"Pleeeeeaaaaase? Pretty please?"
"Mom, I promise I'm not tired!" Finn opens his eyes widely, as if to prove to her that he still has plenty of energy left.
"I'm not tired, too!" Ezra, whose face is painted like a bear from the Blue Moon Festival, promises. "And I bet Vivi isn't either. Vivi, tell Mama that you want to swim!"
"Mama!" The one-year-old shrieks from her stroller at the mention of her mother. Jade laughs and leans over to kiss her daughter.
"She does seem awfully happy," Beck points out, continuing to push the stroller as the family enters their neighborhood. "That big nap after lunch probably helped her out."
Jade eyes her sons. "You boys ran around all day today at the festival; you're sure you aren't too tired?"
"Positive!" Finn exclaims, and Ezra soon agrees.
Jade looks at her husband, who shrugs and smiles. "Alright," she relents, causing a celebration between the boys. "We can swim tonight, but only until 9:00, tops. Deal?"
"Thank you, Mama!" The four-year-old yells, and launches himself into her arms. She kisses Ezra's forehead and continues to carry him until they've finally reached their house. The boys bound up the steps, where Jade unlocks the door and they dart inside to change into their swimsuits.
"I want the clothes you wore today in your laundry baskets, please," Jade calls after them. She turns around to see Beck entering the house and locking the door behind him. Jade moves to get a very giddy Vivienne out of her stroller so that her husband can collapse it and put it away.
Beck follows her into the master bedroom, where they both change into their swimsuits while Vivienne entertains herself with a baby xylophone on the floor. Jade has just tied the back of her top when she notices that her husband is staring at her.
"Getting a pool for the new house was the best idea I've ever had," he tells her. Jade rolls her eyes, but she grins as he comes up to wrap his arms around her middle. "You are the sexiest woman I have ever seen."
"Oh, am I?"
"It's true. It just so happens that the most beautiful woman in the world happens to be my wife and the mother of my kids."
"I guess you lucked out, huh?"
He chuckles and kisses her. "I did." They kiss again, until they hear footsteps coming down the hall. Seconds after pulling apart, Finn and Ezra burst into the room donning swim trunks.
Jade laughs at the sight of how adorable the boys are. "Daddy will go outside with you; I have to put Viv's swimsuit on and then I'll be right out," she promises. True to her word, Jade is walking into their backyard after about ten minutes.
"Wa!" Vivienne shrieks out her word for water, and points to the pool.
Jade kisses her cheek and squeezes the baby close. She notices that Viv is mesmerized by the sight of Finn, Ezra, and Beck splashing around in the pool. "Look at your brothers; aren't they funny?" When the one-year-old lets out a loud squeal, Jade laughs and grabs the baby float from the side of the pool where Beck had blown it up.
She steps into the pool, Viv in her arms, and plops the baby into her tiny flotation device. Vivienne, who loves to be in the water and even more so loves to watch her brothers play, kicks her legs eagerly and gives her parents a four-tooth grin. "Wa," she repeats, splashing in the water.
Meanwhile, Finn and Ezra are playing a pirate game using pool noodles as ships and Beck as the monster. Viv is mesmerized as she watches them play, and suddenly she decides she wants to join in. "Out! Mama, out!" She wiggles around in her seat until Jade pulls her into her arms. "Dada!" Vivienne points to Beck, who pauses his gameplay to give his sons a rest.
Beck plants a light kiss on Jade's lips before taking their daughter. "Hi, Viv." He kisses her hair and she splashes her arms in the water. Beck tosses her up in the air—which makes Jade extremely nervous, but she can't deny how much she loves the fit of giggles it sends Vivienne into every single time.
"Mama!" Ezra shouts. "I'm gonna swim all the way across the pool to you," he tells her. Over the summer, Beck and Jade had taken advantage of the pool in their backyard, and the boys were in it almost every day. Ezra, in particular, had spent those three months learning how to swim. He's holding onto the edge on the opposite side of the pool, and he lets go as soon as Jade opens her arms for him.
He has to take a quick break to tread water halfway through, but he eventually makes it to his mother. "Good job, buddy!" Jade exclaims, holding him in her arms. "You're like a little fish." She kisses his forehead. "I love you so much."
"I love you so much," he giggles, beginning a game the two of them play together.
"I love you more."
The four-year-old grins. "No, I love you more."
"I love you all the way to the moon and back," Jade challenges him.
"I love you all the way to moon and back two times!"
Jade laughs and Ezra throws his little arms around her neck before resting his head on her shoulder. Even since he was a baby, he has never been one to skip out on snuggle time with his mom. Jade kisses the side of his head and hugs him close to her. She watches as Beck and Finn are playing a game with Vivienne.
While Beck holds the one-year-old, Finn submerges under the water, only to pop out within seconds and cause Vivienne to burst into laughter. The baby, who has her father's skin and her mother's eyes, kicks her feet and babbles wildly to tell her brother to do it again. And he does, over and over again.
When the sun sets, Beck and Jade help their children dry off before walking back into the house. "Finn, go shower in your bathroom," Beck tells him, and the eight-year-old complies easily. "Ezra, head to Mama and Dad's room for your bath."
Jade runs the bath water in the master tub and plops Vivienne in. Ezra gets in next to her, causing the baby to grin at the sight of her brother. While the tub runs for another minute, Ezra engages the baby in a game of peek-a-boo. She giggles loudly, and Jade notes that it's moments like these where she thinks her heart could burst.
When they're dry and dressed in their pajamas, Beck carries his two younger children into Finn's room so they can hear a story and a song before being tucked in. Jade drains the tub and picks up the bath toys before heading for her older son's bedroom. As she walks through the hallway, she stops for a second to admire the largest picture hanging on the wall.
It's a photo she'd taken just a month ago of the three kids, and it had quickly become her new favorite. Right next to it hangs her old favorite, the one she'd taken four years ago at the Blue Moon Festival. Four years ago, to the day.
She sees the anonymous figure of a little boy that had run into her seemingly perfect image of the ferris wheel, and remembers how she'd initially been annoyed with it. But, while she had once thought that the child's introduction to the photo would ruin its beauty, it's actually what made the picture so unexplainably perfect.
"Come on, Mama! We're starting the story!"
I hope the metaphor was clear ;)
Thank you to all who have followed, reviewed, and read! I enjoyed writing this story and I hope you guys liked it, too. If you did, let me know what ya thought!