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!
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.