I stayed up late last night, baking and icing these little houses (and a few doggies) for our wonderful neighbours. We are very lucky to be surrounded by older neighbours, who are parents and grandparents themselves and who all have quite large families and utterly adore children. They often call to me, over the side fence to ask how our girls are doing and frequently remind me that, 'They grow up so fast!' and to 'Enjoy them now, because before you know it, they'll be all grown up!'.
Our neighbours always remember the girl's birthdays and have such lovely gifts for them. Last year, Santa apparently left an extra stocking for each of them next door! Our neighbours bring our garbage bin in for us every Friday, pick up our weekend newspapers from where the paper boy has thrown it into the hedge every Saturday and Sunday and deliver it to our front steps, they watch our house when we go away and even offered to babysit Liv when I went to hospital to have Elly.
On one side, we have Rita and John (5 children, 12 grandchildren) who have a little white dog named Mickey. Rita is a self-confessed 'home-body' who tells me she loved every second of raising her children and still enjoys making her house a 'home'. She recalls having children in the 1950's when there was no television and she used to turn on the wireless and have impromtu dancing sessions with the kids. She also loved sitting them up on the kitchen bench to watch her cooking... but her favourite thing to do was read them books.
Rita always looks different (I hardly ever recognise her if I see her walking down the street) and it's no wonder, because as she admitted today, she wears wigs - when she can't be bothered doing her hair! She says it's much harder to have kids these days and in the same breath, tells me she hopes that if we have a third, it will be a boy.
Her husband John is a quiet man who is very polite and smiles and nods to me a lot over the fence. I only ever really see the top half of his face and his hat, so he reminds me of 'Mr Wilson' from the TV series, Home Improvement. Their little dog Mickey is a source of delight to our little girls, so I made a Mickey cookie, with a little note from Liv saying, 'You are such a nice dog. I like making up stories about you, Mickey!';
On the other side, we have Jo & Frank (6 children, 7 grandchildren) who live in a large Victorian home they cannot bear to sell, as although it is quite big for them to manage during the week, they enjoy having their extended family visit and stay on the weekends. Jo is such a kind lady, who has more than once dropped in on me at inopportune times - when the house has been in a complete shambles!!! She does, however, have a knack for making me feel at ease amidst the sea of toys that litter the floor and the mountain of laundry that seems to take up the rest of the room! 'It's nothing I haven't seen before' ... 'I had six kids, remember?' and 'I'd be more worried if your house was perfect, I know, you have kids to look after!'
When we dropped in on Jo and Frank today, they invited us in to meet their son's family, which included a 4-yr old girl whom Liv became fast friends with. I don't think I have ever seen Liv form such a strong connection to another child in such a short time. But it was amazing today, to see these two little girls run and wrap their arms around each other immediately. They were inseperable for the rest of the afternoon (we stayed for quite a while!), holding hands, squished up and snuggling on the rocking chair together and blowing kisses to each other when we left. We have promised to organise another play date for them at our house in the near future...
It's so nice to have neighbours like these! It's nice to discover who is living (or visiting!) next door...
Do you know your neighbours?