Archive | March, 2014

portraits of my children {13/52}



The 52 Project: A portrait of my children once a week & every week in 2014.

Lena: This Saturday we finally drove up to play on the snow on Mt Etna, since it was probably our last chance of the season… and therefore our last chance ever in Sicily! There wasn’t a lot of snow left, but we found a beautiful spot under some trees where the drifts were still pretty deep. Lena loved it. Gil cried most of the time. Par for the course with those two?

Gil: On Friday night, Elliott and I gave both the kids major haircuts. I was terrified when Elliott went in with the scissors (“I said cut his hair at middle of his ears, not the middle of his forehead!”), but I had to eat my words later because Elliott really did an amazing job. He neatly and skillfully cut 2-3 inches off each child, and they both look tidier and happier, and very ready for spring. They were so overdue for haircuts that I feel like a weight has been lifted off my own head as well as theirs.

Here are a few more photos I took of Gil this morning so you can see the full extent of Elliott’s handiwork!





And one of the two of them this weekend:


What were you all up to this weekend? Any snow in your neighborhood? Or homemade haircuts?

7 :: in 52 project, Mt Etna

if you visit us in Sicily, you can do this too!


My wonderful mom spent two weeks with us in Sicily in late February before my whole family met up in Florence (more photos coming soon!). Here are some photos of our travels around Sicily with my mom, both for posterity… and to encourage any last-minute visitors to come if they’d like!

Would you like to visit us and Sicily? We move back to the States at the end of July. Free beds, good food, and friendly tour guides are available until then!


I’ve taken my mom to Taormina before, but I love it so much, so we decided to go back for a day trip. This is il postino, ie. Taormina’s postman.



Early morning package delivery through the pedestrian-only streets.





Sampling some goodies at our favorite cannoli shop.




Gil — who is learning the meaning of “wait!” — pushed his way around his sister and took them both down the slide together.

becca-garber-exploring-sicily-with-my-mom-24 becca-garber-exploring-sicily-with-my-mom-20 becca-garber-exploring-sicily-with-my-mom-26

The fountain in the park and granite at Bam Bar = two of our favorite things.


On another day, we took my mom to “the big city” (Catania) for some market shopping, lunch, and a ride on the tour train! The fish market was amazing, as usual.


And the tour train was a huge hit for all, once again.


We were visiting during Carnevale, so there was confetti everywhere!


And we spent plenty of time wandering the streets of our little town of Motta, too. Thank you for coming, Mama! I don’t think I washed a dish while you were here, and the kids were in heaven with all the books, tea parties, block towers, and love from their Grammie. Our home was so much more peaceful and harmonious with you here. We’re so grateful for you!

And now it’s your turn, my friends, if you’d like to visit! I write this as my friend Sarah softly strums a guitar nearby; she’s on the last day of her weeklong visit. We’d love to practice what we preach by making room to welcome you, too! Wanna come?

4 :: in hospitality, Sicily, Taormina, visitors

3 things I am thankful for this week


This is what Lena does now when we say, “Smile, Lena!”

Ahh, that post-vacation crash! Can anyone relate? It’s been a long couple of weeks around here.

When I’m down, the little things in life can be such pick-me-ups, like the opportunity to finish your coffee while it’s still warm, or a surprise package from your sister-in-law with a new dress and the best chocolate ever, or the quiet joy that settles over your soul when your little one burrows in for a goodnight story.

Here are three things in particular that have made this week extra sweet:  becca-garber-3-sweet-things-4

Lena’s uncle Jonathan texted me a couple of weeks ago and asked what Lena’s favorite animal was. Random! And then… this! He drew her an awesome picture and wrote her a sweet note. It made her day! Thank you, Uncle Jonny.

For weeks after we receive a piece of mail, my kids carry the cards around, put them on the fridge, pretend to read the messages, and talk about the pictures. Of course, seeing this inspires me to write more letters or send more packages. Do you make time to write letters and send packages?


My friend Jamie just moved and, as she was unpacking, she discovered a gigantic box of books that her kids have outgrown. She decided to the whole box to us! When it arrived, it was like Christmas morning.

The kids and I have discovered so many treasures in the box, including The Little Engine That Could, The Snowy Day, Pat the Bunny, and The Snowman. However, we already have some of the books, and at first I wasn’t sure what to do with all the duplicates. Then I had a eureka moment — I’ll donate them to the library. Hopefully hundreds of kids will get to enjoy these books over the years. A gift that keeps on giving.

Thank you so much, Jamie!


And lastly: Gil’s toes. Because baby toes make the world go round. Sturdy feet on wobbly legs as a wee little man learns to walk… it’s almost impossible to top a moment like that!

What are you thankful for this week?

9 :: in Becoming a Stay-at-Home Mom Series, home sweet home, life lately

portraits of my children {12/52}



The 52 Project: A portrait of my children once a week & every week in 2014.

Lena: My friend Sarah Daubert is visiting us for a week, and so we’ve been showing her around Sicily. On Friday we took her to Taormina, where I took both of these photos. Here Lena is demonstrating for Sarah how delicious a Sicilian cannolo is! (The plural is cannoli, as in, “Leave the gun, take the cannoli,” as they say in The Godfather. And The Godfather, as some know, “is the sum of all wisdom. The Godfather is the answer to any question. What should I pack for my summer vacation? ‘Leave the gun, take the cannoli.'”)

Gil: After making me so proud with his first steps, Gil’s given up on walking. Too much work when crawling is just so efficient, I guess! He’s clambering all over everything these days, eager to climb anywhere and try anything. Well, except the beach. Sarah and I took the kids there on Saturday, and Gil tentatively dipped his toes in the water and then freaked out. He acted like the waves were coming to get him and was literally climbing up me to get away from them. He also didn’t care for the sand and proceeded to sit in my lap during our entire beach trip. I was like, “Buddy, this will not fly. We live by the beach. We will be at the beach every weekend this summer if I have my way. Relaaaaxxxx.” Here’s hoping he gets the message!

29 :: in 52 project, Taormina

A Book Review :: Steady Days: A Journey Toward Intentional, Professional Motherhood


It was the subtitle that caught my attention: “A Journal Toward Intentional, Professional Motherhood.” Professional? What does it mean to be a professional mother?

Since I have set my career as a nurse aside during our time in Sicily, I guess I would call motherhood my profession. I mean… it’s what I do 24|7! I spend my days teaching, loving, feeding, dressing, and training up these two little people in my life. I want to do my job well. I want to be intentional and professional about it. Don’t you?

I ordered a used copy of Jamie’s book after I’d only been reading her blogs — Steady Mom and Simple Homeschool — for a little while. She is a wonderfully inspiring person; I love how her family of five is made up of four nationsSteady Days a super-easy read with chapters that are about two pages long. I read the book this weekend and felt refreshed and inspired afterwards, so I wanted to share it with you!

The gist of Jamie’s message is this: “We create Steady Days for our children by getting organized, retaining our enthusiasm, learning together, and making memories. When we balance these qualities together, we discover the gentle rhythm we long for.”

Part One: Getting Organized is my favorite. Jamie explains how she used to just drift from one activity to another, letting the day kind of unroll based on how she and her kids felt each day. (That feels familiar!) So Jamie encourages moms to evaluate their schedules — meal times, nap times, errands, activities outside the home — and create a rough routine for the mom and each child. She has heaps of suggestions for structured activities you can plan for during the otherwise “drifting time,” like room time, baking, art, video time, structured play, and free time.

She also encourages them to put this routine into a binder in order to keep your whole home organized. She keeps her shopping lists, meal plans, special dates organizer, important documents, weekly to do list, emergency phone numbers, and even take out menus in her binder. (Basically, she puts everything in her binder that I stick all over my fridge!) I’ve thought about making a “home management binder,” but I’ve never actually made it work. Have you?

I loved this quote: “Some people think that if they become organized, they will lose their spontaneity and passion for living…. This doesn’t have to be the case. Having a flexible structure helps you enjoy spontaneity. If you have taken time to be organized in things that matter most, then you will not feel behind. So when an opportunity comes your way, like the first warm day of spring or a special concert for the children, you can ditch the rest of your plans and go for it. You can enjoy without guilt, because your other responsibilities are up to date.

What if I actually send birthday cards and gifts on time? What if I actually planned ahead for a craft with my kids? What if I actually remembered my dental appointment… instead of missing it twice in a row?! What if I became more reliable, more steady, more organized? That would be a gift to so many, not just my immediate family!

In Part Two: Retaining Enthusiasm, Jamie talks about how to stay inspired as an intentional, professional mother. She encourages moms to embrace their roll as a mom… instead of whining about or regretting this demanding stage of life. She also uses a “Steady Blessings” list in her binder to remind her daily of things to be thankful for, and she keeps inspirational quotes and Scripture verses on cards and rotates one to meditate on each day.

(Just this last idea takes so much more organization than I have right now. Geez Louise! But as I read through her quotes and verses, I was inspired. We need to draw encouragement from true, deep sources, not just from mommy blogs.)

In Part Three: Learning Together, Jamie talks the importance of establishing good habits as well as demonstrating these habits to our children. She also shared ways that she and her children learn together through their “Steady Learning Board” and “Steady Learning Scrapbook,” which you can find more about through her Learning Together archives. I loved these suggestions for incorporating learning into everyday home life… and also for keeping artwork and craft projects organized.

Finally, in Part Four: Making Memories, Jamie talks about the importance of family traditions and about her “Look At Me” and “Mom’s Favorite Moments,” two ways she uses to keep track of her kids’ growth and development. Both of these look better than the current scattered artwork and scribbled lists of “funny things they say” that I keep tacked on my fridge… and then shove in some folder, never to be seen or enjoyed again.


I took great pride in my work as a nurse. I loved doing my job well, from the smallest tasks (arriving on time, wearing neat scrubs, always having a pen handy) to the most significant, like really listening to my patients or addressing an emergency with quick wits, hard-earned skills, and trained expertise. I loved being a nurse that others relied on and enjoyed working with. I loved being a nurse that my patients recommended or requested. I took great pride in my intentionality and my professionalism.

I want to be the same way as a mother. There are fewer boundaries here. The job description includes everything and the kitchen sink. There’s no place to clock out at the end of a long shift.

But whether I incorporate all of Jamie’s ideas or just a few into my life, I do want to incorporate this: a sense of pride in my work done well. I want to aspire to be organized, be enthusiastic, learn together, and make memories together. Unlike some jobs, this job will end — my kids won’t be young forever! And I only get once chance to do this well.

So here’s to be a steady mom! Are you with me?

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8 :: in Becoming a Stay-at-Home Mom Series, book reviews, motherhood, thoughts

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