2.21 A Little Progress

Part of me feels like it was practically yesterday when I was in school. Ms. Justina was teaching my class. I hadn’t been assigned a career yet. I was making friends. And I was slowly realizing my feelings for Macie.

The rest of me is all too aware of the gray hair creeping up on me. The wrinkles on my face are more noticeable every day. I’ve been working in my assigned career for more than have my life at this point. And my children are not really children any longer. They’re now the ones going to school and wondering what career they’ll eventually be assigned. Robin is the oldest so naturally she’s more focused on her future at the moment. I hope Phoenix follows her lead.

Robin studies hard every day. Of course she doesn’t know what career she’ll be placed in yet, so she doesn’t have a single subject to focus on. I think she’s trying to learn as much as possible about as many different things as possible. And academics aren’t all she works hard to master.

She also exercises every day. She trains as hard as I ever have. Honestly she runs herself ragged.

She impresses with her work ethic, but I also want to make sure she doesn’t train and study too hard all the time. That’s why I remind her to make time for other things – to balance things out. Painting comes so naturally to Robin and so does making friends. She’s a people person. I can tell she’s happier when she doesn’t cut these things out of her days completely. Her smile is much brighter after she paints or spends time with her friends.

I’ve met a couple of her friends by now, and I was pleasantly surprised by who ended up in her life.

I was happy to hear Robin became friends with Audrina. She is Ms. Justina’s daughter. Ms. Justina isn’t the teacher anymore –  she is much too old now – but she’ll always be Ms. Justina to me. Audrina has been as good a friend to Robin as her mother was a good teacher to me.

Robin’s best friend, however, is Tiffany. I knew Tiffany looked familiar the first time I met her. She’s the daughter of another old friend named Sienna. Macie and I haven’t kept in touch with many of our old school friends. It’s not that we didn’t want to, but there’s no easy way to keep in touch when you work in different areas and have families to look after. Of course, Macie was never close friends with Sienna, but I was for a short time. It is nice to see a new generation of all these families growing together.

And speaking of Sienna, recently I saw her for the first time in years. Unfortunately it wasn’t under the best circumstances.

She came into the clinic with abdominal pain. We considered other treatments, but in the end she needed surgery. She pulled through, but it was surprisingly difficult operating on a friend. I’m glad I could help, but it sure would be nice to have another doctor at my clinic to assist especially in cases like Sienna’s where I know the patient personally.

The extra help would also be nice, because it might allow me to focus more on finding a treatment for the terrible dementia epidemic. As far as I can tell it still presents in one hundred percent of the population. My experimental treatments have yet to have a noticeable effect on the mental health of my patients as they age.

At least there is one bit of good news in the realm of public health. One of the treatment trails has given patients a big increase in physical strength and stamina. I know my mother used to talk about her reduced stamina after The Disaster. This weakening of the body is a condition just as common as the deterioration of the mind, but I think I’ve overlooked it many times simply because it isn’t as obviously tragic as the dementia. After all, I know it is possible through very hard work over many years to build and maintain muscles and strength. This new breakthrough I believed will make it more obtainable for people from now on to build their physical strength and stamina.

I have already started prescribing the new treatment which includes a variety of health supplements as well as an exercise routine to the vast majority of my patients.

Everyone in the family including myself has also started these treatments.

My hope is that improved physical health will result in improved mental health as time goes on. Of course I’ll continue searching for other treatments, but I am beginning to believe this is our best hope.

This has all given me a new focus. I have refocused on my own exercise routine. I want to be healthy as long as possible for the sake of my family, friends, and patients.

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2.20 Paint and Patients

I found out just how hard it can be to explain death to a child. Phoenix missed his grandmother, of course, but I’m not sure he fully understood what happened. Robin was old enough; she understood.

She tried to put on a brave face, but I could see the pain and noticed her smile stopped reaching her green eyes. She had been so close with her Nana; there was a big hole left behind.

It was a long time before Robin found something that made her truly happy again.

Many years and birthdays passed.

To me it was a strange thing, but one day I saw Robin staring out a window. Then she turned back toward a paper she’d hung on the wall. She was painting – but she was painting like I’d never seen it done before. She wasn’t covering a wall, she was decorating a page. She’d mixed some different colored dirts with water to make her improvised paint. Even with such low quality materials she impressed me with what she created.

Now I buy her paint when I can. There’s not a big supply of it – like so many things, it can be hard to find, but I can usually get it pretty regularly. Canvases are nearly impossible to find – I’ve lost count of the number of times she’s repainted the same one.

I can’t say I really understand it, because it seems like a very unpractical skill to me. But Robin loves it; it puts a smile on her face, so that’s good enough for me.

* * *

As for me, I was devastated by Mom’s death, but I had to stay strong for my family and for the patients who’s health I’m responsible for on a daily basis.

I wouldn’t let myself feel defeated. I wasn’t able to find a cure before Mom’s death, but there were still countless other people I could help by finding a cure. My goal remained the same: find a way to treat or prevent the terrible condition plaguing our world.

Of course I still have my day to day responsibilities to examine and treat patients who walk through the clinic doors.

This part of my job is still full of surprises and requires me to sharpen my skills every day.

I nearly lost a patient not long after Mom died. I could tell right away that Mrs. Burch was in a lot of pain. She had an intestinal blockage that had to be removed. Surgery was the only option. Unfortunately she lost a lot of blood, but I was able to stabilize her in the end.

Moments like those make me realize how thankful I am to have been assigned this career. That woman might not be alive still if I hadn’t been. It was intimidating at first, but it’s put me in the perfect position to help people. I guess life has a way of working out for the best sometimes.

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2.19 I’m Coming Home

Robin took my advice about her nana to heart.

If she ever noticed any unusual behavior from Mom, Robin would be there in an instant with a bright smile on her face and a big hug to give. Many times I saw my little girl walk past only to turn around to spend a little more time – a little more love – with her nana.

Of course this came naturally to Robin anyway. Really it wasn’t so much different than their relationship had always been. Now Robin just put in a little extra effect.

I tried to follow my own advice too.

Whenever I’d see a frown on Mom’s face I would do my best to replace it with a smile.

I’d often ask, “Something wrong, Mom?”

Usually her answer was something about missing my dad.

“Lan hasn’t came to visit in so long.”

“Do you know Lan? Have you seen him?”

“I lost him…”

“I waited too long… should have drank it sooner… He’s already gone…”

All answers I heard too often for my liking.

Eventually I found a response that could be counted on to make her smile again.

“You’ll see him again someday.” I’d say.

“Soon?” She’d ask.

And as much as it broke my heart, I’d tell her, “Yes. Soon.”

All in all this time period in my life was one of the most trying and tiring times of my life.

I started developing permanent bags and wrinkles around my eyes. If it weren’t for Robin and her little mission to make Nana’s life as happy as she could possibly make it, I don’t  know if I could have made it through. She didn’t know it, but she was a big help to me.

I distinctly remember one night watching Robing hug her nana tightly around the neck out in the moonlight. I was exhausted from a long day at work, but I knew Mom enjoyed getting out of the house – and she wasn’t able to do so very much at that point.

I remember that night – that hug – so distinctly, because they were my last moments with Mom.

No sooner than Robin let go of that hug, Mom straightened up and said something that still gives me chills.

“I’m coming home, Lan.” And she pointed toward the sky as she said it.

As quick as I could I asked Robin to run back inside the house. I thankful she listened and glad that my instinct let me protect my daughter from the moments that followed. I had turned just long enough to make sure Robin had done as I asked. In the few seconds my head was turned Mom laid down on the ground right where she’d spoken.

I somehow knew she’d gone before I ever checked her pulse. I did try to help her, but she didn’t need anymore help from me. She had left this world, and I truly believe she knew she was going to see Dad again. Maybe it’s just a comforting thought – I don’t know if it’s true – but I believe she is with him now. I guess it’s what they call faith.

It was only right to have her buried right next to Dad.

Losing mom has been devastating to us all, but I know in my heart she is in a better place.

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2.18 Time Flies By

Time flies when you’re having fun.  I remember Mom explaining what this phrase meant when I was little. She had to explain, because I had taken it way too literally.

I can still hear her voice saying, “No, silly, it means time seems to go by very fast when you’re having fun.”

I’d always thought this was true, especially when I was a child. There was never enough time to do all the things I thought were fun. Yet, the older I get the more I think that phrase isn’t quite right. Once you’ve lived long enough to reflect on your life you realize that time actually passes by too fast in general.

I’ve thought before that I didn’t have enough time… with my dad before he died and with my mom before she became sick. And now that I have kids of my own I can feel the time flying by even faster.

It seems like yesterday Phoenix was a tiny baby in diapers and all. Then it was like time sped up. Suddenly he’s a big boy, with a big soft spot in his heart for his Mama.

“Jay, I still can’t believe how much Phoenix looks like you.” Macie says this nearly every day, but I can definitely see his resemblance to her.

* * *

I can also tell how much time is speeding by when I think about Robin.

I like to remember how tiny she once was when I’d wrap my arms around her.

Of course, she’ll always be my little girl, but there’s no denying Robin is growing up.

As the oldest sibling, she started school first. She liked everything about it except homework right from the start. Phoenix probably didn’t help Robin’s aversion to homework. He used to sit on the stool near the table we use as a desk and play with his favorite toys while she tried to focus on her arithmetic. Those days are long gone, though.

These days Phoenix is in school too and has homework of his own.

* * *

Speeding up isn’t the only trick time plays. I’ve also noticed that after some time has passed I tend to forget some of the more difficult days I’ve experienced as a dad. I guess I like to focus on the good times, and remember Robin and Phoenix as they were when they were little and in their sweetest moments.

But they have definitely had their share of not so sweet moments too.

One particularly tiring phase started with Robin talking about seeing ghosts at night. I assumed she was scared and tried to reassure her.

“There is no such thing as real ghosts.” I told her.

To my surprise Robin didn’t find this reassuring at all. She was convinced her grandfathers visited the house at night, and she very much wanted this to be real. Before long she had Phoenix believing in ghosts too. As neither of them was scared of this little game I decided to play along. I never again tried to convince them that ghosts aren’t real.

Looking back, that might not have been the best decision. It wasn’t long before friendly ghosts became monsters under the bed.

Unlike the grandfatherly ghosts they imagined visited them from time to time, the kids were very much afraid of the imaginary monsters that lived under their beds.

Thanks to their overactive imaginations Robin and Phoenix would  wake up terrified at least three times a week – at it’s worst we have weeks they awoke every single night of the week. They would hurry to wake both Macie and me each time. No amount of reassurances worked. They could not accept that they were having nightmares. Nor would they accept that it was a trick of the light fooling their eyes in the dark. They both insisted they weren’t imagining the monsters.

Checking under their beds each night to show them there was no monster was the only way we could get them to sleep at all. Even then, though they would often wake up terrified in the middle of the night.

Finally I came up with a solution. I told Robin and Phoenix I had bought some monster repellent. It was really an old spray bottle of bathroom cleaner. Worked like a charm. I had to spray a little every night before bedtime, but eventually they both started sleeping through the night again.

Those were many longs months, though – and I think that may have been when I grew my first gray hairs.

It might have been a little easier if the kids’ Nana hadn’t believed and even encouraged these stories. Mom never claimed to see monsters under the beds, but she believed the kids when they told her about them. She also believed the stories about the ghosts, and it broke my heart when she started talking about Dad’s ghost visiting her after sunset. These delusions seemed to comfort her though , so I suppose there was something positive to come out of all this.

Anything that could bring Mom comfort in her condition was a good thing in my mind. And nothing in the years since Dad died brought her as much comfort as her grandchildren.

That same happiness that Robin first brought out of her shone on her face again when she was with Phoenix. He’s a mama’s boy, but he never turned down a tight hug from Nana.

Of course, sweet little Robin couldn’t let more than a couple hours pass before trying to put a smile on her Nana’s face. I always knew theirs was an extra special bond.

* * *

While I’m reflecting on life and how much time has passed, I’ve also noticed how certain moments seem perfectly preserved in my memory while others are blurred with time. It’s almost as if these moments  are immune to time’s effects. Sometimes these crystal clear memories are of big, important days – the day I met Macie, our first kiss, the day my Dad died – but some are of much smaller, seemingly unimportant moments.

I have no idea why I can remember this moment so clearly, but one of my favorite memories of Robin’s early childhood is when I surprised her with a new toy. It was a superhero doll. I bought it from a patient who makes toys in his spare time.

As I handed the cape-wearing woman to Robin, I asked her, “So what do you want to name her?”

Robin didn’t answer at first. Instead she spoke to the doll. “What’s your name miss?” Then she held the doll to her ear as if to listen for an answer. After a couple of seconds Robin looked at me and announced, “This is Green Woman, and she says there’s a boy who needs rescuing!”

“Oh no! What’s wrong?” I played along.

“Don’t worry! Green Woman will save the day!” Robin nearly shouted as she played.

* * *

It still makes me laugh to think that the same little girl who imagined ghosts and monsters into the house didn’t make up a more creative name for her toy. That name stuck, though – from that day on she called the doll Green Woman.

Funnily enough I bought a similar toy for Phoenix a few years later, and I also vividly remember his reaction when I gave it to him.

* * *

“So do you want to call him? Green Man? Because his uniform matches Robin’s hero?” I asked him.

Phoenix looked at me like I was crazy.

“No! I think I want to call him…” He had to pause a minute to think of a name. “Mr. Super!”

He started playing with his new toy right away, but after a few minutes Phoenix stopped and looked closely at the figure.

“You know, Dad, I’m not sure if I believe in superheroes, but I still like Mr. Super.”  He said matter-of-factly. “Thanks for getting him for me!”

* * *

I love how both Robin and Phoenix came up with such adorably generic names for their hero toys. Maybe that’s why I remember those days so well.

All in all I wish I could slow down time, because my babies are simply growing up too fast. I remember it like it happened yesterday the moment I really realized Robin wasn’t so little any more.

“Daddy, I think something’s wrong with Nana!” I hear her voice wobble as she shared her fears. “She’s acting like she doesn’t know who I am!”

I had actually overheard the conversation Robin had just had with Mom. My heart ached for my little girl who was clearly very concerned. I didn’t really know the right way or how much to explain right then; I only knew I didn’t want to lie to Robin and tell her nothing was wrong.

“Robin,” I began, “Nana is very sick. She has trouble remembering things sometimes. She’s confused right now, but she still knows who you are. I’m sorry, baby. I know it’s scary, but Daddy’s doing everything he can for Nana.”

“What can I do to help her?” Robin asked me then.

“Well, you just have to be patient with her. Just remember that in her heart she’ll always love you even when she gets confused. And you just be you. Spend time with her. Hug her. Talk to her even when she’s confused. Just keep loving her.”

“Will that make her better?” She asked.

“It can’t hurt.” I told her truthfully.

Then we bother heard Nana call, “Where’s my Robin-girl?”

“I’m gonna go hug her and love her, Daddy!” Robin said in a rush. She smiled as she gave me a quick hug before running off to find her Nana.

I don’t think the smile quite reached her eyes, though. I was glad I had been honest with her, but this made me think I was right in not sharing any more with her in that moment.

By that time I had already given up hope of finding a cure in time to help Mom. I could tell Mom was getting weaker each day. I starting thinking about what I was going to tell Robin and Phoenix when the day I was long dreading finally arrived.

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2.17 Second Time Around

Throughout Macie’s second pregnancy I kept an eye out for any health problems or complications she might develop, but this time around was complication-free just like the first. Actually I think even Macie would call this one an easy pregnancy.

Many times I spotted her crawling in the floor playing with Robin, and I mean up until the end of Macie’s third trimester.

Macie is such a wonderful, dedicated mother that I actually worried how Robin would react to having a new little sibling that would divide her mom’s attention.

Of course, when we told Robin there was a baby in Mama’s belly and she’d soon have a little brother or sister she was curious. She seemed excited and became fascinated with her mom’s baby bump. She couldn’t believe there was a baby living in there.

“I want her to come out so I can play with her!” Robin repeated on a daily basis.

Still I knew she might be a little jealous after the baby is born, especially if it turned out to be a brother instead of the sister she clearly was expecting. Only time would tell.

For me time during Macie’s pregnancy seemed to go so fast. As with the first pregnancy, I found myself  worried that the contractions would start while I was at work, but we were lucky again. The labor came during my day off.

Macie gave birth to a healthy baby boy. Then she surprised me with a name she’d picked for him. She wanted a name to honor her father and stuck with our family tradition. She’d struggled to find a bird’s name that began with “Ph” for Phillip. Then she remembered a story about a mythical bird in one of our old books – Phoenix.

I loved the name immediately.

Macie naturally needed to rest after giving birth, and she spent much of the day bonding with baby Phoenix. This would be the first test to  see if Robin would show any jealousy.

I had worried for nothing. Robin adored her baby brother. I’m sure there will be a fair share of sibling arguments in our future, but I now have a feeling that brother and sister will be very close friends.

Home is such a happy place right now, that it’s hard for me to leave it for work each day.

I go, because I must. I have to provide for my family, and there is important work to be done. I’ve begun taking samples from as many patients that consent as possible. I’m analyzing them looking for any signs of the disease that leads to the universal mental deterioration in the elderly population. I haven’t been successful so far, but I’m planning on finding volunteers to participate in a variety of preventative treatments.

But even with the very important things going on at work, most days I cannot wait to get back home. It’s not easy to prioritize work when there are important things at home too – family.

There’s nothing more important in the world than family to me. I cherish every moment I have left with Mom. I couldn’t love my wife and daughter and daughter more. And now I have a son too!

I don’t think I can put into words how incredible it feels to hold your own child in your arms. That’s absolutely my favorite thing to do at the moment, because I know my baby won’t stay this little for long.

Macie says he looks like me, but I can’t tell. What I can tell is Phoenix is a happy baby. There’s no sweeter sound than a baby’s laugh, and Phoenix fills the house  with his precious giggles more often than not.

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2.16 Nana and Robin

Life has somehow returned more or less to normal in the time since Grandpa Phillip died – as normal as it ever was anyway. We were able to bury him nearby just like Dad, so we can visit the graves when we want – which of course is the closest we get to really visiting with them anymore. It helps us to feel close to them still.

It’s been gradual, but I can now tell things have been changing for the better. Macie is smiling more often again. Both of us are amazed each day as Robin learns new things while she grows up so fast. Even Mom has shown some signs of improvement in her health since Robin was born.

She still grieves deeply for Dad – and she is still far from the able, independent woman she once was – but the more time she spends with Robin the more active and lively she becomes. Seems  almost like it was meant to be, because as Robin grows up she grows closer to her Nana.

She loves Nana more than anything – even more than the old hat of mine she’s taken to wearing all day and most nights.

And it’s amazing how much Mom talks to Robin. Robin listens to her Nana’s tales about life before the Disaster with fascination. I think they must seem like fairy tales to her. Sometimes Mom mixes facts and fiction – she gets many things confused in her own head – but it doesn’t matter. Just hearing Mom speak more and about happy things is more than I’d ever hoped to see from her again.

The two of them are closer than I would have thought possible not so long ago.

Macie took the sweetest picture of them the other day – I wonder where mom ever managed to find that old camera, but I’m glad she did. I think it’s my favorite picture in our little collection. It captures so much of what is most important to me in this world – my incredible mother who I’ve loved my whole life and my beautiful daughter who I love more than I knew I could and who looks so much like her mother – Macie, my amazing wife and true partner in life.

I told Macie this was a perfect picture, but that I need to take another with her in it too – so that I could have a picture with everyone I love in it. Her response completely surprised me.

“Well, we better wait if you want a picture of your whole family, cause I’m pretty sure we’ll have a new addition to the family before long.” she said.

Macie was right of course. She’s pregnant again! We’re both so excited for Robin to have a little brother or sister, because neither of us had siblings. I wonder if this baby will be a boy, but another little girl would be welcome too. I know this baby will bring as much happiness and love to our lives as Robin, and for that I can’t wait.

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2.15 Grandpa Philip Irvine

Does happiness never last?

And how is it possible to go from the happiest moments of your life to the saddest sometimes all in the same day?

The morning my daughter, Robin, was born was without a doubt one of the best mornings of my life. Throughout that whole workday I couldn’t wait to get home to my family.

I didn’t know the shock waiting for me at home.

Maybe if I’d gotten home just a little earlier… but even then there probably wasn’t anything I could have done.

I think the saddest part about it is how excited Macie’s dad had been about becoming a grandfather. Then he didn’t even have a full day to spend with his granddaughter.

Still at least he did live long enough to see her born. It’s almost like he held on just long enough to see the baby. Macie and I’ll make sure Robin grows up knowing how much her Grandpa loved her.

And now it’s my turn to be strong for Macie. I’m beginning to learn that watching other people’s grief is nearly as painful as experiencing it yourself. It is almost a physical pain for me to watch Macie mourn for her father. I wish more than anything that I could ease her heartache.

Macie’s usual smile is gone most of the time for now – replaced with raw emotion. Every tear I see fall is harder to watch than the last.

I hate to admit it, but mixed in with all the sympathy I have for Macie is a little bit of guilt too. I can’t deny there’s a part of me that is relieved it wasn’t Mom who died. I’m not proud to think about it that way, but the thought has crossed my mind. Though I do really wish Phillip could have had more time with us too. He will be missed.

There’s an old saying about time healing everything. I can only hope that’s true.

While we wait for time to heal these wounds of life lost, we’ll try to focus on the joy of new life.

Each time I hold Robin I give her an extra hug from her grandpa, and she’s getting plenty of love from her mom and grandma too.

Robin’s arrival may have been accompanied by a deep loss, but she has still managed to fill all our hearts. Already Mom seems to be building a close bond with her granddaughter. And I’ve seen Macie find her smile again in the moments she is caring for baby Robin.

It might be true that happiness doesn’t last forever, but what I think I’m learning is sadness doesn’t either. I guess life is just a balance between the two. This time in our lives is definitely full of mixed emotions, but we’ll get through the ups and downs as always – as a family.

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2.14 Macie’s New Clothes

There had been so many changes so quickly. Dad was gone from this world, Mom’s mind was fading, new living arrangements with Macie and her dad moving in, and to top it all off rediscovering cousin Greta’s side of the family. It was a lot to adjust to. Some of these changes were welcome. Some were the most challenging things I’ve ever  faced. But I made it through it all.

My family made it through.

It took a long time, but I eventually began to feel a sense of normalcy in my life.

Unfortunately we haven’t seen much more or Greta and her family. Traveling might be easier than it once was, but it still is far from convenient. I’ve only seen Greta once since she visited, and that was at the clinic. She is already developing signs of memory loss, confusion, and disorientation. I’m afraid her health won’t permit her to travel any more even if buses and permits were more common.

Other than that there at least hasn’t been any more bad news for me and the family for a while.

And then there was actually some great news. Beyond great really. The best news ever.

One day Macie stopped me on my way up for a round with the punching bag.

“What’s wrong?” I asked. This was a time when I had begun to brace myself for the worst case scenario at all times. I’m happy to say, now days I’m back to looking at things with a more, ‘The glass is half full’ type of mindset.

“Nothing’s wrong,” She’d said. “I think something is very right, but I might need a second opinion.”

I was still clueless.

“I think I’m pregnant!” She said finally.

Afterwards, Macie told me that she wished she could have taken a picture of me, so I could see the look on my face as her announcement sunk in.

I was happier than I’d been in a long time.

Thanks to my heard earned medical knowledge I was able to confirm Macie’s suspicions. She was indeed pregnant.

We were both ecstatic. We had been trying for a while before it happened. We wanted kids sooner rather than later, because we wanted my mom and her dad to be able to meet their grandchildren. It seemed like this was a dream we’d be able to realize.

It was a lot of fun sharing the big news with both of the grandparents-to-be.

Mom was speechless, but you could see a happiness light up her face. I haven’t seen her look so happy since before Dad died.

Macie’s dad was thrilled. He laughed with the biggest smile on his face. He congratulated us. And after that moment it wasn’t uncommon to hear him humming lullabies quietly around the house.

It made Macie and I both so happy to see them both filled with such joy. It was truly amazing to me how much happiness this baby had brought into the world even before he or she had made their arrival.

Our excitement grew with Macie’s belly. I found some extra scrubs at the clinic that I brought home for her when her regular clothes couldn’t stretch over her abdomen any longer.

It was incredible to see my ordinarily tiny wife’s body change to accommodate the life growing inside of her. I learned quickly, though not to call her belly huge or wonder aloud how big this baby was going to be. I guess Macie was a little insecure about the changes of her body that I simply found amazing. Honestly I was impressed by the whole process. I didn’t mean to hurt her feelings by commenting on such things, but it did. I guess it’s easy to see the beauty of it all when it’s not my body being stretched to it’s limits in more ways than one.

If I could have had Macie’s morning sickness for her I would have. And overall we considered ourselves lucky that that seemed to be the worst complications of the pregnancy. It was an easy pregnancy from a healthcare point of view, but again I wouldn’t say it quite that way to Macie. Understandably it didn’t seem easy to her.

Despite  the bumps in the road and the slight fear of the actual childbirth – which I can only imagine was a much larger fear for Macie – I couldn’t wait to meet my son or daughter. I know Macie was just as ready as me.

As the end of the pregnancy grew closer, I started to worry that Macie would go into labor while I was at work. If not for our elderly parents, we could easily arrange for her to come to the clinic. But their need for care definitely complicated things.

Thankfully, it didn’t matter in the end. Luck was on our side. Macie went into labor in the middle of the night, so I was at home. She woke me up when she was sure the contractions were the real thing.

My work and my training definitely was a benefit now. Although it was more difficult to maintain my calm doctor demeanor when the patient was my own wife… and child. I did my best, but of course, Macie had to do most of the work. I really just tried to comfort her the best I could, and I was glad for my medical training if anything went wrong.

I’ll forever be thankful that my training wasn’t really needed. There were no complications during or after the birth. It was a quick labor. Macie and I were holding our brand new baby girl in our arms a little over an hour after Macie woke me up.

I held her as much as I could before I had to leave for work. It wasn’t exactly easy to put Robin down when the time came. I’ve had to do harder things, but not many. Knowing I’d see her and her beautiful mom in just a matter of hours I kissed Robin’s perfect little forehead, and I laid her down in the old bassinet that had once been mine.

(Author’s Note: Okay so this isn’t really an author’s note, but was the simplest way to let all my reader know the story will be taking a short break. This will be the last chapter of Wren’s Nest until after Christmas. I hope to get back to the regular weekend updates right around the new year. I’m taking a break just because this is a really busy time of the year. I can’t wait to get back to the story. See you in a few short weeks! As always thanks for reading!)

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Friendsgiving 2015

I’m being completely honest when I say that the amazing community of friends I discovered when I started writing is my favorite thing about writing SimLit. I frequent the Writer’s Lounge Thread on the official Sims forums. There are so many awesome people who hang out there.

In the past year, the writers I’ve met on those forums have supported my creativity and have supported me in a more personal way as I struggled through a tough year. I really can’t say enough nice things about these people. I’m so thankful to be a part of this community.

I guess I’m not the only one who’s been feeling this way, because a bunch of my Simmer friends decided to celebrate Thanksgiving in true Simmer fashion. Our SimSelves are getting together for Friendsgiving!

Before I share all the fun from that even, it’s my pleasure to share a postcard sent from a Sims 3 friend. We wanted to keep Friendsgiving as inclusive as possible, so for a couple of our friends who play Sims 3 exclusively we came up with a way for their Sims to join in the fun. Because we’re all Sims fans, and we’re all friends!

mastressalita's post card side 1

mastressalita's post card side 2

Mastress Alita sent this lovely card in her place, since she could attend in game. It was great to hear from you.

The rest of us got together at my SimSelf’s house (actually we got together on several different computers, but I’ll focus on just the part I hosted), which is actually a recreation of one of my childhood homes. (Sorry not exterior pictures. I only had time to decorate  the kitchen/dining/living room.)

For anyone who doesn’t know,  watching American football on Thanksgiving is a pretty big tradition for some people. I don’t personally watch any on Thanksgiving day, but some of my family does. Plus we’re all for giving our SimSelves the full range of Friendsgiving activities, so as everyone gathered on my hard drive we turned the TV to the sports channel and served up the appetizers.

“Sports, go Sports! Go team! Yeah!”

There were bread sticks, chips, and a selection of fruit to serve as the days appetizers. There were extra chairs brought in, so nearly everyone had a seat around the TV. As you can see it was very crowded. There were a total of 36 (I think) Sims in the same house at the same time.

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From left to right-(ish). Jes2G (white jacket), ilovebunnys65 (pink tee), putacece4lyfe (blue floral dress), PinkSlinky (purple tee), CitizenErased14 (black&white dress), CathyTea (reindeer hat), aroseinbloom (blond braid), penguinwa101 (guy), MadameLee (red hair multicolor dress), Derubelle (purple floral dress), Ojenn (rocking the fro), simlady36 (light-blue top), Miki (red sweater), BBQPenguinWings (red hair, blue top), iheartdinosx3 (ombre top), sebreene (long black skirt), silverdaybreak (green jacket), MedlyMisty(Seth- blue jacket), KitDragonFlight(blond, purple top), CharminMaruska(long sweater)


And as I’m sure you all know, Sims have minds of there own (as long as autonomy is turned on). This Friendsgiving “football” watching party quickly turned into a party with SimSelves simply sitting (or standing where ever!) and talking. Also they must have been day dreaming about all the good food they were set to enjoy on other computers for Friendsgiving, because these guys were determined to watch the food channel instead of sports.

The following pictures are what I captured of this fun gathering. I think I got good screenshots of each of the guests. If I missed anyone, you have my sincerest apologies. It was a much larger undertaking managing all these Sims than I thought it was going to be, and my computer wasn’t very happy with me for having them all visit in one humongous group. But that’s how I thought it would be the most fun.

Enjoy seeing us all hanging out together!

(Click on the first picture for a better look. Also no need to read the captions unless you need help picking out who’s who  in the crowd. I will mainly just label who is “featured” in each picture.)

Everyone had a wonderful time even if they decided not to watch the games.

To wrap things up I just want to say again how thankful I am to know each and every one of you. You are all amazing. I’ve know some of you for over a year now. Some are much newer to our not-so-little group. I love each and every one of you. You are all amazing, wonderful people. I look forward to chatting with you all every day.

Happy Friendsgiving!


Reader Participation #2: Baby Names

Wren’s Nest Nooboo Names

At long last I’ve decided on another way for my readers to be a part of this story. I need bird-themed or inspired baby names to use in future generations.

I can safely do this without any real spoilers, because I’m sure all of wonderful readers know the drill.   Macie and Jay have obviously not had any children at the point I’m writing this post, but that will obviously change at some point. There are many more nooboos coming in this story simply because it is a generational challenge. The family must continue producing the next generation.

I decided on a theme for all the baby names I would use in this family before I ever wrote the first chapter. It was all inspired by Wren’s name (that and my mother’s name is Robin). The name theme was even explained in the story when Wren and Iolani first had Jay. So I’ve known for quite some time that I would need a good long list of birdy names. I have some, but I’d like to take suggestions from others as well.

So if you’d like to suggest a baby name, or two, or two-dozen I’d love to hear them.

  • You can comment on this post. (Or on my story thread on the official forums. Or really any other way you know to get in touch with me.)
  • Don’t be shy! Even if you’ve never comment on the story before I’d love to hear your suggestions.
  • Be as creative as you want. (If you’ve read the story, you might remember that Iolani was a name that actually fit this theme as well. So if you have a name from any culture you like that is bird-inspired please feel free to share. I might just use it if it fits in with the family at in a particular generation.)

I can’t wait to see what you all come up with. As always thanks for reading!