It was a Monday, and a busy one, but by suppertime they were done with their meal and Lori brought out Graylan's cake and picked him up to help him with his birthday while Harvey looked on and Valrae chattered to herself as she sat on the carpet, oblivious to the celebration.
Shouting for sheer joy at his new look and clothes Gray was about to grab for the first slice of his cake when Lori stopped him, saying gently,
"Not yet, sweetheart. It's Valrae's turn now and then we can all have cake and ice cream."
With that Lori moved the first cake over and brought out Valrae's cake. Harvey scooped up his daughter and helped her blow out the candles. Then he put her back down on the floor and they waited for the birthday magic to occur and applauded when she turned school-age.
The next day Valrae decided to change her hair a bit, claiming that wearing the same hairdo at her age as she did in her terrible twos was not desirable. So with Lori's permission she abandoned the mini toptail and grew out her bangs. Harvey was a little saddened at how much older she looked in the new hairstyle but Lori was philosophical; the women in her family had always changed their hair at the drop of a hat although, admittedly, Lori herself had never cut her hair shorter than shoulder-length. Her sister, Grace, and her mother, Melora, though, had run the gamet from hair cut ear-length to halfway down their backs.
After their birthday and during this last week at the home they had known all their lives the twins were eagerly embracing their new status as elementary school students. Admittedly, Gray still loved his father to swing him around, bringing him airborne as he had when Gray was only three; he was not too "grown" for that.
Studying the piano with her mother's guidance, Valrae showed real promise on the instrument. She expressed an interest in dance lessons as well, but they would wait a while to let her get accustomed to her new schedule of school, homework and piano lessons.
Mealtime had become a much noisier time in the Ferguson household now that the twins were going to school. It was actually a good time for them to relate their various adventures and trials in school, ask questions of their parents--and they asked a plethora of questions, especially Valrae--and enjoy their mother's cooking and baking. On the weekends there was always some fabulous dessert offered after supper, although sometimes deferred until later in the evening. One of the twins favorites was Boston Cream Cheesecake.
Graylan's coppery hair was obviously bestowed on him by his grandmother, Melora. When any of the Fergusons or Lassiters looked at him though, he made them think of Harvey as a child, with his big blue eyes, elfin ears and center-parted hair that wouldn't stay out of his eyes. Harvey's hair used to do the same thing and, in fact, did that all the way through college.
Melora claimed that Valrae looked and sometimes acted a great deal like Lori, but Lori thought her daughter was a real combination of both she and Harvey. She had pale green eyes like both of her grandmothers, Melora and Madeleine, but her hair was softly waved and the color was exactly the same as Harvey's hair.
They converted the nursery and the twins still shared the room; they preferred it that way. Still, they would hardly be using it more than a few days so all they really did was change the junior beds for full size twins and add a desk.
Harvey and Lori had decided they would place their massage table in storage for the time being as they sorted out what would go where in the new house. They had enjoyed their private massage room when they were first married, but since the twins had come along they had found precious little time to use it. So in these last few days they made sure to put the table to good use while they still could do so.
Harvey and Lori often helped Gray and Valrae with their new homework responsibilities and their grades climbed accordingly. The twins still played together quite well and were somewhat competitive with each other.
Young friends had begun to come home on the bus with Gray and Val and usually stayed to supper. The first one to show up was little Drew Howard; a handsome somewhat shy boy. His family was renting Lalique Flynn's house. Of course, no one in Lori's family yet knew of Lalique's importance in their family dynamic; they only knew that Lalique had lived next door to the Lassiters as a child and had recently moved with her twins, Adrien and Desire to Bluewater Village. This was just treated as neighborhood news; it was not considered significant. But that would change before too long.
Gray took to games just as his father always had and loved playing on the monumental Tiki pinball machine that Harvey had inherited from his big brother, Nicky. The magical machine paid money and belched smoke and fire when you won. It was going to be a major hassle to move it to the yard across the street but no way was Harvey going to leave it behind. It was practically a family heirloom by now.
Actually Valrae was very good at games, too. In her case it was not so much that playing pinball or video games was dear to her heart, but that it was a known accomplishment of Harvey's. Val was very much a daddy's girl and anything that she perceived that she could do to please him was important to her. Harvey gave her unconditional love and approval, but when she expressed interest in any of the things he liked doing, it did admittedly fill him with pride and happiness. Thus he tended to give extra encouragement at these times. He loved fishing, painting and games and being able to share any of these with his children brought him extra pleasure.
One of the last things that Lori did in her art studio was a portrait of Graylan. Posing for long periods of time was not one of his favorite things, but he endured and was very excited about the completed painting.
Most of the family agreed that Gray had been a very happy, easy-going toddler and that continued to be the trend as he grew. Harvey was close to both of his children, as was Lori, but Gray seemed to have a special affinity to Lori just as Valrae did to Harvey.
Gray was all boy and got into the usual situations and interests of a child, but he was young enough that he sought to please his parents; especially his beautiful mother. Lori and Valrae sometimes clashed; they both had strong wills, but Gray was different. He played with his father--played hard--but if he was sad, injured or tired, he had to have Lori's comforting hug and hopefully one of her home-made chocolate chip cookies.
The truth was that Harvey and Lori were still madly in love with each other and enjoyed each other's company and respect. They were both openly affectionate as well; with each other and with their children. This was evident to the twins and so it was only natural that how they related to their parents had much to do with how their parents treated each other and how they treated Gray and Val.
Next blog update: The Lassiters Ch. 16 Family Setback