Friday, April 20, 2012

Ellie and The Magic Teapot Off to the Park: April Blog 3- Letters from Mom & Mimi

My angelic and crazy daughter!  I love this picture (above) from our Florida trip two weeks ago but I also love this silly one (below) while playing the other night.  They both show such different sides of you...

Dear Ellie Spaghetti,

I have to say that your vocabulary is increasing daily and you make me laugh so much (aside from the times that you stun me with your intelligence).  You speak in the third person (“Where’s Ellie’s shoes?”).  And you ask the best questions (“Big moon Mama!  Where’s the other one?” referring to the full moon in the sky while looking for the crescent shaped one).  I simply love the sound of your voice.

And so does your Mimi... here is a picture of you skyping with her recently (yes, you still get so excited seeing your Mimi and Poppy over the computer everyday, I suppose it's the next best thing to seeing them in person):

And now here is our yearlong bedtime story/stories (with many chapters to write!) for you. 

We have specific weekly guidelines.  I will write a piece, then your Mimi has to finish it and we will do this every week (your Mimi’s part is in italics and mine is in regular font).  The only things your Mimi and I agreed on were the characters- Ellie and a magic teapot.  Anything else is fair game.  However, we are giving ourselves a time limit (because we know otherwise we will fall in love with this creative writing project and get nothing else done)- 45 minutes for me and 90 minutes for your Mimi (so whether that means 3 sentences or 3 pages, that’s what the other person has to work with).  And we each have an additional 30 minutes every week to figure out an illustration to go with our part.  Our goal Ellie is to have a beloved bedtime tale for you and future generations.   

And so we will continue our second story. 

Ellie and the Magic Teapot: Off to the Park Part 2

Ellie, Lion, Abner, Alfy, and Ajax were left standing wistfully on their own after the Red Team went off so quickly to start the scavenger hunt.  If the Pink Team didn’t think fast, they would surely lose.

Ellie looked at Lion encouragingly, “Well Lion, you are our leader so what should we do first?  Let’s come up with a plan.”

Lion cleared his throat trying to remember all the rules that Skeeter had given, “The first item we need is a red and white checkered tablecloth.  So let’s brainstorm where we have our best chance at finding one of those.”

Abner raised his hand timidly and whispered something to the group but no one could hear him. 

“He’s just very shy,” Ajax explained while he fidgeted with his hands, “When Abner doesn’t know someone, he is very cautious.  But once he trusts you, he’s the loudest one around!”

Ellie went over to Ajax who was staring at his feet.  “I would love to be your friend Abner,” she said as she pet his back softly.  Abner’s eyes lit up at her gentleness.  And it didn’t take long for Abner to start chatting with her like they knew each other forever.

“Okay, so now that you know us a bit better, can you share your idea,” Ellie persuaded him.

Abner still whispered (Lion made him nervous) but at least everyone could now hear him, “I saw a family over in the field not too long ago having a picnic.  They had a basket, a full meal with dessert.  I went over to sneak some crumbs of their chocolate cake when they were playing Frisbee off in the distance.”

“But did they have a red and white checkered tablecloth?” asked Ajax coming closer to hear him better.  But as he did, he tripped over a small mound of dirt.  He didn’t seem to care as he brushed his face clean and listened.

“They sure did!  It’s what they used as their blanket to sit on!  Maybe we can borrow their tablecloth while they are playing Frisbee?” Abner suggested.

Ellie gazed at Lion waiting for him to respond, “All right!  Let’s follow Abner to that picnic spot,” Lion prompted.

Abner pointed to a far off spot in the field behind him.  When Abner turned around to show the group where he was pointing, Alfy and Ajax had already started toward him and all three crashed into each other and fell down on the ground.  Ellie ran over to make sure they were ok but found them all laughing.

“We may be clumsy but we know how to have a good time,” Ajax giggled.

Lion remembered how organized the Red Team was and so he roared, “March Pink Team, March!” and that seemed to get everyone in line and back on task.  Off they went into the endless grass blades. 

After marching quite a bit, Ajax became bored and started to question Abner, “Are you sure this is the way?”

“Ajax, you know me and my sense of smell… I can detect when chocolate is a mile away.  We are close,” he answered.

Alfy was thinking more about that dessert, “I hope that there are more crumbs for us to snack on.  Did you leave any for us Abner?  I’m hungry!”

Abner sniffed, “We are just about there.”

And within the next three steps, the group came up on the picnic site.  Just as Abner said, there was a Mommy and Daddy playing Frisbee with a little boy and girl off near the trees.  And right in front of them, without anyone watching, was a red and white tablecloth.

“Yahoo!”  Yelled Ajax, “We might actually win this scavenger hunt!”

“Not so fast,” Lion said bursting Ajax’s bubble, “Look at the heavy picnic basket on top.  How can we lift that since we are so small?”

“Lion, don’t you know me at all?!  I always come prepared.  Do you remember what my Mimi gave me for Christmas this year?” she asked him as she dug deep into her pants pocket and pulled out a square piece of wood.

“Well that doesn’t look like a very good present,” Alfy said to Ellie as he found a chocolate morsel on the ground and gobbled it up.

Before his eyes, Ellie shook the piece of wood and it transformed into a miniature backhoe!  Of course, she did it so quietly that the family never heard it.

The backhoe had two levers, which Ellie maneuvered to pick up the picnic basket and set it gently down on the grass.  Then, she picked up each corner of the blanket to fold it into a smaller, more manageable bundle. 

Lion still looked bewildered at the gigantic piece of fabric in front of him.

“Don’t worry Lion,” Abner said reading his face, “Ants can carry twenty times our weight!”  Abner was warming up to Lion.  He didn’t find him so scary anymore.

Abner crawled under the blanket into the center and started marching.  Slowly but surely, the tablecloth started to move.  The rest of the group sprinted underneath to help and with more effort, the tablecloth moved faster.

“Abner, can you remember exactly where we are so that we can return this tablecloth to that nice family?” Ellie reminded him.

“Of course!” he answered.

“I will help bring it back too,” Alfy said, “maybe I can find more chocolate cake crumbs!” 

And just as he said the last word, he tumbled over his feet and fell into Abner who crashed into Alfy.  Lion and Ellie were left standing underneath the tablecloth shaking their heads at the giggling ants. 

“Pull it together crazy ants!”  Lion instructed, “We have a chance to win.  Let’s march in step to get the blanket back up to The Hill.  It’s not far now.  Left!  Right!  Left!”  He pointed ahead as he directed their marching.  The ants could now see the top of The Hill.

“That looks really steep,” Alfy mumbled sweating, “I’m not that strong.”

“I think you are very strong Alfy,” Ellie soothed, “I have a song to sing that will keep your mind off of the work.”

Ellie started singing, “The ants go marching one by one hoorah hoorah!”

The three ants and Lion looked at each other and grinned.  It didn’t take long for them to join in.  By the time they finished the song, they were at the top of The Hill.  And they realized that the Red Team didn’t have any items there yet. 

“We’re winning!” shouted a more confident Alfy….

“Oh no you’re not!”  Came a frustrated yell from the thistle bush near The Hill.  As the Pink Team turned their heads in its direction, out crawled a very sore Skeeter.  Using his every arm and leg Skeeter tried his hardest to balance what was left of a very mushy, broken watermelon while pulling out thistle stickers from his behind!  “We scavenged a really hard to find item on the list… not like you softies who went for the easiest item,” he scowled, “Next round we’ll be swarming the area and marching circles around you!  You’ll see.”….

The first item retrieved by the red team didn’t go quite as planned.  When Skeeter blew the whistle it may have given the Red Team a head start on the Pink Team, but they didn’t really have a plan as to which item on the Scavenger Hunt they should find first.  It was Shortstop who ran ahead and then quickly turned making the rest of the team come to a screeching halt.

“OK guys, does anyone know what direction we are marching in?”  Silence.  “Does anyone know what we are looking for?”  More silence.  “Did everyone forget that we fine-tuned our antennas this morning to scope out possible scavenger prospects so that we would surely win the game?”  Scolded Shortstop.

“Oh yeah.  I almost forgot.  Sorry about that guys,” apologized Slugger.

“Yeah…. I almost forgot too.  Sorry about that,” Repeated Slyguy.

Skeeter spoke next, “All right guys, focus.  Who’s got the first plan?”

“I do,” stated Speedy, “Right before Abner came back to The Hill with those two new-comers, Ellie and Lion, I saw a couple of high school boys carting a watermelon over to the Pavilion near the entrance to the park.  I’m pretty sure they set it on the first picnic table.  I’m guessing by now they would have cut that huge ball of fruit open, slurped out its juicy insides and discarded the rinds in the Pavilion trashcan.  With a little luck, maybe one or two rinds have dropped on the ground and it will be really easy for the five of us to cart one away!  What do you think?  Want to go and check it out?”

“You did some great scouting earlier Speedy.  Good job!....  So what are we waiting for?  Let’s step up our pace boys!”  Commanded Skeeter.  And off they marched.

When the Red Team got to the Pavilion they were somewhat dismayed to see that the watermelon had not been touched.  All ten pounds of it was still sitting in its oval shell on the picnic table.

“Now what?” Sighed Slugger, “We’ll need at least another thirty or forty ants to help us carry that monstrosity!”

“The only place we will find that many ants is back at the Ant Farm and we don’t have that kind of time to waste!”  Hollered Skeeter.

“Calm down boys,” said a cool Slyguy while he reached into his back pocket.  As the others turned to face him, he pulled out his brand new slingshot.  “I got this for my birthday last week and I’ve been practicing with it everyday.  My eye is good for aiming it in the right direction, but I’m still working on my distance.  However, Slugger here is a power hitter with the baseballs, maybe he can sling it the distance it would take to get from here to The Hill!”

“That’s a fantastic idea Slyguy!” Skeeter shouted excitedly, “It should shave off quite a few minutes of the time that it would take us to haul back that hefty fruit on our backs as well as save us some aching muscles too!  Here’s what we’ll do.  Slyguy… you make sure that the watermelon is pointed in the right direction while Slugger pulls back the slingshot’s rubber band as far as he can get it.  Speedy and Shortsop, you two push the watermelon into place, that would be the slingshots cup, so that Slugger can give it one last pull before letting go while you both get out of the way.  Slyguy, check the direction one last time to make sure it’s aimed at The Hill.  Then give Slugger the thumbs up sing to ‘let err fly’!  Oh, and give me a couple of minute’s head start to run back to The Hill so that I am in place when it drops.  Then I will pick up a broken off rind, set it in the Red Teams bucket and scratch our first retrieved item off the list.”

“Let’s do it!” they chanted in unison.

As Skeeter scampered off, the other ants went quickly to work.  Slugger grabbed the slingshots rubber band and pulled it back with all his might.  He yelled for Speedy and Shortstop to hurry and get the watermelon into the slingshots cup because he was starting to lose his grip and his feet were slipping forward.  The plan almost worked perfectly.  But Slyguy kept recalculating the direction and he ended up recalculating it one too many times.  Slugger couldn’t hold back the rubber band any longer and not meaning to, he let go.  Surprisingly Speedy did not get out of its way fast enough and the rubber band sandwiched him between the slingshot cup and the watermelon as it sailed through the air out of sight.
“Uh-oh,” Slyguy hesitated, “Bad news.  Looking at the direction the watermelon took off in, I am guessing that it might land to the left of The Hill about a foot or two away.  But I think there is good news too.  Since Speedy is now traveling with the watermelon, he will beat us back to help Skeeter carry the rind!”

“Well, that shouldn’t be too big a deal.  Right?  Is there anything we need to worry about that might get Skeeter mad?” questioned Shortstop.

“Nah.  I think that area is all dirt and flat ground,” Slyguy affirmed confidently.  “He’ll be pleased with the outcome of this plan and how easy it was to retrieve a rind!”

But that was not so.  For the watermelon did sail the distance only it did not land to the left of The Hill but rather two feet to the right of The Hill.  When Skeeter saw that it was off course he made a running dive to catch it, where both he and the watermelon landed in the thistle bush; Skeeter on bottom like a flattened pancake, the watermelon on Skeeter, broken like a cracked egg with its contents oozing out, and Speedy on top of what was left of the watermelon, dazed, just like he gets when he rides The Whip at the carnival.  Skeeter crawled out from underneath and tried to stand up.  But the juicy red mush covered him from head to toe causing him not to see very well.  He tried to pick up one of the broken rinds but lost his balance and landed bottom first in the thistle bush.  That’s when he heard Alfy claim a first item victory.  And that made Skeeter mad as a Hornet.  As soon as the rest of his Red Team returned and he could get Speedy to stop slurping up the melon juice, he knew exactly what item they would retrieve next….

We love you Ellie!
Mom & Mimi

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