Category Archives: Baby, Baby, Baby

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).

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

Get Over It, Breast-Phobes

What are people so afraid of?

When I gave birth to Punkernoodle 2, our first daughter was 21 months old. She was almost still a baby herself. And though my first child was done breastfeeding by the time her baby sister arrived, she was just learning to raise “babies” of her own. Translation: Doll play had begun. And of course, with me sitting around breastfeeding her new baby sister 24-7, what did Punkernoodle 1 learn to do when it was time for her baby dolls to eat? That’s right. My girl didn’t think for a second to put a plastic bottle into her baby’s starving mouth. Of course not. She yanked up her shirt and smacked that doll onto her chest for some fresh-from-the-tap feeding. It seemed like the most natural thing in the world for her to feed her babies that way, because that’s what she saw Mom doing.

We encouraged this type of realistic domestic play, because in our house we believe children should be respected enough to be dealt real-world information when applicable. And the fact is, breastfeeding is the most natural, healthy, green and economical way to feed a child. If you are lucky enough to physically be able to breastfeed your child, you are just that — lucky. There is nothing shameful, embarrassing or sexualized about it. So am I a “lactivist?” Yeah, I suppose I am. When I was running around and my babies needed to eat, you can bet I parked myself at the Starbucks and, modestly but without shame or the need to hide, fed them. And I expect my girls to do the same when their dolls are wailing in starvation, too.

That’s why I don’t understand the controversy about a new breastfeeding baby doll. In our culture, where the over-sexualization of girls and women is a serious problem, where you can go to middle school playground and see kids looking like mini Cosmo-cover models, why is it dangerous to portray or refer to breasts doing what they are made to be doing? How is the act (real or pretend) of feeding a baby more perverted than a 12-year-old in a sequined thong sticking out of her low-rise jeans (or your newly literate 6-year-old having to read the headline “Make Your Man Moan With Pleasure” while waiting in the supermarket checkout line)?

What’s the big deal? It’s just a doll and some breasts-in-training. Get the hell over it, people.

A Look Back…

This post was written for the {W}rite of Passage Writing Well Challenge #4:  The Resolution

On New Year’s Day I had a flashback. We were at Salmon Bay Park with the girls, ringing in 2010 as we pushed them on the swings and listened to them squeal across the tire-tipped zip-line in elated terror. As we played among the other parents and young children, a couple walked up and stood at the edge of the playground. They held hands as they strolled, and the mother held their newborn in a carrier on her chest.

This couple had no older child, just the baby sleeping in a bundle of fleece. But they had walked to the park, where they stopped and stood, then sat on the wooden bench. There, with faint smiles on their faces, they watched the children screech around the merry-go-round and pound their fists into the sand. It might have seemed to someone else watching that the couple was out-of-place, maybe waiting for someone to meet them — a grandparent to come along with the other child, a preschooler who had true business at a playground.

But I felt I knew just why they were there, gazing dreamily at the playsets and blur of small sneakered feet rushing past.

Nearly 5 years ago, my husband and I made a trek to a different playground. That park was three blocks from our tiny city house, and as we walked slowly I pushed the complex pale blue stroller/car seat/carrier combo that held our week-old daughter. We had decided to take her to the park to celebrate her 1-week birthday. I chuckle now at the sweetness of it, the new-parent excitement and innocence that brimmed in us as we set out that day, so eager for that first trip to the playground with our first child. Of course our baby, snuggled into the contraption, the sun shield covering her completely, slept right through her visit, and it would be nearly two years before she could understand and fully appreciate the fun a playground has to offer. 

But we couldn’t wait, so eager were we to experience the moments of childhood we imagined as miraculous through a parent’s eye. The world had changed so much with the birth of our child — holy cow, we were mother and father! Suddenly the gap between the magic of our own childhoods and the responsible monotony that adulthood sometimes dictates was bridged. How long had it been since we went to the playground? A decade? Since we sat down and dug in the sand with a plastic shovel, pumped our legs as we swung higher and higher into the sky? We realized, a little embarrassed but mostly enchanted, that we could do these things once again: Mud pies, glue sticks, Disneyland, hula hoops, hide-and-seek — we would get another chance at all of these as we held our child’s hand and showed her the wonder of life. And, one week after her birth, the fantasy had begun and we just couldn’t wait.

On New Year’s Eve, at the end of a decade, we both reflected upon all that has changed over the past 10 years. Where did the time disappear to? Is it possible that our newborn daughter whose cheek caught the summer breeze in the park that day is now a talking, jumping firecracker ready to start school? And that our second daughter’s babyhood came and went while we weren’t looking?

In that couple, pausing at Salmon Bay to marvel their life and the possibilities it holds, I saw how fast time passes. How excited we are to keep moving forward and pushing ahead, to get to the next thing, the next stage, so we can see how it is, how we like it. Then we plow ahead once more.

As a parent I want to try to hold every stage, every moment, in my mind and taste it with my memory. But I forget. I rush. I obsess over the next thing, the next phase. I itch to push ahead. What I would give to just peek into my daughter’s stroller that warm day at the park years ago, to see her wrinkled cheek and the dark patch of hair. To hear her whimper-breath, which knew nothing of swings and climbing walls but everything, everything about life.

Punkernoodles Run Wild

Our little Punkernoodles are growing up fast.

Punkernoodle 2 is running wild. She has this strut she does, sort of a waddle-like trot that kicks in when she’s feeling like showing a little attitude. Like when she doesn’t want to give up her toothbrush to put it away, or she has a piece of chalk that she’s been sucking on and knows that I’m going to take it away, or when she’s trying to run ahead of me (Why do little kids always want to cut in front of you? I’m always tripping on them!) She’s learning new words every day. You just point at something and tell her the word a couple of times and she repeats it back to you. Her language skills are exploding. I love it. Her mind is so powerful at this age. The learning that they do is so far off the charts. I just try to imagine what it would be like to take it all in and learn everything at once as an adult. Impossible! 

Punkernoodle 1 is at a different place. It was amazing to see her break out of her shy mold the other night when we had a neighborhood block party for National Night Out. A couple of neighbor girls who are 7 and 6 decided they wanted to play with her and take her under their wings. It was the first time she got to play with big girls. She ate it up.

They all went on their bikes to the next street over (I went along too) where the folks over there had rented an inflatable obstacle course. At almost 3, Punkernoodle1 was by far the smallest kid bouncing through. She couldn’t have done it without her new friends helping her along. They encouraged her, they shouted her name, they told the flying-missile boys who were shooting all over the place to watch out for her. They pushed her up over a climbing wall, they dragged her under a tunnel and, most importantly, they talked her through it. She loved it. It was such a neat experience to watch her figure out what to say. It was obvious she was “trying to be cool.” At one point later, when they came over to see the playhouse I had mostly built (that’s another story), Punkernoodle 1, trying to talk big, asked the girls “do you want some food?” One of the girls said “No! We just ate” in that big-girl don’t-be-silly way. (We had all just eaten as part of the block party). Trying to be fast on her feet, Punkernoodle 1 said, “No, not you, Ginger (our dog).” I loved that she tried to play it cool like that.

The kids are having a blast in the (finally) heat of summer. They’ve been to the best toddler summer spot in Seattle – the Greenlake wading pool – a few times, most recently with an inflatable taxi we bought despite our better judgment and the knowledge that it was made in China and probably covered with toxic chemicals. It’s hard to say no when all the other kids are floating on giant dolphins, boats and turtles. Punkernoodle 2 spends most of her at-home time in just her diaper, waddling around in a cute new hot-pink Fuzzi Bunz with that sweet little strut. She’d rather be naked by a longshot. Like I said – smart girl.

– Lukas


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?