Archive | April, 2013

Enchanted April in Sicily


Have you ever seen “Enchanted April“?  It has become one of my favorite movies over the years for the sweetness and depth of the story.  Four worn-down English women (housewives, socialites, misfits) decide to rent a villa in Italy during the month of April.  Lulled by the beauty and peace of their location, they are able to heal and bloom.  As a reviewer said, “It is impossible not to be swayed by the promise of restoration for these burdened characters — or for anyone alive.”

That line is also an apt way to describe my feelings this April as Sicily has burst into bloom.  The island’s winters are not long or particularly dreary, but oh! a Sicilian spring!  The air is perfumed with orange blooms, the wisteria covers stone walls, the poppies sway in the breeze, the bees hum from flower to flower.

This past Saturday we packed a picnic lunch and took a hike down into the valley below our house.  (In the photo above, our home is the yellow one below the castle on the far right side of the cliff.)  We wandered through the green grasses slowly before choosing the perfect spot for our picnic blanket.

becca-garber-enchanted-april-poppy becca-garber-enchanted-april-seeds becca-garber-enchanted-april-bugs

^^^ Love bugs.




That’s Mt Etna, the largest volcano in Europe, behind us.



^^^ Pears, proscuitto, crackers, and local cheese.

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I love this photo of Gil on the right!




^^^ Right before we got home, Elliott found one of the biggest grasshoppers we’d ever seen.  I tried to get a picture of Lena holding it, but he bounded away in a flash!

Are you enjoying spring in your corner of the world?  What’s your favorite part about it?

19 :: in family, hiking, Sicily, weekend

loving Boston


After Elliott and I heard the news of the explosions at the Boston Marathon yesterday, we joined everyone in horror, grief, and prayer.  Boston holds a special place in our hearts.  In 2008, we met, made memories, and fell in love in that beautiful city.  With this tragedy, ours was the grief and horror that comes when you know and love a place, when you have cousins running the marathon (so glad you’re safe, Allie and Meghan!), when you can picture so exactly what a place looked like before bombs ripped through it.

After I heard the news, I looked back through old photos from my life in Boston.  I thought I’d share some of them with you today.  Such a different life Elliott and I lived then!  He was a fourth year veterinary student at Tufts; I lived in Cambridge with 2 wonderful girls and worked as a medical ICU nurse at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) in Boston.  Here’s just a glimpse…


One of my favorites from our dating days, taken with the self-timer on Elliott’s camera when we went hiking on a frozen lake near his home in Westborough.


Christmastime in our apartment with my roomies, Sarah and Kate.

2013-04-162 Above left: Our reflection in the glass of the Charles/MGH station while waiting for the T.

Above right: Many, many Sundays after church Elliott and I took long walks along the river to Harvard, warming our hands on big cups of coffee along the way.


Sunrise over the Charles River, taken from an empty room on my unit at MGH.


Lunch at work… always outside from April to September! All iPhone Photos through 221

Above left: shopping for mugs at a Beacon Hill craft fair with my friend Becca.  (I seem to always have friends named Becca.)  I bought a mug that day that I use every single morning to this day.

Above right: Off on an adventure with my sister!  Visiting one of the Trustee’s Reservations: Appleton Farms Grass Rides.


Em with the calves at Appleton Farms.


Hmm…!  Feelin’ goofy in Providence, RI, on a day trip with my roomies.


Sooo windy at another one of the Trustee’s Reservations, World’s End. All iPhone Photos through 2211

Above left: When Elliott left MA to go to the Basic Officer Leadership Course and “go Army” on me, we sent a journal back and forth in which we wrote letters to each other and pasted little souvenirs (pictures, leaves, flowers, maps) from MA and TX.

Above right: The helipad at MGH.

I love you, Boston!  We’re praying for all those mourning loved ones, recovering from injuries, and affected by this tragedy.

4 :: in grief, memories

traveling in Italy :: Agrigento and the Valley of the Temples


According to our guidebook, Agrigento and the nearby Valley of the Temples is the top tourist destination in Sicily.  The Valley of the Temples archeological park (Parco Valle dei Templi) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and boasts several beautifully-preserved temples strung along a ridge overlooking the ocean.  The temples themselves include the best examples of Doric columns outside of Greece.  We visited Agrigento last year with our friends the Arthurs and were excited to take Elliott’s parents this year.


^^^ We’re off!  We brought our double stroller for this adventure and were so glad for the sturdy tires when we did some off-roading to get a close look at the temple ruins.  Gil obliged by sleeping in his car seat most of the time…

becca-garber-agrigento-temples-baby-stroller   becca-garber-agrigento-temples-stroller-collage  becca-garber-agrigento-temples

The redbuds were in bloom, as well as many other gorgeous spring flowers.  Such beauty.becca-garber-agrigento-temples-bee-flowers becca-garber-agrigento-temples-family-picnic becca-garber-agrigento-temples-climbing

^^^ I turned around and saw Lena and Elliott chilling on a wall. NBD.

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^^^ Baby figs!  And a very doting Grandpa.



^^^ Doting Grandpa take 2.  I couldn’t resist.


And the obligatory Elliott/Lena/bug picture.  I wonder how much longer she’ll be fascinated before them before a sense of fear or dislike sets in?  Hopefully it never will….

A little info if you’d like to visit: the Valley of the Temples archeological park costs 10 euro per person for the main (Eastern) side and 15 euro for the entire park.  (The other half includes some less-impressive remains of more temples.)  If you throw in a visit to the Scala dei Turchi as well, it’s well worth the drive from other tourist locations (for us, ~2 hours from near Catania).  We stayed at an agriturismo callled Villa Diana one night and would recommend it to others.  For our one evening in Agrigento, we ate dinner at Kokalos, a popular restaurant that overlooks the night-lit temples.  If you are planning a visit and have more questions, I’d be happy to answer them!

5 :: in family, Sicily, travel, visitors

a few moments from our Friday morning


Happy Friday, everyone!  Here are a few snapshots from around our home, beginning with a shot of Mt. Etna out our kitchen window.  She erupted again last night (see an acquaintance’s video of the activity here) and was still blowing off steam all morning!




^^^ I call this the smooch smash.

becca-garber-sibling-love becca-garber-IKEA-baby

^^^ On the right… yay for IKEA Italy, who may have forgotten to include the two handles for Lena’s toy kitchen in the box but were quick to fix the problem and send the replacements to my door.  I’m also proud because I did the whole request/complaint in Italian and it actually worked!


^^^ When it comes to craft projects, our motto is, “Everything’s cuter with stickers.”


^^^ We’re raising tadpoles! becca-garber-sigonella-playground-etna

We had a picnic lunch with Daddy on base.  The plume of smoke above Elliott is from Mt. Etna… still erupting into the afternoon.  (Also, that same picture shows why all kids love my husband!)

What have you been up to this Friday so far?  I hope you have a wonderful weekend!  xoxo

15 :: in Uncategorized

naptime diaries


my babies and me visiting Agrigento, Sicily

Ahh… the quiet calm of the house when two babies are sleeping simultaneously!  I’m on the couch savoring every second of the hands-free, sit-down silence.

How has your week been so far?  Somehow it’s already Wednesday.  It’s market day in our town, and today I decided to walk all the way to the market instead of just halfway to my favorite truck.  It was kinda brutal!  I had Gil in our Moby wrap and Lena in our stroller in hopes that Gil would sleep more than he does in his car seat.  (Fail.)  Lena had to stop to use the toilet (ie. some private corner along the way) not once but twice, Gil cried most of the time when he wasn’t lightly asleep, and I should have brought big bottle of water for myself.  But I came home with lots of goodies: fresh chicken and eggs, cured olives, three bags of fruits and vegetables, and caught-this-morning shrimp for scampi tonight.

As little update on our fussy baby… well, Gil is almost three months now, although I can hardly believe it!  He has changed and grown up so quickly; he really can’t be called a newborn anymore.  He recognizes us and coos now, but his smiles are few and far between.  Our theory on this is that he’s just more of a grouchy baby who has trouble sleeping deeply and peacefully, and thus his social smile may come later when he can learn to self-soothe and nap on a more regular schedule. Did any of you have a baby who was more reticent than smiley?

The times when he is awake and happy, though, are more frequent and last longer, and they are the most joyful moments of my day.  Even though he won’t slip into a full-facial grin more than once or twice a day, he does get so excited and so happy when he makes eye contact with me and hears my voice.  His whole face lights up, his eyes get bright and eager, and he kicks so excitedly as he puckers his mouth into a little “O” and coos back at me with all his might.  It melts my heart.

We’ve moved Gil into the guest room now than visitors have come and gone.  Honestly, that’s been a relief.  He still has trouble sleeping, but at least his grunting and snuffling aren’t keeping us up anymore.  Generally he sleeps the first shift of the night in his swing (he will not stay asleep in his bed, even if we lay him down when he is completely asleep… trust me, just last night I tried three times before I gave up) and then sleeps in his bed the rest of the night.  I get up to feed him at least three times — ouch — but lately that means he has slept in till 8am.  I do think a big part of his angst has been congestion (he got sick a couple of weeks after he was born) and reflux, and both of those issues appear to be dying a natural death as he’s growing up.

OK, that was probably more than you wanted to know!  For some of you I think it may bring back a lot of memories, whereas for others it might scare you away from ever having children.  (Sorry either way!)   We’ve been humbled by Gil, who has defied all our expectations as he mostly grumped and grouched his way through his first three months of life.  But the glimpses I get into the warm, sunny child blooming inside of him give me hope for the days to come.  I see the cute little boy underneath who loves his mama and enjoys his sister’s roughhousing and snuggles peacefully onto his daddy’s chest.  These early days will be over before we know it.

Like my friend said the other day, at this stage of life the days often seem like an eternity but the years flash by.  Isn’t that so true?


Title for this post is inspired by a wonderful blog that I highly recommend!

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8 :: in Gil, motherhood, naptime diaries, thoughts

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