Saturday, December 27, 2014

Alec's birthday - 8 years old!

This is a big birthday for Alec! 8 years old! He's really excited to be baptized sometime in late January. We wanted to wait and do it back home in Mississippi since its such a good way to connect with the members in our small branch and a wonderful chance to share the gospel with our friends.  

Alec was super happy to have his birthday breakfast in bed. I think getting it served to him while a room full of cousins watched made him feel special. He patiently waited downstairs for Chris and I to get it together. 

He had said that he really wanted to GO somewhere for his birthday and with 22 kids invited (all his Betteridge cousins and the kids of our good friends the Talbots) going out somewhere sounded like a good idea to me too. Chuck-e-Cheese was the location of choice and we all had a good time. We bought a few pizzas and got a bunch of tokens for the kids and basically sat and talked while the kids played games. Well, Amy and I sat and talked while the boys went and played games. Last minute all of the girl cousins and a few moms decided not to go, Gwen included, so it was basically a boy party. 

I am pretty sure Chris had as much fun playing the games as the kids. He had a pocket full of tokens...what else was he supposed to do, right? 

Alec's request for his cake couldn't have been any easier. A vanilla cake with blue frosting and his name written on it in red. Bam. Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy (as our good friend, Jonathan from Canada would say!)

Showing off all their tickets they won from the games. Alec's cousin, Cameron, sweetly told me that because he didn't have a present for Alec, he wanted to give him all of his tickets because making other people happy made him feel happy and that he likes to see people's faces when he gives them gifts so that was the best part of Christmas. He is such a good kid. 

My sisters and brothers surprised Alec by giving him all of the tickets they won too! He was so happy and I'm sure felt so special. He loved putting them in the ticket-eating machine to automatically count them! He had... I can't remember... over 600 tickets? (Chris... is that right??).  Besides the fun party, I think Alec's favorite birthday present this year were Heeles shoes from his Grandma Dixie. He's been wanting them for a long time and was really really happy to have his own pair to try out. They are shoes with a wheel on each heel and when you run and then tip your toes up, you can just roll on your heels. Over the next few days Alec relentlessly learned how to do it quite well. He was pretty tough too, rarely complaining whenever he fell (and he fell really hard a couple of times!) Even his fellow cousins seemed impressed by how quickly Alec mastered them!

The past year and a half has been very difficult for Alec to express his feelings and frustrations appropriately. We think the stress of Chris' cancer and hospitalizations and all the other major changes our family dealt with this past year took a toll on Alec. He does seem to worry about things (like Chris) and as the oldest, he may have felt added pressure whenever he and his younger siblings lived away from Chris and I.  And even when he did live with us, I know that I have high expectations for him to act older than he really is. I want him to be the example of everything good for his younger siblings and so when my patience rope was at its end and he was at the end of his too, we had explosive and violent episodes. I'm talking, hurting-anyone-in-his-way, yelling-till-I'm-hoarse-and-crying, holes-in-the-wall, cry-myself-to-sleep explosive. 

I'm mentioning this now because I have to say that Alec (and I) are dealing with his physical manifestations of anger and frustration so much better! Alec rarely stays upset for very long and almost always, within a few minutes has calmed down to positive interactions! Its amazing. He is such a sweet and kind boy when he plays with Frederick and reacts almost as quickly as Chris when Frederick's safety is questionable. He loves to play with Charlie and Gwen and maintains such amazing focus with games, books and free playtime. He works hard when he gets into his chores and can clean the bathroom sink/mirror/floor as good as me. He loves to laugh and tell jokes. His sense of humor is so much like Chris that they will laugh and laugh until they cry about the silliest jokes - especially physical humor. He has gotten into playing the piano all on his own and will sit and learn a new song without hardly any instruction from me. He gets 100% on almost all his tests in any subject and has NEVER gotten less than the highest behavioral marks at school each day.  He loves science experiments and thinks Bill Nye is the coolest dude on Earth. 

We love you, Alec. Thanks for putting up with our experimental parenting and being a good older brother. 

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