There is something so beautiful to me about watching my babies sleeping.
At the end of a busy or hectic day, there is nothing more I love than the enchanting sleepytime rituals that we share. It is my favourite part of the day by far, not least because they are going to bed and I get some time to myself.
It's the way they chatter and giggle in the bath, LL splashing her little hands and letting out squeals of delight.
It's the way they feel so small when they are wrapped up in their big fluffy towels, and we sit them on our laps and rub them dry, cuddling them close.
It's the way that Mads jumps on the bed without any clothes, completely free of inhibitions and as innocent as they come.
It's the way we all snuggle together side by side and read a story, Mads playing with Daddys ear and LL nuzzling into me while feeding.
It's the way they smell. Of freshly washed hair, fruity shampoo, and clean cotton PJ's. Probably one of my favourite smells.
For some reason they feel smaller at night. Calm descends after a busy and hectic day full of errands, playing, learning and growing. The tantrums are forgotten, the stresses are put to one side. I savour these moments and relish them, all too aware that one day we won't all snuggle in our bed together. That bedtime stories will be a thing of the past, and I won't get to feel the warmth of these little bodies next to me.
And then it's always 'a kiss like in the films' from Mads, where we do a big comedy smooch. There's a last grin from LL before she snuggles her face into her sheep and heads off to the land of nod. There's the every night ritual of pretending to be something as we take Mads to her room and tuck her into her bed. It changes every night, Daddy could be a lion, a polar bear or Woody from Toy Story, Mummy could be an alien, a baby or a snake, Mads a telephone, a monster or a sheep.
It's those silly little rituals that make us us.
And then the doors get pulled close, we go downstairs, and breathe a little sigh of relief and contentment. They are asleep, and we have a little bit of time to relax before it all starts again the next morning.
But not before we check on our sleeping babies. LL curled up in funny positions, her little feet hidden by her sleeping bag and her little chest rising and falling. The way her exceptionally long eyelashes flicker as she dreams. Then there's Mads, her wild curls splayed out around her, cuddling Pongo and surrounded by her 'friends' who have to be there without fail. There's blue dinosaur, Friend, pink rabbit and Rosie to name just a few.
And for a few brief moments as I kiss my little girls goodnight, I experience a wild surge of love and feel like I almost want to wake them up and give them a cuddle, although I never do. (I'm not that crazy.)
Somehow in those few seconds of sleeping slumber the world just feels right.
Last year I started a little ongoing series called 'Words' - my favourite quotes on my favourite photos. You can check out the rest of my photos and posts here.