Archive | holiday

happy Labor Day!

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Happy Labor Day from someone who knows that a mama never rests from her labors!

Our Labor Day plan is very simple: enjoying one final day in Crete as we soak up the summer sun, Mediterranean sea, Greek food, and time together.  For me, ultimately that’s what any vacation is about: time with friends or family! If you’d like a peek into our vacation here, I’ve shared photos and videos through Instagram.

What are you up to this Labor Day?

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P.S.  Can’t wait to share an amazing giveaway with you tomorrow!  Get ready for a shopping spree!

4 :: in family, holiday, holidays, travel

hello from Crete!

becca-garber-stavros-beach-crete-1 Stavros Beach, Crete

becca-garber-stavros-beach-crete-2 A water bottle that I won in a giveaway.  I never win anything!

becca-garber-stavros-beach-crete-3 Contemplating a nap.  (He took a nap!)

You will know this if you follow me on Instagram: we are in Crete!  My veterinarian husband travels here every quarter to care for the pets and military working dogs at the tiny little base in Souda Bay.  We came with him last year, too, and had a harrowing journey back when one of our plane engines died mid-flight!

One of Elliott’s soldiers also brought his family, good friends of ours from church.  Rachel and I have been enjoying our side-by-side apartments and chances to take the kids to the pool or beach at a moment’s notice.  Tonight they have offered to babysit while Elliott and I go out for Greek food!

Sometimes I stop and shake my head a little bit, marveling at the amazingness of this week.  I can hop on a military plane with my two children and spend a whole week vacationing on a Greek beach?  Perks of military life!  But none of these blessings comes without sacrifice.  In this case, the biggest sacrifice is made by my husband, who goes quietly to work each day (in Sicily or in Crete) in order to care for his family.  Thank you, Elliott; I could never do what you do, and if I had to, I could not do it with such grace.

I’m trying this week not to take this stage of life for granted.  By next summer we will undoubtedly be back in the States, and trips to Greece will be a thing of the past.  This brief season — sand in tiny swim trunks, a two-year-old learning to dog paddle, a date to eat Greek food in Crete, a 7-month-old sitting beside me taking markers out of a basket over and over — will be over before that next wave sinks into the sand.

What fleeting stage of life are you enjoying right now?

2 :: in Greece, holiday, husband, thoughts, travel

house on the beach, kids in the water

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Ever since we arrived in Sicily two years ago, Elliott has dreamed of one very specific thing:

“I want to go on vacation to the beach… somewhere where you can stay on the beach.  Not drive to the beach, not walk to the beach.  On the beach.”

We live on an island, so you wouldn’t think this is very hard to do.  However, we’ve looked extensively, and vacation rentals on the beach are not common here in Sicily, especially in the height of the summer season (late July through early September).

We wanted to go on one final vacation with our dear friends the Arthurs, who will be leaving in just two weeks.  (Gulp.)  Knowing that a house on the beach would be perfect for this vacation with six kids, Elliott took matters into his own hands and searched high and low.  He finally found a place that was actually on the beach (!)… but they would only rent it for a week at a time, not a long weekend.  Elliott, being Elliott, negotiated and bided his time, and pretty soon we had ourselves a vacation rental on the beach… and for a full 100 euro less than their weekend asking price, too.

(Elliott, I know you know this, but I love you.)

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view of the beach from the stone steps up to our house

The house was just right for two families and lots of kids.  There were three bedrooms, two bathrooms, two kitchens (!), and two extra rooms that we used as bedrooms as well.  The house also included a lovely shaded patio connected to the huge blue-and-white tiled kitchen.  We ate all our meals on the patio and otherwise spent our days on the beach with multiple trips back for nap times, water, snacks, sunscreen, and missing children.

Would you like to stay there yourself?  Here’s the listing if you’re interested!  (That company also owns several other beach-front villas in that same area.)  For Sigonella folks, it’s about a 2-hour drive south of base, located on the southeastern tip of Sicily near Pozzallo.  The beach is called Granelli Beach.  The natural curve of the land forms a large cove that keeps the water shallow for about 200 feet and the waves small… perfect for a vacation with kids.

But anyway, enough details.  Here are some more pictures of our long weekend with friends!

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Eden (2 months) and Gil (6 months) chilling on the patio.

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The morning/afternoon sunscreen routine.  Frequently overheard conversation between Josh and Rebecca: “I will do anything rather than put sunscreen on the kids.  Anything.  What can I do for you besides that?”

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Air mattress as a raft?  This was a sort of brilliant move on Josh’s part.  So brilliant that I saw other people doing the same thing later that afternoon with their own air mattress.

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Lena loves Baby Eden and wants to hold her, admire her, and play with her all the time.

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For all lovers of Gilbert Blythe… does this photo remind anyone of this?
(Hint: “Anne, I’m sohwry.“)

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Elise and Eden

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Inspiring read for the weekend.  Highly, highly recommend this book.

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A downer of the weekend: this poor guy was almost never happy for very long on the beach.  Our guess is that it was the bright sun; his blue eyes just couldn’t handle it.  We borrowed some baby sunglasses from the Arthurs but that only helped for a little while.  Oh well… he did enjoy swimming naked like the other Sicilian babies.  Can’t blame him!

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These two… seriously.  Gil literally lights up when he sees Lena.  And vice versa.  I love how they love each other.

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This calm, quiet water — knee deep for about 200 feet — was just perfect with kids.  Refreshing in the mornings and warm as bathwater in the afternoons, with gentle waves and no pollution whatsoever, it might be the overall best beach I’ve ever seen in Sicily.

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Lucas and Lena are the cutest little 2-year-olds together.  They get each other laughing so hard… mostly Lena laughing at whatever Lucas comes up with next.

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Ciao ciao, Granelli Beach!  Hope to see you again soon!

12 :: in friends, holiday, Italy, Sicily, travel, Uncategorized, weekend

update from the beach

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What images does “summertime” evoke for you?

In my mind, “summertime in Sicily” is a slowed-down, stretched out pile of images with heat-shimmered edges.  Irresistibly sleepy summer afternoons and cold Italian lemon ice, achingly bright sunshine and warm peach juice dripping down my arm.  This past weekend formed more memories of a Sicilian summer, with fluttering beach umbrellas and lulling conversations drifting across the sand, lapping waves warmer than bathwater and leisurely days with good friends.

More soon when we return to the home front!

5 :: in friends, holiday, travel

life in an Italian villa {Part 2 of 2}

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For so many reasons, this week away with my family (read Part 1 here) was peaceful, joyful, and in every way the perfect Sicilian vacation.  In others, it was somber and tainted with grief.  As many of you know, my youngest sister, Julia, died in a car accident this summer.  This was our first real family vacation without her and we felt her absence at every turn.  Although we have every confidence that Booie (our nickname for her) is in Heaven experiencing fullness of joy and rest, and although we have so much to be thankful for, we will be missing her the rest of our lives.  I would be leaving the biggest thing out if I tried to write about this week and didn’t mention the thing that was most on our minds.

We continue to ask for your prayers as the weeks and months go by.  We’d especially appreciate them tomorrow, March 23, which would have been Julia’s 20th birthday.

Here are some more photos from this week. Thank you, family, for coming so far and living life with us… newborn and all!
becca-garber-villa-sisters-beach becca-garber-villa-love-beach We took another walk on the beach mid-week and snapped some of these photos. Below are a couple of attempts at a family portrait… easier said than done!

becca-garber-villa-family-portrait-fail becca-garber-villa-family-portrait becca-garber-villa-dad becca-garber-villa-reading Above, we enjoy some reading outside as a family. Below, some photos from our last lunch together as a family, which we ate at a little restaurant built into the seawall in the tiny town of Brucoli.

becca-garber-villa-brucoli becca-garber-villa-steamed-octopus   becca-garber-villa-steamed-octopus-2 Em wasn’t so sure about the steamed octopus, but Lena enjoyed it. Her attempt to say “octopus” sounded more like “apple-de-guts.”

becca-garber-villa-eating-octopus becca-garber-villa-family-restaurant becca-garber-villa-grandpa-sitting becca-garber-villa-aunt-baby I love this photo of Emily and Gil! Below, a photo of how we spent many evenings: watching Downton Abbey (some of us for the first time, others of us for the second or third…).

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8 :: in family, grief, holiday, Julia, memories, Sicily

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