The Summer On Our Own

My last post was celebrating the start of summer and the start of numerous projects we were undertaking in the hopes of visitors to our house in Montenegro. Spoiler alert: Nobody visited us. Not for lack of trying, but restrictions were just too tight. 😦 This was a daily bummer that I fought to not feel sad about, but we did put our time alone there to good use. Most of our planned projects got finished by the time we left last week. And we made some great memories as a family.

After our first push to get projects started, we found ourselves falling into a pattern of working everyday. I would get up and go for a sweaty run by the beach, Donnie would work on school stuff, then we’d set a goal for the day. There was a never-ending list of things to get done or people to get in touch with for each of our projects. I tried to break up the routine once in a while to get some fun in though. We went to the beach one evening for dinner and it was lovely. The next day we made a trip out to Petrovac, which is our favorite beach so far. It’s a little more sandy and since no one can really travel, it’s been mostly empty. A big contrast to last summer. It was a warm day and Paul and I did lots of swimming and snorkeling, we followed up with a nice splash in our pool.

Soon it was the 4th of July! Donnie and I had finally decided what we wanted to do with the rest of the backyard. In the interest of saving some money and hopefully time, we went with fake grass! So after several shopping and research trips to the store, we set to work that day digging out our old weedy yard in preparation for the new grass. It was hard hot work. We worked for a few hours then had a small pool party, grilled up some delicious German sausage and mashed potatoes, and of course Paul and I made our flag cake. I actually had to make my own cake this year instead of the usual store-bought, and I also made some jam for the first time, so we decided to make it a layer flag cake! It was a busy, hot, but excellent Fourth of July, but we missed our family and friends as we do each holiday.

The projects continued! After a few days of hard labor, we hired someone to bring in some sand-gravel to fill the yard, while at the same time slow progress was being made on the deck. We also spent a day at the beach again to avoid a full scale extermination going on at the house. It was our longest beach day in a while! We spent 6 hours on our awesome temporary beach camp and we were all pretty worn out at the end. In addition, we had our window in the kitchen replaced for in order to accommodate the new kitchen, this one is a slider so we can get things easily in and out of the kitchen. We even chose a piece of granite to go out there as a ledge to put things on and hang out at if someone has to work in the kitchen. We filled our days with coordinating projects and pool parties, as well as making some awesome meals to fill our bellies. I also found time to finish my puzzle! It was busy, but good.

After working through the night, our deck was finally finished July 8, but unfortunately the fake grass had been delayed another week. We still enjoyed our new hangout spot and marveled at how much it really changed the space.

About a week after the deck was done, we were still waiting on our kitchen (overdue already) and our fake grass, so we decided to take a day off from school work and house projects to go explore Kotor. I had gone with Jess and the kids and my mom in October, so I knew how beautiful it was, but Donnie had never been. Kotor is a beautiful old city in a bay off the Adriatic Sea. It looks like a fjord, but more Mediterranean. So we booked a cheap apartment hotel (only 70 Euro!) and drove the two hours there. We parked and went walking with every intention of grabbing lunch and then hiking up to the fortress. Unfortunately, the restaurant we picked only served desserts, so after some cake and ice cream and cold water, we set off to find the way up. It was a long hot climb. Not to busy with people, but definitely a challenge. Donnie was a little disappointed to find only ruins at the top, but the view was spectacular and after exploring for a little while, we made our way back down. I challenged Paul to count the steps down (mostly in an attempt to keep him from whining), and he did! 1300 steps! Whew. From there, we tried to find a craft beer bar, which didn’t seem to exist any more, before we settled on a cute wine bar for dinner. It had cold beer, good food and misters! We finished up dinner with a nice Rose and some pizza and took a taxi back to the hotel. The next morning we made our way back to Bar to get our grass delivered to be installed that day!

The installation of the grass was one of our final touches in the backyard (we still had to work on behind the deck, but we put it off until August). The new grass looked great and was fun to play on. A vast improvement from the scrappy state it had been in when we arrived. More pool parties and drone flying ensued, with music and margaritas and more bbq. It was a fun way to end each day and lead us into our evening movie watching.

In the background of these major projects, Donnie had been working on some pet projects that I helped him with. He cleaned out and bought a rug and sideboard for the room off the kitchen (which is now called the dining room). We also picked out some paint for an accent wall in that room and painted all the walls and ceilings before putting the furniture in. We also did some shopping for our barren living room. We had two chairs made and bought a new tv stand and side table. We rehung the tv lower, painted another accent wall, hung a mirror and bought a little dry bar/hutch for that room as well. It felt much warmer and echoed less once we were finished. We also picked out our tiles for the backsplash for when our kitchen might finally arrive (still delayed…).

Slowly, but surely projects were wrapping up. Again they were layered though. We had to have some electricians in to help us rewire for the new kitchen, and some masonry people out to see how to do the tiling. We mostly filled our days with relaxing, watching Marvel movies and more pool parties! We made one more trip to the beach, which ended up being our last since the weather didn’t cooperate the last few days we were there. It never got old to play in our own backyard that we’d worked so hard for. I just wish Paul had had friends or family to play with. Donnie and I are only so much fun. haha. 🙂

Finally, the week before we were planning on leaving, our kitchen was ready to be delivered! Donnie did most of the work deconstructing our kitchen, then chipping off the old backsplash in preparation for the installation. It was arduous work, and he graciously let me and Paul hangout in the pool while he worked. Our neighbor wanted our kitchen, so it was easy enough to dispose of, and we were finally ready! They came on a Saturday and did the first stage of installation, then the backsplash went up Monday and Tuesday, finished up the other small errors on Tuesday, and the electrician came on Wednesday. So it took a full 5 days to be finished, but when it was, our dream was fulfilled. We bought chairs to sit at our newly raised countertops (the old ones were painfully low), we marveled at our new dishwasher, our new double sink and just how different it was from the old.

We only had a week to enjoy our finished space, the restrictions were tightening and I was starting to get stressed out about getting back to Kosovo. Work was starting to close in on Donnie, and we were starting to feel the summer slip away from us. It had been so much work, but we are very proud of how it’s all worked out. It is a serious shame we can’t get there regularly like we did last year. I’m hoping to get there again soon, but to enter Montenegro you need a negative COVID-19 test, which are currently not available in our area. We filled up our last days with cleaning, eating, playing in the pool and finishing up our Marvel movie challenge. We watched all 23 in order! Like I said, we’d planned so spend our last day at the beach, but last minute errands crept up on us. We dug out and finished the last bit of yard and covered it with our scraps from the grass, we set up a bank account to help us with achieving residency status (still waiting on some other official paperwork), and we did some grocery shopping for some goods we can’t get in KSV (tortilla chips!!). We spent our last evening sitting and enjoying some homemade wine with our neighbors along with some delicious Montenegrin specialties.

We packed up and left last Wednesday, after deep cleaning the house and breaking down the hot tub to bring with us back to Kosovo. As we left town, all I could hope was for no problems at the border and the dream of getting back to our house someday soon. Hopefully with people we love in tow. 🙂 It was a smooth drive back, no issues and no problems. Our house here was in a bad state though, power had been cut and our pool is back to being a green pond. The yard looks like a forest floor. We’re working on getting everything functioning again, but it was not a pleasant way to arrive home. Especially after spending the summer perfecting our home there. Today is the first day it hasn’t rained here in Kosovo since we’ve been back, and I now really appreciate the 40 straight days of sun we had in Montenegro, no matter how hot.

This was our longest summer together, but somehow it wasn’t as relaxing as it should have been. The uncertainty that hangs in the air about the upcoming school year, and the fear of getting sick or loved ones getting sick is palpable. I am exhausted of the worry and anxiety and I’m ready for all this to be over. It hovers over every activity, every move and it wears me out.

We made the best of being on our own this summer, and I’m glad we got so much accomplished. I will continue to hold onto the hope that next summer our home will be filled with all our friends and family. We’ll make some more awesome memories there. ❤

Love to all, J

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