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A Little Bit of Life Lately


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

Why You Should Have Your Friends Over for Dinner

Our studio in D.C.

Our first home in D.C.

When my husband and I first got married, we lived in a 388 sq ft studio in Washington, D.C. That tiny apartment was like a bird’s nest; we were level with blooming magnolias in spring and could see the Capitol Dome out our window.

Despite having just enough room to turn around in, we made a regular habit of hosting friends for dinner. We were young and so happy, and so we opened our doors and borrowed chairs and sat on the bed and drank wine. Acquaintances turned into lifelong friends.

Looking back, those were our greatest hosting days so far in our marriage. I think part of it was innocence; we were too young to care about our Craigslist furniture and too-spicy curries. But I think the other part was time and energy – those were the days before we (and all our friends) had kids and early bedtimes. We had no one to entertain but other young couples and friends, and we had nothing but time.

When we moved to Coronado, we dreamed of having those days again. We have a deck and patio furniture and a grill, and the weather here is perfect 364 days of the year. The scene is set for entertaining. We have so much to offer now, compared to the tiny one-room studio in D.C.

And yet months have gone by, and my husband and I realized recently that we’ve hardly had any friends over to dinner. Traveling for work, bedtime with the kids, visiting extended family, and so on and so forth – all of these things have slowed our good intentions down.

Then we made some new friends in Coronado. We only hung out with them once before we received an invitation to have dinner in their home. It was a delicious meal in their simple two-bedroom apartment on Orange Ave. Our two kids and their two kids ran wild through the three rooms of the house. Our Moscow mules chilled in copper mugs on an IKEA table. Their simple, genuine hospitality warmed us through and through. Our friends continued this spontaneous, generous welcoming, giving freely of their time and food and home, never minding the kids or the space. They offered cheerfully, and we felt at home.

Since then, my husband and I have decided to try to have friends over to dinner three times a month. It’s a lot of work for many reasons, especially because, like us, most our friends have a couple kids under five. During our meal, we all spend just as much time seated as running after our children. Also I am still the kind of disorganized person who does a whole week’s cleaning in the hour before her guests arrive. So far I only have two good go-to recipes that accommodate for allergies and children and work well on the grill. We are not yet practiced hosts.

But I almost don’t want to be. Yes, I want to serve good food and strong wine and have forks and plates at everyone’s place. I want to clean the toilet before they arrive, do some tidying, and have the meal mostly ready. I want my guests to feel special, loved, welcomed.

But I don’t want them to ever feel like they are anywhere but in a home.

When I walk into a friend’s house and see her dust bunnies and dishes in the sink and pile of laundry waiting to be folded, I see a home. I feel connection, comfort, and even relief. She didn’t hide the mess before I came! She didn’t clean for me! Her kids don’t have any clean underwear either! Being welcomed into such a home is a sign of friendship these days. It’s a way of saying, “I am who I am, and I know you will see my real life and love me for it. I trust you.” I want to spend time in homes like that, to have friends like that, to fill my life with honesty like that.

I want our guests to feel that way, too. In some ways, I never want to get so good at hosting that I lose touch with that newlywed bride stirring a pot of made-up stew with her husband, taste testing from the wooden spoon, and then welcoming guests into a one-room home with no embarrassment and so much love.

So I’ll keep sending out dinner invitations. I can’t promise my guests an immaculate house, or quiet children. I can’t even promise them a wine glass, because I break them all and I drink my wine out of juice glasses now. I’m still working on finding good recipes to feed them.

But I do promise them a clean plate and a chair to sit in. I promise them a family and a home. I promise them a heart that wants them there.

Take this bread, this wine, this friendship, and stay awhile.

36 :: in Coronado, family, friends, goals, home sweet home, hospitality, marriage, San Diego, thoughts, visitors

08/52 + A Visit to the San Diego Zoo with Grampa!

becca-garber-san-diego-zoo-grampa-2 One of the best parts of having grandparents with work all over the U.S. is that they can sometimes add San Diego to their itinerary! Elliott’s dad has taken every speaking engagement in San Diego that he can, and we were treated to a visit from him last week.

He’s a gentle, kind soul that his grandkids adore, and I can never forget my first impression of him about seven years ago: “He looks like Santa Claus! If I marry this man [Elliott] and we have kids, I would love them to have a grandfather who looks like Santa Claus.”

Some dreams really do come true!

becca-garber-san-diego-zoo-grampa-3.jpg We took Grampa to the San Diego Zoo one morning, a place he hasn’t visited since he was a boy. His strongest memory was of the giant tortoises, and so we visited them first. The kids and I have been ALL OVER this zoo, I thought, but hadn’t seen these fellows yet. What else is hiding in that huge zoo?!

Image-1 My favorite photo from the day… :)

becca-garber-san-diego-zoo-grampa-4.jpg I’m including this one of Lena because I don’t think she stuck her tongue out to be rude, just to be funny for the camera, and it shows a lot of things that are true about her lately. She’s a little performer. The other photo is equally descriptive: she loooooves the zoo workers who dress up like animals. Gil is not so sure…

becca-garber-san-diego-zoo-grampa-1 This man loves his snacks. He is supremely content with a bag of snacks in hand, walking around the playground or sitting in the stroller, and watching the world go by.

becca-garber-san-diego-zoo-grampa-5.jpg We are having a minor obsession with koalas these days, and the play structure inside the koala area isn’t bad either. Exhibit B right here.

And, just for fun, here are a couple other photos of the kids from the week:

becca-garber-lena-portrait-08-15 Lena: Enjoying a quiet snack of yogurt after waking up from her nap to find Grampa in the house. Still flushed from sleep and the shy excitement of discovering our visitor! He had just taken a photo of our cat, Siena, and was showing it to the kids on his phone.

becca-garber-gil-portrait-08-15 Gil: We had a rainy weekend in San Diego, a rare treat around here. I am totally spoiled, though, because I am not used to be cooped up indoors with the kids anymore! The kids enjoyed a lot of jammies that day.


And that’s the weekend update from around here! What did you do this past weekend?

10 :: in 52 project, San Diego, visitors

Six Kids in San Diego + a Giveaway Winner!

Did you win the Meadow Kids Toys giveaway?

Winner is announced at the bottom of this post!



Sometimes I have twinges of doubt about renting our house in Coronado. We could have downsized more, lived in a small apartment, decided on a two-bedroom with no guestroom. Should we have chosen something smaller? Can I keep it clean? Are we worthy of it?

And then I turn around and — once again — our home is filled to b u r s t i n g with visitors, and I remember that this is exactly what Elliott and I dreamed of, exactly why we chose this house, exactly why we are right here. It is affirming and thrilling to see our friends and family take us so seriously and show up on our doorstep. As I write this, Elliott’s sister Jess is visiting for five weeks, my parents are here for a couple of weeks, and — as soon as they go — Elliott’s brother David is coming for a long weekend.

Anyone else want to come too? ;)


A few weeks ago our dear friends from Sicily came for a week-long visit. Put four adults, six little kids, one cat, and a lot of memories and laughter and good food together and what have you got? A lot of this, that’s what:


It really was laughter and smiles all week, and we had so much fun making memories on new beaches and new neighborhoods. One of our favorite evenings involved lots of tidal pools, hermit crabs, and a beautiful sunset.

becca-garber-arthurs-visit-coronado-9 becca-garber-arthurs-visit-coronado-7

Elliott was completely in his element as a marine life-loving veterinarian.


Hermit crab!

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Another day we all went to the San Diego Zoo and spent the entire time seeing everything we could:

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Can you count six kids?!


Sweet Baby Eden

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I spy a hippo who needs some dental work.

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On the Arthurs’ last full day in San Diego, we visited the Little Italy Farmers Market and stocked up on Sicilian favorites at a local pasticceria. Unfortunately, the arancini were nothing like the ones we came to love in Sicily, but some of the sweets made up for it! Afterwards the kids explored the splash pad and amazing playground at Waterfront Park:

becca-garber-arthurs-visit-coronado-4 becca-garber-arthurs-visit-coronado-5

And there were more good times, but sometimes the camera stays tucked away for the best of them, like the chatter and spills of two moms making dinner, or the quiet conversations while the kids run wild around us, or the day at the beach with more tidal pools, hermit crabs, and memories.

We’re so glad you came, Josh, Becca, Elise, Caleb, Lucas, and little Eden! You’re welcome to crash here anytime, and we can wait to visit you in St. Louis. We love you guys so much!

And now who’s next? We’d love to host you too!


Once all the entries were carefully tallied (120 total entries) and did its work, the winner of the Meadow Kids Toys giveaway was #76, Sarah. Congrats, Sarah! I’ll send you an email and your toys will be on their way shortly!

10 :: in friends, hospitality, San Diego, Sicily, visitors

Taormina with our last visitor


Well, probably she was our last. I still need to send an email to one more friend in case she wants to get a last-minute flight around our crazy schedule, but… for the sake of the story (and the “savor this!” state of my own heart), Jenna was probably our last visitor.

And she was a great one. We’ve been friends since high school, so we loved reconnecting and watching the years and distance melt away. My favorite moment was when she had both my kids up on the counter and was teaching them how to stuff zucchini blossoms with fresh ricotta cheese before she beer-battered and deep fried them. Yes, it was just as ridiculously delish as it sounds!


The kids and I took Jenna to Taormina, a pretty town which is probably my favorite place in Sicily. My friend Alyssa (pictured below) and her visitor, her cousin Scott, also joined us for the day, and we ran into more friends while we were there. The more, the merrier!

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As has been previously documented, I find Taormina’s biking postman completely charming.

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Jenna bought Lena one of the squishy balls that street vendors try to sell on every corner. She was heaven for about 10 minutes before it started leaking water everywhere! Such is our history with these things…


I went back and bought the dress that I tried on at the mall last week! A few Instagram friends convinced me it was worth it, and I’m so glad I did. Lena’s dress is from the Tea Collection, and I think I love it even more than she does, if that’s possible. So soft, twirly, and bright.

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Arancini (Sicilian rice balls) for lunch in the Villa Communale park… and the dying squishy toy.

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And Bam Bar for fresh, fruity granita (Italian ice) and brioche buns, of course! I can’t think of a more refreshing treat on a hot day. Hope San Diego has something like it!

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At the end of the day, we went into Kerameion to pick up our tile painting from the artist, Marco. We asked him to use a picture of our town framed against Mt Etna, with some blood orange trees in the foreground. Our little yellow house is on the edge of that cliff, and we see this view every time we drive to and from base.

What a souvenir, right?! I know we’ll treasure this forever! Have you ever purchased a piece of original artwork, or had anything commissioned? I’m of the opinion that it’s worth it, but I might just be smitten!

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8 :: in Italy, pretty places, Sicily, Taormina, visitors

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