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  1. Trying to keep tabs on multiple families isn't the easiest task! Bob knows that red roses are a solid romantic gesture. "Bethany, you are such a beautiful, Godly young woman..." "... will you do me the honour of becoming my wife?" Front hugs a go-go!! Popping back over to the mothership, where little Hannah had aged up. I changed her outfit. Then we go to Andrew's house. Time for the twins to age up! Here's Molly! And here's little Morgan on the xylophone! This is also the 800th screenshot in my album. This top and this skirt are the most modest options I have for formal/bridal wear. I'm guessing that all the females will be wearing this combination, or similar. You may be able to notice the subtle floral decoration I added for Bethany's outfit. I could go for a slightly shorter skirt (still covering those *sinful* knees), or else something that doesn't cover the shoulders. I wish I could create my own CC sometimes, but I don't have those sorts of skills, so I have to make do with what I have. Hand-holding! It's happening! Wedding #2 for the Taylor offspring! I didn't capture the kiss that occurs as part of the wedding vows action. But just-married-that-second Sims, particularly fundie ones, don't need an excuse!! I couldn't spot Diana in the immediate congregation, and then, searching the lot, I found her. Cake time! Slow dancing in a bedroom. This was where Bob slept when they weren't married; it'll probably be a kids' room in the future. That's two weddings down and six more to go. Of course, the two youngest are only toddlers.
  2. It's been some time since I updated on the Taylors! Gabriel is a cute little dude. Melissa was pregnant with #8 and went into labour in the music room. Only Francesca (hidden by the piano) is really freaking out. Elijah is so bored he's yawning! And here's baby #8, Hannah. I've decided that she will be the last blessing, as the next generation has started now. Sadly, Melissa wet herself. Over at Andrew's, Natalie goes into labour again! Andrew is totally freaking out but Natalie is so chill she's eating dinner. She gave birth to twins Morgan (boy) and Molly (girl). I haven't really got any photos of them yet. It's always hot in Appaloosa Plains, so Joey decided to head to the beach and sunbathe. The triplets became young adults whilst I was playing with Andrew and his family. Elijah went somewhat bald, and for some reason Melissa is wearing a very NIKE dress. Diana adopts her mom's hairstyle. Francesca rocks the casual look. I've got a "rebellious" daughter in Sims 4 (Emily Smith), and maybe Francesca will be my "rebellious" Sim in this game. Here's Gabriel playing with some toys... ... and baby Hannah in her crib. For some reason a babysitter randomly spawned even though there were two adult Sims on the lot. I think this just happens when you play a family with kids, go to a different family, then go back. Here's Andrew feeding little Molly! I'll make sure to take photos when they age into toddlers. Matilda is three days off becoming a child. The Taylors are a pretty musical family, and Natalie fits right in. Bethany has a special friend! His name is Bob Wilson. I went to briefly check in on the Andrew Taylor family, and... erm... there was a bit of congestion going on. Don't sit on your siblings, Matilda! That's not very loving! The second part of the title refers to something odd that I've not noticed before. I clicked on Andrew and he'd been randomly given a Fine Arts degree, grade B. What's even weirder though is that MELISSA was given the exact same thing!! Having googled, I think it does happen sometimes. I never sent them, and they didn't even get an extra trait. I can't screenshot with the UI up, so here's a random shot of Andrew in his work gear. Back to Bethany and Bob. Flirting in a BAR? They didn't partake in any sinful drinking, though. I got Bethany to do the Sims University Aptitude Test, just to see which degree she'd be suited to. I'm planning to make Bob a politician, and I'll give him some skills and maybe send *him* to university. HAND HOLDING ALERT Y'ALL "Will you enter a courtship with me?" Late-night dancin' And here's Bob doing the aptitude test. I foresee marriage for these two! Well, of course they're gonna get married, that's the Godly way.
  3. When we last visited the Taylors, Melissa had just had baby #7, Gabriel. A good bit has happened since then! The morning after her wedding to Andrew, Natalie feels a little queasy... Natalie loves the heat (it's a trait), so she decides to sunbathe in the yard. Given her sooper-modest outfit, she won't get much of a tan. She went to the library to brush up on cooking skill... and bumped into Melissa... ... who then decided to randomly play piano by the bookshelves. Andrew attended a party at his parents' house, and got to meet his kid brother. Looks like the next generation is on its way! Natalie had a real craving for watermelon. Freakout! Looks like the baby is a-coming! It's a girl! Welcome to the world, baby Matilda! Of course Natalie naturally pops back to her pre-pregnancy size instantly. Back to the mothership. Bethany and Christopher aged up and moved out. So, naturally, Melissa took advantage of this. Gabriel grew up! It's been a while since Melissa had to potty-train any of her kids but she remembers what to do. I sent the teens to school when they weren't feeling great. Diana spent most of the day sleeping in class (tut tut) and landed herself in detention, so she had to stay after school. Is that... a... TELEVISION?? Don't worry, Natalie only uses it to improve her cooking skills. Andrew got a promotion! Of course, Natalie has to be the one to attend to her crying daughter whilst Andrew sleeps on. Got insomnia and can't sleep? Go to the library! Matilda is due to age up soon. The family doesn't know it yet, but Matilda is going to become a big sister soon. Plus, of course, there's baby #8 for Joey and Melissa on the way.
  4. OK, so the last part ended with a "mystery" photo.... but I bet you can guess what role she'll have to play. Andrew's turning into a Young Adult! He also gets Kicked Out of the house. This is much easier than manually moving him, plus they choose a random vacant lot. Andrew ends up going for a pretty fancy place. Christopher was VERY NAUGHTY one day and SKIPPED SCHOOL. He got scolded by Melissa, so he had to help out round the house. So, the "mystery" woman from the end of the last post is called Natalie Jones. Andrew takes an immediate fancy to her... Joey shows up. I know fundies love chaperones, but it's a bit of a style cramper... DAT HUG. They went on a date to a diner. I heard some random piano music... yep, it was Melissa randomly jamming behind the diner That outfit is the Level 2 Daycare uniform. The next morning, Andrew gets a job in the Music career track, which fits with his Lifetime Wish as a One Sim Band (the same as his mother). Natalie works on her Cooking skill. Her nightie is somewhat sluttish, but I decided length was more important than sleeves (ok and low-cut-ness). After all, her Everyday skirt shows *knee*, so... Seems like Melissa and Joey took advantage of a slot finally being available after Andrew moved out... Girly jamming session! Getting in the mood for a proposal... Engaged!! Sadly I missed the actual down-on-one-knee moment as I was looking at something on my phone. Oh well. It happened. The next morning, Andrew practises guitar whilst Natalie brushes up on her cooking. On their way! I decided to build a small wedding venue in town. I am pretty sure Andrew invited his whole family. In the end, only Joey, Christopher, Diana and Elijah watched the ceremony. Hmm. KISS! KISS! Melissa eventually showed up in a VERY sluttish skirt. The two married couples slow dance. Time to start the next generation!! I then went back to the mother ship just in time to witness... ...the birth of baby #7, Gabriel! It's a big, big gap between the DEF triplets and baby Gabriel, but oh well. Bethany and Christopher are also due to age up into Young Adults, so we may well also get an H and an I baby soon. There aren't really any H biblical names for boys, so if the theoretical H baby is a boy I'll call him something like Henry, or Hugo, a nice traditional name. I names are more obvious (Isaac). It's the reverse for girls... Hannah is the obvious H choice, whereas there are no I names so it'll be something like IDK Imogen or Isabelle. (If its twins, H baby would be born first, I baby second). I'm probably gonna stop at ten (so, that'd be Joseph/James/etc or Joanna/Julia.)
  5. Melissa is now the only member of the family left at home during the day, so she decided to open a daycare. It allows her to stay at home, so there's no boss or women with green hair around. It's Leisure Day! Normally there are four festivals a year, but because I have this game in permanent summer mode, you only get Leisure Day, once every four weeks. They wanted to throw a pool party, so I built them a pool. The flowers are from the Weather Stone, which supernaturals can activate. This is Reviving Sprinkle, exclusive to Fairies, that fertilizes plants and revives dead ones. It's useful to Joey and his big garden. Bethany contemplating life and God under the stars. Teens and up can wear a modest mermaid skirt, but the best kids can wear is a wetsuit. For some reason, Melissa decided to buy a digger to see if there were any gems buried in the garden. Now it's time for the triplets to age up! For a short time, I will only have Teens in the family. Andrew is close to becoming a Young Adult and aging up. I'll probably kick him out. Yes, he'll be alone, but it's easiest this way. Plus Melissa may be able to have another kid. There'll be a huge age gap, but that's not a concern for me. Fairies live much longer than normal Sims. The girls are all wearing the same skirt, but have different tops, hairstyles and shoes. Here's Diana. And then Elijah and Francesca. There aren't any modest nighties available to teens, so they just wear dressing gowns instead. I decided to make Christopher "eccentric"; this doesn't mean he acts weirdly or says crazy stuff, it actually means he's good at inventing. I thought it was a way for him to make money, by creating toys and mini sculptures and stuff. Oh noes! Christopher got electrocuted! I hired a repair woman to fix the shower, but she inevitably decided to go for a dip. So I got a woman in a BIKINI mending the shower. NIKE!! Jacob grew into an adult cat. Only Andrew was there to watch. More band practice. The daycare only operates Monday-Thursday for some reason. Melissa got the job on the Thursday, so didn't start until the following Monday. Here are the first two toddlers, Alexa and Catherine Givens. The game automatically generates toddlers, so they're not necessarily living in the town. On the second day, we get a different pair of kids entirely. Here are Janis and Tommy Spain. Alexa and Catherine Givens are no longer in Melissa's relationships panel, so who knows what happened to them. Basement homework club!! Sims in The Sims 3 tend to autonomously do their homework much more than in Sims 2 or 4. That's the end of Part Six! But wait? Who's this... ??
  6. Gotta start those homemaker skills early! Francesca and Elijah ended up sleeping in each other's beds, but I didn't regard it as a big problem. You can claim beds in Sims 3, such that they will automatically sleep in those beds. Bethany dancing this time. Perhaps they're OK with it? Francesca really needed the loo one morning, but it was filthy so she had to clean it. OK. It's official, the Taylors are OK with dancing. Melissa gets involved. I have Classical music playing all the time, so it's not ebil pop with a beat. Joey mastered the Gardening skill!! Bethany decided to try and sell some baked goods. Sadly, nobody bought anything. I managed to get everyone in shot! That's Diana talking to Joey; kids with the Excitable trait often pretend to rule over an imaginary kingdom, dressing up in a costume and with a crown. Only God can really rule over a kingdom, though! It was an automatic action, and with eight people in a household you can't control everyone at once. What's this? It's a cute little kitten! His name is Jacob. Bethany did get a customer one day, but Patricia Bedlington didn't buy anything. Joey's not looking at Patricia's vest and shorts. Plus, the visitor is a vampire... The twins age up! We can have family band practice now. I wish I could attach a video file of the music they're playing, but I can't. It sounds pretty cool when they jam together. There are two styles, "Jam" and "Blues". Whenever someone plays an instrument, the others like to come and watch. This is mostly OK, except when they're supposed to be going to bed. Then it's just stupid. Oi, you're tired, go to bed. You can watch your mom play the piano tomorrow. Everyone's off to school! Cleaning up around the house isn't just for the girls in this family. Or is he doing something else...? Oh noes! Melissa's hair! Turns out Andrew was playing a prank. Fairies love to prank. I don't get the Taylors to do it much, but Andrew was having a mood swing and had a wish to play a prank. Melissa wanted to earn some money by playing piano in the park, but no-one gave her any tips. Perhaps I'll try somewhere else. Joey decided to enter a hot dog eating contest. The natural consequence of stuffing your face... throwing up afterwards. A couple of days later, we got another kitten. This is Eliza, short for Elizabeth. Jacob was pretty lonely, so I got another pet of the same species. I still intend to take them on vacation one day. I don't know where I'll go. Maybe France.
  7. As the title says. Late-ish one evening, I sent Andrew on a scavenger hunt looking for gems and metals. Melissa wants to be an awesome musician, so it's time to practise the guitar! Potty training! Andrew is now a teenager! One evening, Elijah decided to play the xylophone. Sadly, he woke Christopher up. Andrew was able to sleep through thanks to the Heavy Sleeper trait. Everyone was either at school, at work, or asleep, and Melissa and Francesca were the only ones up. Although you can't be a travelling music ministry family, you can play instruments. You can only play once you become a teen, so right now Andrew is the only kid who can join in jamming sessions. Melissa was going a little stir crazy, so she decided to visit the consignment store. There wasn't anything she liked, though. Bethany brought a friend home from school, but they didn't interact much. Melissa then decided to visit the library. She sat opposite a dude with a ponytail, but she decided to ignore him. Jam session! Bethany and Christopher will soon turn into teens so they can join in and form a full "band". Late night sliding! (Or could be early morning, I don't know). Andrew can now be a brother-dad and look after his toddler siblings. Cleaning the bath! Gotta start training to be a homemaker early! Melissa herself cleans the shower. Melissa wrote a book, Being Purposeful in your Marriage. She decided to start on a second, to do with parenting (I forget the exact wording). Sister time! They've got a small pond/lake in their garden, so Christopher takes advantage and goes fishing. The triplets aged up! I gave the girls slightly different styles. Bethany is technically wearing a top and skirt, but I made it look like it's a dress (the top was 'tucked into' the skirt). Diana has a different type of top. And Francesca is wearing an actual dress. They've also all got long hair, but done differently. The glowy effect is from the full moon. I find it rather annoying as it makes me feel like my glasses are smeary, even when they're not!! The full moon gives a positive moodlet to fairies, though, so it's worth keeping.
  8. I loaded Sims 3 today. I thought I'd muted all the sound options (voices, music, ambient, sound effects). Turns out I'd only muted music. I played and... NO CRACKLING PRAISE RUFUS. It cured itself! Tis a true Rufus miracle!! So I unmuted music and.... played!!! The game is a tiny bit slow, but it's barely noticeable. I get the occasional visual glitch, but nothing major or that impedes game play. I haven't really played the Bancrofts all that much. It can be a little strange playing a whole bunch of families without story progression, i.e. when you play as Madison Walker and her family, her siblings/nieces/nephews are frozen in time, don't age etc. And really, they're getting to the point where it's just marriage and babies... just like the Duggars eh?? I will probably still play them, maybe just focusing on one or two of the kids. And I always wanted to try and figure out what was wrong with my Sims 3 game. I *really* should have thought of uninstalling and reinstalling sooner. I is a dumbass. So, without further ado, let's jump into the Sims 3 Taylor family. Melissa was asleep, so I got Joey to take care of the kids. Always the grossest part of parenting... emptying the potty. It's gotta be done, Joey. And a diaper change for Diana. Toddlers are so cute! This is Elijah and Francesca playing peek-a-boo in the playpen. Time to teach yourself to walk, Diana! The bedrooms as they are currently. There are officially four days before the toddlers age up, but I age up Sims 3 toddlers when they still have one day left. Time to wake up and be a mom, Melissa! Aww, poor little Francesca. Gotta start on those wife-and-mommy skills early, Bethany! Early-morning sprinkler play. This is the best game for modest swimwear. Quick nap whilst there's not much going on with the toddlers. Joey came home from work feeling stressed, so he decided to tend his garden. It's doing pretty well. The kids are home from ebil public school. Andrew needs a bath. I bought a jungle gym! Christopher gets up early to play. Playtime in the girls' room! Managed to get most of the family in this shot. Melissa decided to actually TEACH Francesca how to talk. Is... Christopher... DANCING?? Yep. BONUS! I currently have two Sims 3 save games. The Taylors live in Appaloosa Plains, and my other game is in Sunset Valley. Martin Brown and Stephanie Langley are married with two grown-up kids, Alexandra and Jessica. I built some venues (aka bars of various types) and the Langley-Browns own two of them (out of a possible six I built). Martin decided to visit one of the ones he doesn't own one evening. He was dancing downstairs when someone had a medical emergency (he's a doctor). Incidentally, this guy (in the yellow fairy outfit) is Alexandra's father in law; he's called Marty Jackson. The person in the background is Emma Hatch, one of the premades, who is a werewolf. She's partly shocked at what's going on and partly starstruck (the Langley-Brown family members are all Celebrities to some degree. Needless to say the Taylors are NOT celebrities).
  9. mango_fandango

    Non-Fundie Family: The Taylors

    Meet the Taylors. Yes, I know I use this surname a lot, but it is very common!! Here's Isabella. She's a Comedian. Here's her husband Mark. He's an Artist. This is eldest daughter Brooke. She wants to be a Chef. This is adopted daughter Brianna. She's a Nerd Brain. Isabella then had triplets: Brynlee, Brittany and Bradley. Brynlee is pink, Brittany is yellow, and Bradley is green. Isabella was up late one evening. She decided to have some strawberry ice cream. Because reasons. Each kid gets their own bedroom (except for the eldest two, who share). Bradley is a Genius and has a cool science kit in his room. And yes, I do the colour thing for every family, not just my fundies. Mark woke up sad and lonely one morning. Luckily for him, it's Love Day! (I recently downloaded Seasons). These two are adorable! Mark is an artist, and has a mini studio. Brynlee gives big sis Brooke a tulip. Here's a photo from back when the triplets were babies. Dang that was a LOT of screaming.
  10. mango_fandango

    Boo hiss to crackly audio.

    So the audio is still fairly crackly in Sims 3. It's not all the time, but it's enough that it's irritating. Sims 2 and 4 are fine. My audio drivers seem to be up-to-date. So, for now, I won't be playing the Taylor family. I managed to get Bethany and Christopher to age into Children. But for now I'll be focusing on the Bancrofts and the Smiths. Sucks, but it happens sometimes. And 2 out of 3 games isn't bad.
  11. We start off with a sweet photo of Andrew in his highchair. I love toddler faces in this game! Here we have a perfect tool for fundie Sims: the Head Start Playpen (Sims 3 Store). Bung your child in and she/he can teach themselves to talk. Parent doesn't have to bother. Win win! Joey was a self-employed gardener, so he dropped off some produce at the grocery store. I say "was" because there wasn't much money so he joined the Science track instead, which emphasises Gardening at the beginning. I'm getting him to master Gardening before any other skill so I can get to the challenges later on, which only really come if you focus purely on Gardening. I'll tell you when I come to it! "I'm happy to give you some produce, Honey Darnell, but I'm having to try really hard not to focus on your big... err... chest." Because I have Supernatural, we get Full Moon every so often. This means ZOMBIES appear. Joey has to keep his plants locked up so the zombies don't eat them. The zombies are often old people, and that night one of them died. Sweet fellowship time! Bethany and Christopher aged up. Here they are in the living room. Christopher is making use of the walker; yup, bung a kid in that and they'll teach themselves to walk! Now, if only there was an automatic toilet-training device... Pregnant again! Melissa decides to take Andrew out to the park. Not many babysitters turn up in a suit and bow tie... Andrew aged up. I gave him the Heavy Sleeper trait so he wouldn't be woken up all night. First-born-son privileges and all that. Melissa was much bigger this time around.... triplets! Blessings #4-#6 are Diana, Elijah and Francesca. Francesca isn't purely Biblical but it's the feminine form of Francis. Faith would've been a little too obvious and didn't really fit with the other names. Joey is holding Elijah, who's colour is orange. Diana is lilac and Francesca is red. There's a lot of screaming and crying at the moment. Thankfully they should all age up soon and it'll be easier. Babies seem to get lonely a lot, so it'll be nice when they're older and can interact. Bonus photo: Bethany and Andrew playing peekaboo (back when Andrew was still a toddler). Seems that if you put two kids into the playpen and they interact, they really improve their relationship; the two are already Best Friends.
  12. This couple is Melissa and Joey Taylor. Melissa wants to master all the music skills, and Joey wants to raise five children from babies to toddlers. Obviously he'll end up having more than this, but it's a start. They live in Appaloosa Plains. I tend to use this house in Pomona Promenade for my fundie families as it's big and cheap, with potential for expansion. You'll notice the stairs behind Melissa in the first photo; downstairs is the basement music room and upstairs are the children's rooms. I gave them the Vibromatic Heart Bed as this has a 100% conception success rate. They don't know this, of course, they were merely given it as a wedding present from an obscure relative who claims it's great for sweet fellowship. The first photo is of Melissa pregnant, in a VERY immodest outfit of SHORTS. Again, like with Karen Bancroft, she rarely leaves the house so she decides just to put up with it. (Sims 4, where you don't have to change into special maternity wear, is much better in this regard). I downloaded both the Bohemian Garden and Humble Harvest Stands from the Sims 3 store, so Joey has a much bigger range of plants available to him at the start of the Gardening skill than just Apples, Grapes, Lettuces and Tomatoes. He has a secondary wish to grow lots of top-quality vegetables. To facilitate a better garden, I changed the settings so that Appaloosa Plains is in permanent summer mode. If I keep the traditional four-season year then the cold temperatures wipe out my plants and they never recover so I have to start all over again which is a massive PITA. In an original version (more later), I kept rain as a weather option, but it was raining pretty much constantly for a few days so in this current version I disabled rain too. You may also notice that I've decided to really mess with these guys and have them be FAIRIES. Fundies are supposed to be anti-fantasy and magic so they're slightly annoyed by this (in my head I've decided it's the result of either some genetic anomaly, or they think it's some curse from God). Like typical fundies, they decide to exploit the bonuses of being Fairies, namely the ability to cast Auras which increase skill gain and a longer lifespan which means MORE BAYBEEZ. After a few days of playing instruments and Joey growing his garden, Melissa goes into labour and gives birth to baby Andrew. I was originally playing another version of this family where the first baby was a girl called Anna, but the laptop decided to restart to finish installing updates so I lost all my progress. Boo. So now the firstborn is a coveted son. She had a comfortable homebirth. Joey seems to have a tendency to garden in his pyjamas. I've included a photo of Melissa practicing the piano. Babies in Sims 3 tend to be fairly easy-going compared to the ones in Sims 2 and 4 so Andrew doesn't need much attention. (We also get to see Melissa's normal, modest Everyday outfit). Melissa of course quickly conceives again. Her outfit is only slightly better this time, joggers instead of shorts. Here's Andrew as a toddler. I'm sure I've said this on FJ before, but I usually assign every Sim one colour (not always their predetermined favourite) and make all their clothing and bedding primarily that colour. It's not just the fundies I do it for, but it's particularly useful in large families where the offspring tend to all look the same. Melissa goes into labour in the living room. Joey was probably outside gardening during her first labour so he's utterly freaked out. And you notice he's STILL in pyjamas, the lazy bastard. Turns out Joey is so freaked out he decides to autonomously take Melissa to the hospital. Melissa's worried about leaving Andrew in charge of an ungodly babysitter, but he isn't around for long before Melissa and Joey get back. Ta-da! TWINS! Thank the Lord Joey got into proper clothes before going to the hospital. Here we have Bethany and Christopher. You can tell by Joey's expression that he has little experience of kids. That takes us to about the second day of Week 2. Again, the fun only really starts when we have lots of kids at once. Joey finishes the week on Level 6 in Gardening (irritatingly, in the original Anna-not-Andrew save he'd reached Level 8 by this point).
  13. mango_fandango

    Wa-La Diner, Part Two

    “Well, I recently began a courtship,” she said, the pitch of her voice increasing. “Oh, just like my daughter here,” I said, pointing to Faye. “Well, I’ll be sure to pray for you.” “Thank you!” said Grace. “What would like for your main course?” “I will have the Tater Tot Casserole,” I replied. “Jessica?” “I’ll go for the Chickenetti,” Jessica replied. “And you, young man?” Grace asked Charlie. “Oh… umm… I’ll have a burrito, please,” Charlie said. “And I will have the Chickenetti as well, please,” Faye said. “Thanks for the order,” Grace said, scribbling it all down. “Here are some complementary pickles and two animal crackers.” I eyed the pickle jar warily. I was not much of a fan of pickled food, unlike my husband. “Oh wow, these are so salty,” Jessica grimaced. “And slimy and vinegary. I can’t eat these.” “Dude! We should say grace!” Faye said, poking her sister. “Oh yeah,” Jessica said. “Mom?” “Thank you Lord for the food we are about to eat,” I said quickly. The singing had finished, and now a terrible scratching began. I looked up at the stage, and sure enough, it was who I’d guessed it would be. They were dressed in black and white with the occasional red accessory. The married daughters were holding their kids. “Oh crap, them,” Jessica sighed. “Hang on, where’s the oldest? Jesus Rehab?” “They seem to want to forget about him,” I replied. I too had abandoned the pickles and was eating an animal cracker. “Well, after what that asshat did, I’m not surprised,” Jessica said. “I notice his wife’s there. Such a damn shame she doesn’t have the option of divorce. She must be feeling so conflicted.” The food duly arrived. The Chickenetti was in a silver serving dish, with a pair of plastic tongs stuck in the centre. “Guess it’s serve yourself,” Faye said. “Paper plates, too.” She gave Jessica a serving before helping herself. We all quickly repeated the same grace as I’d used earlier before digging in. “So, what’s it like?” Jessica asked. “Greasy as fuck, but surprisingly nice,” I replied, careful to keep her voice down lest a family keel over at her usage of a curse word. “Mm, same with this Chickenetti,” Jessica said. “Can’t say the same about this burrito,” Charlie said. “It’s the plainest thing ever. No meat? No spice? Who on Earth made up this dish?” “They used to use meat,” Faye explained, spooning some spare Chickenetti onto his plate, “but they switched to this meatless, bean version and apparently there’s no difference in taste.” “Pfft, I call bullshit,” Charlie said. He twirled his fork in the Chickenetti. The screeching stopped, and the Taylors themselves got up to take the stage- or, at least, the parents and unmarried children did. They began singing in a very nasal chorus. “Man, I can’t take much more of this entertainment,” Jessica muttered. “None of these people have any discernible talent whatsoever.” “Too right,” Faye replied. “As long as they’re honouring Jesus it’s A-OK though.” I could feel the grease around my mouth as Grace took away our plates and the serving dish. As I reached for a paper napkin, I wondered how likely it would be that I would end up in Dr Kaczynski’s office in three months complaining of heart problems. “So… dessert, guys?” Jessica grinned. “Lots of choice there, too.” I glanced at the menu again. Ice cream pie… poppy seed loaf… apple dumplings… all the dishes I could have expected were there. Charlie went for the ice cream pie, Jessica for the poppy seed loaf, I for cinnamon rolls and Faye for cheesecake. Fortunately, by the time the dessert arrived, the entertainment seemed to have stopped for the evening. Unfortunately, they began piping in hymns over the tannoy system. “This is quite nice, actually,” Jessica said, “if a little dry.” “Mmm, yeah, I like this cinnamon roll,” I replied. “So, do you think we’ll end up coming here again?” Faye asked. “Probably not,” I said. “I don’t want another evening of screeching and wailing for one.” “Neither,” Faye replied. “It’s been an interesting experience but not one I want to experience again.” After paying (and giving the waitress a tip of tracts, like any good fundie would), we decided to browse the shop. The shelves were full of books. I recognised many of the Taylor titles. “I still can’t believe people actually buy these,” Jessica said. “They’re aimed at such a niche market. Surely all the people interested in this stuff will have bought them already?” “Yeah, I have no idea how they actually make any money,” I replied. “They’ve stopped their conferences and their IT course thing has folded. None of the sons have any concrete kind of job working at a legit company. They all seem to work for Papa Taylor.” “Well, they’re managing somehow,” Faye said. “Well, we’re not gonna buy any of this stuff, are we? I wanna get out of here.” We left the shop just as a family I didn’t recognise came in. We clambered back into our car and headed for home.
  14. mango_fandango

    Wa-La Diner, Part One

    A while ago we came up with ideas for a potential fundie-themed restaurant. I decided to write a story featuring the Masons and a visit to said restaurant. Families are referred to, although not by name. “Mom. Mom. Have you seen what’s in the newspaper?” Faye was running into the living room, waving a copy of our local paper wildly. “No, you’ve been reading it all morning. What?” “There’s a new restaurant opening. It’s called Wa-La Diner and it’s run by a fundamentalist Christian family. It’s their grand opening tonight and supposedly there are LOADS of fundies going. We HAVE to go.” The paper was swooshing so fast I could feel a breeze. Faye had an excited look in her eyes. In fact, the members of Dumb Things Fundies Do had been discussing the grand opening for a long time. I knew I could score major kudos points by going. And I was seriously tempted. I’d recently bought myself a new maxi skirt… oh, who was I kidding…? “I think we can definitely go,” I grinned. “Why don’t you invite Charlie along? We can pretend you’re courting and I’m your chaperone or something. Do you think Jessica will want to come?” “Well, she’s not as fascinated by fundies as me, but I’m sure she’d be up for it,” Faye grinned. “HEY! JESS!” My oldest daughter entered the room. “D’you fancy going to Wa-La Diner?” Jessica looked confused as an enthusiastic Faye shoved the advert under her nose. “Oh, this sounds good…” Jessica muttered. “We don’t have a huge family, though. How can we not appear like intruders?” “Mom figured it out,” Faye replied. “I’m inviting Charlie along- we can pretend we’re courting- and you and Mom are our chaperones.” “I don’t really have any suitable skirts…” Jessica muttered. “Well, we can buy you one,” Faye said breezily. The skirt- a knee-length denim affair- was duly purchased. Jessica paired it with a blue paisley-patterned v-neck top underneath which she wore a white camisole for “modesty”. Faye herself was wearing a black-and-white patterned maxi dress which was modest enough without extras. Standing in the hallway, we all laughed at each other. “Oh my god, this is going to be soooo bizarre,” Faye said. The doorbell rang. Charlie was looking wary. “What is this thing we’re doing?” he asked. “We’re visiting Wa-La Diner,” Faye said, explaining the story. “Oh God, we’re going to be seeing freaky fundies up close?” he asked. “Come on, it’ll be a laugh,” Faye pleaded. “OK. As long as we don’t actually have to talk to these Jesus freaks, I’m good.” Wa-La Diner was brightly lit. The front windows were interestingly decorated. “What’s with all the pink and lace and doilies and doll tea sets?” Charlie asked. “Oh, I know who that’ll be,” Faye said, explaining. Charlie’s eyes shot up. “She sounds insane,” he replied. “All fundies are, let’s be honest,” Jessica said, putting her hands in her pockets. The main dining room was noisy. As we waited for a waitress to arrive, I decided to people-watch. “Spot anyone?” Faye asked. “Not yet, we’re too far away,” I replied. A young woman, dressed in a bright-pink t-shirt, frilly apron and denim maxi skirt walked over to us. “Welcome to Wa-La Diner!” she said, in a bright voice. “My name is Grace and I will be your waitress this evening. How many of you are there?” “Four,” I said, whilst thinking “Can you not count, dumbass?” We were led to a small table at the side of the room. It too was covered in a pink gingham table cloth and lace doilies. “Here are your menus!” said Grace, in the same high-pitched voice. “I will be back shortly to take your order!” She walked over to another table. “Big Salad?” Charlie asked. “Oh, she’s particularly crazy,” Faye explained. “Ooh look, Taylors,” Jessica whispered, nudging my elbow. I whipped my head round. It looked like the entire clan had arrived. Mama Taylor and her unmarried daughters were all in the same outfit- white t-shirt, black floral-patterned skirt and pale pink cardigan. Papa Taylor and the unmarried sons were in simple white shirts and chinos. Each married son and his family had also cobbled together some kind of dress code. “Three guesses as to what they’ll be eating,” I muttered, spotting the meatless burritos underneath the “main courses” heading. “So, what are we all having?” Jessica asked, bringing my attention back to the table. “Hmm… there are so many classic dishes and only four of us…” I said. “I think I’ll take the plunge and go for Tater Tot Casserole.” “Ah yeah, I was gonna go for that…” Jessica said. “Hm. I’ll go with Chickenetti.” I was just about to ask Faye what she wanted when a dreadful wailing began. Thinking some poor young woman had been dumped, I looked round for the source of the noise. “It’s them!” Faye whispered. “Off the RV! No doubt trying to grift for a free meal.” “Jesus, is that singing?” Charlie wondered. “And holy crap, they’re so skinny!” “Not the husband though,” I muttered. “Ooh look! Guess who’ve arrived, all the way from Washington!” Jessica said. I looked toward the entrance and saw what Faye had seen. I recognised the mother, short hair standing out in stark contrast to the lengthy tresses all around her. The eldest daughters were looking bored, arms folded. The youngest, twins, were dressed completely identically, from the pink-and-white striped dresses to the white sandals on their feet. The only concession to individuality was that one had a pink ribbon in her hair, whilst her sister wore a purple one. “Ah, my gateway fundies,” I said. “I thought they’d ditched the skirts-only rule?” “They’re gonna be back in skirts to fit in at Wa-La, aren’t they?” Faye pointed out. “True,” I replied. “Spot anyone else?” “Yup,” she replied. “Right there, all the way from Tennessee.” I looked. Sure enough, I recognised them. It looked like they hadn’t brought along their married children- until I remembered that the married couples all had young children or were on their honeymoon. “Man, you are going to have to tell me about these people,” Charlie said, staring in disbelief at all the other tables. “Oh, don’t you worry, I will,” Faye said drily. “Hello again! What would you like to order?” Grace’s high-pitched baby voice was starting to grate on me. “I think we’ll start off with a bowl of Big Salad to share as well as some gloodles,” I said. Then, remembering a common fundie trick, I asked her if there was any way in which we could pray for her.
  15. mango_fandango

    County Fair, Summer 1999

    In this part we're introduced properly to Rebecca's friend Sandra, and her daughters Annie and Marissa are also mentioned. It was a hot summer day. Sandra and I had arranged to go to the County Fair together, not least because I had never been. “Jessica! Come downstairs, please!” My oldest daughter, Jessica, came running. Her blonde hair was tied in bunches decorated with pink ribbon bows that matched her pink t-shirt. “Jessica, how many times have I told you not to run down the stairs? You could really hurt yourself.” “Sorry Mommy.” Like all young children, her knees were constantly being scraped and covered in plasters. “That’s OK. I just don’t want you to break a bone and end up in the emergency room.” “No. Are we going now?” “Yes. That’s why I called you down.” The fair was packed. As I approached the entrance, I saw Sandra’s red hair. “Look, there they are,” I said. “Hi, Becky,” she called, waving. “Hi, Sandy. My, Annie and Marissa are so big now!” “I know! Sometimes I catch myself thinking, where did the baby years go?” She smiled at her girls. It seemed almost ridiculous that we both had two daughters, who were the same age- Annie was three weeks older than Jessica and Marissa was two months younger than Faye. We’d spent no longer than 30 minutes inside (primarily playing and failing at a hook-a-duck game) when Faye tugged at my arm. “Moooommmmyyyy,” she whined, “I wanna driiiiiink.” “OK,” I said brightly, “let’s go find one.” I took her hand and we ventured forth in search of one. I reckoned that there would be plenty of vendors. Almost immediately, I spotted a large sign emblazoned with the words “Free Soft Drinks!” Instinctively, I paused. Something was telling me that this seemed a little dodgy, that there was some catch. I wasn’t sure what, though, so I carefully ventured a little closer. It was then that I noticed two of the people standing beside the booth. One was a woman, with greying hair, dressed in a white t-shirt and navy pinafore dress (what would be called a jumper in American English). The hem stopped at her ankles and the whole ensemble gave a shapeless appearance. The other figure was a man, also with greying hair, wearing a white polo shirt and blue jeans. The polo was tucked into the waist of the jeans. I guessed they were married. A figure moved to stand beside the woman. I noticed that she, too, was in a white t-shirt and navy jumper. She had long, dirty blonde hair that cascaded down her back. She was holding a sheaf of small bits of paper. It was then that I took in the crowd surrounding the booth properly. There were five male figures, all of differing ages, dressed like the first man, who I now guessed was the father. Beside the mother stood a small girl, who couldn’t have been much older than Faye. She looked incredibly bored. Even the navy bow in her hair drooped forlornly. Who the hell were these people? Why were they all dressed identically? The age range was too wide to be a school group- and besides, it was the holidays. The girls all had long, loose hair. “Mommy, what are you doing?” “Sorry, sweetie,” I said absent-mindedly, totally confused as to who these weirdly-dressed people were. It was then that I overheard one of them speak. “Do you know the Ten Commandments?” Huh? What kind of a question was that? After observing them for a few more seconds, it transpired that getting a free drink came with being quizzed on the Ten Commandments. I grabbed Faye’s hand tighter and hurried away. I knew most of the Commandments, but I didn’t fancy discussing them with a bunch of matching strangers. I purchased Faye and myself some orange juice before going to find Sandra. “Are you OK? You look kinda weird,” she asked. “I just saw the weirdest people…” I began. “The women were all in long jumpers and they were talking about the Ten Commandments…” “You met the Taylors,” Sandra grinned, holding up a hand to stem my gibbering. “They’re fundamentalist Christians.” “What?” “Fundamentalist Christians. You saw them proselytising- trying to convert people. The little pieces of paper they were holding are called tracts.” “How do you know about them?” “I got proselytised at last year,” Sandra grimaced. “I couldn’t get away. They made me feel awful. I told them I’m religious and go to church but they still made me feel bad for not being like them. Once I finally tore myself away I scrunched up the tract and burnt it.” “Ouch,” I sympathised. “Sounds like I had a lucky escape. If they found out about my atheism they’d probably have some kind of apoplectic fit.” “Oh, they’d love you. You’re exactly the kind of person they’d target.” “Christ.” Despite being Christian, Sandra didn’t make it the biggest part of her life. We agreed on pretty much everything. She just happened to believe in Heaven. She certainly didn’t go round trying to convert everyone she came across.
  16. mango_fandango

    An Introduction (second part)

    This follows on from part one. Back in the present, I received a Facebook message from Jessica. It was a photo of her and an off-white cocktail. I guessed from the wedge of pineapple on the rim of the glass that it was a piña colada. She was revelling in the fact that she could drink alcohol now, but I knew she was a sensible girl. Even if she did get drunk, hopefully it would be a lesson learned. That was normal young adult behaviour, after all. (I certainly recalled getting drunk at a friend’s house many a time). “Great to see you enjoying your holiday Jess honey. Keep me updated when you can xx”. I hit send and smiled. Both girls assured me that I was a cool mom, not too embarrassing nor too stuffy. I knew to keep my distance when they invited friends over, having learnt from my own mother, who had been a tad overprotective. “What’s for dinner, mom?” Faye, dressed in her sister’s varsity jacket and a navy polkadot jumpsuit, entered the living room. I’d heard the door open and close but didn’t pay much attention. “Oh, hi, Faye. Umm, not given much thought to it yet. We’ve got plenty of pasta we could use up.” “Ooh, can I make some more of that pesto sauce? We’ve got basil and parmesan that needs eating.” “That would be great, honey. There are some scones left in the tin if you’re hungry.” “Famished, mom.” Although both my girls spoke in American accents, having lived here all their lives, I made sure that they experienced ‘typically British’ foods like hot cross buns at Easter time and crumpets on Saturday mornings. “Biscuits” in America looked like the English scones, but were eaten with savoury food like chicken and “gravy”- another foodstuff that had different meanings either side of the pond. As Faye started on the pesto sauce, I poured myself a Coke. Both the girls were aware of the Taylors. Faye, in particular, was fascinated by them. “Hey Mom. I was just thinking. If we were the Taylors I’d be taking photographs of every step of this pesto making process and then blogging about it later,” Faye laughed. “How bizarre! I was thinking of the Taylors too. I came across them in Costco earlier.” “Did they ask you where you’re headed when you die?” “No. Oddly enough, one of them was picking up a packet of meat and another one photographed her. I mean, who on Earth takes photographs in Costco, for God’s sake? Do they really thinking people want to see their journey to the supermarket?” “They have so little going on in their lives, even the smallest thing seems noteworthy,” Faye replied knowledgably. I thought of my own life. Outside of my job, I played badminton on Saturdays and went out to dinner with Sandra at least once a week, not to mention the Italian evening classes and Sunday afternoon book group. Faye had a job volunteering at the cat sanctuary and was part of a small, amateur orchestra where she played the flute. Jessica had a term time job as a waitress and was aiming to become a lawyer when she graduated next summer. I thought of the Taylor girls, all out shopping in a group, and rolled my eyes. No doubt their father had had a big role to play in their lives. From what I had gleaned from their blog and from an excellent online forum- Dumb Things Fundies Do- every activity had to be edifying, honouring Jesus. Children had to stay at home until marriage. Dating and having casual boyfriends was a huge no-no; when you entered a ‘courtship’ it had to be with a view to marriage. You had to have as many children “as God gave you”- i.e. no contraception. Secular influences were totally verboten- public schools were terrible, ungodly places where you could be exposed to such risqué things as girls in trousers and competitive sports teams.
  17. mango_fandango

    An Introduction (first part)

    It was a peaceful Wednesday afternoon, and for once I was on my own in the house. My twenty-one-year-old daughter Jessica was on holiday with four of her friends in Hawaii. My nineteen-year-old other daughter Faye was in Wichita with her boyfriend. They had jam-packed social lives, but also enjoyed spending time with me and my husband. I was idly flicking through the television channels. I reflected upon the fact that, no matter where you lived, programme choices during the day were always terrible. I had lived in America for twenty-three years and little had changed except the size of the screens. For a few years now I had been wanting to leave Summer Springs and move someplace else. It had been a lovely city in which to bring up the girls but I’d always dreamed of living somewhere livelier, with more going on. Jess was exactly like me- she hadn’t chosen to go to UCLA for nothing. She thrived on busyness and excitement. A couple of hours later, I was in Costco. It was the largest supermarket in Summer Springs and the one closest to where I lived. Although we weren’t at all poor, it was cheap and good for barbecues, which were almost mandatory for July 4th. Only Faye would be with my husband and me on the day, but I was comforted by the fact that Jess would be happy with friends. She was an independent soul. It was while I was in the meat aisle that I spotted them. Four women in a group around one deep trolley. One of them carried a camera. As I watched, the one with the darkest hair picked up a pack of something- beef perhaps- and the camera-carrier took a picture. I raised a sceptical eyebrow. Who the hell took photographs in Costco, for God’s sake? Especially posed ones? I took a closer look. Despite the warm weather outside, all four were wearing long skirts and sported long hair. The girl who’d held up the pack of meat turned around to grab something else. Despite conceding to the weather by wearing a multi-coloured pastel shirt, she was wearing a hot pink t-shirt underneath that went up to her neck. Hang on a second. I’d seen that shirt somewhere before. And I swore I could’ve recognised that girl’s face. As I turned into the dairy aisle, it hit me. It was the Taylors. Kansas is a solidly Republican state. It was another (albeit smaller) reason I wanted to leave; it sounds stupid to some, but I wanted to live somewhere where I felt my vote really counted. Having a Republican in charge was alright for the likes of the Taylors, but since James and I disagreed with so many of their policies, we were itching to leave. I have still spent the (now slight) majority of my life in England. Although ostensibly a Christian nation, there was nowhere near the number of religious weirdos as there were stateside. Sure, you got the occasional screeching madman in say Piccadilly Circus or Oxford Street, but you didn’t get the proselytisers and the tracts. I had first become aware of the Taylors seventeen years ago. On the hunt for a drink at the county fair, I’d spotted a sign proclaiming free sodas. My suspicions had been aroused when I’d spotted a group of people in almost identical outfits; the women in white t-shirts and denim jumpers, the men in white polo shirts and blue jeans. The cue that had led me to giving them a wide berth was hearing one of them ask about the Ten Commandments. My friend Sandra had told me about the family and that what they were doing was “proselytising”- trying to get people to convert- and that the little slips of paper they were handing out were called tracts. I had looked at the youngest girl- who must’ve been only a shade older than Faye- in her long skirt and sighed. That poor little girl. During summer, Jessica and Faye lived in shorts, or else skirts or dresses that came above the knee. Later in life they became very sporty and I just knew that Jessica’s track times would’ve been impossible in a long skirt, and that Faye wouldn’t have been able to ice-skate anywhere near as well as she did. It must’ve been boring for that little girl to hang around not understanding what was going on. Even if I was the kind of person to go out proselytising, I wouldn’t drag along kids that age.
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