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Any first-time visitor to my home inevitably comments on the many framed pictures on my walls. And, as much as I admire the work of Monet, his are not the pictures gracing my living room. Instead, we have at least twelve framed photographs of our kids in large frames on the walls.

I’m incredibly lucky in that my husband works part time with a photography studio. Believe me: he takes some great pictures! The ones we’ve chosen to decorate our home show the three kids in a variety of poses and moods. But I think that, even if it were up to my abysmal photography skills, pictures of the kids would still be the focal point of my home.

Kids breathe life into a home. They grow so fast-last summer’s faces bear only a resemblance to the three kids I see before me today. And by tomorrow, they’ll be yet a bit more different. Those photos on the wall make me smile, because they help me to remember the baby haircuts, the bumps and bruises, and the good times of the childhoods I’m fortunate enough to share with these three young marvels. Looking at the pictures, I can remember that unseasonably warm February day when we bundled the kids up and took them to the beach for a stroll on the boardwalk, or that day when they all posed under the tree at Grandma’s house. I see one of my kids wearing the Christmas dress she later handed down to her sister, and am amazed at how fast they seem to grow.

My home is very much about my kids. There are always toys scattered around the floor; the kids trip over the toys even as they whine that they have nothing to do. Their artwork covers-and I do mean “covers”-my kitchen walls. Even my two year old knows to bring her artwork to be hung. Each new school year starts with the removal of last year’s work, and the walls look blank until the new work arrives to take its place. Even the air conditioner is covered, year round, with the photographs we receive in Christmas cards. My kids constantly look at those pictures of their friends and cousins, smiling as they do so.

I wonder sometimes as I enter the homes of other people with young kids: where are the pictures? The fabulous artwork is impressive, but anonymous-the same image is undoubtedly displayed in thousands of locations around the world. What makes this house their home? Where are the images of those who live and love, laugh and cry, within those walls?   Every occasion I attend has the mandatory photographs-where do they all go? Are they buried in a drawer somewhere? Sitting in a scrapbook, lovingly crafted and then put away, never again to see the light of day?

Digital photography has made it so easy to preserve memories of our kids. It is becoming increasingly affordable, and one need only print up the good images, not an entire series of pictures. Frames, too, can be bought for a few dollars, so this need not be an expensive or time consuming project. That artwork that is displayed instead must cost many times the amount we spend on pictures and frames.  Why, then, are people so hesitant to proudly display pictures of their families where visitors can see them?

My home will never be featured in any decorating magazine. My kids will probably never win an award for the artwork on the kitchen walls. But their pictures add life and vitality to my house, and help transform it into our home. They make me smile, and add light on even the greyest of days.