wow. people who know me won't believe this, but i've already written 3 chapters of this... strange neh? ahh well, here goes nothin.

Of Soccer Games and Footballs

The next morning I'm woken up at 6:30 by a half-dressed Scotsman, laughing and telling me that Tiergan and Saeran want to go riding with me today and that Brendan wants me to teach him how to talk 'American'.

I laugh and silently hope that I'm woken every morning with a smile on my face. "I'll teach him how to talk like me, Fiachra," I pull my worst attempt at an obvious Scottish accent,"Iffen yull teach me how t' talk like yu. And I den't jes' mean the accent, I wunt t' learn Gaelic as well."

He snorts back a laugh and shakes his head. "Tha' was atrocious, tha' was. You'll need all th' help yeh ken get. But I've a feelin' no one'll mind teachin' you a bit."

"Tit for tat," I reply smiling. "Now shoo, and let me get dressed." I scowl at his suspicious glance. "I promise I won't go back to sleep again, and that I'll come riding with ya. Now be off with you." He waves a hand and grins again as he turns back down the hall.

I sit next to Iain and Rylee at breakfast. Iain is eleven and takes dearly after Fiachra and Teirgan. He's going to look like them when he's older too, with the same strong nose and smiling mouth. He's a typical younger brother, in complete and total awe of his older brothers at all times and willingly obedient. I mark how the brothers treat him and smile to see that he is not misused. Rylee is fifteen and almost as obnoxious as Fiachra, but takes more after Saeran's looks. His hair would rightly be called auburn except for the golden highlights underneath he swears are natural. Aden tells me he 'changes a lot' and Saeran expanded upon this to tell me that he's like a pendulum, a child of extremes, never moderate but always either happy, or angry or sulky and sad. Despite this, he is full of life and quite enjoyable. He also appears to have a knack for practical jokes as he gets yelled at for putting salt in Kiara's oatmeal for the fourth time this week, yet only gets caught after the fact.

Brendan, sitting across from me, tells me that he wants to learn how to talk funny. Kane, who is fourteen and sitting next to Brendan, swats him playfully on the arm and chastises him saying, "It's not funny, it's jest different." I can't help laughing and thank the heavens once again for this happy family to stay with. I raise an eyebrow and pretend to be offended but eventually break down and tell him that if his older brothers haven't stolen me away to go riding, then I would gladly teach any of them who wanted to learn how ," t' talk funny" that afternoon. Aden and Rylee both seem especially interested, though Rylee tries to pretend that he isn't.

After breakfast I help Arten water the garden then go running through the chickens with Iain, tossing feed around their pen. He is all smiles and shows me his favorites and where they like to hide their eggs, then asks me about home. I sigh and ruffle his hair, "It's a titch warmer there I'm afraid, and doesn't rain nearly so often. And the people don't laugh as much but they still know how to have fun." I glance at him mischievously, "And they all talk funny." It takes him a second to realize that I'm joking and then he smiles, broadly. Then Kane, Rylee and Logan, a nine year old as tall as Iain despite the two-years difference between them, come to join us, bouncing a worn soccer ball between them and inviting us to play football with them.

Rylee kicks the ball to me and cocks his head to the side as he asks, "D'you play?"

I roll my eyes and nod, "What do'y tyke me for, a stupid American? I play keeper all the time back home."

They laugh and head over to their designated football pitch, where several sticks are pounded into the ground to represent goals and there's really no out of bounds, and so an entertaining match is arranged. They stack my team, since we've an uneven number and we play a lively game full of fouls and dirty knees until Saeran comes to ask me if I want to join the brother's when they go out riding.