three years old never looked so fun.

BounceU-1 BounceU-2 BounceU-3 BounceU-8 BounceU-9 BounceU-10 BounceU-11 BounceU-12 BounceU-13 BounceU-14 BounceU-15 BounceU-16 BounceU-17 BounceU-18 BounceU-21 BounceU-22 BounceU-24 BounceU-25 BounceU-26 BounceU-28 BounceU-29 BounceU-30 BounceU-31 BounceU-32 BounceU-33 BounceU-34We skipped the birthday party this year and took two friends to BounceU to slide the day away, followed by lunch at In-N-Out burger because we’re fancy like that. Everett went down the monster slide approximately 84 times and then took a 3.5 hour nap so yeeeeeah, the day was a giant success for everyone.

Until next year…..happy birthday, Ev!

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happy birthday, everett!

Everett-1 Everett-2Everett, I cannot even imagine my life without you.

This is the year you learned to share me with your brother, and you did so willingly, sweetly, generously. I continue to be amazed by your ability to adapt, to change, to go with the flow with a smile on your face. You welcomed Carson with open arms and open mouth kisses, and I couldn’t be prouder of the kind boy you are growing up to be. You are fiercely independent, wildly energetic, and full of joy, which continues to be your best attribute.

You make every room brighter and every day better. You will always be the one who made me a momma, and that makes you very special.

I love you forever, sweet boy.

Everett turns 3 from Ashlee Gadd on Vimeo.

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when love is a relay.

For Brett.

Puerto Vallarta-9

 

We are driving the same drive we have driven hundreds of times, 90+ miles from here to there, mostly freeway, always stop and go traffic through the city of Davis. It is gloomy and cloudy and the skies are every shade of grey, which is not fitting at all, actually.

It is Easter.

Everett starts to whine, and then cry, and in 10 seconds his face turns green and I know exactly what is happening.

“Get off, we need to pull over!” I yell, followed by a more peaceful, “It’s okay buddy, you’re okay, it’s okay, it’s okay.”

Alas, we are too late, and chunks are flying out of his mouth.

Carson is screaming his head off, as he normally does during stop-and-go traffic. Brett flies across three lanes and we get off on the next exit. Farmland and a single gas station. That’ll do.

We pull into a parking spot and it starts to rain (because sometimes life is like a movie).

Brett hops out immediately to tend to Everett and for the first time that day, I realize it is unseasonably cold. The wind howls and rattles the car back and forth, while my husband of seven years wipes vomit off our firstborn.

I un-click my seatbelt and unbuckle Carson, who is still screaming, and, as it turns out, is covered in spit-up himself.

“I don’t suppose we have a change of clothes for Ev?” Brett asks.

“I think there’s a sweater back there somewhere,” I reply.

I console Carson with a two-minute nursing session. Brett stands in the rain, droplets staining his shirt, and changes Everett out of his barf shirt into the spare sweater. Both of them hop into the front seat, across from Carson and I.

And we look at each other and we laugh because there was nothing else to do but laugh. Everett chimes in with a giggle, and Carson smiles. The car rocks ever so slightly with the wave of the wind while raindrops pelt the windshield.

And we sit there, parked at the gas station on Easter Sunday, all four of us huddled in the front seat, limbs crammed together, listening to the rain and trying to ignore the scent of vomit permeating the car.

This is our life.

***

I’ve been thinking about how my marriage has changed since having our second baby. We are more tired, of course. There is more laundry to do, more dishes, more baths to give, less of us to go around. We are in man-to-man defense mode most of the time.

You take this kid, I’ll take that one.
You feed this kid, I’ll feed that one.

There is no break, no time to sit, no time to relax. We are always doing something: feeding kids, changing kids, bathing kids, cleaning up spit-up, cleaning up pee, cleaning up toys, cleaning up yogurt, you get the idea. It’s ironic how much time we spend cleaning, given that our house is a complete disaster on most days.

We split the responsibilities as best we can. We negotiate time away and we negotiate the chores and we try very very hard not to complain.

Do you want to do dishes or bedtime?
Do you want to do baths or laundry?
Do you want to go grocery shopping or watch the kids?

It’s a cycle, and it never stops. We’re two ships passing in the night, half asleep with blue-eyed children in our arms. We’re learning the ins and outs of our own exhaustion, our own debilitating frustration, our own shortcomings as parents. We’re learning to read each other better, to understand the different types of tired, to notice the I-can’t-do-this-anymore looks on each other’s faces.

Right now, parenting feels like a giant relay race with no end in sight. We’re simply running different stretches at different times, but the race never stops. We’re taking turns and running till it hurts, until we need a break, until we’re running so fast we can’t breathe. And then, when we simply can’t go any further, when our knees are about to give out, we tag each other.

Tag. You’re it. 

And then it’s my turn and I’m running and I’m not stopping and I’m pouring the Cheerios and cleaning up the yogurt and breastfeeding and trying not to yell. I’m behind on everything: work, e-mails, gifts, thank you’s, meal planning, laundry, 40 pieces of unopened mail. I’m reading books and doing finger puppets and changing diapers and giving time-outs and I’m going going going with sweat dripping down my face, heart pounding out of my chest, and then it is 6:07pm and my knees are about to give out.

Tag. You’re it. 

And then he’s running and he’s not stopping and he’s wrestling and playing catch and tickling baby feet and giving baths. He’s exhausted from his day, his job, his stress, the overwhelming burden and privilege to provide for a family of four. He’s warming bottles and reading more books and doing dishes and he’s going going going, fire in his lungs, and then it is 8:24pm and his legs are done.

Tag. You’re it. 

And somedays we have barely said anything to each other aside from hi, how was your day, it was fine, how was yours, it was fine, the kids did _____ and it made me laugh and the kids did _____ and it made me angry and I’m so tired, are you tired? When will we not be so tired?

We ignore the piles of mail, the to-do’s that aren’t done, and opt to collapse on the couch instead. He finds the Netflix binge du jour while I set up my breast pump and we watch TV with the familiar sound of milk filling bottles in the background.

We go to bed too late, as always, he sets the alarm and I turn on the oscillating fan, and our bodies melt into the mattress side by side. We rest, for just a moment, before the next stretch of running, which comes only a few hours later at 3:02am. Every single night at 3:02am I get up and start running, because it’s my turn, while he dreams until 6:47am, and then it’s his.

Back and forth, round and round, we’re on the hamster wheel that never stops. We’re learning to love each other in stolen glances, in midnight whispers, in hamstring stretches and water breaks. A lot of the time it feels like we’re parenting separately, running separately, resting separately. I never knew co-parenting could feel this isolated, this exhausting, this lonely in our own house. It feels like we’re running in two different directions with two different kids, doing two different things, only stopping occasionally to check in with each other: are you okay?

We’re seven months in and I still feel like we’re in survival mode, like this is harder than it’s supposed to be and we never have enough help and how is my baby still not sleeping through the night? I think a lot of people would say that the transition from zero kids to one kid was The Hardest but my truth is the opposite—zero to one was a breeze compared to this. And zero to one was not a breeze. I think about all the families with three young kids, and four young kids, and five young kids, and I’m just dumbfounded. How are they not drowning?

I have to believe that this is a phase, that this too shall pass, that pretty soon things will click into place and parenting two young children won’t feel so stressful and chaotic and physically draining. But the truth is: I really miss running together. I miss parenting side by side.

We’ll get back there, eventually, I think.
I hope.

For now, I just need to keep reminding myself: even though we’re not always running at the same time, we’re still running the same race, and we’re on the same team, chasing the same prize, and damn—there’s nobody I’d rather relay with than him.

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the perfect anytime stationery (and a giveaway!)

Rainy Day Colors-1 Rainy Day Colors-2 Rainy Day Colors-3 Rainy Day Colors-4 Rainy Day Colors-6 Rainy Day Colors-7 Rainy Day Colors-8 Rainy Day Colors-11 Rainy Day Colors-12 Rainy Day Colors-14 Rainy Day Colors-15 Rainy Day Colors-16 Rainy Day Colors-17Look. I’m not a crafty mom. To the mommas who can make magic from glitter and glue: I applaud your talent and efforts.

Me? I’m good at other things. I’m good at turning paper towel rolls into race car tunnels. I’m good at tickling. I’m good at making stuffed animals talk. We all have our things.

However. For the sake of toddler-dom and preschool starting in the fall, I am trying to be better at occasionally whipping out crayons and markers and letting Everett go to town doodling and sticker-ing his brains out. We do “art projects” maybe once a week.

Needless to say, anything that makes art time easy is a win in my book. I love these adorable DIY stationery sets because they kill three birds with one stone:

*Art project
*Snail mail
*Support a creative small business

I mean, what else could you ask for in a $10 purchase?

We had a few extra printstagrams lying around, some pretty tape, and bada-bing bada-boom, A WHOLE ART DAY WAS HAD.

It was…..dare I say….fun? Everett is still getting the hang of arts and crafts (no doubt, he has been stunted by my laziness), so it’s a good thing art is subjective. He drew “purple snow” and “circles” and asked me to draw a flower. We practiced his letters. And then I busted out the dinosaur stickers (Mom of the year!).

Everett might not be the best artist, but he is a PRO sticker applier. He is very particular about sticker placement and has been known to apply a sticker, peel that same sticker up, and then reapply it in a more optimal place.

“Dat’s bedder,” he tells me matter-of-factly.

We made cards for Daddy and Grandma and Papa and Mimi and a few of his tiny friends. We said “I love you” and “Thanks for being my friend.” I love blank stationery because you can use it for anything. These cards would be perfect for birthdays, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, friendship, thank you’s, whatever. If I had pretty handwriting (I don’t), I might have stolen a few to decorate myself. I love that the cards are big and blank—there is plenty of room to draw and sticker and paint and whatever else the crafty kids are doing these days.

Trust me when I say: if we can do it, YOU CAN TOO.

Today, Rainy Day Colors is giving away one white set and one kraft set. That’s a total of eight DIY stationery cards! You could do MULTIPLE art projects and be a hero! Enter below for your chance to win!

No time for giveaways? Use promo code kids15 for 15% off your order! THAT IS A STEAL. Happy crafting!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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the second baby.

For Carson.

Carson-22

Carson-23Carson-21Carson-24Carson-25

I’m sitting in bed while you lay next to me, blowing bubbles and giggling at yourself. Occasionally I stop typing to make a funny face at you, and you laugh hysterically. You think I am hilarious, and it does wonders for my confidence these days.

You’re supposed to be napping.

Your brother is with the babysitter, and this is one of two pockets of time I get with you each week, just the two of us. I think you know when he’s not home, and like to protest naps just so you can get more attention from me. You’re pretty smart.

You’re six months old now, and only weigh 12 pounds. Maybe you’re up to 13? I could carry you all day long, it feels like carrying a pillow. Your tiny body fits on my hip, in the crook of my arm, against my chest, in my lap. No matter where I put you, you fit, like an enchanted puzzle piece. I spent my whole pregnancy worrying about how I was going to make room for you. Our life with one kid felt full and busy and consumed, and I wasn’t sure where or how you were going to fit into that space.

And I can’t explain how you fit now.

You just do.

You are the typical second baby. You go with the flow, you watch everyone else, you wait your turn. You have spent so much time in that rockaRoo, just sitting and watching and waiting your turn. A few times a week, I carry you in from the garage in your carseat, plop you down on the kitchen floor, still strapped in, and make lunch for your brother. You just sit there quietly in your carseat, watching me wash raspberries, chewing on your teething keys like you have all the time in the world. You are almost always fed second, changed second, bathed second. Patience is your virtue.

You’re drinking from a bottle now (hallelujah!) and experimenting with solids. I am trying hard to fatten you up, but you remain small and sweet and everyone who meets you says, “He’s so tiny!”

You are tiny. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. Time moves faster with the second baby, so you can stay as small as you want, okay?

You love baths. When you hear the faucet turn on, you start kicking your legs wildly and smiling at me with those big blue eyes. You know what’s coming. As soon as I place your squirmy little body in the bathtub, your face lights up like a Christmas tree. You kick and kick and kick some more, almost as if you’re trying to swim. You love the whole process: the soap, the warm water, the cozy towel, the lavender lotion massage. And to think, I was only bathing you twice a month for a while. I’m trying to be better about that now since I know you love it so much.

I’m trying to do a lot of things better, actually. I’m trying not to be so frustrated when you don’t nap at the same time as your brother. I’m trying to find ways for us all to survive the witching hour without completely losing our minds. I’m trying to close my laptop more often when I can tell you need attention.

I’m trying to make you feel special, to make you feel known. I’m trying to find space in my day to give you all of me, even if it’s just for a few minutes. I really am trying my best, and I hope it’s enough for you, sweet boy.

At the end of the day, I want you to know this:

You are loved. You are wanted.
You belong here, with us, and there is more than enough room for you.

 

Carson-3 Carson-4 Carson-5 Carson-6 Carson-7 Carson-8

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