Monday, January 31, 2011


I love Mondays.

Why? you ask. Monday afternoons I walk across town during Valerie's nap for my weekly language lesson. I get to be a student. I get to ask all my questions - like how do you talk about snacks, naps, and sharing in Shqip when google translate can't give you a word for any of those?

Mondays Shpresa is here all day and I can practice Shqip with her too, and talk about the kids with an experienced mom/babysitter, and I can run all my errands without the kids on tow. Mondays somebody else cooks dinner for us.

Mondays we get back into our weekly nap and meal routine. I don't have Terry underfoot (much as I missed him while he was away) wanting to go on long spontaneous excursions that disrupt said routine. Mondays, for me, here, are refreshing.

For those who are curious, a word on language.

I do think it's fascinating that there's no word in Shqip for "snack"! You can name a specific food - like "would you like some chips? An apple?" - or talk about having "a little something to eat" (ha një gjë të vogel) but there's not a specific generic term for a little something to eat between meals. I think it says something about cultural habits.

For "share," the language is actually much more precise than English. You can talk about sharing out something in portions (which we sometimes in English call shares), like food or toys. The word is "ndaj" - literally "to separate." Or you can talk about taking turns: "me radhë." If you think about it, we use one word in English - "share" - to mean both things. When I tell Valerie to share her toys, I usually mean she should let Gabriel or another child take a turn playing with them. Or, that she should separate out some toys for them to have and keep, while others remain hers.

(You may be able to tell, we've been working hard with Valerie on the sharing concept and I'm pretty pleased with how she's doing. We praise her extravagantly when she brings Gabriel a toy, and we praise Gabriel too whenever Valerie plays with one of his toys. So now she does things like pick up my keys or something and I'll say "are you playing with Mommy's keys?" and she'll say "Mama share with Val-Val." It's cute.)

The other thing I couldn't get on google translate was how to explain how I feel when I go out without the kids: "I miss them but I feel free." This is how I would express that feeling in Shqip: "Kur unë jam pa femijët, gjithmon më merrmalli per femijët por është më kollai per të ecin shpejt, edhe per të bëj pazarin më shpejt." Or, literally, "when I am without the children, I always miss them but it is easier to walk quickly and to go shopping quickly."

"Free," as in at no cost, is "falas" and freedom in a political sense is "i lirë." But what I wanted to express was that feeling of lightness that we also call "free" in English.

I love languages and I love learning, and I love learning languages. So Mondays are a lot of fun for me here.

Saturday, January 29, 2011


Happy 40th Anniversary to my dear parents! I love you very much.

Friday, January 28, 2011


As far as I can tell, the protest/eulogy this afternoon went off without any major trouble. Looking down on the street below I could see that some shops were closed, but others stayed open, including the produce stand just below our building. I thought I heard a couple shots once, but it was nothing like last weeks volleys. We have plans to see some friends tomorrow morning so it seems like daily life, for us anyway, is going more or less back to normal.


Not too long after we got here, I was trying to describe to somebody why Tirana feels so safe to me. I said " you don't get the feeling that people are watching you," in contrast to many other big cities I've been in. Santa Cruz and Cochabamba, Bolivia, feel fairly safe too, but in the markets and on certain streets you still have to watch out for pickpockets. I don't think you do here.

I mean, people stare at you, but that's not the same thing. It's a gaze of curiosity, as though they saw someone walking down the street with two heads (granted, that's what it looks like when I have Gabriel zipped up in the Bjorn inside my fleece) or a talking bear or something. It's not that furtive, calculating look you get when someone is sizing you up as a potential mark.

Add to that the exuberant friendliness people show towards small children and their caregivers, and it just feels safe. I really don't think we'd ever be the targets as individuals of acts of violence, I mean taking ordinary precautions that you would anywhere.


It is strange that Albania has no experience of violence from soccer hooligans, or from anarchists and extremists attacking the police. There are rumours of extreme Islamists, but nothing serious has happened yet among them. Albania’s only extremism is in its conventional politics, in politics that doesn’t differ much in terms of a political agenda, or in terms of love of bribes, but which still has the ability to mobilize big crowds to fight.

I'm glad this afternoon was largely calm.

Thursday, January 27, 2011


Here's another laundry picture.

It's been really cold the past few days, so I've kept the kids at home. Cold like nose-hair-freezing cold. There's rumor that the protest scheduled for tomorrow could get out of hand quickly, and the US Embassy has announced that they will be closed Friday. Shpresa advised me to stay home and not go out. So we've stocked up on milk and bread and toilet paper and are going to lie low. Hoping that it won't get too crazy and especially for no more loss of life.

Terry gets back Sunday.

The Boy

Top: decked out in handknits from top to toe!
Bottom: Mr. Grabby gets ahold of my glasses! What's really really fun is when he gets ahold of my hair! (Of course by "fun" I mean "not fun at all") ;)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Loves Animals

Valerie is happy that Gabriel shares his "bucket" (car seat) and Bumbo chair with her and her menagerie! (Of course, they both used to be hers!)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


I am ecstatic - yesterday Valerie had a bath with NO CRYING! I do not know how long it has been since such a miracle has occurred - more than a year, for sure.

The usual scenario goes like this: Sunday morning we tell her "it's bath day," and she immediately breaks down into huge, panicked sobs. She doesn't fight us as we take off her clothes and diaper and carry her into the bathroom, but when we put her in the tub she screams and scrambles frantically to get on my lap. I end up getting completely soaked because I have to hold her close to me as I wash her.

Once she started talking it got even more heart-breaking - she'd sob "Val-Val all clean! Val-Val all clean! Dada get towel!"


Once Terry left I didn't have anyone to watch Gabriel while I bathed Valerie - he (Gabriel) gets upset when he hears her crying - so I waited until Monday when Shpresa was here. She witnessed our routine and then this week she had some suggestions. They were things I had tried before, but she encouraged me to try again. One sign that it might work was that the previous evening when I'd been giving Gabriel a bath, Valerie had come in to watch and saw him laughing and splashing and having a great time.
  1. Suggestion the First: get out the bath toys. I'd tried this when we first moved in here, and she'd shown absolutely zero interest in them, so I quit getting them out. However, yesterday I remembered that there were some bathtub toys in our shipment that she hadn't seen in a long time, and she might be excited to see them again. While I was getting those, I also found some stacking cups that I thought she might be ready to play with again too.
  2. Suggestion the Second: get in the bath with her. This was something I'd tried as well when we moved in again and it didn't seem to help, so I'd given up.
  3. Suggestion the Third: very slowly and carefully wet her hair without using the spray nozzle, and making sure not to let the water run into her face. Lately my strategy has been to just get the job done as fast as possible, so I've been using the spray nozzle - which she haaaaaates - I use it because it gets to her scalp through her thick hair better than when I just pour.
Soooooo... I did all those things, and IT WORKED!!!! More than that - a couple times while I was washing her hair she said "Val-Val fun!"

I really and truly thought that rehabilitating bathtime for Valerie would take at least several weeks of patient step-wise coaxing, I never thought we'd do it all in one go. It actually gives me hope for potty-training and much to think about in that vein (yeah, I gave up on the potty training after one emotional and tear-filled morning).

The stacking cups really, really helped. While I was running the bath and getting her towels ready she found the cups and started playing with them in that absorbed, intent way she has with something new that catches her interest. So when the bath was ready, I asked her if she wanted to play with the cups in water, and after an initial "no" and some hesitation, she came with me into the bathroom and started throwing the cups into the water.

WOW that was fun! I let her do that for about 10 minutes, and then I said "I'm going to get into the bathtub" and got undressed and got in myself. I was glad I did because the water was hotter than I thought. So she played some more and I splashed in the water, and then once she started getting her clothes wet, and the water felt like a good temperature to me, I said, "Honey, today is bath day" and she cried a little, but I said "you can play with your toys in the water!" and she let me take off her clothes and even said "take bip [diaper] off" through her tears and once she was in she got absorbed in her play and stopped crying!

After a while I very slowly and gently started washing her hair and got not a peep of protest! I didn't feel like her hair got as clean as it does when I use the sprayer, but that's a small, small price to pay for a tear-less bath.

When the water started to feel chilly I said "time to get out" and she stood up and we got out and went and dried off and got dressed and she was laughing and smiling and happy the whole time and I am just so thankful for Shpresa who helps me be a better mother.

After the protest

Today dawned bright and sunny, if cold - the mountains around Tirana are white with snow - so we went for a walk this morning. Politically things have been quiet this week; supposedly there are going to be protests and counter-protests on Friday and Saturday but for the moment life goes on more or less as usual.

As we neared the big pyramid-shaped monument where the heart of last week's protest took place I was thinking that everything looked exactly the same to me, until I saw the flowers and burnt ends of candles heaped around one corner where, I presume, the three protesters were killed. That was quite sobering. Then I noticed the public works men replacing paving stones that had been dug up to throw at the police. All along the boulevard were spots where stones were missing; cubical rocks just the size to fit into your palm.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Friday, January 21, 2011

recent events in Tirana

First of all, I am regretting my somewhat flippant tone in the last post as I've learned that three people died in the protest this afternoon and many more were hospitalized with injuries.

Today was the first rainy day we've had in a while, so I didn't plan for us to leave the house at all. But then Valerie didn't take a nap, so after Gabriel woke up I decided we should go out because it was just getting to be a loooong day indoors.

The first thing I noticed was that most of the shops on Myslym Shyri were closed - at 4 p.m. on a Friday, that seemed kind of odd - but then I remembered that the nearby open-air market closes down at 4 on Fridays (I think it's a Muslim thing? but I'm not sure), although I couldn't remember if this was the norm on Myslym Shyri, which is mostly upscale boutiques. As I was mulling over this question, noting which shops were still open and which closed, we got to the corner of Parku Rinia, the first of the 3 parks we generally visit.

The second thing I noticed was the cluster of 7-8 policemen hanging out on the corner by a parked police car.

The third thing I noticed, as we crossed the street into the park, was the dull roar of a crowd. Football? I thought. But then I smelled the smoke, and then I saw it - black plumes rising from further down the main boulevard (basically, here).

All of a sudden I remembered that Shpresa told me yesterday there was going to be an anti-government protest today, because of corruption. A videotape had come out recently documenting someone high up in government either offering or accepting a bribe (Montesinos, anyone?).

There were a lot of people around, and I have to admit to a little curiosity. Instead of going to the coffeeshop we usually go to, or crossing diagonally towards the other parks (which would have taken us straight into the roaring crowd), I took a parallel path that gave me a better vantage point without going too close. I noticed there were NO other children in view, which is totally not normal for this park. And there seemed to be a decided gender imbalance weighted towards the male. But there were a lot of people just hanging out on park benches relaxing and the vibe where we were wasn't one of danger or emergency.

Well, we got to the far corner of the park, and I asked a woman standing there watching the commotion what was going on. She shrugged: "Demonstration." Why, I asked? "Socialists," she said. Then I heard what sounded like gunshots (all along there were booming noises like fireworks, which we hear quite frequently here), and I thought about tear gas and figured it was high time to get my kids home. I don't think we were close enough to get tear gassed but these things can be unpredictable.

So we turned around and went back. Valerie wanted to run across the grass and play, but it was muddy, and I pointed out the big crowd of people and said "they're having a very noisy party over there, let's go home." She was fine with that (she's not really a big fan of parties anyway).

On the way home I stopped at the grocery store for onions and a few other things and everything seemed normal there, although we could hear the sound of gunshots (or fireworks, it was hard to tell at the time what it was, although from news reports I've been reading I know now it was guns).

When I got home, two of Terry's coworkers called me to check that I was ok and to recommend that we stay home tonight. That was nice.

Here's a link to the AP article. I feel sick looking at the pictures; this is where we go walking almost every day.


A bit TOO much excitement in Tirana this afternoon...

We've got plenty of water, diapers, and spaghetti in the house so are planning to hunker down in our bunker until things calm down.

After the kids go to sleep I'll tell you all about how we almost walked into the protest on our afternoon walk.

Bedtime story

Some time ago Valerie got tired of my entire repertoire of lullabies, so I tried a story: The Three Bears seemed pretty innocuous. No antiquated princess stuff or macabre details - although I did discover some inadvertent gender socialization. She LOVES it, and the telling of the story has evolved into an intricate ritual, wherein a single misstep evokes an insistent "No no!"

As soon as we announce that it's bedtime, she runs to her room saying "Mama sing three bears, Daddy sing three bears!"

Here is Mama's version (Daddy's is a kinder gentler version with no sadness or scariness involved), with Val's interjections:

M: Once upon a time there were three bears. They lived in a little house in the forest.
V: Three bears house forest!
M: One day they decided to go for a walk
V: Mama Bear push stroller! Push Baby Bear stroller!
M: While they were out, a little girl came to their house.
V: No home, inside anyway
M: Nobody was home, but she went inside anyway.
V: Saw three chairs
M: She saw three chairs: a big one, a medium, and a small one. She sat down in the big chair and said "This chair is too tall!" She sat down in the medium chair and said "this chair is too short!" She sat down in the little baby chair" -
V: Val-Val's green chair!
M: A little green chair just like Val-Val's, and she sat down so hard she broke it!
V: Dada Bear fix chair!
M: Yes, Daddy bear will fix the chair.

(aside: I noticed after 1 or 2 tellings that I'd inadvertently introduced all kinds of gender constructs that I'm not sure I approve of. See if you can spot them.)

M: Then she went into the kitchen and saw three bowls of cereal.

(aside: she doesn't know what porridge is but eats cereal on a regular basis.)

V: Eat food!
M: She took a bite from the big bowl and said "this cereal is too hot!" She took a bite from the medium bowl and said "this cereal is too cold!" She took a bite from the little baby bowl and said "this cereal is just right!" It tasted so good, she ate it all up!
V: Baby's cereal gone! Baby Bear sad! Baby bear do?
M: What's Baby Bear going to do?
V: Mama Bear do?
M: What's Mama Bear going to do?
V: Dada Bear do?
M: What's Daddy Bear going to do?
V: Eat food! Mama Bear share Baby Bear!
M: Then the little girl went upstairs. She saw three beds.
V: Val-Val's bed!
M: Yes, this is Val-Val's bed. She lay down in the big bed and said "this bed is too hard!" She lay down in the medium bed and said "This bed is too soft!" She lay down on the baby bed and said "this bed is just right!" And it felt so comfy, she fell asleep!
[Valerie lies face down in her "nap" pose]
V: Then!
M: Just then, the three bears came home!
V: Walk into room [I think this phrase is from Daddy's version]
M: Daddy Bear said "someone's been sitting in my chair." Mama Bear said "Someone's been sitting in my chair. Baby bear said "someone's been sitting in my chair, and broke it!"

[I'll skip the next bit since it reiterates the previous parallel section, almost word for word]

Oh - except that every time Daddy Bear says "My," Valerie says "My" in a loud swooping tone, I don't know how to describe it. Then she whispers "Shhh, Val-Val, no scream!" It's hilarious.

M:... Baby Bear said "someone's been sleeping in my bed, and there she is!"
V: Woke up!
M: The little girl woke up! She saw the three bears looking at her. Then she jumped out the window and ran away. The end.

[Daddy's version has them having a nice visit because they were friends.]

V: Sing Three Bears again, one more time!

Thursday, January 20, 2011


Here are some cute things Valerie has been saying/doing:

1. One morning I was making Gabriel laugh hysterically by going "Hoom! Hoom!" to him (it's Albanian for "woof"), and all the rest of the day Valerie kept saying "Gabriel ha-ha again, one more time" (holding up one finger). And then at bedtime, after he had gone to sleep she said "Gabriel ha-ha again," and I said "sweetie, I can't make him laugh, he's sleeping," and about fifteen minutes later she said "Ha-ha sleep, take nap." (Except she says "take map.")

2. Speaking of "woof," anyone remember this book? So Valerie is "reading" it now, only in her version, it goes: "one dog: woof. Two dog: woof. Three dog: woof." Etc. to ten. She'll also "read" a lot of other favorite books, basically reciting what I read to her (often an edited down version if it's a very wordy book) - same intonations and everything.

3. Speaking of "one more time," apparently I have used this phrase a lot when she's asked for xyz "again," I'll concede "ok, one more time." She uses it especially at bedtime: "Mama sing Three Bears one more time." (Favorite bedtime story of the moment - I'm working on a transcript for another post.) Only now she's started saying "ten more times," while holding up three fingers. So cute.

3. The day after Terry left, she said "Dada home soon," and I said "Honey, Daddy went on a long trip. He will be back in two weeks." She said "Dada airplane just like Hop-Hop." (Context: Hop-Hop is a bunny who went on a long trip in an airplane - I made up the story for her before we came here, and after we came made it into a little book with pictures of all the things Hop-Hop likes to do, which, coincidentally, are all the same things Valerie likes to do!)

4. And one more: I finally gave in to her longing gaze and bought her a toy at the park - a wheeled, winged, horse on a stick. The toddler holds one end of the stick and pushes the horse along; the turning of the wheels makes the wings flap. She walked all around the park for about 45 minutes pushing the thing before we went home, and pushed it along even in the stroller. But when we were about a block from home, she got out of the stroller, said "bye-bye hisadou," very carefully propped the horse up on some steps, and then came back to the stroller. I was so surprised, but I think she must have thought it belonged outside and didn't realize it belongs to us now and we could take it home! I picked it up and brought it home with us and now she wants to take it every time we go out, which is fine with me :-)

5. Speaking of "Hisadidou" (that, I have realized, is the plural of "hisadou") - here are some other fun words she's produced:
- Mashadou (mushroom)
- Bathadin (dolphin)
- gler (caterpillar)
Another funny thing she does is to over-enunciate the final consonant on words that end in p, t, or k, like "hot" is "hot-t-t," etc.

So, we're holding up ok. I predicted to myself that it would take us about 5 days to find our equilibrium after Terry left, and behold today does feel like we're back to normal, more or less. At naptime, instead of clinging to me frantically, Valerie said "Mama go other room, nurse Gabriel," after just two rounds of Three Bears and the Alphabet song. So I left her and she fell asleep! Yay! Also, the past three nights she has slept through without waking up. This was very welcome since the second night after Terry left she woke up at midnight and didn't go to sleep again (and neither did I) until FIVE A.M. Still digging myself out from under that sleep debt.

Gabriel seems to be teething again though. He's really enjoying his rice cereal, mushed pears, bananas, and avocado (although it turns his poop very very green). I think next we'll add potato. I'm sad we can't get sweet potato here.

Well I'll wrap it up here since her highness is due to wake up soon from her nap. More when I have a chance.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Checking in

Terry left on Saturday for a 2-week trip to Mongolia; it was a rough parting from Valerie as she was just heading towards nap time when he left. He'll be back on Sunday the 31st.

Meanwhile, the days have been sunny and relatively warm so we've been going outside as much as we can in between Gabriel's naps. He's settled (more or less) into a 3-nap-a-day pattern and is sleeping somewhat better at night, although he also seems to be working on his top teeth now - drooly and cranky.

We had his 6-month check-up last week; he's grown about 4 centimeters (about 2 inches? for a total of I think 27 inches) but hasn't gained much weight, although here they weigh the babies fully dressed so it's hard to say how accurate it is. Maybe a pound in 2 months (total 8.5 kilos or so). So I'm not in a hurry to night wean. I had the impression that he felt leaner and longer so this was my proof.

Well Val wants me to play with her so that's all you get for today :-)

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The kids

In lieu of an actual post, here are some pictures of the kids: Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

More Drakulic

"Individualism is flourishing in one respect in Eastern Europe: It is visible only in the ruthless accumulation of capital. Perhaps a chance to make money, a chance those people never had before, is indeed a condition to developing the first-person singular. Why, then, have I used 'we' and 'us' so frequently in this book? Because a common denominator is still discernible, and still connects us all, often against our will. It is not only our communist past, but also the way we would like to escape from it, the direction in which we want to go. It's our longing for Europe and all that it stand for.
Or, rather, what we imagine Europe stands for. I believe you can see this common denominator if you take a close look at the price of bananas, at our bad teeth and public toilets, or at our yards on the outskirts of big cities. Indeed, you can see it merely by taking a walk on any boulevard in any capital, be it Tirana or Budapest, Prague or Warsaw. Somewhere there will be a hotel, a cinema, a bar, a restaurant, a cafe or a simple hole in the wall, named, for our desire, Europe."

Drakulic, Slavenka. 1996. Cafe Europa: Life After Communism. New York: Penguin. Pp. 4-5.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Turkish Coffee

Today I received instructions on how to make turkish coffee; it's a very popular drink here. The coffee is ground very, very fine and prepared in a long-handled pot that holds enough for two-four espresso-sized servings. I've often seen women walking across the street balancing a tray bearing several tiny cups and saucers, or just carrying the long-handled pot down to another shop for someone.

On Christmas weekend, I was walking through Parku Rinia and saw a middle-aged man relaxing on a bench with a bathroom scales at his feet. You can find these in all the parks, and pay a few coins to find out your weight. A stout woman with graying hair was next to him, pouring their afternoon coffee into little cups. She had a small cushion to sit on, a tablecloth to go under the tray, and maybe I imagined the little plate with cake on it but regardless it was a lovely little scene of domesticity on a sunny afternoon.

Saturday, January 08, 2011


I've been reading a book that was given to me before we came, titled How We Survived Communism and Even Laughed, by Slavenka Drakulic (Harper Collins, 1991). Drakulic is a Croatian journalist; in this book she reflects on the transition from communist totalitarianism to free market democracy, particularly for women. Although Croatia was part of Yugoslavia and politically separate from Albania, a lot of the things she describes apply equally well here. I tried to tell Shpresa about the book (she would have been in her early 20s when the transition happened here); she well recalls the food shortages and other problems people experienced in their daily lives.

One passage in particular caught my attention because it still applies here, from the chapter on laundry - Drakulic could have been describing Tirana in 2010:

She lives on the third floor, and because she doesn't have a balcony to hang her clothes on, she has a device that I've seen so many times, on so many windows: two metal tubes fixed either under the window or on the window frame itself, with rows of lines between. The laundry hangs above the sidewalk water dripping on the heads of passers-by.... This, I think, looking down from Blaga's window in Sofia, is what makes our cities so specific, so unique - balcony dryers....

Perhaps you don't notice it at first, in the center of the city and on the main streets. But as soon as you enter the side streets, hanging clothes flutter like flags of another state, announcing that you are entering a different, female territory. Clothes dangle on the wind under the windows, on balconies and terraces, in backyards, in narrow streets stretched between houses, even high up on skyscrapers. Socks, pants, shirts, diapers, dresses, aprons, handkerchiefs, slips - they make a foreign city all of a sudden look intimate, friendly, familiar to me. (pp. 51-52)
It's something I noticed right away here, but that soon began to fade into the background. Whereas in the US there are homeowner's associations that ban line drying clothes in the front yard - or at all - here it's just part of the legacy of privation. People just didn't have dryers, and very few had washing machines. So it's built now as part of how you do your laundry. (Most have washers now so the heavy work at least is done by machine.) What struck me about it here was that even the most posh apartment buildings facing major upscale boulevards have lines of laundry hanging out for all the world to see. I kind of like it.

More Pictures: Sibling Rivalry/Adoration

Actually, I think she says his name more like "Blayblrl." Or sometimes "Glrayblrl."
Either way, what she really wants here is ALL the pillows. She understands about sharing but that doesn't mean it comes easily!
Gabriel is happiest when he can watch Valerie doing stuff. Oh, and since we moved here I've lost a total of six of his socks... what you see on the ground below the stroller is a doll's onesie I wrapped around his foot to keep it a little warmer after I noticed we were down a sock again.
Someday their relationship will be more reciprocal! But I still think they're cute together :-)

Friday, January 07, 2011


I just realized I should have put these in inverse order: play, food, bath, and bed (although we're not co-sleeping) :-) Oh - and the post title? is how Valerie pronounces "Gabriel."

Love you Little Dude!

Six Months!

(Hi Aunt Cathie! Look what came in our shipment!!) :-)

Gabriel is 6 months old today!

I have to say, I LOVE this age. I love how squishy and soft Gabriel is, how cuddly and happy. His bright eyes are big and round, taking in everything. He LOVES to watch Valerie running around doing things, and will sometimes fuss when he can't see her! Shpresa commented today that when he learns to walk, she'd better look out! He's going to be after her pulling her long hair! A couple evenings ago the three of us were on Valerie's bed playing "book house" and I tickled her feet; her giggle prompted Gabriel to absolutely shriek with delighted laughter, which prompted me to do everything I could to make Valerie laugh again, just to hear him! It was a perfect moment.

He's rolling over well, and starting to show interest in sitting up. He loves to eat and will grab the spoon with both hands and gnaw on it while I'm feeding him. His first couple "meals," he would fuss and squawk whenever we slowed down the shoveling of the rice cereal into his mouth! (Not that he eats very much - but he really does seem to enjoy it.) He perks up when I put him in the car seat (we have no high chair) to feed him and he hears the spoon clinking against the cup as I mix up the rice cereal.

Despite his gregarious nature, he is also showing a strong preference for Mama, which while flattering can be a little inconvenient! But it's developmentally appropriate too. This is when separation anxiety starts to kick in.

His second tooth came in yesterday; he was fussy and feverish and didn't nap very well. He's been drooling and biting things for two months now, so I'm glad that we finally have some kind of resolution there.

Next week we'll go in for a weigh-in and well child visit and find out how much this bruiser has grown in two months!

More Christmas Pictures

Better late than never, eh?
Valerie, in classic introvert mode, was fascinated by the pool at the church Christmas party we attended Christmas Day.
Anyone recognize this hat? On our way to the Christmas party.
Christmas morning breaking open our shipment! Valerie, our animal lover, was very excited about all the Noah's Ark stuff!
Terry trying out one of Gabriel's five toys; Gabriel tries out the Bumbo chair.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Gezuar Vitin e Ri!

Wow, my first post of 2011 - seems like I should say something profound. Alas my brain cells don't seem to be up to it at the moment.

Here we are the day after Christmas, just before going to church (which is why Valerie's and my hair is all wet).

Sorry I haven't been posting for a while; we are still in a state of chronic sleep deprivation and seem to have come down with a collective cold/sinus/sore throat kind of thing. And Gabriel's first tooth seems to have made its definitive debut after flirting with us for almost 6 weeks! Poor little guy was absolutely miserable yesterday, with a fever, watery eyes and runny nose. He's doing better today though.

We're thinking of moving and have looked at a couple different places, all of which have their various pros and cons. We like our place but there are three strong counts against it: 1) we'd like a third bedroom so Gabriel can have his own room. At the moment Terry and I are dragging our mattress out to the living room every evening so that every little noise he makes doesn't wake me up. 2) There is constant construction noise going on from renovation projects on the 9th and 2nd floors of our building; it reverberates like crazy through the building and is very annoying. 3) Most problematic is the leaking roof in Valerie's room - the dripping water isn't as big a deal, though, as the spreading mold and flaking paint. We had to move her bed so the paint wouldn't drift down over it all night.

We've seen some promising options - one is just 2 blocks from our favorite park! - but haven't quite made a decision yet. It's always hard to anticipate what, er, challenges might emerge after moving that we can't quite envision yet. And moving itself is so stressful. But we're hoping it will be worth it to eliminate the three problems listed above.

On another topic altogether, my Peruvian/Japanese/American relatives who were unable to attend my grandmother's funeral and memorial service in Peru all got together for a virtual reunion on skype yesterday. It was really nice to share memories of Abuelita and hear voices of loved ones I haven't seen in years (over 15 years, some of them). It was a little distracting with the kids needing my attention at the same time but worth it. Again - I wish I had something more profound to say but it's only 7 p.m. here and I'm ready to fall asleep. Guess I'll sign off for now and hope the next post will be more interesting :-)