I always say that birthdays sneak up on me, but eight? Seriously? 8?!?! That seems so impossible, especially because I can still remember when you were as small as Ruby...
Eli, your eighth year was another amazing one. You were in a second grade class with a group of older, bigger boys. Some kids might have backed off from being true to themselves when faced with some of the situations you were faced with during the school year, but you held your ground and you made it through the year, still 'Eli'. Academically, you impressed the teacher and us with your love for math, reading, and social studies. Whether it was learning about weather systems or buying books about the Civil War, your love for knowledge was obvious.
In the last year you had two seasons in the Pinto league of baseball. Big Time. You were incredibly fortunate to have a group of 5 or 6 boys on both teams with you, allowing you guys to strengthen as a team and grow together. You showed some great leadership on the field, and you really matured as a player. (Plus, you caught your first line drive out in a game!) And your coach for the second season hand-picked you for that team because of how well you complimented the previous team. He recognized you as a great utility player because of your skill and attention to the game and because you were (ARE) a great team player.
This year found you playing in a few praise and worship sessions at church. It started with Kids Jam, where you and a few other youth got to practice two worship songs on stage, but from there you've gone on to play a handful of times (as the ONLY drummer) in the Kids Ministry room. Wow. You've amazed everyone with your skills on the set. We love love love how much you love music! Many days you come home from school and all you want to do is go to the laundry room and run through songs.
You and Maddux are the best and worst of friends, for sure. You bicker like cats and dogs sometimes, but most days you find plenty of time to hang out and play together. I love seeing your relationship grow the way it has this year!
Spring brings Jazz Fest for our family, and this year was no different. You picked your favorite bands to watch on the big stage, and you hung in there pretty well, even when the weather was crazy. My favorite part of the weekend was when you asked me, all 7 1/2 months pregnant of me, to dance with you in the Economy Hall tent. I think we've danced every year that we've gone there.
Just before the end of school, we had spring break and you and I took a trip together. We went to Pigeon Forge, TN and spent a few days doing silly but fun touristy things. You were very attentive to me and took great care of your pregnant mommy, even when we hiked and you were tired. I realized on that trip how much of a "Risk Manager" you are, and how similar you and I are. Eli, you think things through before you do them and weigh the risks. That is not a bad thing!
As expected, your swim season was another great one. You practiced with the same age bracket as last year, but this was your first year swimming 'up'. The events that you thought would be hard or scary turned out to be your favorites. The team was lucky to have you for the butterfly leg of the relay, and your 100 IM was amazing, especially for a 7-year-old. You, Drew, Brooks and Grant made a great 7-8 Boys team; I loved the camaraderie you four had.
On this day, your eighth birthday, your dad and I are so proud to claim you as ours. You are my sunshine. I love you more than Harry Potter.