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!


Anita said...

G-cute hat.
Mom- glad the green coat was useful. Fits you pretty well!
V-reading already! She's gifted! That is really young to be able to do that. Although I will say that Solana loved writing when she was 3, would ask me to spell things for her so she could write them. I notice also that L has this curiosity about letters and likes learning about them whereas for S it's more of a chore. L likes it when I tell her the sounds letters represent, whereas S acts sort of offended. All that to say, I think it's more fun for 3 year olds. S thinks she knows everything already.

E. Phantzi said...

Hat - thanks! I made it for myself, but he likes it :-)
Reading - I remember at this age Solana was coloring pictures so precisely and carefully, while Valerie still just scribbles in the general vicinity of the outline. And she doesn't actually write letters at all - or just a few - like H, I, L, F, O, X - I think that's all. It's all definitely a game for her, and I think it gives her a thrill that we get so excited about it. But she's not into writing, drawing, or coloring very much, would rather I do it and she watch. They're so different.

Anita said...

Yeah, they're all unique. Solana loved coloring, but she switched to drawing. I miss it, but she'll only color it if it's the only choice of activity, like in a restaurant. I do enjoy her drawings though. She didn't get that from me. I don't remember ever drawing. I remember you drawing a lot though! Today when she was practicing her writing, she started turning the letters into pictures. The "l" got a head and tongue at the bottom and became a snake, for instance. Too bad it was on the dry erase board; next time I'll take a picture! Love ya!