Thursday, October 25, 2012

Ellie and the Magic Teapot Into the Secret Forest: October Blog 4- Letters from Mom & Mimi

 Dear Ellie Bean,

Well, it’s time.  This is our last weekend as Coloradans!  Your Poppy is coming later today to help us with the transition (and to have some fun too!).  The movers will come on Monday and we have one way tickets to Pennsylvania on Tuesday.  There are so many emotions that I feel Ellie.  I am sad to say good-bye to our wonderful friends that have made Colorado home to us but I am so excited to be with family again back east.  There is nothing like being raised around those that love you the most. I understand that it’s going to be hard on you Ellie in a lot of ways too but I promise that we will skype with your close friends here to stay in touch (but I also know how happy you are going to be living so close to your Mimi and Poppy!).  I am hoping for a very smooth week, despite the stress and anticipation I am really feeling. 

Today I was particularly anxious as you had to come to school with me because your daycare provider was sick and I couldn't take off with only 2 days left (and you were sooooo good- my students loved you).
And then you chopped your own hair tonight (with your scissors from your art box and then asked me to "put the hairs back on so I can do it again") so I tried to minimize the damage by giving you an at home cut (all I can say is that I'm glad you are not attached to your hair and I mean that both literally and figuratively!).
You remind me constantly to not sweat the small stuff!

The light at the end of the tunnel is that we will be back with your Dad again as a family and we will be home in time for Halloween (your Mimi bought you a penguin costume because you told her that was your favorite animal). 

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 one week in regular font, and then your Mimi will write a piece in italics the next week.  The only things your Mimi and I agreed on were the characters- Ellie and a magic teapot and the setting (a forest with trolls).  Anything else is fair game and will make our adventure a new tale.  We also need to figure out an illustration to go with our part.  Our goal Ellie is to have a beloved bedtime story for you and future generations.  And so we will continue our third piece of fiction. 

Ellie and the Magic Teapot: Into the Secret Forest Part 13

Ellie and Lion had a look of panic on their faces.  They realized that Trudy was beginning to turn to stone… the more she giggled in the Giggle Grabber, the more stiff and rock-like she became.  Her feet and hands turned grey and rigid first and then cracked lines of rock traveled up her arms and legs as she howled in laughter.  “Lion, those jars in Trudy’s cave that we found contain the troll’s laughter!”  Ellie said frantically revealing what she had discovered. 

“Ohmygosh El, I didn’t realize how important those jars are!  No wonder, those trolls seemed miserable… if their laughter was bottled up and they couldn’t laugh anymore, they probably weren’t very happy! Let’s leave Trudy here and go to the front of the cave so we can open those jars!” Lion smiled enthusiastically.

“No Lion, you don’t understand.  Without Trudy’s help, we don’t know whose laughter belongs to which Troll.  And if we don’t do something soon- we may never know.  We only have one shot when the jars open to get the laugh to its rightful owner,” she said worriedly as she eyed Trudy who had now turned fully into a rock except for her head.

Lion ran to stop the machine and as soon as he did Trudy’s laughter ended abruptly.  “Why didn’t you just finish me off,” Trudy cackled firm as a board.

“Trudy, we don’t believe you are as tough as this rock exterior.  We want you to make right of the wrongs you did and help us to return the laughter to those ogres.  You can’t take something that isn’t yours simply because you aren’t happy,” Ellie said sympathetically.

“If I give back those jars of laughter, then I will be all alone again.  It’s not fair that everyone else is cheerful,” Trudy glared back.

Ellie took a deep breath as she began, “You are alone because you are mean Trudy.  No one wants to be around a cruel-spirited person.  But being mean is a choice and only you can change that.  You can start by being nice and helping those trolls that you hurt.  Lion knows some pretty funny jokes that are sure to make you laugh- without the aid of this machine,” Ellie said as she looked around in wonderment of the Giggle Grabber.  “Gosh Trudy, think about how smart you are to put something like this together.  What if you used your intelligence and talent toward good use?  Think of what you could invent to help the world!”

Trudy started to tear up but she couldn’t wipe her eyes because her hands were rock solid.  Ellie dug into her pocket and withdrew a tissue and pressed gently against Trudy’s cheek.  Ellie expected her to be frigid but instead felt warmth.  As Ellie wiped her eyes, the hard rock exterior started to soften and Ellie realized that instead of turning back into her troll self, Trudy was transforming into a human.

“No one has touched me in a long time,” Trudy said softly.  Lion couldn’t help himself- he felt so sad for Trudy, he ran over and gave her a big bear hug.  “To get love, you have to give love,” he whispered in her ear. 

“How did you get to be a troll in the first place?” Lion asked curiously.  “The meaner I became the greener I turned.  I guess how you feel on the inside really does affect your outside,” Trudy whispered in embarrassed.

Ellie and Lion each took Trudy’s hand in theirs and they walked to the front of the house where all seven trolls were waiting curiously.  Sebastian, Tad, and Oliver were sitting on the table guarding the jars with the swirling mists.

“I’m really sorry.  I wanted everyone to feel as miserable as me and I thought if I took your laughter that I would accomplish my goal.  I hope you can forgive me,” said a very humiliated Trudy who looked an awful lot like Ellie’s great grandmother now that she had turned into a real person.  “There is a troll’s name on the bottom of the jar and that’s whose laughter is inside,” she said regretfully.

Tad, Sebastian, and Oliver went right to work lifting the jars, identifying the owners and carefully handing them over one by one.  “On the count of the three, let’s open them together!” Colonel Muster yelled bossily as he tapped his clipboard.

“Oui!  I happen to like that fantastique idea,” agreed Frenchy.

“I’ll sing the numbers,” Rocky crooned a gleeful melody as they all shouted in unison, “One, Two, Three.”

The jars were opened, the mists swirled and went into the mouths of the trolls.  Within seconds, laughter and giggles abounded.  But then Ellie and Lion noticed something else.  The green skin of the ogres was transforming.  The seven trolls were becoming human too!  They were all young teenagers not much older than Ellie.  Ellie saw Tootsie, the first troll she encountered, transform into a freckled girl popping candy into her mouth gleefully as she was approached by Hotdog, an athletic boy, asking if she wanted to have a contest of who could shove more into their mouth.  Fruity, a short boy seemingly the youngest of the bunch, heard them and joined in and suggested, “Instead of candy, let’s be more nutritious and use fruit!”  And just as their eating contest began, Wrd, a tall lanky boy with mussed up hair, sauntered over and held up his hand.  “My fellow adolescents, this game is very discommodious as you could choke.  How about we compete in a different way, say a rivalry of speed?” 

And as the friends reconnected and played, Tad, Sebastian, Oliver, Ellie, and Lion hugged each other and watched the teenagers contentedly.  It was Lion who realized that Trudy had backed away and was slowly edging toward her cave.

“Trudy?” Lion called out.

“This is a happy moment, one that doesn’t include me,” Trudy said dolefully.

But before Lion could respond, they heard “Hey Trudy, do you want to join our relay team?” Tootsie called out, “We only have three on our team and you look pretty spry for your age.  We want you to join us against the other four!”

Trudy’s eyes lit up, “Me?  But I was so mean to you.  You want to play with me?”

Fruity answered, “Trudy, people can change and people can forgive.  Now come over.  We’re about to start!”

Trudy jogged over and on her way stopped at Ellie and Lion, “Thank you for teaching me a lesson.  I hope you will come back and visit me.  I think I will try to use my energy and create a machine that will help people, maybe I will try to cure cancer.”  Before Ellie and Lion could respond, Trudy skipped over to the teenagers.  Ellie couldn’t get over Trudy’s energy for an old lady.  Ellie figured she must be making up for lost time. 

“Well Lion, I think our journey here has ended.  Are you ready to head back?”  Ellie looked nostalgically at her friend.  Lion nodded as Ellie dug into her pocket one final time to grab the teapot and cups.

“El, wait!  I forgot that I promised Trudy a joke that would make her laugh genuinely,” Lion said to Ellie and then he called over to the group, “Hey Trudy, why does a bike sometimes fall over?”  He paused theatrically and then grinned as he answered, “Because it was two-tired!”  Trudy and the others howled in laughter.  Lion noticed that Trudy’s cheeks became rosy and she blew him a kiss.  “Ok El, now I’m ready!”
We love you Ellie!
Mom & Mimi

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Ellie and the Magic Teapot Into the Secret Forest: October Blog 3- Letters from Mom & Mimi

 Dear Ellie Bean,

This is going to be such a great weekend… your Mimi and your Dad are visiting!  We only have one and a half weeks left here in Colorado so we need to use this weekend to finish packing (and enjoy some family time too).  Your Mimi wanted to come back one last time to say good-bye to my friends that she has gotten to know over the past 6 years and your Dad is just simply missing us and flew out to see how his girls are doing (these five weeks without him have been lonely!).  It’s been really quiet around here since your Gigi and Aunt Joanne left two weeks ago so you are relishing in the company of our new “visitors.”  I’m dreading Sunday when they both return back east (and your Mimi takes Joe, the cat, with her to make it easier on me with the movers- I’m not sure that you will understand that we will get Joe back soon in our new house).  You are definitely meant to grow up with family Bean- you blossom in their company!

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 one week in regular font, and then your Mimi will write a piece in italics the next week.  The only things your Mimi and I agreed on were the characters- Ellie and a magic teapot and the setting (a forest with trolls).  Anything else is fair game and will make our adventure a new tale.  We also need to figure out an illustration to go with our part.  Our goal Ellie is to have a beloved bedtime story for you and future generations.  And so we will continue our third piece of fiction. 

Ellie and the Magic Teapot: Into the Secret Forest Part 12

“Come on El, don’t you have anything in your pockets that could help us out of this mess?” Lion questioned in between chuckles.

“Heeee, heee, hee,” Ellie laughed.  “Hold on, I’ll check the pocket on my sleeve,” she answered breathlessly through her many giggles.  With her fingers crossed for luck she reached her right hand over her chest and slid it into the closest and shallowest pocket on her left arm sleeve.  As quickly as she could, Ellie grabbed the first thing her fingers fumbled upon and pulled the object out.  Lion’s eyes lit up when he saw the miniature shiny metal object with the purple handles that Ellie was holding.  “Wooo Hooo, heee, heee, hee,” hollered Ellie.  “Yea for luck!  Scissors!”

“What a relief!  Start cutting the noodles El!  Ha, ha, ha, ha! My tummy hurts from laughing so much and I don’t think I can take much more of the tickling!” pleaded Lion.

“By the shade of green that is starting to replace your orange fur… hee, hee, hee… I fear most of your giggles have found their way into that bottle over there Lion,” she stated as a fine mist gently rolled from Lions mouth to one of the two jars sitting on the makeshift shelf near the Giggle Grabbers entrance.

“Ha, ha, ha, ha… I know El, you are just as green as I am so hurry and start cutting!” begged Lion.

So Ellie reached down and snipped as quickly as she could a few of the noodles tickling their feet and a few of the noodles that tickled their underarms giving them some time to take a few deep breathes and relax their tummy muscles.  By doing so, a good portion of their natural color returned to them.

“What???  NO, NO, NO, NO! “ cackled Trudy when she heard Ellie and Lions laughter come to a halt.  Since her blue eyeglasses were knocked off her nose and her sight was so poor, Trudy knew she had to enter the Giggle Grabber and find out where the malfunction was coming from and fix it fast before all of Ellie’s and Lions laughter seeped out of the jars.  Stepping into the contraption she walked toward the center singing her song. 
“Giggle, giggle coo,
Chuckle, chuckle hey,
Give me all your laughter,
And give it…”

Ellie saw this as the perfect time to try and make their escape.  Lion saw the same opportunity.  So Ellie hissed for Sebastian and Lion croaked for Tad to get their attention.  “Sssssssss Sebastion!  Quick!  Come!”  “Riddit, riddit Tad!  Hurry and hop on over here!” the duo called out in unison.   Ellie then quietly unlatched the seatbelt that held her and her friend securely on the seat swing.

The two animal friends appeared at Ellie and Lion’s side immediately.  With no time to waste Ellie whispered her escape plan to them.   Thank goodness it was not a complicated plan because it only took Trudy a minute or two before she was almost on top of the pair.  Her chubby green ogre hands reached out in front of her.  Putting Ellie’s plan in motion, Lion quickly seized the troll’s hands as he and Ellie jumped off the swing causing Trudy to stumble.  As she tried to catch her balance, Trudy turned around which meant her back was now to the swing.  Ellie took that opportunity and gently pushed her forcing her to sit on the seat.  She then yelled to Sabastion to grab a few of the noodles and quickly tie both of Trudy’s hands to the swings ropes, and then directed Tad to hop onto Trudy’s feet and tie them down as well.  With no time to waste she then hooted for Oliver!  “Whooo, whooo!  Oliver!  As soon as I grab the jars that are holding mine and Lion’s laughter and the four of us are on the outside of the Giggle Grabber, slam the door shut, lock it with the key you are holding and click the starter switch to ON again!  Got it?”

“Whoooo whoooo, Roger that!... I mean Ellie that, El!”  Oliver screeched with excitement.  Twenty seconds later he put the machine back into motion.

Trudy grunted with anger. “You two may think you are ha, ha, ha clever but you two are ho, ho, ho fools!”  As angry as she was, an unfamiliar sound was coming from her very own mouth and no matter how hard she tried, Trudy could not stifle it.   “Now stop hee, hee, hee this machine.  I’ve never been tickled before!  This is all ha, ha, ha very strange to me! Whoooo hoooo, hooo stop this ridiculousness right now! I, heee, heee, hee demand it!  Ho, ho, ho I’ve never giggled ho, ho, ho, before! Ha, ha, ha!”
Ellie and Lion looked at each other, shocked by what they had just heard.  “El, did Trudy just say that she has never laughed in her whole life.  Who doesn’t ever do that?”  Lion asked with a perplexed expression.

“Someone who is unhappy Lion or maybe jealous of others.  That would be my guess.” Ellie answered with a touch of sadness.

“Well we obviously can’t keep her in the Giggle Grabber forever Ellie.  What should we do?” fretted Lion.

Not quite sure at that very moment on what to do, Ellie decided to take a walk around Trudy’s cave while keenly observing every nook and cranny.  In the farthest corner of the cave, her eyes zeroed in on a ledge that jutted outward.  She was surprised to see that it held seven tightly sealed jars each of which seemed to hold a fine white mist that swirled in a perpetual motion.  Ellie let out a gasp, and it wasn’t because she was confused by what she saw.  On the contrary, she just figured out Trudy’s secret.  Wanting to get to the bottom of this quickly, Ellie called out to her friends, “Lion, Oliver, Sebastian, Tad… come here pronto!”  And they did.  Pointing to the far corner Ellie asked the group politely, “Please help me fetch the seven jars from the ledge and take them outside, and put them on the table next to the cave where I put mine and Lions jars earlier.  I think I know what Trudy has been up to.”  Ellie expressed with certainty.

“Tell usssssssssssssss,” hissed Sebastion.

“No.  It is not for me to tell.  I think it is time for Trudy to come forward and supply the answers,” Ellie responded.  “But first I need each of you to do something for me.”  They all bobbed their heads up and down in a ‘yes’ agreement.  “Thank you,” she continued.  “Oliver, I would like you to round up the Trolls we’ve encountered throughout the forest and bring them here.  Tad, when I give you a nod please turn the Giggle Grabber switch to OFF.  Sebastian, when you hear the fans slowing down to a stop, I would like you to untie Trudy from the Giggle Grabber and guide her to the table holding the nine jars.  And Lion, once Trudy tells her story, be ready to open the lid of each jar and release its contents.  As Oliver flew off in search of the seven ogres, the rest of the group heard Trudy trying very hard to sing her song.  

“Once I’ve taken it, ha, ha, ha, ha,
A troll you will be, heee, heee, heee, heee,
The only way to break my spell, ho, ho ho, ho,
Is to tryeeeeeee, heee, heee, heee, ha, ha, ha, ha, ho, ho, ho, ho…” 

Trudy was laughing hysterically at this point and could no longer finish her song.  Ellie realized if they didn’t end this quickly, Trudy and the seven trolls would be in great danger, so she frantically called out, “Hurry Oliver, hurry!”…
We love you Ellie!
Mom & Mimi

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Ellie and the Magic Teapot Into the Secret Forest: October Blog 2- Letters from Mom & Mimi

(You are still loving the park and the chilly fall weather isn't deterring you!)
(You make yourself right at home at Pottery Barn for Kids Ellie- right down to that stuffed animal your clutching... thank you for making me smile so many times everyday!)
Hi Bean,

So this morning, I was talking more with you about changing houses (trying to prepare you for our move next month).  While we were in the car to daycare, you looked really worried and I asked what was wrong.  You inquired, "Mama, are they going to have a potty there?" as in the new house.  I said of course and you proceeded to ask, "Will you know how to work it?"  I said (while completely straight-faced), “Yes, Ellie.  It will be just like here.”  Then, you wanted to know if they had a step stool there.  I thought that was so interesting that you are stressing too about this move!  But I promise Ellie, this is going to be so good for our family and I think we both need to get past our anxiety and get EXCITED!!!  We are moving HOME! 

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 one week in regular font, and then your Mimi will write a piece in italics the next week.  The only things your Mimi and I agreed on were the characters- Ellie and a magic teapot and the setting (a forest with trolls).  Anything else is fair game and will make our adventure a new tale.  We also need to figure out an illustration to go with our part.  Our goal Ellie is to have a beloved bedtime story for you and future generations.  And so we will continue our third piece of fiction. 

Ellie and the Magic Teapot: Into the Secret Forest Part 11
Colonel Muster Troll gave a nudge that seemed an awful lot like a push.  “Hey!  Keep your hands to yourself!  Didn’t your Mom teach you the Golden Rule?  Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” Lion said to the ogre as he reluctantly shuffled a bit faster despite the blindfold.  Lion was afraid to go too fast since he couldn’t see.  He didn’t want to trip! 

Colonel Muster all of a sudden became solemn.  “It’s been a long time since I’ve seen my mom,” he replied with tears in his eyes.  “I’ve been working for Trudy for so long.  Maybe she will reward me for bringing you two in!  Maybe I’ll get a vacation home!  Although I don’t think my Mom will recognize me.”

“Why won’t your Mom recognize you?” Ellie inquired curiously.

Colonel Muster shot her an annoyed glance.  “I haven’t always been a troll,” he snapped.  That surprised Ellie and Lion into a stunned silence.  It was at that quiet moment that they heard singing.  It was not melodic like Rockin’ Troll.  Instead it was a very off-key sound.  It reminded Ellie of when her cat Joe cried to get into her room at night and would meow loudly and very screechy.

“Giggle, giggle coo
Chuckle, chuckle hey
Give me all your laughter
I want it today!

Once I’ve taken it
A troll you will be
The only way to break my spell
Is to try and stop me

The secrets in my hat
For it holds the key
That will unlock the gate
And set you free!”

“I’m not sure what that song means Lion, but I have a feeling that those words are very important!  Remember that part about the key being in the hat to set us free!” Ellie whispered exasperatedly to Lion.  She squeezed his hand in reassurance.  She was scared being blindfolded.  The dark can be really frightening but when you have your best friend with you, it makes it seem much brighter.

Ellie, Lion, and Colonel Muster Troll then heard the voice say, “Find me giggles, find me laughter, and find me those that I should go after…. Oh and look at what I see here through my magical glasses… Ellie and Lion are just about to enter my cave!”

The duo heard a door opening and they were shuffled through a threshold.  The blindfold was removed and they could finally see the one they had been dreading… Trudy!  Ellie didn’t think she looked that scary… if it weren’t for her green skin and miserable face, she actually reminded her of her great-grandmothers with their grayish white hair, soft skin, and hearing aids.  As Ellie observed Trudy, it was Lion who looked around the cavern, which was Trudy’s home.  But before he could adjust his eyes to the gloomy decorated living room, both he and Ellie were ushered out a rear door into Trudy’s backyard.  It was there that Lion’s eyes took in the Giggle Grabber machine (that he didn’t completely understand yet); he saw some movement in a dark corner near the fence just beyond the machine.  Lion focused and realized it was Oliver, Trudy, and Sebastian (held captive in a cage together) trying silently to get his attention by moving around in waving motions.  Lion poked Ellie in the side and with his eyes motioned over so she would see what he did.  Ellie nodded to show she understood.  They would have to find a way to set their friends free too.

“Oh you two are smart,” cackled Trudy, “I can’t wait to steal your infectious giggles and turn you into my smartest trolls yet!”  She stepped in between Ellie and Lion and grabbed their hands to lead them into her machine.  Trudy then told Colonel Muster Troll to leave.  He gave her a second glance in question and she bossed, “Go on, get out!”  And he halfheartedly went out the door they came in (Colonel Muster seemed disappointed at the lack of attention he received; he had hoped he would at least get a pat on the back if not a reward). 

At first Ellie and Lion were baffled as they had never seen anything as complex as the Giggle Grabber but it didn’t take long before fear engrossed them.  Lion tried to shake his paw free but Trudy was much stronger than her frail body looked.  He shot Ellie a panicked glance but Ellie smiled, winked, and nodded.  He knew she must have a plan.  He looked at her again as Trudy was guiding them toward her contraption.  Ellie motioned ahead at the swing that Trudy was going to force Ellie and Lion to sit on.  One step before they reached it, Ellie stretched out her leg and kicked the closest end of the wooden swing causing the other end to lift up…. And hit Trudy square in the forehead.  As the swing fell back into place, Trudy’s hat flew off like it was hit by a catapult landing just in front of the cage that held Oliver, Sebastian, and Tad.  “Quick, the magic key that will set you free is hidden in her hat!  Get it and unlock yourselves!”  Ellie yelled desperately to her friends. 

The hat was just far enough out of the cage that Owl’s wings or Tad’s legs couldn’t reach but Sebastian was able to shimmy enough of his slithery body to get his tail around it and rope it in.  Elle and Lion didn’t see Sebastian grab the key from the hidden inside pocket and let out Tad and Oliver, as well as himself.  That was because Lion and Ellie were forced (with a bit more strength now) onto the repositioned swing by Trudy’s firm grasp (Trudy did her best not to rub the bright red bump forming just above her brow- she didn’t want to seem weak in their eyes).  “Oh let them free,” she scoffed as she saw the owl, snake, and toad running for their freedom, “It’s you two who I was after anyway!” 

Lion looked at Ellie desperately, “Why didn’t you save the key for us?  If you knew it was magic, it could have gotten us out of here!” he sniffled as Trudy backed out of the Giggle Grabber machine locking them in. 

“Lion, I have faith in my friends.  I saw an opportunity to help them and I know they will help us.  I’m not afraid.  Trudy is an angry old lady and we need to show her kindness.  I was so afraid upon entering her cavern that I realized I’m scared of the unknown.  But now that I am here, I am ok and I know that WE will be ok.  Just have faith,” Ellie spoke softly so Trudy wouldn’t see what she saw… Oliver, Sebastian, and Tad linked together on the overhang above Trudy’s patio near the back door.  Tad was getting ready to grab Trudy’s glasses (his legs were held on by Sebastian, who’s tail was hooked by Oliver who was firmly planted on the trunk of one of the beams of the cave)!  Ellie winked at Lion, “She can’t see very well Buddy!  We are going to get out of here!” But just as she said the words, the machine started, the fans whirled, and the spaghetti noodles came up and started to tickle their toes.  Dread filled Lion’s face as he couldn’t help but spew out giggles as his paws were his ticklish spot.  “Help me please Ellie!” Lion cried out in between bursts of laughter.  It was then he realized, the more he giggled, the more green his fur became…
 We love you Ellie!
Mom & Mimi               

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Ellie and the Magic Teapot Into the Secret Forest: October Blog 1- Letters from Mom & Mimi

Dear Elle-Belle,

I'm feeling like the worst mom- you and I got into a huge fight this morning.  You have been doing this weird thing where you will put on pants and do karate kicks and yoga stretches and if the pants aren't super big, you have a fit and say they are too tight (well, no kidding if I did that, all of my pants would be tight too).  So you picked out an outfit this morning and put it on and it happened again but being on a time limit to get to daycare and school I didn't have time to let you change through a gazillion outfits.  So I forced you kicking and screaming into the car and you proceeded to have a meltdown.  So I mimicked your cries.  You stopped crying but you were so mad at me- you wouldn't even look at me when I dropped you off.
 Worst day ever.  I’m hoping when you are old enough to read these letters we can laugh at this story!
 PS- We only have a few more weeks to skype with Mimi & Poppy before we can enjoy snack-time with them in person!!!

And your Aunt Joanne (whom you affectionately call Joannie!) and your Gigi came to visit you this past weekend.  We had the best few days- shopping, dining out, visiting the zoo & park, lots of girl time, and prepping the house to move (I appreciate all of their help packing).  You love them as much as I do (it was so nice to have such wonderful company)!  They also introduced you to your new favorite movie... Hairspray!  That's right... you are a Broadway musical fan and I can't wait to get you closer to NYC!

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 one week in regular font, and then your Mimi will write a piece in italics the next week.  The only things your Mimi and I agreed on were the characters- Ellie and a magic teapot and the setting (a forest with trolls).  Anything else is fair game and will make our adventure a new tale.  We also need to figure out an illustration to go with our part.  Our goal Ellie is to have a beloved bedtime story for you and future generations.  And so we will continue our third piece of fiction. 

Ellie and the Magic Teapot: Into the Secret Forest Part 10
“Ellie, that Frenchy Troll was kind of silly looking don’t you think?” Lion giggled.  Now that he and Ellie outsmarted another troll, Lion continued talking with a much braver tone, “That curly mustache he was sporting and that crazy blue hat and scarf seemed corny to be wearing in the forest!  Don’t you think El?”

“Well… first of all Lion, Frenchy Troll made me giggle too.  But I think it was more of his carefree personality that made me smile more than anything else.  I don’t think we should make fun of his unusual style because that would just be hurtful and I know you would never do that Lion, be hurtful that is.”

“Oh El, you’re right.  I would never hurt anyone.  Actually I kind of liked him.  He had a really cool accent and wasn’t scary at all!...”

But Ellie stopped Lion’s sentence right there, “Yeah, but don’t get too relaxed.  According to the storybook there is still another troll lurking out there somewhere.  And if it is the last one that crosses our path I fear that ogre will be more determined than ever to capture us for Trudy!”

Lion’s eyes opened wide as Ellie spoke.  His lower jaw dropped down too.  “Aw Ellie, now you’ve got me scared again!”

“Good.  I need you to be alert and on your toes.  Now let’s keep walking,” Ellie commanded as she grabbed Lion’s hand once again and pulled him along.  As they traveled further into the forest, the trees formed a canopy of sorts shutting out most of the sunlight, just like when they first entered the woods.  Only now Ellie and Lion no longer had the battery-operated candle that got them past their first set of jitters.  Ellie had dropped it when they encountered their first ogre, Tootsie Troll.  She didn’t want to alarm Lion but an uneasy feeling came over her, the kind where the hair on her arms prickled and stood straight up on its own accord.  So using her voice at a not too loud level, she hooted for Oliver to come.  But no Oliver appeared.  So she hissed for Sebastian to come.  But no Sebastian appeared.  Now a bit on edge Ellie croaked for Tad to come.  But no Tad appeared.  Ellie croaked again in the most pleading manor she could muster.  But still no Tad.  When Ellie looked at Lion, Lion could tell that Ellie was now officially afraid.  And that increased his anxiety ten-fold.  What neither Ellie nor Lion knew was that Trudy had been watching the animal trio through her magical glasses from the beginning and had Wrd Troll, the crazy haired ogre, trap and cage Oliver, Sebastian and Tad so they could no longer interfere in the capture of Ellie and Lion.  Wrd was only too happy to accommodate Trudy’s demands.  He knew he messed up when he gave Ellie and Lion their freedom to find Trudy on their own, and he was quite happy to be able to resume a place on her good side.

“E-e-e-el… your expression h-h-h-a-s me really fri-i-i-tened!  Let’s j-j-just g-g-go home!” Lion stuttered.

In the minute it took Ellie to realize that maybe Lion was thinking smarter than she was a hidden bellow came from the overgrown leafy bush in front of them.  “Friend or Foe!” it grunted.

Ellie and Lion looked at each other with panic.

“I said Friend or Foe!  Answer me now!” it grunted again.

“Ummmmmmm… friend?” Ellie offered with great hesitation.

And before she even finished the word ‘friend’ out of the bush popped a very stern looking troll with a clipboard and pencil.

“Nope.  I am checking my list here and I don’t believe either of you are on it,” he stated.  “Would you like me to check it again?”

Ellie and Lion nodded in agreement.

“All right then.  Lion, state your name please,” he dictated.

Perplexed, Lion looked at Ellie questionably and shrugged his shoulders.  “Um, my name is…Lion???”

“And yours Ellie.  Please state your name also.”

“Mr. Troll, you already know it.  You just said it,” Ellie answered.  But before you check your list again, who are you?”

“Why my name is Colonel Muster Troll and my job in the forest is to take daily roll call of all who live here and all who enter here.  I have checked and rechecked the Friend List and neither of you are on it.  Would you like me to check the ‘Foe List?” he asked suspiciously.

“NO Colonel Muster.  You will not find us on that list.  Lion and I are really quite nice and we would love to be your friend!” she answered firmly.

“Nope.  That cannot be.  Trudy will not allow it.  Unfortunately for you both neither of you are on the Friend List so I must blindfold the two of you and take you to her now,” he responded as he pulled out a pair of army green scarves to wrap around their heads.

“Wait!” yelled Ellie.  “ Can we challenge you to a game?”

“Nope.  Trudy warned me that you would try and trick me into letting you go.  Nope, I will not participate in whatever your plan is.   Nope  Nope.  Nope,” Colonel Muster said firmly.  “Now turn around and close your eyes.”

“Wait!” roared Lion.  “What if the game is called ‘Simon Says’… I mean ‘Colonel Muster Says’?” 

The little green troll’s ears perked up immediately and he dropped the scarves.  “Hmmmm… a game of ‘Colonel Muster Says’… hmmmmm… I like that.  I like that very much.” 

Lion winked at Ellie and Ellie winked back.  “Good job,” she whispered.  “Your quick thinking may have just saved us friend!  Thank you!  Now let’s hope he takes the bait,” Ellie prayed.

Colonel Muster loved the idea of playing a game that was named after him, especially a game that put him in command.  “Alright, I accept.  Just one round though… not best out of three.  And if I get you two to do something that ‘Colonel Muster’ doesn’t ‘say’, then the game immediately comes to a halt; I win and get to take you to Trudy.  Agreed?” he grunted with anticipation.

“OK Colonel Muster Troll.  But if we respond on every command correctly then you must let us go free.  Agreed?”  Ellie questioned him back.

Lion was so excited as he and Ellie played this game… well ‘Simon Says’ that is… everyday with Ellie’s mom.  And Ellie always won.  Even her mom said she was very, very good at it.  He just knew they would win and outsmart another troll.  Boy, they were on a roll.  No way could they lose!

“Fine.  Let’s get started,” the troll ordered.  He placed Ellie and Lion in an open area about five feet from himself and directed them to face him while standing at attention.  Before the game started, Colonel Muster Troll pulled out his clipboard to take roll call of who was playing the game.  But since their names weren’t on it yet, he had to pencil them in.  And because he was so anxious to get started playing the game that was graciously named after him, he passed on taking the actual roll call.  At least for now.

“Ahhhhhh- hem.  Colonel Muster says to stand on one foot.”  And they did.  “Colonel Muster says to put that foot down and lift your other foot off the ground.”  And they did.  “Colonel Muster says to hop up and down on that foot.”  And they did.  “Stop.”  And they did not stop. “Hmmmm.  Colonel Muster says stop.”  And they did.   “Colonel Muster says to twirl in a circle.”  And they did.  “Stop.”  And they did not stop.  “OK, Colonel Muster says to stop.”  And they did.  Exasperated he realized that this game was going to be a tough one to win and somehow he had to trick them.

While the little green ogre was scheming Lion whispered to Ellie.  “El, don’t you have anything in your pockets to help us win this game so we can get out of here?”

“Good thought Lion.  Let me see what I’ve got,” she responded while rummaging around in each of her pockets.   “Ahhhhh, what’s this?” she said as she reached into the pocket centered in the middle of her nightshirt.  Ellie felt a large cluster of something and enclosed her hand around it.  When she pulled it out to show Lion they were both surprised to see a huge mound of green jellybeans.  “I forgot I had these Lion.”

“Jellybeans?!  How can they help us El?  Other than tasting yummy while going into our tummies I am pretty sure they are useless,” Lion drooled while eyeing them.  Ellie agreed and was about to slip them back into her pocket when a loud grunt startled and stopped her.

Muster Troll spied the jellybeans that Ellie was holding and a sneaky idea quickly came to him.  “Let’s continue this game,” he grumbled.  “Colonel Muster Says each of you are to eat a jellybean one at a time until I say stop.”  So they did.  Lion was quite happy with this command, as he was very, very hungry.  “Colonel Muster says to eat them faster.”  So they did.  “Stop!”  And they did not stop.  Before they knew it, Ellie and Lions mouths were stocked full of chewy, gooey jellybeans.  So much so that neither of them could talk.  Only strange garbled noises came out of their mouths.

Colonel Muster Troll slyly smiled.  “Oooops.  I forgot to take roll call before the game.  Let’s do it now!” he commanded.   As he grabbed his clipboard and pencil and scanned the Attendance List the little green ogre stood at attention.  “Colonel Muster says that when I call out each of your names for roll call you must answer loud and clear the word  ‘HERE’.  Lion?” 

Lion’s eyes got as big as saucers.  He tried and tried with all his might to say the word ‘HERE’ but could not.  The only sound that came out of his mouth was  “Mmphmmphmmph.”

“Hmmmm.  Imagine that.  No response from Lion means that he did not follow Colonel Muster’s command and just lost the game.  Well then… let’s move on to Ellie.  Ellie?” he cackled.

Ellie’s eyes also got as big as saucers for she too tried and tried with all her might to say the word ‘HERE’ but could not.  The only sound that came out of her mouth was “Rarrrrraaaaarrrrrr.”

Colonel Muster Troll jumped up and down.  “I did it, I did it! I won the game!  Neither of you did what ‘Colonel Muster’ said!  Trudy is going to be so proud of me!  All right you two, I won, and you lost, so let’s go.  And then he picked up the two army green scarves that he dropped earlier and blindfolded the duo. He then turned them around five times, just enough to get them a little bit dizzy but not too dizzy.

Once they swallowed all of the jellybeans Lion did muster enough courage to ask the troll if he could at least hold Ellie’s hand on the short walk to Trudy’s cave.  Ellie was grateful that Lion asked because she too needed the comfort and the closeness of her best friend.  The troll agreed thinking no harm could come from that.

“I’m sorry El that we lost the game.  I was just so hungry and you know how much I love jellybeans.  And then when the ogre didn’t give the ‘Colonel Muster’ says to stop eating the jellybeans command, I was secretly happy because I really didn’t want to stop eating them,” pouted Lion.

“I know Lion.  I am sorry too,” Ellie said sympathetically.  “But you know me.  I would never play a game unfairly just to win it.  Rules are rules and the only way we could have stopped eating the jellybeans was if he gave the Colonel Muster command.   I guess we just have to face the fact that we were outsmarted by a troll.

“Attennnnn-hut!” bellowed the troll.  Ellie and Lion straightened up.   “It is time for you both to meet Trudy.  So start walking… rather march I say, march, march, march, march!”  And as the two friends traveled blindly down the forest path Ellie fell into a deep thought as there wasn’t much time left to figure out what exactly they had that Trudy wanted.  Lion was in deep thought too, but his was based more on the fear of Trudy herself and what the pair had just gotten themselves into…
We love you Ellie!!!
Mom & Mimi