Monthly Archives: July 2008


Some new nicknames I have for the kids’ feet have gotten me thinking about the many ways we parents refer to our children. Punkernoodle Two’s just started walking full time (she’s 14 months now) and so her feet are a major focus in the household. A few weeks ago we really got focused and vowed to get her out of Robeez and into proper shoes, in time for her transition to the toddler room at school. She hates shoes, probably because her feet are so pudgy she doesn’t really fit well into them. We are on our third test pair, ridiculous given the cost of baby shoes and the impossibly little time she’s actually worn any of them. A few days ago, after weeks of fitful dreams where I am desperately trying to squeeze her footsies into shoes in time, I suddenly figured out what these little feet of hers remind me of: Marshmallows. So I’ve been calling her Marshmallows-With-Toes. Good enough to eat, but very gooey.

Coincidentally, I’ve also been thinking a lot lately about Punkernoodle One’s feet. She turns 3 next month, and I think she’s in the midst of a major growth spurt. Everything about her is becoming long and lean – what once was pure pudge and then, later, still-respectable toddler chub has morphed into sleek, stubborn muscle. She reminds me of a bean pole. In light of the baby’s new marshmallow moniker, I have nicknamed the older one’s newly stretched-out feet Silver Cohos (think salmon). I dunno why, they just seem like long swimming salmon to me, flitting through the water searching out new feeding grounds.

This weekend Punkernoodle One jokingly called me and her dad “Loveys,” a term I use for the kids. One of dozens of terms, in fact, that I’ve labeled them over the past three years (or almost four years if you count, properly, the first pregnancy – during which I referred to the growing fetus as a walnut, peach, plum, etc. etc.) I’ve called them boobies, boos, pumpkins, noodles, chickens, Lola Granola, Coconut, boogers, nuggets, bugs, monsters, monkeys, muffins, mamas (that one defines explanation, since they’re clearly not changing MY diapers), and of course, Punkernoodle. That was invented by Lukas when Punkernoodle One was a baby and, clearly, exploded from there.

The nicknames, like most parental terms of endearment, have no real rhyme or reason. They come out of nowhere, emerging organically while, for instance we are cooking dinner. Pasta? Well then, “little meatball” might be the name-of-the-week. There does, however, seem to be a well-defined food pattern. Do we worship our children as we do great food? Is it that they infuse our lives with some tasty, indescribable joy,  regular tidbits of tediousness and crumbs of chaos notwithstanding?

Who knows. And who knows when we’ll stop this madness. Will I refer to my girls only by their given names by the time they turn 10? 20? Maybe when they have babies of their own whom I can torment with weird references? Not likely. What was that my own mommy called me just the other week? Was it … gulp … (blush) … little sweet potato…?

Who, me?


Carbon-Neutral Birthday?

Forget jealousy – green is the new color of guilt. That is to say, I’m having guilt about Punkernoodle One’s birthday party. After thinking a lot about the importance of teaching our children moderation, using our cars on the weekend as infrequently as possible, focusing on homemade traditions and local activities, we decided to host the 3-year-old birthday party at …. a farm outside Seattle where the kids will, GULP, ride ponies.

Ok, ok – wait a minute. Let me just state for the (green) record that 1. Both Punkernoodles know how to recycle in the plastic bin, the paper bin AND the food compost, 2. We own a cloth diaper business and 3. We do emphasize moderation, re-use toys and clothes and household items, refuse to buy plastic bottles, get books from the library and … alright, you get the picture.

So I resist the thought that we might be regarded as city-dwelling, earth-raping yuppies trampling out to the country just to stick our precious little girl on a pony and take a birthday picture. The thing is, our house is too small for 12 crazed preschoolers and a few straggling siblings to run around at or in, the weather will be nice so who wants to be cooped up in the children’s museum or an ice-cream-shop party room with fluorescent overhead lighting? The park, the park, you say …. Yes, but I can barely find time to cook dinner. I don’t want to spend my girl’s birthday running around decorating, arranging, cooking and cleaning. I want to wallow in the joy of her growth. Ok, fine – I want to see her face when a real-life pony prances her way.

So, what can I do to make up for the 12-15 car trips 30 miles east to get to said farm? And how can I keep the possible extravagance in check? Idea No. 1 is something that the families from the kids’ school have been doing already – parents are asked not to buy the birthday child a gift. Instead, every child brings a wrapped book for an exchange. This keeps the gift-craze in check and eliminates the need for “goodie bags” – usually plastic bags filled with cheap, China-made plastic toys or nibblets of high-fructose corn syrup.

Next: There’s been a lot of controversy about balloons over the years, whether the harvesting of latex from rubber trees is bad for the environment and the peoples in rubber-tree-growing regions, and whether their release and decomposition is bad for the planet. Whatever the net verdict, I figure we can just skip the balloons and avoid the use of one more disposable item – hopefully the fresh air and beautiful landscape will be festive enough.

Other thoughts: No plastic servingware. We’ll have recycled napkins and finger foods, and either environmentally friendly forks for cake or real silverware from home. For cups, we’ll do compostible ones or something reusable from home. Organic lemonade and fruit juice from glass bottles. Fruits and veggies. Homemade cake?

No goodie bags, but here’s an idea I think is cool: Give away a seed packet to each child as a thank you. A responsible way to encourage eating locally, growing organically and giving without wasting. And hopefully those ideas, plus anything else we think of, will help us negate that footprint of ours. Also, there’s something to be said for taking the children to a farm, teaching them where food should come from, showing them how to respect and care for animals. I hope.

Walk on, child

Punkernoodle No. 2 is walking now. Sometimes she prefers to crawl, but rapidly less and less. And although she can walk, that doesn’t mean she’s ready to wear shoes. She hates shoes. Finally she wore them for much of the day at daycare, but they told me that she kept trying to take them off. It all boils down to the fact that she’s a resister, a nonconformist.

Although she has few words, she has learned how to tell us what she wants. An adamant growl along with a point or gesture tells us she wants water, or food, whatever she sees. It’s quite impressive. It’s amazing how much she understands when we talk to her. She climbs anything like a maniac. No obstacle is too big. But when I tell her to sit down, she knows what I’m talking about and does it. Amazing. Same with drink your bottle or eat your food.

One of the best things that has happened is that she and Punkernoodle No. 1 have learned to play off each other so much that it has become a major pastime. They laugh and laugh and laugh. One makes a sound, the other copies her. And even better, Punkernoodle No. 2 is now much more able to handle hugs, pushing and general physical love from Punkernoodle No. 1. Very cool. Punkernoodle No. 2 can also fend off No. 1 when needed, at least a little bit. A certain toughness is needed there, and she has it. They really like each other and are having fun playing together. So cool.