Gimme Some Oven

Currently

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Teo Martin

A long (long, long, long) overdue hello from Barcelona! ♡

Can’t believe it has been over half a year since I shared one of these updates. I actually sat down and started writing this post three months ago, back when I was preparing to return to work after maternity leave. But then our life got turned upside down when Teo was unexpectedly admitted to the hospital for a week with — not one, but it turned out — two serious tummy-related issues. And to make a very long story short, we basically ended up spending the rest of our summer in and out of doctor’s offices trying to figure out exactly what was going on and how to help him feel better. It was a hard and exhausting stretch for our little family, watching our brand-new baby get poked and prodded and scanned galore, having to take turns being with him at the hospital because of pandemic rules, all while the three of us were still in the thick of the sleep-deprived new parent fog. But Teo was a brave little campeón (a champ, as the nurses always called him) through it all. And while we have decided to keep his medical details private, I’m so thankful to report that he has now recovered from both issues and is currently doing so, so, so much better. (Big exhale!)

He went from being quite colicky and not feeling well during his pre-hospital months to now being such a smiley and easygoing and happy little camper. And now that his tummy feels better, his appetite has skyrocketed along with his percentiles on the growth charts, and we can’t get enough of those sweet chubby cheeks and ever-multiplying little rolls that are growing by the day. He’s 6.5-months-old now and currently obsessed with broccoli, being outside, trying to pet (more like swat at) our two dogs whenever they come near, reading-slash-trying-to-eat all of his books, “playing” Dad’s ukelele, and charming all of the passersby during our daily strolls around Barcelona. He was decidedly not a fan of sleep until just recently, despite all of the experts’ advice, so there has been a record amount of coffee consumed in our casa these past six months. But we’ve been doing our best to soak up each of these different phases of babyhood with their ups and downs while they last, because what everyone told us is proving bittersweetly true — it really does go SO FAST.

Anyway, I’m finally back to work part time and am slowly — make that, very slowly — getting caught up on things around here. Fall is always my favorite time of year to cook and I have a bunch of cozy new recipes coming your way this month that I think you’re going to love. I also have some long-overdue and incredible updates to share with you about the community garden project that you helped to fund in Mali, so be sure to stay tuned for more news on that coming next week. As for today, though, it’s been forever since I shared with you about our new little family of three. So here’s the latest on life here in Barcelona currently…

Maternity leave with Ali Martin

Maternity Leave

Well first off, I want to start by saying how grateful I was to be able to take time off for maternity leave.  I know that access to parental leave runs the gamut around the world — from our European friends who have impressively long leaves (Spain currently gives both partners 4 months, which is set to increase to 6 months in 2022), to our American friends who typically have shorter leaves (at least for one or both partners), to so many others around the world who are forced to manage with far, far less. The privilege of getting to stay home together during those first few months and completely disconnect from work and spend full days (and full nights, oh boy) getting to know this tiny new human was something I thought about daily. And while those months were next-level exhausting and humbling and challenging, and the nonstop cycle of newborn routines often felt like our own episode of Groundhog Day, I have to say…I loved newborn life so much. Like, so much more than I had even expected.

If I’m completely honest, as much as we wanted a baby, and as long and hard as we had to work to try and have one, I also absolutely loved the life and home and family that Barc and I had built with just the two of us. And as our due date drew near, I found myself having mixed feelings about closing the chapter on that season of our lives and bringing this brand new, unpredictable, tiny little human into the mix. So many of the clichés around birth (“I can’t even remember what life was like before _____ arrived!”) had me subconsciously steeling myself for this tidal wave of change that was about to overtake our family. And I think especially as an enneagram-3 who has often tied so much of my identity to my career, I was nervous how it was going to feel stepping back from work for a season and immersing myself instead in this unfamiliar new role and extremely different rhythms of newborn life.

But when Teo arrived, I was surprised and delighted to find that he just…fit. ♡

Like…holding him our arms, bringing him home to our flat, and having him siesta there beside us in the kitchen as we heated up our first freezer meal somehow just…fit. It all kind of felt surprisingly undramatic and natural in the best of ways, like his sweet little spirit had somehow always been part of our family. And after a rocky pregnancy, it was just such a relief and comfort to finally have him here.

To be sure, those first weeks and months were intense, as I know that so many of you reading this have experienced. The sleep deprivation was profoundly exhausting and humbling and — despite the books and experts we followed — didn’t significantly let up until just two weeks ago. Teo was also very colicky during his first three months, and watching him be so uncomfortable with no way to soothe him was rough. The relentlessness of 24/7 parenting without any childcare breaks and without family nearby also made those first few months feel like a disorienting time warp, and it was frustrating not being able to be out and about socializing and adventuring around the city as we would have liked during because of the pandemic (especially before we were able to be vaccinated). And of course, just trial-and-erroring our way through the newborn stage as first-time parents — with all of the million little questions that come up with regards to food, sleep, shots, milestones, baby gear, etc — was quite the aventura.

But while the hard parts of those newborn days were harder than I expected, the sweet parts ended up being far, far sweeter than I expected too. I mean, nothing can really prepare you for how amazing those newborn snuggles feel and how wild it is to watch a brand-new human experience everything about the world for the very first time. We joke that we basically spent the first three months of Teo’s life just staring at him, haha, which is honestly no exaggeration. I was also one of the lucky ones for whom breastfeeding came easily, and I deeply loved being able to spend that time with him and watch my body learn to nourish him. We were also able to fly back to the States this past May to introduce Teo to his American family and friends, and we were so touched by how special that time was. He is the first grandchild for both of our parents, and seeing him as a tiny baby in their arms will forever be one of my favorite memories.

I think one of the other sweet surprises about maternity leave was how special (and unusual!) it was to have that stretch of non-working time at home with Barclay. I had of course been looking forward to having those months at home with Teo. But I hadn’t really thought through the fact that Barc and I have also never had that kind of day-in day-out unstructured time together when we’re home and not working our usual 40 hours a week…which ended up being so fun! I also have to say that, as someone who is accustomed to spending so much of my workweek staring at a computer dealing with techy concepts like search engine optimization or website plugins, I found it surprisingly refreshing to spend my days wholly immersed in the very tangible world of snuggles, feeds, burps, baths and poo. I don’t know, it all just felt so human and I loved it. Especially those snuggles, take me baaack to those newborn snuggles.

Anyway, Barclay and I will probably forever think back on our maternity/paternity leave in two chapters — before the hospital and after Teo was hospitalized. But while the cloud of the latter often tries to overshadow that entire season in my mind, the truth is that those first few months of leave together with Teo were profoundly sweet and special. I’m so deeply grateful we got to be home and experience them with our little guy.

Barclay, Teo and Ali Martin

6 Months In

So skipping ahead…what does life look like lately?

As for Teo, I’m thrilled to report that he’s doing great. After the whole hospital whirlwind and subsequent months of tests and check-ups and specialist appointments, we confirmed with another test just this week that his little tummy is now in excellent shape. (No more doctor’s appointments for the rest of the year – hurrah!) Teo now spends his week hanging out with our amazing new nanny, Inés, who watches him part-time while Barclay and I work. He also recently started eating solids, which has turned into a whole neighborhood event since we usually eat out on our back terrace and the neighbors come out to wave hello when they hear his enthusiastic broccoli squeals. He’s also already becoming quite the little traveler, with stamps already on his passport from trips to the US, Italy, and Portugal, plus a few adventures around Spain. But mostly he’s just a really sweet little dude who melts our hearts with his still-toothless smiles and he is quickly growing bigger and more mobile (here we go!) by the day.

As for me, I’ve been back to work part-time and currently feel like I’m behind on, well…everything. That actually hasn’t bothered me too much when it comes to work and household stuff, but it’s definitely been harder than I anticipated not having the time or energy to keep up with friends and family in this season as much as I’m accustomed to. (Especially during the whirlwind of baby life when ironically it feels like new parents need loved ones the most!) Poco a poco, we’re finding our groove with getting out and socializing with a baby in tow, and we’ve really been enjoying hosting dinners and happy hours with friends here at our place after he goes to bed. But whenever any weekend brunches or early morning stroller dates or long-distance video chats or babysitter nights out come around…whew, my heart soaks up that connection like crazy. I also have to say that it’s been really, really special this past year being able to turn to fellow mom friends for advice when it came to pregnancy and, now, parenting. I learned the hard way early on that Google is not a healthy place for a naturally-anxious new mama to go with baby-related questions, so being able instead to lean on the wisdom of trusted friends and also experience that new side of friendship together has felt like a total win-win.

Anyway, as for our little family in general, we’re all really really enjoying this 6-month-old stage, especially now that Teo is so much more interactive and fun and strong and his little personality is really starting to shine through. Barclay is in his absolute element as a dad and loves taking the early morning shift so that he can go for “boys’ adventures” around town with Teo in the carrier. And even though we both have permanent bags under our eyes and still feel like we’re just barely keeping up with the day-to-day, he has been such a great partner and we are just really, deeply happy right now getting to finally experience being parents together.

Giving Teo a bath

A Few FAQs

I’ve done a few Q&As over on Instagram since Teo’s birth, but realize that I still haven’t shared many of those responses here. So below are a few of the questions that have come up most often for our familia since Teo was born…

How did you decide on Teo’s name? Throughout the course of our pregnancy, we could not figure out what to name this baby! But the week before he was born, we happened to stumble across the name Teo (pronounced “tay-oh” in Spanish) and it just clicked. We love that it’s easy for everyone in both countries that we consider home to pronounce, we love that it’s both a Spanish and Catalan name (which feels very Barcelona), and we love that it is the name of a beloved children’s book series here in Spain. But what really sealed the deal for us was learning that the name means “gift from God” (which felt especially true after infertility) and it also means “twin” (which was very meaningful after losing Teo’s twin brother during pregnancy). We love the name and it suits our little guy perfectly!

How did your c-section and recovery end up going? Thankfully really well. After all of the anxious build-up to Teo’s birth, not quite knowing how it might unfold with my back issues, the epidural and c-section basically ended up going smoothly as possible and my recovery also went considerably faster than we had expected. I did end up running into some issues with my incision a few months postpartum, but shout-out to the wonder that is pelvic floor physical therapy for helping get those sorted out. (Yet one more reason that I love European healthcare — postpartum pelvic floor PT is standard care here and also supported long-term by insurance in most European countries.)

What cultural differences do you notice as an American having a baby in Spain? In general, Spanish culture is just incredibly baby-friendly — babies are welcome absolutely anywhere and people just adore them and always want to stop to greet them. Parenting here is very intentionally laid-back, probably both for better and worse, and kids don’t seem to be as busy with scheduled activities as they often are in the States. There’s also a much more minimalistic culture here when it comes to baby gear. And some things that we didn’t even think twice about as Americans — swaddling, sound machines, sleep training, hospital bills (we paid nada for the birth) — definitely are not common here. For example, we were shocked when the newborn nurse told us she had never seen a swaddled baby at our hospital in her entire career! There are also so many cute vocabulary words in Spanish associated with babies. I’ll have to make a list and share those sometime.

Are you going to teach Teo Spanish? Por seguro, we are super excited about our little hijo learning Spanish. And if we stay in Barcelona for awhile, he will learn Catalan and be trilingual too.

How has it been traveling with a baby? Definitely a whole new ballgame, lol. We regularly find ourselves quoting Barclay’s motto — “it’s either a good time or a good story.” ;) But our love of travel is one of the main reasons that we moved abroad and we’ve been SO excited to start adventuring around with Teo, especially now that Europe has opened back up. So our philosophy for traveling with a baby thus far has basically been to just book the tickets…and figure it out as we go. :) We’ve already traveled together to the United States, Italy, Portugal and road tripped around Spain. And while I wouldn’t say that traveling with a baby has in any way been relaxing, lol, it’s been a good new adventure for us. We’ve learned a lot and have loved getting to make new memories together now as a family of three.

Ali Martin Baby Nursery in Barcelona

Favorite Baby Gear So Far

Finally, I promised that I would report back with some of our favorite new baby gear once we’d had the chance to legit put it to the test! So here are a few of our tried-and-tested faves thus far:

  • Joolz Aer StrollerI went down a major rabbit hole researching strollers that would be super lightweight (because of my bad back), narrow (to fit through Barcelona’s subway turnstiles and also squeeze in our elevator), travel-friendly (to fit on a plane) yet still well-made and study enough for every day use (we didn’t want to buy a separate travel stroller). Turns out that very few strollers on the market check all of those boxes. But in the end, we went with a Joolz Aer and I cannot tell you how much we LOVE THIS STROLLER. We have easily logged hundreds of miles on it already with all of our daily adventures around the city, and it continues to drive like a dream and remains impressively sturdy. I also love that its design is so beautiful and minimal and clean, love that it has a bassinet attachment and car seat that go with it, and we can also vouch that this stroller passed the airplane carry-on test and traveled under our seats with us to Italy and Portugal. Anyway, if you happen to be in the market for a lightweight stroller that can withstand the rigors of daily city life, I genuinely can’t recommend it enough.
  • Stokke Convertible CribThere are a surprising amount of American baby furniture brands available here in Spain now, but I really wanted to buy local (or at least, European-local) as much as possible for Teo’s nursery. So we ended up tracking down a used Stokke Sleepi on Wallapop (similar to Craigslist) and have completely enjoyed it. I love its oval shape and clean, classic design. And once Teo grows out of its current size, we look forward to converting it into a little toddler bed.
  • Stokke BathtubWe’ve also used this foldable bathtub for Teo (since our flat only has showers) and absolutely love it. It’s just the right size, packs up easily to bring with us when we travel, and we appreciate that it uses an eco-friendly amount of water.
  • Baby Bjorn Bouncer: For our family, this thing is worth its weight in gold. We call it Teo’s “easy chair” because it’s so easy to pop him in there when we need a break and he blisses out in there like an old man in his recliner. I’ve also read that it’s one of the safer containers out there, according to pediatric PTs, when used in moderation.
  • Lovevery Activity Gym: I feel like every family I know with a baby has this play mat right now, but it really is wonderful.
  • Magic Sleep SuitWe had lots of friends recommend this sleep suit to us for transitioning out of a swaddle and, sure enough, it worked really well for Teo. We also bring it with us on longer plane rides or other places we might be out of the house during nap time if he needs help getting to sleep.
  • Ergobaby Soft Carrier: We’ve been using this classic carrier almost daily since Teo was a newborn and it’s been great.
  • Other Favorite Stuff: We’re also big fans of Teo’s sound machine, Sophie the Giraffe, Bibs and Hevea pacis, Nuk bottles, super-soft muslins, a really comfortable rocking chair or glider, a good drying rack (for bottles and pump parts), and books books books.

Ali Martin and Teo

More to come!

Ok, this may be my longest “Currently” update yet, so if you made it this far — you are also a campeón. ♡ Thank you so much again for all of your kind messages and support while I was away on leave. It felt wild not working on this blog each day after having been at it nonstop for over a dozen years now. But the break was good and it also feels good to be back.

Stay tuned for more good stuff ahead this month. And Teo and I are sending you un abrazo fuerte (a big hug) from Barcelona!

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72 comments on “Currently”

  1. This post was like catching up with an old friend (I have been following along for 8 years). I appreciate all the honesty as I head into my ninth month of pregnancy and have similar feelings of missing my old (easier) life and wonder how to balance work/motherhood as an enneagram 3. So happy to hear you all are doing well (although with a lot less sleep and more caffeine) ! I would love to see a post on your favorite freezer meals you made before baby.

  2. So happy for you and your sweet family! My baby boy just turned 5 months old and your post has me missing those newborn snuggles! We live far away from family too, and that plus the pandemic has had us feeling pretty isolated and lonely. But we’re so grateful for a health baby and for the time just the three of us. We had a scary 12 hours in the ER with our baby boy and it was the worst night of our lives watching them run tests and draw blood multiple times. I can’t imagine going through that for weeks on end. You are such a strong and inspiring mama, and your boy is beautiful! Can’t wait for another update!

  3. Hola! I loved reading this. I have a pandemic baby boy (a few months older than Teo), and have loved following along your journey (and adore your recipies, por supuesto).

    I’m also very excited to hear what’s next for y’all… :)

  4. Congratulations! He’s beautiful!

  5. I am so thrilled to read this update from you! Teo is so beautiful and seeing your family after following your story makes my heart sing!

    I just cant believe you wrote this whole update without mentioning Covid at all!!!! Truly a feat! I feel like pandemic parenting the States is just so hard. :'( My baby just turned one year, and until we finally traveled in April 2021, I could count on one hand the number of people who had held him.

  6. LOVE your story. Happy to hear that Teo is marvelous now. Keep yourself well. Love the pictures!

  7. This made a 28 year old male tear up. The joy you have is utterly contagious. Every picture is so precious (my favorites are the grandparents). I appreciate the honesty as I prepare myself to go through this same journey in a few years. I love love love Barcelona and can only imagine raising a child there, super jealous. Blessings to young Teo, and looking forward to the next update :)

  8. this made my day!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thank you so much for this!!!!! So much happiness and love!!!!!!

  9. You two made a beautiful little boy, altho I think he looks alot like his dad. I am so glad he turned out to be ok but what a summer you have had. Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful photos, must be family in them too.
    Well have a great day,
    Thanks again
    Val

  10. Thank you for sharing your beautiful son and family! :)

  11. I am so happy for the three of you. Sorry about all the problems that Teo had. When my son was born,
    we soon found out he had pyloric stenosis and at 10 days old, he had to have surgery to correct it. He
    was our third child, so we also had the two of them at home during the whole ordeal. He got through
    it with flying colors and had no longterm effects. He is now 41 years old. Babies are so wonderful and
    such a blessing. You have so many wonderful times ahead of you.
    God bless all of you,
    Ruthi Montecinos

  12. Thank you for sharing this wonderful update. Your family is beautiful. Enjoy every moment!

  13. Congratulations for your happiness as a family!

  14. Dear Ali,
    Thanks for this message and my continued best wishes for Teo and your family. I lived in Madrid five years and used the private healthcare system which was so very affordable compared to here.

    I just made your apple crisp for the umpteenth time from fruit harvested in my yard; two different apples from same tree.

    Enjoy life and best wishes,
    Carl

  15. So very happy for all of you. What a beautiful family! Love hearing about your adventures.

  16. So happy for you! I miss the newborn days; it really does go by so fast; the snuggles are the best! Teo is beautiful!

  17. Congratulations! Very happy for all of you. :)

  18. I love following your site for both the wonderful recipes and now, your adventures with Teo. He is one beautiful boy and is so lucky to have you all as his family. What wonderful memories he will have growing up in Spain. Wishing you all the best with each chapter of this adventure. (Can’t wait to follow along.)

  19. Loved reading the update! I am especially looking forward to hearing more about raising and providing for a baby in Europe versus in the US. I think the US is shifting more toward a minimalistic view of parenting (at least as it relates to baby gear) but I know it’s no where near European culture. Best to you, B, T and the pups!

  20. So glad you’re back and teo doing well. He’s adorable. Lots of good times and health in the future.

  21. So glad to hear Teo is doing much better! 💕🙏🏻🙏🏻 Thanks for the great update!

  22. So happy Teo is well! He is such a beautiful, bright-eyed happy baby. Congratulations to all three of you.

  23. What a beautiful baby ! Sorry to hear about all these problems and happy that everything is better
    now !
    Enjoy this little man because time indeed flies …
    A big hug from a french woman in the Netherlands 😘

  24. If looking in the dictionary under “happy family” these pictures would say it all.

  25. What a precious babe. Thank you for sharing pictures of Teo along with an update. I am so happy for you all.

  26. Welcome back! So happy for you — he’s gorgeous and I’m so happy he’s healthy! Take care.

  27. Love these posts!!! So happy for your precious family!!! Take care!!

  28. Oh! My! GOSH!! Most adorable baby ever!! So happy for all the blessings that your family has been graced with! Enjoy every moment–they grow up fast!

    • New baby over here, too. And very, very sleep deprived:) Would love to hear more about different ideas on sleep! We “sleep trained” our older daughter and she’s been sleeping through the night pretty much ever since. I can’t imagine that’s a bad thing (?!) but if whole parts of the world dont do it, there must be other ways that work!

  29. Congratulations! What an adorable baby Teo is!! Enjoy your spending time as a family!! They grow so fast and time flies!!!

  30. I loved reading your post. Thank you for sharing. I wish you and your family only the best. Your photos are great and made me smile.

  31. Thank you so much for sharing your life with us!! I truly enjoy every post you make. So happy Teo is doing muh better-The power of prayer!! Welcom e back

  32. Thank you so sooo much for this lovely update. I continue to feel in awe of you and your life’s journey. I had a chai tea chat with Grandpa Howard the day before his surgery. (He presented me with a signed copy of his new book!) We both commented on how we feel so grateful that you were in Barcelona for Teo’s birth…and we wouldn’t blame you for staying there…too much hate and discord in the USA. Love to you ALL💞

  33. Such a great post. We feel so so fortunate to have been able yo meet Teo here in Barcelona and we hope he and our precious Margo will be good friends!!! Keep up the great work!

  34. Wowsa! You are all champions. Congrats 🥳
    I really enjoy knowing your site , and you, are fool proof. Thanks for giving me joy for cooking/baking again.

  35. So pleased to hear Teo is well now and you are all enjoying life with your precious wee man.
    I really enjoyed reading your update and seeing your photos. Anne

  36. Ali, I’ve so missed your posts and loved this update. I’m so glad that he’s doing so well and he looks so happy! I send yall a big hug. Does Teo stands for Mateo? or Teodoro?
    Digna

  37. This feels like when my girlfriend and I haven’t seen each other in MONTHS and we pick up right where we left off when we finally connect again🥰 You are truly blessed and it was amazing to hear how your lil family is doing so well. So happy you posted…felicidades❤️

  38. BEAUUUUUTIFUL. THANK YOU FOR THE WONDERFUL PICTURES. GREAT BLESSINGS TO ALL OF YOU AND TEANY-TINY BEAUTIFUL BABY.

  39. Gosh! He is so cute! How do you not spend the entire day just looking at his adorable face!

  40. Thank you, Ali, for sharing with us. You and Barkley seem to be doing a beautiful job with Tao. Glad he is healthy now. Have known you and your sister and your mom and dad since you were a little girl because of Lizzie Kate. Your parents are very, very special and I can relate to your being separated from them because one of our sons lives in Wisconsin with two small ones and another on the way. It isn’t Spain, but not next door either. Your little one is beautiful! Enjoy every moment!

  41. So wonderful to hear the good news about your sweet family. Love all the photos. Teo is truly a gift and a blessing. Look forward to more updates and delicious recipes.

  42. Thanks so much for sharing your newborn family adventures! Teo is absolutely beautiful!

  43. Beautiful family.

  44. So happy for all of you!

  45. I love your story, thank you for sharing. It has been a tumultuous 2 years and hopefully everything settles down now, all the best to you and your beautiful family, Teo is a cutie!

  46. That is one cute baby!!😍🥰😘

  47. Having a 33 year old daughter who had colick and had to have 6 inches of her colon removed I can appreciate what you went through. Unfortunately for my daughter no one has been able to diagnose why she became impacted in the first place and she has been living on nausea meds IV since 2010. The other day we went to the hospital to have her pic line replaced and of course there was an issue. Finally a vascular surgeon pulled out the stuck pic line and replaced. He did say however that her veins are all shot and when this pic line stops functioning they can replace it and she isn’t a candidate for a port either because of her veins. Her Gastro doesn’t even know what to do for her anymore.
    Best to you and your family.

  48. wow! Such a joy to read your update and seeing your little man! omg… such a cutie!! super adorable! So glad to hear all your stories about living in Spain – I cant wait to visit some day! So happy to see that you are having the best time and the only thing I can say is cherish this precious time with Teo. It will go by so fast. Looking forward to your next post!

  49. Ali he’s just gorgeous, need to catch up with you guys soon….sending big love and delighted to see Teo so well recovered and happy x

  50. Just wanted to say that I appreciate you writing about things changing with your social life as new parents. I know it sounds like an obvious thing that comes with parenthood, but we’re 11 months in with our baby at it still feels really, really hard to adjust to. I hope that you’ll continue to write more of these updates as you raise your little man. They’re so good to read.