I'm not sure if it is the increase in ultraviolet light and temperatures or just the way of the world today, but for the past couple days I have been in awe of these little people I am raising. Maybe it's the late night talk my husband and I had last night when we realized that M2 could very well be our last child. If law school is truly where I'm headed, Hubs could very easily be headed overseas again by the time I'm finished...we're hurtling toward the magic age of "35" after which the statistics for mothering become much too dizzying for me. And, I suppose since I never looked at M2 as my last child, I've started to pay extra attention to them during the last 48 hours. First is M1. Tall and slender, she is becoming a young lady. I look at photos of her from just a year or two ago and am amazed at her transformation. The chubby baby cheeks have been traded in for more mature ones and her hair continues to grow. As she grows physically, I notice a growth in her confidence as well. I took her to gymnastics last night and watched as she moved from skill to skill. I was in awe of her grace given how awkward and gawky she can seem at home...almost clumsy sometimes. But here, amidst her peers, I notice a real difference. Her neck is longer and straighter. She is more graceful in her approach to each activity where some of the girls hurl themselves into the dips, turns, and apparatus. It doesn't take me long to start to realize she might be honing a real talent in the gym. M1 is in the middle of reading one of my favorite books of all time, Pippi Longstocking. I remember a summer spent sharing that book with my very best childhood friend. Misty and I borrowed it from the library and alternated reading that book chapter-by-chapter, cover-to-cover. I remembered all the adventures of Pippi, Tommy and Annika as I read two chapters aloud to M1 on Monday...of course, she'd already read these chapters, but anyone who enjoys being read to knows that doesn't matter at all. M1 also continues to grow artistically. Her drawings, paintings, and other paper crafts are so endearing and interesting. She's such a perfectionist and yet, she usually is willing to give herself room to improve and room to make errors when she is in a creative mode. She is sweet and prayerful. She tells me she prays for me every night. Little does she know I need those so much--who else can I name that prays for me EVERY night? The funny thing is, she is a little girl and yet, when she tells me that, I know she is telling me the absolute truth. And, if she ever stops, she'll tell me that too. I found myself staring at M2 this morning. She was sitting on the steps, cradling a small snack cup of dry cereal in the crook of her arm. She was wearing mismatched pajamas and yet, she'd already informed me more than once, "I pitty" (I'm pretty.) because she'd paired those mismatched pajamas with an adorable, striped winter hat--you know the ones where the kids look like miniature jesters? Bingo! I was caught up in M2's face. Her eyes are crystal blue now. Her skin is so fair and her hair, which is growing more and more each day, is decidedly RED. I couldn't be happier about that. She has a mouthful of pearly white teeth which she insists on brushing a million times each day. Luckily, the Easter Bunny brought her a new Elmo toothbrush to replace her Christmas ones--Pooh and Tigger. She loves to be outdoors. She runs. She climbs. She rolls the ball. She likes to practice going up and down the steps by herself. One of her favorite activities is to mimic her big sister. Another favorite is to torment her sister unmercifully until M1 is in tears. It's a sight, really. This tiny little tyrant with her oh-so-sweet face claiming EVERYTHING in sight as HERS. She also likes to take swats at M1 when she isn't looking. Those little slug fests always end with M1 in tears and M2 soothing her with a hug as if she were not the perpetrator of the injury in the first place. These two are so different and yet so much the same. I see so much of me in them but there is still so much original material making them very unique. I am still in awe that their care and upbringing has been turned over to me. That's such a tall order! One of the best parts of having Hubs home again is that I'm able to savor these days again. I'm able to look for these moments to capture in my mind to recall when, as teenagers, they slam their bedroom door in my face or scream that they hate me. I'm trying to document them in photos and journals too so when I am staring into the eyes of my newborn grandchildren, God willing, I will be able to recognize myself and the child's mother all at once. The Peace Corps may be the toughest job you'll ever love, but Motherhood is the toughest job that will ever love you back.