Birthday celebrations

Namine hasn’t turned twelve yet, but we opted to celebrate her birthday on the weekend before instead of after.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, social distancing, and all that that entails, Namine had told us that she wanted a zombie birthday party. And let me tell you, she wanted the works: a brain cake (or cupcakes, she hadn’t yet decided), blood decals on the windows, “DANGER” police tape streamers… the list went on. But most important was that like her pirate birthday party last year, she wanted everyone to come dressed as a zombie.

Well, we thought that this was perhaps not the best idea, given the circumstances. With real-life pandemic concerns, maybe a zombie-themed birthday was not ideal. Namine agreed, and so completely switched gears. She informed us that instead of zombies, her birthday should be unicorn themed. (Yes, she does love a bit of literally everything.)

At Aunt Melissa and Uncle Anthony’s house

In the interest of keeping everyone as safe as possible, we opted to have two birthday celebrations. The first was on Saturday, at Jessica’s sister Melissa’s house. Since we were staying indoors, we kept the gathering small: myself, Jessica, Namine, Melissa, her husband Anthony, and Jessica’s sister Chyral.

Namine had picked out a small chocolate cake, so she and Jessica decorated it a little more with some edible glitter.

Namine didn’t ask for much for her birthday. She kept her birthday wish list small on purpose; she asked us to tell everyone who would buy her gifts to donate to Children’s Hospital instead. She has expressed an interest in doing so for past birthdays, and with Jessica’s help has done so again this year.

Because of COVID-19, we can’t do an in-person donation drive like we’ve done in the past. In place of that, Jessica organized a book donation drive on Facebook so people could buy books to donate to Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin.

When we asked what Namine would like for herself, she expressed interests in baking (which she’s been doing more of with Jessica), pottery, and science. She received a baking cookbook and a battery-powered pottery wheel from Melissa and Anthony.

After the pottery wheel, there was one more present for Namine to open. It was one that she had asked Anthony for some time ago…

Anthony has 3D-printed things for Namine before, like a baby dragon toy and the cannon for her pirate ship cake last year. The unicorns he gave her were much larger, easily the largest thing he printed for her.

Both unicorns were printed from the same file, just increased in size. The smaller unicorn was scaled up 200% in size from the original file, and took seven hours to print. The larger was scaled up 300%, and took 19 and a half hours.

After Namine opened her presents — and we were no longer quite so full from dinner — it was time to bring out the cake that Namine and Jessica had sprinkled with edible glitter earlier.

At the park

Namine’s second birthday celebration was intended to be at Park Arthur, but when we arrived it was much too crowded for our comfort. We decided to move to a different park not too far from our apartment: Veteran’s Park. (It’s actually the same park where Namine had her bee birthday party!) We were fortunate that while there were some people in the park, there were none using the canopy area — so that’s where we set up.

We couldn’t have asked for a better day; it was warm, but not too warm. It was a little windy, so we had picked up some kites before heading to the park. It was the perfect amount of windy, as it turned out.

Namine asked for an ice cream cake, but not just an ordinary ice cream cake: a brownie ice cream cake.

All right, so while it might have been the perfect amount of windy for kite flying, I guess it wasn’t perfect for lighting candles. We tried to shield the cake a little so Namine could blow out her candles.

So… we made a mistake. We kind of forgot to bring utensils for the cake. We didn’t need them for pizza, but it would have been nice here. As a result, everyone ate their cake with their fingers.

Or they tried to, anyway. Let me tell you, it was very cold. It proved to be much too cold to hold in our hands, so everyone just sort of gnawed on it. Of course, because it was so warm out, if anyone waited too long it turned into a giant chocolate puddle.

After we finished our cake (and cleaned our faces and hands), it was time for Namine to open her presents. She received more pottery supplies (you can never have too many), a Barbie in a wheelchair, and a microscope. That last was the other thing she had asked for, having discovered a renewed love of science this school year.

We sometimes joke with Namine that she’s growing up too fast, so she should stop that. I was kidding around with her that if I don’t acknowledge her twelfth birthday, it won’t happen. Her response was, in all seriousness, nothing short of perfect:

“You can’t deny God’s plan for me, Daddy. And God’s plan is for me to turn twelve!”

I couldn’t have said it better myself, but I have tried.

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