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Monday, November 14, 2016

Eighteen

This guy.  He's eighteen years old today.  Eighteen.
The Lord blessed me with five awesome nephews and a precious niece.  Avery is the oldest of my nephews.  As long as Seth and I have been married, I have been Aunt Julie.  He was 20 months old when we married.  And now here he is . . . old enough to vote.

A couple of weekends ago we went to Houston for Avery's senior night.  He plays the saxophone in the band, and it was their last home game of the season.  The senior band members were honored during half time, and the band performed their award winning show after the game.  
Avery had his very own little cheering section dressed in red and blue in honor of the Dawson High School Eagles.
I am way too tired right now to remember how to add a little arrow on my picture to show you where Avery is but he's almost in the middle.  Troy is standing to his right in a red shirt so you can't miss that.  The band is 250 kids (or something like that) strong, and there were a lot of seniors recognized during half time.
After the game, the band performed their half time show.  It was very impressive.  The sound was so rich and so full.  The movements were very graceful and fluid (because it wasn't just your typical "marching" band).
Avery is a section leader this year, and he was also chosen for a solo during the show.  He has worked so hard during the past six years and has really honed his craft on the sax.  I am so proud of him!  It was such an honor for him to be chosen, and he was really excited.
The band filled the length of the field.  I couldn't even get them all in the picture.

And here they are, the Bayham cousins.  They had a great time cheering for Avery.  Ellie was so cute.  She was pumped for the game.  She couldn't wait to watch the cheerleaders.  But the day before we went, she came to me and said, "Mama, I really want to be a cheerleader.  But I REALLY want to be a dancer."  So her Aunt April took her for an up close and personal with the Dawson Diamonds (dance team).
Last week I was looking through my pictures for something, and I ran across these.  I'd totally forgotten about them.  This was 2011.  Avery always brings his sax with him when he comes to visit so he can play us a tune or two.  He hadn't been playing too long at this point.
And, of course, everyone else wanted to play, too.  Avery was so sweet and so patient with them.  Let's just say that five years later, Avery is still the only saxophone player in the family.  But they all gave it their best shot.  Seriously.  Look at those cheeks!


And then there's this little gem.  My children are so very blessed to have Avery to look up to.  He has always been the best biggest cousin ever.  I so wish we lived closer so they could spend more time with him.  Hannah Kate was a mere three weeks old here.  I'm not sure that Avery was exactly thrilled to be holding a squirmy newborn, but he was a good sport for our picture.
Well, I'll be honest.  I just don't even know how Troy and April can stand it.  When I was watching Avery out on that football field, I couldn't help but think about how quickly time flies.  I don't even know how he can be a senior in high school, how he can be eighteen years old.  It's so true that the days are long, but the years are short.  I mean, many of my days are VERY long.  But Mason is 11 years old.  I just bought him a pair of tennis shoes in the MEN'S department because the kids' sizes no longer fit him.  He's in middle school.  I have no idea when that happened because he really should still be a little kid.  And, yet, here's Avery.  Eighteen years old.  A senior in high school.  (I know I've said that a million times already.)  In less than a year, Avery will no longer be living at home.  He will be IN COLLEGE.  I'm sure April probably had some LONG days, too.  But those days are long gone.  And, soon, mine will be, too.  Because in the blink of an eye, I'll be watching Mason as a senior in high school, an eighteen year old.  That was all I could think about.  I'm just not ready for that.

It seems like just yesterday that Avery was "the only one."  He is four years older than Beau and Abbie.  So he had us all to himself for a little while.  Every time I think of him, there are several pictures that come to mind.

Is he not the cutest?!  I mean, look at that Peter Pan collar, those knee socks and saddle oxfords.  
My hands-down-absolute-favorite picture of Avery is this one when he was three years old.  We thought he looked so grown.
And here he is as a five year old.  Such a little man.
And now he really is a man!  That's hard for me to say.  I could not be prouder of the young man he's become.  He was chosen as a chaperone last summer for his church's middle school summer camp.  He was also chosen to lead a middle school small group at his church several times this fall.  He has worked so hard in school these past few years, and it has certainly paid off.  He applied at three universities and has been accepted at all three, including his top choice.  Baylor University.
In a few short months, we will go back to Houston and watch Avery walk across the field at Reliant Stadium to receive his high school diploma.  It is quite possible I will bawl like a baby.  This guy is special, and he means the world to us.  So Happy 18 Years Old, Avery!  Happy Birthday!  

And now I'm sure I've sealed my fate as the uncoolest aunt ever!

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