“If it’s worth doing once…”

It took us four tries to get through Poplar’s adult birthday.

First time, the game crashed. Next two times, this old Toshiba laptop overheated and shut down. Finally, after blowing the dust out of the laptop fan and scaling back the party guest-list to family only, we made it through and into the next life stages for Poplar and baby Sugar Maple.

Poplar

“I’m not mad. Really. I’m intense.”

What do you do on the morning of your birthday when you’ve taken a vacation day and you’ve got until the afternoon before the party starts?

You might begin with what Poplar calls “The Run of Intensity.”

Poplar

“This is called the Birthday Boogie!”

Then a little high-powered dancing might be just the thing.

Then, why not kick off the rest of the interim with a little power-programming?

Poplar

“Shhh… I’m not meditating. I’m coding.”

We finally got to meet the cousins. Daryl and Irving are cuties. Irving’s got pierced ears and likes to wear a necklace, too.

Irving and Daryl

“No, I’m Daryl and he’s Irving.”

They’re both ridiculously cute, and their uncle, aunts, grandma, and big cousin love them tremendously.

Family

“Guh! Poplar! That’s the meanest llama joke I EVER heard!”

They seem to be sharing some kind of secret code with each other.

“Hey, Daryl.”

“Yeah, Irv?”

“Which one of these is the mean one?”

“Beats me. Maybe we better just keep our eyes on all of ’em, just in case.”

Irving and Daryl

I don’t really think we can pull one past these two.

When we finally made it through the party, we only invited Madrona, Lamont, and the twins. Brody and Minsk showed up, anyway, which is cool–they’re both Poplar’s only friends.

Family party

With an extended family, you don’t need to invite many friends to a party! Family is enough.

Lamont, the good, romantic family Sim, is beyond proud.

“So, life’s good,” he said. “We’ve got the big house, the family ghost, the two boys. My beautiful wife. Not bad for a mailman that got turned down by the heir, if I do say so myself!”

Family

The twins look so much like their dad, but with Madrona’s big eyes and full lips.

With the party behind us, and with me saving every five minutes, just in case, we were able to move onto other parts of life.

Salix became an A student in high school.

Salix

“I’m an A student! In high school! That is so cool.”

Sugar Maple got all sorts of loving from Mom and Dad and Grandma and Big Sis and even her aunt Poplar.

Sugar Maple

“Love this little baby.”

Poplar advanced another level in her career, and she’s coming close to finishing her computer whiz aspiration–just twelve more hours on the computer ought to do it. Easy as pie for this hidden geek-trait girl.

Poplar

“Heh. I’m the development captain. I can wear what I want.”

Before her little sister grew out of the bassinet, Salix enjoyed a little more time having her mom and dad to herself during the quiet hours of just hanging out in the kitchen.

Salix

“I think you guys are cute. You get like the Cute Parents Award, or something like that.”

And we were visited by rashes…

Salix

“I sure hope this OJ does the trick.”

… and fevers.

Niko

“I’m like hot and cold simultaneously!”

When everybody got well, Linda snuggled in a last baby hug before Sugar aged up.

Sugar Maple

“Gotta get in every hug I can! This last little baby is gonna grow up so soon!”

Then the bassinet shook, the sparkles came, and out popped Sugar Maple–the newest family Glutton!

I don’t mind the Glutton trait–sometimes, as with Shug’s grandpa I-dub, the trait expresses itself as zest for life.

I got thrown off at first by Shug’s hair cut and clothes–had I misread the baby notice? Was this really a little boy? Did something get switched with all the game crashes? Would the name Sugar Maple work for a boy?

I checked relationships… Ok. She’s a sister. She’s a girl.

Sugar Maple

“I’m a real live boy! Err… wait. Girl. I’m a real live girl!”

Well, we’ve always been flexible with gender roles and expression around here. Sugar Maple is who she is, and for right now, she’s a little kid that wants to become a whiz kid, and as she grows up, she’ll be encouraged to be the person that she wants to be.

Welcome to childhood, Sugar Maple!

Sugar Maple

“I am who I am.”

She’s got her super-star athlete mom, and her children’s book author dad, and her programming-wiz aunt, and her body-building grandma to show her lots of different ways of being true to who she really is.

Aspen

“Mom! I’m a big kid!”

For a whiz-kid, childhood starts right off at the chess board.

Shug

“I wonder if the black chess pieces taste like licorice.”

Niko needs to gain more logic points for his nerd brain aspiration, so I’ve got a feeling that Niko and Shug will be spending most of the upcoming weekend right here, playing chess.

Sugar Maple

“I’m waiting for you to make your move, Dad.”

Niko

“Yo! Dad! It’s your move!”

Shug

“Earth to Dad. Come in, Dad.”

Sugar Maple

“Somehow, I think winning three chess games against Pops is gonna be a piece of cake.”

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