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

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