When 2015 started, Kaitlyn was having difficulty mastering riding her bike. In a few short days, however, she was riding like a pro, and has gotten better since.
January saw us heading to Disney for a long weekend, and we spent three days taking our time in the Magic Kingdom. Kaitlyn fell in love with riding Space Mountain and the Seven Dwarves Mine Train. She is quite the thrill-seeker for sure, and can’t wait to ride the Aerosmith coaster at Hollywood Studios and Expedition Everest at Animal Kingdom this year.
Kaitlyn and I danced the night away at the annual Father-Daughter dance at the school. I look forward to it every year, and Kaitlyn does, too.
In March, Kaitlyn split time hanging out with Amber’s mom and also with Amber’s dad. To say she came back spoiled would be an understatement!
As the school year wound down in May, Kaitlyn shared what third grade meant to her, and the memories she made. It was a year of growth for her for sure.
Amber and I learned that we can embarrass Kaitlyn quite easily early in June, and we were caught off guard for sure.
We celebrated Kaitlyn’s 9th birthday over the summer with close friends and family, and a tasty homemade cake. It’s hard to believe that 2016 will bring double digits in age for her. Where has the time gone?
The summer flew by it seemed, and we capped it off by spending a week in Panama City Beach with close friends of ours, and Kaitlyn spent one day at Dolphin Day Camp at Gulf World, where her and her friend Wyatt had a chance to interact with some of the dolphins there. Pretty cool.
School started back in August, and Kaitlyn took a few steps outside of her comfort zone and took on extra responsibility at school by becoming part of the Pony Express team. She did a great job and took it very seriously.
October was a busy month for Kaitlyn. She transitioned from the Pony Express to being a Safety Patrol at school, and she seemed to really enjoy that job (part of me wonders if the enjoyment came from being in charge!).
We finally got Kaitlyn’s FSA results, and we weren’t really surprised that she tested in the top tier of students in the state. We were happy, of course, that she performed so well since standardized tests present the occasional issue for her.
Kaitlyn was also selected to participate in Mini Mu in October, and had her first competition in early December. She was nervous and excited, and for Amber and I, it was nice to see her really and truly be in her comfort zone, surrounded by kids who are at least somewhat like her.
Throughout the fall, we continued to support the Seminoles, and enjoyed going to games at Doak Campbell Stadium. Kaitlyn also expressed interest in going to FSU basketball games, which we will do in 2016.
Kaitlyn capped off the year with another wonderful Christmas, and Amber and I were happy that she believed for another year.
Between Christmas and today, Kaitlyn took a trip to Atlanta and Stone Mountain. While she was disappointed she didn’t get to hit Uncle Jason with a snowball (rock included!), she still had a great time being with my parents and her cousin and uncle.
2016 should be another fun and exciting year. Amber and I look forward to watching Kaitlyn grow, and look forward to being with her every step of the way. Of course, I look forward to sharing our experiences, and will continue to do so as long as people keep reading. Having a child with Asperger’s is an experience that Amber and I could never have expected when we got married and then had Kaitlyn, but we have learned so much from her and think that we have done a good job in helping her navigate situations that don’t always come easy for her. It has not always been easy, but we have leaned on each other and come to rely on some really great people in our lives who fully understand and appreciate the challenges we are sometimes faced with.
There will be a time, probably in the near future, that Kaitlyn will no longer believe in Santa Claus. Fortunately for Amber and I, that time has not come.
While more and more of her classmates stop believing, Kaitlyn, and some of her friends, have held on to the belief that Santa will be paying them a visit tonight. And for that, we are very thankful. As a child’s belief in Santa erodes, so does their childhood, at least in my opinion; they become one step closer to being adults, and I don’t know of too many adults who wouldn’t trade their daily responsibilities and stresses for just one day of being a kid again.
For as advanced as Kaitlyn is in so many areas (if you’ve ever gotten a text from her, or read an email she wrote, it is like they were from a well-read adult), and how aware she is of the world around her (she is still concerned about ISIS), we love that she still holds tight to this one aspect of childhood that so many are quick to want to move past.
In addition to still believing in Santa, Kaitlyn also loves her daily notes from her Elf on the Shelf, Sparkle. She looks forward each morning to finding her and reading the note she left her, and she writes back most nights before bed. This year, Kaitlyn has shared with Sparkle her feelings on some of her friends not believing in magic, her sadness over Jen moving (we all miss her), her nervousness about her first Mini Mu competition, and so much more. She is sad that Sparkle will be leaving tonight, too.
When Kaitlyn found out this morning that Santa was in Australia, she responded by saying that she hoped that he saw Roo while he was there. We will be following Santa’s progress pretty much all day, and will check one more time before bed tonight.
Amber and I will go to bed tonight happy and content that we were able to squeeze another year of belief out of Kaitlyn, knowing that time will come soon enough (way too soon) where she will no longer hold onto the innocent childhood belief in Santa and all things Christmas.
Seven weeks is a really long time. Seven weeks was a lifetime for Kaitlyn without seeing her big sister Jen.
For the past seven weeks, Kaitlyn has asked to talk to or see Jen almost every night. It wasn’t enough that she would be back in town in January, all the way through her wedding in February. To say that Kaitlyn missed her Jennifer would be an extreme understatement.
Amber and I had hoped to be able to take Kaitlyn on a trip to Cornelius to see Jen and Ethan before the wedding. We knew that her time would be precious, and that she would be pulled in a million different directions once she came home, and Kaitlyn was longing for some alone time with her. We had put the bug in Jen’s ear the last time we saw her that it was a good possibility that we would come for a visit, as long as we could swing that our work schedules. As good fortune would have it, our schedules worked out to where Amber and I were able to take a Friday off.
The hardest part of the plan was not disclosing the trip to Kaitlyn, and we both almost slipped a few times along the way. We did tell Kaitlyn that we had a special surprise for her, and she drove herself mad trying to figure out what the surprise was (there is no reason Amber and I shouldn’t enjoy ourselves!).
So we hopped in the car, and embarked on an eight hour, 460 mile trip to North Carolina, with Kaitlyn still not having a clue as to our destination. In fact, we were about 60 miles out when we finally gave Kaitlyn enough clues for her to figure out where we were going, and her eyes lit up with pure joy when she knew we were about to see Jen.
Once we navigated through some ridiculous traffic and got to our hotel, Kaitlyn could not wait to get to Jen’s place to see her. She didn’t care one bit that Amber and I wanted to relax for a minute or two, she just wanted to be with Jen; if she had known at the time that we were less than a mile away, she might have just walked there herself!
Amber and I try hard every year to make Christmas special for Kaitlyn, and knowing that she was going to feel slightly empty with Jen not there on Christmas Eve broke our hearts, so there was little doubt that we would do everything we could to give her an early Christmas present and take her to see Jen. Knowing how much she loves her “big sister” and best friend made it an easy decision, and Jen has been such an important part of her life from day one (as has her entire family, and we are eternally grateful to them, too) that it was worth enduring the drive and traffic to see Kaitlyn be truly happy and overcome with joy. No matter what under the tree has her name on it next week, her best present was the trip to see Jen.
Since late October, Kaitlyn has been getting ready for her first Mini Mu competition. At least once per week, she would spend about an hour after school working on practice tests and honing her math skills. All of that practice will finally pay off this weekend. Kaitlyn has her first math competition this weekend.
We had our last parent meeting this afternoon, where we went over the itinerary for this Saturday. Basically, there are two distinct competition themes, then several “lightning” rounds, where 5 students from each school will compete in specific areas: Prime Off-students have 5 minutes to write down as many prime numbers as they know in order, from smallest to largest; 24-students have to make 24 out of a set of numbers, using only the basic operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division); Speed Math-students, and any parent or sponsor, are given 15 minutes to work 25 problems; Mental Math-students and and parent or sponsor are given 8 minutes to work 40 problems, and are not allowed to make any marks on the paper.
Kaitlyn said she is nervous about the competition. She is holding herself to a very high standard, and is worried that she will let us down. There is no way she will let us down, as long as she does her absolute best. Of the extra events, Prime Off, 24, Speed Math, and Mental Math, Kaitlyn has her heart set on participating in the Prime Off.
No matter how well she does this weekend, Amber and I are going to be proud of her. She is stepping outside of her comfort zone, while applying herself in an area she clearly excels.
With Thanksgiving nearly upon us, Amber and I recognized the need to move some stuff around inside the house so that we can hit the ground running this weekend when it comes to decorating for Christmas (steadfast rule in our house to not decorate for Christmas before Thanksgiving). Since we have added furniture this year in the form of two recliners, we will have to be more creative on furniture placement/rearrangement as we start the decorating process.
The first part of the process involved moving a few tables to new locations, and moving a bookcase. Moving the bookcase allowed us to address what has basically become a dumping ground of sorts for us, so we undertook the task of taking all the books off of the shelves.
Once the bookcase was moved, Kaitlyn and I figured it would be a great time to organize the books stored on there a little better than they were. It is a small bookcase, just two shelves, but it still needed some significant organization!
While I was organizing my shelf, by subject since I do not have too many books by the same author in this particular bookcase, Kaitlyn undertook the task of organizing Amber’s books. At this point, Amber just decided to leave us to it.
Kaitlyn separated each of Amber’s books by author, and then neatly stacked them up. Once they were stacked, she had me put them on the correct shelf, in alphabetical order. If we had wanted to put in a little bit of extra effort, Kaitlyn and I agreed that we would have then organized the books by author in chronological order. I think we’ll do that another time.
It is not much of a surprise that Kaitlyn happily undertook this task with me. On the bookcase in her room, her books are organized by series, and then sub-organized in chronological order. That’s my girl!