Sunday, October 16, 2011

End of First Grade, Summer Vacation, Start of Second Grade !

Life continues to move at a blazing fast pace. Kai and Sierra successfully finished first grade and we moved on to our summer activities. We took our summer vacation at Hammock Beach. It's a coveted time of year for us (and a welcome break from the chaos of every day life). Kai and Sierra went to a lot of cool places in summer camp this year. They also were on a summer swim team for the first year. And now they are 2 months into second grade, playing fall soccer and continuing their piano lessons. Is it summer again yet?

We still try to carve out fun time on the weekends and everyone is healthy and happy so we have much to be thankful for.

The photo diary is below:

First Grade end of year celebrations
Summer Swim Team
Hammock Beach Summer Vacation
July 4th Impromptu VA Trip
Journey Jubilee
First day of Second Grade
Carla's Birthday

First Grade end of year celebrations (back to top)

Kai and Sierra's first grade classes had an end of the year celebration. It was a cute program about different countries around the world. Each of them had short speaking parts (Kai's class represented Japan, and Sierra's represented Scotland) and songs to sing. Mrs. Crenshaw (Sierra's first grade teacher) and Mrs. Miller (Kai's first grade teacher) were wonderful and we were grateful to have them our first year at Wekiva.

On the last day of school, after much practice, they rode their bikes to school with Dad. They had been looking forward to it all year! The last day was a fun day of outdoor contents and parties.


Sierra's class (she's on the 3rd row in the front).


Kai's class parades in to the cafeteria for the program.


Sierra and Judy did their speaking parts together.


Sierra and her classmates performed a Scottish song.


Kai's class sang a song in Japanese.


"When is it my turn again?"


"I really don't like being in front of a bunch of people."


Kai enjoyed being chosen for the ribbon performance.


Sierra's class after the program - acting kooky.


Kai and Ms. Miller.


Sierra and Ms. Crenshaw.


Sierra and her friend Jade.


Kai's ready to bike a mile to school.


Sierra zooming across a cross walk.


They finally made it (through the tunnel to school).


Kai's class at field day.


Sierra's class at field day.


Sierra doing a relay race.


Kai in the potato sack race.


Kai dribbling the soccer ball around the cones.


Sierra in the potato sack race.


Summer Swim Team (back to top)

We decided to try the local swim club this summer. We were a little nervous about how Kai and Sierra would do since they'd never had any formal lessons (other than the survival classes they had when they were 2). They have always swam like fish and we've worked with them in our pool, but this league swam all four strokes: Freestyle, BreastStroke, Butterfly and Backstroke.

Mom was ready to jump in the first practice when they had them jump in and start swimming across the 25m pool, but they did great. It's amazing how quickly they caught on. Now we didn't break any olympic records, but it was fun and great exercise for the summer. Below are some pics from their summer swim meets.


Sierra relaxing with the backstroke.


Sierra next to the other 7 year olds. She's the petite, muscular one at the end.


Daddy and Sierra cheering Kai on from across the pool.


Kai doing the backstroke.


Neither Kai or Sierra could dive at the beginning of the season. Sierra often looked like she was doing some kung-fu move for her dives/jumps.


By the second meet, Sierra would laugh every time she'd come out of the water for a breath. We asked her why and she explained that it went quiet (under water) and then was loud coming out of the water and sounded funny.


Just a cool action shot.


Sierra won a 2nd place ribbon in breaststroke.


Kai's "dive."


Almost in the water...


"Am I ahead of that guy?"


"I made it."


Kai doing freestyle... neck and neck with the lane next to him.


Another funny Sierra dive.


Kai started using his goggles after the first meet (Sierra didn't want to).


Better "dive" that the beginning of the season.


Kai doing breaststroke.


Sierra trying not to laugh coming out of the water.


"I'm sassy!"


Nice backstroke dive.


It was awesome to watch the improvement in just a few short months.


"Get ready, I'm going to do am awesome dive jump"


"Come on Kai - you're almost there."


Butterfly was a challenge.


Fortunately, they didn't disqualify in this league. We were proud of how well Kai and Sierra did.


End of the year trophies!



Hammock Beach Summer Vacation (back to top)

We stayed a little closer to home for summer vacation this year. It was only a little over an hour from our house but felt like a world away. We "got out of dodge" the weekend after school let out. It was beautiful and we had a great time. The weather was perfect (excep
t for one day where we were downwind from some forrest fires in the area). We liked it so much we went back with Jim's sisters for a few days at the end of the summer.



We look like we're packed for a two week road trip.


Kai and Sierra were thrilled to have their own room (with a TV). They would often close the door and hibernate inside.


The master bath.


The kitchen/family area.


More family room.


Another view of the kitchen and dining room.


We were in building 25 on the 3rd floor.


We went through the main building everyday to go to the beach.


A wedding was starting in this area the day we arrived.


The landscaping was beautiful.


This was the indoor pool which we frequented a few times.


Kai and Sierra spent a lot of time on this slide.


Sierra will go down open slides but not the closed ones. She was a little apprehensive at first but then got over it.


Dad took a few turns as well.


They also had a lazy river.


This was Kai's favorite past time.


Daddy liked it too.

We ate most of our meals in - as you can see the watermelon was in season...



...and really juicy.


We played games after dinner. Alvin even participated in a game of Uno (courtesy of Sierra).


Sierra liked to hang out in the shower.


Aw... the beach!


It's all fun and games until someone gets a sand blob in their eye.


This was a favorite game of Kai and Sierra. One would ride and the other pulled through the waves.


Somehow Kai ended up riding more but they were both happy.


Baskin' in the sun.


Kai looks like he's from the Chariots of Fire.


There were several turtle nests on the beach (later in the summer - we got to see some of the babies that hatched).


Some jelly creature that washed up on the beach.


Our seaweed princess.


This was one of the golf courses at the resort.


A dead crab... looks real though.

Dolphin or shark, you be the judge... ok - it was a dolphin.


Another view of the resort.


More beautiful flowers.


It was so pretty, I just couldn't stop taking pictures.


"Go Sierra!"


Kai decided to try it belly style.


Kai and Sierra playing with Daddy in the water.


"I love this slide!"


We went to a good seafood place one night. It was off the beaten path, but good.


Sierra and Kai have been working on a new face.. sort of suck your lips in and hold your breath...


...and if you're really good (and don't laugh) you can suck your nose in at the same time.


Breakout the underwater camera.!




Doesn't this just make you smile?


Pool temperature is good from down here.


Our little mermaid.


There was a cool waterfall at the pool.


The ladies hangin' out on the lazy river.


"Stop, you're tickling me."


Daddy went to play golf and we checked out the resort.


"I love my brother."


This is the bar area in the lobby.


"Check us out, Mom"


"Cool, dude."


The lobby was beautiful.


More lobby and the coffee bar.


Kai and Sierra liked the "free" food we got by the pool with our room key.


This was our favorite pool.


We went to a BBQ one night at the resort. They had balloons for the kids.


Kai got his first massage (which he loved).


They kids got a little tennis lesson.


They got to play Wii sports by the pool.


Sierra is psyching herself up for the hoola hoop contest.


She didn't win but did a heck of a job!


We had a great night.


The resort at night.


"1 - 2 - 3 Crash.."


"You're about to be slammed."


Sassy girl.


Let's jump the waves!


The start of the beach masterpiece.


Yet another pool (there were 7 different ones at the resort).


"Here comes another one."


"Watch out, Mom."


Family underwater shot!


"Are you wondering how I can open my mouth underwater without drinking it?"


"Check out the big bubble coming out of my nose."


There was a cool putt-putt course at the resort.


It was made like a real golf course with real grass.


Sierra lost another tooth while we were on vacation. It was unexpected so we had to get a little envelope from the front desk to put the tooth in (for the tooth fairy).

Dad finishing off the sand castle masterpiece.


Kai is starting castle #2.


"I'm ready to go surfing."


We were saving Sierra's tooth in a glass by the sink. Somehow it got run through the dishwasher and the tooth was lost. This is Sierra's note to the ToothFairy. She was happy to find money in her envelope in the morning even though her tooth was MIA.



We drove into town one night and saw Kung Fu Panda 2.


"I love my babies."


Another pretty view.


Lunch by the pool.


One of the restaurants by the pool.


Had to take a picture of this. The patterns of the shadows looked cool.


Jim and Kai chillin' after lunch.


Wrestling match on the lawn.


It looks like a postcard.


We went to Castillo De San Marcos Fort in St. Augustine one afternoon.


It was a beautiful day.


They get tired of posing.


Kai was reading all the old names etched in the wall.


The fort has been standing since 1565.

Kai did some shopping. He bought a shark tooth necklace.


Sierra bought a little plastic toy and then carried her bag on her back like a backpack.


Our last day, we went to see Carla's friend, Lori and her family. this is Corinne.


This is Charlotte.


Kai and Sierra going down the double slide.


Kai catchin' air.


Carter and Kai .. 1-2-3 go.


Their complex had a big water park with a cool slide.


Daddy even went down.


Caroline and Sierra playing.


Kai, Sierra, Carter and Caroline.


Round 2 - when we came back with Jim's sisters, we stayed in the main building.


This was the master bedroom.


The dining room/living room area.


The living room.


Daddy and Aunt Nancy.


Cool pineapple basket in our room.


The kids room, complete with a TV.


Another bedroom.


Aunt Allison and Sierra.


More living area/kitchen.


The view from our balcony.


A wicked looking spider we saw on the way to the beach.


Mr. Kai taking an evening stroll on the beach.


Ms. Sierra is getting so big.


Kai, Carly, and Sierra posing under the rainbow.


"Get ready to get wet!"


Carly loved being at the beach.


Allison, Jim and Nancy - don't they look nice!


We saw a beautiful sunset.


Another view from our balcony.


Watch out - Carly's jumping waves.

The sea turtle nest hatched and these little guys couldn't get out with their brothers and sisters the night before. We were there when the researchers rescued them (they helped them get out of the nest and took them out to sea).


Aunt Allison taught Sierra how to make a new "fat lip" face.


Aunt Nancy won a pedicure at the BBQ.


Sierra took a turn at the hoola hoop contest again.


The kids are enjoying a drink by the pool.


Smile Aunt Nancy and Carly.


"Aw, the good life"


Say cheese Aunt Nancy.


Chillin' underwater.


After 2 days, now they're buddies.


Sierra hanging in the pool she made.


They made a moat around the sand castle.


Tickle fight with Aunt Allison.


Everyone came back to our house for a few more days before they headed back home.


Carly liked the pool.


Hi mommy!


Making snacks for the SeaWorld trip the next day.


July 4th Impromptu VA Trip (back to top)

We decided last minute to drive back to Virginia for the July 4th weekend. It was a long road trip but we had a great time! We brought Forrest with us as well, but not Leroy#2 (which disappointed Sierra).


We're on the road again.


Forrest spent most of the trip in Jim's lap while he was driving.


We made it to Memaw and PawPaws. Kai and Sierra helped pick tomatoes out of her garden.


Kai and Sierra with Memaw (Sierra with a mouth full of tomatoes)


Forrest and Sierra playing in the pool.




"We love the big pool and the diving board!"



Sierra finally learned to dive.


Sierra, Forrest, and Kai


Memaw and Kai playing in the pool.


PawPaw took Forrest for a ride.


Daddy decided to get in too.


"Get PawPaw"


Hunter showing Sierra how to turn a noodle into a water gun.


The cousins!


Picture, pictures and more pictures. This one made the newspaper.



Ha, ha, rabbit ears underwater.


Sierra's not going to be able to do this much longer. It's getting too heavy for Daddy.


Sierra and PawPaw's self portrait.


Underwater cousins.


Playing the ring game...


"How about a game of badminton?"


"I've got it."


"Hotdog anyone?"


"I'm taking the lady for a drive."


Uncle Jeffrey is giving rides.


"Hold on, we're going for a ride."


Forrest took Kai for a spin.


Now it's Nerf gun time.




Forrest loves the country life.


Uncle Jeffrey and Aunt Kit have chickens. If you hold still, they'll sit on you.


Kai and Sierra like the country too.


"Don't squeeze too tight."


"Poor chicken."


"Watch out - Hunter is on a roll."


Everyone loves Uncle Jeffrey's toys. He took the kids for a night time boat ride.


"We're ready to go! "


Cousin Amanda actually looks as dark as Kai and Sierra.


More toys!


"Get ready - it's about to get bumpy"




Forrest liked driving the boat.


After getting their bottoms bumped for a 1/2 hour, they took a break.


We stopped on a little island ... not sure what they're looking for.


Kai relaxing in the Nansemond River.


Hunter found a stick to catch jellyfish on.


Smile... again.


"We're looking for more jellyfish."


Watch out, Forrest has the motor again.


Kai and Sierra helped MeMaw decorate the mailbox for the neighborhood contest.


The chickens liked the bread treat.


Bud came over from his apartment to visit. He liked the chicken.


Hunter got a big one.


Ha, ha, I caught another chicken.


Kai was going around trying to freak out the ladies with his chicken. It didn't scare Aunt Bunny...


...but Torri didn't like it at all.


Nighttime swimming and glow sticks.


When you move it around in the dark, it makes cool patterns.


"Check this one out."


It's July 4th and time for the bike parade.


We decorated Kai and Sierra's bikes for the parade.


Sierra pretending to ride Hunter's 4 wheeler.


"I'm ready to ride."


Jim on his cool bike (he rode along with the kids in the parade).


Aunt Bunny and Mom.


Cousin Amanda and Mom.


The Higgins' team is ready to go.


Aunt Bunny, PawPaw and Mom.


Forrest is ready to watch the parade.


The fire engines came first.


The photo crew waiting to get the good shot (and collect the candy being thrown).


The local high school band came next.


Then the 4-wheelers came.


Hunter got to ride his own.


They made it... and we got a sweaty Higgins' family shot.


Kai is smiling on the outside but on the inside saying "Do we have to take another picture, I'm thirsty"... Answer: Yes- you're a Ward, we take a lot of pictures.


The patriotic cousins.


After the parade, we went up to the church to play on all the bounce houses.


Cool slide.


We had the bounce house to ourselves.


Kai and Sierra jousting.


Uncle Jeffrey and Hunter duking it out.


Volleyball game in the pool.


Kind of looks like that scene from Forrest Gump with the tilted heads.


Ha ha - a dud.


The cousins love playing together.


Sparkler time.


The big fireworks display went off but it was a little rainy so we watched from the car.



Journey Jubilee (back to top)

Our church, Journey Christian, had a family retreat in July. For the brave few, they had camping as well. We were part of the crazy group that did it and it was HOT!!!! Mental note - camping in the summer is sticky! It was a long weekend and a lot of fun (and good break away from the work/Internet tether we normally have.

The family waiting for the opening session.


Our Journey Jubilee bag.


Sierra sleeping with her glow stick and a heavy blanket in the 90+ degree heat.


They had crafts.


We made a treasure box.


There were family teamwork games.


Here is our tent setup. Thanks to Kathy and Bill for the loan of the canopy tent... the little extra shade helped.


Sierra practicing for one of the games.


It was a little tricky to maneuver.



Pastor John in mid air.


"I can hold a glow stick with my toes."


There was a music session.



We got to explore in the woods a little bit and came across a tortoise.


Ready to take on the world!

"Spin me more Daddy."


We saw the tortoise again and Kai and Sierra took him for a walk. Kai picked him up to see how heavy it was.


The last day, they had a big water slide.


One more splash before we head home.




First Day of Second Grade (back to top)

The summer went by very fast and before we knew it August 15th was here and Kai and Sierra were back to school. They have new backpacks and clothes. Kai insisted on getting the "I'm on a mission to avoid homework" tshirt. I'm sure it made a good first day impression.




Kai wouldn't let me take pictures of him outside his classroom so we had to get this quick snapshot in the parking lot.

Sierra showing her chipmunk teeth.



Carla's Birthday! (back to top)

For a birthday surprise (celebrating on September 10th instead of the 10th anniversary of 9/11), we had a kayaking day with the manatees. It was a beautiful day and so cool to be up that close to the manatees. After that, we went to the Brevard Zoo and had a great seafood dinner. It was a great day!



The big gray lump is a manatee next to our kayak.


Sierra went in the boat with Daddy.


Kai petting the manatees nose.


We paddled out of the alcove we were in and out into the Indian River.


It was a really nice day for September. It wasn't too hot and no storms.


Picture perfect!


We gave our bottoms a break for a bit on an island. The mosquito's were all congregating there so we didn't stay long.


Go team Higgins!


We got up pretty close to some dolphins swimming in the river.


Sierra collected sea grass to take back to the manatees.


We'll definitely be back.


We lucked out and hit the free face painting station as we came in the zoo.


Sierra got a tiger on her face.


There are many beautiful birds at this zoo.


It was hard to not take 20 pictures of each.


A cockatoo couple.


Such beautiful birds.


Sierra fed this one.


The birds hung out as long as you kept giving them nectar.


There were many of this kind.


Stalked this one for a while waiting for him to pose.


There were birds of prey there which had been injured.


They had a few bald eagles with broken wings.


Sierra feeding the deer.


Spooky alligator.


"I'm ready for lunch"


The picture turned out pretty good even though it was taken through the glass.


Sierra wore her Alvin glasses most of the day at the zoo. She normally only wears them at home, but managed to bring them with her.


The monkeys were fun to watch. This guy played for us.


This one looked like a scary one from a movie.


Here was another fun one that liked showing off.


Another beautiful Macaw.


And the grand finale was a HUGE seafood dinner (Kai and Mom split this).


On the actual birthday, we attended a September 11th tenth anniversary program put on by the neighborhood churches.


There were a lot of people in attendance and the weather cooperated, although it was toasty outside.


Our friends, Dan and Karen came out as well.


Looks like a poster.



Miscellaneous (back to top)

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


On Memorial Day weekend, we went sailing with our friends.


Rob, Grace and Barbara - the ship captains.


Uncle Bob and Natalie at her first birthday party.


Cousin Michael and Natalie.



She loved the cake!


Sherry and Natalie take a swim.


Kai and Sierra lost teeth in the same day. It was a double tooth fairy night.


"Check out my holes! "


Kai lost one on the bottom right.


We went to Seaworld to check out the new show. It was great.


We got rained on so Kai took his shirt off and played in the puddles. He got off the ground pretty high.


For Father's Day, we went out and played golf as a family.


It was a perfect day for Dad.


One day we came home from work to find this little guy in our pool.. yuck!

Our resident reptile remover (and friend) was called to the rescue, and once again laughed at us for freakin' out over the bitty little snake.


After Rebecca confirmed the snake wasn't poisonous, the kids took turns holding it.


Kai was letting it weave in and out of his fingers. Mom and Dad stood from a distance.


After about 2 years of playing the claw game at Gators, Sierra was truly stunned when the claw grabbed not one, but two animals. That was enough to reinforce her gambling habit!



Cousin Michael at Katy's birthday.


Kai and Sierra took advantage.


Amazing how an adult in the pool is better than toys.


Sierra and Katey having fun at the birthday pool party.


Natalie is jealous that Grandpa has another baby.



Katey gets to take the first whack at her pinata.


Kai got a good hole in it on his 2nd turn.

We ripped up our nasty old carpets and put down hard wood and replaced some bookshelves.


The floors really turned out nice in all the rooms.


Kai and Sierra sold Entertainment books for school. They decided to pool their sales so they could get more prizes. Their arrangement was that Kai would get the recognition on the news and Sierra would get the Alvin and the Chipmunk prizes. They also won a drawing for Wonderworks tickets and a pizza party at Fun Spot.


Sierra loved the Alivin and the Chipmunks prizes.




Jim put down slate time in the foyer.


We spent our 15th anniversary weekend at Disney's Swan hotel. Thanks to Barbara and Rob for watching the kiddos.


1/2 of the anniversary couple.


The inside was pretty.


It was a nice hotel and close to the Boardwalk.


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