In what may end up being one of the coolest things we have ever done for Kaitlyn, Amber and I launched a mystery game for Kaitlyn leading up to today that was one-of-a-kind. Everything came together pretty quick as far as us planning the end result, it was just a matter of coming up with the clues and the gifts along the way. (Amber did a great job coming up with the clues and the graphics for each clue.)
Starting December 7, Kaitlyn received one clue per day/night about the mystery we planned for her. It was awesome to follow along with her as she tried to figure out what they all meant, and we captured each clue on video as well. The clues are listed below, in the order she received them, along with any gifts that were with the clue. Don’t spoil the surprise for yourself by scrolling to the bottom. Play along, and please comment at the end with how many clues it took for you to figure it out. I hope you enjoy!
Clue 1: Solving a mystery can’t be beat. Don’t get lazy on those feet.
We made the first clue as vague as possible, but it was enough to hook her. It took her about two minutes to start searching for her next clue, but Kaitlyn would have to wait, which is not her strong suit.
Clue 2: What a way to kick off the summer, a week in June won’t be a bummer. (This clue came with a little sundress.)
Kaitlyn read the clue a couple times before she connected that something was happening for a week in June. At this point, she was convinced that the mystery would not be solved until June.
Clue 3: Where sand and sun meet, this trip is a special treat. (This clue came with two new bathing suits.)
Kaitlyn figured out that the trip in June would take us to a beach somewhere, but where?
Clue 4: All the ice cream you can eat. Hurry quick and grab a seat. (This clue was located in our chest freezer, with the ice cream. Where else?)
So far, she pieced together that we are going to be on the beach somewhere, cooling off with ice cream.
Clue 5: A fireworks show you just have to see. There’s magic in everything if you just believe.
This clue sort of threw Kaitlyn off the trail a little bit. She immediately thought about July 4, which, of course, does not go along with an earlier clue.
Clue 6: You might see a dolphin or two, make sure to take Archie with you!
Archie is Kaitlyn’s stuffed dolphin from our trip to Sea World over a year ago. He goes everywhere with us. When she read this clue, Kaitlyn immediately said that we will be doing some “deep sea swimming with dolphins.” Swimming with dolphins is surely a possibility, but is not something we currently have planned for this trip. Hopefully she will be ok with seeing dolphins from a distance in the event we opt to not actually swim with them.
Clue 7: To an island we shall go, a hunting treasure don’t you know! (This clue came with a Tinkerbell beach bag)
Kaitlyn was able to deduce that the beach from clue #3 is an island. Which island we will be visiting remained a mystery to her at this point. Is it the island pictured on the right?
Clue 8: We’ll be dining in the Royal Palace one night; we recommend you try the Princess Delight. (This clue came with a pink dress)
Confusion is starting to set in. Kaitlyn thought that we are going to be going to a castle.
Clue 9: Dessert after dinner is yours to take. I hear the Enchanted Garden has a Royal cupcake! (This clue came with a giant cupcake)
Kaitlyn wa not sure what to make of this clue, other than she will be able to have dessert after her meals. She also tore in to the cupcake that came with this clue.
Clue 10: There’s a kids club if you so choose, without mom and dad telling you what to do.
Kaitlyn was excited when she read this clue. To her, it meant that she would not have to listen to me or Amber while on our trip. Close. She will be able to enjoy herself at a kids club during the day if she wants to, with no parental interference.
Clue 11: There’s fun and sun on the island of Castaway Cay, but don’t worry, “the tribe has spoken,” you won’t be hearing Jeff Probst say. (This clue came with a pink bandana/buff)
We may have stumped Kaitlyn a little with this one. She is convinced that our trip has something to do with Survivor, which is one of her favorite shows.
Clue 12: They have shuttles to launch you into space, but a ship is what we’ll use to say “Bon Voyage!” to this place. (This clue came with a little toy boat)
Kaitlyn’s first reaction was the we were going to outer space. Nope. Then she tried to piece together the clues, and came up with we were going somewhere on a ship, specifically the “Tortuga,” which is the name of a boat that is used on a show that she watches.
Clue 13: There are things you’ll have to learn: port means left, and where’s the stern?
Kaitlyn insisted that we use the iPad to look up what “stern” meant. She learned that the stern is the aft or rear of a ship.
Clue 14: Do you have a wish? Is it to call Captain Hook a “silly codfish?” (This clue came with pirate tattoos and an eye patch)
Kaitlyn looked over all of her clues, and it was back to the iPad. She looked up Castaway Cay, the Enchanted Garden, and Royal Palace. She was excited about what she saw in the pictures that came up, but still had not connected the dots and figured out the exact nature of the trip; she had a pretty good idea, but still had not put the puzzle together.
Clue 15: Floating around like a rubber duck, running into Donald might be your luck. (This clue came with a rubber duck)
Kaitlyn knew one thing for sure after this clue, she will be seeing Donald Duck. Amber and I think that she would have this figured out by now if she could just piece the clues together instead of looking at them individually.
Clue 16: It’s not a nightmare so don’t scream, only good memories aboard this Dream. (This clue came with Minnie Mouse pajamas)
She is convinced that there will be a bed on this trip. Nailed it! She has a really good idea what we are doing, but has not completed the puzzle quite yet.
Clue 17: All aboard me hearties! Get ready for a rockin’ pirate party! (This clue came with a party dress)
Kaitlyn knows exactly what we are doing and where we are going. The pieces of the puzzle have been put together. One clue to go, however.
Clue 18: Make sure to have an autograph book with you. There’s not telling who you’ll run in to. (This clue came with and autograph book and a DVD that previewed our vacation)
Kaitlyn really cannot contain her excitement about going on a Disney cruise this summer! She is looking forward to setting sail with Mickey, Minnie, and a ton of other Disney characters. She has already made it known that she cannot wait to ride the AquaDuck.
Kaitlyn woke up this morning knowing where we are going on vacation, and she really cannot wait. Santa left a few presents under the tree that she can bring with her on vacation, too. Then, at 10:05am, she received a special phone call from Captain Mickey to let her know how excited he is that she will be joining him on a cruise this summer. The look on her face when she heard Mickey on the other end of the line was priceless, and is one that I will remember for a very long time.
After the second yellow fox (Thursday), Amber and I thought we could possibly get Kaitlyn’s attention that her behavior was unacceptable by laying down an ultimatum: either green fox on Friday, or no Sprague family Christmas party. Epic fail on our part, and a quick lesson in shooting for the stars on punishment. After working hard on some desserts for the party (peanut butter balls and chocolate covered marshmallows), we knew that we had out-kicked our coverage. Neither one of us would be staying home to with our offender and miss the party. And I am glad that we didn’t, but I digress. Seeing the need for an immediate audible, Amber and I quickly came up with an alternative punishment.
In exchange for her attendance at the party, Kaitlyn had to agree to give up her after school shows, her computer time, and her iPad time for a week each. And, any yellow foxes during this coming week would add time to the punishment. She was agreeable to that, and was happy to be able to attend the party (she even found a loophole in our plan this morning when she wanted to watch her show and we balked, but she pointed out that today was not a school day. Smart kid).
This past week taught us all something, and we will learn from it and move on appropriately. Amber and I learned that we need to do better with two things: 1) finding just punishments, and 2) enforcing what we said the punishment would be. Kaitlyn learned that she needs to do better in school at following instructions and rules, demonstrating self-control, not complaining in class, and responding appropriately to directions. Kaitlyn’s compliance with these may result in more punishment from us, but we are willing to do what we have to do in order to get her back on track at school.
“Are you up for some spontaneous Christmas cheer?”
That is the text Ryan sent me last night at 6:17pm, and it immediately piqued my interest, and made my heart rate elevate slightly. You see, like Kaitlyn, spontaneity is not my strong suit. So, I was a little confused at first (and I coupled the offer with the possibility that we would have a caroling Sprague family at our door in a few minutes).
We were invited to ride with the Spragues to look at Christmas lights. And we went big. We went to a house that has the lights dancing to music on a specific radio station. Amazing.
I think I could have stayed and watched those lights dance for hours, but it was cold, so our visit was short-lived.
Kaitlyn loved the house, and being with her friends helped make it to where she barely got upset (5 seconds tops) that she missed most of Survivor.
The spontaneous Christmas cheer carried over to this morning for me, and I am happy about that. Kaitlyn also had a great morning, and I hope it leads to a great day for her.
Who knew spontaneity could be so much fun?
With Christmas a mere four weeks away, we began the monumental task of clearing room in Kaitlyn’s room for this year’s gifts. I have to admit that we are truly blessed in having so many people get presents for her.
For the past two years, we have involved Kaitlyn with the process. Instead of just heading into her room with garbage bags and filling them to either donate or throw away, we have asked that she help us. We allow her some input into the process so seeing a toy or a puzzle or a stuffed animal head into a bag will not cause a meltdown. This year, we are changing up the ultimate destination for some of her things; instead of Goodwill, we will be taking her things to the Lucky Duck, a store here locally that promotes autism awareness.
Over the past few weeks, Kaitlyn’s favorite toy, other than her Chuggers, has been a red balloon. She just throughly enjoys tossing it up in the air, and hitting it around the house. I would say there have been hours of fun recently just chasing the balloon around the house.
The pure joy that Kaitlyn experiences playing with that balloon got me to thinking. I started thinking about just limiting her Christmas presents to a bag of balloons. I figure our total investment in that present would be about $5 after tax; if it is less, I will give it to Kaitlyn for her “snow money.”
Amber quickly shot that idea down, even though I was only half serious. Kaitlyn is making her list, and she will not be content with a bag of balloons. I anticipate that she will wake up Christmas morning and have a ton of toys and other assorted presents waiting for her under the tree. She is already learning that Christmas is not only about what she gets, but also is about giving, and has picked out a beautiful gift for a less-fortuante student at her school. She has been excited about buying a gift for this anonymous little girl from the first day the notice was sent home. I know she will want to pick out a perfect gift for the Sprague boys. She is grasping the giving aspect of Christmas already.