When looking for a rental house in North Carolina I walked through a house that was 2600 square feet, only 5 minutes away from Tim's new job, and was beautiful inside and out. However, it was eliminated because it was not large family friendly- the yard resembled something in House Beautiful magazine, not something I would want to try to maintain with 5 dirt scooping, bike riding, messy children like mine. Instead, I chose a house that was slightly run-down with a yard in such a condition that if the kids created a smooth bike track around the house or dug holes all over looking for worms it wouldn't be noticed.
While I have often chided my husband for choosing the ugliest house on the ugliest street in a pretty historic town in Maine with certainly no shortage of lovely houses, he did get one thing right, the lot itself is very kid-friendly. Pretty good thinking for a man with no children and no thoughts of acquiring any in the future. Our home sits on an acre with a bit of woods and a stream that follows an L shape through the backyard and allows me to relax while the children play outside for hours. They shoot gravel down the slides, tromp paths through the woods, and yesterday decided to dig a swimming hole. Since the stream is only 6 inches deep most of the time, it is perfectly safe. The only danger is mosquito attack and an occasional yellow jacket. In fact, Tim set up the tent in the backyard before he left so Will and Mary could camp out, which they have every night since except for the night it was pouring buckets at bedtime.
One of the reasons we chose to buy a farm and retire to Maine was its affordability and beauty. Even the poorest person living in a beat-up old trailer can afford a priceless view of the Penobscot Bay or the surrounding hills. We couldn't afford this same house, or certainly our farm in North Carolina, where townhomes overlooking the highway go for over a million dollars. While perhaps I still long for the charm and architectural details of one of the more historic houses in town, I surely am grateful for our little piece of Heaven on Earth.