I do remember writing the last remark in his baby book and sobbing because it meant my little boy was growing up. I always meant to add in letters or updates each year but time slipped away and I didn't. How I wish I'd taken the extra time to record each year after but I will always treasure the book and everything it did capture. Now, I'll depend on memory and photographs to recall each year.
Austin's 8th party was held at our county park. It was an "Old Fashioned Picnic" theme and Austin requested all his favorite foods from family. Mamaw June made fried chicken and each family member brought a side item.
I remember my Grandma forgot to bring the potato salad and living nearly an hour away, we just had to do without it. Of course, we had more than enough food but Austin picked on her, as did we all, throughout the day.
Austin was getting good at riding his bike and that is one of the reasons for having the party at the park. He and the other kids rode around the bike trail, while the adults played washers and horse shoes.
At the end, we had homemade ice cream and a big cake, decorated with a baseball theme. It was a great day to spend with the family, while celebrating Austin's birthday.
I remember that our gift to him that year was money to decorate his new room. We also purchased a new bed for him, which he loved. It was a bunk bed on top, couch on the bottom, that could fold out to be a bed for company. He felt so big, having that new bed and a real couch in his room. He spent the money on posters, bedding, rugs and accessories to deck his new room out that year.
That summer was his last season of Little League so it was a big sign of how much he'd grown. He continued playing 3rd base that year and had another successful season. He looked forward to playing in the "big leagues" the next year.
September 29, 2002, is a date I will always remember because it was the day Austin was baptised. He was only eight and had not even turned eight when he began asking questions. We read the bible, talked about what it meant to be a Christian, and prayed. Brother Armstrong even came to our house to meet with him, to make sure he was truly ready.
On that Sunday morning, he proudly wore a t-shirt, with a message about Jesus' love and officially became a Christian and member of our church. It was one of my proudest moments as mother.That Christmas was also memorable because it was the year he quit believing in Santa. Of course, it broke my heart, because it meant he really was growing up. He did a great job though of playing along for Noah's sake, which pleased Tim and me.
I think he expected the big "Santa surprises" to stop for him, since he'd made the announcement to us. I often wondered too, if he made it considering that Tim had recently lost his job. He was always in tuned to what we were going through, whether we told him or not.
However, we still managed to shock him with the gift he'd been wishing for all year - an XBox. We hooked it up the night before in the entertainment center and didn't wrap it, attach a bow or anything. At the end, we were going to have him get something off the tv and see if he noticed. Instead, half way through opening presents it caught his eye. I can still recall that big surprise smile and laugh as he realized what he'd been given.
Eight years old was the transition from little boy to pre-teen. It was a changing year, with us moving to a new home and the decisions he made that fall and winter. I fondly recall that sweet little boy, with the chubby cheeks and the heart of gold. He grew taller, his face changed in the coming years, but his heart remained the same.