PHFR – This Place Where We Live

~Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life, as inspired by the women at Like Mother, Like Daughter~

{Pretty}

I don’t consider myself a morning person, exactly, but, because Abby wakes at 5:30 (and then resettles) on a regular basis, I find myself appreciating the quiet hush of a household still sleeping. I spend some time with my bible and my journal and the rising sun, and I think, perhaps, these early hours aren’t so horrible a time to be awake after all.

The blooms along our back patio are quite lovely, aren’t they? We meandered our way down to the creek at the bottom of our property at the end of last week, and the girls (and Euclid!) reveled in the feel of mud between their toes and frigid water running over their feet. We threw rocks and sang songs and enjoyed the beautiful autumn weather, and I was grateful, once again, for this place where we live.

{Happy}

On Saturday, we joined two of my sisters, their spouses and kids, and my parents at the local pumpkin farm. (Whatever you’re thinking when I say “pumpkin farm,” revise it: this place has a train and a corn maze and numerous food stands and a hay ride and a petting zoo and various shows and about five million people on a Saturday afternoon.) We were early enough to beat most of the crowds, and great fun was had by all (I think). Three cheers for living close to family.

More outside play: here, Katie is making “blueberry muffins” out of rocks and sticks and leaves and dirt. She carefully filled the bowl, stirred its contents, and scooped a spoonful into each cup. Abby wasn’t interested in cooking, so much, but she did enjoy pulling flowers off of the plants (until I put a stop to that!)

Gah. These girls.

Also happy: we have a walker, folks! She hasn’t taken much more than a few steps at a time, and generally finds crawling to be a better means of locomotion, but she’s more and more willing to step out on her own, even when there’s nobody there to catch her. Her proud grin at the end of this video kills me.

{Funny}

Abby knows how to sign “please” now (actually, a confession – we taught her the ASL sign for “more” and told her it was “please,” because it seemed to be easier for her to catch on), which tends to lead to more peaceful interactions during mealtimes. A few days ago, she was in her high chair as I was prepping dinner. She kept asking for Cheerios – or so I thought – signing please, and pointing at the box, which was on the counter next to her. I obliged, giving her a small handful, but she shook her head and continued her signing and pointing, growing more and more agitated. On a hunch, I held the box right in front of her, and she touched – you guessed it – the strawberries. Poor girl. I had none to offer her, but she was appeased by a few cherry tomatoes instead.

Katie has a deep concern about her animals running off while she’s doing some essential activity (such as using the restroom). The friends she plays with most – a dog named Louie and her ever-faithful BaaBaa – have appropriated some dog’s leashes, which get tucked into drawers or around the legs of furniture to keep them in place. Poor bunny, though, had no such means of keeping him still; thus, his ignoble station while Katie answered the call of nature. (Even worse, she forgot about him. This is where I found him when, several hours later, she simply could not take her nap without him.)

{Real}

On Monday morning, we woke to news of three major fires in the hills and ravines surrounding our small town. They didn’t make national news, except as a side note – and rightfully so, as they didn’t wreak anywhere near the devastation caused by those in other counties in the state – but they had no small impact on the community: 8000 people were evacuated, 211 structures were destroyed, and, as of this morning, 1161 personnel were still assigned to work toward containment. While our home was never in any danger, my in-laws (as well as numerous friends and acquaintances) were put under evacuation warnings.

Amidst the uncertainty, however, amidst the chaos and the fear and the ruin, I found Mr. Roger’s helpers – those who offered themselves, their homes, their services to ease the suffering of those in need. From businesses and individuals, from churches and government agencies and local organizations, the funds and the goods and the hands came pouring in, eager to encourage and to aid. The screenshots above are just a handful of those that have filled my news feed in the past several days, just a sampling of the many ways people near and far are reaching out to help.

Our small community isn’t alone in this desire to do good, to fulfill the true definition of a neighbor. Similar things are happening in Napa and Sonoma, where fires continue to rage out of control. In Las Vegas last week, people stood for hours at a time to give blood. Ordinary folks climbed into boats at the end of August and navigated the streets of Houston in order to rescue those stranded by the water. People all across America have opened their hearts and their pocketbooks to help restore the island of Puerto Rico.

We are a divided people. Any news channel, any politician will tell you as much, but, if you don’t trust them, you only need look at your social media feeds or the comment section of any current event item to realize this for yourself. You need not go far to find stories of hatred and division, of ugliness and all the -isms you can think of. Though they manifest themselves most stridently online, these divisions are real, and they make real differences in the lives of real people.

And yet. And yet: when evil rears its head, when disaster strikes – those differences fall away, if only for a time. When we’re confronted with the suffering of others – even others who are different from us, even others with whom we have profound disagreements – most of us are compelled to do something, to help in whatever ways we can.

And that gives me some hope that, when it comes down to it, here in the real world, we aren’t as divided as we may seem.

Those are some of the {pretty, happy, funny, real} moments around here this week. How about you? Capture any contentment lately?

Family and Parenting, Loving Others, This Thing Called Life

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