1. Pajama Party

    December 18, 2014 by Jennifer Carsen

    The kids have been a symphony of dry coughs the past few days, following on the heels of a goopy/crusty cold last week. For about half a day they both crossed over into that croupy seal bark, but everything quickly settled back down to “normal” – if incessant – coughing.

    This doesn’t mean any of us has been sleeping well, however. Three nights ago, Nicholas had two separate wee-hour coughing/moaning fits that woke us all up. Two nights ago, more of the same, though one of the wake-ups necessitated intervention by Daddy in the form of a midnight delivery of a sippy cup full of water, which Nicholas gratefully guzzled down.

    I naïvely thought that last night might be better. I was mistaken.

    Lorelei’s cough picked up right as Nicholas’s was slowing down, so Eric brought her a sippy cup of water around 10:00.

    We all fall back asleep until around 12:30, when I hear both kids happily chattering away. I go up to find Lorelei hanging out in Nicholas’s room. Both kids are checking out the display his Cars-themed nightlight is projecting onto the ceiling. (The nightlight is not remotely new, mind you; it’s been shining there in his room, unchanged, for at least the past year.) I shoo Lorelei back to her own room and tell Nicholas to go to sleep.

    Cut to 12:30 (yes, again 12:30 – apparently the previous wakeup was some unspecified time before that, which I was too addled to register properly), when Nicholas is moaning, over and over, “Mooommmmmy! Mooommmmmy! Mooommmmmy!”

    I stumble back into the kitchen, figuring he’s thirsty, and assemble a sippy cup of water that I promptly spill all over the kitchen counter.

    “Mooommmmmy! Mooommmmmy! Mooommmmmy!”

    Take 2. I more or less successfully fill the sippy cup, stagger upstairs, and offer it to Nicholas, who is now standing up in his crib like a wolf baying at the moon.

    “No water! I want cookie! I want cookie, Mommy! I want cookie, Mommy!”

    No dice, kid. He may well be hungry – having joined the general familial revolt against the salmon I served for dinner, a choice motivated in part by the fact that I wanted us to start eating better so that everyone would get healthy again (note to self: this doesn’t work if nobody actually eats the healthy dinner). But he ain’t getting cookies.

    As I am trying to explain this to Nicholas – which goes about as well as you might expect, given that he’s 2, sick, and sleep-deprived – I notice a glimmer of movement in Lorelei’s room next door. She’s standing to the side of the door adjoining the kids’ rooms, stealthily peering through the crack like a Peeping Tom. She announces that she has to go potty.

    She goes and returns as I unsuccessfully try to spell out the “no cookie” situation for Nicholas. On the way back from tucking Lorelei in once again, I place Nicholas back down in his crib, explain one last time that there will be no cookies, and go back downstairs. The bellowing continues. “I want cookie, Mommy! I want cookie, Mommy!”

    For the first time ever, I make the conscious decision to turn off the baby monitor in the bedroom. Nicholas may be loud – astonishingly so, come to think of it – but he’s not in any kind of real distress (unless the “O” in “SOS” stands for “Oreo”). Even with it off, I hear him alternately screaming for me, and for cookies, for the better part of the next hour.

    Eventually everyone falls back asleep until about 6:30, the kids’ normal wake-up time, when Nicholas rises for the day and immediately requests peanut butter toast.

    I turn on the coffee maker and plop him into his booster seat to get the toast together. When it’s ready, I place it before him, where it remains untouched. He is completely indifferent to it, though not at all unhappy.

    “Aren’t you going to eat your toast, buddy?”

    He smiles and replies sweetly, “No.”

    Life with littles. It’s really something.


  2. Crazy Baby Wednesday: 12/17/14

    December 17, 2014 by Jennifer Carsen

    We don’t do Elf on the Shelf at our house, though the kids are very big fans of Coppertops in the Cabinet:



  3. Crazy Baby Wednesday: 12/10/14

    December 10, 2014 by Jennifer Carsen

    A throwback demonstrating that Lorelei has always had style:


  4. Toddler Tribbiani

    December 8, 2014 by Jennifer Carsen

    If you are an older mom, like me, you may have spent some of your carefree, time-rich, pre-child days watching Friends. (I know it’s hard to cast your mind back to an era before Elmo and Thomas the Tank Engine, but follow me back to the early ’90s, won’t you?)

    If so, you probably remember Joey Tribbiani’s signature catchphrase, directed at every attractive woman who crossed his path: “How you doin’?”

    Nicholas, a budding Ladies’ Tot at the tender age of 2, has already come up with his own version: “How’re you? I Nicholas!”

    Usually, he directs his charms toward pretty moms or other females over the age of 12; girls his own age currently hold little interest for him (probably because they are more interested in playing in the sandbox, or with their dollies, than being macked on by a contemporary sporting size 4 Pampers Cruisers and peanut butter in his hair).

    Unsurprisingly, Nicholas has had a lot of success with this approach among the women he’s tried it with, nearly all of whom respond with warm smiles and sweet words.

    He did particularly well with a cute Target associate this past weekend, as he was able to boost his charms even further by playing the sympathy card (pointing to the recently acquired goose egg on his forehead and reporting on its origins: “I fell and hit coffee table.”) If he knew what a phone number was, I bet he could have gotten one from her.

    We are so in trouble a few years from now.

  5. Crazy Baby Wednesday: 12/3/14

    December 3, 2014 by Jennifer Carsen

    From the people who brought you Baby in a Bag … we are pleased to present Toddler in a Box:

    Nicholas in toys



  6. He’s Getting There…

    December 1, 2014 by Jennifer Carsen

    Nicholas and Eric, discussing the finer points of Christmas logistics:

    Eric: “Nicholas, who comes at Christmas?”

    Nicholas: “Santa!”

    Eric: “How does Santa get here?”

    Nicholas: “Horsies!”

    Eric: “Actually, buddy, it’s reindeer.”

    Nicholas: [Thoughtfully] “Reindeer…”

    Eric: “And who do the reindeer bring?”

    Nicholas: “Doughnuts!”

    (Nicholas also keeps telling us that Santa brings toys to “bad boys!” This is a separate, though no less vexing, issue.)

  7. Crazy Baby Wednesday: 11/26/14

    November 26, 2014 by Jennifer Carsen

    Pizza, anyone? (Note the festive pepperoni features and meatball cheeks.)



  8. On Losing My Mind

    November 20, 2014 by Jennifer Carsen

    What a terrible thing to have lost one’s mind. Or not to have a mind at all. How true that is.
    – Dan Quayle


    Last week, I crossed an unwelcome Rubicon of sorts when I lost one of the kids’ library books. My best guess is that I absentmindedly shuffled it in with a pile of papers that went out with the recycling.

    Now, for those folks who adhere to a zen, Pete The Cat-type philosophy of life, this is not a big deal – things come, things go, it’s all good.

    For me, an anal-retentive-Type-A of the first order, it was mortifying. I have never in my life lost a library book before (I don’t even like returning them late), so for me this was a sign that I’m really losing my grip on things. I also felt like I let myself down in some vague, unspecified way, much the way I felt when I got my very first cavity in my 20s.

    The good news, however, is that the urban myth I had heard at some point in my childhood and remembered ever since – that lost library books are phenomenally expensive to replace – turns out to be just that, a myth. Our bill was a whopping $3.99.

    (Though kudos are in order for the grown-up who initially planted that seed in my tender brain long ago, leading me to treat library books like gold ever since…until now, that is.)

    The librarian was amused when I told her that mom-brain had set in. My guess is that a) she has no kids, or b) her kids are old enough that some of those lost brain cells have started to regenerate.

    My working theory is that everyone has just so much they can juggle at one time before they start to lose it. Given that I’m keeping my kids alive and well, my professional life humming, and my marriage solid (if not super-energized – occasionally we’re up past 9 pm!), there’s really not a lot of room for much else. Should you ever drop by for tea, you’ll notice that I’m not investing a lot of time in my vacuuming; that big fluffy thing in the corner is not Brodie, but a world-class dust bunny.

    Even my subconscious is completely out of whack. A few nights back, I had a very vivid dream that they were planning to build an Oscar Mayer theme park behind our house. Dream Eric was angry, but not at all surprised: “Have you looked at a property map lately? That whole area is just open acreage prime for development.” In the dream, apparently, the fact that there was a chain of theme parks devoted to highly processed luncheon meat was not at all surprising.

    (It was also not surprising, in the dream, that there were vast undeveloped acres behind our house. In real life, our house abuts a road and a landlocked submarine – but that’s a post for another day.)

    The next day, real-life Eric was amused and appalled in equal measure. “Only you would manage to make a crazy dream like that revolve around food in some way. Were you excited to take a ride on the Bologna Cups?”

    I had actually been thinking more about a roller coaster up Mustard Mountain, but a spin on the Bologna Cups sounded pretty fun, too. I may be losing my mind, but at least I’m still me.

  9. Crazy Baby Wednesday: 11/19/14

    November 19, 2014 by Jennifer Carsen

    DIY bunk beds.


  10. 15 Ways Parenting Small Children Is Like Being a Trial Judge

    November 13, 2014 by Jennifer Carsen


    1. You face objections at every turn.

    2. Despite your best efforts at behavioral reform, wrongdoers experience a high rate of recidivism.

    3. You are often legally constrained from imposing as strict a penalty as you’d like.

    4. The only place you have a chance to collect your thoughts is in your personal chambers, though you don’t get nearly enough time there.

    5. You can dramatically change the course of someone’s day with three simple words: “I’ll allow it.”

    6. Your docket is always too full.

    7. You regularly deal with inflated egos, whining, and childish behavior.

    8. You’d kill for a good bailiff who can effectively maintain order.

    9. Your decisions are theoretically final, but appeals are always a possibility.

    10. People often appear before you in clothes someone else made them wear.

    11. Precedent plays an important role in your decisionmaking process.

    12. Co-conspirators frequently rat each other out in hopes of receiving a lighter sentence from you.

    13. People regularly throw themselves upon your mercy.

    14. A typical day on the job involves lots of tears.

    15. Much of your toughest work is performed while wearing a robe.