On Becca’s Bookshelf // January & February 2016 Edition

Recently Updated8

Here is another series of book reviews, although I am falling farther and farther behind in their timeliness! It’s fascinating to come back to these books months later and remember what stuck with me and affected me.


ALICE’S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND by Lewis Carroll — Stranger than I thought it would be! Still, I appreciated finally reading the book behind so much art, culture, and fantasy. I read this aloud to four-year-old Lena, and I am sure she didn’t retain much of it, so I think we’ll have to read it again in a couple of years. P.S. This is the beautiful edition that we read! Love the illustrations. — 3 stars


BABY CATCHER: CHRONICLES OF A MODERN MIDWIFE by Peggy Vincent — The highly readable, endlessly entertaining account of a midwife who was practicing during the “wild west” of midwifery before a lot of our modern laws came into effect. Made me laugh out loud as well as cry. For those who love birth stories, or even just want to see inside the mind of the assistants/nurses/doctors at childbirth, this is a wonderful read. — 5 stars


CLEANING HOUSE: A MOM’S TWELVE-MONTH EXPERIMENT TO RID HER HOME OF YOUTH ENTITLEMENT by Kay Wills Wyma Easy to read, kind of in the style of Jenn Hatmaker. The author has 4 entitled teens and preteens, so she establishes a year of chores, meal prep, handyman jobs, and other projects around their house and community to teach her kids to take responsibility and learn to be adults. It was inspiring… but harder to put into practice, I know, than to read about it while lying on the couch!  4 stars


THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS by Rebecca Skloot — Everyone loves this book and everyone has read this book, it seems, and I am finally catching up. I enjoyed it, but I guess I felt certain parts could have been explained better, and the book seemed to lose some momentum after the initial retelling of Henrietta’s life. Still, very entertaining and informative. — 4 stars


SUMMERLAND by Elin Hilderbrand — So help me, I love this Nantucket dramas. It’s hard to find a better beach read than Elin’s books, although her characters’ depravity always surprises me. As it’s intended to, I suppose. —  4 stars


FARMER BOY by Laura Ingalls Wilder — I read this one aloud to Lena as well, and she enjoyed it, although it is a little less exciting than some of the other books in the Little House series. As always, the author makes a period of American history come to life in brilliant color. — 5 stars


LIFE AFTER LIFE by Kate Atkinson — This one was a little strange. A young woman lives her life over and over and over again, making different choices each time. It is set in England during the start of WWII, and the author draws the character into many national and international historical events. I didn’t love it, but it does offer excellent writing and a fascinating premise. — 4 stars


BOUNDARIES WITH KIDS by Henry Cloud and John Townsend Full of wisdom, but dense. Best slowly digested over time. The book left me grateful that I was raised with clear boundaries (I knew when to say yes and no, what was right and wrong, and felt in control of my life), and I am inspired to continue to pass on structure, expectations, and the peace that comes from them to my children. That’s the goal, anyway!  4 stars


ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE by Anthony Doerr Finally, after everyone told me I should read it, I really did! And it WAS magnificent. However, the story was slow, a quiet unspooling of history, and didn’t grip me as much as I expected. It’s a book I’d like to return to down the road to read again and fully appreciate.  4 stars


Have you read any of these books? Do you agree or disagree with any of my reviews? I’d love to know what you’re reading this summer!

4 :: in book reviews, good reads, On Becca’s Bookshelf

A Few of My Favorite Baby Things

Favorite Baby Things -- Forest Things have been too quiet around here! I had such grand aspirations to put together a post of photos about “our first month with Forest,” but now he’s 2.5 months old already. Time is flying!

I wrote an email to my dear friend Abi the other night after she asked if I had any registry advice for a third baby. Elliott saw me writing this loooong email and said, “You should share that on your blog!” I decided to take his advice, and I’m hoping this post will inspire me to put together some more photo updates on the blog, but I won’t cross my fingers…

So here are a few of my favorite baby things (notice I do not say “essentials” — because nothing really is). Some of them new items I’ve discovered this time around, but others are tried and true favorites that I’ve used with all three of my babies:

Rock n play — I borrowed one from a friend, actually, and it has been such a lifesaver! It’s basically a lightweight cradle with a vibrating feature, and it keeps the baby snug and cozy and slightly upright, which is great with reflux. I carry it around the house with me for Forest to rest in it or even nap near us. It also keeps him safe and out of the way of eager little hands, and away from our dog, too. Highly recommend it if you don’t have one!

Baby book — Confession: I never had a baby book for the other two kids! So this is a fresh start. It’s so darling!

Stroller bassinet — This is the bassinet feature for the City Select double stroller. This, I thought, would just be a luxury item, but I was tempted to get it since we walk somewhere every day in our small town. I finally bought one after I found someone selling a brand new one for half the original price on Craigslist. It’s ended up being such an amazing piece of equipment! If you walk a lot with your stroller (especially without driving somewhere first), it’s great to just move the baby from his/her crib to the stroller and back again. It’s also great for diaper changes.

Another nice feature: the bassinet detaches from the stroller so you can put the bassinet on a picnic blanket or beach blanket next to you, and it’s a safe, clean space for the baby protected from the sun or wind or cold.

It fits our lifestyle well, but if you mostly drive places, it’s probably not worth it, since you’d rather just put the whole car seat into the stroller with your sleeping baby and go on your way. Something to consider, though!

Skip Hop bag — My old one was in sad shape with ripped pockets, and it was so nice to get a new one. (It was a gift from my mom — thanks, Mom!) I looked at a lot of diaper bags, including this new (and budget-friendly) one from HipCub, the social media-popular Lily Jade bags, and the Kate Spade diaper bag. For the first two, I saw them in person and didn’t like how bulky they were, and also felt underwhelmed by the actual product after seeing all the online hype. For Kate Spade, I didn’t like the pockets and the lack of the cross-body strap.

So, ultimately, I chose this diaper bag. I do love the chic stripes, and the style of the bag works really well for a mom on the go. I love clipping it onto the handle of our stroller and walking with the the kids. All the pockets are so easily accessible, too, and it wipes clean and looks tidy and organized (even if it’s not, haha!).

Mamaroo — Again, this is something I thought would be a luxury item that has ended up being a lifesaver that we use daily. Forest has loved it from Day 1, and it’s the only piece of baby equipment I have in our main living space. Whenever he’s awake and we’re not holding him, he’s in the Mamaroo, gently bouncing or rocking away, and staring up in wonder these days at the dangling toys that he can’t reach or grab yet. I found one for $100 on Craigslist, and I hope to sell it for that much or almost that much, because that is a good deal for the most current model that ordinarily sells for $240 or so.

Little Unicorn Swaddle Blankets — Those are my favorite blankets, the ones I reach for over and over. I have the bison and the hedgehog prints, which are so cute for little boys! All the products by Little Unicorn are so beautiful, and their prices are comparable to or even better than Aden & Anais.SwaddleMe — These are the easiest, quickest swaddle blankets, and they almost always keep my babies contained. I have a few of them and always turn to them. I’ve tried a few other unique kinds (including the Halo swaddle and the Miracle Wrap), and these are my favorites.

Natural rubber pacifiers — I really love these. They are all one piece of rubber, so they don’t get gross fuzz or mold stuck in the cracks like the ones I’ve had in the past. They also are softer, and the natural rubber feels more like a nipple to me. Other similar brands are Ecopiggy and Hevea; they are a comparable price (ie. not cheap, but then you don’t lose them!) and the same style.

Multi-use canopy — This thing has gotten a lot of use already! It’s pretty cheap but I use it almost every day. It covers the car seat and stroller from sun (or strangers’ hands), and also can be used as a nursing cover. I don’t love it as a nursing cover, but it does cover my back if I have to lift my shirt way up to nurse. It’s nice to have as a back-up to my favorite Bebe Au Lait nursing cover.

Nail clippers — I needed a new pair because the ones I was given for Lena were rusty. I really like how this set feels in my hand, and it works very well. Forest’s nails grow so fast, and they get dirty quickly if I don’t keep them short, so I have used this little tool about once a week since he was born. A good investment, and aesthetically pleasing, too.

Solly Baby wrap — I totally forgot to include this in the collage, but it is definitely one of my favorite baby items. The light, stretchy material keeps both baby and parent cooler than the original Moby wrap or the Ergo with the infant insert. I love Solly’s colors and patterns, too! Forest sleeps so well in this wrap, and the material can double as a nursing cover or a blanket on the ground if need be.

Other things we love: California Baby shampoo and soap, these nursing pads, this glass baby bottle, Winter Water Factory rompers, these monthly milestone stickers, this nursing cover, and this amazing book.

And there you have it — way too long and too much detail, as usual. ;) Do you mamas have anything to add to this list? What baby items do you reach for over and over?

6 :: in Forest, gift guide, new baby series, wishlist

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!

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