My sister Kristen lives next door and we recently took down a section of the wall between the two backyards so that the kids can go freely between the two houses. This is a great convenience and one more step in our grand Haws girl commune. I love having the two households combined. I feel like my boys get the advantages of living in a big family without actually having a big family. Kristen and hang out every day and share the mothering workload. We take turns cooking and watching the kids and running errands. John and Rob take turns mowing the lawns and bitching about being married to strong willed Haws girls (I'm just kidding, even though that's probably true) I don't know how anyone functions without their sister next door. We often joke that we have all of the benefits of polygamy without that pesky husband sharing business.
There are only a few disadvantages to our compound set-up. In removing the wall between the two yards we have sacrificed privacy for convenience. Each adult has been caught by the opposite family in their underwear at least once and they have learned to expect to have an AR-15 pointed at them if they enter after bedtime.
The other day I saw 3 year old Christopher in the back yard. He wanted to come in but I was on my way out to run errands so I told him he couldn't come in and instructed him to go home. He loitered near the back door, clearly intending to come in as soon as I turned my attention away. I locked the door and told him once again to go home. With that I left and thought it was handled.
Later I found out that a few minutes after I left Kristen came looking for him. She started to get worried when he wasn't in the backyard and found my door locked. She searched everywhere a second time and then looked through my back window to find him happily playing in my house locked in all by himself. He had waited till I left and then used the dog door to gain access.
The dog door has become all of the babies' favorite method of entry and exit lately. At first I tried stopping them but then I realized that its a losing battle so I just let them crawl in and out as they please. The huge advantage is that I don't have to constantly yell "Shut the door!". The double flap action takes care of that for them.
Unfortunately the other kids are absolutely incurable when it comes to closing the door behind themselves and numerous lectures about the outrageous expense of air-conditioning have done little to convince them. Luckily it is cooling off a bit so I look forward to a time soon when we can open the doors and let the air flow freely.
Speaking of yelling at kids to conserve air conditioning, I remember being a little kid and my Kindergarten teacher telling us to shut the door because we don't want to air condition the world. I clearly remember thinking "All we have to do to air condition the world is leave the door open? What are we waiting for? Let's air condition the world!" If only that worked. Our power bill would be through the roof but it would almost be worth it.