Summer 2010: Joaquin is 28, Gabriela is 25, Maribel and Nadia are 2


Despite the usual calm that overcomes her while cooking, Gabriela can’t stop the jolt that makes her flinch when she glances out the window. It still startles her to see lush green grass and farmland from the kitchen window, the absence of ocean swells and lazy beach goers tugging at her mostly buried desire to be in Argentina again. Gabriela would even take her native country of Panama at the moment, anything to once again experience the familiar but she knows that she’s where her heart is.

She stops chopping briefly, allowing her mind to conjure up images of Bahia Blanca in summer. She can see the brightness of the warm sand and feel the heat of the sun on her shoulders and sighs in pleasure, the knife falling slack in her hands. Gabriela doesn’t complain when the image shifts and blends into heavily sun-kissed skin over high cheekbones and golden brown eyes that smile more than his lips

They had moved for him and she couldn’t regret that.


Gabriela can hear Joaquin working in the living room, his steady typing punctuated every so often by low mutterings. How could she have regrets when he works so hard for their family? He doesn’t have to work on his day off but he’s never satisfied sitting idly when his mind could be occupied productively.

Moving back to her task she calls out to him, craving an end to the silence that comes when the twins are napping. “Querido, how’s the article coming?”

She notices that he stops typing and smiles because she knows that Joaquin’s face is scrunched up in concentration as he decides on the proper answer. The sudden babbling of one of the twins interrupts his possible answer and they both move quickly to care for their daughters, laughing as they jostle each other.


Nadia gives a simple, toothy grin when sees her parents walk into the room and lifts herself onto sometimes unsteady legs. She calls out to her mother, stretching her arms out. “Mama, come.”

Gabriela tugs on her little ears, her heart leaping at the high pitched laugh, before scooping her into her arms and placing kisses all over her face. “I thought all princesses were suppose to sleep until a prince kisses them awake,” she says turning to watch Joaquin straighten up their clothes. “I know you’re sister is a bit of a rebel but I’m surprised at you, mi hijita.


Maribel ignores them, entertaining herself with the salty taste of her fingers and a song in her mind before Joaquin leans down to place a kiss on her forehead. She grabs onto her father’s shirt and uses it as leverage to pull herself up. Proud of her accomplishment Maribel shrieks her excitement at her father, a toothy grin spreading across her face.

“This one’s no rebel, querida, she waited for a king.” Joaquin says, a slight smile on his face when Maribel pats his cheeks. “but that one over there…”

Gabriela dutifully handed Nadia over to him, rolling her eyes at his ability to balance both girls with ease. She loves watching him take care them, since the day they were born they always manage to bring out his rare smiles. She kisses the three of them before moving toward the nursery door. “I’m going to finish dinner, cariño, so you can get the girls dressed.”


Joaquin places the girls on the floor and watches them immediately start banging away at their dollhouse. Love can’t begin to explain what he feel for his family, there is a drive that pushes him to think harder and longer about his every decision especially if it could affect his family. They’d moved so that his Oceanography career could take off and it’s a bonus that Heredon Cove has one of the best educational systems in the area.

He wants the girls to live up to their full potential and they had so much. He loves coming home to them saying new words and demands to be read to on their lips. They will need to be challenged in school. The last thing Joaquin wants is for either Maribel or Nadia to be bored in class. He’d spent many years like that and it removed the natural joy out of learning. It’s only as an adult and exploring his chosen field that much of it comes back.

Scrunching his face at the serious tone of his thoughts, Joaquin leans down, picks up his daughters and snuggles them close to his chest. “It’s bath time for pretty little girls.”


The telephone pulls Gabriela away from final preparations of the chili con carne and she is delighted to hear her mother on the end, however that delight quickly wanes at her mother’s questions.

“No, I’m not pregnant yet Mama.” She can’t help her sigh as the woman proceeded to question her on the whys and why nots.

“Mama, the twins just turned two and I’m only twenty-five-” Gabriela drums her fingers against the chessboard and prays that Joaquin will come down the stairs for dinner and allow her to escape her mother. “I understand that you had four children by this age but that’s not for us. Joaquin and I want another child but not yet, we would like to settle in first.”

She can sense her mother’s growing agitation and quickly ends the conversation, hating that she has to lie.


Gabriela finds herself staring out the window again, looking over Cedar Court as the sun sets. She didn’t want to dwell on the conversation with her mother especially about a smart good looking man needing a son but she couldn’t help it. Intellectually, she knows that her fear is unfounded but she can’t deny that one of her hidden fears is Joaquin leaving her for a woman smart enough to challenge him.

Gabriela jumps when someone touches her shoulder and she flushes in embarrassment when Joaquin lightly kisses her lips.

“What’s the matter? I brought the girls down and set the table and you didn’t budge.” He asks, pulling her into the kitchen for dinner.

“Nothing, mi amor, nothing at all.”


It isn’t until the next morning over breakfast that Gabriela brings up the conversation with mother. “Mama and I got in an argument last night…well its more that she accused and I tried to defend myself.”

Joaquin stops eating, taking a moment to check on the girls smearing syrup over their face before comforting his wife. “What was it this time? What haven’t you been doing right?”

“She’s upset that I’m not pregnant again and because I’m not, I’m failing as a wife.”

He sits quietly, processing not only her words but the obvious emotional distress. They’d had trouble conceiving and he knows that hurt her confidence so he’s careful with what he says next. “I know you want another baby Gabriela and I do too…sometimes, but if we only have the girls I’m happy with that.”

Gabriela bites down hard on her bottom lip, tears stinging her eyes. “You don’t want a son with me?”


Querida, that’s not what I said,” Joaquin explains. “A son would be nice but truthfully we can’t afford another child. We’re barely making it as is and won’t really get from under our debt unless I get that promotion next month. I want the girls to go to private school and it’s good that we have time because right now we can’t pay the interest on our loans.”

“What if I get a job?”

He can’t deny he’s surprised. “You want to work? We decided you would stay home with the twins.”

Gabriela smiles for the first time since they started the conversation. “I know but we need the money and we can just put my salary toward not only the girls’ educations but any other baby we decide to have.”


Whew I feel like I just went 10 rounds with a champ. I keep forgetting how frustrating the introduction to each family can be because you’re trying to establish so many things about them and tell a bit of story. I do have to apologize for taking so long, a lot of family obligations kept me away and if this reads a bit stilted that’s the reason. Writing is a muscle you know, lol.

Because I’m starting with families, its interesting trying to figure out what ‘kind’ of love the parents have for each other and how that affects their relationship with the kids. I’m finding that I have a bit of a mix so far in each family. I would classify the Valdez’s as having a comfortable love if not a bit insecure on both sides. It may change as they both get older, it might stay the same but only the Sims know.