Monday, February 28, 2011

Grand Tour Part II

Our balcony faces west; this is what we see looking towards the south.

I enjoy glimpses of everyday life on the street corner below. The red brick building on the corner opposite is a Pastiçeri - chock full of biscuits, cookies, and other lovely sweet baked goods. This is roughly where I was standing when I took the photo of our building in the previous post.

Looking straight west

The actual balcony, looking the same direction as the first photo up top.

Next up: the inside!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Grand Tour Part I

As usual, I'm getting a little bit frustrated with Blogger and how difficult it is (for me anyway) to arrange the layout of photos the way I would like to. Oh well.

Here I give you the approach to our building: I walked by these signs a dozen times before I ever actually saw them, when I came towards the street from a different direction. This is where we turn off the main avenue onto our street. We walk past this lady selling things every day.

This is the entrance to our building (I wanted it to be the last picture but whatever):

The steps are shorter and fewer than at the last place, and I can actually lower Valerie all the way down in the stroller if she doesn't feel like getting out and walking (although she is generally cooperative about that).

And here is a shot of the building - we are on the 4th floor of the mint green building. The street is very quiet, which kind of makes up for having neighbors upstairs with the walking around and piano playing and whatnot. In the next post I'll have a photo of the street, looking down from the balcony.
Ok I should go pay attention to my kids again now - but wanted to introduce you all to our new place! At least from the outside!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Coming soon: grand tour

I'm going to do a grand tour of the new place, but bear with me while I get some photos downloaded! Meanwhile we have internet now - yay! Gabriel seems to be a little sick again - stuffy nose and cranky - sigh. Going to bed now.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


We are in process of moving to the new apartment so all is a bit topsy-turvy. Regular posting will resume once we get internet set up there (I'm visiting the old homestead briefly this morning!)


Friday, February 18, 2011

Moving soon

Well, we still have internet so I'm not sure what was going on the other day.
Oh, this picture is of the pallati (apartment building) we live in now.


Gabriel is all better now, I think. Valerie is still coughing but slept 11 hours straight last night. Yay!


We might move this weekend. We're definitely going to move, just not sure exactly when. Terry has a 2-week evaluation in Elbasan, about 1.5 hours from Tirana, the first two weeks in March. We'll probably go with him for part of the time at least. So I'm trying to think when would be the best time to move the kids over to the new place taking that trip into consideration.

We decided on an apartment about 15 minutes' walk from this one; it's a great location and a newer building. We'll be on the 4th floor so no leaky roof. The view is nowhere near as spectacular but the street is very quiet so that's nice. We've taken Valerie over to play a number of times and have started moving some of our stuff over little by little (it's been unoccupied for about a month - the previous tenants were missionaries at the church we attend here so that's how we found out about it). She loves playing there and has learned to refer to it as the "new house."

I'm not really looking forward to moving but I am looking forward to not sharing our bedroom with Gabriel - it just gets tricky and I'm tired of it.

The landlord here is very sad we're leaving; apparently Americans have a reputation here for being good tenants. The downside of that is getting a lot of pressure from potential landlords. Our new landlord actually bought brand new bedding specifically for Gabriel and Valerie (Barbie Princesses for V, Cars and Spiderman for G), and replaced the glass-topped coffee table with a sturdy wooden one in anticipation of toddlers running around and climbing on things - before we made a commitment to take the place.

It will probably take us a little while to get internet set up in the new place, so once again I'm not sure how much I'll be online once that happens. I wish we could just add another bedroom to this apartment - and fix the leaky roof, of course. I'm getting all sentimental about it since it was our first home in Albania. Ah, the memories...! All of... five months ago! I may be overdoing the nostalgia just a little bit...! ( well as the elipses... oh well...!)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


Our internet connection was down all day today; I thought it was gone for good since it's provided by the Internet Cafe downstairs which is closing. I was surprised when Terry pulled it up tonight and we were online again. I'm not sure what will happen the rest of the week, but if you don't hear from me that's probably why!

comparisons 5: backpack

Here's Valerie at about 6 months (?), 14 months, and33 months in the Kelty backpack we bought on consignment. She loves it now although Terry felt a bit self-conscious carrying her around Tirana in it the one day we tried it out!

Monday, February 14, 2011


My sickies - we are still feeling pretty rotten, especially Terry and Valerie. Trying to get enough sleep and stay on an even keel emotionally. Thankfully it's Monday, although I skipped my Shqip lesson to stay home with V. She is eating next to nothing but at least she napped well today. I actually got a bunch of work done on dissertation stuff. Terry went to work on the premise that it's more restful than staying home to help with the kids!

The rest of this is a post I was working on in draft form; I'm sure I'll have more to add to it shortly!

I was wondering what Valerie would pick up from me next that I say all the time without realizing it. Here are some recent revelations:
  • "Shhhh Val-Val" - which she says right after shrieking, nearly every time, sometimes followed by "no gleam [scream]".
  • "Okay" (pronounced "ow-key")
  • "Thanks, Val-Val!"
It's kind of hilarious when Valerie mis-hears something - or re-interprets a new word within her own lexicon. E.g.:
  • On her Curious George video when they go into space, she touches her cheek and says "Val-Val's face!"
  • In her Itsy Bitsy Spider book when one of the spiders skips up the waterspout, she slips off the couch.
  • In the same book, when one of the spiders is on a skate-board weaving in and out, she starts waving her hand. (She likes acting out the story.)
Oh, Happy Valentine's Day, everybody! I forgot to mention last week on Gabriel's 7-month post that he has now lived in Albania for TWICE as long as he did in the US! Diali është Shqiptar!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Sitting Baby

Gabriel's been a little slower than Valerie to sit up on his own, possibly because he spends a lot of time rolling around on the rug or hanging out in the Bjorn. Someone here offered us their walker but we haven't figured out the logistics of getting it from their place to ours yet. But a couple days ago I hit on the idea of sticking him in the laundry basket - he loved it! It was great sitting practice; after his third nap today, all of a sudden he did it - sat up on my lap for a really long time with great balance.

He's still got a bit of a cough but his affect and appetite are back to normal. Which is nice, since the rest of us are now miserably sick. Poor Valerie threw up this afternoon after four hours of NOT napping, and then promptly fell asleep (after we cleaned her up). It's totally off schedule but I'm kind of thinking (hoping, praying) she's going to segue right into her night sleep since she didn't have a nap yesterday afternoon and slept very poorly last night as well.

Terry and I are both feeling pretty wretched ourselves but there's no rest to be had when the little ones aren't feeling well. We're really, really looking forward to the day when we're all back to normal.

I keep replaying the scene in my mind - two weeks ago at church, Gabriel was lying in the pack-n-play in the nursery when a little boy about 3 years old leaned in and said "that's a big baby!" and then promptly coughed right into his face. I could hear the rattle of the phlegm in the boy's throat and thought "oh boy, well, I guess we'll all catch colds in a few days." Little did I know just how rotten this particular cold virus was going to be.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

comparisons 4: white hat

Here's some cute to tide you over til I actually write something substantive. Above is Gabriel at Christmastime, below is Valerie 2 years ago at Christmastime. I made the hat for V sort of improvising the pattern as I went along. It's almost too small for Gabriel already!

Monday, February 07, 2011

7 months!

Gabriel is 7 months old today! He's in the grabby stage now, where he just wants to get his hands on whatever he can - and then it goes straight into his mouth. He gets really frustrated when he sees something he wants - usually when he's on his tummy on the rug - and it's just out of reach. He can cover a lot of distance rolling but he just wants to crawl! He's got a few months to go before that, though, considering he's not sitting up on his own yet. But he pushes himself up on his arms, lifting his chest and sometimes even his tummy off the floor. He loves it when we hold him up on his feet and his legs seem very strong.

He's still little Mr. Social - he gets really happy when he sees people around and just stares at Valerie whatever she's doing. He's full of smiles and dimples and is perhaps cutest when he tucks his head into my shoulder and then peeks out with a smile at somebody. He's ticklish, too, and it's soooo much fun to make him laugh!

He likes food: he's eating avocado, pear, rice cereal, bananas, and I just added pureed carrots. I might try yoghurt next. A nice perk for me is that I can now eat a lot of things that used to bother him in the breastmilk - dairy (woohoo!), beans, broccoli, and chocolate! It's so nice to be able to have a slice when Terry orders pizza.

I think he's more right-hand dominant than Valerie was as a baby. His right hand is constantly moving, opening and closing all the time, and he always reaches for things with his right hand first. Whereas Valerie will still sometimes feed herself with her left hand, although she uses her right hand most of the time.

Today Gabriel took a 2-hour nap - hurray! He was really short on sleep this weekend thanks to his cold/cough, poor little dude. I'm really looking forward to the time when he'll be sleeping in longer stretches.

Love you, Little Doodly-Dude!

Sunday, February 06, 2011

comparisons 3: footie pajamas

Gabriel is 7 months old today! Poor little sickie.
Here is Valerie at the same age 2+ years ago.
I love these jammies and am so happy we get to use them again!


Gabriel is still sick; I don't think he's worse than yesterday but he's not better either. Coughing, runny nose, weepy eyes. No fever, thankfully. I think his teeth are bothering him too, poor little guy. The last 2 nights I've slept in the room with him as he coughs himself awake and then wants to be rocked back to sleep. Sometimes it takes a long time - half an hour or more - before I can lay him down again. He does NOT want to lie down in the bed with me, I've tried again and again but he gets really annoyed. He's had one more episode of vomiting but overall is eating ok. I keep reminding myself, he WILL get better, he WILL get better. Every hour takes us closer to the time when he will be better.

Friday, February 04, 2011


Terry was late to work today because he was helping me clean up the mess after Gabriel threw up for the third time today. Observing his pattern, I believe his cough is triggering his gag reflex and then he throws up whatever he just ate. His cough sounded croupy to me last night so I kind of slept on a hair-trigger and was up every time he made a noise. Poor little guy. He seems happy and himself when he's not coughing/vomiting. He's napping right now. I think this will be a three-load laundry day.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

comparisons 2: weight loss

I weighed myself today, and if the bathroom scales in the park (you pay 20 lek to stand on them) are accurate, I've lost about 25 lbs. since moving here. The "before" picture (at the Rockingham County Fair in the States shortly before we left) shows pretty much how this happened - walking up to 2 hours a day with these two in tow, plus breastfeeding. No diet at all. Terry is so jealous even his sweat is green.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

comparisons 1: ring sling

I've been working on getting G. used to the ring sling - he didn't like it at first, but now that he's getting closer to being able to sit up on his own he does fine. It's a nice way to keep him close to me while I'm doing housework. I can sort of scoot him onto my back if I need to - while cooking, e.g.

Here is Valerie in the same sling at 9 months, I believe. Anita taught me how to use the sling when we visited her in Savannah in November '08 when V. was 6.5 months (same as G. is now), but I didn't buy this batik sling until January or February '09. This picture was taken in Savannah but I think it was when we went to visit in March that year. I could just check the time stamp on the photo but I'd rather play sleuth the hard way :-)

Also - those striped pants? I was putting them on Gabriel too until a couple months ago :-).

Look for more comparison photos coming up, there's a bunch more I want to do so I think this will become a series!

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

More Valerese

Some cute things Valerie says:

"Where feet? Feet hide. Feet hiding in tights. Feet hiding in shoes."

Of her toy snake (e.g.):
"Where feet? No feet. Take feet off."

And this made Gabriel laugh hysterically, when she said:
I wish they'd let me in on the joke!

When I put away her portable DVD player, I tell her "the video needs to rest" (yes, we're old - we still call it a "video"). So now when we put it away she says "Video take nap, go to sleep."

One time I turned off the DVD player because she has a tendency to shriek at certain points and it was just too loud, and she'd had two warnings. The whole rest of the evening she kept saying "Mama turn off video, Val-Val scream." And these were also the first words out of her mouth when she woke up the next morning. Too bad the lesson didn't stick though (probably due to inconsistent enforcement) because she still shrieks.

When a fire goes out: "Bye-bye hot!"

Any time there's a pause in play: "Now what?" The first time she said this I was so startled, and then I realized that I say it All. The. Time. I wonder what else I say a lot that she's going to pick up from me next? Hope it's "I love you"!