Tuesday, September 18, 2012


Terry is right this minute en route to the US - I'm sure experiencing a mix of emotions similar to what the kids and I have been processing (or just watching a movie... or sleeping...) We're all super excited to have him back very soon.

I'm slowly starting to dig through my long list of things to do. Made some good headway this morning which felt great.

Photos soon :-)

Monday, September 10, 2012

Snow Shoes in Jello

We've been here six days, but it still doesn't feel like we've quite landed...

I realized that while I am navigating familiar and comfortable ground, that's not quite true for the kids. Valerie seems to remember a lot of things, but it's hard to gauge how clearly, and what the emotional dimension of the memories are for her. She feels thing intensely to begin with, so I watch her staring with her solemn little face out the window as we drive places and wonder what she is feeling. For Gabriel, it's all a new adventure. He's meeting the experience with a sense of play and adventure, but is also at that volatile 2-year-old stage where he'll instantly flip over into whining limp-noodle mode if he's a little tired or hungry. We've been doing fun things every day but they've also been more tired than usual - and of course recovering from jet lag (although I think we're just about back to normal on that front).

Grammy and Grandpa's house is a paradise of toys and books. We've been made very comfortable in the family room on our own king-size mattress, with space for a train set given to us by a friend whose kids have outgrown it, and our little toddler table with two matching chairs is the perfect place for eating meals or playing with play-dough.

I have a varied range of things I need to attend to; while I'm starting to chip away at my list, I often feel like I'm running as fast as I can through a pool filled with Jello. With snow-shoes on. (I stole that line from one of my elementary school yearbooks, but that's exactly what it feels like.) So much of my energy and attention is soaked up by the kids, which is exactly as it should be. I just wish there were two of me sometimes!

I'll post some photos once Terry gets here with my lap-top.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

We Made It!

So, that was an adventure!

21 hours door to door. 11 hours from Istanbul to DC. One mom, two little ones, and a sanity-saving iPad filled with apps for preschoolers.

It was pretty cool seeing Istanbul from the air, too bad that was all I saw other than a seriously confusing (if posh and shiny) airport.

We're still adjusting to the jet lag, slowly starting to re-acquaint ourselves with the 'Burg, and spending a lot of time exploring the wealth of toys and books at Grammy's house.

More soon when my brain starts working again!

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Kuq e Zi

Okay, so it's a little over the top but this was one of the kids' favorite music videos on the "traditional" music channel here (I forget what Shqiptars call it, turbo-something). I can't find the lyrics but what I can make out says things like "Albania, my heart, there is no sweeter name," etc. etc. "Kuq e Zi" means "Red and Black" and refers not only to the colors in the flag, but also to a nationalistic movement that seeks to encompass all ethnic Albanians living in the surrounding area. My understanding is that many if not most of the singers in this video are Kosovar.

We've loved living here, learning to know the language, people, culture, and history of this place. I'm sending out a generalized thank-you to all Albania for your hospitality and kindness to us. We'll always carry part of your story in our hearts.

O sa mirë, më qen Shqiptar!

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Briefly, from Lebanon

Excerpted from an e-mail from Terry:

Lebanese are...energetic....hosts.  We drove up to Byblos - oldest continually inhabited city in the world, oldest port still standing.  Walked aroound old city, had a coffee at a cafe, walked some more, ate a huge meal at a nice restaurant overlooking the port, then drove to Harissa to climb a big Jesus statue for awesome view...at 11:00 p.m....and it was full of people....Lebanese don't live in our universe...:) [Editor's note: I can count on one hand the number of times I have been out after dark in the last 2 years]

Too tired to write a long and rambling analysis of Beirut, but just a quickie - one other meaning for the word "Holy Land".  It's not just the place where Jesus walked, etc.  It's also the place where there are literally thousands of religions all rubbing up against each other.  So a literal "Holy Land".  It was interesting to hear glimpses of lots of different flavors of Christianity that I hadn't heard of before.  Same for Islam.  

Also, I don't know why, but Lebanon seems to be just packed with ethnic groups from elsewhere - Syrians, Palestinians, Armenians, Sri Lankans (!?), etc. And people will often speak French...or Arabic...or Armenian...or Italian...or English... VERY different place from Albania.  

Super excited to be picking Terry up from the airport tonight!!!