Chapter 20 – Expanding with Age

After Jane got over her birthday being forgotten, she had managed to find the last frog she needed to complete her collection: the Dirtwhirl Frog. She had been in a funk over her birthday and had decided it was best to carry out a somewhat normal routine to get out of herself out of her sad mood. When she caught the slippery body inside a hollow tree trunk and pulled it out to reveal the last frog she needed for her collection, she was ecstatic.

Jane already had it planned how her collection room would look. Although she was constrained by a tight budjet–she was raising three kids after all–she managed to build a small, but welcoming home for her frogs. Dayna and Chance loved to play with the frogs especially, so Jane knew they were a welcome addition to her family’s home.

Earlier that day, Dayna had celebrated her aging into her teenage years. Jane felt a little sad at seeing both of her daughters growing up, but she was happy that Dayna was transitioning well into the next stage of her life. Dayna hadn’t wanted to make a big scene for her birthday, so the family sat around the table eating cake. However, Raelynn and Dayna were getting along especially well so they lingered longer than the others. Jane stood close by, watching lovingly, as her two daughters grew closer together.

Once they were finished talking, Raelynn pulled out her guitar and started strumming. As she was enjoying the music she played, Jane tapped her on the shoulder. Raelynn paused, setting her guitar down and out of the way as her Mom pulled her into a tight hug. “Sweetie, I’m so proud of you.” She said feeling tears well in her eyes.

Raelynn, appreciative of her Mom’s praise, hugged her back. “Thanks, Mom.” Even though she was slightly confused, she was still happy to hear her Mom say she was proud of her.

“You’re so good with the guitar, and I admire that you can commit yourself to it the way you can. You write beautiful music. It’s truly lovely.” Jane complimented her oldest daughter even further.

“Thank you, Mom. I appreciate it.” Raelynn felt a blush color her cheeks. “Love ya.”

“Love ya too, sweetie.” Jane responded with the warmest smile.

Even though Dayna had wanted a humble celebration, Chance had opted for noisemakers and confetti. His eyes grew wide as he made a wish and blew out the candles. He really hoped for a brand new computer, one that was capable of helping him become the tech guru he aspired to be.

Chance got the first slice of chocolate cake, his favorite, and the family gathered around to celebrate. Aunt Dina had stopped by as well to celebrate with her nephew on his special day.

Once the celebration died down, Chance returned to the computer, the thing he loved to do most. He could spend hours on the computer without batting an eye, and he knew it’s what he wanted to do for a future career. He spent his free time toying with it to figure out more about how it worked so that he’d have an advantage when it came to his future. Jane watched Chance as he worked at the compuer, and she was happy to see him doing something he enjoyed so much. She teared up again as she realized all of her kids had grown to their teenage years and suddenly she felt very old.

Jane decided to take the opportunity to catch up with her old friend Dina and to discuss her troubles. “I’m just feeling very old.” She commented with a pouted bottom lip.

“Boy, do I know the feeling!” Dina said, exasperated. “Time has really flown by, but I think we still have a lot of adventures ahead of us.”

“That’s true.” Jane pondered the thought. She was sure her and Dina would still have more adventures to enjoy together, more occasions to celebrate. Possibly, Dina may even start a family in the future. How exciting! Jane brightened up at the thought. “I think there are still things to do. I know I finished my frog collection, but I can always start another!” Dina gave Jane a weird look, and they both broke out in laughter.

As always in the Wynngarden household, something had to break! Tired and sweaty, Raelynn tended to the broken shower. She knew the rest of her family was completely exhausted, and she didn’t mind the handiwork. After all, one day she’d have to fend for herself, so the skills she learned now would only help her in the future. Plus, it seemed she had a natural gift for the work and finished rather quickly. It was also rewarding to take a nice hot shower afterward, and then she turned in for bed.

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Chapter 19 – Forgotten Day

Jane kickstarted her morning with a healthy salad breakfast she had prepared for the family. However, only she and Chance were up when she was done, so the two of them sat on the couch and watched some cartoons on the Kidz network while they chatted.

“How is school going?” Jane asked her son.

“Fine.” He said, looking away. He had been getting a C and didn’t want his Mom to be disappointed in him.

Jane figured she wouldn’t get too much more of a response out of him, so she switched the topic to his favorite toys. They chatted until Raelynn woke up.

“Good morning, sweetie.” Jane greeted her eldest daughter. “I was thinking we could both go for a jog.”

Even though Raelynn had just woken up, her eyes lit up. “Really? You’ll jog with me?”

“Of course, I’m here to support you one-hundred percent.” Jane winked at Raelynn.

“Alright, let me change!” Raelynn skipped to her room to change into her athletic wear while Jane changed also.

The girls met at the front door and then took off for their jog. Jane didn’t realize she was out of shape until she was jogging with Raelynn. Both girls found it hard to talk to each other while running, so they gave up and just enjoyed the silence. Raelynn was happy her Mom was with her as it made jogging more fun and relaxing for her. Eventually, they both made it around the neighborhood and back to the house. Even though they were exhausted, they were elated since they both enjoyed the nice exercise.

While Jane and Raelynn were running, Dayna and Chance enjoyed a nice conversation in Chance’s bedroom. They both cracked jokes, making fun of their Mom when she scolded them about leaving the lot unsupervised. Both kids found it hilarious, and soon Dayna knew she had found a good friend in her brother. They enjoyed their time together and went outside to play tag until their Mom and sister returned.

After returning, Raelynn immediately picked up Luna and began to practice playing some songs. She could tell she was starting to slim down, and she was pleased that her attempt at being healthy was working. She was in good moods often now and felt more inspiration while playing her guitar. She was also starting to gain more skill, so her music didn’t make everyone else in the house tense.

Jane knew her daughter would improve soon; it was just a matter of waiting out the terrible sound until she did. Just as she always did though, Jane did her best to support Raelynn at what she wanted to do. Jane would often sit and listen to her play her songs and offer her encouragement.

After playing her guitar, Raelynn decided to change into some comfy clothes and spend some quality time with Chance. She wanted to take a picture with him, which he gladly agreed to. Fifty pictures later, they both had developed a stronger bond with each other. Raelynn started telling Chance some stories from when she was younger, and the two felt closer than ever.

As everyone else had a happy and fun-filled day, Jane’s was taking a turn for the worse. It was her birthday and not one of her friends or kids remembered. She felt as if she were about to burst into tears as she made dinner for her family. She finally managed to make a decent meal and left it on the corner for her kids to eat, heading to her room.

When her Mom wasn’t at dinner that night, Raelynn knocked on her door. “Mom, are you alright?”

Jane managed to say in a mostly normal voice, “Yeah, I just have a headache.” She heard Raelynn’s footsteps head away from the door, and she knew she was free to break down quietly. Jane ended up crying herself to sleep that night as she dreamt of what her birthday could have been like had anyone bothered to remember.

Chapter 18 – Birthday Wishes

A couple days later, it was time for Raelynn’s birthday. Jane wanted to throw her a nice party for the special occassion, so she baked a German Chocolate cake and invited some of the family friends over. Everyone said they could come which pleased Jane. The party seemed to be planning smoothly for Raelynn.

Jane rented a speaker to play some music for the party, and made sure there was enough indoor seating for all her guests since she didn’t have a nice backyard yet.

Mortimer was the first guest to arrive, and Jane greeted him with a hug. She was shocked at his appearance as it hadn’t been so long since she had seen him. She was reminded that time was short, and she needed to take advantage of the precious little she was given.

“Excited for the party?” She asked her old friend.

“Absolutely.” He replied, grinning.

The two of them continued to keep talking until the next guest arrived.

Dina arrived fashionably late, all decked out in party clothes. “Wow, you look great!” Jane complimented Dina when she saw her.

“Thanks! You always look great.” Dina complimented Jane right back.

The two ladies giggled like the good friends they were until it was time for Raelynn to blow out her birthday candles. I can’t wait, Jane thought to herself.

Raelynn aged into a beautiful teenager. For her birthday, Jane surprised her with her very own guitar. “I will call her Luna.” Raelynn told her Mom. “Thank you so much!” Raelynn squealed, hugging her.

Once Raelynn had a hold of her guitar, she found that she couldn’t stop playing it. However, the rest of the family didn’t seem to like her playing her guitar so much since she wasn’t very good yet. “We’ll get better.” She told Luna as she continued strumming. Raelynn found her passion with music; she enjoyed it so much.

Raelynn also knew she had a slight weight problem, especially considering the industry she was hoping to be a part of one day. So, to be healthy, she decided to jog daily. Raelynn found that she really enjoyed jogging as it got her out of the house and boosted her mood. Raelynn found it to be a great stress reliever. Also, she enjoyed seeing the beautiful nature around her.

Jane was fully supportive of her decision and helped her by cooking her more healthy meals. Jane also informed her on how to eat healthier in order to maintain a healthier weight. Even though Raelynn knew she had a slight problem, it didn’t stop her from being bubbly and outgoing.

During Raelynn’s party, Jane noticed Dayna seemed more distant than usual. Dayna hadn’t been full of her spunk and charisma as she usually was. So, once everyone was settled and doing their own thing, Jane sat Dayna down on the couch to have a little talk with her.

“Sweetie, I’m worried about you. Is anything wrong?” She asked her, wrapping her arm around her daughter.

“I don’t know.” Dayna replied, confused as to how to respond.

“Well, is there anything more specific that is bugging you?” Jane continued.

After a few moments of silence, Dayna responded, “I’ve just been teased a little at school, that’s all.” Dayna hoped that response would get her Mom to stop asking questions.

Jane was shocked to hear the news, saying “What have they been saying?”

“They’ve just been saying that I dress too much like a boy.” Dayna answered with a shrug.

Jane thought for a moment. “Do you like the way you dress?” She asked her young daughter.

“Yeah.” Dayna said.

“Wel then, it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks! Just be you because you will always have a family to lean on that will love you and never judge you.” She told her. “Plus, I think you dress pretty uniquely, not like everyone else. So chin up.” She kissed Dayna on the forehead.

Reassured by her Mom for now, Dayna smiled at her. “Thanks, Mom.” She told her.

“Any time. Never be afraid to tell me what’s going on, okay?” Jane responded.

“Okay.” Dayna said, feeling better.

The girls decided to watch a movie that night to spend some quality time together. They settled on Pocahontas, and Jane prepared some popcorn while they watched the Disney classic. Feeling content, Jane felt herself starting to fall asleep as the movie was nearing its end, exhausted after a long day.

Chapter 17 – Three Little Kids

As Jane was washing the dishes that morning, she realized the fridge broke. “Not again!” She groaned, exasperated. It was Chance’s birthday, and she wanted everything to go smoothly for him even though it didn’t appear that it was going to. “Can I please have an easy day?” She begged to no one in particular.

After pulling out her handy wrench and tightening some bolts, the fridge was fixed. For now, at least. Jane knew it was very likely it would break again, but she crossed her fingers that it wouldn’t be that day.

Once the fridge was fixed, Jane made the same cake that she made for her two little girls. Obviously, she didn’t want Chance to feel any different or less special. Jane felt overconscious of this fact since she had found him on her doorstep. She wanted to make sure he wasn’t treated any different.

Of course, I still need to talk to him about that, she thought as she placed the white cake onto the light wood table. Jane put the thought to the back of her mind, figuring she would know when the time was right, and his birthday certainly wasn’t the appropriate time for that conversation.

Chance grew into a handsome, brown haired little boy. Jane felt her heart swell with happiness as she looked at her son. “Awh, I’m so happy!” She said as she pulled him into a tight Mom hug. “I want today to be awesome for you.” She told him.

“It will, Mom. Don’t worry.” He reassured her as he hugged her back. Jane felt so much pride as she looked at him, and knew she loved him no less than she did her two daughters.

“Your cake is out in the kitchen!” Jane said excitedly.

Chance practically ran to the kitchen to taste the cake. As he got closer he could smell the delicious scent that wafted up to his nose. “Mmm.” Chance got the first slice, of course.

Later that day, Aunt Dina stopped by to celebrate little Chance’s birthday. Chance seemed to take an instant liking to her, and he talked to her for most of the afternoon. They laughed as Dina shared silly stories about his Mom. Chance couldn’t wait until he’d have stories like that to share one day.

“Goodbye, squirt.” She said, tussling his hair before she left.

Jane, frowning slightly, waved bye to her good friend as she watched her go. “Stop by soon!” Jane called.

“I will!” Dina promised, leaving the house.

After his Aunt Dina left, Chance took over his role as man of the house. He took out the trash and washed the leftover dishes from the cake feast earlier that morning.

“Thank you!” Jane said appreciatively as she noticed her son helping her out.

“No problem.” He told his Mom with a smile. He appreciated her and wanted to do what he could for her, especially since she was working so hard to raise the three of them.

Still on her health kick, Jane made garden salad for her family that night. She was happy as she saw her kids gathered around the table sharing stories about their day.

“And then, we went down by the river, and we saw a frog close to the edge. I tried to catch it, but I almost fell in!” Dayna told her Mom.

“I’ll have to show you some tricks.” Jane responded, grinning at her daughter. There’s no where else I’d rather be, Jane thought happily.

Even though she had a long day, Jane was still in a great mood from family time during dinner that she didn’t complain doing the dishes or cleaning the sink. She was glad to take care of her little family and provide for them. “As long as they’re happy, I’m happy.” She said aloud as she was finishing washing the sink. Then her mind drifted off into the future when all three of them would be adults…

Chapter 16 – By Chance

The next day, Dina stopped by for a surprise visit. “Hey!” Jane squealed, ecstatic to see her old friend.

“Yeah, long time no see!” Dina said playfully. “Seriously though, you kind of disappeared. I had to make sure you were okay. How’s everything going?” She asked concerned.

“As well as they can be.” Jane answered. Dina’s worried expression slowly smoothed out as she noticed the huge smile on Jane’s face.

“How are you managing to be so happy?” Dina asked. “I need to take notes.” They both laughed.

“To be honest, I just don’t think about him much. I focus on my girls instead. If it weren’t for them, then I’d be a complete mess right now.” Jane answered honestly, putting a stray hair back into place.

“Well…off that note. I have some news!” Dina paused for a second, “I’m pregnant!” She announced.

Jane’s face lit up like Christmas lights as both girls bounced up and down like litle girls. “That’s amazing!”

They spent the rest of the morning together taking pictures and reminiscing on old times until Dina had to leave for work around 3.

“Alright, I gotta go.” She said, pouting.

“Okay.” Jane pulled her into a hug. “Stop by soon?”

“Of course!” Dina said as she turned to leave.

About an hour after Dina left, Mortimer and Alexander stopped by. Jane was so euphoic she couldn’t stop laughing. “I’ve gotten so many visits today!” She blurted while she and Mortimer were talking. “I’m not complaining though.” She quickly added.

Jane had a chance to catch up with Alexander about his frog collection. Things were going better for him at school, and he even brought Jane a Spotted Leaf Frog since she had helped him during the awkward phase of his childhood.

When it was time for them to leave, Alexander pulled Jane into a hug. “Thank you so much for your help.” He told her.

“No problem!” She said, happy she made a difference in his life. “Thank you so much for the frog. I’ll take really good care of him.” She promised.

After that, Mortimer and Alexander took their leave, Jane sad as she watched them go.

Looking on the bright side though, now I can cook dinner for the girls and watch a movie, she thought to herself.

Just as the girls were settled on the couch with their bowls of Mac and Cheese about to start The Little Mermaid, when they heard rustling outside. Soon after, there was a sobbing noise.

“Stay here.” Jane told the girls, her voice strict even though it shook slightly.

Much to Jane’s surprise, there was a small baby in a basket outside her door. She saw a silouhette at the edge of her lot running off, but she couldn’t make the figure out. Quickly, her attention turned to the infant who had a note attached to his chest.

Hello,

I cannot reveal my identity out of fear, but I had this baby young. No one will help me raise him, and I want what’s best for him. His name is Chance. Please give him a good home.

Jane stared at the note in shock. What should I do? She asked herself over and over. First things first, I need to pull out the old crib and make sure he’s comfortable. 

Jane had managed to find some blue ribbon in the closet as well and quickly draped it around the bassinet. Chance wouldn’t stop crying, so Jane held him close to her bouncing him. “It’ll be okay, Chance.” She soothed. Soon, he calmed down enough and even smiled a little as she placed him in his bassinet.

Raelynn, who had been too shocked to say anything, went to greet little Chance. He seemed to like her as she cooed at him. “You’re so cute!” She told him. Then, she made funny little noises to make him smile even more.

Jane, as she watched the two interact with each other, texted Dina. She decided to sleep on her decision since she had a big one to make. Can I even afford to take care of him? She asked herself, biting her bottom lip.

That night, she turned over restlessly, waking up every once in a while to care for Chance. As the night wore on, she felt herself bonding with him. “Oh no.” She mumbled as she realized she already loved him as much as her other children. “I won’t let anything happen to you.” She reassured him, as her heart made up the decision for her.

Chapter 15 – Not One, But Two

Just as she had for Raelynn’s birthday, Jane made a white cake for Dayna’s. Jane was excited for Dayna to grow up, but she was also slightly sad. Seeing her two daughters now as both children made her feel old. She hadn’t quite reached the adult stage yet, but she was getting there, and the idea put her stomach in knots.

“Gosh, both my baby girls are children now…” Jane grumbled as she made the cake. However, she wanted to have a good day, so she pushed the thought to the back of her mind and put a smile on her face. Another thing that was helping her be happy was the fact that no appliance had broken that morning!

Once the cake was made, Jane watched as Dayna grew into a tomboy kid. Her two daughters appeared very different, but she loved them both equally. Jane could already tell Dayna would love the outdoors just as much as she did, and the thought excited her!

“Now, let’s get some cake!” Raelynn said, ravenous, as she ran to the kitchen.

“Alright, alright.” Jane said, smiling, as she followed with Dayna right behind her.

Jane took a kitchen knife and sliced the first piece easily, the delicious smell of cake reaching her nose. “Mmm.” She said, handing the first slice to Dayna. “Happy birthday, kiddo.” She said.

When the girls went off to school, Jane decided to take some time to herself and travel to the park. “I haven’t been here in ages.” She commented, taking in the beautiful scenery. She headed straight for the pond to look for some more frogs. She only had to find one more to finish her collection, and she was determined to find it that day!

After six unsuccessful tries, Jane felt her hands grasp around a small, slippery body. Pulling the frog from the pond water, she didn’t recognize the unfamiliar amphibian trying to struggle free from her hands. After inspecting it for a few minutes, Jane identified it as a Dirtwhirl frog, the last frog needed for her collection. “Yay!” She shouted in excitement, not caring who heard. “I finally did it.” She smiled, doing a small happy dance.

Meanwhile, the girls were getting along great. They were like twins separated at birth. Raelynn talked about all of her adventures before Dayna had grown up, and Dayna listened eagerly. When Dayna could, she’d interject with insights of her own.

Dayna also wanted a bed to match Raelynn’s. Once Jane clarified that was okay with Raelynn, it was done! The girls were quickly becoming best friends. Jane smiled as she realized the strong bond developing between the two. “How am I so lucky?” She asked herself.

Raelynn and Dayna wanted to document their day together, so they walked through the house taking pictures. They even ventured outside, but they were limited as Jane called after them, “Stay on this lot!”

Grumbling, the girls ran outside, happy to not be surrounded by the confining walls of their home.

They walked to the river close to the house, giggling and creating adventures and games unique to them.

Aside from buying a bed for Dayna, Jane had also saved enough to buy a new bedspread for herself. She even dared to build an entire room for herself. Jane sighed, content, as she finally felt as if she had a decent home for her and her family. With the remaining funds, she bought a small kitchen and dining table as well. Frog breeding was really helping her financially.

By the end of the day, the girls were all exhausted as they crowded around the TV. Even though Jane had some rough times in the past and was completely exhausted, she grinned the entire tmie, happy to be surrounded by her family and nice home.

Chapter 14 – Hard Times

Once again, the good for nothing toilet broke. Jane spent a good portion of her morning attempting to fix it. Even though her skill had improved, she was in such a terrible mood it was hard for her to get the job done. Either she was hungry or she had terrible pregnancy cramps. Eventually, she managed to fix it, and she felt satisfied with a job well done. Although the toilet was fixed, the process zapped a majority of Jane’s energy.

Later, as Raelynn was putting away dinner from the previous night, Jane couldn’t make it to the bathroom on time. Her bladder failed, and she peed herself. In shock, she shook her leg, looking at her daughter. She made a joke to Raelynn, “Haha, even adults pee themselves sometimes.” Even though it wasn’t very funny, Jane felt a little better afterward.

However, she didn’t feel so much better that she could show her face to the world. She hid under her covers until she was sure it was safe to come out, and Raelynn had stopped laughing. Normally, Jane had a lot of confidence in herself, she was self-assured, but she was having a really rough day.

Once she was out of her funk, Jane decided it was time for lunch for her and Raelynn. She wanted to prepare a nice garden salad, so they both would eat healthy. But, she wasn’t very good at cooking and cut her thumb slightly. Jane jumped back in surprise and pain. “Ouch!” She yelped. Worriedly, she picked up the knife to continue chopping the needed vegetables for the salad. After a few minutes, Jane prepared a nice meal for both her and her daughter.

When Jane sat down to eat, she felt a horrible wave of nausea roll over her. She almost stood up to run to the bathroom, but she realized it wasn’t really morning sickness. No longer having an appetite, she placed her bowl on the counter to clean up later. She decided to curl up on the couch for a little bit and watch TV until her stomach settled down. “Boy, this is a rough pregnancy.” She commented quietly to herself.

Especially with August gone, Jane was really feeling the responsibility of being a single Mom. She was barely able to cover the bills through frog breeding. Now, though, she was starting to breed rarer and rarer frogs that sold for more. But with being pregnant, she was heavily reliant on frog breeding as a source of income because it was hard for her to venture outside collecting gems and fossils.

Seeing her Mom struggle so much, Raelynn felt it was the least she could do to help out a little. She took out the trash on her own, put their lunch in the fridge so it wouldn’t spoil, and washed their dishes. Even though she was so young, Raelynn was helping her Mom a lot. Since August was gone, Jane really appreciated the help of her little girl.

“I’m so proud of you.” She told her, hugging her tight, one day when she came home from school.

“Thanks.” Raelynn looked away, shuffling her feet, feeling awkward.

The fridge broke later that night. After Jane repaired it, Raelynn didn’t hesitate in offering her help, “I’ll mop the floor, Mommy.” She said with a smile. This is hard, Raelynn groaned inwardly. With Jane so late in her pregnancy, Raelynn was taking on the responsibility of most of the household chores. However, she didn’t complain. She kept working and smile whenever her Mom came into the room.

When Raelynn was done mopping the floor, Jane and her had a nice chat. “How was your day at school?” Jane asked her.

“It was fine. I made a really cool airplane, but it broke by recess, so I couldn’t try it out.” Raelynn answered, feeling bummed.

“Awh. Well, I’m sure you can make it again, and I’d love to fly it with you!” Jane reassured her daughter.

After that, the girls cuddled on the couch watching the “Kids Dance Competition” on the Kids Network.

Suddenly, while the girls were watching TV, Jane felt a sudden pain. She rushed to Raelynn’s room which had also became the nursery once again. Groaning in pain, Jane placed both hands on her stomach. “Wait in the living room.” She managed to say to her panicked daughter.

Impatiently, Raelynn paced back and forth in front of the TV, too flustered to concentrate on the show. She finally turned it off, and waited for her Mom to call her in to see her new sibling.

Jane gave birth to a healthy baby girl. “Dayna.” She said, her voice nearing a whisper. “I love you so much.” She said, pressing her lips to her new baby girl’s forehead. She held her daughter close, feeling in that moment the absence of August. A sudden rage filled her, her daughters should have a father, but she knew she couldn’t let August around the girls. He was dangerous.

“I’ll love you just as much as two parents could.” Jane promised, rocking her little girl. Jane almost swore that Dayna smiled at her when she said that, which brought a big smile to her face as well.

Jane peeked her head out of the bedroom door, “You can come in now.” She said. Raelynn, twirling her hands nervously peered cautiously into the room. Slowly, she gained the confidence to walk over to the bassinet.

Raelynn smiled when she saw her new baby sister, but a sudden worry filled her tummy. “Mommy?” She called quietly.

“Yes?” Jane responded.

“You’ll still love me, right?” Raelynn asked, worried.

“Of course!” Jane said, slightly frightened. “How could I not love you? I’ll love you forever.” She promised, pulling her daughter into a warm hug. She kissed her cheek, pulling away. “I’ll never stop, I promise.”

Raelynn, feeling slightly reassured, smiled. “Okay.”

Jane wrapped an arm around her daughter as they both stared at the new addition to the household. Neither one could deny the charm Dayna Wynngarden possessed. “She’s so precious, just like you.” Jane murmured.