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Archive for August, 2009

Win left the base tired but otherwise in a very good mood as he dialed up some friends to invite them to Poppy and Lily’s birthday party. It was hard to believe they were already going to be teenagers! As he said “see you later” to the last guest-to-be, he paused to think about the many friends he had made in Legacy Valley. It had always been his dream to have a wide circle of friends – it just seemed to make life more worthwhile – and he felt he had finally succeeded. It was a good feeling.

See you at the party, Stacey! We're looking forward to your famous peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

See you at the party, Stacey! We're looking forward to your famous peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

Poppy and Lily had a big party with balloons for the kids and dancing for the teens. And, of course, there was cake! Poppy was the first to blow her candles out, then it was Lily’s turn.

Poppy grows up preppy.

Poppy grows up preppy.

Lily is thrilled to be a teen!

Lily is thrilled to be a teen!

As soon as the party was over, Dahlia took the girls upstairs to help them with their makeovers. Dahlia was excited to share tips on fashion, hair, and makeup with Poppy and Lily. They might not realize it, but she knew that a well put-together look could catch interest and open doors. Remember her mother’s talks, she reminded Poppy and Lily that who they were on the inside was the most important thing, but she added that the outward appearance might give the inside person a chance to be known.

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Lily (left) and Poppy (right) felt that their new looks expressed a little about who they were, and they enjoyed the time with their mom.

Lily and Poppy were also developing their mental skills. Lily loved playing chess and would invite friends over to play as often as she could. Poppy enjoyed reading or anything else that could keep her indoors.

So, Cody, how about a game? Don't you just think chess is the best game ever?

So, Cody, how about a game? Don't you just think chess is the best game ever?

…after replacing the washer, reattach the faucet with a flathead screwdriver. If the faucet still leaks, then hit it with a hammer a few times.

…after replacing the washer, reattach the faucet with a flathead screwdriver. If the faucet still leaks, then hit it with a hammer a few times.

With all these interests, Lily and Poppy still found time to do their homework. Dahlia and Win made sure of it by joining them at the table for a little dessert before bed.

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Dahlia was enjoying her career and making the most of fishing opportunities that came along, and she kept reaching new gardening achievements. It was when she cupped a new seedling in her soil-covered hands that she most wished her mother could be there with her.

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With all the excitement of Dahlia’s oldest girls entering their teen years, the younger twins still managed to get their share of attention. Dahlia and Win made a point of spending time with them to teach them all that they needed to know to grow up well.

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And before they knew it, Daisy and Rose’s birthday had arrived! Dahlia wondered what kind of children her little girls would grow up to be.

Dahlia is so excited that we can almost see her tonsils!

Dahlia is so excited that we can almost see her tonsils!

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At first, Daisy seemed quite a normal little girl, but then Dahlia caught a glimpse of her with an expression that reminded her so much of Fern… Dahlia was worried, but hoped that one of her birthday presents, a bright yellow rubber ducky, might bring out a softer side in her.

Rose grew up into a seemingly happy child and chattered animatedly about her eagerness to start school. In fact, the next morning, she was the first girl out of the house, running toward the schoolbus.

Isn't this just a heartwarming picture? Hmm, except for the giant hole in the house at the top of the staircase. Didn't notice that before.

Isn't this just a heartwarming picture? Hmm, except for the giant hole in the house at the top of the staircase. Didn't notice that before.

Daisy was a different story.

School! ~snort~ As if they were going to teach me anything useful, like how to take over the world, or blow up a stuffed animal factory or something.

School! ~snort~ As if they were going to teach me anything useful, like how to take over the world, or blow up a stuffed animal factory or something.

Dahlia began keeping a closer eye on Fern, watching to see if there was much interaction between her and Daisy. She was never able to catch anything suspicious, though. In fact, Fern’s paintings were taking a turn toward – could she think it – lighter, more natural themes.

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After lying in bed turning all these things over in her mind, Dahlia decided she was probably just worrying too much over nothing. With all that was going on in the household, maybe she just needed to get more rest. Win cuddled up next to her, and  she drifted off to sleep.

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2.75 Fern’s struggle

Fern had found several creative outlets for her not-so-nice impulses, and she could maintain a fair degree of control most days.

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But some days, when she felt surrounded by too much sweetness or worse yet, left out entirely…

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…she lost control and found herself indulging her evil desires. At such times, she often found herself drawn to Daisy, the very child who seemed to have something in common with her.

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The inconsolate Daisy stared up at her Aunt Fern, reaching futilely for her lolly. As Fern turned and left the poor toddler among her toys, she said softly, “One day you’ll understand, Daisy.”

And she would.

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With two new babies in the house, Poppy and Lily were often left to find their own amusements. Lily gravitated immediately to the chess table and became absorbed in the world of knights, rooks, and bishops.

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Lily asked Poppy to join her, but Poppy said, “What, out there in all that sunshine?Thanks but, uh, I think I hear a turtle calling me.”

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In fact, Poppy tried building block towers, writing stories, and several other pastimes, but nothing grabbed her. What did catch her interest was the way her Aunt Fern could dip her paintbrush into colorful little oily blobs and create wildly interesting images on the canvas. Poppy was a little bit skittish around her aunt, but she got up her courage one day and asked her for permission to use the easel.

Aunt Fern? Um, can I, um, may I, um, I don't have any candy, but may I use your easel?

Aunt Fern? Um, can I, um, may I, um, I don't have any candy, but may I use your easel?

Poppy looked up at her aunt, almost afraid to meet her eyes, but with glee she realized that Aunt Fern had said yes! She could use it all day! Poppy ran to the easel before she could change her mind.

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Fern watched her niece run off to paint. She was a little bit of a goody two-shoes, but it was gratifying to have someone else in the house interested in painting. Of all of her four nieces, though, Fern was most intrigued with Daisy. There was something that set her apart from the others and that made Fern feel she would be a kindred spirit. She noticed that Daisy sometimes gurgled happily even when Rose was crying for a bottle. For some reason, this drew Fern’s attention to her.

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Fern was usually home, because her work was writing and painting rather than punching a clock, and so she had time to observe the babies while Dahlia and Win were off working or exercising or running errands.

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Dahlia had been spending many hours in the garden during her maternity leave, and she finally reached the point of perfecting her gardening skills. She was becoming known for her green thumb as her mother had been, and often the Valley’s restaurants would call her with special requests. She always tried to deliver.

Win had earned his wings and the uniform to match. Although he loved his family time, he was usually eager to head off to work in the mornings.

Win claims he is a distant cousin of the DeCasims… what do you think?

Win claims he is a distant cousin of the DeCasims… what do you think?

Evenings were busy times around the Foliage household. Lily and Poppy often did their homework at the table after dinner, while Fern worked on her latest novel, Win worked out, and Dahlia tended to the babies.

One plus two plus two plus one, no wait. One plus one plus two plus one…

One plus two plus two plus one, no wait. One plus one plus two plus one…

Lily always went to bed without being asked, but Poppy stayed up watching TV whenever she could get away with it. Even those late-night monster movies!

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Mornings could get crazy, too, with seven people running around. Dahlia tried to get Rose and Daisy ready for the day so they would give Fern as little trouble as possible.

Dahlia loved the way Rose's hair was a combination of her own and Win's.

Dahlia loved the way Rose's hair was a combination of her own and Win's.

Fern found a place for herself in the morning routine by remembering her mother’s love of cooking, and following in her footsteps by serving breakfast. She didn’t do it every day, but when she did, it made her feel closer to the mother she missed so much.

Today's special: golden pancakes with grape compote!

Today's special: golden pancakes with grape compote!

Even though the garden was mainly Dahlia’s domain now, Fern still helped out sometimes. She was surprised when the diner called her one day requesting a special delivery. Since it was Win’s day off and he was at home, she sped over to the diner and was given some very special gardening tips for her trouble. Fern was pleased, because she had always loved eggplant!

Mission accomplished.

Mission accomplished.

Win liked to emphasize the importance of fitness to all his girls, and he made the most of his days off to instill this value in them.

Screenshot-518-cropPoppy and Lily were proud to show their dad that they could ride their bikes all the way to school rather than take the smelly old bus.

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Win also made a point of having some special workouts with Dahlia.

Want to help me work on my muscle tone, darling?

Want to help me work on my muscle tone, darling?

These late nights had a tendency to blur quickly into early mornings and busy days…

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…and while Dahlia was very happy with her life, it left her feeling so exhausted sometimes that she couldn’t even build up her usual excitement over a promotion!

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Dahlia and Win made the most of the rare times they had to themselves. Even though he was much older than Dahlia, he could still be very flirty and oh! his massages. After they played with the girls and put them in their cribs, then it was playtime for their parents!

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Of course, they could be serious when they needed to, and both Dahlia and Win were earning promotions fairly regularly.

Check out my groovy blue lab coat!

Check out my groovy blue lab coat!

At ease, fly boy!

At ease, fly boy!

Still, Win loved the way his daughters made him feel young, and he confessed to Dahlia his desire to have another child. She wasn’t sure at first, but she had to admit they had room for one more in their home and their hearts. She remembered the first time she snuggled her babies close, and she finally smiled into Win’s hopeful eyes and agreed.

Fly like Daddy does, little one!

Fly like Daddy does, little one!

It was just before Dahlia’s and Fern’s birthday when Fern came home from the writers’ retreat. She seemed a little more subdued, but not in a depressed way. Dahlia was hesitant to host a birthday party for them, but she felt that she had to stick to her convictions about the family traditions. Hopefully, it wouldn’t set Fern off again like it had when she gave the party for Win after Flora’s passing. So she invited friends and colleagues, and she set out the cakes.

It's dark out here. Light some candles already!

It's dark out here. Light some candles already!

Dahlia chatted happily with her guests during the party, but right after they left, she rushed to the mirror to check for wrinkles. She just couldn’t stand the thought of looking middle-aged!

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Fern, on the other hand, took her age in stride. If anything, the new level of maturity seemed to settle well on her. While she still frequently had bad thoughts…

Yes, that is a TSAL™ in the background.

Yes, that is a TSAL™ in the background.

…she could often keep them as just thoughts – not actions – by channeling them into her writing and painting. She started working on a new children’s book, called “Candy is for Stealing,” and soon it was flying off the bookstore shelves faster than they could stock it.

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Lily and Poppy were growing fast and had even started to read simple picture books. They also enjoyed playing with their toy xylophone and peg box.

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Dahlia loved to watch them and listen to them, but one morning she found herself fighting irritation at their noisy play. She just didn’t feel quite right and tried to think what could be wrong with her.

Ohh, I don't feel so good.

Ohh, I don't feel so good.

She still got dressed for work and headed off in the carpool, when suddenly it hit her.

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This would probably be her last day at work for a while. She suddenly realized that she was expecting again. Would she manage a promotion before having to go on maternity leave? Unfortunately, this worry put her mood off for the rest of the day, and she was not at her promotable best when she met with her boss that afternoon.

After she got home, she sat down with each of the girls and tried to prepare her young children for what was to come, while she thought about how to tell Win the news that he would be so happy to hear.

Can you say hand-me-down? Yes, you get to give your little shoes to someone!

Can you say hand-me-down? Yes, you get to give your little shoes to someone!

She finally decided to slip into one of her favorite old maternity dresses to let Win know that they were going to have a newborn in the house again. She smiled just thinking about it. Really, it would be good for everyone.

Screenshot-436-cropWin was thrilled with the news, and they started making plans to redo the nursery. After all, Poppy and Lily were growing up, and it was time to move them into “big girl” rooms. They had planned a birthday party for them with their new rooms as surprises. Win chatted with his many friends and acquaintances, while Dahlia rounded up the girls for cake time.

Make a wish and blow out the candles!

Make a wish and blow out the candles!

Poppy and Lily

Poppy and Lily

The girls didn’t mind the party but were eager for the guests to leave so they could check out their new bedrooms.

Lily's room

Lily's room – she likes purple.

Poppy's room – she likes black.

Poppy's room – she likes black.

Dahlia was glad to see her daughters grow up well, but the next day as she worked in the garden, she felt so tired, and her back was aching. As she stood up from weeding a bell pepper plant, Win sneaked up behind her and started massaging her back.

Ahhh, right there!

Ahhh, right there!

“Now this, this is the life!” She turned and kissed him, and he smiled and suggested she go lie down for a while. As she waddled to their bedroom, she thought to herself, “Surely it can’t be much longer now!”

Screenshot-466-cropAnd it wasn’t much longer at all. That evening, Dahlia began to feel the painful signs that labor was coming. Quick as a wink, Win called a taxi, and off they went to the hospital!

Driver, see that pedal on the right? Hit it hard!

Driver, see that pedal on the right? Hit it hard!

It was a hard night for Dahlia and a tense one for Win. But they were happy with the surprise of bringing home not one baby, but two!

Twin girls again!

Twin girls again!

Daisy and Rose were added to the growing Foliage tribe, and everyone marveled at the twin girl trend in the family.

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2.5 Coping

It was Fern who found Flora’s lifeless form, but before she had had time to process the shocking discovery, Dahlia came running up and immediately burst into tears. Fern looked at her sister as the mascara ran down her face and knew that she was grieving, but still envied her the ease of expression she obviously had.

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The burial arrangements were made, friends were notified, and all the formalities marched on. Somehow the family got through it, each in their own way, but the tears wouldn’t come for Fern.

Dahlia and Win focused on training their toddlers how to walk and talk, transforming their heartache over the loss of one generation into care for the next.

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Finally, one day as Fern was painting, the brush seemed to reach deep into Fern’s heart and draw out the image of a family looking out over the ocean. When she saw the heartrending wistfulness of the painting, a deep sob broke out of her and she dropped her head into her hands.

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With a tight pain in her chest, Fern ran out of the house. Her feet carried her desperately to the small graveyard at the edge of the cliff. She stood trembling in front of her mother’s grave and poured out the love and pain.

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For a few days afterward, things were better. Dahlia, Win, and Fern carried on with eating, cleaning, paying bills, and other basics of life. But when Dahlia decided to throw a birthday party for Win, Fern couldn’t believe it. Still, Dahlia was in charge, so the party went on. Dahlia tried to explain that birthday parties had always been important to their mother, and this was her way of honoring her memory, but Fern just walked away in disgust for the disrespect she thought they were showing.

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Dahlia thought her husband was still handsome, even though his platinum blond hair had turned white almost overnight. Although she felt the loss of her mother very strongly, she took comfort in knowing that she was doing her best to follow through with the responsibility that her mother had entrusted to her. She was raising her family and caring for the garden, tending the growing legacy in the home on the hill.

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As Dahlia tended the garden and thought about the trouble Fern was having, she decided to send her on the writer’s retreat that the bookstore had advertised. If Fern had trouble dealing with her grief in front of the family, maybe she could take some time away and work it out through her writing. Then she could come home and maybe everything would be better. Dahlia hoped it would be.

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With two new babies in the house, the smell of talcum powder was in the air, and it seemed like teddy bears and lullabies were everywhere. Dahlia discovered that she felt a tight bond to her babies, more than she had ever imagined possible.

Who's Mommy's little nooboo?

Who's Mommy's little nooboo?

Win was totally enchanted by his tiny daughters, and it manifested in his increased workouts. Not only did he want to earn promotions at work to better provide for the family, he also wanted to be ready to beat to a pulp any guy that so much as looked at his girls as if he might want to come within 10 feet of them.

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Everything was hunky dory for the happy couple these days.

Wedded bliss

Wedded bliss

Fern started to feel like she was going to need insulin shots to stand all the sweetness oozing out of the house these days. She found herself snapping at everybody and even taunted poor little Lily.

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But afterwards, she felt bad about it and carried the little girl gently back to her crib. Flora was in the nursery cuddling Poppy, and Fern wondered if she had seen what she’d done. But when they had each put the little bundles back in their cribs, Flora just smiled gently at Fern and smoothed her hair back over her shoulder. Fern knew that it really didn’t matter if she had seen it or not.

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The time came for Poppy and Lily’s birthday, and Win invited several friends over for a party on the patio.

Dahlia brings Poppy to the cake.

Dahlia brought Poppy to the cake.

Flora helped Lily with her candles.

Flora helped Lily with her candle.

Everyone said it was a wonderful party. But there was a cloud building over the happy home, and if no one else felt it, Fern did. It came out in her paintings.

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Flora had been spending more and more time outdoors, except for when she was in the nursery caring for her precious grandchildren. She loved feeling the grass beneath her feet and walking among the greenery of her garden and orchard.

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One afternoon, as she was walking along, she thought heard a familiar voice. Who was that? She reached far back into her memories from long ago, as the voice called to her. She took a step forward, then another.

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Flora looked out at the horizon and beyond, into the mists. Now there were two voices, and it was her mother and father!  She felt the silken strands of the love of her daughters and grandchildren loosen but not release, as she stepped forward again. She could hear the love drawing her closer to her parents as they called, and then there was another voice, one that knew her better than anyone. Flora walked into the light and love.

Flora walked into the light and love.

Flora walked into a land beyond her wildest imaginings.

And though Flora had passed from this life to the next, her legacy lived on, sleeping peacefully.

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So it wasn't a dream.

So it wasn't a dream.

The morning after the wedding, Win woke up not knowing where he was for a moment. He got out of bed, looked around, then looked down at the wedding band on his hand. It all came rushing back, and he felt a nervous ripple run through him as he thought about the forever promises he had made. Forever was a long time. Was he up to that?

Then his wife (!) walked up to him in her little baby blue pjs and threw her arms around him. As their lips met, he thought, “Yes, this I can do.” The momentary panic had passed, and he knew he was where he wanted to be.

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Although Dahlia didn’t say anything about it, Win knew that some of her friends had made comments about her marrying a maid, so he decided to go into a new career, one that he had had his eye on for some time. He went out to the base and enlisted in the military. To make sure that he was in shape for his first day of duty, he went for a long jog the evening before he was to report.

Gonna fly now…

Gonna fly now…

And the next morning Dahlia sent him off with a smile, telling him how good he looked in his uniform.

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Meanwhile, Dahlia took advantage of a day off her job at the Science Lab to spend time with her mother. She talked with her about her work and her hopes for a promotion soon.

Screenshot-310Flora listened as Dahlia talked of her hopes and plans, and then said, “Dahlia, I want to remind you of something. Work is good, and work is useful, but work is not the most important thing.” Dahlia tilted her head a little to one side and waited for her mother to continue.

Seeing Fern passing by on her way to the easel where she spent several hours every day, Flora called out to her. “Fern, I’d like you to hear this, too.” Flora joined them with a questioning look.

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I may not have been the perfect mother, but you both at least had the blessing of having a mother in your lives. We all also enjoy a beautiful place to live, surrounded by tall trees and a thriving, lush garden. I want to make sure you both realize what you have and invest in the future of this family. You have roots; keep them watered. It’s natural to want to grow tall in your career, Dahlia, or your writing and painting, Fern, but while you’re growing tall, don’t forget to put out shoots.”

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“When it storms, the tall, thin pine trees are the first to fall. Think of the strong and beautiful elm and oak trees. They grow tall, but they also reach out with strong branches around themselves. When the winds come, this network keeps them from falling. And from these branches, seeds are produced. This carries life on to the next generation, and the next. Girls, I love you, and my hope for you is that you live strong, beautiful, giving lives.”

Dahlia and Fern had always known their mother’s thoughts and feelings ran deep, but it wasn’t often she had these talks with them. She seemed solemn, but not exactly sad. They both hugged her tightly, and then she smiled and changed the subject to something lighter.

But the girls had listened and each would in their own way take something to heart from that talk.

Dahlia especially thought back to Flora’s words about sending out shoots a short time later when she realized she was expecting.

And it's just a bonus that this is a great excuse for a trip to the spa!

And it's just a bonus that this is a great excuse for a trip to the spa!

Dahlia found herself waiting even longer for that promotion once she had gone on maternity leave. She filled her time with gardening and that much anticipated spa treatment.

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Of course, the massages at the spa were not quite as special as the ones from Win!

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Is that the baby or is your stomach growling? You don't want bell pepper stuffed with ice cream again, do you?

Is that the baby or is your stomach growling? You don't want bell pepper stuffed with ice cream again, do you?

Meanwhile, Flora put her handiness to use, going around the house and babyproofing things, adding a few upgrades and repairing broken electronics.

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And then, more quickly than anyone realized, it was time to go to the hospital! Win helped her out of the cab and into the hospital as they realized they were about to become parents. The hours passed, and then…

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Poppy Foliage and Lily Foliage, twin girls, just like their mother and aunt before them. The third generation was born.

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