Pretty pretty glowing beach girl

Made this picture for a post I did over at ParentMap about having a “different” kind of kid. I love how the picture turned out, because it just exudes the glow and joy that is my 5-year-old daughter.

Top 5 Tips for Potty Training Your Toddler or Preschooler

1. Camp out in the bathroom naked with a loop of Dora on your iPad for 5-7 days.

2. Can you say, “dog crate”?

3. Wait until Kindergarten — the embarrassment of wearing diapers all day at 5 will be enough for them to train themselves!

4. Rent a hotel room for the duration of the training. The mess will be theirs, not yours.

5. If nothing else works, contract the job out. I hear potty training is going for pennies in China.

Ok. Kidding. I do have some more, uh, implementable tips for all you parents getting ready to potty train or already wrestling with your nonstop-pissing dragon child. These are gleaned from experience, of course. If you have any sure-fire advice of your own, we at Punkernoodle would love to hear it!

1. Start early. By this, I don’t mean trying to potty-learn your child at 5 months (although lots of parents report great success with elimination communication, a technique we’ll explore in a later post). What I mean is start early to make it normal. By the time your child is standing, you should have a small potty in every bathroom in your home (I don’t mean the child’s seat that attaches to the toilet; small kids need their own accessible, self-contained potty sized just for them). Put their potty on the floor next to the toilet. Encourage them to sit on the potty with their clothes on or off. Help them foster a relationship with their potty. Name it. Put stickers on it, whatever. Don’t badger them about “getting dirty” when they inevitably rub their hands all over the potty (teach them about germs, and always wash hands, but don’t paint the potty as a negative, icky thing).

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Judge: Firing for lactation not sex discrimination | Seattle Times Newspaper

Another wrench in the wheel for working mothers:

Living | Judge: Firing for lactation not sex discrimination | Seattle Times Newspaper.

What has your experience been as a breastfeeding, working mother?

Babies on Planes: Suck it Up

The breeder/non-breeder divide gaped widely today, as metaphorically wide as the gorge of the Grand Canyon as seen from 40,000 feet, when a friend’s co-workers complained, in the middle of the cubicle farm, about the apparent epidemic of babies on airplanes.

I won’t insult you with the entire litany of their bitching, which you probably know the gist of already (babies are loud — the loudest forces on Earth, more powerful that a 747 jet engine; babies do disgusting things like drink milk from breasts — oh the horror of having to see a little sliver of female flesh in this prude American culture of ours; etc. etc.)

I’ve heard this bogus argument before, the one where uppity, ultra clean childless people try to say that babies and their sloppy, overtired parents should be relegated to the barfy back rows of all flights or, better yet, their own planes. No doubt some of you have heard it too, or will see hints of it (especially during the  stressed-out holiday travel season) via dirty looks from polished travelers in all their 3-inch pumps and suits and self-righteous glory.

Seriously, some advice from a seasoned traveling parent: Don’t take this crap — it stinks worse that what’s in that diaper. How many times, sans child, have you had to sit next to A: A large person who spills over into your seat, B: A smelly person (think sweat, too much Brittney Spears perfume, that bag of Burger King goodness), or C: The ubiquitous sick person, coughing strep throat or tuberculosis right into your face? We’ve all had to make sacrifices in air travel, and my baby is not the least of what should be expected and accepted when you stuff two hundred people into a flying claustrophobic tube.

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More Classes!

Punkernoodle Baby is expanding its parent-approved Diaper 101 classes with Parent Trust for Washington in both the north and south ends of Seattle this coming year! Natalie’s next class is Sunday Dec. 18 at Northwest Hospital and still has a few spots left. Sign up here and come learn absolutely everything you need to know to diaper your baby healthfully, economically and in a non-wasteful, planet-friendly way. Parents in Natalie’s class always get every question answered and get to play with about a zillion different types and styles of modern cloth diapers. Join us! Punkernoodle also hopes to expand to the University of Washington soon, stay tuned!

And He Ate Bugs

There were probably precious few things that could have forced me to abandon my lazy summer ways and get back to blogging like I should. Mr. Punkernoodle eating bugs would be one of those things. And he did. And here I am.

That he ate bugs should come as no surprise to me. That he ate them voluntarily — meh, not shocking. That his ego was big enough as to make it impossible, on some manly score card of gross-activities-in-the-name-of-self-respect, to refuse eating bugs — that was a little unexpected.

Before I flog him, I should make a point of saying that his garden this year is impressive. It might even be his best yet. On our tiny city lot, he’s managed a carefully rotating and seasonally tiered bevy of produce: Several kinds of lettuce (early, middle, late and some varieties that somehow have been going now since spring); sweet peas; a field of strawberries that tasted so sweet and warm when you pulled them off their stems and popped them in your mouth that it was like dropping a spoonful of jam onto your tongue; tomatoes coming on any day in about 25 pots; cucumbers; beans, peppers, piles of basil and mint, chard; carrots that smell like sugar; a field of 20 potato plants in three varieties that will likely give us enough store to take us into Thanksgiving mashed potatoes and beyond; garlic; shallots; onions; rhubarb; blueberries; raspberries; plums. Surely there’s more I’m momentarily forgetting. Oh, right, the brocoli and cauliflower.

So the brocoli heads were bursting from their plants in round, jade-colored bouquets. We ate a few heads and had lots left to enjoy when, a few days ago, I noticed while preparing another skillful garden meal that there appeared to be a color variation among the little sprout tips at the very end of the brocoli. I’ll call them the buds since it’s really beyond me what the actual anatomical name for that part of the vegetable is. To be exact, some of those tips, I noticed, were more grayish in color, a little duller looking, than their jade neighbors.

Being historically a little food skittish and critter paranoid, I delved deeper into the brocoli head in order to quash my rising panic that there might be something living in there. What I found was that, in fact, there were some things living in there. Many things. Many gray, microscopic things that, when scrutinized really really closely, had round gray bodies and six legs each.

Shriek, cuss, rinse, spot more clusters of microscopic bugs, deem the whole fucking thing hopeless, toss  in compost, find another side dish. No big deal, these things happen when you grow your own food. They happen when you don’t grow your own food, only all evidence has been power-washed away by the time you drive up to the grocery store…

Fast forward to tonight. Menu: Italian chicken sausages, Israeli couscous, fresh sweet peas and carrots, and some just-picked brocoli and our first ready cauliflower. As Mr. Punkernoodle is washing the cauliflower — lovely white head with tight bud clusters  and a soft violet underhue (why does this sound pornographic?) — I glance over and notice a subtle shade of something suspicious. I lean in, peer closer with my eagle food eyes. Yes, they’re there. The gray bugs. I do a quick check of the brocoli head laying nearby on the counter in what now seems like a pool of guilt. Gray clumps, too.

It’s not just that there are bugs, I try to argue to Mr. P. These bugs, whatever the hell they are — probably something in the tic family — burrow deep within the bud tips and cluster around the underside of the brocoli florets in creepy, fuzzy, miniscule clumps. There are dozens of them, hundreds, burrowed in to the whole cauliflower and brocoli heads. They are impossible to extricate. You cannot rinse them all out, it is not within our human power.

I will try, Mr. Punkernoodle asserts. His fingers have tilled the earth. He has hand-watered his bounty for one hour and 17 minutes a day. He cannot give up these cabbages without a fight. He picks through the brocoli and cauliflower, sprays inside each tiny crevice. When he is done, I peer over to examine.

“They’re still there,” I say, and shrug. “I’m not eating those.”

“I am,” he says.

This is the part of the story where, as I type it, Mr. Punk looks over and says, “I just want to point out some basic facts here. Like, make sure you mention that I cooked it. I cooked it, you know? So that even if there was anything there” — like some giant leftover clumps of swarming gray bugs — “it was steamed away.”

So there we have it. Steamed bugs and sausage. He looked mighty satisfied after his supper, like he was ready to sow a field. Must have been the extra protein.