Archive | 52 project

Portraits of My Children: 09/52 to 12/52

becca-garber-gil-portrait-12-52 Strawberry picking at Suzie’s Farm yesterday afternoon.

 The 52 Project: A portrait of each of my children every week in 2015.

Obviously keeping up with this “portrait a week” thing is verrrry difficult for me! I’ve only shared here and here, meaning this post makes a whopping three updates. The year is still young, though, so I shall not be deterred… yet!

Week 9

I’ve already shared some photos from Week 9 of Elliott’s return, playing in the snow, and hiking with friends, but here are two more from that week:

becca-garber-52-project-week-9 Lena: On a whim, I started reading a chapter book (Little House in the Big Woods) aloud to Lena for the very first time in February, and she was totally hooked. Since then we’ve enjoyed multiple chapter books, including one she enjoyed with just her daddy after he came home (My Father’s Dragon). She begs me to read to her every morning, before her rest time, right after her rest time, and before bed. While we read, she frowns thoughtfully, thinking and processing, and you can see the wheels turning in her mind as she absorbs these wonderful stories.

Gil: We were at a local pizza joint when Gil discovered his “pocks” (pockets), and is it just me or does he look just like a future Lawnie with his orange and blue outfit? UVA Class of 2031!

Week 10

becca-garber-lena-portrait-10-52 Lena: My parents (“Grammie” and “Poppy”) came to visit for a week, and during that time my mom got out the sewing machine to help me with a few projects. Afterwards, she taught Lena how to make bean bags! I have so many memories of learning to sew on my grandmother’s and mother’s laps, so this image is precious to me.

becca-garber-gil-portrait-10-52 Gil: I wrote about this photo more extensively in this blog post, but it captures such a stage of life for my children. Right now we visit our local nursing home every Thursday, and on this particular day Gil and Lena were both especially helpful with delivering pancakes to each resident and waiting patiently for their turn to eat. They are both growing in patience and compassion at the nursing home, and it is beautiful to see.

Week 11

Image-1-1 Lena: Continuing with the theme of chapter books, this photo is from an evening trip to the library because Lena wanted the next installment of Pippi Longstocking as well as “Finocchio.” I laughed and told her she meant “Pinocchio,” because “finocchio” is the Italian word for “fennel.” She continues to call him “Finocchio,” though, and who am I to correct these small touches of the Italian influence on my children?

becca-garber-gil-portrait-11-52 Gil: On Saturday, March 21, Elliott and I took the kids to the San Diego Festival of Science & Engineering downtown. A lot of the booths and displays were way over our kids’ heads (and mine…), but some things were super creative and perfect for them. They had fun with miniature science experiments all day! Both of them got the coolest face painting job ever, and Gil even got to dress up as a mad scientist.

Week 12

becca-garber-portrait-lena-12-52 Lena: “Mama, when I die,” said Lena this morning, “Jesus is going to say, ‘Come here, little child!'” She has a very real faith, as far as it can be known at age three. She talks often about Jesus loving her and being her friend, and because death and heaven are a frequent topic of conversation in our house, she often speaks of being with Jesus after she dies. It is heartwarming as well as honest and true and inspiring to my own faith. I know things will not always be so simple, so very black and white, but unprompted statements like these give me great hope and peace. God is answering my daily prayer!

Image-1 Gil: I don’t know about you, but grocery shopping with the kids really tries my patience. Can I get an amen? By the end of our weekly commissary trip, there’s no room for either kid in the cart, and so they are all over the place. It’s times like this when having any more kids sounds craaaazy. But braver women than I have done it before… so maybe one day I’ll be ready!


What have you been up to these past few weeks? Wrangling children in grocery stores? Playing in the snow? Teaching your kids something fun, like sewing or science or just how to wait patiently while you finish one small task? I’m all eyes! Do tell.

9 :: in 52 project, San Diego

Post-Deployment Family Fun Around San Diego


Elliott came home from deployment on a Wednesday afternoon, and his amazing commander gave him a four-day weekend to enjoy time at home with his family. Thank you, ma’am!

We spent the weekend doing so many fun things: hiking on Thursday, hiking on Friday (so basically Elliott’s ideal life), biking all over downtown San Diego on Saturday, and then topping off the weekend with beers and friends at Balboa Park on Sunday evening.

Here are a few of my favorite photos from our first weekend back together as a family:

becca-garber-after-deployment-family-fun-san-diego-7 Our first adventure on Thursday was at Cuymaca Rancho State Park, which is about a 45-minute drive east of San Diego.* Elliott had flown over those hills on his plane flight home, and he saw that there was a little snow left since SD had so much rain the week before. We went to find that snow!

*Side note: It is so weird to say something is “east” of your home when you’ve always lived on the East Coast and anything east is the Atlantic Ocean. I feel like I’m driving on the wrong side of the road or something every time I say, “It’s west of San Diego… oh no wait… I mean east, definitely east!”

becca-garber-after-deployment-family-fun-san-diego-3.jpg I love Gil’s face in that first photo! He can’t get over the crazy snow! He hasn’t seen snow since Mt Etna, our backyard volcano in Sicily. He got used to it pretty quickly, though, and Lena and Elliott went right for the snowball fights…

becca-garber-after-deployment-family-fun-san-diego-4.jpg … and building a tiny snowman. And Lena was so sweet to help her brother in the snow!

becca-garber-after-deployment-family-fun-san-diego-6 The most exciting part of the day was coming around a corner and seeing a fire truck. Gil was beside himself with joy… a FIRE TRUCK.

And then we noticed all the people working around the fire truck to clear the fire road were wearing orange jumpsuits with “PRISONER” on the back in large black letters. Yiiiiikes. We walked right past them several times as they were working on the road and we were hiking. I wasn’t too nervous, though, because I doubted prisoners with recent or horrific crimes would be allowed to work so freely, and because mostly I felt sad for them as we hiked past, free and whole and happy.

(And I’ve plugged it before and I’ll plug it again, but Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison totally changed my view about the American criminal justice system. It’s not at all like the TV show, and it is really, really worth a read.)

becca-garber-after-deployment-family-fun-san-diego-3 And then Lena and I made snow angels for the first time, “just like Laura did in Little House in the Big Woods!”

And then that evening we went to the beach for sunset just to say we went to the snow and the beach in the same day! Hurray for living in gorgeous California.

becca-garber-after-deployment-family-fun-san-diego-16 We met up at the beach with some of our best friends in Coronado, and it was so good to see Elliott back with our group and our kiddos. I’ve missed that!

becca-garber-after-deployment-family-fun-san-diego-8 The next morning we went with those same friends to eat brunch at The Cottage, a delicious breakfast spot in La Jolla. Afterwards we took our friends hiking at Torrey Pines State Reserve, which you already know from here and here that I love so much!

becca-garber-after-deployment-family-fun-san-diego-1.jpg becca-garber-after-deployment-family-fun-san-diego-9 Our friends Adam and Jackson… and blue blue blue sky.

becca-garber-after-deployment-family-fun-san-diego-13 The colors of the California coast.

becca-garber-after-deployment-family-fun-san-diego-14 The whole group! We have loved sharing life with this dear family in Coronado, and we’re so sad that they moved just this week back to Oklahoma. Stacy has been an incredible friend to me — authentic and kind and spontaneous and generous and real. We have loved girls’ nights and last-minute dinners and sunsets at the beach and so, so, so many hours together at the park and library and Bible study. Aren’t good friends such a gift in this life?!

becca-garber-after-deployment-family-fun-san-diego-12 The three I love the most in this world.

becca-garber-after-deployment-family-fun-san-diego-11 Watching a helo, as I’ve learned to call them here.

becca-garber-after-deployment-family-fun-san-diego-10 Jackson and Lena — two happy little friends!

becca-garber-after-deployment-family-fun-san-diego-15 Gil’s hat… I can’t even.

collagebecca-garber-after-deployment-family-fun-san-diego-2 … and pouting, just for good measure.

The next day we biked through Coronado to the ferry, and then we rode the ferry across the bay to downtown San Diego. It only takes about 10 minutes, but it’s so much fun! Once on the other side, we spent the day at a splash park/awesome playground, the New Central Library, and Seaport Village, a quaint (but touristy) seaside shopping area. If you’re wanting to visit San Diego, these are all wonderful places to go with kids!

becca-garber-splash-park-san-diego-1.jpg becca-garber-splash-park-san-diego And finally, on Sunday we went here, an amazing outdoor restaurant in Balboa Park. I didn’t take a single picture, but it’s one of our favorite places to hang out with our kids and friends. I don’t know of many places where you can drink fine beers and let your kids play in the grass… of a sculpture garden, no less! Highly recommended if that’s your jam. ;)


Time apart from your husband — and doing every social activity by yourself — will make you SO grateful to have your husband back and home and with you! Friendships are more fun when you can share them with whole families and your whole family, don’t you think?

1 :: in 52 project, Coronado, deployment, hiking, San Diego

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

Catching Up on the 52 Project!

becca-garber-52-project-02:2015-gil Last year I took a photo of each of my children each week as part of “The 52 Project.” I only made it half the year and it was sometimes a rather last-minute deal, but it was fun and worth it because look at Gil’s hair! And this is one of my favorite photos ever of Lena.

So I’m late this year, but I think I want to do it again. (Now maybe by March or so I’ll write down my goals for 2015… and do whatever else people usually do on January 1!)

Here are Weeks 1 through 7. I’ll follow up with Week 8 in a few days, hopefully after I get out my “real camera” and have some fun!

Week 1

becca-garber-52-project-01:2015-lena Lena: Lena: She’s climbing anything and everything these days, and her brother isn’t far behind. This photo is from a quick trip the three of us took one morning to the San Diego Zoo, where Gil learned how to say “koala.”

becca-garber-52-project-01:2015-gil Gil: Enjoying the last vestiges of Christmas with his Grampa. We spent most of the first week of the year in Virginia with our families. I miss those candy cane-striped pajamas already!

Week 2

becca-garber-52-project-03:2015-lena Lena: We spent part of Week 2 and 3 up the California coast in Santa Barbara county, where Elliott’s friends have a ranch. I loved watching Lena slip right into ranch life. Look at the way she cocks her little hip as she watches her dad from the back of the flatbed truck! She rides on hay bales back there like a natural, too.

becca-garber-52-project-03:2015-gil Gil: He rode his first horse at the ranch that weekend! BAREBACK! When we were there in September, Gil wouldn’t let us put him on Bliss, but this time he took right to her.

Week 3

becca-garber-52-project-04:2015-lena Lena: So content and such a good traveler! She’s always been flexible and fascinated by new places, even when she was two months old and I flew with her to visit Elliott on an Army assignment in Israel. This weekend was no exception… except when we were in the car driving to and from Santa Barbara. That time was not so great…

becca-garber-52-project-04:2015-gil Gil: We found a real tractor. He got to sit on it. Bliss x2!

Week 4

becca-garber-52-project-05:2015-lena Lena: We started reading Little House in the Big Woods before bed, and I was amazed by how much I remembered from my own childhood! My mom read it aloud to me when I was about five, and in retrospect I think Lena was too young. We’ll read it again in a couple years when she’s ready for the rest of the series, too. We just finished Charlotte’s Web together last week, which was equally sweet and memorable for the two of us.

becca-garber-52-project-05:2015-gil Gil: This little guy turned two on January 25! He couldn’t wait to get out of the bath that night to keep playing with all his new toys, and this ended up being my favorite photo from the day.

Week 5

becca-garber-52-project-06:2015-lena Lena: She’s always coming up with new and hilarious games to play with Gil these days; this time it was finding pillowcases in the linen closet and announcing, “We’re ghosts!” I’ve waited a L O N G time for them to finally start playing together independently, and I feel like it’s finally, really happening.

becca-garber-52-project-06:2015-gil Gil: Our church celebrated “Scottish Heritage Sunday,” which I’ve never heard of before, but we loved! So much plaid and so many kilts, even miniature ones on a couple adorable little boys! Maybe Gil needs one next year??

Week 6

becca-garber-52-project-07:2015-lena Lena: Valentine’s Day! We were in the park when Lena’s little friend Caleb got out of his preschool Valentine’s Day party, and he sweetly sat down and shared his entire bag of candy (!) with his brother and his friends. Lena now wants to go to school. (Of course.)

becca-garber-52-project-07:2015-gil Gil: I learned that our library loans out free passes to the New Children’s Museum downtown, so I took the kids one day. I’d heard so much about the museum for so long, and it did not disappoint! A table of KAPLA blocks, a whole tractor to paint, an entire balcony for blowing bubbles, a gigantic soft squishy playground, a whole room full of books and tent-making supplies, and even a bouncy house… felt like heaven to everyone involved. San Diego wins.

Week 7

becca-garber-52-project-08:2015-lena Lena: She continues to be my effortless fashionista. (Either that or the topknot is the easiest and cutest hairstyle ever!) We’ve been going to the beach a lot lately, taking advantage of the milder temperatures and sun during the winter. It’s 75-80 degrees most days, so we should live it up while we can! (Did I mention that San Diego wins?)

becca-garber-52-project-2015-gil Gil: Our local MOMS Club took a trip to the Coronado fire station, which was kind of stressful with 91 children (just kidding) but also totally fascinating and very “small town.” The kids watched a real fireman slide down a real fire pole and Gil has wanted to “see pole” (see the picture) every day ever since. Here it is, just for fun:

becca-garber-coronado-fire-station ——–

And now a question for you: how do you enjoy and look at your pictures? All mine are on my computer! Do you print out individual photos and put them in albums? Or do you print photo books through a certain service? I am starting to worry that Lena will lose her memories of Sicily if we don’t reinforce them with photos, but I don’t have a single photo book — or photo! — printed. Help! Where to start?

21 :: in 52 project, memories, San Diego

portraits of my children {24/52} + living with less



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

Lena: I’ve been working off and on all week on a post about all the things Lena and I do together for our morning “preschool”: crafts, games, toys, learning activities, and so on. (This makes me sound much more organized than I am! I’ll just enjoy that for a second.) The post is almost ready and will go up next week, but in the meantime you get a sneak peak of this morning’s play/school time.

In the photo: “Hello, this is Dr. Lena,” she had just reported into her toy phone, “We need some more medicine because Mama’s got a stiiiiinky headache.” I love my future nurse/doctor/ veterinarian/skyisthelimit so much.

Gil: Hello empty house!!! As my Instagram friends will already know, the movers came yesterday and cleared out our house. Our personal items (minus almost all furniture… read here to see why) are on their way to San Diego. The movers left us with only a few sticks of furniture we still hope to sell, enough dishes and toys to last us a month, and suitcases with clothing and books that will travel with us from Sicily to San Diego in July. We’ll be relying on loaner furniture from the military base until we fly out of Sicily on July 15.

So far I’m loving this cleared out, refreshingly empty house. I vacuumed and mopped the whole thing yesterday and it feels cleaner and lighter and simpler than it ever has. This will be our experiment in living with less, and I think we’re going to enjoy it. I’ll report back later!


And now TGIF! I just finished this hilarious novel and dove headfirst into this NYT food critic’s tale. I’m also hoping a trip to the pool and the beach are in our weekend plans, if we’re lucky! What are you up to this weekend?

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2 :: in 52 project, military life

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