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Archive for the ‘Holly’ Category

The girls of the seventh generation of Foliages were developing their own personalities and talents. A typical afternoon would find Holly and Laurel coming in from school together, unless Laurel had ballet class, but for the rest of the day they usually followed their own pursuits.

Holly divided her time between the computer and the easel. She was working on a novel, much to the approval of her Uncle Kale.

Laurel’s activities weren’t always so visible. She enjoyed swimming on warm days, but she also enjoyed sneaking around at night, setting up pranks and booby traps for the rest of the family to find.

Little Cassia was not to be forgotten, either. Although small in such a big household, she could make her presence known.

She was very fond of her special doll that she called Caper. Nandina worried that she might tear it’s …uh… antenna? off with the rough way she played with it, but she didn’t have the heart to put it up out of reach. What was a doll for if not to play with, anyway? And Cassia wouldn’t be tiny enough to want to play with dolls much longer now, would she?

Aunt Ivy was amused by the kid. Nandina wasn’t sure that Ivy would be an altogether good influence on young Cassia, but how much in the way of life lessons could a toddler really learn from an adult? Besides, it might be good for Ivy to be around children, Nandina thought.

One day after playing lollipop keepaway with Cassia, Ivy went to check the mailbox. She had taken to collecting geodes and having them cut into different shapes. Nan and the rest thought she had reformed and found a respectable interest, but it made a nice cover. Plus, her contact at the cutting facility sent her signals encoded in the packaging.

She had to grin every time she saw the flag up. Her own private signaling system, and no one was the wiser. This time, the message was that the heist would be in four days. That put it just after her birthday. Looking in the mirror a couple of days later, she decided she was really going to have to do something about her hair. Couldn’t have silver hairs shining in the searchlights!

Meanwhile, Petal kept the family going with her elaborate recipes for eggs machiavellian and angel food cake. One night, she prepared a dish of freshly caught salmon grilled to perfection.

Holly told her it tasted like a million simoleans. Kale was too busy eating to say what he thought.

Where were Nan and Brady during this family dinner? It wasn’t unusual for Ivy to be absent, and Laurel was off setting a trap for someone. Cassia, of course, was in her crib. But Nan and Brady were enjoying the benefits of Nan’s resolution not to devote all of her time to children and career. Brady approved.

The next afternoon was Laurel’s ballet recital. She made sure everybody knew it and pliéed all around the house that morning before school. Her twin sister, parents, and uncle all proudly attended.

Afterwards, the family had a little party outside to celebrate.

This schedule suited Ivy just fine, because this was the night of the big heist. While everyone was busy, she slipped out to meet her cronies down at the “abandoned” warehouse. They got their gear ready and were about to leave, but she caught a glimpse of a police cruiser parked just around the corner.

Quickly she shut the door and led everyone out through the secret exit. She headed to the target address and slipped in with no problem. Bagging what the gang was after, she kept a few baubles for herself and slipped back out and up the hill to the signaling point. There she made contact with the fence and became quite a bit richer.

Back at home, the little family party broke up at bedtime, and no one had any idea that Ivy was still up to her old tricks. If they were curious, there was a paid witness who saw her at the gem cutting workshop that evening.

So Nan’s only concern as she lunched by the pool the next day was whether she was eating enough carbs to be at her best for the big game. She wanted her team to score a victory, and she wanted to be the MVP!

Nan was pleased with the outcome, and the coach was, too!

In the midst of all this activity, the youngest member of the Foliage family celebrated her birthday. Cassia was now old enough to go to school, but she told her mom and Petal that she didn’t want any yucky meat in her bento box – she had decided to become a vegetarian!

Considering that serious pronouncement, Nan was surprised that Cassia still enjoyed playing with her doll. Conscientious objection to hot dogs didn’t seem to go with the wildly imaginative stories that Cassia told of pillow fights and tea parties with her doll.

Neither Laurel nor Holly knew what to make of Cassia’s stories, either. Laurel would just walk away when Cassia started in about Caper.

Holly even hid in the bathroom to avoid Cassia’s efforts to convince her that Caper was real.

At their mother’s encouragement, the older girls made an effort to interest Cassia in playing with something other than her doll. Even though they thought they were really too old for the blocks table, they invited their younger sister to build a tower with them, hoping she would focus on the blocks.

They chattered away about whose side of the tower was taller, who was hogging all the green blocks, and where each one of their rooms would be in the tower. For a while, they all actually had fun together.

Then Cassia picked up one of the blocks and declared that it was as blue as Caper’s left shoe, and that Caper could smash their magnificent tower with one stomp.

Laurel swiped her arm across the tower, knocking all the blocks onto the floor, and stomped off. Holly looked at both her sisters in disbelief and ran for her computer where she could write her stories and make things come out like they should.

Out in the garden, the last rays of the day’s sunshine were casting long shadows. The lights were just starting to come on, but Nandina didn’t see them. She stared out over the fence, out of their yard, at something Brady couldn’t identify. He came up behind her and put his hand on her shoulder, then brushed it through her long hair. She sighed and turned to face him.

“You see old lady Larue out there?” She asked.

Brady laughed softly. “Our crazy neighbor? Sure. She’s harmless.”

“Maybe so,” Nan replied, “but do you think we’ll end up like that? I hate getting old. I wish I could always feel strong and in control.”

Brady smiled into Nandina’s eyes. “I love you just the way you are. And whatever way you become. Even if I have to tell you your socks don’t match.”

Shocked, Nan looked down, then grinned and punched Brady’s arm lightly for tricking her. Losing her grin, she said, “I do worry about Cassia though. I hope this nonsense about the doll is just a phase she’ll grow out of.”

As he pulled her into his arms, Brady reassured her. “Whatever happens, we will face it together.

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Nan was making an effort to enjoy her maternity leave. She had kept up her exercise program as long as she could, but now that she could barely see her feet, much less reach them, she was limited to pottering about the kitchen, sitting at the computer, and taking naps.

When the big day finally came, no one was happier than Nandina! All the pain and frustration were forgotten when Nan held little Cassia in her arms.

 

Nan didn’t want Holly and Laurel to feel neglected because of the new baby, so she made a point of spending time with them while Cassia was napping.

 

Nan wanted to give her hubby some attention, too, but it wasn’t always easy to find a quiet moment to spend together.

Sometimes Kale would help out with his nieces, especially if Petal was on a date.

And sometimes Petal’s dates went so badly that she would rather have been home with the kids.

Cassia grew quickly, possibly because of the large quantities of oxygen she took in between cries and screams. She was a very vocal little girl, but she seemed to be content when she played with her funny little doll.

Nan and Brady did their best to teach their three small girls what they needed to know. The most important thing to know, of course, was that they were loved.

Love was not on the radar of one member of the household, however. Ivy had kept up her nightly escapades and was bent on building up her stash of SETs (Shiny Expensive Things). She was an expert at slipping in and out of a home or business unnoticed and had purloined a wide variety of gems, precious metals, paintings, and statues.

One particular night, she and the other “night visitors” had mapped out their plan of attack to ensure that nobody stepped on anybody else’s territory. One of them challenged Ivy to nab a particular gold figurine from a wealthy family that was known to have a superb alarm system. She boldly accepted his challenge.

She had never dreamed that the challenger planned to betray her. He tipped off the police, and her getaway was interrupted. Ivy had to endure the indignity and the crowding of a night in Legacy Valley’s jail, and the added insult of being bailed out the next day and released into the custody of her younger, baby-factory sister.

 

Nan was horrified to find out what her sister had done. Stealing? From their neighbors? She tried to find out why Ivy would do such a thing, when the Foliages had everything they could possibly need already, but Ivy just stared back at her and said she was using her talents as their mother had always encouraged them to do. Nan’s mouth fell open at that bizarre take on things, and then she said, “Very well. It’s time you used your other talents. I know you’re a gifted gardener, so here’s how you’ll work off the bail money. Tend the garden and keep our kitchen stocked with perfect produce.” Ivy simply gave Nan a cold look and squatted to tend the plant nearest to her. Nan walked away, none to sure of the situation but muttering to herself, “Maybe it will be a lesson in working to provide rather than taking the fruits of others’ labors. Or maybe it will at least keep her too busy to sneak out at night.”

What Nan didn’t know was that before being caught, Ivy had managed to hide her latest SET, and she retrieved it while ostensibly taking some vegetables down to the family’s bistro. While under the Foliage variety of house arrest, she could at least console herself by admiring the little fox.

And when she was on baby duty, she could find other ways to amuse herself.

Now that she noticed, though, there was something about that Cassia. She would have to keep a close eye on her; she might have potential!

With Ivy at home now, Petal found herself with a little more free time. She could feel her biological clock ticking, and more than that, she felt lonely for someone she wasn’t sure that she had met yet. She chatted with neighbors, gave tourists directions, and even invited some guy friends on dates.

She liked it when they complimented her fashion sense, and she loved to sit together and watch the stars.

Would she ever find Mr. Right? She was not getting any younger, a fact which was made impossible to ignore by the twins’ birthday. Holly and Laurel had grown into beautiful little girls.

 

Blonde-haired Holly was eager to take a music class in school; apparently she had taken after her parents in their love of music. Slim, dark-haired Laurel was more interested in signing up for ballet class. The girls did share an interest in art, if little else.

As the bus pulled away from their house, Nan felt a motherly pang of sadness that her girls were growing up. She thought about little Cassia in her crib and made a vow to cherish her pre-school days that were passing all too fast.

She also vowed to keep balance in all her relationships, meaning she wouldn’t let the cares of motherhood and the ambitions of career come between her and Brady. She took that moment to go find him just finishing shaving.

After a -ahem- romantic interlude, they went upstairs to assemble the girls’ birthday gift.

When they had finished, Nan went to feed Cassia and Brady went out to the garden. When Kale got home from work, he joined Brady in the garden and told him about his promotion.

The men of the house had been bonding lately, which was necessary to survive in a household with six females.

Holly had overheard the promotion announcement, and she also heard Kale talking to Quiana on the phone. When he finished his conversation, she went over to him and got straight to the point. She wanted to know when he was going to be marrying Quiana. After all, he got a promotion, so he must have a good job, and he said all those lovey dovey things to Quiana on the phone. Why wouldn’t they get married?

Kale didn’t quite know what to say.

Laurel, on the other hand, was tired from running around at recess and then taking ballet class, plus she wanted to stake her claim to the top bunk.

With the girls getting bigger, Nandina went back to work and was pleased that the team’s losing record was starting to turn around. She still made an effort to spend time with her daughters, commenting on Holly’s first painting and helping Laurel with her homework.

Evenings were reserved for family time around the Foliage house. Nandina hoped that things were headed in a good direction.

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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.

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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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