This evening I looked at Joe.
And he looked at me, his head tilted, his face illuminated with his cheeky, infectious smile.
And suddenly I saw the little boy he has now become. His "babyness" has dropped away, and he's at the post-toddler, going-to-be-four-in-two-weeks stage.
Much like my kids, time never stands still. But these baby years seem to be passing painfully quickly - and my kids are changing before my very eyes. Lily bears little resemblance to the baby picture "memories" that pop up on my social media; the boys are attending school and writing their names in shaky scrawl; even Evie has suddenly shot up - her little chubby body elongating to that of a little girl. Robbie is one in less than a month. How? Seriously - how?!
It's hard not to feel a little bit sad when I think how quickly their babyhood seems to be vanishing.
Then today, the sun came back the garden suddenly became accessible after school. Standing in the kitchen, boiling the kettle, I happened to look up and saw three little children - Lily, Tim and Evie - laughing uproariously and playing a game involving watering cans and Evie's sand and water play table. And I thought about how, as time has passed, the tiny gap between the children's ages has become almost negligible. And that this summer could be our best one yet.
Later, when they were watching 'Dora in the City,' I looked into the living room (as I took Ray yet another cuppa) and saw Robbie sitting with his arm on Evie's back. True, he was trying to reach her hair - no doubt to pull it - but the picture of them both, side-by-side, was adorable.
Last year, Evie wasn't really seen as a viable playmate by the boys, and the gulf between the twins and Lily was too great for most games. Now, Timmy and Lily enjoy playing Snakes and Ladders together, Lily will make allowances for her younger siblings and avoid conflict (most of the time) and Joe has taken Robbie to his heart, bringing him his dummy, and "helping" him when he's in his Jumperoo (let's just say, it's well meant, but probably a bit of a white-knuckle experience for poor Rob). Now, the family are starting to come together and, whilst they still end up kicking, scratching, pushing or pinching at least once a day, they are also becoming friends.
So whilst it's sometimes sad to realise that they've changed from tiny children to slightly bigger children, their growing up also comes with its benefits.
And I am left with the dilemma that most parents probably face throughout their children's younger years: I'm both sad to see time going by and excited to see what the future will hold.