Archive | May, 2015

A Little Bit of Life Lately

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Hello again! How are you all?! It’s been quiet on my blog the past couple of weeks, thanks to a slew of sickness and Elliott being out of town and family visiting and other writing. I’m savoring nap/rest time right now where my kids have to be quiet for an hour… and where I can catch up with you, read a bit, and eat a huge bowl of strawberries and cream!

I thought I’d share a few photos from my phone to get caught up:

becca-garber-update-may-2015-1.jpg The weekend of Mother’s Day, my parents were in town after Elliott left for three weeks of Airborne School. I was so glad to have them here for a couple of weeks! We went to see my cousin Tyler in a rock climbing competition (he placed third!) and on Mother’s Day my mom and I went on an amazing historical home tour in our town.

IMG_8569 My cousin KT and her husband and daughter also came for a short visit, and the kiddos had so much fun together. We visited the San Diego Zoo…

IMG_8586 … and the beach, where Alton made a huge sand castle fortress and the kids waited like hungry vultures until they could knock it down as soon as he was done.

becca-garber-update-may-2015-2 We also spent a lot of quiet days at home and enjoying time with my mom, who is such a wonderful guest and friend and support to me, especially in this stage of young motherhood. Thank you for all your help, Mom!

We also finally harvested our first artichokes from our very thirsty, very demanding, very temperamental artichoke plant. (He seriously has a personality all of his own!) And one afternoon Lena and I cut out paper dolls from a book, which was about as much fun and as frustrating as I remembered from when I was about her age…

IMG_8650 Right after my parents left, the kids and I roadtripped up to central California for Elliott’s cousin’s wedding. Since it was a five-hour drive, we were all really bummed Elliott couldn’t be there! But the drive when surprisingly well. These two are good little travelers. We trained ’em young!

becca-garber-update-may-2015-3 Elliott’s parents flew out for the wedding, and his dad had fun showing us around the small town where he grew up. He treated us all to donuts! The kids we beside themselves with glee.

becca-garber-update-may-2015-4 The rehearsal dinner and wedding were beautiful, all in the bride’s family’s backyard. What a setting! Lena and Gil were antsy during the ceremony, but that meant we got the best seats in the house.

IMG_8694 Unfortunately, while I was standing in the hors d’oeurves line, Gil and Lena were dancing with some other kids, and then Gil suddenly stopped and threw up… all over the dance floor! I had brought another shirt, so my mother-in-law changed him while I did the Mom’s Walk of Shame and marched out onto the dance floor to wipe up the mess with a stack of baby wipes. Unfortunately, Gil had barely donned a clean shirt when he threw up again, and so I decided to cut my losses and go home.

It was a looooong night of vomit almost every hour for Gil, and I wasn’t sure what we would do the next morning. I didn’t think I could drive home by myself with him in this state! Miraculously, my mother-in-law was able to change her flight free of charge, and she offered to drive us home to San Diego and then fly out of that airport the next morning. Thank you, Mom and Dad!

It was such a gift, and definitely needed because Gil was still sick for the next four days. Thankfully he’s better now… and has moved onto a new virus. This has been the spring of sickness for us, and I am so ready for it to end!

IMG_8735 Lena was so glad to come home to her precious kittens, all of whom are growing up so quickly and continue to bring us so much joy.

IMG_8795 Elliott was still out of town and the kids were still sick and I was so tired, but Lena had been begging me to “make cheese!” with her for days. So finally we finished gathering the supplies and made homemade mozzarella. It was super easy; here’s the recipe we used. I think we kneaded it too much at the end because it is unfortunately very rubbery. We’ll do better next time! Now we just need all our tomato plants to ripen so we can make a totally homemade caprese salad.

becca-garber-update-may-2015-5 And then Elliott came home! I can’t even begin to describe how relieved and happy I was after worrying and praying over his safety for the past three weeks. He was training to become a paratrooper, and that involved two weeks of training and then one week of jumping out of a moving airplane with a parachute five separate times. But he has nothing worse to show for his trials than a few fading bruises. Here’s a video if you want to see what he did!

Lena took our picture… about 100 times, including some great outtakes, like Elliott “fixing” my hair the way he does before most photos.

IMG_8818 We have some very proud kiddos, too! Do you like the shirts Elliott got them? :)

becca-garber-update-may-2015-6 Over the weekend we did some fun things together as a family and with friends, including going to this rodeo — Gil’s first!

IMG_8902 We visited the tide pools at Sunset Cliffs (I also blogged about them here), where the kids found sea anemones and hermit crabs, and then found kelp pods to pop. I said this could be their cover of their first album, “Smashing Kelp.”

becca-garber-update-may-2015-7 On Sunday we visited North Park, where my favorite store — Pigment — has been reconfigured to accommodate an entire section where you can design your own terrarium. You can even buy a little brass watering can to go with it! Gil was all over that.

IMG_8967 On Memorial Day we visited Kensington (a cool neighborhood where we almost bought a house) for their small town parade. Fun with friends even in the rain!

IMG_8970 Yesterday the kiddos and I visited the museums in Balboa Park for “free resident Tuesday,” a perk that we take advantage of pretty frequently. We visited the underwhelming Automotive Museum, where the best thing we found was this picture for my dad, who worked for Mobil for most of his career!

IMG_8966 And I’ll leave you with these sweet kittens, who are now eight weeks old and so much fun! What have you all been up to? Happy Wednesday!

7 :: in deployment, family, husband, kittens, life lately, motherhood, visitors, wedding

My New Trick for Being On Time, Organized, and Remembering Everything (Sorta)

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Despite this beautiful Rifle Paper Co photograph, my #1 tip is not about writing things down so that you’re on time, organized, and remember everything. I’ve tried that, and it just isn’t enough for me.

I’ve given paper lists and planners a fair shot. I use this notepad regularly for groceries and to-do lists, but frequently they are forgotten. I hemmed and hawed here about getting a paper planner, but finally I just admitted to myself that it would be a passing fad and I would let it collect dust by May.

So I’ve taken to using my Google calendar more heavily than ever on my phone and computer.

AND

I have started setting alarms on my phone for myself.

All. The. Time.

Need to be at the UPS store when it opens? Set an alarm for the time you absolutely must leave.

Need to put something in the mailbox for a neighbor to pick up? Set an alarm to put it in after you know the mail will be delivered.

Need to bid on something on eBay? Set an alarm for three minutes before the bidding closes so you can slip in your surprise final bid in the last 20 seconds.

Need to call someone during the kids’ nap time? Set an alarm.

Need to go to bed by 10pm? Set an alarm.

Need to get to church on time? Set an alarm.

And so on and so forth. It works!

I’ve also been using my Google calendar alerts, and every time I put something in my calendar I will frequently add a pop-up alert for a day and hour before the event just to be sure I remember it and I’m on time.

Now, all this didn’t stop me from forgetting a doctor’s appointment last week and racing in with flushed cheeks and sweaty palms exactly 10 minutes too late (whomp whomp), but that was because I failed to check my phone and my email and look at any paper reminders beforehand. AND forgot to set an alarm.

I’m a work in progress, what can I say?! And I need all the help I can get!

Do you have any other great, new tricks for getting places on time, staying organized, and remembering absolutely everything? You know I need them.

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Thank you again to all who entered the beautiful doll and book giveaway from BB&J last week! The giveaway closed at midnight on Friday, and the winner (Heidi P.) has been emailed. Congrats, Heidi!

Anna of BB&J Handmade is offering a generous discount for Making Room readers until May 15. The code for free shipping is MAKINGROOM15. Hustle on over to her shop and pick out your favorites!

6 :: in motherhood, thoughts

Have a Wonderful Weekend!

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Went on a food tour for work yesterday! Writing for a small-town newspaper is turning out to be the best job ever.

Happy Friday, everyone! What are you up to this weekend? We’re looking forward to a visit from my cousin and her family, and my wonderful parents are also in town. So we’ll be playing tourist in our own city, as well as opening up our home, which are two of my favorite things to do!

If you’re in a reading/browsing mood, here are a few things I’ve been reading and shopping for and thinking about.

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Elliott sent me this wonderful article with the subject line, “Let’s open a bookstore!”

I just saw this movie and it was dreamy. The plot is far-fetched, but take a friend and go ooh and ahh at Blake Lively’s wardrobe.

Speaking of clothes, I’ve been on the hunt for a new swimsuit, and so far I’m coming up empty. I scored a beautiful new Anthropologie suit on eBay for a mere $30, but I was waaaaaay too tall for it. Any suggestions for a girl with a long torso? I’m looking for a one-piece or a tankini, but so far I haven’t found a tankini I like…

This amazing giveaway ends tonight! You could win! Enter now!!!

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His favorite place is IN their bed. They seem to love it.

I need another baby girl just to have some of these blankets. Love those florals!

Our book club just chose this novel for June. Love, war, and… going to war side-by-side with your husband. Can’t wait. Have you read it?

She is my favorite blogger for so many reasons.

And on the subject of blogging — when I’m not writing here, I’m working on two or more articles a week for a local newspaper. In addition to covering local news for them, I also write a weekly column called “Coronado Living” about hospitality, simplicity, and life in my town, where you’ll get more of the Becca you know from this blog. Here’s a recent one about a trip we took to the ER in the middle of the night (poor Lena!).

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Doing much better and building Magnatile cities.

For my work and for our fun, my mom and I are going on this historical homes tour on Mothers Day in Coronado. We love beautiful old homes and a hodge-podge of decorating styles, so it sounded like a fun mother-daughter activity!

What a gorgeous wedding. I’m totally in love with this local florist’s work.

I checked this cookbook out from the library and finally decided to buy a copy myself. Every recipe was so good. (Just don’t remind me that it’s springtime and not “slow cooker season”… I’m always behind the trends.)

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And that’s it for now. Happy Mothers Day to all you life-shaping, world-changing, truly amazing mommies out there!

12 :: in life lately, links I love

How Do You Get Rid of Things?

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Earlier this week, I reviewed the books I read in April. One of them was The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, a book I really enjoyed. I would like to put more of Marie Kondo’s ideas into practice, but there is one thing stopping me.

What do you do with all the stuff you want to get rid of?

Marie suggests you put it all in trash bags, but she is vague after that. What you do with perfectly good clothing mixed up with used lotions and extra shampoo and knicknacks? I kept reading her book to find out what she suggested.

But she suggested nothing. She was not concerned about the stuff she purged. After reading the entire book, my best guess is that she puts all of it in a dumpster and forgets about it.

But when I look at my pile of “no longer wanted” stuff in our garage, I can’t imagine just heaving it all into a dumpster. There’s a pair of barely used Chacos (women’s size 9, do you want them?) and three pretty vases and two boxes of books and stacks and stacks of kids’ clothing.

There are two reasons I can’t just dump all this stuff.

The first is thrift. If I go through my closet and really, truly only keep items that “bring me joy,” there are going to be a lot of perfectly good jeans and dresses and shoes that go into trash bags. And the idea of throwing them into the dumpster isn’t just wasteful, it’s also sad. I bought all of these things in the past five years or so, and some of them brand new and for full price. Am I really going to throw them all away? Or take them to Goodwill and never recoup any of my financial investment?

So I don’t. I put them in the garage, and when I have a few minutes I photograph them and try to sell them on a local online yard sale site, or on eBay, or on Craigslist. I try and I am successful about 25% of the time. I make a few dollars. Is it worth the trouble?

A penny saved is a penny earned… right?

The other reason I can’t throw things out is that I value reusing and recycling things. Almost all of my children’s clothes were already used when I acquired them. Some of them have a lot of life left, and I’d rather encourage reusing and recycling in our culture and help people who also don’t want to buy new.

But then I stop and look at a lot of the secondhand things I am attempting to resell, and I wonder if it is worth selling some of these clothes. By the time my children have worn their secondhand clothing, even the nice brands are very worn. Is it fair to sell these things and not donate them? Is it worth the time and effort?

What do you think? What do you do? How do you recoup your initial investment, and how do you just let go of things?

I would love to live in a home where we use what we own and where we love everything in our house. I enjoy living simply and thoughtfully and thriftily. But besides the really obvious point of only buying what I absolutely love and absolutely need from here on out, how do I get there?

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P.S. Don’t forget to enter our beautiful giveaway before it closes on Friday at midnight!

38 :: in good reads, thoughts

On Becca’s Bookshelf // April 2015 Edition

Recently Updated1 April was a month of wonderful reads! I’m excited to share these with you all. Which ones have you already read?

  • Being Moral by Atul Gawande — The author is a general surgeon in Boston and the author of several bestsellers that I have devoured over the years. He has such an eloquent way of explaining the medical world to the common man, which I hugely admire as an RN. In this book, he tackles the concept of dying in modern American medicine, exploring both old age and illness. My biggest takeaway: hospice at home is a great gift to families and the dying. I would love my parents to read this book, and I think everyone should. — 5 stars
  • Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins — Critics compare this book to Gone Girl, but I don’t like that comparison. Yes, it’s a female thriller, but where Gone Girl had depth and insight into human nature, Girl on the Train has shock factor and not one relatable character. I have to give it a few stars because I couldn’t put it down and I was totally surprised by the ending, but beyond that… I’m not a fan. Very dark, sad story of some very desperate, twisted people. Reader discretion advised. — 3 stars
  • The Art of Arranging Flowers by Lynne Branard — Never judge a book by its cover. This one gave me such high hopes! But instead it was a wordy novel with flat, stereotypical characters and a slow, tepid plot line. Also, the author avoided writing about some of the most interesting parts by just skipping ahead in the story and referring to those events in past tense. Disappointing. Now this means, of course, that someone else needs to write a good novel about the owner of a flower shop… hmm… — 2 stars
  • The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo — This little book has swept the world with its revolutionary advice. Kondo’s style and advice is truly unique as she guides you, step by step, through cleaning out your whole house of “everything that does not bring you joy” and then reorganizing it in the space you already have. She promises that her clients never backslide and that tidying up so thoroughly in this way will transform your life. The book is totally materialistic, assuming that possessions and the arrangement of them will give you the greatest joy in life, but it is still enormously helpful in allowing you to assess what you have, what you need, and get rid of excess. — 4 stars
  • The Big Milly-Molly-Mandy Storybook by Joyce Brisley — I read this aloud to Lena after finding it at a used book sale at our library. The illustrations are beautiful, but the story is very simplistic. Very U.K. in the 1920s. Might be more fun for a young girl to read to herself at age eight or so than for a mother to read aloud to her daughter. — 3 stars
  • An Assembly Such As This by Pamela Aiden This book is Part I of a trilogy re-telling “Pride & Prejudice” from Darcy’s perspective. Initially I was not that interested because the book is very true to Austen’s writing style, and I find Austen difficult to read. (Is that sacrilegious to Austen fans out there?!) However, once I got into the story, I found myself thinking about it all the time, eager to read a few more pages about Darcy falling in love with Elizabeth. I’m planning to read the other two books in the trilogy… just because I want to know how it ends all over again! — 3 stars
  • Pippi Goes on Board by Astrid Lindgren — Another rollicking Pippi classic! Lena and I enjoyed this book so much that I read it aloud to her twice before returning it to the library. Lena named her favorite kitten Pippi, and so far our little Pippi is living up to her namesake. — 5 stars
  • A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith — I have been meaning to read this book for ages, but finally my book club chose it as our April read and I had the kick in the pants that I needed. It took a few chapters to get into the story, but once I was I found myself sighing and laughing and reading multiple passages aloud to Elliott. Such a “true truth” story with such magnificent characters, set in a slice of time in American history that we will never get back. The most beautiful thing I’ve read in a long while.Β  6 stars (because this is my blog and it deserves it!)

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What did you read in April? Have you read any of these books? Readers and I would love any recommendations if you have them!

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22 :: in book reviews, good reads, On Becca’s Bookshelf

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