Sunday, February 28, 2010

Much Time, 2005

Patar, summer, 2005
Brandon is 27 and Ilila is 26

"Are you happy?" Brandon asked his wife as she made the bed.

"I'm happy." She reassured him.

"I know it's a small hood, but-"

"We'll be fine here," she smoothed her husband's worried brow. "Besides, we'll be here until the next posting."

"Perhaps," he murmered. "Perhaps not."


The summer in the county was hot, but not too hot where the new recruits would pass out in the heat. Brandon paired the recruits and gave them a deadline-one week to pass the physical.

"Private Herendez and Private Lorde, you are partners. Get to work." Brandon barked at the last pair of recruits.

After demonstrating the exercises, Brandon headed inside to finish paperwork and leave the recruits to start their training.

Verde couldn't say he was pleased with his partner. Lainey, or Private Lorde, was one of the strongest recruits, however she was also one of the cutest. Not the best of circumstances when your girlfriend was in another hood for the summer. Lainey, or Lorde for that matter, wasn't her real name, she was from a small island and her names were very hard to pronouce. So she allowed the base to call her Lainey Lorde. Either way, Verde knew that he had to be very careful while around the young woman. It was something about her that attracted him to her.

"Do you want to start with some jump rope exercises today and then we can map out a fitness plan for the week." Verde suggested.

"That sounds very acceptable. However you must remember that we also have to take time to study for the exam as well. It is more than a fitness endurance test."

The two recruits started their jump roping exercises. Verde tried to keep time with Lainey, but she was too quick.

"A little slow on your feet, 'eh Private Herendez?"


As the recruits sweated in the sun, Ilila welcomed the last guest into her home. She had volunteered to host the school board meeting in her home as a way to get to know her future co-workers.

Obviously Johan was the leader of the group. Even if she didn't know his title, the way he directed the group's conversation highlighted his authority. Ilila was skilled at that, finding the authority in the room wheter it be from the number of stripes on a uniform to the subtle dynamics of a group.

Nicole could easily be second in command if she desired, however Ilila noticed that the woman often declined opportunities to assert herself-restrained power.

Jesse was second in command. His opinion was valued not only because it was often very good, but especially since his wife was the county council president. Ilila noticed that they would refer questions to Jesse sometimes as if he had the same power as his wife.

Finally there was Susie. She didn't hold any authority, nor did she carry herself with the desire to be in authority. Ilila learned that she was the part-time dance instructor, a way to earn some extra cash while in university.

Of course, there was herself, however Ilila knew that this was one meeting that she was going to sit silently and learn as much as possible from the group.


"Private Herendez-"

"Why don't you call me Verde."

"In that case, you may call me Lainey." she replied with the dignity of a queen.

"Thank you, Lainey."

"Verde, will you need any extra help studying the manual?"

Verde bristled at the comment, then shook his head. "If we studied together, I'm sure I'll be fine."

"I didn't mean to offend, but we all know-"

"That doesn't mean I'm stupid."

Lainey stiffly nodded her head. "Again, my apologies, I didn't mean to imply such a thing."

The pair was silent staring at the ground trying to regain their composures.

"We can study in the evenings after our fitness plan, how does that sound?" Verde suggested.

"Sounds very acceptable." Lainey agreed. "We have time for a five mile run. Are you up for the task?"

"Of course," Verde said accepting her dare.


"How was your day?" Brandon asked entering the house to sweep his wife up in her arms.

Ilila giggled. "It was good. I had the school board over and I even had some time to work in my classroom at the school."


"Remember Fiona and Suzanna are coming over for dinner," Ilila reminded her husband.

"I remember, thank you."


"However, I think we have time for..." he whispered in her ear as his hands made a quick disposal of her dress.


Ilila was just taking the chilled soup from the fridge when the doorbell rang. She tried not to be nervous, it wasn't a business visit, but simply a social visit. The women had said that they wanted to see how well the couple had settled into the hood. In spite of knowing this, Ilila still knew that as county president, Fiona was ultimately her husband's boss and that she still had to maintain a certain appearence.

"This soup is yummy," Suzanna said opting for a second bowl of the sweetly chilled dish.

"Thank you."

"I'll have to make this, ugh, but I haven't had much time to cook since the baby was born."

"Tell me about it, thankfully Jesse is beginning to stock up on meals for when we deliver. I told him that we still have plenty of time until the baby arrives, but all he does is point to my belly and say that it doesn't look like it."

The women laughed and Brandon shifted uncomfortably. He hoped they wouldn't ask the question, please don't ask the question.

"When will you two have children?"

They asked the question.

"Well, we're still pretty much newlyweds. We've only been married for two years. However, we would like to have children one day."

Brandon smiled as Ilila delivered the rehearsed line. Heck, even he had it memorized, ready to pull out at a moment's notice for the nosy, pesky family member or well meaning grocery store clerk. It amused him that so many sims wanted for them to pop out babies, as if once they got married then they should be pregnant within weeks. Brandon sneaked a peek at his wife and gave her a smile. They were enjoying each other, babies didn't fit in right now. Not that they didn't want them, but they also knew that they wanted to enjoy their marriage a bit more being a family of two.

"She sounds like Rebecca," Fiona commented. "Julio wanted kids right away, but Rebecca managed to hold him off for a little while."

"At least you will be married when you have children,  Bradford and I did things a bit backwards at first. But now we're done, finally."

"Are you sure about that?" Fiona teased.

Suzanna laughed. "We have three little girls, I think we're done."

"I have three little girls and I thought I was done too, but you're brother managed to slip one by me."

"Well, that won't be the case, at least not anytime soon."

"So, Ilila, I've noticed you two have a lot of souveniors. How many places have you been stationed?"

"Just about all over the world. I was a military brat before Brandon and I were married." Ilila supplied, glad of the change in conversation. Things were becoming a bit...personal. She wasn't used to that breach in other bases.

"In fact, her father was my drill sergeant in basic training."


"Yes, but we didn't start dating until after I had graduated from university. My father was stationed at another base by that time and Brandon just happened to be at that base as well. I visited during the spring and we were married by that summer."

"Wow, a whirlwind romance."

"Just about. Would you like some tea?"

The group settled for some tea around the living room.

"Brandon, if you ever have any concerns to voice, feel free to attend the county council meetings."

"I will definately do that."

"Great," Fiona said standing. "It's getting late and we should be going."

"Thank you for coming."

"Oh, no, thanks for having us. If you ever need anything, give me a call.

"Thank you,"

"I'm serious. We're family here in this hood."

Welcome to the hood Brandon and Ilila Peterson. Brandon's brother, Bruce, is stationed in Simmington Hills at the Fort Hills Military Base.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Education in Apple Valley, Part 4

What and Why
I decided to do a series on how education in Apple Valley works, especially with the forthcoming changes. We will explore education from elementary school to obtaining an advanced degree. I wanted to move away from excessive skilling in my game and focus more on character development. This serves two purposes, one, it allows me to hone in on each sim's individual personality and preferences, two, it prevents excessive success. Right now, most sims are able to obtain a level 7 job without any trouble aside from making friends. This leaves very little room for variety in the game and most sims are financially well off. To ensure that I stay focused on this, I have now decided to try and do away with most toddler skills-instead focusing on teaching them how to walk, talk, etc.

The primary ways of educating the sims in all levels of education are skills, hobbies and interests. I often refer to skills as scores on "skill exams" (the number of skill points they have in a certain skill) or "core skill evaluation"-CSE (the number of total skills they have). Hobbies and interests will also be referred to in a similar manner. Now that the background is out of the way, let's move on.

Bachelor's Degree
Today, we're discussing obtaining a bachelor's degree. Unlike in real life, students only get one chance to attend university for a bachelor's degree. If they decide not to attend university after high school, then there are no second chances.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Back to Reality, 2005

Patar, summer, 2005

Kevin, or was it Scott. Li couldn't remember at this point. She wished she could blame it on the alcohol, but she had only a few sips of a drink that she had now misplaced. Maybe it was Lee or Yancey. Either way, it wasn't Tobi. That much she was sure of and grateful for.

She sees her ex-husband of course. They have children together and those children want to spend time with their mother. The last time, however...he gave her this look. It unsettled her and she hated him for that. Why was it that his looks still left her knees wobbly.

She needed a vacation, fast. Somewhere where the men were half-naked and her name wasn't known. Somewhere where she could leave the stress of work behind. Not that work wasn't going well, it was. She gained the position of City Planner and she was enjoying herself.

"You should think about joining my company."

Li brought herself back to reality. "Your company?"

"Yes, we could use a sim like you."

"And what does your company do?"

"We produce local commercials. I can get you a job in a few campaigns and you'll make a good salary."

Li wanted to laugh in his face. Acting? Was this man serious. "Um, no thank you. I'm happy in my current position."

And she meant it. She was happy in her position at work. Not only did she have significant power to shape the land of the hood, but she had total creative control...well, almost. The county council still had to approve of most projects.

She was happy with her position in her personal life as well. Sure, sometimes the nights were lonely and her bed was cold, but she knew how to take care of herself and handle her own needs. She didn't need a sim to share her bed for that.

However, her cooking sucked. That much she couldn't deny.

And that would be the last time she attempted a meal in her apartment, she thought running into the hallway, even a simple one as miso soup.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

One Choice Away, 2005

Patar, summer, 2005
Sazo is 46, Sandy is 43, S'Ahmisa is 18 , Si'Enya is 13

Returning to Apple Valley took the Warwick family the same amount of adjustment, if not more, then leaving for Kimikura did. Return culture shock-that's what it was called. Either way, it was very much a real and scary thing. S'Ahmisa coped the best, naturally. She continued her tai chi and lessons learned in Kimikura while indulging in the joy of being closer to Verde.

"I know you and Verde are doing more than just kissing, but you still need to remember to be protected and make smart choices."

S'Ahmisa nodded. Her mother and her father had taken to increasing the amount of heart-to-heart talks with her. She wasn't sure if it was because she would be a freshman this fall at Pierce University, her internship in Simmington Hills that would start in a few simweeks or the fact that Verde had approached them concerning marrying her.

"You're still young and there is an entire world out there for you to explore." Sandy continued.

To be honest, she knew that S'Ahmisa had a level head on her shoulders and that she shouldn't worry about her eldest daughter-or her youngest one for that matter. She had been blessed to have such smart, responsible and beautiful daughters. She didn't take it for granted. She knew that they were always only one choice away from changing their entire lives. It could be a move to another hood, an unplanned pregnancy or a brillant suggestion during an internship. Either way, they were always one step away from changing their lives.

"I know mom." S'Ahmisa said, trying not to sigh. "I talked to Verde about that already and told him that while I appreciate the gesture, I feel that we're still too young to be thinking about such a big step."

"Not just Verde, S'Ahmisa. You still have so much to experience. I don't want you to get so focused with schoolwork either that you lose sight of enjoying yourself."

"Yes m'am."


Another part of the reverse cultural shock came when Rebecca knocked on their door with their tax bill. Sandy and Sazo didn't have taxes in Kimikura and now the hood council was requiring taxes to be paid every summer. Sandy groaned when she looked at the bill. The expenses of moving back to the county, the new house and restarting the business had taken a toll on their finances and now there was this insane tax bill.

"This is stupid!" Sandy sputtered. "Who calculated this? They're an idiot."

"I calculated it," Rebecca sighed. She didn't have time for this. She only wanted to deliver the bill and get back to the hospital to see her daughter, not engage in some ancient form of verbal warfare.

"Well, I demand this to be recalculated. It's crazy!"

"The hood council looked at it several times and this is your tax bill."

"We can't appeal the darn thing?"

"I guess you could, but we won't have the time to look at it anytime soon. You'd risk being late with your tax payment."

"This is-"

"Rebecca, how are you?" Sazo said coming from the basement. He had heard the commotion and naturally wanted to ensure that his family was safe.

"I'm, I'm ok thanks."

"How's your daughter? Is she still in the hospital?"

"You're baby's in the hospital?" Sandy asked.

Rebecca nodded. "She's been there for a few simlonic months and it doesn't look like she'll be out soon. She still has another surgery left to go."

"Oh," Sandy said, ashamed at her earlier reaction to the tax bill. "Why don't you come in and have a cuppa?"

"Yes, have a cup of coffee and Sandy can go upstairs and write the check for the taxes while you're here." Sazo said giving Sandy a pointed look.

"Hmm, smells good. Anymore left?" S'Ahmisa asked coming in the house.

"Yes, come join us."

"Hello, Ms. Rebecca. How are the twins?"

"They're much bigger now, almost teens."

"Wow, were we really gone that long?"

"Here's the check," Sandy said coming from downstairs.

"Thanks. Thanks again for the coffee. I have to go, visiting hours will start soon."

The family nodded as they watched the woman head to the door.

"Si'Enya, where are you going?" Sazo asked his youngest.

"Probably to look for bugs," S'Ahmisa whispered while she texted Verde.

"Look for bugs," she absentmindly replied.

"Verde's on his way, is that ok?"

Sazo rolled his eyes. "I don't see why you two text each other all the time. The boy lives next door, send hand signals from the windows. Heck, that would lower the phone bill."

S'Ahmisa laughed.

"Sure, your father and I are going to the coffee shop. We need to do some more unpacking. Promise to be good."

"Aren't we always?"

"Yes, but still promise."

"I promise," S'Ahmisa said crossing her heart with a smile as she ran outside with her sister.

"Find anything yet?"

"Only stuff I already have. I'm looking for a very rare spider and I can't find it. It would complete my collection."

"Hey S'Ahmisa, hey Si'Enya." Verde greeted the young women.

"Hey you!" S'Ahmisa grinned leaping into his arms.

"I'm going to the lake," Si'Enya said. "Maybe I'll find it there." 

She doubted she would find the spider there, but she didn't want to be in the house while the two lovebirds were there. For some reason it made her stomach hurt to see Verde kiss her sister and she didn't want to think about what that meant. Instead she was going to the lake to watch the fish swim and butterflies prance from flower to flower.

"Are you just going to stand there?" S'Ahmisa asked smiling up at her boyfriend.

"Umm," Verde tried to find words to say.

He wanted to talk. To talk about them and their future. They had been together so long and the chemistry was great, so why wait any longer. Instead, S'Ahmisa insisted that they were too young. She had said the same thing when he wanted to go steady with her at soccer camp. Sometimes a man just knows, but he wondered what was the point. If she didn't want to get married, why was he wasting his time. Why was he over here in the first place?

"Well, are you going to just stare or are you going to come and get it?" she smiled seductively at him.

Ah, he remembered now. She may not want all of his heart, but Verde was determined to give her all of something else.


Si'Enya returned from the lake well after the sun had set. She heard the two lovebirds giggling in the yard before she saw them.

"Did mom and-oh! I didn't know you guys had come back." Si'Enya said watching her parents play a spirited game with water balloons.

"We're back. How was the lake?"

"It was ok."

"Find that spider?" Her father asked.

"No, not yet." She said entering the house.

"Better luck next time!" he yelled after her.

"Yea, maybe next time," she whispered to the fish.

She looked around the empty living room before starting her ritual conversation with her beloved fish.

"Am I too fat? I mean, I know I put on some pounds, but daddy says I'm're right, daddies are supposed to say their daughters are beautiful. I shouldn't want a boyfriend, right? I'm too young, right?...Then why does it hurt so much..."


"I don't want to think about it."

"It's only for the summer, she's a big girl now."

"Still, why couldn't she do her internship here? Si'Enya's doing the camp and then helping in the community garden, right here in the hood. I bet Fiona would have taken S'Ahmisa."

"Sazo, sometimes you have to leave your hood to explore and see what's out there. I had to do it."

"Yea, and you didn't ever return. What if she stays there?"

"She won't. She has university to think about and believe me, she'll be back for that."

"And that Verde boy. She'll be back for him."

Sandy laughed. "I'm not sure how long those two will last."

"What makes you say that?"

"Call it mother's intuition. They're not the same couple that they were when they were younger. Verde wants a lot more from S'Ahmisa and she's not ready for it. I'm not sure how much longer he'll wait. Too bad, I like Verde, he's a good kid."

"Daddy, can you help me with my suitcase?"

Sazo sighed. "We'll finish this conversation later."

"No we won't."

"We won't?"

"No, our oldest will be on a plane in less than an hour and our youngest has training for her summer job. That means an empty house for at least six hours."


"Be a good girl, enjoy yourself."

"I will, mom."

"Learn a lot and make sure to give Sabien that package of Kimikurian tea when you arrive."

"Yes , daddy."

"We'll miss you." Si'Enya said as her sister climbed into the waiting taxi.

"I'll miss you too, but I'll be back in a few simweeks!"


Verde talked to S'Ahmisa and her parents about marriage offscreen. She doesn't want to talk about it, she's always been the one to put the brakes on their relationship while Verde has been pretty vocal about his love for her to just about any sim that would listen. As a result of Verde's insistance, his secondary aspiration will be changed to family.

S'Ahmisa is off to Simmington Hills for her summer internship with Mayor Cunningham while Verde has summer basic training to look forward to.

Sandy has the ROS for picking a fight with the sim of the lowest relationship. She actually had a zero relationship with Rebecca, and many other Apple Valley citizens, but distance can do that for you. Her lowest relationship was with a sim in Kimikuria, I doubt that she would go back just for an agrument.
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