The 100 Baby Themeacy!

Since Brendan’s birthday, Avery and I have thrown ourselves into training him. We’ve agreed to split the workload of teaching him to talk and walk, but since I’m always and home and Avery still has to work, I’ve wound up teaching Brendan more often.

Annie-Brendan talking2

I can’t complain though. It’s been nice for us to just sit outside on one of the endlessly sunny days here in the Valley, and try to get him to say something. Avery was there for his first word though. ‘Mama,’ of course. =D

Annie holding Brendan

It’s been a bit strange adjusting to having a toddler in the house, I’ll admit. For the most part Brendan’s a complete angel.

Brendan eating2

He loves mealtimes and doesn’t complain when he doesn’t get a bottle. But I don’t think he likes the high chair at all.

Brendan crying

He starts screaming to be let out of the chair as soon as he’s finished eating.

Annie-Brendan blocks

And when he’s not eating or learning to talk, we’re playing with his blocks. It’s a wonder how I can get any housework done anymore. That’s why I’m so thankful for Corinne.

Annie washing dishes

She loves reading to Brendan, which gives me time to do the dishes when the dishwasher breaks down for the fifth time in a month.

Corinne announcement

Speaking of Corinne, ¬†she pulled the family into the dining room one evening after she got back from another date with Mike. The dates were becoming more frequent as their second anniversary got closer, as did her visits to his house to spend time with his kids. Sometimes I didn’t see her for an entire weekend.

Corinne announcement2

“As I’m sure you’ve all noticed, Mike and I have been spending a lot of time together recently,” she began, wringing her hands under the table like she does whenever she’s afraid to say something.

“Today Mike decided to take me back to the beach…”

Mike-Corinne hands

“And, well, I’ll spare you the long story…”

Mike-Corinne proposal2

“But Mike proposed. And I said yes.”

The room was silent as we all took in the news. We all liked Mike and his kids, and we knew it was only a matter of time before he asked Corinne to marry him. The only thing we were unsure of is if she would agree.

Corinne announcement7

“Well, it’s about time,” I said, grinning at her. Another successful match made on my part. ūüėČ

Mom was a little more hesitant with the congratulations.

Corinne announcement5

“Corinne, sweetie,” she started slowly. I could tell by the tone of her voice that this wasn’t going to be good. “Are you sure you’re ready for this? Mike is a good man, but do you think you’re ready to be a mother to those children?”

 Corinne announcement3

“Mike thinks I’m ready, and Melanie is thrilled about it, but I do have some doubts. I’m not going to let them get in the way though. I want to marry Mike.”

**********

The house was as quiet as ever now with Corinne not coming home after work so she and Mike could spend his lunch hour planning the wedding. On the days she did come home, she’d rush right out again an hour later to pick Melanie up from school or Robby from daycare.

She wasn’t the only busy one though. Mom was composing the score for a new teen zombie movie being shot nearby and it was taking up all her time. Most nights I could hear Dad’s car pulling away at three in the morning, on his way to deal with an emergency at the hospital. When he wasn’t working or sleeping, he was trying to relax in the garden, but he barely had time to keep it up anymore.

With everyone out late one Friday night anyway, and Jessica¬†spending the night at Bella’s,¬†I decided to invite Matt, River and the girls over for dinner.

River1

Avery made us some ratatouille, my favorite. The girls spent more time playing and doing their homework and¬†fawning over their little cousin than sitting at the table with us, but we didn’t mind.

River2

Matt was as much a big kid as Avery and I anyway.

River5

After dinner, Avery and Matt started talking about sports. The children’s team that Matt coaches was playing a game that weekend¬†and¬†he was wondering if Avery wanted to go.

Meanwhile River and I retreated to the couch to talk.

River7

“Have you guys given any thought to moving? I heard the¬†Langeraks are thinking of moving this summer, and they’re just down the street from us.”

“Yeah, we’re still saving up, but we figure we should be able to get a place in a¬†few months. Not as big as the Langeraks’, but at¬†least we can give Brendan his own room.”

She gave me a sly grin. “And what about giving him a little brother or sister?”

I looked at her like she had gone¬†crazy – which I sometimes wondered.¬†“Have you seen¬†the size of our bedroom? No way. Not until we move.”

“That’s too bad,” she said with a little smirk. “I thought it would be nice if we could go through it together.”

Oblivious as usual, I stared at her dumbly. “Go through what together?”

She giggled as¬†she placed a hand on her stomach. “The pregnancy.”

My¬†eyes widened and I mentally kicked myself as I jumped off the¬†couch to give her a hug. “How far along are you?”

“Two months, give or take a week. You’re the first person we’ve told, actually. We wanted to wait until the whole family was together to make the announcement, but it looks¬†like that’s virtually impossible these days.”

I nodded, trying to remember the last time Oliver and I had spent the day together. The men came over then, and we celebrated with some apple cider.

**********

Brendan talking with parents2

That Sunday, after getting back from the football game Matt coached, Avery and I got back to work teaching Brendan. I worked on his pronunciation.

Brendan walking, parents kissing

And Avery tried to get him to walk.

Please excuse my parents’ kissing. I know, gross. Although kind of sweet, after all those years.

 Brendan's first steps

Anyway, Brendan took his first, albeit shaky steps that day.

Brendan talking, Avery cooking

Afterward, Avery¬†started making us some Autumn Salad for dinner while Brendan and I got back to work on his talking. I was then I started feeling queasy. This was nothing new to me. I hadn’t been feeling well for weeks, ¬†but I’d been keeping it to myself. I was relatively sure it was nothing, but I’d been wrong before.

Morning sickness

When the queasiness hadn’t subsided after a few minutes, I let Brendan go to his toy while I tried to stand. But instead of going to lie down on the couch as I’d planned, I¬†found myself running into the bathroom to vomit.

When I walked out of the bathroom, my mind was on the possibilities of my illness, and I almost walked right into Avery, who was waiting for me, eying me worriedly.

Pregnant talk

“Are you all right? Do you need to¬†go¬†to the hospital?”

Pregnant talk7

I looked down, wondering what I should tell him. Should I wave it off as the greasy hotdog I had at the stadium? Could he forgive me for not telling him sooner if it turned out that it was something more than that? Wouldn’t he be angry if it was something more?

Pregnant talk6

“Annie, say something. You’re scaring me.”

I didn’t have time to think about it. I just blurted it out.

Pregnant talk3

“I’m pregnant.”

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It’s been several months since Corinne and Mike’s first date, and even I can’t believe how well things are going.

Corinne date

They spend most of their time at the beach, just talking. Since they’ve started dating, Corinne has added to her wardrobe. Less suits, more skirts and blouses and color. I admit, white and black are not much of a step-up from shades of brown, but it’s a start.

Mike-Corinne date2

I just wish Corinne would talk more about how things were going with Mike, but she doesn’t like to discuss her dates much.

Corinne date2

All I know is that sometimes they’re at the beach until after the sun sets, and Corinne goes over to his house every Sunday afternoon to have lunch with him and the kids. They’re so cute together, aren’t they? ūüôā

**********

As I said before, it’s been several months since my anniversary. Avery has graduated from culinary school and is now working at the Little Corsican.

Brendan-Avery morning

It’s great having him at home more. And since we don’t have to pay for his school anymore, we’ve started saving up for our own place. We know it’ll take a little while to do it, and we’ll probably have to settle for a tiny two-bedroom, but we can’t live with my parents for Brendan’s whole life.

**********

It was a couple of weeks before Brendan’s first birthday when we got a surprise visit at the house.

Jackie's arrival3

My aunt, Jacqueline. ūüėÄ

Jackie's arrival2

I hadn’t heard from her in over a year, so I wondered why she hadn’t let us know she was coming, but I wasn’t surprised when she said she liked to be spontaneous.

She asked to see Brendan right away, and Dad came home shortly after that, so I didn’t get a chance to talk to her alone until the next day.

Jackie-Annie talk2

“Aunt Jacqueline, where did you get that doll you sent Brendan last year?” I asked as we sat down to play chess the next morning. I had been wondering for a long while about it. The doll wasn’t like any other I’d seen before, and I got a strange vibe off it. Not bad, thankfully, as Brendan seemed to love it.

“Oh, a new friend gave that to me when I told him my wonderful niece was pregnant. His family makes them.”

“A new friend? And is he more than that?”

“Don’t give me that look, Annemarie. Rufus and I are nothing more than friends. Neighbors, even,” my aunt scolded, moving her queen.

Jackie-Annie talk

“Neighbors? How can you have a neighbor when you don’t even have a house?”

She looked at me apologetically. “I’m sorry,¬†Dear. I meant to tell you in my last letter, but then I’ve never been very good with writing, have I? I always forget everything I need to say by the time I sit down with paper and pen.”¬†She sighed. “I’ve¬†finally settled down. Sort of.”

“Sort of?” I pressed her.

“Well,¬†I still travel during the summer, but for most of the year I have a quaint¬†little house in Hidden Springs.”

“Isn’t¬†Hidden Springs that celebrity hot-spot?”

Jacqueline’s eyes lit up. “That’s right! Oh, Annie, you’d love it there. My first week¬†alone I met three of my favorite actors. That’s not why I decided to stay, of course. I’ve traveled all over the world. I’ve¬†been¬†in big cities like¬†Bridgeport and small farm towns like Riverview, and even beautiful islands like Barnacle Bay. But Hidden Springs is something completely different. Magical. Even the locals are special.”

“Well, I’m glad you’ve finally found someplace you can be happy, Auntie,” I said. I knew there was something she wasn’t telling me, but I didn’t want to push her.

**********

Birthday group

Aunt Jacqueline decided to stay long enough to attend Brendan’s first birthday party.

Avery and I hadn’t meant for the party to be so big – just family, we said. But we never seem to realize how big our family really is until they’re all in the same room.

Birthdan inlaws

We were lucky his parents could take time away from the hospital to attend, though they did come straight from a meeting. Corinne really identified with Avery’s mom. They’re both workaholics, so why not?

Birthday Avery-Matt

Avery spent the whole afternoon showing Brendan off to our guests.

Birthday scare

But when I asked to hold the baby, he decided to go have a little fun at his mother’s expense.

Birthday Susan-River

It¬†was nice to have¬†both Matt and River over at the same time. Not to mention the girls (now four years old, if you can believe it!) –

Birthday Annie-Kelley

Kelley,

Birthday Corinne-Bettina

Bettina,

Birthday Tom-Mandy

And Mandy. They’re such sweet¬†girls.

Birthday Tom-Oliver

I was probably most happy to see Oliver, though. With his starting work at the hospital recently, this¬†was the first time we’d seen each other¬†face-to-face in months.

Birthday cake

Finally, it was time for the candle to be blown out. Avery insisted on holding Brendan.

Birthday celebrate!3

Just as Corinne insisted on making Dad go deaf. He¬†seriously couldn’t hear well for the rest of the¬†party. lol.

Birthday celebrate!2

Meanwhile Jessie laughed at my feeble attempts to out-do Corinne.

Annie-Brendan tickle

And when all was said and done, and the guests had gone home, Avery and I were left with a happy little toddler.

Brendan crib with parents
Annie watching Brendan

Something tells me I have a long day ahead of me tomorrow, so I should probably get as much sleep as I can. Goodnight, friends!

-Annemarie<3

It’s been a week full of romance and outings¬†here at the Le Hare-Lapin household. But first, let me tell you about Jessie…

Jessica bday 3

Jessica’s thirteenth birthday took place when Brendan was just over a month old. My beautiful little sister is now a teenager!

Brendan-Jessica

She’s enrolled in the drama club at the high school and, now that she’s older, loves to take care of her nephew. Corinne’s asked her about getting a part-time job, but Jessie says she just wants to relax a little and focus on acting.

Around the same time, Kaylynn decided I needed to get out of the house and doing something fun, so she took me out for a day at the spa and then some shopping afterward.

Girls night spa

“This really isn’t necessary,” I told her before we went into the spa. “I would be just as relaxed sitting at home watching cartoons with Avery and the baby.” Kaylynn scoffed.

Girls night spa2

“Oh, please. I remember when Mom had the twins a couple years ago. All she ever talked about was how much she wanted to get out of the house and go back to work.”

Girls night spa3

“But that’s different,” I tried to explain. “She had two babies, and she was home alone most days. Corinne is almost always home with me. And I get out to the park to the park all the time.”

“That’s not the same thing as going to the mall, or the art gallery. When was the last time you went to the Institute?”

I was saved from answering when her watch started beeping, telling her it was time for our appointment. But later on at the mall, she pulled me inside the bathroom when she spotted some girl she was trying to avoid.

Kaylynn-Annie bathroom2

“So, when are you starting the daycare up again?” she asked casually as we waited. A woman doing her makeup by the sinks gave us a strange look.

Kaylynn-Annie bathroom

“I’m not,” I told her. “Avery and I agreed when we got married that we wanted one of us to be a stay-at-home parent. We want Brendan to be given someone’s undivided attention, and I can’t do that with four or five other babies to take care of.

Kaylynn-Annie cafe

After we finished shopping, we stopped by the mall’s one and only restaurant for dinner before going home. Luckily for me, Kaylynn had finally decided to drop the subject of my being a stay-at-home mom. Unlucky for me, she’d decided to ask me about my other plans for the future.

“So, how many kids does Avery want, anyway?” she asked as we waited for our¬†autumn salad¬†to arrive. “Have you even told him that you want five kids?”

Kaylynn-Annie cafe3

“Of course. We talked about this long before I even got pregnant, but we finally agreed that we want to have five.” Kaylynn nearly choked on her water.

“Oh, so he’s just as crazy as you, then.”

“Kaylynn!”

Kaylynn-Annie cafe2

“Relax, I’m just joking. Seriously, though, five kids? That’s going to cost a lot. And think of the room they’ll take up….”

“I know. We’re not planning on having any more until we get our own place though. It’s cramped enough living in one the bedroom. Can you imagine if we had to fit another crib in?”

Kaylynn looked at me doubtfully, as if she thought I was already pregnant again. I just laughed at her and shook my head as the waitress returned with our meals.

**********

Avery and I celebrated our one year wedding anniversary when Brendan was three months old. It was a pretty uneventful morning. Avery was off work, but said he had to go run some errands, leaving me with Brendan like any other day.

But when he returned a half hour later, he was dressed up and holding a bouquet of pink roses – my favorite. ūüôā

Anniversary flowers 2

I was completely shocked, of course. I’d been so¬†tired that week that I forgot all about the anniversary. Luckily I’d planned ahead and had Avery’s gift tucked away in my sweater drawer for weeks!

Anniversary gift

He loved the new cookbook I got him from his favorite celebrity chef.

Once we were finished exchanging gifts, Avery told me to get dressed up so we could go out for the night. He’d planned everything with Corinne so she could babysit for us, though my dear sister neglected to clue me in as to where he was taking me.

Anniversary gallery

Our first stop was the Sunset Institute of Art, where we admired beautiful sculptures and paintings. I hadn’t wanted to tell Kaylynn this, but it had been months since I’d gone to the Institute.

Anniversary gallery2

I was having fun looking at the new pieces that had come in since I’d been gone. I was particularely moved by a sculpture on the second floor, while my wonderful husband tried to hide his boredom for my sake. Isn’t he sweet?

After I’d seen all the new things, I suggested we leave and do something more to his taste. In actuality, I just wanted to call home and see how things were going. It was the first night Avery and I had spent away from Brendan together, and I worried about how Corinne might be doing all alone.

Mike-Corinne couch

Though it seemed she wasn’t as alone as I had thought. She’d invited Mike Kingston over to keep her company, and they spent the evening watching a documentary on¬†llamas while taking care of my little guy.

The best part was that he actually asked her out on a real date as he was leaving! My matchmaking plans are coming together nicely, I think.

Anyway, back to me and Avery…

Anniversary dinner

After watching an action movie at the theatre, we went to the Little Corsican for a candlelit dinner of spaghetti and meatballs, during which time Avery filled me in on how his schooling was going.

He’d been doing a lot of extra assignments lately, reading more books, helping his instructors with catering… he even had the occasional weekend class. And that was on top of working at¬†Hogan’s five days a week. He was always exhausted when he came home.

All the hard work had definitely paid off, though. His instructors told him that if he kept up the work, he’d graduate in about six months instead of¬†our estimated eighteen. This was fantastic news, because not only would it mean less time away from home, but graduation would¬†ensure him¬†a better-paying job at the Little Corsican.

Anniversary hotel3

To celebrate, Avery had gotten us a room at a little inn¬†for the night, pre-arranged with Corinne so she wasn’t expecting us back until morning.

Anniversary hotel

The room itself was a bit outdated and countryish, but we loved it. Especially the bed. We spent most of the evening cuddling and talking.

Anniversary hotel2

And other things….

Moving on. Corinne and Mike’s date is this weekend, so fingers crossed everything goes well. He’s taking her to the beach, so that should be fun. Definitely a step up from documentaries. I’ll keep you posted on how things go with them. ūüėČ

‘Til next time, cheers!

-Annemarie

Labor3

Avery managed to get the rest of the night off work, and jogged the short distance from Hogan’s to the hospital. I couldn’t help but laugh when he showed up in the doorway of my room, still wearing his uniform and out of breath.

It was two in the morning before the doctors let us go home. I walked out with our new baby while Avery lagged behind to hold the door open for someone.

Labor4

Allow me to introduce Brendan Avery Lapin. Isn’t he adorable? We were a bit surprised to have a boy, since we’d both had feelings it was a girl, but we’re happy nonetheless. =)

Avery and I decided that, since both of our names started with A, we should just go alphabetically with our kids’ names. So, B for Brendan!

Labor6

It was very late by the time we made it home. What with work and school the next morning, everyone had gone to sleep, so we decided not to wake them to meet the baby.

Labor7

Avery seemed a little scared of poor Brendan at first. He’d held him in the hospital, but once we got home it was like he didn’t know what to do with him, so he just stood back and watched me.

Labor8

After the baby was asleep, though, he snapped out of it and hugged me, telling me how proud his was of me. Then we started getting ready for bed, because we were both exhausted.

We didn’t get to rest for long before Brendan started crying.

Brendan-parents night2

Avery got to him first but wasn’t able to settle him, so I sent him to the kitchen to prepare a bottle while I calmed Brendan down before he woke anyone else.

Brendan-parents night3

I figured it was only fair that I took care of nighttime feedings anyway, since Avery needed sleep to go to work and take classes. He made it up to me by letting me sleep in the next morning.

That didn’t stop my family from nearly tackling me as soon as I brought the baby outside our room, however.

Brendan-Susan2

Mom immediately asked if she could hold the baby.

Brendan-Susan3

Any worries I had about how she’d act toward Brendan melted away when I watched her snuggle him.

Dad was thrilled about having a grandson.

Brendan-Tom

Everytime Brendan let out a whimper, Dad was with him in a flash, before I even had time to stand up. Not that I’m complaining, really. It was nice to be able to eat my breakfast without interruption. Running the daycare was harder than this!

Corinne-Brendan tv

Corinne surprisingly enjoyed spending time with Brendan, too. She’d sometimes beg to read him bedtime stories, and would sit and watch kids’ shows with him.

Avery was probably the worst for hogging time with the baby.

Brendan-Avery morning2

Most mornings I’d walk into our room and find him just sitting there, cuddling the baby. It was cute.

Anyway, it was about a week after the birth that we started getting gifts from distant relatives. Mom’s elderly parents in Bridgeport, her cousin Giselle who lived in France now, even Dad’s childhood friend. The person I was most excited to hear from, however, was my aunt Jacqueline, Dad’s older sister.

Annemarie mail

Jacqueline travelled a lot, so we never knew where she was, or when we would be hearing from her. None of us had even been able to reach her to tell her about my pregnancy, so how she knew to send the doll is beyond me.

The letter attached to the gift was addressed to me, and read as follows:

To my dearest niece,

I was delighted to hear about your recent wedding and pregnancy, though not surprised. You definitely take after your father’s side of the family, and Le Hares aren’t at all patient. Let’s hope your mother has come to accept this fact by now.

I wish I could’ve been there to celebrate with you, but as usual I found out too late. I’m sending this gift – something I found on my travels – for your little boy or girl, in the hopes that I will be able to see them play with it very soon.

So much has changed since I was in Sunset Valley last. I look forward to telling you all about it. Give my love to your father, and tell your brothers and sisters there are some things coming for them as well.

Best wishes, your aunt Jacqueline”

Doll

 

I was a little surprised at the doll. It wasn’t like anything I’d seen before, but I loved it. So did Avery. When I showed it to him, we both agreed to put it in Brendan’s crib.

Tom-Annemarie gardening

Daddy was starting to teach me how to garden on his off days, which was great. Most days it was just Brendan and I in the house, and there was only so much cleaning that I could do in a day before becoming OCD.

Brendan garden

So when I finished my housework every day, I’d wheel Brendan out to the garden in the stroller so I could keep an eye on him at the same time.

Corinne-Annemarie chess

Corinne’s position at Doo Peas allowed her to come home early in the afternoon a few days a week. I appreciated the company, and she appreciated a new chess opponent.

Visiting River

Of course, there were the days that I was finished cleaning, gardening, and had run out of blank canvases all before noon. My usual remedy was to visit whoever was home at the time. Also, I thought it was a good idea for Brendan to get out of the house a bit.

River-Brendan

Matt and River’s place was our favorite to visit. River adored my little guy, and told me all the time how much she wanted to have a boy. Alas, Matt refused to have any more kids until the triplets could feed themselves.

Visiting River3

In the meantime, we traded off. She got to play with Brendan, and I got to teach my nieces.

Oh, I have to go. Brendan just got up from his nap. I’ll try to update again soon. =)

The day after the wedding, Avery and Dad worked on transforming the guest room into something cozy for Avery and I and the baby. Since we didn’t actually have any supplies yet – like a crib, or toys – the best they could do was paint the walls, move the computer into the living room, and bring my dresser downstairs.

There was no money or time for a honeymoon, but¬†Avery had still been given the week off work, so we spent it watching tv together and reading Mom’s old pregnancy books from twenty years ago.

A&A reading

Avery wanted to be prepared as much as possible. He was an only child and didn’t have any younger relatives like I did, so he was completely inexperienced.

I wasn’t able to take as much time off work as he was, so when the daycare started up again, I let him help out when he wanted.

Avery with toddler

He was a great help, and really knew how to make the kids laugh.

Speaking of the daycare, a couple of my regulars started school recently, and I had been advertising around town that a had some openings. That’s how I met Mike Kingston.

Mike

Mike had just moved here from Twinbrook and was a journalist. He had two kids. Melanie, who was in school, and Robby, who I would be taking care of.

Robby was a sweet boy, and so nice to have around the daycare since I had only ever dealt with girls. And Mike was very appreciative of my looking after him. Sometimes, when Mike was the last parent to arrive, I’d invite him inside to talk for a few minutes before he had to go pick up Melanie.

Mike2

During one of these little talks, Corinne had come home early from work and was stunned to see someone new in the house.

Mike5

I quickly introduced them and excused myself so I could get some dinner. I knew Mike was single, and with the way he looked at my sister, I could see he was interested. Whether or not Corinne felt the same, I could be sure.¬†I was just a kid the last time I saw her talking to a man that she wasn’t related to or worked with.

Mike3

I could hear them talking a little from the dining room. Well, it wasn’t like there was a wall separating us or anything, so it can’t be considered eavesdropping.

Anyway, they mostly talked about work, and how surprising it was they hadn’t run into each other. Doo Peas was right next door to the newspaper offices.

Mike6

Mike talked a little bit about himself and his kids. Corinne said something about loving kids, which I was a bit surprised at. The only kids I’d seen her interact with were Matt’s, and isn’t that kind of mandatory?

Mike4

All in all, I think it went well. I mean, Corinne actually laughed at Mike’s jokes. Very unusual.

After Mike left, I asked her what she thought of him. She said he seemed nice, but didn’t say anything else. If she suspected I was trying to play matchmaker, she didn’t let on.

**********

I was about half-way through my third month of pregnancy when I started showing. Avery and I decided it was a good time to let my daycare parents know that I wouldn’t be able to keep going for much longer.

Most took it pretty well, congratulating me and all. Mike seemed upset. I referred him to another daycare provider that I knew – one that was closer to his house – but I suspected he was more upset about not having an excuse to visit Corinne anymore.

baby shower6

It was around this time that Corinne decided she wanted to play the proud aunt and hosted a baby shower for me. I told her it was unnecessary, but she still went ahead with it, inviting River and¬†Avery’s mom¬†Marjorie, and my best friend Kaylynn.

baby shower

Kaylynn still seemed pretty amazed by the whole thing, and couldn’t stop touching my stomach. She promised to take me shopping for maternity clothes that weekend as her gift to me.

River, who couldn’t make it to the party since the¬†triplets were sick, had Matt deliver two boxes full of old baby clothes that no longer fit the girls. He explained that they weren’t planning on having any more kids for a long time.

baby shower2

Mom and Dad gave us the family crib (the one that every single one of us Le Hare kids had used, but somehow wasn’t falling apart) and a bunch of toys. My in-laws similarly thought to give us the few toys they’d kept from Avery’s childhood. Mom even bought me a cd of classical music to help me relax.

baby shower4

Jessica, with the money she won from a talent show, bought a teddy bear for the baby. I promised to put it in the crib as soon as we got everything set up.

baby shower5

Aside from the pizza I’d been craving, Corinne also bought a complete collection of baby and toddler books for my little one. I had a feeling she was praying for the baby to be a genius like her.

And lastly, Oliver sent over a two-hundred simoleon gift card to the spa! Bless my brother, I was going to need a massage soon.

**********

Dad helped Avery move all the crib into our room that night, and I fiddled around with the placement of the toys until everything fit without us stumbling over something in the middle of the night. We even had room for a comfy chair I’d picked out.

Bedroom
Bedroom2
Bedroom3

Everything seemed to be going so well, until we all went to sleep.

It was the first time I’d ever actually heard our burglar alarm, and it scared me out of my mind. At first I thought the house was burning down until Avery ran out of the room and I heard him yelling.

Burglary

I walked out to find him fighting with someone dressed all in black. I yelled for him to stop, but he didn’t listen until a police officer ran into the house and literally pulled him off the burglar.

Burglary2

That was when I noticed it was a woman. She still had the mask on, but I didn’t recognize her voice as she cursed loudly and told the officer that she thought Avery had broken her arm.

Burglary3

The officer laughed it off as he began handcuffing her. Dad and Corinne came down just in time to see her being dragged outside.

Burglary4

I think Dad was more freaked out about the whole thing than any of us, though I was still in shock.

The officer came back in after a moment to tell us that the burglar¬†– Twyla something-or-other was her name – hadn’t stolen anything, and to congratulate Avery on catching her.

After the officer left and Dad and Corinne went back up to bed, I punched my very brave and very reckless husband on the arm.

“Don’t you ever do something that dangerous again,” I said, and he just smiled at me.

Burglary5

He apologized and tried to calm me down by giving me a massage and talking to the baby.

**********

The rest of the pregnancy went by without a hitch, thankfully.

Susan-Annemare painting

Mom and I spent most of it painting, since I wanted to finish my portrait of Avery before the baby was born.

Susan-Annemare painting2

Note to self: burn hoodie. It’s not at all flattering for a heavily pregnant girl.

A&A library2

When I wasn’t painting, Avery and I were at the library, reading more current parenting books or looking for baby names. We had several in mind, but we wanted to do something unique. Something that people would remember us for.

Of course, Avery still had to work, and had classes, so most nights I was left to find¬†a way to entertain myself. On one particular night, and helping out in the garden, my back started hurting. Avery wouldn’t be coming home for a few hours still, so I decided to head down to the spa (Oliver’s gift certificate had been used long ago, so I had to pay for the whole thing).

It was as I was leaving the spa after a wonderful massage that I felt pains again, but this time they weren’t just in my back.

Labor

I knew right away that I was in labor, and apparently so did everyone around me. One of the women calmed down enough to call a cab to take me to the hospital. On the drive over, between contractions, I managed to call Dad and let him know I was having the baby. He promised to get in touch with Avery for me.

Labor2

I was more than a little excited as I walked (well, waddled, really) into the hospital, knowing I’d be holding my baby before the night was out. =D

After Sunday morning breakfast, I took¬†a little trip across town to my brother Oliver’s house. It was nothing special. Three tiny bedrooms and a large backyard. His roommate let me in on his way out the door and told me Ollie was in his room.

Oliver-Annemarie talking

I nearly had a heart attack when I walked into his room and found him reading from a book that had a skeleton on the front. I’m pretty sure the only thing I’ve seen Ollie read before was a comic book.

“Whatever happened to relaxing on the weekend? You’re starting to act like Corinne,” I said, smirking as he jumped.

“Jeez, Annie, can’t you knock or something?”

“I did. Twice. Must be a real pageturner to have you wasting a¬†lovely morning indoors.”

He scowled at me and slid the book under his pillow. “I’ve never been so bored in my life, so perfect timing on your part. Pull up a chair.” I turned his desk chair – the only seating other that the bed – to face him and sat down. “To what do I owe this surprise visit?”

Oliver-Annemarie talking2

“Um, well, have you been talked to Mom or Dad in the past couple of days? Or Corinne, maybe?” Jessie, I knew, would never gossip about me, but I couldn’t be sure with the others.

“No, why? Did something happen? Did Corinne get another promotion?” He gasped suddenly and his eyes grew wide. “Did Corinne get fired? Did she?”

“No. This doesn’t have anything to do with her.”

“Oh.” He looked disappointed. “So, what’s up?”

“Ollie, you like Avery, don’t you?”

“Sure. Great guy. Hey, remember that sleepover we all had with Candy while Mom and Dad were away that weekend? And you and Avery went-“

“Yes! I remember.”

“Sorry. Go on.”

Oliver-Annemarie talking3

“Avery proposed yesterday. We’re getting married.”

“Well, it’s about time! Do you know how many bets I lost with Matt about when you two were finally getting hitched?”

“Oliver, focus.”

“Sorry. I’m really happy for you, Sis.”

“Good. Hopefully you’ll still feel that way in a minute.”

“Why?”

“Well, I’m pregnant.”

He didn’t take it as well as I expected him to.

Oliver-Annemarie talking6

“You’re what?!”

“Oliver…”

“Why didn’t you tell me sooner?”

“I – what? Aren’t you mad?”

He jumped off his bed so fast, I just barely had enough time to get out of his way.

Oliver-Annemarie talking9

“Are you kidding me?” he said, holding onto my arms. “This is fantastic. Let’s just hope that you have a boy. There are way too many girls in this family.”

I didn’t even have a chance to say anything before he pulled me into a hug.

Oliver-Annemarie talking8

Within the hour I was on my way to Matt’s place. I knew he’d still be at work when I got there, but I wanted to talk to his wife, River, without him.

River-Annemarie talk4

River and I had been friends since before she was dating Matt. We had met at the community pool one day, and if not for my persistent nature, Matt may never have asked her out.

It wasn’t unusual for me to show up out of the blue, so River didn’t bother asking me why I was there, she just let me inside.

River-Annemarie talk

I started to tell her once we were in the nursery.

River-Annemarie talk2

She took it really well, and was ready to call a sitter and take me shopping, but I told her I wanted to wait and tell Matt the news before I did anything else. I spent the rest of the day talking with her and helping take care of my nieces.

Annemarie with niece4

Kelley,

Annemarie with niece

Bettina,

Annemarie with niece3

and Mandy.

As a side-note, I’m praying I don’t have triplets.

Matt-Annemarie talk4

So, when Matt got home from the stadium I pulled him into the living room to have a little chat.

Matt-Annemarie talk2

He was pretty excited about the whole thing, and agreed to watch the girls by himself for the rest of the night so River could take me shopping.

**********

¬†The wedding took place two weeks later. Avery and I had agreed the sooner was the better, not just because of the pregnancy, but because we were both so impatient. It’s not like we had much to plan, anyway.

A&A wedding

The dress took the most time to pick out. Luckily I wasn’t showing yet, or I’d have wasted even more time in the boutiques with Corinne and River. In the end, I was really happy with what I’d picked out.

A&A wedding2

We hadn’t invited very many people. My family, Avery’s parents, our best friends … but somehow it still seemed like too many when they all started arriving at the house. That’s me in the window – hiding.

The living room soon got too crowded for all the guests, and we¬†quickly decided to move into the backyard to have the ceremony behind Daddy’s garden.

A&A wedding3

My gorgeous bridesmaids. ūüôā

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Daddy and I waiting to walk down the aisle. I think he looks more nervous than I do. lol.

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Avery and I at the altar.

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The rings.

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And finally, the kiss. ‚̧

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Oh, and here’s us cutting the cake as the sun was setting. I love Avery’s face when he noticed someone was taking his picture. Hehe.

I should go now. The last guests just left and I should go help Avery and Corinne pick up all the plates outside. Talk to you soon!

I know you’re not reading this for my witty intros, so let’s just skip the greetings and get to what I did over the last couple of days.

Ever since Avery and I started dating, we spent practically every Saturday together. We alternated whose house we went to – whose couch we would watch cartoons on or¬†whose backyard we’d play tag in. It’d already been arranged that we were meeting at his house that weekend, so I didn’t bother calling before I came over.

A&A talk25

He’d just finished breakfast with his parents and pulled me into his bedroom so we could talk. I hesitated at the door, my stomach flip-flopping from what I hoped were just nerves and not morning sickness.¬†When I finally walked in and closed the door, he tried to give me a hug but I pulled away.

“What’s wrong?” he asked worriedly. “Did I do something?”

“No, of course not. It’s just … I have to tell you something, and I don’t think you’re going to be happy.”

“What is it?”

A&A talk11

“Do you remember I said I’ve been feeling ill lately?”

“Yeah.”

“Well, my parents made me go to the doctor yesterday.”

“Oh, no. Is it serious? Are you dying?” He was so sweet and concerned. I really didn’t want to ruin the moment by telling him, but I knew I had to.

“No, no. I’ll be fine, but -” I paused, looking into his green eyes. This could be the last time you see them filled with love for you, a little voice in my head warned me. I tried not to listen as I said the words I was dreading. “I’m pregnant.”

A&A talk19

There were a few moments where the only sounds were coming from the tv in the living room and the birds chirping outside. Avery stood still, his hand barely touching my arm and his mouth wide open. I think it was a full two minutes before he started moving again, and when he did it wasn’t to back away like I had expected. Instead, he broke into a grin.

“Really?” He actually sounded excited.

“You’re happy,” I noted, rather shocked.

“Of course! Why wouldn’t I be? This is fantastic news. Unless you’re not happy. Are you happy? Are you okay?” His smile fell as he waited for my answer.

A&A talk22

“Yes! I’m so, so happy. I was just worried about you.”

He grinned again and pulled me into a hug. “I love you, Annemarie. Nothing could change that.”

I smiled into his chest and mentally kicked myself for thinking he’d be anything but happy. I knew Avery better than anyone – how could I ever doubt him?

“Have you told anyone yet?” he asked suddenly.

“I had to tell Mom and Dad, and I figured I might as well tell my sisters.”

“How’d they take it?”

A&A talk20

I shrugged and Avery let go of me, giving me a questioning look.

“Daddy and Jess are ecstatic, of course. Mom’s okay with it now. But Corinne…”

He sighed and ran a hand over my arm comfortingly. “What did she say?”

“It doesn’t even matter. She’ll come around. I’m just happy that you’re okay with everything.”

A&A talk3

He kissed me and¬†held my¬†face in his hand, staring¬†into my eyes.¬†“I’m more than happy. I can’t even begin to explain how overjoyed I am at the idea that I’m going to be a father, or how elated I am to be having this baby with you.”

I giggled uncontrollably, as I did whenever Avery said something cheesily romantic, and he soon joined me. Corinne would come around eventually, I knew, but in that moment all I cared about was Avery and our baby.

A&A talk5

Once we stopped laughing, Avery started to back away from me. “I have something for you. I was saving it for the next time we go to the Little Corsican, but I think now would be much better. Just … don’t move.”

A&A talk2

He turned around and walked over to his dresser while I stood rooted to the spot. I saw him open the top drawer and pull something out, but he hid it from me. He kept it behind his back when he faced me again.

“Honey, you know I love you more than anything. We’ve been together forever, and I can’t imagine living without you. And now with our … with our baby-” he giggled, “there’s only one thing that could possibly make my life any better.”

A&A talk7

I’m honestly not sure how I managed to stay standing while he knelt down and pulled out the ring box. I gasped rather loudly and covered my mouth to prevent myself from squealing like a little girl.

“Annemarie Gabrielle Le Hare, will you marry me?”

I don’t think I need to tell you that I said yes. Avery and I had been talking about our future a lot recently. Like how many kids we wanted (at least five), where we wanted to live (definitely in Sunset Valley, close to our families), and when we wanted to get married (after he finished culinary school). That was the most shocking part about this. Culinary school would take another two – maybe even¬†three years, and yet here he was, hiding a ring in his sock drawer.

A&A talk13

And what a ring! I didn’t want to be all girly and fawn over it, especially since I wasn’t normally a jewelry person anyway, but I couldn’t help admiring how wonderful it looked as he slipped it on my finger.

Avery wasn’t much better at concealing his happiness. As soon as the ring was on my finger, I was in his arms. He couldn’t stop telling me how much he loved me and our baby.

A&A talk15

After trying (and failing miserably) to cuddle on his small bed, we decided to come out of hiding and tell his parents.

They took it surprisingly well, considering their only child had just announced he was getting married to his pregnant girlfriend before he even finished school. Work and school usually meant everything to Mr and Mrs Lapin, but they said they were happy for us, and would help in any way they could.

Avery and I spent the rest of the afternoon in his backyard, making some important decisions. I started heading home close to dinnertime. I couldn’t wait to break the news to my family. Marriage might not solve all of my concerns, like money and whether or not we would make good parents, but maybe it would ease the worrying of certain members of my family.

Dad was outside tending to his little garden when I got home. He said that Mom was on her way from a concert with dinner and my sisters were upstairs in their rooms. I decided to wait until they were all together at the dinner table to tell them, so I just told Dad to call me when Mom got home, and then went inside.

Jessie was busy working on her homework in our room and asked if I minded staying out for another twenty minutes or so. I gladly left her alone, since it would give me enough time to talk to Corinne. If Avery and I went through with our plans, she was going to have to come around really soon.

Corinne-Annemarie talk

I went and knocked on her door and waited for her muffled reply before coming in. She was sitting at her desk, typing away on her laptop. Probably something to do with work. I loved Corinne dearly, but sometimes she could be a bit of a workaholic. And a neat freak. And a know-it-all. It was a wonder how we’d managed to survive living under the same roof with so few scuffles over the years.

Corinne-Annemarie talk3

“I don’t think Doo Peas is going to fall apart if you take the weekend off, you know,” I said jokingly. She continued typing and ignoring me. “Corinne, I really need to talk to you.”

“I don’t feel like talking right now. Please leave.”

“No. I need you to understand how important this is to me. I need you to be okay with it.”

Corinne-Annemarie talk4

She sighed and shut down the laptop, but she still wouldn’t look at me.

“What does it matter?” she said. “You’re going to do what you want anyway.”

“I probably will, but this is important to us.”

She tilted her head. “Us?”

“I went to see Avery today.”

Corinne-Annemarie talk5

She looked up at me. “And? What did he say?”

“He asked me to marry him.” I smiled and showed her my left hand, which I’d had buried in my pocket since I got home.

She stared at the ring for a few seconds before smiling up at me. “Congratulations.” It was short and not at all as happy as I’d hoped it would be.

“But you still don’t approve.” She shook her head frustratedly and stood up.

Corinne-Annemarie talk11

“I’m just looking out for you. That’s all I ever do. Matt¬†never¬†thought about anything but¬†sports and girls. And then he went and got married right out of high school! Oliver was the class clown and didn’t even consider a career until a month before graduation. You’re always just so happy and carefree, like Dad. It’s like there’s nothing that could possibly get you down. And poor Jessica is just a kid. Mom and I have to look out for this family.”

Corinne-Annemarie talk8

¬†“No, you don’t have to,” I said. “Matt is responsible. He got a part-time job in high school just like you did. He never had great grades, but at least he wasn’t failing. Ollie is a genius with computers. The only reason he waited so long to make a decision about his career was because there are no good computer programming classes here in the Valley, which meant going somewhere else for college. Medicine was his second choice.

“And do you really think that nothing bothers me? The teasing in high school, that time Jessie broke her ankle,¬†Parker breaking up with me just before my birthday¬†… those aren’t my happiest memories. And just because I didn’t get on the honor roll or go to college,¬†that means I can’t take care of myself? Well, ¬†I’m sorry if I’m not living up to your expectations, Corinne, but I would much rather spend my days taking care of children and painting than stuck in an office.”

Corinne-Annemarie talk7

Things got very quiet. I was glad Dad was outside, otherwise he’d have come running to help up patch things up, and I didn’t want him to.

“This is the most serious thing I’ve ever done,” I began when I realized Corinne wasn’t going to say anything. “I really thought about this. I know what I’m giving up, and it’s all worth it. You don’t know it, but I told Mom and Dad that I would move out if that’s what they wanted. They said no, but I was prepared to go. I knew where I was going to stay, and what I was going to do for money – even if Avery didn’t want the baby. I had a plan. I’m not stupid.”

She sighed and ran a hand through her hair. “I know that, Anne, and¬†I’m sorry I said you were, I was just angry. I just don’t want to see any of you get hurt. But this is your life, and I know I don’t have any right telling you what to do. Honestly, I’m really¬†happy for you and Avery.”

Corinne-Annemarie talk12

I quickly gave her a hug before she could change her mind. We were both grinning when she pulled away.

“I’m glad you came to your senses,” I said. “Because asking you to be my matron of honor would just be really awkward otherwise.”

We spent a few minutes talking about dresses before Mom came home and it was time for me to tell everyone else the news. The two hours after dinner were spent in front of the computer, going through various wedding details with my mom and sisters while Dad watched the gardening channel.