Shelli Mader: Road to Ranching 10-15-12 |

Shelli Mader: Road to Ranching 10-15-12

I thought planning a barrel racing birthday party for my 7-year-old daughter would be fun. We moved to a new town this summer and she’d never had a birthday party with friends before. It was perfect timing.

We invited a total of 15 girls — all the girls in her class plus a few from church. I was a little nervous about the number (I only had 12 craft kits) but I was sure that many wouldn’t come. The night before the party I only had seven RSVPs, so I felt prepared.

Things started to go downhill the morning of the party. My husband’s work was moving locations so he had to head into work extra early and didn’t have time to go to the storage unit to get me our buckets, stick horses and other rodeo supplies. I was a little upset (I couldn’t go to the unit myself — the door is too hard for me to get closed) but I thought we would manage fine. I had lots of cute western crafts to do. Thankfully my husband could take our 3-year-old to work during the party, so I wasn’t too upset.

After my husband headed to work we went to the local flower shop to get some balloons blown up. I had great plans for all the pink cowgirl balloons. However, I learned that the world is facing a helium shortage (I had no idea that could even happen) so helium is at an all-time high price and isn’t expected to go down. So I settled for just getting one of my balloons blown up for a $1.75. I was bummed my décor plan failed, but felt good inside that I had done my part to be green and save helium.

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Though I didn’t get to use helium or stick horses I still liked the way the decorations turned out. My friend dropped off the cake and that looked great too. Ten minutes before the party the cute little guests started to arrive, and arrive and keep arriving. Thirteen showed up.

I tried not to show my panic as I ushered all the giggling girls into the living room. I pulled my daughter aside and told her she couldn’t do a craft kit and would just have to help the others. She didn’t seem bothered by it and I was glad. She helped me hand out various kits and the girls got to work making necklaces, rodeo pictures, frames and bracelets.

For about 10 minutes it was peaceful. I was worried about nothing. The girls were sweet and kind and very cute. They sat in their circle and talked quietly. I felt like the best party planner ever — that is until one little girl decided things weren’t so fun anymore. She walked through all the crafts and mixed them together with her feet, then she wanted to pet the dog and then wanted to eat cake.

The other girls followed suit, so I decided that it was time for the cake. I had no idea how hard it was to dish cake and ice cream for 13 girls who all wanted it at the same time. My blood pressure started to rise as girls ran around with cake and ice cream and pointy forks. I sent the first group of girls outside and frantically dished up plates for the remaining. When I finally made it outside myself, two girls had dropped their cake and my daughter was screaming. She had stepped on a very mushy dead bird.

I cleaned her foot, got the shovel and threw out the bird and then dished more cake. I ushered the girls outside, helped one come in and find the bathroom and then brought the gifts to the backyard. I had planned on taking pictures of Shayla and each gift-giving friend, but the thought went out the window as she tore through paper and tissue. I still have no idea who gave her what, so thank you notes never got sent.

The rest of the party is kind of a blur. Several girls stepped in dog pooh in the backyard (I still haven’t adjusted to picking up after my dog), I refilled dozens of drinks, helped nearly every child to the rest room, fixed hair, looked for lost crafts and cleaned frosting out of the carpet. Thankfully, no girls were injured or even cried at the party. And, when you are dealing with a lot of girls, no crying equals success in my book.

Thankfully, Shayla thought it was the best birthday ever and that’s all that really matters. She’s already planning next years’ party — only next time she wants to invite the whole class and have a real horse there. I’ll decorate, but I think next year is her dad’s turn to host. ❖

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