Archive | deployment

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

Can Time Apart Be Good for a Marriage? + A Few Thoughts on Deployment

Have you ever spent time away from your spouse?

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A younger version of us on the day Elliott was commissioned.

Maybe you were surprised at how easy some things were without him around. I’m betting most of us have. Marriage is hard work!

Earlier this year, my husband was deployed for one month, which sounds long to some and short to others, depending upon what is normal to you. But still, no matter what your normal is, a month is a month. It’s 30 days and 30 nights without your husband going through the rhythms of life with you: greeting you after work, helping you put the kids to bed, spooning you as you fall asleep, waking up with morning breath, kissing you goodbye for the day.

It’s a month without someone checking in on you, hearing the nuances of your day (both praiseworthy and not), parenting with you, and holding you accountable.

Can a break be good for a marriage? Can a deployment be a positive thing?

For us, I think it was good in some ways. Here’s why:

First of all, for us, this deployment was long anticipated. Elliott had wanted to do a “combat” tour ever since he joined the Army, but he’s been in for five years and has volunteered to go many times. And he had never gotten that chance.

For any service member, there is camaraderie in a real deployment, and there is honor in serving “over there.” So when Elliott found out that a SEAL commander needed him, urgently but probably briefly, in the Middle East, I was genuinely and truly thrilled for him.

Of course my next question was, “For how long?!?!”

Elliott said it would be a month at the most. I nodded, relieved. I thought I could handle a month.

That month apart had its really low points. I want to make that very clear! Most of them involved tired children bawling, “I want Daaaadddy! Daaaaaaadddddyyyy!” some time after 7pm. I didn’t always like the person I became at that time of day. I’d rather not ever meet her again.

But it also had adventure and renewed purpose for Elliott, and that was good for him. He is a better soldier because of it, no doubt about it, and a wiser and better man.

And here is my second point about why deployment was good for us.

That deployment had adventure and renewed purpose for me, too.

There was something about being the only adult in the house that was empowering as well as freeing. Gone were the questions like, “Is he going to do that? Or do I have to?” If the trash needed to be taken out, I had to do it. If the diaper was dirty again, I was the only one changing it. If the car or the garden or the kids or the neighbors or the government or the landlord or someone needed something…

… it was all on me.

And it was hard, yes, but in some ways it was so simple. I just had to get it done.

There’s also freedom in letting things go, especially in the kitchen. When Elliott is home, we eat dinner together as a family every night, and I work hard to make healthy, varied meals. That preparation of a main dish and a couple sides, though, routinely takes me over an hour every evening. Because 4-6pm is also post-nap-grouchy time with the kids, it’s often the most stressful time in my day.

Now, Elliott has often told me to not stress about dinner, to serve us leftovers and raw fruit and vegetables before cooking more food, and to eat things before they go bad. He also likes PB&J sandwiches for lunch every day. He’s easy to feed and easy to please. He is not holding me to this full-dinner standard. I am!

Without Elliott home, I didn’t focus quite so much on my role as home chef. As in, I barely turned on the oven. I made a lot of pasta, and I also made this weird sauerkraut and sausage thing he doesn’t like but I love. Mostly, though, we ate a lot of leftovers, a couple rotisserie chickens, and Trader Joes pizza. We cleaned out the freezer, too, which really needed to happen.

“Cleaning out the freezer” is actually a metaphor, I think, for a how a lot of wives approach their husbands’ deployments or long business trips. Just like moving or having a baby, the purging and nesting instincts kick in when your routine is disrupted. I found myself doing things I’d never do in my normal, everyday routine.

Some of them can be good. Some of them can be fun! Like watching chick flicks. I watched a lot of chick flicks the first two weeks of Elliott’s deployment. What is is about lonely nights and chick flicks? They go together like salted caramel ice cream and… me, that’s for sure.

That disruption in routine can also inspire me to take on new projects and start new things. One big change I made during Elliott’s deployment was that I applied for a writing job at a local online newspaper. I think I still would have applied whether he was here or not, but it was fun to share the exciting developments with him from afar, too. He came home to a wife who is now a paid writer for a local paper, an official reviewer of films and critic of restaurants, a local columnist with new co-workers. It gave me a boost of confidence and can-do-it attitude right at the end of his deployment.

I really liked the person I was when I just got things done – rather than the person who waits, calculating, mentally nagging, wondering if and when my husband’s going to step in and help out. I want to have a servant’s heart and a can-do attitude about life. Both of these qualities are beautiful, and I know that such an attitude – when correctly applied and received – is much more encouraging, inspiring, and refreshing at home.

And it’s amazing to make things happen! Like applying for the kind of job you’d like to have. Getting projects done. Becoming the person you’d like to be.

Now. ALL. THAT. SAID!

I have one more, final, most important thought.

It is very easy to walk away from this post (or these thoughts, for me) and think, “Maybe being apart for a month was really good! Maybe I could even be a better person if we were apart more, and I could be a better, more accomplished, more can-do wife when we’re together.”

And that attitude, I realized, is toxic.

Marriage is about togetherness. In a Christian marriage, it’s a union of two people who, with all their rough edges and quirks, are committed to helping each other become more and more like Jesus, more and more holy. And the process of becoming more like Jesus is not about building ourselves up, having our personal space, having our freedom, having our “me time.”

No, it’s about laying ourselves down.

It’s about becoming one flesh. It’s about loving one another through thick and thin, through all the changes of our lives, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, till death do us part.

When Elliott and I made those marriage vows, we committed to living life together for the ultimate benefit of the other for the glory of God. We knew it would be hard, and that we would both change, and that we would need to adjust and accommodate. We are diamonds in the rough, and by constantly rubbing against each other – over the breakfast table, on long plane flights, through major holidays, in bed at night – we are revealing the diamonds within.

I still think the deployment and the time apart was good. We really did enjoy a lot of things about that month, and we both grew as individuals. I think it genuinely was healthy for us as a unit, too.

But I refuse to think that being away from my husband is better than being with him. I love him, and there’s not much else that compares to belonging to him in this life. And I know choosing him is right, every time. I vowed to do so, to build a marriage with him for God’s glory, and the rewards are eternal.

Have you ever felt this way about time away from your spouse?

Has time apart been more healthy or more damaging to your relationship?

45 :: in Army, deployment, marriage, military life

Post-Deployment Family Fun Around San Diego

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Elliott came home from deployment on a Wednesday afternoon, and his amazing commander gave him a four-day weekend to enjoy time at home with his family. Thank you, ma’am!

We spent the weekend doing so many fun things: hiking on Thursday, hiking on Friday (so basically Elliott’s ideal life), biking all over downtown San Diego on Saturday, and then topping off the weekend with beers and friends at Balboa Park on Sunday evening.

Here are a few of my favorite photos from our first weekend back together as a family:

becca-garber-after-deployment-family-fun-san-diego-7 Our first adventure on Thursday was at Cuymaca Rancho State Park, which is about a 45-minute drive east of San Diego.* Elliott had flown over those hills on his plane flight home, and he saw that there was a little snow left since SD had so much rain the week before. We went to find that snow!

*Side note: It is so weird to say something is “east” of your home when you’ve always lived on the East Coast and anything east is the Atlantic Ocean. I feel like I’m driving on the wrong side of the road or something every time I say, “It’s west of San Diego… oh no wait… I mean east, definitely east!”

becca-garber-after-deployment-family-fun-san-diego-3.jpg I love Gil’s face in that first photo! He can’t get over the crazy snow! He hasn’t seen snow since Mt Etna, our backyard volcano in Sicily. He got used to it pretty quickly, though, and Lena and Elliott went right for the snowball fights…

becca-garber-after-deployment-family-fun-san-diego-4.jpg … and building a tiny snowman. And Lena was so sweet to help her brother in the snow!

becca-garber-after-deployment-family-fun-san-diego-6 The most exciting part of the day was coming around a corner and seeing a fire truck. Gil was beside himself with joy… a FIRE TRUCK.

And then we noticed all the people working around the fire truck to clear the fire road were wearing orange jumpsuits with “PRISONER” on the back in large black letters. Yiiiiikes. We walked right past them several times as they were working on the road and we were hiking. I wasn’t too nervous, though, because I doubted prisoners with recent or horrific crimes would be allowed to work so freely, and because mostly I felt sad for them as we hiked past, free and whole and happy.

(And I’ve plugged it before and I’ll plug it again, but Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison totally changed my view about the American criminal justice system. It’s not at all like the TV show, and it is really, really worth a read.)

becca-garber-after-deployment-family-fun-san-diego-3 And then Lena and I made snow angels for the first time, “just like Laura did in Little House in the Big Woods!”

And then that evening we went to the beach for sunset just to say we went to the snow and the beach in the same day! Hurray for living in gorgeous California.

becca-garber-after-deployment-family-fun-san-diego-16 We met up at the beach with some of our best friends in Coronado, and it was so good to see Elliott back with our group and our kiddos. I’ve missed that!

becca-garber-after-deployment-family-fun-san-diego-8 The next morning we went with those same friends to eat brunch at The Cottage, a delicious breakfast spot in La Jolla. Afterwards we took our friends hiking at Torrey Pines State Reserve, which you already know from here and here that I love so much!

becca-garber-after-deployment-family-fun-san-diego-1.jpg becca-garber-after-deployment-family-fun-san-diego-9 Our friends Adam and Jackson… and blue blue blue sky.

becca-garber-after-deployment-family-fun-san-diego-13 The colors of the California coast.

becca-garber-after-deployment-family-fun-san-diego-14 The whole group! We have loved sharing life with this dear family in Coronado, and we’re so sad that they moved just this week back to Oklahoma. Stacy has been an incredible friend to me — authentic and kind and spontaneous and generous and real. We have loved girls’ nights and last-minute dinners and sunsets at the beach and so, so, so many hours together at the park and library and Bible study. Aren’t good friends such a gift in this life?!

becca-garber-after-deployment-family-fun-san-diego-12 The three I love the most in this world.

becca-garber-after-deployment-family-fun-san-diego-11 Watching a helo, as I’ve learned to call them here.

becca-garber-after-deployment-family-fun-san-diego-10 Jackson and Lena — two happy little friends!

becca-garber-after-deployment-family-fun-san-diego-15 Gil’s hat… I can’t even.

collagebecca-garber-after-deployment-family-fun-san-diego-2 … and pouting, just for good measure.

The next day we biked through Coronado to the ferry, and then we rode the ferry across the bay to downtown San Diego. It only takes about 10 minutes, but it’s so much fun! Once on the other side, we spent the day at a splash park/awesome playground, the New Central Library, and Seaport Village, a quaint (but touristy) seaside shopping area. If you’re wanting to visit San Diego, these are all wonderful places to go with kids!

becca-garber-splash-park-san-diego-1.jpg becca-garber-splash-park-san-diego And finally, on Sunday we went here, an amazing outdoor restaurant in Balboa Park. I didn’t take a single picture, but it’s one of our favorite places to hang out with our kids and friends. I don’t know of many places where you can drink fine beers and let your kids play in the grass… of a sculpture garden, no less! Highly recommended if that’s your jam. ;)

——–

Time apart from your husband — and doing every social activity by yourself — will make you SO grateful to have your husband back and home and with you! Friendships are more fun when you can share them with whole families and your whole family, don’t you think?

1 :: in 52 project, Coronado, deployment, hiking, San Diego

He was deployed… but now he’s HOME!!!

becca-garber-deployment-home-2 There’s a good explanation for the radio silence around here…

… Elliott came home from deployment!

becca-garber-deployment-home-3 We welcomed him back last Wednesday, and it was such a joyous day. There’s just nothing like that day your husband comes home. I stood there in a dress he loves, hugging the children and saying, “Daddy’s coming any minute! Can you see him? Where is he?” We held our crumpled “Welcome Home!!!” signs and looked and looked until finally, at last, there he was! Alive and well and hugging them and kissing me and the waiting is over and he’s home.

becca-garber-deployment-home-4 Elliott was “only” gone for just over a month — a mere blip in the military world we live in. Around here, servicemembers are routinely gone for deployments that last six months (or longer). I was hugging and texting friends that very day whose husbands are where Elliott was or are going there soon.

But a month is a month, and the Middle East is the Middle East, and he’s home and safe and there’s nothing like it! I feel only gratitude and relief when I look at these happy, everyday photos that are dated March 4, 2015… meaning he’s home and the deployment is done and we are together again.

becca-garber-deployment-home5 I’ll be back soon with some photos from our wonderful weekend, where we did everything we possibly could to enjoy Elliott’s return and friends and beautiful Southern California.

I also have some more honest — and maybe controversial — thoughts about how this deployment was actually good for us, but those notes need more editing first. Can time apart be a good thing in a marriage? What do you think? I’ll share those thoughts soon.

In the meantime, we’re so glad he’s home!!!

21 :: in Army, deployment, family, husband

happy 4th!

      

A year ago yesterday we welcomed Elliott home from Egypt.  The Army sent him to Egypt just five short months after we were married and nine long months before his daughter was born.  He left on the 4th of July, ironically.  On July 3, 2011, he came home to his exuberant wife, darling new daughter, and a very, very grateful extended family.

Now it’s July 4, 2012, and we’ve been reunited for a whole year.  How fast it’s flown by!  We have our ups and downs in marriage and life, but every morning I am so grateful to wake up next to my husband instead of across the world from him.  On this day of all days we have many reasons to be thankful for our military!

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1 :: in Army, deployment, good reads, husband

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