Winter 2011 – Gabriela Valdez (26), Joaquin Valdez (30), Nadia and Maribel Valdez (3), Arthur Heredon( 28), Marie Heredon (27), James Bartel (31), Abigail Brusch (34), and Kevin Barret (36). Last update: Spring 2011

Soundtrack: Meaning by Gavin DeGraw

ImageGabriela worries and sometimes she cries. She’s not sad but she is tired, so tired that some evenings she can barely keep her eyes open to listen to the new things her babies have to tell her or enjoy the way Joaquin runs his nimble fingers along her arms in open invitation. There’s always something to do: a student who needs a bit of extra help, a class to study for, a paper to write — it was all a bit overwhelming at times.

She shakes her head. Nadie sabe lo que vale el agua hasta que falta. She still feels strong, she still feels capable but she fears that now she’s missing too much. It was different before. Gabriela would get home at 3, dismiss the nanny and spend the rest of the day enjoying her family. She still gets home at three but the nanny stays until Joaquin is finished with his research and she spends between three and four hours remote accessing her education classes and working on assignments.

Gabriela knows the stress is worth is. She knows it’s not really that long –only two years, well now a year and a half– but watching her girls grow these past four months almost without her is breaking her heart.

She senses him before she sees him and when she looks up he’s leaning over Maribel, smoothing down her sleep wild curls.

“Come to bed, querida.”

“Joaquin-”

He pulls her up from the floor and gently herds her toward the door. “Shh, there are no worries on Christmas Eve.”

ImageGabriela feels better in the morning and allows the soothing calm of the church to wash over her. She’s always loved Christmas Mass, the message of hope and new beginnings serving as the perfect end to the year. When she was very little her father used to let her play at his feet to her mother’s disapproval, her dolls acting out what little she could understand of what was being said. It had all seemed so big then, the world open and ever expanding. Christmas allows her to touch that feeling again, fueling her optimism for the new year.

Gabriela wonders briefly if it will snow later and imagines the fluffy flakes falling heavily to coat, the girls squealing as they build lopsided snowmen, Joaquin pulling her into the snow. She catches Joaquin staring at her and offers a small smile. Hope and new beginnings, that’s what she’s working so hard for — what they’re both working hard for and she couldn’t forget that.

ImageIt’s late –after 12 — when they get a chance to open their own presents; a sea of wrapping paper around their feet and the girls tucked into bed for their afternoon nap, arms wrapped firmly around their new toys. Gabriela’s surprised at the size of the box Joaquin presents. They’d agreed on small gifts, something meaningful that wouldn’t leave them scrambling to pay their bills in January. It’s all on the tip of her tongue, but his grin makes her to hold it back.

“Big box, cariño,” she murmurs, unwrapping the red bow. She’s speechless when she reaches through the tissue paper and pulls out a butter soft leather purse. Her fingers glide over the designer label, appreciating the craftsmanship despite knowing she can’t keep it no matter how much she wants to.

“I can’t-”

“Merry Christmas.”

“Joaquin, we agreed-”

Joaquin shakes his head before bending down to pick up the wrapping paper littered all over the floor, her carefully chosen gift of wood carved chess pieces under his arm. “Merry Christmas, my love.”

ImageThe afternoon passes quickly and Gabriela’s too busy baking various desserts for their small party to fight Joaquin about the bag. Tres Leche cake, strawberry pie, flan, and, of course, Christmas sugar cookies are all on the menu.

Their family dinner is handled as efficiently as possible with the twins flies and Nadia and Maribel are carefully into bed with bellies full of roast and sugar cookies by the time the doorbell rings. She didn’t invite a lot of people a large crowd but it was easier that way, especially on such hectic day.

ImageThey laughed.

ImageThey danced.

ImageThey talked.

Image

It’s exhaustion that draws them to to floor after the guests are gone and the kitchen is cleaned. Gabriela contently snuggles next to Joaquin, enjoying the weigh of his hand on her waist and the way the Christmas lights adds strange dips and hollows to his face. She wipes a cookie crumb off his face with a laugh, wagging a slender finger at him.

“You said you didn’t eat the last cookie.”

Joaquin grins, “I did?”

She pokes his playfully before moving closer so she can lean on his chest. “Did you enjoy yourself?”

“Yes, you’re friends are fun.”

“They can be your friends too…or you can invite some of your coworkers over.”

“Maybe,” He sighs and shifts onto his back. “Except…”

“It’s not good for you to be alone so much, querido.”

“I’m not alone, my family is more than enough. Plus, they won’t be my coworkers much longer.”

ImageGabriela sits up quickly, placing her hand on his cheek to force him to look at her. She knows her husband; he doesn’t make impulsive decision and he always has a plan but knowing that doesn’t stop her heart from racing. “What happened?”

“Three weeks ago I got an offer to move out of the field and into a lab as the Project Leader for a new research team and I accepted it.”

She’s in shock and there are a million questions swirling around her head but she can only choke out one word. “Why?”

Joaquin presses a kiss into her palm. “Because last month I watched you take the seam out of our daughter’s sleeve to make it longer instead of buying her a new shirt, I watch your fingers trail over things you want but we can’t afford, and then there’s that project we’ve been working at but not really acknowledging.”

Gabriela pinpoints on that and bites her lip. She knows what he’s hinting at: their undeclared efforts at having another baby.

“We’re going to need a bigger home if we succeed which means more money and if I stay where I am, querida, my next promotion will help but I’ll never be home. It can take weeks to track the whales from point to point, let alone one to tag.”

“Ok.” She drapes herself across his body, her head resting over his heart. She doesn’t know what else to say. There wasn’t a point in asking why he hadn’t mentioned it three weeks ago or why it had been a secret until now. She could get upset but that was wasted energy. Gabriela knew her husband and this situation was pretty much settled with or without her input.

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A.N: Hi everyone ::waves:: I hope you’re still reading despite the super long hiatuses. I think my pendulum is swinging back the other way because lately I’ve been feeling all created out. It was super weird to finish writing this because it almost felt like visiting a home you used to live in but hadn’t visited in several years. Areas are recognizable but the comfort is missing. I almost felt like I didn’t know my Sims anymore. It took me some time to find their voices again and I’m not sure how much of a success this one is. I’m hoping it will all come back as I keep going.

I haven’t done too many parties with this hood and felt that a small Christmas party would feel natural for this family. It was originally suppose to be much longer but I’m trying to get away from that level of commitment. James Bartel, the redhead, is Marie’s older brother who also works at the elementary school as a music teacher. I may throw him into the rotation but I’m not sure yet. Abigail Brusch is the elementary school principal and came with her fiance Kevin.

There are a few changes in the house. Yes, Joaquin did end up changing over to the Science track. He’s been rolling wants for a promotion and continuing as a Whale Tracker just didn’t make sense to me for the kind of man he is. And, I don’t care of Maxis has programmed, a Whale Tracker wasn’t going to be able to be home at 1pm every afternoon. They have to put in work! So I switched him over to something that makes sense even as he keeps getting promotions. The baby thing threw me. Neither of them rolled wants to have a baby while I played but every time ACR fired up they were trying, so I figured they weren’t actively trying but weren’t doing anything to stop it, which is bad for on Joaquin’s part. Gabriela’s in a two year program to get her Education Masters and her district has been kind enough to let her continue to teach while she pursues that.

I hope you enjoyed the read and I will be making my rounds around to everyone’s blogs, which I have been reading but too naughty to leave a comments.

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