happy birthday, Everett!

Better late than never (my personal memory keeping mantra). Can I confess something? Memory keeping stresses me the heck out. I have so many goals, so many ideas, so many plans......baby books, photo books, memory boxes. Everything is unfinished; I am always behind.

However. The one thing I have managed to do (albeit late, always) is put together a video of my kids on their birthday. My digital files are half organized, half plopped into a folder called To File, so I figure this way: if my house burns down, I'll still have the best video clips of my kids' childhoods saved in cohesive movies once a year. Thanks, Vimeo.

And with that, happy 4th birthday to my sweet Everett! He brought home a glowing report on his preschool evaluation, and just last week one of his teachers stopped me at drop-off to tell me what a joy it has been to have Everett in her class. I may have shed a tear (hey hormones).

Everett: you are a joy at preschool, you are a joy at home, you are a joy (almost) always. I love the sweet and considerate boy you are turning into, and could not be prouder of how wonderfully you've handled your role as big brother. You make every room brighter, and I pray you never stop saying "hi!" to strangers on the street. Your smile is contagious, and I love watching you interact with the world. I love you forever.

Everett Turns Four from Ashlee Gadd on Vimeo.

Song: And The Birds Sing by Tyrone Wells

happy birthday, Carson!

Carson-1 Carson-4 Carson-5 Carson-6Carson-5Carson-6Carson-7Carson-8Carson-9In keeping with the "second baby" cliche, I am one whole month late on blogging anything for Carson's birthday. We had a sweet, small party, complete with Chipotle and margaritas and no less than 100 tears shed from the birthday boy. Between major separation anxiety and a tooth cutting through, it was not his finest hour. I staged more photos a few days after his birthday because HELLO CUTE BANNER. Turns out, he was willing to oblige with an audience of one. Naturally. Here's a little tribute to the first year.....we love you Carson!

p.s. Everett's first birthday / Artifact Uprising Square PrintsThat Gold Balloon

happy birthday, everett!

Everett, 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.

happy birthday, everett!

01-Northwest-6 02-Northwest-40 03-Everett-38 04-Hiking-14 05-Everett-21 06-Everett-33 07-Apple Hill-12 08-Apple Hill-21 09-Seaside-14 10-Seaside-29 11-Seaside-48 12-Seaside-62 13-Seaside-72 14-Everett-47 15-Everett-50 16-Christmas-40 17-Christmas-70 18-Everett-3 19-Everett-1 20-52 Project-6 21-52 Project-7 22-Everett-4 Where My Heart Resides-9 Everett-1Today, my sweet baby boy turns two. It's an odd and magical thing to watch your child grow up before your very eyes. You find yourself in the middle of a routine that feels so incredibly normal that you can hardly remember what life was like before that routine. Last year at this time, Everett wasn't even walking yet. He was still napping twice a day. He didn't talk. He only had a few teeth.

And now.....just look at him. Look at my boy. He runs everywhere, chats all day long, and greets every stranger with a drawn out "hiiiiiiii" accompanied by his signature smile.

This is us. This is our normal. Cheerios and Curious George and bubbles in the backyard and grilled cheese for dinner. And it was only two years ago that he entered the world, fresh and bright-eyed, his entire seven pound body fitting on my chest in a perfectly curled up heap of baby scent.

It's hard to remember that baby, that time. Everett today feels like the Everett that has always been: curious, sweet, silly, cautious, and full of undeniable joy.

Happy birthday, my dear Everett. You are truly one of the greatest blessings I have ever known, and I love love love being your mom.

twenty-eight.

Birthday Well friends, today I am twenty-eight.

My birthday week has been less than stellar, to be perfectly honest. Last Friday Everett came down with a 102 degree fever and subsequently spent the whole day in my arms. On Saturday we noticed a rash forming around his mouth, and later found huge blisters between his toes. We spent the weekend cooped up in the house trying to make him feel comfortable, but he wasn't eating or sleeping or even playing like his usual self.

On Monday afternoon we took him to the pediatrician to rule out hand-mouth-foot disease. Mother's intuition had me convinced it wasn't that, but Brett wanted to make sure. After an excruciating doctor visit in which Everett cried the entire time, the pediatrician diagnosed him with cold sores. Also see: herpes virus. Also see: gross. She went on and on about how most children are exposed to the virus by age two and how it's a good thing and teaches their bodies how to fight off viruses, blah blah blah.

Whatever, lady. This sucks.

She barely looked at his feet, mostly because he was screaming the entire time, and then casually shrugged her shoulders and said it might be related to the cold sores. Really? Not satisfied, I immediately went home and spent one hour on the internet researching medical websites and parent forums for an explanation before I confidently diagnosed Everett with a case of athlete's foot. Again: gross.

My poor, poor kid. He's been walking around on his heels, hesitant to let his toes touch the floor. Every once in a while he'll look at me and point at his feet and say, "uh-oh" in the saddest voice you've ever heard. Hello, heartbreak. We're leaving him barefoot until everything clears up, which has limited our activities to "play around the house" and "play around the house some more". I would tell you how much television he has watched, but you'd probably be appalled. Let's just say I could kiss PBS on the mouth for saving my life this week.

If that wasn't bad enough, on Tuesday Brett also came down with a fever, which stayed between 101-103 for 24 hours. I spent the whole day at home playing nurse to my two boys: cooking for them, cleaning up after them, getting medicine for them, tending to them. The house was a stage five disaster area. The only thing worse than being home with a sick toddler is being home with a sick toddler and a sick husband.

It's funny and a little bit ironic, because just last week I was thinking about how I've waited my whole life to be twenty-eight.

Ever since I was a little girl, I've wanted to be a grown-up. I spent all of elementary school wishing I was in junior high, and all of junior high wishing I was in high school. When I got to high school, I couldn't wait to graduate, and when I got to college, I couldn't wait to get a job. When Brett and I fell in love, I started waiting to get married, and after our honeymoon, I started waiting to have a baby.

Waiting, waiting, waiting. I could have been a professional wait-er.

None of this is to say that I didn't enjoy those seasons, or moments, or periods of my life. I absolutely positively did. It's just that it almost felt as though all of those stages had an expiration date, or a ticking clock attached to them.

Nothing felt permanent. Everything felt temporary.

I know myself well enough to know that I don't always do well with temporary. I'm a planner, a dreamer, a big picture thinker. Some say the grass is always greener on the other side, and for me, it was always greener in the next phase of life. I couldn't wait for the next season, the next stage, the next wonderful part of my journey to begin.

But here I am today, on my twenty-eighth birthday, and maybe for the first time in my whole life, I am waiting for nothing.

I am married to my best friend, raising the sweetest boy a mother could ever ask for, pursuing a self-made creative career that brings me great joy and fulfillment. This side of heaven I see no greener grass, no next phase, no greater place than this home and this age and this beautiful stretch of time with Brett and Everett.

Today I am surrounded by piles (and I do mean piles) of dishes in the sink, medicine bottles all over the bathroom counter, and two sick people under my care. My house is a mess, my to-do list is full, and I'm really not too bothered by any of it. I wouldn't wish this day away for anything else in the world.

Instead, I am simply grateful---grateful for this day, for these boys, for this less than perfect birthday. I am grateful to be here in this moment where for the first time, I actually want the clock to slow down instead of speed up.

Yes. I've really waited my whole life to be twenty-eight. It's going to be a good year.

everett's birthday party.

Everett's Birthday-3Everett's Birthday-1Everett's Birthday-9Everett's Birthday-5Everett's Birthday-7Everett's Birthday-12Everett's Birthday-8Everett's Birthday-151-e's birthdayEverett's Birthday-17Everett's Birthday-18Everett's Birthday-19Everett's Birthday-20Everett's Birthday-21On Saturday we threw a birthday bash for Ev in my parent's backyard. It wasn't overly simple or overly complicated, but just right for a first birthday, I think. We threw decorations together at the last minute, mostly relying on cute pictures of Ev to make everything a little more festive. We served Chipotle and margaritas and lemonade and cake. 50 people showed up, including nine of Everett's friends under the age of 3. We put out bubbles and chalk and paper airplanes and basketball, and all the kiddos took a turn on Everett's new Batmobile. My dearest friend Lauren happened to be in town from LA and was able to come, which made the day extra special since we don't get to see each other that often. The birthday boy had a blast, and spent almost 30 whole minutes eating his cake. He was so tired by the end of the party and just sat there in a total daze shoving handfuls of frosting into his mouth while I took a dozen pictures. I'm pretty sure there's still a few sprinkles up his nose, but they'll come out eventually, right? ;)

That Everett is one loved kid. And really, how could you not love that sweet cake-covered face?

p.s. Everett's first year, in video / Ev's one year photo book
p.s.s. This post concludes the celebration of Ev's birthday. You won't have to hear me talk about it until next year, I promise.

twenty-six.

So, today is my birthday. I am officially twenty-six. Normally on my birthday I get all self-reflective and do some soul searching and think about everything I've learned the previous year. But today, I feel different. I don't feel like being reflective today. Today, I feel like being present. Time is flying by in a way I didn't know was possible. The due date countdown is all consuming on most days....life is changing, and it's changing fast.

So today, I'm just focusing on today. The JOY of today. After all, it's my birthday! And it's not raining, which is basically a birthday miracle. Today is for breakfast in bed, laziness on the couch, lunch with my sweet friend Lesley, and a romantic dinner with Brett.

As I sit in bed typing this, I can look to my left and see a brand new bassinet, just aching to be slept in. I'm propped up against two pillows, watching the top of my belly twitch with every baby kick, listening to Brett make breakfast downstairs. The morning sun is just barely shining through the blinds illuminating our bedroom, and I can hear birds faintly chirping outside the window.

There is nowhere else I'd rather be than right here, right now, completely and wholeheartedly content in this moment.

Yes, today is for being present, and also for being thankful. I am so, so incredibly thankful for this perfect life growing inside of me. I'm thankful for a supportive husband, loyal friends, and a family who is already spoiling our son.

Life is good.

God is good.

Truly.

Bring it on 26. I'm ready for you.