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Ali Martin and her son, Teo

Bon día from Barcelona! ♡

I’ve been looking forward to sitting down and writing an update here for ages and somehow kept getting pulled in other directions. (Seems to be the case with most of the things on my to-do list right now while chasing a very cute and very speedy 13-month-old around all day!) But this morning, I’m sitting next to our sunniest window with an iced pink latte in my hand, a snuggly pup in my lap, and Barclay’s out for an adventure with Teo and the pups…so I thought it was time for a chat!

I don’t know about you all, but this spring feels like the first time I’ve been able to get outside and take a deep breath and fully enjoy this beautiful season in years. Two years ago, of course, we were trapped inside our tiny flat all season long during Spain’s strict lockdown. One year ago, we were sleep-deprived zombies navigating life with a newborn during the pandemic. And just one month ago, we found ourselves quarantined yet again after our whole family (and nearly all of our local friends) caught the new subvariant, which hung on for quite some time.

But today, Barclay, Teo and I are all symptom-free and finally back to feeling better. And for the first time in over two years, Spain officially just lifted its mask mandate this past week…which feels downright surreal. People have been extremely diligent here about masking up during the pandemic, so this is literally the first time we’ve been able to go places and actually see people’s faces in what feels like an eternity. It been so refreshing. And while we all obviously still have a long way to go before we’re completely out of the woods with the pandemic, this spring feels like the recharge everyone in Barcelona has been waiting for. So as they say in Spanish, hay que aprovechar…time to take advantage and soak it up!

Our plan for our little familia this season is to do exactly that. We’re actually taking off for Paris tomorrow (our first time there together as a family since we’ve lived in Europe!), then I’ll be heading out on a solo trip to see some dear friends in Bucharest next week (my first time in Romania), followed by a long family trip back to the States in May (we’re changing things up and including a stop at my sister’s in Chicago, which I’m super excited about), then we have a summer full of hosting and adventures around Europe ahead. Our travel-loving hearts couldn’t be more thankful and happy to be getting back out about again. And while we’ve learned over the last year that traveling with a baby is definitely a very different ballgame, we’re pumped to bring our little dude along for the ride too. So excited to have a calendar full of things to look forward to again.

Wherever in the world this may find each of you today, I hope that you are well and that you’re able to soak up a bit of spring sunshine this week. And without further ado, here’s the latest from our little home here in Barcelona.

Collage of Ali Martin, her husband Barclay, and son Teo

Love our little family sooo much

We Have A 1-Yr-Old!

And just like that…our baby turned one. ♡

Actually as of two weeks ago, Teo’s now officially a thirteen-month-old. And while I know that new parents are famous for gushing that each new stage is “just the best,” I’ve gotta say, thirteen months has been a delight so far.

Well first off, I’m thrilled to report that we’re all now sleeping again (omg) ever since Teo did a 180 this past January and went from multiple wakes each night to suddenly sleeping for the most glorious twelve-hour stretches. Barclay and I feel like we’re now able to form complete sentences again. And now that he’s sleeping well, Teo has turned into the cutest little morning dude who lights up with a huge 8-toothed grin to start each day.

He’s on the go nonstop now, pausing only for snacks and story times and the occasional snuggles, which has proven to be quite the workout trying to keep up with him. He’s still absolutely obsessed with spending time outside, shrieks with delight anytime the dogs come near, can almost always be calmed with a song, loves waving “hola” to everyone in Barcelona from his stroller, can’t get enough of the Paco books, and continues to hang out in the 95th percentiles of the Spanish growth charts (our big boy!). I’m also pleased to report that he loves mealtimes just as much as his mama. And if he had a food blog, it would currently be devoted to sardines, meatballs, berries, bone broth, pasta pasta pasta, and chia pudding on repeat (which I’ve decided is the glitter of the baby food world, those pesky seeds end up everywhere).

That said, as a friend said recently, each new stage of parenting is definitely “different hard.” Trying to navigate this new world of toddler parenting, stages, milestones, nutrition, teeth (lol, I definitely underestimated what an accomplishment sprouting each of those teeny tiny teeth would be!) for the first time has definitely felt like such a learning curve. Some of the extra layers that come with expat parenting have also admittedly been more challenging than we expected (hello, navigating cross-cultural differences, ironing out legal stuff in both countries, learning the ins and outs of a completely different educational system, trying to stay connected with family overseas, etc). I feel like I regularly find myself passing by parents on the street being like — “Wait, do you have any clue what you’re doing? Because I am full-on wingin’ it over here. 😅”

But of course, the saving grace of this season has been having amazing friends come alongside and remind us that no one knows exactly how to do this whole parenting thing. And that the joy and adventure of it all is getting to figure it out together. Feeling very relieved and thankful for that lately, and lucky to be surrounded by friends who love us and our little guy so well. Cheers to parenting being a team sport.

Fiona and Henry

Henry snoozing + Fiona smiling

Pup-Date

It’s been wayyy too long since I’ve shared a proper pup-date here. ♡

At 13.5 and 12.5 years old, Henry and Fiona are now the beloved senior members of the house. Henry has been blind for five years and also recently went deaf, yet he continues to fearlessly navigate his way around the house and scale the coffee table anytime he suspects there might be some tasty food available for the stealing. Fiona continues to be her sweet and timid self as always, and prefers to spend her days out on our terrace sunning her belly in the Spanish sunshine as much as possible. Both dogs now now have their siestas regularly interrupted by certain a little human who always always always wants to play, but they have been mercifully tolerant thus far with all of the pats and pokes and “hugs.” They also believe that they struck gold having a high chair magically show up the house, and still can’t believe their luck with all of the free food now raining down three times a day. (A definite win-win, we never have to clean up!)

That said, this is our first time as adults caring for dogs in their golden years, which has us feeling lots of deep feels lately. Both Henry and Fiona now have long (and growing) lists of medical concerns that require a pretty intense amount of care. And watching them continue to and slow down and whiten around their noses and no longer be able to do so many of the things they once loved has been bittersweet. It’s becoming clear that we may not have much time left together, which feels impossible for our hearts to imagine. But what we do know is that these two pups will forever be a part of our little family. We are still so incredibly grateful that they braved the long flight over to Barcelona to make this place feel like “home,” we’re grateful that Teo has had the chance to fall in love with them, and right now, we’re just grateful each continued day of the furry snuggles that life will continue to grant us.

The Wash Project Bridge Building in Mali

Building a 150-meter bridge stone by stone

A New Bridge

As part of my commitment to share more regularly about where a portion of the profits from Gimme Some Oven are being donated, I wanted to let you know about a new project we are supporting with The Wash Project right now.

The Wash Project team in Mali was recently approached by the community of Tentoukoro (located near the Benkadi community gardens) urgently in need of a bridge. When the 4-month rainy season begins there each June, the two rivers bordering Tentoukoro rise to the point that they are incredibly dangerous or impossible to cross. This effectively turns the community into an island for a third of the year, cutting off access to essential services such as health clinics, schools, and markets, as well as neighboring communities. Recently, one of the leaders in the community lost her young daughter because the high water in the river prevented them from reaching the hospital in time to treat her, which has been a deep source of grief for the community.

Leaders from Tentoukoro shared with our team that they would be willing to provide all of the labor (which is an enormous commitment for a project of this scale) to build a 150-meter bridge that could provide safe passage during the rainy season. They just needed engineering direction and help with the cost of materials, which is estimated to be around $13,000.

Using the funds leftover from your generous donations to the Benkadi Gardens project, alongside a portion of this quarter’s profits from Gimme Some Oven, I’m thankful today to report that we were able to provide the financial support to help make this bridge happen. ♡♡♡

As you can see in the photo above, construction is already well underway on the bridge and the project is on track to be successfully completed before the rainy season begins this year. And it has been amazing watching the community organize and work literally day and night to build it stone by stone. They are extremely motivated and excited to see this dream of theirs become a reality. And as you can imagine, the ripples of impact of this new bridge will be far-reaching.

I’ll be back soon to share some more updates and photos, so stay tuned if you would like to follow along. And as always, thank you so much for your support of this site which is helping to make this project possible.

Teo Martin and his Sant Jordi Dragon

Teo and his “drac” (dragon!) on Sant Jordi Day

Feliç Sant Jordi!

Finally, Teo and I just want to wish you a very happy Sant Jordi Day from here in Barcelona! This magical holiday filled with dragons and princesses and romance and sword fights continues to be one of our absolute favorites here in Catalonia, and pretty much the entire city of Barcelona was out and about this past weekend to celebrate. We all gifted each other new books, Teo passed out roses to our neighbors, and we even narrowly made it home in time to dodge a crazy hailstorm…which made for quite a memorable holiday! Always so fun getting to take part in the local traditions here.

Wishing each of you a lovely week ahead, and stay tuned for some of my favorite Tex-Mex recipes comin’ in hot this week!

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