Fiendish Fire Giant

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The other night one of my fellow gamers exclaimed, after my 6th fireball, "how many fireballs can you cast?". My response, "lots".

My question is around casting lower level spells at higher levels. Is this the correct way to think about it?

My first fireballs of the day are normally maximized cast at a lvl 5 slot. (Using Magical Lineage trait) So I tick off a lvl 5 spell used every time.

Currently I can cast 7 lvl 5 spells per day. So after 7 maximized fireballs I can no longer cast anything from a level 5 spot. But I still have all my lvl 3 slots open.

So effectively, not saying I would actually do this, I can use all my spells per day from 3rd level to 7th level on just fireballs. Is this correct or am I overlooking something?

If I wasn't applying metamagic I can still cast a lower level spell at a higher slot correct? If I am out of 3rd levels I can just cast fireball from 4th level?

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Edit for clarity for possible FAQ
In the most recent bestiary the whirlwind ability states:

Whirlwind (Su) wrote:
Creatures one or more size categories smaller than the whirlwind might take damage when caught in the whirlwind and may be lifted into the air.

What is the size category of a whirlwind? If we are supposed to use the size of the elemental, the text should read smaller than the elemental.

Logically a whirlwind, created by a small elemental, that can hold over 100 tiny animals and keep them suspended should be strong enough to lift a medium or smaller creature.

In Bestiary 1 the ability has the size restriction
In Bestiary 2 and 3 the ability does not have the size restriction
In Bestiary 4 the ability has the size restriction

No errata exists for 2 and 3 saying it was a mistake. It was recently changed back but instead of referencing the size of the monster they continue to reference the size of the whirlwind.

Some gaming groups go off the rules of the most recent books they have. With two versions of the rule it can cause confusion, not counting the confusion of the statement "the size of the whirlwind".

Original Post Text:
I know this has been asked a bunch of times but I have yet to see a definitive answer.

In one game I am a 7th level Druid that wild shapes into a small air elemental frequently. According to the rules and the table in bestiary 1 I can choose my height to be 20 feet. So my total size would be 5 feet at the base, 10 feet at the top and 20 feet high.

From Whirlwind wrote:
Creatures one or more size categories smaller than the whirlwind might take damage when caught in the whirlwind and may be lifted into the air.

What size category is 5 feet at the base, 10 feet at the top and 20 feet high? If I am supposed to use the size of the air elemental i.e. small why wouldn't the rules say something like "Creatures one or more size categories smaller than the original transformed creature"?

A typical ogre for example is a large creature (10x10) and stands 10 feet tall, it is 10x10x10, generous volume of 1000. If I am 5x10x20, Frustum volume of ~223.75, I am clearly not larger than the ogre volume wise and could not pick it up.

However Medium and smaller creatures are another story. If the average medium creature is 5x5x5, volume of 125. That volume is on the large side since your typical monster is not a perfect cube.

If a creature can fit within my volume I would consider them smaller than me and could then trap them and pick them up.

How do you interpret "Creatures one or more size categories smaller than the whirlwind"?

While looking for an answer I came across the following thread but it was never confirmed. The last post in that thread is how I think it works. For those of you that don't want to read the thread :) here is how I interpret the rake rules.

What I am not questioning here is pounce, I am fully aware of how that works and is an exception to the rule of grappling and raking.

Rake is defined as follows (with bold word to support my point):

Rake (Ex) A creature with this special attack gains extra natural attacks under certain conditions, typically when it grapples its foe. In addition to the options available to all grapplers, a monster with the rake ability gains two free claw attacks that it can use only against a grappled foe. The bonus and damage caused by these attacks is included in the creature's description. A monster with the rake ability must begin its turn already grappling to use its rake—it can't begin a grapple and rake in the same turn.

By RAW would this be allowed following a literal interpretation of the "must begin" its turn with a grapple?

Turn 1: Tiger pounces - Bite (grapple succeed), claw, claw, rake, rake
Turn 2: Turn starts in grapple - Rake, Rake. Drop grapple as free action. Bite (grapple succeed), claw, claw.
Turn 3-X: Repeat turn 2.

Is this the correct thinking? The rules never say anything about needing to maintain the grapple to rake, just that the turn needs to start in a grapple.

The way I picture this happening is the tiger starts turn 2 and rakes to get off the monster, then proceeds to do its full bite, claw, claw.