Sunday, September 28, 2008

Family Vacations

The tail end of our summer was a lot of fun. Uncle Matt, Aunt Robie, Kelly and Collin (Jim's brother's family) vacationed in Orlando. We met them at the beach for a weekend. In August, we took a road trip to Emerald Isle, NC to meet MeMaw, PawPaw, Uncle Jeffrey, Aunt Kit, Hunter and Forrest. We had a great week... the kids had a blast, the weather was awesome, and the beach was beautiful. The pictures tell the story so I won't elaborate here.

Kai and Sierra were both chosen for the single-gender accelerated Pre-K classes at their school. We're very proud of them. They have both been doing great. Our biggest piece of news to share today is....

Kai read a book all by himself today (9-27-08). He didn't think he could (insisted Mommy read it to him), but after a little "push" he surprised himself. He is a whiz with his Pre-K sight words ,so we shouldn't be surprised.

Sierra made the 100% Star Student list this week for her Pre-K Math. She's been doing great since she started her new class, but this was a nice surprise.

The rest of our adventures are captured below:


New Smyrna with the Higgins'

Matt, Robie, Kelly and Colin came on a Disney vacation in July. Since they were so close, we decided to meet them at the beach for the weekend. Kai and Sierra had a great time with their cousins.

Below are some pictures from our weekend...



Sierra is sitting on the beach (our condo in the background).



"Where are my legs?


Here is Aunt Robie helping Kai catch a wave.

Thanks Aunt Robie (she made sure Mom was in one of the pictures).


Here comes our cousins, Kelly and Colin, riding the "big wave."


"Trust me, you don't want to mess with me."


Here are Kai and Sierra's Aunt Robie, Uncle Matt and their cousins, Colin and Kelly.

We're enjoying our seafood dinner by the ocean.


"Let's squash Colin."


"Everybody smile nice."


"Now make a crazy face."


"Darn, I missed that one."


"Can we just stay on vacation?"


"Check out our mud piles."


"Mine is the tallest mud pile on the beach."


Sierra's new achievement is making gas noises on her arm. Although we discourage it, it's hard not to laugh (she's REALLY good at it and enjoys the fact that it makes everyone laugh).


Here is Nigel the pelican (as Sierra called him ... Nigel is from Nemo), flying by our balcony.


"The temperature is just right."


"I love my Daddy."


Here are our two items, ready to be loaded in the car.


"Why does the sunrise need to be so early?"


Kai and Sierra woke up one morning to see the sunrise.. it was beautiful.




Emerald Isle, NC Vacation with the Wards

We took an 11 hour road trip to Emerald Isle, NC to meet Carla's family. We usually take one road trip a year (that is usually enough). Kai and Sierra travel great and it's usually a lot of fun for us (until the ride home.. then we're just ready to be there).

It was such a great week on all fronts. Pawpaw and Mommy both were taking pictures so we have lots to share. Our week is well documented below...



Mom made maps so Kai and Sierra could follow along (milestones were meal and snack times.. made it easy for them to follow). There was a map of our overall trek, but then one for each state.


We're loaded up for our big road trip. Mom made sure we had enough activities to keep us occupied for our 22 hour car time (11 hours each way).

"Do I look beautiful?"




We stopped in Myrtle Beach on the way up for a break. There was a great putt-putt course we found to kill a hour and stretch our legs.





Sierra picked this course because she wanted to ride all the animals (it was a jungle theme.. she insisted on getting her picture taken on any animal statue we passed).


After putt-putt, we got some lunch and let the kids bungee jump. Kai perfected flipping backwards on his own. Sierra refused to flip. She was happy jumping up and down as high as she could.


They had a ball. Mom and Dad didn't try it but had a blast watching them. They had so much fun.


Our rental cottage was great. It had enough bedrooms and common areas to accommodate all of us.


The beach was beautiful. The water was so clear ( it was like the Gulf of Mexico or southern FL).


All the way up, Sierra kept asking when we could go in the pool. She was happy when we let her go swimming the first night after dinner.

" Geronimo!"


"Bombs away."


Pawpaw and Memaw couldn't find a ball to play with so they used Forrest.


Kai loves boogie boarding. The water was a little too rough for him in NC. This was the only day he boogie boarded.


Hunter is helping Pawpaw catch sand crabs.



"We love playing with our cousin, Hunter."


"Bad to the bone."


Memaw brought new cool pool toys to play with. She's showing Sierra how to catch the ball with her rubber mitt.


"Yuck.. seaweed."


"We're digging a hole."


"Say cheese for the Higgins' vacation shot."


"What do you want for breakfast?"


"Here comes supergirl."


Sierra found a new bug... the rollie pollies. Mom and Dad grew up with them but Kai and Sierra have never seen one before. There were plenty to play with. Sierra collected them in a cup.


"I got it."


"Shark girl."




Aunt Kit took baby Forrest for a swim.


The Ward boys posing for a picture.


Kai loves the water. Here, he is deep in thought watching the waves.


"Pawpaw found us some sand crabs. We got a bucket full."


Here is Hunter, as the Hulk fish.


The only bad thing about our location is that it was near an air force base. There were jets flying REALLY LOW and were extremely loud.

"How many people do you know that can smile underwater?"


It wouldn't be a beach trip with Uncle Jeffrey and Hunter without at least one trip to the go-carts.


"You're going down."

"Let's go mom... we can't let the boys win."


"These crazy guys are screaming in cups.. what's wrong with them?"



Digging holes was a popular past time.


"Push, push, we're almost there."


Even though he's only 7, Hunter is almost as tall as Aunt Kit.


Kai and Sierra are attending Memaw's training class on taking care of our new hermit crabs.


"Spider-crab and Soccer-Ball are cool."


We went to Shackelford Banks Island for a day. The island had unbelievable shells (the big ones you buy in the souvenir shops) washing out of the ocean. It was a great activity for all of us. As you can see, Kai looks like he won the lottery.


"Look at this big, cool shell."



"Where is your big straw hat?"


Pawpaw got the first pristine conch shell of the day.


Memaw found a lot of starfish.


"Smile, boys"


Here is one of Memaw's starfish.


"Look at these shells."


"Hi, mom. Put the camera down and get some more shells."


This is one view of all the shells on the beach.


Forrest liked this shell.

"Mommy, can we go take a nap. I'm tired."


Kai woke up when Mom let him take some pictures. He's our little photographer.


Here is Kai's picture of Pawpaw.


Sierra had enough. She passed out on Daddy.


Forrest is a happy boy.


We stopped at Fort Macon on the way back. Everyone was loopy by this point.

"I'm so cute."


"The Fort was fun."



Here are the Wards at Fort Macon.


"Uncle Jeffrey is a nut."


It's time to leave.

Here's Emerald Isle, NC


Here's Shackelford Banks.


"Memaw, what do you think of this one."


"Hunter, you and Sierra are nuts."


"The cross-eyed crab."



"I'm going to get you with my big claws."



The Higgins' posing for a picture at the NC aquarium.


"Hurry take the picture, it's starting to rain."


Memaw had fun working on her starfish.


"Watch out mom, we're full of water."


"Watch out Kai."


"No, you watch out, Sierra."


"Daddy makes a good pack mule."


Here is Mommy's prize conch shell.

"Tidal wave..."

"Watch out, Uncle Jeffrey, the shark is going to get you."


We found a box turtle outside our door one afternoon. Kai and Sierra wanted to bring it home, but we thought the hermit crabs were enough for the time being. We let him go in the woods.


We managed to squeeze in one more go-cart ride on our last night.


Mom decided to take pictures,, so Daddy took two rides, so Kai and Sierra could both ride.


Everyone is happy from a week of R&R.


"The tie-dyed family"

Memaw and Forrest.


"Do we have to go back? We like it here."


"Everyone make a crazy face."


Uncle Jeffrey brought glow sticks for our last night in the pool.

...And colored hair spray.


On the trip back, we drove the 11 hours in one day. Sierra was so tired, she feel asleep after taking one bite of her hamburger.




Mom's 2-week birthday celebration

Carla's birthday lasted a long time this year. The day before, we got the call that PawPaw needed triple bypass surgery at 6AM the next morning (Mom's birthday). Jim had left that morning to fly to Arizona. As soon as he got there, he flew back home, so Carla could fly to Virginia.

Fortunately, the surgery was a success, and Pawpaw is doing great. Kai and Sierra knew PawPaw's heart had a boo-boo. They read about it in their kid's encyclopedia. When Kai asked Daddy what gave PawPaw the boo-boo on his heart, he told him "too much breakfast meat." Now, Kai tells Pawpaw not to eat breakfast meat or donuts.

After spending a week in Virginia, we celebrated by spending a night at the Nickelodeon Hotel. It was a lot of fun, and of course, Kai and Sierra thought so much of it, they want to have Daddy's birthday there.

We wrapped up the birthday celebration a week after that, by having a birthday cake (Kai and Sierra kept asking when we were having Mom's birthday cake).



On the way home from the hospital, we had a little cake to celebrate. It was nice, even though we were all exhausted and emotionally drained.


PawPaw's doing great.


Here is our FL birthday celebration.

Kai and Sierra picked a Halloween cookie house kit for Mom's birthday.


"The Nick hotel is awesome."


Kai and Sierra posed for a picture on Blue and the thinking chair from Blue's Clues


"Let's get this party started."


"Aren't we pretty, Mommy?" (Sierra is always asking this.)



"We can't pass up an opportunity to get a picture with a character... Sierra won't let us."


The Nick hotel had a couple of water park complexes. Sierra didn't care about them, but Kai kept Daddy busy all day on them.


"Daddy makes a bigger wave."


The girls spent time swimming in the pool.


"Check me out mom."

"I'm flying."

The hotel had craft activities. Sierra and Kai made an umbrella. Sierra calls this her Blue's Clues umbrella.


"Whooo, here I come."

Here is one of the water park complexes.


We finally got Sierra to go on the little kids slide. She liked it, but didn't care to do it any more.


"Here comes Daddy."


We ran into SpongeBob on the way back from the pool.

"Hey, look. We found Patrick too."

Twice a day, one of the water parks dumps "green slime" out of a big bucket. Kai and Daddy were up for it. Sierra hung back in the pool with mom. By the way, the "green slime" was really green water.


Here comes the slime.



"Come on Daddy, let's get back in line." (Kai wore Daddy out.)

"Beds make great trampolines."


We could use our passes again, we went to Disney for the night. All their fall decorations are up.


"It's almost parade time.. take the picture, please."


"It's roller coaster time."


Kai and Sierra passed out after "Mom's birthday party." They literally passed out.. couldn't wake them up for anything.


On our last morning, we went to a Diego show. Kai got picked for a trivia question (What animal is Diego's best friend?... Jaguar). Kai wasn't bashful at all. He got it right and his prize was a Diego/Dora Animal Jam CD (which they insist on playing in the car every day).


A lady from Gatorland was at the show as well. Our family shot was with Diego and the baby alligator.


Sierra was giddy about holding the microphone (the host of the show let her hold it).


We went back to Hollywood Studios on the way home. We got to see Sully and Mike W from Monsters, Inc.


Here are our little Power Rangers. Kai is going to be a Power Ranger again this year for Halloween.


The "Blue Ranger" and "Pink Ranger" are posing with the Yellow Ranger.



The Higgins' Rangers

Kai and Sierra decorated a green cake (Mom's favorite color). Kai has been talking for 3 weeks about making a coconut cake. We decided to sprinkle it on our individual pieces (since everyone doesn't like it). Sierra asked if we were having goodie bags.






Here are a few miscellaneous moments from the non-birthday, non-trip weekends..


We signed up for the reading program at the library. We read a book every day for 20 days (putting a sticker on the chart each day). At the end of the 20 days, we took our chart back to the library and Kai and Sierra got to pick out a free book. Kai picked the Magic School Bus and Sierra picked A Busy Year.


"We're so cool.. ready for the first day of Pre-K"



Kai and Sierra were so excited to put their uniforms on the morning of Pre-K. They've seen the "big kids" walking by for 2 years wearing them, so this was like a rite of passage.


"I love it here in my new class."


"I'm a big kid now."


The girls class had princess day. Thanks, Aunt Bunny for giving Sierra some "girly garb" at Christmas last year. She is still a tomboy (the same day, Kai's class had "Camping day" and Sierra was mad she couldn't go to that) and doesn't have much interest in princesses (although she had fun with the other girls).

We had a playdate with our friend Grace (also born in Kaz). She used Kai and Sierra as models for a dress up show.


Our friend Avery had a cool Hanna Montana bowling party. The girls are all making the Hanna Montana pose... Kai defaulted to the funny face instead.

Kai and Sierra ran their first kids race (they've been wanting to do one ever since they saw Daddy run his marathon).


Kai took off and ran the entire way.


Sierra lost site of Jim, stopped running and started bawling. She has declared she wants to race "no more."



One of Sierra's favorite things to do is trace. We'll often find her with her paper turned backwards, so she can trace on the other side. Today, we came in the room and she was doing that on her big Backyardigans coloring book. Everything you see in the picture below is what she's traced.. it's huge.

"Do we look like your doctors, Paw paw?"


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  A Jim & Carla Creation - 2004