1. Crazy Pirate Wednesday: 7/29/15

    July 29, 2015 by Jennifer Carsen



  2. Crazy Baby Wednesday: 7/22/15

    July 22, 2015 by Jennifer Carsen

    Fun with Post-Its. (Fun for some, anyway.)

    Lorelei, Daddy, and the Post-Its


  3. Crazy Baby Wednesday: 7/15/15

    July 15, 2015 by Jennifer Carsen

    Camping, Lorelei style.

    Lorelei camping



  4. Book Review and Giveaway: Oh Crap! Potty Training

    July 9, 2015 by Jennifer Carsen

    Oh Crap Potty Training by Jamie Glowacki

    Nicholas turns 3 at the end of August. In recent months, it had grown increasingly clear to me that he was decidedly not one of those kids who would just spontaneously start noticing – and using – the potty on his own.

    I truly believe that, left to his own devices, he would have been more than happy to avail himself of the “go anywhere, anytime” convenience of diapers well into middle school.

    So it was through a great stroke of luck that I went to Amazon.com and discovered that a fun-looking book called Oh Crap! Potty Training: Everything Modern Parents Need to Know to Do It Once and Do It Right was scheduled for release the very next day – written by one Jamie Glowacki, the self-styled “Pied Piper of Poop.” This seemed like a program I could get behind.

    Let me cut to the chase and say that, in my opinion, Jamie is a rock star – smart, funny, and knows her stuff.

    Her premise is that your job is to move your child’s awareness from “clueless” to “I peed” to “I’m peeing” to “I have to go pee,” and the book is structured around making this happen in a logical, progressive fashion. She’s laid-back and non-judgmental, but she pulls no punches:

    In my experience, ‘waiting till they are ready’ leads to disasters…Once a child is three, he is well into the process of individualization, which is the process by which he begins to realize he is his own person and has his own free will and can make his own choices. Hmmm. What do you suppose will happen if he decides he doesn’t want to use the potty and that the diaper is working just fine for him? I’ll tell you what will happen: you’ll have a drama-filled disaster. It’s really hard to potty train children over three. They have free will, and they know how to use it.

    Rather than asking, “Is my child ready?” Jamie suggests asking, “Is my child capable of learning this right now?” This tends to happen younger than you might think – potty training is easiest, she says, when it’s done between the ages of twenty and thirty months.

    With Nicholas, in other words, it was well past time to get cracking.

    Her program is pretty much the polar opposite of the “your kid will eventually notice the potty” school of thought. Instead, you pick a start day and ditch the diapers altogether. That’s right – no diapers, no pull-ups, no net. (“Pull-ups are diapers, plain and simple. I have no use for them. They prolong potty training indefinitely,” Jamie notes.)

    But won’t my kid just be peeing all over the place? Yep. That’s why, for that first day, your job is to be on your kid “like white on rice,” as Jamie puts it, and place him or her on the potty whenever you see the pee emerge. This is also why your kid is naked that whole first day – I strongly recommend a summer start date if you live in a cold climate.

    Her program is not for the faint of heart – it requires a full-on commitment to almost nothing but potty training for a few days in a row, followed by consistency and patience for the next several days following.

    But it works. Less than three weeks after that first naked start day (which made my life resemble a Marx Brothers movie even more than it normally does), Nicholas is pretty much fully potty trained now – and is sleeping through the night with no diapers. We still have some lingering poop issues, but those are getting better every day – and Jamie has a whole chapter devoted to those very conundrums.

    From clueless to diaper-free in less than a month is incredible to me, in so many ways. “You are going to be amazed at your kid’s self-pride,” Jamie says. “You are going to be blown away by what she is capable of. Seriously…this is going to rock your world.”

    She’s right. Plus, the naked day – while admittedly exhausting – is pretty darn cute.



    Got a pre-potty kid of your own? As a special gift to you, dear readers, I’m giving away a free copy of Jamie’s fabulous book this week!

    To enter the giveaway, just leave a comment on this post letting me know why you’d like to win. For one additional bonus entry, mention this giveaway on Facebook, Twitter, and/or your own blog, and leave a separate comment here letting me know you’ve done so.

    All entries must be in by 6 p.m. Eastern time on Saturday, July 11 – I’ll choose a winner at random after that time.

    Good luck!

    I have received no compensation for this review and am in no way affiliated with Jamie Glowacki – just a big fan. We’re all about editorial integrity here at Mommy Tries.

    UPDATE: The winner of our giveaway is Kate! Thanks for playing, everyone.

  5. Crazy Baby Wednesday: 7/8/15

    July 8, 2015 by Jennifer Carsen

    File under “packing is fun!”

    20150626_110126 (750x1000)

    20150626_104020 (750x1000)

  6. Guest Post: Ma(ma) Always Said

    July 2, 2015 by Jennifer Carsen

    Today’s post is courtesy of Elizabeth Spencer, wife to a long-suffering husband and mom to two adolescent daughters. She firmly believes she would be rich if she got paid for the psychotherapy she administers every day after school. She blogs about life as a craft-phobic, DIY-challenged, underachieving mom at Guilty Chocoholic Mama

    My mom was not a fan of the “Little House on the Prairie” TV show. She complained that the only thing the Caroline Ingalls character (a toned-down, niced-up version of Ma from the Little House on the Prairie book series) ever said was, “Oh, Charles.”

    I loved the TV series. (Well, except the sad or warped episodes. Which wipes out a lot.) But I treasured the books more. I read and reread them as a child and still listen to the entire lot of them on CD every fall. They have a calming influence on me without pharmaceutical side effects. I’ve pretty much memorized the books, and I can tell you that the “real” Ma Ingalls—or at least Ma as Laura Ingalls Wilder portrayed her in the classic “Little House” collection—did say, “Oh, Charles” quite a bit.

    If you’ve read the books, you probably know what I mean when I say this: there is no escaping the fact that from a lot of angles, Caroline Ingalls was a very edgy mother.

    – We cannot overlook the Indian bead incident. (Little House on the Prairie)

    – Or her warning to her daughters that “a lady never did anything that could attract attention.” (On the Shores of Silver Lake)

    – Or the fact she wouldn’t even allow poor Pa his puns. (Little Town on the Prairie)

    But when Ma unbunched her petticoats long enough for the less-addled parts of her brain to kick in, she doled out some advice that still rings true today. It rings in our house quite often, actually.

    Really, I’m not sure what maternal counsel I’d give my girls half the time if it weren’t for Ma’s inspiration. (Insert eye roll from my daughters.) Here are some Ma-isms I regularly employ in our not-so-little-house-in-the-country:

    1. “The darkest hour is just before dawn.” I quote this Ma standby at least once a week. I have one tween and one teen, so we dwell semi-permanently in The Land of Dark Hours.

    Once, my older daughter humored me long enough to ask what the phrase means. I told her that in literal terms, the time of night that’s the blackest is right before the sky starts to lighten with sunrise. (I’m sure there’s some meteorological or astronomical explanation for this, but I am not the kind of mom who knows that type of information. Or wants to. This, and my infamous “teach Lydia to count from 25 to 35 without saying ‘twenty-nine, twenty-ten’ incident” are two of the main reasons I know I’m not cut out for homeschooling.)

    In a spiritual/emotional/life-experience sense, I told my teenager this truism is a reminder that when life is at its bleakest, better days are usually not far off. The trick is to hang on during those dark hours and not give up or do anything else you’ll regret when the sun shines.

    2. “There’s no great loss without some small gain.” Ma regularly said this following some agonizing development in the family’s hand-to-mouth existence. “We built our house two feet on the wrong side of the ‘where you can build and where you can’t’ line and now we have to pick up and move? Well, at least we can eat the seed potatoes we were saving for the garden.” Or, “blackbirds just destroyed the best crop Pa’s managed to eke out in years? Hmmm, how many of those suckers can you bake in a pie?”

    I haul out this Ma-ism when my daughters lose and gain various items and opportunities that make up tweenage/teenage life. It makes me feel better.

    3. “If wisdom’s ways you wisely seek, five things observe with care: to whom you speak, of whom you speak, and how, and when, and where.” Or, as I tell my daughters here in the 21st century, “When in doubt, shut your mouth.” Ma wrote her 1800s version of a tweet in Laura’s autograph album, and I think our kids could use a dose of this in today’s Facebook/Instagram/Twitter-saturated culture.

    It’s the classic tube-of-toothpaste object lesson: once your words are out there, you can’t shove them back in. You can always say them later, but you can’t unsay them.

    4. “It takes all kinds of people to make a world.” Laura summoned up this bit of Ma brilliance after she’d just endured an appetite-killing lunch with her employer’s contentious family. In one of the rare understated funny moments in the “Little House” series, Laura observed that her boss “came from the kitchen whistling a tune, as if he had just had a nice, quiet dinner with his family” (Little Town on the Prairie).

    My girls get this nugget of mom gold from me when they’re talking about kids at school, teachers, and other people in their circle of contacts who don’t click for them. They both have acquaintances and classmates they “get” and some they don’t. I understand this, of course. But I want my daughters to give grace to all kinds of people, understanding that the world would be beyond boring if everyone fit into the same mold. As my niece says, “Weird is a side effect of awesome.”

    5. “Hunger is the best sauce.” Okay, this is not a piece of advice: it’s just something Ma said that I borrow sometimes. It is true, though: give me hungry diners, and the food I serve automatically tastes at least 50 percent better. Add to this the “everything is more delicious if you didn’t have to make it yourself” effect, and I’m suddenly one of the world’s best cooks.

    I’m not under any delusion that quoting these pioneer proverbs to my daughters is changing their lives. But maybe someday my girls will put them to use on their own children, as in, “Your grandmother always said…”

    If so, at least I will have given credit where credit is due. Thanks, Ma.

    Want to submit a guest post of your own to Mommy Tries? Click here for all the details.

  7. Crazy Baby Wednesday: 7/1/15

    July 1, 2015 by Jennifer Carsen

    We miss you, Brodie-Kitty.



  8. Crazy Baby Wednesday: 6/24/15

    June 24, 2015 by Jennifer Carsen

    I call this one “Up to no good.”



  9. Crazy Baby Wednesday: 6/17/15

    June 17, 2015 by Jennifer Carsen

    A girl, a bird, and a bike.



  10. Crazy Baby Wednesday: 6/10/15

    June 10, 2015 by Jennifer Carsen

    Nicholas, preparing for his performance.