… as one of our former university students likes to say, or in other words, “My, how they’ve grown!”  Each of these exclamations, cliché as they sound, are apt when it comes to sprouting kids, the ones we don’t get to see nearly as often as we should.  My red-headed niece with her 3-year-old’s grin and paint streaked face in the dog-eared photo on my fridge, is now a glamorous 16 year old in a lovely dress, this time posing for prom pictures, on a stairway with tuxedo clad friends.  Sure, that same smile is still there, but how did she grow up so fast?  We also recognize the smile looking out from a different favorite baby picture on the fridge, the one that belongs our other 16 year old niece, now mature and beautiful, and herself an accomplished musician and world traveler.  How does that happen!?  Though I have more current photos, I like keeping those baby faces on the refrigerator, hanging there with goofy magnets and all, reminders of who they used to be.

fridge faces

The same goes for cousins scattered across the country and their kids, and former neighbors’ kids, who seem to grow, weed-like, and have lost their sweet baby cheeks, as chronicled in the yearly holiday letters, and the electronic updates that come to us over the wire.

Every year, that sense of fast-forward time comes into full focus when we have a much anticipated visit from our dear friends from Chicago.  We first became friendly as neighbors and co-workers, but that friendship was permanently cemented when we found ourselves expecting babies at the same time.  And then there were two more babies, and now between us, five.  With those toddler years spent constantly together, our two oldest kids act more like family than friends, and have a special, unfaltering connection.

When Heather and Patrick and their girls came this year, I couldn’t help but have that “bricks on their heads feeling,” and an overwhelming sense of the rightness of sharing in the same kinds of activities that we’ve been doing together since our kids were tiny.  Like déjà vu all over again.

Looking back over the years in pictures, it’s like time lapse photography, but with bigger gaps… see what I mean?!

age 1, under the blossoms

same trees, different year

same trees different year

by the lake with baby brother

by the lake 2

under a tree with baby sister

by the lake again

in the lake

hiking the Emily Dickinson Trail

up Mt. Rubidoux

this year, the big kid hikers

And the younger kids, who never want to be left out, could have their own series:

the littlest kids

the littlest, now sitting and standing

hide and seek

underdog!

And just to reiterate the point, there is nothing like classic birthday shots to give a sense of the passage of time.

Baby Ls 1st b-day

Happy 3rd!

special red plate on the 4th

birthday grin

still loves berries

everybody helps

Birthday wish granted--picnic outside!

5, and ready for a fancy dress party

What a delight to watch this band of five make their progress and their way together, even if only once a year.

1, 2, 3, heave!

zoom zoom zoom

picking lots and lots of kumquats

And of course it is great to see them all growing up, up, up, but I have just one request of our Wendy and our Christopher Robin.  Please, keep company with Peter Pan for as long as you can.

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