These are the faces that fill my days: popping around corners with requests for more drinks and snacks; tilting back to wail at me plaintively about the disputed possession of some toy; grinning ear to ear over my hungry dinosaur voice as I read aloud at lunch. These are the faces that make my heart stretch with joy every morning, even though the day will see me roll my eyes in exasperation when I can’t even walk into the other room without people hollering for help.  These are the faces that were all waiting expectantly at the breakfast table yesterday morning, watching as I tried to chip fossilized granola bars out of a baking sheet; I mainly succeeded in spraying shards of granola across the kitchen, while these adorable faces produced choruses of “What are you doing, Mama? Why are the granola bars not coming out, Mama? What did you say, Mama?”

It was a Monday morning that seemed far too hopelessly failure-ridden to belong in midsummer. (They did get their breakfast, by the way–there was enough edible granola to feed us and the rest of my attempt at homemade granola bars will be going in the trash.) But I’m glad to be surrounded by these faces, even on such days.

This is the face of a boy who wants to know exactly how long every activity will take, and what we’ll be doing next.

He likes posing for pictures if I show him the results immediately. He often asks for pictures of himself doing cool things like playing golf or wearing sunglasses; but sometimes he humors me with a moment’s steady gaze from those clear gray-blue eyes:

Behind this face is a keen head for numbers and words, and a blistering talent for building from visual instructions (his Lego handiwork is a wonder). And behind that shy smile is a tender spirit I treasure.

And he also likes to perform.

Then there’s this face: always full of life in some way–a sparkle, a flood of tears, an impish grin.

All day long, those lips are humming or singing, reciting lines from books and movies, or asking endless questions. “Why, Mama? Why did it rain? But why?”

We have to ask him to stop talking for a minute so that he can finish his food or pedal his bicycle. The busy little mind under that sweaty hairline distracts him endlessly.

This face is sunshine, most of the time, and occasionally a sudden onslaught of thunderclouds, resolving into a tearful plea: “Can I have a huuuuuug?!”

And sometimes, looking at that face is like looking in a mirror–one that reflects both features and emotions. He got both his nose and his drama from me.

This tiny face still echoes the shape of herself as a silky-cheeked baby, but I see it growing and changing fast.

It holds a wide repertoire of expressions, such as this pout of distaste. I think she was showing me that she had chalk on her hands. She can also produce a champion death look, which she trots out regularly for strangers or anyone she hasn’t seen in a few days. Asking her to say hello to someone is risky; it’s usually the opening maneuver of battle. We’re working on it, but she is two, after all.

When her brothers wear hats, she simply must have hers. And she still loves her shades–she just spotted this picture and crowed, “Those are look like MY sunglasses! Those are look like MINE!”

This face has been teary more often these days, and regularly explodes with war cries when her toys are threatened. But the gleeful grin returns, bright as ever. Being two years old is trickier for girls than boys, I think–but it’s precious.

Right now these faces are brightening my days.