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Archive for November, 2011

Nandina and Brady found themselves spending a lot of time here, in the redecorated nursery.

It was bottles and diapers, diapers and bottles. They loved their little girls, but they knew they needed to take care of themselves, too, so they could be in good shape for their little ones. Nan made a point of working out to get back to top shape for when her maternity leave ended. Their new home gym made that easier.

Brady discovered that the babies enjoyed hearing him play the guitar, so he found a way to indulge his hobby while keeping an eye on the girls.

Kale and Petal both helped some with the babies, and even Ivy would lend a hand from time to time, although she seemed partial to Laurel. They still had their own pursuits, though. Kale had just had his third book published and was moving up the journalism ladder.

Petal was racing through the recipe books that her mother had bought her. Each time she learned a new dish, she would treat the family to a delicious treat. Not since Flora had the Foliages enjoyed such culinary delights!

Ivy’s pursuits were not nearly so domestic. Well, in a sense they could possibly be considered as such. With none of the family aware, she got up late one night, dressed all in black, and set out.

She checked her watch to verify how much time she had before the charges would go off. She slinked out into the night and watched from the hill as three strategic explosions took out the electricity, blackening the twinkling lights in windows all over the Valley. She heard the faint sounds of the alarm at the fort and interpreted the signal that a rocket had been sighted on the radar. Snickering to herself that they had fallen for her decoy, she made her way to her first carefully chosen target. Most would find warm lights shining from a house’s windows to be welcoming; she preferred the dark. One by one, glittering objects found their way into her possession, as she moved from location to location. All the military and law enforcement personnel had been summoned to the nonexistent threat, because how could the radar be wrong? Making her way home, Ivy slipped into the garage and changed out of her inky black nightwear.

She ran her hands across the wall, feeling for the almost imperceptible depression in the wall. Even though she herself had done the installation, it still took concentration to find the release.

Ivy’s steps barely broke the silence as she made her way down the stairs to her underground lair, her private place where she could be alone with her treasures. She would put in appearances as needed with the family, but here, she could be herself, think about what interested her, and admire the fruits of her labors.

In the garden the next morning, Camellia asked Ivy if she had heard the sirens during the night. Ivy paused for just half a second as she plucked a ripe tomato from the vine, then replied smoothly that she had heard some kind of noise, and was Aunt Cam able to go back to sleep? Satisfied with Camellia’s affirmative answer and hoping she wouldn’t bring up the subject again, Ivy went on with the gardening. Strangely enough, she enjoyed it; it was one of few things she had in common with anyone else in the family.

Later that day, Camellia felt a funny twinge. She stopped, took a few deep breaths, and then started to go sit down.

She never made it to the chair. In that split second, the vibrant, unbelievably active 108-year-old went to meet her Maker. The family was shocked; she had lived so long, they had almost thought that she would never die. Although she hated herself for thinking this, Ivy was relieved that at least the subject of her escapades the night before would not be brought up again, and by the time the family was out of mourning, it would be old news.

Nan felt a bit adrift now, as the last member of the older generation was gone. She really was in charge now, and what a responsibility it was! She loved being the leader of the family and keeping it very involved in the community through her participation in the local team and full and part ownerships in many of the town’s businesses. But looking down at her tiny baby, she felt a heavy weight on her shoulders to make sure that the Valley remained a good place for her children to grow up. She had heard strange reports of explosions, power outages, and missing items across the Valley, and Nan wondered what she might do to put an end to this. Maybe she could start a neighborhood watch group.

—-

Time passed, the babies grew, and Nandina’s maternity leave was almost at an end. She and Brady planned a small birthday party for their daughters, and Petal and Kale joined in.

The girls grew up to look more distinct from one another than they had as infants. Holly was fairer in coloring and seemed quite calm, while Laurel was a bit darker and had a very expressive face.

On the same day as their birthday, Nandina and Brady had a huge surprise.

Nandina realized that the weight she had been gaining was not in fact muscle from her increased workouts. She and Brady were ecstatic with this news, but Nan was worried about how the team’s coach would take the news.

She was relieved to get the thumbs up from her coach, who assured her that if she kept up her workouts as much as she was able, her place would still be waiting for her when she was ready to get back to work. So she made a point of reading up on sports news while expecting her baby. Kale was also happy to point her to the latest articles on keeping fit while incubating a baby, since he had a colleague who specialized in fitness writing.

All the baby talk stirred up something in Petal, and she decided it was time to seek out a special someone for herself. She had dated, sure, but up until now she hadn’t really thought about settling down in her own house with a special man and raising a family. Now it was definitely on her radar.

At home, the twins were learning all the things that they needed to know. Laurel was eager to learn to walk, and Ivy was happy to teach her. Holly was more interested in learning to talk, and Brady enjoyed hearing her chirp pieces of words back at him as he tried to teach her.

Meanwhile, Nan felt like she was getter closer to whale size every day. Bending down to pick up toys became an aerobic workout, and it seemed like she was hungry again within an hour after lunch. She looked at her face in the mirror, noticing the dark circles and lines around her eyes and wondered how she was going to manage being the mother of more than she already had.

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