How did he change so quickly from a sweet little bundle of wide-eyed excitement to this handsome young man?
Allen the Younger cried a lot as a baby. Some days I would just sit in the rocking chair and rock him as we both cried together. Allen the Elder would tell me to just set Little Allen down in his crib and let him cry it out, but this was my first little one and I felt like somehow my holding him had to offer some comfort. There is something about the bond between a mother and her first baby. I don't know how to explain it.
From the time he was born he has always been curious. The first apartment that we lived in after he joined the family was just a block north of train tracks. We learned to tune out the trains until Little Allen started to notice them. Before he could even walk he would climb up the couch, perch himself on the back of it and search intently out the window for a glimpse of the passing trains whenever he heard a horn sound.
His curiosity is something that has kept him busy throughout his 19 years. When his dad was busy working in the garage or on a project around the house, Little Allen always loved to be right in the middle of things, seeing how and why they worked the way they did.
So despite the fact that he was my best friend when his dad was at work, being named after his dad was certainly fitting because he has become even more of a replica of his father as the years have passed.
Little Allen is one of those kids who is naturally talented at everything he decides to try. He decided to join the cross country team his sophomore year as a walk-on, was put on the varsity team almost immediately and was awarded Rookie of the Year at the end of the season. He and some friends decided to learn the Thriller dance and led a group number at every church dance they went to. And don't get me started on his natural ability in math and science. He doesn't even have to try, and he loves those subjects in school. I will never forget the first time he went fishing! Allen (the Elder) caught a pretty good sized fish and showed it to him.
(I think I have mentioned before that this is one of my all-time favorite pictures. The look on Little Allen's face is priceless!) Well, despite being a bit grossed out, he was determined. He baited a hook, cast out his line, and before you know it - BAM!
He had snagged himself a bigger fish than his dad's. There isn't anything he can't do.
Allen the Younger has always had a love for music. When I was pregnant with him he would practically do flips whenever music was played. He could sing every word to the song The Freshman when he was about 3. He was obsessed with animals for a long time and could sing every song from the Lion King, including the ones sung in another language. And now he can sing the words to about every song that ever comes on the radio. He loves the music that his dad and I loved in the 80's and early 90's (great taste, that kid!) as well anything current and everything by his celebrity crush who he likes to call T-Swift. I love listening to him play the piano, too.
Another great thing about Little Allen is his silly sense of humor.
Well, mostly. He also prides himself on his photobombing skills, which is evident in about half of his pictures on Facebook. The one above is one of my favorites.
Allen the Younger has the ability to make everyone around him laugh. He figured out at an early age that if I was mad at him, all he had to do was laugh and I'd start laughing, too. His laughter is contagious. And honestly, how could I not just laugh along with such a cute little stinker who's loaded to the brim with precociousness?
As I've watched Allen throughout his life I have learned that little kids with the most outgoing, crazy personalities turn into the most interesting, fun teenagers and adults.
(Allen and his friend Tanner proudly wore these shirts at a high school event at the U of U, BYU's rival.)
(Double injury in this picture - he ran into the corner of a trailer at a reunion and split his nose open
then got plowed into on the stairs at home and broke his elbow in two places.)
(In true Allen fashion, he's cracking jokes to the paramedics as they carry him out to the ambulance.)
I think that Allen tends to get hurt because he doesn't live life small. Life is all about adventure and reaching beyond what you think you can do. Allen's life so far has definitely been one filled with excitement and adventure. A big part of this comes from his love for spending time in the great outdoors. I don't think there is anyone who loves running, hiking, camping, shooting, exploring and just being adventurous as much as Allen does.
Probably my favorite thing about Allen is what an awesome big brother he is. As each of his brothers and sisters have joined the family, Allen has loved each new addition. He has mentioned that he can't wait to have his own kids someday. Sure, he likes to tease sometimes. But when it comes down to it he's the most loyal and unconditionally loving family member you could ask for. I love watching him with the other kids.
He recently told me that he thinks Moms have the best job in the world because they get to take care of and hang out with little people all day and watch them grow up. I told him he should become a pediatrician.
He has lamented many times, especially when he was younger, that he wished he had an older brother. He has even offered suggestions of those we could adopt to take on this role. But the thing is, he has had 'brothers' close to his age around him throughout his whole life. He's had uncles and cousins:
And lots of awesome friends who are really more like brothers.
Speaking of friends, another of Allen's best traits is that he is a fiercely loyal friend. If you are lucky enough to be someone that Allen considers a friend you can know that he will stand up for you and be there for you whenever it is needed.
It has been crazy watching as each of his friends leave on their missions, knowing that his time to serve will be here before we know it. Through all of his 19 years his dad and I have done our best to raise him to be all of the things that he'll need to be for the next two years as he serves his church mission in Fort Worth, Texas.
We've tried to instill in him the desire to be happy, helpful, obedient, friendly, trustworthy, hard working and kind. We want him to be independent but also a team player. We want him to have unshakable faith, strong knowledge of the teachings of the gospel and a firm testimony of the things he will be teaching others for the next two years.
I think we've done a pretty awesome job.
Writing this post has been tough. Looking at pictures of the little kid he was makes me miss those crazy days with that little person and wish I enjoyed them more instead of stressing out about what kind of adult he would become. Then, thinking about the adult he has become and how much I love and enjoy him now, my heart is full to bursting.
Thanks for being the guinea pig for the last 19 years, Allen. I'm going to miss you like crazy but I am so excited for you as you step forward into this new adventure. You are going to be an amazing missionary.
I love you, my biggest boy. Happy, happy birthday!