The house was still the hub of child and teen activity when it came to the small town. They were situated on the outer edge of the county, but none of their schoolmates seemed to mind the farther drive. Willow and Rocky easily made new friends and kept the old ones.
Brook was learning to sew with the help of her mother and becoming quite proficient. Heath was still all about his music. His biological father, Lonnie Hammond, had take him on outings a couple times when they still lived at their old house, but now that Heath was older he'd not heard much from him. Heath knew that Lonnie had never told his wife and daughters about him so every time Heath saw Loni Faye at school he felt self-conscious. He was hurt, but not completely crushed since he considered Brian to be his real father and they were still so close.
"Maybe you should just call him," Brian spoke quietly one day when he and his son were alone, "Take the chance and maybe get a little control over the situation."
But Heath just shrugged as if it didn't matter,
"Nah, if he doesn't care, than why should I bother?"
There was more Brian could have said because he didn't think the problem was Lonnie not caring. Brian had a sneaking feeling that his real problem was telling his wife, Jenny, not his girls. But of course, he couldn't tell his daughters without telling their mother. If Brian remembered correctly from his brief but intense encounter with Jenny back when he was single--she had a very strong personality and intense emotions. So he dropped the subject for the time being.
Willow still battled her messy tendencies which mostly involved her half of the bedroom she shared with Brook. She was learning to play chess and was hoping soon to con her dad into teaching her to play the drums. Anxious for her birthday to arrive, she was already talking with her mother about what kind of cake she wanted and informed Meadow that they should stock up on lipstick and nail polish because she would soon be able to wear those every day. She thought bubble gum pink and royal purple to start out.
The twins birthday was coming up as well. They'd learned all their toddler lessons and were ready to head to school as soon as they'd blown out the candles and eaten the cake.
Rocky's birthday was not for a while yet and he delighted in things like the monkey bars, jumping on his bed, fishing and hanging out with Elvis. He was used to feeling as though he was always playing catch up with his older siblings.
Momma and North:
Daddy and Raine:
Heath's girlfriend was Maddie Candeloro--the girl he'd been crushing on since the sixth grade. In his opinion she was the prettiest and sweetest girl in the school. She seemed to be similarly enamored of him; she gave him his very first kiss. The family was going to be celebrating Willow and the twins' birthdays and Meadow asked Maddie to stay for supper and the party afterward.
As they finished up dinner and Brook and Maddie cleared the table Brian teased Willow,
"Well, Punkin, you're up next, got your wish all ready?"
"Of course, Daddy, but I can't tell you what it is yet."
Secretly she was wishing the family could all go on vacation together. Usually if they did go on vacation they had to leave the twins at home with the grandparents and they only went for a couple days at a time and mostly to places like Williamsburg, or Washington DC or Charleston. Those were really fun places but Willow wished they could go to Hawaii or the Figi Islands or some other exotic and tropical place. But now her siblings and parents interrupted her reverie and were urging her to hurry up and wish!
Willow was a teenager at last and opted immediately to give up her beribboned pigtails as being much too babyish. She would wear her naturally curly hair down, and maybe even grow it longer. Among her gifts she did, indeed, receive her pink and purple lip glosses and polish, and there was a gift certificate for her to get a tattoo (with her mother's supervision).
North and Raine had their turn next. It was plain the toddlers did not really understand what was going on but everyone seemed so cheerful, it was still fun for them.
The following Monday was the first day of high for Willow and the first day of grade school for North and Raine.
L to R: Raine and Willow L to R Heath and Brook
Heath L to R: Rocky and North
Brian had begun to do quite a bit of the yardwork because the gardener could not do it all in each visit. He came twice a week although it was supposed to be three times. Brian didn't mind all that much; he calculated he spent less time on that chore than he had on helping Meadow with North and Raine during their toddler years and he got to be outside. He'd always been able to get by on very little sleep anyway since way back when he was on the road with his band.
Now that the twins were in school Meadow had time to get back to her painting; it had been years since she'd touched a canvas it seemed. Although she was still the one in charge at supper on school nights, often there were not as many kids at the dinner table now. Heath, Brook and Willow were frequently gone with sports events, after school projects and clubs, cheerleading and so on. One of the favorite suppers of the three youngest kids was the easy to make Mexican Casserole.
Meadow was letting North grown out his blond locks a bit--he wanted his hair to look like Heath's. Since they were just starting out in grade school North and Raine still needed a lot of help and supervision from their parents when it came to homework and school projects.
Meadow & (L to R) Raine, Rocky & North L to R North, Meadow, Raine and Rocky
Rocky announced one night that he had decided to teach Elvis to "speak".
"Oh, fine," Meadow groaned, "That's all I need. It's noisy enough around here with eight people voicing their opinions, now the beast will be contributing!"
Willow began to take up as much time in the bathroom as Brook, if not more. She loved to practice various expressions and poses. Sometimes she took pictures of herself using her cell phone so she could post them on her Facebook page as well as message them to friends. She was getting better on the drums so Willow now joined her father and oldest brother in jam sessions.
As the youngest child Raine was the 'baby" of the family although her twin, North, was really only about four minutes older than her. She had become a somewhat shy child--at least with anyone outside of the family circle--and she clung to her parents and home, happy to play by herself and not at all eager to grow up. North, on the other hand, always felt anxious to keep up with his brothers. He hero-worshipped Heath and was a bit competitive with Rocky.
Heath was still the responsible one and often he made breakfast for all the children while his parents slept in; sometimes just cereal, but occasionally on weekends he made omelets or pancakes. It was a nice luxury for Brian and Meadow.
The three youngest spent a lot of time outdoors in the play area of the yard.
Little Raine liked to slip into the music studio when it was empty and play with the keyboard there. Elvis the dog frequently sang along. A placid little child she would come into a room and remain so quiet that Meadow didn't even know she was there. One of her favorite things was to sit in the kitchen and watch her mother prepare a meal. But one time, when she had appeared silently and sat for some time at the island just observing Meadow she finally spoke in her high soft voice,
"Why do you always poke those holes in the top of the pies, Momma?"
Meadow had forgotten Raine was even there and jumped a mile, then laughed,
"Sweetheart! Oh my goodness, you almost gave Momma a heart attack! Let me see, what did you ask? Oh, yes, the slits are to let steam out."
Since her youngest daughter had become her little shadow Meadow was teaching her to draw and paint.
Sneaking out late at night was something Heath had done fairly often at one time, but Brook had never tried. Willow, however, seemed to be trying to go for a record. Since she had not yet been caught by her parents she'd grown quite bold. She sometimes had a girlfriend pick her up but her favorite partner in crime was Angelo Severino.
It was starting to worry Heath; she was only thirteen (Heath was seventeen and Brook was fifteen).
"One of these days, Punky, they're gonna catch you and then watch out," he warned her.
"Oh, Heathie--don't be such a party pooper," she teased, "It's no big deal--I'm always with friends. Anyway, nothing bad ever happens in Pleasantview; it's not like it's dangerous here."
He shook his head, trying to smother a grin,
"Okay, squirt; it's your butt. I'm just sayin'..."
It was in the spring that Brian and Meadow announced to the kids that they'd all be going on vacation to Twikkii Island. Elvis would remain behind with the house-sitter. They wouldn't be staying at a hotel, though; Brian had rented a beautiful island home that was actually big enough for all eight of them. It even had a name; Sintara Modern. *More info on this house will be provided in the next chapter--Author
From the pictures in the brochure it looked fabulous. It was not waterfront, but directly across from the beach and boasted a huge pool and provided a car.
"When can we leave?!" Willow burst out.
"During spring break, so make sure your grades are up to par," Brian answered, "All of you."
Next blog update: Brian Ottomas Ch. 23 Vacation in Paradise Pt. 1