Archive | Lena

Lena’s first bite of sushi + some life updates


Driving back from Chincoteague a few weeks ago, we had a couple of miserable children and some rumbling tummies, and so we decided to make a pit stop in Annapolis.  We ended up eating sushi at the same place where Elliott and I ate years ago as newlyweds.  Lena had her first sushi dinner that night!  She went nuts over the edamame (a weekly side dish in our house), but the crab sushi… she wasn’t so sure.  (I thought crab might help after it was a huge hit on the Eastern Shore, but… no siree.)  Oh well, Elliott and I didn’t waste any time fussing over her lukewarm appreciation.  We gobbled the rest of that sushi down like we hadn’t had any in a year.  Which, come to think of it, we hadn’t.

This past weekend we were thrilled to have our beloved friends Lewis and Bekah visiting us from San Antonio.  I felt like someone needed to pinch me the whole time they were here.  Friends!  Married friends!  From far away!  In our house!  We stayed up past midnight talking every night, played Settlers of Catan late into the night, and got to visit some of our favorite places in Sicily (Taormina) as well as explore something new (the Catania antique market) with them while they were here.

And one night they sent us out on a date… any guesses where we went?  To eat sushi!  We tried a new place called SushiLive right in the heart of Catania, and I am a fan.  I am currently figuring out how I can get back there as soon as possible.  (Hey, when you’ve been pregnant and/or sushi-less for a great portion of the last three years, you take it when you can get it!)

Anyway, besides eating sushi and enjoying visitors, life has been peaceful around here since the kids and I got home last week.  We are in a sweet season of our lives with two relatively easy little ones (9 months and 2.5 are fun ages!) and only about 9 months left in Sicily before our assignment is over in July.  Elliott and I are both feeling the pressure of the countdown as we try to decide what to do next (more of Elliott’s thoughts in this great blog post) and also make lists of things to do, places to visit, and significant Italian purchases to make before we move.

Awhile ago, Elliott and I chose three places we’d like to visit in Europe before we leave, with the idea that we might only see one or we might see all three.  Ours are Greece, Ireland, and Norway.  (Personally, I’m also dreaming of a getaway to Paris for a weekend with just Elliott!)  Have you been to any of those places?  If you could go anywhere in Europe, where would you go?

8 :: in Lena, life lately

Lena’s first haircut!


As it’s now been over a year and a half (!) since Lena last had an at-home trim, I thought it might be a good idea to get her hair cut while we were still here in Virginia.  (This is what she looked like after her last hair trim.)  I wanted to get it cut to her shoulders, but Elliott vetoed that!  Anyone else have a husband and/or dad who loves long hair on his girl(s)?

Anyway, I took Lena to a little shop that just opened near my parents’ house.  I didn’t tell Lena too much about it beforehand, and I was worried that she’d freak out when someone else cut off her hair or would act out to the brushing/combing.  She hates it when I brush her hair!  (Mom tip: brush and fix your daughter’s hair while she’s eating breakfast.  She’ll be sitting still for at least three minutes.)



Thankfully, she did really well, and mostly sat in awed silence.  I was so glad for that.  I don’t know how I would have handled a meltdown in the middle of the beauty parlor.  Everything must have been so new and amazing, and the haircut probably felt relatively relaxing.  She particularly enjoyed the finale…


… and now is totally into hair dryers!


The hairdresser took me very seriously and only cut off about an inch.  I thought “an inch” would be “oops, two inches!”  But it wasn’t, which I guess says good things about Great Clips, but means Lena’s hair is still long.  Oh well, I guess winter is coming.


She looked so purty.  Off to get a frozen yogurt treat with her Grampa Garber!

11 :: in Lena, Virginia

a birthday party at the playground


This past Saturday we celebrated Lena’s 2nd birthday with some friends at a playground on base.  I opted for the free entertainment — slides and jungle gyms galore — over hosting in my own house.   Definitely a simpler plan during this busy season in our lives!  Everyone had a lovely time, I think, and we enjoyed celebrating with some of our friends here in Sicily.

becca-garber-party-balloons-collage becca-garber-party-jungle-gym

^^^ Elliott and Josh had so much fun with all the kids on the ‘spiderweb.’  At one point Josh climbed all the way to the top and then started jumping up and down to shake the whole web and bounce the kids around.  “There he is,” my friend Becca said with a sigh as she watched her husband.  “Your friendly pediatrician, bringing himself business.”

becca-garber-party-playground becca-garber-party-picnic

Time to eat!  The photo below was taken after the meal, but yummy remnants still remain of pasta salad, cut veggies, blood orange salad, zucchini muffins, Sun Chips, and PB & J sandwiches.


becca-garber-party-military base


For Lena’s birthday cake, I used this Barefoot Contessa recipe and will definitely be making it again.  I included nuts and raisins, which I knew might not be a big hit with the kids.  This was Lena’s birthday cake, though, and she loves nuts and raisins, so nuts and raisins she did have!


^^^ So pleased when she realized everyone was singing Happy Birthday to her.


After all these eager beavers ate some cake, we opened presents.  It was like a tornado on the picnic blanket!  Every child wanted to help Lena open everything.  Can you find Lena in all this craziness?



Elliott helped the kids play with Lena’s new bubble blowing set…more colorful chaos ensued.




^^^ Blowing bubbles is harder than it looks!

We had so much fun with everyone!  Sadly, this might have been the last time that this group of our friends will be together, as four of the five families are moving back to the States this summer.  Such is military life.  Thank you, dear friends, for coming and loving on our little two-year-old!

10 :: in friends, Lena

happy 2nd birthday, baby girl!


Our little Lena turned two yesterday.  Where have these two years gone?!  She isn’t a baby anymore; instead she’s a chatting, giggling, darling little girl.  Although watching any of your children (particularly your firstborn, I assume) grow up is bittersweet, it is true that somehow I come to love her more every day. I never knew my heart had such a capacity for love until I met Elliott and then Lena and then Gil.

Last year around this time I followed Lena around with a camera one morning while she played.  The pictures I captured of her are some of my favorites of her.  I decided to do the same thing on her birthday this year.  Here she is, our little two-year-old!

becca-garber-birthday-tea set

She loves her new tea set from Grammie and Poppy!  We probably had 10 different tea parties yesterday.


When Gil gets his diaper changed, Lena likes to use a little of the Vaseline on her face.  Hmm… before I know it she’ll be asking for blush and lipstick!



Above: “Mama…. Gil… arm… eating!”  Make that the first time Gil tickled his sister.  The first of many times, I imagine.

Below: Lena enjoys a birthday video message from her Aunt Eden.  Thanks to all the family members who sent them yesterday!  Lena looked up at me with this huge grin on her face at least once during every one of them.  becca-garber-birthday-videos becca-garber-birthday-sicily

Above: Lena points and says, “Cows… dere!”  Often there are cows in the valley below our house; one of her favorite things in the world is to walk down with her daddy to see them up close.




becca-garber-birthday-wooden-puzzle becca-garber-birthday-collage

Above right: Lena gives one of the teddy bears in her puzzle a kiss because he has a sad face.  “Kiss… butter.”  I’m sure he feels better after a kiss from you, Lena!


I love you, my precious little Lena, and I am so thankful that I am your mama.  Your daddy and I pray every day that God would give us courage, patience, and wisdom as we raise you, that you might never know a day apart from Him.



30 :: in Lena

a trip to IKEA with Grammie


My mom, my kids*, and I took a trip to IKEA while she was visiting. I thought I only needed storage bins, but… well, you know how trips to IKEA go. What with lunch in the cafeteria, the kids’ section, the obligatory ice cream cone pick-me-up, and all our own shopping, we somehow spent four and a half hours inside the store. With two kids under two!

We got some sign that we had overstayed our welcome when — in our last 15 minutes at IKEA — a number of things happened:

  • As I attempted to swipe my credit card at check out, Gil emptied the entire contents of his stomach all over me. We’re talking rivers of milk.
  • Lena, bored of waiting for me to mop up myself and Gil after this episode, charged into the men’s bathroom and giggled at our attempts to coax her out.
  • I loaded Lena into the car and said, “Does something smell like dog poo?” and then looked down to find Lena had be stomping in a pile of it and the whole mess was now all over her shoes, my pants, and—worst of all—the back seat of the car.
  • It started raining.

But of course there are no pictures of these unforgettable memories. I only managed to take pictures of all the happy times, and that’s what I really want to remember anyway, right?!










* “My kids.” I have kids, plural! Elliott and I still smile every time we say it. Geez Louise, life is crazy.

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12 :: in family, Lena, memories

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