Today marks my eighth birthday with the awesome bonus boy in my life. In those eight years Andrew has surprised me more than anyone else. The boy/man he's becoming is not what I expected all those years ago. His growth is unique and so very wonderful. In general birthday fashion and in honor of Andrew's 12th birthday here is my birthday list. This year my bonus boy has started middle school. He has a locker location he loves. Gets to sit with whoever he wants at lunch. And gets two days to do his homework because of A and B days. He's loving life and so far has made the switch seamlessly. This year there is still football. His passion. He reads about it, plays it, plays the fantasy version, watches it, and talks it. And my favorite part...tries to teach me about it. If I ask about football he always has plenty to say. Grateful. Andrew is such a grateful kid. He may not say thank you every time you hand him a napkin or a cup of milk, but he says it just when you least expect it. Just because you stopped and got him a strawberry banana smoothie at 6:30 a.m. on the way to the bus stop. The kid will sincerely thank you and it means the world. This year my bonus boy has stretched his big brother wings and really shown his ability at being the oldest. I've heard him give advice, play when he'd rather not, give a million "huggies", and help whenever asked. Still with the questions this year and I don't expect that to stop anytime soon. He has big questions and is still willing to ask them...still wanting to hear our answers...still trying to figure out what he thinks about bigger issues. Watching him ponder and make decisions on his own is one of my greatest pleasures. Sometimes we just agree to disagree. And that's okay. Every one is entitled to their opinion and I'm glad he feels comfortable sharing his. This year Andrew has shown his love for his dog a million times over. I swear he and he alone is the only reason I haven't found Walker a new home sometimes, but Andrew would be devastated and so we chase the dog down again, and again, always making sure Andrew can snuggle him and talk to him in the high pitched baby voice he reserves just for Walker. The fashion. Still with the fashion. All Nike or Under Armour..all the time. The end. My bonus boy has learned so much about being friends this year. He has some great ones and he loves to be with them. But he's also learned that sometimes space is needed...and that just because somebody doesn't do it the way you would do it doesn't mean you can't be their friend. We expect big things from Andrew at school and they seem to come pretty easily to him. The kid is smart as a whip and he's a natural at learning, which will take him so far in life! Funny. The kid is FUNNY. His sarcasm. His "I know, right?!". His quick wit. He cracks me up. This year Andrew has become a real partner for me when we are all out together and Mike's not there. It's that oldest child role, but it's more than that. He's really started applying the things he knows and paying attention. He reminds the girls to hold his hand, asks me if I want him to get the bag, fills ketchup cups, and puts straws in juice boxes all without being asked. His initiative to help is comforting beyond words. Happy birthday buddy boy! It is such an honor to watch you grow and be part of your life. I cannot wait to see what the next year brings for you. All my love!