First, we closed on our old house. The house-selling ordeal is over. It wasn't pretty, and there's a very frustrating and slightly ugly saga attached to it, but it's over and done and we have the check (OK, we had the check but I got a lil' bit nervous about having the check in the house all weekend so I made Oz take it to the bank already) and we don't have the keys and I will hopefully never talk to the buyers again.
After Oz and I finally made it back home (my mother-in-law had come over to watch the kids), things got better. First I put a pot of stew on - beef stew made with Guinness - and got M1 started making some mini strawberry cheesecakes. While he was cooking, the doorbell rang and two neighbor girls wanted to play with M2. I sent her off, and a few minutes later I saw one of the neighbor boys circling around the cul-de-sac on his bike, so I sent M1 out while I finished up the dessert. I popped the stew in the oven, and then peeked out the back door to check on the kids.
They were doing fine, so I came back in to start some soda bread to go with the stew, but I left the back door open so I could hear what was going on. A couple minutes later, the shrieking began. I walked to the back door. The first thing I noticed was the number of kids - 7 at first count, which was NOT the number that was there when I had checked a few minutes prior. The second thing I noticed was the two moms standing around watching. I recognized one of the moms but not the other, so I left the butter to soften for a few minutes (I know, it's soda bread and the butter should be hard, but I didn't let it get too soft and it was amazing bread when it finally got made... soft and light and wonderful) while I went down to say hi.
Have I mentioned our back yard is the neighborhood gathering place? I can't remember, but at the risk of repeating myself, our back yard (as well as the yards of the neighbors on either side of us) is the neighborhood gathering place. We're on the creek. Creeks = children. It's a fundamental math rule. And we have the youngest kids.
Turned out that the shrieking was due to the fact that the boys were trying to catch a giant spider in a net and the girls were pretending to freak out while circling like voyeuristic vultures. The mom I didn't know is the mom that lives next door. She has a 12-year-old son (and two older ones; the 12-year-old is the youngest). My son was already playing with the two boys from around the corner - their mom was the second mom outside - and M2 was playing with the two girls who originally rang the doorbell. A few minutes later two more girls who live nearby came over and joined them. I had to do a quick head count. My two munchkins, the two boys from around the corner, the next-door neighbor boy, the two girls from the house behind ours, and the 'new' two girls. Nine. There were NINE kids in my back yard.
I've never had nine kids simultaneously and spontaneously appear in my back yard before. And yet there they were, all playing happily together.
It was fascinating. I think we're going to like it here.