Smitten by a Tree

G & Tree watermarked

Beside our gorgeous Gaelyn stands a new friend who slid right into our family and left a permanent mark.

That beautiful woman is Tree.  That’s what her friends call her, and so we do.

Tree is a teacher by profession, so on her summer break this year she came to spend 6 weeks at the Hotel with her relatives.  But us Johnson’s got the best deal of all, I think.

As a talented teacher she connects with kids, and she has seemingly abundant energy and a burning desire to do activities with kids.  We supplied the kids and she did the activities.

What I love about Tree is she is intentional to connect with each of us.  Her and I had several impromptu chats that touched both our hearts, me thinks, and connected us.  We could have shared for hours upon hours…I think we’ll just have to book a weekend to chat!!

So while Tree was here, she totally unschooled our kids 🙂

  • taught the kids how to play Ultimate Frisbee,
  • did the Ice Block Slide,
  • marathoned thru Jane Austen movies
  • introduced us to Murder Mysteries, two completely different ones.
  • helped Gaelyn start a baking-cookies business,
  • took kids shopping at 2nd-hand stores,
  • did nighttime swims (or in the rain, and with a baby rattlesnake)
  • taught the kids to dance and choreograph
  • shared Pazookie with us multiple times
  • taught Gaelyn to play guitar
  • shared sunrises while she serenaded with her guitar

Last week we had a Farewell Party for her down at the terraza, led by her “Uncle Tommy” who manages Hotel Perico.  He asked each of us to share what we loved most (or will miss the most) of his niece.  And it was quite obvious that in those 6 weeks she was here, she touched many of our lives.

Everyone had kind words to express towards Tree.

Everyone had kind words to express towards Tree.

Her laughter, her sincerity, her exuberance in life.  All so admirable.  I know she will be sorely missed by all my kids.

I, of course, came to tears as I thanked her for her input into our children’s lives.  She says we touched her life….but I think we received the greatest gift of her touching us.

Tree, it was such an honor to not only meet you this summer, but to have intersected here at this moment in all of our lives.  Its not happenstance, it was meant to be.

We Love You.

Tree left us individual notes...her kindness is boundless.  What a kind soul.

Tree left us individual notes…her kindness is boundless. What a kind soul.

Jane Austen Murder Mystery

We’ve heard of Murder Mystery Dinners before as you probably have, but none of us had attended one.  Teresa/Tree made that all change when she convinced our kids to do a Pirate Murder Mystery on Mitchell’s 17th birthday.  We stumbled our way thru it not knowing how it should really play out but once we got one under our belt, well…the possibilities are endless.

It sounds like it wouldn’t be family friendly, but really neither of our Murder Mysteries were grousome in the least.  Not much detail nor focus is given to the actual murder.  Most of the script is about figuring out the relationships between all the characters and the motive they might have in committing the crime.  None of it is acted out so the subject matter may or may not be understood based on the auditory acquisition of the listeners.

Gaelyn, our 11 yr old daughter obviously thought it was fabulous and she quickly took it upon herself to be the hostess of another Murder Mystery.  A Jane Austen Murder Mystery.

CharactersBesides making costumes and antique looking paper props the girls invested time in refreshing themselves with Jane Austen movies.  Not at all a hardship since Pride & Prejudice is one of our girls’ all-time favorite books/movie.

The Story:

John Thorpe has been discovered nearly decapitated in the water closet near the breakfast room.  Lady Catherine is insistent that they discover who the murderer is before the police arrive.

Mr Thorpe had secrets on everybody, so nobody was beyond suspicion.IMG_1269

Of course everybody is surprised by the twists and turns that the plot takes…

  • jealousy,
  • secret and forbidden romances
  • illegitimate children,
  • unpaid debts.
  • theft….

And in the end….

well, I can’t tell you Who Done It…in case you want to play the game at your next dinner party!

 

Pirate Murder Mystery: The Birthday Boy Must Have Done It!

Birthday Boy

An advantage (among many) of having a big family is you have an instant party, an instant baseball team, an instant cast for a theatrical.  Its all dependent on the willingness of participation.

Our Bonnie Lad turned 17 and became a suspect in our family’s first ever Murder Mystery Party. It was a ton of fun had by all, both those involved and the spectators–some of us started as spectators but then got cast into roles on the spot.  Best to Roll with the Punches!Mitchell-17

 

Birthday Tradition

Usually for our family members’ birthdays they get to choose what the main meal is for the day, and what type of dessert they want.  Sometimes they pick an activity, like going to the Guadalajara Zoo.

Mitchell rolled it all into one, wanting Make-Your-Own-Parfaits….meal and dessert all in one dish.  So that’s what we planned, and made Tapioca Pudding since his birthday happened to also be the National Tapioca Pudding Day.

The Murder Mystery

Costumes

The kids worked for days on creating costumes.  Toveli worked tirelessly on a gown for Gaelyn…the base of which was a down quilt with strips of fabric stitched onto it.  Such creative minds.

Somebody ‘gave’ Anders a black eye but when Danaka added some purple eyeshadow it was a great improvement.  She’s thankful Tina has taken her to hang out at Live Theatre with her sometimes, picking up little tips here and there.  Coming in handy.

The Spectators

It’s always nice to have somebody available to watch us makes fools of ourselves!  So we had a willing audience….and even several last minute actors.  Like Bob, who willingly became Captain Hook the Third.

The Plot

Captain Jack Parrot went missing over night and was discovered chained and drowned beneath the boat, a big smile on his face.  Who done it?

The Setting

Amongst creepy crawlies and half-drunk bottles.  We’re introduced to the characters and realize everybody had a reason to wish Captain Jack Parrot dead.

Pirate-Murder-Mystery-Capt-Morgans

 The Characters

Blackbeard was an irritating character who habitually tapped his foot to some unheard music.  He and Jack Parrot were rivals, after the same treasure.  Parrot had taken possession of the treasure and hidden it, infuriating Blackbeard.

Captain William Kidd (who needed a translator, Aunt Jo, to tell his story) was the son of Jack Parrot.  We aren’t sure what his issue was against Jack, but probably some family dysfunction going on there.

Nell, as the wife of Jack Parrot, was the beneficiary of his Last Will and Testament, so she had lots to gain by his death.  Besides the fact that she had a rival in the love-department.

Ben Gone was the only one alive now who knew where the treasure was hidden.  He obviously could claim the whole treasure for himself now.

Captain Hook lost both his hand and some money because of Jack Parrot.  Revenge ran deep with him.

I was Kim Hawkins, a young girl disguised and working as a cabin boy.  Jack knew of my identity and threatened to expose me, but I both needed and wanted this way of life.  Under no circumstances could I let him betray me.  (I was the one with the camera, so no picts of me.)

Elizabeth Goose had fallen off a gang-plank and was saved from drowning by Jack Parrot.  Her admiration for him turned to love, and when he was imprisoned, she visited him and swapped clothes so he could escape (as a lady).  Still married to Nell Bird, Jack didn’t commit to Elizabeth as she had desired and she felt betrayed.

Girl Friday (aka Antonia Da Ville) had been abandoned on an island for 5 years by Jack Parrot.  Obviously she had reason to want that man dead.

Ann Bonny had just recently discovered who her father was, and she was furious of Jack impregnating her mother and abandoning them.

Blackbeard-Accuses-Ben-Gone

WHO DONE IT???

And the verdict is…..well, you’ll have to watch the video to find out!

 

Should the guilty one have to walk the plank?  Or are we thankful for the  contribution of bettering our lives?

 

 

**The whole idea behind doing a Murder Mystery is Thanks to the lovely Teresa Leonard who initiated this whole thing.  I have yet to introduce you to “Tree”.  I’ll have to do a post featuring her before she leaves the end of this month.