Archive | June, 2014

portraits of my children {22/52 and 23/52}

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

Lena: The puzzle-making continues, as do the interesting choices in fashion! I’ve been taking photos recently of things that she and I do during Gil’s morning nap together, and I’ll do a post soon with some ideas. I’m not the best at craft projects — and I welcome any ideas you might have! — but she loves anything we do together, no matter how simple the idea.

She and I also took a trip to our garage in the middle of town last week, where she was playing with her little wooden bike. We share the garage with some of the props (like this huge painting) for our town’s summer medieval festival. I loved the contrast between that painting and the girl on her bike.

Gil: Elliott’s been gone a lot lately; last week he was at a conference in Germany for six days. We talk to him on Skype whenever we can, and Gil and Lena always get so excited to see their daddy. Needless to say, I’m so glad he’s home now and we can focus together on moving this month.

The second photo is from yesterday after a long day at the beach. I think it had something to do with the fact that we met up with a family (blog readers from Germany… hi, Michelle!) that had two boys, and so he had little playmate. Gil was actually happy all day long in the sand — a breakthrough! — and then passed out in the car within minutes. My tired little Superman.

2 :: in 52 project

We have a house in San Diego!


We’ve been praying about a home in San Diego for months now, and it is such an amazing relief to finally have a home to go to, and address to count on, and a future within those four walls to imagine as our own! I get a little giddy whenever I think about this house and all the plans and dreams that come with it.

Here’s a little bit about how we are making this house work (budget-wise) and some of our dreams for our life there… along with a few photos from a realtor’s phone!


Elliott actually toured this house last month when he was in San Diego for work. At that point it was way out of our budget, and he didn’t even tell me about it until he noticed that the owners had lowered the rent.

As we scrolled through the pictures, I fell in love. Compared to the dozens of small, cramped, dark places we’d looked at online, this house was flooded with natural daylight. I loved the crisp contrast of the light walls, ceiling, and kitchen with the dark wood floor. I could imagine us fitting right in there, living and working and laughing and hosting in that spacious, open main room.


There are two unique features of this house. One is that the owners listed it as a furnished rental. This is actually not uncommon in Coronado, where owners will rent vacation homes to long-term tenants. The owners of this place might have been willing to move their furniture out, but they didn’t really want to have to do that.

In the end we decided to sell our furniture here in Sicily and rent this home with its furniture. This was really my preference. I like the way this house is decorated, and I am not sure our furniture would fit with its aesthetic.  Besides, I bought most of our current furniture on Craigslist before moving here, and I am not emotionally attached to it. I feel like my/our styles are evolving, and I would rather let everything go now, live lightly, and then put time and thought into a home we care more about in a few years.

 (What do you think? Am I crazy? Would you ever sell all your furniture and start again?)


The other unique feature of the property was the “tea house,” a stand-alone cottage on the property with a pull-out couch, bathroom, and kitchenette.

“Maybe we could rent it out on AirBnB,” Elliott suggested. A quick search of other AirBnB properties in the neighborhood revealed that we’d probably have no problem filling the tea house for a week or so every month.

“And I’ve always wanted to run a B&B,” I said, getting excited.

But then we had the brilliant idea to ask my dad if he’d be interested in renting the tea house instead. My dad works right outside San Diego two weeks every month, and he had already planned to rent a place closer to the city so that he could see us when he was in town. The tea house would mean a longer commute for him, but he’d be close to us, and my mom (who travels with him pretty frequently) would be right with us whenever she came to visit, too.

My dad didn’t have to think about it very long.

“Will the owners take out that pull-out couch if I bring my own bed?”


“OK, let’s do it!”


the Tea House

Now we had a hard decision to make. We loved this house, but we had two other homes offered to us at the same time. One was a town house, and the other was an apartment in a small condo building. Both of these homes were located in the heart of Coronado, and both cost a lot less each month in rent.

For a week, we negotiated, prayed, sought counsel, and talked. We talked about it so much that it became a running joke at the dinner table.

Me: “This house just seems to fit so much with our dreams and priorities as a family: hospitality, being outdoors, living near or with extended family….”

Elliott: “But I know we can do all those things in a smaller space, like we did in D.C. in our studio apartment when we first got married. We had dinner guests every week there even if they had to sit on the bed to eat.”

Gil: “Maaaaaaaama. Uh oh.”

*something crashes in the background*

 Lena: “So what are you guys talking about?”

Me, laughing: “What do you think, Lena?”

Lena: “Our house in San Diego?”

Elliott: “Yep….”


[we won’t be keeping the flat screen!]

Spending more on rent was hard for us, because we’re really thrifty people and are careful to live within our means. Other than our mortgage on my studio in D.C., we’re debt-free, and we generally examine every angle (freebies, hand-me-downs, living without, coupons, discounts, airline miles, hotel points, etc.) before we spend money. We can afford this house, but it will mean less in savings for us for three years.

But we also don’t want to live forever waiting for “someday.” Someday we’ll have a home that we actually want to invite people over to. Someday we’ll try to live close to our extended family. Someday we’ll make the sacrifices to prioritize what we say really matters to us.

When we stepped back and looked at the broader picture, we realized that this house is exactly what we’d been hoping to find in Coronado.

  • Home large enough to host traveling family and friends (even whole families!)
  • Indoor/outdoor space that we could offer as a gathering place to our future church, Bible study, and new local friends
  • Space for siblings to live with us if they decide to move to California (as one is seriously considering)
  • Home where my dad could live with us part time (huge huge bonus!!!)
  • A peaceful place filled with natural light where we can learn, read, play, and live together as a family


And so, with some fear and trembling, we signed the lease!

Once the actual commitment was made, I felt enormous joy and thankfulness. This home is, in so many ways, the home we’d dreamed about when we thought about living in San Diego. It’s just a mile and a half from Elliott’s new office, and he’s planning to bike or run every day. It’s a mile from two beaches, and it’s less than half a mile from the commercial heart of Coronado, the beautiful library, and Spreckels Park.

Elliott is really excited about his work, and I am really excited about continuing another chapter of creative, hospitality-focused motherhood, so we both feel like we have so much to look forward to in our everyday lives there. We’ll live simply — we have to! — but we will be in a neighborhood where we hardly ever have to get in the car, where people live outdoors most of the year, and where we already have connections that we are excited to turn into friendships.


This season in Sicily has been filled with blessings but also hardships. I know these will continue in this next phase of life, and I know we can’t even imagine some of the gifts and the heartaches that lie around the corner.

Elliott and I were reading Pilgrim’s Progress last night, and we came to the chapter where Christian and Hopeful are trapped in Doubting Castle and can’t find a way out. Suddenly, after days of beatings and starvation, Christian remembers the key named Promise hanging around his neck. Within seconds, that key unlocks the gates to the pilgrims’ freedom.

There is the obvious lesson here that we need to remember God’s promises in order to be released from times of doubt, depression, and discouragement. But there’s also a more subtle message that if Christian had been remembering God’s faithfulness, he would have remembered that key around his neck much sooner and would have been long gone from Doubting Castle.

We’ve been given so many blessings, and I’m sure this house will be a great blessing to us in a lot of ways. But I know there will be hard times, painful relationships, and deep misunderstandings in this house, too. As we leave Sicily and prepare to move to this new house and city, I want to remind myself often of God’s faithfulness, God’s goodness, God’s promises to me and to my family.

We have a history with this God. A good history. He who promised is faithful, and He will remain so!

“See, I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you along the way
and to bring you to the place I have prepared.”
Exodus 23:20

42 :: in Coronado, home sweet home, hospitality, military life

in which the kiddos and I visit an Italian shopping mall


Our time is running out in Italy, and I keep telling myself to enjoy the last bit of European shopping while I can!  In Europe, everything goes on sale on January 1 and July 1, and July 1 is right around the corner, so it’s a good time to start scouting out things I might like to buy on sale. At least that’s what I tell myself; in reality I visit this mall about every nine months. Such is life with two kids!

Anyway, today I decided to make things happen, grabbed my phone, and photographed our little outing. Come along and shop with us!


Parked and ready to go. Lena is thrilled.


Up into the breezy, open corridors of the mall. This mall, Centro Sicilia, is especially pretty on a Tuesday afternoon during riposo (ie. siesta) when there is almost no one else there.


becca-garber-mall-italy-kids-6 .



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Obligatory stop for a ride. Gil didn’t know that I didn’t pay for his. Ignorance is bliss!


New store since I was here last time (6 months ago…). Looks the same all over the world!



Always makes me laugh.


Loved these alternative carts for bored little shoppers!




You can’t tell, but she’s barefoot. Hence the maniacal giggles.


And finally: two favorite Italian-only things about the mall. On the left, a vendor with a pop-up shop in the middle of the hallway. She’s not selling face cream or hair clips, though, she’s selling espresso machines!

And on the right, a parking sign indicating that the “pink parking” is reserved for women with children or in dolce attesa (literally “sweet waiting”). Now how dolce is that?! ;)

9 :: in Italy, Sicily

currently enjoying


Happy Monday! It’s a blustery, almost-wintery one here, which totally foiled my friends’ and my plans for a pool date with our little kiddos. Way to be confusing, June.

Instead, I took my kids to the gym on base, where I locked them up in the ingenious kids’ play area and attempted to get a 15-minute speedy jog in on the treadmill. I kind of have a gym-phobia (all those intense people), but I also keep saying I want to “get back into running” when we move to CA. And… I haven’t run regularly since college… six years ago. So wish me luck. Do you run/exercise regularly??

In other news, here are some fun links to start off your Monday:

I tear up every time I watch this. So much joy and beauty in this dancing!

The photo above is from dinner last night, which is one of the quickest, cheapest, tastiest meals I know. Win win win!

Can’t stop thinking about this outfit. (And Madeline and Natalie are pretty great too.)

Think of your local thrift store as your storage unit.

Love Taza and Oh Joy! teamed up to make this fabulous new app. I think I’ll try it!

I inhaled two books over the weekend: one about flowers, one about cancer.

Lena’s uncle promised to teach her how to do this! (J/k…. but wow!!!)

What if humans were dogs? Hilarious.

Toxic sunscreen + some safe options. (We love this one.) Thanks for the link, Laura!

3 things to save time every day.

I love Anne’s amazing blog, and her summer reading list is the best around.

What were they celebrating?

I have the 5 euro-bought-on-the-street version of these and love ’em. Maybe if I ever want to spend $100 on sunglasses…

I picked this back up as per my goals for 2014… let’s see if I stick with it to the end this time!


What are you reading? What are you enjoying? What are you wearing? I’d love to know!


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