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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

A Pink Baby Shower for a Dear Friend


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! ;)


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

Why You Should Have Your Friends Over for Dinner

Our studio in D.C.

Our first home in D.C.

When my husband and I first got married, we lived in a 388 sq ft studio in Washington, D.C. That tiny apartment was like a bird’s nest; we were level with blooming magnolias in spring and could see the Capitol Dome out our window.

Despite having just enough room to turn around in, we made a regular habit of hosting friends for dinner. We were young and so happy, and so we opened our doors and borrowed chairs and sat on the bed and drank wine. Acquaintances turned into lifelong friends.

Looking back, those were our greatest hosting days so far in our marriage. I think part of it was innocence; we were too young to care about our Craigslist furniture and too-spicy curries. But I think the other part was time and energy – those were the days before we (and all our friends) had kids and early bedtimes. We had no one to entertain but other young couples and friends, and we had nothing but time.

When we moved to Coronado, we dreamed of having those days again. We have a deck and patio furniture and a grill, and the weather here is perfect 364 days of the year. The scene is set for entertaining. We have so much to offer now, compared to the tiny one-room studio in D.C.

And yet months have gone by, and my husband and I realized recently that we’ve hardly had any friends over to dinner. Traveling for work, bedtime with the kids, visiting extended family, and so on and so forth – all of these things have slowed our good intentions down.

Then we made some new friends in Coronado. We only hung out with them once before we received an invitation to have dinner in their home. It was a delicious meal in their simple two-bedroom apartment on Orange Ave. Our two kids and their two kids ran wild through the three rooms of the house. Our Moscow mules chilled in copper mugs on an IKEA table. Their simple, genuine hospitality warmed us through and through. Our friends continued this spontaneous, generous welcoming, giving freely of their time and food and home, never minding the kids or the space. They offered cheerfully, and we felt at home.

Since then, my husband and I have decided to try to have friends over to dinner three times a month. It’s a lot of work for many reasons, especially because, like us, most our friends have a couple kids under five. During our meal, we all spend just as much time seated as running after our children. Also I am still the kind of disorganized person who does a whole week’s cleaning in the hour before her guests arrive. So far I only have two good go-to recipes that accommodate for allergies and children and work well on the grill. We are not yet practiced hosts.

But I almost don’t want to be. Yes, I want to serve good food and strong wine and have forks and plates at everyone’s place. I want to clean the toilet before they arrive, do some tidying, and have the meal mostly ready. I want my guests to feel special, loved, welcomed.

But I don’t want them to ever feel like they are anywhere but in a home.

When I walk into a friend’s house and see her dust bunnies and dishes in the sink and pile of laundry waiting to be folded, I see a home. I feel connection, comfort, and even relief. She didn’t hide the mess before I came! She didn’t clean for me! Her kids don’t have any clean underwear either! Being welcomed into such a home is a sign of friendship these days. It’s a way of saying, “I am who I am, and I know you will see my real life and love me for it. I trust you.” I want to spend time in homes like that, to have friends like that, to fill my life with honesty like that.

I want our guests to feel that way, too. In some ways, I never want to get so good at hosting that I lose touch with that newlywed bride stirring a pot of made-up stew with her husband, taste testing from the wooden spoon, and then welcoming guests into a one-room home with no embarrassment and so much love.

So I’ll keep sending out dinner invitations. I can’t promise my guests an immaculate house, or quiet children. I can’t even promise them a wine glass, because I break them all and I drink my wine out of juice glasses now. I’m still working on finding good recipes to feed them.

But I do promise them a clean plate and a chair to sit in. I promise them a family and a home. I promise them a heart that wants them there.

Take this bread, this wine, this friendship, and stay awhile.

36 :: in Coronado, family, friends, goals, home sweet home, hospitality, marriage, San Diego, thoughts, visitors

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!

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

Six Kids in San Diego + a Giveaway Winner!

Did you win the Meadow Kids Toys giveaway?

Winner is announced at the bottom of this post!



Sometimes I have twinges of doubt about renting our house in Coronado. We could have downsized more, lived in a small apartment, decided on a two-bedroom with no guestroom. Should we have chosen something smaller? Can I keep it clean? Are we worthy of it?

And then I turn around and — once again — our home is filled to b u r s t i n g with visitors, and I remember that this is exactly what Elliott and I dreamed of, exactly why we chose this house, exactly why we are right here. It is affirming and thrilling to see our friends and family take us so seriously and show up on our doorstep. As I write this, Elliott’s sister Jess is visiting for five weeks, my parents are here for a couple of weeks, and — as soon as they go — Elliott’s brother David is coming for a long weekend.

Anyone else want to come too? ;)


A few weeks ago our dear friends from Sicily came for a week-long visit. Put four adults, six little kids, one cat, and a lot of memories and laughter and good food together and what have you got? A lot of this, that’s what:


It really was laughter and smiles all week, and we had so much fun making memories on new beaches and new neighborhoods. One of our favorite evenings involved lots of tidal pools, hermit crabs, and a beautiful sunset.

becca-garber-arthurs-visit-coronado-9 becca-garber-arthurs-visit-coronado-7

Elliott was completely in his element as a marine life-loving veterinarian.


Hermit crab!

becca-garber-arthurs-visit-coronado-11 becca-garber-arthurs-visit-coronado-1.jpg

Another day we all went to the San Diego Zoo and spent the entire time seeing everything we could:

becca-garber-arthurs-visit-coronado-15 becca-garber-arthurs-visit-coronado-13

Can you count six kids?!


Sweet Baby Eden

becca-garber-arthurs-visit-coronado-2.jpg becca-garber-arthurs-visit-coronado-16

I spy a hippo who needs some dental work.

becca-garber-arthurs-visit-coronado-3 becca-garber-arthurs-visit-coronado-17

On the Arthurs’ last full day in San Diego, we visited the Little Italy Farmers Market and stocked up on Sicilian favorites at a local pasticceria. Unfortunately, the arancini were nothing like the ones we came to love in Sicily, but some of the sweets made up for it! Afterwards the kids explored the splash pad and amazing playground at Waterfront Park:

becca-garber-arthurs-visit-coronado-4 becca-garber-arthurs-visit-coronado-5

And there were more good times, but sometimes the camera stays tucked away for the best of them, like the chatter and spills of two moms making dinner, or the quiet conversations while the kids run wild around us, or the day at the beach with more tidal pools, hermit crabs, and memories.

We’re so glad you came, Josh, Becca, Elise, Caleb, Lucas, and little Eden! You’re welcome to crash here anytime, and we can wait to visit you in St. Louis. We love you guys so much!

And now who’s next? We’d love to host you too!


Once all the entries were carefully tallied (120 total entries) and did its work, the winner of the Meadow Kids Toys giveaway was #76, Sarah. Congrats, Sarah! I’ll send you an email and your toys will be on their way shortly!

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10 :: in friends, hospitality, San Diego, Sicily, visitors

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