Archive | November, 2014

“Let’s bake cookies right now!” + Other Musings About Procrastination

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A sweet photo taken right before the moment Lena decided Gil was too heavy for her.

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See?

Dear friends,

Good morning! It’s a chilly one here in Coronado, where the ocean turns the sun-warmed air into low-hanging fog and penetrating damp at night. Our window-filled house absorbs the cold, so I have taken to cuddling up in sweatshirts and these tried-and-true slippers while I sip my morning coffee.

How have you been doing lately? Feeling goal-oriented and focused, or frustrated and not so sure? I’m in the second camp, I think, with a general sense that there isn’t enough time or quiet in the day to get anything extra accomplished.

There’s still more settling in to do in our home: I’d love to hang pictures, buy plants, and organize the piles of Rubbermaid containers and junk in the garage. I’d love to run regularly and wake up early like I talked about in this post (instead of once every three weeks…). I’d like to start some dedicated preschool time again with Lena again instead of running around so much. I’d like to get a haircut (haven’t gotten one since I donated my hair last year!). I’d like… I’d love… I wish…

The other day I started thinking about this long list, and I got so discouraged. Am I just a procrastinator? Am I all talk and no action? I am a stay-at-home mom, my only job is my home and family, I have no excuse for not getting it all done. I’ll never have more time in the day than I have now!

I was beating myself up the other day when I remembered two conversations with two people, one of them who I know very well and one of whom I have just met.

The first person is my grandmother, who is amazing. She is and has always been stylish, beautiful, a fantastic cook, and a cornerstone family member. She wakes up at 5am to walk on her treadmill each day. She never fails to send cards or packages for birthdays, all holidays, and just because.

Long ago, when I was about nine or ten, we were visiting my grandparents for a week in St. Louis, just like we did every summer. “What would you like to do while you’re here this week, Becca?” she asked me.

“Hmm,” I said, “I definitely want to bake chocolate chip cookies and go to the Science Museum… and– ”

“Well, let’s bake cookies right now!” she suggested.

I looked at her, astonished. I meant sometime, but she was saying now? I had just arrived! We had ages to make chocolate chip cookies! A whole week!

But even then, at age nine, I realized my grandmother’s wisdom. We had time right now to start doing what we wanted to do. A quiet afternoon, all the ingredients, and a goal. If we put it off to another day, who knew if it would really happen? This way we would be able to eat chocolate chip cookies all week long!

I never forgot her initiative, her energy, her make-it-happen wisdom that afternoon. I realized all these things also formed the core of the woman I admired, the woman who always sends everyone in her family a birthday gift (and it gets there a week early). The woman who sewed me a whole wardrobe of gorgeous dress-up gowns that I wore to threads. The woman who knitted the blankets my children sleep under every night. The woman who taught me to knit! The woman who makes it happen, stitched with love, every day for a whole clan of people who adore her.

At the same time, though, I know that there are only 24 hours in the day, and I can’t get everything done right away, right now, especially with small and precious children in my care. That cliche about letting the dishes go because your children need you? Most of the time it’s not even a choice. They need you right now.

The second conversation, one I had more recently, encouraged me about that:

Elliott and I took the kids to the playground on Sunday afternoon, and I noticed a small child I recognized from church. He’s African American and his dad is white, so they’re not hard to remember. Pretty soon his dad, Elliott and I were talking, and he told us a little more of his story. He and his wife have three daughters — all in middle school now — and they have just recently begun fostering children with the goal of adoption.

My heart swelled with excitement and longing just talking to him. In recent years I’ve become more interesting in fostering and adopting. However, with our transitional military life and our own young children and our relatively young marriage (five years this January!), it seems like too much right now.

Sometimes I get frustrated, watching the days go by and wondering if we shouldn’t be doing more, serving more, giving back more, accomplishing more. I talk about fostering, or taking my kids to a nursing home regularly, or doing preschool with Lena (where has that goal gone lately??), or running or journaling or waking up early or whatever the new thing is this week.

But what my friend at the playground helped me to realize is this:

There is a time for everything, and a season for everything under heaven.

Their season is now. They can foster now. They can adopt now. They are ready, and they have taken on this challenge. Not when their kids were three and one. But now. During our conversation, his three preteen girls were watching his foster son, and so this father gave us all his attention and chatted away. Elliott and I, meanwhile, talked with the parental head swivel (“where is Lena… where is Gil… back to conversation… where is Lena… where is Gil…”) and excused ourselves more than once to rescue or dust off our children.

We left shortly afterwards and headed home to a lunch, storytime, and putting them to bed for naps. We collapsed onto the couch afterwards, tired, heads ringing, glad for peace and books and time alone together. I had planned to ask Elliott to organize the garage with me then, but it totally slipped my mind. I wouldn’t have wanted to then anyway. I had a precious hour to rest with my husband on a Sunday afternoon, and that is exactly what my body craved and needed right then. I needed rest. It was the season for rest. And the garage could wait.

Sometimes it is good to jump right up and bake chocolate chip cookies with your child. Sometimes it is good to sit still by yourself. Sometimes — meaning sometime soon — it will be right to organize the garage. It is the season for organizing the garage.

But right now… I hear a little voice calling, “Mama!”

And so it is the season for that.

You know?

xoxo,

Becca

14 :: in Becoming a Stay-at-Home Mom Series, family, goals, thoughts

The Best Home Manicure I’ve Ever Had {+ a Jamberry Nails Giveaway!}

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Have you heard of Jamberry? When my friend Jen asked me if I’d like to do a nail wrap giveaway, I wasn’t sure. I’m pretty low maintenance, especially about my nails. I love clothes, but I don’t wear many accessories, and I generally prefer my nails bare and free of polish.

Was Jamberry really for me?

Jen’s email, though, intrigued me. She mentioned how easy the nail wraps were to put on as a busy mom: all you need is a hairdryer and there’s no wet polish! Can I tell you how many times life messes up my nails as soon as they’re painted?

Well, I’ll tell you.

Every. Single. Time. I basically never have a perfect home mani or pedi. A child — or my own notorious clumsiness — always messes the polish up before it’s dry.

So I decided to give Jamberry a try. I looked on the website and found the simplest, sweetest nail wrap that was just my style. (I did consider getting nail wraps for my alma mater, though!) There are heaps of options, including floral and wintery and even Mommy and Me (!), but I went with what is truest to me: a simple, natural-but-better French manicure.

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The package arrived a couple of days after Jen put in the order, and I was pleasantly surprised at the simple instructions. With a hairdryer, a pair of nail scissors, and my kids napping upstairs (oh… and a handy husband-photographer!), I went to work on my nails.

I should tell you right now that I am not proud of my nails. They’re wide and short, thin and brittle, and I’ve never liked how they looked… with polish or without. The only time I ever thought they looked beautiful was when I was in college and my family lived in Poland, and my sisters and I discovered a little nail salon near my parents’ house in Warsaw that would do beautiful, inexpensive, perfect French manicures. The nail artists carefully and meticulously followed the white line of my own nail and gave my fingernails a shape and beauty they’d never had.

Maybe I was dreaming of getting a little of that back today?

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I could tell, though, that even with Jamberry my nails would still be my nails. I could see that I wouldn’t be able to get my nails as perfect or as even as those women in Warsaw did, and my home manicure would probably still look like a home manicure.

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However, I was pleasantly surprised. First of all, the Jamberry nails didn’t take long to apply. As I got used to the process, I could put a nail wrap on in about a minute, which is about how long three coats of polish per nail take me to apply.

The hairdryer softened the nail wrap (like a sticker), and then I trimmed the excess off the nail once I stuck the wrap on. I loved that I could shape my nail after the wrap was on, which is tricky with polish.

And then, before I knew it, all my nails were done, and Gil was awake!

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I think he likes them. And I definitely do! No, they’re not perfect, because I am still no nail artist. But they’re really quite pretty, the prettiest home manicure I’ve ever had:

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And they’re natural and they’re fresh and they’re me. I feel like a freshened-up version of Becca, and that’s a wonderful way to feel!

Would you like to give Jamberry Nails a try? Jen is giving away a nail wrap of your choice to one lucky reader! All you have to do is comment on this post saying which nail wrap you would choose.

Additional entries can be earned by:

  • Joining my mailing list (see the sidebar of my blog)
  • Following me on Pinterest
  • Following me on Instagram

Let me know your additional entries in the comments.

Giveaway ends next Monday, Nov 24. Good luck!!!

P.S. If you don’t win this giveaway, a set of Jamberry Nails is a much much better deal than a manicure in a salon! Also, there are enough nail wraps in one order for at least two manicures. It’s worth a try, I think!

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Congrats to #20, Carly of TheMilSpouseFoodie.com, winner of the giveaway! Carly, I sent you an email. :)

83 :: in giveaway

Veterans Day at SeaWorld!

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I think Elliott and I are still more excited than our kids every time we go to the zoo or SeaWorld, although I suppose that won’t last much longer! It’s amazing to be so close to such magnificent animals… and even to be able to touch and hold some of them. Unfortunately, my love for SeaWorld has been a little more informed and a little more skeptical in recent years (more about that later), and a visit is now conflicting for Elliott and me. I’m curious to know if any of you feel the same way?

Thanks to being in the military, we are allowed to visit SeaWorld once a year for free, and it’s a treat we’ve enjoyed every chance we’ve gotten.  It gets better (and worse…!) every time now that we have kids, I think. Funny how that happens. ;)

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We planned our route with the kids at the beginning of the day. Gil was really into it.

becca-garber-seaworld-12 First stop: petting little bamboo sharks!

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The dolphins never fail to delight. We caught them right as their trainers were working with them, which was like a miniature show!

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After his trainers left, this clever fellow managed to flip open the top of his treat box with his nose. He couldn’t get the box to tip over, though, even with a whole crowd cheering him on!

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My son and my daughter. Crazies, both of ’em.

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Speaking of crazy, why do we even bring a stroller if no one rides in it? Someday I’m going to climb in and make them push me.

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When I first saw the “Shamu Show” (orca performance) in 2010, it was so beautiful (Free Willy forever!) that there were tears running down my cheeks at the end of the show. However, these days it is underwhelming because the trainers don’t get in the water with the orcas anymore.

And, of course, the whale (hah) in the room is the way SeaWorld treats their animals. We haven’t seen Blackfish yet; have you? I’d like to see it, even though I know I’ll probably never want to go to SeaWorld again after that.

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All that aside, this was the cutest thing we saw all day!

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All the petting pools were amazing, and the kids loved gently touching manta rays and holding starfish in their hands underwater.

becca-garber-seaworld-14 [Fishy] Christmas decorations already?!

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And the day ended with a hilarious sea lion and otter show, definitely a highlight of the day. We were laughing so hard the entire time as the animals and their trainers danced to “Gangam Style” or acted out a CSI episode. What amazing, intelligent animals!

And that’s how we spent Veterans Day. What about you?

I’d love to know: have you ever been to SeaWorld, or do you have an opinion about zoos and parks where animals are held captive? There’s definitely a sad, not-as-it-should-be aspect to places like those, even with all the good they do for awareness, conservation, and endangered animals. What do you think?

9 :: in family, military life, San Diego

On Becca’s Bookshelf // October Edition {+ Introducing A New Series!}

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Welcome to a new series on the blog! I’ve been wanting to share little book reviews each month because I feel like I read and read and it all goes in my brain and never helps anyone but myself. I’m hoping this will be a way to share the best books I’ve read so that you can benefit from my discoveries and mistakes. No reason to keep all the good ones to myself… or the bad ones, for that matter!

Plus it’s always fun to find out what other people read and loved. I hope that this will be a place where we can discuss books, share our favorites, and find some new good reads. Please share if you agree, disagree, or have something to add to these book reviews, or if you have something similar to recommend!

But for now, here are the books that took me from the mellow days of late summer to the curled-up-in-a-blanket books of deep autumn:

Seven books, most of them good, a couple of them rather mediocre, that I read in October:

  • Landline by Rainbow Rowell. I’ve loved two of Rainbow’s (what an awesome name!) other books, especially the sweet and endearing Eleanor & Park. Landline‘s premise is that Georgie and Neal’s marriage has gone sour and they are spending some time apart over Christmas — until Georgie discovers an old telephone on which she can call her Neal… in the past. Their lengthy conversations reignite their spark, but unfortunately they killed the spark for me. Skip the tedium and dive into Eleanor & Park or Attachments instead, which are far sweeter and better written. (Note: All Rainbow’s books include allusions to sex and quite a bit of language, so read at your discretion!) —  2 stars
  • Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty. Liane is one of my favorite authors; I’ve read both What Alice Forgot and The Husband’s Secret each in about a day. She is so talented at twisting the everyday life of elementary school families into life-or-death moral dilemmas, weaving together stories with larger-than-life characters and believable situations that get wildly out of hand. As usual, her book was easy to read but left me wondering, “What would I do if that happened to me?” for weeks afterwards. — 4 stars
  • Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. I avoided reading this book for as long as I could, thinking, “Why would I spend 432 pages of my life on a horribly twisted marriage?” But Elliott read it and could barely put it down, and when the movie came out, he wanted to see it with me. So I finally got my hands on the book, read the first few pages, and barely looked up. Nick and Amy’s marriage is horrible, but Gillian Flynn does not shy away from showing people as they truly are — selfish and twisted — or from revealing what happens when couples manipulate each other for power in a marriage. On top of that, Gillian is a brilliant writer with a spectacular imagination, and her writing and plot twists will leave you breathless till the last page. — 4 stars
  • Between Worlds: Essays on Culture and Belonging by Marilyn Gardner. I loved this book enough to write a whole blog post and a book giveaway for it, which you can read here! Marilyn addresses the life of third culture kids: children who spent the majority of their childhoods outside their passport country. I grew up overseas, and her words unlocked whole rooms of memories and emotions for me. If you have an interest in living overseas or doing cross-cultural work, this book is a must-read. — 4 stars
  • Parnassus on Wheels by Christopher Morley. Modern Mrs. Darcy (aka Anne, the author of one of my favorite blogs) recommended this short and sweet little volume for book lovers. Published in 1917, it is the story of a farmer’s sister who decides to purchase a horse-drawn bookmobile and escape her life of household drudgery. Love and literature, of course, find her along the way. Morley writes with rollicking enthusiasm that will bring a smile to your face, and the sweet turn-of-the-century style is a refreshing break from modern literature. — 4 stars
  • Lessons from Madame Chic: 20 Stylish Secrets I Learned While Living in Paris by Jennifer Scott. I’d been wanting to read this book for about a year, and finally I had to put it on hold at the library to get my hands on a copy. It’s always checked out! Yet unfortunately I found the book poorly written and implausible. The author spent one semester studying abroad in Paris during college, and — 10 years later — she resurrected the things she learned and describes implementing them into her LA lifestyle. Perhaps it was because all her personal anecdotes made her sound very un-Parisian, and because I had heard all her advice before elsewhere, but I found the whole book unbelievable and unoriginal. — 2 stars

What did you read in October? Share your recommendations in the comments!

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P.S. The winner of the book giveaway is announced here!

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

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