A few days ago, my niece wrapped her arms around me. I realized how her arms actually extended all the way around me, and our roles have completely reversed. She towers over me and hugs me much like I hugged her when she was small.

It's been a family joke for years about how all the adults are taller than me, as well as most of the kids. She has been this way for years, and yet I marvel at her height every time I see her.

Then, she celebrated her 18th birthday, and I just can't believe it. This little girl who used to have entire conversations with me while sitting on her head has just turned 18.

Meanwhile, my oldest daughter is now 8, and I feel like she'll be moving out of my house after just a few nights of sleep. Right now this 8-year-old is hovering very close to my chin, but she still requires a lot of my energy.

There is truth to the adage, "the days are long, but the years are short." There will be so many things about this stage in life I will miss as my babies keep on growing. I teach high school students, so I certainly know where these girls are headed.

I won't pretend my littles don't drive me nuts, or cause great anxiety, but they are so cute and fun right now. My 5-year-old is soaking in knowledge. She loves numbers and loves learning, and I am loving watching her as she discovers new things each day.

These long days are also filled with tiny moments and feelings I hope I'll never forget. I even made a list to share and to keep, so hopefully I won't forget all of these fun moments of their childhood. Parents of littles should make lists for their future selves to access later as a pick-me-up. Because let's be honest — those teenage years are going to require a lot of pick-me-ups.

How they smell

Ever since my girls were babies, I have always sniffed their heads. There is something calming about their sweet, innocent smell. My 5-yearold is still good for a quick sniff, and I love it. If you have a baby and haven't taken a whiff lately, please do it.

Brutal honesty

If they think it, they will say it. While I have been embarrassed many times, their dialogue is just hilarious. My husband recently washed his truck, and daughter exclaimed, "What?! You washed your truck? But, it hasn't been six months yet!" Or my girls will tell us very confidently how beautiful they look today. Or, one will very politely tell Daddy he is stinky and should consider a shower.

All-day play days

When the weather is gorgeous and the oak trees are in a particularly good mood, — and not trying to murder me with pollen — we go out and spend the entire day in the sun. The girls run and play, get dirty, have picnics and collect nature specimens for their collections. They always get covered in dirt and pick flowers for my kitchen window. Their pants always have mud, grass and puddle jumping stains.

Physical excitement

One of my favorite things about little children is they cannot hide their happiness and excitement. Emotions are so big, and their little bodies are overtaken as the feelings are exhibited physically; they jump and hop and dance around. The sound of happy feet running across the hardwood floors will one day soon be replaced with stomping, grouchy teenagers.

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