Friday, June 29, 2012

Ellie and the Magic Teapot Off to the Park: June Blog 5- Letters from Mom & Mimi

Dear Elle,

Your Mimi left on Monday and it was so hard to say good-bye (even though we will see her back east in just a few weeks).   We had such a great last few days with her… 
going to a princess tea party, 
hanging out at the indoor park (as it was incredibly hot outside), 
eating a fabulous dinner at Brio,
and finally taking you to your very first movie called Brave! 

Now it’s time to firm up Kyle’s 5k Walk/Run plans to make sure everything is in order.  Your Aunt Ally (who runs the registration table) has set our yearly goal to be $10,000.  I thought she was way too optimistic but as it turns out with pre-registration forms, we just might break that record!  Can you tell I am getting so excited to honor your brother in such a positive way?  

And I always feel so blessed Bean that you get to take part in it.

If you remember from last week, your Mimi had such an incredibly busy but extremely fun visit that your Mimi didn’t get a chance to write her chapter of the blog (as you were attached to her hip!).  So this week’s blog will only be your Mimi’s chapter to read.  Next week, we will return to our normal routine and both write to conclude our ant story. 

And now here is our yearlong bedtime story/stories (with many chapters to write!) for you.  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 11 (Mimi’s chapter)

Skeeter's body tensed as he relived how his team found their last scavenged item and tried to figure out where he could have cut time to win.  Searching through his memory he decided to start with the moment his team walked off The Hill in search of the Band-Aid.  At that precise time, they were so far ahead of The Pink Team that it should have been a sure win for The Red Team or so he thought…

“Skeeter, look to the left.  Luck is with us again as we search for the last scavenged item on the list!” Slyguy yelled out as he jumped up and down with sheer excitement.   

With a sore behind and a slightly embarrassed ego, Skeeter stole a look.  And that look was enough to revive his spirit.  No more than ten marching steps away from where the group stood sat a little girl and her mommy who were rolling a ball back and forth over the smooth velvety grass.  “Holy cow!” Skeeter breathed with surprise while blinking twice to make sure what he saw was actually real.  “The Hill is right behind us and the last item to be found, the Band-Aid, is right in front of us!” he continued. 

“Actually four Band-Aids Skeeter!”  Slugger smiled.  “And they’re all on that little girl’s right shin.  It should be easy for us to grab one and run it back to The Hill before the Pink Team returns, don’t you think?”

“Yeah, I do think that Slugger.  Winning this game is going to be way too easy!  Somebody pinch me so that I know this is real and I’m not dreaming it!” Skeeter arrogantly replied.

“Uh-ok,” Shortstop responded while giving Skeeter’s upper left arm a good hard pinch.

“Ow!  Have you gone crazy Shortstop?  Why did you pinch me?” scolded Skeeter.

“Duh… because you said to,” Shortstop answered tersely.

Speedy interrupted, “OK you two, stop it.  Let’s concentrate on getting one of those Band-Aids off that little girls leg, laying it on our pile and claiming the win!”

“Yeah, and then we can finally be done with this game,” Shortstop mumbled under his breath. 

Skeeter glared at him. 

Slyguy broke the tense moment by whispering to the group to fall into place and tiptoe towards the little girl.  As they neared her ankle, one by one they hopped on Slyguy’s shoulders and attached themselves to her leg.  Crawling towards the first Band-Aid, a cartoon Giraffe, the five ants moved very slowly as they didn’t want to tickle her skin.  But when they went to grab it, it stayed stuck to her leg.

“You’ve got to be kidding,” Skeeter said frustratingly.  “This Band-Aid has so much sticky gummy substance on it that I don’t think we can pull it off… not today or any day for that matter.”

“Not to worry Skeeter,” encouraged Speedy.  “Lucky for us there are more Band-Aids to try.  Let’s crawl to the next one, the cartoon monkey, which is only an inch above this one and work on removing it quickly.”

So they did.  Again the five ants came upon the same problem.  That Band-Aid was also stuck to the little girls leg like cement.

“Urghhhh!” Skeeter seethed.

“Easy Skeeter.  Take a breath.  There are still two Band-Aids we haven’t tried so let’s just move to the next one, the cartoon peacock.  Hopefully it peels right off, as it’s only about eight ant-steps above this one. ” Speedy encouraged calmly. 

So they did.  And again the five ants came upon the same problem.  That Band-Aid too was stuck to the little girls leg like cement.

Skeeter was so mad that he didn’t wait for the rest of the group and stomped off towards the fourth and last Band-Aid, the cartoon bunny rabbit, by himself.  One of its curved corners where the sticky gummy substance had worn off was slightly curled up so Skeeter edged himself into it further trying to roll it like a bulldozer pushing a boulder!  But all his stomping and nudging apparently tickled the little girl and she started to rub the Band-Aid with the palm of her hand.  Slyguy, Speedy, Slugger and Shortsop watched on in horror, fascination and shock as the little girl rubbed and rubbed the Band-Aid and continued rubbing it until it had molded into the shape of a tiny ball with a crazed Skeeter stuck in its middle.  As the last edge of the Band-Aid detached itself from her shin, gravity took hold of the weighted mass and pulled it towards the earth.   The befuddled four ants watched Skeeter’s bugged out eyes roll from side to side, around and around while his shrieking wail grew louder and louder only to be silenced quickly when the Band-Aid hit the grassy ground with a hard thump.

“Uh-oh, here we go again,” said Speedy.

“GET… ME... OUT... OF… HERE!” garbled Skeeter.

“ We will Skeeter, but not yet.  It’s going to take some time to free you from the inside of this sticky, gummy Band-Aid.  So our plan is to take it as it is and march it back to our pile as fast as we can to claim the Red Team’s Victory!” finished Speedy.  And before anyone could respond, Speedy directed Slyguy, Slugger, and Shortstop to circle the Band-Aid, grab an end and run with it.

“No-no-no-no!  I need to take part in the delivery of this scavenged item… I am the leader of the Red Team!  I am the winner!” shouted Skeeter.

“Oh stop your whining Skeeter.  As far as being in charge of our team and leading the scavenged item to our pile… well, looking at you at this very moment you ARE the whole package,” chuckled Slugger, “You and the Band-Aid can be our 1st place Trophy!”

“And then this game will be over and we can get back to work before Queen Ant finds out that we played hooky today!” added Shortstop.

As the Red Team ascended The Hill to their surprise the Pink Team had somehow beaten them back.  And they were proudly standing next to their completed scavenged pile, which they rightly deserved to be.  Shortstop, Slugger, Slyguy and Speedy knew the Pink Team played the game fair and square as well as smarter and kinder.  And even though they were happy that Alfy’s team finally won a game against them, the four ants were annoyed with Skeeter for constantly being such a poor sport.  So instead of just setting the last scavenged item, the Band-Aid along with Skeeter down on their own pile they gave it a good toss missing it completely.  As it rolled in the dirt settling itself next to a rock, Skeeter was finally freed from the Band-Aids middle giving him a chance to finally vent his anger.

“Cheaters!” he screamed…  

We love you Ellie Jelly Bean!
Mom & Mimi

Friday, June 22, 2012

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

Hi Ellie!

Unfortunately your Poppy had to go home on Sunday but your Mimi is still visiting and we are having the BEST girls’ week!  During their time here, we have stayed very busy playing at the park, 

walking around the zoo, 

shopping at the mall, 

hosting an ice cream sundae play date with your close friends, 

and making delicious dinners.  You had your first mani/pedi (done by your Mimi), 

had your first tent experience, 

and you tried to join our game of UpWords.  

Your Mimi and I have even made some grown-up time for the two of us by going to see the play Adams Family last night (such great talent and a wonderful script),

getting our nails done, and watching The Borgias first season.

It has been such a hectic and eventful week that your Mimi didn’t get a chance to write her chapter of the blog (Aunt Joanne has dubbed you Velcro Baby because you are attached to your Mimi’s hip- hence the lack of computer time for her!).  So I have added my chapter and your Mimi’s will be added next week.

And now here is our yearlong bedtime story/stories (with many chapters to write!) for you.  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 11 (Mom’s chapter)

"Well, it looks like we gave it a good run boys.  Oh sorry Ellie, you're not a boy.  And Ellie too," Abner said with his head down discouraged.

"What are you talking about?  No giving up yet.  The race isn't over," scolded Lion.  His last name was very fitting, Braveheart.

"But the Red Team was already here and gone in search of their last item," Ajax said not entirely convinced, "We haven't even stepped off The Hill yet.  And our last item, the watermelon rind, is going to be too heavy to carry back from the pavilion."

"Who said we have to get it from the pavilion?" Ellie offered hope.

"Where else would we get it from?  That's where most of the families were having picnics throughout lunch.  And Ellie, you don't have any more helpful gadgets to get something so heavy back up here.  It's ok; we are always losers when we play against Skeeter.  We're used to it," Alfy went to sit down (showing that he had quit) but his legs got tangled up and he ended up rolling backwards down The Hill. 

This time Alfy's fall wasn't so funny.  This time, it looked very severe as he tumbled like a wheel down the steep decline.  The Pink Team, still staring in disbelief from the top, yelled down to him, "Alfy!  Alfy?  Alfy!"  They couldn't see him anymore because once he got to the bottom; he rolled right into the thistle bush.  Ellie, Lion, and the two ants shuddered thinking of poor Alfy's discomfort, thistle bushes hurt!

The rest of the Pink Team took off still screaming his name.  When they approached the enormous thistle bush, they stopped because they heard Alfy's voice and they tried to assess where it was coming from before they started into the maze.  They expected his voice to be full of pain and panic but instead he sounded excited and energetic. 

"Hey Guys, you're never going to believe this," he cried running out of the bush smacking into Abner.  Thistles covered Alfy's body but he didn't seem to notice.  As Alfy explained what he found, his friends picked the thistles out of his body (they weren't very deep as Alfy's armored body protected him from deep cuts), "Remember when the Red Team used the slingshot to get their watermelon here and missed The Hill?  Well there are still pieces left from when it broke.  Guys, we have our watermelon rind!!!"   

Lion and Ellie looked at each other not quite believing their ears (and their luck).  Abner whispered, "Could it really be that easy?"

Before anyone could offer him an answer, they heard lots of bickering coming from the Red Team.  The Pink Team knew the Red Team wasn't far off.

"We haven't lost yet boys and Ellie!" Alfy shouted taking the lead.  The ants told Lion, and Ellie to stay where they were (they didn't have the tough exterior like the ants did).  Alfy, Abner, and Ajax ran in (ignoring the thistles that poked them) and pulled out the edge of the watermelon rind.  It was a small piece so with teamwork the Pink Team easily carried it quickly up The Hill. 

Just as they deposited the rind on their pile, the Red Team came up the other side with their last find.  Skeeter, seeing the thistle thorns covering the ants on the Pink Team, realized how he had lost.  "NO WAY YOU CHEATERS!  THAT WAS OUR WATERMELON RIND!"  He looked like he was about to explode. 

Ellie said gently, "We didn't break any rules Skeeter.  We won fair and square."

Love you Bean!
Mom & Mimi

Friday, June 15, 2012

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

Hi Ellie!

Mimi and Poppy are here!!!  And we are having the best time (and I feel so blessed to be able to celebrate Father’s Day with my Dad this year)!

We are missing your Dad terribly though, especially because he is away on business for Father’s Day.  He is the best, most adoring father.  I love watching him with you.  

Ellie, you are so very loved.

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

So as for our weekly guidelines: I 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.  We also need 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 10

Ellie, Lion, and the ants were all whistling as they skipped away from dropping off the drumsticks.  They couldn’t help but feel happy… not because they were winning (because it was still just about a tied race) but because they were genuinely having a good time. 

“Ok Pink Team, what do we have left on our list left to scavenge?” Lion redirected as they were among the blades of grass out of the Red Team’s watchful eye.

“A watermelon rind and one of Gertie Garden’s shedded snakeskin,” said an all-knowing Alfy (but as he shook in fear as he said Gertie’s name, he lost his balance and fell on his back).  The Pink Team giggled with him at his clumsiness, which took away from the nervousness they felt when it came to Gertie.

“You know what Guys?  I think we just need to face our fear and get the snakeskin over with.  Now where can we find Gertie?” Ellie bravely suggested.

The ants glanced at each with apprehension filling their eyes.  All Abner could do was point.  Ajax whispered, “She eats ants.”

“Don’t worry,” Lion said reassuringly, “we will protect you.”

They shuffled toward the direction that Abner pointed and came across what used to be Gertie’s home but now had a giant boulder over the entrance.  The Pink Team looked at each other at first confused but then knew exactly who placed the large rock here.  It was then that the Pink Team heard a faint whimpering.  They looked around but didn’t see anyone.  The whimpering turned to a louder sobbing and it seemed to be coming from the Korean Feather Reed Grass right next to Gertie’s house. 

“It’s a trick,” Abner warned, “She’s setting a trap to get us to come to her before she gobbles us up for lunch.”

“That cry sounds real,” Ellie said confidently as she marched through the blades of three-foot high grass.  Lion and then the ants followed her; they were a team after all.

“Gertie?”  Ellie prompted as she came face to face with the snake.  Large tears pooled in the snakes eyes, then overflowed down her cheeks before they dripped down at Ellie’s feet making a small puddle that splashed up as more tears landed.  Ellie stepped back to avoid getting too wet.

“All of my clothes that I love are stuck in my house.  I can’t move that rock to get in to get my things,” Gertie wailed, “Why would those ants do such a thing?”

“Gertie, the Red Team is afraid of you,” Alfy answered bravely but also taking a few steps back because he too had heard the stories of Gertie munching on ants for snacks.

“Afraid of me?  But why?” Gertie asked curiously… “Oh, you all think I will eat you.  I guess that explains why I have no friends.  You think I am a common garden snake.”

“You’re not?” Abner asked disbelievingly.
“No!” Gertie said with insulted, “You shouldn’t stereotype just because I’m a snake.  We’re not all the same.”

“Then what are you?” Ajax asked softening a bit.

“My parents are from Southeast Asia, we are tentacled snakes.  We eat aquatic plants.  That’s why my house is here next to the park’s lake.  I actually spend most of my time in water but I just love fashion so much, I can’t help but come out on land and dress up sometimes,” Gertie sighed, “I don’t have any friends so I try to make myself look pretty in hopes of getting someone to like me.  But now I know that will never happen since people just assume I’m going to eat them.  If I had my house back, I would just crawl under my covers.  Maybe I should just go back to the water.”

Lion was feeling very sad for Gertie.  What an awful life to have people think you are something you are not.  “Can we help you get that rock off of your front step so you can get back into your house?” he asked.

Gertie’s eyes lit up, “I would really appreciate it.  But I suppose you also need something from me for that game.”

Ellie knew that Gertie felt like she was being used.  “Can we make a fair trade?”

“What do you mean?” Gertie asked curiously.

“Well you like fashion right?  I saw you eyeing up my pink tutu when I walked over.  How about I give you my tutu and you give us one of your old shedded skins,” Ellie said as she pulled off the tulle skirt.  It got stuck on her yellow shirt and Lion offered her some help.  “I can do it,” she said as she waved him away tugging it free.  Her black pants underneath looked very bare without it.

“YES please!” shouted Gertie who couldn’t pass up a fashion opportunity.

“Let’s get moving, that rock looks mighty heavy,” Abner said leading the group back to Gertie’s house.

They underestimated Lion’s enormous strength and within minutes, the boulder was pushed off.  Gertie ran inside and reappeared seconds later with one of her old skins hanging from her teeth.

“If I had arms, I would hug you all,” she said already wearing Ellie’s tutu.  Ellie giggled though and readjusted it by pulling it down because Gertie had put it up around her neck.

“We will tell the other ants about you Gertie.  We are very sorry that we judged you before we knew you.  Maybe we could come back and visit once this game is over,” Alfy said as he waved good-bye. 

“I would like that very much,” Gertie replied with a smile and nodding her head as the Pink Team thanked her before turning their attention back to the game. 

Lion, Ellie, and the ants took off toward The Hill with Gertie’s skin above their heads.  They learned that working as a group and carrying these heavier items made the trip back faster.  But as soon as they stepped onto the top of The Hill, they realized the Red Team had already been there and they were already gone too.  The fishing pole Ellie accidentally left behind from the last round was now standing next to their opponents pile.  The Pink Team was now losing.  Both teams only had one more item to retrieve… it was down to the last round. They knew they had to act fast…

“Did you just see that?”  Slyguy hesitated.  “The Pink Team just passed us.  And they did it with a smile on their face!”

“Yeah, but did you also see that they had some of the Queen Ant’s marching band members with them,” added Speedy.  “Do you think that means that the Queen Ant knows we aren’t…”

Skeeter quickly interrupted, “Stop it!  Stop overanalyzing the Pink Team’s last find.   The Queen Ant knows nothing.  Let’s just leave it at that!”  He finished, a bit nervous as well as frustrated.

“I hope you’re right Skeeter,” Slugger answered, his voice slowly rising with every word, “You promised us we wouldn’t get caught!”  

“Alright, alright… we won’t!  We’ve got two more items to find.  Once we win this game, we’ll return to The Ant Farm and sneak into Tunnel 3’s back door.  No one will be the wiser,” Skeeter answered a little too confidently before redirecting the focus, “Now who knows what is still left for us to find on the Scavenger List?”

Shortstop raised his hand, “I do.”

Skeeter rolled his eyes, “And that would be…”

“Oh.  That would be a yellow Frisbee and a band-aid,” Shortstop answered with less intimidation and more confidence this time.

“A Frisbee and a band-aid.  Huh…what do you think guys?  Any ideas as to which one we have a better chance at retrieving this round?”  Skeeter asked.  “Because I sure don’t.  I haven’t seen a band-aid on our travels so far, but then again I wasn’t really zeroing in on one.  And the only Frisbee I saw was clear across the Park.  If we go after that one, we will never make it back to The Hill first.”

“Uhhhhh, guys… look over here!” summoned Speedy while pointing to a spot between the two teams’ piles.

“Holy Cow!  A fishing pole!” an enthusiastic Slugger yelled out.

Skeeter raised his eyebrows at Slugger before scolding him, “Excuse me… the game?  Did you forget the importance of winning the game?  I will NOT lose to Alfy and his misfit team! Slugger, you can go fishing later.  Right now FOCUS!”

“But I am focused Skeeter!” Slugger answered with annoyance, “Don’t you see… the fishing pole can help us.”

“How so?”  Skeeter questioned disbelievingly.

“Well, if we cast it out towards the Frisbee, maybe we can hook it, reel it in and place it on our scavenged pile,” continued Slugger.

“Why that’s a fantastic idea!  Let’s do it!”  Skeeter yelled out, “Retrieving the Frisbee quickly will definitely put us way ahead of the Pink Team.  And while we are at it, let’s make sure they know that we are faster, better and smarter at playing this game than they are!”

“And how are we going to do that?”  Shortstop asked not really liking Skeeter’s idea.

Skeeter’s answer oozed cockiness, “Well, I think it is pretty obvious that they got careless.  Looks to me like little Miss Ellie forgot to take her fishing pole along with them and left it for us to use in our search.  And to leave it out in plain sight like this… why, I feel they were begging us to take it,” he continued, “So let’s show them how they are going to lose the game!  When we retrieve the Frisbee and lay it on our pile, let’s make sure to stand the fishing pole upright right next to our prized find so those misfits realize that their precious Ellie and Lion flubbed up and most probably will have cost them the game!  That will teach them a lesson not to mess with us!“  He ended with determination, “Now let’s go!”

The other four team members looked sheepishly at Skeeter, shrugged their shoulders and figured that they might as well go along with him.  Only two more scavenged items to claim and this game would be finished.  They certainly did not want to get on Skeeter’s bad side now.

“Ok, so who knows how to use this thing?”  Skeeter asked the group.

“I bet Slugger would be our best bet as he has the strongest and most powerful arms of all,” offered Slyguy, “Let’s have him give it a try.”

“I’m game,” responded Slugger.  He demanded everyone to step behind him as he picked up the fishing pole, freed the fish hook from the wire, swung the pole over his right shoulder and quickly pressed the release button on the bale so that when he cast his fishing pole forward the fishing line went sailing through the air.  But there was a slight glitch in this step-by-step process.  When Slugger pressed the button and cast forward, he didn’t realize that the fish hook was dangling a bit too close to Skeeter and snagged him by his behind sailing him through the air also!

“Owwwwwwwwch!  Hellllllllllllllp!  Sluggerrrrrrrrrr!”  Were the only words Shortstop, Speedy, Slyguy and Slugger could hear before Skeeter’s voice faded into the wind.

“Uh-oh.  He’s going to be really mad at me,” sputtered Slugger, “What should I do?”

“Uh-oh is right!  Mad is putting it mildly.  He’s going to be super angry and super sore for a super long time!”  Chimed Shortstop, “If you don’t want it to be worse than what it already is, I suggest you aim for that Frisbee dead on and reel it in on your first try!  We’re all rooting for you Slugger,” cheered Speedy and Slyguy.  But as the group of ants watched the scenario unfold, they couldn’t contain themselves any longer and fell to the ground in a fit of giggles!
Luckily for Slugger, he snagged the Frisbee on the first try.  Now that could have been because Skeeter’s added weight helped drop the hook at just the right time catching the Frisbee’s edge, or it could have been because Skeeter himself banged into its center allowing the hook to dig in rather than sail over it, or it could have been sheer luck.  No matter, once the Frisbee was hooked, Slugger reeled it in as quickly as he could.  And what a sight it was.  The yellow Frisbee bounced along the ground dozens of times trying so hard to take flight, but with Skeeter plastered to its middle, the Frisbee just couldn’t seem to get more than three or four feet off the ground.  Slugger continued to reel in the Frisbee guiding it up The Hill and once there, he let it drop onto their scavenged pile.  Unfortunately Skeeter was underneath it and started to scream, “Somebody get this thing off of me!  Hurry up!  And unhook me from this barbaric stick too!  My behind is sore and my head is spinning!  Slugger, Speedy, Shortstop, Slyguy... somebody’s going to pay for this!  Come on… hurry up and get me out of here!”

The four ants froze.  Before freeing Skeeter, they hoped his temper would subside a bit, but the longer they delayed the angrier Skeeter became.  “Somebody better get me out of here NOW!!  Don’t make me count to 10 or you’ll all be sorry!   One… Two… Three…”

It was Shortstop who moved first, “Alright Skeeter.  Stay still so Slugger can use the fishing pole to hoist the Frisbee up on its side.”  Once Skeeter calmed down, Slugger dug his feet into the ground and maneuvered the rod to lift the Frisbee.  “Alright Skeeter,” Continued Shortstop, “Now Slyguy is going to climb up and release the hook from your behind.  So don’t move!”  And Slyguy did just that.  But he did it so fast that Skeeter didn’t have time to latch his own feet onto the Frisbee and ended up dropping to the ground headfirst with a boink!

“Ooooooooooooooooooo…”  Skeeter boiled.

But Speedy was quick, “Skeeter!  We did it!  We beat the Pink Team by a mile!  We’re going to win the game for sure!  You’ve got to get up, and brush yourself off so we can head out and find that last scavenged item on the list!  Like you said, those misfits will learn not to mess with us!”

Skeeter liked that answer.  So he got up, dusted off the dirt from his head to his toes, bent down to pick up the fishing pole and jammed it hard into the earth so that it would stand upright giving Alfy’s team a clear message.  Then he whistled to his teammates to follow him off The Hill in search of the last item all the while rubbing his sore behind with his right hand and the top of his head with his left hand.  He wasn’t angry anymore for he could almost taste The Win.

We love you Ellie Bean!
Love, Mom & Mimi

Friday, June 8, 2012

Ellie and the Magic Teapot Off to the Park: June Blog 2- Letters from Mom & Mimi

Dear Elle-Belle,

It’s officially my summer break and already these past two days have been so wonderful with you.

But to make it even more special, your Mimi and Poppy will be here in 5 days (you are so funny with them over Skype, I can't wait until we pick them up at the airport)!!!
 And yes, this you trying to hug Poppy through the computer...

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

So as for our weekly guidelines: I 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.  We also need 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 9

Skeeter (after returning back to The Hill since rinsing himself off) was stomping around.  He was increasingly becoming more irate.  He couldn't understand how the Pink Team was always one step ahead even though the Red Team finally beat them with this last item drop.  He knew he should focus on what to find next but he just couldn’t shake the pressure of winning, especially against the Pink Team.  After all, they were the misfits.  Abner was too shy, Alfy was too slow, Ajax was too clumsy, and Lion and Ellie didn't know the area.  "Urgghhhhh!" he cried out loud in frustration causing his teammates to glance at him cautiously.

"New game plan!" Skeeter roared.  He was becoming more panicked as they were close to the end of the game and he still had yet to make any major gains against the Pink Team, "WE NEED TO WIN!"

Shortstop couldn't help but stifle a giggle as he whispered to Speedy, "Isn't that what we have been trying to do?  And look,” he said pointing to the checkered tablecloth, “we are ahead in this round!" Gosh, Skeeter sure does know how to suck the fun out of games, he thought to himself.

"Do you have something you want to share with the group Shortstop?" Skeeter confronted.

Shortstop decided it was best not to agitate him any further, "Let's just get moving.  We're not going to find anything by staying up here.  And we want to keep our lead" 

Skeeter nodded in agreement and he took his first step down off The Hill and stepped in something very brown, very squishy, and very smelly.  "DUCK POOP!" he screamed, "Are you kidding me???  Twice???  Could this day be any worse???" he exaggerated exasperatedly.

"This is the best news Skeeter!" Slyguy exclaimed excitedly pointing to Skeeter’s foot.  Skeeter glared at him not amused.  "No really," Slyguy continued encouragingly, "It means there must be a duck (that may have white feathers) around here somewhere!"

Skeeter, after dragging his foot across the grass to rid himself of the mess, turned his frown upside down, "You're right!  But where do you think he is now?" Skeeter asked his group as he looked in all directions.

It was Slugger who thought to look in the direction of the puddles on the sidewalk where Skeeter had just rinsed himself off minutes before.  And sure enough a large, white-feathered duck dunked his head into the shallow water. The Red Team scurried over as fast as they could.  When they reached the puddle, the duck's head was still under water and the small ants weren't sure how to get his attention.  Slyguy started to wave his hands and yell for him to look up but to no avail.  So Skeeter went over to one of the duck's webbed feet and pinched a small piece of skin tightly together. 

"Owwwww!" howled the duck as he pulled his head out of the water, "Who did that?" he asked not seeing the small ants at first.  But then he caught site of Slyguy still waving his arms.

"Why would you hurt me?" the duck asked meekly.

"There's no time for questions," Skeeter rushed, "We need one of your feathers!"

The duck looked at Skeeter and laughed at his audacity, "I don't think so.  You are very rude."

Speedy jumped in front of Skeeter and very apologetically tried to explain the scavenger hunt as best as he could.  And when he finished, the duck said, "That still doesn't explain why your friend had to pinch me."

Shortstop, having learned to take his time when speaking (he even silently counted to three to collect his thoughts), stepped in and tried, "I'm so sorry Mr. Duck.  My name is Shortstop.  Our friend Skeeter is the leader and he wants us to win.  He is too competitive.  Even though in this last round we won, we have always been one step behind in all the other rounds, which means overall we are losing.  Skeeter's not always mean, just when he doesn't get his way playing games."  Skeeter shot Shortstop an angry look but knew that he shouldn't say anything because he would lose his chances of getting that feather.

"You are loyal friends for sticking with him," Mr. Duck said beckoning towards a scowling Skeeter, "I think I would have chosen a new leader long ago!  My name is Pekin and I have very sensitive toes," he said right before rubbing his beak on the pinched patch of skin that had already turned bright red.

"So you're probably not going to give us one of your feathers then?  I'm really sorry we bothered you and I hope your foot feels better soon.  Come on guys, let's go," Shortstop turned to leave. 

Pekin Duck plucked out a small feather from his back with his beak, handed it to Shortstop and said, "I think you should take over as leader, you have a very kind heart and you realize that winning isn't always everything."  After listening to Pekin’s statement, Skeeter still said nothing.

Shortstop thanked him before Pekin Duck said, "I have to get back to my flock.  I stopped off here to rinse my head as I thought I was seeing things.  I think the team you are playing against is up to something very creative."

Everyone except for Skeeter waved good-bye to Pekin.  And as soon as the duck was out of sight, Skeeter ran over to Shortstop and ripped the feather from his hand.  "Now, let's go!" he shouted to his team and ran back towards The Hill.

The rest of the Red Team was moving much slower now.  They shook their heads and reluctantly followed.  And sure enough, they saw exactly what Pekin Duck had seen when he thought he was going crazy.  There was the Pink Team and they had found the strangest and coolest way to get their next item back to the top of The Hill…….

“Hey Skeeter!” smiled Alfy!  “This game is turning out to be quite exciting, don’t you think!  Why we are pretty much ‘drumstick to drumstick’… I mean ‘neck to neck’ with you and your Red Team!”  He breathed with a sigh of relief.  He knew not to get too confident as it was only an hour or so earlier that he and his Pink Team didn’t think they were going to come through with a scavenger find this time around.  Even though they retrieved the blue button on the last find and it was done with ten percent luck, twenty percent strategy, and seventy percent kindness, they did not make it back to The Hill first.  So after depositing Robin’s smooth round object, they didn’t waste any time strategizing their next move.

“Alright Alfy, Abner, Ajax and Ellie… time for a team huddle,”  Lion directed.  So the spirited group came together, bent forward to form a circle and started to drape their arms over each other’s shoulders.  However in doing so, Ajax, Abner and Alfy’s antennas got in each other’s way and knotted into a complicated mess. 

“Uh-oh!”  The three ants giggled.  “Ellie, Lion… we know three heads are certainly better than one when it comes to brainstorming, but this kind of hurts!  Can either of you help separate us?” 

Ellie and Lion shook their heads and chuckled to themselves upon seeing the klutzy trio’s predicament.  This gave the saying “butting heads” a whole new meaning!  Thankfully Ellie had ten nimble fingers and quickly untangled the six antennas without bending or damaging them.

“OK… now let’s get down to serious business,”  Lion continued,  “Any ideas as to what we should find next?”

“Nope,” said Abner. 

“Nope,” said Ajax. 

“Nope,” said Alfy, “How about you Lion?”

“Nope.  Me either,”  he answered, “Ellie, do you have any more gadgets in that tutu of yours that might help us out?” 

Ellie rummaged around all the folds of her pink tutu and finally came across a pocket that held a long, thin narrow wooden box.  She couldn’t remember what this particular one held, so she took it out and tapped on it twice.  The lid automatically opened and the box transformed itself into a fishing pole. 

“Really?... A fishing pole?... Ellie, we’re not on the high seas.  Other than the puddle near The Hill, we are pretty much landlocked!”  Abner factually stated.

Looking a bit perplexed herself Ellie said, “Hmmmm… sorry guys but you are right.  I can’t think of how this gadget can help us this time around so I’ll just put it back in its box.”  But after several tries, the fishing pole would not cooperate so Ellie just laid it down between the Pink Team and the Red Teams scavenged piles. 

As the five-team members stared at each other blankly totally stumped as to what to look for next, one by one each of the three ant’s antennas slowly perked up.  Apparently they were picking up a signal not too far off, and it was a yummy signal at that!

“What’s going on?” Lion asked.

Alfy, Abner and Ajax got so excited.  At that very moment the three ants knew what their next scavenged item would hopefully be.  “Do you hear that?” An excited Alfy slobbered out while licking his lips. 

“I do! I do!” answered Ajax and Abner together while they too licked their lips and rubbed their hands together.  

“Well we don’t,” stated Ellie.  “What do you three hear?”

“The lunch whistle at the Ant Farm!’  They cried in unison, “Oh, its music to our ears!”  They added while breaking from their stilled position into an all out run.  “Ellie, Lion, come on and follow us!  There will be food to devour… lots and lots of food!  Yipeeee!”  So Ellie and Lion followed but only because they didn’t know what else to do.

The Ant Farm wasn’t too far off.  Thankfully Alfy, Abner and Ajax got there without any more mishaps.  Ellie and Lion were in awe of the sight before them as there were thousands of ants swarming around and still more emerging from the underground tunnels.  “All these ants are mind-boggling,”  Ellie mumbled slightly higher than a whisper.  “What are they planning to do?”  She asked no one in particular.

Alfy answered her, “Just watch.  In no time they will transform this area into their own picnic sight.  Just like in the tunnels everyone works together.  They each know what their responsibility is and are able to get it done quickly as each ant is on the time clock.  Lunch is a thirty-minute break so time is definitely not wasted.  Soon the feast will be ready.”  And sure enough it was.  Tins of fried chicken, plates of watermelon rinds, crumbled bags of crushed potato chips, bowls of potato salad, and trays upon trays of cupcake crumbs!  Most of the ants treated Alfy, Abner and Ajax like they were royalty.  They were placed at the head of the table and all food dishes were served to them first before being passed on to all the other ants.

Ellie, who was seated next to Lion and a few chairs down from the trio yelled over to Alfy,  “What gives?  Why are you guys given such special treatment here?  Ever since Lion and I arrived, not one of you has helped out at the Ant Farm.  So why are all the worker ants being so nice and catering to you three first?”

It was Abner back in his usual bashful state that answered Ellie.  “Well El, you see Alfy, Ajax and I might look like misfits at times, but the reality is we are kind of smart.  The three of us got together last week and came up with a mathematical formula that helped the Farm maneuver the main tunnel around some difficult rock formations deep underground.  It saved our bug friends hundreds and hundreds of hours of work!  So they gave us this week off and to do as we please.” 

“What about Skeeter and the Red Team?  Why aren’t they working at the Farm?”  Ellie questioned further.

“Oh, they’re just playing hooky.  Once the Queen Ant catches them though they will be in BIG trouble.  Most likely she will scold them harshly and put them in a lengthy time-out.”  Ajax answered with a satisfied smile.   

Alfy who was not only gobbling up the food but pretty much wearing it too reminded the Pink Team. “Eat up!  Times a-tickin!  If we’re going to scavenge some of these drumsticks then let’s get as much of the meat off of them as we can so they are not heavy to carry back to The Hill.”
“Good thought!”  Answered Lion.  And they all gnawed away down to the bare bone.  Once they were finished and their belly’s full Alfy walked over to the Queen Ant and asked her permission if their group could leave and take with them a drumstick.

You could tell that she very much liked Alfy and his friends.  “Alfy…” the Queen Ant voiced sweetly but yet with authority too.  “I will grant you something much bigger and much better.”

“Huh?”  Responded Alfy.

“I know you are playing a game with Skeeter, and I want him to know that I am on to him.  So how about I let a dozen or so of our colony’s marching band carry the drumsticks and escort you and your friends back to The Hill?” Queen Ant said with a sly smile.

Alfy, Ajax, and Abner giggled, “Adding this scavenged item to our pile is going to be the most memorable one yet!  Thank you Queen Ant.  You are too kind.  And just so you know after this game is done, I think we will be coming back to work.  We’ve been brainstorming another idea using three of our tunnels to help create a shortcut from the Pavilion to the Concession Stand.”

“I will be looking forward to hearing about it.  Now go win that game as I am also looking forward to dealing with Skeeter!”  She answered sternly but also with a wink.

So Alfy, Abner and Ajax bid their goodbyes and went to gather a few of the marching band members.  Once found, the trio had them turn one of the empty pie tins upside down and crawl underneath it so they would be in a good position to carry it to The Hill.  Next the trio gathered a few more members to walk around its edge.  Each of those ants were in charge of beating the make shift drum with a drumstick while Ellie and Lion were instructed to walk behind the marching band and whistle a favorite song of the ants.  Once everyone was in their proper place, Alfy blew the bands whistle and off they all marched to the tune of When the Ants Go Marching Two by Two as the drummers banged away!  Passing Skeeter and the Red Team was the Pink Team’s sweetest victory so far because Alfy, Abner and Ajax caught a quick glimpse of Skeeter’s shocked and his ‘he knew he was in trouble’ look.  Placing not one but rather six drumsticks on their pile increased their desire to try and win The Scavenger Game.  Then they turned and skipped down The Hill knowing that the last two items they needed to find would not be difficult…..

We love you Ellie!!!
Mom & Mimi

Friday, June 1, 2012

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

Dear Bean,

This time next week, you and I will officially be on summer break!  And we are on countdown for Mimi’s visit… 13 days (and then you can finally dance with her in person)!

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

I have to tell you that all of our stories have pieces of you embedded within them (for instance, Dolly Dove had had hair just like you and Mary wore Band-Aids as jewelry just as you.  These are just two of many character examples).  

This week’s inspiration for Robin (the bird that you will meet in today’s chapter) comes from the nest that we have next to our front door of our house.  The eggs and mama bird fascinate you and we watch and wait every day for the babies to hatch.
And when the first bird appears, you check it on all the time!

So as for our weekly guidelines: I 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.  We also need 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 8

“Cheaters!” Skeeter harassed the Pink Team over and over again.

Ellie, Lion, Ajax, Abner, and Alfy deposited the Honey Nut Cheerios onto their team’s pile at the top of The Hill as fast as they could and ran back down the incline without looking back.  They didn’t like Skeeter’s temper.

“Sheesh! Skeeter needs to learn how to think outside the box and be creative!” Abner wheezed as he was short of breath after running.

“He’s just not used to losing,” Alfy said while slowing his pace down to a walk.  But not seeing the tree root that was raised out of the ground, he tripped and flipped himself upside down.  Ajax went over to help him up but Alfy got a fit of the giggles and rolled on the ground (he was always a good sport about his clumsiness) while Lion and Ellie debated which item to find next.

“Gosh, maybe we should try again to find the item that has been most challenging for us- the chicken bone,” wondered Lion aloud. 

“No, I think we’ll waste time and we are only ahead by minutes.  Each second is precious.  We have been lucky and have come across everything else so perfectly.  I have no doubt that the same will be true with the chicken bone, it’s just not the right time yet,” Ellie answered instinctively.

“But that leaves us with no lead, nothing seems to be presenting itself,” Abner said pensively.
Alfy abruptly stopped laughing, as he was flat on his back staring up. “Ummmm guys?!” he started. 

The Pink Team followed his gaze up.  They were all looking at the beautiful branches and leaves of an old oak tree but no one knew specifically what Alfy was trying to show them.

“Look at that bird’s nest,” he said with a smile spreading across his face.  Sure enough there was one, halfway up the very tall tree and nestled in between a sturdy branch and the trunk.

“That’s really cool but we don’t have time to bird watch right now Alfy,” Abner said trying to redirect him.

“You’re not seeing it!  Look really closely at the side of the bird’s nest,” Alfy instructed the group.

They all squinted in unison and they all got very excited at the same time when it finally became clear.

“Gosh Alfy, you have great eye site!” Lion said shocked.

“My Dad is an Australian Bulldog Ant,” Alfy answered proudly.  The group looked at him blankly so he continued, “Australian Bulldog Ants are known for their exceptional vision!” Alfy finished with pride as he finally sat up.  He brushed the green grass debris off of his black hard shell exterior.  Abner patted him on the back, “Nice job Alfy!”

Ellie eyed Lion as she said, “I told you everything seems to come to us as it’s supposed to!”  He smiled at her, loving that she has good sense and logic.

“Hmmmmm… we just have to figure out how to get up there,” Ellie said to herself as she nibbled on her lip while thinking.

“Do you have anything in your pocket that will get us up there?” Lion urged knowing Ellie’s flair for gadgets.

Ellie’s eyes twinkled as she reached between the folds of her skirt revealing the magic box.  She slapped it three times on her free hand and out popped an elevator.  They stepped inside and pressed the T button.  Lion looked at Ellie quizzically.  “T for Take me to the Top!” Ellie exclaimed.

They zoomed up into the air and they heard the ding of a bell indicating they had reached their destination.  The door slowly opened to reveal that they were on the top of the circular edge of the nest.  The blue button was just underneath them weaved in with leaves, grass, and other odds and ends making the nest a home.

Ajax bent down to grab the button but Ellie stopped him, “We can’t just steal something that doesn’t belong to us Ajax,” she coaxed then nodded toward the center of the nest.  In it was a brown bird with a red belly sleeping peacefully.

Ellie tiptoed over and whispered into the bird’s ear gently that she was sorry for the intrusion and wanted to make a new friend if the bird would be so kind as to wake up.  The bird opened her eyes and smiled, “Well hello there!  I don’t get many visitors way up here.  My name is Robin!”

The Pink Team introduced themselves and explained their game.  Robin thought it sounded like fun.  She even went over to the side of the nest and plucked the blue button out with her beak.  “I didn’t really even need this but I thought it gave my home some color,” she said as she waved at the brown and green nest.

Ellie reached into her tutu pocket and pulled out a folded up piece of paper.  She had drawn a rainbow with a butterfly that morning after breakfast when her mom said she could use the coveted markers that Ellie loved so much.  “Here Robin, how about hanging this picture in its place.”

“Oh Ellie, that is so beautiful. I couldn’t take that from you,” Robin said admiring Ellie’s artistic talent.

“Don’t be silly- my Mom has about a hundred of my drawings hanging on the refrigerator.  This one is for you!” Ellie answered as she helped Robin tack it to her home. 

As Robin moved aside, Ellie noticed 5 blue eggs tucked into the corner where Robin had been sleeping.  “Oh Robin, you are going to be a Mom!” Ellie pointed out excitedly.

“They are due to hatch anytime my friend,” Robin replied, “I need to get some food ready for when they hatch.  How about I take you and your friends back to The Hill with the button while I search for some worms?”

Lion hadn’t thought about how they would get down from the nest with the button and get back to The Hill before the Red Team, “OH YES PLEASE!” he blurted out. 

The Pink Team climbed on Robin’s back on top of her soft feathers and she glided into the air smoothly.

Just as the were about to reach The Hill, Ellie bent down and called out to Robin, “I would love to meet your babies.  Can I come back and meet them?”

Robin landed and as Lion and the ants jumped off, Robin turned toward Ellie and said, “You have a very kind heart and you are welcome in my home anytime Friend.”

Ellie gave Robin a hug before she jumped off and as she waved good-bye, she heard her teammates gasp as they dumped the blue button onto their pile.

“The Red Team beat us this time!” Ajax said as he tripped on their latest find…

Twenty minutes before, Skeeter seethed, “Ooooooooooooo, I’m so mad I can see red!  I can’t believe Alfy’s team has beat us on another scavenger find again.  You know it is because we let outsiders join his team.  I should have known better.  I do not like that Ellie and Lion.  Not one bit!”

“Come on Skeeter.  Let it go.  We’ll jump ahead of them this time around, you’ll see.  I’m sure of it,” soothed Slyguy.

“Yeah?” Skeeter questioned disbelievingly.  “Do you have an idea on what we are going to find next and how we are going to outsmart the Pink Team and get it back to The Hill first?”

“Well,” stalled Shortstop, “If Slyguy doesn’t have an idea, I do.”

“What?  And you haven’t said anything?  What are you waiting for… Christmas?  Are you purposely trying to make us lose Shortstop?  For goodness sakes, spill it and spill it quickly!  We are losing precious time!” yelled a frustrated Skeeter.

Shortstop became so flustered; his words came out in a jumbled mess, “Saw picnic, cloth, table, tree climb a parachute, breeze to Hill!”

“Huh?” responded Skeeter, Slugger and Speedy.

“Hold on a minute.  Everyone needs to calm down.  Shortstop, take a deep breath and start over,” Slyguy encouraged,  “If you have an idea, we’ll listen because right now it is the only one any of us have.”

So Shortstop inhaled on the count of three and exhaled on the count of five, which gave him a chance to collect his thoughts and put them back into the correct order.  Once he had his confidence restored he spoke.  “What I was trying to say was that not far from here a family has set up there own little picnic area on the short grasses near the parks tree line.  I caught them out of the corner of my eye when we retrieved the baseball cap.  Anyway, when we were passing them, they were spreading out a checkered tablecloth right under the tallest and shadiest birch tree.   I’m not sure what they were planning on doing with it, but if we hurry maybe we could sneak it away.”

“Like they wouldn’t see that happening!” Skeeter snorted.

“No, no.  Not like that.  I was thinking that we could each take an end and quickly climb the tree with it.    The leaves on each of the branches are quite full and would hide us quickly.  Once we made it up to one of the higher branches, we could crawl out onto the limb, tie the four corners of the tablecloth together, grab hold of its ends and jump!”

“Are you crazy Shortstop?  That would be suicide!” Skeeter hollered while rolling his eyes. 

“No it wouldn’t Skeeter.  Shortstop is right.  Put your hand out and feel.  There is a strong breeze blowing in this direction and if we jumped out of the tree at just the right moment, and with the winds behind us, we should not only glide directly into The Hill, but also land directly on our own target… our team’s pile of scavenged items!” stated Slyguy enthusiastically.

“That is an ingenious idea!  Why didn’t you just say that in the beginning Shortstop?” asked a bewildered Skeeter, “Geez!  Let’s get going or we’ll end up losing this round too!”

Slyguy, Speedy and Slugger looked over at Shortstop and just shrugged their shoulders.
“Come on, we’d better follow him,” they all said.

And they did.  One by one the ants marched quietly towards the unsuspecting picnickers.  While the adults were setting up their grill and lawn chairs and the children were chasing butterflies, Skeeter ordered Slyguy, Slugger, Shortstop and Speedy to grab an end of the checkered tablecloth and follow him.  They slowly inched their find away from the family and walked it behind the birch tree.  With it secure in their grasp and hidden from view, each ant dug the hooked claw part of their leg into the trees trunk and started to climb.  In no time they were at the top where the trees flimsiest and narrow branches were.

“Ok, ah who wants to ahhhh walk out ahh first?” Skeeter stuttered as he peered downward from the dizzying height.

Speedy who was the daring one of the group spoke out first.  “I’ll go.  I’m not afraid of heights.  Heck, I’ve climbed this tree dozens of times and fell out of it at least half of those times.  And look, I’m good!  All you have to do is put one foot in front of the other and DON’T look down!  Come on… Slugger you go behind me and the rest of you follow Slugger.”  And they did.  Slowly they followed Speedy’s steps and continued to follow him even when the narrow branch turned into a tiny twig.

Slugger started getting a bit queasy when the branch started to sway a little, “Ah guys, let’s hurry up and tie the four corners of this checkered tablecloth together because I’m not too sure how long this branch is going to hold all of us.  And I’m getting a little nauseous.”

“Yeah, let’s put this plan into motion fast!” seconded Slyguy.  So they pooled all their arms together tying the corners in a knot while leaving the majority of the cloth to balloon outward.  “OK,” continued Slyguy, “Now everybody grab an end and hang on with all your might!”  So they did.  Well, at least four of them did.  And within seconds a strong wind picked up and filled the hollowed cloth with lots and lots of air creating a beautiful checkered parachute!  As the wind grew in strength, the ants knew they had to make the leap from the tree quickly!  “One…Two… Three… JUMP!” Slyguy commanded.  And just as they were making the leap from the tree, Skeeter screamed out.  “Hey!  Wait a minute!  There is no end for me to hold on to!  What should I-I-I-I-I-I….” and by sheer luck Shortstop’s hooked claw gripped Skeeter by the seat of his pants as the parachute took off and sailed through the sky heading straight for The Hill.

“Wow!  The view is amazing from up here,” sung Speedy.

“No it’s not!  I can’t see a darn thing!  No one left an end for me to hold and now look… I’m hanging upside down!” grumbled Skeeter.

“Well you’re lucky Shortstop saved you when he did, if you fell out of that tree you’d be a squashed ant by now Skeeter.  So be grateful for once!”  An annoyed and slightly squeamish Slugger answered.

“Hey look! I can see The Hill!”  Interrupted Slyguy, “We’re getting close!” and then nervously added,  “Uh-oh.  There’s a puppy sniffing around our stuff! What are we going to do?”

Speedy looked towards The Hill.  “Wait… Wait… Wait… Whew…. It looks like the puppy was just doing his doggy business.  Ewwwwwwww, he did it right next to our scavenger pile though.   Now it looks like his owner is calling him because the little feller is running off.   I think we’re ok to land guys, so when we do just be careful where you step!”

“Well it’s about time!” Spat Skeeter, “I’m starting to get a headache from traveling this way!  One of you should be in this position!  Not me, I’m the leader here!”

And just as they were gliding downward towards their pile, Shortstop’s leg twitched and his hook claws’ grip on Skeeter slipped off leaving Skeeter to freefall just shy of The Hill.  Thankfully they were only inches from the ground.  Fortunately for Shortstop, Slugger, Speedy and Slyguy, the parachute landed all four of them on their feet standing directly on top of their pile.  Unfortunately for Skeeter he landed on the pile too, headfirst that is.  Oh, and it wasn’t the Red Team’s pile either, but rather the puppy’s poop pile sitting right next to it!

The four ants held their breath fearing that Skeeter was going to explode.  They also held their breath because he really, really stunk!  Hoping to soften his anger, Slyguy spoke first.  “Skeeter… we finally did it!  We beat the Pink Team!  We got to The Hill first this time!” 

“Great.  That’s just great,”  Skeeter said with disgust.  “Pardon me for not feeling ‘the excitement’ at the moment guys but I’ve got to go and wash off.”  He mumbled as he walked down The Hill hoping the puddle he used earlier was still there.  And Shortstop stood back a ways giggling quietly to himself with just a tinge of triumph.

Until next week! 
Mom & Mimi