1. Crazy Baby Wednesday: 9/2/15

    September 2, 2015 by Jennifer Carsen

    A throwback today, to when Lorelei actually was a crazy baby. I cannot believe this smiley little chubba starts kindergarten next week.



  2. DIY Despair

    August 31, 2015 by Jennifer Carsen

    Is it just me, or does there come a moment in every DIY room painting project when it just seems like the worst idea ever?

    More poorly conceived than that time you tried to color your own hair, or your ill-fated first marriage to the Texan who never laughed, or even your decision to skip childbirth classes and just wing it, sans epidural or clue, through the 14 hours of labor it took to deliver your first child (because how hard could it be?).

    When the bedroom you’re painting – solidly “medium” sized at best, according to all of the paint calculators, two cans’ worth at most, with its modest single door and two windows – swells to the size of the entrance hall at Versailles?

    When the room – the vivid red of an Andalusian sunset; a color you yourself would never have picked and a color whose intensity spurred your irresistible compulsion to paint over it ASAP – resists every coat of concealing primer like a living, fighting thing?

    When it dawns on you that this particular retina-burning shade of red probably originated from the limited-edition Sherman-Williams “screw-you scarlet” collection? When you realize there is not enough concealing primer in the world to erase the muscle memory of your thousands of roller passes back and forth over those mocking crimson walls?

    When professional painters suddenly strike you, along with police officers and child care professionals, as some of the most underpaid and underappreciated members of our society? When you would give your cramped right arm to have the job done right now in even a somewhat satisfactory way?

    When you actually start to ponder leaving the streaky, drippy, half-red/half-white room exactly as is and calling it a triumph of gutsy decorating panache?

    Or is it just me?

  3. Crazy Baby Wednesday: 8/26/15

    August 26, 2015 by Jennifer Carsen

    Lorelei has largely mastered the art of genteel ice-cream eating. Nicholas has not.


  4. Crazy Baby Wednesday: 8/19/15

    August 19, 2015 by Jennifer Carsen

    A day at the beach. (Not today, alas. Today is all about the boxes.)



  5. The Giving House

    August 12, 2015 by Jennifer Carsen



    Or, if you prefer, The Little House That Could.

    Built in the mid-1800s and added onto many times since then – sometimes expertly, sometimes ineptly – this little yellow house took me in and soothed my frayed soul after a difficult divorce. Making an offer on it after seeing just this one house for less than 10 minutes was probably one of the most irrational decisions I’ve ever made…and one of the best.

    It is full of old-house charm (wide pine floor boards and a claw-foot bathtub) and old-house problems (the time our indoor cat caught a chipmunk in the basement comes to mind). It features steps worn smooth from a century-plus of footsteps back and forth, a tiny Hobbit-door that leads to my loft office, and a surprising number of closets and cubbyholes for a house that hasn’t been new since Lincoln was president.

    It also boasts wonky wiring that has brought our skilled electrician – a man who specializes in working on old houses – to his knees, and a stubbornly invasive wisteria vine that refuses to give up the fight.

    From here, we can see the fireworks launched downtown on July 4th and New Year’s Eve (yes, fireworks in the dead of winter, because that’s how we roll here in Portsmouth), the seasonally changing array of the apple orchard across the street, and the landlocked historic submarine just across the back fence. We can hear the bells of the church steeple downtown and, when the breeze is right, smell the ocean brine of the tidal pond just across the way.

    And last but certainly not least, the sheer wonderfulness of our neighbors cannot be overstated. We are blessed to have been in their close proximity these past eight years. And I do mean “close.” If you are familiar with the narrow streets of old New England towns, you know that, for better or worse, your neighbors’ lives are lived in inextricable tandem with yours.

    This is the house Eric and I returned to after our honeymoon and brought both of our children home from the hospital to after their births. It’s where they took some of their first steps (and, in the case of Lorelei, some of her first scootches). To date, Nicholas has eaten approximately 17 pounds of lint off the old pine floors. We have sung the “Goodnight, Lorelei” bedtime song upstairs over 1,500 times. And we have killed scores of spiders – the big, the small, and the truly shriek-inducing.

    The house, much like love itself, is irrational and weird and wonderful. And tomorrow, we’ll finish packing up and move out of it to start our next chapter in a bigger house across town (built in 1952 – imagine that! By any reasonable standard, that’s no new house – yet after living here, it feels like the paint has hardly dried on it.)

    It’s a good move, the right move, for our family, and a very special house in its own right. We will no longer be tripping over each other, taking headers down the steep stairs, or cracking our heads on the charming yet vertically challenged ceiling beams. It’s bittersweet to say goodbye, though.

    Thank you, little yellow house. You will always hold a special place in our hearts – particularly mine.

    But the spiders, you can keep.

  6. Crazy Baby Wednesday: 8/12/15

    August 12, 2015 by Jennifer Carsen

    A daddy rite of passage: Digging out the hacksaw to break into the #$@&%*! coconut the kids spotted at the grocery store.

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  7. Good-Enough Parenting In Action

    August 6, 2015 by Jennifer Carsen

    When your kid’s teacher sends a note home asking for family photos for a collage project, and every single photo you own is already packed – except for the bizarro souvenir one from your recent pirate ship outing – because you’re moving soon, and you could print some photos on your husband’s color printer downstairs but it’s a little touchy and you’re not sure how it works and that seems like a lot of effort, and you decide to print out a few B&Ws upstairs on your own printer and think your kid is going to wind up with something kind of weirdly film noir for his collage and may be mocked by his fellow toddlers for it but you do it anyway and send your kid in with these printouts and an apology and your kid’s awesome teacher somehow makes it all work because she is way, way more on top of things on an average day than you are on your best day.

    That’s how we roll around here.


  8. Crazy Baby Wednesday: 8/5/15

    August 5, 2015 by Jennifer Carsen

    Despite the staggering array of goodies at the farmers’ market, the cider doughnuts always win out.

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  9. Crazy Pirate Wednesday: 7/29/15

    July 29, 2015 by Jennifer Carsen



  10. 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