January 07, 2024

All Grown Up

Well, it happened. Both of my kids are now adults. *lots of tears*

Today is Eli's 18th birthday. Between Noah moving out and now Eli being a legal adult, my emotions have been working on overdrive. But to tell the truth, I couldn't be more proud of this kid and the adult he has become.

I almost feel like Eli came into this world as an adult. I've always referred to him as an "old soul"; he has an emotional maturity that even a lot of adults don't have in their lifetime. To say that he has compassion and empathy would be an understatement; he loves with his whole heart and he always puts others' feelings ahead of his own. What 18-year old does that?

I don't know if other parents feel this way, but I wish I could go back in time and do it all over again, with both of my kids. I would do things so much differently--have more patience, say "yes" more, and enjoy even the moments where I was frustrated or tired and felt like I needed a break. I can only hope that I did enough.

I know I've done this before on birthdays, but I really love looking through old photos to spark memories of when the kids were little. Eli was--and I would say this even if he wasn't my kid--quite possibly, the cutest kid EVER. He was the happiest and most easy-going baby! He loved taking naps, even as a toddler, and would tell me that he was "going to take a nap now" each day.

He loves animals and they have always been drawn to him. I think they feel the kindness in his heart and the compassion he has for them.

What I've always loved most about Eli is that he marches to the beat of his own drum. He had quirks from day one, and they became a fun part of his personality. He never conformed just to fit in with his peers; he was the trendsetter, even though that's not what he was going for.

Right now, he's not sure what he's going to do after graduation. He's been talking about looking for an apprenticeship in the trades, and I think that would be great for him. He also mentioned taking a gap year, working and saving up money while he decides what's next. Whatever he ends up doing, I know that he'll be great at it.

Here is a collection of some of my favorite pictures of him throughout the last 18 years...

January 7, 2006, 1:06 PM. 9 lbs. 10 oz. 

ALWAYS smiling

A crossbite that would later be corrected, but SO cute

One of his quirks was how much he loved accessories and odd clothing matches.

Just a regular Tuesday attire.

His third birthday

Again with the clothes and accessories!

The braces were to correct his crossbite. His molars didn't line up properly and he would choke on food frequently. He wore braces for three months to correct it. He used to call them his "bracelets".

Does that smile not melt your heart?

On a field trip to the apple orchard.

One of his beloved naps. 

I know how professional the cake looks but, believe it or not, my dad made it. ;)

Eli LOVED all things army. His favorite toys were "army guys"--the little green plastic men. He had dozens of them and played with them daily for years.

I'm not surprised to see that Eli was at the end of this rainbow <3

Phoebe was so young here!

For the life of me, I cannot remember him ever going through a football stage. It must have been very short-lived.

Eli has always been into his hair, and has many styles/colors through the years.

If I remember correctly, it was his birthday and we took him to Denny's. We said he could order anything at all, and this is what he chose! Hahah.

On our way home from vacation, we let each of the kids pick something out at at Walmart when we had to make a stop. Eli chose this tackle box--SO huge.

The kids both loved Spongebob Squarepants and watched it with my dad.

This is a super short video clip of Eli saying "Spongebob Squarepants"--just take all of the words in the thesaurus under the word "cute" and this sums them up...

He chose this outfit for Mark's funeral.

Chandler loving on Eli

He was SO happy to get a dog, and even happier that we'd picked a black dog. That's not the actual reason we chose Joey, but Eli had been hoping for a black dog.

Eli is absolutely Joey's favorite person on this earth.

Running cross country

He was very excited to get this haircut--he'd seen it on his favorite YouTuber.

Holding his only (at the time) cousin

Jerry urged him to use a wooden bat, and he showed Jerry just what would happen when he did ;)

Eli has always loved to cook, and he's got a natural talent for it. I wouldn't be at all surprised if he ends up being a chef one day!

Totally in his element. Fishing has been a hobby that he's loved since he was old enough to hold a pole.

He used to love pomegranates until he learned how much work they are to peel and remove the seeds!

He loved The Walking Dead, and on his wishlist was "Lucille" (the baseball bat wrapped in barbed wire). This one was plastic, of course!

His birthday breakfast. I wanted to make him waffles this morning, but he doesn't like to eat breakfast anymore. I miss making him a special birthday breakfast!

A natural squirrel whisperer. This was in Boston.

After getting his ears pierced.

We used green hairspray to match Lukes hair to Eli's faded green hair.

Even though he was a natural born catcher, Eli really loves to pitch. His (final) baseball season starts soon. Bittersweet!

His permanent farmer's tan. He looks like this all summer.

Eli can solve a Rubik's cube so fast that you might miss it if you sneeze or even blink. Finding a shirt with a SQUIRREL solving a Rubik's cube was meant to be.

This was a 13x13(?) cube. He solved it in four hours.

Eli and my sweet little dumpling pie when he was just a baby

He found this sign in the lake and now it hangs in his bedroom.

I will never forget this sweet little bird that came to my house--twice--and let us hold her.

Eli has always loved cookie cake

This was a bird at my parents' house. Like I said, animals are drawn to him.

Eli used to drink so much pop. I told him that if he could give it up for a whole year, I'd pay him $365--a dollar a day. I never believed he'd actually do it! This was Day 366, his first pop.

Duck loves it when Eli walks around the house holding him like this. He looks so proper!

Eli's first homecoming dance

When Eli was born, he was SOLID. He's always weighed much more than he looks because he has so much muscle mass. I always said that if he ever decided to lift weights, he'd be a monster--and it eventually became one of his favorite hobbies. He was lifting SO heavy for a while. Once he got a job, he stopped working out so much. I hope he'll get back into it--he's really good.

Last year's birthday at my mom's house. I guess she only had two candles? Haha.

Homecoming his junior year

Ava's prom junior year

He got his eyebrow pierced and I got another piercing in my nose last summer

His latest favorite pastime is golfing. He didn't want senior photos, but he asked if I would take some pictures of him on the golf course.

Buying his first car

Such a good looking kid adult!


  1. YOu are so right! What a cute baby he was , and now a very handsome guy

  2. Absolutely in awe ! I definitely think you and Jerry did a wonderful job!!

  3. Aww so cute. That 3rd birthday picture of him with that smile in front of his cake made me think of Mark. It looks like he is channeling him in that pose where he smiled the same way in front of his own cake!

  4. My son took a gap year. The hardest part (for me) was shrugging my shoulders when he asked me what to do! But he figured it out and I couldn't be prouder.

  5. Happy Birthday to Eli!

  6. GAH! My mama heart is tearing up reading that your boys are so grown! Great job Mom & Dad!

  7. Maybe a career as a vet tech is in his future! It's touching how animals can sense safety in him.

  8. I cannot believe Eli is so big!! Gosh I remember you posting about the kids when they were just wee tots! They're so grown up!! Happy birthday Eli! You and Jerry should both be SO proud! You have two amazing kids right there!

  9. He has good taste in cars! That Volvo looks just like the 2013 XC70 I'm still driving!


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