Archive | friends

Fiumefreddo Beach, Sicily


In Sicily there are two kinds of beaches: rocky and sandy.  Generally we stick to the sandy beaches because they sound like more fun (right?), but we learned a few weeks ago that rocky beaches have some serious advantages too.  Especially when there is an ice-cold mountain stream bubbling out of the pebbles on one of them!  We joined our friends the Arthurs at Fiumefreddo for our last beach day together in Sicily.


So windy it destroyed the beach umbrella… typical Sicily.


The men and kids decided to “expand” the cold mountain stream by making new channels for it in the pebbles.


Italian lifeguards & a very cute bambina in her new sun shirt!


Buried alive!


My little man actually seems to be enjoying the beach again… and you know Lena loved every minute of it!


That green promontory in the background is beautiful Taormina.  For looks, Fiumefreddo takes the cake, although Cassibile is still our favorite.  More photos from Cassibile later this summer, I hope!

6 :: in friends, pretty places, Sicily, Uncategorized

blackberry picking with friends


After we had so much fun blackberry picking a couple of weeks ago, we invited our friends the Arthurs to go with us.  There are so many berries along the roads these days; they seem to call to us to “pick and eat!” everywhere we go.

Here are a few fun photos from our blackberry picking adventure by an old railroad station.  If you’re curious about what we do with all the blackberries once we have them (besides eating them while picking them…), I’ve got a wonderful recipe for berry tarts that I’m going to share tomorrow.  The tarts are so good that I have stashed hundreds of berries in our freezer so we can enjoy them long after the season is over.


Lena and Lucas were diligent berry pickers for about 15 minutes before they started eating all they had and sneaking berries from everyone else’s buckets.  I’m glad I caught them dutifully in action, though!

Recently Updated227

Lovely Elise


Children and brambles.  We all emerged with a lot of scratches… and some damaged clothing.


This sweet little guy sat in his car seat on the railroad tracks and watched everyone for at least an hour and a half.  I was so impressed with his patience!  I literally fall in love with him more every day.  Is that possible?  Somehow… it happens.

Recently Updated228

Resting and showing off the result of some faithful pickin’.


Still at it.  Go, Lucas!

Recently Updated226

Lena could not stop…

Recently Updated225

… eating berries!  She filled up her bucket and then ate every berry in it.


Where are your berries, Lucas??


The sun goes down by the old railroad station.


Matching fishy faces?

Recently Updated224

Dads keeping their sons out of the brambles.


Caleb & Elise


The old railway station.  The dads and kids explored this at the beginning while Becca and I were filling our buckets.

Recently Updated223

My family.


And Lena watches Lucas as the sun goes down.

Here’s one last photo from our drive home.  We had noticed a few weeks ago that this orange grove looked totally dead.  There was not a single green leaf in the whole orchard.   Had the owners given it up?  Would they just let a dead orchard sit there indefinitely?

Then, when we drove by it after blackberry picking, we saw that they were burning piles of branches.  They had chopped up the whole orchard and were burning everything to the ground.  It was an arresting — and quintessentially Sicilian — sight!


I saw the orchard again yesterday and there is absolutely nothing left now… just black patches on the ground where all the fires burned themselves out.  Now we hope to see some miniature orange saplings in the ground soon, just like we’ve seen in several other orchards around our town.  Although I have no hand in this process of dying and planting, I love to watch it, observing the cycles of the land create their own patterns over and above the seasons of the year.

2 :: in friends, Sicily, weekend

a summer hike on a volcano {Mt Etna}


A couple of weeks ago, we invited our friends the Arthurs to go on a hike on Mt Etna with us.  I’ve mentioned this active local volcano before; we often see her erupting out our kitchen window!  We love hiking on her slopes because the air is so much cooler and the flowers are so beautiful in the spring, summer, and fall.  In the winter this part of the trail would be covered in snow.

(Also, before I go any farther, my apologies for all the pictures… I just couldn’t resist!  I had over 200 to begin with, so you really are just getting the best of the best.  Hope you all enjoy this hike with me all over again through the images!)


Ladybugs and nose picking… when it comes to two-year-olds, they go together so well!


The coarse volcanic ash can fill up shoes quickly… and lead to gorgeous vegetation like these flowers, whose perfume filled the air.

becca-garber-mt-etna-hiking-4 becca-garber-mt-etna-hiking-30 becca-garber-mt-etna-hiking-5

Showing Miss Becca a ladybug that she found.

becca-garber-mt-etna-hiking-6 becca-garber-mt-etna-hiking-29

Pine cones are one thing you can’t find very easily in Sicily.  Tantrums, unfortunately, are easy to find everywhere.

becca-garber-mt-etna-hiking-3 becca-garber-mt-etna-hiking-28 becca-garber-mt-etna-hiking-7

Lena was pleased as punch that the Arthurs had some goldfish to share with her.

becca-garber-mt-etna-hiking-8 becca-garber-mt-etna-hiking-26

Elliott’s sister Jess took a photo like the one on the left when we hiked this trail with her last summer.  I was pregnant with Gil then, and now he’s a 6-month-old baby!


becca-garber-mt-etna-hiking-10 becca-garber-mt-etna-hiking-25

Men dislodging and chucking lava.  Aphids on a branch.


Sweet baby Eden.

becca-garber-mt-etna-hiking-12 becca-garber-mt-etna-hiking-24 becca-garber-mt-etna-hiking-13



One of the very few pictures we have together!


They were building mini Mt Etnas.

becca-garber-mt-etna-hiking-23 becca-garber-mt-etna-hiking-17

Finally at the end of our hike!  To the right is the huge valley where the lava flows during eruptions.  The peak of Mt Etna herself is hidden in the clouds to the right.

becca-garber-mt-etna-hiking-22 becca-garber-mt-etna-hiking-18 becca-garber-mt-etna-hiking-20

New family photo!


Looking down towards the Plain of Catania and the sea… mostly lost in the haze.


And a cheesy farewell to Mt Etna on the right… :-)

12 :: in friends, hiking, Mt Etna



I always felt like every year in college was totally different from the year before… almost like I was attending a different school each time.  Some things stayed the same — the Lawn, mochas in the library, and tried and true friends that I’d had since school started — but everything else shifted.  New faces became dear and familiar.  A new house or roommate changed my living experience.  New professors or classes changed my school experience.  New organizations or clubs (or friends to enjoy a slow glass of red wine with) changed my social life.

All these things made each year entirely different than the last.

Real life is like this, military life especially.  Every year people arrive.  You might even add a new baby to your family… how’s that for major transition!

I am feeling the crunch of transition right now.  I looked at my “Favorites” list of numbers in my phone and realized all those friends have moved away.  (Well, except my husband, thank goodness.)  At my women’s Bible study in the fall, I will only know about 5 people there instead of 20; everyone else has moved away. The friends that we have loved and relied upon since Day 1 in Sicily are no longer here.

And suddenly we’ve turned into the old fogies.  We’re now the ones who speak the most Italian (what?!), the ones who know the best places to eat here, the ones who know where to park there, the ones who can lead the caravan of friends’ cars instead of follow it, the ones who can say, “Well, two years ago winter storms killed the orange blossoms, but last winter it wasn’t so bad, and so I think the blood oranges will be plentiful this year.”

(^ dork alert ^)

Suddenly, even more frighteningly, I am the one who needs to welcome, invite, include, initiate.  I have always been on the other end of this, first as the newbie and then as just a friend.  Now there are so many people who need me, who need to be found, who need to be befriended, who need another mom who will suggest we pack multiple children into hot cars and head off on a mid-week adventure, just because it’s Sicily and why not?!

Can I love as I have been loved?  Can I — with mere months left here — hold open my arms and say, “Hi!  Want to be my friend?  Are you free on Thursday?”

Last night Elliott and I were praying together, and I prayed that we would “make room” in our lives for new friends.  I called this blog “Making Room” because we want this to be a habit in our lives: welcoming people into our home, offering friends and travelers our guest room, having new and old friends over to dinner, participating in Bible studies/community groups that include whole families in each other’s houses, seeking out needs of others and clearing our schedules so that we can meet these needs.

We’re not good at this.  We confront our own selfishness (or busyness, or introverted-ness, or exhaustion, or internal strife… this is a safe space!) every day.  When faced with these frustrations, we usually choose to make excuses instead of making sacrifices.  We choose self over service every day.

But thankfully, we have two things to combat our selfishness and help us “make room” this year.

The first is that we serve a God who not only made room for us in His Kingdom but gave life to us, welcoming us just as we were and then gently and faithfully continuing to sanctify us year by year.

The second is that we have had wonderful examples.  So many friends here have opened up their lives, homes, refrigerators, minivans, and hearts for us, welcoming us just as we were.  They have never assumed anything of us, other than that we’d like to be included.  They have made this strange and wonderful land a home for us, a place we love because they loved it first and showed us why.

Can we do this for others?  Can we seek out the newcomers and tell them what we’ve learned?  Can we catch them before they escape after church, shy and overwhelmed, and ask them about themselves?  Can we get their numbers and invite them to dinner?  Can we take them to our favorite beaches, pizzerias, hiking trails, and agriturismi?

Can we love as we have been loved?

12 :: in friends, military life, my faith, Sicily, thoughts

house on the beach, kids in the water


Ever since we arrived in Sicily two years ago, Elliott has dreamed of one very specific thing:

“I want to go on vacation to the beach… somewhere where you can stay on the beach.  Not drive to the beach, not walk to the beach.  On the beach.”

We live on an island, so you wouldn’t think this is very hard to do.  However, we’ve looked extensively, and vacation rentals on the beach are not common here in Sicily, especially in the height of the summer season (late July through early September).

We wanted to go on one final vacation with our dear friends the Arthurs, who will be leaving in just two weeks.  (Gulp.)  Knowing that a house on the beach would be perfect for this vacation with six kids, Elliott took matters into his own hands and searched high and low.  He finally found a place that was actually on the beach (!)… but they would only rent it for a week at a time, not a long weekend.  Elliott, being Elliott, negotiated and bided his time, and pretty soon we had ourselves a vacation rental on the beach… and for a full 100 euro less than their weekend asking price, too.

(Elliott, I know you know this, but I love you.)


view of the beach from the stone steps up to our house

The house was just right for two families and lots of kids.  There were three bedrooms, two bathrooms, two kitchens (!), and two extra rooms that we used as bedrooms as well.  The house also included a lovely shaded patio connected to the huge blue-and-white tiled kitchen.  We ate all our meals on the patio and otherwise spent our days on the beach with multiple trips back for nap times, water, snacks, sunscreen, and missing children.

Would you like to stay there yourself?  Here’s the listing if you’re interested!  (That company also owns several other beach-front villas in that same area.)  For Sigonella folks, it’s about a 2-hour drive south of base, located on the southeastern tip of Sicily near Pozzallo.  The beach is called Granelli Beach.  The natural curve of the land forms a large cove that keeps the water shallow for about 200 feet and the waves small… perfect for a vacation with kids.

But anyway, enough details.  Here are some more pictures of our long weekend with friends!


Eden (2 months) and Gil (6 months) chilling on the patio.


The morning/afternoon sunscreen routine.  Frequently overheard conversation between Josh and Rebecca: “I will do anything rather than put sunscreen on the kids.  Anything.  What can I do for you besides that?”



Air mattress as a raft?  This was a sort of brilliant move on Josh’s part.  So brilliant that I saw other people doing the same thing later that afternoon with their own air mattress.


Lena loves Baby Eden and wants to hold her, admire her, and play with her all the time.


For all lovers of Gilbert Blythe… does this photo remind anyone of this?
(Hint: “Anne, I’m sohwry.“)


Elise and Eden


Inspiring read for the weekend.  Highly, highly recommend this book.


A downer of the weekend: this poor guy was almost never happy for very long on the beach.  Our guess is that it was the bright sun; his blue eyes just couldn’t handle it.  We borrowed some baby sunglasses from the Arthurs but that only helped for a little while.  Oh well… he did enjoy swimming naked like the other Sicilian babies.  Can’t blame him!


These two… seriously.  Gil literally lights up when he sees Lena.  And vice versa.  I love how they love each other.


This calm, quiet water — knee deep for about 200 feet — was just perfect with kids.  Refreshing in the mornings and warm as bathwater in the afternoons, with gentle waves and no pollution whatsoever, it might be the overall best beach I’ve ever seen in Sicily.

becca-garber-granelli-beach-sicily-10 Recently Updated215

Lucas and Lena are the cutest little 2-year-olds together.  They get each other laughing so hard… mostly Lena laughing at whatever Lucas comes up with next.


Ciao ciao, Granelli Beach!  Hope to see you again soon!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
13 :: in friends, holiday, Italy, Sicily, travel, Uncategorized, weekend

Powered by WordPress. Designed by WooThemes