Thursday, June 8, 2017

Dear Henry: An Eight Year Letter (A Little Late...)

Dear Henry,

Wow, this year’s letter is coming a little late.  I am really sorry about that.  Usually I write these letters on, or within days of, your birthday. And yet here we sit at the beginning of June and am I am just now putting pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard or whatever.  I have actually been thinking of this letter for several weeks.  Long before May 13th came and went.  I knew things I wanted to say, and yet I would lay in bed at night thinking of more and more to talk about.  I was overwhelmed with the sheer volume of information to include in our letter this year, which I think made me keep waiting to get started. Not because it was too much to talk about, but more because I was worried I would miss something.  Worried I would fail to capture the amazingness of your eighth year.  Because, sweet boy, this trip around the sun has been nothing short of spectacular, and if I consider it one of my jobs as your mom to write down a summary of each year for you, I wanted to make sure to capture this one the best I can.

You have grown so much this year, Henry.  Each year that goes by allows you to grow more and more into the person you are, and I swear, each step you take towards becoming that person makes me more and more proud to be your mom.  You have such a kind heart.  For your last birthday, and again this year when you turned eight, you decided to forgo birthday gifts from your friends and instead asked for donations to the Humane Society so the puppies and kitties could have what they need.  And beyond that, in your daily interactions with your friends, family, and teammates I see your kind heart.  You are slow to anger and quick to forgive.  You find joy in the joy of others, and do what you can to see their joy grow.  You love everyone who is around you, and oh how they love you in return. I have the privilege of watching you interact with your peers, and I am so proud of how you love. You are kind, my sweet Henry, and that, possibly over all other things, is what makes me most proud.

This year you had the very special opportunity to be a second grader in your Aunt Boo’s class.  Oh Henry, what an amazing year you had. Your Papa and I weren’t sure at first how it would go, but you and your Aunt Boo were positive you wanted to go through this year of second grade together, and so we agreed.  Every single thing about the experience was amazing. Actually, I think you are probably always pretty great at school, but this year both your aunt and I got a more inside view of what makes you so special outside of our family.  You loved having her as your teacher, and you loved second grade in general.  You have learned so much and had more fun than I can ever remember a child having in a single school year. You had the Native American Arts Festival, the Poetry Café, the Organism Extravaganza, the Fractured Fairy Tale play, the trip to the Zoo, Star Student, and so so much more.   

For the Organism Extravaganza you did a report on an animal, and the you dressed up as that animal for the party and dance. You did your report on the arctic fox, so your Nanny made you a costume.  Oh Henry, it was amazing.  It will forever make me smile to think of you in that rug of a costume, out on the dance floor with your Jellyfish dance partner doing the jitterbug.  

During the Fractured Fairy Tale play your class performed “The Emperor’s New Hair”.   When you came home with the script you announced you were trying out for the part of the Emperor.  I tried to curb your expectations, suggesting you try out for other smaller parts as well, but I should have probably just let you be you, because you knew what you wanted and  you went out there and got it.  From what I hear, your audition was amazing and you earned the part of the emperor without question.  I then became nervous for you. You had to perform in front of so many people!  But those were my own fears, not yours, and I need to learn that while maybe some things would feel too big for me, I do not need to suggest they are too big for you. You can do whatever you set your heart and mind to, and you proved that so many times this year.  You were the emperor, and oh Henry, you were amazing.  Teachers throughout the school told me you were the best emperor they have seen in years.

This year you also discovered your love of both reading and writing.  You have always enjoyed both, but not like this year.  This year you have jumped into chapter books with both feet, and will sometimes sit for hours and read.  You read your first complete series on your own, A Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and oh how you loved it!  You also began writing your own book series, The Adventures of Howie and Darby.  You have been writing these adventures for the majority of the year, and they are so wonderful!  Originally, they were short stories, mostly written at school. You would share them with your class and even go to 1st grade classrooms to share them.  Then, over Christmas, you started writing your first full length book in the series.  Again, you have amazed me with your passion and dedication for something you love. You have been working on this book, Howie and Darby and the Dark Crystal, for months. You are over 50 pages into the story and plan for it to be around 150 pages.  Henry, it is so good! We love your stories, and cannot wait to hear how The Dark Crystal ends.

This year has been big in other ways too.  We took several vacations throughout the year.  We of course went to see Nana and Grandpa in Florida, which you always adore.  We also went back to Disney World.  This year we went to Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios in addition to Magic Kingdom, and we had a blast! We spent half a day in Magic Kingdom with Darcy, which was so much fun for us all.  We also went to Lake Norman over the summer, where you spent an entire week jumping off the dock into the lake.  You had just become comfortable swimming in water over your head the week before, so we weren’t sure how you would do, but you LOVED it! In addition to our summer vacations, we also went on several weekend trips.  We sent New Year’s Even in Cincinnati again, going to a Hockey game then to the Children’s museum. Lizzy, Wes and Cory joined us this year, along with Aunt Boo, Uncle Chris, and Darcy, and we had so much fun.  You and I went to Great Wolf Lodge with your Cub Scout group in the winter and again had a blast! You love Great Wolf Lodge so much, especially when Luke is there with you!

One of your favorite things that remains constant from year to year is how much you adore video games.  You and your Papa love to play together.  The new Nintendo Switch came out this year, along with the new Zelda game, Breath of the Wild, and you two have played it as much as possible ever since.  It was your birthday party theme this year, and it was absolutely epic.  In addition to your love of Zelda, you also love to play Minecraft and Roblox.  Those are especially great when you get to play with Luke! The two of you still plan on opening up a video game company when you grow up. This year also brought about Pokemon Go, which you and I had so much fun playing together.

 Right around your birthday last year you were wrapping up your final season in tee-ball as a Cardinal.  In the fall you moved up to Coach Pitch and got on the Green Hornets.  You absolutely loved that team.  You made great friends and your personal love of the game really grew.  That expanded when you started spring ball and got on the Giants. It was an entirely new team with new coaches and kids, none of whom you had played with before.  The transition to coach pitch is not easy, and you have worked so incredibly hard to get better at this game you continue to love more and more.  You have shown so much heart this season, sweet boy, and we are so proud of your fight to continue to get better at things, no matter if they come easy or if they come hard. Your hard work sure is paying off.

This letter is getting so  long, as I thought it might, but I cannot wrap up without mentioning your love of your family and friends.  Oh, how your family loves you, and how you love them back.  You continue to spend so much time with Darcy, and your bond continues to grow.  You love all of your grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins so much. You got to be in Aunt Candice and Uncle Lucas’ wedding this year, which you adored.  You have also continued to grow in your friendships.  Luke, especially, holds a special place in your heart.  You call each other BFFs, and sometimes call each other brothers.  You never seem to tire of being together, and the joy you get from each other is contagious.  I am so happy you have each other.  But in addition to Luke, you have continued to make other wonderful friends this year.  Through school, cub scouts, and baseball you continue to build amazing friendships that add a little more joy to an already joy filled life.  

So maybe it’s time to wrap up this letter.  I feel there is more to say, but really, I could go on and on forever.  You have had an amazing year.  And not to give anything away, but are about a month into your 9th year already and things are looking pretty good for your letter for next year as well.  Day in and day out we live very busy lives.  Sometimes I worry we are too busy, but when I look at you, I look at all of that joy, I think we might be doing okay on our balance of things.  You are busy, but man, you seem to love every moment of this wild life.  Your Papa and I are so happy to be here, along for the ride.  There is no place we would rather be that right here, being your parents.  We love you with our whole heart, to the moon and back.  I could eat you up, I love you so, my sweet, sweet Henry.


Here are a few links to videos of some of the year's highlights!

Henry's 8th year photo montage:

The Fractured Fairy Tale Play: The Emperor's New Hair

Giants Game

Organism Extravaganza 

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