It takes a long, bleak winter to help one fully appreciate just how wonderful an Eastern European summer is, especially when living in one of the continent’s most verdant capitals.
We moved into our house in the dead of winter, and did not pay much attention to the shrubs and trees in our yard. Now that the trees have flowered and started bearing fruit, we discovered that we have peaches, cherries — both sweet and sour — and what look like crabapples growing within arm’s reach of our porch.
The onset of warm weather and long summer days also means that we can set Emmie loose in the yard and let her entertain herself instead of leaving her cooped up indoors all day. Or at least we thought we could. Two days in a row D came home expecting to be greeted by an excited dog only to find the yard empty. Turns out she had figured out how to squirm between two loose slats in the driveway gate. At least we quickly deduced where to look for her. Of the many dogs in our neighborhood there is one that Emmie really likes, and every time she snuck out of the yard she would make a beeline for her friend’s house. After half a dozen escapes we had the neighbor’s number on speed dial, and had to resort to tying up Emmie in the backyard until the loose slat got fixed.
With summer in full swing and all sorts of fun events going on, we’ve come to realize that no matter how much we try to keep up the appearance and schedule of our fun-loving, younger selves, being new parents simply makes doing so impossible. For example, two weekends ago we registered for a charity 5K run, but Munchkin fell asleep for an extended mid-morning nap and we simply did not have the heart to wake him. By the time we arrived at the park, the race had already been completed. We still paid our donations and received the complimentary homemade bagels that the race organizers made to entice runners, but Munchkin made sure that our participation in the event was in spirit only.
With our sleep training in full swing, we’ve also imposed a firm curfew on our outings. After the race, we joined some friends at the Yardsale, a gypsy-themed outdoor craft fair, but the Munch got cranky not long after we arrived, forcing us to head home to make sure he got his afternoon nap. We’ve also been to a couple of BBQs recently where we had to leave just as the party was getting started so as not to miss Munchkin’s bedtime. We have friends who were not to be seen socially during the first year of their child’s life and others who travel everywhere with black garbage bags and duct tape because it is the only way they can guarantee that their kids gets a full night of sleep. If before we might have thought this excessive, now we’ve come to fully appreciate the value of helping our little guy get as much sleep as possible.
Despite these constraints, we are still finding ways to make the most of this summer. In fact, last weekend might go down as our most memorable in Moldova. A couple we know are friends with the owners of one of Moldova’s better medium-sized wineries, and they invited us to spend a day at the vineyard. Just us, our friends, and the owners — four couples, a whole gaggle of small kids, and a lazy afternoon in the countryside filled with good wine, delicious food, and relaxed conversation. Life does not get much better.