1. 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.

  2. Crazy Baby Wednesday: 11/19/14

    November 19, 2014 by Jennifer Carsen

    DIY bunk beds.


  3. 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.

  4. Crazy Baby Wednesday: 11/12/14

    November 12, 2014 by Jennifer Carsen

    We need a price check on the goofballs in Aisle 6.

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  5. Crazy Baby Wednesday: 11/5/14

    November 5, 2014 by Jennifer Carsen

    Future Tough Mudder participant?

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  6. Climbing the Slide

    October 30, 2014 by Jennifer Carsen

    Lorelei does not come from athletic stock, alas. Both of her parents are tall people whose limbs grew so quickly that the coordination just never fully caught up.

    Actually, I partially take it back – Eric was a very good little league player back in the day – but seeing as how just yesterday I tripped over my own feet and nearly mowed someone down, there’s not a lot of hope coming from the maternal genes.

    Lorelei has been leggy and off the charts, height-wise, almost since she was born. Which may be why climbing up the slide at daycare has been her own personal Waterloo.

    I didn’t know this was a thing – climbing up the slide at daycare – until Lorelei requested new, sparkly sneakers to help her in the endeavor. “Oh, Jen, it’s just heartbreaking,” her teacher informed me. “Each child gets three chances to do it, and the whole class is cheering her on, and she just hasn’t quite been able to do it yet,” she said.

    This is one area where the short, nimble kids excel – shooting up the slide lickety-split over and over. I always envied the short kids their fearlessness in this type of endeavor, as well as the fact that they always got to sit in the front row and hold the sign on class picture day. And don’t even get me started on the monkey bars. But I digress.

    In any event, Lorelei did need new sneakers, and I figured sparkly was as good a kind as any other, so she is now sporting a brand-new pair of blindingly bright Twinkle Toes.

    The day after she got them, the kids and I went to the local playground. Nicholas and I hung out at the swings while Lorelei ran slide drills, over and over – the slide at the park, conveniently, is a near-perfect match in size and slope to the one at daycare.

    I was really impressed at her tenacity and refusal to get discouraged as she tentatively climbed, and backslid down, over and over and over. (To add insult to injury, one of those short quick kids was on the next slide over, darting up again and again like it was no big thing.)

    Finally, I saw a little blond head emerge, triumphant, at the top of the slide. “YEAH! I DID IT I DID IT I DID IT! MOMMY, I DID IT!” She was ecstatic.

    Lorelei practiced a few more times with maybe a 33% success rate – which was all she needed back at daycare the following Tuesday, where the rubber would really hit the slide for her three official attempts.

    On Monday night, she carefully stored her new sneakers in their original box under her bed before she went to sleep. We all checked the forecast for Tuesday, too. It was slated to be warm and dry, perfect weather for a slide-climbing attempt.

    On Tuesday morning, Eric and I sent her off with well-wishes. I thought about her often during the day (especially during a brief, unexpected morning shower; I was concerned it would make the conditions too slippery).

    When I got to school for pickup, Lorelei was radiant. “Well?” I asked, hopefully, as she walked over. “I did it!” she announced with the biggest grin I’ve ever seen. She ran into my arms for a huge hug.

    It’s hard to explain how proud and happy I felt for my little girl that day. I had a brief flash of what my parents must have felt for my brother’s and my accomplishments over the years – as with so many things, you look at it a little differently once you have kids yourself.

    You want so very much for them, and you want them to confidently go out and do everything in the world that makes them feel joyous and proud, even when it’s hard. On Tuesday, I saw just an early glimmer of everything Lorelei’s going to someday work towards and become. I can’t wait to be there, cheering her on, every step of the way.

    Today, the slide. Tomorrow, the world.

    Lorelei shoes

    The magic shoes.

  7. Crazy Baby Wednesday: 10/29/14

    October 29, 2014 by Jennifer Carsen

    These days, Nicholas eagerly commandeers the lap of anyone sitting on the floor. We don’t mind at all.


  8. Crazy Baby Wednesday: 10/22/14

    October 22, 2014 by Jennifer Carsen


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  9. 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.

    The winner of the giveaway is Bill! Thanks to all for your entries.

  10. Crazy Baby Wednesday: 10/15/14

    October 15, 2014 by Jennifer Carsen

    The superheroes are ready…for something.