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The David Family Legacy

TresaofPernTresaofPern Posts: 249 Member
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"Mama! Daddy! I'm scared!"
The little voice woke Joanna out of a sound sleep. She was just that second faster to get out of bed and scoop her youngest into a hug. "I'm here, baby, you're fine," she murmured.
Aaron watched them, a look of tenderness on his face.
Jacob squirmed free. "I'm hungry. Can I have cereal, pwease?" He was so proud of himself for using his new favorite word.
"Yes you may. I think Daddy would like a hug too. Aaron, would you mind putting Eli in his chair while I get the cereal.
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"Sure, Jo. We're right behind you." Aaron picked Jacob up, hugging him close before carrying him from the bedroom to the kitchen. Jacob spotted his adored big brother already at the table. "Hi, Eli!"
"Hey, squirt," Eli answered, grinning. He noticed the time and hurried into the living room with his bowl just as Ziva turned on the TV.

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Joanna decided since she was awake she'd make omelets for anyone who wanted them. Or they could save the meal for tomorrow's breakfast. She kept an eye on Jacob as she cooked, looking out over the halfwall into the living room where Aaron had joined Ziva and Eli to watch TV and eat breakfast.
"Thanks for cleaning up the dishes, Eli.
Eli blushed and mumbled a reply. Typical teenager.
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She noticed Jacob yawning, and set him on the ground. "Back to bed with you, Jacob. Try to have sweet dreams this time, okay?" Jacob giggled. "Okay, Mama. Night night."
Joanna fixed her own meal, staying awake just long enough to see ZIva and Eli off to school before going back to bed to get as much sleep as she could while Jacob napped. She was glad today was her day off. Her dreams were of her much needed next promotion. Maybe then they could start updating some of the appliances around the house.
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Aaron tried to work on his novel while he had the chance, but he was experiencing a block at the moment. He decided to take a break and relax with a good book, hoping for some inspiration. And he'd keep Jacob company while he read, so he could keep the toddler form waking Joanna if he had another nightmare.
He head Joanna stirring as he finished the book. "Perfect timing! And I know just what I want to write, too," he said aloud.
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Joanna woke refreshed and ready for the day. She peeked in on Jacob and Aaron before going into the bathroom, glad all was well. She came out to find Aaron having a slice of cake before rushing off to work. "Have a good day at work today, honey. Couldn't you have wiped off the highchair?"
"Oops, sorry! You know how I am when I get caught up in a story."
Joanna sighed. "I do. Never mind, I'll clean it myself."
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Joanna hated to wake Jacob up, but she knew if she didn't he would be up all night. Better to try to get him back on a normal schedule. He had to grow out of the nightmares soon. At the moment, the biggest concern was getting him into a bath. She knew from experience he would wake playful. Good thing her blouse could stand a little water.
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"Where's Daddy?" Jacob asked, frowning.
"He's at work. He'll be home before you know it. What would you like for lunch?" Joanna asked, hoping to distract him.
"Mac an' cheese?" He asked hopefully.
Joanna laughed. "I think we can find some." As it turned out, there was no macaroni and cheese, but Jacob spotted the cake left over from Ziva's birthday and demanded a slice of it instead.
"I do!" Jacob insisted on feeding himself, refusing to sit in the high chair.
Joanna gave in, taking the opportunity to do some cleaning.
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Afterward, she decided since Jacob had done so well learning to say please and thank you, it was time to teach him to say sorry.
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When she returned from school a short time later, the snowman by the front door caught Ziva's attention, and she stared at it intently, applying all she had learned about appreciating art from her mother.
Eli rolled his eyes in disgust and shoved past her. "Stop that and come inside. You know if you don't get started on your homework now, you won't have time until after work."
"Whatever." Ziva rolled her eyes right back, but she was unable to resist the chance to show off to her younger brother just how much better she was at school. She was the A student after all. Eli was only average.
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Needing some time to herself, Joanna went into the art studio/music room/study to paint for a while. She hadn't had a chance to pic up a brush in days and missed it. She was so glad Eli had picked up her interest, and wondered if Jacob would too. Ziva certainly got her love of music from her, though Aaron had been known to pick up an instrument a time or two. Maybe Jacob would follow in Aaron's footsteps with the writing, he certainly had an imagination and loved to talk.
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Ziva was proud of herself for finishing her homework before she had to lave for work at the store, even though she was tired. She wished her parents would let her skip just this once, but both were adamant that she should go and do her best to stay awake. Sometimes being the oldest really plum. Why did she have to be the one to set an example?
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Joanna gave in to Jacob's demand for an extra story when the first, one she'd made up, wasn't quite enough to put him to sleep. She just hoped there would be no nightmares tonight, when both she and Aaron had to work the next day.
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Aaron came home full of news about his workday, and Joanna listened attentively, eager to catch up with her husband. She filled him in on the family's activities in turn. They would trade roles when it was his day off and she had to work. Aaron went for a jog afterward, feeling the need to start getting into shape. Joanna encouraged him, then had a late dinner.
"You know I love you as you are, but I want you to be healthy too."
"Thanks, Jo. I feel the same about you. He kissed her cheek and was gone.
She heard him return and go into the bathroom, and was on her way to bed when he went to the computer to do his usual late night writing.
"Don't be too late!" she called to him.
"I'll try," he promised, but she could tell he wasn't really paying attention ,his mind already on his latest novel.
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Comments

  • TresaofPernTresaofPern Posts: 249 Member
    Friday's routine closely followed Thursday's, except that Jacob slept through the night. Ziva and Eli were up first this time and fixed breakfast for themselves. Jacob joined them a little later and helped himself to the plate his siblings had left out for him. He was in a chatty mood and both teens were willing to accommodate him. They were in no hurry to leave for school.
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    "It's your turn to do the dishes," Eli said, finishing the last of his breakfast.
    "You do it. I don't want to," Ziva objected.
    Eli shook his head stubbornly. "That wouldn't be fair. I did them yesterday. You do it."
    Ziva crossed her arms. "I'm the oldest, and I say you have to do it."
    Narrowing his eyes at her, Eli leaned forward, his expression turning mischievous. "If you make me, I'll tell Mom and Dad you were making out with Mario when you should have bene in class. You'll be in trouble," he singsonged.
    "You wouldn't dare!"
    "Want to bet?"
    Ziva deflated, realizing her brother wasn't bluffing. She and her boyfriend, Mario Da Vinci, hadn't been doing a good job of hiding, so it was possible Eli had seen them. "Ugh! Fine, I'll do the stupid dishes, you little brat." She stomped off, slamming the dishes into the dishwasher.
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    Eli watched smugly, then took out his phone, deciding he had time for a quick video game before school.
    Ziva brushed past him into the music room and snatched up the guitar, expressing her mood through her music. They both made it out the door just in time, their quarrel soon forgotten.
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    When Joanna came into the kitchen a couple of hours later, she lifted Jacob into his highchair so he could keep her company while she ate. Aaron joined them a few minutes later, opting for an omelet over his wife's eggs and bacon. Some days she joined him the vegetarian meals, but sometimes, like this morning, she had a taste for bacon. The fridge was kept stocked with food that suited both their tastes, with neither trying to convert the other. They had agreed to let their children make their own choices.
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    Jacob plum his head, confused. "I not understand, Mama. Why that funny?"
    "Well, ah..." Joanna fumbled, trying to find the right words.
    Aaron laughed "Give it up, Jo. He's too young for that one. But I know what you meant, and is funny."
    "Thanks." Joanna decided she'd have to be satisfied with that.

    Growing restless and realizing their attention had shifted away from him, Jacob pushed against his highchair's tray and kicked his legs. "Up, Mama!' he demanded.
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    With a laugh, Joanna rushed to free him, giving him a tight hug before setting him down.
    The instant his feet touched the floor, Jacob was off, looking for something to get into. That cabinet looked enticing. He dragged out the pots and pans, beginning to bang them together.
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    Aaron quickly put a stop to that to save his ears and the pans from damage before heading off to do some writing. Thwarted, Jacob headed off to hug the big blue stuffed bear in his brother's room. From there, it was a mad dash back to his own room and the dollhouse set up there.
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    The rest of the morning and afternoon passed uneventfully. Eli brought his friend Saya home with him, wanting to introduce her to his family. Lately he had begun to have feelings for her and thought she might have them in return. But he waned to be sure she would get along with her family before he made a move. She was creative like him, giving him hope that she would fit right in. To his relief, Saya hit it off with his mother and even Jacob worked up the courage to speak to her. He was disappointed that his Dad was in the pool during the visit. Oh well, there was always next time. He rushed through his homework to get it out of the way so he would have more time with Saya.
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    "Thank you for taking out the trash, Saya. But you don't have to do that," Joanna said, catching sight of her.
    "Oh, I don't mind, Mrs. David. It's my job at home too," Saya answered with a small smile.
    Joanna nodded. "As long as you're sure. Just remember you're here to hang out, not work."
    Saya's smile widened. "I'll remember."

    Eli had hoped Saya would be able to stay and watch a movie with him over dinner, but unfortunately she had to go. He ate and watched alone, promising to call her later.
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    Aaron was determined that Jacob would have a bath before bed, whether the boy liked it or not. "You need a bath, young man."
    "With bubbles?" Jacob asked hopefully.
    "We're out of bubbles. Sorry."
    Jacob pouted a bit until he was in the warm water, then decided splashing was fun even without bubbles.
    Aaron winced, wanting to get wet again so soon after his swim. Well he was planning to shower himself after his evening workout anyway. He wanted to try out a new dance video Joanna had recommended. They needed some alone time before that of course. It had been too long for both of them.
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    Joanna had meant to join him, but the living room was just too small for two to dance in front of the TV at once. Plus, she suddenly remembered she had forgotten to write her column that day. Her boss would be after her if she didn't turn in her latest art review. "Sorry, Aaron. Maybe next time," she said.
    "I'll hold you to that. Maybe it's better if I practice alone this first time. Less embarrassing," he joked.
    "You wish!" she joked back.

    Aaron worked up an appetite after his workout and went looking for some food. Spotting a new dish of pasta primavera in the fridge, he grabbed a serving and ate it while he looked for his wife, checking on their sleeping children on the way. "Jo, this pasta is so good I could lick the plate clean."
    Joanna glanced up from the computer. "I'm glad you like it, love. I'll definitely be making that again."
    "Good idea. I'm going to head to bed. I know we've got to be early tomorrow so we can go help clean up the beach."
    "All right, goodnight. I'll be there in a minute."
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  • TresaofPernTresaofPern Posts: 249 Member
    edited December 2017
    Chapter Three: Love Fires

    Saturday, Ziva decided to surprise the family by making breakfast. She didn't really know how to make anything but eggs and bacon, so that's what she made. She was careful to make a separate serving of eggs for her Dad, knowing any kind of meat would make him sick. Actually, she didn't like bacon that much herself and was considering dropping it. But Joanna and the boys would eat it. She ignored the leaky fridge as best she could, concentrating on cooking.
    "Smells good, sis," Eli said, deciding to be nice.
    "Thanks ,bro. I hope it tastes good too."
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    Jacob wandered over with a plate Eli had prepared for him, since he didn't want to wait. He plopped down in the puddle and began eating.
    "Oh, Jacob, that's gross. Get out of that puddle!" Ziva said.
    "You can't make me," Jacob said, feeling defiant. "Puddle fun!"
    Ziva wrinkled her nose at him, afraid to leave the stove unattended to deal with him. "Eli, can't you come get him?"
    "When I'm done in here," Eli yelled back from the bathroom.
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    Aaron woke and went into the kitchen. He appreciated Ziva's efforts, he really did, but he could swear he smelled bacon grease in the eggs. There was nothing for it but to make some French toast for himself and whoever wanted it tomorrow. He took his plate into the living room to join the two teens, who were doing their homework.
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    Finished with his extra credit work, Eli decided to invite Saya over for a while. Dad had said they were putting the volunteer duty off until Sunday because everyone got a late start. Plus something had come up and he needed to into work.
    Eli was feeling playful, and he was sure Saya was flirting with him, which was a good sign. Feeling shy and nervous, he blurted the first thing that came to mind.
    "Hey, Saya, come check out my new app. Isn't it cool?"
    Saya moved close to see, bending over his phone and reaching for it. "Oh wow, it is. I'm going to put it on my phone too."
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    "Let's sit over here and talk," Eli suggested, moving to the chess table, needing to sit. And the table would hide his body's reaction if he was wrong and about to embarrass himself. He though their conversation started off pleasant enough, stabling that both were single and mutually attracted.
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    Then Saya suddenly jumped to her feet and rushed inside. Eli was surprised and confused. "Saya! Wait! What happened?" he asked, charging after her.
    Saya gave him a sheepish smile. "Sorry, the sun was starting to bother me and I thought I'd better get inside. Now where were we?"
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    It took Eli only a minute to remember where he'd left off with his joke, and he started over, growing more animated. They moved to the living room to continue their conversation.
    Ziva joined them, and apparently she still remembered Eli's interference when she'd been working up to revealing her feelings to Mario, because she kept trying to interrupt and distract them.
    "Zi-va! Shut up!" Eli finally yelled, exasperated. "Let's go in my room, we'll be left alone there," he said, taking Saya's hand and leading her away.
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    It was only once they were in his room that Eli remembered his old cubby was still in there, along with the building blocks table. He hoped Saya didn't think he was childish or something for having them.
    Ziva followed them, moving around the building blocks table.
    "Ziva!" Eli protested.
    "Sorry, I promised Jacob I'd teach him to dance today, and I really don't think he needs to be around you two right now," Ziva said, picking up their little brother, who until that moment had been hidden from view behind the pile of blocks.
    Eli blushed. "Oh. Thanks," he muttered.
    "You're welcome.," Ziva answered, leaving the room.
    Jacob looked back over her shoulder. "Hi, Saya," he piped up, waving.
    "Hi, Jacob," Saya waved back, charmed.
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    Alone at last, the two teens got back to the serious business of flirting and touching. They worked their way up to their first kiss, shy at first then more confident.
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    Eli suddenly had an idea. "Hey, let's out to the hot tub and mess around. You can borrow one of Ziva's bathing suits, she won't mind.
    "I don't know..." Saya said, looking shy and hesitant. But it didn't take much persuasion for her to agree.
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    They lounged at the side of the pool after a very pleasant period of messing around, chatting and sharing secrets. Eli had just worked up the nerve to ask Saya if she wanted to exchange promise rings when they heard Ziva scream from inside the house. Forgetting all his common sense in his panic, Eli rushed inside to see what was wrong, leaving Saya behind. What he saw explained everything. The stove was on fire!
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    He was trying to remember where the fire extinguisher was when his Mom rushed in and grabbed it herself, still in uniform.
    The stove was a total loss, but at least the fire hadn't spread further than one of the counters. Joanna ordered a new stove, which was express delivered, deciding to wait until Aaron returned so they could pick out a new counter together. Then she turned to the two teens.
    "What happened?"
    Eli shrugged. "Dunno. I was outside." He hoped he wasn't blushing.
    Ziva flushed furiously, looking down. "It was my fault. I was making macaroni and cheese for Jacob, and I guess I got distracted."
    "Let that be a lesson to you. THough to be fair it was an old stove. My parents bought it when they moved into this house," Joanna said. "Let me change and shower, then I'll help you make a new match of macaroni and cheese."
    "Okay. Thanks, Mom."
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    With the crisis over, Eli went in search of Saya. Finding she'd left, he decided to go check on Jacob.

    Later in the evening, as they each took care of work, Joanna filled Aaron in on the excitement. He was glad he had missed the fire, though he would have liked to be there for his family. They agreed the next time they both had a day off, they would look for new counters, using the opportunity to replace the burned one with a newer set.
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    Home from work, Ziva was still tense from the fire and unable to sleep, so she played her guitar until she felt a little calmer and exhausted enough to sleep.
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  • TresaofPernTresaofPern Posts: 249 Member
    edited December 2017
    Chapter 4: Promises and a New Baby?

    Ziva decided she had better improve her cooking skills some before she tried cooking again, despite Joanna's assurances. She watched a cooking show over breakfast, only partially paying attention to Jacob's chatter as he ate beside her. She thought if she ate quickly she would have time to invite Mario over before they had to leave for the beach clean up. Surely they'd at least have a chance to exchange promise rings? Maybe she'd better take her turn in the bathroom too, so there wouldn't be a repeat of what happened on their first date. She would never be able to go to the Lighthouse again without that remembered embarrassment.
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    Dutifully, Ziva put in some time working on extra credit after breakfast. She couldn't have Eli showing her up, even if he was only a B student.
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    Mario arrived, and made a beeline for the keyboard. Ziva didn't really mind, since she enjoyed playing instruments herself. Besides, they could be private in there and she wasn't about to take him into her room with her parents home. They did manage to get promise rings exchanged.
    "Are you sure, Ziva? I wanted to ask, but I wasn't sure..."
    Ziva smiled, taking his hand. "Of course I am, Mario, or I wouldn't have asked.
    He gave her one of his rare genuine smiles. "Good. Do you think we can sneak into the hot tub to celebrate?"
    Ziva peeked through the door, hearing the shower running and not seeing anyone. "Yes. Let's hurry! We have to go to the beach in about an hour I think. Dad wants the bathroom clean before we go."
    "Lead the way. I'm right behind you." he squeezed her hand, for once not feeling gloomy.
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    Immediately after the family returned from volunteering, Aaron and Joanna had to rush off to work, though Joanna couldn't resist dancing with Jacob for a few minutes first.
    Eli invited Saya over for dinner, though it was only for some edible, unburnt mac and cheese. During the meal, he asked her to promise herself to him, and was thrilled when she agreed. Then he had to rush off to his second shift as a babysitter, much to his disappointment.
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    Ziva stayed out of their way, feeding Jacob and keeping him busy in the living room.
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    Later, Ziva had another session on the guitar while Joanna played with Jacob one last time before bed,, pleased that she was getting pretty good at it.
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    With Jacob in bed, Ziva occupied, and both Aaron and Eli at work, Joanna took the opportunity to get to know Saya better. She decided she wouldn't mind having the girl as a future daughter-in-law.
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    Winding down for the night and not quite ready for bed as she waited for Aaron to finish with his novel, Joanna spent a few minutes doing her best to copy the moves in the dance video.
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    Monday morning, Aaron sat enjoying a book on his day off, once the teens had left for school. He glanced up from his book to watch Jacob dancing nearby. He was growing up so fast. He kind of missed having a baby around.
    "Joanna?" He called.
    "What is it?" Joanna answered, coming over.
    Aaron hesitated, gathering his thoughts. "I've been thinking, maybe we should have another baby. It would give Jacob a sibling close in age, like Eli and Ziva."
    Joanna frowned thoughtfully. "Are you sure? We'll be old by the time the baby's old enough for school."
    "Jacob would be old enough to help. And with three older siblings, he or she wouldn't be left alone, like you were," Aaron said, reaching for her hand, understanding what she left unsaid.
    "I suppose..." she squeezed his hand, wavering. "I wouldn't mind trying for another little girl. But just once."
    "Just once," Aaron agreed, smiling.


    (ALl right, that's all for now. Feedback welcome. PM me if you like)
    Post edited by TresaofPern on
  • TresaofPernTresaofPern Posts: 249 Member
    Chapter 5: Birthdays

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    Joanna felt as if she'd barely gone to sleep when she had to get up and make a dash for the bathroom. She felt as big as a house and was ready for this baby to come out already.
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    She decided since she was already awake, she might as well have breakfast, since she was hungry. Never mind that she had a snack before bed. As she ate, she mentally composed the column she planned to write, wanting to be able to just sit down and start typing once she finished eating.

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    Ziva and Eli woke and had a brief argument over who got the bathroom first. Eli won, so Ziva decided to eat first.

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    The two teens just managed to finish eating before they had to go, both skipping their homework. They had almost made it to the end of the walkway when Ziva suddenly turned around. "I just realized I forgot something. You go ahead, I'll catch up."
    "Hurry! You'll be late," Eli called back.

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    Joanna and Aaron set to work on their respective writing projects together. They could have taken the day off with their baby's birth so close, but both wanted to try for one last promotion before the birth. And they knew they would have less time for writing while tending to a baby's demands, even with two teens in the house to help out.

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    As luck would have it, Joanna had just finished her day's writing when she went into labor. She was thrilled to discover she had the baby girl she wished for. She and Aaron already had a name picked out, too. Tali, after his sister.

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    Aaron had been through this before, and was sure he wouldn't panic. And for the most part he handled the birth calmly, except that he accidentally grabbed the chicken saltimbocca when he went into the kitchen for something to eat. Embarrassed, he quickly corrected his mistake and gout the French Toast instead, as he had meant to do.

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    Jacob woke to find both of his parents gone and the babysitter in the house. Wandering into his parents' room, he saw the bassinet and went up to it, peeking in. "Hi, baby!" he said cheerfully, reaching in and patting her chubby leg. He didn't mind too much that he was no longer the baby of the family, having been well prepared for his baby sister's arrival.
    Tali slept right through the introduction, not even stirring when Jacob patted her.

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    Going back to his room, Jacob dressed himself then sat on his bed with a book, enjoying looking at the pictures of the story he had memorized from having it read to him so often.

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    Jacob finished his book around the same time Ziva and Eli returned home from school and decided to run around, having a lot of energy to burn off.

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    Eli had invited his friend Curtis Yomin-Alfaro home with him after school, and the three teens chatted while watching a movie. Jacob joined the teens for a while, but soon became bored with their conversation and wandered off to find something more interesting to do. "I go play dolls now," he announced to no one in particular.

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    Joanna came home and despite needing to go to the bathroom she sat down to chat with the teens for a few minutes, greeting Curtis warmly.
    Jacob heard his mother return and raced back into the living room. "Mama! Guess what?"
    "What? Joanna answered obligingly.
    "Nothing!" Jacob giggled. Still in a silly mood, he demanded Ziva's attention and started babbling nonsense at her.
    Ziva considered tickling him when she got a phone call from Mario, distracting her.
    "A date? Really?" she asked, pleasantly surprised. She hadn't heard from her boyfriend very often since he graduated and was busy with a new job.
    "Yes. I've missed you. Meet me at the Cakery?"
    Ziva totally forgot she had to go to work in about an hour. "Yes! I'll be right there." She hoped this wasn't just Mario's way of checking up on her to ease his jealous streak and he really did want to spend time with he.r
    "Don't forget about work!" Joanna called after her.
    "I won't," Ziva promised, waving over her shoulder on her way out the door.

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    Ziva enjoyed her date with Mario, taking the chance to get caught up on each others' lives. She asked him about his job as a tech guru while browsing the bakery's offerings. Spotting some powdered donuts, she picked them up. "These look good, even if they are a little pricey."
    The line was short, fortunately, because she had to leave right from the bakery to her job. The trip was a few minutes shorter than leaving from home, which was nice.

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    Back at the house, Joanna left Jacob playing with the blocks while she went to the bathroom and checked on Tali. Unbeknownst to her, Jacob abandoned the blocks and went outside while she wasn't looking.
    Joanna just barely managed to catch him before he could destroy Eli's unfinished robot.
    "Leave that alone, it's not for you. Let's play something else," she said, reaching for the toddler.
    "Okay." Distracted form his goal, Jacob squealed with glee when Joanna tossed him into the air.

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    Eli continued chatting with Curtis as he had dinner.
    Seeing them, Jacob climbed up onto the couch beside Curtis, deciding he must be safe to talk to talk to if Eli was there too. He showed both boys his toy, telling them all about it.
    Neither teen seemed to mind his interruption, exclaiming over the toy.

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    Joanna came in behind Jacob, deciding to get a little writing done.
    "Boys, would you mind watching Jacob for a few minutes, please?"
    "No problem, Mrs. David."
    "Sure, Mom. We're going outside to work on my robot in a few, though."
    "All right, just let me know when you leave."
    "We will, Eli promised.


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    Aaron returned home from work flush with success because he had earned a promotion, though the hours were still pretty much the same. Feeling tense and needing to have some fun, he decided to play chess for a bit until he got too tired.
    Of course, no sooner had he sat down than Tali woke. He heard the baby crying through the windows, since the chess table was right outside the room, and went inside to take care of her.

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    As promised, Eli alerted Joanna before he and Curtis went outside to work on his robot. It was late, but being a Friday night, Eli didn't care. He wasn't in any hurry to go to bed, planning to sleep in as much as he could Saturday. It would pay off when he had to babysit that evening. Ellie was such a little monster, he'd need as much rest as he could get beforehand.
    Ziva came home in time to help them finish up, the three teens having a good time talking and teasing each other.
    Of course, Eli couldn't resist rubbing in the fact that his straight-A older sister had yet to start her own project.
    Ziva gave him a haughty look. "I'm going to work on it tomorrow. And I expect you to help me. It's only fair."
    "Fine, I'll help, Eli agreed, seeing no easy way out of it. Fair was fair, after all. And he kind of wished he'd been assigned the electricity experiment Ziva had to build. Helping would be the next best thing.

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    Ziva headed back inside first once they'd finished the project, calling dibs on the bathroom. On the way through the kitchen, she stopped to get some food for Jacob then continued on her way, just wanting to wash up and go to sleep.

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    Feeling hungry, Joanna checked the fridge for something to snack on. Spotting the doughnuts, she reached for one. "What's this? Oh, Ziva must have picked them up while she was out. They smell good."
    She bit into one, licking the white powder from her lips "Mmm, excellent. Think we'll be regulars at The Cakery if everything tastes this good."

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    Joanna checked on Tali one last time before bed, making sure the baby was fed, dry and settled for the night.


  • TresaofPernTresaofPern Posts: 249 Member
    Chapter 6: Growing Up

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    Aaron had been so exhausted the night before that he fell into bed without going to the bathroom. So of course he woke much too early in the morning with a desperate need to relieve himself. "We're definitely putting a master bathroom on the wish list when we remodel this place," he muttered to himself. That would mike life so much easier, especially with six of them in the house.

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    Joanna woke about an hour later, and noticing that Tali was awake, took care of her daughter's needs, spending a few extra minutes just holding her and marveling at her precious, tiny features. She would probably take after her dad in looks, just like big sister Ziva.

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    Joanna grabbed some breakfast, deciding she felet like eating leftover mac and cheese. She found Aaron already in the living room with a plate of doughnuts. "Really? Two doughnuts? What happened to being healthy?"
    Aaron shrugged, the tips of his ears turning pink. "They were too good to resist. Anyway, I'll find time to work them off. Somehow."
    "I might be able to help with that," Joanna said with a teasing smile.
    Grinning, Aaron replied, "I'll hold you to that." He bit into his doughnut, chewing and swallowing with a satisfied expression.

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    Joanna got to work on Jacob's birthday cake, feeling both sad that her little boy was about to grow up and excited for him He had so many new experiences waiting for him.

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    Meanwhile, Aaron went to his favorite computer to start work on his eighteenth novel. He was sure this one would be a bestseller, given that every book was selling better than the last.

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    Joanna had just finished decorating the cake and adding candles when Eli came out of his room looking for advice.
    "Not everyone wants to be friends. Don't take it personally just give them space. You have other friends," she told him.
    "Thanks Mom. That helped, Eli said. He dashed into the bathroom, wanting to use it before Ziva woke.

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    Aaron had taken a break from his writing to make another trip to the bathroom, and finished just before Eli got there. On the way back to the study, he stopped to grab Joanna in an embrace and kiss her.
    Pleased, Joanna returned the kiss and followed him into the study to work at the other computer.
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    True to his word, Eli helped Ziva with her project, the two of them agreeing to get it out of the way first thing in the morning so they would have time to enjoy the rest of the day. After they finished their regularly assigned homework too, of course.


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    When Jacob woke up, Aaron brought the birthday boy into the dining room to blow out the candles.
    Afterward, Jacob eagerly grabbed a slice of cake. Aaron stayed a few minutes, but didn't have time to enjoy a slice with him, needing to get to work. Joanna had already gone, barely managing to stay long enogh to watch Jacob blow out the candles.
    "You're in charge!" Aaron called to the two teens as he left.
    "We know!" Ziva and Eli answered, barely looking up from what they were doing.

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    Finished with her project, Ziva decided to get started on her homework, setting a good example for Jacob in the process. Instead of joining them, Eli went to the bathroom first.

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    Tali woke up wet and lonely, with no one nearby She cried for attention, her little face screwed up.
    Hearing her, Ziva jumped up from the table, glad for the chance to take a break from her homework.
    "Hey there, little sister. I know you want Mom or Dad, but they're not here, so you'll have to settle for me," she cooed to her baby sister, picking her up. "I'd cry too if I smelled like you!" she wrinkled her nose, making quick work of the diaper.

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    Eli took ziva's place at the table with Jacob, working on his own homework, eager to get through so he would have time to relax before work.

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    By the time Ziva returned from taking care of Kali, Jacob had finished his homework and gone off on his own. Hungry, Ziva decided to have a slice of cake before continuing with her homework.

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    Jacob discovered the study, which he had never been allowed into as a toddler. He explored for a bit. Spotting the child-size violin, he picked it up and began playing. Through the wall between them, Eli and Ziva heard his playing and exchanged a look, neither surprised that their little brother had inherited the family's musical talent.

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    Homework complete, Eli decided to reward himself with a snack, choosing doughnuts over cake, curious to try something new.
  • TresaofPernTresaofPern Posts: 249 Member
    Chapter 7: Milestones

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    Ziva's birthday was a quiet family affair, held in the evening. The chocolate cake was delicious despite the fact that it was Eli's first attempt. Ziva was pleased that her younger brother had wanted to surprise her by being the one to make the cake.
    She was disappointed that Aaron wasn't able to be there, having been called into work, but she knew he would get to enjoy the cake when he returned.
    Ziva herself was scheduled to work that night, but she called off, wanting to enjoy her birthday.
    After Ziva joined her mother and brothers for a slice of cake, she excused herself to call Mario Da Vinci.
    "Hi, Mario, I know it's late, but I wondered if you'd like to go to the bowling alley with me tonight. I miss you."
    "I miss you too, love. Sure, I'd love to go bowling with you," Mario answered. "Happy Birthday again."
    Ziva smiled, pleased. "Thanks. I'll meet you there."
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    Ziva spotted her High School sweetheart almost as soon as she arrived at the Bayside Bowling Alley in Brindleton Bay, and ran into his arms, hugging him tight. "Let's get a drink first," she said when they finally released each other.
    "Sounds good. My treat," Mario insisted.
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    They took turns bowling after sharing a drink, leaving shortly before midnight.
    "Come home with me," Ziva suggested, giving Mario the winsome smile she knew he couldn't resist. And as expected, it worked.
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    Ziva suspected with Mario's gloomy nature it could be a while before he proposed, if he ever did. Probably not as long as it would be without his jealous streak prodding him to want her close all the time. So she took it upon herself to make the first move and set his mind at ease, reminding him of the promises they'd made as teenagers. "Remember our promises? I'm ready to make them more than that. Will you marry me, Mario?"
    Stunned, Mario quickly agreed, reaching for her. "Yes, of course, Ziva. I've known I wanted to marry you for a long time."
    Ziva smiled. "Good."
    Mario kissed her. "Don't think I don't know how lucky I am that you put up with me and my moods. I love you."
    "And I love you, or your moods might bother me," Ziva assured him
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    "Stay the night?" she asked, changing the subject. "We could celebrate in bed before we tell our families."
    "Not that it'll be any surprise. Are you sure your parents won't mind?"
    Ziva shook her head. "We'll be discreet, and they like you anyway."
    "Lead the way."
    Ziva took his hand and led him into her newly redecorated room, a gift from her parents. No one seemed to notice their presence, which was fine with Ziva, she didn't want anyone interrupting and ruining the mood.
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  • TresaofPernTresaofPern Posts: 249 Member
    Chapter 8: Welcome

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    The David family had decided to move after the holidays, choosing a nice big house in Willow Creek. Joanna and Aaron were pleased that Ziva chose to come with them to stay until her wedding, rather than joining her fiancé in his new apartment in San Myshuno. Her help with little Tali would be welcome.

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    Early Sunday morning, Eli taught Tali her basic needs on the floor of the new kitchen while Ziva looked on. The toddler had just had a snack, and Eli hoped if he tired her out with learning she would sleep for a few more hours and let the rest of the family sleep as well. His parents were too exhausted, so Eli had volunteered before Ziva had a chance, relying on his babysitting experience.

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    "Okay, Tali, let's try out your new potty," Eli said, carrying her into the bathroom. He knew Ziva or his parents would have done the same, potty training Tali between a meal and bedtime.

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    The potty training came to a quick end, with Tali getting tired and angry.
    Eli knelt and reached for her, trying to comfort her, but Tali was having none of it. She turned her head away and arched back. "No hug. Sleepy," she said indistinctly.
    "Guess that took too long, huh? Time to go back to bed then," Eli said, picking her up and cuddling her close.
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    As he tucked Tali into her little bed, Eli surprised himself with a yawn. He had planned to get his homework done while the house was quiet, but he realized he was just too tired and would rather catch a few more hours of sleep first.

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    Aaron woke midmorning, thinking about what he needed to get done before work while he had breakfast. Those plans had to be abandoned when the welcome wagon arrived.
    He invited them in, eager to get to know his new neighbors though he would have to leave for work in a few hours. Introductions were made, and after a few minutes of conversation, Aaron thought he had the family connections sorted out. Jamal Mbenga was the patriarch, accompanied by his children Jabilo and Adesa, and Jabilo's wife Clara.


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    Upstairs, Tali woke form a nightmare, and since she wasn't very good on the stairs yet she toddled across the hall to Eli's room as the closets source of comfort.
    "Hey, don't cry, you're safe now, I've got you. All those monsters are scared of me and ran away," Eli said, hugging her tight, trying to tease a laugh out of her.
    He was rewarded with a tiny giggle. "Thirsty," she said, looking up at him expectantly.
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    Eli set Tali in her highchair with her sippy cup and left her alone as he made a dash for the bathroom. He peeked into the living room as he passed, having heard unfamiliar voices in there. He wanted something to eat, then he'd go meet their guests if they were still there.

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    Jacob had told Ziva about their guests when he came down asking to watch her TV, so the young adult came up to join the group in the living room, wanting to be polite. She had to force her thoughts to stay focused on the conversation, and not her upcoming marriage to Mario Da Vinci.
    Aaron checked his watch and stood quickly. "Sorry to run out on everyone, but I need to get to work. Thanks for coming, it's been a pleasure, I hope we can do this again soon," he said. "Ziva? Would you mind taking over here?" Joanna had left an hour earlier after quick hello on her way out the door.
    Ziva shook herself and tuned back into the conversation. "Sure, Dad." She hadn't expected to have to play hostess today, but she knew she could handle it. Good practice for when they had a houseful of wedding guests.

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    Not wanting to talk to a bunch of old people - and one adult- Jacob stayed upstairs in his newly redecorated room talking to his friends on the phone and playing.
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    Eventually he came down to see if everyone had left yet. Finding the living room still occupied, Jacob went into the kitchen when he heard Tali in there.
    "Hi, Tali. Look at me," he said, making faces at her.
    Tali laughed, mimicking him and babbling to him. Growing restless, she smacked her highchair tray and squirmed. "Down. Day, down," she said.
    Jacob shook his head. "Sorry, Tali, I can't get you out." He shouted into the living room, "Ziva! Eli! I think Tali wants to get out!"
    Ziva glanced over at Eli, who had a plate of chicken saltombocca on his lap. "I'll go," she told him. Raising her voice, she answered Jacob, "I'll be right there!"
    Standing, she apologized to her guests for abandoning them.
    '"Oh, don't worry about us, you go on, dear. I hope you'll bring your baby sister out to meet us."
    "Sure, though she's not used to strangers," Ziva promised over her shoulder.
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    "Zee!" Tali crowed, spotting her big sister, arms up, ready to be lifted out of her highchair.
    "Tee!" Ziva answered, laughing, setting her on the floor.
    Squirming free, Tali toddled off.
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    Jacob had sat down at the table to play with his triceratops, but once Ziva had released Tali, he abandoned his toy to tell her a joke, which Ziva laughed at.
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    Feeling hungry, Ziva decided to have a slice of cake. Jamal came into the kitchen, so she decided to offer him a slice too, which was gratefully accepted.
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    When the Mbengas left, Eli realized he had less than an hour to finish as much homework as he could before he had to go to work, so he grabbed his textbook from his room and sat down at the kitchen table to get started.

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    Tali had gone to bed late the night before, then woke twice that day due to nightmares, so understandably she was tired again though it was still early evening, so Ziva read her to sleep.

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    Ziva had tucked Tali in and headed for the bathroom when Mario texted that he was right outside. Thrilled to see him, Ziva rushed down the stairs and outside, greeting him with a kiss.
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    Ziva's plans to sneak Mario downstairs to her room in the basement were foiled or at least delayed by the arrival of her parents, Joanna from the master bathroom and Aaron from work. They both joined the conversation, and it was a while before Ziva could break away from them, tugging Mario behind her.
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    Joanna knew full well what her oldest was up to and that she hadn't been too pleased to have her parents sticking around. She waited several minutes before heading down to work on her column, choosing the computer furthest from Ziva's room and turning up the stereo in an effort to give the pair as much privacy as possible.
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    Satisfied and not ready to go to bed yet, Ziva suggested a game of chess, glad Mario would be staying the night.
    "Sure, you owe me a win," Mario said, grinning.
    "You wish," Ziva retorted. She did her best not to gloat when she won their game.
    Mario begged off a rematch, claiming exhaustion.

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    Jacob had gone to bed earlier, but he woke convinced there was a monster under his bed. Wandering downstairs in search of a very late dinner, he found his mother and Ziva already there, chatting and eating. He was tempted by Ziva's doughnut, but decided he'd have garlic noodles instead when he caught Joanna's stern look. It wasn't fair that Ziva got to eat sweets whenever she wanted, and he knew this was the second time today.
    "I know I shouldn't have this, it's just pre-wedding nerves," Ziva said with a sheepish smile.
    "I'm so glad we're able to do this for you. Aaron and I eloped, but I'd only recently lost my parents and wasn't in the mood for a party."
    "I'm glad too, Mom, and Mario and I are thankful. We're still going to pay you back," Ziva said.
    Joanna shook her head. "I'm not getting into that argument with you again."
    "Tell us another story about Grandpa and Grandma Kramer, Mom," Jacob interrupted bored with wedding talk.
    Joanna obliged, until she noticed his eyelids were drooping shut. "Time for bed, young man." '
    "But what if the monsters are still there?" Jacob asked, stalling for time.
    "I'll come with you and make sure they're gone. Will that work?"
    Jacob sighed and yawned. "Yes," he agreed, caving in.
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    Following Jacob up to his room, Joanna called goodnight to Ziva. In her youngest son's room, she made a point of searching for monsters, waiting until he was asleep before she left, seeking her own bed.

  • TresaofPernTresaofPern Posts: 249 Member
    Chapter 9: A Wedding

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    The morning of Ziva and Mario's wedding, Eli had breakfast with his older sister as they always had throughout their school days. He would miss these times, though he supposed he could continue the tradition with Jacob. It wouldn't be the same though, Jacob being so much younger.
    "Hey, can I have your room now that you're leaving?" he asked.
    Ziva shrugged. "I suppose. Though I think Dad plans to make it into a home gym someday. Unless he and Mom decide to leave it as a guest room."
    "Guess I'll just have to wait and see what happens," Eli answered.
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    After breakfast, Eli took out his homework. With Ziva's help, he was just able to finish his homework before he had to dash out the door to school.

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    Aaron came downstairs and chose to eat his breakfast in front of the TV. He was glad he had the day off, knowing he'd be unab le to concentrate while thinking ahead to Ziva's wedding later in the afternoon. She chose the later time so her younger siblings would be able to attend.
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    Ziva dressed quickly and went upstairs to bring Tali down for breakfast, wanting to spend as much time with her little sister as she could before she moved out. She didn't want Tali to forget about her and vowed to visit as often as she could.
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    Hearing Mario saying his goodbyes before leaving, Ziva dashed out after him, wanting just a few more minutes with him and a final kiss. Maybe it was silly, since she'd see him again in only a few hours at the wedding, but she couldn't help herself.
    Finally she pulled herself away. "I'll see you later, love," she said with a final kiss goodbye before returning to the house.
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    Inside, Ziva challenged her father to a final game of chess, relishing the challenge and enjoying the banter as they teased each other about who would win. "We'll have to do this again once you and Mario are settled and have had some time together," Aaron said.
    "You only think that because you're winning," Ziva said. "But seriously, of course I'll come back. You owe me a rematch." She liked playing against Mario too, but the fact was she was a better player so it wasn't nearly as fun.
    Aaron laughed. "Where's the fun in making it too easy for you?" he asked, echoing her thoughts.
    Ziva smiled at how well he knew her.
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    Joanna helped Tali on the potty then played with her, enjoying the sound of the toddler's laughter. She and Aaron had several discussions on whether or not to bring Tali to the wedding, where she would be the youngest one there, or leave her at daycare. They had left the final decision until today, wanting to see what her mood was first. At the moment, with Tali happy, fed and rested, Joanna thoughts she would be okay if they brought her along.
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    Joanna kept Tali busy with animal flashcards until it was time to get ready to leave.
    "Me owl!" Tali exclaimed excitedly, patting her sweatshirt and pointing at the picture.
    "That's right, it's an owl, just like the one on your sweatshirt," Joanna agreed, smiling.

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    Ziva spent some time before the ceremony speaking to her guests. She knew her dress wasn't exactly traditional, but there had been a last minute problem with her wedding gown and no time to make alterations. So she had gone with this, the next best thing. At least it wasn't solid black, and it was pretty.
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    The dress wasn't the only thing to go wrong. The wedding photographer was double booked and arrived late, so there were no pictures of the happy couple exchanging their vows. Then the hired musician failed to show up, so Joanna took over that role herself. She relished the chance to play the grand piano, though she would have preferred it to be under other circumstances than in a way that kept her form observing her oldest daughter's wedding.
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    At least the catering and the reception itself were going well, with the bar doing a brisk business. Aaron was pleased to find vegetarian options other than salad on the menu, and settled down at an outside table to enjoy his faux BLT.
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    The cake was such a huge hit that Mario and Ziva barely managed to get a slice before everyone descended on it like they hadn't seen cake or food in days.
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    Eli had assigned himself the task of keeping Tali entertained, even resorting to a game of hide and seek among the chairs in the wedding garden, but that didn't hold Tali's interest for long. The toddler was tired, hungry, and for some reason being stubborn about going inside to eat.
    When Aaron arrived, Eli stepped back. "She's all yours, Dad. Maybe you can get her to listen," Eli said, relieved and glad to turn responsibility over to his father.
    "I've got her. You go on, we're getting ready to go home," Aaron said, giving Eli an understanding smile. "Come to Daddy now, Tali. I know it's past your bedtime and you're hungry," he added to his youngest.
    Having worn herself out, Tali didn't resist being picked up and fell asleep in her father's arms.





  • TresaofPernTresaofPern Posts: 249 Member
    Chapter 10: Projects and Promotions

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    Joanna was the first to wake the following morning. Having a craving for pancakes, she decided to make enough for the entire family.
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    Roused by the delicious aroma of pancakes wafting in from the kitchen, Aaron emerged and grabbed a plate of his own without bothering to dress first. "Those smell delicious," he said to Joanna.
    His wife smiled over her shoulder at him. "Would've been better if we had some fresh fruit available, but we'll have to make do with these.
    "They're good enough for me, Aaron assured her.
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    Jacob was the next down, in high spirits because he and Eli had the day off, what with the wedding ending so late. He decided he'd get his homework done first, then work on his project, looking forward to building his solar system model. Maybe if he had enough time after that he'd play the rest of the day.
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    Carrying out the first part of his plan, Jacob decided to do his homework in Tali's room. He remembered a story about how Aaron had hung out in his room after a nightmare to help him sleep, and wondered if he could do the same for Tali. Though as far as he knew, she hadn't had a nightmare last night. He remembered very well how she had woken everyone way too early a couple of days ago, though.

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    While Aaron went back to bed to catch a few more hours of sleep on his second day off, Joanna sat down at the kitchen table with her journal. She wanted to get all of her thoughts and feelings about the wedding down on paper while they were still fresh. She was angry all over again thinking about the fiasco with the photographer and the musician.

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    Jacob had just started on his project when Eli joined him with a plate of pancakes. The two boys chatted while Jacob worked.
    "That looks good so far. You've got the colors just right."
    Jacob smiled, thrilled at the praise though he'd never admit it. "Thanks. It just seemed right," he said casually.
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    "Let me help, it'll go faster," Eli said several minutes later, after putting his empty plate in the sink.
    "Okay. Then can I help with your rocket?" Jacob asked eagerly, sitting back on his heels and waiting while Eli checked the directions.
    "Sure, just be careful. It's got lots of little pieces," Eli warned.
    "I will!" Jacob promised.

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    With the boys busy and Tali still asleep, Aaron took the opportunity to finish writing his latest novel, which he sent off to the publisher.
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    That accomplished, Aaron got Tali up and ready for the day, knowing if he let her sleep much longer she would be up well into the night, after everyone else had gone to bed. His nose twitched, catching a familiar scent. Apparently, Tali had been so tired the night before that she'd used her diaper instead of the potty at some point while she slept. He chose not to scold her for it.
    "Someone definitely needs a bath. At least your sheets are clean and dry," he said, picking Tali up.
    "Yucky," Tali said, clinging to him. She didn't like the feel of the wet diaper either.

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    Eli and Jacob finished the solar system model and had just started on the rocket ship when Joanna arrived, tense but happy about her latest promotion. She would be at the top soon, she just knew it!
    Seeing what her sons were up to, Joanna quickly changed and joined them. "Looks like you've made a good start. This is going to be a great rocket ship," she praised.
    "Thanks, Mom. Did you have to make one too?" Eli asked. "No. I think your father did though."
    "What did you make?" Jacob asked curiously.
    Joanna thought back, telling them about her projects as they worked.
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    After setting Tali up on the couch with her dinner, Aaron joined his family around Eli's project just in time to help put the finishing touches on the rocket ship and assemble it.
    "Dad, tell us about yours. Did you get a good grade?" Jacob asked.
    Aaron grinned reminiscently. "I did. And this one will too," he told Eli.

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    Tali watched the action from her spot on the couch, babbling happily to her family, not wanting to be left out. She eyed the two completed projects, wanting to play with them.
    Unfortunately for her, both of her older brothers knew better than to leave school projects sitting around where Tali could get to them and quickly put them away out of her reach.
    Tali pouted to herself. Well, she'd just find something else to play with, then! There was always something for her to get into, especially now that she had figured out how to climb the stairs.

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    Joanna brought out the violin she hadn't had a chance to play in a while and lost herself in the music, needing to relax. She got so caught up in her playing that she didn't even notice she was hungry right away, until the aroma of hot food tickled her nose, interrupting her concentration.
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    Eli worked on his homework in the recliner near the fire, enjoying its warmth, letting his father and brother's converstion wash over him. Catching the direction of the conversation, he interjected some comments of his own.

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    Aaron had meant to make tofu tacos for that night's dinner, but once he got to the kitchen, he realized he was too tired to cook. "Maybe next time," he said to himself, reaching for the last of the garlic noodles.
    Joanna joined him with her own plate of noodles, sitting beside him on the couch while they spoke to Eli.

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    Jacob decided he didn't feel like going to bed yet, so he went outside to play with the dolls in Tali's treehouse. He didn't mind that it was for toddlers, they were still fun. He made up a story about the dolls, giving them each voices, letting his imagination have free reign.
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    Done playing, Jacob went inside for a late dinner, joining Eli. The two chatted a while then went to bed once they'd finished eating.
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    Aaron finished his day with an evening jog, wanting to work off all the cake he'd eaten the day before. He would have to convince Joanna to join him sometime, though he thought she looked lovely as she was. She preferred swim and dance as forms of exercise and was often tired in the evening, so their timing would have to be just right.
  • TresaofPernTresaofPern Posts: 249 Member
    Chapter Eleven: Family Snapshots

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    Aaron began his day with a power sculpting video, still feeling energized from his jog of th enight before

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    Joanna woke early enough to enjoy breakfast with her boys, which thrilled a chatty Jacob more than it did Eli, or at least that was the impression Eli tried to give as he finished his cereal and cleaned up after himself without prompting.
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    Feeling the need for some artistic expression, Eli went outside and began spraying graffiti on a mural without any real plan or design in mind. He didn't get far before he had to leave for school.

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    Finshed with his workout, Aaron took his breakfast into the bathroom with him and kept Joanna company while she repaired the toilet He talked about the benefits of vegetarianism.
    Joanna, who had heard it before, agreed, hoping he would move on to another topic. "Aaron, would you mind going to check on Tali, please? She;s usually up by now."
    That worked to divert him. "Sure, you're right. I think I hear her, actually," Aaron answered, leaving her alone.
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    As Joanna had predicted, Tali was awake and ready for breakfast. She babbled happily as Aaron lowered her into her highchair, making up a little song of her own.
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    Joanna got in a little more violin practice before work, wanting to impresss her boss so she would earn another promotion sooner.
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    Aaron had just enough time to go thriugh a set of flashcards with Tali before he had to go to work himself. "Time to go to daycare," he said, standing and picking her up.
    "No daycare! Stay with you, Daddy." Tali insisted.
    "I'd lvoe to stay with you too, Tali, but I have to go to work. You like daycare. Don't you want to see all your friends?"
    "Want Daddy." Tali clung to him, though she was wavering.
    Aaron hugged her. "You'll see me tonight. You'd be very bored with me, and you'll miss getting to play at daycare. Eli's going to pick you up after school." He continued talking so Tali wouldn't notice they were leaving the house.
    By the time they actually got to daycare, Tali was excited about staying and called out to her friends when she saw them.

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    Jacob made it home first since Eli had to stop to get Tali, and helped himself to some dinner. He ate in front of the TV, glad he had made it time to watch his favorite show.
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    Shortly after Eli got home with Tali, who was still sad about being left behind, Saya arrived. Eli was thrilled to see her and greeted her with an embrace and kiss before grabbing some dinner and sitting with her to chat.
    "I heard you and Curtis weren't getting along. You're both my friends, so I'd like to help if I can," he said.
    Reluctantly, Saya nodded. "Well, what do you think I should do?"
    Eli asked her about what happened, wanting to make sure he had all the facts, then made his suggestion.
    "Thanks, I'll talk to him next time I see him," Saya promised.
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    Tali had been playing upstairs, but grew bored and decided to see what her brothers were doing. Spotting Saya, she toddled outside after the teen and started babbling to her.
    Saya didn't seem to mind, answering as if she understood every word. "Oh, you have a toy dragon? Can I see?"
    Happily, Tali took it out and showed it to her. "She a friendly dragon, not mean, an'..." Tali was off, well into telling Saya a complicated story about the dragon when ziva walked up to thim.
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    "Hi, Saya, hi, Tali," Ziva called out, spotting them.
    "Zee!" Tali ran the few steps to her older sister, reaching up for a hug.
    Ziva knelt to return it, glad she'd come.
    "Hi, Ziva. I heard you'd married, congratulations," Saya said.
    Ziva stood, smiling. "Thanks. It's nice to see you again."
    "I hate to run, but i need to be somewhere. I was just thinking how to get Tali to go back inside when you showed up," Saya said.
    "That's all right, and thanks for watching out for her. See you later."
    An insistant tug on her pants leg made her look down. "What is it, Tali?"
    "I hungry," Tali told her.
    Ziva swung the toddler up into her arms. "Let's go find something to eat then. What do you want?"
    "Chips!"
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    Entering the house, Ziva saw that the rest of the family were gathered at the kitchen table an djoined them with Tali. "Look who I found outside making friends with Saya," she said.
    "I knew where she was," Eli claimed, quickly focusing on his homework.
    "Hi, Ziva. I saw you as I was coming in," Joanna said, smiling.
    "Hi, Ziva," Jacob echoed. "We miss you."
    "I miss you all too," Ziva assured him.
    Joanna started to get up. "Do you want me to take Tali?"
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    "No, I've got this. Good practice for when I have my own," Ziva replied, putting her increasingly impatient sister in her hgihchair with a bowl of chips.
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    "And what are your plans in that direction?" Joanna asked.
    "We want to just be by ourselves for a while and work on our careers first," Ziva answered.
    Joanna nodded approvingly. "Makes sense. Besides, I'm too young to be a grandmother," she said.
    Ziva just laughed.
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    Aaron arrived home and immediately began making his tofu tacos. While he was preparing the ingredients, Jacob left the group chatting with 'Ziva to join him, seeking his advice.
    "Daddy, I saw one of my friends being bullied. What should I do?"
    "If it happens again, tell an adult. That's what they're there for," Aaron told him.
    Jacob frowned. "But what if the bullies find out and get mad at me?"
    "Then you do your best to get away from them and get help, or call out if you need to. Bullying is wrong." Aaron hoped he was giving the right advice, not wanting his son to get hurt.
    That seemed to satisfy Jacob. "Okay. THanks, Daddy."
    "You're welcome, son."
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    Joanna noticed Tali was getting tired and took her up to bed, wanting to head off a tantrum. She pulled out one of Tali's favorite stories. "Once upon a time, on a very rainy night, a little firefly went outside all alone..."
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    Aaron finished cooking and finally had a chance to sit and eat while he visited with Ziva. The stereo was also playing, and he forgot about his empty plate as he became absorbed in the music.
    Noticing his distraction, Ziva grabbed the plate and put it in the dishwasher.
    "Wait, you didn't have to do that. I would have gotten it," Aaron objected too late.
    "It's okay, Dad, I don't mind. It's like old times," Ziva said.
    There was really nothing else to say but "Thank you."
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    Having put Tali to sleep, Joanna went downstairs to get as much done on her column as she could before bed, knowing she might not have a chance while keeping Tali entertained, cared for and out of trouble.
  • TresaofPernTresaofPern Posts: 249 Member
    Chapter Twelve: Learning Some Manners

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    Eli and Jacob had breakfast together in the living room in front of the TV, though neighter paid much attention.
    "Why do you watch PolitiSim? That's for adults," Jacob said, wrinkling his nose, when Eli changed the channel from his preferred Kid's Network.
    "Well, it can be interesting sometimes. But this time it's because I have to write a report about something I saw," Eli explained.
    Jacob challenged, "How is it interesting?"
    Eli's explanation lasted until they were done eating, at which point both boys decided to get some exercise.
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    Jacob opted to go swimming, not minding the cold water.
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    Eli went for a jog to clear his mind, wanting to organize his thoughts before he went to school. He knew he would need a shower and probably would be late to class because of that, but he decided the jog was worth the trouble.

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    Joanna relished the chance to share a breakfast of freshly cooked omelets with her husband. THey hadn't even had a chance to really catch up with each other lately, with their careers taking off and htier growing family making demands on their attention. They made up for lost time during the meal, agreeing that Joanna would get Tali ready for the day while Aaron got in some much needed work on his book.
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    Joanna had just fed Tali and was waiting for the toddler to finish so Joanna could bathe her when Ziva called. Surprised and curious, she answered. "Hello. I didn't expect to hear from you so soon. Aren't you at work?"
    "Yes, but I had time for a break so I decided to call you," Ziva answered.
    "I'm glad you called, Joanna admitted, talking for several more minutes.
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    After her bath, Joanna let Tali wander and took a few minutes to pay the bills. They made her so angry sometimes, that was her hard earned money!
    Joanna caught up with Tali outside and decided with the girl in such a good mood, now was a good time to start working on her manners.
    Tali actually listened attentively, absorbing every word.
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    Some hours later, while Joanna finished working on her column nearby, Jacob put on a puppet show despite the lack of an audience. He wanted to play a while before he did his homework, which was fine as long as he got it done.
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    Jacob did his homework upstairs at the desk in Eli's room for a change of scenery. He wished his room had space for a desk, but it was just too small.

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    Joanna went to check on Tali and found her playing with her treehouse dolls, so she decided to join her youngest. She thought it was interesting that Tali was the only one to inherit her father's looks right down to the violet eyes. Both the boys had her brown eyes, whie Ziva's were more of a hazel color.
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    Eli came out and began telling Tali a story, then Ziva arrived, so Joanna felt safe leaving them in charge of Tali while she dashed inside to the bathroom.
    "Eli an' Zee play wif me?" Tali asked.
    "For a little while," Ziva promised.
    Eli shook his head. "Maybe after dinner, I'm hungry. Aren't you?"
    "No. Want to play," Tali answered.
    "Go on, I'll bring her inside in a few minutes," Ziva promised.
    "All right. Wish you could stay," Eli said, turning to go back inside.
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    Tali carried her bowl of yogurt into the living room, seeking out Joanna's company. The TV was on, so Tali watched with her, though much of what was going on went over her head.
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    Aaron was tired, but he had some ideas that he wanted to write down before he forgot, so he got to work on yet another novel until he was too tired to think or keep his eyes open. After a quick shower, he climbed into bed beside Joanna, the last to go to sleep. Aaron planned to spend most of the next day with Tali, working on her skills. Her communication ability seemed to be lagging.
  • TresaofPernTresaofPern Posts: 249 Member
    Chapter Thirteen: Friday!
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    Jacob and Eli came downstairs to a pleasant surprise; Ziva had arrived to join them for breakfast, and both boys greeted her happily.
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    Ziva joined them to chat, clearly in no great hurry to leave.
    "What's it like to be a secret agent?" Jacob asked.
    "I could tell you, but then I'd have to kill you," Ziva teased. Growing serious, she told them what she could about her job.
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    Joanna came down a little while later to find Ziva still there, helping Jacob with his homework. She was surprised. "Shouldn't you be heading to work?"
    "In a few minutes. I guess I wasn't ready to move out yet," Ziva said sheepishly.
    "Just as long as you and Mario are happy, honey. You know you're welcome back here if it doesn't work out."
    Ziva smiled. "I know, Mom, and thanks."
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    Tali managed to get down the stairs all by herself, demanding breakfast.
    Aaron reached her first, and obliged, lifting her into her highchair.
    Turning to look up at him, Tali babbled happily, her speech sounding a bit clearer.
    "Oh really? That sounds like a nice dream," Aaron said, pretending he understood more than he had.
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    Needing to calm her nerves, Joanna retreated into the master bedroom to play her violin, losing herself int he music. She wasn't even sure why she was angry today, maybe she was just worried about Ziva. She did know she didn't want to take her feelings out on Aaron or Tali, so since she couldn't trust herself not to, she retreated until she was sure her temper was back under control.
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    After she had finished her breakfast, Aaron let Tali go potty on her own, giving him time to dress. A fear minutes later, he heard Tali crying and rushed into the main first floor bathroom. A glance told him at least some of what was wrong: Tali had had an accident on the potty.
    He did his best to comfort his little girl, but she was still sad.
    "I has an'mal crackers?" she asked hopefully.
    Suspecting he was being manipulated, Aaron gave in even though he knew he shouldn't. All that sugar so early in the day couldn't be good, and the aftermath wouldn't be pleasant. "All right, but it'll be our secret. Don't tell Mama."
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    Tali ate her crackers in her highchair, her mood improving. Aaron stayed nearby until she finshed, then let her out, thinking she would run off some of her energy.
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    Instead, Tali plopped down on the floor with her tablet and began playing SimShape.
    Relieved, Aaron left her to it so he could get his latest novel ready to send to his publisher.
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    It didn't take long for Aaron to have the novel ready to go in the mail. Tali grew bored with her game about the same time and toddled out after him, watching him.
    Enjoying the nice weather, Aaron decided now was a good time to reinforce the lesson in manners Tali had recieved yesterday.
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    Meanwhile, Eli and Jacob returned home and had an afternoon snack. They settled in front of the tv to do their homework together, chatting though that only made the precess take longer. There was no need to hurry on a Friday night, but both wanted their weekened to be homework free.
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    Tali had enough of learning about manners and went back to playing with her tablet, though she stayed outside.
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    Aaron went around back to play some basketball, trusting that Tali was too busy with her game to wander. He didn't thinks hed go far if she did anyway, just around the house again like last time.
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    Joanna arrived home in a much improved mood and interrupted Aaron's game for an embrace and kiss, which Aaron eagerly returned.
    "I noticed Tali looked ready to drop off to sleep when I came out," Joanna said when they came up for air.
    Aaron nodded. "Is it my turn to handle bedtime?"
    "Yes, unless you want me to so you can go on your run."
    "No, I've got it. You look ready to drop yourself, go on to bed."
    "I'll be waiting," Joanna said with a saucy wink.
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    Aaron enjoyed story time with Tali, something he didn't get to do as often as he'd like. She was growing up so fast, and he was proud of her.
  • TresaofPernTresaofPern Posts: 249 Member
    Chapter Fourteen: Sneaky!

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    Jacob woke around his usual time even though it was Saturday. He took it for granted that Ziva would be there for breakfast, and wan'st surprised to find her waiting in the kitchen. He stood chatting iwth hi solder sister while he ate.
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    Eli had woken in the middle of the night for a midnight snack, but never got around to eating them because Tali woke with a nightmare and being the nearest, Eli had taken charge of comforting her and getting her back to sleep. He sat down at his desk and decided to have the animal crackers for breakfast when Tali woke. Eli had meant to take her downstairs for breakfast, but before he could, Tali snatched the bowl and took off.
    "You little sneak," Eli said, deciding it wasn't worth arguing over. He laughed at himself for not being quick enough to keep them away from her.
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    Pleased with herself, Tali climbed onto the couch beside Aaron, who had his hands full with his own breakfast while he chated with Jacob. SInce neither of them were paying any attention to her, Tali gobbled her stolen treat before Aaron could see and stop her.
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    Eli saw Ziva heading downstairs as he went into the kitchen for a glass of milk. Carrying his drink, he went downstairs to join her, sitting at the bar while they chatted. Somehow they got onto the topic of school, and Eli told her all about what happened the day before.
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    Left on her own, Tali busied herself with her tablet, mumbling the names of the shapes to herself. She liked the bright colors and moving shapes.
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    Eli came up, calling "Goodbye," to Ziva as she went out the front door. Spotting. Tali, he smiled, watching her.
    He noticed that the easel wasn't in use and decided paint Tali on the couch. "Hm, hope I can get these colors right..."
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    Soon the entire family was gathered in the living room, something that was very comfortable here though it would have been a tight squeeze in their old house. Jaocb decided he wanted to work on some extra credit work and had his book with him.
    "I saw your latest column about drip coffee. It was brilliant," Aaron said to Joanna.
    Joanna smiled. "Thanks. A much better effort than the last one. I can't believe I made that big of a mistake."
    "Happens to all of us, and it's not like you're wrong that often," Aaron pointed out.
    "Thanks, I needed to hear that. What are you goinng to be working on next?"
    Aaron was only too happy to tell her about his progress on his latest novel, a fantasy. He valued her opinion and often had her read snippets of his work.
    "Sounds like a bestseller to me, and anyone who doesn't think so is an plum," Joanna said loyally.
    "That's just what I needed to hear." Aaron smiled.
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    After Joanna left for work, Aaron worked with Jacob on his manners, which were slipping.
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    Growing bored, Jacob made his escape, deciding to browse kid-friendly websites at the desk and computer Ziva had left behind when she moved out.
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    Finished with his paiting, Eli made grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner, one of the few meals he knew how to make. He kept his ears open for Tali, who seemed to be content to play on her own.
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    Eli gave Tali a plate with a precut sandwhich before taking one for himself. "Thank you, Eli," Tali said, digging in hungrily.
    "You're welcome, Tali," Eli answered, smiling at her.
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    Jacob went form web-surfing to drawing, enjoying himself. He decided try drawing a vehicle.
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    Upstairs, Eli decided to do some extra credit. He hoped tonight's babysitting job would be as easy as taking care of his siblings. He knew he didn't have to work, with his parents making so much money, but he liked earning his own money. Besides, he didn't want to disappoint his clients by bailing on them
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    After lunch, Tali went down for a nap. She was so deeply asleep that she didin't stri when Joanna got home from work and went up to check on her.
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    Eli joined Jacob to watch cartoons before he had to leave for work. They were so funny, he nearly lost track of time. '
    "Oh, I remember this one. That's funny, even though it's dumb," he said, laughing.
    "It's my favorite part," Jacob said, proceeding quote the cartoon character, giggling.
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    Though it was getting late, Jacob went to Magnolia Blossom Park to play for a while. He met up with his classmate Maximilian and the two played pirates until it was time to head home.
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    Having ssured herself that her chldren were fine, Joanna had dinner and relaxed a while before getting to work on her column.
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    Later, Tali woke from her nap and came downstairs. She brought a book to Aaron. "Story, please?"
    "Of course I'll read to you," Aaron replied, taking the book just as if he hadn't read it several times before.
    Jacob pretended he wasn't listening as he ate, having heard the story before. But it was good, and he didn't really mind being read to occasionally.
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    With Tali back in bed for the night, Aaron spent a few hours writing, waiting for Joanna to finish the painting she had started after completing her column. He sent his novel off to the publisher, then had an enjoyable evening with his wife for the first time ina while before they both fell asleep.
  • TresaofPernTresaofPern Posts: 249 Member
    edited January 16
    Chapter Fourteen: A Game of Skills

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    Aaron woke and decided to check on Tali when he saw what time it was. Sure enough, she was awake and hungry, so he brought her down for breakfast.
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    In a mood, Jacob worked on his typing skills while playing loud music, glad he had the basement all to himself for the moment so no one could complain.
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    Aaron joined Tali for breakfast, enjoying a nice chat with her over the meal. He could hear Jacob's music coming up the stairs from the beasment, but decided to ignore it for the moment.
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    Joanna was in the mood for pancakes, and made up a batch, which she enjoyed while sitting and chatting with Eli. They discussed their plans for the day.
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    Aaron decided to get some writing done while he had the chance, and it also gave him a perfect excuse to check on Jacob.
    "Good job with the typing, son," He said, seeing what Jacob was working on.
    "Thanks, Dad. This is fun!" Jacob answered, focused more on what he was doing than the conversation.
    Aaron tolerated the music as long as he could before persuading Jacob to turn the volume down.. How could anyone think with this noise? He was sure music hadn't been like that when he was Jacob;'s age... Wait, what was he doing? Now he sounded like an old man. Aaron cringed at himself. He wasn't that old...yet.
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    Eli decided to see if he could finish his mural, completely forgetting that he had meant to finish reading his book about charisma. He didn't even think about whether he should check on his siblings, with both of his parents home. Choosing the design and colors for his mural was just too much fun, he couldn't stop even as hours passed.
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    Joanna lost herself in the composition of another concerto, confident Aaron would let her or Eli know when he left so that Tali wouldn't be completely on her own. As it happened, that didn't occur and Joanna nearly finished her concerto before she realized the angle of light coming o the room had changed and saw that it was well into the afternoon.
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    Left to her own devices, Tali wandered outside and started playing with the dollhouse. She decided they were getting married, remembering how her big sister had married and gone away. Except she always came back. Tali didn't understand why she had to leave, but she liked Ziva's visits, which lasted so long it was like she'd never left. "Now kiss, kiss," she told her dolls, bringing them together.
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    Taking a break from typing, Jacob went up to his room to play with his doctor playset. He decided his bear had a broken arm and wrapped a bandage around the limb, telling his bear he would be all better soon. He didn't think he'd rwant to be a doctor for real, but this was fun.
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    Once again, Ziva showed up just in time to feed Tali her lunch, to the toddler's delight.
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    Jacob came into the kitchen to make himself a peanut butter and jelly sandwhich just before Tali finished her applesauce, and listened to her babble for a few minutes.
    Tali finished her applesauce and yelled to be let out, since Ziva had left her alone to eat.
    Her yells brought both Joanna and Ziva, who managed to get there first and freed Tali, much to the toddler's delight.
    "I didn't realize you were here, Ziva. Why didn't you come say hi?" Joanna asked.
    "I didn't want to interrupt you. I can tell when you're playing to calm yourself," Ziva answered.
    Joanna nodded. "Still, you should have interrupted me. I lost track of time again, I should have been here for Tali."
    "Well, you're here now. And it's good practice for when I have my own," Ziva said, setting Tali down.
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    Still feeling a little guilty that she'd shut the outside world out and neglected her responsibilities for so long, Joanna decided to make up for it by teaching Tali her numbers. Fortunately for her, Tali was in the mood to learn and paid attention, quickly catching on to this new game.
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    FInished with his mural, Eli came inside. He decided to call Saya, misisng her. "Hey, Saya, what's up?" he asked, glad to hear her voice.
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    Call over, Eli visited with Ziva until he had to leave for work, again forgetting about his book.
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    Jacob suddenly remembered he had wanted to tell Ziva something, and sought her out back in the kitchen, finishing up a slice of cake. "Guess what? I learned all about fractions Friday. I like them."
    "Really? What did you learn? Never much liked them, but I'm glad you do," ZIva answered.
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    Joanna decided Jacob needed a refresher course in manners after catching him listening to more loud music. Maybe if he understood how that affected everyone around him he would quit. Or at least use headphones so he could keep his music to himself, though that might not work and could just damage his hearing more.
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