Archive | holidays

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Our kids have grown in the last 6 months since I’ve written. Pictured above are Lena (7), Gil (5), Forest (2), Amos (6 months), and the lovely Sadie, our Australian Labradoodle.

Best part of Christmas this year: my sister Emily got engaged to the love her life, the wonderful Nate. We’re thrilled to have gained a brother!

Gil’s favorite gift this year, a bow and arrow set! Complete with 2 bows and 2 quivers of arrows — and the arrows are rubber-tipped, which gives the parents some measure of relief.

Reading with Grampa on Christmas Eve back in Charlottesville with Elliott’s side of the family.

Gil lost his second bottom tooth on Christmas Eve. Elliott pulled it out at Gil’s request! So all he truly wanted for Christmas were his two front teeth — except in reality he didn’t care at all, of course.

Gil and his cousin Toddy before the present-opening began at our second Christmas in Charlottesville with Elliott’s side of the family.

Forest, Gil, Toddy, and little Amos.

First Christmas for Amos! And Elliott gave me an iPhone XS for Christmas with “portrait mode,” so I have been having so much fun with its new capabilities.

Two boys I love very much.

Cousins Amos and Margaret Anne, born just 6 months apart.

Hey there. :) It’s been a while!

One of my New Year’s goals last year was to blog once a week. Clearly… that goal died an early, sad little death. But these are precious years, and I have so many thoughts as we live through these busy days, so I’m going try again to capture little bits and pieces of them on this old blog.

Since I’ve learned the hard way that attempting to become a whole new person on January 1 each year is impossible, I thought I’d start some of my New Year’s goals now.

Last night I read a blog post about how to make New Year’s resolutions/goals, and the blog post was especially focused on those of us in a busy–even overwhelming–season of life.

Misty’s first piece of advice was to brain dump. Just write and write for yourself:

  • the things that aren’t working
  • the things that are working
  • you imaginary ideal

From there, cross out everything you possibly can that drags you down, that isn’t necessary, that stresses you with an unrealistic standard.

And then… plan your year. Plan your goals. Move forward in grace and with realistic expectations and limited goals.

I loved this approach, and I’m going to put it into practice today. Misty Winkler is also hosting a live workshop on goal-setting tomorrow at 12p/9a PST, which I’m going to try to watch. I never do this, but it seems worth it this time! Goal setting and fresh starts are some of my favorite things.

So anyway, on to some brain dumping and goal planning for me! Do you have any goals or resolutions you really want to start or accomplish in 2019?

1 :: in goals, holidays

Hello 2017!

Merry Christmas from Lena (5), Gil (3), and Forest (7 months)! This photo was on the front of our Christmas card this year. Our Christmas card photo this year: Lena (5), Gil (3), and Forest (7 months).

Hello, old blog. I think of you often, mostly because putting words and photos into this space is a way to record both the images and the emotions of this stage of life, marriage, and motherhood. I miss doing this, and reading my readers’ stories too, and sharing in this small community online.

And so, at least for the month of January, one of my goals is to write four blog posts. I am already over a week into this month and haven’t been able to write until now, so we’ll see if this happens!

I thought a fun thing to do would be to capture the last few weeks in a bunch of photos. A lot of my favorite photos are on Instagram, but here are some that didn’t make the cut for whatever reason, yet still tell our story.

becca-garber-hello-2017-1 In December right before Christmas, we went on a five-day vacation to Cambria on the central California coast with my mom, dad, sister Emily, brother Eric, and his girlfriend Rebecca. We stayed in a gorgeous Airbnb on Stepladder Ranch, and we spent hours hiking in the lush green hills around the ranch.

img_7685 Sunrise through the lavender outside our bedroom window.

becca-garber-hello-2017-2 We went on a tour of Stepladder Creamery, a goat dairy on the ranch. It was so green; all the shades of green and red and blue were like technicolor. The cheese was great too!

becca-garber-hello-2017-3 Forest was everyone’s favorite to snuggle.

img_7736 Sunset at Elephant Seal Beach, where we saw male elephant seals fighting and tiny newborn baby seals nursing. Elliott and I haven’t been back here since our honeymoon almost seven years ago, so it was crazy to stand there watching the same amazing sight… but with our three children.

becca-garber-hello-2017-4 Mornings at the ranch house.

becca-garber-hello-2017-5 My mom bought fun spa items for us girls to enjoy while we were there, and Lena had so much fun pampering all of us. I want to repeat this experience! Turns out she gives a facial (the five-year-old version) just as well as she climbs trees.

becca-garber-hello-2017-6 Frolicking in the hills!

img_7755 We visited Hearst Castle while we were staying just a few miles away, and it was opulent and magnificent. This is the indoor pool. Can you imagine hanging out here with movie stars in the 1930s and ’40s?

becca-garber-hello-2017-7 The long drive home. I hate LA traffic.

img_7783 Christmas Eve breakfast! Elliott’s favorite cinnamon rolls were a must.

becca-garber-hello-2017-8 My little family ready to head out to the Christmas Eve service at church, and our Christmas Day dinner the next day.

img_7814 The whole crew enjoying Christmas morning breakfast. We are so glad you all came!

img_7865 My three precious children on Christmas morning. Forest’s first! My heart was so full of thankfulness that day.

img_7871 Between travel to St Louis, Virginia, and Cambria in December, Forest’s sleep schedule was a total wreck and he was so exhausted by the time Christmas was over. We moved him up to his own bedroom (and out of our closet!) right after my family departed. We also moved him out of the little Arm’s Reach co-sleeper bed he’d slept in his whole life, and now he is in a real “big boy” crib. He’s already sleeping so much better. Not sleeping through the night, though I think he could. I know… babies and parents and sleep… the endless drama…

img_7872 Elliott’s parents got into town for a week-long visit the same day my family left, and we spent a quiet day at home before going to the San Diego Holiday Bowl parade the next day. The kids loved all the balloon floats and bands!

becca-garber-hello-2017-9 We celebrated a second Christmas with Elliott’s parents, this time just stockings. The kids especially enjoyed the packs of gum I put in there, and the little balloon pump and long tube balloons that we made into shapes. So entertaining!

img_7899 We visited Torrey Pines State Reserve one day, and a cockatoo walked right up with his owner and made himself at home! He untied our shoe laces, ate our carrots, and then meandered on his happy way.

img_7920 Elliott’s sister gave the kids cloth bags and fabric paint for Christmas, and they had so much fun decorating them. I love this messy, realistic scene that is reminiscent of many many mornings in our home.

becca-garber-hello-2017-10 At the recommendation of multiple friends, I got my first Erin Condren planner this year. Already I love having a paper planner so much. I feel like I have a clear grasp of what this week holds, and what I need to get done, like send birthday cards, schedule babysitters, accomplish monthly goals… things that often got pushed to the last minute or just forgotten. When my family relies on me to be organized as well as provide for them in myriad ways, I don’t want to waste my time being disorganized, last-minute, or forgetful. This is my realization and aspiration, anyway. More about goals in an upcoming post!

becca-garber-hello-2017-11 My baby’s first time in the shopping cart seat, and one of my favorite parts of the day: bathing Forest, wrapping him up in his hooded towel, dressing him in cozy pajamas, snuggling up to nurse him, and then laying his sleepy body down in his crib. I love having a baby so so so much, even with the challenges.

img_8003 I’ve been selling and giving away a lot of things this month (spring cleaning!), and I loved this photo of a hand bell set I was ready to part with. Sadly, my kids were always more interested in ringing them loudly enough to wake up the neighbors than playing “Jingle Bells.”

becca-garber-hello-2017-12 Photos of me and my best friend before a hot date to an Italian restaurant!

img_8127 For my job at a local paper, I reviewed Buona Forchetta, a popular Italian restaurant in San Diego, and then interviewed the owner. Everyone loved the article, and I loved the entire experience from start to finish! Here’s the article if you’d like to read it.

becca-garber-hello-2017-13 Our beloved baby. On the left, he was eating some crackers (love Mum-Mums!) at the library, and on the right he was hanging out with me, Elliott, and our dog on a date while Elliott’s parents took the older two kids to La Jolla Cove.

becca-garber-hello-2017-14 More of my baby. I might be obsessed a little. Also he loves his bath each night so much!

img_8139 Photo of Bluewater Boathouse (another restaurant I review each quarter for the newspaper) and Glorietta Bay at sunrise, taken on a run with friends. We live in such a breathtakingly beautiful place!

becca-garber-hello-2017-15 Lena showed Forest how to set up her new gears toy, and Gil snapped this random photo of me one night when I was giving Forest a bath.

img_8165 Last week we rode the ferry from Coronado to downtown San Diego (I love this photo from the ride) to get Lena a new passport and apply for Forest’s first. We’d like to do some international travel this spring, but we’re still not sure where.

becca-garber-hello-2017-16 Playing on the amazing playground after our passport appointments. Forest is such a serious swinger, and Lena is such a daredevil one!

img_8185 And finally, here is a photo of my precious Gil, because I don’t take enough of this sweet, goofy boy. He wasn’t feeling great here (the kids have been suffering from stomach bugs this past week), but he came along so cheerfully on this expedition on the ferry and smiled so sweetly here.

And that’s all for now! A busy season, but one I don’t ever want to forget. If only that were possible… at least for all the best memories!




9 :: in Coronado, family, Forest, Gil, holidays, home sweet home, Lena, life lately, San Diego

Our First Coronado 4th of July!

IMG_9944 (2) Happy 4th of July!

… a couple weeks late…

But it’s a quiet, rainy (!) Saturday and I just finished this lovely book and the kids are both still napping, so in the time I’ve got before they wake up, I’d love to share these photos with you. Our first 4th of July in Coronado (a place that is famous for its festivities on the 4th) was so much fun, and I broke out my real camera for the parade, so there are some worthwhile memories in here.

IMG_9957 To be honest, the best thing that happened all day was that my whole family ran the Crown City Classic 5K together. I’ll wax eloquent for a few minutes with a little story…

Once upon a time, I was a runner, one of those people who ran for the fun of it and signed up for races with my friends on the weekends. Although I never raced more than my town’s annual 10 Miler, it was still a part of my identity.

And then I had two kids in two years and lived in Italy for three years (which is a lovely place to live but a hard place to jog!), and I lost my running routine. When we moved to Coronado last year, I knew this was my chance to get back into it. Coronado is relatively flat, has perfect weather, and offers wide paths along the bay and the ocean… how could I not?

Yet despite living in such a runner’s dream world, I found it very hard to get outside and run. I told myself I would, but when my alarm rang in the morning, I turned it off. Then I told myself I needed new shoes, and then treated myself to my first piece of fancy running gear, and then bought a better headband — but none of it did me much good.

Finally, in May I signed up for Coronado’s 4th of July 5K. Now I had to train. This would be my first race after two kids! I was going to make this happen.

At first I planned to run this race on my own, but when I found out that jogging strollers were allowed, Elliott agreed to run with Lena and Gil in the jogging stroller too. My sister Emily would be in town, and she excitedly agreed to run with us as well. A family run on the 4th of July! How patriotic!

Having Elliott as a pacesetter and motivator really helped me to get out there and train. We spent many evenings in June jogging around Coronado with Lena and Gil in the stroller, stopping at playgrounds to let them play, and then running home as the sun sank low in the sky.

Finally, the 4th of July came. We all arrived at Tidelands Park and felt the adrenaline in the air. Lena delightedly pointed out women in red, white, and blue tutus and an especially enthusiastic couple in American flag bathing suits and body paint. A band played at the start of the course, and a cheerful announcer counted down the final minutes. We lined up at the back of the pack of runners, excited to race for the first time together.

And then we were off!

Well, sort of. We were behind all the racers, so it took a couple minutes for a thousand runners to begin ahead of us. At the starting line, we broke into a jog under a giant American flag held up over our heads.

The course went along the bay, under the Coronado Bridge, and down Glorietta Blvd by the golf course. It was a narrow course that doubles back on itself, which made it difficult to run quickly at the back of the pack, but also interesting because we could see all the faster racers coming back after we’d only just started running! Always motivating.

As we looped around and started running along the bay again, heading for the finish line, Elliott said, “This is it!” and I realized I was about to accomplish a huge goal. I’d told myself I wanted to do this, to run again, to finish a race, and finally we’d made it happen. We’d trained together, and now we were racing together as a family, along with hundreds of other Americans on the 239th birthday of our country in one of the most wonderful towns in the world. We rounded the final turn and heard the band playing, the cameras clicking, the families cheering.

And we smiled wide as we raced down the final stretch and over the finish line together. We did it! Such an amazing way to kick of the 4th of July together.

IMG_9965 After that, we went home for breakfast and showers and then walked up to Orange Ave (“Main Street”) for Coronado’s famous 4th of July parade. We joined some wonderful friends on their blankets, brought some picnic items to share, and then just parked ourselves on the curb for the next couple of hours.

Does your town have a 4th of July parade? This was definitely the best one I’d ever seen!

IMG_9968 becca-garber-fourth-july-2015-coronado-1.jpg IMG_0063 Thanks for sharing your blanket with us, Priscilla!

IMG_0033 IMG_0066 My dear friend Jeanna, fellow military wife and mom.

IMG_0074 IMG_0078 “Peace, ambulance driver!”

becca-garber-fourth-july-2015-coronado-2 IMG_0046 Poor Elliott, always getting his girls’ long hair in his eyes…

IMG_0038 Gil and Caroline… such chums!

IMG_0042 becca-garber-fourth-july-2015-coronado-3 IMG_0055 IMG_0098 becca-garber-fourth-july-2015-coronado-4 Love you, Jeanna! Also, Lena was inspired by the Irish dancers in the parade, and she’s been kicking her heels up and skipping around with her hands on her hips ever since. Maybe it’s time for some dance lessons…?

IMG_9979 That night we walked down to the bay for fireworks, which were spectacular! You can see the kids enjoyed it just a little bit. :)

IMG_9981 And that was all — such a full, thankful day. For all my American readers, what did you do for the 4th? Hope it was a joyous day for you as well!

4 :: in Coronado, family, goals, holidays

All the Happy Christmas Memories


A belated Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, friends! Did you have a wonderful Christmas? I think 2014’s holiday season might have topped the charts for me. We spent two cozy, leisurely weeks in Virginia, first with my family and then with Elliott’s. All the people I love the most all in one place… eating, laughing, giving gifts, sleeping in, talking in pajamas all day long. Let’s do it all again tomorrow!

But since we can’t (le sigh), here are some of the best memories:


Both children fell asleep on my lap on the flight from San Diego to Baltimore. I was so stressed out imagining how everything would go, but every single detail  (food on the plane, attitudes on the plane, entertainment on the plane, you catch my drift) went so much better than I’d anticipated. Maybe that’s what happens when you expect the absolute worst? Elliott rolls his eyes at my pessimism about travel with children, but at least I’m never disappointed!


At my family’s house, Gil and Lena looooooved helping Grammie make peppermint bark, although they got a little sidetracked during the peppermint crushing stage.


Gil and Lena truly believe that “smile for the camera!” means to open their mouth or bite their bottom lip, respectively. We’ll see how long this lasts.


Christmas morning with my family! I gave the grandparents and great-grandparents a photo calendar again, the same simple gift I’ve been giving them for the past three years now.

Also Lena got footie pajamas, which is all she wanted for Christmas.

becca-garber-christmas-2015-virginia-4 Gil didn’t really care about his presents (he preferred the unwrapping process), but he did pause to admire the generous Amazon gift card that did not belong to him.


The next day Em and I got a manicure and a pedicure (and an unsuccessful selfie), and my mom took Lena and Gil for a walk “in the wagon.”


And then we drove all of three miles away to enjoy the Garber family Christmas! Elliott spent most of his childhood Christmases in this house, but this is actually the FIRST Christmas we’ve spent at the Garbers’ since we got married 5 years ago. We’ve been overseas for every one of them until now. This felt like a homecoming in the best of ways.


This year we skipped big gifts and just exchanged stockings, which was a new tradition for me. I loved it! I had the best time picking out little treasures for Gil and Lena and then stuffing them with Elliott into the stockings I’d sewn by hand.


The Garbers’ beautiful dog Mia got her own stocking and her own new toy! Lena, meanwhile, helped everyone unpack and examine their stockings bit by bit…


Afterwards Uncle David told her a story (in her second pair of footie pajamas that she received for Christmas, so I guess she made that request loud and clear). I admired the beautiful contents of my stocking, all given to me by Jess, who knows me very well!


Unfortunately, Jess was pretty sick the whole time we were there. Not sure if Lena’s little visits helped her recovery or not…


On the last day of 2014, we visited the Botanic Garden with Elliott’s parents. I’ve always loved the Garden since we lived within walking distance of it on Capitol Hill as newlyweds. I even have memories of visiting the Garden alone with Lena when she was just a couple weeks old… and she slept through the whole thing snuggled into the Moby wrap on my chest.


The Garbers welcomed in the new year with stories, knitting, games, and “whoops, quick, let’s count down!” at midnight. My kind of party.


We spent some time on Capitol Hill and around D.C., most of it without our kids, and these were gloriously refreshing times for me and Elliott. Some of our happiest memories together come from these few blocks around the Capitol, and we love coming back. The photos above are from Union Market (SO COOL) and a chilly morning eating pretzel bombs and sliders at the delicious Pretzel Bakery where Uncle Jonathan works.


On our last day in D.C., Elliott and I spent the afternoon wandering through the Hirshorn Museum, relaxing at a cafe in Mt Pleasant, and then returning to the church we attended as newlyweds. So refreshing on so many levels.


Two of my favorite things: family loving on my children… and a new knitting project in my lap! I knitted up a storm while I was home, finishing three pairs of gloves and this beautiful scarf (in deep red) for my sister Emily.


And then… time to fly West again. We miss you, Virginia and D.C.! There’s no place like home.

22 :: in DC, family, holidays, home sweet home, life lately

Friendsgiving with California Flair!

becca-garber-balboa-park-botanical-gardens-thanksgiving-2 Happy Cyber Monday!

Just kidding, that’s awful.

Did you host Thanksgiving this year, or did you spend most of the weekend enjoying family, full of turkey, and curled up on a couch in your parents’ wonderful home?

Some dear friends joined us here in San Diego for Thanksgiving, and so we hosted and celebrated with them for four wonderful days. Long-time readers of the blog will remember Lewis and Bekah from our brief life in San Antonio as well as their visit to Sicily last fall. This time they brought their beautiful baby with them, little Moira Sage, and Lena and Gil are in love with her.

Lena had this countdown going on before their arrival:

“Only four more naps till Thanksgiving! One after lunch nap, one after dinner nap, and then one after lunch nap tomorrow and one dinner nap tomorrow, and then Thanksgiving!!! And our friends will be here! Yaaaay!”

I heard her repeat a variation of this at least 10 times a day for the week leading up to Thanksgiving. Meanwhile, I dutifully lugged home stacks of Thanksgiving-related books from the library and read them all to her, explaining over and over about the Pilgrims, the Mayflower, religious freedom, and Squanto planting corn with fish.

But Thanksgiving for Lena is still all about the naps and the friends… and maybe that’s all for the best when you’re three years old. Or any age, actually.

For our Thanksgiving dinner with our friends, Elliott and I brined our 18lb turkey for the first time ever, and it was SO deliciously juicy and flavorful. I also tried a bunch of new recipes, including these Epicurious recipes for stuffing and sweet potatoes and these Style Me Pretty recipes for green bean casserole and gravy and cranberry sauce, but I shot from the hip for mashed potatoes because I’m wild and crazy like that!

The day after Thanksgiving, we headed to the beautiful gardens and art museums of Balboa Park. Being outdoors with good friends is the best way to spend Black Friday, am I right?!

Elliott and Lewis have been friends since their undergrad days at UVA, and now they have amazing careers and wives (both named Becca/Bekah… so weird) and adorable children of their very own. AKA they have lots to be thankful for this Thanksgiving, if I do say so myself.

This monarch butterfly had just crawled out of its chrysalis (on the right of the photo) and was exercising his new wings when we found him.

becca-garber-balboa-park-botanical-gardens-thanksgiving-13 becca-garber-balboa-park-botanical-gardens-thanksgiving-6 becca-garber-balboa-park-botanical-gardens-thanksgiving-5 becca-garber-balboa-park-botanical-gardens-thanksgiving-7 becca-garber-balboa-park-botanical-gardens-thanksgiving-14
Moira gives Gil a back massage?

Poor Gil. Will your pants ever ever stay up?

In an art museum next to the botanical gardens, Lena admired a painting of the Piazza Duomo in Venice, and I told her about when we visited that piazza with her as a baby.

becca-garber-balboa-park-botanical-gardens-thanksgiving-15Can you guess which child is the architect’s daughter?!

Lewis and Bekah treated us to a delicious lunch at Panama 66 in Balboa Park. Every one of us loved their food and the idyllic outdoor setting, and I’ll be dreaming about that fancy-schmanzy tuna melt for a long time.

On the left: “We could be royals…”

And on the right: another points-for-trying family photo shoot. How they all go these days…


I hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving with your loved ones. I am thankful for YOU!

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2 :: in friends, holidays, hospitality, San Diego

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