Summer Camp, pt. 4

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Joel told me that he came upon Blake yelling at one of the Stuffies up in the tree house.

“What was he yelling about?” I asked.

“I just caught a few words. ‘Miss my brother’s birthday?’ ‘Work not family?’ And ‘why?’ He said that over and over.”

Earlier in the day, I’d received a phone call from Pen, Blake’s mom. She’d said that, after thinking it over, she decided that Joel and I probably needed to know what was happening with their family. She and Blake’s father would be getting a divorce during the time that Blake was at summer camp. I’d filled Joel in on it as soon as I hung up the phone.

“So what did you say to Blake?” I asked Joel, knowing that he always has the best way of cheering anyone up.

“Well,” replied Joel, “I know how much it hurts when parents separate. So there really wasn’t much I could say. I told him that the Stuffies would always be there, whenever he needed to let it out, and that you, me, and Tre were good listeners, too.”

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“That was a good thing to say,” I told Joel.

“I hope so,” Joel said. “The next thing Blake said was, ‘Oh. Everything’s just fine. What are we having for dinner?’ I replied, ‘Grilled cheese.’ And Blake said, ‘Yes!'”

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The kids wanted to go explore the Old Mill. I was about to start supper (not grilled cheese), and Joel was cleaning, so I asked Tre if he’d go keep an eye on them. The mill has been abandoned for decades, and it’s pretty rickety.

“I was hoping to play video games,” Tre said. “Wasn’t I supposed to get a few hours off every day?”

“You can have the evening off,” I said. “Will that work?”

“I guess so,” said Tre.

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They were gone for a little over an hour.

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When they got back, Gerald headed straight for Joel’s empty bed in the counselor’s building and took a nap.

“Is he OK?” I asked Hahon, who looked pretty mad.

“He’s worn out,” Hahon said.

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Waikiki also looked angry, and Blake looked sad.

I found Tre in the computer room. “What’s up, Tre?” I asked.

“Nothing,” he said, walking outside.

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I thought about giving him space. Then I thought about my job running the camp. If there was something going on–and there obviously was–then I should probably know about it.

I followed him outside.

“Hang on a sec there, Tre,” I said. “It doesn’t take an Eagle Scout to see there’s grumblings running around!”

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“No, seriously. Everything’s fine,” he said.

“You know,” I said. “You remind me a lot of my brother. He used to get mad easily, too. And then, he’d always deny it!”

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“You want to know what’s up?” he said. “Kids! That’s what! Those kids don’t know how to take a joke.”

“What kind of joke were you telling?” I asked.

“Just a joke! And then, that little Waikiki girl gets all bent out of joint. Like there’s something wrong with being called a woofum!”

“Is that what it is?” I asked. “Were you teasing the kids and it got out of hand?”

“And what if it did?” he said.

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“Now you really remind me of my brother,” I said. “We’d always start horsing around, and then next thing I knew, I’d be in tears and he’d be angry, and neither one of us understood what happened to make us so upset. I thought he was a big meanie, and he thought I was a little trouble-maker.”

“That sounds about right,” said Tre. He walked over to the easel and began to paint.

“I could never understand why he picked on me,” I said. “I thought he hated me. One day, after we were grown up, he told me that he always thought I was such a cute little sister. ‘Cute? You thought I was cute? Then why did you always pick on me?’ I asked him.”

“And what did he say?” asked Tre.

“That I didn’t know anything about big brothers.”

“Guess that’s about right, too,” said Tre.

“Yeah,” I said. “Well, just in case, you know, Waikiki might not know anything about big brothers, either. Maybe next time she and the other little kids are being funny and cute, you could find another way to let them know.”

Tre didn’t say anything. He looked at his canvas, looked back at me, and started painting again.

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Summer Camp, pt. 3

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Rory and I had so much fun at her surprise birthday party that we ended up talking all night. We were still talking when the kids woke up and came in for breakfast.

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“Don’t you guys ever stop yakking?” Waikiki asked.

“They can’t!” joked Hahon. “They’ve been eating jumping jelly beans and now their tongues can’t stop jumping!”

“Oh, what a birthday!” Rory said. “I guess I really should head off. Thanks kids! I had so much fun!”

I walked Rory out and then made the rounds to check on everybody.

Not all the kids had made it to bed: Cadence fell asleep in the bath. I woke her up, wrapped her in a big fluffy towel, and trundled her into the bunk house to finish sleeping in a warm, dry bed.

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Blake was in the crow’s nest on the pirate ship.

“Ahoy, matey!” I called.

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“Landlubbers!” he called back.

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“Ye won’t be callin’ me a landlubber when I climb the scaffolds wi’ ye olde Trusty Pete! Ye know who’s Trusty Pete?”

“Not your sawed-off cannon!” he said, as I aimed an old branch at him.

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“None other!” I shouted.

“Red alert! All hands on deck! Prepare for boarders!”

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“Eh! I’m just comin’ up fer a cup o’ tea. You got any Darjeeling for an old salt who’s worth her salt?”

“I’m afraid not,” said Blake. “No indeed. It’s a trick, and we’ll have none of it. You and your old Trusty Pete of a cannon just get yourselves back to your old dinghy and row to shore, Landlubber. We’ll not be boarded! No way, no sir!”

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He makes a great sea captain.

Waikiki had climbed to the top deck of the tree house, where she was staring down the llama.

“I’m just imagining what will happen if I pull that red stick,” she said. We looked together. “See those orange and blue sticks resting on it? They’d come down for sure, and then, topple the llama!”

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I joined Tre for a mid-morning snack.

“How’s life as a camp counselor suiting you, Tre?” I asked.

“S’okay,” he replied. “Grilled cheese is good.”

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“Wow!” said Blake. “This is good grilled cheese. My mom makes really good grilled cheese, too.”

“So does mine,” said Tre.

Just then, both boys, the big one and the little one, looked like they missed their moms.

“Nothing like mom’s cooking,” I said. “What shall we make for supper?”

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“Let’s have grilled cheese,” said Cadence, bringing her own grilled cheese sandwich to the table.

“For breakfast, lunch, and dinner?” I asked.

Blake smiled. “Yeah! That way we won’t miss Mom’s cooking because Mom never lets us have it for three meals in a row!”

“Plus snack,” said Tre.

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“I love grilled cheese so much. Maybe I should change my aspiration,” said Tre.

“Like Don the Grilled Cheese Zombie?” asked Blake.

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“Now how do you know about him?” Tre asked.

“I told him,” said Hahon. “He’s only the most famous Zombie ninja-fighter there is. Plus. Grilled cheese.”

Blake giggled.

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“He’s a fictional character,” Tre said. “You kids can’t believe everything you read on a blog! There’s no such things as zombies, for one thing. And even if there were, there’s no way a zombie could ever defeat a ninja. It’s just not humanly possible.”

“Yeah, but a zombie’s not a human,” said Hahon.

“Yeah,” said Blake.

“Hey,” said Waikiki, joining the boys at the table. “I hear we’re eating chocolate chip cookies for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack, and desert!”

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“Wrong!” said Blake. “Grilled cheese!”

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New World Symphony: Freezer Bunny Interlude

I invited Joel and Kit over under the auspices of planning our new project, Freezer Bunny Dating Franchises, but I really had a different reason for wanting them to drop by.

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“This. Project. Sounds. AWESOME!” Kit squealed.

“I know! I’m so excited!” I said. The idea for Freezer Bunny Dating Franchises came to us when Joel and Kit were tweeting about how hard it was for Kit to find a match for Candy. We talked about how people like this could really use a dating service, and then, next thing we knew, we’d come up with Freezer Bunny Dating Franchises.

Joel created our logo:

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We decided that we’d each create our own approach.

Joel described the style he wants to use in his franchise, Seasons of Love. “I’ll probably run a program where I let the people go around town and socialize for a while before I ask the people they’ve met what they think about them and if any return positive, I’ll ask them about the ones who like them. If the person likes them back then… <3.”

“I know that love comes to people in different ways,” I said. “I think I’ll run my franchise in a ‘you-choose’ way. Romances are pursued if they happen naturally. Because of that, some participants may not find romantic love. Everyone will have the opportunity to discover their own style of love, and that might not be romantic love!”

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“I already have some AWESOME ideas brewing!” Kit said. “I love the name ‘Love like a Dragon’ for my franchise! A dragon, as most would say, is eternal, everlasting. They live forever. And while we may not be eternal, our love can be. ‘Love Like A Dragon’ is about finding your perfect companion, and while we cannot always guarantee the two of you will always get along, it will be eternal. Love isn’t always about hearts and fairytales. It’s about hard work, loyalty, and, at the end of the day, standing side by side, together.”

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“So what do we need to do before we open, guys?” I asked.

“I guess we need to add a bit more to the company website,” Joel said. “And I’ve got a bit of building to do to get the facilities ready for my franchise.”

“I just want to fly on this wave of inspiration,” Kit said. “These ideas are so AMAZING!”

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“I think it’s going to be really neat to see how this develops,” I said. “Plus, as the program grows, we can see if anyone else wants to open franchises!”

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“OH!” Kit said, “And I just thought of something, when we get the buildings built, lets include pics of them in our posts on the thread, as sort of a visual aid! With our spokespersons outside of them!”

She ran over to the computer and started working on the company website.

“Joel,” I said, “I think this going to be great. I always love working with you–you’ve got great ideas, incredible follow-through, and you’re so inspiring! And now to have Kit join us on this project, it’s super great!”

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“Yay! Let the happiness and the love begin!” Joel said.

I headed into the kitchen so I could work on the real reason I’d invited them over.

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Cake! Joel’s birthday was just a few days ago, and Kit’s is coming up in a few days, and I wanted to have a quiet celebration with both of them.

Voila! The cake was ready.

“Guys!” I called. “Cake! It’s sugar-free, and it’s delicious! It’s actually sweetened with organic dates and made with oat flour, so it’s super sweet and has a lovely texture. Anyway, come eat!”

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“Oh, that does look good, CT,” said Joel.

“I’m coming!” yelled Kit. “Save me a piece with lots of glaze!”

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Joel strolled out, basking in the birthday glow. I caught a bit of his excitement–sixteen! What an incredible age to be, with all that enthusiasm and so many exciting projects ahead of one!

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Kit came out looking radiant–that birthday energy! She, too, is right there, moving into all the excitement and enthusiasm of life.

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How lucky that we get to work together on projects! How much fun it is to share ideas and enthusiasm and stories!

We had a quiet party, enjoying our cake, appreciating each other’s company, sharing ideas, and dreams, and silence, and a whole universeful of gratitude.

And then, after midnight, it was time for the birthday kids to go home. They had classes the next morning.

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I sat alone on the patio, full of the feeling of thanks–for friends, for projects, for enthusiasm, for youth, for experience, for the sound of laughter and conversation, and for the oncoming silence that surrounds it all.

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Author’s notes: Freezer Bunny Dating Franchises is a real thing! You can find our blog at FreezerBunnyDating.wordpress.com. There are lots of ways to become involved: send your Sim to one of our franchises or open a franchise of your own! Visit the blog or check out our thread on the EA Sims Forums for the full details.