It's the quiet hour. 11:32 P.M. Our home, which is always full of noise, is so still that I can hear the ticking of two different clocks. It's never, never like this during the day.

It's been a busy one. I had a newborn session in the morning with a yummy little baby girl. I sent emails. Ben was off work and did laundry for me and kept the boys busy with games. Ruby marched back to second grade, happy to see her teacher again. Jasper and I read Bob books. Tymen got in trouble twice for tackling his brother but then was kissing his baby brother's toes and laughing like crazy at Theo's squeals. We ate soup and pears. I have hovered over my computer, thoroughly enjoying the Picture of the Year contest and feeling so blessed. In fact, I got so distracted that at one point the baby pulled himself up to standing on top of the kids' art table...whoops! We made phone calls. Jasper and Tymen went to shop at Sam's with daddy. Ruby and I had a donut date. Tymen built a Trio house. Ruby unscrewed the arm off her glasses by accident.

Then they all went to bed, after stories and prayers and hugs and kisses. The house got quiet and I am guilty again of staying up way too late working on projects and just enjoying the stillness. Before we go to bed, Ben and I walk the rooms and tuck kids in, again. Tonight I brought my camera. These kids are mine, all flushed and sprawled out on their beds, and I love them like crazy.

Isn't there something about seeing your kids sleeping that makes you forget about the pestering of brothers and timeouts and diapers? There's that little pang of they're growing up so fast and I love them so much. I always want to remember them just like this.

Here they are.

Ruby, 7.

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Jasper, 4.

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Tymen, 3.

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Theo, 1.

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Thanks to all of you who have participated in my first ever Picture of the Year Contest on my Facebook page! I have so appreciated the support and been a bit overwhelmed by the response! Voting is still open until Friday, Jan. 6 at 8 P.M. Prizes are:

First prize: $200 credit towards a 2012 session OR two 16 x20 canvases of the images you choose.

Second prize: $100 credit towards a 2012 session OR one 16 x 20 canvas of the image you choose.

Third Prize: $75 credit towards a 2012 session OR a framed 11 x 14 print of the image that you choose.

Fourth Prize: a custom made hat, any type from Ashley of Elijah's Cradle Designs.