I finally had a tree for the holidays, a giant evergreen that dad got me. We swirled its branches in lights and nothing more. And for many long evenings, reading on the couch, G and the bokeh of the twinkles were my backgrounds while my pregnant tummy protruded in the foreground.
Just shy of 37 weeks pregnant, we drove from Sarajevo to Amsterdam for last-minute nesting. And three weeks later, on his grandparents's wedding day and actual due date, March 14, Dylan was born. And I shortly learned that my one big thing would not be coding but him.
From here, rememberings of the beginnings of parenthood take over. There are a lot of Dylan's firsts. But also mine taking the shape of "firsts after becoming a parent," like the first time I made it on my yoga mat, Mountain Pose, chest open, palms facing forward, rooting through my feet, tears down my cheeks.
In Favorites tradition, I counted 25 finished books and over 16.000 kilometers of road-tripping. However, except for Dylan's sleep patterns, I didn't track much more since, like monitoring an infant's sleep, I could no longer justify the usefulness of all that tracking.
Countless, though, are the snapshots I collected with friends. Tacos, bubbles, puzzles, up-hill walks, phone calls. And the decision to make even more.
I'm diving into the mundane.
And settling down, maybe.
Here are my favorites of 2022.
Best Purchase I Made Under $100
The softest, most comfortable bottoms, which I wear at least 12 hours a day.
Plus, a Few Other Clothing Favorites
Birkenstock Arizona Black
I've gone through multiple pairs over the years. Always Arizona. Always black.
I order all my basic tees and tanks from Everlane.
Escape Tote by State of Escape
I adore the material and nautical hints.
The Trench Raincoat by Maium
The coolest trench I've ever owned. Transforms into a poncho and hideout for Dylan. Made of 111 recycled plastic bottles in Amsterdam.
The Book I Recommended Most Often
Misbehavior is a child's way of asking for more responsibility, more ways to contribute to the family, and more freedom. When a child breaks rules, acts demanding, or seems "willful," their parents need to put them to work. The child is saying, "Hey, Mom, Dad, I'm underemployed over here and it doesn't feel good."
G and I follow much of the parenting advice from this book, like:
- Letting Dylan practice cooking and cleaning while accepting the mess he's creating for now so that, in time, we'll raise him to be a helpful kid.
- Involving Dylan in our day-to-day chores as means of playing with him instead of going out of our way to entertain him.
- Understanding that if Dylan doesn't seem to be listening, he might be too young to understand the lesson.
- Not getting upset when Dylan misbehaves because that's what kids are supposed to do.
- Making sure plenty of other adults take care of Dylan too.
And a Few Other Books That Guided My Parenting
The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding
I initially struggled with breastfeeding and had many doubts and questions until I read The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. It's no doubt why I'm still breastfeeding Dylan at eleven months and counting.
Sweet Sleep reassured me to keep bedsharing with Dylan for as long as needed, which has helped us all sleep better.
Super Nutrition for Babies
G and I follow an ancestral diet. Although the recommended diet in Super Nutrition for Babies is similar, it includes fermented foods and certain grains and nuts (though only if prepared properly), which ours doesn't. Still, the book affirmed most of the dietary choices we're making for Dylan and inspired us to increase our raw dairy intake.
How Not to Hate Your Husband After Kids
I learned about Julie Morgenstern's (a time management consultant) idea to organize a weekend by breaking it up into "seven distinct units of time: Friday night, Saturday morning, Saturday afternoon, Saturday night, Sunday morning, Sunday afternoon, Sunday night" and assigning each unit a theme (like leisure, people, quality time, shopping and household tasks, etc.) G and I tested this approach, and our biggest takeaway was that we needed to be more intentional about scheduling solo time, which we've kept doing since.
Though G and I share all household chores, we didn't seem very efficient. We learned from Fair Play that this was because we were breaking up the responsibilities, which Rodsky defines as conception, planning, and execution. By taking responsibility for all three stages of a task, we've streamlined our day-to-day.
A Discovery That Made Life Easier
👶🏻 Tiny Library - Platform for renting high-quality baby products
I instantly connected with the company's idea and loved not having to buy and commit to products Dylan would only use for a short while. We rented a travel stroller, carrier, and co-sleeper. The latter Dylan barely used, and it was great to be able to return it once we discovered he didn't like it. The foldable stroller was just right for city life in Amsterdam but not so much for the cobblestone streets of Ericeira village. While the carrier turned out to be our absolute favorite mode of transportation.
Experiment I Loved
💸 No Tipping
I used to be a generous and indiscriminate tipper, and the thought of not tipping made me uncomfortable. That didn't seem right, so I challenged myself to stop tipping for a year. When the service was exceptional, I learned to sit with the awkwardness of not leaving a tip and showing my appreciation in kindness instead. Though I also learned that, more often than not, the service didn't warrant a tip.
Fear List Wish I Unexpectedly Ticked Off
🧘🏻♀️ The Fear of Stillness
For one of the chapters of The Knitting Club, we tackled our Fear List. While mulling over my list, I learned that my biggest fear would be to do nothing. For the sake of the challenge, I reframed this fear into the more active form of finding more stillness and stopped listening to audiobooks and podcasts, worked fewer hours, and included journaling, meditation, and siestas.
Practice Friends Were Most Enthusiastic About
💸 Index Fund Investing
Most Memorable Travel Experience
🚗 Road trip with G and Dylan
In May, G and I made a 4000-kilometer road trip from Bosnia to Portugal. Our journey, fueled by the high from tripping with nine-week-old Dylan, was loaded with keepsake moments, which evolved around elaborate early dinners, quirky stays, and the kindness of the people we met and visited.
Like, for our first stop in Ljubljana, Slovenia. Where G and I tested a "WhatsApp date dinner." Using the messenger app, we turned our phones into baby monitors, and while Dylan slept in our hotel room, we had steak and wine on the restaurant's terrace.
Then, there was Paula, the owner of Rocopom Suites at Como Lake, whom I remember by her orange-hued hair and hazel eyes. But more so by the wonder mom necklace she wore, which her daughter made. And the light on her face when I told her, during another WhatsApp dinner date with G, that I, too, found her wonderful.
On our way to France, but still in Italy, tracking deserted gray roads littered with castles and forts, and a sleeping ticking bomb in the backseat that could go hangry on us any moment, we desperately scoured for a pit stop. I ticked off dozens of Google Maps results, ready to give into another mainstream gas station when I tapped on what road trip dreams are made of. La Cascata, built across a waterfall, is run by a daughter and mom team and offers regional wines, cheeses, and charcuterie platters. We lingered with broad grins.
Unimpressed by our one-night visit in Chamonix, we set towards the south at sunrise, stopping for a longed filter coffee in Annecy. We once considered anchoring a nomad chapter in this medieval village, an idea left unexplored, which now, roaming the farmers market, abundant with raw cheeses, meats, and natural produce, struck me like a missed chance.
Still, we left the lake town without overnighting, possibly as not to yield to regret. Or simply because we could since we never made any advance hotel reservations. So we kept driving until the late afternoon when we pulled up the trusty Maps again, searching for an ad hoc stay. We settled on Château de Campuget, which ticked the magic trio: beds, winery, and restaurant on site.
Upon arrival, we were assigned an all-red chamber, suggested a bottle of wine from the closing wine shop, and seated in a closed restaurant. The owner Franklin offered to order pizza but then relented and prepared a makeshift spread of goat cheese, dry-cured sausage, butter, baguette, and a homemade chestnut cake. We sat in the abandoned bistro garden, gorging, expressing our disbelief at how good the saucisson tasted while recognizing the whole set and setting wouldn't misfit in a Woody Allen picture.
The following morning, we crossed over to G's territory, his motherland, Spain. G suggested a stop in Besalú, a fortress town between two rivers. Too early for the tourist hordes; lucky for us, we ricketed Dylan up and down the empty walls, all ours.
Many more stops and stays and meals followed in Spain–all so different.
In Lleida, we slept in a Roser Convent and ate snails and drank Cava in what used to be a church. G's parents met Dylan for the first time in Madrid. And then we met them again in Toledo, where we all stayed in a Mudéjar-inspired parador that offered a 1000-piece puzzle view of the Tejo river and nougat shades of Islamic and Romanesque structures. In Estepona, staying at a serviced apartment, we fell into a pleasant grove, with early morning walks around the estate, pool plunges, and simple spreads made with groceries delivered from El Corte Inglés (Though, there was that one ribeye at restaurant Saramiento, overlooking the town of Casares, with narrow streets and whitewashed blocked houses swirling up its hill like the icing on a cupcake). At golf resort Hotel La Cala, a colonial vibe overtook us, as we spent our time between the swinging English. And we shrieked in relief that we hadn't booked the intended ten days at Isla Canela from where we couldn't leave early enough, racing to our final destination, Ericeira. But right before that, still, on Spanish ground, there was Tarifa.
Another city where G and I once considered settling, even marrying. Now, here, like then, to kiteboard. It would be my first session since the last one three and half years ago in Boracay, and my first attempt at extreme sports, three months after giving birth. When my kite pulled out, I remained breathless, overtaken by emotions, tears frozen.
Parenthood had proven all-encompassing. Yet, I hadn't always been a parent. And I wasn't only a parent. And this trip was a testament to the merging of those two different lives, the before and after parenthood. G and I had resolved to travel as we would sans baby. Of course, we made a few thoughtful adjustments and slowed down, but other than that, we did what we liked. Undoubtedly, it was a challenging trip but also the most fulfilling one we ever made.
As I neared the end of my session on the water, my teacher Pedro, who had been communicating with me via a walkie-talkie, was now speaking to G, then cooing to Dylan. Fumbling sounds followed as Pedro passed the headset to G. "We're fine," G said.
One Thing That Defined the Year
🐄 Raw All The Things
G and I doubled down on finding farms and shops selling pastured-fed meats, organs, eggs, organic fruits, raw dairy, and honey. These are some of our favorites:
- Boeren Pitstop - Holland
- Freixo do Meio - Portugal
- Finca Vituron and La Casa De La Aldea - Spain
- Tržnica - Bosnia
Plus, Two Breakfast Recipes
Quote I Started 2022 With
Life isn't as serious as the mind makes it out to be. –Eckhart Tolle