I had no hot water this morning

I'm really glad you all are still talking on Friday's post about the praise chapter of NutureShock, as the post I wrote for today and am 99% positive I saved is nowhere to be found. Which is par for the course on a day so far filled with many many small things designed to send me over the edge into maaaaadness. (What, your 5-year-old didn't get battery acid on himself at 6:45 am?)

Anyway, keep talking about meaty things over there, and I'll rewrite my brilliant (snort) post that went missing.

Other bits of business:

I'm back on Twitter, and not as conflicted as I was before, so follow me at http://twitter.com/AskMoxie (If you don't want to be on Twitter, all my Tweets feed through on the box on the right of this page.)

If you're nosy about where I work and want to follow our Twitterfeed, please do (there's a controversy going on now with a parent trying to get our games banned for teaching kids to be competitive): http://twitter.com/DimensionUGames

Also, I started a hashtag on Twitter for moms who travel for work, and you're all invited to contribute your tips or questions. It's #worktravelmom

You may recall that I called my cats "Good Cat" and "Bad Cat." They've reversed positions, and the annoying one has become quite helpful, while the sweet one is bossy and presumptuous.

And now the big(gish) news: I'd sworn off all committees at my children's schools, but have been getting so worked up about the abysmal state of school lunches that when I read the email call to join the Food Committee at the school both of my kids will be at next year I made the perhaps-rash decision to join. (If you don't have a kid in US public school and don't know why lunches would be disgusting, read the blog http://fedupwithschoollunch.blogspot.com/ in which a public school teacher photographed and ate everything the kids were served since the beginning of the year. Appalling.)

When I told my older son that I'd joined the committee to try to get better school lunches, he said, "That's ironic, since I always bring my lunch." (Yes, he said "ironic.")

But that's exactly the point. It's a struggle every day to pack his lunch and get us out of the house on time, and I think about all the working parents all across the country who go through this annoyance every day. And I think about the parents who don't have the time or money or resources or food knowledge to pack their kids' lunch, from the single mom of my son's friend who has a super-high-powered job and no time, to the kids at his school who are well below the poverty line whose parents can't afford to pack lunch for them.

Each to her own talents, and one of my talents is figuring out what needs to be done and then helping to convince people to let us do it.

It is, however, also ironic that I ate chocolate pudding and nothing else for supper the other night and now I'm on the Food Committee. But whatever, I made it from scratch and used the good vanilla and butter and dark brown sugar. And I'm an adult, and it's not the only choice I have, day in and day out, at school.

The first meeting's Wednesday morning, and I'll report back in.

29 thoughts on “I had no hot water this morning”

  1. I’m sorry your day has been so rough.I’m glad you are volunteering for the food committee. I think school lunches have only gotten worse since my days in school, and they weren’t too great then.
    I’m not sure I’d have the, um, stomach to take the task on. It seems like anytime I find myself in a discussion about school lunches, it turns ugly and judgmental- particularly since that Jamie Oliver show. I’m a (partially reformed) picky eater, working hard to expand the food horizons of my picky eater daughter. I get so tired of having to smile and ignore the judgmental, unhelpful comments about how if I’d just starve my daughter, she’d eat her veggies.
    For the record, I remember choosing to be hungry rather than eat something I didn’t like as a child. I don’t pretend to understand all of the reasons for picky eating, but I suspect there are some deep ones that have nothing to do with my parenting. Being a picky eater is not a moral failing.
    (Sorry. End of tangential rant.)

  2. Your participation on that committee is going to have a big impact, I suspect! You’re a culinary school grad, correct? And a mother of two! So they’d all do well to do exactly what you say! 😉

  3. @cloud: too funny. My version of being picky was to love one particular thing for about 10 days and then suddenly swear off of it completely. It kept mom on her toes for sure. I just got the Laptop Lunchbox for myself and the Bear — I like the idea of having little portions of several things. It comes with a “how to” book with recipes, etc and I have NO idea who out there has the time to put together all those perfectly balanced organic menus. I just wing it. Salami and 3 other random things in hopes that he’ll expand his suddenly narrowed horizons.@moxie — my dinner tonight is a granola yogurt bar, and ice cream. Your dinner sounds fabulous. (a thought — maybe we should apply pediatricians’ advice about eating habits to ourselves, I.e. It’s not what we eat in a single meal but over the course of a week that counts.)

  4. I love the laptop lunchbox but yea, how can anybody follow the how to book everyday??I would love some chocolate pudding right now, and I’ve been feeling guilty because I make popcorn a LOT after my kid goes to sleep. And I definitely put butter on it (cause what would be the point otherwise?). It could be worse though, right?

  5. Good luck, Moxie! Here’s hoping you can keep the discussion on eating food that makes people feel good and not on ZOMG Teh Obesity Epidemic.

  6. @Moxie – is your son ok after the battery acid incident? And what led to it???@Cloud – me too, I’m picky, I remember trying not to let the growling stomach noises alert my mom and start the fights all over again. I read somewhere that 93% of picky eating is GENETIC. Not parenting. I’m trying to write a book about how to help broaden kids’ horizons with food and then I go and eat chocolate pudding for lunch myself.

  7. hope the young one is OK Moxie!!I too fantasize all the time about not having to get up and pack lunch. But the school lunches are not fresh and the meats (which they have to include – you are not allowed to get a vegetarian lunch unless you have a letter on file that your family is vegetarian –and they call you on it if they catch you with turkey in your lunch from home!) are all industrial…and most of it is nasty fast food knockoffs and they’re only allowed 10 minutes to eat it (!) and they’re not supposed to talk at lunch and. Yeah.
    I pack a really simple little bento every day: a cheese or turkey rollup/sandwich, a little cup of trail mix, a cup of veggies (carrots, bell peppers), a cup of whatever fruit is around. And a pack of seaweed and a sigg bottle of water. I wish I was up to more variety but I’m not and Mouse will eat all that.
    I would so love to see us have good fresh lunches at schools. Go Moxie!

  8. Did anyone else go check out that Fed Up With School Lunch blog? Wow. That food looks so gross. G. R. O. S. S. I was pleased to see though that they are at least trying to provide all four food groups in each meal… always some fruit or veggie, carbs, meat (ish… there were some questionable hot dogs and “meat” on pizza there), and milk. So even though its a hot dog with mushy re-heated frozen green beans, at least there’s an effort to provide all the food groups.I remember the cafeteria in high school… I had fries and gravy every day. How I managed to stay a skinny teenager is a mystery to me, given how hard it is to maintain my weight now. We have to pay for lunches at school here though, and fries were the cheapest thing. I was too lazy to prepare a bag lunch the night before, so I spent a dollar on fries every day instead.
    @daisy re: your comment about how its not what we eat in a single meal… long ago I gave up trying to balance every meal we eat. We balance the day. If my daughter has lots of fruit and veggies at lunchtime or for snacks, I don’t worry too much about it if she doesn’t have any at dinner. Some days are still total disasters though (the other day – pizza for lunch and chicken nuggets for supper – whoops).

  9. Wow, school lunches in the US look appalling… My daughters get a pretty good meal at their school cafeteria here in France: some kind of salady, raw vegetably thing to start with (tomatoes, or cucumber, or beetroot and sweetcorn, or celery remoulade… that kind of thing), followed by some kind of protein (chicken, ham, beef, fish on Fridays because it’s a Catholic school!) with either a vegetable or pasta or rice or semoule. For dessert, there’s a choice of yoghurt, pureed fruit, fruit or some kind of sweet, chocolatey thing (hard to avoid, though I’ve told my girls they can only have that choice once a week). The meals are often quite inventive and “grown-up”, even though they do occasionally get burger and chips or chicken nuggets.And everything is cooked on site, served on real plates with real cutlery, but actual lunch ladies…
    That said, it’s costly: I pay 4.40 € (about the same in dollars, I guess) per meal per day, so that makes just over 35 € a week (no school on Wednesdays). Quite a budget and I know I could feed them for less.
    But they enjoy the cafeteria, and it’s a great experience. Packed lunches don’t exist here – you either eat at school in the cafeteria or you go home for lunch (not possible if you work, or only if you work near the school).
    Those odd-looking potato things in Mrs Q’s extraordinary blog (“tater tots”, I guess, though I have no idea what that means) look unspeakably gross – though I’m sure my younger daughter – who would eat crap every day if I let her – would love them!

  10. @Kirsty- You must not be American! Tater tots are sort of hash brown (shredded potatoes) formed into a cork shape. A beloved side dish of kids all over the U.S.!My 2 cents- In Denmark, it’s the standard to bring your lunch. They also eat in the classroom. But last year, due to some small percentage of parents packing bad lunches (fast food burger, for example), the government went into knee-jerk reaction and mandated that all schools needed to serve lunch as of the end of this year. Since kids eat in the classroom, it is not at all common for schools to have a cafeteria. This means major construction for every single school, day care, preschool, etc. In our preschool, they have a kitchen, but would have to expand it. The building is only about 7 years old. It also means the teachers would have to devote a lot of time to making lunch and cleaning up, taking away from their teacher duties. It’s a stupid idea, especially in such a time frame. A lot of people, including a lot of parents, balked. Now it seems they may be backing off. I like that I know what my kid is eating, and how much. I grew up on U.S. school lunches and liked them, though I’m sure they were mostly sodium-laden canned foods. But being more nutritionally minded now, I prefer making them.

  11. Can you do a post on packing lunches, Moxie? I have to start packing a lunch for my picky preschooler in September and have no idea what I’m going to do…

  12. I ate lunch with Eldest in her school cafeteria a few times this past year and was actually ever-so-slightly pleased. I mean, it wasn’t as completely gross as I had expected (or remembered, from my school years). That said, I always packed her lunch. And am still relishing the freedom of summer break and not having to think about it for nearly 3 months. So wonderful. Erin–I *think* there should be plenty of suggestions in the archives here, maybe if you search “lunch”?

  13. I have a 13-month-old son who attends a daycare where outside food is not allowed. I find it atrocious that after working so hard to pump milk to send with him for months then trying to introduce the right types of solids at home, including as much organic stuff as I can afford, that I’m now supposed to be totally fine with the him eating lunches of frozen pizza, canned corn, canned peaches and cookies for a snack.I plan to speak to the daycare director about their menu, but I anticipate I’ll be seen as an overzealous first-time mom. This week’s menu includes NO fresh fruits or vegetables. Everything is canned, frozen or processed to death.
    I can’t wait for preschool and elementary school so I can pack his lunches myself. I just pray I can offset what he gets during the day with what I feed him morning, night and weekends.
    It’s not a fun battle, but I wish you much luck with your kids’ school, Moxie. Please keep posting about your efforts. I’d love to hear more.

  14. Susan –Frozen veggies often have more vitamins than fresh, but maybe that’s not what they’re serving?
    Actually, I think canned veggies are nutritionally equivalent, too, except for salt, but they taste like ass, so I think it’s less likely that kids will eat them.

  15. @Susan- I have to second @Slim’s comment about canned and frozen veggies- nutrition-wise, they are often better than fresh veggies that have been hanging around for awhile. Some of the vitamins and trace nutrients slowly degrade on the shelf. I use frozen to get out of season veggies, or when the fresh ones at my grocery store don’t look so great.I’m not the best person to comment on taste, since to me most green veggies are very bitter. Or maybe that makes me an ideal person to comment on taste? I don’t know. Anyway, I find frozen green beans, carrots and broccoli to taste pretty much the same as fresh ones from the supermarket. Frozen corn isn’t as good as good fresh corn, but good fresh corn is only available for a month or two. And of course, stuff bought really fresh from a farmer’s market tastes better- but I can’t really expect a school to be able to get their veggies sourced directly from the farmers, at least not with the budget we give them.
    As for being viewed as an overzealous first time mom, yeah, that’s going to happen. But I wouldn’t let that stop you if something is really bothering you. Day care centers are, after all, pretty much in the business of dealing with overzealous first time moms! Maybe think through your concerns, think about the operational requirements of feeding however many kids they need to feed (and the likely costs of the changes you are proposing)- then pick the one or two things that matter most and/or seem most reasonable to you.
    FWIW, one of the hardest things for me about sending my first daughter to day care was that I had to learn to let go of some things. I really struggled with it, particularly when I had to wage an all out campaign to get my daughter eating finger foods so that she could move up to the older baby’s room when she was about a year old. She wasn’t really that interested in finger foods, and I felt horrible trying to force the issue. Now she’s 3 and still a picky eater, but I’m a lot less stressed about it all.

  16. @KirstyWe pay €4.75 a day for our 5 year old’s meal at kinder and although not a bargain, I don’t think I could cook the same meal for any less. Today, for example, he had Risotto alla Parmigiana, chicken nuggets, bread, salad and an apple.

  17. @Cloud, a litte OT, maybe, but for green veggies tasting bitter, have you tried roasting them in the oven?Broccoli tossed in a little olive oil and salt, with a garlic clove or two (whole or put through the press), then roasted in a 400F oven for 20-40 minutes is AMAZING. The sugars carmelize so it tastes MUCH sweeter. I actually find it’s like good-for-you candy. I can eat a whole head of broccoli like that myself (and I’m not that fond of it steamed unless it’s smothered in butter, salt and vinegar – not so healthy). Cauliflower is also awesome done this way (though I usually do it without the garlic). Parsnips, carrots, any root vegetable probably, are good too.
    @Susan & @Cloud. Yeah. I’m there with ya on the overzealous mom/daycare thing. I’m mostly over it (as it I don’t care anymore) for the reasons @Cloud states. We’re lucky at my son’s daycare as even though it is a large centre (80 kids) they do allow you to bring specific stuff for your kid. I used to bring DS’ lunch when he first started there (11 months) as he wouldn’t eat their food. But we slowly switched him over. I wasn’t too pleased at first. But,the menu is decent. Fruit (fresh) & veggies (prob. mostly frozen) everyday. A good variety in grains (pasta, rice, barley, couscous, bread). Snacks are yogurt, fruit, cookies or crackers. They could probably add more whole grains to the menu. But overall I think it’s decent. We bring organic milk for DS. The regular cook and daycare givers don’t make a fuss about it. Just the substitute cook balks a bit chiding me ‘Oh, Mama, we love our kids don’t we?’, with a condescending tone of low-key disapproval. I just ignore her. Actually, I have to remind the staff that if they run out of organic milk, it’s OK for them to give him regular milk!
    I’m guessing that things here in Canada aren’t quite as bad as what Mrs. Q reports in her blog. Unless I’m mistaken, at most schools kids have the option of bringing their lunch. At my grade school we either had to bring our lunch or go home for lunch (I did both). The lunch room was just a place to eat. I imagine it’s still the same. I was a picky eater as a kid through to the end of high school and the thought of my H.S. cafeteria still makes me a bit nauseous. Yuk.
    @Cloud @ 6:33 pm. I’m totally convinced that being a picky eater has nothing to do with the parent (assuming they aren’t passing on their own dislikes to the kid and are serving a variety of foods when they can). As noted above, I was a totally picky eater and this had nothing to do with my parents. THey served a variety of foods. I was just picky. After DS was born, my mom told me that the only thing she regretted from our infant/toddler days is to not offer rejected foods more often. I personally think she’s just feeling parental guilt. I’m not so sure it would have changed my eating habbits. And I SO understand now how offering food that constantly gets rejected wears you (and your wallet) down. And anyhow, there’s the whole ‘supertaster’ thing.

  18. Susan, you may run into what I’ve run into, in regards to daycare food–my licensed provider has to follow strict state rules. The menu is determined by the state. This doesn’t give her much wiggle room. I have asked that the kids not eat the meat, i.e, they’re considered vegetarian at daycare. Apart from that, I’ve made peace with it, although they certainly eat things at daycare they don’t eat at home. I also believe without a doubt that what we feed our children will have the larger influence on their own food choices later in life–not daycare.

  19. @the millner- now why didn’t I think of the roasting in the oven idea? I’ll have to try it. Thanks! We do grill veggies a lot in the summer, and you’re right- the sugar caramelizes and YUM. Carrots are delicious this way (my Mom would faint to hear me call carrots delicious). Asparagus becomes… well, edible to me. (Yes, I’m probably a supertaster.)Thanks to everyone for the kind words about picky eating kids. That’s what I love about this site. I actually don’t think that my parenting is the cause of Pumpkin’s picky eating (although I do think I could make it worse by turning food into a power struggle). But I get so, so tired of the judgment heaped on parents whose kids are picky eaters. So my daughter won’t eat meat except for chicken nuggets and bacon, and when it is part of the filling in tortellini. And she has yet to meet a vegetable that she likes. So what? She’s 3. She’ll get better, and we model better for her. It has become like the new sleep for me- I just lie to people because I am tired of the judgment passing as advice.

  20. The thing about the school lunches that frustrates me the most is when I read about these amazing programs at select public schools (some in Berkeley for example) where they’ve figured out a way to make it work so that they are able to go predominately organic and fresh and still keep the costs reasonable – my thought is okay, awesome, they figured it out so now that should be the model for other schools. But, no, it doesn’t seem to work that way. Each school has to wage its own independent parent-led battle. Not sure why it needs to be rehashed school by school by school. Once again it sort of sets it up such that the wealthier area public schools find ways to get these programs implemented while the inner city schools (who some could argue need these programs the most as this would be the best shot some of the kids at those would have to getting a healthy meal) are realistically not going to do so. Sorry, a little side rant by me…

  21. I grew up taking a bag lunch to school EVERYDAY, as did my Dad who was a teacher at another school. I think it was more a cost saving measure on my Mom’s part, but also more healthy over all. We never had chips in the house, so I would usually get a sandwich, a piece of fruit, maybe yogurt, a juice box (frozen to keep everything cool until lunch time) and a little cookie/jolly rancher/sweet. In elementary school instead of juice it was a thermos of milk- sometimes that ended in a messy tragedy.I’m thankful now that I avoided fries and mystery meat, but was jealous of the kids who had doritos with their lunches. I’ll probably pack my own son’s lunches when he’s off to school A) to save $ and b) to give him something healthy-ish

  22. @Cloud, Oh yeah! Asparagus – forgot about that one. If you usually just BBQ it, try it on the stove top, same deal as the broccoli. A little olive oil, s&p & in the frying pan for a few minutes. Yummy. I can’t remember the last time I steamed a vegetable. Green beans and corn are probably the only ones I still boil. And forgot one more thing for the cauliflower in the oven. If you add in some chopped up herbs – parsely, thyme, etc. whatever you’ve got handy, it’s really good too.

  23. Thanks everyone, for the comments about daycare food. After watching my son’s school director give his teacher packets of sugar to add to the kids’ breakfast cereal this morning, I am considering moving him to a new daycare. Why, exactly, would a one year old need refined sugar in his cereal?!

  24. Best photo ever of Julian! If he loves it, then surely my myoekns will love it too. Here’s hope for lunch-makers: eventually kids can make their own lunches. It only took us a decade or so to get to that point. And as I’m an at home Mom again through sheer and temporary serendipity, I can pop off one or two a week quite happily. Will try this thanks.

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