Sunday, July 21, 2013

a very green day

Yesterday, we had errands to run. We took all three kids to Hornbach, very similar to Home Depot, to get a few things, so we could finish some house projects. Though I can laugh now, I still cannot believe it happened.

Into Hornbach we go. Brian and I split up to maximize time. Brian asks me to work on getting paint, and he goes in search of caulk and possibly grout. Our plan is to paint our kitchen chairs and stools. I make a few rounds through the paint section. Brian has the cart and Cece, and I have the boys in the stroller. I run into Brian and Cece. We're discussing my findings. Then, Brian takes Alex in the stroller, and I take the cart which now has Gabe. Since Brian had the cart previously, I'm not sure what all is in there.

The paint department worker comes to me and asks me what I need, in Czech of course. Here goes! Thanks to my dad, I know that I need a good primer (he recommends Kilz, but I'm going to have a hard time translating that). I proceed to explain with some hand motions that I plan to paint chairs. He walks me around the paint section and shows me some options. I'm understanding most of what he's saying, and I'm feeling pretty good. I show him a color option that I'm interested in, and he tells me that he can mix it using a paint that would work well on wood (and says it's safe for kids). Great. I just need to pick the color. So, I push Gabe to the paint counter and park the cart. Cece is standing by Gabe. I'm working hard to understand more of what the guy is telling me while I'm trying to choose the right color.

Out of the corner of my eye, I can see that Gabe is holding some kind of bucket. I assume he's pulled it out of the cart and that it's something that Brian needs (possibly some kind of grout). I look back at my paint colors. Then, suddenly, the bucket slips out of Gabe's hand. Now, everything happens in slow motion. At the very same time that the bucket is falling, Brian is pushing Alex around the corner toward the cart. I see green paint splatter all over the floor! After the green paint hits the floor, it splatters all over Alex, the stroller, and Brian! I freeze. My brain cannot quite comprehend what has just happened. The paint department worker says a Czech phrase that unfortunately I understand completely!

Then, Alex starts crying. I go over to him to try to comfort him as Brian is asking me a lot of questions. "How did he get this paint?" I go from trying to tell Alex everything is going to be okay, to telling Brian that I have no idea where Gabe got the paint. A kind Czech women hands me five tissues. I say thank you (in Czech) and kind of look at the tissues and then at all the paint.

Brian says he's going to take Alex to the bathroom. I start saying I'm sorry in every possible way I know how (in Czech there are a few ways, and I still don't always know the best one to use when). I am trying to be helpful so I move the cart to try to block other customers from stepping in the paint. The paint guy has called for others to come clean up the mess; when they all arrive, I apologize again. They are very nice. One worker asks Cece what happened. Cece very clearly says in Czech, "my brother did it!"

Now, the painter man is asking me which color I want and how much. I have no idea. I'm standing next to a puddle of green paint, and I haven't had time to look very closely at the paint swatches, but I need to decide and get out of there. So, I choose a color and an amount. He mixes the paint. I apologize again, but then I remember that I still need varnish. The paint guy keeps helping me until I have everything I need. Seriously, he was so nice (he didn't smile, mind you, but he was nice).

Finally, I'm out of the paint department, and I go to find Brian and Alex. As Cece, Gabe, and I approach the Hornbach restrooms, we can hear crying. Oh, dear! Cece tells Brian that we are here to help. After a few minutes, he opens up the door, and there's Alex shirtless and dripping wet. His hair is slightly green. I ask him what happened, and he starts showing me all the paint. We clean him up as best we can and put his shirt back on.

On the way out of the store, Gabe, Alex, and I have a conversation. We like to verbally process things in our family.

Unfortunately, I think these clothes will always be green. What a day!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

a frightening Czech lesson

I'm spending some dedicated time this summer learning Czech. We've lived here for three years, and as I wrote a few weeks ago, I've got to learn this language. I often describe myself as a turtle when it comes to learning Czech. I'm going slowly, but I keep moving forward. Since we moved here, I've been pretty faithful about going to Czech lessons once a week. However, this summer, for several weeks, I'm going four times a week. I'm not expecting to be speaking Czech fluently by the end of the summer, but hopefully, I'll get over a hump. That is if I don't get scared half-to-death before then.

Today, during my lesson, I had to use the bathroom. I even know how to say that in Czech (Musim jit na zachod). So, I went downstairs and went into this little bathroom. One interesting thing about most Czech houses is that they don't have screens on the window. As you can see this bathroom window is wide open.

Well . . . I'm sitting there on the zachod, and all the sudden, I see something out of the corner of my eye. You know how your brain doesn't always catch up to your reaction. An animal is crawling through the window. It turns out to be my tutor's cat, but it scares me so much, I scream. (Here's where I could insert a lot of great jokes about bodily functions and being scared; I was in the right place at the right time, I guess.)

When I got back upstairs, I had to then explain myself. The good thing is that learned the phrase, lekla jsem se, which means, I was frightened! Talk about experiential learning!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

happy birthday America

The 4th of July is one of my favorite holidays. I have fond memories of Minnesota lakes, strawberries, family, friends, and the Brainerd High School hill where we used to watch the fireworks. Not being in Minnesota on the 4th of July, let alone not being in America, makes me a little sad. However, I was determined that we would celebrate anyway in our backyard here in Czech. I had a little help from some dear friends. Connie wrote about it. Check out her post. I've mentioned Connie before; she blogs regularly about life here as a missionary in the Czech Republic. I highly recommend her blog!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

logical parenting #fail number 2

Awhile ago, I watched my cousin ask her toddler son if he wanted to leave now or in two minutes. I was a bit skeptical because I doubted he really understood how long two minutes was. He said, "two minutes." And, then a few minutes later she told him it was time to go, and there was relatively little drama about leaving. I now use this strategy with my toddler twins, and it works like a charm. "Gabe, do you want to get out of the shower now or in two minutes?" He sticks his thumb and finger up (the European two) and mumbles something that only Brian, Cece, and I would recognize as two minutes. Then, when it's time to get out, there's relatively little drama about it.

I found out that my cousin got her brilliant technique from a Love and Logic Parenting seminar. Let me qualify this by saying that I have not attended such a seminar, and I've never read a Love and Logic parenting book. I have only looked over their website and gleaned a few ideas from my cousin. I'm not a good test-case! However, what I liked about what I heard is that you are trying to instill responsibility in your child and teach them how to make choices. Learning that good choices reap good consequences and bad choices reap bad consequences.

Well, the first time I attempted to be a logical parent, the twins were six months old, and Cece was almost three. Let me qualify this next part by saying that my brain had not fully recovered from the delivery of twins. (I'm sure there is solid scientific research out there about loosing brain cells while pregnant with twins, delivering them, and keeping them alive the first year of their lives!) Cece had been cutting and gluing on the table and her craft basket was still on top of the table with papers strewn about. I said so brilliantly, "Cece, you have a problem. I need to feed the boys, and your stuff is all over the table. What are you going to do about it?" Cece responded, "I'll clean it up later." I tried again, "Cece, you have a problem. Your stuff is all over the table, and I need to feed the boys RIGHT NOW. What are you going to do about it?" Cece shrugged, "I'll clean it up in a little bit; I'm busy right now." My next response, "Cece, if you don't clean this up right now, I will . . . ." She got up right away and cleaned off the table. Brian later explained to me so brilliantly that it was my problem not hers! (logical parenting #fail number 1)

Flash forward a few years, and I am still trying to be a logical parent. Cece has been potty trained for quite some time, but she still wets the bed at night and during her naps sometimes. I am beyond tired of a cry that comes in the middle of the night, "Mommy, I peed". I stumble out of bed, pull wet clothes off of a groggy child, push her in the direction of the bathroom, whip off her sheets, open her closet, get some blankets out, throw them on the bed, help the groggy child put on clean pjs, maybe give her a kiss, and stumble back to bed. I'm not a fan.

We have tried a lot of incentives to prevent the middle of the night peeing of the bed, even chocolate milk for breakfast. Well. I don't feel good about that--chocolate milk for breakfast?! I mean, really! And, it's not a logical consequence. And, it wasn't working very consistently.

So, I came up with a brilliant plan. Brian and I sat Cece down and said, "Okay, Cece, you are a big girl, so if you do wet the bed, then you need to handle it like a big girl. That means, you don't yell for Mommy. Just get up, take your wet pjs off, pull your wet sheets off your bed, get the blankets out of your closet, go to the bathroom, and go back to bed. Then, the next day, you'll need to wash your sheets and put them back on your bed." He response was, "I don't know how to put the sheets on my bed." I so logically responded with, "I'll teach you." And, we did; Brian and I showed her twice how to put her sheets on.

About a week ago, I heard some stirring in her room. I heard the tugging of linen, and then, I saw her putting the wet sheets outside her door. A few minutes later, I saw her with clean pjs on dragging her wet sheets to laundry room. She tip-towed into my room and said quietly, "Mommy, just so you know, I wet the bed; the sheets are in the laundry room." I was SHOCKED! She handled it so well. I was so proud--of her and of myself. Well, pride cometh before the fall.

A few nights ago, Brian was tucking her into bed, and he said, "Now remember, if you wet the bed, you are going to have to take your sheets off all by yourself, put the blankets on your bed, wash your sheets, and put them back on your bed. It will be such a pain." Cece goes, "But, Daddy, I like doing all that stuff!" (logical parenting #fail number 2)

The truth is though, she's wetting the bed less, and we don't have to deal with it. I guess it's not a complete #fail! Look at her waving at me, it's like she's saying, "Momma, you're going to have to get your game on because I'm a smart girl!" And, I love her for that!