Gazing into the full length mirror, I turned from side to side, trying to decide if I could pull off this dress. Adjusting it a bit, I heard Fleur wailing from the living room and Hibi’s voice lightly scolding Orchid. “No hitting, Orchid. Be gentle with Fleur. That’s right…oh! Fleur! That’s not nice!” Not surprisingly, Orchid’s wail followed and I chuckled, wondering how Fleur had retaliated. Deciding to just check, I headed for the door but startled back as it flew open and Lotus stepped in before pushing it closed behind him. He wore jeans, a crumpled tee and a wide grin.
I looked up at him sheepishly and he cocked his eyebrow, before pulling me into his arms. “Where do you think you’re going?”
“I was only going to check.”
He shook his head. “Nope. Date night. You know the drill. Sam and Ash have it under control. ”
“Then why am I nearly ready and you still haven’t even showered?”
He chuckled. “I just wanted to finish with Hua.”
I grinned. “Mm hmm. Hypocrite.” He returned my grin before leaning in for a kiss. He let me go and headed for the bathroom before stopping in his tracks and turning back to me, pulling my body close to his. I shivered as his lips ghosted over my cheek and to my ear. “And just so you don’t think I didn’t notice, you look so good, love. I can’t wait…” He kissed me, rather than finish the sentence but I could guess what he would have said.
Leaving me standing there, he bolted off to the bathroom calling over his shoulder, “Fifteen minutes. I’ll be ready!”
I couldn’t help but laugh as I returned to my spot at the mirror and started adjusting my hair and dress again. I was excited. We’d been having a date night almost every week for the last three months. Tonight was special, though-we were celebrating our wedding anniversary. Dad and Ashley were going to take the babies to their house after Jer and Pink picked up Hib and the twins in twenty minutes or so. Though it was always hard to be away from the kids, the thought of a night alone with Lo left goose bumps covering my skin.
Closing my eyes, I pondered how much things had changed already. Date nights, girl’s day out, even a newly redecorated bedroom-all had become a part of my reality. I let my thoughts drift back to that day three months ago, after our friends had come to the rescue in the middle of the night…
By the time Lotus and I made our way inside, Pink had managed to get Hibi, Fleur and Orchid into their high chairs for breakfast.
Lotus gave me another soft kiss before he went to get dressed. As I watched him walk away, I saw Rip and Pink turning to hide their smiles. Blushing, I turned my attention to the kids.
The rest of the day passed like usual-a blur of feedings, diapers, naps, reading books, playing and running interference between the toddlers but with friends there, it took so much of the pressure off.
True to her word, Pink talked to just about everyone we knew and were comfortable with and organized all sorts of help for us. Lotus and I were very, very grateful for it all and, over time, things have gotten so much better.
Lotus and I worked hard on getting Hibi, Orchid and Fleur back on some semblance of a normal bedtime which helped immensely.The babies have started sleeping a little better, too, making them easier to manage. They’re still up some in the night but Lotus and I usually handle it on our own now. Pink still insists on having someone over at least once a week and if things get too bad (like three weeks ago when all three girls caught a cold and didn’t sleep at all) we know to call for help now.
The weekend Hibiscus turned five, we had a wonderful little party at the house. Once again, our friends really came through for us, helping plan everything. It was bittersweet but completely wonderful in every way.
The weekend after Hib’s birthday, Lotus and I had our first date night. A few days after that, Pink showed up at my door with several of our girlfriends, Riptide, Jer and the kids. I was beyond confused when I opened the door and found them all standing there. It turned out she was dropping Riptide, Jer and the kids off and forcing me out of the house for a day at the spa with the girls. I had so much fun reconnecting with my friends that day and we vowed to try to get together at least once every couple of months. Lotus did the same with the guys a couple of times while the girls and I took care of the kids together.
All these things-the date nights, the spa days, the sleep-they made all the difference in the world-we finally saw the light at the end of the tunnel and were able to enjoy our children the way they were meant to be. We settled into life as a family of eight and now I couldn’t imagine life before our sweet girls came along.
The sound of the shower shutting off brought me back from my reverie. With a smile I went out to check on the kids while I waited for Lotus so we could start our date.
Hours later, Lo and I walked hand in hand down at the Esplanade, near where we’d been married. We hadn’t been here in a long while, the park near our house being much better suited for small children. We found a bench and sat, Lo putting his arm around me. Nearby someone played a guitar and I let myself settle back into his embrace as the music seemed to dance softly around us. It reminded me a little of the days when Lotus and I would spend hours on our bench at the beach in Twinbrook. I realized, looking back, that there wasn’t a thing I would change because all of it had led me here.
After a few minutes, Lo broke the silence. “So I was thinking.”
“What if, after the girls’ birthday, we spend a couple weeks, maybe three at the beach in Sunset Valley?”
I glanced at him in surprise. “Really? That long?”
“Sure, why not? I can take some time off and it’s close enough I can drive back if I absolutely have to be at a meeting. I think it would be a great vacation.”
“But where would we stay?”
“Jer mentioned that since Pink is due in the summer, they won’t be making the trip as often as they normally would. He offered it to us.”
“Really? Lotus that’s awesome! Can you imagine the kids on the beach? The girls have never been!” The girls’ birthday was still more than seven months away but I couldn’t help already feeling a little excited.
He grinned at me. “I know. I can’t wait to see them put their feet in the water and sand for the first time.” When he said things like that, it reminded me exactly why I loved him so much. Tugging at his shirt, I got him to lean down so I could kiss him.
That kiss distracted me for a moment and it was Lotus who eventually pulled away. It took me a few moments to gather myself before I spoke again. “So what brought all this on?”
“Well, of course, I want to take the kids to the beach. I think it’d be a great vacation.” Lotus shifted and sat up a little straighter. I wondered if there was more to it and kept quiet, waiting for him to continue. “And, well, I’ve been doing some thinking. Actually, I wanted to talk to you about something.”
His tone didn’t suggest anything particularly serious or bad but I was curious about what he was going to say. “What is it?”
“Well…I know this isn’t your favorite subject but the kids are growing so fast.“ My heart dropped. I knew where this was going. Lotus was going to tell me again what I already knew. Our home wasn’t big enough for six children but I had no desire to move and it could be years before a house came on the market in our neighborhood. I looked away but felt his hand grip mine before he laced our fingers together.
“Ki, don’t be upset. I’m not going to ask you to move again.” I let out a sigh of relief that was just as quickly replaced with guilt. I didn’t want to move but I also knew he was right-our kids needed more space.
I squeezed his hand and looked back at him. “Then what? Expanding?”
“What do you mean?”
“Ki, what would you think about building a new home on our property?” That took me by surprise. “You mean like a whole new house?” Lo nodded. “But what about expanding?”
“I’ve been looking at that with Ganby’s help. With the space issues we’re having, it’s going to take a lot of work to expand. And even if we went that route, the eventual layout possibilities are just not something I’m crazy about. We already had to move the table out of the kitchen because of space so that’s got to be bigger. If we move the kitchen, then all the plumbing has to be re-done anyhow. Same for the bathrooms and all the wiring. Plus, there’s only so far we can go on each side. Unless we build into our backyard space or build upward, we’re fairly limited. I don’t really think a smaller yard would be wise and adding a second story to our house would be a nightmare, at best.”
“You’ve put a lot of thought into this.”
He nodded. “I have, Kiki. I want a home our children can be comfortable in and I know you don’t want to leave our property. I don’t either, Ki. As far as I’m concerned, we have the best view in town and there is no replacement for being so close to friends and family. This seems like a really good option. I know we’d have to tear down the house and that will hurt but this way we could stay and have the space and home we need.”
I nodded, not quite willing to think about tearing our beloved house down just yet. “Can we even afford to build?” In my mind, the answer to that was no. And though Lotus had gone on a few interviews lately for something more steady than the newspaper column and some freelance work, he hadn’t landed anything yet.
“With all the expanding we’d have to do to give us enough space we’d be forking out a lot of money. Building will cost more but we’ll get the house we need and it will be a better way to spend our money.”
I narrowed my eyes. He’d danced right around my question. “Lo. You didn’t answer me. Can we afford it?”
A slow smile spread across his face. “We can now.”
“What..? Lotus did you hear something?”
His smile widened before he slowly nodded. “I got it Ki. The one I really wanted. You’re looking at the new staff writer for All Around Bridgeport.”
With a squeal I threw myself into his arms. Lotus had wanted this job badly. Having more income was definitely going to be great but in that moment all I could think about was how happy and proud I was for him.
He squeezed me tight and dropped his lips onto my head before whispering, “So to answer you question, yes my Love, I think we can afford it.”