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Our baby is 14!

Wow, Frederick, I can't believe that you -- our "baby" -- are 14 years old now!!
My favorite thing about you?  How much you love FAMILY.  You want to spend time with people who love you. . .meaning that even for your birthday it's worth it for us to drive ~300 miles so you can celebrate with those that love you the most :)
We made the trip last year too -- three generations of Bells here :)
And you posed for me again this year too!!

Again, Aunt Jodi and Uncle Brian hosted a great party for you. . .starting with your sister and cousin frying up the best (and most special) onion rings. . .
Nana got the first taste this year but the picture is blurry!!  (That will teach me to use your dad's phone. . .)

I was lucky enough to get a picture with you this year. . .

As I did last year before school. . .it's kinda fun to have a birthday on a Sunday and not have to go to school that day, huh?

And a picture with Grandma. . .

"The Spread" and only picture I really have of your incredible Aunt & Uncle who hosted all of this. . .

You wanted to go to the Great Wolf Lodge overnight so your brother surprised you by coming home Thursday night and we let you all take the day off school Friday so we could get an early start :)
(Margaret isn't in this picture because she had gone shopping with AVJ)

Grandma hosted dinner Friday night after swimming and water slides. . .
Grandpa Foster

Margaret and Susan, trying to hide

Aunt Jodi & Susan

A look back on your year. . .
And all your siblings here at home with you a year ago

This must have been a Picture of the Day one day last fall. . .you have always, always been a very careful student, wanting to not only complete but excel in your schoolwork.  With your change in schools (again) this year -- and starting high school -- you have been getting some new footing and doing well!

I don't know if we knew it at the time, but this would be your last season of soccer (at least for now).  You were (are) a very good player -- especially on defense! -- but your team often frustrated you.  Many times you felt that no one worked as hard as you on the field and being discouraged all the time is not fun.  You finished out the season and Coach David even called your dad in the spring to ask again that you come back to the team.  By then we had all decided that a "break" from the sport all your siblings play/have played was in order. . .and it really freed up a lot of our family's schedule!
Onward and forward to TENNIS - I absolutely love watching you play :)
You played in the spring with the high school team (they allow 8th graders to do that. . .)
And then later in the summer you joined the JTT team at our tennis club again. . .

You and your partner pulled off a HUGE win at the play-offs. . .coming back from being down 2-5 to winning a pro set in a nail-biting tie breaker that an official was on the court to monitor.  It was soooo exciting (and nerve-wracking) -- I love this game because it is not over until it is OVER.  The other team thought they had the two of you beat but you both persevered.
Now you are looking forward to fall JTT with your new High School team. . .
Marla was a part of our lives last year. . .she often said you reminded her a lot of her brother in Germany.  I wonder if one day you will meet him?  This was a trip to Market Square -- you often suggest the Farmer's Market on Saturday mornings -- we always hit VG's bakery tent and Mast General store too.  Look!  We were just there again a couple of weekends ago :)

These are some more of your favorite people -- Mr. Tommy and Miss Barbara.  This was the Greek Festival last year. . .we have celebrated many holidays and birthdays with them this year!!  If we don't have dinner with them at least once a week you point this out and make sure that they are invited over ASAP!!
They also gave you a great Christmas gift -- a pen-turning class -- and you used that time with them to make all of your teachers beautiful end-of-the-year gifts (which I don't have a picture of because that batch of pictures was lost -- boo).

You tried to get into fishing this last year -- your dad even got you both fishing licenses -- but it's not something that really took off for you two.

Are you allowed to have a favorite cousin?  If you do, it is Susan!!  We went to Ohio for Fall Break last year and spent the day at Kings Island where Susan finally, finally got you on a roller coaster.
(Susan doesn't usually allow people to take her picture -- but she was with you so how could she say "no"???)

Monopoly -- your all time, most favorite game.

Playing pool with your grandparents and brother (at your grandparent's house) is also a favorite.
Because of Hurricane Matthew tearing up the east coast last Fall Break we all went to Ohio instead (with Marla) and stopped to visit Noah's Ark. (Margaret was on a church retreat)
We did Thanksgiving with your Epling cousins. . .
And we were in Ohio for Christmas, with all of your grandparents!!
 Donald Trump was elected president while you were 13 -- you followed this election very, very closely. . .
And I don't ever want to forget how much you enjoyed buying everyone breakfast at Chick-fil-A in the morning before school when you had a few extra dollars -- everyone would get up for that!  (We would have to leave the house at 6:30 a.m. to make that happen.)
We headed to FL to see Uncle Brad and Aunt Kristin for a very COLD Spring Break down there (Marie was in Hilton Head with Marla)
Your Dad and Mr. Tommy took you shooting. . .and Mr. Tommy also helped you with a BIG school project. . .

You competed in the Math Olympics and came in fourth in your division!
For Easter we were back in Ohio --this was a walk with Aunt Jodi, Charlie, Lizzy, and Chelsea at Sugar Creek. . .
You left for a school trip to Washington D.C. on a really rainy morning. . .we missed you but you had a GREAT time!!

You were good about Facetiming us at night. . .
Eighth grade dance photo -- we were running short on time (I forget why?) and you were still looking for your shoes!

And, before we knew it, you and your sisters were walking into school for your last days. . .what a great year it was for all of you!  (Most days your sister drove you all but some days we needed the car at home -- we had four drivers and three vehicles at the time.)
"Official" last-day-of-school photo. . .8th, 10th, and 9th.
You cleaned up at your school's award ceremony :)
And your brother also graduated from High School (when you were born he was beginning his last year of 3-day-week preschool) and that was a big event in our family. . .your turn is just four short years away!
And then it was SUMMER BREAK and that means it's time for CEDAR LAKE CAMP!!
You took a good friend from school with you and met up with another friend from Cookeville there -- you were all cabin mates.

The next week you attended a Police Camp offered by our county's sheriff's department.
We were very lucky to spend time on the lake this year and even met up friends a couple of times (here you are on their boat with your friend, Margaret, and his friend)
You friends finally, finally got you on a tube this summer :)
Jumping. . .

And you went cliff-jumping too -- which you've done before -- but I didn't catch a picture in the air. 

You started a business this year, "Franklin Creek Year Round Services" with the goal of making $1000 (you reached it). . .and while in Ohio your uncle gave you the job of moving and stacking this wood pile.
You are always generous with your money -- this was a Friday night picture-of-the-day when you took me to Jimmy Johns for dinner!
About two weeks after Susan's back surgery we went to visit her and she was well enough to go to the movies!!! This was a trip just you and I took together since the others were at camp most of the summer. 
You, your brother, and I visited the Fishers in Florida
And every morning you would get up the earliest and go check the crab traps off their dock.  When Mr. Ken got home from his business trip he and Mrs. Fisher helped you and Cody to cook these babies -- and believe it or not, they were really good!
You and I had a little shopping day -- just the two of us -- the week before school started and you bought yourself a watch you have had your eye on for awhile. . .
And now school has started (not sure where the First Day of Freshman Year picture is?!?) and sometimes the dog and I walk with you to the bus stop at the front of our neighborhood -- and when I'm home (and think of it) we meet you at the bus too :)

Eclipse Day happened the second week of school and everyone was out of school for that. . .you had the great idea the night before to make a party out of it -- you grilled brats I had cooked and organized a last-minute late-lunch with the Maxwells.  It was more interesting than I had anticipated and eating on the front porch of their new home was a good way to spend an hour of an "inclement weather day", which is how the schools counted this day, since it was a last-minute decision on their part (Thomas's college even delayed beginning classes by one day for this!) 

If I was to post one picture that "sums up your happy" it would be this:
OK, this post was already too long two dozen pictures ago -- !!! -- but since this blog is for family to read and me to reflect on it was a very important one for me to finish.  You are an incredible young man with a bright, beautiful future ahead -- you love the Lord, you love your family, you are loyal and go out of your way to give to others when you can.  I can't wait to see what "14" is like for you!

The Luckiest Mother


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