Archive for January, 2012

in brief

January 30, 2012

I wrote a long-ish post, and somehow it disappeared, along with the emotion driving it.

Summary: had a long nap Sunday, things are better, gained some insights.

More forthcoming, I hope.

xo and thank you so much for the encouragement.



January 27, 2012

Sleep, oh sleep. Sleep is my Waterloo. Sleep is my Armageddon, my dungeon master.

Oz has discovered his ability to keep himself up at bedtime and what used to take 10 minutes is now taking 2 hours. It’s got me in a low, low place. I don’t know why I judge myself so harshly in this one dimension but I’ve observed this in myself recently – that how I feel about myself as a parent hinges greatly on the kids’ sleep patterns. I feel like if they’re taking good naps and going down easily, then it’s because I’ve judged their need and the best timing for sleep correctly, and created the right structures for them to have healthy sleep patterns. When they won’t go down… I’m the worst mom in the world. Last night at 11, after yelling at Illyria to just go to sleep already, and then she cried herself to sleep clutching her bedtime book, I was too angry to go to sleep myself. It’s just not worth it, I kept thinking. I should tell everyone considering TTC don’t do it! It’s just not worth it. I felt differently this morning… mostly… I’m still exhausted and feeling like a shit mom though. Gimli said ok, we need to get you some sleep. We’re going to try putting both kids in one bedroom, and Gimli will stay with them as long as needed while I sleep alone in the master bedroom (my mom is in the other kid’s bedroom – Illyria has been sleeping with us – well me, really – while Oz sleeps half the night in his crib and half the night with Gimli in the twin bed in that room). But it feels like circular reasoning to me. I’m not able to parent well right now because I’m so tired and sleep-deprived, but the REASON I’m tired and sleep-deprived is because I’m a crap mom who has ruined her kids’ sleep cycles through ineffective parenting. So what’s the point? It’s never going to get any better. I thought it was but it’s not.

I’m blogging from inside an irrational hole right now, and part of me knows this, but most of me just wants to give up and sell them to the gypsies.


January 23, 2012

My mom is here!

My mom is here. Right now she’s playing puzzles with Oz and Illyria while I play hooky from my Albanian lesson. This morning Illyria saw her, paused, and then broke into a shy smile of recognition as she climbed into my lap. Oz was very suspicious, until my mom began to play a game of peek-a-boo and then did a little dance step – he was charmed.

I’m bottomed out in my sleep reserves; her flight came in around midnight and I went to the airport to pick her up. It was strange to be out so late at night by myself. Then of course Oz greeted the dawn at 5:30 a.m. even though he didn’t fall asleep last night until after 10. Very unusual for him – I think both kids sensed something was afoot because neither of them went down easy. So I only got about 3 hours of sleep and am just counting down until nap time.

Over the past few weeks, I didn’t let myself believe she was coming. I never said “my mom is coming,” I only said “my mom is planning to come… is supposed to be coming…” It wasn’t up until the very last minute that I even began to behave as if she was coming – making up her bed, finding clean towels to lay out, buying extra house slippers. It was like how you hold off on buying baby thing until the 9th month (or even later).

It’s so good to have her here.

In Absentia

January 16, 2012

So I’ve been in absentia from blogland for the past week or so – I’ve been reading, some, on my iTouch, in the middle of the night while nursing Oz, who had a blistering fever for a few days and then developed stomatitis (cold sores run amok) on his gums and tongue and couldn’t eat for five days. He’s doing better now, yesterday ate a good deal of noodle soup (mostly the broth) and some milky oatmeal. But starting Tuesday he was pretty much glued to me, either nursing or napping in my arms.

Finally this morning he woke up with a gleam in his eye and a smile on his face, and I think we’ve turned the corner. So I left the kids with Dhurata and went to my Albanian language lesson and am now determinedly working through the backlog. I need to go grocery shopping and catch a nap though – Gimli went to Rome for work meetings on Saturday and doesn’t get back until midnight tonight and none of us slept well while he was gone.

Thanks for the lovely comments on my last post – it was so much fun to do, I want to do another one in a few months!

What it’s like here

January 9, 2012

These thumbnails are so tiny, and what I want to convey is so big. And there is so much that can’t be captured on the screen – like the smell of roasting chestnuts on the street corner, or the wailing of the muezzin. I cheated a little bit and used some photos from last winter – oops, a few summer ones snuck in there too –  a few from outside Tirana. Hope you like it.

This is from Wordgirl’s meme – go check it out!


January 6, 2012

Yesterday I was lamenting to Dhurata that Illyria is still confused by aspects of language and grammar that I think she should have grasped by now, and Dhurata responded by pointing out how far she has come in a year. And it’s true. When we moved here, she wasn’t even making sentences – she finally started putting together subjects and predicates at 30 months. But now, closing in on four years of age in just a few months, she’s still confusing pronouns – referring to herself as “you,” and she thinks “me” means quite literally “mama” – and she doesn’t seem to understand some kinds of questions. She will answer “why” and either/or questions appropriately, but doesn’t seem to understand “what” questions. For example, she might say “Want Eeyore [Mama] tell Pooh [Illyria] a story” but when I ask “what story do you want?” She’ll answer “yes.” If I rephrase and ask “do you want Three Little Pigs, or Three Bears?” then she can answer that by choosing one, or suggesting yet another option, but it’s very consistent that she will fail to understand an open-ended “what?” or “which?”

I’m not quite sure what to make of this, or how to help her grasp these grammatical structures. I really want to have her evaluated by speech and developmental specialists when we get back to the States – another factor to put into the what-should-we-do-with-our-lives mix – so I can get a better idea of where she actually is, developmentally, and what I can do to help her more effectively.

She is finally starting to use articles, at last. Her speech and pronunciation are becoming clearer. Her grandparents report that even since September, they can understand her much better now than they could then. And in other ways she’s very quick to grasp concepts – she can read two-digit numbers and also count up to 100, and she’s very good at memory-matching games. She gets very involved in pretend play (as evidenced by her alter ego, Winnie the Pooh). She calls Dhurata “pretend Owl” (Dad is the real Owl). She has started drawing with markers, making happy faces with long arms and legs and flying hair. She adds big mouse ears to make them into cats. She knows the colors of the rainbow in order, knows upper case and lower case letters, can spell (both produce and recognize) Pooh, cat, Val, mama, sun, Dada, Babi (“dad” in Albanian), and others. She knows all the basic shapes, including the pentagon. It all seems amazing to me but at the same time I don’t know what kinds of things she is supposed to know at almost-four.

The bottom line is that I don’t know whether or how much I should be worried. What I should be researching. What I should be doing to help her get on track, so she won’t be behind when she starts school. And of course the social aspects are also a concern to me – particularly empathy. I don’t know how much of her selfishness is typical toddler ego and how much is indicative of potential problems down the road.

The requisite post about goals and resolutions

January 5, 2012

Welcome to 2012!

I’m still sort of mulling over in my mind the requisite retrospective on 2011, meanwhile penning multiple (albeit short) lists of resolutions.

Yesterday morning at 7:45 I headed down the hall to wake Gimli up for work. Oscar was stomping along in front of me in his sister’s shoes, and I scooped him up in one arm and swung him into my hip so he wouldn’t make quite so much noise. As I straightened, the walls tilted and spun and I caught myself with the other arm against the wall to keep from falling over.

It scared me.

I took a deep breath, then hefted myself away from the wall, took two steps and had to find the wall again. The word “swoon” comes to mind as the perfect word to describe the feeling of the room spinning around me, the way gravity went out of balance/alignment, the way my head felt. Vertigo.

I waited a little longer this time, and when I stood up again I was fine.

I’m not sure if it was from lack of sleep, dehydration, or wonky blood pressure – or all of the above – but it scared me and scares me still when I think about it, especially because I had Oz in my arms.


This year, my top resolution is to lower my blood pressure and cholesterol through diet and exercise. I don’t want to become dependent on medications to keep my bp low, although I will if I have to. I’m too young for that (so much for aging gracefully). One of my college frenemies has become an ardent vegan, and thanks to his persistent posts and links on FB I’ve decided that my second resolution is to decrease consumption of meat. I don’t think I’m ready to go vegan, or even vegetarian at the moment, but I’ve realized that my favorite 3-4 dishes to cook are, unintentionally, vegan. But I still enjoy the occasional steak, and we can’t get stuff here like tofu that would make me feel better about the kids getting enough protein (Oz won’t eat eggs or cheese so that kind of limits us as well). So I’m not sure where I’m going to fit the exercise in – ideally I’d like to work in a combination of yoga and pilates somewhere – but I think the first two resolutions do dovetail nicely. And will hopefully preclude any further dizzy spells. Because that – did I mention? – was scary.


I sat down this morning (back at Cheers! Yay!) and added up my work hours over the past year, working out the monthly average for the year, and quarterly. The encouraging result is that from the first quarter to the last I more than tripled my monthly average of work time, and overall showed a steady increase. My best month was August, when we didn’t go anywhere and didn’t have any visitors. I have an abstract to write for this year’s professional conference in November, and I HAVE to finish transcribing my interviews so I can do some proper data analysis. I have about 7 hours’ worth to go. And I realized that I really should start thinking about job applications… it’s early, to be sure, but I need to be in a position to start interviewing at the conference in November. Gimli has said he’s willing to relocate to any place I can find a job, and is encouraging me to look outside the US (of course). But on the other hand, a friend of ours who teaches at the big state university in our city in the States sort of gave me a tip that there are plans afoot to dramatically expand the humanities and social sciences programs there in the coming year or three, and my specialization would position me extremely well for a strong application there. So there’s that. Lots to think about in both the short and long term.

I was mulling over Magpie Days’ post on goals (she’s an American poet living in Switzerland), and what it made me think was that even though one might not have reached or exceeded one’s goals for the year, there is still value in setting the goals – let’s say you only achieve 60% of your goal; what if you hadn’t set the goal at all? Or what if you had set a much more modest goal? 60% of a more modest goal would be much less than you actually achieved, and 60% of zero is zero. So maybe it doesn’t matter if I failed – by a really long shot – to meet my original goals for 2011. I did a lot more than nothing, and I am a lot closer now to my ultimate goal of a PhD than I was last January. So I’m choosing to think positive about this one and not beat myself up about it. At least for today.


And I do have another goal for 2012 – to read every post on the 2011 Creme de la Creme list (and the 2010 one because I missed that one almost entirely).


Best to all who stop by here, for 2012. May your deepest wishes come true.