Happy 82nd birthday to my first hero and educator, my Dad who reminded me that old principals never die, they just lose their faculties, I hope he never loses his class!
Also thank you to Deseret News for publishing my caramel apple crisp and orange cranberry pecan bread recipes:
I just found out that the article was carried by 37 other news services and media outlets across the United States.
Also props to FamilyShare for publishing my 8 ways to help your kids like each other: http://www.familyshare.com/family/8-ways-to-help-your-kids-like-each-other
And now, A Mermade's Tale Chapter 2...
A PUMPKIN MYSTERY
Shell and Pearl swished the dirt from their hands. They had just finished pushing pumpkin seeds into the soil they had packed in the drink cartons their first grade class recycled at the school cafeteria. Growing pumpkins was a new experience for many of the children. They were learning about nature and plants. Their kindly old teacher Mrs. Angelfish explained that pumpkins take a long time to grow and that it was fun to care for the seeds and little plants. It was close to Mother’s Day and school would soon be dismissed for the summer. The children would watch the little seeds sprout in the drink cartons in a warm spot in the classroom window, and then, when school was over, they would take them home and plant them in their gardens.
“I’ve never grown a pumpkin before,” admitted Shell.
“My mom grows pumpkins every year, I love Halloween,” sighed Pearl with a dreamy look in her eyes.
Shell said, “I love, love, love Halloween too, but we get our pumpkin from a pumpkin patch.” Shell’s family visited a country pumpkin patch every fall and picked the biggest, roundest pumpkin they could find. They took it home and just before Halloween, Dad scooped out the slimy middle and they carved a funny smiling face into the orange globe. Then Mom picked out the seeds, soaked them in salt and before long the family enjoyed a yummy treat.
You may not have known that mermades celebrate Halloween, but they do. And they love it, just like human children. They think about their costumes all year long, and which sand castles they will visit when they go trick-or-treating. They think about decorating with funny octopuses and black catfish. Mermades don’t think about spiders, because they have never seen one. But they know about crawly ghost crabs and gliding bat rays. They tell scary stories about strange lights around sunken pirate ships. And the way the wind blows over the waves in the autumn as the days grow short and the nights get darker. And mermades love to swim to the surface to see the golden harvest moon.
Mermade children love to make Halloween pictures and decorations at school to take home to hang on the walls of their sandcastles. One of their favorite things to do is to go to a fun Halloween carnival with games and treats. They enjoy spending the evening with friends and showing off their pretty costumes. Shell imagined all the lovely pumpkins that would grow in her garden. She had visited Pearl’s garden before when they played at her house. The tall Indian Ocean corn and fat round pumpkins were fun to see. And now she would have a garden too.
The last few weeks of school seemed to last forever. Finally it was the very last day. The children played games on the playground and had a class party. They gave thank you gifts to Mrs. Angelfish and hugged her and thanked her for being so good to them and teaching them so many things. Now they could read and count to 100 and tie bows. They knew their colors and numbers and could write their names and short words. It had been a wonderful year and it was time to enjoy the summer with their families and friends. They said goodbye to their classmates and promised they would play with them again. They took home their folders of pictures and stories and their little pumpkin plants that had sprouted in the cartons and were ready to be planted in a new home in the garden.
As Shell and Pearl swam home, they were excited to plan summer activities; they would go to the beach and swim in tide pools. They would play with bobbing dolls and color pictures and spend the days with their moms that they missed so much when they were in school all day.
Shell showed her mom and dad the little pumpkin plant in the carton. “It looks like it needs more room to grow,” said Dad. He was a principal of another school of fish and he held summer classes for tiny mermades to help them get ready for school the next year, but he would have some time off during the summer too.
One turquoise day Dad said, “Today would be a good day to start a garden.” Sandy and Brine were still very small and Mom needed to care for them, but Shell was big enough to help Dad work in the yard. Shell loved to work with her Dad. She felt important and proud that she could follow directions and help him. And she was proud of her tall, smart dad. They gathered garden tools; a shovel, a hoe and a funny fork for prying out seaweeds, then they swam into the sunny yard to make a garden. Dad took the shovel and marked the area that they would plant. He gave Shell the fork, which he called a cultivator, and showed Shell how to pull out seaweeds by their holdfasts, otherwise they would grow again! It was fun at first, then, Shell let out a squeal! There was a slimy little sea slug on one of the seaweed stipes. “Ugh! I think I saw a worm, too” she shuddered. The summer sun made their yard unusually warm, even though it was in the sea. Shell started to wish that she was coloring pictures at Pearl’s house or watching her favorite television show. She wished she was little and back in the house with Sandy and Brine. Dad talked to her and encouraged her to keep working and she felt better. He let her plant sea daisies and sea lilies that they would give to mom for bouquets.
Making a garden was harder than Shell had imagined. But Dad expected her to keep helping; dads are good at making you do hard things. Soon to Shell’s surprise, the back door of the sandcastle opened and who appeared but Pearl! She had swum over to see if Shell could play. Shell couldn’t leave just then, but because Pearl knew how to work in the garden; she helped her mom, Dad said she could stay. She didn’t seem to be bugged by sea slugs or worms, she had been fishing and even caught a fish once! They worked and talked and planned what they would do when they were finished in the garden. And after a while, it was time to plant the little pumpkin. Dad showed Shell and Pearl how to peel off the carton and gently put the little plant in the ground. They gave it a little fishy fertilizer and patted down the soil. Dad said they had been good helpers and that they could go play.
Every so often, Shell would go to the garden to visit her little pumpkin. She showed Sandy and Brine the tiny little green ball that was beginning to grow on the vine. Brine liked visiting the garden; he was just beginning to swim. Did you know that merbabies have to learn to swim like human babies learn to walk? He would get his little tail going then plop, he’d slide on the floor. Shell and Sandy thought he was so funny! Brine loved the little ball in the garden, he was just learning to talk and could say “ball.”
Shell, Pearl and Sandy had fun that summer. On hot days they would color pictures at Pearl’s house. On the hottest days they would go to the Finnler’s house and swim in the cool blue water of their tide pool. They drew seahorses, all little mermade girls love sea horses, they liked making pictures of princesses at their sandcastles. They drew pictures of Halloween. They didn’t draw scary monsters. They preferred making sea princesses with crowns and sparkly wands.
Some days they would play with their bobbing dolls, changing their clothes and making up adventures. Sandy wanted to play too, so they let her bring her bobbing doll. They pretended it was Halloween and dressed their dolls in their costumes. The mergirls wanted to go pretend trick-or-treating so Mom swam with them downtown to the five and dime store that had a candy counter. It was like a dream come true. There were glass cases filled with every kind of candy and bubblegum that you could imagine. Each merchild had 8 pennies to buy their very favorite candies. Shell loved bubblegum and cherry flavored candies. She bought four pieces of gum, two wax bottles filled with fruit-flavored juice and two cherry suckers with gum inside. Pearl liked sweet and sour candy; she bought four straws filled with tart candy powder, two rolls of sweet and tart candies and two pieces of gum. Sandy liked everything, and she could make her candy last for a very long time. She bought two suckers, two chewy treats and four pieces of bubblegum. Brine was very little, so Mom bought him a sucker that had a string handle instead of a stick.
As they swam around the store, they noticed something that surprised them very much! On long tables in the back of the store there were boxes and boxes of Halloween costumes. Each had a window in the lid showing the colorful masks and costumes inside. There were princesses and monsters, clowns and superheroes; and it was only summer! As the merchildren looked at the masks and costumes, they thought of new ideas for creative play and ideas for their own costumes for Halloween.
Back at their sand castle, Shell, Pearl and Sandy set up pretend doll houses around the living room made from wooden crates. They decorated them with cut-outs of bat rays and ghost crabs. With their bobbing dolls dressed in costumes, the girls pretended to go from house to house to collect the treats they had brought home from the store. Then they took Brine out to the garden to see how the pumpkin was growing. It was about the size of a baseball, dark green and wonderful. Brine really loved that ball.
On other days, the moms took their merchildren to the beach. Now this is an interesting thing for merchildren; at the beach they do just the opposite of what human children do. Instead of trying to stay on top of the waves, they try to stay underneath. Mermoms did one thing that that was just like human moms: they took their children to the beach at low tide so they could play in the gentler waves. Merchildren love going almost to the shore,then looking for v-shaped marks in the sand. When the waves rush in and out, they dig holes where they see the “v’s” and find scuttering sand crabs scooting around! They catch a few and play with them like pets, then they let them go back to find their crabby mamas. Sometimes when they find lost sand pails and shovels that waves have carried away, they use them to build sandcastles to decorate with shells and beach glass and bits of driftwood.
Shell and Sandy had new swimsuits and Brine was wearing a little blue and white striped shirt. They played happily under the waves for many hours. After a long and sunny day, it was time to go home. Pearl and Shell hugged each other goodbye and promised they would see each other soon for another play day. That evening, Mom was giving Brine a bath when she started to laugh. Shell and Sandy swam in to see what was so funny. Brine’s skin had tan and white stripes where the sun had shone through the shirt. He splashed happily in his bath. It had been another wonderful day.
Shell and her dad continued to work in the garden, keeping out the pesky seaweeds and sea snails. Shell’s little pumpkin was now the size of a bouncy ball. Dad brought home a clear sundial to decorate their garden and placed it in the center with some beautiful shells the family had collected once when their grandparents had visited.
Shell, Pearl and Sandy had many fun and happy adventures throughout the summer. They went to the Sandy Aygo County fair, saw movies at the swim-in theater and read books from the Coralsbed Mercity Library. They swam at the Finnler’s tide pool, colored pictures and played tag. Sometimes they played at Pearl’s sandcastle, sometimes at Shell’s. And before they knew it, it was autumn and time to go back to school!
Shell was busy learning new facts and reading harder books. Pearl was in her class again, so that made school extra fun. One day Shell came home from school and looked for her mom. She found their black catfish, Don Quixote and patted his head. Mom was folding clothes, but that was not all Shell found. There, next to the laundry, was a green ball. But it wasn’t just any green ball, it was her pumpkin! “Mom!” Shell exclaimed. “Oh dear,” said Mom.
Just then, Brine swam into the room. He went straight for the pumpkin and said “ball!” Then he rolled it with his tail. “What happened to my pumpkin?” wailed Shell. “I think I know,” Mom replied. “Brine, where did you get the ball?” He pointed to the garden. “Brine thinks your pumpkin is a ball and I believe he picked it so he could play with it.” Shell looked at her little brother rolling the pumpkin across the floor. He looked so happy. He was too cute to stay mad at for long and Shell loved him so much. She patted his head, “Brine do you want to play ball?” she asked. “ball,” said Brine. The next day Dad took the family to the country pumpkin patch.
When Shell came home from school another day, her mom was outside gluing glitter on wands. Oh my goodness, it must be getting close to Halloween! Sandy and Shell were going to be mermade fairy princesses with light blue gowns and sparkly crowns and wands. Brine was going to be a teddymerbear with a big bow around his neck. Another day Mom made popcorn balls and Shell knew Halloween was almost here.
One of the girls in class, Reef, had an October birthday. She invited every mergirl in the class to her party! The mermades all swam to Reef’s house late one Friday afternoon. They divided into two teams and went on a scavenger hunt around the neighborhood. Shell and Pearl were on the same team and they had a list of things to collect and bring back to win a prize. They needed to find a sand crab, an ear shell, candy corn, a sand dollar, a piece of beach glass, a pirate story and a piece of coral. As they swam from sandcastle to sandcastle, they talked about their costumes and the carnival at school. As soon as they had everything on their list, they raced back to Reef’s sand castle. They beat the other team and won the prize! It was buried treasure that they had to find and dig up, it was all in good fun. The treasure was a craft for the girls to make; it was the supplies for bubblegum necklaces. The girls made their necklaces and enjoyed a delicious sand cake while Reef opened her presents. Then they gathered for ghost stories. Reef started the story, as she talked she held a glowing lampshell to her chin. It was dark a little bit chilly, just right for a spooky tale about haunted ships, ghost crabs and evil sea witches. Shell shivered, she wasn’t sure if it was the cold or the story. She was glad when it ended and it was time to go inside and wait for Dad to take her home to her safe sand castle. Shell and Pearl thanked Reef for inviting them to her fun party and for the yummy treats.
It was almost Halloween. Sandy, Brine and Shell’s costumes were all finished. Shell was so anxious she found it hard to pay attention in school. The teachers knew it was an exciting time for children, so they had easy lessons and lots of art and music. On the day of Halloween, Shell skipped all the way home from school, which is not easy when you have a tail and are swimming. Mom was making Shell’s favorite shrimp pizza for dinner, then they would go trick-or-treating to the neighborhood sandcastles and back to school for the Halloween carnival. It was all so magical! Mom let the mergirls wear makeup on Halloween and she helped them get just the right fairy princess look. She made fancy hairdos with sparkly sea stars and attached the crowns so they wouldn’t fall off. The girls painted their nails blue to match their gowns, but they didn’t get dressed until after they ate their delicious shrimp pizza and kelprootbeer. Brine was still playing with the green ball and Mom said he could take it trick-or-treating. She helped the girls into their costumes and put Brine in his stroller. These merchildren loved to go trick-or-treating. They loved to see the neighbors and show them their cute costumes and get candy. Everyone said the girls were the prettiest princesses and Brine was the cutest teddymerbear ever (and it was true.)
After a while, it was time to go to the carnival. Dad had joined them and the family swam back to the school. Shell felt grownup and proud that she could show her family around the school. Pearl joined them and Shell, Pearl and Sandy went to play games. First they went to the fishing pond which was their very favorite game. They each flung the fishing line into a pretend pond where a mer-teenager attached a small toy and they reeled it back in. It was their favorite until they went to the cake swim and then they were hooked. They swam around a big circle on the sand while music played and when it stopped, they swam to the nearest picture on the ground. The person in charge picked a card that had one of the pictures in the circle on it and that one won a cake. Shell won! She picked one that had island coconut frosting, her favorite. When Brine started yawning and it was very dark, it was time to go home. Sandy and Shell sat on the floor of their sandcastle and divided their candy and bubble gum into piles. They traded a few pieces, ate a few and then it was bedtime. They had to hide their candy so Brine wouldn’t find it and eat too much. As they lay in bed, the girls talked about how much fun it was to be princess and how much they loved Halloween and how hard it would be to wait for a whole year until next Halloween.
At Reef’s birthday party, the mergirls made these fun necklaces, you know how much Shell loves bubblegum! Here are the directions for making your own Halloween bubblegum necklace.
You can also use small pieces of candy, the wrapped ones work best.
For a Gumball or Candy Necklace, you will need:
1/8 yard tulle (netting)
About 14 large gumballs or pieces of candy
On a 1/8 yard piece of tulle, place a gumball in the center.
Roll the tulle into a long tube with the gumball in the middle.
Tie knots on either side of the gumball.
Add another gumball on either side and tie knots. Continue adding gumballs until there are about a dozen or so. Tie the ends of the tulle together.See you next week!
Are you considering a gift of art for the holidays? I am offering original drawings and paintings in my Etsy shop: https://www.etsy.com/shop/pammcmurtry?ref=hdr_shop_menu