Compulsive hoarding is a mental disorder that is just beginning to be understood. As a hoarder, I have acquired things over the years with a specific purpose in mind at the time of the acquisition, used some of those items for their intended purposes, forgotten the goal for different objects, but now that I find that they have outlived their purpose in my life I am struggling to rid myself of those same things.

You can read the start of my journey here.

Friday, October 22, 2010

If you go down to woods today...

Teddy Bear Picnic

words by Jimmy Kennedy in 1932,

music by John W. Bratton in1907

If you go down to the woods today
You're sure of a big surprise.
If you go down to the woods today
You'd better go in disguise.

For ev'ry bear that ever there was
Will gather there for certain, because
Today's the day the teddy bears have their picnic.

Ev'ry teddy bear who's been good
Is sure of a treat today.
There's lots of marvelous things to eat
And wonderful games to play.

Beneath the trees where nobody sees
They'll hide and seek as long as they please
Cause that's the way the teddy bears have their picnic.

If you go down to the woods today
You'd better not go alone.
It's lovely down in the woods today
But safer to stay at home.

For ev'ry bear that ever there was
Will gather there for certain, because
Today's the day the teddy bears have their picnic.

Picnic time for teddy bears
The little teddy bears are having a lovely time today
Watch them, catch them unawares
And see them picnic on their holiday.

See them gaily gad about
They love to play and shout;
They never have any care;

At six o'clock their mummies and daddies,
Will take them home to bed,
Because they're tired little teddy bears.

We've listened to this rendition of Teddy Bears' Picnic by Anne Murray hundreds and hundreds of times over the years:

It will always be near and dear to my heart, and I will never tire of hearing it. It brings back so many wonderful memories of the girls dancing around or tapping their toes to the song and squeezing their 'babies' a little bit tighter.

In Scooter's case, she didn't tap her toes. She couldn't. It's pretty hard to tap your toes, when you can't stand up, and Scooter stood up for the first time when she was 6 years old. But she did an amazing job of getting her happiness for the song across.

Scooter has "Happy Feet".

You know how when a dog is happy you can see it all over their body as they quiver in excitement and happiness?

That's how Scooter's feet are. The happiness travels from the top of her head and exits her feet in swirls that can't be replicated or explained, and eventually, her feet look triple jointed as she twists and contorts them lickedty split. It really is something to behold.

Tonight, when Bugster came over for a visit, she grabbed the doll furniture I'd painted. It had been hers when she was little, and she had loved them, and her babies did, too. And I wanted her to get to see Scooter's reaction when she saw them and got to use them with their fresh new look. Scooter didn't disappoint.

The furniture was in pretty poor shape when I started painting them:

They cleaned up really well. They had water and mud stains from being stored on the back porch for a few years. It's amazing what rain drops landing on dusty, unfinished wood can do to destroy it. A couple coats of Kilz and a few coats of oil based paint later, and they looked pretty darn good:

And when Bugster brought them in, and they caught Scooter's eye, her head whipped around to look at them so fast I was afraid she might have whiplash! Instead, the excitement and happiness traveled all the way down to her toenails, and her Happy Feet were writhing in double time.

Hopper went into the bedroom and got some of Penelope's sisters. Penelope is Scooter's favorite bear in the entire world. Penelope was actually given to me by my mom and my sister for my birthday one year. She started out with a little pink hat that had purple and pink flowers along with a little netting for decoration and a little lacy collar that tied around her neck. Penelope's fur started out lavender with a white undercoat, and she was adorable. When you pressed her little paw, she sang You Light Up My Life with a soothing and adorable lilting voice.

About 5 years ago, shortly before she had her spine surgery where her back was fused together from the nape of her neck all the way to her tailbone, we realized Scooter had fallen head over twitchy heals for Penelope. She would sneak into our bedroom and we'd hear Penelope singing every once in awhile, and we'd smile. It didn't hurt a thing for her to listen to Penelope. Scooter enjoys a good voice a little more than the next person, especially when it comes packaged in a cute little bear and is supposed to be off limits, because it belongs Mommy. So we had to laugh when we kept finding that Penelope disappeared from our bedroom with a certain frequency. We would put her back in her place, but it got to the point that she preferred spending the night with Scooter more than she liked staying with us, so we realized that Penelope had chosen Scooter for her owner, and I was merely a temporary babysitter.

Penelope made Scooter very, very happy. Soon, she was accompanying Scooter to doctors' appointments and x-rays and scans that were necessary for her to have before she had surgery. And when the day came for Scooter to go in to have her little back straightened out, Penelope was right by her side. She helped Scooter stay brave and know that everything was going to be okay. She soothed Scooter to sleep on restless nights when we can only assume she was thinking about the surgery. Penelope never left her side.

Then one day, when we had gone to The Children's Hospital for a follow up visit, Daddy and Mommy each thought that the other one had gotten Penelope loaded in the car with Scooter, and we headed back home 100 miles away. We felt absolutely sick when we got home and we couldn't find Penelope. We cried. All of us did. Penelope was part of the family, and we'd left her behind. You never leave family behind.

So we drove back up to the hospital the next day. Penelope was that important. We needed Penelope as much as Penelope needed us. We checked every hallway and clinic Scooter had visited the day before. We checked in the bathrooms, just in case another little girl had tried to help Penelope use the facilities. We checked the lost and found and checked it again. And we called every single day for a couple of weeks to see, if anyone had found our Scooter's beloved Penelope.

We were heartbroken when we realized we had lost Penelope forever.

I scoured the Internet for days trying to find another Penelope. Scooter needed her. The problem was that we'd had Penelope for many years, that she was no longer sold in stores. I did the only thing I felt I could do at that point. I turned to Craigslist. I posted an ad on our hometown's boards, knowing that people where we grew up were special kind of people, and if anyone would come through for us, they would. And I posted another ad on the Denver boards explaining what had happened and pleaded with anyone who may have seen our cherished bear to please contact me. I never heard a thing.

Then one day, just days after I asked for help, but after I'd already given up hope, an email popped up in my inbox. A wonderful lady from our hometown, whom we'd never met before, had tracked down another Penelope. She bought her in a gift shop somewhere on the East Coast, and had her shipped directly to Scooter. She refused any sort of payment for the most amazing of gifts, and I don't know that any amount of money could repay her for what she and her family did for ours.

We didn't mention a thing to Scooter about this lovely woman, and what she had done. The day came that the package arrived and The Hubster and I could hardly contain ourselves. We all gathered around Scooter, who was wearing her back brace and sitting in her wheelchair and presented her with the gift that had been sent by an angel. She pulled the new Penelope out of the box and couldn't believe her eyes. Her whole body started twitching as she hugged her beloved baby and Penelope sang her beautiful song. There wasn't a dry eye among the adults in the house, and everyone's cheeks were sore from smiling so much. It was such a beautiful moment that will stay with us for the rest of our lives.

Penelope is still much loved. She no longer resembles the pristine little bear that made her way into our lives so many years ago when my mom and sister sent her our way. She hasn't sat idly on a shelf for many years. Instead, she sits with Scooter on the couch when she's watching TV, she often hangs out with her sisters that have come into the family over the years, and she still often sleeps with her beloved Scooter.

But tonight, for the first time, Penelope got to join some of her sisters along with her mama, for a tea party in her very own chair. Scooter had some firsts of her own tonight as well, as she entered the World of Pretend. She shared a bowl of cereal with her babies and then even took the bites out of their mouths and ate them herself. She petted them and loved them and petted the furniture. She was in Heaven. Her little feet didn't stop moving the entire time. She was one happy, happy, happy little girl.

When Scooter went to bed tonight, she left the girls at the table. I'm sure they're anxiously awaiting the parties they'll have with her all weekend long, and I doubt they'll get a moment's sleep.

For tonight, they'll be planning their next picnic.


  1. tears! what a wonderful woman who found you another Penelope! I wnat to say more but I have to go dry my eyes now

  2. What a sweet story! I hope I can make a total stranger as happy as that lady made your family. It's nice to know the world is full of angels!

  3. What a sweet, sweet story. Just when you think the world is a hard cruel place someone shows up to set you straight! Nice to know there are still some really good people in the world!

  4. This mad me cry again. I had almost forgotten the lady who sent us a new Penelope...

    Mama, you're such a good writer.

  5. How lovely.
    And so very sweet.

    And yes, you wrote that beautifully.

  6. We still listen to the Teddy bear song at our house. Love it! Your Penelope story was so sweet. It reminded me of Toy Story 2. ( BTW, I am done talking about candy on my site. No more bashing for me!)

  7. Aww, Fern. I didn't mean to make you cry!

    mrs.b, I hope to be able to make a stranger that happy one day, too!

    Portia, it is people like this beautiful woman that keeps my hope eternally alive for the human race! :)

    Aww, Bugster, I didn't mean to make you cry, either. I'm glad I know that they were happy tears. :) And thank you, sweetheart. I get my writing skills from you! :)

    Thank you, Ami.

    LOL @ Kelley!


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