Our First Week with Forest Everett

Forest Everett birth announcement See Gil’s almost-identical blog birth announcement in this post!

Forest Everett is sleeping next to me now, making those little newborn squeaks and coos that I cannot get enough of. Thanks to the totally self-sacrificial love and care of my mom and Elliott, I have been given ample time to savor these newborn days, nap, relax, and enjoy. I’m grateful for such a peaceful start to life with Forest, especially after our start with Gil was so difficult.

Here are some of my favorite memories from this first week with our third baby!

becca-garber-coronado-forest-everett-first-week-2016-2 We brought Forest home on last Friday morning. I took a moment to to fix the drive in my memory, as I did with Lena and Gil.  All the purple-blossomed jacaranda trees were in bloom, and the water and sky were a brilliant blue as we crossed the bridge. Coronado looked like a green jewel surrounded by a sapphire sea. What a beautiful place to come home to, Forest!

IMG_1990 Leaving the hospital.

becca-garber-coronado-forest-everett-first-week-2016-1 The kids were so excited to see him home at last!

becca-garber-coronado-forest-everett-first-week-2016-3 Gil tried on the outfit he wore so often as a newborn. Doesn’t fit you anymore, big guy.

becca-garber-coronado-forest-everett-first-week-2016-4 Elliott and I took Forest to his first pediatrician appointment on Saturday morning, which he passed with flying colors. I have thanked God over and over this week for his health, ease with nursing, and so-far easy-going nature. I don’t take it for granted now–experience has humbled me!

On the right, my Forest next to a wonderful cookbook my friend loaned me.

becca-garber-coronado-forest-everett-first-week-2016-5 Left: All snuggled up while everyone else went to church. Forest and I listened to a sermon and soaked up the peace and quiet.

Right: FaceTime in two different rooms of the house never ceases to amaze my kids!

becca-garber-coronado-forest-everett-first-week-2016-6 I love every tiny little feature! The beautiful swaddle blanket is from Little Unicorn and the pacifier is from Natursutten, and so far I’m a big fan of both.

becca-garber-coronado-forest-everett-first-week-2016-7 On Sunday night, Elliott and I went out for a sushi date, something I have been dreaming of for a long time. We went out for sushi when Lena was a few days old, too, so I guess it’s kind of a tradition at this point. ;)

becca-garber-coronado-forest-everett-first-week-2016-8 Afterwards we had more time before our older kids would be in bed (thanks, parents!), so we walked along the beach to the famous Hotel Del Coronado and enjoyed a drink at sunset. Little Forest woke up to nurse on the beach but otherwise lounged or slept quietly the whole time. Well done, little guy!

becca-garber-coronado-forest-everett-first-week-2016-9 becca-garber-coronado-forest-everett-first-week-2016-10 One evening my mom took the kids to the park, and so Forest and I sat outside for a long time, snuggling and nursing and playing with each other’s hands. I cannot get enough of this precious newborn stage!

becca-garber-coronado-forest-everett-first-week-2016-11 I guess none of us can. :)

IMG_2333 becca-garber-coronado-forest-everett-first-week-2016-12 On the left, early morning jammie snuggles. On the right, Forest is wrapped in a beautiful blanket that a friend gave me for Lena over five years ago.

IMG_2117 How we roll around here, undies and all. So far Elliott and I are not regretting the purchase of the secondhand Mamaroo that Forest is in. It’s given us quiet evenings to ourselves when he tends to be a little fussy, and that alone has made it worth it so far. We suffered through many, many interrupted evenings with newborn to 3-month-old Gil.

becca-garber-coronado-forest-everett-first-week-2016-13 A familiar position for me on the left, as I tend to nurse my new babies lying down about 50% off the time. They can figure out the right latch without much interference from me, and they often fall asleep for hours after nursing like this. Other moms, do you have some unconventional adaptations like this?

On the right, my beautiful mom with her one-week-old grandson!

IMG_2384 Fresh produce that Elliott and Lena gathered from our EarthBox garden. Two kinds of tomatoes, peas, and lemon cucumbers. No strawberries because those get eaten right off the vine as soon as they’re ripe.

IMG_2422 A multi-tasking Grammie, who I think was talking to Elliott about summer vacation plans at the same time!

IMG_2377 Siena, our Maine Coon cat, joined our family right before Gil was born, and she’s been a nurturer ever since. She still runs over to Gil whenever he cries, or paws at him to help him stop.

becca-garber-coronado-forest-everett-first-week-2016-16 On the left, Forest is sporting a bracelet Lena made for him before he was born. On the right… back to diapers once again, even though we only put away Gil’s nighttime diapers last month. Sigh!

IMG_2457 Forest’s first bath on his one-week birthday, with plenty of assistance from his big sister.

IMG_0817 Little squish!

IMG_2466 How our evenings go these days: snuggles and conversations (and diaper changes).

Below are a series of photos I took on Forest’s one-week “birthday,” taken in chronological order. You’ll see how the order tells a story. ;)

IMG_2453 IMG_2450 IMG_2452 IMG_2454 IMG_2455 IMG_0772 IMG_2456 And that’s it! We love you, little Forest Everett, and you have brought so much joy to our home since you arrived. May it always be so. We are so glad God gave you to us to be part of our family!

4 :: in family, Forest, home sweet home, life lately, motherhood, new baby series, thoughts

On Becca’s Bookshelf // November & December 2015

Once again, this is another post I got ready before Forest arrived! Lots of good books in here. I’d love to know what you thought if you have read some of them as well!

*****

Recently Updated7 So it’s May, and springtime, and but summer is in the breeze… but for a moment, take yourself back to the cozy, holiday-rich evenings of November and December. Is there anything more delightful than curling up with a good book at the end of a long day, or of reading before a fire after a cold walk? (Yes, we get cold walks in southern California, too!) Almost makes me miss those days, so full of good books!

A lot of these books, though, would make amazing summer beach reads, and many of them are still fresh off the press. In fact, the “hold” list at your library might have just died down on a few of them, so you can go pick them up right away without a long wait. Read on for some good book recommendations.

*****

THE REAL THING by Ellen McCarthy — I didn’t expect to enjoy this one so much! It’s a memoir written by The Washington Post’s weddings reporter, and it covers the things she’s learned, some of her favorite anecdotes, a lot of good relationship advice — and the story of how she found her own love of her life. I laughed out loud and learned a lot, too. This would be a wonderful gift for a sister or friend who’s getting married. — 4 stars

*****

A YEAR IN PROVENCE by Peter Mayle Hilarious and beautiful, this is a lovely memoir of an English couple’s first year of life in Provence… with food, fix-it men, and foibles galore. It reminded me so much of our life in Sicily with the stories and cultural expectations, and it took me back to our little yellow house on the cliff for a couple of weeks. — 4 stars

*****

PEOPLE OF THE BOOK by Geraldine Brooks The plot flips back and forth between modern day and past history as the reader slowly learns the story and journey of an old Jewish book through the centuries in Europe. I enjoyed the story, but I didn’t connect with it as deeply as I did with Year of Wonders. Highly recommended for history buffs and book lovers, though. — 3 stars

*****

THE KNOCKOFF by Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza — Similar theme to A Window Opens about being nudged out of your own career due to age and technology, and finding a new place for yourself in tried-and-true yet changing industries. Fun even if you’re not much of a fashionista, and definitely an easy and entertaining read. Doesn’t have much enduring quality, and really far-fetched, but still a satisfying story in the end. — 3 stars

*****

THE LAKE HOUSE by Kate Morton — So good! Couldn’t put it down, and it’s a big novel. The three overlapping mysteries are fascinating and touching, filled with surprises and plot twists. Still not as dazzling as The Secret Keeper, but this is probably my second-favorite of her novels now. — 4 stars

*****

THE GIRL FROM FOREIGN by Sadia Shepherd — The author is the daughter of a white Protestant from Colorado and a Muslim from Pakistan, and then she discovers her beloved grandmother is a descendant of the Bene Israel, a tiny Jewish community shipwrecked in India two thousand years ago. Shaken and inspired, she travels to India to uncover the secrets of her family’s past. I loved the cultural connections, but became bogged down in the details and emotions. Recommended for third culture kids! — 3 stars

*****

CAREER OF EVIL by Robert Galbraith I inhale these novels whenever they come out… and when I couldn’t finish the library’s copy in two days before we left for vacation, I ordered it on Amazon because I couldn’t wait to finish it! This one is violent again, and her first Cormoran Strike novel might still be my favorite, but the brilliant, full-bodied main characters keep me coming back for more no matter what mystery they must solve. — 4 stars

*****

EIGHT HUNDRED GRAPES by Laura Dave — This one seemed so promising: a love story based around a family vineyard. Georgia Ford is used to secrets, but then she discovers her fiance has been keeping a devastating secret from her. Returning to her family’s Sonoma vineyard offers little relief, though, when she learns of all the hidden secrets kept there as well. I was disappointed with the writing style, and I found it hard to connect with the main character herself. — 2 stars

*****

THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ by L. Frank Baum Fascinating to read the true, original story! So much is similar to the movie, but a lot took us by surprise. Lena and I both really enjoyed it. L. Frank Baum wrote much of the Wizard of Oz series in Coronado (“the emerald city”), so it was especially magical to read this book here. — 4 stars

*****

A WINDOW OPENS by Elisabeth Egan — If you enjoyed Where’d You Go, Bernadette?, this is a good one. The main character is Alice Pearce, a mother and part-time editor who decides to take on a full-time job when her husband makes a career change. She lands a job at Scroll, which promises to be the future of reading. When her life and work take several unexpected turns, though, Alice has to make some hard decisions about what she really wants.3 stars

*****

AMERICANAH by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Brilliantly written; it sucked me in from page one. I loved the vivid portrayals of characters in a world that is so foreign to me, and the taste of a culture that is so human and yet so unknown. The characters are not perfect beings, so I was left somewhat disappointed in the end, but perhaps that is how it should be — and, to her credit, I think the author was true to her characters. — 4 stars

*****

Some good, some not so good, but all entertaining. Have you read any of these? Any new book recommendations for this summer, or a new mama with some nursing + reading sessions on her hands?

3 :: in good reads, On Becca’s Bookshelf

A Baby Shower for Our Little Boy

Well, I had this post all ready to go and then went into labor! It’s so special now to look back on this beautiful baby shower and recall all the love these women were already demonstrating to Forest long before he was born. Thank you again, sweet friends.

*****

IMG_2806 Last month, four of my dear friends here in Coronado threw me a baby shower. They totally knocked it out of the park with all the sweet details, fun games, and incredible food. My friend Annelie took gorgeous pictures, and I snapped a few on my phone (all the ones that don’t look as good as hers!). I never want to forget how loved I felt that day, surrounded by some of the precious people who have made Coronado our home.

IMG_1180 Annelie volunteered to take care of food, and she amazed with the delicious spread of pastries, mini sandwiches, salads, and desserts. She is one of the most talented women I’ve ever met — and also one of the most inspiring because she’s always so pumped up to learn new skills and take on new challenges. Makes her an incredible running partner. ;)

IMG_1179 Cuteness began as soon as you walked through the door with the “woodland animals” theme!

IMG_2795 Karinne, Priscilla, and me–all of us preggo and probably talking about birth stories again…

IMG_2776 becca-garber-coronado-baby-shower-2016-1 IMG_2770 IMG_2781 Priscilla covered the decorations, which included some hand-painted onesies I can’t wait to put on this little guy when he arrives.

IMG_2774 IMG_2792 Vanessa and Rachel, caught in the middle of a good story!

IMG_2779 IMG_2793 Callie and Lorina (left and center) are fellow military spouses and members of our church life group, and Erika is my sister-in-law who got to attend the shower while she was in town. Thank you for coming, Erika!

IMG_2780 becca-garber-coronado-baby-shower-2016-2 Jeanna and Heather are two more of my friends who are expecting babies in the fall, Jeanna’s second and Heather’s fourth. Brave and beautiful women!

IMG_2772 Annelie made my favorite dessert: mini pavlovas.  Aren’t they the prettiest little desserts?

IMG_2819 No baby shower is complete without children in utero and out, I don’t think. I think we had five in utero and three babes in arms!

IMG_2814 Precious little Wesley… not so sure of the camera. My heart rejoices every time I see him.

IMG_1186 The winner of each game got to take home a pot of lavender. All the ladies who threw this shower had such good taste!

IMG_2802   becca-garber-coronado-baby-shower-2016-4 On the right, beautiful Kristi, one of the shower hostesses and a military mama/wife extraordinaire.

IMG_2846 Rachel’s diaper cake. Can you believe how pretty it is?! She bought a few things off my registry (Lifefactory glass baby bottle, Avanchy spoons, Lifefactory teethers, Aden & Anais burpy bib) and combined it so beautifully with greenery and flowers and ribbons and much-needed diapers. It’s the prettiest — and most color-coordinated — diaper cake I’ve ever seen!

IMG_2825 Maggie wrapped each gift individually and wrote a note about why she had given me each thing (mostly books with stories she loved)… and then added Sophie for the baby to chew on while I read to my older two! So very thoughtful.

becca-garber-coronado-baby-shower-2016-3 Everyone had to cut a length of ribbon to the size they thought my belly was, and Abby is measuring hers above. Almost everyone overestimated! Is that good or bad?! ;)

IMG_2821 becca-garber-coronado-baby-shower-2016-5 IMG_2844 Not a super flattering picture of me from the side — wink wink — but I had to share one of Annelie. She has an Etsy shop, and for her baby gift she sewed two minky burp clothes, a blanket, and a little doll blanket for Lena, all with the woodland animals theme — and made all that food! Thank you is not enough, Annelie.

becca-garber-coronado-baby-shower-2016-7 IMG_2831 How’d you do on the “gestational age for animals” quiz, Jeanna? No one had a clue how long most of those animals are pregnant! Such an appropriate game for a veterinarian’s wife’s baby shower!

becca-garber-coronado-baby-shower-2016-6 You filled up my heart, all of you! Thank you all for celebrating this little baby boy with me. Can’t wait for Forest Everett to meet you all!

0 :: in friends, life lately, military life, motherhood, new baby series

Welcome to the World, Forest Everett Garber!

IMG_1668 Look who’s here! Our third child was born on Wednesday, May 18, 2016, at 6:38 in the morning. We are praising God for his healthy and speedy arrival.

FullSizeRender 2 I will treasure this picture forever! The joy and thankfulness we all felt in this photo is tangible, don’t you think?

We have had to spend a full two days at the hospital before going home because, for those familiar with labor and delivery, I was GBS positive and didn’t have time to receive the antibiotics before Forest was born. I took the opportunity of these quieter hours to write up a short birth story — because who knows how much time I’ll have for anything once I get home!

becca-garber-welcome-forest-everett-new-baby-1 My due date was May 19, but some ultrasounds had indicated that my due date might actually be May 17. After I fell on a slippery road two weeks ago, though, and no baby came, Elliott was beginning to feel like “the baby will never be born!” and “you might be pregnant forever!” I had such a long to-do list around the house, however, that I was in no rush for our baby to arrive any sooner than he wanted to. In a family poll guessing his due date, I said June 1, which would be exactly one day less than 42 weeks overdue. Maybe I was a little too generous with that estimation…

My mom arrived May 16, and at that point I felt ready to welcome the baby anytime, since she could take care of Lena and Gil at a moment’s notice. I still had some things I wanted to do — attend a final MOPS meeting, freeze a few meals if I had time, get a manicure and pedicure! — but mostly I was just relaxing and ready.

becca-garber-welcome-forest-everett-new-baby-7 The night of May 17, we hosted a large group of friends for dinner that were visiting from India and L.A. Elliott and I went to bed that night feeling tired and ready to sleep, and with no premonitions of what was to come. Elliott didn’t ask me if anything had changed (like he usually did 5xs/day), and I was glad he didn’t because I’d been noticing a lot of Braxton Hicks contractions once I got into bed. Could this be the early stages of labor? I didn’t want to get Elliott’s hopes up!

I woke up around 3am with steady but painless little contractions. When I timed them, they were about three minutes apart and lasting a minute. After about 30 minutes, Elliott woke up, we talked and finally began to gather a few final things to go to the hospital. It seemed early to go, despite the steady contractions, because I wasn’t in any pain.

Unfortunately, when we got up to pack, the contractions seemed to stop. Arg! We were so discouraged. Was this just a tease?

IMG_1806 We got back into bed, and my contractions had slowed down, but now they were getting more painful. Elliott timed them for about 15 minutes while I began to get a little worried that maybe now we’d waited too long. When we got out of bed this time, my teeth were chattering, and I told Elliott, “I think I’m in transition,” or getting very close to pushing. Elliott quickly woke my mom, we threw a few things in the car, and — at 5:20 am — we were on our way!

Within 15 minutes, we walked onto the labor and delivery floor, with Elliott carrying bags and pillows and a giant yoga ball, and me walking in a daze. A nurse brought us into a waiting room and asked us to fill out some admission paperwork, and I grabbed onto a chair during a painful contraction while Elliott said, “I think it’s too late for that.”

becca-garber-welcome-forest-everett-new-baby-3 Sure enough, by the time the nurse got me into a room a minute later and checked me, she had to hit the call bell right away, saying, “She’s complete, complete, and +2 station, ready to push!”

I didn’t have time to talk about my ‘birth plan,’ which it is why it is especially incredible how the next hour unfolded. I wanted to request the midwife on call be in charge of the delivery, and I wanted a quiet birthing experience with just a nurse and a midwife in the room. I didn’t want an epidural or other meds, and I preferred to do things naturally and peacefully at my own pace. My friend and nurse Melissa facilitated a wonderful birth for us and Gil in Sicily, and I was hoping to have something like that for this baby.

becca-garber-welcome-forest-everett-new-baby-2 Anyway, there I was, ready to push within 5 minutes of arriving on the floor. Just then, a woman walked into the room and introduced herself as the midwife, and I recognized her as a friendly, kind woman who’d done our baby’s 9-week ultrasound last October. Together, she and one nurse took over our care, and there was no one else in the room. The midwife, Sarah, asked me what I wanted to do to be comfortable, and she never once asked if I wanted an epidural. She facilitated a comfortable position for me and cheerfully coached me through delivery.

For me, pushing is my least favorite part of labor because I don’t have an urge to push like most women. I just have to tell myself, “OK, here’s a contraction, let’s do this” over and over. Elliott and the midwife were both laughing at my resigned attitude towards the task ahead of me each time I felt a contraction and prepared to push. I wasn’t in much pain, though, and since I didn’t have much choice in the matter, we made steady progress. Within about 30 minutes, Elliott lifted our son up for me to hold!

becca-garber-welcome-forest-everett-new-baby-4 Elliott both got to deliver the baby and cut the cord, and then we were able to take him in. The relief and emotional rush of those first few minutes with our brand new baby are incomparable. Over the next hour, as he snuggled close, skin to skin, and then began to nurse with effortless instinct, I thanked God over and over and over. I had felt anxious towards the end of this pregnancy, but here our baby was — 10 fingers, 10 toes, wonderfully and fearfully made. Thank you, thank you, thank you God!

IMG_1947 Once we settled in our recovery room, the urgent question became, “What shall we name him?” We had thought about many names for a long time, but we kept coming back to both Forest and Everett. In the end, we loved the combination of the two, as well as the strength of the name itself.

We called him Forest because he came into being last August when Elliott and I went on a hiking trip in the High Sierra backcountry of Yosemite. His life began in a forest! We also hope and pray that he will love and care for Creation and its Creator God all the days of his life.

Everett is a family name on my side, and Elliott has also always looked up to and admired C. Everett Koop, former Surgeon General of the United States, who tied together his faith, work, and public service in admirable ways, and who Elliott met when he was a little boy. Mostly, though, I just really like the name Everett!

becca-garber-welcome-forest-everett-new-baby-10 Forest has had some eager little visitors here at the hospital, and watching my parents and our children with him has been so sweet! Lena loves holding him quietly in bed and watching him and asking questions, and Gil meanwhile bounces around him like a rambunctious puppy, digs in his blankets for his feet, his nose or eyes before we can stop him, and overall terrifies us somewhat with his tough love. It’s going to be an exciting adventure when we get home….

I am so SO grateful for my mom. She’s taken incredible, creative, and energetic care of Lena and Gil, meaning that both Elliott and I can stay at the hospital and bond with Forest. The first night in the hospital, Elliott brought me sushi and champagne, and we had a celebratory feast. The second night we both held Forest and ate popcorn and watched Shakespeare in Love. Almost a vacation!

becca-garber-welcome-forest-everett-new-baby-6 These first 48 hours of Forest’s life have been so peaceful and joy-filled, and I wouldn’t trade them for anything. Thank you, thank you, God.

And now, Elliott and Forest, let’s go home and let the wild rumpus start!

22 :: in family, Forest, life lately, motherhood, new baby series, thoughts

A Pink Baby Shower for a Dear Friend

IMG_0678

Aww Karinne — isn’t she so cute?! Making 36 weeks pregnant look amazing!

Karinne moved to Coronado in July, and they visited our church soon after arriving. I recognized a potential friendship and jumped on it. “Hey, I saw you at church and then again on a local Coronado Facebook page! Let’s hang out!”

Pretty soon we were doing just that, and then our families were in the same Tuesday night church Bible study, and then we started our own community group in January at my house. We’ve been so grateful for these wonderful friends and the bond of faith and friendship that brought us together so quickly. They are moving to Sicily this summer (where we moved from two years ago!), and we’ll miss them so much.

IMG_0723 My friends Beth and Callie suggested we throw Karinne a baby shower to celebrate her second baby — a little girl named Adelaide — who is due at the end of this month. Hosting with these two amazing women was so much fun and so easy! I provided the space, we all shared food responsibilities, and Beth custom-ordered the most precious cupcakes.

IMG_0659 IMG_0654 becca-garber-2016-coronado-baby-shower-friend-6 IMG_0653   IMG_0661 IMG_0667 More beautiful friends! Lorina, Hilary, and Beth are all a part of our church community group. If you are in Coronado and looking for a weekly family Bible study, let me know. Our group is open!

IMG_0662 IMG_0675   becca-garber-2016-coronado-baby-shower-friend- IMG_0656 becca-garber-2016-coronado-baby-shower-friend-3 IMG_0692 A little close-up on those adorable cupcakes. Can you believe them?

IMG_0691 IMG_0679 After we ate, we played a couple of games. One was a Name Game, where our friend Lex beat everyone by writing down 26 girl names that began with every letter of the alphabet in just 46 seconds!

The second game is a version of The Price Is Right. I purchased a few baby items (small package of diapers, wipes, pacifiers, etc.) and then each person had to guess how much each item cost. It’s hilarious to see how high or low some people guess — even moms who buy these things all the time! Karinne took all the items home, which helped with some of her practical baby needs, too.

After that we had a time of prayer, which was my favorite part of the day. I had written five verses and prayer prompts on five index cards, and five women around the room prayed for Karinne, her new baby Adelaide, and this time of transition for her family. It was a peaceful, beautiful time, I think even for the guests who don’t necessarily share our faith.

becca-garber-2016-coronado-baby-shower-friend-4 And then Karinne opened presents! I love her joyful facial expressions in all of these.

becca-garber-2016-coronado-baby-shower-friend-5 IMG_0712 And last but not least, a “bump” shot of us two pregnant mamas, due just two weeks apart! If our moms don’t get here in time, will I be calling you to take care of my kids when I go to the hospital, Karinne, or will you be calling me…?

Guess we’ll find out soon! ;)

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12 :: in Coronado, friends, hospitality, new baby series

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