1. Crazy Baby Wednesday: 10/22/14

    October 22, 2014 by Jennifer Carsen


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  2. Product Review & Giveaway: Brick Popper

    October 21, 2014 by Jennifer Carsen

    Brick Popper

    If you’ve got kids, then you most likely have LEGOs. And/or KRE-Os, Mega Bloks, and all other manner of interlocking building blocks that are the bane of bare feet everywhere.

    While we can’t help you with that excruciating stepping-on-a-LEGO-at-3-am problem that invariably leads to a truly impressive display of profanity, we can help you out with another timeless LEGO problem: The fact that, once assembled, the little blocks can be the dickens to unassemble again.

    Brick Popper is a cleverly designed little tool that separates the blocks quickly and cleanly – no more bruised finger nubs or broken finger nails (or, as I have been wont to do, dangerous separation attempts with the deceptively sharp paring knife from the kitchen).

    I tried out the Brick Popper on a few of Eric’s…um, I mean, the kids’…LEGOs around the house and found it worked like a charm. If you have a LEGO-heavy household, it’s a sound investment.

    Starting this Friday, October 24th, Brick Poppers will be on sale for three days at Zulily – $10.99 for two Brick Poppers (check out the Brick Popper Facebook page later this week for more details).

    Also, as a gift to you, dear readers, I’m giving away a free pair of Brick Poppers 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 Friday, October 24 – I’ll choose a winner at random after that time.

    Good luck!

    Brick Popper sent me a few samples to review and write about on the site. I have received no other compensation and am in no way affiliated with Brick Popper. We’re all about editorial integrity here at Mommy Tries.

  3. Crazy Baby Wednesday: 10/15/14

    October 15, 2014 by Jennifer Carsen

    The superheroes are ready…for something.


  4. “What Time Is It In China?”

    October 14, 2014 by Jennifer Carsen

    Don't let the pigeon stay up late

    The kids have both recently gotten into Mo Willems’ excellent series of “Pigeon” books. The main character, the pigeon, has lofty aspirations – such as hosting hot dog parties and driving a bus – that the kids take great delight in smacking down.

    In one book, Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late!, the pigeon’s rationale for a few extra minutes of awake time is that “It’s the middle of the day in China!” This, of course, has led to many questions from Lorelei:

    – What is China?
    – Where is China?
    – But why is China very far away?
    – Why is it the middle of the day in China?
    – What time is it in China?

    The latter has become a catchphrase of sorts in our house, with Lorelei now asking at all hours of the day and night what time it is in China. Nicholas has started joining in, too, turning to me with an earnest expression on his little face and asking, “Wha time in Chi-ha?”

    China is a big place, of course. But the Internet, being the amazing resource it is, has helpfully clued Eric and me in to the fact that Beijing is exactly 12 hours ahead of Eastern Daylight Time. The return to Standard time in a few weeks will throw a monkey wrench into the whole works, but for now it’s an easy way to give Lorelei an accurate answer without having to do mental math (which is hard for me in the best of circumstances but near impossible before 6 am).

    Lorelei was briefly annoyed at the fact that China was always ahead of us—“they’re beating us and it’s not fair!”—but she seemed to take solace in the fact that she’ll always have an edge on Hawaii. We have now moved on to what the good people of China are doing at any given moment.

    Unfortunately, I fear we have given our children the impression that these folks half a world away, in a culture exceedingly different than ours, are doing exactly what we do here in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, USA: At 6:30 am, they are eating Life cereal, and at 6:00 pm, they are settling in to watch The Berenstain Bears and Thomas the Tank Engine. We have not made great strides in the global awareness department, in other words.

    So if there are any readers out there in China, or anywhere else in the GMT+8 time zone, please do feel free to share some of your daily activities out in your neck of the woods. Because we know you’re not eating as many Jax as we are.

  5. Crazy Baby Wednesday: 10/8/14

    October 8, 2014 by Jennifer Carsen

    A typical weekday lunch at our house: the video version.

  6. Crazy Baby Wednesday: 10/1/14

    October 1, 2014 by Jennifer Carsen

    Throwback edition: Baby Lorelei = the world’s happiest Cubs fan.


  7. Crazy Baby Wednesday: 9/24/14

    September 24, 2014 by Jennifer Carsen

    The kids put themselves in time out (which did not, alas, result in 6 minutes of quiet time for Mommy or anyone else).


  8. 9 Truths About Being Home With Your Kids

    September 22, 2014 by Jennifer Carsen


    I’m not an actual stay-at-home mom, but I play one on TV.

    This is how I feel sometimes. My kids (ages 4 and 2 – aka the “you’re really in the thick of it” years) are in care just two days a week – when I work like a madwoman on my business – and I am home with them the rest of the time.

    So I’m sort of a weird SAHM/WAHM hybrid. This has given me a unique perspective on things, as well as a life made possible entirely through the magic of caffeine.

    I can see what’s happening on both sides of the fence from where I sit (or stand, rather – there’s very little sitting in my life these days). I can tell you, unequivocally, that there’s no greener grass to be had. If there were, I would be sneaking away to nap on it.

    While I am very lucky to be spending this time with my little guys, it’s not always easy. Here are 9 truths that I have come to realize:

    1. The SAHM is not actually home all that much. There are errands to run and excursions to do. Too much time at home with the kids means succumbing to the siren song of Caillou on the Sprout channel, and frankly I’d rather poke out my own eyes with a fork.

    2. This is the hardest job I’ve ever had. I don’t know if motherhood is actually the hardest job there is, as many have claimed – that Navy Seal gig is no walk in the park, I’ve heard – but it is by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

    3. Your entire adult life is compressed into tiny pockets of the day. Namely naptime and the few precious hours between the kids’ bedtime and when you yourself collapse. I would love to be able to add “and the time in the morning before the kids wake up,” but my kids wake up so early that this, alas, is currently a nonstarter.

    4. You are constantly trying to do 17 things at once. I find myself saying “hang on!” to both kids countless times a day. If I am hit by a bus tomorrow, this is the catchphrase they will remember me by.

    5. I tip my hat to single parents and those of you with more than two kids. More than two kids = playing a zone defense all the time, even if your partner is around. I truly don’t know how you do it. The next time I see you out and about, desperately trying to maintain order, your double espresso is on me.

    6. Your two-year-old’s meltdowns don’t mean you’re a terrible parent. They just mean you’re parenting a two-year-old.

    7. You find yourself wishing you had time to do the most basic things. I’m not even talking about getting actual work done while the kids are around and awake – ha! No, I’m speaking more of things like being able to go to the bathroom when you need to (not even alone; just at all) and maybe finding time to fish that stray eyelash out of your eye that’s been poking you for the past half hour.

    8. You regularly hear the most bizarre things coming out of your mouth. Just this past week has featured such gems as:

    – “Lorelei, Abe Lincoln is not creepy.”

    – “Mommy is all done licking thumbs for the day.”

    – “Hey! Stop sucking on that funnel!”

    9. The highs are higher and the lows are lower. I truly love my work. However, a day at work – even a really good one or a really bad one – is still just a day at work, when all is said and done. But a day with your children can be full of heart-melting joy or soul-crushing defeat (often both in the same hour). You’re really painting out to the very edges of the picture every single day…which can be both magical and maddening.

    I wouldn’t have it any other way right now. I’d just like a chance to go pee.

    This post was brought to you by naptime and the letter S (for the Sweet, Sweet Sleep that eludes me daily).

  9. Crazy Baby Wednesday: 9/17/14

    September 17, 2014 by Jennifer Carsen

    It’s good to be king…though somewhat confusing.


  10. The Buck Stops with You

    September 16, 2014 by Jennifer Carsen

    Our local newspaper has a charming, small-town feature called “Kisses & Disses” where you can write in and compliment – or complain about – a local experience, person, or business. (My one beef is that they redact the business names if you write in with a “Dis,” taking some of the bite out of your gripe.)

    In any event, today the lead Dis was from a local mom who was unhappy about the fact that Portsmouth no longer has “at least one municipal worker who is certified to inspect and help install infant and toddler car seats so that we can keep our children safe…I am sure with over 21,000 residents living here it would be worth the expense to provide for the certification considering that most parenting articles state that parents usually do not install car seats correctly.”

    (The woman had a Kiss for the aptly-named Chuck Gallant in the next town over, who was able to “provide me the help I needed.”)

    Now, don’t get me wrong: It’s great when towns can provide this service for residents, and more care rather than less is obviously a good thing whenever you’re dealing with kids’ safety.

    But ultimately it’s not the town’s job to ensure your kid’s car seat is installed correctly – it’s yours. And while car seat installation is not a fun process (or a graceful one, especially if you’re pregnant with a subsequent kid – been there), it’s not rocket science, either. Take your time, follow the directions, and you’ll be fine.

    And who knows? Portsmouth may well have made the conscious decision to invest its finite resources in something like speed limit enforcement – something it is directly responsible for that has a huge impact on children’s safety and well-being.

    This woman’s complaint strikes me as part of a troubling larger movement towards hands-off parenting. “Hands-off” not in the sense of letting kids explore the world and make their own mistakes (we’re unfortunately moving farther away from this every day), but “hands-off” in the sense that this important issue involving my child really has very little to do with me and my own accountability.

    Take, for instance, that public service announcement I’ve seen several times now where the mom wants her son and his friends – deeply engrossed in a video game – to get off their butts and play outside. Rather than saying, “Hey, guys – I’m turning off the TV now. Get off your butts and go play outside,” Mom sneakily throws a circuit breaker and cuts off the power to the living room.

    The boys, bewildered and annoyed, decide they may as well go outside and shoot hoops. Mom is portrayed in the commercial as a clever kind of parenting hero, but Eric and I both thought it was a lame way for her to avoid being the bad guy.

    If we as parents aren’t willing to accept the responsibility for our actions and decisions, how the heck can we expect our kids to be accountable for theirs?