2 Cloth 101 classes!

Due to high demand, Punkernoodle Baby has two Cloth 101 classes for you this upcoming weekend.

In south Seattle on Saturday, April 16 is our class through the Parent Trust of Washington. This is a complete diaper education, including info on EC, resources and a helpful cost calculator sheet. Register here: http://www.parenttrust.org/index.php?page=class-diapering

Sunday April 17th in our Ballard showroom we will teach the basics of cloth diapering to new and expectant parents. Email us at mail@punkernoodlebaby.com to reserve your spot!

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.

The Stay-at-Home Agenda

I was cleaning out my home office this past weekend, which meant uncovering about 30 pounds of papers that have long since stopped being useful and were very overdue for the recycling box. Deep under a pile of scrap paper and old receipts, I dug out a planner from 2008. The book was pretty obnoxious – one of those yellow “mom planners” that someone had given me as a gift when I quit my full-time reporting job at The Seattle Times in the fall of 2008 to spend more time with my girls, who were 1 and 3 at the time. Even though the book was aesthetically offensive (a bottle of wine would have been just as appropriate, non?), I used it. I remember thinking that now that I was a “stay-at-home-mom” (whatever that meant, I wasn’t actually sure) I would need to be supremely organized about my mommy activities and duties.

I flipped through it again this weekend, sitting on the floor amid my pile of dead trees, and took a little trip down memory lane. Most interesting to me were the lists I found at the back of the planner. (I am embarrassed to admit to some of this, but I will because I think it speaks so directly to the often unspoken conflict many women, and some dads, too, face when they leave their “professional” career for the underpaid, health- and retirement-benefits-free job of full-time parenting. Like others who have made the shift, I was supremely conflicted.

So, the lists. On one planner page, I took notes on other parents I was meeting as I navigated my new life, landmarked by library story times and visits to Cupcake Royale. Having left behind my work friends, who were still dealing in deadlines and paychecks, I was fairly desperate to find a new club to belong to. The problem was that I couldn’t connect with a lot of parents I was meeting on the mommy circuit. In some cases, the alchemy just wasn’t right – if we had been cruising an online dating site, let’s just say our profiles wouldn’t have generated a match. In other cases, we were all so focused on wiping snotty noses and being the perfect mommies to our little darlings, we couldn’t relax (and ignore the kiddos for a few seconds) in order to get past the chit-chat about breastfeeding schedules and pediatrician picks in order to really get to know each other.

So I took notes, hoping I could filter out the friend potentials from the duds. On my list was “Melissa*– mom to twins Cruz and Carter, 18 mo., funny, cool red boots, likes wine tasting,” and “Liz* — graphic designer, nose ring, not married to baby daddy, lives Fremont,” and “Jenn* — LA transplant! Does yoga Tuesdays mornings + has babysitters!!” I ranked these moms by number (hello, junior high, anyone?!), trying to figure out who could become my new BFFs. Without new instant mommy friends, I worried, I would be a total failure and lonely to boot.

In my nervous new-stay-at-home-mom state, I desperately hoped those notes on the page would morph into my new de-facto daytime family, a replacement for my workplace network and a source of adult conversation that would prevent me from going crazy alone with my two toddlers.

Another list at the back of the ugly yellow planner outlined the possibilities for keeping us all busy, busy, busy: A full weekly schedule of park playground rankings, open indoor gym hours, story times, kid-friendly coffee shops and children’s theater shows. I red-tabbed these pages, the most important in my planner because they represented the promise that full-time parenting could be as diverse and fun as my working life had been. Without the scheduling options, I wouldn’t have anything to do, and my children would be wholly without stimulation, I figured. I had to validate my choice to leave my job by providing us with The Best Fun-Filled Schedule Ever.

I used the planner for about six months, grabbing for it often as soon as I woke up (to the sweet screams of my cranky/wet/hungry children) and sometimes one last time before I drifted wearily off to a temporary sleep. But gradually, the monthly calendars show more white space and less frantic, hopeful scribbles – not because we were sitting at home doing nothing, I remember, but because I slowly realized building a new life could not be done by marking notes in tiny paper boxes.

It’s been almost three years since I left the world of full-time office work. Most of the “friends” I made those first few months have faded away; we run into each other sometimes at the park or grocery store and exchange friendly chit-chat, but that’s about it. The few true friends I found are still there for the occasional lucky night when we can all escape for a girl’s night out, and these are the mothers I would count on the bring me soup when I get sick and pick up my daughter in a pinch if I am stranded. But most of us no longer have the time to while away every day at the park, worrying about how we will be judged against the “working” mommies in some nonexistent comparative contest. A lot of our kids are in preschool and, gasp, grade school now, and many of us have started new journeys onto different projects, jobs, experiments. We are mothers always, but we are following new passions, too, or thinking about how we can strike a different balance.

I tossed the yellow planner, saying a final goodbye to those innocent, angst-ridden notes about what I thought life as a stay-at-home mother would be like. With perspective, I’m glad to realize they didn’t come close to doing it justice.

*Names changed for the sake of those poor, oversimplified mothers.

Earth Hour

Earth Hour is tonight! A great way to talk to your young kids about climate change and to spend family time together. Usually we have Family Movie Night on Saturdays. Instead tonight we will turn out the lights, light a candle and play board games together. Then we’ll ask our kids tot alk about what they hope for Mother Earth and what ideas they have to help our earth stay healthy. What could Earth Hour lead to if we all paid attention? http://www.earthhour.org/About.aspx


Top 5 Reasons to Switch to Cloth Diapers

Most of the parents we see at the Punkernoodle Baby showroom are expectant parents, researching cloth diapers and setting up their stash before baby arrives.

Still, every week or two we do help a parent who wants to make the big leap, the switch to cloth for their already disposable-diapered baby. Because we’re on the cusp of a new year, and it’s as good a time as any for resolutions, we thought it would be a great time to revisit the Top 5 Reasons to Switch to cloth. Because really, it’s never too late to change how you diaper.

1. It’s cheaper! The average week in disposables for an infant costs $21.00! About $85 per month, $1,000 a year and about $2,500 for 2 1/2 years of diapering! Setting up a cloth diaper system with one-size diapers, All-in-Ones or prefolds and covers can cost as little as $500.00 and can diaper two or more babies for a lifetime! Even if you’ve spent a few months, a year or more buying disposables, you still stand to gain a ton of savings with cloth.

2. Baby’s health. Disposable diapers contain chemicals such as Dioxin that most parents would not want up against their babies’ most sensitive areas 24-7. I know I didn’t. As a new mother I had enough environmental pollution and chemical-laced products to worry about. Using cloth means choosing a natural or safe fabric in place of chemical-laden plastic. It’s a logical extension of choosing healthy food for your family and making a marketplace choice to say no to dangerous products.

3. The planet. Would you throw away your clothes every day? One baby will go through 8,000 disposable diapers during their babyhood. It all goes into a landfill where it sits for hundreds of years before breaking down. We shouldn’t be a throwaway society. We have no reason to be, and it’s not what we should teach our kids.

4. It’s easy. Putting a cloth diaper on your child is just as easy as fastening a disposable — really! Modern cloth diapers have Velcro or snaps and are easy enough for freaked-out mother-in-laws and the most skeptical dads to put on in the dark. Can you change it in the rain? Can you change it on a train? Yes!

5. All the cool kids are doing it. Ha. No, really. Cloth diapering is going mainstream. No one is going to look at you askance when you pull out a super soft, super cute Watermelon-colored FuzziBunz instead of a crumply, chemical-smelling “Snuggies.” In fact, you’ll likely just get a lot of ooohs and ahhhs and “Where can I get me some of them hot-to-trot heiny hiders?”

 So there you have it. Our Top 5. Don’t be scared — it’s smart, it’s easy, it’s cool. Switch!!!!!

SUN! Get Those Problem Diapers Out

Here in the Pacific Northwest, we get true sun about, oh, maybe 3 or 4 times all winter (or so it seems). So it’s hard when parents ask me how to deal with funky problems that come up in their diapers during the darker months (smell, repelling, staining, even yeast) and all I want to say is “sun them.”

Well today, as if to ring in the New Year, it is bright and gorgeously sunny in Seattle. So I will use this incredible weather as a reminder: Go sun your diapers! Sunning is a natural, effective way to bleach out problems. It is also good maintenance so sun them even if they are in good shape.

If your diapers are funky, I suggest this basic recipe:

  • First, run your dirty diapers in a regular wash with detergent to get soil out.
  • The mix a cup of warm water and a few drops of Dawn dishwashing Liquid (the blue kind) and add that to a new wash cycle. Wash diapers on Hot. (If diapers are particularly leaky or downright repelling, use a scrub brush ti scrub the surface of each with the Dawn solution before putting them in the Hot wash).*
  • Run a warm rinse.
  • Hang your wet, clean diapers outside in the sun.

*If you have confirmed yeast problems and believe you have yeast in your diapers, washing with a few drops of Tea Tree Oil can help, or on occasion a little bleach must be used. Then sun bleach. Be sure you treat yeast effectively on your baby and yourself if you are breastfeeding or the cycle will continue. Yeast rash is common in babies regardless of diaper style, and breastfeeding mothers are susceptible to thrush. 

If your diapers are stiff or cold after sun-drying, pop in the dryer for 5 minutes. And always remember to use a cloth-safe detergent, cloth-diaper-safe diaper creams and NEVER any dryer sheets at all to maintain top diaper performance.

Top Ten Reasons Why I might Flunk Kindergarten: No. 9

You have to be on time.

Really, I’m not kidding about this. There’s a bell, and then 5 minutes later, a “tardy bell,” and if you don’t have your kid delivered to their teacher/line/classroom by then, you are Late. Pretty hard and fast, no??? I mean, where’s the freakin flexibility, people? So what if our country is last in the world behind Namibia in terms of education? (Or did Namibia finally pass us up?) I’m talking about a pretty hard-core system here, one which might be just a teensy bit prejudicial to mothers who can’t quite pull their great big steaming pile of responsibilities together every single morning.

Anyway. When you’re late, I’ve just discovered, you head into the Office, where you, as the tardy parent with the tardy child, sign a tardy sheet and take a fluorescent pink slip upon which is printed “I’M LATE” and force your child (who is likley innocent in this whole morning failure, though this writer is scarecely going to admit that given the requirement that follows) to carry said pink slip with them into class. But the best part is: Filling out the REASON for the tardiness on the Office sheet of shame. Yes. There’s a column for your child’s name, one for their room, one for time arrived at school, and one for the parent’s pathetic bumbling excuses. The excuse column caught me by surprise at first, but having had time to mull over it further, I have assembled some possible “real” reasons for our tardiness which I can keep in a list in my phone and pull out whenever the need for a REASON arises:

1. Bluntly, Punkernoodle One had a wardrobe crisis. What appeared at first to be a satisfactory ensemble thrown together by her mother in between shrieks of lateness actually turned out to be wholly unsatisfactory for the very fashion-conscious Kindergarten set. Three changes and 25 minutes late(r), we were however ready to go and looking fabulous in a fetching jeggings/sweater/Silly Bands combo.

2. Partway to school, Mrs. Velush realized with a freezing chill of horror that she had forgotten the Blue Folder which must, must, must be returned to the Kindergarten teacher every morning. She was faced with a decision no parent should have to make: Cause her precious student to be late and return to the house through sheets of pounding rain to fetch the folder, or slide into school on time but empty-handed. The choice was obvious, no? No folder now, no Ivy League later. Parenting is treacherous; choices must be made.

3. Breakfast, breakfast, the travails of breakfast. What might possess two growing kids to turn up their noses at delicious, freshly cooked eggs and sausages is beyond this tardy parent’s comprehension. In Namibia, for example, children likely head off to their school hut with nothing more than a thimbleful of gruel and a squirt of goat milk to wash it down. 

4. They tied me up, the kids did. I was going about my morning, organized and timely, frying eggs and packing tasty lunches, when they encircled me from two sides with a thin wire-like rope, brought me down to my knees, gagged me with a stuffy, and shoved me under the bed. They were able to eat 12 bowls of Goldfish and watch 4 interminable episodes of The Wiggles before I could loosen my bindings, wrestle them into their shoes and coats and drag them into school. Kids these days … minds of their own.

5. Fine. Mrs. Velush was in the last throes of Jonathan Franzen’s “Freedom” last night and was compelled to keep reading until she was done, at some way-too-late hour, and, fine, dammit, she admits it, then she couldn’t get herself up in the morning. Doesn’t the school district have a new emphasis on literacy? It couldn’t be helped….