pregnancy faves, part one

My friend Lauren recently returned a bunch of maternity clothes I had let her borrow, which was funny because a) I didn't remember giving her maternity clothes in the first place, and b) I had a whole other pregnancy in between this clothing loan. Once I sorted through the bag I realized all the clothes were from my pregnancy with Everett, not Carson. 

The best part? Almost all of the items were purchased at Motherhood Maternity, which I believe was one of three maternity stores in 2011. Fast forward to 2018 and Madewell makes maternity jeans now (!). We are living in a different time, folks, and I am here for it. Which brings me to ... I'm sure all of these recommendations will be irrelevant six months from now, but until then, here are some pregnancy faves I'm enjoying:

// Wardrobe //


H&M Mama Skinny Jeans - I thought I'd splurge for the Madewell maternity jeans this time around but truth be told I could not justify the cost for something I'd only wear for a few months (worth noting: if this was my first baby, I 100% would have, because I would have used them for multiple pregnancies). If the Madewell jeans happen to go on super sale in the next month or two I might change my mind, but until then, these H&M skinny jeans are working out just fine. They were super long but I took a pair of scissors to them using this video tutorial and now they hit right at the ankle where I like 'em. // I got the grey ones on sale in the store for $35 and they're still on sale online but most of the sizes are sold out. They have a ton of colors though in all sizes at regular price. I wear a 4 in these; size up one from your normal size!

Old Navy premium full panel rockstar jeans (pictured) - These jeans were $23 on sale over Labor Day and I figured they were worth a try. For the price tag, I give them a full five stars. The butt doesn’t fit as tightly as I’d like it too, but I don’t have a ton of junk in the trunk so that’s probably more indicative of my body type and less the jeans’ fault. // I ordered a 0 short in these and they fit me really well; I’d say these are true to size or even order one size down because they’re stretchy. $40-46

ASOS Maternity Swing Dress - It's still 90+ degrees in Sacramento so I won't be wearing this little number for another month or so but the first time I tried it on, I felt like a million bucks. Very flattering fit, and it's light so you could layer with tights or a cardigan once it gets cooler. // $29

Everlane double V dress - Because it's 90+ degrees, I have lived in this dress all summer long. It's not maternity but fits like a dream, bump or no bump. I have the blue and white stripe version but it also comes in plain black, which would transition nicely into fall (pair with a sweater and mules, done and done). // $24

Everyday maternity leggings by Blanqi - This is a brand I did not know about with previous pregnancies (maybe they're new? not sure!) but once I saw ten people raving about them on Instagram last year, I decided to order a couple of pairs on Black Friday (at 50% off!). They've just been sitting in a drawer since November but I recently pulled them out and holy moly they are phenomenal. I bought the maternity leggings and the postpartum leggings, and, being due in February, this is probably all I'll be wearing from December-March. // $64

Motherhood overalls (pictured) - I had been on the hunt for maternity overalls for weeks and then randomly came across these on Pinterest. Despite the great reviews, I was too nervous to order them online and ended up driving all the way to the mall to try them on in person. FIVE STARS. They're soft and stretchy without being too tight, and hit right at the ankle (no DIY hemming required!). I will be wearing these nonstop the next few months. // $59.98 but I got for $42 via the Labor Day sale!  

// For Acne // 

This acne spot treatment + these acne healing dots - Sigh. Both of these things are stupid expensive but the bottom half of my face looks like a pepperoni pizza and I am desperately trying All The Things. Apple cider vinegar, charcoal bars, tea tree oil—you name it, I have Amazon primed it to my house. My hormones are out of control and it’s the worst. Cheaper versions of the Peace Out acne dots that I also use and like: these ones and these ones. And yes, I have basically purchased every zit patch on the market over the last three months. Brett asked me recently how much money we are spending on acne products each month and I had to remind him I'm growing a human and it's best not to ask questions like that.

// For Skin + Stretch Marks // 

I am a creature of habit and for all three pregnancies have used Palmers Cocoa Butter religiously. When I have two extra minutes to spare, I add a tiny bit of this self-tanner, a few drops of jojoba oil (I buy it from Trader Joe's), and a dollop of this lotion (love the smell, no parabens). I just mix everything into my hand and combine, like my own personal pregnancy potion.  

// For Exercise // 

Robin Long Prenatal Pilates - I have never met Robin in real life, but we’ve been Internet friends for ages and I am a total fan girl of everything she does. These workouts range from 12-32 minutes and target everything from arms and butt to core and pelvic floor. Best part? You never have to leave the house. You can use promo code “coffee” for $15 off if you want to check it out!

This Prenatal Power Yoga workout - Loving this 23-minute power yoga flow. 

Class Pass - I'm still using Class Pass once or twice a week, almost always for yoga but as soon as that gets to be too hard (I practice at a pretty challenging studio), I'm probably going to switch to barre because the classes are shorter (50 min vs. 75 min) and most of the exercises don't even need to be modified. If you're local to Sacramento, I love love love Yoga Shala and Ubarre. 

… that’s it! Fellow pregnant friends: whatcha lovin’ these days?

p.s. I’m also chatting about all things pregnancy with my bump buddy April on today’s episode of The Coffee + Crumbs podcast.

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Ashlee Gadd

Ashlee Gadd is a wife, mother, writer and photographer from Sacramento, California. When she’s not dancing in the kitchen with her two boys, Ashlee loves curling up with a good book, lounging in the sunshine, and making friends on the Internet. She loves writing about everything from motherhood and marriage to friendship and faith.

Back to School

We had the whole summer to prepare, but alas: the first day of school snuck up like it always does. Where did June go? July? Funny how quickly a season can pass by when you spend six weeks in bed trying really hard not to puke.

Anyway. Here we are again! Starting first grade at a brand new school, like it ain't no thing. He eats lunch in a cafeteria now and wasn't he born five minutes ago? What is happening. 


While I have never in my life made a first day of school sign (props to all the moms who are killing it with their letterboards—I mean that), we do take the obligatory first day photo on the porch, and we also have a tradition of drawing hearts on our hands. I stole this idea from Kate Baer a few years ago, and Everett has informed me he'd like to keep this ritual every first day until he doesn't go to school anymore. I asked, "Even in college?" and he said yes, even though he doesn't know what college is. Why yes, son, I'd love to show up at your dorm and draw a heart on your hand for the first day of class. I will also happily bring the "No Girls Allowed Except For Moms" sign you made a few weeks ago. 

This year we drew color coordinated hearts for everyone. Ev knows on the first day of school that anytime he looks at his hand, we're all thinking about him and missing him, too. 


Carson held his hand out in the air for a solid hour, terrified his Sharpie tattoo would rub off if anything touched it. Also: can we please take a moment to appreciate the back view of children being swallowed by gigantic backpacks? Cue lump in throat. 


Truth be told, I did not even read the class supply list until four days before school started. We had been traveling the week prior, and on Sunday night while unpacking my suitcase I realized we did not have a lunch box or ice packs or—hold the phone ... were we supposed to buy anything else? 

Turns out, yes: folders, pens, glue sticks and dry erase markers, just to name a few. Oops. 

But hey! It's 2018, and this is what the Internet is for: fifteen minutes in the Amazon back to school shop, boom, done. School supplies arrived on our doorstep two days later, and nobody broke a sweat. 

Figuring out The Lunch Situation was causing me a great deal of anxiety but I'm happy to report these Easylunchboxes + Ice Packs were recommended to us and have made packing lunches a breeze (well, as breezy as lunch can be with an extremely picky eater).

At Back to School night, the teachers asked us to send the kids to class with a sweat-proof water bottle, which sadly we do not own. The reviews are great for this Camelbak water bottle, but if you have any other suggestions, help a mom out? I need to order one ASAP. Who knows what kind of upheaval his desk papers are experiencing from the water droplets oozing off his current bottle?!

Other back-to-school items we've bought and loved from Amazon: these dry erase pens, these Sharpie pens (equally great for writing and drawing heart tattoos!), glue sticks for the class, Band-Aids for the car (this is the season of finding scraped knees at pickup, no?), this Paw Patrol watch (for recess countdown, obviously), and our most favorite shoes of all time—Natives

Are you already in back-to-school land? Any tips, tricks, products, or favorite traditions to make the first few days easy? Do tell. 

p.s. Speaking of BTS, I loved this.

p.s.s. I cannot believe it's been a whole year since I wrote this

p.s.s.s. I asked Carson to hop in a photo with Ev on his first day of school, and with absolutely zero prompting whatsoever, this is how they got in formation. I love them so much it hurts. 


I do not know where they learned this prom pose but I am 100% here for it and hope they stand like this forever and ever on the first day of school. 

This post was sponsored by Amazon, a company that makes my life as a mom exponentially easier. Thanks for reading!


Ashlee Gadd

Ashlee Gadd is a wife, mother, writer and photographer from Sacramento, California. When she’s not dancing in the kitchen with her two boys, Ashlee loves curling up with a good book, lounging in the sunshine, and making friends on the Internet. She loves writing about everything from motherhood and marriage to friendship and faith.

72 hours in Tahoe

Last week we ran away to Tahoe for a few days. I did not bring a laptop, and it was just as marvelous as it sounds. Also! After not wanting coffee for two whole months, the cooler temps worked some voodoo magic on me and I drank not one, not two, but THREE WHOLE CUPS OF COFFEE (over the span of three days, but still ... I haven't had coffee since May!).

I forgot how much I love to be caffeinated. 

Trip highlights: building sand castles at sunset, swinging with an ocean view, not wearing makeup for two whole days, reading a book in the hot tub, sitting in the hot tub, playing I Spy in the hot tub, eating a chocolate chip cookie in the hot tub, and oh did I mention how much I love hot tubs? 


We also went mini golfing and Everett and I both scored a hole in one. Brett is still not over it. Sorry babe, you'll get em next time! *she says with a condescending pat on the shoulder*

(Look: I'm not good at sports, so when I happen to beat Brett at anything in what is surely an act of pure luck, I have to gloat obsessively for at least 6+ months to keep him humble. He is good at all sports, which I find a tad obnoxious.)


We stayed at the cutest AirBNB which featured the most spectacular staircase my children have ever seen. Forget the hot tub, forget the ski lift chair swing, forget the chalkboard wall in the kitchen; just give them stairs and let them go up and down 400 times and it's the best vacation of their entire lives. 


All in all, we had a wonderful time, and can't wait to go back next year. 


black swimsuit // hat // get $40 off your first AirBNB stay // song in video is "River" by Tow'rs *


Ashlee Gadd

Ashlee Gadd is a wife, mother, writer and photographer from Sacramento, California. When she’s not dancing in the kitchen with her two boys, Ashlee loves curling up with a good book, lounging in the sunshine, and making friends on the Internet. She loves writing about everything from motherhood and marriage to friendship and faith.

Worth It: Glossier Products

First things first, thank you so much for your sweet and generous comments on my last post. I read every single one and cried big fat crocodile tears at the kindness and grace you offered me. From the bottom of my heart: thank you.

Also, in case you missed it: we are having a girl (!). I still can't believe it. I'm sure I will write about her a dozen more times before February, but in the meantime—I'm still recovering from my vulnerability hangover and thought I'd switch things up and re-enter blog land with a totally meaningless post about makeup. Get excited!


Do you ever see people talking about products 24/7 and wonder if they genuinely work? This was me and Glossier. After watching a bunch of ladies rave about their products on Instagram, curiosity got the better of me and I decided to order a few things. 

I'm happy to report: they are worth the hype! I'll admit I am a sucker for good branding, so I was somewhat biased to love Glossier right off the bat. All the products arrive carefully packaged in a pink bubble pouch, which I have already re-used approximately 28 times while traveling. 

Now, on to my favorite products!

< I've linked these all individually but if you click here, you can get 10% off your first purchase! >

Boy Brow — this is the first product I tried and loved. I don't use this every day, but when I do a full face of makeup, this is definitely part of the routine. I love how natural it looks and how easy it is to apply. 

Cloud Paint — this is my number one favorite Glossier product; I use it every day. It's the most natural looking blush I've ever used, and one tube lasts FOREVER. I just put a tiny bit on my fingers and dab on my cheeks, boom, done. I use the beam shade. 

Haloscope — I also use this every day, just a quick swipe on my cheekbones and blend with fingers, done. Some highlighters I've tried in the past have been too bright, but this one is super natural without being obnoxious or glittery. I use the quartz shade. 

Clear lip gloss + Rose Balm Dotcom — I've tried all the lip products that Glossier makes and these two are my favorites. The Balm Dotcom is a step up from chapstick (never leaves my purse), and the gloss is perfect for when you want something a little extra. I have two Generation G lipsticks as well, but find they pair better with the balm or gloss because they're pretty drying on their own. 

and last but certainly not least ...


Glossier You Perfume — the main thing I want to say about this perfume is I get complimented on it all the time. Women in public bathrooms, the flight attendant handing me a bag of pretzels, the sandwich guy at Whole Foods (not kidding, that really happened) — I have never in my life been complimented so much on a perfume. I use it every day, just one spray on my neck, and I never get tired of the scent. If you're the type who likes to try perfume before committing (I am!), if you order anything from Glossier, you can select a perfume sample at checkout. They usually give you a few skincare sample options too but I always get the perfume sample to keep on hand for traveling, my purse, etc. 

Have you tried Glossier? I haven't used many of their skincare products yet, but curious if people like those. 

P.s. This post is not in any way sponsored by Glossier, but if you sign up with my link, I get a small store credit. Thanks in advance for contributing to my little luxury fund. 


Ashlee Gadd

Ashlee Gadd is a wife, mother, writer and photographer from Sacramento, California. When she’s not dancing in the kitchen with her two boys, Ashlee loves curling up with a good book, lounging in the sunshine, and making friends on the Internet. She loves writing about everything from motherhood and marriage to friendship and faith.

The Sway


The day I found out I was having a second boy, I ordered a book off Amazon called How To Choose The Sex of Your Baby.

Yes, you’re understanding that correctly: I started plotting my third pregnancy halfway through my second pregnancy. The book arrived in the mailbox two days later, and I believe my husband’s exact response was, “Really?!”

I am painfully aware of how this looks, and how it sounds.

First, it makes me sound crazy. Worse: it makes me seem ungrateful for the second boy—the velcro baby who lived his first 18 months attached to my hip clutching my shirt and my skin every minute of every day. This is where I feel compelled to tell you how much I love and adore him, how wanted he was and is. This is where I feel the need to tell you that every night I tiptoe into his room before I go to sleep and lean into his bottom bunk, running my fingers across his sweaty head as I kiss his cheek, his nose, his ear.

My two boys are best friends. They live in a perpetual world of dinosaurs and hot wheels, nearly inseparable most of the time. At ages six and almost four, they practically take care of themselves these days, making up their own little races and games in the backyard, pushing each other on the tree swing and sharing popsicles in the grass. I love the way they love each other, and their friendship is one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever experienced as a mother.

I know I don’t have to tell you how much I love my second boy, but here I am telling you once again just for good measure: I love my second boy with every fiber of my being. I cannot imagine our family without him, and I have never once wished he was anything or anyone other than who he is.

Having said all of that, here is another simultaneous truth: my heart still aches for a daughter.

It always has. Perhaps it always will.


I first learned about gender selection strategies from a preacher’s wife of all people—which, to be frank—curbed my conscience. She said the theories, when combined with lots of prayer, seemed to work. (And it did, for them; they had two boys and then a girl). She’s the one who told me about the book I ordered back in 2014 when I was pregnant with my second boy.

In 2017, someone told me about a new and improved method called Babydust, which proclaims a 94% success rate. I ordered the book the day I learned of it.

At a routine OB appointment, I casually mentioned to my doctor that we were ready to start trying for another baby. I asked her if she’d ever heard of gender swaying methods and she gently laughed in my face, stating confidently, “Your chances are 50/50.”

“I know, I know,” I conceded with a chuckle. “But hey, can’t hurt to try to help the odds?”  


And so, it was decided. We would try the Babydust method, coupled with a lot of prayer. I ordered the book, the ovulation sticks, downloaded the app, made paper charts, and texted a small handful of friends specifically asking for prayers for a baby girl.

I prefaced many of those prayer requests with the following disclaimer: “I don’t know if it’s wrong to pray for this.”

In the winter of 2017, I started charting my cycles like a mad scientist, taking my temperature each morning and peeing on sticks every afternoon, meticulously taping them to a sheet of paper with the date and time. Hardly anyone knew I was doing this, only a few close friends. It became my biggest secret, like an undisclosed shopping addiction, only instead of hiding a mountain of credit card debt, I was hiding a mountain of sticks I had peed on.

Each stick displayed various shades of two purple lines. When neatly organized into rows, they created an ombré effect, kind of like a gross urine-based Pinterest project. Examining that ombré effect became my full-time job. I studied those ovulation strips like a meteorologist studies the atmosphere, obsessively searching for any and all patterns.  

I found solace in a Facebook group filled with women doing the exact same thing.

Every other day someone would post a gender reveal with twenty exclamation points, a successful sway!!!! I can’t believe it!!!!! Thank you, Babydust!!!!!!

No doubt, the positive posts filled me with false hope, which only made me question myself more. Is it wrong to do this? Am I playing God? The sensible side of me argued this was no different than tracking ovulation and trying to get pregnant in the first place; it was simply adding a little extra math to the equation. I still felt weird about it at times, praying more than once: Lord, keep my faith in You, not this.

The Facebook group became a car accident I couldn’t turn away from. I poured over the posts, the questions, making mental notes of every stranger’s experience. More than anything, I found camaraderie in the sheer collective desperation of the group. Even though I never wrote a post or commented, it felt like a safe space to exist. Because in spite of my strong desire for a baby girl, there was a much bigger emotion at work: overwhelming guilt.

I have two healthy boys. I’m relatively young, and we’ve never had fertility issues. I’ve never miscarried. What right do I even have to be desperate? I should be on my knees every day in gratitude for what I have, not greedily begging the Lord for a baby girl. I have built my entire career on stories about motherhood—how many have I read about loss, illness, complications and heartbreak? Hundreds? Thousands? Look at everything I have. Miracles abound.

I'm a walking blessed hashtag.

How dare I ask for more? How selfish can I be? I hated myself for wanting this so much. And yet, there I was. Begging God for a specific child and finding secret companionship in a group of total strangers doing the same. All of us equally desperate. All of us equally crazy. I found a surprising amount of comfort in the mutual longing.

After four months of negative tests, Brett finally said one night, “Maybe we should just relax and forget about this whole Babydust thing.”

He said it nonchalantly, with love. I couldn’t believe his nerve.

“I have not been peeing on sticks for six months to give up now,” I snapped back.


“Are you going to try for a girl?”

It’s the first thing people ask when they learn we have two boys and we’re not done having children.

This question doesn’t bother me. I know it bothers some people, but my answer is, quite plain and simple, yes. Yes, we are going to try for a girl. As in literally—I have read and studied and diligently researched a method that will allegedly increase our chances of naturally conceiving one. I have begged God to bless us with a daughter more times than I can count. My prayer journal holds this request dating as far as seven years back. I can trace the actual desire to around age five, when I first started putting pillows under my shirt pretending to be pregnant. Even back then, it was a daughter I dreamed of.

This is the part where I feel the need to remind you again that if we were to have a third boy, he would be loved and wanted beyond measure. He would be the missing puzzle piece, one more best friend for the two precious boys I already have. I feel like a walking contradiction, but both of these statements are true:

  1. I would always regret not trying one more time for a girl.

  2. I would never, ever regret having a third boy.


I am mentally preparing for a third boy. I am already dreaming up his nursery, thinking about his name, wondering if he’ll have blue eyes like Everett or hazel eyes like Carson. I have bins of baby clothes in the garage just waiting to be worn one more time. I can picture our life with a gaggle of boys: I can imagine them all running around the backyard, playing video games, inhaling pasta at the dinner table as teenagers. I can see all three standing taller than me in future family photos.

This thought doesn’t make me sad. I love my boys fiercely, and to be blessed with another one would be nothing but a gift.

My mother-in-law desperately wanted a girl, but had three boys instead. That third boy? I married him. I know God doesn’t make mistakes.

He didn’t make one with Everett.
He didn’t make one with Carson.
And He certainly didn’t make one with this baby, either.


I’m actually the one who started it. One night, while getting ready to go out with a bunch of girlfriends, I casually told the kids I’d be leaving for the evening. They weren’t sad, per se, but to soften the blow I widened my eyes and said, “You know what this means?! It’s BOYS NIGHT.”

Everett grinned, “Boys night?”

I could see the wheels turning.

“Boys night with Daddy!” he jumped up and down, “NO GIRLS ALLOWED!”

And just like that, ‘Boys night’ became a thing around here: fun, silly, sacred. I don’t really know what they do on boys night, but I’m sure it entails staying up past their bedtime. This is really just one example of the world they’ve created without me.

“Gadd Boy Sandwich!” Everett often yells as he and Carson dogpile on top of my husband ten minutes before bedtime.

“Daddy is the bread and I’m the cheese and Carson is the other bread!” he explains as they settle into their grilled-cheese-themed pyramid.

“What about mommy?” Brett grunts from the bottom of the pile.

“Mommy’s not a BOY,” Everett retorts, “This is a Gadd Boy Sandwich!”

“It’s fine,” I sigh, stretching out on the carpet. I feel a twinge of jealousy, not from being excluded from the sandwich, but for not being fully part of their world. They love to wrestle with their dad. They love to do secret handshakes and watch back-to-back episodes of Dude Perfect, a YouTube series of grown men doing stupid stunts that I have tried to get into but just … can’t. They have their boys night and their boys club and their Gadd boy sandwich and their inside jokes.

I am simply a spectator of it all. Outnumbered.

I’ve often wondered what it would be like to add a girl to our mix. I’ve wondered what it would be like to have her and hold her and raise her and teach her everything I know (and am still learning) about being a girl.

I’ve wondered what it would be like to sometimes have Girls Night, no boys allowed.


I thought I’d be eager to order the blood test, but I found myself procrastinating instead, leaving the piece of paper with the phone number on the kitchen counter for five days before finally calling. When I got a text the following day telling me it wasn’t possible to get an appointment on the day I had requested, I waited another three days before calling to reschedule.

This is the first pregnancy I’ve been able to find out the sex of the baby this early, but oddly enough, I wish I had more time to live in the unknown. At this time, I still get to vividly picture both outcomes for our last baby—what if this life, what if that life.

Today is my last day in limbo, in between knowing, where there is still a glimmer of hope that I will ever have a daughter. I’ve never known a more palpable longing in 32 years of life.

Tomorrow I surrender it at the feet of my Father. Tomorrow we will know for sure. I am nervous and excited, anxious and grateful. I will probably cry either way.

And if not, He is still good.


Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;

   you formed me in my mother’s womb.

You know me inside and out,

   you know every bone in my body;

You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,

   how I was sculpted from nothing into something.

Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;

   all the stages of my life were spread out before you,

The days of my life all prepared

   before I’d even lived one day.

Psalm 139, MSG


Ashlee Gadd

Ashlee Gadd is a wife, mother, writer and photographer from Sacramento, California. When she’s not dancing in the kitchen with her two boys, Ashlee loves curling up with a good book, lounging in the sunshine, and making friends on the Internet. She loves writing about everything from motherhood and marriage to friendship and faith.

On Wooden Hangers & Deciding To Get Out Of The Weeds

Before we moved, I considered myself a minimalist.

Perhaps "aspiring minimalist" is more accurate, because I recently read a story about a woman who accumulated exactly one mason jar worth of garbage in an entire year and that will never ever be me.

In all seriousness: it’s easy to assume you don’t have that much stuff when your stuff is neatly organized in drawers and cabinets. But take away the drawers and cabinets and you’re left with ... a lot of things you didn’t realize you had. Nothing makes you face your literal stuff quite like moving into a home with half the storage  of your previous one.

My friend Sarah recently gave me 40 wooden hangers. She listed them on a Facebook resale site (for free!) and I greedily claimed every last one, ecstatic to replace the white plastic in my closet. I’ve wanted wooden hangers for as long as I can remember, but could never justify the expense (if I’m going to spend money on my closet, I’d rather have a new dress, you know?).


The first time I did a capsule wardrobe, I focused on the number: 36 items of clothing, and 9 pairs of shoes. That was 8 items more than the recommended 37, but it was the best I could do at the time (or so I believed). In my defense, I was also breastfeeding and regularly covered in spit-up, so it seemed fair that I’d receive a few extras to save on laundry.

That was three years ago, and I've kept a capsule wardrobe ever since.

As time progressed, I fell more and more in love with the overall concept and practice of maintaining a capsule wardrobe but less in love with the idea of keeping to a rigid number. Math aside, I know when my closet feels too full, and I know when it feels too scarce. However—having exactly 40 wooden hangers makes it easy to re-commit to an exact number, which is where I find myself this summer. 

A couple months ago I was lamenting to a friend how full life has felt lately. Full of good things, I should mention, but full nonetheless. I've been trying to find a better work-life balance, or perhaps just a work-life balance, and she offered a kind word of encouragement: 

"Sometimes getting out of the weeds is as simple as deciding to get out of the weeds."

Right there on the spot I promised myself that this summer, I would decide to get out of the weeds.

For me, my closet is a good place to start. Keeping a tightly edited wardrobe is less about the clothing and more about the gift of limited options. It's about less decisions, and more brain space. Less chaos, more beauty. Less clutter, more room. 

Here's to the right kind of less.
Here's to the right kind of more. 


1 Comment

Ashlee Gadd

Ashlee Gadd is a wife, mother, writer and photographer from Sacramento, California. When she’s not dancing in the kitchen with her two boys, Ashlee loves curling up with a good book, lounging in the sunshine, and making friends on the Internet. She loves writing about everything from motherhood and marriage to friendship and faith.

friday stream of consciousness


How’s this for original: it’s Friday, and I am tired.

I work too much. It’s wired into my personality, according to the Enneagram. Type 3’s are achievers and obsessed with performance. Do you know how exhausting it is to perform 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year? I know what you’re thinking: Ashlee, you don’t perform in your sleep, but you’re wrong because I fall asleep thinking about all the work I need to do the following day, the e-mails I need to respond to, the boxes I need to check off my list. Even in my dreams, I am hustling. It’s disgusting.

“There’s an ant on the fwoor,” Carson informs me while I type this.

He’s concerned it’s going to crawl on his puzzle. I don’t know why there are so many ants in this house. There are at least five or six in every room at any given time. Sometimes I vacuum them up. Sometimes I spray Raid, which the pros have repeatedly told me not to do. I don’t care. It works.

He’s smooshing the ant with his foot now, which is just what I need: dead ants on the bottom of toddler socks in the washing machine. Perfect.

Carson’s preschool sent an evaluation home yesterday, sort of like a report card for three-year-olds. It named him a “good listener” which gave me a good laugh. He is actually a terrible listener, one of the worst listeners I know. He has his moments, though. Last night we got frozen yogurt and he called his marshmallows mushrooms. I typed that into a note in my phone because I didn’t want to forget to write it in his journal.

I have a journal for both kids that I haven’t written in this year. I don’t even know where they are, probably in a box somewhere. Our garage is full of boxes. Our front bedroom is also full of boxes—you cannot even walk in there. I have no idea when we’ll unpack them. We need to organize the closet first but there’s wallpaper in the closet and the thought of stripping that makes me want to cry. The bathroom wallpaper nearly did me in. I can still smell the glue. My arms hurt just thinking about it.

I wish I knew where those journals were. I always write the kids a letter on their birthday and Everett’s 6th birthday has come and gone without a letter. I always make them a birthday video, too, but I didn’t do that either. I always make them a photo book, but I didn’t do that either. At any given time, I can give you a list of 42 things I haven’t done. He had a good birthday, with cake and friends and a bounce house in the backyard. But all I think about is the unwritten letter, the unpublished photo book, and the unfinished birthday video. It’s wired into my personality, according to the Enneagram.

I’m reading The Road Back To You and in the chapter about Threes, it says, “Threes grow up believing the world only values people for what they do rather than who they are.”

I did grow up believing that. It’s hard to unlearn things at age 32.

My heart is racing this morning. I’ve had too much coffee. Two cups in forty minutes to be exact. I didn’t need the second cup, but I drank it for comfort. I ate the banana bread for comfort, too. It’s Friday and I’m not supposed to work on Fridays. On Fridays I am supposed to allow myself two cups of coffee and a slice of banana bread and a Netflix show and an hour of reading in the backyard.

I’m not supposed to work on Fridays.

I have worked every Friday since February.

Running your own business feels like a trap sometimes. I don’t know how else to explain the dichotomy of having the ultimate freedom in your work and also feeling enslaved by it at the same time.

It’s been more than four years since I’ve taken a break. I remember the day after I had Carson, I sat in my hospital bed editing an essay. The worst part of that is: I didn’t think it was weird. I had a one-day-old baby in a rollaway crib next to me while I typed, my body still bleeding. I did not take a maternity leave. Last summer my husband and I traveled to Nicaragua for our ten-year wedding anniversary and I still checked e-mail twice a day. Not because I thought anything urgent would come through one of the four inboxes, but more so because I didn’t want to have to play catch-up when I got home.

I recently calculated how many hours I work each month and how much I pay myself.

I make $4 an hour.

I’ve never been in this for the money but now that we have a mortgage and ants and a broken lawnmower and an oven that burns everything I put in it, I’ve been thinking more about the fact that I make $4 an hour.

I’ve been thinking more about the push and pull, the tension to grow grow grow and slow slow slow. My Threeness tells me to kick it up a notch, that I’m right on the brink of making it, and by making it I mean paying myself more than $4 an hour. My enlightened Threeness tells me to par down, to simplify, to stop killing myself, to believe I am loved for who I am and not for what I produce.

Here’s a confession: sometimes I feel like the world’s biggest hypocrite for running an online community for mothers while ignoring my children to do it.

Here’s another confession: I started this work because I loved to write and I never write anymore.

Running the business of writing about motherhood takes up 90% of my creative time and energy. If I am lucky, I can muster up writing in the 10% that is left over.

I often feel bitter about that.

I want to write more here, on my personal blog, but who has the time? I have a stack of seven books on my nightstand begging to be read. Good writers are good readers. I believe this. I am no longer a good reader so I am no longer a good writer. Maybe I never was one to begin with. I'm pretty sure you're not supposed to end a sentence with the word with. There I go again.

Here's another confession: I let Carson play on the iPad for thirty minutes and kill ants with his feet so I could write this.

Writing this did not feel like work, which is good because I am not supposed to work on Fridays.

We all need to hear we are loved for who we are, but Threes need to hear it until the day comes when they look in the mirror and see not an image so much as the reflection of a son or daughter of God. The healing message for Threes is “You are loved just for who you are.” Angels sing when this message penetrates a Three’s heart.

- The Road Back To You


Ashlee Gadd

Ashlee Gadd is a wife, mother, writer and photographer from Sacramento, California. When she’s not dancing in the kitchen with her two boys, Ashlee loves curling up with a good book, lounging in the sunshine, and making friends on the Internet. She loves writing about everything from motherhood and marriage to friendship and faith.



Remember that one time I wrote about an ugly ceiling fan and the importance of loving where you are?

Well. I still stand by that. But there's been a new development. 

You see, seven days after I wrote about the ugly ceiling fan, our landlord raised the rent. It was almost ... eerie? Ironic? If I didn't know better, I'd think he was retaliating. (He wasn't.) The truth is: our rent was a steal. We've lived here for almost four years—of course it was time to raise the rent. 

Brett and I looked at each other after reading the e-mail and gave each other one of those are-you-thinking-what-I'm-thinking? looks. 

Three days later, our realtor (who up until this point, was simply on standby) sent us a house listing. We saw it the following day, made an offer the day after that, and our offer was accepted 24 hours later. 

To recap: 

January 31: published this post
February 7: landlord raised rent
February 10: realtor sent us a listing
February 11: we saw the house in person
February 12: we made an offer
February 13: our offer was accepted
March 2: we closed escrow

We have not stopped moving since February 10th. For the past two months we've been scrambling to sign papers, meet with inspectors and electricians and roof repairers, make hundreds of decisions (big and small), second guess everything we're doing, pack boxes, pick out paint colors, the list goes on and on. We bought a fixer-upper and let me just say—it's not as effortless as Joanna Gaines would have you believe. 

I actually find it quite easy to walk through a house and think, "This has potential!" Making the 'potential' a reality, on the other hand, is a whole different world. We are bleeding money. Every time we walk through the house, we notice something else that needs to be fixed or replaced. The work is never-ending. We could work on this house for 10 years and deplete every cent in our back account and there would still be something to fix. 

Which brings me back to the ugly ceiling fan! We're coming full circle here. 

This new house has a proverbial ugly ceiling fan of its own. Let me tell you about our pink bathroom! If I may paint you a picture: the tile is pink, the tub is brown, and the toilet is grey. Is it dreadful in your mind? Good. Go deeper. Add ugly wallpaper. Remove all natural light. Is it horrible? You bet.

It's going to be a while before we can afford to update the pink bathroom. Sometimes I envision hosting parties in our new house, and I think about how I am going to apologize for that bathroom. (I know this is ridiculous; I can't help myself.) Related: stay tuned folks, I might be coming out of photography retirement soon. 

Anyway. As I wrote last time around:

This story isn’t about the pink bathroom.

It’s about fully embracing where you are—right here, right now, in this place—and believing that you can find holy and sacred and extraordinary goodness even in the most temporary of circumstances.

Those words held truth with our rental house, and they hold true with all the work we're doing on our fixer-upper. Patience and gratitude and contentment go a long, long way when you're attempting to turn an old, dirty, broken house into something beautiful.

We're on our way. We can't wait to move in. 


(This is the room that sold me.)

We move tomorrow, and while we are crazy excited, I'd be lying if I said it didn't feel bittersweet leaving this house. I have so many memories here: bringing Carson home from the hospital, signing a book deal at the kitchen table, watching Everett ride a bike for the first time in the front yard. I could list 100 more, easily.

Before we pulled art off the walls and packed everything in boxes, I asked my friend Lee to snap some pictures of us here. We may not have paid the mortgage, but this place was always home. 

Thank you Lee. I will treasure these forever. 


Ashlee Gadd

Ashlee Gadd is a wife, mother, writer and photographer from Sacramento, California. When she’s not dancing in the kitchen with her two boys, Ashlee loves curling up with a good book, lounging in the sunshine, and making friends on the Internet. She loves writing about everything from motherhood and marriage to friendship and faith.