Life settled into a routine.
Eventually, the new baby smell wore off...
... but Grace and Adam's delight in their daughter did not.
Hazel spent her days following her father around in the garden, unsteady steps carrying her through a jungle filled with wonder.
She marveled at the ever-changing sights and sensations: the shape of a leaf; the iridescent shine of a beetle's shell; the tangy explosion of flavor when she bit into a plump tomato freshly plucked from its vine.
Hazel's flurry of babbled questions kept her parents on their toes. They were continuously amazed by how inquisitive and eager to learn such a tiny human could be.
The other young sim in their care, however, was much less eager to pursue her education.
It was the third time Huxley had gotten detention that week. She had never adapted well to the rigid structure of school back in Starlight Shores, but the general small-mindedness here in Appaloosa Plains made it even worse, in Huxley's opinion. By this point, she rebelled purely out of principle.
Late in the afternoon, having missed the school bus, Huxley walked across the street towards Moondance Theater. Her mother was going to take her home after she was done with work. Huxley did not look forward to the drive home, during which her mother was sure to bore her with yet another lecture.
Tired of waiting, and honestly intrigued by the rad scorpion guitar in the window display, Huxley stepped inside the small music store beside the movie theater.
There was an apathetic-looking store clerk behind the counter. He looked up from his magazine when the door swung open, but Huxley's attention was immediately drawn to someone else.
A teenage boy sat at a drum kit, pounding out a thunderous rhythm to a song only he could hear.
Huxley watched him for a while, glancing periodically at the still disinterested cashier. Then she shrugged and took a seat at the keyboard.
She joined in effortlessly, letting the drums' beat guide her, and feeling in turn how her melody influenced his rhythm. Together, they let the music flow. It was as if the music already existed somewhere, trapped just beneath the surface, steadily building up energy, and they were merely the vents it needed to be released. Time was of no consequence, and neither was the world around them.
"Okay kids," the store clerk finally got up and suddenly appeared much taller than he had hunched over the counter. "That's enough. You either buy something or you get your freeloading butts outta here."
"That was fun," the boy said as they stood outside the store. "You're pretty good."
"So are you!" Huxley was still breathless and giddy, her voice much higher than usual. She cleared her throat and willed herself to return to a more mellow cadence. "I'm Hux, by the way. Huxley."
"How come I never saw you at school before?"
"Eh, I ditched that place. I only go when there's no way around it, for exams and stuff."
Huxley was just about to form an equally nonchalant reply, expressing how little she cared about school and rules in general, when she noticed something in her peripheral vision. Grace had just rounded the corner and, having spotted the teenagers, was making her way over to them. Hux said a hasty goodbye and hurried over to her mom before she could approach and say something embarrassing.
"No one, Mom," Hux grumbled. "Let's go."
Huxley was still grounded for getting detention, but that didn't stop Grace from dragging her to the harvest festival the next day. Her mother seemed to think of it as a special treat, but to Huxley it was just another form of overly cruel punishment.
Adam greeted them with a cheerful wave and a wink. He'd been at the fair since the early morning hours, tending his market stand and selling his produce. Now that his family had arrived, however, it was finally time for a break.
The Brooks family were their closest neighbors, with just a few fields separating their homes. Hawk, a fisherman, often tended a market stand right beside Adam's and his wife Patricia was a member of the city council. Together they had three young children; Meadow, who had just started school and Aidan and Jenna, who were about Hazel's age.
Huxley scowled, wishing her mother had allowed her to stay home by herself. It wasn't like she would've tried to sneak out - there was nowhere to go in this dead town, after all. But back at the house Hux could at least have watched TV or played her guitar. Instead she was stuck here, listening to the grown-ups talk about politics. Yawn.
And as if that wasn't bad enough, after that everyone flocked to hear the mayor give some sort of speech. What a snoozefest!
The adults, however, seemed captivated by the mayor's words, their eyes fixed on him, tense and attentive.
"As you all know," mayor Wells drawled, "I have always been a great advocate of progress, but inciting change can be a demanding and grueling task. However, I am proud to say that, after working tirelessly over the past few months, we've moved leaps and bounds towards seeing all of Appaloosa County expand and prosper!"
"Prosper," Patricia Brooks hissed, "Profit, more like." At Grace's questioning gaze, she explained in a whisper, "He's been pushing for 'expansion' all year, handing out construction permits to anyone with a deep enough wallet. We at city council have been trying our best to stand against him, but it's almost impossible. Eric Wells always operates within the law."
Due to the mayor's eagerness to attract big-time investors to Appaloosa Plains, several small stores had already gone out of business, Patricia went on. Some people had even lost their property. The Curleys, an elderly couple who had owned a small house on West Appaloosa Avenue, had been evicted after being unable to pay their newly raised property taxes. Their ancestral home had been bulldozed to make space for a new gym and laundromat.
"So let us celebrate the bountiful harvest, keep each other warm during winter, and look forward to what new and exciting prospects will arise come spring," mayor Wells finished, to modest applause.
His wife Eleanor stood beside him, holding their youngest son, and flashed a dazzling smile as a journalist snapped a picture for the local paper.
When the crowd dispersed, Huxley spotted someone who looked equally indifferent to all the goings-on.
As it turned out, Josh Wells was a lot more fun to listen to than his father.
A fresh morning saw the members of the household already up and bustling to get ready.
It was going to be a very special day.
Grace's dress wasn't quite what she had imagined. The selection in Appaloosa Plains had been lacking and the seamstress woefully inexperienced. Grace tugged at the hem of her bodice once again when Adam strode past and said, "You look gorgeous, love. Come on, let's get going!"
"You're not supposed to see me," Grace whined, but couldn't keep herself from smiling. The dress may not have been perfect, but all the other arrangements were made and Grace was getting giddy with excitement.
Enchanted by the prospect of autumn leaves as the backdrop for their wedding, Grace and Adam had chosen the Appaloosa County Nature Preserve as the venue. Holding a gathering of any kind at a public park had its drawbacks, however.
For one, a group of menacing bikers had picked this spot as their rest stop.
And, more disturbingly, there were people bathing in the idyllic pond right behind the wedding arch.
But as the guests trickled in, happily exchanging hugs and well wishes, the swimmers got the hint and kindly clambered out of the water to dry off.
There was a bit of confusion about the seating arrangements. The guests could not seem to figure out which side was the bride's and which one the groom's, so naturally, they opted to stand instead.
This created some difficulty for Grace as she attempted to walk down the aisle.
"Move out of the way, folks," Adam finally had to yell, "Here comes the bride!"
Grace had just made her way through the crowd and taken her place next to Adam, when someone else chose precisely this moment to get out of the pond and dry off.
Right in the middle of the gathered crowd.
Buckley Bedlington wagged his tail, tongue lolling out of his mouth. He was obviously very proud of himself.
Grace, on the other hand, was mortified. Drenched to the bone and reeking of wet dog, she felt in no way like the stunning bride she had planned on being.
To make matters worse, one of the bikers, now sporting camo-patterned swimming trunks and an unpleasant grin, began a chant of "Take it off, take it off!" while leering at Grace's soaked dress.
"This is a disaster," Grace whimpered. "It's all ruined!"
Adam smiled reassuringly. "You're here with me, and we're getting married. This is still a pretty good day in my book."
So they proceeded to recite their heartfelt vows and exchanged rings with tears of joy in their eyes, sealing their promise with a kiss.
Unfortunately they did all of this with their backs to the crowd.
Still, all the wedding guests, including the gatecrashers, cheered for the newlyweds.
When they sat down for cake, other people's unfinished picnics still littering the tables, Grace noticed Adam scratching his chin and looking pensive.
"What is it?" she asked.
"Oh, I'm just wondering if we left out any other possible way for things to go wrong." He smirked. "I think we're still missing a fire."
Grace couldn't help but giggle.
The day hadn't gone at all as planned, and her dream wedding had turned into an absolute catastrophe. But as Adam held her in his arms, Grace realized that none of that mattered.
Grace had already had a perfect wedding once.
Now she was ready for a perfect marriage.
Later they would find out that there had indeed been one more way for things to go wrong: The wedding photographer, not noticing that the camera's viewfinder was set to 'square', had cut off little Hazel's face in the group photo. They shared a laugh, and hung the picture anyway.
I realized I keep editing out the parts where I mention Adam's dog's name, and that feels unfair. His name is Scout. Scout is a good boy.
More about names: Adam Cardwell was the name of my first ever legacy founder. It wasn't a RLC, just a basic legacy, and I was still fairly new to TS3 overall. Adam, a nature-loving hippie with no money, inherited a large plot of land in Riverview and decided to move there, bringing nothing but a sleeping bag and his guitar. After living off produce from the community garden and sleeping on his neighbors' couches for a while, he ended up scraping together enough money to build a tiny house of his own. He married Robin, a cute girl he met at the art gallery, and they had two adorable sons. Life was good.
Later on though, things got weird. The older son and heir, Forest, met a lovely woman who looked a lot like his mother Robin. Awkward, yes, but since single women were few and far between and they got along, so he proceeded to marry her anyway. They had children, life went on. Neighboring families moved out of town, new families moved in.
Eventually, as I was panning the camera around town, I noticed a woman who, again, bore a striking resemblance to Robin, who by this stage had long since passed away. Then there was another sim right behind her, a very heavy, dark-skinned redhead this time, but again, with the same face. And another sim, and then another. None of these sims were in any way related to my legacy family, who, by now, all looked like cookie-cutter versions of each other with different clothes and hair.
That was when I turned to Google and typed something along the lines of WTF ALL MY SIMS HAVE THE SAME FACE HELP!!!!1! and finally learned all about the dreaded EA face one. Riverview had become a town overrun by vanilla pudding zombies and the Cardwell legacy was abandoned, not without shedding a tear or two.
The moral of the story is that legacy gameplay without a story progression mod ends in tragedy.
The reason for this lengthy story (besides getting it all out! So cathartic!) is that this legacy is nearing its end (sure, there are still 3 generations to go, but I like to plan ahead) and I decided I want a fixed surname for the family in the future. So this is to honor Adam Cardwell, whose legacy ended far too early. Plus, Cardwell goes nicely with most first names.
(... and here goes Hazel Cardwell, disproving my point.)