Eight is Great! (again!)

Last week as we were getting home from our family mini-vacation to Lake of the Ozarks, Zander turned 8! The phrase “eight is great” flitted across my mind and I had a deja vu moment—didn’t I just have an eight year old and just write an 8-is-great post?! No…that post was almost three years ago, my second kid is eight now, even though it seems like that “should” somehow still be the age of my oldest kid!

On our trip, Zander was the only one to catch a fish. His first catfish!

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(yes, he is also wearing Pinkie Pie socks)

At home or out with friends, Zander is our wildest kid. He can be very outrageous and unpredictable and impulsive and I often don’t know what is going to randomly come flying out of his mouth. At home, he can be volatile and fly off the handle, have meltdowns, and experience “rage fits” (much better on a dye-free diet, but still happens sometimes). In public places or high stimulation environments though, he is the calmest and most centered and most adaptable of our kids. He is watchful and polite and friendly and is a real trouper. He is the last of the kids to complain or whine or ask to go home/do something different. He trucks along, taking in the sights and noises and doesn’t complain. He was the only one willing to even entertain the notion of fishing quietly on a rocky hillside with Mark for hours. Even though Zander is the most difficult to get to focus while at home, Lann lost patience with fishing after about ten minutes and started to bug about finding a Target to go to, while Zander was extremely focused and alert and dedicated to his post.

May 2014 104It is hard to write about a middle kid without comparing him to the other kids in the family OR defining him in relationship to them. I can’t really twist my thoughts around right now to make myself NOT do that though, so this post just is what it is. Zander is a great little brother. As a big brother to Alaina he is less great and they clash a lot and he tends to pick at her and bug her on purpose. As a little brother to Lann, he is amazing. He is loyal and helpful and committed and adaptable and cooperative. He is probably a better brother to Lann than Lann is a brother to him. He is the one will to compromise or make changes and try the hardest to get along. He is also brave and funny. He is the bravest kid. The one who will go into the dark room to turn on the light, who will introduce himself (and siblings) to strangers, who will run to get us if something is needed. He is also amazingly creative and interesting. As he gets older and matures, his temperament has mellowed somewhat, while still retaining his good qualities. He reminds me a lot of my own brother, who was a very high-energy kid and was often very difficult to get along with, but who ended up being a really great man.

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Visiting the castle at Ha Ha Tonka state park.

For Zander’s birthday party this year he wanted a dinosaur theme. We had just gotten back from our trip and were totally beat. The last thing I wanted to do was have a party. However, it wasn’t his fault that he was born on Memorial Day Weekend and that we often have something else to do at that time of year! (Last year on his birthday we were on our way to  Fresno for my grandma’s memorial service.)

I had a vision for a “dino dig” cake and I got really into it and exhaustively documented the process (saying, “if I’m going to go to all this trouble on this cake, I need to get a blog post out of the deal!)

Mark spent a long time using his formidable fabrication skills to construct a big T-Rex head out of a cardboard box. (It has some craft foam accents too, but otherwise just cardboard from old boxes. I was impressed!)

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After the guests arrived, Mark, dressed in some safari gear, radioed in a distress call. The kids went out into their field with their costumes on and discovered a trail mowed through the field along with some abandoned equipment and…dinosaur eggs.

May 2014 220At the end, they found a baby t-rex guarding a box of goodies!

May 2014 223Along the trail, they also found a cast-off rucksack containing a bag of geodes. They each got to crack one open. Some were cool and others were not.

May 2014 230 May 2014 235We also had volcano punch to go with our cake (cherry/grape juice, clear soda, and vanilla ice cream). I just made this up and it worked pretty well.

May 2014 247Can’t wait to share many more birthdays with this guy!

Eight is great!

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