Elsie and her mother are hanging balloons from the carport entry. Today is the most special day in Elsie’s life, and she can hardly wait for the party tonight!
“Today I am five years old!” she said to her grandmother. And Elsie counted the years on her fingers, then she counted the balloons they had already hung.
But she had to stop after 3, because Mother and Grandmother needed more help.
“Elsie, please bring me about 8 or 10 more balloons,” her Mother said.
So Elsie dipped into the big box of decorations that the family used for birthdays, opened the balloon bag, and counted out: “One green balloon, two red ones, one little pink one, a giant blue one, and a white one. Let’s see if that’s enough: one, two, three, four, five, six…How many more, Mommy?”
Grandmother was bringing out a plate of cookies from the kitchen and asked, “How many more fingers make eight, Elsie?”
So Elsie counted again, “One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight. Two more, Grandmother!”
“Shall we do something special with these, Elsie?” Grandmother said.
Whatever can that be? Wondered Elsie to herself.
“Well, first help me blow them up,” Grandmother said, setting the cookie plate on a table.
So they huffed and puffed ‘til their faces got red. “This is hard work!” Grandmother said. “How many did we do?” she asked Elsie.
Elsie counted again. “Let’s see, one, two, three, four, five! We did five, Grandmother.”
“OK, that’s half of them,” Grandmother said. “What do you say that we rest a bit and have a cookie before we finish the other five.
Mother brought over three small plates, three cups of hot cocoa, and three napkins.
“This is like a mini-party!” Elsie said. They all laughed as they munched the cookies and sipped the cocoa.
“Aren’t you going to show Elsie your balloon tricks?” Mother asked Grandmother.
“Yes, it’s time to do that. Let’s finish blowing up those last five balloons, everybody!” said Grandmother.
So they all continued to huff and puff ‘til their eyes watered and three faces got red again. Finally all 10 balloons were bobbing around on the carport floor.
“Elsie, time to close your eyes!” Grandmother said.
Elsie squirmed and jiggled with excitement on her chair. She was so excited that she just couldn’t keep her eyes closed, so she placed her hands over her eyes to keep from peeking at Grandmother.
What was that strange squeeking noise? It happened again! And again! Elsie couldn’t help help herself—she just had to peek through her fingers. And what a strange sight greeted her!
Grandmother was twisting the blue balloon into strange shapes, and the rubber squeeked as she twisted. After one minute, Grandmother had shaped a blue giraffe with a long neck and body and four legs—all from one long, blue balloon!
And on the floor were three other balloon animals: a red dog, a yellow horse, and a white bird. After a few more minutes, Grandmother, Mother, and Elsie gathered up 10 rubber animals.
Elsie was in charge of tying a ribbon around the neck of each animal. She then handed the balloon animals to her Grandmother, who steadied the step-ladder for Mother. Mother hung each one from the ceiling, making a canopy of bright animals.
This is going to be a lovely birthday party, thought Elsie.