We were all too sick and tired to do an adequate reporting on Alden’s birthday while it was actually happening, but I was just browsing through the photos and found a few worth sharing. Basically, Alden still doesn’t really get what birthdays are about. We tend to downplay our own and haven’t yet decided to make a fuss about hers. I’m guessing that by next year, she’ll have heard through the ether that birthdays are a big deal and will, as a result, be insufferable.
To celebrate the last understated birthday, Robbi decided to get ambitious. She ordered Alden a “balance bike” as her main present. Basically, a balance bike looks like a regular bike, but without the gears and pedals. The kid sits on the seat and uses his feet to push the bike along and learn how to balance. The feet are the training wheels.
There are lots of companies that make balance bikes (they are all the craze these days, apparently), but we chose the Prince Lionheart brand on account of it having inflatable tires. Here is what Alden’s bike was supposed to look like.
But Alden has been spending a lot of time watching this endearing British cartoon called Kipper the Dog lately, and one of the characters has a green bike. The green bike has thoroughly captured Alden’s fascination. So Robbi figured that Alden’s bike should be green. She headed down to the spray booth where Seiko sprayed glaze on her pots and got medieval with a can of spray paint.
Once the various pieces were green, Robbi decided to add the highlights. She had taken Alden along to the hardware store to pick out the paint and had let Alden select the highlight color. Alden chose pink. Robbi (who has really strong ideas about aesthetics) had really been hoping that Alden would choose orange, but decided not to impose her will. Consequently, the handlebar is pink.
As are the various edges.
Feeling that the bike still lacked character, Robbi decided to add Seiko’s family crest. She printed out a model.
And then painted the design.
Although Alden probably won’t appreciate Robbi’s efforts until she happens to see these photos years from now, It’s a lucky thing indeed to have an ambitious mother who knows her way around a paintbrush.
Robbi did all this painting while I was upstairs watching Duke get flattened by Arizona in the NCAA tournament. I went down at halftime to check on her progress. This is how I found her.
After the game, impatient with my downcast attitude and hoping to get my moping self out of the house for a while, she sent me to the drugstore for some wrapping paper. Wrapping a balance bike is no easy task. Once again, Robbi was equal to the challenge.
Eventually, we had ourselves an intriguing-looking present.
When the time came for handing out gifts, we started small, with the bright red flashlight with purple coil for fastening to one’s belt and zipper. It was a hit.
Next up was a gorgeous embroidered alphabet book from my mom. I’ll do a separate post on it. It’s incredible. Alden examined it closely with the help of her new flashlight.
Then it was time for the main event.
Alden rose to the challenge with the sort of excitement than only a newly-minted three-year-old can muster.
When the package was only halfway unwrapped, she stopped to marvel in her gift. Apparently, there is no greater fun to be had than spinning the wheels of an inverted balance bike.
Kato looked on with a mixture of jealousy and amazement.
Eventually, we had to explain that the bike was something to ride. Pretending to know what I was talking about, I explained the complex mechanical principles at play.
Alden was unconvinced, but was eventually persuaded to climb on.
She sat on it for approximately four seconds before proclaiming with no small degree of impatience that it was “too big.” And that was that. It has sat neglected in the corner ever since. Perhaps it is too big. Her feet are still an inch or so from the ground on either side. Perhaps we’ll have to wrap it up again and present it to her for her fourth birthday.
But before we move on, let’s have another look from the side.
I’d be willing to bet that there isn’t another Prince Lionheart balance bike out there decorated quite like this one.
After the presents it was, of course, time for the cake.
There were, of course, three candles.
Alden thoughtfully picked her nose while thinking of what to wish for.
My guess: she wished for an inch more on either leg. But we’ll never know. She wouldn’t say.
She promptly extinguished the candles, that we might proceed to the eating.
Kato, in particular, was impatient for that part of the party to begin.
Since she was the birthday girl, Alden went first.
She promptly complained of insufficient sprinkles. Since she was the birthday girl, we indulged her.
Kato could only suffer the insult of watching his sister eat cake for so long. Suddenly, he lunged across the table to claim his share.
Alden grudgingly consented that he be served. “Let him eat cake,” she said with a regal wave. Kato wasted no time at getting to the heart of the matter.
Also, there was ice cream.
Happy birthday, Alden. Welcome to your third year.
We have been so looking forward to an abrupt cessation of the “terrible” that we have come to know so well over the past twelve months. Strangely, it hasn’t happened yet. Any minute now, I suppose…