I took portraits of this family–can it really be–five years ago in their gorgeous, gigantic back yard soon after they bought the house.

This year, Melanie and Ron pretty much look the same, as does the actual house. It is later in the year, so the leaves have dropped, so that was one change, but the biggest shock was the kids. They were sweet elementary-school-aged youngsters before. Now they are both in high school, and even though I see them fairly regularly from a distance, it’s another thing to see them up close next to their parents.

Yes, Ron and Melanie, who have been the nurturers, protectors, and beacons of guidance to these precious bambinos, now can add “point of reference for scale” to their list of functions. Ron is a generous six feet two inches, but Ethan is easily looking down on him, even without the extra curls on top, and I’m not convinced he’s done growing. Julia is a respectable height, especially wearing shoes with a bit of heel. Those shoes didn’t keep her from climbing up into their tree, which was quite impressive. Ron was actually a pretty nimble tree climber as well. By the time Ethan climbed up, all the prime real estate branches in front were pretty full, so Melanie took the swing.

Another development in the family is the addition of a Labradoodle, Izzy. Izzy is a excitable, furry bundle of energy and goodwill. It was challenging to get her to slow down to take a picture, but they managed to hang on to her for a few seconds, and amazingly, everyone was able to smile at the camera at the same time.

I’ve marveled before at how well the two kids got along, and even in their teenage years, they still seem to like each other, which is a joy to see. I imagine they might have their moments of disrupted harmony, but they really seem to treat each other well, at least in front of me. If it’s all for my benefit, I’ll take it.

The leaf pile was cold and wet, so there would be no recreation of the leafy family pile up this year. And truly, there didn’t seem to be enough leaves to be proportional to the additional volume of this growing family. So we decided to postpone it for another year. I’ve already warned the kids that I still might ask them to do it when they are in their forties.