Friday, February 10, 2012

Brian Ottomas Ch. 20 Two Birthdays

Heath was learning his way around the kitchen, slowly but surely. From the beginning at the new house he often fixed macaroni and cheese or sandwiches and soup on Saturdays or Friday nights for the girls or even the entire family.

After-school hours and weekends were spent outdoors whenever possible. The yard was big and surrounded on three sides by forest; cool and green even in the hot summer sun. Brian had bought up as much surrounding land as he could to keep neighbors from building too close. Between the playground amusements and the pool there was always something to do.

Not too long after they arrived Brian and Meadow took time for romance in their new bedroom.

“We actually have our room to ourselves, babe,” Meadow whispered to Brian, “No cribs, no changing tables. Nothing to spoil the mood.”

“Mmm, yes, I’m noticing that…”

They were still as deeply in love as when they first married, but some days they had very little time to express it.

Meadow realized over the next week that Elvis had taken to gazing into the mirror in the sewing room for long periods of time--was he becoming neurotic? Maybe the move had unnerved him a bit. She would have to give him a little extra attention and lots of affection. All she needed was a 75 pound dog with issues...

Brian had always been more than willing to cook his share of the meals when he was home and Meadow knew she was fortunate. In fact, when it came to her husband, she was blessed in many ways, she reflected with a smile. Between Brian sharing cooking responsibilities and Heath now interested in learning to prepare food 2 to 3 times a week, it really freed her up so she had more time to deal with Rocky and the babies and time, at last, to occasionally go shopping or sew. She still had not been able to get back to her painting, but she knew eventually she would.

Now that Heath was older he could be counted on, from time to time, to be the one who got Rocky up from his nap. He was very affectionate with his younger siblings and they all looked up to him, especially Rocky.

Elvis was, indeed, getting plenty of attention now, too, even though the house was always bustling with activity. All the kids loved the dog and played with him often. Heath took his turn walking him in the evenings, too.

Still working on his culinary skills Heath made a very light meal for supper one night and asked Aurora Berkeley to stay for the meal. It was okay to keep it light,Meadow said, because they’d be having cake after supper. It was birthday time at last for Rocky and Brook. Rockwell Brian would soon be going to school with Willow and Brook Elizabeth would be in high school with Heath.

"No way, Elvis," Heath muttered when the dog hung around while he prepared supper, hoping for scraps, "You have your own food--do you see me hanging around your food bowl? No." 

Meadow brought little Rocky over to his cake and they sang "Happy Birthday" as he smiled. He didn’t know what was going on, but he loved music so he tried to sing along. He was pleased they were all in such a good mood, he just had no idea why.

And suddenly he was a handsome boy with the same winning smile; no surprise, he’d been a darling toddler. And then it was time for Brook’s birthday and Rocky stood right behind her blowing his horn and yelling out her name.

“Make your wish, Kitten,” Brian urged his daughter, winking at Meadow. Their six children were the shining pride of Brian and Meadow. Brook’s cake was a double chocolate one; she loved sweets just like her mother, but in her case she preferred that they always be chocolate.

Thrilled to be a teenager, Brook had to wonder, though, why she ended up with shorter hair after her birthday than she'd had before. She had never worn her hair short until now and was not happy. In fact, she didn't want to go to school with it that way. Fortunately it was still Friday night.

"Oh, no, I look terrible! I hate it!" she wailed in misery.

Meadow finally spoke,

"You do not look terrible, Brook, honey, you look lovely. But if it really bothers you let me see if I can get you an appointment at the hair salon tomorrow and you can get extensions."

Meadow shuddered as she thought about the cost, but it would probably only be necessary once; Brook's hair was thick and grew very fast, all her children's did. She looked at Brian. He raised his eyebrows with a grin,

"You're in charge of the beauty stuff in this house, sweetheart; whatever you say."

"Oh, would you, Momma? I'd be so grateful forever and ever," Brook cried in that over-dramatic way teens had, "I promise I'll grow it out as fast as I can."

By Monday morning Brook had longer hair and a smile on her face. She'd also had fun going to the department store and trying out makeup. She had become quite a pretty teenager. Now she couldn't wait to go to school. Rocky was a bit nervous regarding his first day of school but Willow assured him that's she'd be there if he needed her and he would love Mrs. Spencer, his teacher. She knew because she'd had her last year.

Meadow had served cold cereal with strawberries and milk to the children earlier and was burping Raine when the school bus came roaring up amid the sound of grinding gears and the smell of exhaust.

They were ready and waiting and scooted out the front doors. It was a lovely summer day, but already very hot. The cicadas were singing and, as the children came down the porch steps, there was a very fat bumblebee moving about in the clumsy way bumblebees have. The flowers had drawn him and two graceful butterflies who were hovering above the red blossoms on the shrubbery by the steps.

Brian had been up late with North the night before so Meadow let him sleep in but when he awoke he was disoriented; he was used to being woke up before dawn and was still getting acclimated to their new home and new bedroom. How odd to wake in the daylight; it took a second before he even knew where he was. The babies woke early and so, often, he had to take a short nap after lunch so he could stay awake through the long nights at the club. He could hear Meadow downstairs talking to the dog; she'd just put Raine back in her crib and the baby was sleeping, but he could hear North beginning to get a bit anxious. Brian headed to the shower; it would be another busy day and evening, but at least he’d gotten a good 8 hours in last night.

The gardener arrived and began her work and then the maid came up the front walk. Once Brian let her know he was up and about Meadow took Elvis for his morning walk.

They were all adjusting to their new home and happy to be there. For supper that night Brian made a new dish; Crispy Chicken Chef Salad; a nice light meal in keeping with the heat. Afterward the family voted to have that salad added to Brian's repertoire and featured often in the summer.

Meadow was extremely happy with her new sewing room; everything was right at her fingertips; the sewing machine, of course, but also the dress form, an ironing board, full-length mirror, and various supplies including bolts of cloth. Everything she could want in one place; it was a dream come true for her.

Brook was working on getting in shape that night while Brian helped Rocky with his homework. He hadn't been in school long and he needed supervision. The next night it would be the twins' birthday. Everyone was anxious to see what their littlest family members would look like as toddlers.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Brian Ottomas Ch. 19 Moving the 3-Ring Circus

At last they were headed to the new house. They hadn't planned on the children having to go to school the moment they arrived but their timing was off. They got there barely  minutes before the bus arrived instead of about 20 minutes after and so, like it or not, off the kids went.

Meadow was busy with the twins and Rocky needed to use his potty chair right away. Brian took him to the downstairs bathroom and went ahead and shared the facilities; just two men together, contemplating life. Then Brian heard the dog barking outside. Elvis wasn't really used to a lot of strangers yet and Brian didn't want to take any chances. Rocky was still on his chair, gazing off in thought, so Brian hurriedly washed his hands and went to check on the dog. Surely it would only take a moment and he didn't want Elvis terrorizing the neighborhood--not that anyone lived nearby.

It turned out that Elvis had been warning off the birds trying to come to the little fountain in the front yard. Brian chastised the dog, then rushed back to the bathroom to find water all over the floor and Rocky sitting there in the middle of it, completely soaked, but happy. He'd always been fascinated by toilets. Fortunately Brian, ever fastidious, had flushed, but definitely Rocky had to have another bath, and as far as Brian was concerned Meadow didn't really need to know about this little episode.

That same day Heath had a lovely friend, Ginger Newsom, stay after school to play MahJong on the spacious front porch. As soon as Brook put her homework in the house, she hurried to check out their new swings and "the tower", as she and Willow called it. The kids had already decided their father's office was where they should leave their homework; it was right by the front door. They'd had to rush off to school so quickly none of them had even explored the house yet.

"I can see forever!" Brook laughed as she scanned her new horizons. They had a virtual playground with swings, a slide, a merry-go-round, a tilt and whirl, a sandbox, and monkey bars and and yet still had room to run around. On the other side of the yard was the built-in pool and the wading pool. There was a pond in front where they could fish and that huge porch where they could play even when it rained. It was paradise as far as the kids were concerned.

All she could hear outside were muffled voices from the house and the sounds of nature. A soft breeze rustled the leaves on the trees and and she could smell the pine trees. Across the yard Brook saw a plump bunny come from the woods, sniff the air and then scamper back to the trees. There were no other houses around, at least none that she could see. Not even across the road. Brook was used to hearing voices all around from their neighbors and people walking by, and the traffic on Broad Street, one block over in their old house. There were still cars going by but not as many as in town and the road was farther from the house so the sound was diminished.

"Wouldn't it be cool to camp out up here? Or in a tent below?" she asked herself. Willow was inside checking out their bedroom but she'd would be out soon. Brook was going to get her to come up and see what she thought about camping up on the tower or even down below on the ground.

The house was just as Meadow wanted, Brian saw to that. Field stone and barn wood in the same slate blue color as before gave it the naturalistic look she and Brian had enjoyed in their old home and wanted in this new one.

Inside they had the distressed brick they'd loved, too. The double doors opened to the deep and wide front porch. Coming in from the porch was a foyer which had the door to the music room and the arch leading into the dining room on the right. On the left was Brian's office and the living room beyond that.

The living room boasted two focal points; one was the fireplace with comfy sofa and love seat where they could read or just enjoy the firelight. The other was the large wall-mounted television with another overstuffed love seat and armchair. There was also an alcove just outside the kitchen where they could play chess. The entire family could be in there and not be on top of each other with plenty of comfortable seating.

 The brick followed into the open concept dining room and kitchen.

The music room was on the immediate right after entering the house. Brian had furnished it the same way as the old one; black walls and lots of musical instruments but he'd also put in a counter and cupboard where they could stash extra audio equipment.

He had an ell added to the original house plans that housed Meadow's sewing room downstairs and the children's playroom upstairs. The sewing room was just off the living room, as was the door to the art studio.

The girls had wanted their room the same and so it was, even down to the wallpaper; Meadow had been thrilled when she was able to find the same pattern. Actually, Brian and Meadow had thought they would use a lot of their old furniture, but the longer they looked at the huge rooms and then at their old furnishings, they knew it would not work. They ended up going to the antique and thrift shops and flea markets that Meadow favored and picking up a lot of "new" furniture. Very little of their old stuff ended up being used except in the girls' bedroom and the master bedroom. It was a cost they hadn't expected but with their eclectic and quirky taste it was not as expensive as it could have been.
Brook and Willow's bedroom:

Their bathroom was across the hall by the head of the stairs:

Rocky had his own nursery, as did the twins:


There was a playroom upstairs for the kids. That had been another stipulation of Meadow's when she agreed they would build a new house.

Now that he was a teen, Heath wanted his bedroom to reflect this. So it looked absolutely nothing like his room at the old house. Meadow had said she would allow him to choose everything, but she vetoed his idea of completely black walls. They already had that downstairs in the music room. She was a firm believer that color affected your mood, so he was allowed to have black as a color in his furnishings, but had to choose from a couple different white and black wallpapers. 
"I suggest a bright accent color to liven it up," she remarked. So Heath went with his favorite color, red.

There was a bathroom just outside his bedroom door, but he had to share it with  the babies. Meadow bathed Rocky in her master bathroom. Being male he couldn't have cared less about who he shared a bathroom with as long as he could get in there early in the morning on school days.

Meadow used the same colors in the master bedroom as before--Brian's favorites that he'd had since his bachelor days at his sister's house--except for the carpet. In their old house it had been wall to wall cream color carpeting, but they left the hardwood floors and put down a geometric gray and black area rug so on cold mornings it would still be cozy for bare feet.

With the master bathroom, Meadow lived it up. Brian had said to do whatever she wanted; he'd live with whatever she chose. It was rather feminine with floral fixtures, but Brian had a secure grip on his masculinity and wasn't threatened in the least.

It was a very large house and a large yard, but the family spread out and quickly filled it up with laughter and love.

That same afternoon Meadow gave Elvis his first bath and his first walk in their new location. Brian claimed she gave Elvis so many baths he should have built a special bathroom just for the dog. 

Brook and Willow and Rocky loved the playroom upstairs as much as they had their old one. Brook had to enjoy it as often as she could because she had a birthday coming up and she would soon be a teen like Heath. Willow felt she was always playing "catch up" with her older brother and sister. When she complained about it to Brook she was told,

"Don't worry; Rocky will have his birthday then, too, and he'll keep you company in here. And we'll still share a room, it's not like I'm going off to a finishing school on the moon or something!"

"I don't know," Willow shook her head, "Teenagers seem like aliens to me."

Once Brook became a teenager, it wouldn't be that long for Willow. All three of them; Heath, Brook and Willow, had been born close together. Nana always said Meadow's children came along "bing, bing, bing"! Rocky was just three years younger than Willow and North and Raine came along quickly after that. First Momma had no children, then she had Heath, thought Willow, and then it seemed like she suddenly had 6! Willow wasn't sure she wanted to have children when she grew up; first she wanted to be a model. Or maybe a famous actress. Or a veterinarian...maybe a teacher, or a businesswoman like Momma had been...

Time would tell....