As promised, here is Alison once again on the Red Couch. She is just as she was ten years ago – happy to be surrounded by the other little girls and very content to sit and be photographed. But yet, she is different than she was ten years ago. That’s an obvious statement, but when I look at this image, the years flash by and I see the little baby growing into a young woman far too quickly. Ten years is both short, and very long. I am a different person than I was then – we all are – yet it seems like not so long ago that Alison was bald and sleepy and quiet. She is now a little girl with a full head of hair, always on the go, and talking, talking, talking (lots of silliness and long stories). Every now and then, I long for just a few moments with that little baby. It’s not because I don’t love the big-girl Alison, but because I realize how fast it all sped by me and how much I allowed myself to miss. I know that this is a normal feeling because I longed for those moments with Colin and Erin when they were this age. It was a time of their childhood when I suddenly realized that the child was fading away, and the young man or woman was about to take the place. There are beautiful moments with adolescents and teenagers (yes, you heard me right), but we can’t go back in time. The days of holding Alison in my arms while I read a book to her, rocking her to sleep at night, and carrying her across the parking lot on my back are over. I’ll be honest, some days I grumbled about these things, especially if it was a hot day and the asphalt was radiating heat, or if I was busy and didn’t have time to lift her up as she stood at my feet with her arms outstretched. Now, I’d take back those moments without blinking. But they are gone. So it serves as a reminder to me that someday very soon she will be hurrying out the door with the car keys in hand, or holed up in her room for the evening to text, facebook, and talk on the phone. She won’t be so excited to accompany us to the movie theater or laugh at our jokes. Now that we are back from China, I am even more aware of this: the days are long, but the years are short. So I’m making the most of the days as I listen to the silly stories, or watch her play with her sweet lab puppy. I’m enjoying that she still loves to go to the movies with me and help me with crafts and in the kitchen. She still likes to play crazy water games instead of soak in the sun by the side of the pool, and there are some days when she is little girl enough to forget to brush her teeth or make sure her clothes match. But it’s racing by, so I’m learning to live in the beautiful moments of today. So of course I’m taking her to the movies today (Kung Fu Panda 2) and letting her help make the whole wheat macaroni and cheese for dinner. And we’re both going to ignore the jet lag. It’s part of the adventure, right?