Thursday, September 24, 2015


“Daddy! A Rubik’s Cube DOES help you get girls!” – Joey Daniel, September 23, 2015

Dear Joey,
Tomorrow, you will turn twelve years old. I need to pause here and let that sink in. Twelve. I spent part of the day today finding the past letters I’ve written you. It is easy to get lost in them. In the memories. It is so easy to become wistful and nostalgic, thinking back on the milestones and the lifetime we’ve shared with you up to this point. I used to post these letters to my blog, and go month by month, listing out all the things we did. It is nice to remember.

Each year seems to go by at a faster and faster pace. Maybe it is because we are all getting older. Maybe it is because we are so busy. Maybe it is a combination of both. It hardly seems possible that in a year, you will officially be a teenager.

This last year has probably been your busiest and most challenging year yet, but you managed to handle all the school work and all the extracurricular activities and shine the entire way. Fifth grade had its tough moments for sure. There was a lot of homework, you had multiple teachers, many projects, and even learned firsthand about different methods of conflict resolution. In November, you performed again in the school’s annual program (this year, it was the 80s- Totally O’Rama – and you belted out a line from Livin’ on a Prayer! It was awesome!). You competed in the Science Fair in January and the first elementary academic UIL competition in the spring! You also managed to earn straight A’s yet again to close out your elementary school career.

Let’s talk about baseball for a bit, shall we? You are still on the Round Rock Vipers Select Baseball Team. If my calculations are correct, your team played and practiced together for nine out of the past twelve months. That adds up to a whole lot of baseball! To be honest, you have had some ups and downs. You have gone through a hitting slump or two and have had games where you were just, for lack of a better word, off. You love your team, though. And baby, when you are on? You are ON. I don’t know how you do it, either. You have this drive and perseverance that never ceases to amaze me. You work your way up and out of the rough days and they become fewer and fewer as you get better and better. Your attitude and determination shine through both during the games and during practices. And your perseverance pays off. You did not end the spring season with a hitting slump. Instead, you hit a walk off triple to win one of our World Series games in July! What a moment! And then you got an entire month off only to start again, this time in 12U. Our team has such a good record for the spring season that the powers that be moved us up into a more difficult division. Your team is in development mode this season, and you are getting an opportunity to play some different positions. First base is still your favorite, but you love the outfield and getting those opportunities to make the big plays. You also enjoy pitching, but don’t do it that often. We play our second tournament this weekend. I love to watch you play.

In addition to baseball, you are still lighting it up at Taekwondo. You are actively pursuing your third degree black belt. That belt takes a while. Six mid-term tests, one test for recommended, and one test for decided, in fact. You have successfully passed three of your six midterm tests. I don’t have the opportunity to come watch your classes as much, but I have not missed a test. And every time I see you in your gear or completing one of your complicated forms, I am blown away. You are precise and sharp and have memorized so many moves. You make it look easy when I know it is not. It took hours and hours of practice to get it right.

This year, we also did some traveling and had quite a bit of fun. We went skiing in Beaver Creek in December with your Nana and Granddad. For Christmas, for the first time ever, we stayed at home. Good thing, too, because on Christmas Eve we got a puppy! Our very own little Alaskan Husky. You named her Loki and she is true to her name (the chaos-maker). She is a constant source of entertainment and dog hair. Your father and I also took you to Playa del Carmen for both Spring Break and an end of summer vacation. Spring Break was a little rough. You hurt your knee right before our trip and also got a respiratory virus. The virus wasn’t so hard on you, but then you shared it with me and your father and it took us out. You did get to hang out and just relax and play on your iPad quite a bit that week, though. We also went to League City, TX with the team to play in a baseball tournament and go to a Houston Astros game. That was such a great weekend!

In May, we also started talking about summer vacation plans and ideas. You really, REALLY wanted to go on an RV road trip. Some of your friends have gone on these trips and made them sound like a lot of fun. After some digging on my part, you confessed that they sounded fun because your friends also went to amusement parks and rode roller coasters. Your voice broke a little as you said, “And I’ve never ridden a real roller coaster!” Well, we did something about that! We had a family weekend in San Antonio and you got to bring a friend along. We stayed at the Hyatt Hill Country, and your grandparents and uncle also came! You and Anthony had a blast at the pool and y’all even got to surf! The next day, after a very intense but short rainstorm threatened to ruin our day, we headed to Six Flags Fiesta Texas. We were some of the first people to ride their newest roller coaster, the Batman ride. I believe you were able to get your fill of roller coasters that day.

Baseball pretty much consumed the first 7 weeks of summer, not really leaving much time to plan a family vacation. Your grandparents took you to Universal Orlando in June (during a non-tournament week) and you had an absolutely amazing time! Your Nana hired a guide for one of the days in the park and you got to go to the front of every line. While at the hotel pool one day, you also competed in a hula hoop contest. I believe you came in second place. When July rolled around, we realized that we had not planned anything for just US. After some consideration (and lack of planning time), we decided to have a do-over in Playa. It did not disappoint! It also just so happened that you had friends staying just down the beach! Having someone to hang out with makes all the difference! We did all the usual things, too… Exploring in town, lots of beach time, pool time, and we even did the night time Xplor zip lines.

We got home from Mexico and you had two weeks until middle school started. Middle school. I was a teacher at that school the very first year it opened. It never once crossed my mind so long ago that I would actually have my own child walk through those same doors as a student. Yet here we are. You are a month into school and have straight A’s so far, yet again. You come home from school and go right to work! You’re very busy and you somehow manage to get it all done.

You are such a unique young man. You are an aspiring YouTube sensation. You could spend hours recording Minecraft sessions (and sometimes do just that because everyone needs a little downtime). You are recently obsessed with Rubik's Cubes and can shock and amaze people with how quickly you can solve the two by two. You love hanging out with your friends when you get a chance, which admittedly is not often. You also just started cotillion classes very much against your will. You fought it tooth and nail, actually. Still, you put on dress pants, dress shoes, and a button-down shirt and went. An hour and a half later, we picked you up and you said you had an awesome time.
We rang in your Birthday Week with a Van Halen concert and we will be ending it with your first ever school dance, a party, and some baseball. I cannot wait to see what this year will bring for you!

Love, Mom(my) and Dad(dy)

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