Archive | Coronado

Hello, Coronado!


The days are zipping by at a fantastic rate, and before I know it… we will have lived in California for one month! September 7, I’m looking at you. The days have been long but this month has been short.

In an attempt to chronicle these early days, I went through a bunch of photos on my phone (including some from my Instagram), and thought I’d share the highlights with you all today. Come take a walk down memory lane…


My mom and dad arrived the same day we did, and my mom took this photo of us before one of our first walks around our neighborhood. That’s the entrance to our house; I shared a lot of photos of it here. We’re living in a beautiful little town on an island called Coronado, which is located just off the coast of San Diego. Elliott is only 1.5 miles from work, which is also in Coronado.


First things first: we bought a car! We had done a little research and knew we wanted a Honda Odyssey (MINIVAN… ack!!!) so we have room for visitors, friends, and family. As you can see, we put our money where our mouth was the very first time we drove our car. Hi, Mom and Dad!


L: Some things are the same no matter where you live, like your baby in his highchair eating yogurt. I love the simplicity and familiarity of this scene.

R: The same weekend we moved in, our friends John and Mari visited with their son. Lena pulled them around the driveway in one of the many boxes we have around here…


L: We baked cookies and took them to our neighbors which is a great way to make friends! There are a bunch of kids on our block, and we’re excited to get to know them better.

R: Later that week my mom, the kids, and I took my first trip to Target since we moved back, and my mom treated me to a macchiato and the kids to cake pops! Man oh man, those things are delish.


My mom, the kids, and I spent hours walking around Coronado and admiring houses. This one on Olive Ave might be my favorite (but its neighbor comes in a close second). That garden!


Annnnnd the car already has problems. So humbling! So frustrating! Honda said it was their fault due to an issue in the engine and fixed it for us, but the fixing took five days and a rental car.


One night in August, the Coronado Library hosted a pirate party for local families. The kids decorated pirate hats, played games, grilled hot dogs, decorated cupcakes, and danced to a pirate band. I think I officially fell in love with Coronado that night.


Speaking of the library, this happened the next morning. I arrived at 9:50, but the library didn’t open till 10. I watched in awe as a huge crowd — at least 75 people — gathered outside the doors, waiting for the stroke of 10. Obviously it’s a well-loved, beautiful resource for many, many people in this town. I’m definitely one of them; I’ve been to the library almost every day since we got here!


Little Italy Farmers’ Market and breakfast burritos. All more delicious than I could imagine.


On our first trip to the beach, we found an injured cormorant. Elliott the Veternarian-slash-Hero called Wildlife Animal Rescue and then showed them how to gently capture and carry the bird away.


Another day, another beach. This time we were invited for dinner at a friends’ oceanfront house. I love these kids!


L: Lena taking selfies to send to one of her aunts and uncles.

R: Gil in front of the “tea house,” the little studio in our house’s backyard where my dad will be staying every month. He works outside San Diego and spends a part of each month here, even though he and my mom live in Virginia. More details in this post. We’re so excited about this!


Gil fell off the couch and seemed to have a lot of pain near his shoulder, and the kids’ new pediatrician confirmed that he’d broken his collarbone. This photo was taken during the three hours (!) we spent in the clinic that morning getting x-rays and waiting for results. I blew up two gloves and tied them together as a toy, which amused the kids for exactly 10 minutes of those three hours.


L: Marmee and Grampa (Elliott’s parents) came to visit as well! We loved our peaceful week with them, and Lena was especially grateful for a constant playmate. Lena worked on this bead design with Marmee for hours and hours, and they were so proud when they finally finished it!

R: Gil gets my locked phone and somehow manages to have conversations with Siri and take pictures of it.


Elliott is embarking on a new adventure as an urban gardener. He ordered six of these planters and set them up with tomatoes, strawberries, beans, and squash. So far I’m a huge fan of how neat and clean they are on our balcony, and we’re excited to begin harvesting this fall!


L: With access to such a huge library, I’ve been going crazy reading so many books I’ve waited so long to read. This particular one wasn’t great literature, but I ate it up in a day. Here are more books I’ve read and loved lately.

R: Every Sunday evening in the summer, Coronado hosts a concert in the park. We’ve gone to every one that we can, and it’s totally heart-warming to see the whole town picnicking on blankets, dancing by the pavilion, and savoring summertime together.


Everyone is loving our new house, including our Maine Coon, Siena.


L: Playground straight out of paradise.

R: Lena continues to love puzzles, putting them together completely independently and then turning to me with glowing pride.


And lastly, I’ve started running again. After three years of living in a tiny Italian town where jogging was impossible due to narrow streets and nonexistent sidewalks, it’s so refreshing to go for a run outside. I caught this sunrise last week by the bay. Who wouldn’t want to get up for that?!


And now you know a little (or too much…) about our new life here. Thanks for sticking with me through all the photos and stories! Catch you again here later this week, I hope. ;)

19 :: in Coronado, family, life lately, moving in, Uncategorized

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

Where We’re Headed Next: San Diego!!!

Image via

I think it’s time for an official “what happens after Sicily?” update around here! My husband Elliott wrote a blog post this week about our next move, and there are a lot of juicy details in that about rejections and deliberations that lead to our final decision: after we leave Sicily in July, we’re headed to the beaches and bustle of San Diego, California!

Some of you might remember this post about the difficult decision we were making between D.C. and San Diego. Most of our family lives in D.C., and we lived there as newlyweds. After this summer, Elliott had been planning to get out of the military and find work in the D.C. area so we could spend more time with them for a year or two.

However, somewhat out of the blue in December, the Army offered him a dream job. Would he be interested in filling a new position that just opened up for a veterinarian with the Naval Special Warfare Command, home of the SEALs?

For more than 10 years, Elliott had dreamed of a job like this: a chance to work with the elite of the world’s military, to care for their working dogs, and maybe even to work with their dolphins and sea lions. His eyes lit up whenever he talked about it. We both couldn’t imagine how he could turn this down.

After lots of conversations with family and lots of time on our knees, we decided to take the job!

One of the things we’re most excited about is the location of Elliott’s new base: the beautiful peninsula of Coronado just off the coast of San Diego. I’ve only been to SD twice on quick visits, but both times included an obligatory trip to Coronado to admire its long white beaches, darling cottages, picturesque shops, and famous hotel.

Working in Coronado will be amazing, but living there would be a dream come true. Unfortunately, Coronado housing is proving to be a bit of a problem. (Anyone who knows Coronado has a wry smile on their face right now.) The rental market is extremely competitive, and so even though Elliott has been super proactive about looking for a home, so far we’re still on the hunt.

Another option we’re prayerfully considering is living in a completely different part of the city, closer to the church we’ll probably attend. There are a lot of unknowns, so it’s hard to make such lifestyle-determining decisions from thousands of miles away. If you’re the praying kind, we’d appreciate your prayers!

We’ll leave Sicily in July, visit family along the way, and arrive in California the first week of August. But as I type this, there are brownies in the oven, and still-sandy swimsuits drying outside, and Jonathan and Erika — our latest visitors — are sharing the couch with Elliott. There is absolutely no sign that we have less than three months left in this beautiful home in Italy.

I’m excited about what lies ahead, but for now . . . the kitchen timer is going off, and I’m ready for hot brownies with our guests. Let’s savor “making room in Sicily” for a little longer!

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28 :: in Army, Coronado, husband, military life

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