Dear Danny,

We got your spring photos from school this week, and when I opened the frame to put it in, I was suddenly faced with your spring photo from last year. Seeing how much you have changed in just one year took my breath away.

This is my favorite school picture of you so far. You look happy and confident. I asked if they told you to tuck your shirt in, and you said, no, you did it!  I guess you saw other kids with theirs tucked in and decided to? I love your long hair that you don't want cut and the way we can see your painted nails with the pattern you picked out.

You have a big heart and a big mind and big emotions in a body that's still small enough to get put in the front row in your class pictures. You've gotten taller recently, but you've still got some shirts you've had for two years or more that fit you. When I showed my coworker your most recent school picture, she said you looked just like me.

You are a force to be reckoned with. It seems like no matter what you try, you're impressively good at it. You blow my mind constantly with the things you're able to do. It can be hard sometimes, because you want to do everything and when you can't do things right the first time you try, you get frustrated. You absorb knowledge like some kind of giant human sponge, everything from information about world flags, to the worlds tallest buildings, to anything and everything about space you can get your hands on. You love facts and numbers, and you spend your free time reading biographies about anyone from Steve Job to Thomas Jefferson to Martin Luther King Jr.

Our biggest challenge right now is that you have such big emotions, and you don't always know how to handle them. There's been a lot of screaming and some hitting and you tend to yell "Stop talking to me" or "You're making me madder!" a lot when you get frustrated. It's been hard because I don't always know how to give you the tools to help yourself. You get into it with Sam a lot recently, you know exactly how to push his buttons, and you do it.  It reminds me some of me and my sister, she always knew how to get a reaction from me.  You younger siblings.

You want to learn how to ride your bike without training wheels, but the fact that the only way to get there is with a lot of practice and falling down seems maddening to you. Scott took the pedals off your old, smaller bike so you can try practicing just balancing without pedals, so we're hoping that will help.  Once you get the hang of it, you'll be able to go riding with Scott, which would be an amazing activity to do together.

You have been playing the piano for two years now, and you are amazing. You enjoy playing even though sometimes you complain about practicing, and for the second year you did the music artistry program and auditioned for the Washington State Piano Guild.  You had to memorize ten pieces, sight read a piece, and make something up on the spot, all in a room by yourself with the judge. You got rave reviews. I'm so, so proud of you.

You still love playing with cars, and your favorite thing to do at Emily & Megans is play with blocks.
You have tons of Jenga and Keva Blocks and you build towers and structures. Sometimes you take pictures with your tablet and show me when you come back home.

You still love playing Roblox, and you love coding and making little games and things in Scratch. I feel like you want to do everything. This year you've gotten a lot more confident about your physical body and abilities, and you do things like cross the monkey bars and jump from high places. I think that soon you'll probably be in another sport besides swimming, you've told me you like soccer and basketball the most.

All kids seem to have a transition years where they suddenly seem so much older than the year before. Nine feels so much different than eight. You're still shy, but you've gotten so much more independent. Last week, you started walking up the hill from the school bus stop to our house by yourself.

I can't believe you're going to be in fourth grade later this year. You still ask for a lot of hugs and love to lay and cuddle with me in the mornings, but I'm finally starting to see and feel the edges of that slipping away. Somehow, we've actually reached a point where I can just feel in my heart that you're not going to be my baby forever. I'm ready, but I will never be ready.

Happy birthday, little dude.



Favorite Book:  Any biography from the "Who is/Who was" series, Anything about space
Favorite Song:  Something Wild from Pete's Dragon
Favorite Board Game:  Castle Panic, Rummikub
Favorite Video Game:  Roblox, Minecraft, Trials
Favorite TV Show: Fresh Off the Boat, Futurama, Bob's Burgers, The Simpsons
Favorite YouTubers:  Real Life Lore, Unspeakable
Favorite Food:  Pizza, Chips & Sauce
Favorite Dessert: Ice Cream
Favorite Thing to Do Outside the House: Spark Museum, Riding your bike, Happy Valley Elementary Playground
Favorite Subject at School: PE
Best Friends:  Rhett, Judson, Scott

Birth Story.