Utterly Devastated

Amber and I found out today that it is never easy delivering bad news.  Today was the first time that we had to break the news to Kaitlyn that a family member had passed away.

I knew something was wrong when Amber called me at 7:23 this morning.  When I saw that she was calling as Kaitlyn and I were walking out the door, I figured/feared that she had gotten into an accident or something.  I was way off.  I could tell by her voice that it was something way worse than an accident.  Amber let me know that her granny, Kaitlyn’s great granny passed away this morning.

We agreed that there was no way that we were going to let Kaitlyn know before school, so I did my best to not let on that there was something wrong.

Unfortunately, Amber had the task of telling Kaitlyn the news.  It was as bad as we feared it would be.  Kaitlyn was crushed.  As I write this, she is still a mess.

Kaitlyn had become very fond of her great granny over the last several years.  She loved going to visit her and staying in her big house on the lake, and just spending time with her.  They would talk about how Kaitlyn was doing in school, what granny was up to, politics, and so much more; it was quite fascinating to sit back and listen to an octogenarian and an elementary school student talk politics as good or better than most “experts” on TV.

Kaitlyn lost a wonderful great granny today, and the world lost a caring, often stubborn, always thoughtful woman today.  There will be a void for Kaitlyn for quite some time, but Amber and I will make sure to ensure that she thinks about of the great times the two of them had together.

Amber and I appreciate the outpouring of support via texts and phone calls, and that one very special delivery of flowers.  As Kaitlyn works through her emotions, we are so grateful that we have so many friends and family we can count on to be there for us.


1,821 days ago today, Amber and I dropped Kaitlyn off for her first day of kindergarten.  This morning, we dropped her off for her first day of 5th grade.  It seems like just yesterday.

Over the last 4 years, 11 months, and 25 days, Amber and I have had a front row seat to all of Kaitlyn’s tremendous achievements.  We could not be more proud of growth she has shown and the person that she is becoming.

During her time at her elementary school, we have been fortunate that Kaitlyn has had some amazing teachers who pushed her and challenged her to be her best.  We’re excited to work with her fifth grade teacher this year, having already heard great things about her; Kaitlyn is already familiar with her, too, since her teacher was also the Student Council advisor last year.

Amber and I expect Kaitlyn to be challenged this year, and we also expect that she will rise to any challenges that come her way like she has always done.  We look forward to supporting her and pushing her (when necessary), and we know she will have a great school year.

No Real Learning

sun-wearing-sunglassesSummer is just about over.  Kaitlyn had a rather busy summer between going to camp, going on vacation, and spending time in Iowa.  It seems like the last day of school was just yesterday, and now the first day of school is less than a week away.

This past Sunday, Kaitlyn was Skyping with my parents, and the subject of the first day of school came up.  They asked her if she was excited that school starts soon.  Her answer was classic Kaitlyn.

“No, not really,” she said.  That was an odd response given how much Kaitlyn loves school, so the logical follow-up question was posed.  Why?  “There’s no real learning the first week.”  Makes sense.  Kaitlyn went on to explain that, sure, you learn about your new classmates and your teacher, but you don’t really learn too much else.

Kaitlyn is not a real fan of wasting days not learning anything, which is the entire point of going to school in the first place.  Despite the fact that Kaitlyn won’t be learning much (apparently) the first week, she’ll be there every day, paying attention, doing her best to learn about her classmates and teacher, and on any assignments she is given.

It’s hard to believe that fifth grade is right around the corner, but Amber and I are excited about what the year will bring for Kaitlyn.  We know she’ll be challenged and she will grow, and she will work hard and excel.  Most of all, Kaitlyn will continue to do her best, and Amber and I will be with her every step of the way, supporting and encouraging her.

Performance Level 5

“Students who score in Level 5 demonstrate mastery of the Florida Standards for their grade.  They are likely to excel in the next grade.”

While Kaitlyn was up in Iowa, her Florida Standards Assessment scores came in the mail.  Amber and I are not 100% sold that standardized tests such as these are necessarily the best gauge of where students stand, they are here and Kaitlyn has to take them, so we figure we may as well accept it.

As she did last year, Kaitlyn did spectacular on the tests!  She was a Level 5 (out of 5) in both the Math and English/Language Arts tests.

In Math, Kaitlyn was in the top 25% of the school, top 17% of the district, and top 12% of the state.  In the English/Language Arts tests, she was in the top 23% of the school, top 11% of the district, and top 7% of the state.

Each year, Kaitlyn puts a lot of pressure on herself when it comes to taking these tests.  She wants to do her absolute best, and she has done a great job so far.  While Amber and I focus more on her effort and results on a daily basis and for each grading period, it is difficult not to be proud of her when we get results like these.

A Summer Adventure

For the first time in 28 days, Kailyn is home.  She had herself quite the adventure over the last four weeks, too.  During the last 28 days, Kaitlyn visited 12 states and saw so many amazing things, and had a great time doing it.

We left for our vacation on June 18, and our trip took us from Florida, through Georgia and North Carolina, and stopped in Tennessee for a week.  Kaitlyn spent her 10th birthday at the Grand Ole Opry, which set the bar for future birthdays (she already wants to go back to Nashville and the Opry soon).

From Nashville, we drove up to Paducah and met Amber’s mom, and Kaitlyn was off to spend three weeks in Iowa.  While she was in Iowa, she helped in the garden, played with new born kittens (they all stayed up there thankfully), baked, sewed, and hiked through the woods.  She also had the opportunity to visit the Minnesota Zoo, and took a trip the Mall of America; she was in awe when she walked into the two story American Girl store.

During the three weeks she was in Iowa, I think it is safe to say that Amber’s mom got to see every side of Kaitlyn, and it was a learning experience.  She had to deal with Kaitlyn’s grumpiness in the mornings, her non-stop talking, and the fact that it is really difficult for her to sit still.  Dealing with the Full Kaitlyn Experience is not as easy as Amber and I make it look sometimes, that’s for sure.

There were moments when Kaitlyn was extremely homesick, too, and they came up before bed for the most part.  Her stay in Iowa was not only the longest she had been away from us, but also the furthest she had been away; she had spent full weeks during the last few Spring Breaks in Central Florida, and the occasional weekend in Orlando or Atlanta, but those places are all within a few hours of us; Iowa was a full 20 hour drive away, so it wasn’t like Amber or I could just go get her when she needed us.  She survived though.

It’s important for Kaitlyn, and it makes things better for everyone, when she is involved and on-board with what is going on.  She likes to be a part of the planning, and likes her input to matter.  She almost always has to be engaged in doing something; sure, she enjoys playing the occasional video game, but that is usually a short-term answer because she thrives on actually doing things.  Amber’s mom is fully aware of that now.

Amber and I left the house yesterday around 5:00am to start the journey to meet up with Amber’s mom and bring Kaitlyn home.  While they were heading south through St. Louis, we made our way north through Montgomery and Birmingham, over to Memphis, and to Marion, Arkansas.  Once the package was secured, we retraced our route and began the trek back; we made it back to Montgomery, where we stopped for the night.  Instead of coming straight home today, we drove down to Destin for some back-to-school shopping; it was a somewhat fruitful trip since Kaitlyn came home with the backpack she wanted.  We finally made it home around 4:00pm today after logging right at 1,200 miles in the car over 20 hours (the back roads in Alabama slowed us down some).

For Kaitlyn, the last 28 days were quite the adventure.  She saw a lot of the country, too, from here in Florida, to Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Alabama.  She saw the Smoky Mountains and visited the Grand Ole Opry; she crossed the Mississippi River (twice) and saw the Gateway Arch, and so much more.  What a summer adventure.


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