Friday, April 27, 2012

Ellie and The Magic Teapot Off to the Park: April Blog 4- Letters from Mom & Mimi

Dear Sunshine,

This whole month you have been singing.  You know so many songs by heart!  My favorite is when you sing, “You are My Sunshine” with me at bedtime.  That one is so special because it’s one that I sang to Kyle too.  I never thought that there would be a day when I would hear a voice mirroring mine.  It’s truly heaven and it made me think of your brother too!  But I also love when you sing Old McDonald on our drive to daycare... you make my day so much brighter with your lively voice and vibrant personality!

You have also had a few other notable moments recently:
Rock-climbing at the park!

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 3

“Red Team!” shouted Skeeter, “Huddle together.  We need a plan for our next item and this plan better get us back to The Hill faster than the Pink Team.”

“He’s so bossy,” whispered Shortstop to Slyguy who nodded in agreement.  Skeeter shot them a look.

“Attention!” Skeeter shouted their way and the ants stood as tall as they could.

“Yes sir!” they responded in unison.

The Pink Team had already left The Hill.  Skeeter’s group watched them go north of The Hill until they disappeared in the tall green grass blades.  The Red Team couldn’t hear what they were after next and the direction they were going offered no clues.  If Skeeter could guess, he would bet they were searching for a blue button.  They were so predictable following the list in order.  Skeeter thought by continuing to jump around the list and finding the hardest items first, his team might have the advantage.

“I think it’s time we find a container of honey,” Skeeter sharply suggested.

The other four ants looked at each other.  “Has anyone seen any picnickers with jars of honey?” asked Speedy.

Everyone shook his head no. 

“Silly Ants, we don’t need people for honey,” Slyguy said as he pointed up in the air.  The others followed his gaze to see a buzzing bumblebee flying overhead.

“Slyguy, you did it again!” said Skeeter excitedly, “You always think outside the box!”

Slyguy blushed.  His black shield exterior turned a shade of lavender.  He knew the slingshot was a good idea to get the watermelon but if it weren’t for the bee flying around just moments ago, he never would have thought about this.

“We didn’t discuss how much honey we need, the list just says a container.  Anyone have anything to hold a few drops?” Skeeter asked.  He hoped the Pink Team would think of a container sized for humans and make it more difficult for them.  The ants emptied their pockets on the ground.  Shortstop had shards of crayons and a drawing he made before the scavenger hunt. 

“Wow,” Speedy said to him obviously very impressed by the image of the Ant Farm lying in front of him.

“Okay, back on task.  Focus!” barked Skeeter stepping on the drawing.

Everyone looked down at Skeeter’s foot crunching the paper and before Speedy could cry out, Slugger noticed what the others didn’t.

“Your socks Skeeter!  We could use one for the honey,” he said. 

“Is a sock really a container?  I don’t want to lose over something dumb like a definition,” Skeeter grimaced.

“A container is just an object used for transport or storage,” Slugger said showing off his academic skills, “I think a sock fits perfectly in that definition!”

“Good thinking Slugger,” he said his mood shifting as he peeled off one of his red socks, “Now let’s find out where that bee’s home is.”

The bee now had its nose in a nearby blooming purple flower.  The ants scampered over. 

“Hello up there,” yelled up Slyguy.

The bee jumped in surprise and fell out on the ground in front of the ants.

“We’re sorry, we didn’t mean to scare you!” said Speedy to the ant who was rubbing her obviously sore backside.

“We need some honey,” Skeeter said getting straight to the point.

The bee crinkled its face before Shortstop realized how rude they were being, “I’m sorry for my friend Skeeter here.  He’s just very bossy and likes to win.  We are in the middle of a scavenger hunt and we need a few drops of honey.  I’m Shortstop and these are my friends Slyguy, Slugger, and Speedy.”  He extended one of his antennae for her to shake.

“I’m Y.J., and sure I would love to help.  My friends and I like games too and winning is always more fun than losing,” she said.

“What does Y.J. stand for?” asked a curious Slyguy.

“Yellow Jacket,” she said eyes wide with her stinger in the air trying to look tough, “but don’t worry I only sting humans and big animals, not ants.”

Skeeter stood behind the group stomping his barefoot loudly on the ground impatiently.

Y.J. shot him an annoyed glance but she liked everyone else so she continued to help, “I’ll fly slow so you can follow.  Our hive is just in that tree over there,” she said pointing ahead a few feet.

They ran as fast as they could knowing they were still racing and also trying to keep up with Y.J. who didn’t know the meaning of slow flying.

When they reached the hive, Y.J., flew down to explain, “We keep the honey in the upper part of the comb.  Wait here with your container, er um, sock open and I will make sure a few drops get down to you.”

Y.J. flew up to the nest and started talking to a few of her friends.  Skeeter quickly became agitated, “Great.  I knew we couldn’t trust a bee.  She forgot about us already.”

But as soon as he said his last word, he realized that the bees Y.J. was talking to were pushing against the hive gently making the honey dribble down.  And sure enough, five big droplets were about to fall.  Skeeter held his sock open and four plunked right in.  The fifth one landed right on his head.  The amber honey was a gooey sticky mess.  Y.J. winked at Shortstop as Skeeter turned beat red with anger.  Skeeter didn’t waste any time as he tried to wipe the goo from his eye but his hand momentarily got stuck to his head.  The group stifled a giggle as he pulled it free.  He managed to hold himself together as he tied the sock at the top and started running back toward The Hill with honey droplets dribbling off the back of him as he ran. 

“Thank you for your help,” Shortstop called up to Y.J., “Maybe we can see you again soon.”

The four ants followed after Skeeter and they reached the top of The Hill just seconds after him.  Skeeter was irate.  The Pink Team had already been here…

“How did they get THAT here?!” said a very awed Speedy.

“And how did they do it so quickly?” asked an equally shocked Slugger.

Skeeter was so mad and so surprised that for the first time, he had no words…..

“Lion and Ellie, slow down!”  Yelled an out of breath Ajax.  “You’re marching too fast and it is making me nervous when I don’t know where we’re going! 

“Yea guys.  And did anyone realize that we are walking away from the park, not towards it?  We’ll never find any scavenger items going this way!”   Abner reaffirmed with just a hint of hesitation.

“Ok, ok everybody.  Settle down.  Ellie and I made the decision together,” Lion huffed,   “I knew we had to leave The Hill fast because Skeeter looked like a very angry walking Porcueant.”

“Do you mean ‘porcupine’?” Corrected Abner.

“Kind of,” Lion answered, “But when you downsize a porcupine to an ant’s size, I think the visual on it would be more like a prickly ant… hence a Porcueant”

The image of a prickly Skeeter made the three ants barrel over with laughter.   Trying to regain control, Ellie put two fingers into her mouth and with one hard blow gave out the sharpest whistle bringing the little soldiers back to attention, “Guys… it was me who gave Lion the nod to head north.  I thought the next item we should retrieve could be the black and gold baseball cap.”

“But then shouldn’t we be marching south, towards the center of the park where the baseball fields are located?”  Asked a confused and timid Abner.

“One would think Abner.  But I am pretty sure taking a hat from one of the baseball players would be an almost impossible feat.  So I got to thinking…. My daddy has a bunch of baseball caps up in his and my mom’s bedroom closet.  And I think a couple of his caps have those colors on them because they represent his favorite team!”  Ellie rattled on excitedly, “So I thought if there aren’t any boundaries as to where the scavenger items come from then we should just borrow one from my dad.  I don’t think he will mind as long as we return it… and if at all possible, we should return it before he realizes that it is missing!”

“But Ellie, you live a couple of blocks away from the park.  It will take us days to march there and even longer to return having to carry such an odd shaped item on our backs!”  Whined Ajax,  “Are you trying to make us lose the game?  Because this idea of yours….”

But before Ajax could continue his whining, Ellie rummaged through the many ruffles of her pink tutu until she found what she was looking for.  The hidden pocket.  Once she located it, she reached in and pulled out a miniature metallic box.  Holding it firmly with her right hand, she slapped it three times on her left palm and quickly set it down on the dirt path in front of them.  On the first click the metallic box popped open revealing a lime green tricycle and on the second click an attached matching sidecar neatly unfolded!  But the third click is what excited Lion.  Because on that click a bright pink horn slid onto the handlebar just waiting for someone to honk it!

“Way cool El!”  Roared Lion, “You’ve got to tell me where you get this stuff!”

“Alright, but later.  Right now I need you all to hop into the sidecar so I can peddle to my house quickly,” rushed Ellie.

And they did.  Abner jumped in first stubbing his toe, followed by a nervous Ajax who landed on Abner.  And then came Alfy who tried to jump in but being a bit overweight ended up tumbling in slowly squashing his two friends. 

“Ouch Alfy!  Move over!” Abner cried.

“Not this way, Alfy! I can’t breathe!” grunted Ajax.

“Easy guys,” calmed Lion, “If you all sit up you will notice that there is a seat for each of you and one for me too!”

So Abner, Ajax and Alfie readjusted themselves making room for Lion in the sidecar.  Ellie peddled as fast as she could, beeping her horn along the way to make sure nothing unexpected jumped in front of them.  As they neared her house, she noticed the front door was closed, so peddling faster she tore around the corner to the back of the house hoping that the sliding glass door was not fully shut.  And they were in luck… the door was cracked open about ½ inch.  So the five of them quietly slipped inside.

Ellie whispered to the group, “Don’t worry about the cat.  He’s usually sleeping and even when he’s not, he’s too lazy to care.  So he should leave us alone.  But the one we need to be careful of is my mom.  She hates bugs… especially ANTS!  So stay close to me.  This is how we’ll get to my dads and my moms closet.  We’ll walk along the wall to keep from sight until we reach the living room.  Then we’ll make a mad dash across the hardwood floor to the stairs.  Make sure to stay on the inside wall while crawling up them and quietly walk down the hallway to the master bedroom.  It is really dark in there so we need to stay to the right to reach the closet.  The baseball caps are on the floor so we will just need to figure out which one to take.  Hmmmmmm.  That might be a problem though in the pitch dark!”  Finished Ellie.

“Ah, come on Ellie.  You mean to tell us that with all your nifty gadgets you don’t have anything with a light on it?” asked Lion in disbelief.

Ellie was about to respond ‘No’ when Alfy surprised them all by saying that he kept a miniature flashlight on him at all times.  Slightly embarrassed, he admitted to being afraid of the dark and it was the only way he could work in the tunnels of the Ant Farm.  Ellie was relieved.  Now that they had a plan it was time to put it in motion.  So off they marched making it to the closet with no problem.  Once inside Alfy pulled out his trusty flashlight and turned it on.  They sorted through six hats before finding the black and gold one.  Now they need a plan to get the hat out of the house unnoticed.

Ajax was the first one to raise his hand. 

“Go ahead Ajax.  What’s your idea?” coaxed Ellie.

“Well, I noticed on our way up to the closet that the vaulted ceiling fan in the living room was on high…. so once we leave the bedroom with the hat and get to the hallway where the slatted railing is, we could slide the hat through the railing and the wind that the fan creates should take it right to the back door,” calculated Ajax.

“Yeah!  And instead of the five of us taking the long way back downstairs, we could take a shortcut by riding inside the cap while it floats down to the first floor!”  Exclaimed Abner.

“That’s a fantastic idea!  Let’s do it!”  Roared Lion. 

So the group circled the baseball cap, each taking hold of the black and gold fabric and walked it out into the hallway on their tippy toes.  Once they reached the slatted railing, all five team members turned the cap over and jumped inside before the ceiling fans wind carried them and the cap down to the screen door.  As it settled on the floor, Ellie and Lion jumped out first.  Abner and Ajax jumped out next.  Alfy was having a tough time jumping out and opted to roll out instead when Ellie’s mom entered the room.  She noticed the cap on the floor and bent down to pick it up. As she reached for it with her hand, she noticed Alfy and screamed,  “Aghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!....... AN ANT!”  Jumping up and down and all over the room, Ellie’s mom continued to scream and ran for the garage.

Ellie screamed too!  But her scream was directed at Alfy, “Alfy, hurry up and get out of the cap…. now!  When my mom heads to the garage that means she is going to get the bug spray and a broom!  Hurry!  We’ve got to get out of here!”

Abner and Ajax were afraid that Alfy would be too slow so they ran to their friend’s defense.  They reached over the caps side and grabbed Alfy by both arms.  Then they pulled and pulled until his chubby body rolled out.  Just as Alfy stood up, Ellie’s mom re-entered the house.  And sure enough she had a broom in one hand and a can of bug spray in the other ready to blind and flatten the ants!  So the Pink Team worked as a ‘team’ and quickly squeezed the hat through the crack in the door flinging it onto the green tricycle’s left handlebar.  (Thankfully it didn’t land on the right handlebar where the horn was.  Lion would have been very disappointed!)  Ellie ran to her bike and straddled its seat.  This time with precision movement, Ajax, Abner and Alfy jumped into the sidecar with no problems.  Lion followed the trio and once everyone was seated he gave Ellie the nod to start peddling.  She honked the pretty pink horn two times and quickly sped off making it back to The Hill in record time.

“Look!”  Exclaimed Alfy pointing to the Red Team’s only item.  “They haven’t made it back yet!  We’re still ahead!”

So Lion called them together for a quick group huddle.  As he knelt in the middle, he pulled out the Scavenger List.  Scanning it over, he zeroed in on one particular item.  Then sharing that item with the rest of the Pink Team, they all smiled and were in agreement to going after it next.  For each of them remembered exactly where they saw it…..

We love you El!  Until next week,
Mom & Mimi

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