Friday, August 29, 2008

Changes

Another week has come and gone, I feel like time is slipping through my grip. That I am not keeping pace with my own life. The to do list keeps growing, my energy keeps lagging further and further behind. And my kids. My kids! They are transforming before my eyes. Daily.

My 10 year old, Superboy for example. He has always been the baby of the family, even since becoming a big brother twice over. But he was my baby for over 6 years and a bit spoiled in that role. He was so darn cute and mischievous, he got away with far more than was good for him. As a result, the last 3-4 years with him have not been easy for either one of us.

He had become an expert at avoiding work of all types, school, chores, whatever. He was a terribly picky eater. I have sympathy for that, as I was too, but when his whining about food turned into my littler Monkey boy whining about food, I got a little tired of it. In general, Superboy has been willful and defiant on a daily basis. He could spend hours avoiding a task by sitting and staring off into space or by sneaking off. He would torture all of his siblings in a quiet, sneaky way that often got the other person in trouble. He would even pick at his 2 year old sister until she was shrieking.

Well, on the cusp of his 11th birthday, Superboy is growing up. Oh he still has his moments. But I have been noticing more and more, signs of maturity blossoming within my boy. For example, he will finally eat what is given to him, even if he hates it. With minimal complaining. This is such a blessing, because Monkey idolizes him and had started to 'hate' almost every food. When this actual eating without whining started, I was sure to praise Superboy's newfound maturity, he needs lots of positive reinforcement.

Superboy is now starting to do his chores, once in a while he does a great job. He is playing with his younger siblings and actually making it fun for them. He has even been sharing his playmobil with them! He has started taking on the preparation of a meal sometimes. This week he made us all raisin bread french toast for lunch.

More than all of the things he does, it is the subtle shifts in attitude that amaze me and warm my heart. I see his personality maturing and his heart opening to others, empathy growing there. Even for those sibs who drive him crazy.

Superboy is an incredible kid. Sometimes our battles have clouded that for me, my frustration overshadowing all his wonderful traits. At almost 11, he still wants nothing more than to cuddle up with me, my arms around him, or to go on a mommy-son date. How special is that?! He makes a new best friend every time he meets a new group of kids. His heart is so open, so accepting, he is always ready to seek out someone who needs a friend or a helping hand.

I have always been proud of my boy, but it is incredible to me to watch him mature into the lovely young man God wants him to be. I am sure there are many battles still ahead, but I know that his love of God and his generous heart will see him through. And a lot of prayer.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Whine, whine, whine

The whining will be the death of me, I am sure. My 4 and a half year old Monkey Boy is driving me to the brink. I am feeling frustrated and angry with him a lot of the time. Have to keep reminding myself that this is an adjustment period for everyone, especially my little people. To be honest, today that wasn't helping that much.

The whining starts soon after waking. We usually get a nice half hour cuddle in bed before he gets going, thankfully. I get up with him and we go downstairs to get milk. It does not matter what kind of cup I get, it is the wrong one. This morning there were no clean sippy cups, so it was, "Why do I have to have this cup? I want my sippy cup!" complete with tears.
Yesterday I asked, "Sippy cup or not?" His answer was sippy cup, so I made it and then he pushed it away angrily, refused to drink it and cried that I gave him a sippy cup and he didn't want one.

Then it is time for food. "What do you want for breakfast, Monkey boy?"
Him, "Nuffing. humph."
Me, "Well it is time to eat and this is your one and only chance to have me make your breakfast. What will it be? Oatmeal? Cereal? Toast? Eggs?"
Him, "Hurumph. I don't like any of our food. I want waffles."
Me, "I am not making waffles."
Him, "Fine then, I will have butter toast."
Me, "How about some peanut butter on that, for some nutrition?"
Him, "No. I hate peanut butter now."
So I make him the buttered toast, unwilling to fight with him. I am careful to butter it completely and then place it on his plate just so, with no cutting. Usually he will whine if I cut it, that a) he doesn't want it cut or b) I cut it wrong. Any way I cut it is wrong. He will also whine if I don't cut the toast, but at least that is undoable. Today he whined because I put one piece on top of the other and he wanted them side by side. "I hate it like that. I don't want that, I hate toast!"
He will then usually bring on tears and push the plate away and stomp out of the room.

I tell him that this is breakfast. He may eat or not, but there will be no other food. I will not stand for any more whining and if he wants something he needs to ask, rather than whine. This brings on the 'hurt feelings' crying. His face looks like his heart is utterly, irreparably broken.

I am so not falling for it. I am done with this freaking whining all the bloody time. I proceed to be a good parent and ignore him. Eventually he will eat the toast, today it took until about 10:30 and I found him at the table, eating with a smile on his face.

Every interaction of our day is like this. Everything I, or anyone else does is met with whining. Whatever we do is wrong, even if it is done exactly the way he asked. Instead of asking for what he actually wants though, his first reaction is to whine at what is there.

The most oft repeated phrase out of his father and my mouths is, "What do kids that whine get?"
"Nothing!" Monkey and his sister chant in unison.
"How do we get what we want?"
"By asking! With words!"
"So?"

Today though? I had enough. When he started that crap at the dinner table, because I had put his ketchup on his bun instead of his salmon patty, I started ranting to his daddy.
"I have had enough of this whining crap! He has been doing this since he got up! Every single thing I do for him is wrong or not good enough! I am going insane, I can't stand one more second of this!"

Monkey boy paused in his whining and tears and shoving his plate at me, to stare at me with a slightly hurt, but more 'my mom is nutso' look on his face. But he still wouldn't eat that burger for another half an hour.

I bailed to take the teenager to youth and let Daddy deal. I could feel the steam rising from my ears already.

I do realize that my stellar parenting of late is not helping the situation. And that he is only 4, and we are about to add another child to our family, and he is probably in need of more reassurance and attention than usual. But some days I just want to stick my fingers in my ears and scream lalalalalalaala at the top of my lungs while running to hide in my bed.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Mixed Blessings

It is flippin' cold here this morning. Wasn't I just complaining of the heat last week? It is amazing to me how quickly the season changes. I knew it couldn't be far off when it started cooling off really nicely at night, even though it was sweltering during the day. But this morning as I took my hubby to work, I could see my breath. It was only about 45 degrees. I expect that I will soon start to see the leaves changing. I do adore autumn.
The changing season seems appropriate as we are entering a new season in our lives. Not only is a new school year about to begin, but a brand new child is expected any day. He is on the forefront of all of our minds around here right now. His presence is felt in almost every conversation. Even the tough ones, about death or sex. Monkey boy has been talking about death with me every night before bed, including why babies die, and Girly has lots of repeated questions about how baby's are made.

A conversation with your kids about sex, prompted by the 3 year olds question about how the baby gets out of mommy's tummy (leading to questions of how it got in there in the first place, and anatomy), can be a little uncomfortable for everyone. My poor 10 year old actually plugged his ears. No kid wants to know that his mother does that kind of thing. Not even me.
It was a very thorough conversation, and once we segued into a more scientific vein (away from talk of his mother's bits), even the 10 year old was able to enter in. We try to be really open with them all, right from toddlerhood, and talk of all aspects of sexuality and reproduction. But this was probably our most in-depth discussion in a long time. It was terrific actually, especially the parts about respect and love and relationship.

Strangely, I almost find the death conversations more difficult right now. Maybe because fetal mortality has been on my mind since conception. The kids ask about Kalila often, she died and was born before both my little ones were even a thought. But they know all about her and look forward to seeing her one day. They talk about that one day far more than is comfortable to me and with such ease. I have a hard time hearing them talk of their own eventual deaths. Death holds no fear for them, they have complete faith in the existence of God and heaven and the perfection of life after death.
I am thankful for that, I hope they keep that faith throughout their lives. But knowing that your loved ones are in the presence of perfect love after they leave this earth, does not mean that those left on earth mourn less.
Even though these conversations can be difficult, I am so very thankful for the privilege of hearing what is going on in their sweet, little brains and sharing those precious, fleeting moments with them. What blessings I receive, when I remember to slow down and be present to them and really listen.

Monday, August 25, 2008

more miscellany

Will you think I am a bad person if I admit that I didn't watch any of the Olympics? I just couldn't muster any enthusiasm for it this year. I even skipped most of the articles in the newspaper. I usually adore the Olympics and watch the opening ceremonies with tears running down my cheeks. This year? Nothing.

***
My Girly has been particularly adorable lately. One of her latest 'things' is that when she comes and cuddles with me for a story or whatever, she won't just sit beside me. "Mommy, I am not in your circle!" And then she proceeds to arrange us so that she is in my circle. Either on my lap, between my legs or at the very least, with my arm around her.
Unfortunately, now everyone wants to be in my circle and it is getting a bit crowded in here.
I am not sure how we are going to work the cuddles when Zed arrives. Monkey and Girly are continually battling for prime Mommy real estate, what are they gonna do when Zed is attached to my breast?!

****
Can anyone tell me, is it too much to ask that, when my darling husband and resident handyman, decides to haul the enormous mitre saw all the way up into the teensy bedroom to cut mdf trim to length, he shuts the damn door? I came home the other day to find my bed and furniture and everything else in the house absolutely covered in sawdust. Why, I ask you, why? The freshly painted bedroom he was working in had a door, it could have been closed to protect the rest of the house. But ideally he could have saved us all a lot of work by taking that saw outside on the deck. Because now that freshly painted bedroom has sawdust covering its walls, and I haven't had the heart to look at the ceiling he had just finished painting. Ugh.

***
I am so excited! I just got back from Superstore/Loblaws with bags of baby goodies. Teensy newborn diapers, wipes, some adorable little organic cotton onesies and sleepers (super cheap!) etc. I was feeling some anxiety about having nothing ready, in case I go into labour at some point. This seems unlikely, as I have never gone into labour on my own before. But you know, a girl can hope.
I am a little perplexed though, as to why I haven't been able to find a nursing bra that fits. I went to all the maternity stores and all the non-stretchy bras were teensy. Doesn't anyone understand that pregnant and lactating women get big boobs? And when your boobs are enormous, you want some support?
I would really like it if the women who work in these stores would stop trying to sell me things that just don't work for me. Don't try and talk me into a 40 dollar bra that I just told you doesn't work for me. I refuse to buy it just because it is the only thing I can find.
I did buy a sport type nursing bra though, I figure I can at least sleep in that and wear it in the hospital. But I have to find something to hold up the sisters in public. Believe me, no one wants to see me without that. These girls have nursed 4 babies! Anyone have any terrific nursing bra recommendations? I can't be the only big chested nursing mom out there.

***
I don't have an update on the boy from the boating accident today, but I will get one tomorrow. Keep praying.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Bits of this and that.

Because I have been such a negligent blogger I thought I would do a little catch up post.

We finally decided on a name for our baby boy. You may have noticed my new bloggy name for him, Zed. Zed is how we Canadians say Z and there are a few reasons for me calling him Zed. The first being that Z is the last letter of the alphabet, and at this point I am really hoping he will be the last biological addition to the Mighty family.
The second reason is that his first name has a Z in it and his middle name is going to be my maiden name which also contains the letter Z. So Zed it is. Poor kid.

Our home renos are progressing, slowly but surely. Brent and I hope to at least have the little boys room finished in the next couple days, right down to new trim, doorknobs and outlets. I am working on some artwork to put in there and looking for a crib and crib bedding. I haven't found what I am looking for yet, but holding out hope.
The rest of the house is still a work in progress and looks to be for the foreseeable future. I try not to think about it too much, or it makes me insane.

My big boys are growing up so fast that it sometimes feels like there are strangers in my house. I keep catching glimpses of my 13 year old out of the corner of my eye and I think there is a strange man walking around. He is literally growing and changing before my eyes. Each week or two he is another 1/4 inch bigger and his face and whole body are transforming. It is so strange!
Thankfully the physical changes have not meant that who he is changes. He is the most incredible young man, I am so proud of who he is and who he is becoming!

Tonight my big boys have their 3 neighbour friends over for movie night. Their friends were all at the lake for the weekend with a bunch of other friends for an annual bash they attend. Unfortunately the festivities were cut short by a terrible boating accident. All the boys and another friend were out tubing on the lake with one of the parent's friends. I am not sure of all the details but the tube cord broke and the other boy flew off of the tube into a cement support for a trestle bridge.
He is in very serious condition, he was stable overnight, but today brought a whole new host of problems. More internal bleeding, fluid on the brain, bruised internal organs etc. My heart just breaks for his family and for the poor man who was driving the boat. Please say a prayer for them all if you get a chance. My neighbours and the boys are all a bit shook up, the boys were witnesses to the whole thing. I just pray that this young man, just 14 years old, will fully recover from his injuries and that the whole family will feel God's loving presence surrounding them as they walk through this.

There was much more that I wanted to write about, but I think that is plenty for tonight. I hope you all have an amazing and safe week.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Happy Anniversary!

It was our 14th wedding anniversary yesterday and after a rough start to the day, we ended up having a wonderful dinner out last night and then dessert at a second place, so yummy! It was wonderful to get out together for a bit without the kids, especially before baby comes.
This is the front of the card I made for hubby and a 38 weeks pic of my huge belly. The polka dots are much further apart than they were when I got that dress!
Oh, I signed up on twitter, with the intent of live blogging my baby birthing from my phone. So keep your eyes on that update thingy in my side bar. Plus if anyone has any twitter tips or wants to add me, my id is mightymama1 and my email is mightymorphinmama [at] gmail [dot] com. Add me, I need some twitter friends! (and I have no idea how to add them myself!)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Hope Returns

At 38 weeks pregnant, lying on my back is not only uncomfortable, it makes me feel vulnerable. Like a turtle lying on it's shell, I feel unwieldy, unable to get up quickly or move easily. As I lay on the examining table in my OB's office, flat on my back, those feelings are never more apparent.

She squirts the warm gel on my belly and runs the doppler gently across my huge expanse of belly. I am anxious, as always, to hear the comforting sound of my baby's heartbeat. Don't be afraid, I tell myself as I listen to the static coming from the machine. I strain my ears to hear even a faint echo of baby. The doctor is asking me questions about the headaches I am having that seem to indicate further issues with my blood pressure, but I try to block her out so that I can hear babe.

The Doctor lifts the doppler for a second and asks me where we usually hear baby. I point to the right side of my tummy as she squirts more gel. I feel my heart start to race as she places the wand back on my belly, pushing a bit harder now.

My mind is going places I don't want it to go. Tears start to stream down my face as I think, "I knew I would never hold this baby in my arms alive." I feel resigned to the fate of another dead baby. More minutes pass, each one has the weight of hours in it as the doctor continues to move the wand around. She notices the sobs racking my body and starts to croon to me. "It's okay, sometimes baby moves into a position that is hard to capture. We have an ultrasound machine here and we will find him with that. When did you last feel movement? See, it will be fine. You have been happy with his movements, right? It's okay."

All I can think is that she must not remember that I have been here before. Straining to hear a baby's heartbeat that had ceased to beat. Hoping against hope, but that time I never once imagined that my baby could actually be dead. This time I can think nothing else. Hope has left my heart, fleeing with the static that fills my ears.

And then. And then I hear it! The OB has moved the doppler all the way behind my ribs and we hear it, strong and loud, and now my tears fall in utter, disbelieving relief. "There he is! Strong and healthy at 150 beats. He is fine." The doctor sounds as relieved as I feel. She showed no alarm for those long moments of silence, but now it is evident that I was not the only one who doubted.

So baby Zed is healthy and strong and we are still awaiting his blessed birth. My heart was broken and mended again, even if the stitches are a bit haphazard and loose this time. Hope has taken up fleeting residence in my soul once again. But as I lay in bed tonight, weeping quietly to myself, I am not sure for whom I weep. All I can think of is the family from my church who received the news I did 6 years ago, that their much loved baby has died in her womb. A few Sunday's ago I sat in the pew and watched this couple walk to the front for prayer. I had no idea why, they weren't ready to announce or talk about what had happened. But as I watched them, I started to sob, I felt in my spirit why they were up there and my heart broke for them.

And it breaks today for all of the others who have held their lifeless babies in their wombs or arms, all hope gone, hearts broken completely, feeling as if they will never mend again. Never hold hope in their hearts again. And I pray that hope returns. That hearts mend. Souls soar once more. Because with God's help, I have come back from that awful place, the brink of the abyss, bottomless sorrow and even bitterness that threatened to creep in and take over. God has healed my heart, not just once, but over and over again. Fear has threatened to come in and take over, but my God is bigger than my fear and he eases it and allows hope to fill me over and over. Today I feel, once again, that there is a day soon coming where I will hold baby Zed in my arms as he cries lustily in protest of leaving his warm nest within me.
And I also know, within my heart of hearts, that the day is coming that I will even hold the baby girl that was taken from me too soon. She is well and perfectly happy in heaven with her God, and one day He will let me be her mother again, when my days here with you are over.
By the way, all is well here, I have had an insane headache for over a week and just the thought of opening my computer has hurt. I have dropped in for a minute or two here and there, but I am totally behind. There are over 1000 posts in my reader, so I am just going to have to delete them and come and see you all as I get a few minutes here and there.
If you have emailed me, or asked a question, I will try and get back to you soon. I went for bloodwork yesterday, to try and get to the bottom of my headache and hope to have some relief soon. But I likely won't be around as much as usual for the next month or so. New baby's don't leave many free hand moments to type. I will likely be reading your blogs but maybe not commenting all the time, and I will post updates here but likely not big posts. There will definitely be baby photos coming soon! Sooner than later I hope, we are having a bit of a heat wave here again and I am roasting. It is 90 degrees in my house when we go to bed. yuck.
So I will be around but maybe quietly for a while.
Love ya all!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Fallen off the face of the earth...

Well not literally, just the virtual world.
I just wanted to put up a quick post to say that all is well with us, just a bit busy and overwhelmed here. I have had 2 sets of out of town company since last Thursday on top of the ongoing renos and doctors appointments. And my Dad's birthday on Sunday, he was here Monday so we had dinner and cake and I made him a scrapbook of the Grandkids-I did 22 pages in 2 days.
So a bit busy and feeling kind of worn out today.
I hope to catch up with you guys over the next few days, missing my blogging friends!
Thanks for checking in with me. Love ya!

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Off to the movies.

After my hubby ran out of paint, halfway through the last wall in Monkey's room last night, he decided to rescue me from the heat by taking me to an air conditioned movie! We saw Mamma Mia, which was kinda his idea. I was totally surprised that he expressed any interest in it, I kinda thought it would be fun to see with my Mom.

Anyway, he rolled his eyes at me the entire time. I thought it was a really fun movie, the little bits of lameness just added to the funniness. (I may have disturbed a few people with my boisterous laughter at seemingly inappropriate moments, but I couldn't help myself) Pierce can not sing, I could not keep a straight face when he sang. But he is cute, so....

We adored Meryl Streep's character's friends in the movie, they were hilarious and we all left the theatre smiling. Well except for Brent. He had his head down, looking around surreptitiously, I think he was looking out for the man-card patrol lying in wait to take his card away.

I am sure when we walked in the back door of the house, it was 20 degrees warmer inside than outside. Ick. But with the fan blowing, I mangaged to sleep fairly well. Today I am pretending I am at the beach, I put on my swimsuit after breakfast and went out to sit in the sun. If you can't beat the heat, might as well enjoy it. Hope you can too.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Oh my gosh it is so freakin' hot in here today. I am just gushing sweat and I feel all light-headed. need.more.water. Going to get some, hang on...
K, better, phew.
Yuck, so sticky!
I need to clean my house! There is still dust everywhere and all the items dislodged from their homes over the weekend by home-demolishing hubbies, need new homes. And the laundry, oh the laundry! I went down to put some on and found the coveralls that dh put on to crawl around in the loose insulation in the attic, in my washer! I am gonna run a few rinse cycles before putting clothes in there, because that stuff is itchy.
Sorry, I just needed to vent for a few moments. My brain is addled and my body is weak today. And a bit painful. Everything moving around to make room for baby...

Oh! Oh! They did not! My kids, they just finished off all of the ice cream! Without me!

Hope you find a cool breeze, a yummy beverage and a friend to chat with today.

It's a girl thing.

By the way, in regards to yesterday's title, the doctor is not worried about my blood pressure. I have no swelling and I am not gaining weight, they are not concerned.

I have to share this photo. It, to me, illustrates the innate differences between girls and boys.
My boys loved to line things up or build towers. This is a key part of their development as toddlers. My boys would make lines of dinosaurs, or lines of cars, maybe even animals. But not Girly. Nope, being a girl after mine own heart, this is what she would line up.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Why my blood pressure was high at my OB appointment today:

The wall we took out last fall.













The wall we took out this weekend.













The closet we took out this weekend.




























The kitchen entryway we widened this weekend.




























The live, unconnected to anything wire that I have asked my dh to turn the power off to repeatedly, also the one he snipped thinking it was disconnected, but wasn't.













Monkey's room waiting to be painted.













The big boys room waiting for more paint (see where Girly took a hammer to the wall, (above the boat sail) after Daddy had already done 2 coats).

Monday, August 04, 2008

And it comes back to bite me in the ...

We have been trying to break our little people of a deadly whining habit. I am pretty sure this habit was ingrained in them because of a certain 10 year old boy in our home, the Superboy. He, as big brother and middle child, likes to rile his siblings up and keep things lively around here. The Monkey boy has always been a bit irritable and sensitive. So the mixture of those two has tended to be a bit toxic at times. Monkey's way of dealing with Superboy has often been piercing shrieks of 'MOM!' along with tortured cries of 'Superboooooiiiiyyyyy, stop it!' And for a few years I would go running and yell at Superboy to leave Monkey alone. Therefore perpetuating the whining.

So now we have a bit of a whining issue and we are dealing with it. One, by encouraging them to deal with their issues with each other, but in other ways as well. Like at bedtime when they want Mommy to brush their teeth instead of Daddy. Often there are tears and they say, "I waaannnnttt MOOOOOOMMMMMMMMYYYYYYYY!!!!!" Every time they did this we would tell them that they needed to ask politely and model how.

Now we just ask, "Then what should you do?"

"Ask nicely," they reply.

"Well then?"

"Mommy, will you please brush my teeth?"

And usually we say yes, or we make a compromise like 'Mommy will brush Girly's teeth tonight, and your teeth tomorrow night Monkey.'

And now I have a new problem.

Conversation this morning:
Girly heard that Daddy was going to H0me Dep0t. "Daddy, I want to come with you!"

"Go ask Mommy if she wants to come and if she says yes then you can come," Daddy replied.

"Mommy, will you come with us to H0me Dep0t?"

"I don't really want to go there Girly," I answered from my cozy bed where I was reading.

Girly excitedly informed me, "But you HAVE to Mommy!"

"Why do I have to Girly?"

"Because I asked you nicely," Girly sweetly replied.

And guess who went to H0me Dep0t.

We have created a monster. argh.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Reasons

As I sit here listening to my kids laughter and shouts from the backyard, I am reminded of why we chose this house in the first place.

We had decided that it was time to make the move to this northern city. We were being completely priced out of the housing market in our old city and my husband was often far north, working so we could afford to keep living there. I decided that enough was enough, we were moving. I wanted to have a house of our own! I wanted my husband to sleep beside me in it. I wanted my kids to live closer to their grandparents, to know them like I never did mine.

I scoured the real estate listings on the internet, narrowing down our choices so we could make the drive and look at houses that met our criteria. The way it turned out, the most important criteria was one I hadn't thought to write down. One I couldn't have gleaned from the internet.

When we drove up to this house, I loved it at first site. The front yard was huge! There was some simple, pretty landscaping and the house itself was yellow. I don't particularly like yellow, but I have since read that yellow houses sell best for some reason. I pointed out a number of yards with bicycles in them to my hubby, "Must be lots of kids around!"

As we went inside to look around, the boys heard kids out back and ran around to introduce themselves. We liked the house, it met many of our requirements - 4 bedrooms, ensuite bath, family room; it was clean and well-maintained. I immediately started to imagine the changes we would make and how everything would look when we moved in. I wasn't completely sold, I would have preferred something a bit bigger, something more updated.

I looked out the kitchen window at my children. They were in the middle of a huge huddle of kids, all chatting excitedly. Little boys everywhere! And then I knew. I knew God had brought us to this house, and those little boys were the reason.

As we drove around, looking at all the houses on our list I kept thinking about that little yellow house. For the past 3 or 4 years we had lived in a duplex on the edge of a decent neighbourhood. The only kids on our street had lived about a half block away and had recently moved across the neighbourhood. It had been a lonely place for our kids to live. They couldn't just run out and play, our street was fairly busy and it was close to a transit train station and a number of apartment buildings. Often there were homeless people, coming from the downtown train, roaming the alley looking for bottles. It just wasn't that kid friendly.

I so wanted them to have playmates to run with. I couldn't get the yellow house out of my mind. Two little boys lived right next door and they were the same ages as my boys! Another boy and his tomboyish sister lived a few houses up, there were more bikes and skateboards across the street. I could just envision them all riding around the cul-de-sac together, playing tag across the adjoining yards. Memories of the summers of my childhood danced in my head, kick the can at dusk with dozens of playmates. Freeze tag after school on short spring evenings. Snow forts with neighbours, whose father would help us dig. That is what I wanted for my kids! Even more important now that we were homeschoolers and didn't have the automatic social opportunities afforded by school.

So here we are, 4 summers later. There are 9 or 10 kids laughing and yelling in the backyard. The neighbours have become good friends, we built our new fence last year with a gate between our yards, one that is rarely shut. Now the oldest boys are attending youth group together, riding the cusp between teenager and child. They are both a bit young for their ages, enjoy playing lego or tag with the younger kids, as well as the added freedoms that come with 13. I have added a few kids to the mix and all the older kids are so welcoming and loving to my littles. They patiently include them in their games and let them feel like part of the gang-for a while.

I couldn't ask for more. As their laughter fills the sweltering air and filters into my home through the open windows, I say a prayer of thanks. Thankful that God brought us here and filled our life with children. Thankful for the carefree days of childhood summers filled with memories in the making. Thankful for wonderful kids who welcome one and all into their play, even pesky little brothers and sisters, especially because this allows me some child-free moments in my days.

The reason we came to this home has become the reason we stay. I often dream of a bigger home, all shiny and new, or perfectly restored and very old. I dream of a huge backyard with room for a dog. I dream of having a guest room or two for all the company we get each month. I dream and yearn for the physical space that would allow me some mental space. But. God brought us here for a reason, and those reasons are compelling reasons to stay. I am sure the time will come for us to move on, but at this moment, the thought of it saddens me.