Our First Coronado 4th of July!

IMG_9944 (2) Happy 4th of July!

… a couple weeks late…

But it’s a quiet, rainy (!) Saturday and I just finished this lovely book and the kids are both still napping, so in the time I’ve got before they wake up, I’d love to share these photos with you. Our first 4th of July in Coronado (a place that is famous for its festivities on the 4th) was so much fun, and I broke out my real camera for the parade, so there are some worthwhile memories in here.

IMG_9957 To be honest, the best thing that happened all day was that my whole family ran the Crown City Classic 5K together. I’ll wax eloquent for a few minutes with a little story…

Once upon a time, I was a runner, one of those people who ran for the fun of it and signed up for races with my friends on the weekends. Although I never raced more than my town’s annual 10 Miler, it was still a part of my identity.

And then I had two kids in two years and lived in Italy for three years (which is a lovely place to live but a hard place to jog!), and I lost my running routine. When we moved to Coronado last year, I knew this was my chance to get back into it. Coronado is relatively flat, has perfect weather, and offers wide paths along the bay and the ocean… how could I not?

Yet despite living in such a runner’s dream world, I found it very hard to get outside and run. I told myself I would, but when my alarm rang in the morning, I turned it off. Then I told myself I needed new shoes, and then treated myself to my first piece of fancy running gear, and then bought a better headband — but none of it did me much good.

Finally, in May I signed up for Coronado’s 4th of July 5K. Now I had to train. This would be my first race after two kids! I was going to make this happen.

At first I planned to run this race on my own, but when I found out that jogging strollers were allowed, Elliott agreed to run with Lena and Gil in the jogging stroller too. My sister Emily would be in town, and she excitedly agreed to run with us as well. A family run on the 4th of July! How patriotic!

Having Elliott as a pacesetter and motivator really helped me to get out there and train. We spent many evenings in June jogging around Coronado with Lena and Gil in the stroller, stopping at playgrounds to let them play, and then running home as the sun sank low in the sky.

Finally, the 4th of July came. We all arrived at Tidelands Park and felt the adrenaline in the air. Lena delightedly pointed out women in red, white, and blue tutus and an especially enthusiastic couple in American flag bathing suits and body paint. A band played at the start of the course, and a cheerful announcer counted down the final minutes. We lined up at the back of the pack of runners, excited to race for the first time together.

And then we were off!

Well, sort of. We were behind all the racers, so it took a couple minutes for a thousand runners to begin ahead of us. At the starting line, we broke into a jog under a giant American flag held up over our heads.

The course went along the bay, under the Coronado Bridge, and down Glorietta Blvd by the golf course. It was a narrow course that doubles back on itself, which made it difficult to run quickly at the back of the pack, but also interesting because we could see all the faster racers coming back after we’d only just started running! Always motivating.

As we looped around and started running along the bay again, heading for the finish line, Elliott said, “This is it!” and I realized I was about to accomplish a huge goal. I’d told myself I wanted to do this, to run again, to finish a race, and finally we’d made it happen. We’d trained together, and now we were racing together as a family, along with hundreds of other Americans on the 239th birthday of our country in one of the most wonderful towns in the world. We rounded the final turn and heard the band playing, the cameras clicking, the families cheering.

And we smiled wide as we raced down the final stretch and over the finish line together. We did it! Such an amazing way to kick of the 4th of July together.

IMG_9965 After that, we went home for breakfast and showers and then walked up to Orange Ave (“Main Street”) for Coronado’s famous 4th of July parade. We joined some wonderful friends on their blankets, brought some picnic items to share, and then just parked ourselves on the curb for the next couple of hours.

Does your town have a 4th of July parade? This was definitely the best one I’d ever seen!

IMG_9968 becca-garber-fourth-july-2015-coronado-1.jpg IMG_0063 Thanks for sharing your blanket with us, Priscilla!

IMG_0033 IMG_0066 My dear friend Jeanna, fellow military wife and mom.

IMG_0074 IMG_0078 “Peace, ambulance driver!”

becca-garber-fourth-july-2015-coronado-2 IMG_0046 Poor Elliott, always getting his girls’ long hair in his eyes…

IMG_0038 Gil and Caroline… such chums!

IMG_0042 becca-garber-fourth-july-2015-coronado-3 IMG_0055 IMG_0098 becca-garber-fourth-july-2015-coronado-4 Love you, Jeanna! Also, Lena was inspired by the Irish dancers in the parade, and she’s been kicking her heels up and skipping around with her hands on her hips ever since. Maybe it’s time for some dance lessons…?

IMG_9979 That night we walked down to the bay for fireworks, which were spectacular! You can see the kids enjoyed it just a little bit. :)

IMG_9981 And that was all — such a full, thankful day. For all my American readers, what did you do for the 4th? Hope it was a joyous day for you as well!

4 :: in Coronado, family, goals, holidays

On Becca’s Bookshelf // June 2015 Edition

Recently Updated4 It must be summertime because all I read in June was fiction, fiction, and more fiction! Approximately 1900 pages of good stories, some of them shocking, some of them historic, some of them glorious, and mostly all of them entertaining. Here’s the scoop:

  • I Shall Be Near to You by Erin Lindsay McCabe This book had me weeping on an airplane last month, totally oblivious to everything except this drama on the Civil War battlefield and the beautiful love story that seemed more real to me than anything around me. When a young farmer decides to join the Army to earn money for a future farm, his young bride can’t stand to be left behind, so she cuts her hair and joins his regiment in disguise. Jeremiah and Rosetta felt as alive as flesh and blood, and I wanted more of the whole story forever. Vivid and gripping, and yet also a sweet and slow story that blooms bit by bit in your imagination and transports you into another piece of history. Read it!  5 stars
  • First Impressions: A Novel of Old Books, Unexpected Love, and Jane Austen by Charlie Lovett A fun read for Austen lovers, but not great literature by any means. The author switches back and forth between Jane Austen writing Pride and Prejudice in 1797, and then modern-day England in which a young woman is trying to learn if Jane Austen plagiarized Pride and Prejudice. It is a light read, not at all believable, but still fun to learn more about Jane Austen.  3 stars
  • Still Life (A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel) by Louise Penny A murder-mystery of the slow, thoughtful kind with people you come to love and wish you knew. The author has written a whole series about this Canadian chief inspector, and this is the first book; the tenth book in the series was a NYT bestseller in 2014. I liked this murder mystery set in a quiet, idyllic town in Canada, but… well, like I said at the beginning, it overall just felt slow.  3 stars
  • Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn So so disturbing. The kind of book you pick up and can’t put down until you turn the last page, stunned, and look up at the sunny, quiet day around you and thank God your life is nothing like the one in that book.  It’s the first-person account of a young journalist who is sent back to her backwater Missouri hometown and ultra-wealthy family to investigate the recent murder of two young girls in the town. Shocking, brilliant, but lacks the redemptive “true truth” of Gone Girl, in my opinion. — 2 stars
  • Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng “Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet…” — the best first line of a novel I’ve read in a long time. The book is beautiful, sad, rich, tragic, definitely worth your time. However, there is a subplot of a mother abandoning her family to pursue her own selfish dreams (not a spoiler!), and that subplot almost turned me off to the entire book. Just like in The Lowland, it made me almost too angry to appreciate an otherwise excellent novel. Does such a strong reaction from a reader make such a book good… or bad? 3 stars
  • The House at Riverton by Kate Morton She’s a gifted storyteller, and this is a wonderful piece of historical fiction. It’s the story of a woman in her 90s remembering her youth as a servant in a large English household and the terrible secret that ruined it all. Worth reading if you’re a Downton Abbey fan!  However, I loved The Secret Keeper (one of my all-time favorites) and The Forgotten Garden much better than this one. I’m trying to read The Distant Hours right now and it’s slow going…. Are you a Kate Morton fan?4 stars

——–

What have you been reading this month? If you’d like other reading suggestions, check out my book review archives here!

5 :: in book reviews, On Becca’s Bookshelf

Weekend Getaway to NYC! — Part II

IMG_9214 Hi again! Hope you had a great 4th of July… a while ago. ;)

In Part I of this post, I shared a bit about why and how Elliott and I went to New York. Here is the second half for all of you who love exploring and eating your way through new places!

becca-garber-nyc-brooklyn-3 After our morning in Lower Manhattan, Elliott and I took the subway to Brooklyn. I’d never been to Brooklyn, if you can believe it! We got off the subway at Park Slope and basically just started walking, meandering down tree-lined streets of Brooklyn brownstones, exploring the Brooklyn Public Library, dipping into The Community Bookstore to read and pet the cat, and resting for awhile in the grass of Prospect Park:

IMG_9217 We also wandered into Norman & Jules toy shop, which was basically the home of all the best and most beautiful toys in the WORLD, and a type of merchandise with which I am kind of obsessed.

It was there that I saw the Jess Brown doll for the first time. How much do you think she costs? Elliott guessed $65.

becca-garber-nyc-brooklyn-1 This is how much she costs.

IMG_9230 We were hemming and hawing about trying to see a Broadway show that night, so we got back on the subway and tried to get discounted tickets at the TKTS booth in Brooklyn. But they closed one minute before we arrived! Oh well. We opted to enjoy a leisurely dinner under the Brooklyn Bridge instead.

IMG_9239 FYI, Luke’s Lobster right under the bridge is amazing.

IMG_9244 So is sunset from Brooklyn Bridge Park. I had heard about it all my life and finally got to experience it myself!

IMG_9249 We finished up dinner with a pizza from Juliana’s since Taza says it’s their favorite, and I custom ordered ours with anchovies, hot salami, and capers to be like our favorite pizza in Sicily. Delicioso!

becca-garber-nyc-brooklyn-4 And then we walked across the Brooklyn Bridge at sunset, which was busy and iconic and absolutely wonderful. Especially with this guy: IMG_9335 After we walked off the bridge, we took the subway back to our hotel and collapsed with aching feet. Buuuut it was 8pm in Manhattan on a Saturday night and… YOLO, right?

So we looked up bars within walking distance and found this new one that tons of Yelpers loved, and we decided to give it a try:

IMG_9272 Elliott snagged us two precious seats at the bar, and I wiggled out of the masses of loud, fast-talking, perfectly coiffed Manhattan yuppies (or were they yuccies?) to gratefully sit down and take in the show. The whole place felt beautiful, dark, and gleaming, with waiters in leather aprons wielding brass bar tools, hands a blur over the glittering bottles and sparkling ice. Whatever they were making was mostly a mystery to us (and cost $16 per drink!), but we acted as nonchalant as possible as we ordered and then just had fun.

All I can say is that the whole experience was so worth getting out of bed for. becca-garber-nyc-brooklyn-5 The next day, Elliott and I drove to Providence, RI, for the wedding of a friend of his from Boston. The wedding included a traditional Jewish ceremony, which was a first for Elliott and me. I think our favorite part was when Elliott helped to hold up the bride’s chair for the dancing, which is another thing I’ve only seen in movies (unfortunately!).

becca-garber-nyc-brooklyn-2 We didn’t know anyone but the groom, though, and so we mostly just had fun dancing and eating and exploring the gorgeous property on the water. Not a bad way to end a romantic East Coast getaway, right?

IMG_9299 I flew home the next day to two very happy little kiddos and their wonderful aunt, who had taken very good care of them in my absence. I think they barely missed me! A sign of secure kids and a very good babysitter.

Thank you again, dear husband! Feel free to surprise me again anytime. :)

Our little taste of New England got me so excited for another family reunion in Newport, RI, later this summer. Have you spent time in New England? Which is your favorite little coastal town?

7 :: in husband, marriage, travel

Weekend Getaway to NYC! — Part I

IMG_9152 A few weeks ago, Elliott found out he could go to a two-week training course for veterinarians on Long Island, which is something he’s wanted to do for a very long time. I told him I was coming with him, both kids in tow, and was going to spend every day that I could trucking into the city with my little ones and exploring to our hearts’ content.

He didn’t think that was such a great idea. Crushed!

… because he had a better plan — a much better plan. He bought a plane ticket for his sister Jess to come out and babysit our kids… and then he bought me a plane ticket to come visit him in NYC for the weekend — just the two of us!

IMG_9154 I had the best time on that 4.5-hour flight sitting all by myself and researching what to do in NYC. We’d already decided to stay in Chelsea (south of Times Square and the Upper West Side and Central Park) because I wanted to focus as much as possible on Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn. I had barely seen this part of NYC, and I know it is rich with restaurants, shops, outdoor spaces, and urban development.

I printed off Taza’s NYC Guide and a couple of posts from Cup of Jo, got an excellent guidebook from the library, and mapped out our plan for the weekend!

IMG_9361 I arrived at JFK on a Friday afternoon, but Elliott wouldn’t be able to meet me at our hotel in Chelsea until around 11pm. I took the train into the city, finished up some work in our hotel room, and then hit the streets. First stop: Doughnut Plant. Not a bad place to be on National Donut Day!

IMG_9168 I spent the whole afternoon walking from Chelsea all the way down to Soho, stopping to eat and shop along the way.

IMG_9163 As it was getting dark, I slipped into McNally Jackson Books, found the novel I left in my hotel room, and settled down to read for a little while. (This is a great book, by the way!)

IMG_9165 A few minutes later my dear friend and college roommate Sarah found me, and we went around the corner to the delicious bistro called Fanelli’s Cafe. Such a wonderful meal with an old friend! She’s been living in NYC since we graduated from UVA, and I was planning to join her there… until Elliott came along. ;) I still hope we can join her there to live one day instead of just an overnight visit!

After dinner, Elliott arrived in the city, and I was so glad to see that guy. Adventuring alone was fine, but it’s so much more cozy to share it with your best friend.

IMG_9368 The next morning we got up early, eager to make the most of our day in the city. We discovered our hotel is in “the flower district,” which is really just one block of wholesale flower shops. I watched in wonder as dads, daughters, and dogs joined florists and wedding planners in buying flowers that cool Saturday morning.

 

 

IMG_9172 Afterwards we searched unsuccessfully for coffee (New Yorkers do not wake up until after 10am on Saturday mornings, apparently) and then walked up to the High Line. I’d never seen it before and loved that fresh, quiet walk above the cars and crowds. At 9am on a Saturday, everything was so peaceful.

becca-garber-new-york-city-nyc-2 Tipsy Parson for brunch! So delicious. We were given a tiny little marble-top table by a big window, and our heavenly breakfast tasted even better when flooded with light from the little garden outside. Lots of fun people-watching, too.

IMG_9181 Chelsea Market… so dark and beautiful even at noon on a Saturday.

IMG_9182 We popped off the High Line in Greenwich Village and made our way to Bleecker Street, where we discovered this gorgeous old market…

IMG_9376 … and Magnolia Bakery…

IMG_9375 … and this friendly bookstore

IMG_9195 … and Murray’s Cheese!…

IMG_9204 IMG_9205 … and finally Purl Soho, mecca of meccas for the yarn and fabric enthusiast, and a necessary pilgrimage for me on every trip to New York City.

IMG_9352 becca-garber-new-york-city-nyc-1 IMG_9209 Doesn’t all that color make your heart so happy?

I have so many more pictures, so I’ll save the rest for (hopefully) tomorrow. Have you been to any of these wonderful places? What’s your favorite little corner of NYC?

10 :: in husband, marriage, pretty places, travel

On Becca’s Bookshelf // May Edition

Recently Updated3 Well hi! It’s been a while. How’s your summer so far?

You know how when you slack off on something — writing in journal, vacuuming your floor, updating your photo album — it becomes absolutely intimidating to think of getting back to it? And catching up so it’s fresh and clean and up to date again?

But I’m back again… as I always am eventually! I love this little record of our lives in this little corner of the internet, and I love connecting with you all here. I know a lot of you see our everyday updates on Instagram and Facebook, but some of you don’t (I’m thinking of you, Nicole!). So here we go with a little update…

… and let’s start with books!

May was not a great month for reading, I guess. Elliott was gone for three weeks of May for Airborne School in Fort Benning, Georgia, and my parents were here for two weeks of that time, so the month felt more busy than usual. Here’s what I thought of these four books:

  • Love Walked In by Marisa de los Santos I chose this because it was on Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Minimalist Summer Reading Guide, but I was underwhelmed. It’s the story of Cornelia, lover of silver screen movies and classic literature, whose ho-hum life as a coffee shop manager turns on its head the day she meets a Cary Grant-lookalike and his young daughter. Sweet, literary, and romantic, but fell short of being enchanting. All the characters felt superlative, rather than truly human. — 3 stars
  • Sparkly Green Earrings by Melanie ShankleSo many fun quotes about motherhood in this book, such as: “There is really no better indicator you’re a mother than acquiring the ability to catch throw-up in a plastic bag, disinfect your hands, and immediately ask your friend to pass the beef jerky as you put on another Taylor Swift song and act as if nothing has happened.” But overall my takeaway was… meh. It was ok. I like the Big Mama blog (her Fashion Friday posts are a guilty pleasure), but I guess I was hoping for more substance here. I haven’t chosen to do a lot of the things she did in parenting, which maybe made it harder to relate to.  3 stars
  • The Accident by Chris Pavone Another one recommended by Modern Mrs. Darcy, this time in her 2015 Summer Reading Guide. I was excited because I loved Pavone’s first novel, The Expats, which I read in about 24 hours last September. This second novel includes some of the same characters as his first dark-side-of-the-CIA thriller; it’s page-turner about publishing a book of incriminating secrets. A little wordy, and not the tightest plot, but still hard to put down and seriously entertaining.  3 stars
  • The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande Being Mortal blew my mind in April, so I had to read the fourth Atul Gawande book, the only one I hadn’t read. This book touched on a subject near and dear to Gawande’s research and life goals: getting surgeons to use a simple procedural checklist before each surgery… all over the world. He used many engaging stories to make his point. In the end, I thought it was good, but probably the least gripping of his four books. The stories and the theme are just not as engaging. That said, however, it is a crucial topic, and I want to use more checklists in my life after reading this.  3 stars

Four books and all of them got a so-so rating of three stars! Yikes. Thankfully my June reads were much better. I’ll be posting soon with a summary of those… maybe this week if I’m lucky. ;)

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10 :: in book reviews, On Becca’s Bookshelf

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