Friday, May 18, 2012

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

Dear Ellie Bean,

Your Dad and I finally got to give you your birthday present... tickets to the Fresh Beat Band!  They came to Denver this past Saturday and we went as a family.  You loved every bit of the excitement.  You sang and danced along to the songs and you didn't want it to end.  Just from your smile, your Dad and I knew this was a great gift!

And one other milestone this past week… you learned how to play one of my favorite car games- I Spy!  I’m so glad you are such a social girl; I love your company (especially on our car rides!).

And it was Mother's Day this past Sunday (you got to skype with Mimi, you made me a beautiful hand-painted card with help from you Daddy, and your Mimi honored both you and Kyle with our new matching butterfly pj's).  Ellie, you make everyday so special for us!

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 6

Ellie was relieved that they were deep in the green blades of grass when they heard Skeeter's enraged and frustrated scream.  The ants on Ellie's team forewarned her of Skeeter's competitiveness before they began the game but frankly, she came to understand he was a bit of a sore loser too.  She shook her head and decided to focus on something more positive, like their next scavenger hunt item instead. 

 "Alright everyone, what should we get next?" Lion, the unofficial leader, asked his group.

The shy and very timid Abner, who was getting much more comfortable with the group, volunteered in a voice just above a whisper, "I think we would have luck if we find the band-aid with the cartoon character on it."

"That one seems kind of hard, doesn't it?" Alfy asked him with a perplexed and discouraged look that made his forehead scrunch up into wrinkles. 

Abner pointed ahead and Ajax looked in that direction and saw what he meant.  He started jumping up in excitement but ended up on his back after tripping over some of his legs.

Alfy reached down and gave Ajax a hand to turn him back over, "Good thing for your hard exterior Ajax, that was a tough fall!  But I still don't know what you mean.  I just see a girl picking wildflowers in the field."

Abner shook his head, "Look at her legs and arms!"

Ajax squinted his eyes to get a closer look, "Ohhhhh!" he shouted enthusiastically seeing the many bandages covering the girl’s limbs.  But then he shifted his mood, giving in to the worry he felt for the poor girl.  She must be just as clumsy as me, he thought to himself. 

Ellie recognized the girl from seeing her on the swings a few times in the past and she remembered her name to be Mary.  She also remembered Mary wearing just as many band-aids every time she saw her.  Curiosity got the best of Ellie and she asked Mary one day how she got hurt.  Mary laughed and said they were jewelry to her.  She thought the princess band-aids were pretty and liked to wear them as accessories.  She even pulled one off to show Ellie that there weren't any marks underneath.  Ellie shared her encounter with Mary to her team.  Ajax seemed relieved that Mary wasn't as bumbling as him. 

In an unspoken agreement, the Pink Team all ran off toward Mary who was now skipping toward a bunch of dandelions on their path.  As they got closer, they could hear singing 'You are My Sunshine.'  The melody was slightly off key but in a very pleasant way.  The ants felt she had a good heart and wouldn't step on them on purpose.  But the girl was so immersed in her song and task that she didn't see them.

"Mary NO!!!!  Look out Alfy!" screamed Ajax horrified as he saw the little girl lift her foot above his head as she began to tap to the offbeat of her song.  Abner ran quickly to his aid (as Alfy was stunned into a frozen position of fear) and pulled him out of her way.

"Thanks Friends," Alfy, who was now sweating out of nervousness, said to both Ajax and Abner, "If it weren't for you, I would have been squished!"  He wiped his brow and continued, "We're too small for her to hear us.  What should we do?"

They all turned to Ellie knowing that she had some sort of trick hiding in her pocket.  And she didn't let them down.  She reached into her skirt, pulled out her metallic box, hit it three times on her thigh, and it transformed into... a gigantic bright red megaphone!  Lion and the ants squealed in delight.

Ellie put it up to her lips and in a booming voice now, shouted up to the girl, "Hello Mary!  Your song is very pretty!"

The little girl, startled, shifted and looked around but she couldn't see anything.

"Down here!" Ellie yelled out into the megaphone making her voice boom into the air.

Mary looked down, jumped in surprise, and then smiled.  She scooped the Pink Team up into one of her hands and brought them close to her face.

"Ellie?" she asked amused and interested, "Is that you?  And is that your stuffed animal Lion?"

Ellie quickly explained to Mary what they were doing.  She didn't want to be rude but she didn't want to lose any of their precious time either. 

"So you see Mary, we need a band-aid with a cartoon character on it... we would very much like to borrow one of your beautiful accessories," she finished to Mary.

Mary giggled, "Of course I will help you and you don't have to borrow one of my band-aids.  I will give it to you.  My Mom has boxes of these at home.  She knows how much I love them.  But Ellie, you never introduced me to your ant friends."

Ellie blushed at her oversight.  She hadn't meant to make the ants feel left out; she merely wanted to get back to The Hill.  "Mary, this is handsome Alfy, shy Abner, and crazy Ajax."

"It's very nice to meet you all," she said lifting her pinky finger on her unoccupied hand to give them high fives, "Ajax, you seem to have a few cuts and bruises on your back."

Ajax reddened in his embarrassment, "I fell on my back on the way over.  I'm not very coordinated.  In fact, I'm just plain clumsy," he looked down at his feet glumly.

"Well, I think you need some of my cool band-aids to heal those up.  I bet you make your group have lots of fun because you don't take yourself too seriously." 

The Pink Team nodded in agreement as Mary set them back on the ground gently. 

"Ajax, you do have the most contagious laugh!" Abner belted out giving him a hug as Mary removed two of her band-aids on her left arm.  The first, she gave to Ellie who wore it as a cape since it was bigger than her (Lion picked up the bottom so it wouldn't drag on the ground).  And the other, Mary tore into small pieces and put the strips across Ajax's back. 

"Look how cool you look!" Abner said to Ajax admiring him.  Ajax beamed and felt so proud to be a part of such a supportive group.

"Well Mary, we have to get going.  I'll catch up with you at the park soon.  Thank you for all your help!" Ellie called up to her in her megaphone.

Mary blew them a kiss farewell, which acted like wind when she blew.  That blown kiss gave them a quick jolt that the Pink Team appreciated as it got them to their goal, The Hill, faster.  As they were halfway up the incline, they all slowed down in anticipation and dread thinking about what Skeeter's reaction would be like.

They didn't have to wait long because the Red Team came bolting up The Hill.  They were running…. No, make that rolling so fast that they barreled right into the Pink Team (who had no time to react in their haste), knocking them over like bowling pins.     
The Red Team's latest find along with all the members of the Red Time rolled all the way down The Hill in the mix-up.  That meant the Pink Team still had the lead.  Lion held his breath and his ears waiting for Skeeter to yell.  But Ellie, who was so glad that she wore the band-aid as a cape to keep it protected from being swept down in the confusion, didn't wait.  Instead, she stood up and bounded up the rest of the way to the top of the hill to deposit her team's most recent treasure…

Right after the chicken bone find and Skeeter’s angry outburst in the realization that the Pink Team was ahead once again, the Red Team didn’t waste any time in leaving The Hill for their next item to scavenge.  Stopping for just a moment, Skeeter turned to the group with his hands on his slightly bulging tummy, “Alright guys, we have just feasted on a delectable chicken bone.  Now that our bellies are full, I want everyone’s complete focus to be on winning and nothing else!  Got it?”  He commanded.  They all nodded.

As Skeeter was just about ready to turn and march on again, Slyguy stopped him and exclaimed excitedly, “Well Skeeter, it looks like you… I mean ‘we’ are in luck!” as he pointed upwards.  The Red Team followed the direction of his finger.  About 10 feet in front of them stood a black wrought iron park bench, and an old woman eating what looked to be like a peanut butter sandwich sitting on its metal seat.

Shortstop didn’t understand, “Luck?  What kind of luck is that old woman going to bring us?  We don’t need to scavenge a peanut butter sandwich… that’s not on the list.”

“Ahhhhhhh… but the blue button on her sweater is!”  Slyguy beamed.

“Great observation Slyguy!” Skeeter complimented.  But with further study of the button he then added, “Ummmmmmmm… since the old woman is wearing it, does anyone have a plan as to how we can take it?”

The group looked at the button, then at the sweater, then at the old woman and then back at the button and in unison answered, “Hmmmmmmmmmmm.”

“Not a good enough answer guys.  We need a plan and we need one now!” Skeeter barked.

“Well…” fumbled Slugger, “What if we crawl up her pant leg, then on to her sweater and see if we can loosen the thread that holds it?  If we accomplish that feat, a couple of us can run back down her pant leg and be ready to catch the button when the rest of our group drops it?  Once we are all back on solid ground together, we can march the button back to The Hill which is not too far away?”

Liking the idea, Skeeter shouted out, “Brilliant plan!  Let’s do it!”   And off they marched.

Once they reached the old woman’s shoe, Speedy latched on to its bottom and hoisted himself up first.  Stepping to the side, Shortstop, Slugger, Slyguy and Skeeter followed suit.  Staying in a straight line the Red Team slowly crept up the outside of the old woman’s pant leg.  When they got to her waist, one by one they transferred their footing to the soft fuzzy blue sweater.  Just shy of reaching the first button, Speedy stopped suddenly forcing the rest of the group to pile on to one another.  They all held their breath as the old woman finished a bite and cast her eyes downward while returning the peanut butter sandwich to her lap.  Too late.  She immediately noticed the mound of black ants near the bottom of her sweater before they could disburse.  With a loud scream, she dropped her sandwich as she jumped up from the bench and with one quick motion she ripped off her sweater without unbuttoning it!

“Everyone… grab hold of the button and hang on!” yelled Speedy.  And they did.  Luckily for them, a smidgeon of the peanut butter had settled onto the button helping the helpless ants take a firm hold.  For the old woman had not only ripped her sweater off, but frantically started to swing it in circles around her head trying to rid her clothing of the creepy crawly ants!  As she swung it around and around, the last button, which was only attached by a single thread after all, unraveled and flew off with the five screaming ants clinging to it for dear life.  As it sailed through the air, Skeeter took the moment to assess the situation.  

“Guys, can you believe this?” he hollered out trying to keep his voice an octave higher than the winds that carried them, “What has started out to be a scavenger nightmare has worked in our favor!”

“Are you crazy Skeeter?” screamed Shortstop.  “How so?” he added while thinking Skeeter lost his mind.

“No I’m not crazy!  Look at the direction we are traveling! Lucky for us, the button’s flight is following a direct path back to The Hill!  We are finally going to beat the Pink Team in retrieving an item and getting it there first!  Yipeeeeeeeeeeee!” he squealed.

But what Skeeter didn’t take into consideration was that the sailing button showed no sign of losing momentum and dropping to the ground anytime soon.

“Skeeter, this button trip is like being on a constant merry-go-round and if it doesn’t stop soon I think I am going to be sick!” whined Slugger.  “Do something!”
But Skeeter was at a loss.

However Slyguy had an idea.  “Everybody throw your body weight to the right side of the button and let your feet dangle over the edge.  I think the tipped angle should slow down the speed of the button and bring it quickly to earth where our feet will be ready and in position to run it the rest of the way,” Slyguy smugly added.

It seemed to make perfect sense to the rest of the Red Team.  On Slyguy’s count of three, they all leaned to the right and let their feet dangle freely.  Sure enough the button took on a perpendicular position and dropped to the ground quickly.  However it landed on a sloping mound of dirt, which started the button on a new course…a perpetual roll.  Not realizing how sticky the peanut butter actually was, the five ants could not free themselves from the gooey substance fast enough.  As the button rolled, so did each ant.  Around, squash, squash, squash, squash, and squash…. Around, squash, squash, squash, squash, and squash…. Around, squash, squash, squash, squash, and squash.  As The Hill approached, the group hoped beyond hope that the button would come to a screeching halt and fall over where they would be free at last.  But that dream quickly disappeared as The Hill came and The Hill went (and they smashed right through the Pink Team in the process).

“Noooooooooooooooooooooooooo!” was all that Skeeter could muster as he eyed Ellie, Lion and the rest of the Pink Team making a mad dash to deposit their latest scavenged item to their pile.  Slyguy, Slugger, Speedy and Shortstop followed his gaze each secretly wishing they were on Ellie and Lion’s Pink Team.  Unable to take their eyes off of them, neither Skeeter nor the rest of the Red Team saw the large stone that lay up ahead on the blue buttons path.   CRASH!  The button slammed into it and quickly fell over lying perfectly still on the sandy path along with five very disoriented ants.

Of course it was Skeeter who wouldn’t adhere to defeat, “Get up boys and get up quickly!  There’s no time to waste.  The Pink Team is only steps ahead of us… so everybody grab the edge of the button and let’s deposit it on The Hill… NOW!  MOVE IT!”

Startled by the harshness of Skeeter’s voice, the Red Team wasted no time licking off the last of the peanut butter from the tips of their fingers and carried the button back to where the rest of their scavenged items lay.  Coming face to face with Ellie, Lion, Alfy, Abner and Ajax, Skeeter icily whispered to them, “You haven’t won yet, and you aren’t going to either.  Just remember that!”  Not one to give up (and with narrowed eyes), Skeeter nodded to his team to fall in line behind him.  Then in the not so far off distance, he heard the crack of a bat and knew exactly what item his Red Team would scavenge next…

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

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