Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Happy Birthday

Happy Leap Day Birthday to Grammy Dot!
(I couldn't find a properly sentimental photo so I picked a funny one)

Hope you are celebrating with gusto!

Monday, February 27, 2012


Wow, I'm am way off track for meeting my posting goal for 2012. Time to step it up!

So here is a series of photos from last December that I thought I'd put up just because they are so stinkin' cute. Dot took these and I lightly edited them (cropped and brightened a little).

Terry left yesterday, just over 24 hours ago, on another work trip - this time he'll be gone 12 days (if you count departure and arrival days as whole days). So this morning I was moving around the kitchen in what sometimes feels like an endless feedback loop of picking up toys, washing dishes, and pouring the kids' beverage service when I heard an eruption of belly-laughing from the two of them. I turned around and saw that they were flipping themselves head-first over the back of the short couch onto the long couch and back again - I'd pushed the furniture together at Valerie's request yesterday; it makes a well-cushioned little indoor gym for them to climb and jump on. Around and around they went, just giggling and laughing their heads off every time they went over the top.

Times like that - and the moments pictured above - make every hour of lost sleep worth it.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


I just wanted to mark the date: exactly 1 year since we moved into this apartment, and 17 months to the day since we moved to Albania. Today was an exceptionally good day; I was with the kids all day and everything went smoothly and calmly and it just felt like yes, we're getting the hang of it. Yes I was tired, but not exhausted; and we just enjoyed our day together. Nothing remarkable - washing dishes, jumping on the furniture, folding laundry, playing "tent" with the curtains, making cornmeal muffins and noodle soup. Watching my kids learning and growing. A good day.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Monday, February 13, 2012

Cool dude

My cool little dude is almost 20 months old! I missed his 18-month and 19-month posts so here is an attempt to catch up a bit.

Height: we measured him a couple weeks ago, and he is now 31 inches - he grew well over an inch in the past two months. Incredible.

Development: He's started talking more, in addition to Mama, Dada, and a few other sort-of-words, he now says very clearly: Sun, Hajde ("come here" in Albanian), Agua, and Nëna (Grandma in Albanian). He says something sort of like "Lar-Lar" for Val-Val, and "Boo" for Pooh. And thanks to his sister's alphabetic orientation, he can identify a couple letters consistently and accurately, especially M and S.

He does adorably cute role plays either remembering things that happened, or telling us what he wants to do. He's currently fascinated by candles (we had a couple power outages recently) and one morning woke up saying "Wow! Wow!" and pointed up at the top of the book-cases, where Terry had put the candles the night before. This morning he burped, then put his hands over his mouth and mimed vomiting - ok not so cute, but here's the cute part: then he said "Nëna," and mimed cleaning the floor, because my mom had cleaned the rug after he threw up last week. He role plays putting toy animals and cars to bed, including trying to diaper a plastic horse, and giving a stuffed piglet a toy and blanket to sleep with.

He loves to dance and jump. One morning I just sat and watched him dance in circles around the kitchen, arms raised and jumping up onto his tiptoes, just brimming over with Life. He's such a delicious little squishy bundle of dimpled fun - I have to remind myself to soak it all in while I can.

Sleep: Sometime in December he dropped his morning nap. This was as the footsteps of doom for Pooh, since we used to use this quiet hour in the morning for some mother-daughter breakfast and craft time. But he just doesn't need it, and won't take it anymore. Then about a month ago he decided that a 7:00-7:30 bedtime is for babies, and oh no he's not a baby anymore! He's a big boy who sleeps in a bed, not in a crib, and not until he's good and readzzzzzz. So we've been trying to find a new equilibrium, one that will work even while Terry's away on work trips. Pray for us!!!!!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Catching up, and other sundries

So my mom left Thursday before dawn, and I’m feeling her absence. Last night after I went to bed I found myself thinking about little things to tell her in the morning and then I remembered she’s not here. You know, those random little stories that form the fabric of daily life but aren’t realy worth the trouble of writing a whole e-mail about them.

That’s why we have blogs, right?

Case in point: This morning Gabriel saw a helicopter flying by in the near distance – it was bright red, so it stood out well against the pale blue morning sky – he was so fascinated by it. Every now and then he would point out the window and go “Bzhzhzhzzz! Copt! Copt!” with a look of wide-eyed seriousness on his face. As soon as Terry got up, Gabe had to tell Dada all about it too. Adorable.

So much happened in the last two weeks, I don’t even know where to start in trying to record at least the highlights. I can easily tell you the lowlights! (That’s why my nickname is Eeyore! You can also call me Puddleglum!)

  1. Gabriel suddenly discovered that he can choose to stay awake and play instead of going right to sleep when put down for the night. This has turned bedtime into a prolonged ordeal, from my perspective, and cut a deep hole into my night sleeping hours. Thus, time I used to spend blogging I’ve now consigned to trying to nap.
  2. Valerie had a 24-hour stomach bug (or perhaps food poisoning, although we can’t figure out from what) wherein she threw up five times between naptime and bedtime, and then three more times during the night. The cutest moment during all of that was when she was holding a little blue pitcher on her lap, looking into it, and said “all that yuck will come out your mouth and jump into the pitcher. Jump jump jump! And then we will throw it in the potty.” Poor little Pooh was so, so sick. It was nice, though, that she’s reached the point where she can anticipate the need to throw up and ask for a bucket.
  3. Gabriel was sick, too, with a brief fever in the night followed by diarrhea and vomiting in the morning. I don’t know if it was the same thing Valerie had or somethig different. He only threw up once, and she didn’t have a fever, so I’m suspecting different. I’m very glad they both recovered quickly.
  4. I’ve been dealing with plugged ducts for the first time with nursing Gabriel. I used to get this a lot more with Valerie for some reason (possibly less experience nursing?) It’s very painful but I think getting better.
  5. The weather was pretty icky the whole time my mom was here, save a few partly-sunny days that weren’t too cold to go out. So we spent a lot of time indoors, which was not bad in and of itself, but I was disappointed we didn’t get to show her more of Albania or even the environs outside Tirana.

I think for me some of the highlights of her visit were going out to lunch together just the two of us after my Albanian lesson, and steam-baking coffee cakes one afternoon. Valerie loved the cake and has been asking continually for more! Mom's last day here was kind of a nice day out, so we took the bus to Tirana International Hotel and then walked back around Skenderbeg Square (more like an oval) to the Millenium Café on the pedestrian mall that we in our family refer to as the “rainbow walk.” The café was empty but for a gardener and a cat, and the kids had a blast playing in the empty playground. We got popcorn and juice at the cinema that is part of the complex, then walked down to the taxi stand and bought some roasted chestnuts there before heading home.

(if you look closely, you can see my mom in a red jacket taking a photo of the square,
while Valerie runs up the steps towards her)

As when my sister visited, I was struck by how much the kids absorb our attention and energy and how hard it is to actually sit down and have a conversation since we’re constantly being interrupted. We have a fairly child-centered approach to parenting although we do try to set some boundaries around parental needs too.

On the other hand, Valerie is really and truly learning to read right now! It’s totally amazing to me. She’s not even four! She can recognize, sound out, and spell around 30 words right now. She loves using her letter blocks or alphabet puzzle to make words (stuff like cat, hat, big, pig, fox, box, but also frog and goat!). I want to get her some Dick and Jane books, I think she’d master those pretty quickly.

Gabriel is talking more and more, adding new words – or at least approximations of them – all the time (cf. “copt” for helicopter).

So that’s my update; I just remembered there was also the birthday party we all went to, and that I forgot to take my camera to, that was a lot of fun and a further little glimpse into life in Tirana. So stay tuned!

Friday, February 03, 2012