On Waking Up Before My Children

books coffee morning On Waking Up Before My Children image via

For as long as I can remember, Elliott and I have gotten up in the morning with our kids. A little voice calling, “Maaaama!” is the signal that our day has begun. One of us stumbles out of bed, bleary-eyed, and brings that baby back to bed with us, and then the three (and eventually four) of us wake up together.

It sounds deliciously relaxed and cozy to start the day this way, but most of the time it’s really not. It’s whines of “I want breakfast now” and more fussing than seems fair and a general sense that the day has gotten away from you before you were ready for it to begin.

So this week… I started waking up before my kids. Ok, it’s Tuesday, so we’ll see if it lasts! But I knew this week I needed a little extra time to get my bearings in the morning. Elliott’s out of town, my dad is staying with us, and thus I’m facing a week of solo parenting. In order to parent and serve with grace and patience, I’ll need to know my limits and guard them carefully.

Thus far, by the time nap time finally comes every day, it’s all I can do not to dump the kids into their cribs and race for the couch with a good book and a tall glass of ice water (it’s been so hot here and we don’t have A/C). My soul craves that time alone without little voices, little messes, little tummies, little needs.

But I’ve felt extra strength and peace in the morning thanks to waking up an hour or so (or less…) before them. I make a pot of coffee and sit at the table and take a tentative sip. I’m sure many of you know how spectacularly delicious that predawn, freshly-brewed cup of coffee tastes. It’s indescribably fortifying.

And then I’ve been turning to the Bible, reading a few chapters according to the plan that Elliott and I do together. A great sense of peace comes not only from God’s Word itself but also from knowing that I have “tithed” this time, that I have set my priorities in order, that I have responded in gratefulness to the Father for all the good gifts He’s given me.

And then I pray, set the Bible aside, and dive for a few minutes into my latest library book, gathering my last pieces of reserve around me like a blanket to help me stay warm, stay strong, stay gracious for whatever the day might hold.

And then…


And so it begins again.

What about you? Do you wake up before you absolutely have to? Generally Elliott and I stay up too late (eleven-thirty, twelve…) to make it feasible to get up early. What gets you out of bed in the morning? Or maybe I should be asking, “What gets to you to bed early enough at night?” Because I’ve got to do something about that next!

22 :: in Becoming a Stay-at-Home Mom Series, motherhood, thoughts

Hello, Coronado!

becca garber hello coronado 15 Hello, Coronado!

The days are zipping by at a fantastic rate, and before I know it… we will have lived in California for one month! September 7, I’m looking at you. The days have been long but this month has been short.

In an attempt to chronicle these early days, I went through a bunch of photos on my phone (including some from my Instagram), and thought I’d share the highlights with you all today. Come take a walk down memory lane…

becca garber hello coronado 8 Hello, Coronado!

My mom and dad arrived the same day we did, and my mom took this photo of us before one of our first walks around our neighborhood. That’s the entrance to our house; I shared a lot of photos of it here. We’re living in a beautiful little town on an island called Coronado, which is located just off the coast of San Diego. Elliott is only 1.5 miles from work, which is also in Coronado.

becca garber hello coronado 10 Hello, Coronado!

First things first: we bought a car! We had done a little research and knew we wanted a Honda Odyssey (MINIVAN… ack!!!) so we have room for visitors, friends, and family. As you can see, we put our money where our mouth was the very first time we drove our car. Hi, Mom and Dad!

becca garber hello coronado 1 Hello, Coronado!

L: Some things are the same no matter where you live, like your baby in his highchair eating yogurt. I love the simplicity and familiarity of this scene.

R: The same weekend we moved in, our friends John and Mari visited with their son. Lena pulled them around the driveway in one of the many boxes we have around here…

becca garber hello coronado 2 Hello, Coronado!

L: We baked cookies and took them to our neighbors which is a great way to make friends! There are a bunch of kids on our block, and we’re excited to get to know them better.

R: Later that week my mom, the kids, and I took my first trip to Target since we moved back, and my mom treated me to a macchiato and the kids to cake pops! Man oh man, those things are delish.

becca garber hello coronado 12 Hello, Coronado!

My mom, the kids, and I spent hours walking around Coronado and admiring houses. This one on Olive Ave might be my favorite (but its neighbor comes in a close second). That garden!

becca garber hello coronado 13 Hello, Coronado!

Annnnnd the car already has problems. So humbling! So frustrating! Honda said it was their fault due to an issue in the engine and fixed it for us, but the fixing took five days and a rental car.

becca garber hello coronado 3 Hello, Coronado!

One night in August, the Coronado Library hosted a pirate party for local families. The kids decorated pirate hats, played games, grilled hot dogs, decorated cupcakes, and danced to a pirate band. I think I officially fell in love with Coronado that night.

becca garber hello coronado 14 Hello, Coronado!

Speaking of the library, this happened the next morning. I arrived at 9:50, but the library didn’t open till 10. I watched in awe as a huge crowd — at least 75 people — gathered outside the doors, waiting for the stroke of 10. Obviously it’s a well-loved, beautiful resource for many, many people in this town. I’m definitely one of them; I’ve been to the library almost every day since we got here!

  becca garber hello coronado 16 Hello, Coronado!

Little Italy Farmers’ Market and breakfast burritos. All more delicious than I could imagine.

becca garber hello coronado 17 Hello, Coronado!

On our first trip to the beach, we found an injured cormorant. Elliott the Veternarian-slash-Hero called Wildlife Animal Rescue and then showed them how to gently capture and carry the bird away.

becca garber hello coronado 18 Hello, Coronado!

Another day, another beach. This time we were invited for dinner at a friends’ oceanfront house. I love these kids!

becca garber hello coronado 4 Hello, Coronado!

L: Lena taking selfies to send to one of her aunts and uncles.

R: Gil in front of the “tea house,” the little studio in our house’s backyard where my dad will be staying every month. He works outside San Diego and spends a part of each month here, even though he and my mom live in Virginia. More details in this post. We’re so excited about this!

becca garber hello coronado 19 Hello, Coronado!

Gil fell off the couch and seemed to have a lot of pain near his shoulder, and the kids’ new pediatrician confirmed that he’d broken his collarbone. This photo was taken during the three hours (!) we spent in the clinic that morning getting x-rays and waiting for results. I blew up two gloves and tied them together as a toy, which amused the kids for exactly 10 minutes of those three hours.

becca garber hello coronado 5 Hello, Coronado!

L: Marmee and Grampa (Elliott’s parents) came to visit as well! We loved our peaceful week with them, and Lena was especially grateful for a constant playmate. Lena worked on this bead design with Marmee for hours and hours, and they were so proud when they finally finished it!

R: Gil gets my locked phone and somehow manages to have conversations with Siri and take pictures of it.

becca garber hello coronado 20 Hello, Coronado!

Elliott is embarking on a new adventure as an urban gardener. He ordered six of these planters and set them up with tomatoes, strawberries, beans, and squash. So far I’m a huge fan of how neat and clean they are on our balcony, and we’re excited to begin harvesting this fall!

becca garber hello coronado 6 Hello, Coronado!

L: With access to such a huge library, I’ve been going crazy reading so many books I’ve waited so long to read. This particular one wasn’t great literature, but I ate it up in a day. Here are more books I’ve read and loved lately.

R: Every Sunday evening in the summer, Coronado hosts a concert in the park. We’ve gone to every one that we can, and it’s totally heart-warming to see the whole town picnicking on blankets, dancing by the pavilion, and savoring summertime together.

becca garber hello coronado 21 Hello, Coronado!

Everyone is loving our new house, including our Maine Coon, Siena.

becca garber hello coronado 7 Hello, Coronado!

L: Playground straight out of paradise.

R: Lena continues to love puzzles, putting them together completely independently and then turning to me with glowing pride.

becca garber hello coronado 22 Hello, Coronado!

And lastly, I’ve started running again. After three years of living in a tiny Italian town where jogging was impossible due to narrow streets and nonexistent sidewalks, it’s so refreshing to go for a run outside. I caught this sunrise last week by the bay. Who wouldn’t want to get up for that?!


And now you know a little (or too much…) about our new life here. Thanks for sticking with me through all the photos and stories! Catch you again here later this week, I hope. icon wink Hello, Coronado!

18 :: in Coronado, family, life lately, moving in, Uncategorized

Suzie’s Farm and The Blog Is Back!

becca garber suzies farm san diego 13 Suzies Farm and The Blog Is Back!

“Hi and howdy!” says Farmer Gil. “Welcome back to the blog!”

Well, more like… welcome back, blog, and thanks to any and all of you who are still reading!

I fully expected that after two weeks of living in San Diego, I’d be back to blogging now and then. I miss this space and sharing life with you all! But we’ve been slammed with some family sickness (broken collarbone for Gil, rash for Lena, fevers for both of them) and have had visitors since we arrived. I think we’re turning the corner into a more settled routine. At last!

To start us off, here are photos from this past Saturday when we visited a local farm. We haven’t been to any kind of organic, family-friendly farm event in years — or maybe ever? — but I know they are pretty common in the States. Anyway, pretty much everything surpassed our expectations.

becca garber suzies farm san diego 1 Suzies Farm and The Blog Is Back!

Suzie’s Farm, you had me at your artfully-designed flyer.

becca garber suzies farm san diego 7 Suzies Farm and The Blog Is Back!

Watermelon gherkins! (aka teeny tiny cucumbers)

becca garber suzies farm san diego 6 Suzies Farm and The Blog Is Back!

Hottest, hotter, hot, sweet, sweeter, sweetest.

becca garber suzies farm san diego 8 Suzies Farm and The Blog Is Back!

Choosing peppers for salsa and cucumbers for pickling.

becca garber suzies farm san diego 2 Suzies Farm and The Blog Is Back!

I’ve always wanted to make my own pickles, but the art of fermentation totally intimidates me. After Saturday, though, I have my own jar of pickles fermenting in the cupboard. What’s next… kombucha? (Sort of kidding since I’ve never even tasted it. #welcometoamerica)

becca garber suzies farm san diego 11 Suzies Farm and The Blog Is Back!

If you want to learn to pickle, Southern California’s farmers are about the chillest and coolest folks to teach you. “Girl, you’re doing great, just peel some garlic here and toss that in too….”

becca garber suzies farm san diego 3 Suzies Farm and The Blog Is Back!

While I was chopping cucumbers, Elliott was roasting our peppers. After they had roasted, we combined them with tomatoes, cilantro, and onions in a Vitamix…

becca garber suzies farm san diego 12 Suzies Farm and The Blog Is Back!

… and Lena and Elliott pedaled to power the blender to turn them into salsa! Totally cool. Also the salsa is amazing and we’ve basically inhaled it. Fire-roasted 100% organic pepper-and-tomato salsa? Get in my mouth.

becca garber suzies farm san diego 17 Suzies Farm and The Blog Is Back!

We ordered lunch from this fantabulous food truck on the premises, but they told us our meal would take 20 minutes to prepare, so we wandered off around the farm to pick some herbs and flowers and meet some…

becca garber suzies farm san diego 14 Suzies Farm and The Blog Is Back!

No caption required.

becca garber suzies farm san diego 15 Suzies Farm and The Blog Is Back!

And then… our lunch! That’s eggplant tacos, sweet potato fries, and beet dip (so pink!). Also it was all Elliott ordered for our whole family (“Man, I thought there would be a lot more food”). We all kind of looked at each other hungrily when we were done.

becca garber suzies farm san diego 9 Suzies Farm and The Blog Is Back!

We ended the day by filling our take-away box to the brim with tomatoes and peppers.

becca garber suzies farm san diego 5 Suzies Farm and The Blog Is Back!

Be choosy, Gil.

becca garber suzies farm san diego 10 Suzies Farm and The Blog Is Back!

The tomatoes or Gala apples? Love the variegation.

becca garber suzies farm san diego 16 Suzies Farm and The Blog Is Back!

Silly smile from another little helper.

becca garber suzies farm san diego 18 Suzies Farm and The Blog Is Back!

And finally home, where we put the kids down for naps and then I rapidly bagged herbs and refrigerated peppers and cucumbers. An amazing haul of organic produce for just $20!

It cheers my heart (and warms my blood….) to see this because just yesterday I almost teared up at the grocery store while shopping for fruit. I’m not a die-hard organic or farm-fresh person — I eat commercially-grown veggies and fruits without fuss, like most people — but when I saw a huge bin of apricots under the florescent grocery store lights, my heart sank.

“Apricots” in Sicily are golden balls of sweetness, warm from the sun in the back of the farmer’s truck, kissed rosy pink on one cheek, dripping with juice and bursting with flavor. Memories rushed back: simple chit-chat in Italian with farmers while buying kilo after kilo of apricots under the Sicilian sun. Lena and Gil eating apricots in the stroller as we walked home. Apricots on the counter, apricots with our dinner, apricots for every snack, apricots turned into jam.

These apricots in the grocery store yesterday, though, were out of season and a sickly green, over-sized, a poor imitation of the thing I’d come to love. I picked one up and felt it sadly; it was cold and hard.

So maybe we won’t buy fresh apricots from farmers’ trucks in California. We’ve said goodbye to many things. But this — this glorious summer afternoon, this cache of memories, this jar of to-be-pickles, this quart of fresh salsa, this box of herbs and peppers, this bouquet of glowing sunflowers…

… we’ve said hello to all of this. And it’s so good.

31 :: in family, San Diego

Coffee, Colorado, & My First Mountain Biking Adventure

becca garber update from states 5 Coffee, Colorado, & My First Mountain Biking Adventure
Hi again! When you read this, we’ll be on a plane to Virginia with our kids. I’m looking forward to some time at “home” in Virginia as well as a trip to Charlottesville to see some friends from our college days. Friends, if you’re in C’ville, let me know! We’d love to see you!

And now, for those who are interested, here are a few more updates since we moved from Sicily to the States. After Rhode Island, we flew down to the Eastern Shore of Maryland to spent a few days with Elliott’s family. His mom found a wonderful house on the water that fit all of us, and we had a great time doing basically nothing. Which suited us all perfectly.

IMG 0016 2 1024x768 Coffee, Colorado, & My First Mountain Biking Adventure

That gigantic intertube made the best place for floating and reading during the kids’ nap time!

becca garber update from states 6 Coffee, Colorado, & My First Mountain Biking Adventure
On the left: one morning Elliott’s brother Jonathan set up a “coffee cupping,” or coffee tasting. We did our best to tell the difference between the four kinds of coffee, but I was pretty hopeless. I’ve never been very good at picking out the distinct flavors and aromas of wine either, so I guess that was par for the course!

becca garber update from states 7 Coffee, Colorado, & My First Mountain Biking Adventure
After the Eastern Shore, we flew (again! so much flying with little kids! ack!) to Vail, Colorado, to spent about six days with my family. We all attended the annual conference for the organization my dad works for, and that was so much fun because a lot of the attendees and speakers were some of our dear family friends. In between and after the conference, we explored Vail, which is simply gorgeous in the summertime.

becca garber update from states 8 Coffee, Colorado, & My First Mountain Biking Adventure
The faux Swiss chalet look is the architectural theme in Vail, and it can be a little disconcerting. But then the F L O W E R S make up for everything!

becca garber update from states 9 Coffee, Colorado, & My First Mountain Biking Adventure
On the right, my first Starbucks since we got back to the States! Java chip frappuccino… and a brotherly photo bomber.

becca garber update from states 10 Coffee, Colorado, & My First Mountain Biking Adventure
Colorado’s columbines on the left, and a crazy daddy doing tricks in trees on the right.

photo 4 Coffee, Colorado, & My First Mountain Biking Adventure

Yesterday we all went on a bike ride as a family, with Gil and Lena in a little trailer attached to Elliott’s bike. We had so much fun on the way, stopped to admire gorgeous houses and playgrounds, and finished with gigantic ice creams in downtown Vail. The lovely lady next to Eric is his girlfriend, Charlotte.

photo 5 e1406588658321 Coffee, Colorado, & My First Mountain Biking Adventure
A friendly stranger took this photo for us right before it started raining and hailing! We found shelter until the stormed seemed to pass, and then we all headed home as fast as we could go. We had six miles to go, though, and it started raining, thundering, and lightning as we were speeding home. We all were drenched and freezing — but totally exhilarated, of course — when we finally stumbled through the door and into hot showers!

Then, since we clearly couldn’t get enough of dangerous biking, my siblings, Charlotte, Elliott, and I rented mountain bikes today:

photo98 Coffee, Colorado, & My First Mountain Biking Adventure

It was awesome! We took the ski lift up to the top of the mountain (2,000 feet up) and then rode the bikes down narrow trails through the woods and across ski runs. I’ve never mountain biked before, but this was an amazing introduction. I felt like an athlete, which is a nice feeling, and something I should probably work on more regularly… #runningstartsinCA #hereshopinganyway

And that’s it, folks! Thanks for hanging with me this far. What have you all been up to this summer? Is the summertime winding down or just getting started?

6 :: in travel

Updates from American Soil

IMG 0001 1024x1024 Updates from American Soil
It’s been almost two weeks since we saw this final glimpse of Sicily from our plane window! One last view of Mt Etna. I kept her in sight for a long time until the clouds finally hid her from view.

We’ve been wonderfully busy these last two weeks with three family reunions, and I can’t imagine a sweeter way to come back to the States. It’s also been refreshing to take a bit of a break from blogging as I think about how this space will change, grow, and improve (at least I hope so!) without its Sicilian/expat identity. I already miss that side of it, but I hope the blog will be even more accessible and fun in this new phase.

Anyway, back to some photos from here, there, and everywhere. We spent the first few days in Rhode Island with my mom’s side of the family (aunts and uncles and cousins and grandparents galore), the second few days on the Eastern Shore of Maryland with Elliott’s family, and right now we’re in Vail with my parents, siblings, and my brother’s girlfriend Charlotte.

becca garber update from states 1.jpg Updates from American Soil
The first morning we were in Rhode Island, the kids were up at 5:20 AM, and Elliott and I were up with them. We wandered out into the garden and explored the shore near my uncle and aunt’s gorgeous home.

While we were there, Lena became best friends with my little cousin Ashley; the two were inseparable the entire time we were there.

IMG 0011 2 1024x768 Updates from American Soil
View from our balcony in Rhode Island. Can you believe that?! Newport and the U.S. Naval War College were right across the water.

becca garber update from states 2 Updates from American Soil
We spent a lovely afternoon in Newport, one of my favorite American towns. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Gil was falling in love with Ashley. She’s pretty cute; I can’t blame him!

becca garber update from states 3 Updates from American Soil
On the left, my sister Emily and I in Newport. I remember eating sushi right by these shops when Elliott and I were in Boston. We came down for a day trip and wandered around hand-in-hand. So many sweet falling-in-love memories!

I read Dear Mr. Knightley while we were in RI, but unfortunately I can’t recommend it. It felt unrealistic and forced. Just read Daddy-Long-Legs, which inspired the former and is so much better crafted.

IMG 0005 2 1024x768 Updates from American Soil
Pretty corners in Newport. So much sweet New England charm!

becca garber update from states 4 Updates from American Soil
Gil rested his head on Elliott’s knee to get a good look at my cousins. And on the right… Gil reads his favorite book with his Auntie Em. Aren’t they the cutest?

IMG 0012 2 1024x655 Updates from American Soil
My grandmother got a professional photographer to come out and take photos of our family, but Gil was a total disaster. Such a disappointment! We did get this awesome jumping photo of all the cousins, though. We’ve been family reunion-ing together almost every summer our entire lives, and I love this gang!

IMG 0009 1024x768 Updates from American Soil Despite Gil’s antics during the photography session, everyone was completely in love with him. Especially Ashley. Guess that kiss did the trick!

I’m realizing updating with ALL THE PHOTOS from the past two weeks is a lot, so I’ll be back with more from Maryland and Colorado tomorrow.

In the meantime, what have you been reading lately? I finished this one last night, which gave me a lot of food for thought. I’d love to share more sometime soon. I started this one, which is hard going! Anything light and lovely I should read after this?

Hope you all are having wonderful summers! xoxo

pixel Updates from American Soil
8 :: in travel

Powered by WordPress. Designed by Woo Themes