Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Spring Fever

Spring has finally arrived & the weather feels properly settled in Albania now. I just love, love, love this time of year. Of course temperatures are already like a (good) English summer. It's 'sandals & cotton skirts' weather now. Even the evenings & mornings have warmed up. And everything is vivid green, our reward for SUCH a wet winter. It is a very small window here when the young leaves are bright on the tree & everything is bathed in a literal lime-light. A vivid & verdant citrus green. All too soon, everything will turn a dull grey-green as the dry dusty summer takes hold. For now, the light is dappled, the fields are waist deep in buttercups, strawberries are being sold along the paths, the park is full of Albanians emerging from their hibernation. It is said that Albanians 'exist' for 4 months of the year & 'live' for 8 months, because of the wet winters & miserably cold apartments, power cuts etc.

But just as things seem to warm up, the academic year starts hurtling towards its conclusion. School finishes in only 6 weeks. I always wish this time of year lasted longer. It feels like we spend most of our year here in winter, with 6 weeks of summer before term ends & 6 weeks of Autumn before winter really sets in; and most of the summer in England (partly because there is no one left around here to do things with.)

So events are stepping up. Spring fairs, international dances, more visitors, reports to write, exams to prepare & mark etc. with the net result that blogging has been squeezed out.

Added to this my 2 children have been ill/had a duvet day/thrown sickies (delete as applicable after you hear the story)
My son's day was last week. He loves school & is almost never off sick, & certainly doesn't fake it. At the weekend we had travelled 5 hours south to an outdoor centre my husband was going to use for a team building retreat for his staff. My son, as school council rep, had been with his school that day up to Shkoder to distribute toys & supplies they had collected to help the children of flood victims up there who lost their homes. Shkoder is 2 hrs north. So our son spent 4 hours travelling there & back before getting back at 5p.m, only to hop into our car to be whisked down to the south of Albania that evening. So in one day he went from the north right to the south of Albania, all 600 km of it.

After 2 days back at school, he woke the following morning with a headache, complaining that he felt very tired. He said 'In Maths yesterday I knew the answer was 11, but I couldn't get my mouth to say 11, it just came out with 16, my brain felt so tired' Clearly time for a day off, he reasoned. And I thought it would probably do him good.

So abandoning other plans, I resolved to nurse him & a very sick husband who now had the cold we had all had, except his had strangely morphed into man-flu overnight....9 y-o played happily with lego for a few hours in the morning, then decided to get out the infamous 'Kids in the Kitchen' cook book. After much deliberation, he settled on chicken & vegetable soup, & banana cinnamon muffins (with his special adaptation of- chocolate chips.) Our much sicker, adult invalid was very grateful, it may even have speeded his recovery. And I think it did 9 y-o a lot of good having a quiet day. One on one relaxed time with him. At the end of the day he said, “I really enjoyed today, mum.” And so did I. Chores can always wait........

The same thing happened a few weeks ago with my daughter at a rather busy time. I laboured the point that it would be very boring at home with just Mummy, doing boring jobs & not able to play with her.... She wasn't feeling well with a cold & was right up to normal but not quite a fever, so once we had agreed she could stay at home, she went into 'Full Sick Bed Routine' mode'. This involves, plumping up the pillows, sinking back onto them whilst asking, in special, slightly quavery voice, if she can have breakfast in bed, & then struggling to the end of her bed to play a story tape (the only time she ever listens to them...) before sinking weakly back into her plumped pillows to munch her cornflakes whilst listening to Fantastic Mr Fox.

However, after a few hours she usually tires of this, & on this occasion, she made a remarkable recovery, getting herself dressed & asking if she could come to the shops with me (our cleaner was there so could have watched her) She skipped all the way to the shops, AND back, & then suggested we go for a bike ride in the park as it was 'such a lovely day'. (Probably because she wasn't at school..... ) I was beginning to feel ever so slightly 'had'. She biked up the hill all around the park, we stopped for a coffee & one of the mousse-like hot chocolates they sell here, had a rather loud whispered conversation about why the lady at the next table had 'orange hair'; I explained she had dyed it to cover the grey, whereupon she said, again very loudly that she didn't think the lady had 'done a very good job' as she could still see grey. At times like this I am very glad most Albanians don't speak English.... Saves a lot of embarrassment. Though I couldn't do much about the rather pointed staring at this poor lady's head.

And then she biked all the way home again.

Once home, I said, in what I hoped was a firm, & authoritative tone, “Now I really must get on, I have lots of jobs to do. I did warn you it would be very boring being at home today, didn't I?”

To which she replied. “It's not at all boring for me, Mummy. I just like being with you'

Oh she's good, she's very good. And did I fall for it?

Hook, line & sinker.


Expat mum said...

Tee hee. Still, you don't want to be known as the mother who sends her kids into school when they really should be at home in bed!

London City Mum said...

Best medicine for sick children (true or faking it) is always 'mummy'.

Very sweet post.


Iota said...

I love the 'literal lime-light'.

I have very happy memories of being ill and off school and at home, so I, like you, tread the narrow line between making such days unattractively boring, and letting them become special one-on-one time.

Iota said...

By the way, do you think you've got your priorities right? Neglecting blogging for the sake of your sick children? Get a grip...

Mwa said...

Aaah. Sweet, though. I'm always very unsure of these ambiguous days off. But they can end up lovely.

PantsWithNames said...

Oh bless them both. Sometimes it is a real treat to have an almost properly ill but well enough to enjoy it day. Love them.

So jealous of your weather. Miserable here!

Anonymous said...

Hope your kids are a lot better now.

Regina here, for

I would like to personally invite you to list your blog on our Expat Women Blog Directory ( so that other women can read about and learn from your expat experiences.

Many thanks in advance for your contribution and keep up your great blog!


A Modern Mother said...

Count your blessings ... It's winter again in the UK! Enjoy it, sounds wonderful.

dona said...

You're a great woman in my opinion. I think it hasn't to be easy for you and your family to change home and life as you did, and moreover to such countries so different from the UK!