1. Crazy Baby Wednesday: 3/4/15

    March 4, 2015 by Jennifer Carsen

    The queen and her court.


  2. Traveling with Small Children: A Visit To Florida

    March 2, 2015 by Jennifer Carsen

    traveling with small children

    We have just returned from a successful trip to Florida – our first official family vacation.

    The four of us have technically flown together before, but that was back when Lorelei was 21 months old and Nicholas was in utero, so it was a very different experience on all fronts. This time around, we had a 4.5-year-old and a 2.5-year-old.

    I have come to the conclusion that traveling with small children is a lot like being a cruise director in that you are tasked with coming up with an endless array of creative amusements for entitled, largely unappreciative vacationers. Parents, however, are not allowed to lock the cabin door at night; we also lack the consolation of midnight buffets and endless tropical drinks poured with a heavy hand by Isaac the bartender.

    Nonetheless, while there is never an easy time (or perfect age) to travel with small children, I’m so glad we did. Some of the notable highlights of the trip:

    – Lorelei, turning to Eric in wonder amidst collecting shells on a pristine, sandy beach: “Daddy, this is a great vacation.”

    – Nicholas, studiously packing sand into his ears on that same beach as if he were trying to turn himself into a DIY pearl factory.

    – The friendly gecko who kept reappearing at the same spot by my dad’s pool, despite (or perhaps because of) the kids’ enthusiastic response to him; they named him Noah.

    – Nicholas amusing himself during a dinner out with several caps – from, respectively, a bottle of Poland Spring, a bottle of Stoli, and a spice jar (the last of which he deftly flipped open, held up to his ear like a practiced veteran of the Razr years, and pretended to call a friend on).

    – Eric pointing out something questionable in the water off the dock and Lorelei exhorting him to “pull yourself together, Daddy!”

    – A two-part al fresco lunch consisting entirely of convenience store snacks and massive ice cream cones.

    – Nicholas nonchalantly yet completely devouring the corner of a manatee postcard before we even had a chance to pay for it at Publix.

    – The mellow hippie wearing dark sunglasses and a bandanna headscarf, chilling out on a boat across the way. The kids waved and dubbed him “the friendly pirate.”

    – Lorelei fishing off the dock with my dad, squealing as he threaded live bait shrimp onto the hook, while Nicholas sat and watched the proceedings from my mom’s lap, clutching his stuffed kitty.

    – Nicholas’s puzzled look when we told him we’d be flying back home the next day. “Home?” he asked, his brow furrowed, as if the entire concept were both unfamiliar and somewhat disturbing.

    – Lorelei setting up shop on her airplane tray table with the essentials she packed in her Strawberry Shortcake backpack: A kaleidoscope, a small rubber duck, and a plastic saucer, cup, and spoon from her tea set.

    – Nicholas loudly reminiscing about a daycare friend on the plane home and alarming parents and flight attendants alike: “I LOVE ISIS! I LOVE ISIS!”

    – The same 2.5-year-old Lothario shamelessly flirting with a cute tween girl he spotted across the aisle. “I love her!” he repeated over and over. “What her name?”

    The best and worst thing about having kids is that nothing ever stays static. If we make the same trip next year, and I hope we do, it will be a whole new set of adventures and memories. I can’t wait.

  3. Crazy Baby Wednesday: 2/25/15

    February 25, 2015 by Jennifer Carsen

    We all celebrate the Patriots’ victory in our own special way.



  4. Crazy Baby Wednesday: 2/18/15

    February 18, 2015 by Jennifer Carsen

    Who doesn’t love a good cocktail meatball?


  5. Crazy Baby Wednesday: 2/11/15

    February 11, 2015 by Jennifer Carsen

    Chef can be temperamental, but he makes a mean bowl of plastic spaghetti.



  6. Crazy Baby Wednesday: 2/4/15

    February 4, 2015 by Jennifer Carsen

    I call this one “Cabin Fever 2015″:

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  7. Crazy Baby Wednesday: 1/28/15

    January 28, 2015 by Jennifer Carsen

    He assures me he’s got a plan.


  8. Crazy Baby Wednesday: 1/21/15

    January 21, 2015 by Jennifer Carsen

    My big girl, hard at work on the computer. (She’s playing a game, but I can already see the outlines of her future self writing term papers.)


  9. Crazy Baby Wednesday: 1/14/15

    January 14, 2015 by Jennifer Carsen

    Lorelei, sharing her most precious possessions with the napping Brodie.


  10. All LEGO’d Out

    January 13, 2015 by Jennifer Carsen

    file0001574867891It may be blasphemous to say this aloud (and someone in Denmark will surely be coming to clock me over the head with a frozen herring for doing so), but I am tired of LEGOs.

    I know, I know – they encourage creative play and require no batteries and are among the innately quietest of children’s playthings, three things I can totally get behind.

    But I assure you I was far from quiet yesterday when I slipped on a throw rug in Lorelei’s room – due, granted, entirely to my own clumsiness – and landed directly atop a half-completed LEGO Cinderella castle.

    (Let’s just say James Frey would not have had to fabricate nearly as much of A Million Little Pieces had he been there to witness the explosive event – or the million little bruises currently in evidence on my backside.)

    There’s just so much inherent incompatibility between those thousands of eminently lose-able tiny bits and the very fact of children, who would lose their own arms were they not firmly attached. Every once in a while the LEGO people throw in a few extra duplicate pieces for good measure (my secret theory is that even they have trouble keeping track of them), but those are never the ones that disappear down the cracks between the floor boards.

    For over two years now we have eagerly been awaiting the day when Nicholas – aka The Boy Who Eats Staples – stops putting everything in sight in his mouth. We’re nearly there…but now he’s taken to putting mini LEGO tires (which he calls “black olives”) in his ears. I am just waiting for the day when we all rush to the ER and discover that what we think is a crashing ear infection is actually a tiny LEGO lightsaber lodged in his eardrum.

    I am tired of stepping on them. I am tired of falling on them. I am tired of Nicholas festively throwing them around like it’s New Year’s Eve in Times Square.

    I am tired of listening to them clank around in my vacuum cleaner when I accidentally suck them up. I am tired of bending down to pick up what I think is a stray piece of Meow Mix only to discover it is a teeny-tiny pizza that goes with a teeny-tiny pizza man yet cannot be easily wrested into his immobile plastic grip.

    Constant vigilance, extra cleaning, heightened levels of frustration, the imminent probability of serious bodily injury. Maybe my main beef with LEGOs is the fact that they simply amplify all of the existing problems of living with small children.