Hand on one thigh with the other grasping the white trim that frames the bathroom, peering in on me she shoots a quick glance my way, smirks and crinkles her nose at me and she's off, giggling and squealing down the hall. We are preparing to go outside and she is thrilled, nothing lights up her face - dimpled chin and all - more than the mention of heading out back, nothing other than the mention of her Daddy or of a morning with cousins, preferably spent outside. She is a girl after my own heart. While rubbing my stomach I would dream of these days - hands brown with dirt and sun in our hair - but the reality is more sweet and more incredible than I could have known until living it. Her with her curiosity and joy, filling terra cotta pots with gravel, with mulch, with any tiny thing she can find. Even now as I put pen to paper, the balmy afternoon breeze making it's way across my face and one of my dogs getting into mischief to my left, two of those terra cotta pots rest stacked on my lap with a tiny handful of mulch being thrown into them and across my body every few minutes, the breaks between leaving time for the tiny perpetrator to bring sticks and chunks of mud-clad tree root to the dogs, navigating her way around mounds of soil and mulch that are still waiting for their permanent places. Less it sound too idyllic I should mention my picking up my pen every couple of minutes to shift an unpredictable dog, tell another to stop barking or to split up a scramble between the larger two. It can be stressful, this situation of having an unstable dog, one I wouldn't wish on anybody, but I committed myself to her long ago and though there may be daily stress it is a commitment all the same. She is mine and I am hers and while there is now another her and I that make the relationship with my furry first born a bit more strained we are seeing things through and doing as needed and enjoying our time out back as a family even if it isn't the zen-like place I always hope for it to be. Things are constantly shifting and we never know what is next, so for now we make the best of and look for that often talked of silver lining, the birds nesting upon our house, the gratitude for a place to call a home, the way that dimpled-chinned girl lights up at the thought of it all.