Friday, September 23, 2011

On the Eve of the Eve of Your 8th Birthday...

Dear Joey,

On Sunday, you will turn eight years old. It hardly seems possible that eight years have passed since that morning I looked at you and fell in love. Eight years since your grandparents and uncle walked into the delivery room to see you for the first time and I held out your hand and said, “He’s got the biggest little hands!” This is the seventh one of these I've written and each time I write to you, I feel as though I am not doing you justice.

This has been quite a year for you. We had a lot of fun and experienced some deep lows.

At Christmas last year, you and your father and I went skiing in Beaver Creek. We took you out of school a week before the Christmas Break began and pretty much had the entire mountain to ourselves! It was wonderful! You skied with us after a day of ski school and went down your first (and second, and third…) black diamond run. Honey, you’ve taken to skiing like you’ve taken to anything else you’ve tried. With 100% excitement and zero fear. Then you took your experience of that week and turned it into a book complete with illustrations.

First grade passed by like a blur. You constantly amazed both your regular teacher and your TAG teacher with your brilliance.
January was relatively slow, with no baseball and no major events to speak of. We just relaxed and enjoyed each other. It was a colder-than-usual winter, though. One day, in early February (February 4th, actually), we actually got a snow day! School was cancelled for the day, so we all slept a little later than normal, then we bundled up to go out and play in the snow on the golf course. You and Bubba had the best time! Your father and I did, too, for that matter! I think we were all out there for over an hour. It was one of my favorite mornings ever and I have 103 pictures to prove it.

This next part took me a while to write and I considered not including it. But these letters are about milestones and some milestones are harder to think about than others.

Later that day, we noticed that Bubba wasn’t acting right. We were a little worried, so we took him to the vet to run some tests and just make sure he was okay. We said goodbye to him (you gave him a big hug and said, “See you in a little while, Bubba.”), and went home. Later, we were all at Target when Daddy’s phone rang. You didn’t know why we immediately dropped everything or why we were crying until we made it to the car. Bubba didn’t make it. This was the first time you ever had to deal with the loss of someone you loved. It hit us all pretty hard. February was pretty much just a blur. We were all hurting so much. We still miss him every day. Knowing how much you hurt and not being able to do anything about it to make it better was the hardest thing we have ever had to do as your parents.

But life had to move on and we had to move out of our bubble of grief. And we did. You began baseball and for the first time, your dad was one of your coaches! You had a great time, but you were also very hard on yourself. You, my son, are a perfectionist in a lot of ways.

During Spring Break, the three of us went to Playa del Carmen. You love the beach! And instead of being shy, you were your typical outgoing self and made a ton of friends to play with that week. You loved dancing on stage again, too. The week in the sun was a wonderful break and came right when we needed it.

We came home refreshed and relaxed. And we started preparing for a new addition to the home. On March 31st, a little Golden Retriever puppy boarded a plane in Florida and flew to Austin to live with us. You picked him over his brother. We had only seen pictures of him online, but the pictures told an accurate story of him. I think the picture of him stuck in a tree was the one that sold you on him.

And our house, which had been quiet and missing something for two months, would never be the same. Welcome home, little Thor. Thor was your first puppy. He sometimes frustrates you, he never leaves you alone when you are around, and he always thinks you are playing with him, even when you are sitting on the couch playing a game on the iPad! But you love him so much and he adores you. He could never and would never replace Bubba, but he belongs with us.

Baseball season continued through May. You went through a bit of a hitting slump, but you worked through it. We also started taking you to a private baseball instructor who has been instrumental in improving your fundamental skills. You’ve always loved baseball, but through these lessons, you’ve also learned you are talented. We have witnessed things progressively “clicking” in you when you play… Things that you’d have to think about first, you now do second nature. You finished the spring baseball season with flying colors!

All of a sudden, school was out! And so the summer began…

You spent the majority of this summer the same way you spent last summer. D-O-U-B-L-E-C-R-E-E-K! Doublecreek! Doublecreek! Forever let us hold our counselors high, High, HIGH! Now it’s time to say hello to all our friends at camp, D-O-U-you’re the best! B-L-E-everybody loves you! C-R-E-E-K!

You also spent a week at baseball camp with the Round Rock Express and a week at Taekwondo camp. You had a blast at each.

In the middle of June, the three of us joined your Nana and Grandad for a week in Bermuda. It was so beautiful! We love the beach, so we knew the trip would be fun and it was! There was pool time, beach time, a little shopping here and there, lots of exploring, lots of playing with friends (new and old). We even snorkeled around the tip of the Bermuda triangle! It was a great trip, and as great trips tend to do, it was over all too soon.

In July, you spent a week with your Nana and Grandad. They took you to a resort in San Antonio for the weekend and then back to their house. You went to art camp and created some beautiful pictures. Once you came home, we were on the downhill side of summer. Even though it was unbearably hot those last weeks, we were determined to squeeze every ounce of enjoyment we could out of the days before school started. There were days at the lake, afternoons at the movies, and lots and lots of simply hanging out together and with friends.

You are now officially a SECOND GRADER. Your teacher requires that you read 15-minutes a day. Baby, you double that each day. In fact, at the end of the day, your reading time is your most important time. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I am so thrilled that you share our love of reading. You devour books. You read everything from Captain Underpants and The Diary of a Wimpy Kid series to the classics (Tom Sawyer, Huck Finn, Black Beauty, etc.). It is a beautiful thing to be a part of.

This year, too, we have allowed you a little more independence. This year, you come home by yourself. Some days we meet you part way and some days you come all the way home by yourself. I think you relish this freedom. Last year, all you wanted to do was walk home from school. And so far, you have proven you are up to this task.

Joey, when you were born, your father and I went from being a married couple to being a family. You made us a family. We are so very blessed to have you complete the circle. You are loving and sensitive, funny and athletic, beautiful and silly. We can take you with us anywhere and know that you will only enhance the experience. You are as at home at a nice restaurant as you are when we have folks (you hate that word, by the way!) over to watch UFC. You could talk for hours about Legos, Transformers, Harry Potter, sparring in Taekwondo, and different games on the iPad.

You continue to get older and I continue to want the clock to pause and allow me to enjoy this time for just a little longer. The clock won’t pause, though, and you ARE getting older. This year, you asked me to not make you lean in so I can kiss you goodbye when I drop you off at school in the mornings. I understand. It really isn’t cool to kiss your mommy in front of other kids. I’ll give you that one. But it still breaks my heart a little. At least you still allow our nightly ritual of blasting off, racing up the stairs, and the multiple “goodnights” complete with a random and funny story your father tells.

Every day is an adventure with you. From the time you wake up in the morning until you fall asleep at night, you have so much information to share with us. I love that. You always set high goals for yourself. Not only that, though. You are actually willing to put in the work to achieve your goals. And once you do? You set higher goals. To that end, you are now a blue belt in Taekwondo and one step closer to your ultimate goal, the black belt. You dream big, my son. Whether it’s the aforementioned black belt, hitting a home run, or reading the entire Harry Potter series, you have large plans for yourself and you actually put in the work to get there.

That's just how you roll...


Mom and Dad


Jessica Gottlieb said...

I love his birthday. I love the annual recap and then I think "ooh it's got to be good to be your son."

Mrs Pop said...

LOL. He's got a pretty decent little life, I must say. He's way too spoiled by us and his grandparents, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

This year has been a tough one, though, despite the fun stuff. I think 8 will be a much better year.