Friday, April 30, 2010

Forgive us our Dinners

Chris and I resolved long before the Two came along that we would raise our children to love Jesus and teach them to pray.  I mean, it was prayer that got them to us and all, right people?  The first night home with Aria, we said prayers with her - well, to her - and it's been a naptime and nighttime tradition ever since. So, all in all, I think we're doing pretty good.  Strike that.  Jesus is doing pretty good.  He has blessed us with the most wide-eyed, tenderhearted little prayer warrior you could ever meet.

Case in point.  I have a friend from high school who was recently in a motorcycle vs car crash, and the car won. Said friend is in the hospital back home having all sorts of surgeries for breaking many, many bones in his body.  I told Aria about it the night it happened and we prayed for him.  Several nights later, we were saying prayers at our appointed time (8, 8:30, 9 - okay not so appointed, but bedtime nonetheless).  As I was ending our prayer, Aria says, "Mommy, what about your friend?"  (Okay, my fault here, but I totally blanked and forgot about Keith).  Me, "What friend, honey?"  Aria, "Your friend with the boo-boos".  Me, "Baby, what are you talking about?".  Aria with a big frustrated Mommy-must-I-always-remind-you sigh, "You know.  Your friend.  The car laid down in the street, and your friend hit the car on he bike, and got lots of boo-boos on he head, Mommy".  Oh wow, this child is exactly right.  Shame, shame, Mommy.  Your two-year-old has a better memory than you.

Incidentally, Aria still hasn't gotten down her possessive pronouns yet, so everything is "he" or "she" instead of "his" or "hers".  We think it's so endearing we don't have the heart to correct her.  "Mommy, Caroline is crying, she wants she bottle" or "Where is (BFF) Peachy, he at he house?", or "Lexi wants to play with she ball".  Oh, I just love, love, love it.  Don't ever change it, Aria Grace, you are so stinkin' cute.

A big thing with Aria right now is The Lord's Prayer.  We have to say it twice a day, and she gets in all kinds of toddler distress if I forget to recite it with her.  The kicker is, the line where Jesus says, "Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors" (Yes, I know, my Presbyterian roots are showing), when you are two years-old, comes out as, "Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our dinners".  I can't help but think, though, maybe she's onto something.  Don't we sometimes need to ask forgiveness for our dinners?  We ate Taco Bueno twice this week - by choice, not necessity.  Maybe I need to ask forgiveness from the Dave Navarro-look-alike drive-thru-guy for the toddler hurling goldfish at him from the backseat, or never having correct change, or always making him bring us more jalepenos (Chris/Aria), or always giggling when we ask him about the Chili Peppers.  Okay, maybe it's not quite the burrito I need to repent for.  Maybe it's the nights we spend eating dinner at the coffee table in front of the TV, or the times we all eat separately, and I usually eat standing up.  Or the times we get so caught up in life, we forget to sit down and really talk about our day.  It doesn't happen very often, but when it does, it weighs heavily on my heart. 

My parents always made a big deal about Family Dinner when I was growing up.  We weren't allowed to have the TV on, and my parents didn't even answer the phone during dinner.  Can you imagine?  As a sixteen-year-old, when the phone rang and my Daddy wouldn't let me answer it?  The horror.  That could have been any number of extremely popular boys calling to take me to a extremely fun party, Dad!  And this was back in the midieval times too, before cell phones or caller ID or even answering machines.  Ugh, how mortifying!

The funny part is, though.  I don't remember missing out on any parties or dates.  What I remember is my parents taking a real interest in my life, really caring about school, people I was friends with, how I felt about life.  Most of those discussions took place over a meal at the kitchen table. 

Our pastor said the other day that studies are showing that the best way to connect with your kids is to have undisrupted family dinners every night.  I'm guessing Jesus doesn't care if we have Taco Bueno or dinner a la Sarah, as long as we are sitting at the table, communicating and being a family. 

Chris just called.  We are doing Chinese take-out tonight.  Yummm....  Father, I promise we will sit down and eat like a family (but please, please forgive me for the calories, and don't put them on my thighs, please?)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Go, Mommy, Go!

When my second daughter was six weeks old, I decided to train for a half marathon.  Wait, wait, calm down.  Before you judge - or applaud me - I must make a tiny little confession:  she's a surrogate baby.  As in, I didn't actually squeeze her out of my own body.  There were no wide hips or puffy fingers or spare tires.  Well, at least not from carrying a baby.  So I wasn't technically getting back into shape post-baby.  Physically, I was fine. 

Mentally and emotionally was another story altogether.  This precious little bundle of joy, all seven pounds of her, had drained every last ounce of humanity from my poor, tired, thirty-sumpin body.  No it wasn't the colic that did it to me, even when we had to change formulas six - count 'em, SIX - times people, and finally settled on a prescription formula costing me bajillions of dollars which would have otherwise have been earmarked for - what else - shoes.  No, that's not it.  It wasn't the day-night-sleep-awake confusion she had, choosing to sleep like a perfect angel throughout the day, which in turn made everyone in my family give me funny looks when I referred to her as a stark raving lunatic.  (I said it with love, sweet baby girl).  That perfect tiny sleeping angel?  You simply must be imagining things, Sarah.  There, there.  Look at her lying there all pink and soft and quiet.  Pshht!  And believe it or not, it wasn't even the sheer volume of brain power and ingenuity required to assemble the various toys, monitors, swings, chairs, and other assorted paraphenalia necessary to help a little baby make it through the day.  I mean, who knew a bottle could have five parts, each of which need to be taken apart and put back together for a feeding, of which there are 8-10 per day.  Really, who knew??

No, it wasn't any of those things that motivated me to do it.

Running was, quite simply, MINE.  When I hit the road to start my training, which took place at any given time between 4 am and, well, 4 am, I was just me.  I wasn't a nurse, or a janitor, or a dry cleaner, a chef, or a chauffer, a teacher, an entertainer, a dog groomer, even a wife or a mother.  There was no barf to wipe up, no one screaming for their next bottle, no diapers to change, no crayon-eating or cat-tail-pulling.  I could be alone with my thoughts, as few and far between as they were at that point, they were still precious to me.  I could plan a grocery list, compose a note to my grandmother, pray to Jesus, or jam to the Black Eyed Peas.  I could do any and all of it, because it was just me and my thoughts out on the road.  Me and my thoughts, and my Lexi dog.  She had to come along for three reasons:  to keep me safe, to keep me company, and to try to burn off a small portion of her limitless doggie energy.  But aaaahhhh.... just me and the open road.  I sometimes felt like a Jack Kerouac novel was just burning inside me, waiting to get out. 

Now, don't get me wrong.  These precious girls are my life and my heart.  Chris Thomas is without question the best, most supportive husband and father any woman could ask for.  But at the same time, I needed something that just belonged to ME.

It was not easy.  I missed out on a lot of coveted sleep.  Since it happened to be winter, there were many mornings I had to scrape myself out of a warm and cozy bed, bundle up, and head out into 20 degree weather for a ten or twelve miles. 

But then oddly, something strange began to happen.  The miles began to add up and things around my house started to become more tolerable.  Caroline is hollering, Aria is eating playdoh, the dogs are brawling, and I haven't slept eight hours collectively in the past month, but guess what?  I can handle this.  In fact, I'm okay with it.  What could possibly be going on? 

I was getting in shape.  Mentally.  Emotionally.  Running was actually giving me my sanity back.  It was stabilizing my emotions which in turn helped me to be a better wife and a better mother.

The story ends like this:  Caroline started sleeping through the night at about 10 weeks of age and turned into the peaceful laidback baby my family always thought she was, I ran the race with one of my best friends, and we finished in a respectable 2 hrs 14 min, while having a total blast.  But the best part is, my sweet family was there to cheer me on along the way.  And they are MINE too!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Caving In

I've finally done it. I've gone and created a blog. Who'd have thought? Not that I have anything against blogging. It's just that it always seemed so, well, self-indulgent. Why would anyone, other than my mother of course, care what cereal I ate for breakfast, or how much laundry I folded, or if Chris remembered to feed the dogs? Isn't this the digital form of voyeurism, people?

But it finally happened. I caved in, and joined the dark side.

It started gradually, of course. I stumbled across a cute little blog of a funny girl whose family is in the process of adopting another child. She posted some rather memorable musings about their adoption journey on her blog. I found myself thinking about them at different times throughout the day, so I'd log on to see what was happening in their lives. After a few weeks, it became an obsession: I had to know. What cereal did they eat for breakfast? How much laundry did she fold? Did her husband remember to feed the dog? And it wasn't just her. It was anyone - friends, family, Jennifer the checkout girl at Wal-Mart; if you had a blog, I wanted to read it. I just had to know what everyone was doing in their daily lives, however mundane it was. In fact, the more mundane, the better.

It reminds me of a particular obsession I had as a child. I was determined to be a spy when I grew up. I mean, I had the perfect cover, right? Average looking girl with an exceptionally high IQ (and humble, too) could infiltrate high-security government factions and obtain important secret information otherwise unavailable to my spy peers. Watch out, Osama bin Laden, you'd be so caught if I were in charge. As it was, my nine-year-old self convinced my best friend Christie to accompany me on a mission to explore the innermost daily life of our neighbor, Holly. What we got, besides poison ivy from the bushes outside the window, was 30 minutes of Holly and her family, sitting on the couch, watching Wheel of Fortune. Hmm... no deep dark secrets, no governmental coup. Ultimately, Christie decided she was bored of the whole spy thing and went home to watch The Love Boat. I was left alone in the bushes, my spy dreams crashing down around me. And thus, my dream career abruptly came to a halt.

Until now...

Following blogs allows me to spy on family, friends, strangers from the comfort of my own ergonomic desk chair! How is it I am just now figuring this out? Guess that doesn't speak well for my highly intelligent spy self, does it?