Apr 30, 2011

Consequences

This word has a negative connotation in our house. I never catch the boys doing something really great and say "you made such a great choice. Praise and adoration is your consequence." Sure I reward them with praise or hugs and kisses or perhaps a treat but I never call it a "consequence". I save that word for the bad things. Bad things like the choices my boys made recently. Choices that are quite frankly dumb-dumb choices and require harsh consequences.
A few weeks ago Gabe was a little irresponsible and is paying the price for it. He loaded his wallet full of his hard earned money ($20 and change) and decided to bring it to Garmisch. Despite my repetitive warnings about not bringing it to places like the pool, the gas station bathroom, or to dinner, somewhere along the line he lost his wallet. $20 is a big deal for him. He doesn't get an allowance yet and this money was earned from watering plants for Mika and taking care of a neighbor's cat while they were gone. After contacting the hotel and thoroughly looking through all the bags we brought on the trip, I broke the news to him that he was out of luck. My poor baby lost his 20 bucks. I really wanted to just give it to him, but refrained.

Monday. Day 1 of pox quarantine. Gabe goes crazy and does this:
He cut a hole in my couch cover. These are my cheap IKEA couches that have covers that are purchased separately. The concept is great for changing the look of your living room by simply purchasing a new €100 cover. Today brown, next year black, gray, striped, red...so many choices. This concept is also good for messy people. The entire cover can be taken off and put in the washing machine like when my brother-in-law ate a chocolate covered schneeball on it or when Mika's cat peed on it while flying through the air to attack me. And when it gets really grimy or when people accidentally paint it because they were too lazy to cover it when painting their wall brown, you buy a new one. Which I just did a few weeks ago.
Tuesday night I discovered that my youngest and most devious spawn decided to cut a color swatch out of the back of it.
So, he needs a consequence. A negative one. We decided that he had to pay for a new one, but since he lost his money (see above) and he doesn't currently get an allowance it is going to be tricky. So, I'm keeping track of all the things that I would normally buy him (things that Eli does get) such as gelato from our neighborhood truck and other culinary treats when we are out and about or small toys from the store. He has to deal with the disappointment of not getting the item in order to accumulate $100 (I'm offering a one to one exchange which is ridiculously good) worth of things he can't get because he owes me. $100, is so many Gelatos. I'm tempted to fudge on the tally or just clear the debt especially since he just lost his $20 which would have been a great installment toward his debt....but I won't, I'll carry this one out.

The other one. The elder, wiser, and yet still immature in his ways, Eli, had his own moment of willful disobedience. Somewhere along the line he became interested in selling his stuff to make some cash. The problem is that a lot of his stuff is either currently shared with Gabe or will be passed on to Gabe in the future. If Eli didn't buy it with his own money to begin with then I'm not really keen on him selling it. Recently a friend came over and asked to buy Eli's set of Diary of a Whimpy Kid books. These books were so generously given to him by my sister. He loves these books. He has read them each at least two or three times and they tend to be the book of choice when we go on a vacation and his personal entertainment items are limited. However, even though he loves them he was really interested in the cash and asked me if he could sell them to his buddy. I said "no". Not only do I think it is a bad idea because he still really likes them but it is a bad idea because Gabe is starting to read and will eventually want to read them as well. The deal was off.
Until today, I came home from perusing the neighborhood garage sale to find that Eli has sold FOUR of his five Whimpy Kid books. I was furious. Not only was I upset that he sold them, I was so mad that he sold them each for $1. ONE DOLLAR! Hardback books that are in great condition and a current fad with 8 year old boys and he sold them for $1. He sold things that he still uses and had the horrible business sense to sell hours of entertainment for a mere $4.
The consequence: replace the books. I found a four book set from Amazon for $32. During a conversation about the book deal, he admitted to knowing that he was not supposed to sell the books and that he tried to hide the fact that he sold them. Silly boy didn't take into account that his BFF's mom is one of my BFFs. So, the most logical consequence I could come up with was for him to replace the books. He walked toward me slowly, cautiously, with tears in his big brown eyes and handed me $32 exactly. That leaves him with only $8 toward some $50 lego thing he was saving for. I didn't want to take his money, I really didn't, but I need to teach him that hawking the family goods is simply not acceptable especially when he has been specifically instructed not to.

My consequence of handing out these consequences to the boys: a little heart break. I don't want them to have these consequences. I would rather just carry the burden. It was €100, $20, and free books that can be replaced for $32. I want to just erase these bad choices, and chalk it up to kids being kids. But I also want them to learn how to do what they know is right when the consequence is rather minor so that they won't do something really crazy like burn the couch or sell dad's guitar.

Apr 29, 2011

Follow Up

This past Monday I was at the doctor's office with Gabe. I came prepared. I had my coffee in hand and phone charged for a little gaming entertainment while I waited for the doctor.
Two days ago I was attempting to get a to-go cup of Joe for Matt when alas I couldn't find a to-go cup. Naturally, I blamed Matt for losing it. Fast forward to Thursday, I was at the clinic (for a visit completely unrelated to Gabe and his potential pox) when I noticed something familiar in the vitals room. My to-go mug! I was never actually in this room with Gabe, but this room is just next door to the room he was in and that is the exact same style of stainless steel to-go mug that I was sipping from on Monday. What to do? Snatch it and if questioned tell them "its mine and I want it back". Ask "perchance is this the mug I left here on Monday?" What if they say it is theirs? Do I arm wrestle for it? What is the protocol for retrieving something that may or may not be yours? I left it there on the sink in the vitals room. I returned home an apologized to Matt for accusing him of losing the mug and have since stewed over why I didn't just ask about it.
At Gabe's visit Monday, when I - not Matt - lost the mug, he was tested for chicken pox. That was Monday. He was put on quarantine until the results of the test could confirm or deny chicken pox. Today is Friday....still no results.
What is the point of doing lab work on something that will run its cycle and be gone long before the lab results come back? Like getting a pregnancy test that doesn't come back with results for 9 months. It seems to me that lab work on something like Chicken Pox should be returned within 24 hours. If it is chicken pox - alert the media - if not, then the poor quarantined child can be set free. But that is just what seems logical to me so obviously that isn't how things are done.

Apr 26, 2011

The Pox


I have social conscious. I vaccinated my kids to prevent them from contracting and spreading harmful childhood diseases and illnesses and yet one apparently has Chicken Pox. I want my money back!!
Gabe breaks out in a horrible rash which we thought was hives at first, then figured it must be horrible flea or chigger bites, and finally decided it was whoa-something-is-really-wrong-here-we-better-take-him-to-the-doctor rash.
The doctor came in to the room cool, calm and collected and left in a little panic. He returned with another doctor for a second opinion, and then with a few masks and gloves, then with a medic to take samples of the little dot ooze, and finally a community health nurse tasked with logging our every move for the past 5 days to determine who may be at risk of contracting the virus.
Apparently, Chicken Pox is mostly eradicated due to the varicella vaccine so this shiny new case on the books sent a quiet doctor's office into a scene from that Dustin Hoffman movie where the monkey gave everyone some crazy new virus and they were trying to determine if they should blow up the town or look for a vaccine.
Once the swabs of Gabe's ooze were collected they were quickly inserted into a tube and then into a cooler marked "biohazard" and rushed off to the lab for further review. I actually heard the medic say "this is a time sensitive matter- I need to move quickly". As my little masked Gabe covered in oozy sores made his way out of the clinic people were so kind to move away from us, quickly, almost running, while covering their mouths and dousing themselves in Purell.
Poor Gabe just may be the subject of a post-wide alert of a varicella breakout.
The shame.
The itching.
The boredom of being in lock down.
We received our official quarantine orders, about 20 replacement masks, and some drugs to help the itch. I'm not making him wear the masks at home, but based on the reaction of everyone at the clinic who saw him wearing the mask, these might come in handy when I'm trying to get to the front of the line at the commissary.

Apr 25, 2011

Ma-ma.

Oh those sounds were so sweet the first time I heard them. I remember when Eli switched from mama to mommy and then on to mom. Gabe still calls me mama, I'm not sure why he didn't cycle through like Eli.
Somewhere along the line "mom" turned to "moooooooooom" and then it wasn't sweet anymore. Then "moooooom" turned into "moooooooom" where the "m" and the first 3 "o's" are really high and then the last few "o's" and the last "m" are low. Then there is the "mooooom" that starts low and gets high.
One word that means so many different things. A few distinct versions of mom actually mean "mom I'm telling on my brother", "mom, I can't find something" and "mom, I'm yelling at you from downstairs or outside because I'm too lazy to come find you".
As a new mom, I didn't think I would ever get tired of hearing "mom". I was wrong. Saturday night I was making dinner, cleaning the kitchen, prepping stuff for Sunday breakfast, making sure the girls I was babysitting were not being tainted by any neighborhood kid antics, and trying to answer all the times my boys yelled "mom". One needed a towel, one needed shorts, one was telling me that one of the girls had her hair tangled in a button, one was fighting with the other, one was telling on the one fighting with the other and one needed a drink, then the other, and everyone was hungry.
I think I heard "mom" called at least 100 times that day and not a single time did the word sound sweet or was the word followed by "I love you" or preceded by "thanks".
At this moment, Monday at 6:30pm I am counting down the hours until nobody can say "mom".
At this moment, Monday at 6:32pm I am thanking God for giving me two rascally boys to use my name too often and praying that I will hear my name over and over again for many years to come.

Apr 24, 2011

Defending Carols

Saturday night the boys were eating dinner with friends when Eli broke out into a Christmas song.
One of his friends said "you can't sing Christmas songs, it is the night before Easter."
To which Eli replied "yes you can. You can't have Easter without Christmas so you can sing Christmas songs at Easter."
This confused the friend, so he explained further "if Jesus wasn't born at Christmas then he couldn't die and raise from the dead at Easter, really it is all part of the same thing."
So proud I was of my young lad's defense of Christmas songs and spot on explanation of the meaning of Christmas and Easter, until Gabe chimed in "yeah but Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer has nothing to do with Jesus."
Also a valid point. Eli agreed and started singing "Go Tell it on the Mountain".

You can't have Easter without Christmas and Christmas doesn't mean much if you don't have Easter. Christ's birth would mean nothing if he didn't die, rise again, and save us from our sins. In a way, Christmas is the beginning of the story and Easter is the end. Why do I put so much emphasis on the birth of our Savior but spend much less time pondering his death and resurrection? Easter seems to be an afterthought not a season, like Christmas.

I feel compelled to change this in our home. Just what that will look like, I don't know. But I do know that the death and resurrection of Christ needs a little more spotlight here.

Apr 13, 2011

What did he say?

This post is dedicated to Gabe's bizarre yet funny comments. It could really be a regular segment on this blog because he actually says some of the most ridiculous things.

At a museum in Madrid this past weekend. Gabe enlightens us with this:
"I have nipples. Mom has boobs."

And in the car a few days ago Gabe asks me this "Mom, when I'm an adult are you going to be dead?"

Also in the car, different day, Gabe announces that he is going to have sons not daughters because he doesn't want a too much make-up in his house.

And my personal favorite (I actually laugh out loud on this one). While walking to school a few days ago a Great Dane was peeking out the window of our neighbor's house. Just as we passed the house the dog barked and Gabe said "Oh, that is a dog! I thought it was a really ugly lamp".

Apr 12, 2011

Flags on a Map

We just returned from a long weekend in Madrid. We love Spain! It was sunny and warm, and simply a great city.
We have travelled quite a bit since moving here to Germany and one question that I have been asked over and over is "what was your favorite destination?" I thought this would be easy, but it turns out to be one of the most difficult questions to answer. Traveling brings me joy through numerous ways. It all starts with the planning. I love it! I enjoy searching for good deals on hotels/apartments and airfare as well as plotting out points of interest for the selected destination. Once we've arrived I take it all in like a deep breath after swimming underwater for a minute. The sights, sounds, and culinary delights are all part of the experience for me. When we return I almost immediately look through the pictures I took and relive the whole adventure.
We have visited many tourists hot-spots as well as quite less popular destinations. I have found beauty and entertainment in each place and choosing a favorite seems impossible.
What I realized in my quest to pick my favorite spot, is that my adventure in each of these cities is equally based on who I am traveling with as where I am. When I recall a vacation, the first thing I think about is who was there with me, what our mood was and what was going on in the dynamics of my travel party at that time.
Our trip to Cadiz and Seville, Spain a few years back remains high on my list of favorites. Not only was the destination gorgeous but it was the first time our family of four had vacationed somewhere other than back to California. Our trips that we have done with friends or family members are also really special as we had a chance to experience something new with people that we love. Road trips are always an adventure for us, as 4-6 hour drives are never without entertainment. Seeing historical sights, beauty, culture and adventurous travel are all wonderful. So, bottom line is I still can't choose.
What I learned from this is that all these places we have visited are just places somewhere in the world, flag pins we've put on a map, but it is sharing the adventure of traveling to these places with people I love that makes each destination so special.