School lunch concern day, contains book review of Lunch Lessons

Today I’m posting a question and a book review all rolled into one, and the topic is school lunches and our problems with them. (Blossom is "helping" me by chasing the cursor on the screen. Kittens. Whee.)

First, a question from Emily:

"Hello — I’m anxious about getting plastic out of my life but I am completely stumped about what sorts of containers to use for packing lunches. I bought a metal bento-box-esque tin in Chinatown but 1.) it’s impossible for a small child to open 2.) it leaks and 3.) I think it might actually be aluminum, which — I think — isn’t great either. I’ve dorked around on the Internet looking for ideas but haven’t turned up much. Glass seems dangerous and heavy. Do you or your readers have any ideas? (possibly people don’t think it’s that dangerous to pack food in plastic, or certain kinds of plastic…happy to hear good reasons to support that thought too)"

Well, I think plastic is dangerous and scary, too, and am scared at how it’s absolutely everywhere. But it didn’t really seem to be as big an issue in my life until we started Kindergarten a few weeks ago. I’m kind of stuck at this point, because the choices seem to be a) let him eat school lunch every day, which I think may actually be plastic (actual quote from last week on the first day he asked to eat school lunch instead of bringing it: "I don’t know what it was but it was good and I dipped it in ketchup!"), b) keep putting organic "baby" carrots into ziplock plastic baggies, thereby putting lipstick on a pig, or c) spend $30 at on the Laptop Lunchbox set (more about that later).

[I thought I’d maybe solved the problem by considering getting a thermos-type food container to send hot soup or bi-bim-bap or something like that with him every day. But when I asked about that he uttered the cryptic "I only like cold foods at lunch because we only don’t go out to play when it’s raining." Um, OK. No hot bi-bim-bap for lunch. Got it.]

Which segues into my review of the book Lunch Lessons: Changing the Way We Feed Our Children by Ann Cooper and Lisa M. Holmes. The intro of the book was beginning to irk me, because we got a lot of statistics about how school lunches are so horrible for kids, and are contributing to both this huge obesity epidemic and the harmful consumer culture that’s sweeping over us like a tidal wave. And then they talked about how well the kids eat at a private school in the Hamptons (a very wealthy area of Long Island, NY) of which one of the authors is the chef. And I thought, "Fabulous. They’re scaring the crap out of us and then bragging about how their school is so great, but none of this is within reach of normal kids or parents." But then…

…they tell you how other schools and districts changed their crappy lunch programs into nutritious programs the kids are really into. Followed by a chapter on starting to break the cycle of crappy foods and choices that are bad for the environment. And then there’s a chapter about what kids’ actual nutritional requirements are that was helpful and realistic and doesn’t make you feel guilty. They talk a ton about farmers and making sure kids can participate in and understand about how food is grown, and that they really understand the life cycle of the foods they’re eating.

They have a whole bunch of nutritious, mostly-delicious-sounding recipes that you can make for breakfast or pack for your child’s lunch. But the book is really focusing on lunch programs that are nutritious and help teach kids about how food is grown, and how you can try to get some of those principles into the lunch program at your child’s school. It’s simultaneously raising a huge alarm about how important but minimized school lunch is, and giving you the ammunition and morale to start making good changes on small and bigger scales. I love this quote about why they’re working for change and encouraging us to, too:

"It may seem overwhelming to take on something as large as the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), and it would no doubt be infinitely easier just to use the recipes in this book and cook more healthfully for your own children than it would be to take on the larger system.  But for us, there are two major reasons to fight this fight. First, we have a moral obligation…The second reason is that kids learn habits, both good and bad, around their peers….It’s not about changing the entire National School Lunch Program at once, it’s about changing one school and one district at a time, just as the early proponents of the NSLP did."

If you send your kid’s lunch to school, the authors recommend the Laptop Lunches bento box system.


(The photo on the front of the book is a Laptop Lunches box.) They go through the different kinds of plastic, and which are safest and least safe. The plastic the Laptop Lunches is made of is the safest kind. You pay a little more for that, and because they’re made in California. But I’m getting to the point* that I’d rather spend $30 once on something that I know isn’t leeching chemical into my child’s food, and which is super kid-friendly and might inspire him to actually eat all the stuff I pack, than just keeping on buying ziplock bags (spending way more than $30 a year) that get thrown away and aren’t good for us anyway. (You can buy one at, but I ordered mine from because I also got another Sigg water bottle for my 2-year-old in the same order. The Sigg bottles are expensive, but are virtually indestructible, and are of aluminum with an inert lining so nothing leeches into the liquids in the bottle. Plus the kids think they’re way cooler than sippy cups. And I’ve never lost one, while I’ve lost more than a dozen sippy cups over the years, so financially I’m coming out ahead vs. sippy cups, and far far ahead vs. buying bottles of water on the go.)

Of course it’s easy for me to say that, since my Laptop Lunches set just got here yesterday, so this morning is our first day. He may come home from school not having eaten anything, or having thrown away half the set accidentally, or telling me it’s not cool so he ate the school mystery lunch again. If I’ve learned nothing else from this parenting gig, I’ve learned that we all just do the best we can at every given time, but the kids can screw up our well-intentioned work without even realizing it. (I can’t be the only one who’s had the thought that parenting would be so much easier if it wasn’t for the actual kids.)

And that’s what I liked so much about Lunch Lessons. It doesn’t go into it with the idea that anyone can feed their kids perfectly. It’s just a process of continuing to try to improve the choices we offer (all) our kids within our own personal set of constraints and resources. So Emily, the authors would probably tell you to try the Laptop Lunches set if you can afford it, but otherwise look for containers made of plastic types 2, 4, and 5. Avoid plastics type 1, 3, 6, and 7. Or try the stainless steel bento box set from

I’ll report back in a week or two on how our Laptop Lunches experiment is going.

*This recent round of Thomas recalls is contributing to that feeling.

Q&A: triplets?!

The cats are here! A 6-month-old black boy named Alex Rodriguez and a 3 1/2-month-old calico girl named Princess Blossom Pepperdoodle Von Yum-Yum. Alex is a big sweet love and Blossom is a crazy wild girl. (I vetoed the first two name choices: Base and Ball, and Big Six and Cutebomb.) My younger son calls them B’ossom! and Awex! It’s almost too cute for me to process.

But on to a question from Meghan, mother of a 2 1/2-year-old who is the example whenever I say "unless your child has a metabolic disorder…" A few weeks ago she got the happy surprise that she was pregnant. Then she went in for the ultrasound:

"Triplets!?! How am I going to do it? Is Cole (now 2.5) going to need
years of therapy for being neglected? What about my career? My
marriage? My body? Their tiny bodies? I definitely need a pep talk from
parents who have been there with more than one."

I emailed her back something that basically said, "Holy shit." ‘Cause, yeah, holy shit. She replied:

"I know, right? Spontaneous triplets, I have learned, are less than 10% of triplets, which are also only 15% of multiples."

So she needs help from moms of triplets and twins about dealing with multiples. Special advice about dealing with triplets and an older child with special needs (the metabolic disorder) appreciated. She’s also worried that her pregnancy will be even higher-risk because of her son’s disorder and his low birth weight.

Both practical suggestions and it’s-gonna-be-all-rights welcome. All I know is that triplet mom Jody recommends Karen Gromada’s Mothering Multiples as the go-to book for triplets.

Q&A: thumbsucking toddler

1. Claudia is wondering if anyone (rudyinparis?) knows where she can rent a pram in Paris, France. If you know, leave it in the comments or email me with "pram rental in Paris" in the subject line.

2. Am I completely and utterly nuts? We’re adopting two kittens, and they’re arriving tonight. (Our old cat died about 15 months ago, so it was time. But kittens?)

3. Why does Jane Seymour look better at 56 than I do at 34? Oh, yeah. Plastic surgery.

4. Am I the only one who’s kind of baffled by this question from Julie (not her confusion, but the big deal her doctor is making)?

"My DS 15 months is a thumb sucker.  I didn’t have
a problem with this as it calms him down just like my DD’s paci did for
her.  However, at a doctor appointment last evening, the pediatrician –
whose child status I do not know – noted my son’s thumb sucking and
asked if he ever got infections.  I told him he did have broken skin
sometimes, but no infections.  The doctor said that they encourage
positive reinforcement such as toys, CANDY??, and the like, when he isn’t
sucking his thumb.  He stressed the possibility of infections, which I had
never heard of nor thought about.  So my question, now that I am freaking
out – like I needed one more thing to freak out about – is has
anyone’s child gotten an infection from thumb sucking?  Further, how
do I positively reinforce him NOT sucking his thumb, when the only time he isn’t
is when he is engaged in something else anyway, like eating or playing with
toys?  How will he know that the new toy I give him is for not sucking his
thumb?  Or that the extra piece of cheese I’ve cut up is positive
reinforcement?  Am I complicating this too much?  Do I need to
worry?  Ok, so MANY questions, but I already had a nightmare about a thumb
amputation, so I would love some of your and your readers’ input.  I
am fine with him sucking his thumb for comfort, but will try to get him to stop
if it will prevent some horrible contamination.  Thanks so much for your
help and consideration!"

I’m confused about what kind of infection your doctor thinks your son is going to get. An infection of the thumb itself? Or some other kind.

I think it’s been shown that thumb sucking (like pacifier-using) is only a problem if the child does it all the time. If the child only does it for occasional comfort or to fall asleep, it’s pretty harmless. I know I’ve talked about how I sucked my thumb for a loooong time when I went to sleep, and then a few years ago when I needed braces I asked my orthodontist if it had anything to do with my thumbsucking. She said no, that if you’re going to need braces you’ll need them, and unless a kid has the thumb in his mouth all the time or sucks particularly strongly it won’t cause dental problems that wouldn’t already be there. (It turns out my need for braces was from a heredity thing with my teeth. I went to a family reunion in my braces and had 5 family members, including my brother, share that they’d had braces for the same thing. Also, braces as an adult suck rocks, but are so worth it.)

The thing that freaks me out about your doctor’s advice is the suggestion that candy is a good substitute for thumb sucking. Huh? Are there any dentists in the house that want to comment on that one?

(I’m thinking there’s a need for positive reinforcement foods. Anyone want to fill that niche by marketing organic cheese precut in smiley faces, with "You can do it!!" embossed on one side? No?)

15 months is one of those times that kids are starting to work out their own comfort measures. Pacifiers and thumb-sucking are often parts of that. You have to choose your own position, but my position is that it’s always better to provide more comfort for a child than less. I’d give it another many months, until he’s verbal enough to be able to express his feelings better and tell you how he feels, before I’d try to get him to stop. If he seems obsessive about it or like he’s sucking really strongly, you might want to get a referral to a pediatric speech therapist, but if it’s just normal comfort sucking, it’ll work itself out as he gets better at regulating his own emotions and asking for comfort when he needs it, and needing comfort less.

Any other opinions? She could always duct tape his hands to his sides or teach him to knit or do Sudoku to occupy his hands.

Q&A: allowance and chores

Jessica writes:

"I was wondering, what is your philosophy on allowances and household
chores?  I have a four and half year old daughter and while she is
generally helpful around the house when we ask her to do something,
I feel she could be responsible for specific chores on a more regularly
scheduled basis.  Both small things like making sure the cat has dry
food and water each morning and helping to set the table and also
larger tasks like making sure her room and the basement playroom are
orderly before she goes to sleep at night.  She likes rules and order
very much (one of her nicknames before she was able to spell was Baby
OCD) and is pretty goal-oreinted for a preschooler, so naturally I
thought about getting her a chore chart for the refrigerator and
rewarding her with an allowance.  My husband and I both earned our
allowances as children and there is a part of me that really believes
this would be a good way to begin teaching her about
responsibility, saving and working towards your goals. 

However, I went to a parenting lecture a long time ago and allowance
question was asked by another parent with an older child.  As I recall,
the lecturer advised not to give an allowance as a pay-off for
performing chores.  Instead she said to teach that chores are what your
parents ask of you as part of participating in family life.  The
lecturer advised that parents don’t get paid for mowing the lawn
or ironing and children shouldn’t be paid for performing basic
household tasks either.  Instead, the lecturer suggested that you just
use an allowance as a means of teaching saving and give each child a
set amount weekly or monthly and increase it annually on the child’s
birthday.  I am pretty sure she suggested giving your child one dollar
a month per year of age.

Clearly this advice resonated with me a bit, because I remember it
well almost three years later.  I think it stuck with me because I do
agree with the "chores should be done as part of family life"
argument.  I am sure a compromise could be that we only pay for
extraordinary chores, but it’s not like I can easily say to a four
year-old that putting out napkins is your family responsibility, but if
you want to earn an extra buck this week feel free to scrub the
toilets.  Also, I am not sure my four year old needs four dollars a
month for no reason other than to teach her about savings.  Is she too
young for an allowance at all?  She certainly understands that things
she has and want cost money.  Also she knows that her father and I
financially support her and work hard for our money.  She has basic
addition and subtraction abilities and a vague idea of monetary values
(a sense that a quarter is worth more than a penny but less than a
dollar) but her understanding of money could be much better.  Her
grandparents give her change and a few dollars every now and again and
she saves them in a wallet.  Her father and I also put our spare change
nightly in banks she and her brother have in their rooms, and she knows
that when they get full we deposit the coins in their savings accounts
at the big bank.  I have occasionally made her pay for things that she
wants that I deem ridiculous with her wallet money, but since I take
all monetary gifts over $5 and deposit them in her savings account (she
knows we do this) she doesn’t actually have that much in her wallet
and I am much more likely to refuse pleas for new stuff on "you don’t
need that/we can’t afford things you don’t need" grounds.  When
she took a friend’s birthday present out of the gift closet and started
playing with it before it I could wrap and deliver it I took what was
in her wallet to "pay" for a replacement present and she was
devastated. But that was probably more about the stealing/disappointed
lecture she got and my unwillingness to let her keep the stolen gift
than the loss of the money.  I think she would embrace the idea of
saving up to get higher priced items that I deem unnecessary, but then
again she needs nothing else and I am with you on the no new toys
sentiment you expressed recently. 

So to sum up what is becoming an extremely long email, I am very torn
about an allowance and a job chart and confused about the age to start
an allowance.  For the record, my husband thinks I am over-analyzing
the situation and that we should do the chart already and either pay
her an allowance, or if I can’t get over my anxiety, reward her with a
fun family outing since that worked well for us when potty-training.
What do you and your wise commenters think?"

I love it when people email me with questions and then lay out the issue so completely that I’m pretty much useless. (Rereading that it sounds sarcastic, but I’m actually completely serious.)

It sounds like you and your husband have a pretty good grasp of teaching your kids about money already. I think that at least some of what you want to do will become more clear to you if I point out that you’re connecting chores and allowance right now, when it seems pretty clear that you agree with the lecturer you saw years ago who said that chores are just something you do as part of being a member of a family. (I agree with that, too, BTW.)

So it looks like that’s pretty much a done deal for you, that she’s going to have a set of things that she’s responsible for. The question then becomes how to deal with the allowance issue. And if you decide against an allowance, how does she make money, or does she have to ask for anything she wants from you?

There are plenty of families that just give an allowance every week. That’s one option. Another option is giving her the chance to earn money by doing extra, more difficult chores.

I don’t really know what the long-term outcomes are of those two ways of going about it. We talk about giving an allowance around here all the time. Every 4-5 months or so my older son brings it up, we agree on a figure, then he tells us he doesn’t want it yet. So it’s never gotten off the ground.

Anyone with older kids, or even kids this same age, want to talk about what you do about allowances and/or earning money for your kids? I’m betting there are tons of us who just haven’t really enacted any kind of system because we don’t know exactly what to do.

Book Review: Understanding Your Moods When You’re Expecting

This is a review of Understanding Your Moods When You’re Expecting, by Lucy J,. Puryear, M.D.

Puryear is a psychiatrist specializing in women’s reproductive mental health at Baylor in Texas, and she’s seen tons and tons of women at all stages in pre-conception, pregnancy, and postpartum problems. She says she initially thought she was going to be an ob-gyn, but found that she’d have no ability to help women with their moods and emotions during the pregnancy because of the limitations of the system, so she switched to psychiatry. Now she works with women before, during, and after pregnancy.

The wonderful thing about this book is that Puryear continues to emphasize that it’s normal and acceptable to feel depressed, scared, angry, and even hopeless during pregnancy. That, to me, is a huge step, that a mass-market publisher has published an entire book talking about women’s negative feelings in a way that validates us. Those of us who have been depressed during pregnancy know that it’s such a turbulent mix of mega-hormones, life changes, and emotional vulnerability that depression is a reasonable response from our bodies. But it’s still so important to hear that it’s normal from the medical establishment (which for years told us we should be happy and glowing, that serious nausea was "only morning sickness," and made us feel like we were going to be bad mothers if we didn’t absolutely love pregnancy). So I’m thrilled that this book is out there.

Puryear writes with an easy, authoritative tone. The book is full of anecdotes about her patients, most of whom she treats with talk therapy, some of whom she treats with anti-depressants. She emphasizes the need for family support, which could be critical for a reader who was trying to hide her depression from family and friends because she was scared of their reaction to it. She also covers some interesting topics, like how to process pregnancy body changes if you have a history of eating disorders and body dysmorphia. The section on telling postpartum psychosis (having persistent thoughts of harming your children) vs. postpartum OCD (having persistent thoughts that something bad is going to happen to your children and trying to prevent it) is extremely important and will probably result in hundreds of women getting treatment for PPOCD who otherwise would have thought they would be seen as monsters.

There are a few things I wish were different about the book, though. The most glaring things for me are that she doesn’t talk enough about alternate treatments for mood disorders and her section on breastfeeding is a big cop-out.

She does have a very brief section on St. John’s Wort and Omega-3s during pregnancy, but not postpartum. She also doesn’t mention any other treatment options for pregnancy or postpartum, even things that we know about–massage, B-complex vitamins, exercise, etc. It doesn’t really surprise me, since she’s an MD so her focus is on talk therapy and medical treatments, but it would have been nice to have this be a big book of what-to-do as well as a big book of you’re-normal-and-you-can-get-through-his.

My real beef is with the section on breastfeeding, which I just think wasn’t completely researched. There is evidence from all over the world that both mothers and babies do better when they are supported in their efforts to breastfeed. It should be treated as a normal part of the process, and we should be giving women all the tools and support we possibly can to help them have successful breastfeeding experiences. But Puryear seems to approach nursing as an expendable option, the first thing to go when a woman feel stressed postpartum. The anecdote she uses tells of a woman who comes in with a 6-week-old who isn’t breastfeeding very well, and she’s afraid she isn’t making enough milk. She’s tired and stressed out and her husband’s at work all the time. (Sound familiar? Growth spurt at 6 weeks, fear of low supply, worst phase of baby crying and fussiness?)

Instead of saying a) we need to get you to see a great, IBCLC lactation consultant right now to figure out why the baby’s not nursing well and whether you’re actually having supply issues, b) we need to get you some help at home, and c) your husband is going to have to take a night shift or two with pumped milk or formula so you can get some sleep, Puryear tells her to stop breastfeeding. Now of course it’s OK not to nurse your baby. But to me this sounds like a patient coming in with a broken toe and the doctor saying "Let’s amputate the foot." Why not deal with the core issue, which is lack of support, to help the mother get some rest and either get the nursing straightened out or know she had all the support she could have before stopping?

So. In general I think this book is great, and is a vitally-important step in having the medical establishment and society at large treat women’s mood disorders during pregnancy seriously. But if you’re entertaining any thoughts at all of nursing, skip that section in this book. Make sure you’ve done some research before you give birth and have the phone number of an IBCLC lactation consultant on your refrigerator and don’t hesitate to call if you’re having any nursing issues at all. It doesn’t guarantee that you’ll be able to nurse successfully, but at least you’ll have a fighting chance. 

Link here to my series on Preventing PPD.

Q&A: splinter removal and jogging stroller rec needed

I’m feeling a little worn down by the seriousness of the week, so let our fancy lightly turn to thoughts of splinter removal and jogging stroller recommendations.

First, an email conversation I had with Charisse last night and this morning:

Charisse: Do you know any way to get a splinter out of a 3-year-old short of general anesthesia?  Mouse has one that doesn’t look like it’s going to work itself out, and I’d love to avoid the mayhem and 2 days of bathroom-refusing terror that went down last time. (We had to visibly remove all the tweezers from the bathroom before she’d go back.)

Me: Yes! It’s bizarre, but it works. Get a banana, and have Mouse eat the
banana (or give it to someone else.) Cut a piece of the peel to cover
the area of the splinter. Put the peel with the inside toward Mouse’s
skin (so peel side out) and use surgical tape to tape it snug onto her
skin over the splinter, and have her sleep that way. When she wakes up
in the morning, the splinter will have worked its way closer to the
surface (allegedly it should be lying on top of the skin, but that
hasn’t happened with us–it’s just gotten close enough to the surface
for me to yank it out easily).

It’s got to be something in the banana peel enzymes. Either that or magic.

Let me know if it works for you.

(The sun sets. The sun rises. Little Mouse sleeps with a banana peel taped to her skin.)

Charisse: …and the morning update is, it definitely helped!  Same as you though–it was farther out but not lying on top of the skin.  She still wouldn’t let me at it with the tweezers, but the skin’s less red and I think now it might come out in the bath."

So now you all know, too. I can’t remember who told me about the banana peel. Maybe my friend Kay? It’s freaky, but no freakier than putting raw grated potato on your breast to suck out a plugged duct (which also works).

Then, Lysa writes:

"Our stroller was stolen a few weeks ago, just before
we were about to relocate.  The stroller, a BOB Revolution, was
wonderful for a family that, like us, enjoys walking in the city and
out "in nature" together.  It was an expensive stroller, but not on
account of where it was made, what it looked like, or which celebrities
own it.  No: it was the most maneuverable, shock-absorbent, easy to
fold-up stroller I’ve ever used (and I did shop around).  The sun/rain
flap truly worked (we live in the Pacific Northwest where we need rain
protection), and there were several storage areas.  What I loved most,
of course, was the one-hand steering ability the stroller afforded.

question, not only for you, but for other moms is simply which
make/model you’d recommend *other* than the BOB?  That was a gift — we
can’t really afford to buy one ourselves right now.  We’re willing to
pay up to $200.00, but that’s really our limit.

All the best,
Strollerless and desperate!"

How much does it bite that her stroller was stolen? I mean, what kind of person steals a stroller?

I am no help on this question, because a BOB would be torture for me here in NYC. Way too big and bulky. But I know some of you must live in the same kind of city Lysa does where a jogging stroller is perfect. What have you got for her?

(Update on my own stroller situation: I’m loving the Chicco C6 I got a few weeks ago. It’s super-light, which was my main concern for my babysitter. It’s a tad short in the handles [I’m 5’8"], but I only go about 7 blocks with it each morning, and the babysitter’s fine with it. It folds easily and has a carrying strap and a slight recline, so it’s perfect for a 2 1/2-year-old. I’d never get it as a first stroller for a baby, but for an older toddler it’s perfect at the price [around US$60]. If someone else had been paying I’d have gotten the Micralite or the Quinny Zapp.)

Q&A: getting more with less pumping access

Emily writes:

"I have a question about pumping and working. My 3 month old son is in daycare every day from 7-3:30 while I work. I am a teacher, and my schedule only allows me to pump once — at lunch — at 11:45 every day. During that time, I seem to be only able to get about 6-8 oz. This seems to be enough for my son right now, but I’m worried about what will come once he hits a growth spurt. I nurse him right before I drop him off in the morning and as soon as I get home to try to maximize his TOT (time on tit). I really don’t want to supplement with formula, but it seems like my only option. I have not tried anything to increase my milk supply, because I worry that anything I do won’t really make a difference because the once-a-day pumping will decrease production. I’m also worried that I’m setting myself up for a nasty case of mastitis. My schedule would allow me to pump twice — once at 10 and once at 11:45 — 3-4 times a week, but I don’t know if that would make any difference.

So, I’m looking for help and ideas. Can you be of any assistance? I hope so. Thanks, in advance, for your thoughts."

Remember that I’m no lactation consultant, but I think if you can add
in that extra pumping session at work even twice a week it will help. I’d also try some of the easier things to increase your supply–eating some oatmeal every day, drinking a Guinness every once in awhile in the evening, drinking Mothers Milk tea, or taking fenugreek capsules. Taking flax seed oil or lecithin capsules will help prevent plugged ducts and mastitis (plus they’ll make your hair shiny). (Or you could eat those crazy brown rice "treats" with the flax seed oil in them from yesterday.)

something that might also work, and I’m going to need to see if anyone
else has tried it–trying to switch your pumping schedule so you
produce less while you’re at work and more later on when you can pump.
In other words, if you could pump another time right after your son
goes down to sleep, and then again right before you go to bed, you
could end up in a week or two producing more milk in the evening and
being able to pump enough then to make up for his needs during the day.

The reason I think that this will work is that some babies go
through a phase when they refuse to nurse during the day, and will only
nurse while they’re drowsy or falling asleep, and that phase can last
fro a month or two, and the mother’s milk production just seems to
accommodate that. They tank up at night and play during the day. I
don’t see any reason why you couldn’t use your pump to get the same

I’m betting some of the pumping working moms here have some
suggestions, and you should also check out the PumpingMoms group on
YahooGroups, which is sort of the oracle of pumping.

Has anyone tried switching their supply to be able to pump more while not at work?

Some updates

Danielle and I were just laughing because she sent me an email from her client (GoodNites) about a free confidential conference call about bedwetting they’re sponsoring with an expert tomorrow (Thursday in North/South America) and then discovered that yesterday’s post was about bedwetting, and the reader even mentioned GoodNights. Ha. Anyway, here are the details of the call:

"The client is GoodNites, the disposable
sleep boxers and sleep shorts for children who have issues with bedwetting. Our
original plan was to reach out to bloggers who are talking about their struggles
with bedwetting (with advice and free product), but when we did a conversation
audit, we were very surprised to find out that NO ONE is blogging about

This is kind of upsetting, because as we all know, the best source of
information for moms is from other moms. If no mom bloggers are talking about
bedwetting, then the only sources of information are on product websites and on
medical sites like WebMD.

So, what we are offering up is a conference
call this Thursday at 2pm CST. The call will be with Judsen Culbreth (her bio is
below). She will answer any questions that anyone has about bedwetting, and can
offer up both professional and personal experience and advice. The call is
anonymous, we are just asking participants to register via a completely
confidential email to an account we have set up. They can also submit questions
via the email, and we will pass those on to Judsen. Also, we are inviting any
bloggers to the call who aren’t facing the issue, but would like to educate
their readers. Oh, and if you want to pass on questions for readers who might
feel embarrassed to email them, you can invite them to post them in your
comments, if you like.

Again, the call is this Thursday, September 20th
at 2pm CST. To get the dial-in information, just send an email to

Judsen’s Bio:
Judsen Culbreth is a mother, parenting expert and author
with both professional and personal experience on the topic bedwetting. 
Formerly Editor-in-Chief of Working Mother
magazine and Executive Editor at Redbook, Judsen’s editorial work has been
honored with many awards, including two Parents’ Choice Silver Honor
Awards.  Culbreth has also appeared on hundreds of TV and radio news programs, including NBC’s Today
show, CBS Evening News, ABC’s Prime Time Live and

2 CST is 3 on the East Coast of the US and Canada, and noon on the West Coast. Check the world clock to find out what time it is where you are. If you don’t want to email in a question you can leave it in the comments here anonymously.

Heather writes:

"Even though I’m only an aunt I read your stuff daily, especially
about PPD which I am scared of.  I’ve bookmarked you series and already
told my husband that when the time comes he is in charge of everything
in those articles.

Imagine my surprise as I was watching Good Eats on the Food
Network tonight and saw him rework rice crispy treats in a way that
made me think of you {it was the flax oil that did it for me}.  I
thought maybe your readers {who aren’t hopelessly addicted to Alton
Brown & Good Eats} might like it."

Recipe for Brown Rice Crispy Bar from Alton Brown at

(For those who don’t want to click, the ingredients are puffed brown rice, flax seed oil, honey, mini marshmallows, slivered almonds, dried cranberries, dried cherries, and dried blueberries.)

"Only an aunt," pshaw. Anyone who’s interested in kids is welcome here. As for these bars, though, well, I love flax seed oil more than most, but I don’t think I could go this far. The flax seed oil and dried fruit would be great for postpartum moms (the dried fruit has a lot of great fiber), but this recipe reminds me of the stuff my mom used to try to pass off to us when I was a kid. (I have lots of memories of going to co-op breakdown day to divide the huge bags of carob chips and wheat germ into packets for the individual families. Good times.) Even the lack of raisins doesn’t make me want to try it. I’d eat the dried blueberries by themselves, though.

And now for an anticlimactic update on my Kindergarten situation: I still don’t like the teacher and don’t trust her as far as I can throw her, but she seems to think my son is kind of funny so she’s being nice to him. I worry that if what my son says is true, the teacher is scapegoating another kid in the class (call me crazy but I don’t think a 5-year-old should be sent out of the classroom three times in the first three weeks of school unless the behavior is violent or seriously disruptive). I’m still going to talk to the principal, but it may be more of a general "what’s really going on with her?" session than a "help my kid" session.

He was fine about going to school yesterday, but then freaked out when
it was time for me to leave, and wouldn’t go back into his room for
awhile. But at least he wasn’t sobbing uncontrollably like before.

Things I don’t want to have happen that have happened to different people in my family: Skip a grade and still end up the smart ostracized kid only younger than everyone else to boot, sit in the back of the room bored reading the dictionary until the teacher yells at you and moves the dictionary too high for you to reach (although you end up with a stellar vocabulary up through the letter H), be told by your kindergarten teacher that you’re too "wild" for school (because you have boy energy) so you barely graduate from high school because you believe her, mentally tune out from school from Kindergarten on because there’s nothing for you there, be told you’re so smart so often that you end up afraid to take any risks because everyone’s invested in your success.

That’s what I’m afraid of, not a little boredom. And there are a bunch of reasons we didn’t end up in a GATE program this year. Once of which was that I felt I was going to be able to trust a Kindergarten teacher, because all the K teachers I’ve ever known have been resourceful, smart about little kids, and kind. I’m pretty gobsmacked by my instant mistrust of this teacher (I have to say that everyone else at the school had been great).

Jenni, I didn’t go in telling her he could read because the teacher and former-teacher commenters here told me not to (not me specifically, but parents) a few weeks ago. They said that teachers figure out the kids quickly anyway, and don’t need or want the parents to bring their own prejudgments into it. I was surprised that she hadn’t picked up on the fact that my son’s reading fluently, especially in light of this whole "read at all costs" thing they’ve got going with the forced reading at the beginning of class.

Speaking of that, I’m finally getting my routine down so I’m not as frazzled in the morning. My son is insisting on school lunch ("I don’t know what it was but it tasted good!" Help…me…) and doesn’t eat anything I pack him ("I ate one grape tomato, Mom!"). So I don’t have to pack him anything. My babysitter meets us at school and takes the little one. But still, the whole set-up is basically for the birds. And I’m still pissed about all the school supplies (it’s not like we can all just pile into the car and stop at Target–it required at least two stores for that list).

How are you guys?

Q&A: nighttime wetness

I’m hoping that today goes a little better than yesterday did. I had a bad moment with the teacher yesterday, but it turns out there’s a student teacher in the classroom a few days a week and my son seems to like her a lot. Plus today is gym, so maybe he’ll be excited about that. But who knows? I’ll keep you updated.

In the meantime, let’s take a question from Jo Ann:

"I have two daughters, ages 5.5 and 3. My older daughter was daytime
potty trained at age 3 but has been wet at night through all this
time. (Actually, we had a 3 month period in her 4s when she was dry
most nights but that stopped for some reason – not coincidental with
any big life change, btw.) Since she outgrew Pullups, we’ve had her in
Good Nites pants almost every night. Younger daughter was just recently
potty-trained (thanks to Camp Grandma) and is also still wet at night.
I know it’s time to bite the proverbial bullet and move my older girl
into panties at night and just deal with a wet bed for as long as we
have to. I really hate this idea because her bed is heavy and unwieldy
to make and unmake, especially in the middle of the night, but I am
told it is the only way. Actually, for starters, I’d be grateful for
tips on that. Our ped insists that cutting back on liquids before
bedtime is not likely to have an effect.

really my question has to do with what to do with younger daughter. I’d
like to start making the change for both of them but I’m concerned
about the timing. Older daughter is very competitive; what if the
younger daughter catches on and starts being dry at night first? I’m
worried that the older one will be too discouraged and start beating up
on herself because she didn’t "win". Does that mean that I have to
night-train the older daughter first and just accept younger daughter
being wet for another few months? (Or however long it takes.) Or if I
do choose to take on both at once, how do I sell the idea to Older?

Another reason I’d like to just take care of both of them at once
is, since there’s likely to be night-time commotion anyway, I’d rather
they were both awake for a good reason. Younger is my poor sleeper, and
since her bedroom is right next to Older’s, she’s going to be awake
anyway. Since Husband will likely be hiding out in the guest bedroom
during the weeks/months that this is going on, I am hoping for this
process to take as little time as possible. Help!"

You know, I really try not to tell people what to do, and instead just lay out the choices so they can decide what’s best for them. But holy crap I cannot imagine going through nighttime training for one kid and then turning around to do it with the other one right after that. It would probably push me over the edge into insanity. Also, I don’t think it’s reasonable or equitable for a father to hide out and shirk responsibility for nighttime parenting, and I would make sure if I was up everyone was up, if you know what I mean.

But then I just had a really bad day, so that may be making me a tad more vicious than usual.

Anyway. 5.5 is pretty much the border at which the vast majority of kids are able to be dry all night (some still have more-than-just-occasional issues up through age 7). So your daughter ought to be able to be successful at this relatively quickly. Plus, she’s old enough now to be able to get up if she wets the bed, change her pajama bottoms herself, and put down a towel over the wet spot and just go back to sleep. (That’s what happens here with occasional accidents, and I don’t even know about it until the next morning.) I think the night training is probably going to be way more successful with Older than you think it is, whether or not it happens right away. And it could definitely happen in just a few nights for her.

I think the only thing you can say to sell the idea to Older is telling her Younger wants to do everything she does, so she’s going to get dry at night like she is. There’s not really much else you can say about it.

Of course, you could take the easy way out and send them both to Camp Grandma for night training, too. Think your mom or MIL would go for it?

(Oh, and I’m with your ped. I haven’t heard anywhere that restricting liquids has any effect on nighttime wetness. AFAIK, the only person who thinks restricting liquids helps with nighttime peeing is Oprah, who doesn’t drink anything after 7 pm because she doesn’t like to have to get up to pee in the middle of the night.)

Anyone?  How can Jo Ann sell training both at the same time to her older daughter? Any tips for tandem night training?