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Stacey with Rachel as a toddler (above) and this year at prom.

Dear Simply Real Mom readers,
This post is brought to you by Stacey, mom of 17-year-old Rachel and 13-year-old Charlie. If you are the parent of small children, remember, these years are fleeting, so enjoy them while they last! I used to babysit Rachel and Charlie and I can tell you firsthand that the things that came out of these kids’ mouths were priceless!

My husband and I often joke that our daughter Rachel was born speaking in complete sentences. When she was a toddler, she chatted and questioned non-stop from the moment she bounced out of bed until the second she crashed at night. Occasionally, I was lucky enough to get her to go down for a brief nap—usually while in her car seat as we were driving around town—and those stolen minutes most likely preserved my sanity.

Now that Rachel’s 17, I’m positive she’s just as bubbly and verbose with her friends, but the most frequent forms of communication that her parents witness are smirks, grunts and eye rolls. On a recent evening, when I was particularly frustrated trying to decipher her silent moodiness, my husband grabbed a journal off my bookshelf, dusted it off and handed it to me. “Here, read this, and remember to be grateful.”

Like many other moms in the ’90s, I was a devoted Oprah fan, and the talk show host had millions of us scribbling our daily cherished moments in gratitude journals. What my husband remembered—and I had forgotten—was that many of my grateful entries were the surprising little quips Rachel said each day. Had I not been encouraged to capture them, these words would have been lost forever:
• Upon serving Rachel breakfast: “No Mommy, I said I wanted pink cake, not pancakes.”
• While in the backseat of the car, pretending and smacking her lips: “Yummy! I’m eating tacos!” (She was 2, and had never had tacos.)
• When she saw me coming out of the shower with a robe on and nothing underneath: “Mommy, you need a diaper on!”
• Waving at airplanes overhead when Dad’s on a business trip, “Hey, Daddy! Can you see me down here?”
• “Oh Mommy, you know you really can’t sing.”
• After waking up and discovering Dad had already left for work: “Did you remember to tell Daddy to drive carefully today?”
• In answer to an adult’s question, “I’m three, how old are you?”
• After being told her grandparents are coming for a visit: “I love ‘dem. They’re nice to me.”
• After bringing me her blankie and snuggling up next to me: “I’m so nice to you, Mommy.”
• After getting a new watercolor set: “Look, Mommy! Red is saying, ‘Paint me Rachel, paint me!’”
• After coming home from preschool: “Did you learn any French today? I did. I learned Bon Jour. Do you know what that means Mommy? I think it means 29.”
• After sitting on my lap: “Oh Mommy, you have some hair up your nose.” And, when asked if she thought she had some in her nose, too: “Oh no, not me, I just got some boogers.”
• “Mommy, now that I am 4, when am I going to get my boobies?”
• To her baby brother, who’s in diapers: “Well, hello Mr. Baggypants!”
• After being caught cutting her own hair: “I just wanted to look like a boy, you know, just like Mulan.”
• After seeing the Sears Tower in Chicago: “Oh man, I can’t believe my eyes! That’s the tallest building I ever sawed.”
• Sighing and hugging me at the end of the day: “Mommy, my friend.”

So, my words of advice to all you new frazzled moms out there. Buy a journal now, and the end of the day before you fall asleep, capture life’s daily soundbites. Before you know it, your house will be full of surly teens, and you’ll be so thankful you did.