Archive | February, 2013

life lately

Wow, I took quite the blogging break here!  Our internet went down on Friday morning and — after a million phone calls and several no-shows from the Telecom technician — I learned it was because a neighborhood fire took out the line.  The whole neighborhood has been without internet for almost a week.  Welcome to Sicily… or just welcome to life?!  I’m sitting in the library on base now enjoying a sleeping baby as I type.

To catch us all up on life, here are some photos I took with Instagram since Gil came home.  You can find me on Instagram for regular updates around our home.  Thanks to my iPhone, I still have some internet access over 3G even when our wireless is kaput!

becca-garber-instagram-home Gil in his car seat on the way home from the hospital
& Lena sees Gil at home for the first time. 2013-02-028 Snuggling with my baby after we brought him home
& family story time begins… for the rest of their childhoods! 2013-02-281 Elliott got called into work for several hours when Gil was 3 days old and I was on my own with two kids.  Yikes!  We survived… with a few tears and a bloody lip.
& reading a story to her brother. 2013-02-280 “Hi, Geeel,” Lena says excitedly every morning
& those tiny, precious little hands! becca-garber-instagram-5 Greeting him after she woke up from a nap
& “Hold it?” she asks and puts out her arms to cradle him. becca-garber-instagram-3 Dance party in the kitchen to Fun’s “We Are Young”
& giving Gil his pacifier while I change his diaper. becca-garber-instagram-1 Father and son
& wide awake at 3am! becca-garber-instagram-4 New family normal: holding a baby, playing games with a toddler, and folding laundry
& Gil’s first ride in the swing (ie. the lifesaver). becca-garber-instagram-6 Kiss!
& I enjoyed reading Wild by Cheryl Strayedwhile nursing Gil that first week.


I’ve missed you all!  What have you been up to this past week?

8 :: in family, Gil, Instagram, life lately

double strollers and Sicilian market mornings

Please congratulate me.  I took both kids out in the stroller for the first time today!


In order to do this, I first had to turn my stroller into a double stroller, which it has never been before in its life.  We got the City Select strollerwhen Lena was a baby because it can be a single or a double stroller.  We also thought we’d have two kids sooner or later.

Sure enough, we had two kids sooner.  Today is also Wednesday — market day in my town — and we’re out of fresh fruit and vegetables in this house.  Time for our first walk… and time for a double stroller!  I watched a YouTube video to figure out how to attach everything in the right places, and pretty soon after about 20 minutes of straps and buckles and an infant wailing and “where’s my phone?”, we were ready to go!

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We walked down the cobblestone streets into the main piazza.  A man with a truck full of fish had just pulled up and started yelling, “Pesce!  Pesce!”  After some discussion, I bought three swordfish fillets for dinner tonight.  The smiling fishmonger swore up and down that they were fresh from this morning and had never been frozen.  Hope he’s telling the truth!

You can see the faded beauty of this old town square as other customers after me line up to buy squid, octopus, and swordfish for their own dinners:


We walked on, stopping only once for a potty break (oh my), greeting acquaintances as we went.  I received several enthusiastic wishes of “auguri!” (“congratulations!”) about the birth of my son.

Eventually we reached my favorite fruit and vegetable truck (which is where I go on Wednesdays if walking all the way up to the market is too much for me or for Lena).  Besides, I love the cheerful man at this truck, who knows us now and always throws a few extra strawberries or artichokes into the bag for me.


After I made my purchases, it was time to head home.  As I walked I calculated that I was pushing approximately 90 lbs.  Here’s how I figure:

15 lbs of produce + 25 lb Lena + 10 lb Gil + 28 lb stroller + 10 lb car seat = 88 lbs

And then I got to the final stretch up to our house and had to push all of that uphill!  Talk about getting back into shape!


And here’s our market bounty this week.  Zucchini, strawberries, 4lbs of oranges and mandarins, 4 lbs of pears and apples, fennel, carrots, pineapple, broccoli, artichokes, and kiwi.  It’ll last us about 5 days and then we’ll be very ready for market day again next week!


All of this cost me about $25.  Do you think that’s a better price than what you can get in the States?  Sometimes I really don’t know whether I’m getting a deal or whether the prices are pretty much the same… except my produce comes out of the back of a truck!  What do you think?

18 :: in Italy, motherhood, Sicily

our 10 favorite board books


In a world of smart phones and flat screens, it often seems impossible that a child will really learn to love books more than the latest Apple product.  As frequent users of screens ourselves (and with two blogs to maintain between us), Elliott and I feel the pull between paper and iPad very keenly.

Here at home we combat it by reading books to Lena and reading our own books in front of her, and then when she is awake our phones are generally out of sight and our laptops are closed.  Therefore, in Lena’s almost-two years of life, we have read a lot of books to her.  We read several stories to her before both her naps and another several stories before bedtime; we keep books mixed in with all her toys; her great-grandmother gave her some bath books; and we keep books in our bag for her to read on the go (car seat, stroller, during church, etc.).  Books books books… !

Today I polled Elliott and we came up with a list of our 10 favorite board books.  These are the ones that Lena asked for over and over again, and these are also the books that we didn’t mind reading over and over ourselves.  There are a few classics and a few obscure ones.  Here’s our list:

Peek-A Who?— A gift from my friend Heather, this is a great first book for a baby.  It’s small enough for little hands and only has about 10 pages.  There’s a cute, rhyming story and lots of bright colors and animals.  See Lena enjoying it at the end of this post.

Where’s Spot?— Lena has loved any lift-the-flap book since she was about 12 months old and could manipulate the flaps with her little fingers.  Spot is a special favorite, but I also recommend Karen Katz’s booksand Dear Zoo.

Goodnight Moon— The lulling rhythm of this children’s classic puts Lena and her parents to sleep!

Rocky Mountain Babies!— Lena’s Aunt Eden bought this for her in Rocky Mountain National Park when we were vacationing there with Elliott’s family in July 2011 (right before I started this blog!).  We’ve read this book to her hundreds of times by now and love the photos of baby animals from the American West.

The Big Red Barn— An unlikely classic, I thought, when I first read the book and looked at the pictures.  It isn’t as instantly aesthetically appealing as many children’s books.  Yet over time this book has become our family’s very favorite.  Perhaps it’s because there is so much to see and discuss on each page.  Perhaps it’s because of all the animal sounds we can make together.  Perhaps it’s because the musical rhythm helps us all nod off by the end of the book.  We love it.

Note: We received it as a boxed setwith Goodnight Moon and The Runaway Bunny, and I highly recommend this set as a gift.

Freight Train— Lena got this Caldecott Medal-winning board book as a party favor because the hostess knew we didn’t want Lena to have candy.  Umm… best party favor ever, I think?!  This conceptual classic, with its bright colors and simple story, quickly became Lena’s new favorite book.

Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?— We love anything by Eric Carlein this house, but Lena seems to prefer this one most of all.  We love roaring like a lion and yelping like a peacock as we read the rollicking story aloud.

Hop on Pop— I find myself quoting this silly book all the time and somehow never tire of reading it.  “Three fish in a tree?  How can that be?”  I also recommend another short board book by Dr. Seuss called Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You?, and in fact Lena has loved any book we own in the Bright and Early Board Books series.

A Swim Through the Sea— This beautiful book was given to us by our friends in California, who first fell in love with it when they discovered it at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.  Written and gorgeously illustrated by a 16-year-old, it’s a little-known classic and an unusually beautiful ABC book.

Blue Hat, Green Hat — Lena literally laughs out loud when we read this book to her.  Somehow Sandra Boynton nabs toddler humor with her upbeat rhymes and hilarious animal illustrations.  You can’t go wrong with anything by Boynton, but this one is by far our favorite.

And now it’s your turn!  Did you see any of your favorites on this list?  And which books do remember most fondly from your childhood?  We’re always looking for good suggestions for our home library!

9 :: in book reviews, family, good reads, Lena

Valentine’s Day cookies with Lena

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Elliott was the first one to remember it was Valentine’s Day.  He gave me a kiss — “… and happy Valentine’s Day, my valentine!” — as he headed out the door early in the morning, leaving behind a still-sleepy wife and two sleeping babies.  I will admit I didn’t give Valentine’s Day another thought until that afternoon, when Elliott’s return was growing imminent and I had absolutely no plans to commemorate the day.

Since my friend Shelley was generously providing dinner for us, I didn’t have to come up with a meal.  But maybe I could handle a dessert?

Correction: Lena and I could definitely handle a dessert!

I found this sugar cookie recipe and halved it.  I also added in the grated peel of a whole orange, which made the cookies 10xs more delicious, in my opinion!  We mixed up pink frosting from this recipe.  Gil woke up in his swing while we were finishing up the frosting.  When I turned back around, Lena had the frosting all over her clothes!  Time for a wardrobe change.

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Unfortunately I didn’t realize until the dough was mixed and chilled, the frosting prepared and set aside, and the dough rolled out for cutting that I do not own a heart-shaped cookie cutter.  What?!  In the end I improvised by cutting the dough out around a construction paper heart (which, ironically, was a note I had written to Elliott at a Valentine’s Day dinner last year).

We made 3 heart-shaped cookies and the rest were butterflies or flowers.  And yes, I did attempt to frost one while also nursing my baby.  #fail Recently Updated123

At last Daddy came home… bearing bouquets of flowers for both of his girls!  Lena wanted to show hers to her little brother.  “Wanna smell my rose, Gil?”  *smash* Recently Updated124

We ate a delicious meal from our friend and topped it off with the heart-shaped cookies for dessert.  Later Lena blew out the dinner candles with Elliott.  We eat by candlelight most nights, and no, it is not my idea!  Elliott’s parents almost always have candles burning at the dinner table (something they picked up from Edith Shaeffer’s The Hidden Art of Homemaking, a wonderful book that is not nearly as stuffy as it sounds).  Elliott brought that tradition into our home, and now Lena’s new tradition is to count the candles (“waaan… twoo… treee… fur!”) and blow them out with her daddy every evening. Recently Updated125

While Elliott gave Lena a bath, I admired my own beautiful flowers: romantic roses mixed in with my favorites (daisies… or at least the closest we can get to daisies from our local flower shop).  Then I tried out the ring sling with Gil for the first time (he liked it!) while washing the dinner dishes.

I’d like to say we stayed up late watching a romantic movie with glasses of red wine, but actually we went to sleep around 10pm.  Oh the life of parents of a newborn!  We’re both looking forward to an evening out at our favorite sushi restaurant and this amazing chocolate cafe once life takes on a little more of a routine.  In the meantime, we’ll enjoy our candlelit dinners and handmade sugar cookies at home!

What did you do or make for Valentine’s Day?

9 :: in eat this, family, holidays, Instagram, Lena

this morning with my babies


Well, here we are on Day 3 of Week 1!  And so far we have survived and generally managed to have some fun while doing it.  We continue to be cared for so well by meals from friends and play dates that happen right in my home so I don’t have to go anywhere.  I feel so loved by my community and thankful for this season of life, despite the fact that caring for two children 24/7 is one of the hardest things I have done in awhile.  No matter how each day goes, though, I am always so grateful to see Elliott walk through the door.

Since right now both kids are napping (!), I thought I’d share a few photos that I took this morning.  You can’t see Lena’s runny nose or mine, or the pile of dirty laundry, or the blocks that Lena threw instead of stacking them, but all those things exist, even though they’re not the most fun things to photograph.  Enjoy the beautiful side of the morning with me!


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One strategy I am employing this week is to pull out a new toy for Lena each day.  This started with a bag of used toys I bought from my friend Rachel, but then we were surprised by some gifts from friends and family.  Today we opened up these beautiful blocksfrom my friend Jen.  Thank you so much, Jen… we love them!

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Thank you all for your comments and advice after my last post!  The sleep is getting a little better but we definitely don’t have a routine down yet.  We’re working on it as we get used to our little man and his needs.  Gil surprised us by being so different from Lena.  From Day 1 in the hospital she would just curl up next to me and sleep the whole night through with occasional nursing, but Gil nurses next to me and then bursts into tears!  Why, buddy?  We’re figuring out his needs along with our own and trying to come up with a system that works for all of us.

Anyway, since you are all so full of such wonderful advice, I’d love to hear any fun activities that you have developed for your toddlers.  I’m thinking of making her some play doh soon.  Today she had fun watering the plants for me with a bucket of water and a cup.  I sat down in the sun with my reheated cup of coffee and enjoyed all glorious 10 minutes that that lasted.

And so we go on!

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11 :: in Becoming a Stay-at-Home Mom Series, Gil, Lena, motherhood

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