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 3.19

Christmas came to Starlight Shores before I had time to blink.

Of course, this meant that I got to buy new furniture and rearrange the house again which is my favorite part of the holidays!

Adam’s favorite part is the break, of course.  He took time to sleep in and be a bum.

I was hosting the big Snowflake Day party (ugh) but that morning I had other plans with my favorite folks.  Liv, Bug, Pickle, and I were off to the Winter Festival.

Having never seen so much snow before, Bug and I took to the fields to make the biggest snowman ever.

“Hey wait here, Aunt Penny…I’m going to go get us some stuff to make his face!”

10 minutes later Bug was still missing and I had to go on a Bug hunt.

“AUNTIE PEEEEEPEEEEE!”

“NANNY NANNY FOO FOO!  YOU CAN’T HIT ME!”  Bug had wandered over to the snowball fight arena and was attempting (poorly) to challenge me.

“Oh yeah?!  I dare you to hit ME!” I taunted back.  “Come join us, sis!” I yelled toward Liv.

“No…I think I’m good over here with Dylan….you know, where you can’t kill me.”

I might have been a bit rough on Bug…

I won, of course.  I’m not about to let a kid beat me even if she is my favorite kid!

I got her some goodies with the tickets I won so it all evened out in the end.

Mike came and grabbed the kids so Liv and I could have some “grown up” fun in the snow.  Unfortunately it all ended way too soon and I had to get to the party planning.

Luck for me,  Adam was way ahead of the game because I completely forgot to make the roast.

Luckily for everyone else his cooking has really improved!

Xander, was the problem chef tonight.  He started cooking steaks but then got called into work and left.  This did not end well.

I got home just in time to deal with the mess.

“Remind me to kill him later, Adam”

“Only after I kill him first, Penn.”

Sounded like a plan to me.

Adam also ended up putting the lights on the house and a snowman in the yard.  He’s going to make some woman seriously happy one day.  One day soon in fact…the boy is nearly a man.  Sheesh!

I put the prizes from the fair until the tree for Bug and Pickle.  I wasn’t leaving that little booger out of the fun!

Everyone brought gifts to the party as is tradition.

I wanted to wear an awesome Christmas sweater set I bought (I got one for Xander too) but after the fire I forgot to change.  Next year there will be payback.

Everyone loved their gifts.

I tried to make the roast quickly before dinner but roasts are not a quick thing.

Mom saved the day with lobsters.  No complaints here!

Aunt Lanya and Mom cleaned up which was the best Christmas gift EVER

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 2.38

My birthday was more eventful than I anticipated.

Just as everyone was getting ready to head home, Mom’s water broke.  Since Colleen had already left and Oliver and Lanya had their kids, I went with Mom to the hospital so Dad could get Holly home.

After a mere six hours of labor my mom brought my newest sibling into the world.  My baby brother Collin Scott Lox is a real looker for only being a few hours old.

I had to say I was feeling a bit miffed by this whole thing.  I’m not going to lie, I’d love another child but I don’t think it is in the cards for me.  My mother was beaming with the birth of her new son and I can’t say I blame her.  She loves this whole motherhood thing.

When I returned home early the next morning I caught  Adam saying goodbye to his baby sister before he ran off to catch the bus.  It’s moments like these when I realize how lucky I am to have what I do.

After we got Adam to school Garrett, Lucy, and I went to work on my new gallery.  I was still baffled by this purchase but Garrett was so damn proud of himself I just decided to go with it.

“So, this is it.  It’s looking pretty naked.”

Garrett tucked Lucy away in the play area.  I thought this addition was a wonderful idea.  I love the idea of bringing Lucy to work with me and knowing she is safe while doing so.

I started to unpack the trunks I’d been using to store my photos all these years.  It took about five hours but we did it!

I had photos from China, Midnight Falls, Starlight Shores, the beach…so many memories.

The whole place looked amazing!  After all the work was finished I sat with Garrett in the small cafe.

“I can’t believe you bought be an art gallery…”

“It seemed like a good and reasonable idea, Molls.  I mean, you are an artist, Olivia is known for her masterpiece paintings, Penny is an up-and-coming photographer.  Adam and Lucy are still kids so who knows what they will do.  I mean, we have a legacy, Mollie!  We can’t keep selling our life away bit by bit just to get through the day!  We need to leave something behind for the kids!”

“What is with you these days!  Always we won’t be around forever.  You are 35!  I’m only 40!  We aren’t going to die tomorrow!”

“You don’t know that, honey.  Nothing is forever!  Look at your parents!  Your father died long before you were married!  We could go anytime and we would have nothing to leave the kids!”

“Alright, alright… You aren’t wrong.  Let’s home this thing makes us some money.  Adam will be home soon, I’ll grab Lucy and let’s head home.”

When we got home Adam was just arriving from Scouts.  He took Lucy off to keep her busy while I prepared for the twins’ homecoming.  It was 3pm Friday and they would be home at 10am Saturday.  I had so much to prepare!  Food needed cooking and we hadn’t even gotten the Christmas tree up.

We put an old TV in the play area and the kids camped out in front of that while I worked.

All the worry I felt when I discovered I was pregnant right after Adam came along was totally misplaced.  Adam and Lucy have an incredible bond.  I suppose it comes from being the only two left in the house after the older kids left.  Ollie and I share a bond I don’t have with Colleen or Holly.  It’s not that I don’t love them but we are so far apart in age we have little in common.

Oh, did I mention Adam is having a sleepover tonight?  He didn’t either.  So while I cooked and cleaned Garrett took care of the details.  He made popcorn…

Ordered pizza and basically turned the living room into a sleepover paradise.  Lucky for us the only kids Adam invited were Holly and Luka so at least they are family and don’t expect my house to be spotless.

Also lucky for us, the kids were out before midnight which meant I got to get a full night’s sleep before the twins returned home, too!

This meant I was able to get up by 7am to start the house cleaning early.  I was working on Adam’s bathroom when I heard the ruckus downstairs.

“You know, Liv, these two cookie monsters sort of look like Adam and Lucy…except they are WAY too big!”

“Yeah, you know I think they are imposters, Penny.  They should be TICKLED until they tell us where the real Adam and Lucy are!”

“AHHHHHHHHHHHHH!”

I threw on some clothes and ran downstairs.

“PENELOPE AND OLIVIA HANKS!  You guys weren’t supposed to be home for another three hours!  I’m not ready yet!”

“Jeez, Mom…I guess we could go to the strip club for a few hours if you’d like?”

“Get over here.  I’m so glad you are home, girls.”

“Mama you look great!  How are things?  We have so much to tell you!”

I made coffees and we all sat around and talked.  Penny loves medical school and Liv is pleased with her art.  Liv seemed a bit more quiet than usual but let’s face it, they just drove 10 hours in a blizzard!  Penny more than made up for her sister.

“I’ll grab your things and put them upstairs in your room.  Oh, I got you both an early Christmas gift to wear at our family gift opening on Christmas morning.”

I am fairly sure they did not bring that many bags with them when they left.  And I know I did not send them with six cases of Ramen noodles…

Ah well, such is life with college girls.  Garrett will be thrilled when he gets home tonight!

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 2.23

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!

Chapter 2.20

At the end of fall we decided to host a Feast Day party to get my mind off the fact that I still wasn’t pregnant.  At least we were trying to host a party but Penny has developed a rebellious streak and tried to destroy our pumpkins several times.

She finally succeeded while I was putting the finishing touches on the pumpkin pie.  She was upset when she got grounded for the night.

I was very excited about all the food that everyone brought.  We wanted to have a party for just close family and friends but some random guy showed up and brought waffles.

Garrett and I decided he was probably harmless and in the spirit of the season we let him stay.  I offered him some of my mothers famous teppenyaki shrimp.

Obviously missing from the party was my brother’s very pregnant wife.  It was the topic of conversation of course.  When was she due?  How was she doing?  Boy or girl?  Any names picked out?  I didn’t want to talk about it.

My mother had recently given birth, too.  Garrett went over to get the details since I didn’t want to deal with that.

Holly was a beautiful little fairy that looked just like me apparently.  She was born with jet black hair and fair blue eyes.

Great…my mother is having babies that look like me.  Of course, I look like me because of my parents but that is not the point.

Colleen and the twins played tag outside until late into the night.  It would be one of the last warm nights until spring so we let them play outside until they were too tired to continue.

My phone rang while I was talking to Oliver.  It was the hospital an they were calling about Lanya.  They didn’t think they should call him directly with the news so they called the emergency number Lanya had given the doctors.  That was my number.

I asked him to step outside so we could speak privately.

“Ollie, that was the hospital.  Lanya just gave birth to a healthy son.  You’re a daddy.  They are both doing just fine.

“She had the baby?  I missed it?  I’m already a terrible father!”

“You are not!  It just didn’t take as long as doctors thought it would.  They would have called but by the time she got to the hospital the baby was nearly here.  There wouldn’t have been enough time even if you did know.”

“Here, this is for the baby.  What’s his name?”

“Luka.  Luka Oliver Lox.”

“You are going to be a wonderful dad, Ollie.  Luka is a lucky little boy.”

“Thanks, sis.  And I know this was difficult for you.  Don’t worry.  You’ll get your chance.  I just know it.”

“Thanks, Ollie”

After all the excitement Ollie went straight to the hospital to meet his son.  Mom and Dad had to go home to Holly.  Garrett and I, however, were left with a disaster but it was well worth it.

Chapter 2.19

NOTE: This chapter is a bit short and disjointed.  I thought I had all the photos I needed…but I missed some key images!  Sorry about that!

My baby brother is getting married today!

Oliver is marrying the beautiful Lanya and I get  to be the photographer for the wedding!

The ceremony was really wonderful!  I missed some of it because I was so busy with my camera but I loved what I saw!

My brother made some funny speech before cutting the cake.  I don’t think out cake was as yummy as theirs!

After I finished the photos, Garrett and I danced the night away.  His moves still leave a lot to be desired!

My girls hung out with Auntie Colleen.  Penny is not a fan of cake but she really looked envious of Colleen’s food.

Ollie and Lanya bought a bigger house near the center of town.

I was excited to see so many of my photos displayed in their home.

I think little Paco is most excited about the new yard and space though!

NOTE: Again, I apologize.  This chapter sucks at best!

Chapter 2.18

Shortly after finding out she was pregnant, mom showed up at the house unannounced.

“What are you doing here!  More importantly…WHY ARE YOU HAVING A BABY!?  You are my mother!  We were already pregnant together once and now you are pregnant and I can’t get there!  What is wrong with you, mother!?”

“What is wrong with you, child.  You might be a full grown woman with children of your own but you will still treat me with respect.  I am very sorry that you cannot conceive, I truly am, but you cannot tell me when I can or cannot be pregnant.”

“But, mom, you just don’t get it.  We’ve been trying for a year!”

“I certainly do get it, dearheart.  Did it ever occur to you that I am a FAIRY.  Chances are you and your daughters and this baby too will be long dead before I ever reach old age.  You will stop acting like a spoiled brat who is not getting your way and you will look at the big picture.  I brought you up better  than this!”

“GET OUT OF MY HOUSE!”

The girls were apparently listening in to our conversation.  We should have known better but tensions were high.

“Ugh.  There they go again.  Where’s Dad?”

“He’s playing video games.  You know he doesn’t want to take sides.  Grammy Liddy is like a second mom to him.”

“We’d better go deal with it.  I’ll take Grammy to the attic to practice alchemy.  You’re better at dealing with Mom.”

“Deal.”

“WHAT, Liv?!  What is so important right now?”

“Mommy…why are you so mad at Grammy Liddy?”

“Well, she’s going to have a baby.  And Mommy and Daddy want another one and we haven’t been lucky yet.”

“Look, Mom, if you are having issues getting pregnant why don’t you and Daddy go to a fertility specialist and see if there is anything medically wrong?”

It was then that I realized that I don’t give my little girls enough credit.  It also occurred to me that my little girls weren’t so little anymore.