Chapter 3.32

It’s that time again.

Not only was Dylan having a birthday…

Which he was totally excited for…but it was Harper’s birthday too.

It was a quiet celebration for poor Dylan since Katie was away at boarding school but we made it work.

“Is all that cake for me?”

“Do you really think you need that much cake, Pickle?”

“Is that a real question, Auntie?  Cuz the answer is yes.”

Harper had a bit more pomp for birthday and Dylan made sure she knew it was special.

Immediately upon becoming a toddler she started to beat the hell out of some creepy doll some long lost relative maile her.  Good girl.

“Penny…do I get any presents?”

“Oh…um…did you check your room?”

He was up the stairs before I even had a chance to think.

“NEW STUFF!”

I made sure he had a fully stocked toy chest and a new bed.

“So…did you just get me furniture?  I love it but…”

“Did you try going to the backyard and whistling for the present fairy?”

“The what?”

“The little old lady who sometimes brings presents if you whistle for her in the backyard?  You know the story…”

“There’s no presents out here, Penny.”

“Well you didn’t whistle did you?”

“This is stupid…but ok.”

“Hello?!  Old Lady Present Fairy?”

It was funny to watch him make a fool of himself.  Of course there was no present fairy but the hollering would bring his present running.

“Well looky there, Pickle.”

“Hi there, little guy…”

Merry and Pippin were the newest and tiniest members of the Hanks family.

His smile is totally worth all the frustration that awaits us.

Chapter 3.20

Suddenly winter turned to spring and summer was nearly upon us.  I started working in the garden again and Adam prepared for graduation.

Xander rocked the upgrades and gave the entire house a boost.

Adam was also making a bit of a name for himself as a writer.  He had moved past comic books and into novels.  He was bringing in nearly as much money as I was…only it took me an entire week and he got it done in one day.  He’s doing it right.

I prepped for Adam’s birthday and went on a gift spending spree.  I snagged him a guitar and a laptop.

Xander remembered how often his own laptop died in college and so he upgraded Adam’s to be unbreakable.

Oh…I may have gotten him the car he wanted, too.

Then it was time for the party.  I used my new oven to make the cake.  I am really becoming a little…obsessed.

We set up the table with all of Adam’s awards.  He won something in every club and prom king.  He’s going places.  At least, he better be after all this time I put into him!

Everybody showed up.  Well, everyone but mom and dad.  The baby was sick so they had to miss out.

Adam was more or less amused by the party antics.  He just wanted to be done with the mess.

Before too long…

…he was done.  My baby brother was an adult.

Adam took his college entrance exams and all his planning paid off.  He ended up getting scholarships in whatever degree he wanted.  Now all he had to do was choose one.

“Fine arts.”  He announced on graduation day.  “Or communications.  One of those.  Yep.”

“Good choice, kiddo.  One of those…yep.”  I wasn’t too worried.  Adam has always had a good head on his shoulders so I had no doubt he would settle on something eventually.

Xander and I got to the ceremony early.  We were loitering when we saw  him.

“I have arrived.  Yes, yes, thank you.  I know I am amazing.”

“Oh, Christ.  Get in there and graduate you dumbass,”  I said as I rolled my eyes.

Adam was named Valedictorian and Most likely to have five kids.  Good luck to him if that is true!

“Bow down to my awesomeness, Penelope.  I am BOOMSAUCE!”

Despite having no idea how long his god-like mindset was going to last I was mostly just glad that I had raised a successful, college bound graduate regardless of my own faults.

My prayers of gratitude were interrupted.

“So…we’re down a kid and that one wasn’t even ours.”

“HA!  I have to change.”  I had a vague idea of what Xander was getting at but I just didn’t want to go there today.

“Penny?  Let’s have a baby.”

There it was.  We had been dancing around it for months.  Here we were, nearly one year married and child-free.  I liked it.  It was good.  Why mess that up with a kid?

“Erm…what?”  Smooth, Penny, I thought to myself.

“Yeah, baby.  You’ll be a wonderful mother.  Look how well you did with Adam!  If we had one of our own you would be just as awesome if not more!”

“Oh, yeah.  Well, I guess.”  He wanted this so badly.  I’m sure he was right that I’d be a great mother.

“So…let’s throw caution to the wind?  Toss the pills and stuff, yeah?”

“Yeah, yeah ok,” I said with less reluctance that I expected.

What had I gotten myself into now?

Chapter 3.17

Autumn came quickly to Starlight Shores after the wedding.

The wedding was stupidly big news.  Your’d think nothing else happened the day we got married.  It was all over the paper.  Xander read every single article about it.

“Honey!  This one says “Top crime boss married world’s best surgeon in a star studded gala!”

“Xander, that’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.  Your dad might be a celebrity but neither one of us is a criminal.  Your dad would have outed it already!”

Xander and I both got time off for a honeymoon after the wedding but with Adam heading into his final year of high school and one big birthday right around the corner we put off the trip until summer.

We still managed to have a good time at home despite the lack of honeymoon.

Me being me I took the time off to remodel and refurnish the dining room.  I loved the gift our friends and family created and I wanted it displayed in as much glory as possible.

While I was changing things up at home, Adam was gearing up for some major changes himself.

He and Rory were completely inseparable.  They were constantly out together (never at our house which was weird but who am I to judge).

When the basket of university goodies arrived it was clear why Adam and Rory couldn’t get enough of each other.  She is only a junior and won’t be going to university with Adam.  They wanted to get in as much time together as possible.

Adam’s summer prep courses paid off when he took his college entrance exams in the fall.  He would get a full ride scholarship no matter what major he decided to pursue.  That, of course, was the hard part for him since he loves so many different things.

Adam was in full preparation for his house at university.  He did not want to stay in the dorms so he started collecting all kinds of cheap garbage for furniture.

This meant that it was all going to fill up my basement for a year until he left and took that crap with him.

I ended up with some fun kitchen gadgets for wedding gifts and I intended to make good use of them!

I started out easy with cupcakes.

Even though I am a master chef it was still exciting the first time those little buggers came out right.  I immediately put them into my replicator for later and then got started on the next big adventure.

Bug’s birthday was tonight and I’d be damned if I was gonna let that kid have a boring store bought cake.

As luck would have it, the cake was perfect.  Bug totally did not get the whole blow out the candles thing so Liv helped her out.

Bug was even more beautiful than any of us could have imagined.  We knew she’d be a looker but she stunned us all.  She was more stunned by the cake than the fact that she was growing up.

Speaking of growing up, Pickle exploded into a toddler without anyone giving him permission! One day he was a baby and the next he was beginning to be a little boy.  I suppose that’s how it is with kids.  I feel like Liv and I were just children ourselves and he we are celebrating our weddings and our children (Bug and Pickle are my kids, too)!

After the cake I went upstairs to give Bug her present in private.

“WHAT IS IT, AUNT PENNYEEEEEE! GIMME GIMME GIMME!”

“Alright, alright.  It’s more of a big kid gift, ok?”

“I’ll love it just lemme see it!”

Bug had a hard time hiding her displeasure.  Apparently a spa day with Aunt Penny just wasn’t as cool as she was hoping.

Chapter 2.37

Note from SweetPoyzin: I really loved hearing from Garrett before and it seems like you all did, too.  Mollie’s birthday post is coming from Garrett’s POV.  Weird, I know.  However, I adore Garrett way more than any of my Gen 3 guys so I’m going to ride this high for another post!  Also it is super photo heavy.  Sorry!

Lucy woke us up the morning of Mollie’s birthday.  Lil’ Bit didn’t care that mommy wanted to sleep in, kiddo was ready for the day.

“Hey, before you run off, I wanted to give you one of your birthday presents.”

“Oh, why can’t we just forget the whole day, Gar?”

“Well, hear me out.  Since you’ve done such a wonderful job of losing all that baby weight I thought I would send you on a trip to the spa.  You can get a makeover, new wardrobe, massage, whatever you want!”

“Is…is that a bad gift?  I don’t mean to say you look bad now or before but I just thought you might–”

“It’s wonderful!  I’ve never been to the spa!  I can’t wait!  I know just what I want!”

“There’s baby food already in the fridge.  Adam likes waffles or pancakes for breakfast.  The bus comes at 7 so have him ready.  I have to go!”

I told Mollie to meet me at her favorite cafe for lunch and she was off.  Good thing, too!  I still had so much work to do for her birthday!

After Mollie left I called in sick to work (I’ve been doing that a lot lately).  Then I got Lucy up and ready and I fed both the kids.  I was feeling pretty awesome about my fathering abilities.  I caught Adam as he was heading out to school.

“Hey, how would you feel about a sick day today?”

“This seems like a recipe for getting in trouble.  Why, Dad?”

“Well, I’ve got a lot of things to do for your Mommy’s birthday and I could use some help.  Are you up for it?”

“Am I gonna get in trouble?”

“Of course not, Nugget.  I will.”

I had to drag a ton of stuff out of the attic and into the greenhouse.  All the plants had died because…well we aren’t gardeners and we had four kids.  So I was going to turn it into a party house/photo studio for Mollie.  With the kids getting older I thought she might want a place to work should she ever decide to go back into business.

And being the awesome kid that he is, Adam kept Lucy entertained while I worked on some new wine for the party.  Before long it was time to rush off to lunch.  Things still weren’t perfect but I needed to show Mollie the biggest and best part of her gift.

I picked her up at the spa and was floored by her makeover.  She looked 20 years younger.  Not that she ever looked old.  Wow, I should not speak.

We went to Mollie’s favorite little Bistro and sat at “our” table.  This was the place where we decided to bring Adam into our family.  This same restaurant was the place we brought our daughter before sending her out into the world.  So many memories happened in this place.

“So, your party starts in a couple of hours and I still have one more gift for you.  Shall we head out?  It might take a while…”

“Oh my…what kind of gift is this?”

“Not that kind.  That is later.  This one is just down the road.”

We hopped in the car and not even five-minutes later we were at our final destination.

“Garrett, I really appreciate you bringing me to the Art Museum but I don’t think there is time to look around right now.  The party starts –”

“Mollie, honey, this is YOUR art museum, cafe, and gift shop.  I bought it for you.  Happy birthday.”

“How the FU–heck–did you afford to buy a whole museum!?  We’ve been selling off our stuff just to get the twins through college and the younger kids birthday gifts.  Hell, Christmas is coming up.  How are we going to buy gifts now!?  How did you afford this place?!”

“I sold the boat.”

“Garrett…we don’t own a boat.”

“No, no we definitely don’t own a boat.”

I may have forgotten to tell Mollie we owned a boat.  More specifically I owned a boat.  However, now neither of us own a boat and she has an art gallery.  Perhaps she will forget.

“Well, it’s about 2:30 now and you know how your mother is always early to parties.  I bet she is at our house right now.  Let’s go home and tomorrow we can bring your photos and get this place ready to go.”

“And while we are doing that perhaps you could tell me about this boat?”

I think I might need to work tomorrow…

I was wrong about Mollie’s mother being early.  She and Victor arrived a bit later and with a surprise in tow.

“Mrs. Lox, I think we should visit more often!  When is my new brother or sister-in-law due?”

“Any day now it seems.  And, Garrett, you’ve been married to my daughter for nearly 20 years.  I’m pretty sure you can call me Liddy.”

“Oh I’m pretty sure I can’t, Mrs. Lox.  Come on inside, you two.  It’s getting cold out!”

Before we could get inside though, Mollie came looking for me.

“Garrett where the heck are you?  The doorbell rang 15 minutes ago!  Holy shit…”

“Wow, Mom.”

“So aren’t you out of rhyming names yet?”

“Actually we were thinking Golly or Jolly.  He’d fit right in!”

“Oh, you forgot to tell me you were birthing an elf.  Does dad know?”

“Oh jeez, Mollie.  Really though the only name left was Polly and your father vetoed that so this kid gets a boring name.  Come on, I want some birthday cake.  Don’t you have some aging to do or something?”

With Liddy’s prompting Mollie went a blew out her candles.  Vic and Liddy got the seat of honor next to the birthday girl.  I mean, she is their daughter after all.

After the candles Mollie disappeared.  She didn’t even have any cake.  I had a feeling she might be having a midlife crisis moment and I went to track her down.

She was cleaning the house.  I knew then it was bad.

When I found her she was scrubbing Cueball’s cage.  I was concerned she might scrub right through the glass.

“Sweetie…is now the best time to be cleaning?  What’s up?”

“HAVE YOU SEEN ME?  Gar, I have wrinkles!  And saggy boobs!  I’m hideous!”

“Sweetie, everyone is done with cake.  How about I kick them out and I’ll show you just how beautiful I think you are.  And then tomorrow we’ll go and work on the shop?”

“Fine.  And you’ll tell me about this boat.  Oh, and you’ll also tutor Adam since you pulled him from class today.”

Only two weeks until the girls got home and I was going to need to kiss ass all 14 days.  I just knew it.

Chapter 2.36

It’s that time of year when I wonder why I bother to put my dining room back together.  After Adam’s birthday comes Feast Day, then Lucy’s birthday, then mine, then Snowflake Day.  All of the holiday parties are at my house, of course.

This year I decided to throw one big Feast Day/Birthday Combo party.  If anyone wanted to complain about it they could have the Feast Day party at their house!

My brother took the family photos.  His professional photography business would give me a run for my money!

I had never made a Stuffed Turkey before so I read up how to do it while watching some celebrity chef make one on the cooking channel.  Adam wanted to help with the cooking this year so he hung out with me.

I spent the morning baking like some sort of crazy woman.  Garrett kept trying to sneak bites of my pies and salads so I finally threatened him with my butcher’s knife and he ran off to play with Lucy.

Since Adam was showing such a desire to bake we bought him a toy oven to practice with.  He honestly loved it and I had a blast baking with him for Feast Day.

Of course it was my baby’s birthday, too!  I love her and all but I’ve never been a baby person.  At least toddler’s sleep…sometimes.  I was not really going to miss this baby stage and I can say with full certainty that she is our last.  I know Garrett wants another boy but he’s going to have to quit his job if he ever wants to try that mess again!

Adam has also really taken a liking to building.  By building I mean destroying buildings.  It doesn’t matter if they are blocks, sand, or dollhouses.  I will have to watch him when Lucy starts getting into dolls!

I’d like to say that I was finished baking by the time everyone started arriving.  Layna showed up first with Lotus and Luka.  Poor Louis had the flu so he was staying with her parents so Ollie could visit as well.

Lotus is the spitting image of her mother!

And Luka could be my brother 25 years ago!

My brother is getting older, too!  Hard to believe he is 35 when I watch him playing video games with my husband.  And to think I’ll be 40 in a week!

I was still panicking about food when my mother arrived.  She proceeded to show me that I was too pent up by dancing around my kitchen while screaming “YOLO”.

We did have plenty of food.  Not only did everyone bring something but we also had birthday cake.

Miss Lucy’s birthday was incredible.  I have no idea where that stunning red hair came from but my Dad says his mother had the most beautiful curly red hair this side of heaven.

After dinner I was still trying to get people to eat the two tons of food I made.  My father politely declined.  Colleen also said no because she had other houses to visit.  She would not give up the name of boy.  And Holly ignored me the way kid sisters tend to do.

Everyone did their own thing after dinner.  It was fun watching Oliver interact with his son.  Mom even got in on the sandbox action!

Adam thought the best time to try and sell his goodies was after a big Feast Day meal.  He looked so proud of himself that his aunts, grandma, and I took pity on him.  Kid made out like a bandit!

Lucy got covered in cake so after a quick bath she settled in to play with Lotus.  Those two are going to be thick as thieves…and heart breakers, too!

It was about 11pm by the time I finally got everyone cleared out.  I’d been waiting all day to get the final shot for my collage.  Now it feels complete.

I took Lucy upstairs and tucked her into her big girl beg for the first time.  She was a bit nervous but settled in after a short time.

When I knew she was asleep I went into the computer room to read Olivia’s latest email.

Chapter 2.35

Note from SweetPoyzin: This chapter is from Garrett’s POV.  I always regretted Victor not having his say in Generation One.  Well, we’re coming to the end of Generation Two and Garrett is in the same position.  So now, on the eve of Adam’s birthday, it’s Garrett’s turn to speak.

A Second Note from SweetPoyzin: My game hates Adam.  More specifically it hates his birthday.  My hard drive crashed after aging him up to a child the first time.  The second time my mouse stopped working and the party guests went home unhappy (I was lucky to save).  This third time Adam was unable to use the birthday cake no matter where I placed it.  Regardless Adam aged up but there is a weird blank spot where the whole cake thing should be.  Sorry.  Let’s hope this is the last catastrophe.

I’m not really a sentimental man.  I don’t get weepy and I don’t always think deep thoughts about life and whatnot.  Lately, though, we’ve been redecorating the house with some old photos we found in the attic.

My kids…well they aren’t little kids anymore.

Adam, my only other source of testosterone in this house, is growing up today.  He’s gonna be a kid!  It’s going to be great.  We’ll play football and soccer.  We’ll go boating and fishing!

First we have to get him out of his baby sister’s room.  We’ve been remodeling his nursery into a “big boy room” and so he’s been hanging out with Lucy.

Since my son doesn’t have a birthday everyday, I called work and told them I wouldn’t be coming in today.  I’m spending the day with my family!

Adam was wide awake when I went in to grab him.  He looked happy as usual.  This kid is awesome when it comes to being happy and laid back.

“Hey, Monster!  Are you ready for your birthday today?”

“Yes.  But Daddy…Will there be cookies?”

The serious look on his face and the worry in his voice made me burst out laughing.

“Cookies, you ask?  I think there will be cookies.  But first there will be RASPBERRIES!”

“AHHHHHHH”

Adam’s giggle fills my heart until I think it will burst.  We really lucked out on the adoption front.  And to think…I wanted to say no.  I thought life was complete with just my girls but Adam and Lucy?  They were the parts I never knew were missing.

“Come on, nugget.  Let’s get you dressed and then you go play!”

While I was cleaning up the play room I heard giggles from the kitchen.

That could only mean trouble for Mollie.

“Mama…are those cookies for me?”

“They won’t be for anyone if you don’t let me finish making them, Cookie Monster!”

“Come on, Champ.  Let’s get out of Mommy’s hair.  Grab some toys and we’ll bury them in the sandbox!”

“AWESOME!”

“You know, Adam, your sisters and I used to play out here, too!”

“They don’t love me anymores.”

“Why do you think that, Nugget?”

“They leaved.  Theys didn’t get me a birthday present either.  I got them presents from my own toy box.  But theys forgot about me.”

“Come here, Nugget.  They didn’t forget you.  They grew up and they have their own lives.  One day you will grow up, too.  You’ll forget about your old man and have your own life.”

“I’ll never forget you, Daddy!  And I’ll always give you lots of presents!”

While Mollie played with Adam in the front yard I ran inside and changed the name on some of the presents.  I know Penny and Liv love their baby brother.  I just wanted to make sure he knows that, too.

I’ll write an email to the girls to let them know they bought their brother that robot action figure he wanted so badly.

While we waited for the guests to arrive, Mollie, Adam, and I sat on the front porch making bad jokes to each other.

“Adam…Why do firemen wear red suspenders?”

“I dunno, Daddy…why?”

“To hold their pants up!”

“Oh, jeez, Garrett…that was terrible!”

Mollie has never been a fan of my bad jokes.  Adam’s giggle whenever I tell one is winning her over though.

Adam’s eyes lit up when he realized the gifts were for him.  I had to keep holding him back from the gift table and finally Mollie and I decided to distract him with cake.  It was, of course, his birthday cake but the guests didn’t mind.  After all, Grammy Liddy and Gramps Vic have been there done that with the toddler scene!

After the party Mollie and Liddy were cleaning up and I snagged Adam.

“Hey, Nugget!  I want you to see this.”

“Dad, that’s Lucy.  I’ve seen her.  Did I mention I’ve also smelled her?”

“She’s your baby sister, Nugget.  See how small she is?  When I’m gone I want you to always look out for her and protect her, okay?”

“Uh, sure Dad.  Are you feeling ok?”

“Just fine, son. Just fine.  Come on…I’ve got another surprise for you!”

“Wanna see your new big boy room!”

“YEAH!  DON’t DROP ME!”

Adam was totally taken aback.  I’d like to say I had a part in this but it was all Mollie and Victor.   He built all the furniture and painted while Mollie thought up the whole design.

“OH WOW!  This is so COOL!  OH MY GOSH!  Is that…”

We aren’t really dog people.  Or cat people.  But we thought it was important for a kid to have a pet.  So we got him a gecko.

“Hey there, friend.”

“What are you going to name him, Nugget?”

“His name is Theodore Q. Rumplefugly.”

“Wow!  That’s quite a name, kiddo.  Should we call him Rumple for short?”

“Ugh…Dad.  His friends call him Cue Ball…because he’s bald.  Jeez.”

I was impressed with the creativity Adam possessed.  I have so many hopes for him but as long as he is happy I’ll be okay with whatever he chooses.

“Alright, say goodnight to Cue Ball.  It’s time for bed!”

“NO!  Daddy, it’s my birthday!”

“Tough cookies.  Get your pajamas on, kiddo.  If you hurry I’ll read you a bedtime story!”

And by bedtime story, I meant Science textbook.  It’s never too early to get a jump-start on knowledge.

He loved it.  That’s my boy!

For not being sleepy the kid conked out pretty fast.  It had been a big day for everyone.  I cannot believe this little guy is a kid.  He’s been part of our lives for five years already!

“Goodnight, Nugget.”  I whispered good thoughts in his ear in hopes he wouldn’t have nightmares.  After watching him breathe for several minutes I snuck out of his room to go find Mollie.

She was downstairs watching old home movies.  On the TV table she had placed a new photo.

“Damn, I forgot I had an earring back in the day.  Shit, Mol, we’re getting old.”

“Not that old though!  I’m only turning 40!  And what are you?  35!  Knock it off!”

“We’ve got a lot to plan in the next couple of weeks.  Lucy’s birthday is next and we’re doing that the same day as our Feast Day party.  Then your birthday and I’ve got that planned.  What do you want for your birthday?”

“I want my girls home.  I heard from Penny today.  She sent an email.  I’ll read it to you tomorrow.  Let’s go to bed.”

Chapter 2.33

I am not a fan of change.  I never have been.  This is probably why the girls’ birthday was so difficult for me.

I have sometimes thought of running away from this life — being the catalyst of change instead of suffering through it.

As much as I love my family with each new baby, each passing birthday I have felt myself more and more panicked by my changing world.  Unfortunately, there is no stopping it and I must endure for the sake of those depending on me.

The girls’ of course were thrilled about the idea of being adults and having the chance to make it on their own.  This is the true test on the parents.  If we failed them, they will suffer for it now.

Penny, however, felt she was suffering for a different reason.

“Mom, ahem, there aren’t a lot of things on that table…”

“Oh, le sigh, did you expect to get something awesome for your birthday?  We did buy you and your sister a car when you turned 16.  Did you expect that for 18, too?”

“Um…yeah?”

“Well, dear daughter, maybe if you were less greedy in the future you would get better gifts.”

“I’m sorry, Mom.  I am such a little shit.”

“Yes, yes you are.  And not very observant.  Perhaps if you checked the back porch…”

I didn’t even have a chance to finish my sentence before Penny was in her coat and out the door.

So much for less greedy…

We did spoil them a bit and this birthday was no different.  We stretched it so thin I was unsure how we would make it the next payday.

I would never tell the girls I sold my $8,000 camera and Garrett sold his $3,000 video game system to make this happen.

Before long Mom, Oliver, Lanya, and Colleen showed up with the birthday cakes.  There was no turning back now…not that I had any choice.  If only I had the power to stop time.

My darling Penny went first.  This was it.

In only a few seconds we would no longer be a family with four children living at home.  We would be a family with 18-year-old young adults.

The enormity of it all hit me in that moment.  The girls are leaving the nest.  Adam’s birthday is next week.  He will be a child.  Lucy’s birthday in two.  A toddler.  My own next month.  Over the hill.

Wasn’t I just planning my wedding?

I didn’t have much time to reflect.  Suddenly, my beautiful, intelligent, young adult daughter was standing in front of my eyes.

Not to be out done Olivia ran up to her cake and in a sparkling second

She turned into the sassy, girly, artistic woman I always knew she would become.

And my little sister put aside her differences with Penny to celebrate her own birthday.

Her intelligence and athletic ability rivals my own.  Maybe one day I will watch her play on the Olympic team.  Maybe she’ll become the astronaut I never got to be.

I felt a harsh sense of failure just then.  My sister had grown up without me.  My littlest sister, Holly, was doing the same thing.  Did she even know who I was?  I would make more of an effort to be involved in their lives.

My brother brought his dog, Roux, to the party.  Roux was also getting older and my brother wanted to be as involved with the little guy as he could.  So…we let Roux have some cake too.

Later that evening the girls ran off to party with their friends.  While I was cleaning up I noticed my Dad with Adam.

Again the guilt hit me.  It must be the old age hormones coming on but I felt awful for not seeing my Dad as much.  My parents needed to also be a bigger part of my life and my children’s lives.

With the rest of feelings I felt the desperate need to hug my baby.  I was not the only one.

I walked into the room and was paralyzed by the look on my mother’s face.  The anguish, the pain, the loneliness.

One day, she would see Lucy go before herself.

I learned more in one night than I had learned in my entire life.

My mother is stronger than I ever thought possible.
My father is my hero.
My husband is truly my better half.
My daughters will be ok in the world.

And I…well, I guess I will survive this change after all.

Chapter 2.32

The morning started like any other day.

I enjoyed another “delicious” salad in hopes of getting rid of those baby pounds and Garrett ate whatever the hell he felt like eating.  Today it was corn dogs because he doesn’t want to get any tonight.

The one thing that wasn’t normal?  Penny and Liv were having a birthday today.  Like they were going to let us forget that they would be young adults, college bound and everything.

Since the twins and Colleen shared a birthday I called my mom and we planned an impromptu triple birthday bash for the girls.  Everyone would come over to our house that evening for a mega party.

Boyfriends were not allowed since Penny and Colleen still could not settle on who gets to date Greg.  Personally, I think neither girl should have dated him since he seemed fine with dating two girls.  But what do I know…I’m only older and wiser.

After getting the party details in place it was time to hangout with the best party planning assistant a mother could ask for.  Lucy was still sleeping so Adam and I had a little time to ourselves before I had to run off to get gifts and cakes.

“Mommy…Sissies told me they wants cookies for the party.  They says I gets to try the cookies whiles you are making them.”

“Your sisters said that?

“Yeah, they saids I’m the bestest cookie eater so I had to taste all the cookies.  Yup.”

“Interesting.  Well, I guess you could have one cookie before lunch.”

I was going to have to watch out for this little nugget.  Only 3 years old and he’s already trying to pull the wool over mom’s eyes.  Little Adam is a dangerous combination of Momma’s Boy, Genius, and Adorable.

I made some other food for the party while Adam chowed down on his cookie.  It was going to be one of our biggest parties yet and I needed lots of food.  Most of which I wouldn’t eat thanks to my stinky diet.

“Mommy’s got to go get some gifts for Penny and Olivia’s birthday party.  You be good for the babysitter ok?”

“I’m the best boy ever, Mommy.  So you should brings me back somfing, too.  Ok, Mommy?”

“You’re birthday is next month, Little Man.  You can wait.”

“Well…ok.  But I might not be good then.”

“That’s a chance I’m willing to take.”

We hadn’t really utilized babysitters since the twins were toddlers.  That bad experience really shook me.  Adam is so self sufficient though and he will let us know if anything is amiss with a sitter.  He also watches out for Lucy, too.  He’s my eyes and ears now.

I drove into town to check out the new art supply shop.  With Liv going to University for her art degree it seemed like the perfect place to find her some gifts.

I immediately thought I was in the wrong place when a pink luxury convertible pulled up next to my old SUV.

We had hit a money snag since the remodel and we had been living paycheck-to-paycheck.  Things were getting so bad that I was thinking about heading back into the workforce after Adam and Lucy were just a smidge older.

The gear here was seriously overpriced.  I ended up getting Liv a drafting table and some models to work from in class.  Penny was the spendy one.  She was going to medical school and her gear was outrageously priced.  We’ll be in the red for awhile but Garrett and I will make it work.  We always have.

When I got home I realized that the house was a mess.  I’ve been taking care of Adam and Lucy and well…the house wasn’t a huge priority.  Until I realized my whole family would be visiting and I had several months’ worth of laundry on the floor.

Garrett was home and he occupied the itty bits.  He really loves being a dad to little ones again.

Even Lucy was excited for the party.  I doubt she knew what was going on but she could tell there was some hub-bub about and it was going to be fun.

Garrett cleaned up the playroom while I set up the gifts and party decorations.

Adam was displeased by this.

“Hey, Big Guy…what’s the issue?”

“You are picking up my toys, Daddy.”

“Yes.  So what’s the issue?”

“I was gonna let Sissies pick a present from my toys and you put thems away!”

“Well, they can pick from your toy box.  If they are all over the floor someone might trip.  They’ll like it just the same.”

“Fine.  I’m not gonna have fun at the party though.”

I decorated the dining room with the girls old pictures.  Since I had gotten in the habit of photographing them before each birthday I had one from their toddler years, childhood, and teen years.

I proudly displayed their photos around the room in chronological order.

Finally, was the photo I took of the girls before school today.  I also had smaller copies made and framed in their favorite colors.  They could take the photos with them to university and beyond and always remember their love for each other and their mother’s love for them.

Finally the gifts were set out and everything was ready and waiting.

Now we just needed the girls to get home from school.

Chapter 2.23

It snowed the day that my little girls became teenagers.

Garrett and Penny tried to get the last little bits of summer out of the day but it didn’t do them any good.  Winter was coming and it was coming fast.

By the end of the day we had 8 inches of snow.  I was glad they got some play time in anyway.

We tried to get the girls some fun gifts.  Penny really wanted to work on her logic and athletic skills so we got her some things to help with that.  Liv just wanted girly things.  She wanted shoes and makeup and other things of the sort.

Whatever works for her I guess.  I have no idea how Garrett and I produced something so…opposite…of both of us.  Ah, well.  We love her anyway.  Goofy girl.

I was in the kitchen cooking up a storm.  I had pies baking, the fryer frying, and I was orchestrating the whole mess.  Nobody could say I didn’t know how to throw a party!

In the midst of trying to do all the prep work, the damn doorbell rang!  Which, I mean, I was expecting…I was hosting a party after all.

I couldn’t believe that my BABY sister was a teenager, too.  And my little brother, the husband and father, was also standing there.

Good Lord, I must be getting old.

Liv was using my distraction as an opportunity to check out her new presents.  She was pretty thrilled about what she was getting.

Before too long it was time for the girls to blow out their candles and become…Young Women.  Ew.  I can’t believe I am a mother to teenagers.

Liv went first.  She was so excited to age up.

In just a matter of seconds my sweet girly girl became…

…a stunning young woman.  I got teary at that moment.

But I had to get it together because I had another daughter to cheer on.

It was fitting that the full moon came out just as my haunting little girl aged up.

She spun around happily and then…

She was a beautiful, spunky teenage genius.

What am I going to do with these girls.  They refuse to stop growing.

Garrett and I need to have another one soon.  I miss the pitter-patter of little feet.  Now I only hear the stomping of mood swings.

Chapter 2.22

Things were relatively calm in our neck of the woods these days.

I still wasn’t pregnant so I was taking some time to improve my skills.  Liv was becoming a master in painting and I thought I should reconnect with my passion.  I painted all the time as a kid and I thought getting back into it would help lift my spirit.

Liv painted this lovely portrait of urinals.  I was at least painting Garrett!

The girls were getting older.  Their birthdays were only a week away.

Their differences were becoming ever more obvious.  Liv preferred her dolls and artwork over everything.

Penny was more focused on her logic and athletic skills.  She wants to go to Medical school one day.  I bet she can do anything!

They both love the sandbox…for different reasons.  Liv loves to build huge castles.  Penny loves to destroy them.  Ah well, such is life with twins.

Garrett and I decided to sit them down and discuss their party ideas.

Liv wanted something artsy.  Penny wanted anything that was not babyish.  They did not agree on a single idea.

“Girls!  If you cannot pick a party theme I will do it for you!”

“Ok, you pick it, Mommy.  It’s just easier.”

“Mom, pick something artsy for Liv.  Okay?”

Deep down Penny loves her sister…even if she does insist on terrorizing her.

I sent them off to work on their skills and homework.  I had a lot of planning to do!

I started making calls.  We had one week to throw these sweet girls a party and I wasn’t going to let them down!