For her 5th birthday, Kaitlyn wanted to go to Sea World, and Amber and I were more than happy to oblige. While we were there, we were checking out the dolphins, and Kaitlyn proclaimed that when she grew up, she wanted to be a dolphin trainer. Knowing her the way we do, Amber and I knew to take her seriously.
Over the past almost 6 years, Amber and I have done our best to continually encourage Kaitlyn to pursue her dream. We’ve taken her to Gulf World in Panama City Beach several times, and surprised her on our first visit with a dolphin encounter where she was able to get up close and personal with several of their dolphins, and we’ve encouraged her to research the educational path she will need to follow to achieve her dream. Within the last 12-18 months, she has even read the National Audubon Society’s Guide to Marine Mammals of the World at least once, too.
Recently, Amber was able to convince Kaitlyn to look at being something else other than a dolphin trainer; Kaitlyn is now striving to be a marine veterinarian with her specialty being dolphins. By adjusting her track, Kaitlyn realized that she will be able to make even more of an impact.
To help her keep focused, I had Kaitlyn really hone in on what it will take to be, in her words, “the best dolphin doctor in the world.” She has started to live intentionally. What that means is that she has her goal, and she works every day to make her dream become a reality. It means that she is determined to succeed, and that she will not be deterred by anyone or anything.
Amber and I know that once Kaitlyn sets her mind to something, like she has done with her career goal, nothing is going to stand in her way. We are fortunate that we get to witness her steely determination each and every day, and we look forward to her realizing her dream.
It’s hard to believe, but Kaitlyn has finally entered the homestretch of elementary school. Six years sure have flown by. Kaitlyn has come so far as a person and a student during the past six years, and Amber and I certainly have grown as parents during that time.
We’ve seen Kaitlyn grow from a shy little girl who really had trouble adjusting (though we are still thankful to this day that her kindergarten teacher helped make the transition easy) to a little girl who participates in a speech contest, has a speaking role in a school performance, and who has made an incredible impression on the teachers at her school. It has been great to have a front row seat, and while there have been bumps along the way, it certainly has been quite the ride.
Today was the first day back to school from spring break, and as if to drive the point home to us, Kaitlyn had to turn in her course request form for middle school today. For the core academic courses, Kaitlyn has been recommended for gifted courses, which is really not much of a surprise. A half a year of PE is required as an elective, and Kaitlyn got to list her top 5 choices to fill out the rest of her electives. Kaitlyn is certainly content, with some encouragement from us, to take courses that while challenging, will offer her somewhat of a break from the grind of her gifted courses.
There are still a few things for Kaitlyn to focus on before she crosses the finish line of elementary school, including her science fair project and a field trip to Sea World. Amber and I are not really in a hurry for the last of Kaitlyn’s 1,080 days of elementary school to be over, but we are excited for what the future holds for her.
Through the end of 2016, Kaitlyn and I were running buddies. Each race that she ran, I was there to guide her to the finish. Then, 2017 came along, and Kaitlyn decided that she wanted to run races solo.
It was easy for me to be OK with her running her first 5k by herself since it started and finished at her school, and the course traced a neighborhood that we frequent when we go for walks as a family. Plus, with so many of her friends and school staff out there running and supporting the runners, there was little chance that she would go off course (and she didn’t).
Picking her next solo race was tough for me. I wanted to enter her into one that would be on a relatively closed course, which means I had to find one that didn’t get her too close to the crazies who take to the streets around here. I settled on one that benefits our local Girl Scouts, the Run 4 the Cookies 5k.
Throughout the week, I kept checking with Kaitlyn to make sure that she didn’t want me to run with her, and she assured me that she didn’t; Amber kept telling me that she would be fine, too.
We showed up this morning at the site of the race, our local community college, ready to race. Kaitlyn told me her race strategy, and assured me one more time that she was running this one solo.
I ran next to her for about 100 yards after the start, then I was on my way. I saw Kaitlyn on the course twice during the race, once right before mile 1 and again right before mile 2, and it made me happy to see that she was pushing herself and that she was having a blast.
I finished a little bit ahead of Kaitlyn, so I was waiting for her when she crossed the finish line. She finished in 31:02, which shaved over 2 minutes off of her first solo 5k time.
As we were walking back to the car, Kaitlyn kept asking when she could run another race by herself (she wants to use these as practice for when she tries out for cross country in middle school this fall), and I told her we would have to look at the calendar to see which ones looked interesting to her. For me though, not running with her and crossing the finish line with her signals another part of her that I have to let go, and while I know it is inevitable, it doesn’t mean I have to like it (I know I will get to run at least one race with her…the Turkey Trot 10k in November).
Amber and I are extremely proud of Kaitlyn’s determination to succeed and keep getting better with each race she runs. Before too long, I think she will spend a lot of Saturday mornings riding with me to one race or another. I can’t wait!
Last Thursday, Kaitlyn had the opportunity to get a sneak peek at the many opportunities that await her in middle school next year. For Amber and I, it is a little hard to imagine that our little girl will be starting 6th grade in just a few months. Where has the time gone?
It seems like it was just yesterday that we were taking her in the day before kindergarten orientation so she could get comfortable with her new surroundings. From that day, we knew that Kaitlyn was in a great school, and we see that every day. Now, in just a few shorts months, we will have a middle schooler in the house. Wow!
Kaitlyn was looking forward to seeing what was in store for her starting in August, though she already sort of knew what electives she wanted to take.
She took the opportunity to visit each area to see what the expectations for each class were, and what kinds of extracurricular activities and clubs were offered. (Amber got a comments the next day from several of the teachers about how focused, polite, and determined Kaitlyn was, and how she was one of the few students to come through who knew exactly what they wanted to do.)
Knowing that she will have her work cut out for her in her core advanced/gifted classes next year, Kaitlyn decided that she would enroll in electives that will challenge her, but will allow her the chance to turn off the academic part of her brain for a few minutes.
In addition to her school work, Kaitlyn is determined to run cross-country next year, and she knows that she has her work cut out for her. The cross-country team at the middle school won the city championship this past year and is stout each season.
Kaitlyn has also targeted at least two academic clubs that she wants to participate in, and both are math-related. She wants to continue with math competitions, and also join the school’s Beta Club, which is by invitation only to students who maintain a near perfect GPA.
While Amber and I are not looking forward to 5th grade ending in just a few months, we are really excited for what the future holds for Kaitlyn. We know that she has a goal for what she wants to accomplish in life and nothing will stand in her way, and we know that she will work hard to achieve any goal she sets.
It’s just about time to send 2016 into the books. And honestly, it has been a long time coming.
For Kaitlyn, 2016 has been a year of ups and downs.
There was the extreme joy in being part of Jen and Ethan’s special day back in February.
Her first experience with math competitions turned out great, too.
Kaitlyn continued to excel in school, making the honor roll each grading period and blowing her reading goals out of the water, too.
April brought Kaitlyn her greatest joy, as Jen and Ethan welcomed their son to the world. It’s been a tad over 8 months since that day, and there hasn’t been a day that Kaitlyn hasn’t inquired about him and thought about him. She even included him, along with Jen and Ethan, in a speech she gave for the Tropicana Speech competition in December.
Summer came along, and Kaitlyn turned 10 in style. After spending some time in Gatlinburg, we made our way to Nashville, and Kailtyn celebrated her birthday at the Grand Ole Opry, and had her name in lights and also her special day announced to the crowd and those listening on the radio. It was really cool!
August also brought heartbreak as Kaitlyn’s great grandmother passed away. She struggled to come to grips with her passing, and still gets down on occasion when she thinks about her; the holidays weren’t exactly easy for her.
We made what is probably going to be our annual trip to Charlotte in November to visit Jen and Ethan, and Kaitlyn hasn’t stopped asking when she can go back and spend more time there.
Kaitlyn and I ran our last Turkey Trot 5k on Thanksgiving; next year we are running the 10k.
Our Christmas Eve tradition continued this year as well. Kaitlyn just loves going over to spend the evening with the Sinclairs; Amber and I do, too, of course!
Overall, 2016 was just an OK year. Hopefully 2017 will be so much better, and hopefully I will write a little more, too!