Monday, January 26, 2015

First Son's Golden Birthday

Last December, First Son turned eleven.  He's growing up, of course, because that's what they do, but he's still a sweet boy.

He has an infectious laugh. It always delights Kansas Dad and me when he starts to tell us something funny. It's not unusual for him to start laughing so hard he can't finish his story.

First Son is almost unbelievably tall for his age. I have to buy size 14 pants so they're long enough. It's hard to remember how tall he is until I see him surrounded by friends his age and he towers above them. He also has large feet. Just before Christmas, we took him shoe shopping and had to buy size 8 (just a half size smaller than Kansas Dad). They cost a small fortune.

He hates shoe shopping so much he refuses to acknowledge when his shoes have holes in them. First Daughter will often comment on it first. Last time, when I glanced down, I could see his socks poking out of both sides of his shoe!

This boy loves to run! Around the living room. Outside, he doesn't run quite so much. I used to quietly remind him we don't run inside (or yell, depending on how much patience I had left), but after doing some reading and thinking, I decided taking a break from lessons and running around the living room was probably good for his brain and his concentration. So now we just try to limit the running to the times the living room is relatively toy-free to avoid injuries to self and toys.

We tried out a taekwondo class last spring. He found it much to his liking but the timing and expense were difficult for the family. After much thought and debate, we decided to enroll him elsewhere and he's been attending about twice a week since Labor Day. Here he is with his first broken boards. Before the end of the year, he tested and moved from a white belt to a yellow belt. He said one of his goals for the coming year is to progress to a green belt and he's been working on his forms diligently. First Son is one of the least aggressive boys I've ever met and taekwondo fits that personality well. Much of the focus is on concentration and self-control. I've been really pleased with the instructors, too, who are able to make just a few pointed comments to elicit improvement without overwhelming the students.

He really wanted his own camera, so we let him use some of his saved money to buy one when Kansas Dad saw a great deal on Black Friday. I regularly find staged LEGO pictures on the memory card.

First Son is in fifth grade this year. I doubt he would want to choose a favorite subject, but he does enjoy some of his lessons. He says The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is his favorite book, but he doesn't want to read it enough to read ahead. One chapter a day is quite sufficient for his tastes. He often complains about his science, but loves the dissections. He loves reading Life of Fred. He read quickly through the elementary series First Daughter is using and is moving more slowly through Fractions. (I won't let him read ahead without doing the math problems.)

In his free time, he loves to read Diary of a Wimpy kid books, Big Nate books, and anything Minecraft related. One of his favorite birthday presents was King of Tokyo which Kansas Dad picked for him.

Last year he had braces on his birthday, but they were taken off in about a year. He's been enjoying his caramels and gummy candies and gum especially during the holidays. Kansas Dad and I enjoy his smile!

For Christmas, he really wanted a Wii U. After much deliberation and debate, Kansas Dad and I asked Grammy and Paw Paw if they would like to purchase it for the boys. First Son has already purchased an additional game with his own money and is very pleased.

Kansas Dad made a pancake bigger than his head for his birthday breakfast and he ate it all up. Check out the stripes! Apparently, they remain a favorite birthday look. (This shirt is one of my favorites. It cleans well and looks sharp, too. I wish we had more of them. For everyone.)

For his birthday, he wanted to go out to eat at a sushi restaurant Kansas Dad and I have visited, but always without the children. So Grammy and Paw Paw fed pizza to the others while we took him out, just us. He was adventurous in his choices and we all had a great time.

We talked a lot about his birthday party. Given the expense of his evening of sushi, I wanted to keep the party simple. In the end, he decided he just wanted a chance to play games with his friends, so we hosted a board game party for him. Friends brought games along and I made an angel food cake. No decorating required. I also made homemade Oreos (this is the recipe I use, but it's originally from Smitten Kitchen), which he loves, and some honey cookies for Kansas Dad and the girls who can't have dairy. He chose Andes mints, peanut butter M&Ms, and gummy bears for the candy dish.

On his baptismal anniversary a few days later, we ate pierogi and dumplings for dinner. He loves pierogi and has requested it several years running, in part to honor one of his favorite saints, St. Pope John Paul II, who hailed from Poland. Making homemade pierogi would be quite a task, so we always just buy frozen ones at the store. We all ate on china plates except Second Son. I was going to allow it, but he preferred his regular plate.

My aunt brought enough material for all the kids to have a tied blanket over Christmas. First Son tied this one all by himself. The sweet baby is his newest little cousin who apparently smiles all the time.

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