Throughout the summer, I saw a brilliant flash of yellow swoop past – a goldfinch in motion. He was elusive – every photo I took was either blurry or too far away – but I loved seeing him.

Now that the trees are bare, though, his nest is easily visible. While we were walking the dog, my younger daughter saw the nest and said, “this is the kind of place I would like to live: small, tidy, and near a Little Free Library full of books.”

So many bird’s nests are visible now, and a few minutes later we saw a tree full of crow’s nests: high and messy aeries with sweeping views. “That,” she said, “is where my sister would like to live: a mansion where she could see everything that is happening in the town. And plenty of neighbors.”

It’s true: my two girls have made completely different kinds of environments out of their lives. They live in the same house, with the same parents, and many of the same activities: school, music, sports, art. You could say their lives are similar in the same way you could technically say that the crows’ aeries and the little goldfinch’s home are all birds’ nests.

Twig by twig, my children are building their lives. In the wood shop, for example, my older one loves the power tools: the bigger and mightier, the better. My younger one loves to take out a box of sandpaper and smooth out a small piece of wood until it shines. My older one loves knowing everything and everyone around her; my younger one notices the details. They both thrive when they are seen and loved for themselves.

I hope that goldfinch looked at his little nest with satisfaction all summer – and who wouldn’t, really, because it is perfectly to spec for a small bird. And as for the crows in the neighborhood – they always fly around like they own the whole town, perching on our roofs while we’re outside in case we drop anything sweet or shiny. I’m positive they loved the nests they built.

And I hope that for my children, too: that they love the nests they build. And while I’m at it, I’ll hope it for myself, and for anyone who reads this: may we build and keep building – twig by twig, shiny object by shiny object, feather by feather – lives we love.