It was time for the twins birthday and Brian and Meadow went upstairs to get North and Raine. Downstairs were two cakes, balloons in pink for Raine and blue and yellow for North as well as gifts of toddler clothes and two tricycles. In some ways Brian and Meadow were very traditional. The family gathered around as they sang "Happy Birthday".
Blowing out the candles for the twins, Brian and Meadow laughed as their last babies took their next step into toddlerhood.
Double the toddlers; double the trouble, but they were just so darned cute, it was hard for the family to keep from spoiling them even when they were misbehaving. North and Raine always woke early; much earlier than they had as infants, and they didn't like to be kept waiting. Once they were plucked from their cribs they were much more agreeable, though.
Raine especially was mercurial, either grumpy and wailing or smiling and laughing. No middle ground. Brian's nickname for her was now "Crabby Pattie". North was more apt to whine than throw a tantrum, but whining could get on anyone's nerves too. Still he was a cheerful, if quiet, child most of the time, and much less likely to get in a bad mood.
They played well together, both indoors and outdoors. Meadow took them outdoors for a while every day unless it was raining.
As for the play-station, North was already showing a marked preference for drawing and coloring while Raine seemed to be more interested in building with her blocks. Sometimes they traded off, though. Meanwhile, Rocky was an active child who spent most of his time outdoors and loved the merry-go-round and the monkey-bars.
Surprisingly, Heath still wanted to cook meals a couple times a week; he hadn't tired of it yet as Meadow and Brian thought he would. Meadow began to wonder if he would end up becoming a chef, like Lonnie, but she said nothing. After all, music still seemed to be the most important thing in his life so far...besides girls.
Willow and Rocky nearly always played video games while they waited for the bus; they were both doing very well in school.
After school on rainy days they often played "Don't Wake the Llama" or chess on the big front porch. Brian and Heath jammed together; sometimes Heath played drums, sometimes he was on keyboard.
Brook found the most private place for her to talk to friends on her phone was up in her bedroom. She spent more time there while Willow was either outside or in the playroom.
Occasionally Meadow fried chicken for supper; Brook loved chicken and fried was her favorite way of eating it. But more often they had chicken broiled or grilled. The odd and mysterious shortage of fresh poultry that had once plagued Pleasantview was now a thing of the past and it was readily available at the supermarket.
Brook had been a rather quiet child but as a teenager she seemed to find her voice, frequently regaling the family at dinnertime with amusing stories of the people and events at school. They listened enraptured because there was no other choice. As the amazed, but frustrated Willow put it,
"Brook talks so much and so fast it's like she's never gonna stop. I can't even squeeze in one tiny word. Sheesh!"
Two very tired parents...
According to Willow, ever since her birthday Brook had become "The Bathroom Hog". Each school day morning she took much more time in the bathroom than she had as a child due to added beauty steps followed by extra primping. Then of course she had to be sure to watch herself in the mirror as she practiced witty and flirty reactions and replies to imaginary comments from friends.
Meadow explained to Willow that this was the usual thing for a teenaged girl, so Willow grumbled, "Holy cannoli, how stupid," but she rearranged her morning schedule, making her bed and having breakfast before she even tried to take a turn in the bathroom.
Meadow, meanwhile, wondered what was going to happen when there were two teenage girls jockeying for a position in the bathroom. The room had seemed big enough when they planned it, but now...
Brian was still as tidy as ever and, even though they had a maid coming, it was a big house so he always made the bed, just one less chore for the maid to try to work into her 8 hours. Heath and Brook seemed to follow in his footsteps both being quite neat and organized.
Willow, on the other hand, made her bed and helped clear the table but other than her specified chores she tended to be messy. She hadn't had much time to accumulate things in the new house yet. Brook, in defense, had long ago said, "Just keep it on your side of the room and I don't care". But it was sure that in a few months Willow's side would be back to its usual state. And the clutter had away of spilling over into Brook's side at times when she would shove it back with her foot and warn Willow to keep it off the borderline. Every Saturday morning Willow had to spend hours trying to clear through stuff, scratching her head and in tears because she didn't know where to put all of it.
Her parents had at first thought if they let her do her own thing she'd finally clean it up out of a natural, perhaps latent, sense of order. No such luck. Then they hoped if they forced her to clean it up she'd keep it neat after that to save work, so one or the other of them stood over her once a week directing her actions in sorting and putting away. But no, that had not curbed her disorganized tendencies. She seemed to not only thrive on clutter, but to give it off like sparks from a grinding wheel. Left to her own devices she would just burrow in to "her nest" like a little hamster. Brian said if he could find a child-size hamster wheel he'd install it so they could at least find her when they looked in the room.
Still the "little mother", Brook, although talkative, often helped in caring for the twins. She took turns bathing and feeding them for her mother whenever she could. It usually took both Meadow and Brook, though, to keep both toddlers fed, bathed and dressed on a regular basis. All day long there was endless nose-wiping, tying of shoelaces, washing of sticky fingers and mouths and buttoning of buttons. Of course, there was lots of cuddling and playing, too. In the mornings Brian helped and after her homework was done, Brook helped. She didn't mind most of the time because she loved her little brother and sister. Perhaps she would go into teaching or daycare she thought.
Painting was something Brook now took more of an interest in than ever. She'd always liked drawing and coloring, but her mother was helping her learn to use other media like pastels, watercolors and oils. Along with her high school art class these lessons were invaluable. Willow liked painting, too, but was easily distracted by things going on just outside the windows--butterflies flitting, a cardinal that perched on the bush just outside the window, hearing Rocky laughing from the direction of the swings--or even indoor happenings like Elvis wandering in for a belly-scratching.
The twins were learning to feed themselves but, as Brian said, it was better not to pay too close attention during the process if you wanted to keep your appetite. They especially loved fruit and if any of the family paid any attention at all to North while he was eating the little boy would extract a piece of banana or strawberry from his mouth and generously try to hand it to the unlucky watcher as in 'here you go'.
"No, I don't think so," was Brook's usual icy reply.
"Aw, you eat it, kid," Heath would advise.
"Yuck!" cried Willow wrinkling her nose and snickering a little.
Rocky tended to point and laugh; he thought it was incredibly funny, just like when his friend, Joey, when they were in the cafeteria, would take a huge bite of food, chew it and then open his mouth wide at Rocky. He could also belch really loud, and say words while doing it. Wiggling his ears was another accomplishment of his young friend. Yep, old Joey was hilarious in Rocky's opinion, and a man of many talents.
"No that's not nice, honey, keep your food in your mouth," Meadow always said to North under these circumstances; trying to get him to pop it back in.
One time when North did it to his father, Brian took the mushy tidbit from him, looked at it and said soberly,
Then, without getting up, he tossed the saliva covered piece of fruit in the kitchen wastebasket.
"Got any more for me?" Brian asked North in a serious voice he didn't often use.
North looked at him solemnly a second or two, chewed what he had left in his mouth and swallowed, and then pulled his bowl a little closer. He wasn't going to let Daddy have any more of his fruit, in that case. He never again offered any other tempting morsels to his ungrateful father, so after they saw that the rest of the family followed suit; tossing out the gooey offering immediately. North began to realize that any already-been-chewed food he tried to give away only ended up in the garbage and the slimy food offering problem soon went away.
There was much more room in this yard to place the water wiggler and whenever they had time the kids enjoyed that during this hot summer, even the elegant Brook.
Brian and Meadow were currently teaching North and Raine to talk and North was learning to ride his little tricycle as well. He was a speed demon and Brian had to hoof it to keep up with him.
Rocky's grades went from average to A+ almost overnight and Meadow made sure to make a big fuss over him. He celebrated by testing out his skills on the monkey bars while Willow worked on her fishing skills. They'd been sadly neglected since the family trip to Three Lakes and she hoped this summer to get to the next level.
Elvis, true to his namesake, definitely "dug rock and roll music" and often sang along when Heath and Brian jammed. He was most sincere, unfortunately he was also usually off key. However; he more than made up for it in sheer enthusiasm. When they need to get in some serious practice, they had to shut the door to keep him out. So Elvis would howl once then flop down in front of the door, sure they would be forced to ask for his assistance sooner or later...
Next blog update: Lomax Family Ch. 11 "Larry Max goes Scooter-pootin'"
Brian Ottomas Ch. 22 We Are Family II
Brian Ottomas Ch. 22 We Are Family II