I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I came home one day last week and noticed that we had gotten mail from Kaitlyn’s school. You know, the mail addressed “To the parents of…” Knowing Kaitlyn, I knew it couldn’t be anything too bad.
Inside the envelope, we had a copy of Kaitlyn’s gifted Education Plan (EP), and a letter from her teacher.
The EP noted that she made great progress in meeting her gifted goals, which is remarkable considering she joined the class so late in the school year. Nothing really new on that front for sure.
The letter from her teacher was something else altogether. It was a nice little note stating how much she enjoyed having Kaitlyn in her class for the small amount of time she was in there. In the letter, she noted how much she enjoyed having our “pensive little girl” in her class. I showed the note to Kaitlyn, and recommended that she grab her dictionary (that’s right, grab the dictionary, not look it up online) to see what pensive meant.
Kaitlyn was pleased to learn that pensive means “dreamily or wistfully thoughtful.” That describes her very well.
Amber and I are fortunate to have such a pensive little girl, and also one who has a desire to always be learning. We are proud that Kaitlyn understands that learning does not take a break for summer.
While we were on our first Disney cruise last summer, Amber and I were easily convinced to book another one while we were on board. We really did not take much convincing, either; if we had involved Kaitlyn in the discussion, there would not have been much of a discussion at all (she would have booked us for a 15 night cruise though).
The one bad part about booking on board was the extremely long wait until we could board a ship for our next cruise. 361 days in fact, from the day we booked on the Disney Dream until we boarded the Disney Fantasy last Saturday. And it was a long 361 days, too.
During those 361 days, Kaitlyn did her best to plan as much of our vacation as she could. She had a plan for every day, and was happy to go over it with us well over 361 times. Luckily, Amber and I were able to share Kaitlyn’s love of planning with my parents, my brother, and our nephew, since they joined us this year. Whether it was the order in which she projected we would ride the AquaDuck or what she was having for dinner, Kaitlyn took a lot of pride and put a lot of effort into getting ready for our second cruise. She made multiple lists, depending on the day and activity she was wanting to do. She insisted (but lost) on packing all of her princess costumes way back in December (because you can never be ready too early!). She studied the Personal Navigators shared on an unofficial Disney Cruise blog.
As you are reading this, we are probably just about to get off the ship, or have already started our trek to the customs area at the port. Just like last year, I plan on writing a few posts dedicated to our trip and specifically to Kaitlyn’s experiences. Hopefully we get up enough nerve again this year to book another cruise soon (maybe with a shorter wait time next time!).
It’s hard to believe, but Kaitlyn is officially done with second grade. It seems like just yesterday that we were getting her ready and taking her to her first day of kindergarten. Time sure flies.
This year was an eventful year, and a productive year, too. Kaitlyn continued to excel with her reading goals, and in pretty much every area of study. She made the honor roll each grading period, and somehow manage to maintain the standard she had set for herself in getting an A in every subject. That is quite impressive. Amber and I have had to be sure to manage our expectations, knowing full well that she could bring home that first B at any time, and we do not want her to be disappointed; we have, in fact, had to go over some of the work that was already graded to ensure that she improves in areas where she struggled on a particular assignment.
In order to challenge Kaitlyn some, we had her tested for inclusion in the gifted program (again), and she passed with flying colors. While she did enter the class toward the tail end of the year (early April), she was happy with how she meshed and satisfied on how quickly she picked up on the material. Because she had not been with the class the whole year, and because she came in midstream on a lesson they were doing, Amber and I used her first little bit of work she brought home as a chance to really encourage her to try even harder, and she was very receptive. We even had a laugh at a comment the teacher made on a math test Kaitlyn brought home; it was a student-created test on fractions, percentages, multiplication, division, means, and medians, and Kaitlyn was a little behind since the test was given during her first week in the class. On one of the long division problems, Kaitlyn had the correct answer, but did not show her work, and the teacher commented, “How did you get that?!” It was really cool that she was not marked off for not showing her work.
Being in gifted part of the day really freed Kaitlyn up to be an even better student. It allowed her to explore and begin to discover the learning strategies that work best for her. Moving forward, Kaitlyn will begin each year with the rest of the gifted kids, so Amber and I will not have to worry about her struggling because she is playing catch-up.
We have a summer of fun planned for Kaitlyn, and she has remarked several times on how she cannot wait for summer to get here. While she had a great school year, we could really tell as the year was coming to a close that she was exhausted and ready for a break. In two and a half months, third grade gets underway.
Considering that Kaitlyn had pretty much announced her retirement before the baseball season ever started (she wants to focus on her next big dream: being an Olympian in Equestrian), her reaction to the season coming to an end last night was a bit of a surprise.
The improvement that Kaitlyn made during this past season was fun to witness. From the first practice to the last game, there was big difference in her ability. For most of the season, Kaitlyn struggled to make contact off the coach, but each game was a step in the right direction. She got her first “real” hit just last week, and I don’t know who was more excited, her, me, or her coach. Then, in her last at bat last night, Kaitlyn made even better contact to record her second hit off the coach this season. What a way to go out!
After the game, there was a little postseason pizza party and trophy presentation. Kaitlyn was all smiles when she got her trophy from the coach. It was a great moment.
As we were heading into the house last night after the game, Kaitlyn was in tears. She was very upset that the season had ended; her reaction was quite the surprise since she had indicated that she was not playing anymore after this season (it wouldn’t be the worst thing if she pulled a “Favre” and came out of retirement). Even more surprising was that she actually thanked Amber and I for letting her play, even though we will always be happy to let her participate in whatever she wants to. As I was talking to her as she went to bed last night, Kaitlyn revealed why she did so good, and why she was so upset; she told me that her teammates “gave me courage” and were supportive of her. That was awesome to hear, and we witnessed how great they all were, not just with her, but in supporting each other.
Amber and I cannot be more thankful to everyone who came out to cheer for Kaitlyn and her teammates. The other parents were supportive of every player on the team, setting a positive example to the kids.
One of my favorite things about being a parent, and one that I know Amber enjoys tremendously as well, are those times when we get to sit back and soak in when Kaitlyn does something or experiences something for the first time. We take a lot of pride in being there to experience so many things with her, and we know that she loves our support and the support of the friends of our who get to be there, too.
Like her reaction the first time we went to Disney.
Or how proud she was after her first pre-K program.
Or how excited she was on her first day of kindergarten, and then again on the first days of first and second grade.
Or how happy she was to start gifted.
And there was her reaction when we boarded the Disney Dream last summer.
Then yesterday, we got to see another look and reaction that I know we will each never forget. We are pretty deep into her baseball season, and she was one of the few players on the team to yet to get a hit off of the coach (the league allows the kids to use a tee when they get two strikes, and she has been successful in those plate appearances). That all changed last night. She had been putting good swings on the ball for the last few games, and last night, it all came together. She hit the ball pretty good, and ran with joy to first base. I can’t even do justice to the smile on her face when she got there, but I know that I am happy to have been right there to witness it.
I can say with all honesty that her reaction ranks toward the top of the list of things that are burned into my memory and that I will happily recall for the rest of my life. It didn’t supplant the look on Amber’s face the first time she heard Kaitlyn cry in the delivery room, but it is up there pretty good, and is one that I will never forget.