Friday, April 6, 2012

Ellie and The Magic Teapot Off to the Zoo: April Blog 1- Letters from Mom & Mimi

Dear Ellie Bean,

It’s almost Easter and we have been preparing by dying Easter eggs and visiting the Easter Bunny (and you refused to wear your beautiful dress)!

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 thus begins our journey. 

Ellie and the Magic Teapot: Off to the Zoo- Part 6

Ellie and Lion raced after Zoe.  It wasn’t long before they caught up to her as she was walking very slowly with her stripeless head down. 

“Go away,” Zoe said glumly hearing Ellie and Lion approach.  Ellie could see a tear run down Zoe’s cheek.

“But Zoe, all of your friends want to celebrate you and your special day.  They don’t care that you don’t have stripes.  They went to a lot of trouble trying to make today important because they love you,” Ellie said compassionately.

“I don’t know why they love me right now.  I’m not very pretty without my stripes,” Zoe said as she stopped walking and sat on the curb’s edge outside of the Monkey Lair.

“Zoe, real friends don’t care about what’s on the outside. They care about what’s inside your heart,” Lion said pointing to his chest.

Zoe heaved a heavy sigh unconvinced.

“Who is your best friend in the whole world?” Ellie asked Zoe.

“Well, Mannie of course,” Zoe replied without even having to pause.

“And why do you like Mannie?” Ellie asked.

“He’s so funny,” Zoe replied, “He tells the best jokes.  He brings me soup when I’m sick.  He likes ice cream as much as me.  And he’s nice to everyone.”

“Hmmmm…,” said Ellie thoughtfully, “So you don’t like him because of his long tail or his perfectly round ears?”

“That’s silly, why would I like him because of the way he… Oh my,” Zoe said realizing her mistake, “I always thought that people liked me because of my beautiful coat.”

“Zoe, how do you want the other animals to see you?” Lion asked, “I bet it goes deeper than your stripes.”

Zoe started to cry again, “I want them to see me as a friend.  But I have a feeling that the other animals don’t like me at all.  I haven’t been very nice to them.  I acted like I was better than they were because of my stripes.  How can I show them that I am sorry?”

“You can start by going back to your party and appreciating the time and effort the animals spent in putting your celebration together,” Lion suggested.

“But more than just today Zoe, you can take the time with the other animals who are lonely or who need help or need a friend to listen.  Just giving a few minutes out of your day to care for others instead of yourself would mean a lot.  And you know when you would have time to do that?”  Ellie gently asked, “After all the children leave the zoo and instead of brushing your coat a hundred times, you could make time for someone else.” 

Zoe bit her lip.  She was embarrassed again but this time not because of her missing coat but because of the way she had acted.

“Let’s go back to the party,” Lion coaxed.

“Do you think there even is still a party?” Zoe asked, “I acted pretty badly.  I bet they all went home.”

“Nah,” Ellie replied waving her hand in the air, “Friends forgive Zoe and if I know Mannie, he is waiting for his best friend to return.”

They got off the curb and walked back into the Monkey Lair.  As they were walking, Lion asked Zoe to share her favorite joke of Mannie’s.

“Why did the monkey cross the road?” Zoe asked with a smile across her face.

Ellie and Lion looked at each other and shrugged, “We don’t know.”

“Because it was the chicken’s day off!” Zoe answered and fell over from laughing so hard.

The other animals heard Zoe’s contagious laughter not too far in the distance and came to join the fun. 

Zoe realized all the animals were staring at her then.

“I want to tell you all how sorry I am.  I behaved very badly and not just today but for a long time.  I want to be a better friend to you all like you have been to me.  I hope you can accept my apology,” Zoe said very genuinely.

Without any words, the animals showed their forgiveness and love for Zoe by giving her a big group hug.

“Zoe, you have the best laugh of any animal in the park.  Do you think you could share that joke so we can hear it too?” Benny the Bear asked.

And Zoe did.  Toucan Tillie repeated that joke for weeks later and every time one of the animals heard it as she flew by, they would fall into a fit of laughter!

“Are you ready for your party Zoe?” Manny asked.

Zoe smiled, “I don’t deserve it but I sure would like to go back and celebrate with all of my friends.”

“Hey Zoe, I kind of like you without your stripes,” Penny Penguin said, as they walked into the clearing “You look so unique and different than all the other zebras.”

“And even better,” added Gerry the Giraffe as Zoe blushed from the compliment, “Your true feelings come through much easier without your exterior coat.”

“OK Gerry, then I have to tell you that my ‘true feelings’ are dying for a piece of chocolate cake and some ice cream since I don’t have my coat to hide behind today.  And my ‘true feelings’ are saying I should go for the biggest piece of all and three large scoops to go with it!  I’ll worry about the added pounds tomorrow!” Zoe said while licking her lips.

All the animals laughed while Manny pulled Zoe into the center of the decorated area.   And on a count of three, they all sang Happy Birthday to her.  Even Zoe joined in and sang to herself!  As the song ended, Zoe thought of a wish, took in a deep breath and blew out all the birthday candles.  She was just about to cut the cake when Benny Bear stepped aside revealing another corner of the table.  On it was a large square box decorated with lots of colorful, curly ribbons and a fancy bow.

“Go ahead Zoe, open it.  It’s for you,” Manny said a bit shyly.

Not needing any more encouragement, she ripped open her gift and was in awe of the beautiful hat inside.  Pulling it out slowly, a genuine tear of love slid down Zoe’s cheek.  For it not only matched her striped coat but the tiara attached to the top showed Zoe that this wonderful group of animal friends still thought very highly of her.  Manny then disappeared for a moment behind the coconut tree and re-emerged with Zoe’s striped coat.  Placing it on her back where it truly belonged he told her to hold off cutting the cake for there was a game to play first.  He then announced to all that they would be playing a tweaked version of ‘Pin the Tail on the Zebra’.  Each animal would still be blindfolded, but instead of being given a tail, they would have a chance to ‘Place the Tierra on Zoe’.  Zoe loved the attention and the silliness of the game, especially when it was Toucan Tillie’s turn. Tillie chose to fly and drop Zoe’s hat from above.  But since she was blindfolded, she ended up crashing into the coconut tree, which knocked the hat out of her mouth landing it on Zoe’s rump instead of her head!  Tillie not only lost the game but a dozen or so feathers too!  What a wonderful evening it was turning out to be.  Throughout the party Zoe kept formulating her thoughts on how to write the most sincere apology for her behavior along with the perfect thank you for the best birthday celebration ever and their forever friendships.

Lion whispered to Ellie, “I think this is the perfect time to slip away.  Do you have the teapot and cups?”

“Yup, I do Lion.  And you’re going to like this! “ She smiled as she reached into her back pocket one last time for the box.   As she unfolded it, out popped the table.

“That is just the coolest El!” roared Lion.

“I think I slid the tea set into one of the deep drawers for safe keeping,” she exclaimed while rummaging through it, “Ah, here it is!  And it’s still filled with warm tea!  Here Lion.  You pour!”

As Lion tipped the teapot and poured the tea into their cups, musical sounds erupted while glitter and rainbows swirled all around the two lifting them up, up, up and away.  Within moments they found themselves sitting in Ellie’s living room at her table and chairs set again. 

Ellie’s Mommy was removing a small plate of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies and an empty ice cream bowl from Ellie’s placemat.  She started telling Ellie that the storm looked as though it was going to pass and that maybe they could go to the zoo in about an hour when she quizzically looked at Ellie’s hair and Lion’s fur, “Ellie spaghetti, where on earth did all those colorful and exotic feathers in your hair come from?  And how did they get tangled into Lion’s fur too?   If I didn’t know any better I would say they kind of look like… like feathers from a Toucan,” she mumbled out loud as she scratched the top of her head with that perplexed look that always made Ellie giggle.

And then Ellie quickly interrupted her Mommy and excitedly asked permission to take Lion to the zoo also and could they see the Zebra’s exhibit first?

“Of course Ellie-bean.  What’s a trip to the zoo if you can’t take along your favorite stuffed jungle animal?  And if zebras are what you want to see, then zebras it shall be!” she sang as she took Ellie’s hand and pulled her away from the table, “Now let’s go upstairs and comb that beautiful messy hair of yours and see what we can do with all of these strange feathers!”

Ellie grabbed Lion quickly and as they climbed the stairs she whispered into his ear, “You are my best friend Lion!  Thank you for attending my tea party and coming along on the Zoo adventure!  I had so much fun with you!  Just don’t tell Mommy that we were already there today.  She might change her mind and not take us for a second visit!”

“What’s that Ellie?” asked her Mommy.

“Oh nothing.” Answered Ellie.  “I was just going to ask Lion if we could have another tea party tomorrow.”   Then she turned Lion to face her and looked into his eyes where she was pretty sure he nodded his head yes while giving her a wink filled with love.

“Till next time Lion….”

We love you Ellie!  Next week, we will begin a new storyline with another Teapot adventure with Ellie and Lion!
Mom & Mimi

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