Friday, May 4, 2012

Ellie and the Magic Teapot Off to the Park: May Blog 1- Letters from Mom & Mimi

You love to make people laugh (especially with your sock puppets)!

Mimi and Poppy (along with Ryan and Sammy) still include us during family time even though we are so far away (you love every second... can't you tell by the giant smile on your face?!

Dear Silly Spaghetti,

Happy May Sweet Girl.  Isn’t spring the best time of the year?  Longer days, warmer weather, cool breezes, barbeques, baseball games, lilacs, and cherry blossoms and of course your favorite- more time at the park (where you show off your own outfit choices)!

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 4

Lion’s eyes gleamed as he looked at his group…

“The yellow Frisbee!” shouted Abner excitedly.

Ellie smiled at the realization.  They had all spotted her neighbor’s black Labrador retriever named Nittany.  She was playing with a yellow Frisbee on their way back from Ellie’s house to The Hill.  Ellie loved that dog.  Nittany was always so friendly, she greeted Ellie with a lick on her wrist when she got off the school bus everyday as she passed her neighbor’s yard before reaching her own.  But just then Ellie became a bit apprehensive as she wondered what Nittany would think of her now that she was tiny.  She hoped the dog wouldn’t confuse her with a chew toy, Ellie mused thinking about the rubber chicken that Nittany would gnaw on throughout the day.   

“Ellie!  Earth to Ellie!  Help us think of ideas to get the Frisbee away from the dog,” yelled Ajax trying to get Ellie’s attention.  But as he jumped in the air on his final call to her, he landed in a small dip in the ground and tumbled forward.

Abner giggled and supported his friend, “Way to go!  You almost did a perfect summersault!”

At that moment, the Pink Team saw the Red Team in the distance on top of The Hill carrying a bright red sock.  Abner hoped that they weren’t spotted, as Skeeter was a sore sport when he was losing.  Alfy was thinking the same thing as he licked his fingers clean after tasting the delicious watermelon that the Red Team had left on The Hill before the Pink Team deposited their second coveted item, the baseball hat.

“Alright, we are still ahead but the Red Team isn’t far behind.  They just dropped off their second item,” Lion said redirecting and focusing his team, “Ellie, you know Nittany well.  Even though you’re small, I know he’ll recognize your smell.  Let’s head over to the field where he is playing and see how it goes.” 

The Pink Team nodded in agreement and started marching to the green open space.  Ellie’s nervousness made her very quiet for the duration of the short trip.

As they approached the field, Ellie noticed that Nittany’s owner was reading quietly on a bench that surrounded the circular field.  Every time Nittany would bring over the Frisbee, she would throw it as far as she could to buy herself some alone time to continue her book.  This could work to their advantage, Ellie thought as long as Nittany knew who she was...

As the Pink Team got nearer to the bench where Nittany was rehydrating from a water dish her owner brought with her, Nittany turned in their direction and started sniffing.  Then, with a very confused look and cocked brow, she started barking.  The yellow Frisbee was at her owner’s feet. 

Ellie knew exactly what was happening.  She knew that Nittany could smell her and Nittany expected to see Ellie at her full height.  Ellie started laughing (because who would believe that Ellie was as tiny as an ant!) and as soon as she did, Nittany (with her super sonic hearing) walked over briskly with her nose in the ground sniffing.

“Aghhhh!” the ants yelled in unison as the dog’s face came through the grass blades.

Lion had an idea, “Grab hold of her whiskers!” he shouted. 

And as they did, the dog started going crazy.  Nittany wasn’t sure what was going on and started shaking her head fiercely back and forth.  Nittany’s owner thought that this was the sign to throw the yellow Frisbee.  As soon as she let the disc go, Nittany forgot about the Pink Team in her whiskers and took off at an astonishingly fast pace to retrieve the disc in the distance.

“Hold on!!!” screamed Abner grasping at the hair.  Lion was right below him and could feel his hands slipping as the black whisker was very smooth.  Ellie, on the other side of Nittany’s nose could see him struggling so she took one hand off to dig around in her skirt pocket.  As she held on tight with the other hand, Ellie pulled out the small metallic box.  She slapped it three times on her hip and it became a rope ladder before her eyes. 

“Hop on!” she instructed Lion as she threw it in his direction.

Lion did as he was told because he was just one millimeter away from falling to the ground and being run over by at least two of the four legs of the cruising Nittany. 

Ajax was above Ellie and could see her struggling to hold on with one hand and now holding the ladder with Lion attached to it in the other.  He jumped two whiskers over and with the help of Alfy, he used one of his hands to help hold onto Lion’s ladder to lighten the weight that Ellie was carrying.

Within seconds the dog came to a screeching halt making the Pink Team sway into each other but luckily all were still holding on.  It was at that moment that Nittany shook her head (after drinking all that water just minutes before at her owner’s feet).  Not only were the members of the Pink Team being shaken violently from side to side but drool and water droplets were drenching them from head to toe. 

“Yuck,” Alfy yelped wiping the goo from his eyes.

The Pink Team was not only feeling disgusting but pretty defeated, and Ellie knew she had to take charge to raise their spirits.

She jumped down.  “Nittany!” she shouted up at the dog.

Nittany angled her head to the right curiously looking at small Ellie.

“Will you help us with our scavenger game?” she asked bravely, “We need to borrow your Frisbee.”  She looked around and noticed an old beat-up tennis ball about a foot away.  Gesturing toward it, she asked, “Can we trade you toys for a few hours good friend?”

She knew Nittany could never pass up a ball.  “But Nittany, could you please help us to deliver the Frisbee to The Hill first?”

Nittany nodded her silky dark head and bent closer to pick Ellie up.  Ellie paused for a moment and Ellie realized that the dog was giving her team time to climb aboard her back for a safer transport.  When everyone was ready to go, Ellie patted the big dog gently giving her the okay to move forward.

Nittany gingerly picked up the yellow disc and this time instead of galloping, she took even strides to make for a less bumpy trip.  They reached The Hill quickly, and once again, the Pink Team realized the Red Team hadn’t delivered its third item. 

“We’re still winning!” observed a surprised and excited Abner.

Nittany was anxious to get back to that muddy green tennis ball, so after a quick thank you from the group, she sprinted toward her new target.  Her drool rained upon the group, once more as she jetted off.  But this time, they didn’t care.  They were ahead, until…

They heard Skeeter’s loud, bossy voice climbing the hill, “… and never mention this incident again!  I bet we beat the Pink Team this time!”

And before either team knew it, they were once again face-to-face.  And Skeeter’s face was as red as a tomato that is if you could see it underneath all the mud!

“How did you get here so fast?”  Skeeter angrily questioned the Pink Team.  “We finally retrieved an easy item and you still beat us to The Hill.  You guys had better not be cheating, because if you are, I’ll find out!”  He continued.  Then Skeeter eyed each member of the Pink Team suspiciously for a minute or two waiting for one of them to admit guilt, but that didn’t happen.  “Humph!” he huffed and turned his back to them. Now facing his own team, Skeeter called to them, “Let’s go Red Team!  We’ve got more items to find!”

Still a bit anxious, Slyguy, Slugger, Speedy and Shortstop followed their leader.  Retrieving one of Garden Gertie’s many snakeskin’s proved not to be so difficult after all, but knowing Gertie and how she would have loved to have had them for lunch, and not as her guests but rather her entrĂ©e, made each of them shudder.  The Red Team’s original plan was to go scavenge a blue button but they came upon Garden Gertie’s home first.  And of course, Skeeter who is always looking for a quick and easy way to win a game immediately changed their plan.

“Hey guys, look over here!  I think Garden Gertie has taken up new residence by the jagged rock.  I wonder if she got evicted from the last place she was living in,” said a bewildered Skeeter.

“Who cares?  If you ask me Skeeter, Gertie’s new living quarters are way too close to The Hill!  She will have a feast day with all of us!  Do I have to remind you that snakes enjoy tasty hors-dourves… their favorite being Ant hors-dourves??????  Do I also have to remind you of that time last year when she conned Slyguy and almost…. you know.”  Slugger couldn’t finish his sentence without shivering.  

Slyguy certainly remembered and looking back, he was now embarrassed from his carelessness.  Gertie was very clever, especially that day.  Watching from her doorway, she knew he had been at the ball diamond for a couple of hours waiting for his friends to come out and play baseball.  She also knew that the lunch hour had come and gone and he was probably getting very hungry.  Apparently she was too.  So she slithered out of her home, which was close to first base, and offered him a yummy chunk of granola.  Sure enough, Slyguy was famished for he hadn’t eaten anything since early that morning.  He also hadn’t eaten anything nearly as delicious as granola in months, so without thinking he graciously accepted her invite and walked towards her.  Quick to offer the use of her utensils, Gertie offered him her forked tongue. Slyguy went to reach for it but luckily Speedy had come out to play and saw what was happening.  Racing over to his friend, Speedy grabbed Slyguy by the arm and pulled him out of Gertie’s grasp just as she was about to gobble him up!  Eeeeeeeeek!  That thought still gives Slyguy nightmares!

Skeeter smiled as he spoke, “Guys, listen up.  If Gertie has just moved in, then she is probably still unpacking boxes.  She is a pretty vain snake so my guess would be that she has brought with her loads of boxes filled with all her fashionable snakeskin attire.  Sooooooooooo….. anybody have a plan as to how we can get in there and retrieve one of those outfits without getting caught?”

The other four ants looked at Skeeter in disbelief.   They thought he was crazy but also knew he was determined to win the game and wouldn’t budge until someone came up with an idea.  So Slugger raised his hand.

Skeeter nodded, “Go ahead Slugger.  What’s your idea?”

“Well… what if you tell her that you’ll show her around the neighborhood and that you know where she can get gorgeous headpiece accessories, particularly butterfly barrettes?  Then when she follows you, the rest of us will sneak into her house, find and retrieve a snakeskin, and get out quickly,” offered Slugger, “Once you’ve got Gertie distracted Skeeter, sneak away and we’ll all meet at the puddle to the west of The Hill.”

After a few moments of silence Skeeter yelled, “That’s a brilliant idea.  Let’s do it!”

 Slyguy, Speedy, Shortstop and Slugger slipped quietly behind Garden Gertie’s house where they would be hidden from view while Skeeter tiptoed as close as he dared to Gertie’s front door.  Since he couldn’t actually reach the door to knock, he opted in singing out her name instead, “La, la, la Gertie dear… you have a visitor, Skeeter… and I’m not one to fear.  La, la, la, I know beauty becomes you… let me show you some fashion that’s new.”

Skeeter’s song was music to Gertie’s ears, as she loved to be pretty.  So she opened her door and slithered outside to meet him.  “What are you talking about, Skeeter?”  She asked.

“Why, I wanted to welcome you to the neighborhood and what better way to do so than by giving you a tour?  I’ve always admired your beauty from afar and wasn’t sure if you had heard about the latest fashion rage, Butterfly Barrettes!  Apparently everybody is wearing them,” Skeeter answered sweetly.

“What do you mean ‘everyone’?  I don’t have any!” Gertie answered with a bit of jealousy.  “Take me to where I can get one of those barrettes.  And take me now!” she demanded.

“OK, follow me,” Skeeter sang out while skipping merrily down the path.  He didn’t want to be gobbled up so he made sure to keep enough distance between him and Gertie until they reached their destination, Mary Monarch’s Butterfly Bush.  What Skeeter forgot though was that he was highly allergic to the sweet aromas of this lovely plant.   And it wasn’t long before he started to sneeze and feel itchy.

“Aaa-aaa-aaa Chooo!  Aa-aaa-aaa Choo!  Aaa-aaa-aaa Choo!” Sniffled Skeeter.  “Uh-oh,” he added a bit alarmed.

Ignoring him, Gertie slithered around the bush in awe of the many beautiful butterflies fluttering around, “Skeeter, I think I will just hang out here for awhile and wait for one of Mary Monarch’s girlfriends to settle on one of the lower branches.”

“Ok.  Aaa,aaa,aaa Choo!”  Was Skeeter’s only response. 

“But you need to leave because your sneezing is going to scare these fine creatures away,” she added annoyed,  “And I don’t mean to be rude, but are you developing a rash?  You’re looking quite… oh what’s the word…ummmmmm, Blotchy! That’s it… very red and blotchy!”

Panicked, Skeeter ran off screaming!  “Help! Help! Help!”

Right before the four friends heard Skeeter’s cry for help, Slyguy and Shortstop had successfully drug out one of Gertie’s shorter snakeskin outfits.  They were grateful that she kept her 80’s attire, as there were only two of them to carry it down the long corridors of her home.  Slugger suggested that he and Speedy would wait outside.  They would be in charge of rolling a boulder size stone over the doorway to permanently block her home’s only entrance.  She would surely have to move then and find a new place to live, hopefully far away from The Hill.  Successful at completing their mission, the group set off to met up with Skeeter.  They were almost to the puddle when they heard Skeeter screaming.  They feared that he was being chased by Gertie and were quite surprised when he jumped out from the tall grass and no one was following him. 

“Help, help!”  He yelled again jumping up and down.  “I can’t stop scratching and I’m going crazy from all the itching!  What should I do?” he cried between Aaa Choo’s.

Shortstop rolled his eyes.  “Skeeter, don’t tell us you took Gertie to Mary Monarch’s Butterfly Bush.   I bet you forgot that you are highly allergic to those bush’s aromas too.  OK, hurry up and dive into the puddle.  The muddy water will wash the sweet scent right off of you and you’ll be fine.” 

Skeeter didn’t have to be told twice.  He took three running steps and dove in.  Once his itching subsided, Skeeter resurfaced and walked out of the puddle with mud dripping from his eyelashes.  Slyguy, Speedy, Shortstop and Slugger each stifled a giggle.

Skeeter looked at each of them and with teeth gritted said, “Let’s just get Garden Gertie’s snakeskin to our team’s pile on The Hill and never mention this incident again! Got it?”

“Got it!”  They replied in unison.  As all five marched up to The Hill thinking they finally beat the Pink Team in retrieving an item, a hungry Skeeter was already thinking of the next item to scavenge…..

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

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