inconvenient.

I somehow made it 2.5 years as a mom without so much as even acknowledging their existence. Scratch that—one time I almost got ran over by a couple of kids in the freezer aisle who came barreling past the frozen meatballs, whizzing by me with a blur of metal.

I’m talking about the Trader Joes tiny shopping carts.

You know the ones. They’re meant for kids to use. I’m not sure for what purpose, to teach children how to steer a cart? To teach them how to grocery shop? To annoy every single other person in the store?

I think Everett noticed them once and inquired innocently, “Momma, what’s dat?”

I responded like I usually do when I simply can’t be bothered with something as inconvenient as tiny shopping carts.

“Those are shopping carts, buddy! Maybe next time.”

He asked if we could buy grapes and that was that. (I am going to miss his toddler attention span when he gets older.)

But I digress.

It was a foggy Wednesday morning and it had been a rough week. When I say rough, I mean there had been an incident involving diarrhea in the car seat. I repeat: Diarrhea. In. The. Car. Seat. We were all a little on edge, we were all tired. We were all sick of potty training and sick of the crummy weather.

We were out of milk and cheese and cereal and even though the idea of grocery shopping with two kids gives me anxiety, I decided to suck it up because I was hungry for cheese and we had nothing better to do. So I packed up the kids and the 84 things required for us to leave the house and off we went.

I don’t know if it was the fog or the Sam Smith song playing on the radio or what, but something came over me in the parking lot.

Today’s going to be the day, I thought to myself.

It’s tiny shopping cart day. (cue dramatic music)

I’ve been thinking a lot about inconvenience lately, and how bothered I am when things are inconvenient. Getting two kids in and out of two car seats every time I need to run a simple errand? Inconvenient. Spending 45 minutes every day playing whack-a-mole to get two kids to go down for a nap at the same time? Inconvenient. Needing to pack 84 things every time we leave the house so we are prepared for things like diarrhea in the car seat? SO VERY INCONVENIENT.

If I’m being totally 100% honest right now, just taking care of two children every day is pretty inconvenient. Don’t get me wrong, my children are miracles and I love them more than life itself but let’s call a spade a spade: everything is harder to do with a toddler and infant in tow.

I don’t always have a great attitude about it. I sigh loudly and I lose my patience often. I hate that about myself, and I’ve been thinking about how I can change (both my perspective and actions).

So on that foggy Wednesday morning, I decided to embrace the inconvenience. I mean, why the heck not? Grocery shopping with two kids is already a ton of work. It’s already going to take twice as long as it would if I was there alone. Why not turn an otherwise boring errand into a grand adventure for at least one of my kids?

As soon as I fished the tiny shopping cart out of the line-up, Everett’s face lit up like a Christmas tree. He felt so grown-up and proud pushing his very own cart up and down the aisles. We stopped at the produce section and I let him pick which color grapes. I started filling his cart with all his favorite snacks: bananas, granola bars, carrot applesauce, cheese sandwich crackers. He trailed right behind me the entire time grinning ear to ear. He almost crashed into two different people, saying “Whoa! Watch out!” each time. I’m sure they appreciated that (good thing he’s cute).

When we went up to the checkout counter, he handed every single thing—one by one—to the cashier, naming each item.

“Yogurt!”

“Pouches!”

“Nanas!”

“Cheesy crackers!”

Bless her heart, she let him empty his whole cart. As soon as it was empty, Everett turned to me and said, “Momma, I put it back.”

He wheeled his cart back over to the line-up and much to my surprise, perfectly shoved it into the other carts, just as he had seen me do dozens of times. The cashier seemed equally impressed, and handed Everett a sheet of stickers.

As we packed everything and everyone back into the car, I asked him if he had a good time grocery shopping.

“Dat was fun, momma! I wanna do it again.”

And you know what? It was fun. It was so fun that for a minute there, I totally forgot it was inconvenient.

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blue apron saves the day (or at least, dinner).

Blue Apron + Where My Heart Resides-8Blue Apron + Where My Heart Resides-1 Blue Apron + Where My Heart Resides-2 Blue Apron + Where My Heart Resides-4 Blue Apron + Where My Heart Resides-6 Blue Apron + Where My Heart Resides-7 Blue Apron + Where My Heart Resides-10

Blue Apron + Where My Heart Resides-12 Blue Apron + Where My Heart Resides-13 Blue Apron + Where My Heart Resides-14 Blue Apron + Where My Heart Resides-15 Blue Apron + Where My Heart Resides-17We were invited to try Blue Apron over the weekend—a meal delivery service that ships ready-to-make meals right to your doorstep. Since meal planning gives me hives, I obviously LOVED the idea. A box full of farm-fresh ingredients, perfectly proportioned with directions for cooking? Sign me up. (Have I mentioned that going to the grocery store with a 2.5 year-old and a 3 month-old is a lot of work? Because it is.)

The process: Everything gets shipped in a refrigerated box, so even if you’re not home, all of the food stays cold. We did the 2-person plan since Everett refuses to eat anything that is a not a granola bar. Our box contained food for three meals based on our no-fish-please dietary preference. I was super impressed with the packaging; everything was labeled and neatly organized. One side of the menu card lists the ingredients, so you know which items go with which recipe. The other side lists directions in easy-to-follow steps (with pictures!).

The food: The best part about Blue Apron is that it introduced us to three new recipes that I otherwise never would have tried. I’m that girl on Pinterest who has pinned 300+ recipes and actually tried about 5. I basically cook the same dinners every single week (spaghetti, stir fry, chicken tacos, meatballs over quinoa, etc). And to be perfectly honest, since having Carson in October, there have been plenty of weeks where our fridge is empty and I’ve resorted to making scrambled eggs and hash browns for dinner. I was so excited to get our Blue Apron box because they did all the hard work for me (meal planning! grocery shopping! perfect proportions!). All I had to do was turn on a podcast and cook. We received recipes for a Mexican-style “Rice” and Beef Casserole, Whole Wheat Linguine, and Chicken Mulligatawny Soup. Everything was SO GOOD. The casserole even fed us twice, once for dinner and then for lunch the next day. Since everything arrives in perfect proportions, no food is ever wasted (imagine that!). You get the opportunity to try new ingredients without investing in whole jars that you’ll only use once or twice.

Things to note: All meals can be prepared in 40 minutes or less, which means you can whip up an amazing Chef-inspired dinner during one episode of Sesame Street (!). Blue Apron is available nationwide, and ships to 80% of the country. Full map here. Shipping is always free and you can cancel or skip the service anytime (life is busy, cheers for no commitments!).

All in all, we absolutely loved this service and look forward to using it again in the future. I looked at some of the other recipes, and now I’ve got my eye on the two-cheese pizza and lemongrass turkey burgers.

Feeling hungry yet? Sign up here and get two free meals off your first order!*

This post was sponsored by Blue Apron. Thank you for supporting the sponsors who help me pay for babysitting so I can write and drink fancy coffee and feel like a sane person once or twice a week. 
*Offer good for the first 50 readers
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back at it.

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The most awkward part about working for yourself is self promotion.

Hey! Look at me! I wrote a blog post! Hey! Look at me! I’m on Huffpo! Hey! Look at me! I took some pretty pictures!

See what I mean?

Awkward as it may be, my current livelihood depends on people caring about what I create.

So hey! Look at me! When I’m not writing, I’m taking pictures!

I was on maternity leave from October 1-December 31st, but now I’m back at it, and at the risk of sounding desperate, my calendar is WIDE OPEN. If you think we’d work well together……we probably would. I’m offering $50 off all sessions booked between now-March 31st while I get back into the swing of things. I shoot all around Sacramento and neighboring cities, and love to travel for a small fee. Want to go to the beach? Let’s go! The forest? Let’s do it! Wanna shoot a totally casual lifestyle session at your house baking cookies with your kids? That’s my favorite. I am 100% up for anything.

To book a session, e-mail me at ashlee.gadd @ gmail.com. You can see more of my work here.

The end.

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five little things on a friday.

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1. I’m back on Coffee + Crumbs this week talking about marriage, co-parenting, and keeping our eyes on the prize. If you’ve ever fought with your spouse about whether or not your kid needs to wear socks to the park (true story!), this post is for you.

2. It is a really amazing and humbling thing to watch your blog post blow up on the internet. My last post went crazy on Huffington Post (177k likes! 27k shares! WHAT.) I am so grateful (and shocked). Thank you for reading, sharing, liking, commenting, etc. I was not expecting that in the slightest and it made for a really encouraging week for my little writer’s heart.

3. I am looking for someone to manage the Coffee + Crumbs instagram account! Is that you? Job entails: logging in twice a week to post our essays, and managing a series of “guest takeovers” behind the scenes. Gig pays in virtual hugs from the entire C+C team and everlasting gratitude from yours truly. If you’re interested, shoot me a quick e-mail with a link to your instagram account and a few sentences about yourself (ashlee.gadd @ gmail.com).

4. Brett and I are kicking off our Year of Dates 2.0 tonight! Have you ever heard of Studio Movie Grill? You can watch a movie WHILE ORDERING DINNER AND COCKTAILS (!!). Tell me I’m not the only person amazed by this. I’m talking chicken nachos. And gourmet popcorn. And burgers. And margaritas. And spiked milkshakes (SPIKED MILKSHAKES). I’ll take one of everything, thankyouverymuch.

5. “Most of us think about love as something that happens to us. We fall. We get crushed. But what I like about this study is how it assumes that love is an action.” – To Fall In Love With Anyone, Do This.

Happy Friday!

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you just had a baby.

To: myself, and anyone else who needs to read this.

Ashlee

You just had a baby.

I know your jeans don’t fit. It sucks. I know you tried on seventeen pairs at Nordstrom Rack last week and almost cried in the dressing room. I know you went to Gap after that and tried on fourteen other pairs and almost cried in that dressing room. I know the only thing you bought that day was a pair of sweatpants and a loose white t-shirt. It’s okay.

You just had a baby.

I know your to-do list is never finished. I know you’re worried about things like savings accounts and college funds and life insurance and making a will. You don’t need to do any of those things today. You’ll do them soon enough.

You just had a baby.

I know you’re trying to balance your dream job (which pays nothing, yet), and your regular job (which pays a little), and trying to figure out how to pay for daycare and how to find a daycare and how to not feel guilty about using a daycare. I know more than anything right now, you want help with your super active toddler who needs to run run run while you need to sit sit sit and breastfeed, again. It’s okay.

You just had a baby.

I know you’re trying to figure out how to cook meals that are not scrambled eggs and how to stop running out of milk at the end of the week and how to get your toddler to poop in the potty. I know you secretly just want 100 hours of babysitting so you can make a baby book and create a meal plan and go to Costco and organize your closet and shave your legs and write overdue thank you cards and clean off your desktop and cut your fingernails and vacuum every room and maybe, just maybe, watch a movie? With popcorn? And milk duds? It’s okay to wish for those things.

You just had a baby.

I know everyone is starting Whole30 and making 25 resolutions and setting goals and choosing One Word for the year. I know you’re eating peanut butter cups in the bathroom and making resolutions you don’t even think you’ll keep and trying to think of One Word that isn’t SURVIVE but it’s the One Word you keep coming back to because damn, this two-kid thing is hard.

I know you’re exhausted. And frustrated. And overwhelmed. And sleep deprived. And thankful. And grateful. And happy. And tired.

You just had a baby.

I know everything feels undone. I know being a grown-up sucks. I know your house is a mess. I know you have writer’s block. I know you feel behind. I know you wish you were superwoman. I know. I know.

But.

You just had a baby.

So, let’s stop pretending like that didn’t just happen.
And let’s give you some grace and permission.

You don’t have to answer every e-mail, every text, or every invitation that comes your way. You don’t have to keep your house clean or make fancy dinners this week or plan your family vacation for the year. You don’t have to take your toddler to the dentist or figure out how to save for college right now.

Let it be.

Eat a bagel. Heck, eat two bagels. Let your baby nap on your chest. Pretend to be a dinosaur with your toddler. Go to Target by yourself and look at all the things. Watch Parenthood and cry a little. Go to brunch with your friends. Rest.

You’re fine.

And when you go to bed tonight thinking of the 63 items left on your to-do list, feeling unaccomplished and disappointed in yourself, I want you to repeat after me.

I. Just. Had. A. Baby.

A baby!

Relax. You’re doing great.

Love,
Me.

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