Monday, November 16, 2015

Happy Birthday, Riley!

Nine years ago today, my first nephew, Riley Keith was born in the wee-morning hours of a Thursday morning, and everything changed forever. 

And, three years ago today, I said yes...but that's beside the point. 

Back to Riley...

This tiny baby CHANGED LIVES. I mean, I knew everyone was excited and everyone would love him, but geeze. Love at first sight. Unconditional love. It all made sense when he arrived. 

He stole our hearts and had us all wrapped around his finger. He's just the most handsome little boy we had ever laid eyes on.

As Riley has grown, he's taken on the best personality. He's adventurous yet cautious. He's smart and he's observant. When you think he's not listening, he is. When you tell him something one day, you better be ready for him to remind you months later. He remembers EXACT details and EXACT words. 

He's always ready to go and do with whoever is available. He's often got a plan all figured out for how to spend the night at someone's house and how to get there before his mom (my sister) knows. 

He made my sister and brother in law parents, and as a family, they're perfect together. 

The grandparents....well, they're stupid crazy about Riley and his brother. Riley has a special bond with each of his grandparents. It's been really sweet to watch those relationships develop over the years. 

Riley is a guy's guy. He loves anything and everything involving sports. He knows the games. He knows the rules. He can talk games, schedules, stats, scores, player name it. 

By this point, he's on a first name basis with several former Titans players. No joke...the kid knows people.

And then there's hockey. His cute little phrase, "hockey, hockey, hockey!" was among his first words. Riley LOVES hockey!

I'm 32...he's 9...he's taught me most everything that I know about the sport. He can play hockey with whatever he has on hand. Matchbox cars on a church pew. Sugar packets on a restaurant table. Anything can be turned into a hockey game!

He's played baseball for years and he's GOOD at it. He just has that natural ability, which is good because height will never be on his size. He works hard to be a good ball player. It's been so fun to watch him develop as a player. Just a few months ago, he was the starting pitcher for one of his games. I think we were all more nervous than he was. But he ROCKED that pitcher's mound striking out batter after batter. 

Riley is a boy with alot of friendships and relationships. He loves being around his cousins....

And loves being around some of his older cousins even more. 

He has friends everywhere! Often we'll go out to eat or be in a store, and he'll see someone he knows and the rest of us have no clue who that person is! 

He's been best buds with his friends Gernt and Colin since their infant days in daycare. It's been fun for all three families watching these boys grow up together. 

He might not admit it, but dare I say, his very best friend sleeps in the same room with him. Riley is the best big brother to Colin. Often times he makes decisions that are sure to include Colin or Colin's interest rather than his own. They fight like brothers do but love each other fiercely. 

These two.....they own our hearts!

I am SO THANKFUL to be these boys' aunt!

Riley and I have a special bond. He's my favorite player on the field, my favorite houseguest, my favorite date night guy and my favorite wedding date. (Don't tell his Uncle Stephen.)

Riley is a cuddler. Wherever I'm sitting, he's usually either in my lap or right beside me. Secretly, I hope that he still snuggles up next to  me during church when he's a teenager. I know the expiration date is coming, sooner than I'd like, but for now, I soak it all up. One day, he won't want to sit with me. One day he won't be laying in my lap. One day, he won't be begging to spend the night with us. One day, I won't be as cool to him as I am now. 

But for now, I'm still pretty cool to this little boy who melted my heart all those years ago. 

And for now, that's enough. Because they grow fast. 

One day, you're wiping formula off of your hockey shirt, and in a blink it's nine years later, and he's sitting beside you at a hockey game explaining why the player in the penalty box is getting extra time. 

I think about him and his brother often every single day. I wonder what they're doing. I wonder if he did better on his science test than the last one. I wonder if he's getting enough rest during ball season. 

They're not my own, but I can't imagine a deeper love than how I love them. 

I pray for Riley everyday...I pray for the little boy he is now, and for the man he's all too quickly growing up to be. Our family changed 9 years ago today. It's hard to remember what life was like before Riley, and quite frankly, there's no need to remember because life has been pretty perfect since he's been with us!

Happy Birthday Riley-Roo!! You're the coolest 9 year old I know!

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