The yellow leaves practically glow outside the large picture window on the side of our house.
The girls' new teepee sits strategically in a corner that isn't particularly used; it's where they go anyway during the day. I think they go there because the light from this window is so magnificent.
Each morning, looking through it when my baby wakes me up so early, I can see the pre-dawn blackness turning into something more grey. Later, like this evening with the new teepee, I see how the brilliant yellow of autumn leaves is lit up from underneath by the setting sun on the green grass that catches its falling golden rays.
My girls play together inside their new space. (I don't think that sentence conveys the adorable nature of this "play.")
The baby turned 1 just two days ago, and my oldest is almost 5. In other words, especially as an identical twin, I had no practical intention that they might play together, except for in a few years and then, hopefully, again as adults.
But they play peek-a-boo through the teepee's chevron, pink-and-white-patterned window. They unfold their constantly active, tiny girl bodies onto fluffy, brightly-colored pillows inside this fresh-made fortress.
The neon pink and the wooden sticks joined together at the top reflect back to me through the window. I hear 1-year-old squeals of laughter and 5-year-old, big-sister patience that she didn't learn from me.
This moment in our lives is so simple.
This space in between celebrating a first birthday only two days ago and the girls' first wedding last night -- and Monday morning -- is made unexpectedly majestic by the addition of a canvas triangle into our tiny family.
My favorite toy as a kid was a teepee from my aunt and uncle.
I can still see the small, black ants running up and down the huge tree trunk that shaded my twin sister and me, when we put it up outside during the summer. Then, as the weather in Ohio grew cold, the teepee was moved indoors, to our roughly carpeted playroom. To this day I think it might have been my favorite childhood toy.
Obviously, I'm feeling nostalgic. I celebrated a first birthday and a wedding -- a dawning of a family, as I explained to my daughter -- and I feel like I'm in kind of a new-moon space of my own. More than this, the silent growing of two children is made too obvious upon this mother's sensitive reflection.
This photograph of my children makes me feel like I've done something wonderful with my life, when all I've really done is buy them a tent and put it up in front of a gorgeous window view.
Each moment that I lose my temper or choose something easy to feed them or close my eyes and wish I was momentarily somewhere else is made reasonable through the lens of this photo -- and this is why I photograph my kids and then share it in my blogging and on social media.
My life today was not perfect, despite the fact that I shared this pretty picture on Instagram and Facebook. But I took this picture, more than anything, to remind myself, when my days of mothering are difficult and a little bit too long, that I am doing something right.
Clearly, two girls joyfully playing in a pink-and-white chevron-patterned tent are doing OK.
But my life is kind of perfect. I have an earnestly good man to call mine, and I have two beautiful daughters. This fact makes my frustrating days actually more challenging -- because I know that my life is good.
Yet the yellow leaves fall and kids grow up. Each year, the same thing happens.
This pink teepee might not cast the same reflection into my living room next winter (although if my own childhood infatuation dictates anything, it also very well might).
I take these photographs so that I can retrieve the words later on that weren't used when I was temporarily paused within the moment. They take the place of my little notebook and pen, where I jot down thoughts for later -- and at least I have a picture of my family.
These pictures take the place of tears I didn't let out at the joy and deep sadness of my kids' growing, and they show in one small frame a millimeter of the emotion I felt.
And I share them graciously with others, these pieces of my heart. My kids.
And the yellow leaves are still surrounded by green and the reflection of the teepee has lost its ethereal appeal and now the television sounds from my oldest daughter and the dinner-making sounds of my husband take over -- once again, real life settles into my tissues.
And that space that a photograph holds anchors me to where I am. And where I am is mothering two happy, intense kids and partnering with a man I barely get to hold adult conversations with.
Where I am is some perverse heaven on Earth, where my husband is my friend without enough benefits and I'm responsible for two other human beings.
But the leaves are pretty this fall -- so there's that.