The hardest part about taking a break from blogging is knowing how to start back up again. A lot has happened in the last four months, and maybe, as time allows, I can eventually go back and do some debriefing and reflecting. As always, life offers continual opportunities for our trust in God to grow. Why can’t it just be easy?? That is a question that continues to confound me. :-)
Our beautiful Ryley turned 11 on Wednesday. Ryan and I took the day off work, and the three of us spent a family day together. Because, like her mommy and daddy, Ryley loves food, her one request was to eat at Zio’s in Colorado Springs. So we drove down there and also spent some time at the Focus on the Family Visitors Center (free fun!) and at Garden of the Gods. I let Ryley sit up in the front seat next to Ryan for a lot of the drive, and several times I noticed her cheeks curled up in a big, goofy grin. That girl loves her birthday.
Since July 24 of last year, Ryley has been planning her birthday party for this year. Her big desire was to go horseback riding, so a few weeks ago, we called the stables and found out how very expensive it is. So Ryley had to narrow down her list of invitees, unfortunately, and limit it to one church friend, one school friend, and her best friend that lives an hour away. Everybody was so excited, and yesterday they all arrived at our house in long pants and tennis shoes, and Ryley let them each choose a bandana for their dusty excursion.
But it wasn’t meant to be.
We arrived at the stable and bounced on up to the office and handed the man our signed parental waivers.
“Uh, yeah, I can’t accept these waivers. They’re not signed properly,” he said.
“Oh, yes, they are, if you will just look—”
“Nope. They’re all signed on the wrong line.”
“Oh, well, that’s ok. We can just write in ‘parent/guardian’ next to where they signed—”
“No. That would be forgery.”
“Can we sign on the parents’ behalf?”
“Well, we can have each parent e-mail a signed statement—”
“No. It has to be this form.”
“This is ridiculous. There has to be something you can do. Are you the manager?”
“Well, you know what? You need to revise your waiver then. Because it is extremely unclear,” I spat out, tears filling my eyes.
I may have said some other things too. The conversation went on for 10 minutes, and I was pretty angry. The manager certainly wasn’t willing to work with us at all. I mean, he could have offered to e-mail each parent the waiver in hopes that they could sign it, scan it, and e-mail it back. But I’m not even sure they had a computer in that place, actually. He didn’t care about our birthday party; he didn’t care about four disappointed little girls. And the longer the conversation went on, the more I felt that he was digging his spurs in.
“Okay, thank you, sir,” Ryan was saying, guiding me away from the office.
How could our daughter’s birthday party be ruined over something so stupid?
“Well, girls, I’m sorry, but we’re not going to be able to go horseback riding today,” Ryan said loud enough so the man could hear. I loved him for it.
Disappointment was written all over our daughter’s face. But to her credit, she didn’t cry. Only her mom cried.
What do we do with them now?
We piled back into the van, and the girls discussed alternatives. Since we had already planned and saved a small fortune for the horseback riding adventure, money wasn’t really an object, for once in our lives. Almost anything would be cheaper. And within 10 minutes, they had decided on Lakeside Amusement Park. Ryley had not ever been there before, and it’s been on our list to do for a few summers now.
I called Lakeside to verify that they didn’t require waivers.
“What? A waiver?” the Lakeside lady replied, obviously confused.
“We’re on on our way!”
We stopped at the house so the girls could all change into shorts (they each borrowed a pair of Ryley’s) and so that we could have cake and ice cream. And then off we went!
And you know what? I think they had more fun than they would have if they’d gone horseback riding!
Just look at those grins!
“Best. Birthday. Ever!” Ryley whispered to us over and over, as the afternoon progressed. It really was a lot of fun! The girls all got along really well, and four was the perfect number for pairing up on rides, keeping track of everybody, etc. In addition, Ryley bowed to peer pressure and faced her fear of rollercoasters, only to discover that she loves them!
I’m finding that the birthday parties get easier as Ryley gets older. The parties basically run themselves. She and her friend did all the decorating and house set-up on their own. The girls are great at entertaining themselves and are pretty self-reliant and resilient. They each went through the concession stand line on their own and didn’t break our budget. Ryan and I didn’t have to ride any rides and thoroughly enjoyed the plethora of shade trees and benches for seating throughout the park. And this particular group of girls was extremely flexible with our change of plans….much more than the birthday girl’s mom. ;-)
Last night, before bed, I logged in to view the Sunday School lesson that Ryan and I were scheduled to teach this morning at church. The lesson was all about controlling our anger and not letting it spill out onto others. As if I, with my temper tantrum at the horse stable, am a model for gracious behavior! Ha! It did make for a riveting story for the kids this morning, and they listened intently (and probably with some judgment!). This is not the first time that the lesson I teach is exactly what I’m going through that week. It’s funny how that seems to work out. ;-)
In the end, Ryley’s 11th birthday party was better than we had even planned. And the plans for #12, next year? At this point, Lakeside is at the top of the list.