Archive | home sweet home

Our House in Charlottesville // The Finished Product… Or Not!

I showed you the “before” photos of our house here, the “in between” photos during our renovation here, and then… I never came back with the final product! Because, to be honest, there is no “final” version of our house, especially when:

  • You have lived in it for less than a year, so it’s still very much a work in progress.
  • Your beautiful dog has 8 puppies in March (?!) and so the configuration of your home and yard changes for 8 weeks as you raise them.
  • You have a baby on the way (ONE MONTH TO GO), and so you’re going to be doing some necessary room changing and redecorating before he arrives (or at least you hope it will be done before he arrives).

All of this has prevented me from saying, “Yes, here is the perfect chance to take photos of our finished, completed house!” But I know a few of my friends have been waiting eagerly for these photos, and our house as it is right now captures a stage of life that will be here and gone.

So… here goes nothing!

ENTRANCE

Here is the entrance to our house today:

You can see what it looked like when we moved in right here. We worked hard to make this a useful, brighter space by adding the mirror and all the matching gray furniture. The padded bench includes storage for gloves, hats, mittens, sunscreen, sunhats, the Ergo, our picnic blanket… the list goes on and on!

I’m planning to move that plant (should I?), and I’m also planning to spray paint the white mirror a deep gold. Buuuut that’s a project I’ve been talking about for months. (I don’t really paint furniture. Never have. Maybe one day will. So intimidated by it!)

Shoe cabinet (this thing is amazing) and the entrance to the master bedroom (and Apartment B, as explained in this post). The open front door and the entrance to the living room/Apartment A.

ATTIC PLAYROOM

Now let’s walk up the stairs to the attic playroom… Before I finished decorating this corner of the playroom…
… and after! That lamp needed a shade. But, to be honest, I move things around all the time up here. The only thing I can’t move is the bookshelves, which Elliott strapped to the wall. Great peace of mind!

I’ve read a lot of books over the years about Montessori-style learning, and many of those principles are incorporated into the playroom: toys easily accessible at the kids’ height, objects and games made from natural materials and most without batteries, and a place for everything (and everything in its place… most of the time!). This book is a great place to start if you want to learn more about the Montessori method. My all-time favorite book about simple play spaces (and much more) is Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne (<– and that’s a blog post I wrote about it in 2011!).

Looooooots of dress ups in that chest! The kids and their neighbor friends spend hours putting on plays for the parents with those clothes.

Remember when this space was completely unfinished, with no electricity or light fixtures, old broken windows, and the floor was damaged wood? It’s one of the most rewarding transformations of all!

The playroom is so much fun right now, but it’s about to get even better, I think. The big kids will be moving up here in a couple of weeks before the baby arrives. Elliott and I just need to hang blackout curtains first… and get the AC fixed so it’s cool enough to sleep at night! Their little white beds will go under each eave. I am excited to show you photos after the move! I think it’ll be so cute and even more functional than it is right now.

LIVING ROOM

Those first two photos were of our living room at Christmastime. After the holidays, Elliott and I moved some furniture around and finished hanging artwork, and now it looks like this:
And here is a panoramic photo of the whole room:

Our goal in this room was to provide plenty of seating for guests so that we could host friends and family, and we certainly did that at Christmas when Elliott’s entire family (11 adults and 4 kids) spent most of three days in this room! The white couch also folds down to be a single bed, and we’ve used that a lot lately. We also can blow up an air mattress in the attic playroom if we host a couple. Neither option is ideal, but both work for now until we have a designated guest room in the future.

For the curious, almost all the furniture in our living room is from World Market. I did find the rustic industrial coffee table on Amazon, and the bookshelf is an antique find from our newlywed days on Capitol Hill. The blue chair is from IKEA, and it’s so comfortable and has held up very well!

DINING ROOM & BATHROOM


We love this room! We spend a LOT of time in here with meals and snacks and schoolwork and craft projects, and it is a pretty, cheerful space. The dining table expands to fit up to 6 adults comfortably, but we’ve packed a dozen people around it at Christmas and done ok. ;)

For the curious, the light fixture is from Pottery Barn, the dining table and kids table are from IKEA, the midcentury modern dining chairs are from Amazon, the kids’ chairs are from Stokke, and most of the shelf organizational pieces are also from IKEA. The rug is from Rugs USA, and I love it — highly recommend!

The bathroom right off the dining room doesn’t look like much, but I try to keep it neat and tidy all the time. Everything has a very strict place (extra bath mat hung as soon as baths are over, white shower curtain always closed, two towels folded in thirds so they fit on the towel rack, etc.), and these standards keep this heavily-used bathroom pretty tolerable!

KITCHEN

Oh, this kitchen! It’s is tiny, and there is no dishwasher, and all the appliances came with the apartment when we bought the whole house, but… I love it despite all its flaws.

I’ve trimmed down every excess kitchen item I can think of so that I keep the essentials at my fingertips, and everything in this kitchen works hard (especially me, haha). I spend a lot of time washing dishes at this sink!

Those photos were all from around Christmas. I recently added a walnut magnetic knife strip to get rid of my knife block and save counterspace. I also bought a white magnetic paper towel holder, and now my paper towels are on the side of my fridge instead of my counter, which really helps, too.

Even though it’s small, we make many wonderful things in this little kitchen! Lena is posing with a chicken pot pie about to go into the oven, and below the kids are helping me make naan to go with our dinner of chicken tikka masala.

If/when we renovate this house, the kitchen will probably be the biggest and most wonderful change. In every single house we’ve lived in since we got married, I have been blessed by getting a brand new or top-of-the-line kitchen (Capitol Hill, Sicily, San Diego), so this little kitchen is a good place for me to get creative and keep things simple.

Elliott has offered multiple times to get me a portable dishwasher or even get one installed, but honestly I just can’t justify it. A portable dishwasher would be huge in this space, and an installation would involve demolition and the purchase of a machine in a kitchen that will probably only be like this for another year or so. I might change my mind when I’m exhausted with a new baby, but for now I don’t mind the calm of washing dishes in a quiet kitchen. Dish washing is “boring” so I generally get left alone while I’m cleaning up! ;)

Whenever I get frustrated (or the egg carton slips off the crowded countertop and I break six eggs again), I remember that this kitchen was intended for ONE person living in a small one-bedroom apartment, and yet we are a family of almost six living in two combined apartments… but still with just one tiny kitchen. I’m looking forward to larger appliances and more counterspace one day, but in the meantime, I’ll keep it simple and make it work!

MASTER BEDROOM 

As a child, I remember thinking that my parents’ bedroom was the one room that always got forgotten. We moved every few years for my dad’s job, and my mom transformed every dusty shell of a house into a gorgeous, comfortable home. My parents’ bedroom, though, had the most basic furniture and the same bedspread throughout my childhood, and there were generally books and papers and odds and ends piled everywhere. I thought, “I’ll try not to do that as an adult…”

… but the truth is, that is often how our bedroom is! Elliott works from home, and our bedroom is right next to the entrance to our house, so a lot of our mail, packages, and “to do” items end up in this room. We also keep our printer, shredder, filing cabinet, and family’s laundry basket in here; there just isn’t a better place for any of these things. If we ever renovate, Elliott will have an office!

My way of keeping the mess under control is to (a) make the bed neatly every single day and (b) keep our clothes out of sight in drawers or the laundry basket. With a baby joining us soon, Elliott and I are going to have to get rid of some of the things that have piled up in there, but in the meantime… you get one picture of the neatest part of this room, and that’s the only photo I have!

As for furniture sources, you’re probably sensing a theme here. ;-) Our bed, bedside tables, and bookshelf are all from IKEA, and you can’t see our Hemnes dresser and Brimnes wardrobe on the other side of the room, too. The jute rug is from Rugs USA.

BIG KIDS’ BEDROOM AND BATHROOM

After months of procrastinating, I finally organized the huge and beautiful bookshelf in the kids’ bedroom. There is still a lot going on in this space, but it feels much better organized now. Here are some photos taken at Christmastime (with glimpses of the bookshelf before I tidied it up):

If you’re curious, the kids’ beds are from IKEA and will expand to full-length twin beds as they grow. Their dresser is also from IKEA, and the glider and ottoman are by Dutailier. The rug is also from Rugs USA.

It’s hard to tell here, but the smaller tiles on the floor are actually a deep Mediterranean blue. I tried to make the bathroom feel clean and crisp with bright blue towels and rugs and a simple white shower curtain. Keeping it clean and clutter-free helps too!

FOREST’S ROOM & LAUNDRY ROOM

Remember when this room was the kitchen for Apartment B (more photos in this post)? Our contractor ripped out the sink and cabinets, and a plumber installed a washer/dryer hookup and a utility sink to turn this into a laundry room. On the other half of the room, our contractor removed the stove and oven, and we put Forest’s crib and shelf there.

I planned to have artwork hung over his bed before I shared this post, but… clearly didn’t happen! My plan is to get a few prints of baby woodland creatures from Etsy to hang on the bare walls. We’ll see if I actually ever get it done! His crib is the Bloom Alma Max, and his shelf is from IKEA.

I thought we’d be able to do laundry while Forest was sleeping (white noise!), but it’s just too disruptive.  Oh well! I have gotten very good at starting a load of laundry first thing and getting it washed and dried before he goes down for his nap around 12pm. Not so great at folding it before 9pm, though…

THE GARDEN

Elliott gets all the credit for our garden, both in the front yard and the back. He spent hours and hours in the winter planting hundreds of flower bulbs, but unfortunately they all came up around the time our puppies were playing in the front yard each day, and they totally destroyed each flower just as it was blooming. So sad!

I took these photos earlier today!

Now the puppies have been in their new homes for one week, and Elliott didn’t waste any time. He’s been working so hard this week planting vegetables and sunflowers, repotting rosemary and foxgloves, hanging flowering planters, and even installing new mailboxes for us and our tenants. He also built a structure with trellises and chicken wire in the backyard for passion fruit vines to grow over so that the kids will have a cool green cave to play in later this summer!

Elliott and I also spent a while last night choosing patio furniture now that the weather is nicer (cough… already hot… cough) and the puppies won’t be chewing on our new lounge chair legs. I’m excited to sit on the porch on pretty days with our new baby so soon!

Anyway, as can be seen by the big bags of potting soil and the random pots in the garden, there is still a lot of work to be done. As always! The joys and trials of home ownership — the projects are never finished. The rewards are so great, though.

And there you have it. Our home in Charlottesville, a work in progress, but a very dear place to all of us already in the nine short months we’ve lived here. I hope it looks like a welcoming, loving space with lots of room to learn, grow, and rest, both for our family and for visitors. That is what we aspire to, after all, according to the name of this blog! “Making room for a simple, hospitable life.” May it always be so.

20 :: in home renovation, home sweet home, Virginia

Hello 2017!

Merry Christmas from Lena (5), Gil (3), and Forest (7 months)! This photo was on the front of our Christmas card this year. Our Christmas card photo this year: Lena (5), Gil (3), and Forest (7 months).

Hello, old blog. I think of you often, mostly because putting words and photos into this space is a way to record both the images and the emotions of this stage of life, marriage, and motherhood. I miss doing this, and reading my readers’ stories too, and sharing in this small community online.

And so, at least for the month of January, one of my goals is to write four blog posts. I am already over a week into this month and haven’t been able to write until now, so we’ll see if this happens!

I thought a fun thing to do would be to capture the last few weeks in a bunch of photos. A lot of my favorite photos are on Instagram, but here are some that didn’t make the cut for whatever reason, yet still tell our story.

becca-garber-hello-2017-1 In December right before Christmas, we went on a five-day vacation to Cambria on the central California coast with my mom, dad, sister Emily, brother Eric, and his girlfriend Rebecca. We stayed in a gorgeous Airbnb on Stepladder Ranch, and we spent hours hiking in the lush green hills around the ranch.

img_7685 Sunrise through the lavender outside our bedroom window.

becca-garber-hello-2017-2 We went on a tour of Stepladder Creamery, a goat dairy on the ranch. It was so green; all the shades of green and red and blue were like technicolor. The cheese was great too!

becca-garber-hello-2017-3 Forest was everyone’s favorite to snuggle.

img_7736 Sunset at Elephant Seal Beach, where we saw male elephant seals fighting and tiny newborn baby seals nursing. Elliott and I haven’t been back here since our honeymoon almost seven years ago, so it was crazy to stand there watching the same amazing sight… but with our three children.

becca-garber-hello-2017-4 Mornings at the ranch house.

becca-garber-hello-2017-5 My mom bought fun spa items for us girls to enjoy while we were there, and Lena had so much fun pampering all of us. I want to repeat this experience! Turns out she gives a facial (the five-year-old version) just as well as she climbs trees.

becca-garber-hello-2017-6 Frolicking in the hills!

img_7755 We visited Hearst Castle while we were staying just a few miles away, and it was opulent and magnificent. This is the indoor pool. Can you imagine hanging out here with movie stars in the 1930s and ’40s?

becca-garber-hello-2017-7 The long drive home. I hate LA traffic.

img_7783 Christmas Eve breakfast! Elliott’s favorite cinnamon rolls were a must.

becca-garber-hello-2017-8 My little family ready to head out to the Christmas Eve service at church, and our Christmas Day dinner the next day.

img_7814 The whole crew enjoying Christmas morning breakfast. We are so glad you all came!

img_7865 My three precious children on Christmas morning. Forest’s first! My heart was so full of thankfulness that day.

img_7871 Between travel to St Louis, Virginia, and Cambria in December, Forest’s sleep schedule was a total wreck and he was so exhausted by the time Christmas was over. We moved him up to his own bedroom (and out of our closet!) right after my family departed. We also moved him out of the little Arm’s Reach co-sleeper bed he’d slept in his whole life, and now he is in a real “big boy” crib. He’s already sleeping so much better. Not sleeping through the night, though I think he could. I know… babies and parents and sleep… the endless drama…

img_7872 Elliott’s parents got into town for a week-long visit the same day my family left, and we spent a quiet day at home before going to the San Diego Holiday Bowl parade the next day. The kids loved all the balloon floats and bands!

becca-garber-hello-2017-9 We celebrated a second Christmas with Elliott’s parents, this time just stockings. The kids especially enjoyed the packs of gum I put in there, and the little balloon pump and long tube balloons that we made into shapes. So entertaining!

img_7899 We visited Torrey Pines State Reserve one day, and a cockatoo walked right up with his owner and made himself at home! He untied our shoe laces, ate our carrots, and then meandered on his happy way.

img_7920 Elliott’s sister gave the kids cloth bags and fabric paint for Christmas, and they had so much fun decorating them. I love this messy, realistic scene that is reminiscent of many many mornings in our home.

becca-garber-hello-2017-10 At the recommendation of multiple friends, I got my first Erin Condren planner this year. Already I love having a paper planner so much. I feel like I have a clear grasp of what this week holds, and what I need to get done, like send birthday cards, schedule babysitters, accomplish monthly goals… things that often got pushed to the last minute or just forgotten. When my family relies on me to be organized as well as provide for them in myriad ways, I don’t want to waste my time being disorganized, last-minute, or forgetful. This is my realization and aspiration, anyway. More about goals in an upcoming post!

becca-garber-hello-2017-11 My baby’s first time in the shopping cart seat, and one of my favorite parts of the day: bathing Forest, wrapping him up in his hooded towel, dressing him in cozy pajamas, snuggling up to nurse him, and then laying his sleepy body down in his crib. I love having a baby so so so much, even with the challenges.

img_8003 I’ve been selling and giving away a lot of things this month (spring cleaning!), and I loved this photo of a hand bell set I was ready to part with. Sadly, my kids were always more interested in ringing them loudly enough to wake up the neighbors than playing “Jingle Bells.”

becca-garber-hello-2017-12 Photos of me and my best friend before a hot date to an Italian restaurant!

img_8127 For my job at a local paper, I reviewed Buona Forchetta, a popular Italian restaurant in San Diego, and then interviewed the owner. Everyone loved the article, and I loved the entire experience from start to finish! Here’s the article if you’d like to read it.

becca-garber-hello-2017-13 Our beloved baby. On the left, he was eating some crackers (love Mum-Mums!) at the library, and on the right he was hanging out with me, Elliott, and our dog on a date while Elliott’s parents took the older two kids to La Jolla Cove.

becca-garber-hello-2017-14 More of my baby. I might be obsessed a little. Also he loves his bath each night so much!

img_8139 Photo of Bluewater Boathouse (another restaurant I review each quarter for the newspaper) and Glorietta Bay at sunrise, taken on a run with friends. We live in such a breathtakingly beautiful place!

becca-garber-hello-2017-15 Lena showed Forest how to set up her new gears toy, and Gil snapped this random photo of me one night when I was giving Forest a bath.

img_8165 Last week we rode the ferry from Coronado to downtown San Diego (I love this photo from the ride) to get Lena a new passport and apply for Forest’s first. We’d like to do some international travel this spring, but we’re still not sure where.

becca-garber-hello-2017-16 Playing on the amazing playground after our passport appointments. Forest is such a serious swinger, and Lena is such a daredevil one!

img_8185 And finally, here is a photo of my precious Gil, because I don’t take enough of this sweet, goofy boy. He wasn’t feeling great here (the kids have been suffering from stomach bugs this past week), but he came along so cheerfully on this expedition on the ferry and smiled so sweetly here.

And that’s all for now! A busy season, but one I don’t ever want to forget. If only that were possible… at least for all the best memories!

xo

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9 :: in Coronado, family, Forest, Gil, holidays, home sweet home, Lena, life lately, San Diego

Our First Week with Forest Everett

Forest Everett birth announcement See Gil’s almost-identical blog birth announcement in this post!

Forest Everett is sleeping next to me now, making those little newborn squeaks and coos that I cannot get enough of. Thanks to the totally self-sacrificial love and care of my mom and Elliott, I have been given ample time to savor these newborn days, nap, relax, and enjoy. I’m grateful for such a peaceful start to life with Forest, especially after our start with Gil was so difficult.

Here are some of my favorite memories from this first week with our third baby!

becca-garber-coronado-forest-everett-first-week-2016-2 We brought Forest home on last Friday morning. I took a moment to to fix the drive in my memory, as I did with Lena and Gil.  All the purple-blossomed jacaranda trees were in bloom, and the water and sky were a brilliant blue as we crossed the bridge. Coronado looked like a green jewel surrounded by a sapphire sea. What a beautiful place to come home to, Forest!

IMG_1990 Leaving the hospital.

becca-garber-coronado-forest-everett-first-week-2016-1 The kids were so excited to see him home at last!

becca-garber-coronado-forest-everett-first-week-2016-3 Gil tried on the outfit he wore so often as a newborn. Doesn’t fit you anymore, big guy.

becca-garber-coronado-forest-everett-first-week-2016-4 Elliott and I took Forest to his first pediatrician appointment on Saturday morning, which he passed with flying colors. I have thanked God over and over this week for his health, ease with nursing, and so-far easy-going nature. I don’t take it for granted now–experience has humbled me!

On the right, my Forest next to a wonderful cookbook my friend loaned me.

becca-garber-coronado-forest-everett-first-week-2016-5 Left: All snuggled up while everyone else went to church. Forest and I listened to a sermon and soaked up the peace and quiet.

Right: FaceTime in two different rooms of the house never ceases to amaze my kids!

becca-garber-coronado-forest-everett-first-week-2016-6 I love every tiny little feature! The beautiful swaddle blanket is from Little Unicorn and the pacifier is from Natursutten, and so far I’m a big fan of both.

becca-garber-coronado-forest-everett-first-week-2016-7 On Sunday night, Elliott and I went out for a sushi date, something I have been dreaming of for a long time. We went out for sushi when Lena was a few days old, too, so I guess it’s kind of a tradition at this point. ;)

becca-garber-coronado-forest-everett-first-week-2016-8 Afterwards we had more time before our older kids would be in bed (thanks, parents!), so we walked along the beach to the famous Hotel Del Coronado and enjoyed a drink at sunset. Little Forest woke up to nurse on the beach but otherwise lounged or slept quietly the whole time. Well done, little guy!

becca-garber-coronado-forest-everett-first-week-2016-9 becca-garber-coronado-forest-everett-first-week-2016-10 One evening my mom took the kids to the park, and so Forest and I sat outside for a long time, snuggling and nursing and playing with each other’s hands. I cannot get enough of this precious newborn stage!

becca-garber-coronado-forest-everett-first-week-2016-11 I guess none of us can. :)

IMG_2333 becca-garber-coronado-forest-everett-first-week-2016-12 On the left, early morning jammie snuggles. On the right, Forest is wrapped in a beautiful blanket that a friend gave me for Lena over five years ago.

IMG_2117 How we roll around here, undies and all. So far Elliott and I are not regretting the purchase of the secondhand Mamaroo that Forest is in. It’s given us quiet evenings to ourselves when he tends to be a little fussy, and that alone has made it worth it so far. We suffered through many, many interrupted evenings with newborn to 3-month-old Gil.

becca-garber-coronado-forest-everett-first-week-2016-13 A familiar position for me on the left, as I tend to nurse my new babies lying down about 50% off the time. They can figure out the right latch without much interference from me, and they often fall asleep for hours after nursing like this. Other moms, do you have some unconventional adaptations like this?

On the right, my beautiful mom with her one-week-old grandson!

IMG_2384 Fresh produce that Elliott and Lena gathered from our EarthBox garden. Two kinds of tomatoes, peas, and lemon cucumbers. No strawberries because those get eaten right off the vine as soon as they’re ripe.

IMG_2422 A multi-tasking Grammie, who I think was talking to Elliott about summer vacation plans at the same time!

IMG_2377 Siena, our Maine Coon cat, joined our family right before Gil was born, and she’s been a nurturer ever since. She still runs over to Gil whenever he cries, or paws at him to help him stop.

becca-garber-coronado-forest-everett-first-week-2016-16 On the left, Forest is sporting a bracelet Lena made for him before he was born. On the right… back to diapers once again, even though we only put away Gil’s nighttime diapers last month. Sigh!

IMG_2457 Forest’s first bath on his one-week birthday, with plenty of assistance from his big sister.

IMG_0817 Little squish!

IMG_2466 How our evenings go these days: snuggles and conversations (and diaper changes).

Below are a series of photos I took on Forest’s one-week “birthday,” taken in chronological order. You’ll see how the order tells a story. ;)

IMG_2453 IMG_2450 IMG_2452 IMG_2454 IMG_2455 IMG_0772 IMG_2456 And that’s it! We love you, little Forest Everett, and you have brought so much joy to our home since you arrived. May it always be so. We are so glad God gave you to us to be part of our family!

4 :: in family, Forest, home sweet home, life lately, motherhood, new baby series, thoughts

An Update from the Sunny Coast

IMG_3307

Well hi! It’s been months since I’ve updated this old blog. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year and everything else that we missed!

I think when you disappear from a space — or slowly slip away — readers often wonder if something is wrong. (I know I’ve hidden away from social media and blogs at times when things are hard or uncertain.) Yet this time I slipped away because life was so good, because the days were so full, and because I didn’t want to miss any of it (even by recording it!). Also, the unique story we had in Sicily didn’t seem so unique now that we were in California.

Anyway, all that to say, these past few months have been some of the best, and they have been thoroughly enjoyed and lived in the present. I bet you know what I mean and how that feels. It’s so good.

becca-garber-update-coronado-2016-1 So here we are in 2016. I thought I’d update with some of my favorite photos from the first two months of the year, starting with these: an early morning cuppa and journaling, and my little man Gil learning his letters.

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Those of you who follow me on Instagram and Facebook will know this, but we are expecting another baby! I am due with #3 in mid-May, and we have been savoring this pregnancy so much because of the joy of sharing it with our children.

Lena really gets it and knows things will be hard and wonderful when the baby arrives. She tells everyone she is going to change the baby’s diapers, and the other day she told me, “I might have to do all the cooking after the baby arrives, Mama.” What would I do without her?

IMG_3308 Lena and I have been reading aloud a lot together (maybe too much — she can be really demanding when she loves a book), and we started the year with this gorgeous Rifle Paper Co. edition of Alice in Wonderland. What a wacky book! The illustrations were exquisite.

IMG_3321 Lena made a “sweater” for her cousin from some wrapping paper, yarn, and tape. She has such an imagination…

becca-garber-update-coronado-2016-2 … as evidenced by this blanket/block/rubber band creation on the floor: a butterfly!

On the right, I was 22 weeks pregnant with this third babe, enjoying a full-length mirror and two hours of work/writing time while the kids were in weekly enrichment classes at the Coronado Community Center.

IMG_3407 El Niño came to visit and we were hit with days of torrential rain. After it passed, we headed up into the hills (along with the rest of San Diego) to play in the snow. We didn’t find much, and it was mostly ice.

IMG_3376 Eventually we left the crowds and found a quiet country road with some hikes. Gil posed like a model.

IMG_3383 And Lena and Gil found their own chunks of snow/ice to play with in the shade! Overall, the trip was a win, but we’re looking forward to East Coast winters again in the future some day.

IMG_3446 They looked so cute laughing down at me from the second floor that I took their picture! Also, the Christmas decorations finally came down in late January…

becca-garber-update-coronado-2016-3 Lena discovered my phone was unlocked and took selfies…

becca-garber-update-coronado-2016-4 Our town’s library is the most magical place. This afternoon activity was a birthday party for Winnie the Pooh. The librarians read Pooh poems, taught Pooh songs, sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to Pooh, and served up birthday cake!

IMG_3713 On January 25, Gil turned THREE! We had a quiet day, a special dinner, made a cake, blew out candles, and opened a few presents. One of them was a green train engine to add to his little train set, and this was his first battery-operated train car. Hours of amusement ensued.

becca-garber-update-coronado-2016-5 Happy birthday, sweet Gil! Hope you enjoyed all the piles of sprinkles you dumped on your cake, and the red and blue frosting you so specifically chose. We love you!

IMG_3774 Evening walk to the beach for sunset, always magnificent.

becca-garber-update-coronado-2016-8 For our 6th anniversary on January 30th, I told Elliott all I wanted was to walk to the beach and order pizza for a picnic dinner there. I got my wish! The kids thought they were pretty lucky to be included, too.

IMG_3830 Quiet Saturday morning reading and snuggling in Mama and Daddy’s bed.

IMG_3802 Lena and Elliott went to a golf tournament for fun with friends, so Gil and I ran errands and then got a treat ourselves at my favorite Coronado cafe: Tartine. Gil looked in the dessert case and of all the desserts, he chose my favorite: pavlova. Way to go, Gil!

becca-garber-update-coronado-2016-7 Every few months or so, I provide refreshments for our church after the service. That week I made mini bacon and caramelized onion quiches, banana bread, and winter fruit salad. I was missing pomegranate seeds, which would have made the salad extra pretty!

In the second photo, Gil was my fashion photographer for a less-than-successful photoshoot.

IMG_3897 A friend and I hosted a Valentine’s Day crafting party at my house for our local Moms Club, and it was a huge hit! We had so much fun, and I loved seeing so many friends in my home.

IMG_3908 They are a pretty wonderful bunch. :)

becca-garber-update-coronado-2016-6 Back from an early-morning run with a good friend before the kids are up! My 24-week bump and I got to enjoy some quiet reading and journaling.

And on the right… those kiddos in their footie pajamas are always up to something. It has been one of my greatest joys this season to see them really play together, creating their own games and building forts and using their imaginations for hours at a time. It makes mothering them so much more fun, too.

IMG_3457 The kids started playing soccer on Wednesday afternoons with Little Rascalz Soccer School, a play-based, preschool-oriented introduction to sports. It’s really good for the kids, I think, and I hope I can continue to encourage them to play sports like they do now: purely for the fun of it.

IMG_3655 Lena and Gil’s friend was turning four, and his dad (a SEAL, as many guys are in Coronado, the home of the Navy SEALs) set up a slack line and zip line for the kids to enjoy at the park. Pizza, cake, and zip lines — that was Lena’s kind of party!

IMG_3653 Later that night, we decided to have our second family movie night of all time and watch Toy Story. So far we’ve seen this one and Finding Nemo, and we’re thinking of watching Cinderella next. This slow introduction to movies together has been a lot of fun, and I like how movies are a treat for all of us this way.

becca-garber-update-coronado-2016-9 On the left, Lena and I read through all five books in the Samantha series (American Girl) in a few days. She loved them, even though a lot of the historical context was over her head. Can’t wait till she can read all these books on her own in a few years! I loved them all and still remember so much of the stories.

On the right, we went kayaking as a family last Saturday morning in the San Diego Bay, and Gil took the relaxing aspect of kayaking right to heart!

IMG_4022 My little nap time companion. Siena, our Maine Coon, likes to find me on the couch, play with my hair for a few minutes, and then lie down on it to take a nap.

IMG_4033 Annelie, my Swedish friend and running partner, invited us over to celebrate Fettisdagen, or Fat Tuesday. We ate semla, the traditional Swedish cardamom and cream buns that Swedes enjoy before the start of Lent.

I love being included in her Swedish traditions! I never got a picture of it, but she brought her family and Swedish friends to come caroling on Saint Lucia Day right before Christmas. Do you remember that tradition from the Kirsten (American Girl) books? They were dressed in white with candles and wreaths! So magical.

IMG_4052 Another magical thing is how this little girl has taken to her first bike. We encouraged her to practice and practice and practice on her balance bike, and finally in early February I found a two-wheeler on Craigslist that was not super girly or too boyish. She was pedaling independently on it after 15 minutes, and now she streaks around our driveway, standing up on the pedals and pumping away. We’re so proud, and she loves her new freedom!

IMG_4059 El Niño rains and storms have changed the topography of our beaches, exposing an old shipwreck that is usually buried in the sand. One evening we met a bunch of friends there (and tons of tourists) to walk through the shallow water and out onto the wreck. It’s a sunken gambling boat, so rumor has it that there’s money around here, too!

IMG_4123 Elliott’s parents visited for a long weekend, and on their last morning here we took them to Balboa Park to ride the carousel and explore the gardens. Gotta love that 80-degree weather in February!

IMG_4128 One night Elliott cut Gil’s hair and let the kids watch half an episode of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. I came back from a run the next morning and found them sitting side by side on the couch, Gil’s hand on Lena’s knee, enjoying the second half of the show together.

IMG_4130 I brought the kids with me when I took my glucose tolerance test for pregnancy, and they wanted to taste the last drop in the bottle to see what it was like. They loved it, of course.

IMG_4136 I don’t write about it too much on here, but my part-time work as a staff writer for eCoronado (a local online newspaper) is a wonderful part of my life. I write at least two articles a week for the paper, and half of these are food reviews of restaurants, movie reviews of the newest blockbuster, or stage reviews of theater productions. I love promoting local shop owners and artists in our town, getting to enjoy arts and culture for free (Elliott and I go on so many good dates!), and sharing my knowledge with Coronado.

Last week I wrote an article about drones in Coronado, which are a major hazard due to low-flying planes and helicopters in a town with two military bases. My story got picked up by a local news station, and I was interviewed by the station about my article. The 3-minute story ran on the 7pm local news! It was such a cool experience (despite having to talk into the sun for about 20 minutes without sunglasses on!).

becca-garber-update-coronado-2016-10 And now, last but not least, a precious photo of Gil with his grandmother during her visit, giggling on the whirling carousel, and me at 27 weeks pregnant.

If you look at the photo on the left quickly, it looks like my belly sticks out as far as the end of the bed, rather than only as far as my hand. I’ve still got three months to go, though, so my belly will stick out that far before too long! Bring it on, baby. We can’t wait to meet you!

12 :: in Coronado, family, Gil, home sweet home, Lena, life lately

Life Lately… An Overdue Update!

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First of all, the giveaway for a signed copy of Elliott’s first novel ends at midnight tonight! Enter by commenting on this post if you’d like to win. :)

Secondly, I have stopped looking at/posting regularly on Instagram for a while after getting back from Yosemite because I enjoyed the break so much, and I don’t like the [self-induced!] pressure of always trying to take an “Instagram-worthy” picture. Can anyone else relate to this? Anyway, I’m sure I’ll eventually post/browse regularly again, but in the meantime I wanted to bring some of the family memories back to the blog again. It’s been a while! Here are my favorite photos I found on my phone from the past month:

IMG_1312 As we often do in the evenings here, a few weeks ago we jogged to the beach to enjoy the sunset and a family picnic. Lena’s 4.5 years old now, and sometimes she amazes me by how grown up she seems!

IMG_1314 The setting sun shines down on Point Loma and a lone fisherman.

IMG_1322 The tide’s coming in, save the tractor!

IMG_1335 I hosted a pool play date at my house for my local moms club after feeling convicted that I haven’t been opening up my home much lately. Elliott and I don’t know how much longer we’ll live in Coronado, and I want more friends to come over, see my dirt, feel loved, and enjoy our home with us. Anyway, tangent aside, sooo many kids came (mine aren’t even in the pool here), and I had to get a second baby pool for the little ones, and there were snacks everywhere, and moms could only get five-second conversations in before they were interrupted again and again, but we all had so much fun. Must do this again!

IMG_1357 The kids and I went to the zoo with my friend Heather and her three boys, and at the end Heather pushed four kids in her stroller up a huge hill. Look at that front tire! I don’t know how she did it, but I was her cheering squad as I pushed one lone child in my own stroller beside her.

IMG_1373 This is a memory from a fun morning, so I thought I’d share it. I write for a local online paper, and one article I wrote recently was about a brand new breastfeeding support group in Coronado. For the first 30 minutes of the support session, no one showed up, and so I just chatted with the lactation educator and hoped she’d get some clients. And then three moms and babies walked in! We were both so happy, and I think her support group is off to a great start.

IMG_1392 Later that week, I took my family out to a restaurant (Calypso Cafe in the Coronado Cays for my local readers!) to write a food review for my job. It was a special outing, since we don’t eat out as a family very often, and we all enjoyed the delicious food by the water.

IMG_1403 Not the best picture, but Lena and I are finally twins! I’ve been wanting to get us matching Saltwater sandals for a long time, and finally a pair became available in her size on eBay to match my own favorite shoes. Now she picks both pairs out of the closet and brings mine to me before we go anywhere.

IMG_1425 It RAINED one day! I delayed nap/rest time for an hour so that the kids could enjoy the deluge outside. Mostly they enjoyed one of their favorite activities: crushing chalk just to see what it will do… because our house is where chalk comes to die.

IMG_1426 My friend Maggie invited us over to her house to watch a movie on a rainy afternoon, another novelty for many reasons. The kids looked so cute all lined up and snuggling!

becca-garber-life-update The first photo is from a run I took a couple of weeks ago with my friend Annelie. I haven’t run more than four miles in a long time, so this was a historic day! Next I’ll work on my pace (haha)… but Annelie and I talk too much during our weekly runs to go much faster! I love that the map shows we ran around the island of Coronado (the whole western half is a military base), something I’ve wanted to do since I moved here.

The second photo is of another fun trip to the zoo with friends! Lena is always happiest when climbing the highest thing in sight, and Gil is always happiest with a bag of snacks in hand.

IMG_1459 We spent a Saturday at the beach! I got a little reading in before some of our friends arrived, and we spent the rest of the morning playing in the sand and surf. I actually swam in the ocean that day because it was so warm, something I’ve never done before in Coronado! The beaches here bring currents of water down from Alaska, meaning the water is bone-chillingly cold most of the year.

IMG_1462 IMG_1465 Auntie Jess came to visit for a few days! We took her out to one of our favorite restaurants in Balboa Park, Panama 66. Their tuna melt and cheese board are to die for…

IMG_1472 Elliott played hooky from work for a couple of hours so we could go hiking at Torrey Pines, one of our favorite urban hiking spots near our house.

IMG_1477 On another night, I took Elliott and Jess out to dinner for San Diego Restaurant Week, as I was reviewing their menu for another article. I loved all the seafood, but that key lime pie for dessert is what I’m dreaming about now…

IMG_1476 We took a picture of the receipt showing the 100% discount for being a “media/travel writer!” Dreams really do come true.

IMG_1495 Lena walked out of rest time in her bedroom one afternoon covered head to toe with marker ink. I tried so hard not to laugh out loud and almost succeeded. The end of her rest time that day turned into a solo bubble bath!

IMG_1507 Lena and Gil are taking classes this fall at our community center, and Lena is taking a STEAM class (science, technology, engineering, art, and math). She came home and told me about the vinegar and baking soda they mixed in a bowl, and that reminded me of a science experiment I did in elementary school with my mom. We made a volcano out of play doh and then watched it erupt!

IMG_1514 This is all Gil wants to do for several hours every day: “my wanta paint.” (“My” is his word for me, I, and myself these days.) His favorite part is taking the tops off and lining up all the bottles, but he does enjoy painting every now and then too…

IMG_1525 One last delicious food item because I couldn’t resist! This is from Saturday night, when Elliott and I reviewed a local European cafe and then walked across Coronado to a little community theater to review the play Thoroughly Modern Millie. I love this writing/reviewing work so much, and Elliott is also enjoying the upgrade to our dating life. ;)

What have you been up to in September? I hope wherever you are that a pumpkin spice latte sounds perfectly seasonal and amazing. I am waiting for that day to come to San Diego, but it’s the hottest time of the year here… so I’ll keep dreaming.

And that’s all for now!  Oh, except… go here to enter the giveaway if you haven’t yet!

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10 :: in Coronado, family, Gil, home sweet home, Lena, life lately, memories, San Diego

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