On Monday, with her husband at work and the children at their first day of school, Yelena took advantage of her day off to work the Russian Baths.
She had grown anxious because, while she and Kennedy had been raising their children, the family's available cash had languished around 1.6 million.
For much of the day Yelena had 7 customers, and in order to attend to all of them,
and to Rally Forth,
she had to drink a lot of espresso.
She eventually had 8 customers in the venue,
and the Russian Baths reached Rank 9.
On her way home, Yelena used her Blackberry to check the value of the family's stock portfolio. It had been another very good day.
Yelena managed to influence Berjes to clean up the front of the home venue. He had been letting newspapers accumulate, and Yelena wanted to keep their Rank 10 rating.
It seemed to her that Berjes was becoming a bit undependable.
The children came home from their first day of school exhausted, and Yuri went straight to bed. Yulia played catch for a while with her friend Marsha, but before long she too needed to go to sleep.
Yelena, playing chess with Marisa to improve her Logic, wondered aloud whether it was normal for children to be so tired after school.
"I'm sure it's normal for the first day, at least," observed Marisa. "It's a big change in their routine."
Kennedy came home, having been promoted, and had been avidly looking forward to hearing about the kids' first day at school.
Finding both his children soundly asleep, he went out to the home venue, and joined Yelena at the chess table.
"I guess the big first day at school was pretty exciting, huh?" he said.
"So exciting they didn't even eat anything when they came home," answered Yelena. "I going to have to feed them probably very late."
"I wish I could stay up to talk to them, but I'm beat and I've got to go in early tomorrow," Kennedy said.
Yelena ended up making the children spaghetti at 2 o'clock in the morning.
"So, how was school?" she asked brightly as the three of them sat down to dinner.
"Well, not very good," said Yulia. "For one thing, there's no art class."
"That's too bad," said Yelena. Both kids were interested in painting because of their father. "But I'm sure you father be happy to teach you."
"And the food's awful," complained Yuri. "And there's a lot of kids running around making noise."
Kennedy got up early enough on Tuesday to try to help his daughter with her homework before school, but she was too fun-deprived to concentrate.
After Yulia went off to play a computer game, Yelena helped Yuri with his homework.
Even though he was relieved that he'd managed to finish his assignment, he was still grouchy about going to school. "Tough cookies, kiddo," Yelena told him.
At least it was a good day in the market.
And Yelena was promoted,
and Kennedy maxed out Logic.
Still, Yulia and Yuri had come home tired and grouchy again, eaten some sandwiches and gone straight to bed.
On Wednesday, Yelena made breakfast for the children just before 5:00 a.m. "That should hold you till school lunch," she said, encouragingly.
"I hate school lunch!" complained Yuri. "The food is yucky!" Yelena considered asking Berjes to pack lunchboxes for the kids, but figured he had too many duties already.
That day, Yelena did something she had never done before: she took a vacation day. She was worried about her children, and her own mood was in the red. She decided to let her mind go, and relaxed by playing video games.
The daily market report came in, and it was a good one. One of the stocks in the family's portfolio was a maker of playground equipment, and it was having a very good quarter.
Yelena suddenly had a brainstorm, and telephoned Brandon Lilliard.
When the kids got home from school that afternoon, Yuri was so exhausted and dispirited that he went in through the front door and headed straight for bed. Yulia, however, entered through the dining room doors (as was her habit), and spied something new in the backyard. Her screams of delight made her brother come running outside in his pajamas.
While the twins played on their new playground equipment, Yelena and Kennedy enjoyed some rare time together. "That was a brilliant idea, babe," he complimented.
It was even a dream date!
Still--even now that she seemed to have addressed the problem of the kids' depressed moods--Yelena seemed to Kennedy to be a bit down. When he pressed her, she confided that she was unhappy about getting old. He told her that he had amassed enough aspiration reward points to buy Magic Elixir for them both.
Yelena was touched by her husband's generosity, and immediately drank 3 cups of the potion. Kennedy, who was also close to old age, drank the remaining two.
The couple breakfasted with Yulia early Thursday while her brother showered. "How's school, princess?" her father asked gently. Yulia picked at her pancakes. "Okay, I guess," she said somberly. "It's just--there are so many bad kids that the teachers don't have any time for the good kids. And that means the rest of us just sit around reading all day. I could do that here."
The child brightened. "Could you home-school us? Daddy, you could teach us to paint, and Mother, you could teach us math and stuff." The parents looked at each other. They were both still working hard at their careers, and they didn't think Berjes was up to handling two active children all day.
"Tell you what, princess," suggested Kennedy. "You get a little more serious about your homework, and we'll see what we can do."
Thus motivated, Yulia finished learning to do homework that morning,
and, as a reward, she was allowed to go outside and play before school.
Yuri had not yet mastered doing homework.
After the kids had gotten on the school bus, Yelena turned to her husband. "So, what does 'we'll see what we can do' mean? I not staying home with these kids."
"How about private school?" Kennedy suggested. "Cale Rodiak's son was having a hard time in public school--he's really shy and got picked on a lot--so Cale put him in a private day school, and Cale says the kid's doing great. The school has very stringent entrance requirements, so there are no bad kids there in the first place. And, they have an art program."
"Private school?" asked Yelena, surprised. "Don't want to spoil kids. Don't want them hanging around with only other rich kids--they learn nothing about life that way."
"Not everyone there's rich, Yelena," argued Kennedy. "Lots of parents sacrifice a great deal to get their kids a good education. And without a good education," he paused, teeing up a point he thought would be a sure winner, "I'm worried our kids would become typical rich kids, depending on us and never being really motivated to achieve anything on their own."
Yelena smirked, and said nothing. Kennedy knew he'd won.
Later on Thursday, Yelena socialized with customers and worked on Logic before work.
Leaving for her current assignment as a double agent, Yelena was glad Kennedy (who was at his own job) couldn't see the outfit she was wearing for work that day.
It was a pretty bad day in the market,
but the twins didn't know and wouldn't have cared--they were having too much fun on the playground equipment.
Kennedy brought Cale Rodiak home from work again, and it turned out Cale had a business on the side and wanted to hire Kennedy for it.
Kennedy thanked Cale, but declined the offer, saying that he really wanted to be an architect. "What I could really use, though," said Kennedy, "is an introduction to the headmaster of that school where your son goes." Cale was happy to comply.
Yuri and Yulia ate the grilled cheese sandwiches Berjes had prepared for their dinner, and conspired as to how they could get out of going to school.
"We could tell Mother our teachers are communists," suggested Yulia. "That would get her mad." Yulia knew her mother well--Yelena had flourished for a time in her native Russia, but had abandoned the country once it became apparent to her that "the old ways" (as she referred to Russia in the time of the USSR) were creeping back under Vladimir Putin.
Yelena was again promoted (to her relief, this time to a job that wouldn't require her to dress like a hooker).
She quickly changed into a decent dress and grabbed a bit of food,
before settling down to skill for the rest of the night so that she could be promoted.
Friday would be a crucial day for Yelena at work--the day when she either reached the top of her profession or didn't. The headmaster of the private day school was scheduled to come for dinner tomorrow evening, but Kennedy--knowing how important career success was to his wife--assured her he'd do just fine with Berjes, who was an excellent cook. "I don't know," worried Yelena. "He seem to be getting forgetful lately."
Just before the headmaster's arrival on Friday, Kennedy received a great stock market report, and hoped it boded well for the evening.
Kennedy influenced Berjes to serve dinner while he, Kennedy, gave the headmaster a tour of the house.
The headmaster very much liked the foyer, awarding it the maximum of 15 points,
as he did for the spectacular master bathroom.
To Kennedy's disappointment, though, the family room netted only 10 points (perhaps because of the several incomplete homework assignments littering the floor).
Kennedy then went to check on dinner, and was dismayed to find that Berjes had prepared only a serving of juice! Kennedy asked him please to try again.
To give Berjes enough time to prepare more food, Kennedy distracted the headmaster by inviting him into the hot tub. Fortunately, the headmaster was quite enthusiastic about this.
After about a half hour, Kennedy excused himself to go check on Berjes's progress on dinner. Kennedy was horrified to find that the elderly butler had prepared only juice, again!
Exasperated and panicked (but figuring the headmaster was happy enough alone in the hot tub), Kennedy tried to prepare spaghetti by himself. "Better than nothing," he muttered. "And certainly better than juice!"
But Kennedy burned the spaghetti.
Now really in a bind, Kennedy set about preparing macaroni and cheese, a much easier dish.
This turned out well, and Kennedy called the headmaster to dinner.
While dinner was going on, Yelena returned home from work, having been promoted to the top of her profession and so having achieved her lifetime want.
She elected not to interfere with Kennedy's evening, and busied herself taking out the trash, while casting nervous glances in her husband's direction.
Sadly, Kennedy received no points for his macaroni and cheese, and his total score of 69 was not enough to get his children accepted into private school.
"I warn you," Yelena said and wagged her finger, before she noticed how upset her husband was. "Don't you be worry," she said soothingly. "We try again tomorrow, and I cook. But you need to do something about dining room. Fancy it up somehow--maybe we get better score."
Yelena got right to work improving her Cooking skill.
While she studied, a reviewer gave the home venue a Good Review,
and a Best of the Best Award.
Saturday morning, the kids caught up on their homework,
then went outside to play.
Once she maxed out her Cooking skill, Yelena got a few hours' sleep while Kennedy put the finishing touches on the renovated dining room.
It was another good day in the market, but Kennedy knew enough not to think this was necessarily a sign of other good things to come.
"Thank you so much for coming back, Headmaster," said Kennedy. "Not at all, not at all," BJ replied. "I realize you had a staff problem last night. I look forward to meeting your lovely wife, whose business acumen is much admired in town."
The foyer unfortunately got 5 fewer points than it had the preceding day.
Yelena waited nervously in the kitchen, and tried to concentrate on dinner.
Fortunately, the master bath scored as well as it had the preceding day.
Yelena, whose timing was always impeccable, placed dinner on the table just as Kennedy was bringing the headmaster in to see the renovated dining room.
The headmaster loved the dining room.
Dinner seemed to go well, Yelena thought,
and her cooking received 47 points!
The headmaster seemed very pleased,
and Yulia and Yuri were accepted into the private day school.
The couple celebrated by relaxing in the hot tub. "It seem like just yesterday they were only babies," sniffed Yelena.
Sunday morning while their kids slept, Yelena and Kennedy played in the snow before heading off to the Russian Baths.
At the Baths, Yelena drank espresso
before remembering that she was now perma plat and could always use the Energizer in order to keep her energy high enough to Rally Forth.
"This much better than coffee," thought Yelena.
She continued to Dazzle prospective customers,
and she and Kennedy were able to keep 8 customers at a time at the venue.
Brandi LeTourneau, who'd realized her dream of owning an Adventure business, offered Kennedy a job.
"If you're interested," Brandi added. "I'd really like to do something for you guys, since Yelena really helped me out years ago by hiring me to make snapdragons for her when there was otherwise no market for them. And she paid me what I thought I was worth."
Kennedy thanked her profusely, but said he was very happy as an architect and wanted to stay in that field.
Yelena continued to Rally Forth and amass stars,
and continued to use the Energizer.
Often, customers who had just decided to leave and gotten out of the hot tubs suddenly came back.
Kennedy convinced Yelena it was time to go home. "Hon, our available cash is over 6 million. Let's go get some rest."
While their parents slept,
Yuri started building a snowman.
His sister came to help, but Yuri was adamant that he was in charge.
It turned out to be an evil snowman.
Eating the lunch Berjes had prepared for them, the twins discussed their new private school.
"I hear we have to wear uniforms," fretted Yuri.
"I would like a uniform," said Yulia. "It would make me feel important. Mother says the way you dress tells people the way you are."
It was a decent day in the stock market,
and, when Yelena and Kennedy arose from their nap, the whole family went outside to play in the beautiful snow.
Yulia apologized after she hit Yuri with a snowball. "Oh, so sorry, brother!"
"Yeah, like you didn't mean it!" he squealed, and got her back.
Yelena, however, was merciless with Kennedy, and hit him square in the face. "Pow!" she exulted. "Right in the kisser!!"
She even managed to knock him off his feet.
"Okay, okay--'Uncle'!" he cried.
The family went inside to dry off and warm up. Kennedy resumed his latest painting, Yuri sat in front of the fireplace, and Yelena--who feared that Yulia was a bit too shy--encouraged her daughter to be more outgoing.
It was a very pleasant family afternoon.
Sunday evening, after they'd put their exhausted but happy kids to bed, Yelena made dinner for Kennedy and herself.
Kennedy thought that he'd never had a more perfect couple of days--the kids had gotten into private school, the home venue had maintained its top rank, the Baths were doing well, the family had over 6 million in available cash, and--most importantly--they were a very happy family. And he and Yelena had gotten to a point where he felt that they completely valued each other, and accepted each other for who they were. Sure, they had their disagreements, but those didn't matter. "Now it's time to kick back and relax," he told himself. "Maybe go on a vacation."
Kennedy was shocked when Yelena abruptly took his dish away.
"Husband getting fat. Don't want no fat husband," said Yelena. "You better start working out."