Washable Workwear Wednesday: Elbow Sleeve Ponte Sheath Dress

Elbow Sleeve Ponte Sheath DressFun story: I found a dress I wanted to feature immediately today over at Corporette. Then I went on a hunt for machine washable clothes for C-Moms, and it took FOREVER — everything is full of ruffles or that “ragdoll shift dress” look (why?). So I found this one, which is great — and kind of lovely and perfect and why can’t they all be like this?! — but we’ve featured it before. Then, I realized the dress I wanted to write up at Corporette was sparkly (sparkly tweed?! why?), so I found a new dress to feature today at Corporette… which of course is machine washable and cute. Sigh. Adventures in fashion blogging, right? Anyway: this dress really is perfect and lovely for work and beyond, and is only $80 full price — today you can take an additional 25% off full price items at Lands’ End, though, so it comes down to $60. It’s available in multiple colors in regular, petite, tall, and plus sizes. (Psst: check out their On the Counter section — lots of good workwear finds this week, but largely in lucky sizes.) Elbow Sleeve Ponte Sheath Dress

Looking for other washable workwear? See all of our recent recommendations for washable clothes for work, or check out our roundup of the best brands for washable workwear.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Talk to me about moving back my baby’s bedtime. DD is 10 months, on a good nap schedule at daycare, and goes to sleep at 6:15-6:30 every night. For the past month she’s been waking up at 5:15-5:30am. I’ll leave her for a few minutes but then she stands up in the crib and starts yelling.

    It would be better if she slept until at least 6, preferably 6:30. Every time we try to keep her up for just another 10 or 15 mins she totally melts down crying and so tired. Do I just need to accept that she’s an early riser?

    • Anonymous says:

      Does she go back to sleep if you take in her in bed with you? I’d nurse and let kid snooze a bit but that only worked because kid would sleep another half hour to hour after nursing in bed. Once I stopped nursing, I used to leave a fresh bottle of cow’s milk in the fridge to grab in the morning before getting kid. DH and I take turns getting kid out of bed/grabbing milk and bringing them to the master.

      • OP Here says:

        No, unfortunately. She’s wide awake and happy and just starts laughing at us. Which is super cute, but tiring!

    • I just read Weissbluth and he has a section in there about early wakings in otherwise well-rested kiddos. I remember reading it and laughing out loud because he was basically like, “If your kid is getting enough sleep at naps and has an appropriate bedtime and they still wake up early, you’re SOL.”

      That’s a bummer that she stands up and starts protesting. Does she have a lovey or anything in there with her? My 5mo will entertain himself my playing with his wubbanub and generally looking around and cooing to himself when he wakes up, but he’s younger and much more easily entertained. He could chew on his hand for an hour and be content.

    • PinkKeyboard says:

      Could you try moving it back SUUUUUPER gradually? By like 5 minutes every few days? We have a hard rule that children can’t live their crib before 7am, we will visit you on occasion but you will remain there. We straight up will not start our day at 5:15, but that depends on your stomach for CIO type action which I know some don’t. The current baby mostly just rolls around and plays, the last one protested but generally would accept her fate.

      • Kelly says:

        We also have a hard rule of not starting our day until 7. Those early morning crying sessions are awful but so worth it when they figure out how to, and that they need to, put themselves back to sleep.

        Sleeping through the night with no feedings right? How much is she napping? You’ve got a 13 hour total day here so you’re either doing too long of naps with the right amount of wake time between (too much nap sleep cuts into nighttime sleep and can cause early wake ups , I’d shoot for 2.5 hours max, maybe 2.75) or your wake times are too long (I’d shoot for 9.5-10 absolute max, being overtired will also perpetuate early wake ups.). A too early first nap can also cause early wake ups, that’s usually my first sign I need to push the first nap out 15 minutes.

        I would do a solid week of not getting her until 630 and starting the clock from there with 3/3.25/3.25 wake times and no more than 2.5 hours of naps. That should get you to your same 6/630 without the overtiredness and you can shift your out of crib time to 7.

    • Anonymous says:

      can you move the naps as well as bedtime? I know with daycare that can be hard. Either way she will likely grow out of this eventually.

    • I feel like that was a phase my kid went through at 10 months (although it was late summer at the time). We just traded off and it went away. Now we’re at the tail end of a stretch of lengthy night wakings, and I’ve been so tired that if she wakes up at 5 or later I just leave her. It’s only happened a few times, but after louder and louder crying for about 10 minutes, she goes back to sleep until 7 (her wakeup time). She gets so loud that we think she’s never going back to sleep and then stops so suddenly that it’s creepy. If you can stomach it, I’d try that.

    • AwayEmily says:

      I’ve mentioned it many times before on here so sorry for the broken record-ing but the OK to Wake Clock is awesome. Start by setting it around when she wakes up anyway (so, 5:30). Go in as soon as it turns green and make a BIG DEAL and be super happy to see her. Then gradually start setting it later and later (by five minute increments) or so. Eventually she should learn to associate the green clock with you coming in to get her, and start learning to wait until then.

      We have now been using it for over a year (DD is 21 months) and it has improved our lives immeasurably. She now consistently wakes up at around 5:50 but hangs out fairly quietly in her crib until the clock turns green at 6:30. It took awhile (probably 4 months) for this to happen consistently, and she still complains sometimes, so I don’t want to sell it as some kind of overnight miracle, but it is SO much better than the days of 5am screaming.

      I think there’s a limit to how much you can make early risers sleep in, but you can at least make it more bearable for yourself, and the magic clock was key for that for us.

      • OP Here says:

        Thanks! This is a great idea!

      • NewMomAnon says:

        Second this recommendation – at age 2, kiddo had gotten into a bad habit of waking up earlier and earlier because she was so excited to sleep in mama’s bed. The OK to Wake Clock nipped that in the bud and now she sleeps consistently until 6:45 but doesn’t get up until the clock turns green at 7; we both get a lot more sleep. Note that it isn’t magic; you have to enforce it or it becomes meaningless.

      • EB0220 says:

        We also love the OK to wake clock. Do not even make an exception once or your kids will not honor it!

    • PregLawyer says:

      Are you down to two naps yet, or still three?

      • OP Here says:

        Two. She’s at an in-home daycare (basically a nanny share), so she gets solid naps.

        • PregLawyer says:

          Ah, okay. If she were still at three, I’d wonder if it were a sign to move down to two naps. But if she’s at two, then I’m on team slowly push bedtime back to around 7:00. I think I remember this phase, and that it evened out eventually. He was still waking up pretty early for a while, but as he’s gotten older (2.5 now) he’s really embraced sleeping in.

        • Anonymous says:

          I’d try moving to one nap. At that age my kids were ready for one big 2-2.5 hour nap in the early afternoon. So lunch at like 11:30 and nap at 12-2:30.

  2. AwayEmily says:

    It’s time to pick out my pump, and my new insurance covers both the Medela PIS and the Spectra S2. I know this was discussed to some extent over the last few months, but is it worth getting the Spectra if I’m already invested in the Medela system? I have a Medela PIS and *lots* of parts for it from my last pregnancy, so I could just get a second one of those, but on the other hand, some people seem to think that the Spectra is more efficient. Are any of the parts interchangeable or am I looking at buying a whole bunch of new accessories if I go with the Spectra?

    • I will be in the same boat in a few months so I’m also interested. My understanding is there are adapters so you can use your Medela parts with your Spectra, but I’m not sure if that covers everything (or how well they work). I’m leaning Spectra at this point anyway, but I think I just got SO SICK of my Medela stuff.

      • AwayEmily says:

        Right??? I sort of want a Spectra just because the thought of taking all my Medela parts out of the attic is giving me PTSD.

        • I’m in a similar boat and planning to get a medela just so that I don’t have to ever lug the pump home from the office. I left it in my office during the week last time but I hated the back and forth at the beginning/end of the week. I’m also skeptical of “efficiency” claims. I think there is a world of difference between a hand pump and a PIS but I think the PIS is already so good that the improvements on output are going to be minimal – your body is what it is at some point. The one appeal of the Spectra for me is it’s supposed to be quitter but I don’t know that that’s enough to override the other considerations.

        • Cornellian says:

          That butter yellow post-it color is so awful now.

    • POSITA says:

      I had both and much, much preferred the Spectra. It’s so much more comfortable while pumping. I bought adapters off of Amazon for cheap and used all of my Medela bottles, flanges, cooler, etc with the Spectra. I never even tried the Spectra parts since I had so many Medela parts ready to go.

      To refresh the Medela parts before my second, I just ran them through the dishwasher and then threw them into a pot of boiling water for a few minutes. They came out squeaky clean. (I bought new white flaps.)

      • POSITA says:

        I’ll also add that the Spectra was super quiet and I could take calls at my desk while pumping. It was great.

    • Just went through the same thought process and ordered with a Spectra + the maymoms adaptors (like $6 at Amazon) so that I can use the copious amounts of Medela parts I have left over from last time. The comfort appeal of the Spectra is what tipped me over. Plus I figured I can go back to my PISA if for some reason the Spectra doesn’t work for me. (I just did this last night, so no actual experience; just a bunch of googling!)

      Now just on the hunt for a bag that will work with the pump but doesn’t scream “PUMPING MOM HERE!” Preferably a backpack, thinking ahead to getting 2 kids + associated stuff + me + work stuff into the car in the mornings…

      • rosie says:

        Late to this, but if you like the Spectra and are trying to figure out how to carry it to/from work, I would suggest looking at buying the S9 pump (Spectra’s smaller, battery-op pump). I have an S2 at home and bought and returned several $100+ bags trying to find something that I liked to lug pump stuff around, and then I saw I could buy an S9 for something like $135, and I can toss it in whatever bag I want.

    • AuntE says:

      Yes, yes, yes, on the Spectra! I had a PISA for my first, and because I had it, opted for it again with my second. Then I bought a Spectra, out of pocket, and I’m so happy I did. I’ve been using it for about a month now. It was annoying having all the left over PISA parts, and that no one in my office would take them off my hands, but so, so worth the hassle for the Spectra.

    • rosie says:

      The adapters totally work. You can buy little adapters to connect the Spectra backflow protectors to Medela pump parts. You can also buy adapters to use Medela bottles if you want to pump into them from Spectra parts (note, I have not found a way to pump directly into Medela bags from Spectra parts–the adapters don’t work together–if you want to pump directly into bags with Spectra parts, Kiinde seems to be the best bet). I will say that Spectra parts are fewer separate pieces (not including backflow protectors, that is), which is pretty nice.

  3. avocado says:

    This dress looks great and I like the black and pale pink colors. But what is up with the sizing? TrueFit says no LE size will work for me, and I am really not that small.

    • Anonymous says:

      I just hate that LE Tall sizing doesn’t go smaller than a 6. Like, tall people can’t be thin?

      • Anonymous says:

        This. LE Tall sizing stopping at 6 is the worst. I can basically only buy coats and they took out the thumbholes from the chalet down.

  4. Pumping pumping pumping says:

    I happened to be pumping with my spectra as I read this… I do think it’s more efficient than the PISA (which I used with my last baby) and definitely quieter. Also you can still use all your Medela parts with the spectra – you just have to order some ‘Maymom flange adapters’ from Amazon for a few bucks. They connect from the spectra tubing/backflow protectors to the Medela pieces. So my vote is for spectra!

  5. Jeffiner says:

    My husband and I are trying to conceive, and I just got my period 5 DAYS LATE. Mother Nature, I hate you.

    • Anonanonanon says:

      That’s the worst. The cycle before I conceived the one I’m currently pregnant with was a SIXTY DAY CYCLE! why?!?!?!

    • Anon in NYC says:

      Oh man, I’m sorry. That’s happened to me too. WHY.

    • Seriously – commiseration! All of my cycles…31 days like clockwork. The cycle right before I conceived current pregnancy…36 days. Just, you know, to eff with my mind. WHY, body? Why?!?!

    • Anonymous says:

      If it makes you feel any better…it was probably one of those one out of every four pregnancy miscarriages that women don’t even realize happens. Which actually ups your chances for conceiving!

      • Ranon says:

        This pregnancy I ovulated on day 42! Day 42! I was wearing a fertility tracker and thats the only reason I know, that and I know when we did the act to get pregnant. I was seeing a fertility specialist and getting ready to undergo IUI but we were waiting on new cycle to start, then it happened with no intervention.

  6. Anonymous says:

    UGH — a looong vent I need to get off my chest and a question at the end.

    My brother and sister in law and their 13 month old kid spent about 10 days with my family over break. At the end of the week, my kids spent 3 days with my parents and my brother/SIL while husband and I traveled for a work trip. My kids stayed with my parents while we traveled, and I felt like my SIL was really, really hard on my kids. Even my normally oblivious husband had noticed it before we left (LOTs of comments directed to my kids about their behavior), and weird digs at behavior that was age appropriate – e.g., tears at bedtime from a 4 year old the day after Christmas? Normal, expected, fine. But when we got back from our trip – I asked how the kids were, and she was like “they were fine. I mean, highs but LOTs of lows.” And then proceeded to list off all the things they did “wrong,” and that my mom fed them tons of sugar and was too easy on them (they didn’t clean up after themselves, they didn’t share, etc.). It was mostly directed at my 3 year old, who is 3, and who was, honestly, not doing a great job of sharing with her 13 month old. I think he was a little jealous of their kid (we don’t see them often and he is used to being the “baby”), over tired, and off routine. But my SIL kept saying things like “I mean, thank goodness [her daughter] is so tough! And SUCH a trooper! And just the best listener!”

    So here’s the thing — I don’t typically micro-manage my parent’s care of my kids re: TV and food intake. My parents don’t see them often, and they enjoy spoiling the kids when they are together, which is fine with me. Also, they are older and I’m fine with making allowances for the fact that they are watching the kids — more TV so they can rest, sure, why not? But my SIL’s negative commentary is really, really bothering me. I feel like she was unduly hard on my 3 year old for behavior that was age appropriate and also reflective of his circumstances, and I now have this sense based on a few comments she’s blasted me to her sisters (who are all childless, but all in early childhood education or special needs). I should not care, but it’s frankly making me ragey how tough she was on my kids and me, by extension. I mean, her daughter slept terribly the whole dang week and a half, and I wasn’t blasting my SIL for not being better at sleep training. I was saying things like “she’s off routine, it’s a new place, etc. etc. etc.” b/c it’s true – she was! And I get it! Not a big deal, not anyone’s “fault.”

    Also, my mom pulled me aside yesterday and basically said that SIL was even tougher on my kids the whole time I was gone, and also towards my mom — calling her a “pushover.” The oddest thing is that SIL is generally a lovely person who I have always gotten along well with. I really enjoy her company and we have tons of common interests. I’ve always known she is competitive, but it’s never impacted me directly. I guess this is the part where normally I’d say, whatever, I don’t see them often, who cares, and also, I look forward to them having an older kid or more than one kid. 13 months is a glorious age of really not being able to misbehave.

    BUT. We are supposed to spend 10 to 14 days with them in August. They live in a vacation destination (think Nantucket), and before this three day disaster, we had made plans to stay with them. She, in particular, was pushing us to stay at their house so we’d have more time together, especially at night. All adults will be working during the day (them at their day jobs and my husband and I remotely), and all kids will be going to childcare during the day. My kids will be at a summer day camp, and her daughter will be at her usual day care.

    Should I … not stay with them? Or will the fact that we’ll have more separation help? I don’t want my kids under a microscope on their “break”, and I don’t want to be under a parenting microscope. However, with it being a vacation destination, any rental house will be expensive, and also, any decision not to stay at their house would be viewed oddly, as we had all reached an agreement to stay together to maximize family time at night. UGH. Also, I’m mad at myself b/c I didn’t stick up more for my kids, either with her present or in the conversations after. I didn’t want t come off as defensive, but now I’m angry I didn’t stick up for my — generally good but not perfect — kids.

    • Anonymous says:

      I would 100% not stay with them. You can alternate hosting dinners after work. So you hang out from 5-8pm everyday and then on weekends. Honestly, why would you want to hang out with this person in the evening?

      Response to comments re your parents indulgence: “That’s great! They are so lucky to have grandparents to indulge them with treats! I’m sure it helped when they were missing mom and dad.”

    • PregLawyer says:

      I would stay at their house, but make a plan for dealing with her comments. My first reaction is that she IS competitive, and a bit naive about parenting, especially toddlers. She’s new to the routine and is immersed in that first-year obsession with being the perfect parent and controlling every little thing. When summer rolls around, her kid will be 20 months. If I remember correctly, the 20-month age was pretty rough for us, and was pretty much the peak of irrational temper tantrums. I bet she will have a much better perspective about toddlers vs. infants.

      On the communication piece, I would just develop some specific comments that you can fall back on if she continues to needle you about your parenting style.

      • Anon in NYC says:

        This. She has literally zero idea what parenting a toddler is like – my daughter (who is a generally very good toddler) was an angel when she was 13 months. A good sleeper, an easy temperament, etc. We went to go visit friends with older kids and it was ~shocking~ how wild her older kids seemed in comparison. So much energy, so loud, so many fights, tears and boundary pushing! All age appropriate and normal. Before I had a kid, her kids just seemed like normal kids (and really, they are good kids). But once I had a kid it was so easy to compare her much more fully developed children against my infant, which was really unfair to her kids.

        Now I have a 2.5 year old who literally melted down this morning because I refused to play the game where I pull all of her clothing out of her dresser to guess what she wanted to wear. Or, who yelled “NO!” in my face 10 times while eating breakfast. Things started getting more difficult for us at around the 14/15 month mark, so I expect she’ll be a little less awful on your summer visit. But I would have a plan for addressing some of her comments if she’s still making snide remarks.

      • Anonymous says:

        But why would you want to be around an irrational toddler with temper tantrums while on vacation?

        • PregLawyer says:

          Well, I’m all for NOT staying with inlaws and family in most situations. And I also really don’t like when they stay at my house. But sometimes that needs to give way to deal with family politics and saving money.

    • avocado says:

      That sounds maddening. What I have noticed with several relatives and friends is that parenthood can turn a perfectly lovely person into a critical, judgmental person who takes her own insecurities out on other parents. It mostly happens with the first child and tends to peak at early toddlerhood. We have found that it’s easiest to deal with these people by making sure we have our own space where we can retreat at the end of the day, which usually means staying in a hotel or with other relatives who don’t have small children. Limiting the length of visits also helps. 10 to 14 days is a long time.

    • Yikes, that’s tough. First of all, August is a few months away and you don’t have to make the lodging decision right now. How close are you to your brother (her husband)? Maybe you can voice some of your concerns to him. Not necessarily so he can turn around and tell his wife you are upset, but just so he understands that it is not ok to treat your kids like that.

      If it’s really out of character for her to be this critical, maybe she’s going through something and you (and your kids) happened to be in the line of fire. Not an excuse, just an explanation. The first year of parenting is so hard. She probably has all of these preconceived notions on how to raise kids, but hasn’t experienced toddlerdom so her mindset hasn’t adapted to real life yet. It’s fairly easy not to give screen time to a 13 month old, but not as easy with a 3 year old who’s begging for it.

      • PregLawyer says:

        Also, can we just talk about how awesome screen time is, in moderation? My kid has learned so much from Daniel Tiger. And by using “his” ipad (mine dressed up in a kiddie case) he is already learning how to write numbers and letters using a Sesame Street game app. I get so tired of the parents who are so militant about no screen time. Whatever.

        • NewMomAnon says:

          It’s possible kiddo spent 3 hours on her Kindle during a recent road trip. But don’t tell the mom police.

          • Oh, my kid watched shows on my husband’s phone for approximately 6 of our 12 hour trip home for christmas. yikes. but also yay quiet toddler on a plane you’re welcome everyone!

        • We did very minimal screen time until my son was 18 months. Now, it is freaking amazing. He will sit still and be quiet literally forever if we let him. We still only use it in moderation or as a treat (or if we really need him to behave someplace in public), but it is fantastic! It helps that he is pretty good about when it is time for screen time to be over.

    • NewMomAnon says:

      Could you, you know, talk with SIL about this? My brother (a teacher) and SIL try to be really authoritarian with kiddo, and…lolololol. So I finally talked with my brother about it and said, hey, she’s not yet 4. I understand that you’re used to dealing with school-age kids, but she’s not school age and you’re setting everyone up for failure if you expect her to act that way. She’s a good kid who is trying hard and is super curious and wants to be helpful; approach her from that perspective and everyone will have a lot more fun. I still have to stop him once in a while, with something gentle like, “Uncle, that’s not the rule we have in our house – we do [X]. Kiddo, can you show Uncle how good you are at [X]?”

      Also, remember what it was like to go from 1 kid to 2. Now remember that your SIL went from 1 kid to 3 active, squirmy, off-schedule kids during this period. That would stress me out beyond belief and I’m sure I would not be a great caregiver to any of the kids, much less the one I had the least experience with. I wouldn’t leave your kiddos alone with SIL until they are all older, but you might be able to set some ground rules for discipline in a communal setting with a heart-to-heart conversation beforehand. And please, be an advocate for your kids, preferably in front of them! They need to know that you will make waves to protect them.

      • NewMomAnon says:

        Also, read the article about POOPCUPs. http://www.scarymommy.com/parents-one-perfect-child-preschool-age/

        Your SIL is in that range. She’ll come out of it eventually or she’ll have a psychotic break.

        • avocado says:

          Bwahahahaha on the POOPCUPs. That article reminds me of a conversation I recently had with my wonderful perfect tween.

          Child: You and Daddy must be great parents. I cannot believe how badly so many kids my age behave and how much less independent some of them are than me.
          Mommy: Ummm, thank you for that vote of confidence, but it’s not all about the parenting. Part of it is just the kid’s personality. And may I remind you that you are the child who absolutely refused to nap from day one?

          • NewMomAnon says:

            Oh lord. I remember when kiddo was 18 months old trying to counsel a friend with a three year old about how to “stop” tantrums. She was so patient…I should go back and apologize.

        • Katala says:

          POOPCUP was my first thought too. Probably by August she will be less awful about it, but that may still be a bit early for her to really get it.

        • This was exactly what I was going to say. She’s a POOPCUP. She has no idea. She will some day, and then you can gloat on the inside.

      • Anonymous says:

        Yeah, I am beating myself up for not being louder in response to her airing of grievances. I think I said something like, well, they are off schedule, and it’s hard to adjust to all these changes. Son is probably struggling with how to relate to a younger child. Wish I would have added, just like Daughter is struggling with her sleep. As in, lady, buckle up.

        Also, she doesn’t critique them when I’m with them – it’s only when other people are in charge of them or I’m out of earshot. As in, I overheard her when they were playing blocks, and she says stuff like “Oh, it makes me so sad that you took my blocks” to my 4 year old. But, she told me that my 3 year old didn’t “tolerate” when her daughter took his paper away b/c she didn’t know better. Also, I think she saw my 3 year old who plays with my older dog, and she later texted me something about how my “poor dog takes some punishment.” I don’t want to raise it with my brother necessarily, and I don’t know how to address it head on after the fact.

    • This sounds rough, and I’m sorry youre going through it. Really the answer is, SIL should keep her comments to herself, but that’s not going to help you!

      My best advice would be vague commiseration to her comments: “Oh, I know, [Toddler] is so strong-willed sometimes” or “Yeah, Mom just can’t resist spoiling them”? And internally roll your eyes?

      I think when you’re with family it helps to keep everyone generally on the same parenting page. If that means one person needs to loosen up and another needs to be a tiny bit stricter, I think that’s easiest. Again, she should really be taking her cues from you and not being so hard on your kids. You could try matter of factly contradicting her: “Actually, it is ok to watch 2 videos after bath but before bedtime – that’s what we do!”

    • I had a similar issue with my SIL. She had a daughter and I had a son at the same time, she was super hard on my son for completely age appropriate behaviors because he was “a boy” and it was maddening.

      What finally solved the problem was confronting it head on, in a mature way, over and over again. I had responses ready and just kept repeating them. For example:

      SIL: DS is not very good at sharing
      Me: Sharing isn’t age appropriate for a 15month old, their brains aren’t developed enough to understand that the toy doesn’t belong to them. Isn’t it great that they can develop that skill together?

      SIL: DS is so rough
      Me: I remember seeing (your child) do that as well, I don’t think it’s fair to call him rough when he is acting age appropriately.

      Eventually she apologized for some of her more offensive comments (aka when I called her out for calling him rough/mean/etc) and generally stopped commenting on his behavior.

      In your situation, I would probably still stay with them, but be ready to counter her comments with some canned responses. get you husband on board to at least support you in these comments, or even counter them himself.

    • So my original feeling was to say, don’t stay with them, “Nantucket” can’t be that nice. But since the kids will be on a ‘regular’ schedule, and you’ll be there, I think it might be workable.

      We make joint family vacations work with kids who are close in age but all at different stages (currently 5 under 5) but there are a few things that make it work. Sometimes cousins need to be separated, even if they think they still want to play together, because it gets overwhelming. We pack lots of new and exciting toys and activities (the dollar store is great for this kind of stuff) for when a quick attention change is needed. And if we have hard and fast rules that need to be adhered to, we discuss that at the beginning. Maybe send an email in June or July to discuss some ‘logistics’ and spell out some of this from your side. I’d also plan on having some (out of the house, just your little family) activities ready for you to do with your kids while the cousin is napping on weekends, as that’s a pretty natural separation point in your schedules.

      Unless SIL is going to try to pull a ‘my rules under my roof’ type thing in regards to screentime or anything else. If you think this is a possibility, I’d cancel now and deal with the fall out.

    • I would personally not stay with them because it would ruin my vacation. Either she would say things, and I’d get super mad, or she wouldn’t, and I’d feel self-conscious/worried she was saying it behind my back/super mad that she was ruining my vacation. What does your husband think?

    • Ahahaha. POOPCUP was definitely my first thought too. By August SIL might get it…or she might not yet. It’s as much kid personality as age; some kids really are just more placid. By next year, or if she has another kid…she might come around. Maybe. At the very least she should feel awfully sheepish by the time cousin is 3.

      Two weeks does seem like a really long time to spend with them, but if the children are on a schedule and at their respective activities, it shouldn’t be that bad. And if you otherwise enjoy the family’s company, I don’t see any reason not to stay with them – provided they have space in the house where your family can get away if need be!

      As for how to respond, I like lala’s approach – I think SIL is saying these things without thinking, and judging only by her limited experience and POOPCUP standards, not to be outright mean.

      • Anonymous says:

        I don’t know. Calling MIL a “pushover” to her face seems kind of mean.

        • It does, but people also say really dumb things when they are insecure or judgmental about their own kids/ parenting…

    • Do you want to stay with them? If so, you can probably make it work. If not, that’s totally understandable, because who wants to spend their vacation with judgy judgerson?

      I agree SIL is a naive POOPCUP but there is a big difference between thinking those things and saying them out loud in a passive-aggressive manner. Is this really out of character for SIL? You say she is otherwise a nice person, but it doesn’t sound like she was very nice to your mother either. On my family vacations, we are usually pretty lax with rules and like to do lots of fun activities, which may be viewed as spoiling our kids. Is SIL going to give you a hard time if you want to take your kids to an ice cream shop, or stay up a little late to watch a movie, or whatever?

      If you aren’t comfortable talking to your SIL about it, could you mention it to your brother? Perhaps he could run interference or interject when SIL is making “helpful” comments.

      Also, please come back and update us when SIL’s perfect child hits the terrible twos. Oh, the schadenfreude!

  7. What bag or container do you use to transport full bottles to daycare? With my first I just used an insulated lunch bag, but inevitably, there would be a leak and that lunch bag began to stink, despite many washings. I am not too concerned about the temperature, since it is only about 20 minutes, more about leaking/tipping over. I am using Dr Brown’s thin bottles.

    • NewMomAnon says:

      What if you lined the lunch bag with a plastic bag?

    • We used the PackIt freezer bags, which I adore, and also the Dr. Brown’s bottles, but we literally never had a bottle leak in the 10 months we were sending in bottles. The lunchbag size kept 2-4 bottles upright with no problems, but maybe we just got lucky? Something with a hard-sided interior would probably be easy to clean, or maybe honestly, just a drink caddy from a fast food restaurant to hold them upright?

    • OP Here says:

      Dr Browns has a bottle bag. We just got it after months of user a regular cooler we had on hand. If you have four bottles in it, they don’t have room to move around/fall over.

    • Anonymous says:

      I used a disposable plastic grocery bag.

  8. Leatty says:

    I’m so over pumping. DD is 6.5 months old, and I had hoped to EBF until she was 1 year old, but the thought of spending 1-1.5 hours each day pumping is depressing. Yesterday, I only pumped once (instead of 2x), and it was SO liberating that I am officially dropping a pumping session. I’m relieved, yet I feel guilty and selfish at the same time because I may need to supplement if my supply drops. Irrational, I know.

    • Anonymous says:

      Don’t! I just dropped down to 2 sessions/day this week, and we’ve been supplementing with formula for a long time. My supply dropped when DD dropped a night feeding+ eating a lot of solids. I’m just so over pumping. PS – You’re doing a GREAT JOB!

    • PregLawyer says:

      I stopped at 7 months. I just couldn’t do it anymore. It felt SO AWESOME not to BF anymore. And hey, the kid’s still alive and kicking at 2.5 and relatively normal.

    • CPA Lady says:

      It’s the presence of breast milk, not the absence of formula that provides benefits. You don’t get more benefits from breast milk alone than you do from breast milk plus formula.

    • Katala says:

      Try not to feel bad, you’re doing great! I stopped pumping around 7 months with #2 and it was so so great. We’re now on formula during the day, and he was nursing morning/evening/overnight. Now at 11.5 months we’re getting more serious about STTN, he popped 4 teeth over the holidays, and he’s losing interest in nursing, so we’re probably done BFing. One thing that helped me was to remember they benefit from the presence of BM, not the absence of formula. A fed baby and happy mom is a great outcome!

    • Redux says:

      Give up the guilt, girl! I BFd to 13 months with my first out of a sense of obligation (and frankly type-a control issues). My overwhelming memory from that time is of stress– scheduling my calls and meetings around my pump schedule, counting the minutes and ounces, squeezing in extra sessions, anxiety over supplementing, declining every single lunch invitation (social connection I desperately needed!) because I had to use every break to pump. I mean, I guess I’m a little happy/proud or whatever but mostly I feel like that time was stressful. I feel stressed just thinking about it!

      With my second I decided to BF until it was no longer pleasurable for me. That point hit at about 6 months when work got crazy and I dropped to one pump a day. I gradually moved from EBF to BF supplemented with formula, to formula supplemented with BF, to all formula at around 10 months. IT WAS AWESOME. I actually enjoyed the time I spent BFing (if not the time I spent pumping) and felt like I was actually in control rather than being at the mercy of the schedule of minutes and ounces. Sweet freedom! I have such better memories of my second’s first year than of my first’s.

      Whatever you decide to do, know that YOU get to decide. Do what brings you the most joy and least stress– you surely need less stress with a new baby and a job. And I always think of advice I heard here: it is the presence of breastmilk, not the absense of formula, that benefits the baby.

    • Anonymous says:

      FWIW, I felt this way right before I got my first post-baby period. The feeling went away a few days after I got it. Don’t stop pumping entirely based on this feeling, but definitely ok to go down to once/day for a week if that will help you feel free! Your hormones will change so much as you stop pumping and get your period again, so I would just urge not to make any quick decisions on these types of things. But formula is TOTALLY FINE and your baby will grow up AMAZING even if you stop pumping/nursing immediately.

    • I found pumping so stressful and unpleasant, between the constant worry about producing enough and the amount of time it sucked up while I was in the office. I cut back around 6 months, quit altogether by 8 and did end up with supply problems and having to switch to full formula. I felt guilty about this at first (maybe even until 12 months, just because of a sense – misplaced or not – of social judgment where I live) but it was nice to get my life back, to not have to miss out professionally by having to pump during conferences, to split feeding responsibilities with my husband, and to wear normal bras with a comfortable level of support instead of those god awful nursing ones. I’m expecting #2 now and I am not going to pump when I return from mat leave. I hope you find that the guilt is only temporary because you have nothing to feel guilty about.

    • I cut down on pumping around 6 months, my supply dropped, we went through the freezer stash pretty quickly, and Baby ended up entirely on formula by 8 months. And, you know what? It was fine. That’s the worst-case scenario, and not at all representative of what happens to most people, and it was still absolutely fine. There were benefits–it was nice to have my time and my body back, and I could give up the stress of trying to rush home to nurse before the nanny had to feed Baby a bottle. Honestly, he switched to cows’ milk a few months later, and that whole time period feels like a blip on the radar. Now I worry about how much processed food he eats, and feel guilty about refusing to climb into his bed (a converted crib) to pretend to make pancakes at 7:30 a.m. (because the kitchen or even my bed is not a good enough place to pretend to make pancakes).

  9. Cornellian says:

    I went from 3 to 2 sessions around 6 months, and from 2 to 1 at like 10.5. I’ve been coming up about two oz short of what my kid consumes, but I had a freezer stash, and have been consistently 1-3 oz short for 6 weeks, so I don’t think my supply will deteriorate further. It seems like it’s hard to predict how your body will react.

    You also don’t need to always do 2 or 1. If you have a slow day and can fit in two once a week, you can just do it that one day. It’s not all or nothing.

  10. EB0220 says:

    I’d like to try putting my kids’ artwork into a family “yearbook” (using the photo book feature on Google Photos). Any tips on taking nice pictures of the artwork? Background, lighting, etc? A photographer I am not.

    • Anonymous says:

      Scan as much as possible on a flatbed scanner – if you can change the file format to a JPEG and the resolution to approx 300 DPI or more it should be fine.

    • Anonymous says:

      My easy tip (which means I actually do it!) is to use the Scannable app on my iPhone – it integrates with Evernote and then I just save the JPEG with my other picture files. I can scan anytime I get an artwork because I always have my phone. Is the best quality? I don’t know and I have given up caring, but it is good enough to put in a photo album. The app is SO SO SO easy to use – you just put the artwork on a contrasting background (so, 8×11 printer paper goes great on my dark wood dining table) – using your phone’s camera, the app senses the difference in color and creates a scan of the item.

      PS I also use it for scanning receipts (as PDFs)

  11. Momata says:

    Talk to me about skiing with kids! We are taking the fam over the holiday weekend for the first time. How do you . . . carry all your gear and the kids’ gear? Explain the nursery to the 2yo who we would like to go there while his sister is in lessons and we ski a bit (he goes to daycare but has never been to, for example, a church nursery or cruise ship kids’ club)? Talk up skiing to a fairly volatile but also quite adventurous and outdoorsy 4yo? Recover if the first lesson goes poorly? All tips and tricks welcome. TIA and happy new year!

    • avocado says:

      My #1 tip from the time we took our daughter at age 5 is to bring multiple pairs of ski mittens, especially if there is snowmaking going on. Even if the mittens are ostensibly waterproof they will still get soaked, and it’s nice to have a dry pair to change into halfway through the day. Mittens are easier than gloves to manage with little fingers and keep fingers warmer.

  12. CPA Lady says:

    Asking here because y’all tend to be more gentle– my cleaning lady is mediocre at best. She was good at first, and my house was such a disaster that I was glad to have her and felt like she made a huge difference. I pay her $90 every two weeks in a LCOL to clean a 1500 sf 3 bed 2 bath, if that is relevant. But I feel like she does a pretty haphazard job these days. How do you handle this? Do I tell her she needs to do better? Do I give her specific instructions? Do I just call it a day and hire someone else?

    • layered bob says:

      unless it’s like, one very specific thing that needs improvement, I have had 0% luck giving feedback to cleaning people and need to just find someone new.

    • So that seems like a lot in a LCOL. We pay $150 a month in a HCOL for a 4 bed, 2 bath and she does an amazing job.

      I had no problems letting go our original cleaners, because it was one of those corporate services and I knew they weren’t paying their people well and so I couldn’t blame them for doing a terrible job (they’re probably pushed to work quickly, too).

      For an owner/operator though, that’s harder because you will be firing (or critiquing her) personally. I would still try to give specific critiques (“can you make sure to get the floors in the dining room this time?”) and see if it improves.

    • Anonymous says:

      Also LCOL area – I pay $100 for biweekly cleaning of three BR 1.5 bath but large kitchen/living area plus second living area.

      My first reaction used to be new cleaners but recently DH spoke with our cleaners had there was a noticeable improvement. It helped that there was a specific example and that it came from him (he’s diplomatic and can be charming). He said something like “We appreciate your work over the years but recently there has been a lack of attention to detail. For example, the floors under the sofas and beds were not swept or washed. Look forward to continuing with your service.”

      Many cleaners take on extra work and are very busy before the holidays so if the attention to detail started to slip in that period, I’d speak to him/her/them and give it another shot.l

      • Sabba says:

        I hate to say this, but your cleaners may have taken criticism better from DH. I think many people take things more seriously if a man says it than a woman. I’ve dragged DH to parent-teacher meetings and doctor’s appointments before because I felt that concerns would be taken more seriously with the two of us raising them instead of just me. It is maddening but I work with what I have.

    • Redux says:

      I would not fire her before you give her a chance to course correct. You have different expectations now that she’s helped you take care of the disaster, and that is reasonable, but it’s not reasonable to expect her to intuit what those expectations are. I would take a look around and make a list (like actually write down) the things you need done differently and go over the list with her when she comes next. Having someone clean your home is a pretty personal thing and so you have to be clear about what your personal expectations are. If she can’t/wont do the things you ask, that’s a different circumstance and warrants terminating her.

      and FWIW we pay only slightly less than that for a smaller place in a LCOL area.

    • BabyBoom says:

      If this has been going on for a while, I would get recommendations for a new cleaner. If its a new thing, you can see if she responds to suggestions, but I would be concerned that she apparently thinks its acceptable to do a haphazard job. I pay a little more than market for house cleaning and yard work because I have been lucky to find two very responsible service providers after years of mediocre service. For me, part of what I am paying for is to have these two items on autopilot – and it’s kind of glorious not to have to worry about it. If I need to double check after my cleaner and remind her to do certain things, it defeats part of the purpose of paying someone. If the cleaner is truly sub-par it would defeat the entire purpose of paying her.

      I found my current cleaning service by asking around until I found a friend that absolutely loved her provider. This is a service you pay for and you should get what you need. It’s hard to break up with service providers, especially when they come into your home and you have a somewhat personal relationship with them. But you deserve to get what you are paying for.

    • We pay $100 every other week for a 3000 sq ft 4 BR/2.5 bath house, no pets. The cleaners don’t clean one bedroom and generally don’t do much in the dining room (maybe dust/mop every other visit). We’re in the suburbs of Boston and I think we’re getting a good price, ~$120-150 is more normal for our area.

      Try giving specific instructions that will get at the oversights you’re noticing- for example, “Please make sure to dust the blinds on the first floor.”

  13. Redux says:

    This is an extremely boring question, but how do you lawyers keep track of your required CLEs? I recently moved to NY from a state that did not have mandatory CLEs and I have no idea how to track this stuff. My employer does not have a system.

    • Sabba says:

      Does your state bar have a website to track it? I have seen that in at least two jurisdictions, but I don’t know about NY. Seems like they would have something like that. The one I use is integrated with reporting, so I can use it to track what I need to complete and then use the same website to submit my reporting when I am done with the courses.

    • Does the NY bar website do it for you? Texas does. I’d check that first. Otherwise, no suggestion because I’m in Texas and it’s done fo ryou!

    • Redux says:

      Good idea. Looks like the Bar Association has a tracker, but you have to be a member (I have a free intro membership now but once I have to pay for it, I will let it lapse).

    • Anon in NYC says:

      Do you get CLE certificates? I usually do, and I just keep them in a file folder. When I know the deadline is coming up I’ll make sure that I have enough CLEs or take a few extra classes. But the bar will also give you a short extension to file, upon request, if you forget to do that. And welcome!

    • Anonymous says:

      I have one file folder that I put all my CLE certificates in, and I write on the inside of the file folder each time I attend a CLE and earn the credits. Alternatively, just don’t worry about it, and do all your CLEs online in the last week before your birthday, every other year. (NY lawyer here.)

    • Redux says:

      Ha, awesome, thanks for the replies! (and terribly sorry for the boring work-related interlude).

    • New folder every CLE reporting period with a list on the inside left cover with the date, location, title and hours. I try to list the CLE when I register and confirm the hours afterwards so that the list is complete. Then I keep the registration info and materials (as long as they are not huge) in the folder so that everything is together when I have to report.

      My state also has a website, but it runs 30 to 60 days behind in letting you pull up CLEs, so I find that the paper backup helps.

  14. COtoNY says:

    We just found out we’re expecting our first and are so excited. Since we have no experience with the actual logistics, I was hoping to get some input on our apartment layout with a newborn.

    We have a unique 3-level apartment, still only 700 sqft- the small kitchen is on level 0, the small living room/dining area is on level -1, and our reasonably-sized bedroom and full bath are on level +1. Between the kitchen and living are 8 straight stairs, and to get up to the bedroom there is a narrow, relatively steep spiral staircase. We would definitely have these stairs carpeted so they’re not as slippery, but we’d still be carrying a baby up and down them probably several times per day. Once the baby is crawling we would have to reevaluate blocking off the top of the stairs.

    Since we have only one bedroom, I think the only option is to have the baby sleep in the same room as us. The other two options would be 1) for him/her to be all the way downstairs in the living room- but that room can get kind of cold in the winter, although I guess we could get space heaters or 2) to convert a walk-in closet off of our full bath upstairs into a nursery- but this seems weird, there are no windows, and it’s super useful storage space for us.

    Our former next door neighbors raised two (!!) children in an apartment with the same layout. Unfortunately we didn’t get a chance to ask them how they did it before they moved. We live in NYC, and we love this apartment, and we realllllly don’t want to move to a new apartment (at least until we leave the city altogether in a few years).

    Does this all seem crazy? What do you think about having a baby sleep in the same room as parents? Does this make sleep training impossible?

    • Sabba says:

      Just from what you said here, I think that sleeping in the same room makes sense at first. I would not have been able to sleep with my baby in the living room with the arrangement you describe. Other than that, if you do convert the closet to a nursery, you may want to put in a fan or a door with some sort of vents, or never close the door fully, because I would think the room could get awfully stuffy and maybe have air circulation problems. I lived in an apartment complex once where a fellow tenant had converted a walk-in closet to a bedroom for her 6 year old son and she said he said his lungs felt tight in the morning and they thought that it might be an air circulation problem for the closet and started leaving his door open. This was new construction and the doors in the units fit pretty tight and I don’t know if air circulation was actually the issue, but I remember finding the whole idea horrifying.

    • Anonymous says:

      Sleep in your room to start – you won’t want to trek down to the bottom floor in the middle of the night. When baby gets bigger, move into closet but replace closet door with a louvered door so there’s lots of airflow.

    • Katala says:

      You can definitely start out sharing a room – how long that works depends on you/the baby. It does make sleep training really hard. With #1, we moved him out of our room at 8-ish months and he immediately starting putting himself to sleep and sleeping 12 hours straight. We were clearly keeping him up.

      Many families I knew in NYC did 1-bedrooms with baby and moved their bed into the living room once the room sharing didn’t work anymore. Given your stair situation, the living area might be better for baby and you can do warm jammies/sleep sack and heaters if needed in the winter. Lots of families do it, so I’m sure you can figure it out for a few years. Congratulations!

    • Anonymous says:

      Can you put a permanent or temporary wall dividing the bedroom into 2 rooms? I know people that did that. Otherwise I don’t think using the closet is a terrible idea; assuming you own, you could easily install some kind of ventilation fan or even a window into the bedroom. If not leaving the door ajar with a tower fan in it should provide plenty of air circulation. When the baby is small you can have it sleep in a pack and play or similar portable crib and wheel it into or out of the closet or bathroom if you need some privacy. My friend sleep trained by wheeling the crib out of the bedroom into the living room after their baby was asleep every night, and another friend’s baby always napped in one of their bathrooms.

  15. We ran into similar trouble with our previous cleaning person, who started off strong but got worse and worse as time went on. Before firing her, we made a checklist and asked if she could note which items she wasn’t able to finish. That helped, but not long-term. If you otherwise like her, something like that might be worth a try.

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