I'm thankful Kylee is feeling better. She went to school Monday but spent the last couple days home sick. She was just totally run down- maybe from running in the cold in Florida or maybe she picked something up while traveling, but she was on the couch for a couple days. Glad she's back to feeling better today!
I'm thankful Kase passed his first sight word test. He's been practicing so hard at home.
I'm thankful that I will have all of next week to finish up Christmas stuff. My preschool kids are done this week and the big kids go to school until next Thursday. I'll be glad for a few days by myself to get all the wrapping done!
I'm thankful for our warm, cozy house. As the wind blows crazy hard outside out windows, I feel so lucky to be warm and indoors with the people I love most.
You guys. We had the BEST weekend. About a month ago, Kylee qualified for the USATF National Junior Olympic Cross Country meet in Tallahassee, Florida. We decided to go for it and I'm so glad we did.
The night before we left, we had some very thoughtful visitors drop off good luck gifts for Kylee! Aunt Terri and Uncle Bill brought her a bear and a balloon and Grandpa Keith and Grandma Cindy stopped by with gifts too, including the fuzzy Christmas socks pictured below!
Kylee, Kent and I took off Thursday afternoon and were thankful to have a direct flight to Orlando.
We had a quick drive to our hotel in Daytona Beach, enjoyed dinner out and Kylee took a quick twilight dip in the pool and hot tub. Our hotel was right on the beach- many thanks to Keith who shared his hotel points with us to make this a much more economical trip for us!
We later took a walk on the beach and a crab burrowed up out of the sand and Kylee stepped on it! What a surprise- she was so glad she didn't get pinched! Back to the hotel room, Kylee found some very sweet surprised tucked into her luggage. A note from my preschool director, Wendy, and a card and money for souvenirs from Grandpa Terry and Grandma Ama!
Morning hot cocoa with a view.
It was so peaceful there. Not crowded or busy at all. What a gorgeous way to wake up!
Kylee had so much fun collecting shells.
Then we hopped in the car and took a drive to Tallahassee! Kylee's teammates picked up her race packet for her, so then we all met up at the Apalachee Regional Park at the race course! It was such a beautiful course- designed specifically by and for cross country runners. Huge trees, a super wide track- it was pretty awesome.
Of course we had to take a picture by the orange tree! #WhenInFlorida
Kylee in front of the Jumbotron. She was wearing her new cross country necklace Kent and I surprised her with on the airplane that she just loved!
Kylee at her starting block. They divided all 302 (!!!) girls into regions so they would be spread out at the start.
Kylee and her teammate Ava walked the course. Teammate Cam was on a different course for the 4K route.
It started raining while we waited for Cam to finish walking her course, so that left us time for a few fun photo opps!
Then, wet, cold, and hungry- we all seven piled into our rental Impala and headed off for lunch! Kylee's teammates and their moms were so grateful to Kent for driving us all around so they didn't have to Uber it all over!
So thankful to be in out of the rain!
We headed back to the hotel for just a little bit and I helped Kylee lay out all her race things for the next day.
Then, up to the Civic Center for Opening Ceremonies! Kent waited in the super long merchandise line to get shirts for us all.
Kylee and I went up to make sure we had spots and met up with her teammates.
The girls were on the Jumbotron several times! We were right behind the band and they had fun dancing along to the music.
We dropped the girls off at their hotel after the ceremonies, then headed back to our hotel. Discovered that the shirt Kent had waited in line for so long for Kylee didn't fit at all, so we loaded back up and headed out to get her another shirt. The line wasn't nearly as long this time, and it was nice to have something else to do that night.
Race morning came around quickly!
It was chilly, but these girls were ready to run!
So, so proud of our Kylee girl. She had a smile on her face all morning.
We watched the start of the 8 and under boys race. Please also notice the ponytail she worked on for a solid 30 minutes in the hotel room. Her theory is- the better the ponytail, the better the race!
With so many runners and such a wet, muddy course, it was difficult to get around and get many pictures of Kylee during the race. I just love this shot of her running down the hill at the end of the race, crossing the big USATF sign. Kent had gone into the middle of the course to cheer her on during the race and later Kylee told me she picked girls out ahead of her one at a time, sprinted to catch and pass them, then picked the next girl. She had such a strong finish- both my parents and Kylee's coach were watching it live streamed and even noticed how well she finished the race! I can't tell you how proud I am of her. We really had no idea what to expect heading into a race like this but Kylee was absolutely thrilled to set her PR on a 3K course and finish in 13:10. She finished in the top half which was a huge accomplishment!
She was very tired walking up the huge hill to us after the race, but was mostly happy she "didn't fall in the mud, puke or pass out". We got her into the merchandise tent (where there was a heater) for a little bit, then headed back out to cheer on her teammates. Don't mind my finger in the picture below. My fingers were totally numb from the cold at this point in the morning so my photo- taking skills were a little sub par.
We watched both of her friends race- so very proud of these girls and so thankful to have been together as a team. Kylee said that one of her favorite things of the whole weekend was getting to spend time with her teammates. These girls (7th graders) are wonderful role models for Kylee and they were truly a joy to spend the weekend with.
After we said our good-byes, we told Kylee she could have anything she wanted for lunch so she picked McDonald's! She enjoyed having the whole backseat to herself on our way back to the Daytona Beach area.
We checked into our hotel and took a walk on the beautiful beach. Junior Olympic Cross Country 2017!
I am so very thankful for our village at home who made it possible for Kent and I to enjoy this time with Kylee. It really was so special being alone with her and being able to share in her joy of competing on the national stage! It makes me want to take a trip with the boys one-on-one too!
With the race behind her/us, we spent the rest of our trip just having fun! We went out for dinner in Daytona Beach, then did some souvenir shopping. If only this hat had actually fit Kent, we may have ended up bringing it home with us. Ha!
The next morning we got to see one last gorgeous sunrise over the water.
And since we didn't have to be to the airport right away, we drove on the beach! I didn't even know this was a thing. But Kylee got the biggest kick of it, and we knew the boys at home would love the videos of us driving on the beach, like Mario Kart!
Finally, we had to head to the airport. Kent and Kylee had fun in the airport gift shop.
And passed more time playing cards.
But we were missing these two, big time! I loved the videos they sent- a funny one of our elf and another one cheering Kylee on.
When we landed in Des Moines, Keith, Cindy, Kael and Kase were at the airport waiting for us with these awesome signs! Kael was particularly proud of his quote at the bottom of the yellow one. It says, "On a scale of 1-100 of how you did, I'd give you a 146!" (146th is what place she got).
We arrived home to a pizza party, complete with festive cake balls and door signs congratulating Kylee. I cannot say enough how lucky I am to be surrounded by such amazing people who helped make our homecoming so very special.
Kylee showed everyone all the pictures, then gave the boys souvenirs. At first Kael didn't know what this gag gift was, but once he opened it he thought it was hilarious! And Kase was so excited about his shirt that he wore it to school today.
It was such a memorable weekend and I'm so happy for Kylee that she got to experience this!