Thursday, February 28, 2008

February/March Challenge

This challenge was to create a vacation home in one of the three locations for Bon Voyage. I chose Three Lakes and made a mountain cabin for up to 5 sims to live comfortably for a short time.

Link to the house:

I'm Scarlett Mercer, and this is my story.
There had been a lot of changes this past year. My mother, Kaela, passed away after a short struggle with cancer. She was in a lot of pain and we believe she's in a better place now, far from suffering.My father, Dexter, took it hard. He and Mom had been inseparable since they met at their first jobs, nearly 50 years ago. You go through a lot of things together in all that time. Including having and raising me - which couldn't have been any walk in the park - and even my brother's death as an infant. Dad just couldn't manage after Mom died and I insisted he move in with me and my family. He was a broken man and I owed it to Mom to pick up those pieces.
Having one extra mouth to feed wasn't really so bad, but my husband, Mikael, and I fought about it all the time. He said we just couldn't afford to have Dad living with us and I'd have to find a home for him that his insurance would cover. Dad didn't have good insurance and I wasn't going to put him in a nursing home when I could take care of him myself. Dad wasn't feeble or sick. His heart was broken. He just needed some support.
But Mikael wouldn't hear it and we fought all the time.
Eventually, he made an ultimatum and said it was either my Dad or him. I told him that was unfair and if he loved me for ever, he'd have to accept that our relationship had to include my Dad until he was back on his feet. Shortly thereafter, we separated.
Just a few months later, we agreed to divorce. I don't know how things changed so fast between us, but I suppose sometimes its just that way.
The kids took the separation hard. We knew they would. We tried to present a united front and tell them that sometimes people just fall out of love, but we still loved them and would try to make this new life as comfortable as possible. We agreed not to bicker in front of them or be negative in front of them about our failed marriage. We stopped being angry with each other and that's when we knew we'd made the right choice. We were becoming friends again. George was hurt. He wanted to go live with his father, but we didn't feel this was the best time. Mikael needed to get on his feet, then we could discuss it again.
We even kept the family dog, although I'd have rathered Mikael take him. Rudy, our bull mastif was a big oaf of an animal and though he's the "family" dog, he's mor Mikael's than anyones. George agreed to walk him as Rudy pulls my arms off with his strength. Once Mikael is settled, he said he'll take Rudy off my hands. Right now, though, his apartment doesn't allow animals, so I don't know when that'll be.
Our daughter, Jean, is my little diva. She loves jewelry and make up and getting dressed up. She wants to learn to dance and when I went out with some friends to a club - I was hoping to meet a man, I've been lonely - she said "learn some new moves to teach me, Mommy!" She's more of Mommy's girl, so her bond with her father is still okay, although he's living apart from her. Mikael is a good father and he takes the kids all the time. He's working a lot and if he calls to say he's just too tired, I make an excuse saying I wanted to take them for ice cream or whatever. I cover for him because he's making every effort to be a great dad, even though we're divorced. Things are really different and its an adjustment for all of us.
I knew the kids needed constancy, so when it came early fall and the last few weeks before school started, I thought about our time share in Three Lakes. We'd spent a week there every September since I George was in diapers. It would be strange bringing Dad along. I debated asking Mikael to come along, but there was no room for a cot and although we were learning to be friends again, I wouldn't be comfortable sleeping next to him. I decided it was best if he didn't come. Besides, I'd seen too many movies and didn't want the kids thinking it meant we were getting back together. They'd had their hopes dashed enough lately.

Enough of my story for now. Suffice it to say that we spent a great week there like we always do. We took bunches of photos.

Let me know you around the Timeshare (Coziest Cottage II) that I love so much.

The view from the cab. There's a little quaint fence with a wooden gate that leads to a cobblestone path and a set of short double stairs. That porch runs all the way around the inside of the property. Those little trees by the steps, Mikael and I each planted one the first day we came here. They require little maintenance and its amazing they're still alive and not moved as we're not the only owners of this property.
As you enter, the stone walls and wooden paneling are inviting while the tree-print doors are just classy enough to still be rustic. Even the windows are surrounded in wood.
Dad's room, formerly a spare bedroom where we'd leave all our suitcases, or a safe playroom when the kids were tiny, is comfortable with a bed, night stand, lamp, and a recliner for reading or just relaxing.
My room, our room, my room, is small but comfortable. What you see is what there is: a bed, night stands, lamps, and a great bay window that looks onto the front of the property.
At the end of the long hall between my room and the kids' room is a large bathroom with a dresser that we all share.
There is a smaller bathroom off that same hall between the kids' room and what is now Dad's room.
The kids' room is big enough for a little tumbling around - as kids do - and sparsely decorated. We used to let them bring three toys each and they could still take up the whole floor.
The front of the property has a fishing pond. The creek runs right by the edge of this property.
George never catches anything, but he has fun trying.
Just under my window on the porch is a place for Rudy. We always bring along an extra rawhide chew as he inevitably drops one in the pond on each trip.
The serenity of the place takes me away and gets my muse to wanting to paint. I don't do it well, but I still enjoy it.
Dad likes to stay out of the sun and prefers to read in the nook just outside of his room.
Just after you come in, you're in my favorite part of the house, the sitting room. No TV, no MP3, no iSim. Just the family sitting and talking. Sometimes you even get a little cuddle out of the deal.
From the entrance, the first hall contains the mini-kitchen. A full sized fridge is the only thing of full size in that kitchen. There's a hot chocolate maker that wasn't here last time and we appreciate that! But otherwise its just a place to prepare cold cereal or sandwiches or unpack granola bars.
Dad knows Mikael usually cooks, so he stepped up to make us hot dogs one evening. The "quad" as we call it, is the central part of the property and has everything one wants in a cabin. there's a grill, a little prep-table, and a waste can.
There's an element-proof chess table and plenty of stairs to get to and from the porch - when the kids were littler, they'd run up and down those stairs so often we'd discuss where the nearest hospital was in driving distance as we were sure one would bust open a chin eventually.
And the piece de resistance - an old fashioned fire pit. The kids learned fire safety at an early age. They know the penalty for being unsafe around the fire is to have to sit inside while we enjoy the warmth and night air.
They love roasting marshmallows. I just like to warm myself from the evening's chill. Dad wanted to rest his bones and told us a story. It wasn't the scary ghost stories that Mikael used to tell that would have Jean up all night and eventually falling asleep in our bed, but it was a story nonetheless.
Left of house, showing pond and Rudy's area.
Middle of the house, including the pit.
Right of house, with its cute brown roof and big windows.
Aerial view of the pit.
We have it only one week a year. Maybe you'll take it for another week and share your adventures with us!

I'm sure I'll see you around Cassada.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Cassada play 16 - Amy's New Life

When we last saw Ryder Fanboy, he was ticked off that Andrea, his brother Alessandro's new wife, was still freeloading in his house, which was too small for him and his brother, let alone the addition of Andrea and her newborn baby Giana.

Alessandro had married Andrea secretly and just announced their wedding to the family after Giana was born. He knew Ryder was upset with him for moving Andrea in without his permission and wanted things to be smooth between him and his closest sibling again.

Andrea had just learned that, in twists of fate, she was the widow of Mestral Aha and that her name was Amy, not Andrea. Further, Giana was the daughter of Jordy Fanboy, her husband's father, from an affair they'd had just over 10 months ago. Bits of memory were coming back to her. She needed to make things right and settle her life for the sake of her newborn's future. Amy had tough decisions to make. The first one, however, was the easiest. She and Jordy would pretend the affair had never happened. It had been a secret for many years and would continue to remain a secret. She would claim amnesia for the period of time that Giana was conceived and that part of her memory would never recover. This would save the heartache of Jordy's 10 children, one of which was her new husband, Alessandro. Amy knew Alessandro was good for her, and so much like his father, that she felt only the slightest guilt in having him raise his half brother. She hoped he'd be a good father, and at this point had no reason to doubt that.

Amy did have to come clean about some of her memory returning, though. She sat Alessandro down and told him that she'd had some gain in memory and that the name Jordy did indeed ring a bell and it was because they'd been friends. She left the rest of the story out. Alessandro though it was "fantastic" that she'd had some progress. She may have spoken a little too quickly when she told him that she still didn't remember what happened between a year and six months ago, thus keeping him from asking her about Giana's biological father and the circumstances behind her leaving her family. She then stated that she wasn't really Andrea at all, but Amy Aha, and it would be best if she went back to using her real name. Alessandro was aware of the status of Amy Aha's kids and where the family was since she'd died. Or not died. Or whatever this was. He didn't want to break the news to her and so got quiet. She said she knew about her kids and husband, that Jordy had filled her in. She also wanted to regain custody of her kids if they wanted her, but that after all this time, it might be difficult on them and they might not want to come back to her. Alessandro wasn't thrilled with the idea of bunches of kids in the house, but he'd married Andrea - er, Amy, and he'd support her. It seemed right, anyhow.

Ryder had been gone six months on his last trip and when he returned, had a big surprise. "Alessandro, Amy," [Alessandro had filled him in on the Andrea/Amy thing and he'd taken it surprisingly easily] "I know I've been a bit of a jerk, but I want to make it up to you. Alessandro, I know you were doing what you felt was right by moving Amy in. Amy, I know you had no alternatives and weren't being malicious, just accepting a gracious offer. I was cold to you both about the whole arrangement and I'm sorry. Since I'm not good with apologies, I, uh, I bought you something, to make up for it. Let me strap Giana into the carseat and we'll take a drive. Oh, I missed you, Giana. Never thought I'd think that! Maybe I'm a family Sim after all." Everyone had a good laugh at that.
And they drove for about an hour until they arrived in front of a large beach house. It was a long walk's distance from Azure Place where their sister, Laci Fanboy, and her family lived. The house was enormous. Amy and Alessandro were wondering what they were doing there. Ryder stopped the car and held Giana as the newlyweds got out of the car, looking at him quizzically. "So, surprise!"

"You...bought us a house?"

"Yep. Well, not just bought it, but had it built, and designed, and furnished. Actually, Moora helped with the interior design. No reason she shouldn't be involved. So, uh, you want to see the insides?"

"Wait, you bought us a house?"

"You want to see it before you say no?"

"I...yeah. Wow. Yeah."

And so began the tour.

"These statues flanking the entry are for protection. They're Mayan. So expensive to import based on the weight of the stone. But great, huh?"
"The living room is Moroccan. I gave Moora free reign and I think she did an awesome job. Plenty of room to entertain. If you don't like the sparse furniture, you can add more later. Its in the style of a formal living room. You may be less formal. You can always move furniture though."
"Here, put Giana down for a few. She's all squirmy and I want to show you everything."

"This is a nursery? Its bigger than my last apartment!"

"Yeah, well, I know you might have another, so I wanted there to be enough of everything."

"Twins don't run in my family."

"Ah, but they do in ours."
"This crib is amazing. Are these sheets cashmere?"

"Its a synthetic, actually, but feels great, huh? I wanted soft but washable. I know babies are always leaking from some hole. And Moora used pale blues for soothing along with the brighter fish for interest and to keep the beach theme."
"Little beachy touches everywhere. She's so talented, that sister of ours."
"This is the playroom. To me it doesn't look like much, but Moora insisted kids need room to move around and spin in circles. She actually made me come in here and spin in circles with my arms out to show how much room it had. She's a weirdo. The carpet's double padded for little tumbles."
"Down the hall is a corner nook sitting area for reading or just taking your cocoa slowly."
"This is obviously the kitchen. Its not much, but I don't expect you to spend much time in here."
"Guest bathroom downstairs. Nothing exciting."
"Also downstairs, is the nanny's quarters."

They both laughed "We don't have a nanny!"

"Yeah, I know. You do now though. She'll be along later this evening. I'm working out something with immigration. Its a matter of political asylum. She's from an island nation that is being taken over by a corrupt dictator. Awful things have happened to her and I'm fond of the girl. Anyhow, its all arranged. Just go with it."

"But, a nanny? Are you serious?"

"Amy, do you want to become minister of education or not? You can't do that raising babies from home. Anyway, this is her bedroom. Modest but clean and comfortable."
"Her attached sitting room and bathroom. I expect she'll bath Giana in her bathroom as its closest."
"Up the stairs, this is the piece de resistance. The surf style kids rooms. Identical in furnishing but varied in color. Each has a tv and sitting area, and all the amenities of older child's living. Babies downstairs with the nanny, older kids upstairs for that pitter patter of feet I hear you family sims enjoy."
"Private balcony in the back of the house for the older kids. Its fenced for safety, but not safe for the little ones."
"Kids' bathroom. Sorry they have to share, but I couldn't arrange the floorplan any more."
"And of course the master suite. Sitting room, bedroom, changing area, bathroom. Moora said to keep clean lines in here but I think its a a bit plain. What do you think?" Amy's mouth simply opened and closed like a fish on sand. "Well, moving on."
"Private balcony for the grown ups. This attaches to the kids' balcony, so don't get too wild if they're about, but once they're asleep, there's a hot tub. I love mine so you had to have one too."
"There's no indoor dining, and I wanted the entire kitchen outdoors, but Moora said it would be tacky so we compromised and put the dining areas outside. Two tables, one for the adults and another for the little ones. High chairs are in the nursery, of course. No one needs that noise, or mess, while they're trying to enjoy a peaceful meal by the sounds of the ocean."
"An outdoor shower with privacy curtains for rinsing off before you come back inside and track sand in the house."
"Walk with me to the sand and I'll show you the entire property. Back of the house. Oh, Moora wanted to keep the theme outside too so sand colored walls on the first floor and sky on the second story. She makes me laugh. So from the ocean to the sidewalk is yours, and the sides of the property are where the trees are. Beyond the trees is the neighbors' property. Well," Ryder held his breath, "do you like it?"

"Like it? Ryder, its spectacular!" said Amy.

Alessandro merely threw his arms around his brother who awkwardly hugged him back by patting him on the back with one hand and flushing.

"So you'll stay then? Great!" Ryder dislodged himself from Alessandro's embrace. "Remember the nanny will be by later tonight, hopefully in time to make dinner. I'm afraid there's not much in the fridge except whatever Moora left in there from when she was working on the place. You may need some take out tonight. You, uh, you guys aren't mad that I'm throwing you out?" At that moment, Ryder seemed so helpless. He needed them gone but he also really hoped he liked all the work he'd put into this place.

"Ryder, we'd love to be thrown out by you anytime." And they all laughed.
Alessandro checked on Giana and, finding her asleep, changed into some swim shorts and took his first dip in his private stretch of beach.
He dug for seashells and found some sea glass that he hopes to make into a pendant for Giana.
Amy built a sandcastle. Her skill needs work, but she's got plenty of time and all the sand she could want steps from her porch.
Alessandro wasn't much better. Amy went to work; Alessandro was off that day. They'd been coordinating their work schedules to watch Giana since she was born those 6 months ago. Now they'd have a nanny. Rich people had nanny's. They agreed it would be strange to adjust to, but neither was opposed to the idea.
That evening, the nanny arrived. Her name is Tracy and neither of them expected her to be so young. They thought nannies were grandmotherly and grey. But Tracy was neither of those things. She was young and sweet and demure. A quiet, shy, little thing. Her accent was noticeable but she spoke the King's English as her island had been under British rule for many years before the current uprising.
Amy was startled that Tracy should be so attractive. She wondered if Alessandro would stray with this beautiful younger woman in the house.
But Amy had to dismiss her fears and see how things played out. Besides, Alessandro had married her knowing there were younger prettier women in the world. He loved her. She allayed her fears.

For her part. Tracy was a gracious hostess and made meals for guests. The family all wanted to see the new place. Moora had been buzzing about it for months and insisted it was bad luck for family to see it before the owners. Ryder didn't count because he was the land's owner. And she didn't count because someone had to decorate it. But no visitors, she insisted. Now that they were moved in, everyone wanted to visit. Moora's husband, Adam, dropped by. Despite the ring on his finger, he played footsie with Tracy under the table as they dined alone outside. Moora hadn't come as she'd had a deadline for work to meet and couldn't be dragged away. "Besides, I've seen the house. You go." she'd said. Moora wasn't aware that Adam had slept with her sister Darcy in college or that he was an incurable flirt. Tracy didn't resist Adam's advances, but didn't encourage them either.
This is just a money shot. LOL! Evil monkey high five.
Given it had been six months since Amy had regained her memory, she had been taking action to try and regain relationships with her children. She had petitioned the court for custody of her two youngest, her boys. That was still pending. The wheels of government move slow, even in Cassada. She had written to her eldest, Sydney, and they were learning about each other as adults. Amy knew she couldn't come in as "mommy" anymore, but she could at least be there for Sydney and Perth if they'd have her. Sydney was receptive, if a little tearful at first, and they regularly spoke on the phone, making a sincere effort to reconnect.

Perth, however, was a different story. Perth was resentful in a way Sydney could not have predicted. When Sydney emailed Perth that their mother had regained some of her memory and wanted to meet with them again, to be a friend if not necessarily a mother, Perth had responded with a simple "No thanks." Sydney told Perth to give their mother a shot and hear what she had to say at least. She wasn't planning on moving back in, Perth could keep the house, but she wanted to be a part of their lives. Perth was not impressed. Alessandro phoned Perth and asked if she would come and let him speak to her a little bit while Amy was at work. He wanted to show her that they weren't trying to invade on her life or treat her like a child, but to help if she wanted it and be there for her. Perth did not want another father but came anyhow.
"Perth, thanks for coming. I recognized you from the photo Sydney sent from university. I understand she's doing well. I'm sure you know that. You guys are close. You had to be. Look, Perth, I know things have been hard for you. I know you need some time. We're willing to give you that space, but want you to know there are open arms for you when you're ready to accept them. Your mom went through something tough - maybe not as tough as you had it - but still hard on her, and she's trying to make amends. She didn't chose to leave you kids or your father, may he rest serenely."
At the thought of what she'd been through in the foster care system (she'd had a bad shake of it) as opposed to her mother's "running away from the family" as Perth considered it, she got irate.
"Perth, just give her a chance."
Perth didn't think that was going to happen. She felt so angry she didn't know how to feel anything else anymore. They stood in silence for a few minutes.
Amy arrived home from work early, to Alessandro's surprise and upset. He knew Perth would think he'd planned this meeting, but he hadn't. He wanted to speak to her, and he had, but this threw his trust, slight as it was, into jeopardy.

"Perth, I'm so glad you've come!" Perth started to walk away. Her bus stop was a block away. The car was in for repairs.
"Perth, wait. Let me explain. Can I have just 3 minutes?" Reasonable enough, in three minutes, Perth would leave, but she'd let her mother have that long. She did deserve some respect, after all. "Perth, I never wanted to leave you, any of you. I don't know what happened to me. I blanked out. I don't remember..." Amy had a hard time lying to her daughter, but knowing the truth would be worse. "I don't remember anything from the time I had Aaron until about a year ago. I feel awful for losing you guys and missing out on your childhoods. But I want to do my best to make this right. I'm trying to get custody of Gunther and Aaron. I'm talking with Sydney and we're learning to be friends. I'd like to do the same with you."
Perth thought about how Amy had missed out on her growing up. How she'd been forced to grow up in foster homes, most of which weren't appropriate for her. The awful things that had happened to her, the atrocities that caused her to voluntary mutism.
The day they'd taken them all away, separated them and sent them to the wind like dandelions with no idea if the others were alive.
Perth looked at her watch. It had been nearly three minutes. Amy understood. "Okay, Perth, I guess that's all I can say except that I'm so incredibly sorry and the hole in my heart from you not being in my life is one that surely is echoed in your heart. I hope one day you'll want to be a part of my life. You have a little sister, Giana, if you'd ever like to visit her." And after that, Perth walked away. Amy went inside to cry. Alessandro tried to comfort her, but there was no way he could understand what she was going through, especially since she was keeping so much of her lies a secret from everyone. The tears were genuine.
A few months later, Alessandro and Amy celebrated the news that he had gotten his first sponsor as a street luge semi-professional. His board would be repainted by Slurm and he'd get new shoes and such with their logo on them. It was an exciting day.
Ahem, and an exciting night.
"Alessandro, I wish you wouldn't walk around in your underwear. Don't forget about Tracy. Its not right."

"Sorry, hon."
Yet, with all the locker rooms he'd been in over the years, Alessandro wasn't shy about his body. He didn't think twice to strip down in the outdoor shower before going upstairs to change. Tracy was the picture of modesty and always went inside whenever Alessandro was indisposed.
Giana grew into a toddler, as babies tend to do.
And shortly thereafter, Amy realized she hadn't gotten her period that month. Or the month before, for that matter. She scheduled a visit to the clinic to confirm her suspicions.
Amy mused to herself "What if I am pregnant? The house certainly has room. But what if I get the boys back? We can make room if we have to. Our bedroom can hold a baby and the nursery can be made into a bedroom for the boys. What about Alessandro? He'd love his own baby. I mean, Giana's his, but not his. But he adores her. He'd love another child, I think. And with the nanny, nothing gets in the way of our careers. Wow. I hope I am pregnant." And she was.
Tracy was a huge asset. She played with Giana and helped with teaching her necessary skills. Her parents still parented, but part time. It was a great arrangement for all. "Wave night-night, Giana." "Ni-ni." "Good girl. Love you. Sleep well."
It was a far different life than on the island, but Tracy enjoyed all the alone time and it was much safer. She was having a hard time hiding her pregnancy though. She felt the corset wasn't good for the baby's development. And they'd have to find out eventually, right?

Tracy claimed a death in the family and left for home. She was gone two months and returned even quieter than when she'd left.
Amy took her evening constitutionals in the ocean.
And drank plenty of Slurm. It was free as Alessandro's sponsor.
Alessandro enjoyed the beach life as well as the family life.
Amy was always tired and took to watching tv in one of the kids' rooms.
[The hammock is somehow sunken.]
When Amy went into labor, Tracy was deeply saddened. She wanted to be with her infant, but she'd left the baby with her mother. She'd have to tell these people and see if her baby could come live with her. Tracy was experienced (more than anyone knew) in midwifery and childbirth and helped Amy deliver.
They had a boy named Sandro. The parents were thrilled, but Tracy couldn't help but think of her own baby and cried as she gave Sandro his first feeding.
Who is the father of Tracy's baby? Will Amy and Alessandro understand and allow her to bring her child to live with them or will they lose their nanny? Will Perth ever come around?