Gimme Some Oven

Currently

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Hello! I’ve got a sleeping baby sitting beside me and an iced lavender latte in hand and thought I’d take advantage of nap time this morning to pop in with a long overdue life update. ♡

I realized the other day that it’s been over a year since I last typed out one of these posts while sitting in our sunny kitchen in Barcelona. Which, to be honest, feels like a lifetime ago. (And also somehow like…yesterday?) It’s hard to know where to even begin to summarize how life has changed since then. We’re now back across the ocean living in Kansas City, which is slowly beginning to feel like home again ever since our whirlwind move back with a toddler, elderly dog, eight suitcases, and a newly-positive pregnancy test last June. Since then, we have…

  • moved into a 90-yr-old Tudor, which we (probably over-ambitiously) decided to renovate before our second baby’s arrival, while working to stock the place 100% from scratch with everything from beds to bicycles to blenders and beyond
  • walked through our second pregnancy and gave birth in the States, which went mercifully smoothly this time around (and was also a very interesting contrast to how things are done in Spain)
  • welcomed a wonderful Costa Rican au pair to our family, who’s going to be living with us and helping with the boys over the coming year
  • checked off what felt like a million “getting settled” logistics, including purchasing two cars (a super sad farewell to European walking culture), re-establishing our businesses in Missouri, and diving back into the wonderful world of American healthcare, insurances, taxes, etc
  • navigated an intense year of “sandwich generation” learning curves, doing our best to try and care for aging parents and little kids at the same time

And then of course, we brought this little sunbeam home. ♡♡♡

We joked on the day Milo was born that he seemed just “just happy to be here”, and four months later, that still pretty much sums things up! He has turned out to be such an easygoing little baby who’s just happy to eat, happy to sleep (major change from our first!), happy to smile and coo and snuggle with anyone…and we truly could not love him more. It’s remarkable how much joy he has added to our little household. After a fairly disorienting year, his arrival has felt like the missing puzzle piece that’s finally helped Kansas City begin to feel like home again. Of course, the newborn stage has been intense and exhausting in all of its usual ways, but getting to step away from work for a few months to soak up sunny spring walks with Milo and nuzzle his soft skin and and be there for all of his adorable little “firsts” has felt beyond special. It’s never lost on Barclay and me what a privilege this is to get to do this all one more time, especially after the long road to meet him, and we’re just so grateful that he’s finally here.

All that to say, goodness, it has been a year. Definitely one of the more challenging ones on record for our little family, but still with plenty of glimmers of love and joy and fun sprinkled in there all along the way, as life always seems to provide. We’re feeling very grateful to (at least mostly) now be on the other side of the international moving chaos. And while I’ve enjoyed time away from Gimme Some Oven during maternity leave, I’m glad to be getting back into some work rhythms again. More updates on all of that below.

Anyway, clearly, lots to share! So without further ado, here’s the update from our little corner of KC…

Kansas City 2.0

“So, how’s it feel to be back in Kansas City?”

I feel like we’ve been asked this question a thousand times and I’ve probably answered a thousand different ways depending on the day.

Mmmm…good? Hard? Somehow equally familiar and disorienting? Refreshingly full of green spaces and longtime friends and Trader Joe’s? Far too full of driving and excessive air-conditioning and…guns?

The simple answer is that our daily life here is just so incredibly different than it was back in Barcelona. And while we certainly anticipated a fair dose of reverse culture shock upon returning to the States, I’d say that “settling back in” has generally been harder and taken longer than we expected in pretty much all categories.

The best thing about being back — also our main reason for moving back — has been living near our families again. We intentionally bought a house 5 minutes away from Barclay’s parents and regularly see my folks from Wichita, which has given our boys the chance to spend a record amount of time with their grandparents over the past year. Watching Teo grow so close to each of them, and now getting to watch everyone enjoy the newborn stage with Milo (something our extended family mostly missed out on in-person with Teo while we were living abroad) has been even more special than we had imagined. At the same time, this past year has been one of those deeply good-but-hard seasons when it comes to caring for aging parents — navigating complex health issues together, learning by trial-and-error how to help, family members learning on their end how to let us help — we’re still figuring it all out. But after years of trying to provide support from overseas, it’s such a relief to now be physically nearby for all of the little and big stuff.

Another thing we’ve really appreciated about being back is how supportive our longtime friends and family have been when it comes to giving us space to reimagine our lives here in this new season of life. (Or Kansas City 2.0, as we like to call it. 😉) One of my biggest concerns upon returning was that everyone was going to expect us to immediately click back into the exact same rhythms and roles that we had when we left seven years ago, some of which no longer feel like a fit after our time in Europe. But our friends here have kindly reminded us that they expected us to come back changed. And, of course, so many things here evolved while we were away. So it feels like we’ve been given the best of both worlds — a warm welcome back, plus the full freedom to recreate our lives here — which has been a lovely surprise.

Speaking of surprises, it’s been funny (and a bit humbling) to realize upon moving back how little we knew about Kansas City when it comes to raising kids! We were obviously childfree before we left and learned pretty much everything we knew about pregnancy, birth and parenting the Spanish way over the past few years. So it’s been an interesting experience to relearn how to do things the American way — shifting all of our daily schedules about 2 hours earlier, adjusting to long stretches between ultrasounds, major waitlists and high costs for childcare, hoisting kids in and out of carseats all day long, learning our favorite parks and pools and playgrounds around the city, scheduling all things kid-related in advance (I can count the number of spontaneous playdates we’ve had this year on one hand), plus a hundred other big and little things. There are many elements of Spanish parenting that we really miss. But I have to say, we’ve discovered that the Midwest is a decidedly fantastic place to raise a toddler, especially when it comes to the abundance of playgrounds, swimming pools, public libraries, children’s museums, and backyards for play. It’s also been really fun to experience American holidays through the eyes of our toddler for the first time (hello adorable trick-or-treating, 4th of July fireworks, finally meeting Santa and the Easter Bunny!). As a fairly anxious person when it comes to pregnancy and parenting, it has also been comforting to return to a culture that errs on the side of over-explaining medical stuff and provides lots of early intervention screenings and resources for kids, topics that I found quite frustrating in Spain’s (for better and for worse) laid-back “wait and see” culture.

Anyway, lots of change this year. American and Spanish cultures honestly just feel like apples and oranges in so many ways that it’s hard not to constantly compare the two. But we’re trying to grow where we’re planted and soak up the things (namely, the people) we love most about life in Kansas City right now. Thankfully, there are many. ♡

Hello, Milo!

Ok, the mama in me can’t help but just share a few more updates about this sweet little pea. ♡

As I shared before, Milo was our last-chance embryo from our second full round of IVF in Barcelona. The jury was out last spring as to whether or not we were going to have time to squeeze in a final embryo transfer before our move. But in the end, the stars aligned and the transfer took place and we found out 4 days before leaving Barcelona that we were officially pregnant. (An emotional week, to say the least!) Thankfully, the rest of our pregnancy progressed smoothly after our move and we were thrilled to welcome Milo to our family this past Valentine’s.

From the very beginning, he has just had the sweetest little spirit. And from the very beginning, his older brother has been absolutely smitten with him. We were prepared for any number of scenarios when introducing a new baby to a toddler, but it’s honestly been pretty much pure cuteness so far. Teo is constantly giving Milo his toys and hugs and kisses and “gentle pats” (lol, the lingo with our dog conveniently transferred to the baby), and Milo in turn reserves some of his biggest grins for his adoring big brother. Oh, and they look a lot alike, which I know is totally predictable but still kind of wild to see your DNA replicated in another kid!

I also have to say that it’s been really nice to do the whole newborn stage again when we’re not in the middle of a global pandemic, lol. There are a number of things we missed out on the first time around — getting to go to in-person prenatal yoga classes and baby showers, having a mask-free birth, being able to plop our newborn freely into the arms of friends and family — that have been fun to experience with Milo. Our friends here also loaded us up with a million hand-me-downs, which have been super helpful since we gave away all of Teo’s stuff before leaving Spain.

That said, two-kid life is still taking some getting used to. Getting out of the house with both boys and all of their stuff still feels like a bit of a circus. Barclay and I can’t seem to stay awake long enough to watch an entire show after they go to bed. The boys have an impressive knack for melting down at the exact same time. And weekends feel like they last — oh — about an eternity. 😅 But we know how quickly this all flies by. And lately, I find myself desperately trying to memorize the feel of Milo’s soft head pressed against my cheek, the earnest sparkle in Teo’s eyes when we play with his trains, the nostalgic summer smells of sandboxes and sunscreen, the countless quirky and adorable toddler conversations happening lately — how do parents do it?! There’s just so much to take in, and it’s moving so fast, and it’s so very (very) hard at times, but goodness, it’s also so very very good. What a ride.

Meal Train Magic

Ok, the food blogger in me has to give a shout-out to another major highlight of this year — the incredible meal train our friends organized for us.

Meal trains aren’t really a thing in Spain, so this was not something we experienced with our first baby. But this time around, we had friends stopping by to deliver meals multiple times a week for three (three!) full months after Milo’s birth, which was beyond generous and easily the most helpful gift we received postpartum. The food that everyone brought — from homemade casseroles to tacos, takeout to Trader Joe’s favorites, bottles of Spanish wine to jars of homemade margaritas — was just perfect. And it felt like such a comfort to know that we’d have familiar faces showing up regularly for a quick hug or some baby snuggles along with their food delivery, especially during some of those blurry, time-warp-y newborn days when we didn’t feel like leaving the house.

I’ve always said that feeding people is my love language, but these past few months reminded me that the reverse is likewise true — being fed by everyone made us feel incredibly loved and cared for too. The whole experience definitely renewed my belief in the magic of a good meal train, so I can’t wait to pay it forward again soon.

Welcoming Our Au Pair

One other unexpected surprise for our family this year was deciding to have an au pair come live with us!

I honestly knew next to nothing about au pair cultural exchange programs a year ago. But a friend mentioned the idea while we were exploring childcare options for Milo (since Teo’s school doesn’t provide infant care) and the possibility quickly resonated with us, especially once we realized we could match with an au pair who was a native Spanish speaker.

So last fall, we researched various agencies and completed the application and evaluation process to become a host family. And after doing video interviews with au pairs from various Spanish-speaking countries (the process feels a lot like online dating!), we ended up matching with a wonderful 24-yr-old preschool teacher from Costa Rica who came to live with us in January. It’s been so fun getting to learn from her about all things Costa Rica and introduce her to a million little nuances about life in the States. And Barclay and I are thrilled to have the house filled with Spanish again each day, which was one thing we’ve dearly missed about our life in Barcelona. (We currently do about a 50/50 mix of Spanish and English all day long.)

Our house has also turned into the main hangout for her local au pair friends, who are regularly popping by during their time off for a hang or a meal or to give our boys a hug. So it all just feels kind of like one big, bustling, multicultural family around here lately. We love getting to raise our boys around all of his tías from Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica and Mexico, and hope to do everything we can to support these young women (all of whom have bravely left their countries for the first time) and help make their time in the States as special as possible.

Back To Blogging

Anyway, after a much-appreciated maternity leave, it’s felt really nice to get back to working part-time over these past few weeks. I have a lonnnng list of recipe ideas I’ve been jotting down over the past few months that have been fun to start working through. We’re also working on a site redesign and some other techy updates behind the scenes that will hopefully make your experience navigating this site even better soon.

That said, it feels like a bit of a weird time right now to be returning to work on the internet. Many food blogs have been hit hard recently by Google algorithm changes and the introduction of AI overviews (which you may have noticed now answer any cooking questions directly at the top of Google’s search results, rather than offering a list of sites to click on like mine). Here’s a podcast episode that explains things fairly well if you’d like to learn more. But in a nutshell, these developments are raising lots of questions lately about the future of online “content creation” and whether or not individual blogs like this one will survive the seismic AI shift that seems to be hitting the internet right now. I really hope they do, but who knows, the internet is still so young and constantly evolving. So we’ll see if I still have a job in a few years!

What I do know is that the most important thing you can do right now to support this blog and any other websites that you love is to sign up for their email newsletters. With Google and social media being so unpredictable, email is quite simply the easiest and most reliable way for me to stay in touch. You can sign up for our free emails right here if you’re interested. Then we can be sure to keep you up to date with all of the new recipes, seasonal favorites, and product recommendations that are shared around here.

We’re coming up on the 15th anniversary of Gimme Some Oven next month, which is downright surreal, and I’m feeling more lucky than ever to still call this my job. So for all of you who have continued to follow along and try new recipes here on our little corner of the internet, thank you, thank you, thank you. I’m so grateful you’re here.

XOXO

Anyway, that’s the latest! Thank you so much for reading. I really hope that you’re all doing well and somehow staying cool this summer (holy heat wave!) and soaking up all the backyard bbqs and juicy watermelon and long days that the season has to offer. We’re sending lots of love your way today from Kansas City.

Love,
Ali

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102 comments on “Currently”

  1. I’m sending you guys so much love! You are intrepid and resourceful and doing some real heavy lifting with sandwich generation stuff. I’m sure being back in the States is a huge adjustment, although truth be told you do have a pretty awesome football team! :) Thanks for all your recipes. Even when you weren’t blogging so regularly your library was always full of inspiration! Keep your spirits up. Your public loves you!

  2. Welcome back Ali!
    Thank you for the update. Your family is absolutely adorable! Now, back to cooking. What have you got for us next?

  3. Welcome back! Looking forward to your new posts and recipes. And so very happy you have had some dedicated family time.

    • Love this update! I’ve been following for a while and these are some of my favourite posts – it’s so nice to meet the real person behind the excellent recipes. I’m really glad you’ve found a way to keep the Spanish/multi-cultural side of things going in Kansas City 2.0!

  4. Welcome home! It is so nice to see your blog again. Congratulations on the new addition – he is a little doll.

    Looking forward to new things. Thank you for all your hard work.

  5. Welcome back to Kansas City.

  6. Thank you for the update on your beautiful family. And I’m very happy to subscribe to your email newsletter; when I Google a recipe idea, I want sites like yours to pop up to provide me with inspiration, NOT artificial intelligence. Having a real person testing and retesting their recipes, then sharing them with tips, tricks, swaps, etc. makes all the difference in the world!

  7. Thank you for sharing your life update, I really enjoy reading them. I cannot believe it was 7 years ago you moved to Spain! It seems you were just announcing your move. I don’t know how long I have been following your blog but I believe it was before you met Barclay?? Your babies are adorable.
    Congratulations on 15 years!

  8. Your updates are so inspirational, entertaining, thoughtful, and full of hope. I, too, miss your Barcelona musings … as an octogenarian I rather doubt that I will travel there and your lives bring me such joy. I have loved Barclay the moment I met him. It was a definite perc for having Jenn & Howard as dear friends.

    I am in some turmoil these days (also complex health issues and moving). I have faith that all will become my new pattern of living and I will have time to hear Barclay sing and try your recipes. In the meantime, may Love and Light surround us all💞

  9. Congratulations on Milo! Our second baby was also soo easy going as a newborn, and five years later he is still that way! I hope the same will stay true for you too.
    Also, thanks for the heads up on the AI/algorithm notes. I came to your page after receiving your emails, so they are definitely effective :) I hadn’t thought about the impact to blogs like yours, but good to keep in mind.

  10. Thanks for the update! Many blessings on you and your family. My daughter just had her third, a girl, so I am feeling those newborn feels too. Love her so much!

    I am thinking of leaving SM because of where it is all going these days. It’s crazy anymore, but I think inevitable. Unfortunately. That said, I am trying to support my favs by joining or staying on the email lists. Seems like, for now, they can’t take that away. 🤔

  11. So glad for the update Ali, thank you! You were one of my first bloggers whose email I’ve been receiving since before you were married and following ever since. The past 10+ years have been quite an experience for you and now you have a beautiful family and all the memories as well. Congratulations and best wishes for the next 10!

  12. Milo!!! OMG he is the cutest! Definitely has Barclay’s eyes!! It’s so nice to see these updates! I’m glad you’re “back.” Best of luck with everything! :)

  13. Your children are adorable and enjoyed your lively update! Looking forward to new recipes!

  14. So good to see you and your beautiful family back! I’ve enjoyed living vicariously through your adventures abroad and look forward to your next chapter 😊

  15. So happy for all of you
    Beautiful family

  16. So loved hearing all your news. Congratulations on Milo’s arrival and your successful move back to the US. Wonderful to hear how Teo is doing.
    As a Canadian I love the international flavour of your blog and appreciate your sense of adventure.
    How wise to keep up with the Spanish you learned over the years.
    Looking forward to your new recipes.
    And finally thanks for the comments about AI. I Will definitely listen to the podcast you posted.

  17. Good to see you back online, Ali! You have produced some VERY cute children!!!

  18. Thank you for this very sweet and thoughtful and transparent update. I love your recipes and have used them for many years.
    Around our home, you and your blog are known as “the Barcelona girl!”
    I’m already on your email list.
    Blessings on you and your family and all the lives you touch.

  19. We lived in Italy for 6 years and yes coming back to the states is an adjustment with pros and cons to be sure. It sounds like you are navigating it well and being honest about how difficult it can be. Your new baby is beyond precious. I am sad to hear the AI is nudging out bloggers. I am a 65 year old long married woman who is thrilled to have the resource that your blog and others provide me. So much inspiration and great recipes. Thank you so much for your great blog.

  20. Welcome back! Looking forward to seeing more content. I was just saying the other day that I missed seeing your recipes and family updates.

  21. Welcome back! Loved reading your update, thank you for sharing :)

  22. So happy to have an update on your beautiful family. Can’t wait to see new recipes and watch the boys grow. Wishing only wonderful things to you all.

  23. Welcome back! I have been waiting to hear all about your life back in the States! Both your boys are just precious!
    I am looking forward to more blog post and recipes, too! Especially navigated around raising 2 young children–I need ideas for cooking and meals when I am watching my own beautiful grandsons. :)
    As an OB nurse, I would also love to hear your birth stories, and how they differed–the typical birth culture in Barcelona vs the typical birth culture in Kansas City. Honestly birth culture can vary from hospital to hospital in the US–it really depends on so much as so what is “normal” to give birth in the states–from choosing your provider and location–I am wondering if that is true as well in Spain.
    Congratulations on hiring an au pair–my daughters both work from home and have had sitters and nanny’s that are there in the house and it has been SUCH a positive experience for everyone.
    Welcome back!

  24. So good to read about your wonderful life and see pictures of your two wonderful children. At 82 I babysit my friends 3 1/2 year old two or three days a week and let me say, how you keep up with your two and work has got to be quite a challenge!!!!! They are so adorable, but the energy they have the older they get, is amazing!!!! But loving them is the BEST!!!

  25. Wow, Ali! Millo sure is a cute one. I am glad to know that you have friends who are helping your family to readjust to living in the US. As for the future of blogs, I have gotten used to them and really enjoy them. I don’t want to see them go away any time soon. Some food blogs have been really helpful in teaching me things I need to know to stay healthy. And the ones I currently subscribe to always give me good ideas. So I hope you are able to keep blogging for a long time.

  26. Glad you’re settling back in. Your children are adorable and you have such a beautiful family! Looking forward to more of your delicious recipes. Several of them are in my regular rotation:)

  27. Congratulations on the birth of Milo!! What a cutie!! And welcome back to the US!! I read you’ve been away 7 years and thought, whoa, that went by quick!! Looking forward to your new recipes!!

  28. How lovely to hear about your lifestyle and all the changes. Congratulations on the arrival of Milo. You have ben missed 💕

  29. We’ve got a 2 and 4 year old over here and I agree, the weekends are no longer what they used to be! 😂 Seriously though I was so happy to see this update today. These posts of yours are always my favorites and feel like catching up with an old friend. I hope that the US continues to feel more like home. Milo is unbelievably cute!!

  30. Love following you and your life…and food too of course…ps… I am not a follower of others ☺️

  31. And how is your dog?

  32. I was so exciting to see your email and could not wait to have time to read it! Welcome back! I’ve missed your updates and am so happy to hear you’re settling in as a family of four back in the States. Thanks for sharing these tidbits with us readers. Your family is darling ❤️
    I truly hope nothing changes with food bloggers due to AI because I’ve been following you and a few others for years. I look forward to your new recipes 🥰

  33. Can’t tell you how happy I was to stumble upon your update today! Your boys are so flipping cute. The Midwest is Best for access to nature, sprinklers, biking, pools, all the great stuff from childhood.

    Just subscribed to your newsletter and please let us know what else we can do to get more of your unbeatable recipes and these delightful peeks into your daily life. It’s been so much fun for me to walk the path alongside you from being “single in the city” to becoming a mom!

  34. So fun to read your update and see how life has been treating you lately! Enjoy every crazy minute with your sweet boys; it does by all too quickly! Looking forward to more recipes – yours never disappoint! AI has nothing on you!

  35. Dearest Ali!
    I enjoy your life updates so much. Your writing reads like a great chat with a good friend.
    Your boys are just to sweet!
    I have enjoyed your blog for many years. I get a huge smile when I see a new recipe or life update. It’s funny but every time you post a life update is just about when I am thinking how is everything going! Milo is just the sweetest! Little Teo sounds like he just the best! Thank you for the update. It made me smile :) Cheers is to another 15 years!

  36. Glad you are back and thanks for the life update. Hope the pups are doing ok! And congratulations on the baby!

  37. Loved reading this update! Those kids are adorable and I’m sure bringing you countless joy. I hope with all the “tech” advances that sites like yours and many others will survive. I so enjoy your recipes so best of luck.

  38. So glad to be experiencing your blog again. Many Blessings for your family and your work. Janelle Nielsen, Iowa

  39. No one talks about the sandwich generation…..it’s exhausting. We’ve had air fried veggies for dinner 6 days in a row now…..because it’s easy and not boxed macaroni and cheese.

  40. Your wonderful update made my day, dearie. I am thrilled for you to be closer to family and friends with your sweet boys. MAYBE you might mosey down our way before too long. It would be great to see all of you. Yes life is VERY different with small people in the mix.
    Thank you again for the food ideas and helpful input. Blessings and hugs, Linda

  41. Milo is so cuuuute😍😁

  42. Your writing makes it all so interesting! Thanks for the update.

  43. What a joy to see you back online again. Gimme Some Oven has long been one of my favorite blogs. Congratulations on all the wonderful new adventures you have had since returning stateside. I wish you, Barclays, Teo and Milo all the blessings you so richly deserve. Thank you for the years of joy I have had reading your blog and for many more years to come.

  44. Sending you guys so much joy and love at this tumultuous time – it sounds like you are settled but you never know! I’m so glad you’re back to blogging, as you feel like a friend (that I’ve never met !). I am so excited for more recipes but also more updates on your beautiful family 💙

  45. GREAT TO READ YOUR UPDATE. CONGRATS ON BEING BACK IN MO.
    AND, YES IT IS REALLY HOT. FROM NW MO.

  46. I don’t know when I started to follow you (that sounds stalkerish!), but you didn’t know Barclay yet! Thanks for having me along for your ride. It has been such a joy seeing you get married, move to Spain and back and also grow your lovely family. My children are all in their 20s, so it brings back wonderful memories watching all of you. The amazing recipes are a bonus! Please don’t pressure yourself re blogging and recipe production. Enjoy your young, beautiful family. We will be here. 💗

  47. What a wonderful summary of your adventures! Photos are precious addition. I’d love to see you when it is cooler!
    Love to you,
    Libby

  48. Hello Old Friends (we hope to meet someday!)~

    Thank you for the update. I can’t tell you what a relief it is to read things are going better than expected and that the move has been a positive one. I encourage you to share more pros and cons comparisons between American and Barcelonan cultures. It will give us a chance to open our minds and hearts to things Different Yet Valuable. I especially love the open arms attitude for the multicultural touchstone and home(ish) base you are providing.

    Welcome Back!!!!

  49. What a fun update! I’m glad you seem to be settling in so well. I hope I run into you again at Target (or Trader Joe’s, or Costco, or someplace) and get a peek at Milo. And I’m looking forward to more recipes!

  50. SO SO SO HAPPY to see this post and have you back!