai tried Trix.



"Please no picture."



We hiked to the river for our canoe adventure on the Silver River.


"Hey, there is an alligator."




We went out early, so there were a lot of alligators out along the banks.... watching us go by.

"It's a beautiful day."


"This paddle is too big."


Sierra thought she was steering the boat.


Kai made us go backwards pretty good.


We saw some wild turkeys along the bank.


We switched canoes along the way so the boys road together on the way back.


We saw a lot of turtles along the way.


We saw more alligators than we cared too, but they stayed away.


On a hike, we spotted a gopher tortoise. Sierra tried to chase it down but we convinced her he didn't want to be picked up.


"Daddy, tell me the meaning of life."


Our two best boys.


"I am asleep, mom."


We took a drive to get a nap in. Sierra was out in 5 minutes.


"Please leave us alone until we finish our morning coffee (hot chocolate)."




Below are some miscellaneous pictures from the last few months.


We saw the circus for the first time.


Sierra posing with the Chinese acrobats prior to the show.


Kai with the Chinese acrobats.

"The circus is awesome."


We went strawberry picking. Kai and Sierra are much more "productive" now that they're older (when they were younger, they ate more than they put in the box).


Sierra and Mia running up and down the fields.


"Look how many we picked."


Kai braved the zip line. Sierra decided it was more fun to watch.


We shared a strawberry milkshake before heading home.


Kai chose Marvel superheros for his valentines this year. Sierra picked out Kung Fu Panda (the rest of the girls in her class made more "girly" choices). They both filled them out this year on their own.


Kai's homework project the week of Valentines was to decorate his box.


Sierra decorated her Valentines bag at school.


After Sierra's surgery, it was like a holiday at our house. Her "loot" is still on the fireplace. She "shops" it daily for new things to play with.

Sierra's class made her a big card the Monday after her surgery. Her teacher, Ms Debora, drew the Backyardigans off the jacket in her cubby.

All Sierra's friends signed the card and drew pictures for her.


Kai loved the "brave, big, brother" gifts. Sierra's teachers brought him this Power Ranger present when they delivered Sierra's HUGE care package.


Sierra was overwhelmed with all the generosity. She sat there frozen as Miss Debora and Miss Britney tried to help her go threw it all. We've never seen her like that.


Miss Debora and Miss Britney got all the girls together on the monitor and we called in from home. The girls sang and waved to Sierra. It was really sweet.

Sierra's thank you note (and a note from mom/dad) to thank everyone at school for their thoughts/prayers and gifts.


Sierra wanted to make a card for her surgeon. All the words are hers.. (it says: Thank you for giving my shots)


On the inside, she wrote: "I love you for fixing me" and "You love Sierra. Thank you." She also made some trees and drew a picture of the doctor.


Several weeks after the accident, we went with our friends Mia and Sandra to a local festival. Everyone got to practice driving the fire engine.

Kai's feet almost reach the floor.


Kai and Sierra decorated a duck for the race. Sierra was disappointed. She thought the duck race was something you got to ride.

Kai and Mia went on the bounce house, which is off limits for Sierra. She got her face painted instead (on the good cheek).


The ducks are off. We didn't win, but it was fun to watch and we got to bring home our pretty, red and blue duck.

"Yeah, it's a character."


For Daddy's birthday, we went to Epcot. It was rainy out, but we couldn't pass up the free Disney money (they give pass holders a cash card equivalent to the price of a ticket).


"We need money to make a phone call."



"Check out my long tongue."

We made the Makeit N Bakeit sun catchers that Santa brought.


Our friends watched Kai and Sierra while Mom took Dad out for a birthday dinner. They took them to the fair (seemed easier to keep Sierra from getting too rambunctious).


"We never get cotton candy.. this is awesome."


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


Other than her scar, Sierra is her same, old, happy self.


"Hi Mendy."


"This is like the crab ride at SeaWorld."


"Thanks for bringing us to the fair Ms. Mendy and Mr. Morgan."


"We're on top of the world."


It's time to head home.


Daddy helped Kai make some cool things with his Bendaroos.


Happy 13th Birthday, Kerrigan.

Sierra was thrilled to get her picture with all the characters again. She did ask before seeing Pluto if he bites.

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  A Jim & Carla Creation - 2004