Noah and I managed to deal with having a newborn pretty well. We took turns at night when she needed us and got our work schedules fitted to our new life. Since during the school year I usually only had one morning class, someone took over that for me. Noah just left work an hour and a half early so I could take care of my evening class. This time around I didn’t need to rely on Pa and Dad quite as much although Gladdy came over a lot. She had a tight bond with Arty though considering she had carried Arty in her womb for nine months and gave birth to her, we weren’t surprised at all. Actually she asked to babysit as much as she could.
The first couple of months went rough and we had a few arguments despite trying to keep calm and patient, but we tried our best and managed to make up after each argument. I considered getting flowers for him sometimes but he wasn’t really a flowers type of guy. So instead I got him other things. A toy truck, a little figurine from a game we liked, etc, etc. He grinned every time he got a gift and would get me little gifts back. We also did other things to keep things fun such as… er, interesting texts I hoped no one would ever see.
In August, Royce finally aged up. He showed up at our house one day with the biggest grin I’d ever seen on his face. Glados babysat the girls while Max, Royce, Noah, and I went to give Royce a proper celebration and we dropped Max and Royce off at their little house with Royce utterly smashed from drinking all night long. He staggered to the door singing some sort of mash up between ‘a lovely bunch of coconuts’ and ‘dead man’s chest’.
It took him a while to find a job because of his werewolf nature and it nearly got to the point where he applied to be a janitor at the Rag (the only opening) but finally the local advertising company hired him on as a gopher though he knew he wouldn’t go very high up on the career ladder. That didn’t really bother him too much, he was mostly happy to have a job and be able to pay bills. Before, Grams had been taking care of the bills for Max and Royce since they shared the little flat but now Royce could which made him so proud.
Noah made as amazing a dad as I knew he’d be. He loved Arty so much and I often found him in her room with Reeny in his lap and Arty in his arms, rocking and gently singing to them or telling them stories. He often fell asleep either there or on the couch. A common sight to come home to in the evening was Noah sacked out on the couch, Arty asleep on his chest, Reeny quietly playing in the corner.
Sure, we didn’t get as much time together as we once did despite out best efforts. Work, a newborn, a first grader, and taking care of the house just way more energy than we could deal with. Most nights we just collapsed into bed–around the same time, if we were lucky. Often one of us was up later than the other to pack a lunch for Reeny, to rock Arty back to sleep, to fold laundry… Unlucky nights had us both up till late and me waking up a total grouch and him bumping into things since he wasn’t fully awake.
But somehow we made it. After a few months we got Arty onto a decent enough schedule so we got more sleep. One month blurred into another–we celebrated our first Christmas as a family of four, then a month later I turned thirty-one, in March Reeny turned seven, at the end of April Noah turned thirty-one, and then finally in May Artemis turned one. Already! It had felt like the year whizzed by which really it did.
“Stooop!” I laughed as Noah piled more icing on the cake we had bought for Arty. “Jeez, that’s more icing than cake now.”
He chased me around the kitchen and finally caught me, swiping blue icing down my cheeks. I struggled and grabbed the bag, glopping out a big blob on his face. It would have turned into all out war if Dad didn’t come in and give us both a raised eyebrow look. Noah and I giggled nervously like little kids caught and returned to the cake. He tried to add a bit more and I took a spoon and scraped off a bunch, piling it onto a plate. Noah stuck his tongue out at me and I leaned in to lick the frosting off his face. I got rid of the little bit left with a wet paper towel, cleaned my own face off, then went into the dining room with Noah and Dad.
“Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthday dear Artemis, happy birthday to you!” we all sang as Noah picked her up and carried her to the cake. He helped her blow the candles out then set her down so she could grow up. He backed up, holding onto my hand tightly. I felt emotional seeing my second baby girl getting older and I knew it to be a momentous event for Noah.
“Can we go play on the swing?” Reeny asked as we ate cake. “After presents?”
“Well, Arty’s still a bit young for that but we can go outside,” I said and Reeny smiled.
However after the presents were opened we tried to move the party outside which did not go well. Soon Arty began crying. We couldn’t figure out the problem at first until she crawled over to the door and smacked her hands sadly against the glass. Noah took her inside, expecting her to want to do something inside, but she just sat in the dining room and stopped crying. It seemed his distaste of the outdoors had been inherited by her. Oh dear, that would make things a bit difficult when Reeny wanted to play and sure enough…
“How come she doesn’t want to sit outside?” Reeny asked after a week of attempts to play in the sandbox or on the spring rider with her sister.
“I dunno, maybe she doesn’t like sunny weather?” I suggested with a shrug. “She’s still very young though, sweetie, so maybe after a bit of time she’ll be more willing to go outside.” I didn’t add that either she might get used to being outside or become like Noah and just be able to tolerate outside. Though Noah didn’t mind the outdoors too much with the hot tub but I didn’t think that really counted, did it.
Summer started and my schedule got busier with more classes as it always did in the summer. This time things were a bit different since Reeny wanted to take one of my classes. I enrolled her happily and made sure not to treat her any differently. Some of the other parents fawned over her though, since they had heard loads about her from me. Reeny enjoyed the attention and made several friends in that class. I hoped one day Arty might join me in a sim fu class. She liked to kick so… maybe?
She learned to walk very easily, staggering along whenever we tried. She’d beam like the sun, eyes big and mouth stretched as she toddled toward whoever had their arms out. Even Reeny since Arty loved her big sister so much (well, as long as they stayed inside). The two would play with the dollhouse all the time, or dress up, or trains, or–well, anything really. Reeny especially loved to play with Arty’s hair, braiding it or pulling it up.
“Enee,” Arty would say, toddling unsteadily after Reeny. Arty really picked up talking and had quite an extensive vocabulary for her age, though her favorite word was ‘ine’ which was ‘mine’ and, er, sometimes we had a bit of difficulty explaining to her not everything belonged to her. Sometimes it did cause some fights.
“DAAAAAAAAAAAAAD!” Reeny screamed one morning in early June. “ARTY TOOK MY ROBOOOOTTTTT!”
I flinched a bit, wishing Gladdy would hurry up and get here. Our dads had gone on some sort of cruise so Noah and I figured we’d have to hire someone to watch the girls while we worked but Glados took the week off from work… Apparently one of the guys who sometimes came in constantly hit on her and his dog was going through some sort of illness so he had to come in four days in a row to check on treatment, so Glads decided to just use up some vacation time to avoid him. I offered to hurt him and she just rolled her eyes telling me it wasn’t necessary. Though her voice didn’t sound too convincing and I was ready to jump the jerk at the first indication from my sister.
“INE! INE!” Arty screeched back.
My phone fell on my foot and let out a swear word. “REENY! ARTY! DROP THE DOLL AND GO TO YOUR CORNERS!” I yelled, muttering curse words after as I rubbed my aching toes. Not a good day. “NOW!”
Arty began sobbing while I heard Reeny stomping. Another cussword and I grabbed my shoes, heading into the living room. Neither were in a corner. Arty sat in the middle of the floor with an angry look on her face while Reeny sat on top of the ping-pong table with the doll in her hands. I shot her a look and she just gave me a glare right back. Since when did seven year olds get this sort of attitude?! I’d never have dared give my dads a look like that when I was seven.
Oh Watcher, were Noah and I not disciplining them well enough?
Reeny climbed down and immediately Arty dove for the doll. More screaming as I got my shoes on and then I marched over, grabbing the robot and stuffing it in my duffel bag. Both of them began screaming-crying. Reeny flung herself down like a little drama queen while Arty tried to yank open my duffel. Why were they both obsessing over this toy when they both had loads of others?! “No,” I said as firmly as I could and Arty cried more. “Thank Watcher,” I sighed as the doorbell rang. I ran over, yanking it open then yanking my sister in.
“Rough morning?” she asked, surveying the living room.
“Noah had to leave early and–oh, just, yeah, rough morning,” I said. “Fight over a doll, but I’ve got it so it’s not here. You’re awesome, thanks for doing this. Remember Reeny has class with me at one, and Arty’s ear’s been hurting a bit but the doctor says it’s nothing bad, just give her three ear drops at noon–the medicine is in the upstairs bathroom and marked with Arty’s name. Bye!”
Between my first and second class I saw a text from Gladdy stating that Arty had bit Reeny. During my lunch break I got a text stating that Reeny had put glue in Arty’s hair so when they showed up I tried telling Reeny off but she just got it in her head I was defending Arty biting her. I felt awful when the class was over and I had to hand Reeny back since it seemed to be one of those days and sure enough by the time I got home I found out all the other minor incidents that happened. Both my daughters looked like they had a full day of crying and Gladdy looked frazzled. By the time Noah got home, I was frazzled and ready to lock both girls up for a week of timeout.
Noah took one look at the three of us and just said the magic word. “Pizza?”
Dinner didn’t really go completely well since Reeny refused to eat her pizza until I manually peeled off each piece of pepperoni and each mushroom so she could eat them separately (oh Watcher she was not getting into that sort of eating habit was she?!) and Arty just cried a lot and pawed at her ear, making me feel sick with worry and thinking maybe we should take her back to the doctor. Though my worry turned into annoyance when she threw her pizza toppings on the ground in order to chew desolately on the crust.
“Nooooooo!” Arty cried, kicking in her high chair.
“Reeny, stop it please,” I sighed. “You both have been testing my patience all day.”
“Daaaaad!” Reeny whined.
Noah and I exchanged looks. “How about this,” Noah said cautiously to Reeny. “How about you and Dad go get some dessert, and me and Arty’ll stay here and have dessert.”
“Noah, I’m too tired to go out,” I said, hating to argue this great idea.
Noah shrugged. “Okay. Reeny, would you like me to take you instead?”
Reeny looked at me then back at Noah. “Okay.”
So once we all finished the two of them disappeared out the door and I got the pizza sauce off Arty’s face. “Just you and me then, tonight, baby girl,” I said, bouncing her gently on my hip.
“I know it hurts, sweetie.” I sat down on the couch and turned her in my lap to examine the redness, trying to figure out if it was too red or not. It didn’t look as red as it had the day before so I just kissed at her earlobe. “There, kiss will help.”
Arty beamed at me. “Ablae uuhhb, ithy tahtolih?”
“Yes, sissy went for chocolate,” I said, translating the second half of her question. “You want some chocolate too?”
“Yeaa toto! Tahtolih!”
After some messy ice cream I gave her a nice, warm bath, gave her the ear drops needed, and then started a movie. Halfway through Noah and Reeny came back and Reeny just curled up with us to watch the second half. I smiled at Noah as he joined us, grateful for his quick thinking earlier to just separate the girls.
“Aw, how about a bedtime story instead?” Noah asked.
Arty shook her head. “Noooo. Siiii. SIIII. Eeee?” Her eyes got bigger.
I grinned. “Looks like she wants a song instead.” Noah gave me a pleading look and I prodded him with my foot. “Come on, Noah. Sing.”
“Siiii!” Arty echoed.
Noah sighed, pushing some hair back. “Fine. Zaid? You start.”
I stuck my tongue out then turned to Arty, trying to decide on a song. “Goodnight, sweetheart, well it’s time to go. Do do dee do do. Goodnight sweetheart welll, it’s time to go. Do do do do. I hate to leave you but I really must say… Ohh, goodnight, sweetheart, gooodniiight.”
“Well it’s, three o’clock in the morning,” Noah took over, “and baby, I just can’t do right.”
“Well I hate to leave you baby,” I sang.
“I don’t mean maybe,” Noah added.
“Because I love you so,” we both sang. “Do do dee do do do do dee do do. Goodnight, sweetheart, well it’s time to go. Do do do do do. Goodnight sweetheart, well it’s time to go. Do do do do. I hate to leave you but I really must say, goodnight sweetheart goodnight. Well both of your fathers, they won’t like it if you stay up too late. Well I hate to leave you baby, I don’t mean maybe, because I love you so. Do do dee dododo…”
We continued singing, repeating the song once as we tucked her in, our voices quieting until her eyes were closed. Our voices were barely a whisper as we left her room and then Noah covered his mouth, trying not to laugh.
“Why are you so embarrassed?” I asked, poking him again, this time with my finger. “You sing nicely.” I gave him a quick kiss. “I do so love your dulcet tones.”
Noah’s hands settled on my waist and we stumbled to the upstairs hall couch to kiss, trying not to make too much noise. “I love you,” he murmured, kissing my neck.
“I could tell.” He pulled me into his lap. “I don’t mind taking charge. Sometimes…” He hesitated and I gave him a questioning look. “Sometimes it seems like you need someone to take control.”
“I do,” I agreed and he looked a bit startled. “What? I agree with you! I do. It’s nice to just be able to not worry about every little thing.” I slid down farther in his lap. “You don’t do it in a bossy way so it’s never bothered me. I love you too, you know. You goofball.”
He chuckled and let his fingers glide down my arm and onto my hip. “Your goofball.”
“Mine,” I agreed lazily. “My bro.”
Noah snickered. “Mine,” he said, his hold tightening, making me feel wonderful. Then, “It’s okay I say that, right? I just don’t want to sound like, possessive…”
With that being made sure of we went back to snuggling until it was time to pull apart so one of us could get Reeny to bed. Once that was done we only had to finish doing laundry, wash the dishes, vacuum the living room rug (because we had put it off for like, ten days now), double check what was needed for the grocery shopping trip the next day, clean the bathtub out, and then put off about a dozen other chores so we could crawl into bed and get some sleep.
“Noah, where is Arty?!” I asked.
“I don’t know!” he replied, horrified.
Giggles from under the pingpong table. I walked over… the past it. “Is she in the dollhouse?” I went over and made a show of checking all the little doors inside the dollhouse. More giggles.
“Maybe in the aquarium,” Noah said as he inspected the water. Louder giggles.
We were playing hide-and-seek, and Arty had plonked herself down under the pingpong table with her hands covering her eyes. It was just a day with her, as Reeny had been taken on an outing by my dads. So the day had been spent with lots of attention on Arty who adored having us all to herself.
“Where did Arty go?” I asked and Noah spread his hands out. Before he could say anything Arty crawled out going, “EEEOO! EEAOO!”
“THERE she is!” Noah gasped and then grabbed her, swinging her into the air as she squealed happily, kicking her legs. He twirled her around as she screeched for more.
I dropped to all fours. “Raaawwrr!”
I chased her around the living room and Noah took hold of her. “I’ll protect you,” he said and set her on the couch. “Begone foul beast!” Noah took hold of a pillow and smacked me.
“AAARRRGH!” I flopped back and Arty got off the couch, toddling over and tackling me. “NO! YOU’RE TOO STRONG!”
She squealed, kicking as she climbed onto my belly. “Uuaba auaa eelel!” She bounced a bit on my chest, knocking the wind out of me.
I got up, panting a bit. I may have been in good shape but no shape was good enough to keep up with a toddler, not even a sim fu master. “Who’s Daddy’s strong girl? Who’s Daddy’s strong giiirl?” I sang, tickling her feet. Arty hesitated, looking a bit confused. “You are!” I said and she clapped her hands, shrieking.
Exhausted by this point, Noah and I sat on the couch, Arty squirming between us. She got up and began bouncing on the couch. Noah and I glanced at each other and silently agreed on a short break to catch out breath so we turned the TV and a video game system on. We gave Arty a disconnected controller and the ‘three’ of us raced for about ten, fifteen minutes before we went back to playing tiring games with Arty.
Finally nap time arrived. We tucked her into her crib then went to our bedroom to lay there, panting heavily. “You know, I always imagined us like this,” Noah got out. “Breathless, soaked in sweat, unable to move. I just figured it’d be for other reasons.”
“Oh, worth it, totally worth it,” he said, giving a bit of a yawn.
I wrapped an arm around him. “I was thinking… that maybe…”
“You don’t need to give me an answer right now, and think about it,” I said, feeling nervous. “But maybe one day you’d like to officially adopt Reeny? If she’s okay with it too, of course?”
Noah rolled onto his side and hugged me tightly. “I’d love to do that, as long as it’s what she’s okay with. I love Reeny so much. She’s like my daughter.”
I smiled at him. “You’re an amazing dad.”
“You are too!” He grinned back at me and nudged me gently. “You deserve a ‘world’s best dad’ shirt.”
“Mm, you deserve one too,” I said sleepily. “Best dad.”
“I dunno if I am…”
I shrugged. “Well, then fine. We’re the best that we can be. How about that?”
I opened my eyes again. “Huh?”
He just remained silent for a moment and I didn’t pressure him to hurry up, figuring he’d say it when he found the proper words. Finally, “You want more kids?” He gave me a slightly sheepish grin after, as if expecting me to laugh or something.
“Wow.” I exhaled, blowing at some of my bangs falling across my eyes. “Wow, that’s a pretty big question.” More kids. Another kid. Reeny, Arty, and a third baby.
“Not like, now,” Noah added quickly. “But one day after Arty is a bit older, when she’s two or three or even four or five–we might be able to do another surrogacy.”
“With Glados,” I said and he raised his eyebrows. “If we don’t at least ask her, she’d probably castrate us both.” We both laughed at that. “But to answer your question… yes. I’d love another kid.”
I leaned in to kiss him. “Yes. How about… this. When Arty is two, we’ll try again. It shouldn’t be quite as expensive since the hospital has fertilized eggs of ours frozen and stuff. I think. So… if we can afford it, when she’s two?”
Noah hugged me tightly. “Sounds great!”
We curled up to rest a bit before tackling our chores and Arty finished her nap. Another kid would make things so hectic but three kids sounded like a great number to me, and I couldn’t wait.