2.23

“Mum, we’re home!” Ivy had this nice habit of always letting me know when she got home. She also had a habit of not asking me first when she wanted to bring a friend home. In this case, however, we had gotten used to it, but I decided to play along. Maybe if I did this often enough, she would eventually start asking for permission.

“We?” I answered from my office.

“Yeah, Sunny’s with me! Can we play outside?” I usually insisted that she got her homework done first, but it was Friday and she had been doing exceptionally well in school again, so I decided to allow it.

“Okay, just wash your hands before dinner!” Her answer was silence, which meant that she had stopped listening and was outside where she couldn’t hear me.

Sunshine Breeze was only a few months older than Ivy. They had met on their first day of school, and had been inseperable ever since. They were in the same class, sat next to each other, spent all their breaks together, and also spent every other waking minute with each other.

They had become friends quickly, and soon Pine and I were used to having her around. She was a sweet little girl, shy but polite, and we were happy that Ivy had found a friend so quickly. Ivy herself was shy, just even more so than Sunny, to the extent that she would hide behind our backs whenever we tried to introduce her to someone she didn’t know.

They were good for each other, who were we to argue with that?

“Muuum, can Sunny stay over?” That was another thing we had gotten used to hearing pretty quickly. We usually weren’t asked throughout the week (that’s not to say she hadn’t tried though), but it had become a regular question at the weekend. Usually on Fridays, sometimes they even tried for the whole weekend, which wasn’t something we generelly allowed though. If we did, none of them would ever get their homework done.

Smiling, I looked to Pine. “You know we don’t mind her staying over, but have you asked her Mum?”

“Yes, she says it’s fine!” It had not taken many times for Ivy to understand that she didn’t need our consent alone. After the first few times, they phoned Flower first before asking us.

“Then of course she can stay, sweetheart.” Not surprisingly, Sunny already had her pj’s packed and bathroom things with her. If they kept this up we would have to start thinking about getting her her own toothbrush for their sleep overs, then she wouldn’t have to carry everything around with her in school.

Most times it didn’t take long for the first pillow fight of the night to break out once we had given our thumbs up. They often had those near our front door, although we coudn’t figure out why.

They also told ghost stories most nights. Or more accurately, Ivy told ghost stories while poor Sunny sat on the floor looking frightened. I was sometimes surprised, and more than a little shocked, at the idas our daughter had, but we put that down to the books she read. They were all aged approved, of course, but she had a wild imagination.

I had gotten used to cooking for five again, at least over the weekends. Sometimes, even though she wouldn’t sleep over, Sunny had dinner with us before heading home. We weren’t entirely comfortable with her going home that late, but she assured us it was fine. To be sure we phoned her Mum, but when she also told us that Sunny could come home whenever she was done we insisted on driving her home. It was simply too late for a little girl to be walking home when it was dark, no matter what time of day. Or to be riding her bike home, either way.

That was yet another thing they had in common. Ivy had asked for a bike a little while ago, and while we were thrilled that she wanted to do something active we also didn’t want to spend a lot of money on something she was only going to use once or twice. We bought her a cheap bike, and decided that she could have a better one if she still liked riding it when she became a teenager.

So far, she had been riding it everywhere – to school, to Sunny, she had even taken the occasional ride around town with it when she had nothing better to do.

Of course, it didn’t take long for Sunny to join Ivy. Soon they weren’t walking to ours after school, they were riding their bikes. Soon, Ivy didn’t go on those rides through town alone any more, because Sunny was with her. At first we had worried about the traffic. Naturally, we started paying more attention to it when we were out with the car, and realised quickly that traffic was generally quiet. The only exception was rush hour, and Ivy was home then.

We had also added a swing to our garden. Part of me still felt bad for not having spent more time with Conifer and Pastel when they were growing up, and I didn’t want to make that mistake again.

As it turned out, that swingset had been a very welcome present. Ivy loved it, and spent even more time on it than she did on her bike. Sometimes I or Pine joined her and pushed her, but we were often too busy with our jobs. Conifer was definitely too busy with Lavender now that they had made their relationship official, and didn’t spend much time with his litte sister anymore.

Ivy loved showing her swingset off to Sunny, of course, and we were happy to see that they took turns with pushing each other. There was never any fighting about whose turn it was, they just needed to ask for a swap and they did it. There was never any fighting at all going on between them, really. Not about that, not about anything. They simply always seemed to agree, and when they didn’t they changed the topic. Which wasn’t something that happened a lot.

Then one day, I made a discovery which brought tears to my eyes. Which I managed to swallow back immediately, thank Berry. Ivy was a very compassionate girl. No doubt had she seen a tear in my eyes she would have cried, too.

I was on my way to the kitchen to get started on dinner, when I found Ivy painting on Mum’s old easel. Mum had died when Ivy was still a baby, so no doubt she thought we just happened to have an easel standing around.

At first, I wasn’t sure how to react. No one but Mum had ever used this easel, should I be mad that Ivy was now using it? Without having asked us first, no less?

But then I decided to be happy instead. Pine was a musician, he didn’t have much use for it, and I wasn’t very creative in the same way as Mum had been. I could come up with a new business structure in no time, but I had no idea what the difference was between two different shades of red. I didn’t even know two different shades of red, other than light red and dark red. Pastel was away at Boarding school, and Conifer wasn’t the painting type either, so why not let Ivy use it?

I figured it was better than letting it collect dust.

“What are you painting?” I asked, curious to see how interested she really was.

“Can’t you tell, Mummy?” As I said, I wasn’t crative like my Mum had been, but I didn’t want to tell her that it just looked like some blue something to me, either.

“It looks lovely, sweetheart” I answered, hoping she would be happy with that. “You know, your grand mother used this easel every day. She earned her money with the paintings she created.”

“Oh so… is it okay that I’m using it?”

“Of course, sweetheart. Maybe one day you’ll be as talented a painter as your gramma was, huh?”

“Thanks, Mum!” I didn’t know how long her desire to paint was going to last, but it was nice to see someone wanted to paint at all.

Reading was the one other thing she loved doing. Unfortunately, she wasn’t interested in the books that I wanted her to be interested in, but enjoyed reading fantasy books instead. It was better than nothing, of course, but what was she going to learn from it? I was worried that she was filling her head with impossible things, even though Pine kept telling me not to worry.

Conifer was close to graduating by now. We were so proud of how well he had done that we bought him a small car. It was nothing fancy, but he loved it.

Looking back, buying him that car had been the worst decision we had ever made. But how were we supposed to know?

Every morning, he went around Lavender’s and picked her up. Then they drove to school together, and he’d bring her back home again afterwards if they finished at the same time. In the evenings and weekends she often came around just so he could drive to the cinema with her, or just drive around for the sake of driving around together.

He was a good driver. He had always been so careful.

One day, as I was preparing a business proposal for a company in Champs-Les-Sims, our doorbell rang. Pine knew that I was in my office, so I didn’t get up and kept concentrating on what I was doing.

It was still too early for Ivy to be home, and Conifer had afterschool classes that day.

I was confused when Pine called me over, but I didn’t think anything of it. Even that weird shake in his voice didn’t worry me.

I knew something was wrong when I saw Lil standing in our entrance, eyes blood shot. I turned to Pine and my breath caught in my lungs. Was that a tear in his eye? Was his face wet?

“What’s going on?” My own voice was shaking by that point, even though I wasn’t quite sure why.

“Rosee.. It’s Conifer. There was an accident just outside town.”

I didn’t hear anything else after that. I was aware that she kept talking, but I didn’t hear what she was saying. My ears had gone numb. My body had gone numb. My mind had gone numb. I didn’t know much in that moment, but there was one thing I did know. I did not want to go on any more.

My boy, my son, my Conifer.

He was gone. And there was nothing I could do to bring him back to me.

—————————————————————————————

This is the end of the second generation. In the next chapter, Ivy will be taking over. Before then there’ll be a colour vote for her spouses colour and while I can’t wait to put up the poll I’ve decided to give it a few days to give you guys some time to get used to the idea that Con really is gone ūüė¶

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2.22

Everything had been going so well, and then one day, without any warning at all, everything started going terribly wrong.

They had both been so healthy. Old, yes, but healthy. Dad was 100 when it happened, so in a way we had been expecting it to happen any day, but I still wasn’t prepared for it. Nothing could possibly have prepared me for it.

It had happened so suddenly. One moment he had cooked dinner, the next there was the sound of a plate shattering on the floor.

Dad had died in the kitchen, doing what he had done all his life. Doing what he loved.

The doctors said that his heart just stopped. They didn’t think he had been in any pain, and told us we should ¬†be grateful to have had him for this long.

And we were, of course. Mum and Dad had lived a long, happy life together. They had met all three of their grandchildren, even if they had known Ivy for only a short amount of time.

Ivy had been born a month before they died. The more Pine and I thought about it the more it seemed to us like he had been clinging on so he could meet her, and spend at least a little time with her before leaving. He had been so adoring of her. Every free second he had was spent with her, talking to her and holding her. We were wondering if he had known, somehow.

Mum went to bed crying that night. We don’t know if she eventually stopped crying because she had fallen asleep, or because she had followed Dad, but she didn’t wake up the next morning.

I had lost both my parents in less than one day, and I didn’t know how to cope. I stopped counting the amount of times Pine pulled me into his arms because I was a teary mess.

Of course, the doctors were right. We had seen it coming, but that didn’t make the first few days without ¬†them any easier. We eventually created a little resting place behind the house for them, so they could still be near their family and have the soothing sounds of the ocean behind them.

Pastel found comfort during this time in looking after Ivy, something I was very grateful for and appreciated deeply. It seemed to help her cope better, and between that and packing for her new School we hardly ever saw her cry. We knew she was grieving, though, so we weren’t too worried.

The day she was leaving had arrived much too quickly. Conifer had said his goodbye’s to her earlier that day before he went to school, and now, just before 9am, it was our turn.

Her taxi was meant to arrive in roughly twenty minutes, and I wanted to make the most of those.

“And you’ve definitely got everything?” I watched her roll her eyes at me before sighing and answering.

“Gee, Mum, stop asking already. I’ve still got everything, didn’t even touch my suitcase since last night!” I had admittedly asked her several times already, but a Mum had to be sure, didn’t she?

“You’ll phone us, right?”

“I promise nothing, Mum.” My face must have fallen rapidly at that, because she started laughing almost immediately. “Gee, Mum, I’m only kidding! I promise to phone at least twice a week and text every other night. Good enough?”

I put on my best fake smile. “It will do, I suppose.” I was happy for her, of course. Thrilled, in fact. But that didn’t mean that I couldn’t be sad about her leaving at all, now, did it!

Too soon her taxi arrived, and we watched her drive off.

Luckily, Conifer was still being a brilliant big brother after Pastel had left. Before she had gotten into the taxi they had taken turns with looking after Pale Ivy, but he didn’t seem to mind that she was all his now.

“What’s that? You’re hungry?”

“Yes!” Ivy didn’t have any trouble with learning how to talk. She was speaking very quickly, and was now happily chatting away. Whether it was with us or with her dolls, she was always talking.

“We better get you something to munch on, then!”

“Hehe, yes!” Ivy was a sweet one, and she had all of us wrapped around her little fingers. One day, when we were out shopping, Pine saw this adorable little hat and bought it for her. We made sure she was wearing it every day since then.

Both Pine and I were grateful that Conifer was so readily helping us with Ivy. I was only required to be at work three days a week now, and then only for a few hours each, but that didn’t include all the meetings and out-of-office hours I had to put in. I usually started at eight every morning, and even though I left the office between eleven and one (depending on paperwork and idiots not being capable of the simplest tasks) I didn’t get home until seven.

However, Ivy wasn’t the only girl in Conifer’s heart any more. We had noticed that Lavender had been over more often lately, usually after school but also some weekends. She hadn’t slept over yet, but we were waiting for him to ask.

They were trying to hide it, but it was so obvious. We were not going to say anything because we didn’t want to¬†embarrass¬†him, but it was tempting! Very tempting!

Most of the time they were watching TV together, but that’s when they thought we were watching.

When they thought we weren’t watching they were holding hands and flirting. Of course, we were never really watching them. It was more that we were overhearing what they were saying. Again, not¬†intentionally. It just so happened that they liked to spend a lot of time in the living room, and there were no doors¬†separating¬†them from the kitchen, just arches. Every time we went to get a drink, there’d be whispering and hushed voices going on.

On the days where I didn’t have to be in the office, I’d spend a fair amount of hours in my own little office. It seemed that Conifer could only look after one girl at a time, so Ivy often had to spend her hours in the baby swing. Fortunately for us, she was easily entertained, so she was happy to swing for hours on end without complaining.

And in the evenings, I finally got some proper time with her. I read to her most evenings, and soon she was finishing my sentences for me. She had a incredibly good memory, or maybe it was because of the repetition… She asked me to read one particular book over and over again, and it didn’t take long until both of us knew the words by heart. It felt as if we were actually reading the book together.

Several months had gone by since Mum and Dad had passed on, and life continued. I was ready to carry on. It was still difficult not having them around, but it was getting easier.

Things just had to look up again now. Didn’t they?

————————————————————————————–

Goodbye, Whisper and Kobi Lace

 

2.21

“We’re having another baby.” I wanted to say more, but I didn’t know what. For days I had been practicing this very moment in my head, and not once had I been able to add anything else.

We hadn’t been planning for another baby. Two children was all we were going to have. Conifer and Pastel were teenagers by now, the age gap was going to be huge! Money wasn’t a problem, we could afford it, it was just… we hadn’t been planning for it. I hadn’t been planning for it.

How could this have happened? We had made sure this wouldn’t happen!

“We are?” Pine looked just as surprised as I had felt when my morning sickness had started again.

“We are…” was all I could say. Deep down I had started to look forward to having another child, but I was worried. What if he didn’t want another one? What if the age gap was so big that Conifer and Pastel wouldn’t accept another sibling?

‘That’s great!” Pine exclaimed, pulling me in for a kiss and finally his arms. Immediately I felt my worry cease. He was fine with it… More than fine, he was happy! Than I scolded myself and felt stupid. Of course he was happy. Did I really think…?

I sighed. My hormones were starting to play up early this time.

As the next months passed and my stomach grew bigger once more I was getting more and more excited. Would it be a boy? Or were we having a second girl? Would he or she look like Pine, like me, or be a perfect mix?

Both Conifer and Pastel were ecstatic, which I found highly intoxicating. According to my parents and husband I was glowing more than I had done before, which Lil confirmed everytime she came over to see me. She insisted that we were having a girl, but wouldn’t tell me how she knew. I often wondered just how far her vampire abilities could stretch, was it possible that she really knew?

One other thing we had been concentrating on was Pastel’s birthday present. We hadn’t forgotten their wish for a telescope some years ago, and had decided it was time to look into it. They had both been doing exceptionally well in school, plus Conifer had just passed his driving test, so it seemed to us that the telescope was the least we could do.

We built a small gazebo behind the house where we placed their present, together with a swing and a table with room for some lemondade.

“Mum?” Pastel had this tone in her voice that she always had when she was about to tell me something that I might not like.

“What is it, sweetheart?” Her eyes looked a little worried, but certain. I really hoped she wasn’t about to ask for something else expensive.

“Well, I… I decided I don’t want to continue the scouts, Mum.” I felt incrediblly relieved.

“Of course you don’t, dear, we don’t expect you to.” After all, she would be the oldest one now that she was a teenager and had started High School. “Did you have a look which new club you could join?” Her face fell immediately.

“That’s kinda the thing, Mum. I don’t want to join another afterschool activity.” Now it was my turn to get worried. Her voice told me that she hadn’t quite gotten to the point yet, so what else was there? “I want to go to Boarding School. There’s this really good one, they focus on charisma and logic skills, I’ve done loads of research on them and I think they’d be perfect for me!” These last words had come out very fast, but I thought I had just about gotten the idea.

“Boarding School? That’s a great idea! In fact, your father and I have already talked about it, we think you should go.” Pine and I had been thinking about sending both of them to Boarding Schools when they were still toddlers. To be honest, I had been thinking about it before I was even pregnant for the first time. Conifer had decided against it, and was happy getting a part-time job and doing two afterschool activities, and we had wanted to give Pastel a little longer to get used to being a teenager before presenting her with this opportunity.

It had never actually crossed our minds that she might have the idea before we had a chance to talk to her about it.

“Seriously? You mean it?” Her eyes lit up, all worry was gone from her face.

“I do. How about you tell me everything you’ve found out about your choice?”

“Gee, Mum, thanks!” She gave me the name and a few other details she had found out, and I promised her I would take a look at it later that day. Pine was at the¬†theatre¬†preparing for his next concert, so I had to fill him in later.

“I’ll stay until the baby is born. The first term doesn’t start until a month after anyway” she said with a smile and a shrug, and gave me a hug. I wasn’t sure who was happier in that moment. Pastel, because she could go to Boarding School, or me, because she would go to Boarding School but stay home until her brother or sister was born.

I was excited for her, so after our conversation I went to my office to look up her chosen School…

… only to be greeted by that!

Needless to say I jumped. Sadly, I should have been prepared for it because this wasn’t the first time this monstrosity had greeted me. It had happened twice when I started the computer, and once when Pine had used it. We both thought that Conifer was behind it, but since we had never caught him set it up we couldn’t ground him.

Both children had inherited certain characteristics from my mother. Or at least she said so. Pastel was the ambitious one, and while Conifer was ambitious, too, he was also definitely more rebellious than his sister. For us there was no doubt who kept meddling with the computer, but again, we couldn’t prove it. It was hard to believe since he was always so good with doing household chores, even ones we hadn’t asked him to do. In a way it gave him the perfect alibi.

Another month passed, and I felt an all to familiar pain shoot through me.

I was having a nice chat outside with Dad when my water broke. Fortunately, he was quite practised with moments like these by now, and called Pine once the first sense of panic was over.

Pine came running outside right away, bag in hand, and drove me to the hospital.

——————————————————————————————–

Some extra photos of the “garden”:

 

2.20

“Mum?”

“What is it, sweetheart?” Conifer was trying to be so quiet every time he came into my office while I was working, but the opening of the door always gave him away. So did his little feet shuffling on the carpet when he was waiting for the right moment to speak up. Or his nervous breathing just a few feet behind me.

“Can we get a chess table?” I was so surprised to hear him ask for that that I stopped typing for a moment. He was an intelligent child, but this was the first time he brought it up. Usually when he wanted something he ¬†brought it up casually first before asking.

I turned around to face him. “A chess table? I didn’t realise you were playing chess.”

“Can we? Please? I’ve been playing at school and I really really really like it, Mum!”

“I’ll have to talk to your dad about it.” I watched him walk out of the room, head hanging low and smiled to myself. Of course, Pine would say yes. I had come to the same decision in my head. He was a smart kid, and a chess table sounded like a good idea to keep his mind busy while he was home.

Several years had passed since Pastel had been born. Conifer’s birthday was coming up, and Pastel wasn’t far behind him. This chess table hadn’t been the first thing they had asked for, and it wouldn’t be the last, either.

New furniture had been the first thing we had to buy. Conifer needed an age appropriate bed. We also threw in a desk and a chair with the promise of his very own computer – if his grades were to show that he had earned it.

The chess table had waited for him one day when he came home from school. Pine and I were patiently waiting for him while Mum greeted him home and told him there was a surprise for him in her painting room.

Since Pastel was still a little too young for chess he often asked me to play with him. Whenever I wasn’t available he’d ask Dad. He really did use that table more than we had thought he would, and he seemed to enjoy it as well.

“You ask her, it was your idea!” Pastel was whispering and obviously didn’t think I could hear her, but of course I did. I prepared myself, but kept reading.

“Fine!” His hushed voice came back, followed by the by now all too familiar “Mum?”

“What is it, sweetheart?” It had been over a year by that point since we had gotten the chess table. It had also been over a year since he had asked for something, so we had been waiting for him to speak up.

“Can we… Can we get a telescope?” The last word came out much too quickly, but I was still pretty sure of what I had just heard.

“A telescope?” Out of all the things they had asked for, this was definitely the most expensive one by far.

“Yeah! We tried one at school, and it was really cool, and-” Usually when Pastel tried to get me to buy her something I couldn’t say no, but a bar of chocolate was somewhat different to a telescope.

“I don’t know, sweetheart. I’ll talk with your daddy about it, but I need you to understand that what you’re asking for is very expensive.” Two highly disappointed faces looked up at me.

“But, Muuuuum, it’d be so cool if we had one!” Both of them put on their best puppy eyes, but it was just too much.

“It would be, but that doesn’t change the price.” With big sighs, which were obviously meant to change my mind, they walked out of the room as slowly as humanly possible. The truth was, we could afford it, but we didn’t want to turn into two of those parents who gave their kids whatever they wanted, when they wanted it. If they wanted a telescope they would have to earn it first.

Pine agreed with me that a telescope was something they would have to earn through very good grades. Luckily for us they didn’t bring it up again.

Unless they wanted something they were two little angels. I still made sure to read them both a bed time story every evening, swapping rooms with Pine every other night.

They had both joined the Scouts. I had signed up Conifer first, and once Pastel was old enough to join either the ballet girls or follow into her big brother’s footsteps she asked me to sign her up, too. We weren’t sure if she had actually wanted to join them or whether she had only done it because Conifer had done it, but she seemed to enjoy herself so we didn’t question her decision.

Of course, me and Dad were replaced by Pastel at the chess table the moment she showed an interest. Conifer didn’t seem to mind that his sister wanted everything he had, and we were glad that they got along this well. We had never heard or seen them fight with each other, and there had not been any complaints from school, either. They just simply seemed to get along really well, so naturally we wouldn’t have dreamed of interfering.

Where there is a lot of good news there is also bad news. One day Mum got a call from an old family friend I didn’t know. Her old best friend, Raspberry, had died and whoever was on the other end of that line had thought that Mum should know.

After that, Mum was dragging herself around the house for several days. She went to Raspberry’s funeral, and I realised that Dad was nearing his 100th birthday, with Mum being only a couple of years behind him.

Dad had been talking about getting a hot tub for some years now, and I had never given it much thought until now. I knew then that they might not have many years left, and I wanted to make these last years as comfortable and enjoyable as possible for them. Pine and I had been doing well in our jobs over those last years. I was a chairwoman now and he was the lead guitarist of his band, so we had the money to do my parents this favour.

We positioned the hot tub behind the house with view of the sea. We had lowered the ground a bit and installed stairs, so it would feel more secluded when they were using it.

Since they were also still sitting on their bench every now and then we bought some more shrubs and roses, and placed a light over the bench so they could use it until late at night should they want to.

Now that both kids were at school Pine and I got some well deserved time with each other. I still had to get up early, and he still came home late, but whenever we got the chance we used it. Sometimes I waited up for him to come home, and sometimes he woke up with me in the morning. We never had much time during the week, but I really cherished the cuddles we got out of it.

As soon as Conifer was able to he signed up for the debate club at his school. He had grown into a very handsome teenager, and we were both waiting for him to bring a girl home.

Of course, just like every other typical teenage boy he wanted to learn how to drive.

We had enough money left over to buy an averagely prized car, which was long overdue by that point. Up until that day I had still been taking the car pool to work, and was happy to know that would change now.

Long story short, everything was going well. We were doing well in our jobs, our kids were doing well in school, and both my parents were still alive.

Everything was perfect.

So imagine my surprise when I was overcome by a strong case of morning sickness one day.

2.19

This was City Hall. City Hall, not my office in the business building. From the amount of meetings I had been holding there over the last few months, however, I was almost wondering if I had swapped jobs and somehow forgotten all about it. Almost, if it hadn’t been for the even larger amount of meetings I had been holding and patiently listening to back in the business building.

After Pastel had been born things had progressively gotten harder for us. I woke up every morning with my back feeling like it was on fire. Somehow I was running around even more than I was holding meetings, and as I was required to wear at least small heals to look professional it was very slowly destroying my back.

Judging from the feeling it gave me, that is.

There had been a few mornings already where I could hardly get myself to leave bed. I would start work at eight in the morning and, because of the meetings (which I had foolishly agreed to at the beginning of this promotion, so really this was my fault), I usually didn’t get back home until seven in the evening. I had only been promoted a couple of weeks ago, and already I was exhausted.

I was very much enjoying my job and the responsibility, but I hardly got to spent time with my children any more.

Which is why I was so grateful for Mum and Dad jumping in and taking care of Conifer and Pastel. Mum absolutely adored both of them, and didn’t mind getting up early to get both of them dressed, fed and entertained.

There was a special connection between Mum and Pastel. From the moment Mum had first laid eyes on her grand-daughter she was completely wrapped around Pastel’s little finger. We all were, but Mum more so than anyone else. There was hardly an evening where I would come home and Mum didn’t hold Pastel in her arms. The affection between the two was incredible, and I must admit I was a little jealous. It was easy for me to focus at work, but once I left the office I regretted not having spent more time with both of them. All these meetings were going to earn me another promotion fairly soon, but if it wasn’t for them I could have been home three, sometimes four hours earlier than I usually was. Sometimes I came home and both children were already asleep, so all I could do was watch their little chests rise and fall in tune their steady breathing.

I wasn’t the only one jealous, though. Conifer eventually had to accept that his gramma loved spending time with his sister, and soon gave Dad the looks he had given Mum not too long ago. Dad didn’t mind one bit.

Unlike me, Pine actually got to spend time with our children every now and then. He often had to leave pretty early for band practice just like I had to stay late for meetings, but he usually didn’t have to leave until nine or ten in the morning.

That way he sometimes had the chance to dress our children, and even to feed them before he had to head out. He made sure to throw in some cuddles and a little bit of play time, too, and again I can’t say that I wasn’t jealous.

I was their Mum, but they hardly knew me.

“What’s this?”

“What is it, Daddy?”

“Uh-oh. It looks like… oh no! It’s the claw!”

“Noooo!” According to my Mum’s reports, little Pastel’s face would go from scared to pure joy as she burst out laughing every time Pine did this.

And I had not seen or heard it myself once.

Luckily for everyone, Conifer and Pastel got along just fine. My parents were getting on a bit now, and needed a break every now and then. Conifer really liked the play table we had gotten him, and often Pastel would make her way into his room where she would play with him. He didn’t seem to mind sharing it with her, and we really hoped that wouldn’t change as he got older.

The weekend was our time to really bond with them both. Conifer had learned all the essentials like walking and speaking pretty quickly, so we could concentrate on teaching Pastel. When Pine was teaching her how to walk I would sit with Conifer in his room and play blocks with him.

When I taught her how to talk, Pine spent time with Conifer and played his cute little xylophone with him.

Fortunately for us, Pastel learned how to walk really fast. Using her potty also wasn’t a problem, and before we knew it she was able to use it without our help.

But talking? That she wasn’t all that fond of. It took me a while to get her to repeat even the smallest of words. Most of the time I would tell her what to repeat and she would simply sit opposite of me, looking up at me with her lovely eyes. At first I had thought she was trying, but when she burst out laughing after a few seconds ever time it was getting harder for me to stay patient. For her it had become a game. I was overjoyed when she eventually repeated longer words, and finally her speech improved a lot after that first hurdle.

Conifer and I had quickly fallen into a routine. I would put Pastel to bed, and he was sure to sit in her room waiting for me with Pine standing in the door frame.

“Someone’s here to see you” he would say, smiling at me and nodding towards his son, who would look up at me with expecting eyes.

“So I see.” I’d pick him up and play with him for a few minutes before giving in and placing him in his crib, too.

Pine and I were exhausted from it all, but I wouldn’t have changed it for the world. I was so grateful to have some time with them at the weekend at least that I didn’t care how heavy my eyes were, or how badly my back was aching.

I just hoped it would get easier soon.

 

2.18

“Stop, Mummy!” Pastel giggled as I tickled her, her small hand trying to push mine away.

“What’s that? You want me to stop?” I had come to thoroughly enjoy my evenings with Conifer and Pastel. They had become the highlight of my day, and I had even found myself looking forward to leaving the office on a few occasions.

“Yes, pwease!” Our daughter was laughing so hard that she had trouble getting the words out right. Really I wasn’t done tickling her yet, but she had said please, so I didn’t have a choice. We taught our children that we would listen to them if they were asking politely, as long as their requests were within reason of course, so what else was I to do? I dropped my hand in defeat.

Once Conifer had been born we started trying for our second child almost immediately. It was really important to me that I could return to work as soon as possible, without needing to take more time off later on, so I was actually relieved when my morning sickness started again. I still hated it, of course, but I knew what it meant, and was over the moon.

Some things were different this time around, though. For one, I only seemed to be hungry when everyone else had finished eating, which often left me to eat on my own. Mum and Dad were looking after Conifer as much as they could, and so did Pine when he was home, which gave me some time to myself.

That’s not to say that I didn’t spent any time with my young man! Since Pine had to work nights we had come to an agreement. He would look after our son in the morning, and I would look after him in the evening. When Pine had to practice for a concert, Mum and Dad were more than happy to jump in.

That way, bed time had become our special time together.

I enjoyed reading him books and I had a feeling he enjoyed it, too. I had no idea how good my voice acting was, but Conifer laughed, smiled, and hit behind his blanket at all the right moments, so it can’t have been too bad.

We had fallen into a nice little bed time routine, just like Pine had fallen into a good morning routine. I would feed him some baby dinner, practice using the potty with him, and eventually read him a story until he fell asleep. Which usually didn’t take very long. The poor guy was exhausted by the end of the day, since either Pine or Dad would practice walking and talking with him.

Just like the last time I was pregnant, Emerald wouldn’t allow me anywhere near my office, or the building. Unless it was my home office. Everyday there was so much to do for me that it sometimes felt a little overwhelming. Of course those were just my hormones talking, since I actually had a lot less to do than I usually did.

Lil had bought us a baby swing, which I gratefully placed next to my desk. At first I had been worried that Conifer would be a distraction, but he was so caught up in his swinging and the soft melody it made that he hardly said a word.

Conifer was growing up quickly, and so was my belly. I couldn’t believe how fast the last months had gone by, and before I knew it we had packed another bag ready for the hospital.

My back was hurting worse than during my pregnancy with Conifer, and I often caught him looking up at me  with worried eyes.

“Mummy outchy?” He would ask me, looking much too smart for his young age.

“I’m fine, sweetheart.” I wasn’t entirely sure if he believed me or not, but he put on a very good fake smile if he didn’t.

If there was one person in the house he loved more than me, it was his daddy.

The evenings when I was too tired to put him to bed, I would watch Pine place him in his crib and read him a little story. The looks he gave his father were full of adoration, and Pine adored him right back.

That was, until he spotted Mum. He may have adored us, but he absolutely worshipped her, if that was even possible. Wherever she went, his eyes followed her everywhere. At first we thought his eyes started to sparkle because she fed him, but we soon realised it was because she was simply there.

“There you go, my love. One bowl of pancakes, just for you.” He’d look down at his food, then back to Mum and then he wouldn’t eat until she promised him she’d stay right there in the kitchen with him.

We just knew she would have taught him how to walk on top of teaching him how to talk if her back had been better. Often we both sat down together and simply enjoyed the feeling of decreasing pain, until I had sat down so long that my back started hurting because of that instead.

And then, one night, it was time.

Poor Pine panicked a little. This was very different for him then the last time my water broke, when Dad phoned him up at work and he simply joined us in the hospital.

It took him a few moments to calm down, but eventually he was breathing normally again and drove me to the hospital, where we welcomed Pastel Spring into our family.

“All right then, no more tickles.” But she had already snuggled into my shoulder, her breaths growing deeper quickly. Carefully, I carried her to her crib and put her down, pulling her little blanket to her chin and tugging her in before giving her a kiss and switching off the lights.

As much as I had enjoyed being pregnant, I was glad that it was over and that I could return to work. Now there would be no more days off for me.

Finally, I could commit properly.

2.17

This was me. Rosee Charm Lace. Head of my own department. I still couldn’t quite believe it, but it was definitely real.

Not long after Pine and I had started trying for a baby, Emerald had asked me into her office and promoted me. Federal had recently moved departments, and she said she couldn’t imagine anyone better suited for the role than me.

Of course, it was also around that time that I started throwing up.

Before long I was beginning to show, and it didn’t take long before my work sessions were cut shorter and shorter. I knew back ache was a normal symptom, but I had not expected it to be this bad. Most days I was ¬†only able to do some work for a couple of hours before I couldn’t take it anymore.

Mum and Dad were really looking forward to their first grand child. Often Dad would sit in my office with me, reading, while I caught up on work. Mum was not quite so happy about the amount of time I dedicated to my job. Dad didn’t complain, but Mum said every chance she got how she wanted me to rest and put my feet up on the sofa. Then one day Dad reminded her how she used to paint when she was pregnant with us and Illusion, so she gave up.

I did enjoy the time when my back simply hurt too much for me to sit down. I knew it was too early to really tell, but I was excited to have our first baby. And our second one straight afterwards.

We had discussed this a while ago and had decided that two babies would be perfect. That way there was a chance to have a boy and a girl, and they would always have someone their age to play with. If we had the second one straight after I wouldn’t need to take time off work again later on. I would be able to go back to work and really commit until my retirement.

Pine was ecstatic when I told him. He seemed a little surprised at first, even though we had been planning this for a while, but he was happy nonetheless.

“Hello in there, little one!” He cooed whenever he got the chance. “It’s your daddy! I can’t wait to meet you!” Honestly, I did not know he had such a… soft side to him, and it always made me smile to see it. Of course I knew by that point how loving and caring he was, he had just never been the sort of man I imagined to be fluent in baby talk.

Whenever he got the chance, which was a lot now that I was at home the whole day every day, he would either stroke my tummy or listen to any gurgling sounds, always looking up at me in amazement afterwards.

At first, I found staying home a little frustrating. I really, really wanted to go to work, but I knew Emerald would not let me through the doors if I tried.

Eventually, I got used to being at home. Dad made us dinner every day, and for once I had the time to sit down and eat with my parents. Before I had gotten pregnant it would be work, a shower once I was home and some more work in my office after that, a slice of toast next to me. Now I had finished what my back would allow me long before it was time for dinner.

Mum was also excited, and was possibly listening to my tummy more often than Pine. She would talk, too, often what sounded like whole conversations.

“Oh, I can hear you, sweetheart! It’s your gramma! Me and your granddad can’t wait to spoil you, sweetheart, we’ve already put some chocolate away for you! Huh? Chocolate? Oh, you will love it, just you wait until you have teeth!”

Since I now had a lot of free time on my hands, I had begun to look for a name. I really liked the name Conifer for a boy, but Pine was hoping for a little girl and liked the name Pastel.

Somehow, the months flew by a lot faster than I had first thought when my maternity leave began. Suddenly it was time for my baby shower already, and I was only a few weeks away from my due date.

Pine’s sister was the first to arrive. I hadn’t seen Lime since before our wedding, so it was really nice to catch up.

“How are you feeling?” Emerald had happily agreed to give me more time off for baby number two, only because she knew how much and how well I had been working from home. I had promised her that we would have no more than two babies, so she knew I would definitely be back after that.

Also, she couldn’t hide how excited she was herself to meet her first grandchild.

Even my brother was thrilled. Throughout the evening he kept telling me the things they would be able to do together, and promised he’d take him out camping once or twice. That’d we didn’t know yet whether we were having a boy or a girl didn’t seem to matter, and he waved it of every time I reminded him.

Out of all the guests we had that night, I was most excited to see Lil again. We often talked on the phone, but it was so much better seeing her in person! Like Pine she often worked afternoons, just her job was a lot more dangerous than his. I cringed every time she told me over the phone of the robbers and such they brought to prison, and hoped she couldn’t somehow feel my resentment over the phone.

“I left my little niece or nephew a present in his or her new room. I hope you’ll like it, Rosee.”

“I thought I said no presents?” I asked, but the smile on her lips told me she didn’t really care what I had said. Something told me she’d be spoiling our children more than Mum and Dad, and that was a very worrying thought.

Eventually, it was time for the guests to leave, and I was bursting with curiosity. I made my way up the stairs into Brink’s old room, which we had converted into the first baby room.

And there it was. I’m pretty sure it was my emotions gone wild, but I started crying. It was the cutest little teddy bear I had ever laid my eyes on – pink and green, perfect for our little one.

All this time it had felt like something had been missing in the room, but not any more. It was only a small change, I knew that, but it seemed to make a great room perfect.

Pine and I were really proud of the little nursery we had created. There were toys everywhere, cute little pictures and other decorations which seemed to fit in perfectly.

Then there was the bookshelf and chair, together with a large painting showing a dragon. Mostly the bookshelf was filled with some more cuddly toys, but we had been filling it with some educational books, too. All age appropriate, of course, there was nothing too difficult in there. But books that would teach my little angel how to count and say the alphabet were all there, and I was really looking forward to reading them with my baby.

Since the room had been finished I often moved my name searching from my office into the nursery. Soon I left it though as we had already pretty much decided on a name, and started researching good nursery schools and reading pregnancy books instead. I knew it was a little early to look into schools already, but I wanted to be prepared. I had sworn to myself to give my children everything I could, and I was going to make it happen. That’s why we had waited, after all.

It happened one day when Mum, Dad and I were watching some cooking show on TV. It started off as a little cramp, but I’d been having so many of those that I ignored it at first.

Then suddenly, there was a much stronger cramp which took me by surprise. I sucked in some air which immediately alarmed my parents.

“Sweetheart? Are you alright?” Dad was at my side instantly, and Mum squeezed my hand, but the pain got so much worse so quickly that I jumped up from the sofa.

“Get her to the car, I’ll get her basket.” I was so grateful for my Mum not losing her nerves in that moment that I made a mental note to give her a big hug once this was over. Faster than I knew she could run she went upstairs, while Dad led me to the car and helped me inside.

Fourteen hours later our baby boy was born. Welcome to the world, Conifer Lace.