Monday, February 13, 2012

Alexandra and Samantha

They were wearing birthday crowns when I drove them home from preschool. All the chatter about being five and passing out licorice to their classmates ended when I stopped in the middle of the road to talk to a neighbor. Before I knew it, the car had emptied and all my girls were sprinting across the lawn into an adjoining backyard to swing.

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The afternoon was warm - less than jacket weather - and between the brick houses I caught sight of their heels kicking blue sky as they soared on Judy's swings.

In the foreground I could see Eliza's head bobbing on Miss Marion's trampoline. I love the network of backyards that surround ours. No one keeps their gates closed. Kids are welcome everywhere and families with grown children, that layer the properties behind us, simply smile as my children traipse across their grass. No one is persnickety or annoyed. They're honestly happy to see the flurry of small feet. They are so very generous.

It was Ali and Sami's fifth birthday. And although we should have been putting on our snow pants for a tubing outing that evening, I didn't want to miss the chance to watch my girls - the two of them twisting in their swings as they talked, leaning back at just the right angle to test out the physics of pumping. I wanted to seal a bit of them up so I could remember how they were, that warm February day, age five.

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How long will they want to wear matching skirts and shirts? I wondered.

They tossed their heads back and laughed, unaware of themselves. I watched the way they dragged their sparkly converse across the lawn - white tulle sailing back and forth.

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Every February as we decorate for Valentine's Day, we remember.

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How quickly everything could have changed that Saturday evening when we almost lost our girls and they came hurtling into the world too early. Traumatized, blue, and neither of them breathing.

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Ali, two days old

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Sami, one week old

God is not a distant being without form or shape. He is nearer than we know, ready to save us (sometimes physically, always spiritually). His understanding of us is intimate. Beneath this awesome expanse of a universe, amid all the glittering stars and planets carved by His hand, He really does notice the sparrow when it falls. (Ali and Sami's birth story here.)


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Hard to believe those three and four pound babies have grown into long, lanky girls who talk back, make silly faces when I ask them to smile, smear lotion all over the bathroom floor so they can skate, and scratch and push each other. They're good girls, really they are. But they require real guidance now, not just holding and hugging.

Our family made a list of what we love about each of them, what they're good at, who they really are.

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My friend Kristen wrote a sweet song I've been listening to recently. Kristen is a devoted mother of five children, including twin girls the same age as Ali and Sami. Kristen picked up the guitar when her twins were three and started writing songs. She has a real gift and I'm anxious to see where it takes her. We served LDS missions together in Nauvoo, Illinois, rode our bikes down Parley's Street, caught fireflies, shared what we believed with visitors who felt inclined to stop at that bend of the Mississippi River.

It's been a couple years since we've seen each other but we met for lunch today. And here are some of the lyrics to the song that did me in while I was driving downtown to meet her. I wish I could link you to an online version of this song so you could hear it yourself, but she hasn't released her CD yet. (I'll keep you posted.)

You don't seem to understand,
I don't want to reprimand
I just want to hold your hand

Let me stare at your face
So I can find any trace
of my baby in your face

Let me kiss your cheek
'til my knees grow weak
I need to kiss your cheek

I want to hear your laugh,
laugh with my laugh,
I need to hear us laugh

My hands will always reach
reach for your reach
My hands will always reach

Let me hear your voice,
Do I have a choice?
Will I lose the memory of your voice?

Come here, lay your head on me
Sleep so I can hear you breathe

There I was, hands on the wheel, thinking about my girls, and smudging mascara all over the place. So I pulled some videos of Ali and Sami singing at age two. I wanted to remember their voice.

They're so darn cute I want to swoop them right up and nuzzle them onto my shoulder. I miss those tiny voices. Indulge me and take a look.





Mothering young children is so intense and over so fast. I wish I could stretch out the joy a little longer (while shuffling all the dishes, diapers, and time-outs into a forgotten corner).

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Before we left to walk home, Sami reached out for Ali's hand. "Grab it!" she called. "Ali, grab on!"
They slipped past each other once,

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twice,

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but the third time, Sami snagged Ali's fingers. Ali couldn't stop giggling. Sami couldn't stop squealing. And I felt like I could fly with them. I'm so glad they are sisters - so grateful they were rescued in one sacred reach from the heavens. I hope they remember His reaching.

And I hope they always reach out for each other.

I love you girls.


18 comments:

  1. Beautiful tribute, Cath. Be sure you keep it for them in some form so that in the future they can smudge their own mascara.

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  2. ****I wish I could stretch out the joy a little longer (while shuffling all the dishes, diapers, and time-outs into a forgotten corner).*****

    I'm sure the joy will be all you will remember, when you look back... And even the lotion on the bathroom floor will become a fond memory, I am sure, ;-)...

    This is beautifully written, Cath, thanks for sharing!

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  3. you never cease to amaze me with your talent for the perfect words. i need to remember to read your posts before i put my makeup on...to avoid the mascara smearing.

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  4. So beautiful Catherine. Your words open my heart up and change me. I have been thinking of you since yesterday's lunch. I'm so glad the stars aligned and we were able to get together in person. Thank you for your friendship and your support. It has felt like a gift from God to me.

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  5. Thankfully I haven't put any make up on yet:) Your gift for writing is awe inspiring Cath. When I read your words I feel like you are able to capture everything in one tiny little moment but the memories live forever. Thank you for expressing what so many of us feel, yet lack the ability to put into words. I feel so grateful to be counted among your friends and feel closer to the Lord when I am around you. You are made of pure goodness and I hope I can be more like you when I grow up:). Your post is exactly what I needed to hear and feel today!! Love you Cath

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  6. I loved how you captured that special moment your daughters had with each other. Thank you for sharing that with us. How often would we had walked past that, with thoughts of the next activity/chore/errand filling our minds.
    Slowing down and living in the moment is oh-so-good ;)

    Oh, and I love all those lovely words about your girls...so special!!

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  7. crying....its one of my baby's 12th birthday today.....oh, they grow so fast.

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  8. Hi Catherine! I am a long time admirer of your sweet blog. I'm also a high school friend of Sarah's. Each time I see her I mention your blog and how I love it so. I've been meaning to comment on here for quite some time.

    I love your blog and wanted to let you know how much I appreciate your down to earth, heartfelt posts. I feel our Heavenly Father's love for me each time I take a peek at what you have to say. Your eloquent writing is so memorizing and I just wanted to let you know how much you have touched my life, even if it is in the blogging world. ; )

    I have to giggle at the previous posts regarding tax season. I too am a "tax season widow" during the Spring and I especially can relate to you big time during those months. Hang on tight for another few weeks right?

    Happy Valentine's day to you and your cute family! I'll comment more from now often. : )
    -Alison Brammer

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  9. valentine from the Arveseth's...LOVE! xox

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  10. Shir - I've been meaning to ask you. What would you recommend (shutterfly or something else?) for printing parts of our blog into a book for our family? You're the queen when it comes to that stuff. Curious. xo

    Corinna - you make an excellent point. I hope in retrospect the joy will surface more easily than all the frustration and disasters. It takes both though, doesn't it? To make us see each for what they are. Hope you're having a good week.

    Kara - you dear soul. I saw your facebook tag. Thank you. That was undeserved but very kind. love you.

    Kristen - truly, it took the stars aligning (or as you said - planning a month out!) to make lunch happen, but it was by far the highlight of my day. Still mulling over everything you shared. Your faith really gave me pause to consider my own ability to listen and hear. Thank you. You have big things to do and I am here to cheer you on. I love you.

    Liz - I love you dear friend. Your influence in my life, and Eliza's is such a gift right now. I'm so grateful for all you are doing. And I look forward to all of my children being able to learn from you.

    Mika - I should have given you a shout out for the darling valentine banner i found through your blog. It was a fun find and I have you to thank! Hey ya'll you can find the banner on etsy:

    http://www.etsy.com/listing/89213365/valentine-banner-be-my-valentine-garland?ref=sr_gallery_6&sref=&ga_search_submit=&ga_search_query=valentine+banner&ga_view_type=gallery&ga_ship_to=US&ga_search_type=handmade&ga_facet=handmade

    Mel - how are you friend? Your baby is twelve?? oh sister, yes it goes too fast. I hope you're doing well.

    Alison - thanks so much for your very sweet note here. Ah, another tax widow. That comforts me! I think Sarah has told me about you before. It's tough isn't it, doing the nights and saturdays alone for so long. I feel for you. That is partly why I took up blogging. It was a good outlet for me with Doug working so much, and the beauty of it is that it allows you to connect with like-minded people. I'm so glad you to hear from you. Wishing you extra sanity and patience these next few months! xo

    Cristie - glad it arrived. love you!

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  11. Cath, I'm coming back to read this post later (and link to their birth story, too). I have kids that are calling my attention right and left and need to sign off. So I'll come back to comment on this post a little later when things have settled. But. Rock Canyon is in Provo, the canyon just above (behind?) Provo Temple. It's a lovely place.

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  12. How incredibly beautiful. So glad I've found you and your gorgeously sweet family. xoxo

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  13. And p.s., I just subscribed to Seeing the Everyday, after reading your blurb on the matter. I'm so excited to get it! This is totally something I would love!

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  14. Just finally had time to actually read this post. I feel the same way (wishing you could stretch out the joy and minimize the time you are frazzled and showing it by your exhaustion and impatience and mother-of-the-year moments). I am reminded of Elder Ballard's talk "Daughters of God" from April 2008 conference when he said this: "There are moments of great joy and incredible fulfillment, but there are also moments of a sense of inadequacy, monotony, and frustration." It's true. The lows are low, but the highs...breathtaking and irreplaceable. I wouldn't trade it for the world.

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  15. And oh my gosh this is embarrassing I've now commented four times on this post, but I just read the birth story of the girls and had to comment yet again. What an incredible, miraculous story. Made me choke up. I love the scriptural reference. It touched me so tonight.

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  16. Your daughters are just as sweet as can be. They are so lucky to have each other. They are so lucky to have you. What a beautiful moment you've captured here. Happy birthday to those darling 5-year-old girls. Your writing is gorgeous as always. The line about God noticing the sparrow when it falls was breathtaking. I remember when I read the girls' birth story over at Segullah and was so inspired by your faith and strength. What a miracle it all was. Wishing you joy. Love you.

    Anne Marie

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  17. BEAUTIFUL!!!! Thank you for letting us be a part of your lives. They are both so beautiful.

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  18. Elizabeth - I'm cracking up at your return(s) to comment. You make me smile. Thanks for the info on Rock Canyon. Thanks for linking to their birth story. It's always a tender mercy to remember. Hope you are having a good weekend. xo

    Anne Marie - You are dear as can be. Thanks for the sweet birthday wishes.

    Erin - I promise Disney pics are coming! Happy Birthday to Ella too! xo

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