"Let's talk again about this house again--what do you like best about it?"
Meadow knew he was still thinking they needed a larger home and he knew that she dreaded leaving the home they had.
"We-ell," she drew the word out and looked around, "I love the wall treatments inside and out--the barn wood, the distressed brick, the fieldstone and wood accents. I love the hardwood floors. Oh, and the kids' playroom--they use it so much. This place is not a cookie-cutter house like a lot of the other houses in Pleasantview--it has such charm and character--it was 30 years old when we moved in. Brian, it's us!"
He beckoned her over to sit by him on the love seat, and put his arm around her. Brian was nearly always calm and collected. Or at least could appear that way no matter what happened. Sometimes it drove Meadow crazy, but mostly she loved that about him. But today she could almost see, hear and feel the hum of enthusiasm within him as he asked,
"Now, tell me the things you would change here--if you could."
"Hmm, well of course, we need more rooms or at least larger rooms. I would love to have all our bedrooms on the same floor, too. And a bigger yard for the kids."
"What about more privacy, without neighbors so close around us?"
"That would be good, too."
"Now, what if I could show you a house that had most, if not all, of the features you like about this house, but more room and more yard?"
"I thought you said there are no perfect houses."
"Yes, I did say that--and it's true. But there are houses that are almost perfect."
"Where did you see this almost perfect house, then?" Meadow asked, putting her hand on his chest and looking up directly into his eyes. He pulled her onto his lap.
"In my mind's eye, sweetheart," he admitted, "I just saw the perfect piece of property, though, and I believe we can build an 'almost perfect' home on it."
"Build a house!" Meadow was dismayed, "Brian, how could you think about building a new house when I'm forty-months pregnant! I don't believe I can bear to even think about it."
She started to get up from his lap indignantly, but Brian kept his arms firmly around her.
"I know it's a lot to ask, but I think I can make it so things are not too hard on you. And we wouldn't start building right away, of course. Here's what I was thinking; we'll hire an architect and have him make sketches and blueprints of what we want--everything will stand or fall on your say-so, Sunshine, I promise. I'd like you to go with me to his office the first time then I'll ask him to do all future meetings here at the house. After that, I'll do everything; you won't have to lift a finger except to look at paint color chips and material swatches and tell me what you want. Of course, these things always end up taking longer and costing more than expected, but I think we can be in by summer, or at least next fall.
Meadow could see that he was exhilarated just talking about it. This was their fourth child she was carrying and Willow was still a toddler, although that was soon going to change. She did not have the energy she'd once had when she carried Heath. She was older for one thing. And back then she'd had no children to care for while she waited for Heath to be born, certainly not two energetic schoolkids and a rambunctious toddler. Willow was the most active child she'd had yet.
"Brian, I'm scared of it, I have to be honest. For one thing you always hear that building a house can almost cause a couple to divorce. Besides, it sounds really expensive. And the baby will be born soon--I'll be so busy with that."
"I believe we can afford it now that I'm making better money," Brian sounded so reasonable and sure of himself, "And I think that we can get a decent price on this house. I'll go over the exact finances with you whenever you say, then you can tell me what you want. I just ask that you keep an open mind and think over what I've said."
Meadow looked into Brian's face. He'd never, ever let her down. She sighed,
"Okay, I promise I'll keep an open mind, but when can I have a look at this 'perfect property'?"
He grinned big,
"Anytime you want. Let me know and I'll ask Momma to stay with the kids."
"Oh, let's take Heath and Brook with us when we go--Momma can stay with Willow. They are old enough to have a vote on where we will--might--live."
They did take the kids to look at the property the next weekend. Both Heath and Brook were very excited about how big it was and they loved that there was practically a forest surrounding it. Meadow had to admit the setting was beautiful.
Willow did not go along, of course, she stayed home and her Nana babysat. The toddler was learning fast and her birthday was not far away at all. Going to the potty by herself, walking and talking were no big deal for her now--she was still working on learning a nursery rhyme, though.
One weekday evening in mid-Autumn, Brook looked up at the window in the playroom and saw snow starting to fall. She stood up and ran to the window to look closer. More snow--maybe there would be a snow day again! And that's exactly what happened.
In the middle of the snowstorm the new baby arrived early. He was a robust little boy that they named Rockwell Brian, to be called Rocky.
"Yes, the Brian Ottomas family is a forced to be reckoned with now," Brian grinned and looked at Heath, "Be proud, son. You're part of a dynasty."
The next morning Heath and Brook played outside. They were supposed to be making a snowman, but Brook kept stopping either to look at things or do something else, and she decided to make a beautiful snow angel. Suddenly she ran to kiss and hug Brian, who had just arrived from town where he'd been doing various errands.
"C'mon, you're supposed to be helping me with this, Brookie," Heath complained.
So they worked together and finished the snowman, then came into the house because they were all but frozen. Hot chocolate in the kitchen really helped and their beautiful snowman was ready to greet any and all visitors.
Heath and Brook constantly talked about what was coming up: Willow's birthday was almost here and as soon as she had it they would be leaving on a family vacation to the mountains. Their grandparents would be coming again soon to stay and take care of Rocky.
Brian was almost late when he gathered up his youngest daughter from her play, hugged her and then set her back down on the floor. She stood up and the family barely had time to get there let alone fool with cake and candles. Within a few seconds she was wobbling on her little legs and as the family gathered around her she became a little girl.
The next morning when the school bus arrived Mrs. Peterman, the driver, looked out the bus door toward the Ottomas house. Here came Heath and then it looked like Brook--no, not Brook--it had to be their younger sister. She must have had her birthday the driver thought. Behind her came Brook who, of course, the bus driver already knew.
"Well, now, who is this?" Mrs. Peterman asked her newest passenger with a smile.
"I'm Willow!" was the perky answer, "I just grew up last night and it's my first day of school!"
The kids boarded the bus just as their daddy reported for an unusually early morning workday. He'd be going over accounts at the club when it was empty and quiet. Dylan would be taking over for him starting tonight while the family went to the mountains.
Willow greeted Brian excitedly when he came home for supper. He said they would all pack tonight; they must be ready to leave for Three Lakes early in the morning.
The next morning they were all gathered in the living room, waiting for the bus to take them to Three Lakes. Heath and Brook explained to Willow that there would probably be even more snow in the mountains than there was here in Pleasantview.
"Well, we're ready for Three Lakes," Meadow commented to Brian, "But is Three Lakes ready for us?"
Next update: Author's Note