Tuesday, July 29, 2008

BBQ Bonanza

This past weekend we had two BBQs. On Saturday we car pooled to a nice park outside of Geneva. The perfect mix of sun and trees complemented the perfect mix of friends and food. We were brave since the weather forecast called for rain. We were very happy that we ignored the warnings. C bought a small little BBQ and we all piled on the sausages, chops, chicken, and steaks. Not all at once though. The boys and I splashed in the little beach. It, like many of the beaches here, was a stone beach and my dainty little princess feet were not so happy walking over the rocks. Neither was M. L on the other hand inherited his father's ability to walk over anything barefooted. A friend took the great family portrait above. The clouds rolled in an hour before we packed up, and a really good thunderstorm started about 9pm, after we were safe and sound at home.

The next day we went to a friend from the playgroup's home for another BBQ. It turns out that their neighbour is actually a Japanese postdoc from my department...small world. So all three families got together. I counted myself very lucky that day. After a full day of activity on Saturday and a rather tantrum-filled Sunday morning my two boys were veritable angels that afternoon. The other two boys were also very tired and worked very hard to make our two boys look even more angelic. One of the boys does not speak English, and the other one was the host, having a whole bunch of adults stealing his parents attention and a whole bunch of kids pawing over his stuff. I guess the ensuing madness was not surprising. The afternoon ended on a high note though. The boys had wandered into the bedroom and had started climbing up onto the headboard and then letting themselves fall onto the mattress. All the parents were giggling almost as much as the boys as photos and movies were being taken.

And that was our weekend.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Inaugural theatre outing...Kung-Fu Panda

A friend recently suggested taking L to "Kung-Fu Panda". This coincided with reading a review over at the BabyCenter that seemed to be supportive of the movie. As a test we rented Monsters Inc. Both 3 year old M and 4 year old L sat through the whole movie. L asked questions about the movie fairly non-stop, which is nice as we can do the whole parental guidance thing, but I was not so sure other movie-goers would appreciate it.

We watched the YouTube trailer for the movie. Where L is concerned, the more information he has about what to expect the better. He will flat out refuse to watch a show/movie that he hasn't seen before, a bit of a catch-22 innit? If we show him some YouTube clips, THEN he will sometimes accept watching a novel program. He seemed onboard. He did seem a little nervous about the bad-guy. I said that I was pretty sure that the good-guys would have to fight the bad-guy, but that the good-guys would win. Please don't let this be a kids movie that doesn't follow the Disney mould!

On the way to the theatre I prepped L on what to expect: a big line to get tickets, a big room with comfy chairs, a huge screen, it would get a little dark and there would be commercials just like on his DVD's (aside - why can we not even get away from commercials when we have BOUGHT the show?!!?), and then it would get really dark and the movie would begin. He was also told that he had to whisper any questions and not be loud. Stoic M got no real preparation...he was just along for the ride.

M was enthralled from the moment the room darkened until the very end of the credits. He watched, leaning forward with anticipation at the dramatic (Jack Black is dramatic??) points.

His older brother on the other hand was fidgeting in his seat after about 20 minutes (coincidentally the length of many of his bedtime DVD selections). He asked if it was a long movie...oops, did I forget to mention how long it would be? I told him it would be about as long as Cars. He settled back in. About 10 minutes later he leaned over and declared "This is longer than Cars".

A while later the dreaded phrase was spoken. "When I say that I am done, I am done." This is what he tells me when he knows he is approaching his limit. He is either getting too scared, or freaked out, or overwhelmed, or something. It means that the end is imminent. In the abstract it is actually pretty cool that he understands his limits and that he has picked up on how I try to transition the kids from one activity to another. He is essentially giving me a verbal cue that he is about to transition.

I tried to assure him that it is almost over, but I had no idea when it will be over. I reassured him that the Panda would win, the bad guy would be vanquished. "Will the bad guy get killed?" Ugh, they have recently been talking about good guys and bad guys getting killed. I think it is the Star Trek Next Gen that they have been watching with their Dad in the afternoons. They don't seem bothered by it, in fact they seem to think it is an appropriate ending for bad guys to get killed. I'm not sure that I like that. But I'm not sure that it isn't actually appropriate for their age, and, lets face it, their sex. Anyhoo, L made it to the credits. He was very antsy while the credits were rolling, so we went to les toilettes while the rest of the gang watched the end of the credits.

L did ask a few questions, but not too many. I whispered a few parental guidance comments to him during the movie as well. He certainly didn't disrupt the other movie goers. Afterwards, M and L both declared that they loved the movie. When asked if it was scary, they replied no. They both thought it was a funny movie, which it was.

Friday, July 18, 2008

I strongly disagree....maybe

I don't know if this is me, or being Canadian, or a more universal problem for women or even all of mankind...but I waffle. I can't make a decision. If I do make a decision then I am instantly second guessing it. What's worse is I waffle online where I am virtually (ha ha) anonymous. I read blogs (more often than I should to be honest) and start to compose my comment. But then I read the other comments with three common outcomes.

First, someone else has already made my point. I could say, "I agree with PP (previous poster)". At first that seemed silly. Now I've learned what validation freaks bloggers are and will sometimes oblige them with a comment that adds nothing to the discourse. It does let the blogger know I read their post, and the PP know that I agree with their comment. After having made a few posts now, and a few comments, I understand that this kind of comment is not as useless as I thought.

The second is that the bulk of the comments are vehemently opposed to my opinion. I had an opinion to voice, but in the face of all that opposition I start to waffle. While I don't mind a good argument, à la "Does Brittney Spears have a responsibility to be a good role model?", I don't want to be the one voice trying to convince dozens of gun-happy posters that maybe guns really do kill people.

The third option is the most prevalent. I have an argument to make, I write it out in the comment box. Then I read it over. It seems a little harsh. How about I edit it a bit. Hmmm, someone might take offense to this phrase, better rephrase that. Now my comment looks a little wishy-washy. Is there any point to posting it? Actually, maybe I'm wrong. What if other people find fault with my logic. What if someone thinks that I am as stupid as I thought Poster #12 was. Maybe I don't feel so strongly about this after all. Cancel post.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Hanging Discipline Out To Dry

Pre-children I strongly defended the right of parents to use corporal punishment with their kids. Offenses such as running out into the street or putting metal objects into electrical outlets seemed to require a swift and unambiguous consequence, not a negotiation. My oldest, L, ran across the street once when he was 2 years old. I caught up to him, hauling a 5 month old M with me, and he got a spanking. More striking (bad choice of word?) was that his fun, easy-going mother was wild with anger and fear, something he had never before witnessed. I don't regret spanking him, but that was the only time I have ever done it. He has been told that climbing up in our 3rd story window that is completely open, no screens, is a "spanking offense", and this warning is all that has been necessary to curb that problem in the bud.

The problem I have is with those smaller discipline infractions: touching something he is not supposed to, throwing toys at his brother, being rude. What is an appropriate discipline for these? In the heat of the moment, spanking, or a quick swat seems quick and effective, but I felt like it was a cop out. I should be able to come up with an appropriate, respectful consequence for misdemeanors. For a while L had a bad habit of turning on the stove. I refused to spank, it didn't seem appropriate. The solution was having him sit on his hands. He sat on his hands any time he touched something he wasn't supposed to. It worked. He laughed a lot while he was sitting there, it was indeed a funny pose. In addition to the laughter was the result that he stopped touching the stove. Effective AND no crying! It never worked for M though. Eventually it didn't work for L either. New technique....standing in the corner. This one wasn't as funny. This one resulted in crying. This one also got results, until recenLinktly. Also recently has the back talk started getting bad.

Enter our latest discipline craze that so far is working like a charm. Both boys LOVE playing on the computer. TVOKids , Bob , and Thomas are their favourite destinations. Every day the request to play on the computer echoed through the apartment. Now comes the clever part....clothespins! I bought 40 clothespins, numbered 1-20 for each L and M and hung them on the wall. They are now entitled to 20 minutes of computer time a day. However, anytime they misbehave, are rude, or ignore a repeated request, they lose a minute. Extremely effective for L! L compares how many minutes he has with M. It is a competition, except that M doesn't really seem to care. L will even say "I have 19 minutes today, I'm a really good boy!".

As a bonus, all I have to do is glance at the pins when I get home and I already know how much support C will need after his day with the boys.

Friday, July 11, 2008

I am that good!

So this post is a little out of date, but I will do it anyway, because I am awesome. On C's birthday I had to leave work early to be with the kids while C got his stitches out (4 stitches as the result of breaking a very dangerous wine glass whilst doing the dishes, as an aside, the female doctor remarked that it was only men who seem to come in with broken wine glass injuries requiring stitches). While C was at the clinic, I made his birthday cake....an angel food cake.....from scratch! It was indeed a bit of a pain in the butt to do, especially with 2 little "helpers" eager to lend a hand. It was just out of the oven when I had to run back into work to sign some paperwork on a paper being submitted (crossing my fingers) and start some cultures. I truly felt like the fictional modern woman, capable of working full-time, while still being able to have meaningful time with the kids, bake from scratch, and nurture my relationship with my husband, all at the same time! Of course it only lasts a moment before part of it, or all of it comes crashing down....but I had my moment! The cake, by the way, was delicious, tasted just like one would find back in Canada.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Let them be.

So, we get together with friends every Friday night for conversation, food, and drinks. I've felt a little bad as a new postdoc in the lab, "U", very much wanted to join in but as she had a 13 month old, coming to our apartment between 8pm and 1am wasn't really feasible. Now it is summer time and we try to hold our weekly meeting at a local park. U mentioned that she and her son would come and I told her that would be great. I said I was sure the L and M would love playing with the little boy. At least that was what would happen in my mind. L and M would be darling little surrogates to the little one, talking and playing gently with him while all the adults chatted and admired what friendly children I have. Of course that didn't happen. They barely even looked at the poor little guy. I tried to coax them in the "right" direction, suggesting playing in the sandbox with him. No dice. There were other, bigger kids in the park and these were English speaking kids to boot. I fretted about it a moment. Then I remembered another blogger mom who wrote about a very similar thing: accepting your kids for who they are, imperfect and wonderful. Who cares if U felt the boys were ignoring her little one. In fact I doubt seriously she gave it a second thought. It was ME who wanted this idyllic scene, the boys were perfectly happy. U and her son also enjoyed themselves. I sat down at the picnic blanket, grabbed a glass of wine and relaxed while L and M ran with the big kids.