We don’t have very many traditions when it comes to Thanksgiving. Other than running in our local Turkey Trot in the morning, we are pretty flexible with the rest of the day. Last year, we joined some friends for brunch after the race, and before that, we would just hang out around the house. This year, we will be enjoying a Thanksgiving lunch with a friend of ours and her family.
We are also planning on doing something for Thanksgiving that we have not done in the past (no, I am not talking about Amber running the 5k in the morning, which she is). We are planning on taking Kaitlyn to see a movie. And not just any movie, either. We are going to go see Disney’s Frozen.
Kaitlyn has been looking forward to seeing this movie for several months now. Let’s just say that she is a big fan of Disney movies, and pretty much anything Disney (surprisingly, her love of American Girls has not completely supplanted Disney). Her excitement has only increased in recent weeks as she has taken notice of merchandise from the movie in different stores we have been in.
This morning, before we left for work (Kaitlyn is putting in a hard day’s work with Amber today), I asked Amber if she wanted me to get any cash out for the movie tomorrow. Before I could even finish the question, Kaitlyn’s hand was outstretched, waiting for my cash to be handed over. I wish I could say that this is a new thing for her, but we have a picture at home of Kaitlyn when she first starting to be able to stand where she is taking cash out of my wallet. The best part about Kaitlyn’s love of cash is that she is a saver, at least of her money (she seems to really enjoy spending our money).
A new tradition may be born tomorrow with us seeing a movie, and I can hardly wait.
Last night, I busted Kaitlyn a few times when she was doing something she was not supposed to be doing. She was using a stool that she has had for quite some time as a stand to conduct some sort of concert, and at the conclusion of each song (safe bet), she would jump and tumble off of it. Knowing her lack of grace was bound to cause an injury at some point, I asked her to stop; that lasted all of 2 minutes before she was back at it.
I decided I would bust her again, so I snuck up and was watching her from around the corner, and sure enough, she jumped off the stool and tumbled to the ground. As soon as I busted her, she immediately told me that she had hurt herself when she landed on her right knee. Since I was watching, I knew that there was no injury, thus she got no sympathy from me.
When it was time for bed, Amber told her to get her pajamas on, and Kaitlyn claimed that she couldn’t because she “broke something” in her knee earlier. I offered to take her to the hospital to have the knee operated on, but Kaitlyn declined. After she got dressed for bed, she started limping over to her bed, except I noticed that her limp looked odd. She was limping as if her left knee was hurt, so I did what any good parent would do and reminded her the she hurt her right knee, not her left knee. Immediately, she switched her limp to the right leg and hobbled to bed.
Luckily, the knee was all better by this morning, and we did not have to make a trip to the hospital to have surgery or possibly get her leg amputated below the knee (in case there was an infection or something). Crisis averted, and I think Kaitlyn learned that if she is going to fake an injury, she needs to remember what she “hurt” and stick with it.
About two weeks or so ago, every parent from Kaitlyn’s class received, via e-mail, a letter from the mother of a little girl in the class. The letter was a “heads-up” about the status of her son, who was in fourth grade at Kaitlyn’s school. From the time he was in kindergarten, he had been battling cancer, and his mother sent us all a letter stating that he was losing his battle, and she wanted to tell the parents so that we could prepare our kids since his sister is in the same class. Amber and I are not much for sugarcoating things, so we honestly shared the contents of that letter that night, and told her the best thing that she could do in the coming days and weeks for her classmate was to be a good friend; we had no idea what her classmates parents were going through with their son, or how their daughter was handling the news, but we wanted to ensure that Kaitlyn was a good friend to her. Part of that came from the fact that we figured that Kaitlyn would feel extremely sad for her friend and what her brother was enduring.
One of the many reasons we love Kaitlyn’s school is the way they make each student feel like they are the center of the universe. The young man who was battling cancer was no different; in fact, if anything, the school went above and beyond to make his experience amazing, and I think they did a great job. They held different events for him, and had special days just for him; several FSU football players came out to a flag football game they held for him in the spring. It wasn’t just the school that made this young man and his family feel loved, it was the community as a whole. Just last Friday, one of the local high school honored him at their Senior Night football game, and World Series Champion David Ross presented him with an autographed bat.
This afternoon, right as I was leaving work for the day, I checked my phone and noticed I had an e-mail. It was from Kaitlyn’s school. They e-mailed all of the parents to let us know that the young man had lost his battle with cancer today, and that there would be counselors on campus tomorrow to answer questions from our kids. Not wanting to ruin the evening’s plans, we waited a few hours before we told Kaitlyn. We spoke to her honestly and told her that her classmate’s brother had died today, and we did not know how long her classmate would be out of school, but the best thing she could do would be to continue to be a good friend.
I am not going to sit here and even remotely try to comprehend what their family is enduring tonight. I know that no parent who has kids in fourth and second grade should have to bury their fourth grader; that is just not right. To condense and paraphrase what our friend Chris posted on his Facebook this evening, “even though she drives us crazy, we cannot wait to hug her even tighter tonight.”
It is rare for Kaitlyn to show this much enthusiasm over so many different things all at once, but I have a feeling that this weekend will rank right up there with the best she has had. Certainly one of the most memorable, without a doubt.
Amber and I did something that we would not normally do this past Friday, and that is allow Kaitlyn to intentionally miss school. Shoot, I am honestly surprised that Kaitlyn did not put up more of a fight to go to school, but she didn’t even bat an eye. We all had the day off so that we could head a few hours up the road to Columbus, Georgia. Specifically, our destination was Fort Benning. For the second year in a row, I was running in the Soldier Half Marathon (in honor of Captain John Tinsley), and this time, I was taking the whole family with me. Kaitlyn was finishing off her “Kids Marathon,” where she had to log 25.2 miles from early September until last Wednesday, and would put in the final mile outside the National Infantry Museum at Fort Benning.
In order for Kaitlyn’s absence to be considered excused, we had to make the trip educational. No problem at all. When we arrived at Fort Benning, and after we got Kaitlyn and I checked-in for our respective races, we went through the Infantry Museum. I was a little concerned that the noise (simulated explosions and gun fire) at the beginning of the museum, dubbed “The Last 100 Yards,” would bother her, but it didn’t at all. She took time to look at each of the displays that showed an important battle in which the Infantry made an impact throughout the course of our history, and she took time to learn about the battles. After the entrance, we went into each specific “generational” room; there are several rooms dedicated to each era in the history of the Infantry. Kaitlyn was eager to learn about World War II, and took quite some time studying the map of the Battle of the Bulge. The final room we visited was the room dedicated to the over 2,000 Army recipients of the Medal of Honor, and Kaitlyn enjoyed learning about the Medal and some of the recipients.
Kaitlyn’s race started at 5:30 on the Avenue of the Flags, and she was excited to get going. She ran a great mile to finish her marathon, and then got in line to get her finisher medal. She was moved proud that she was given her medal by a soldier, and she told us that it was her “favorite race ever” because of who gave her the medal. For her to have such reverence for a soldier makes us very proud. Amber and I know that this past weekend’s race, and getting a medal from a soldier, will be something that Kaitlyn will always cherish, and it is just another accomplishment that Amber and I proudly were a small part of.
Our trip to Columbus was brief, and we headed home right after my race Saturday morning. We got home in time to watch the second half of the Noles’ demolition of Wake Forest and to relax a little. We had a big surprise lined up for Kaitlyn for Sunday.
For about the last year or so, Kaitlyn has been steadfast in one thing: she wanted to see Florida Georgia Line in concert. We found out in September that they were going to be coming here for FSU’s Warchant concert to kickoff Homecoming, and it was a no-brainer for us to buy tickets. We kept the secret for two months. On the way to the show, we had Kaitlyn wear her princess sleeping mask so she could not see where we were going. Once we were at the Civic Center, we got in line, and Kaitlyn was clueless as to why we were there. We waited until about 5 minutes before the doors opened to give her a ticket, and her reaction was one of shock of why we were there, and feigned anger at us for keeping the secret. In reality, she was happy to be seeing her favorite band. Once they hit the stage, she sang along with every song they performed, and I know she had a great time (surprisingly, however, her favorite song that was played last night was “Chillin’ It” by Cole Swindell, one of the opening acts).
All in all, I think this was a weekend that Kaitlyn will remember as one of the best she has had so far.
Sometimes, Amber and I are just left speechless by things that Kaitlyn says or does. Today is no exception.
With Christmas right around the corner, you can be certain that Kaitlyn, like every other child her age, is already crafting a Christmas list. In her case, she has created a few of them in order to keep compartmentalized who she asks for certain things. There is her list for Santa, which is quite extensive, and then lists for each set of grandparents. From what I have noticed, there is almost no overlap in any of the lists. Smart girl.
But her ability to keep track of so many different lists is not what had us speechless today. Nope. What left us with our mouths agape was her Christmas wish.
Her Christmas wish is simple; all she wants for Christmas is love. Those were her exact words. Unreal. I can assure you that she will get that, plus a whole lot more.