Eat Well: Ratatouille, ditch the Pyrex

The following post was written by my mom, WWW who is leaving us on Monday after two months of being here 'round the clock as our cook and caretaker. I will miss her tremendously and don't quite know how we'll cope. (I'm hiring extra help but even that won't suffice, I'm sure.) Anyway, thank you for everything, mom. Including this post, which as per usual has me salivating over its deliciousness.
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Public service announcement: DON’T COOK WITH PYREX. The day after writing my last post about my love affair with cast iron, my daughter, Rachel called me at 5:45 from Ohio. Normally I would have panicked at being woken so early but I was already up and preparing for my shift as Nanny-Gooey so I wasn’t terribly alarmed—just curious.

“Mom,” said she. “First, I want to tell you that I’m alright.”

These words when uttered by a grown child should be comforting, but instead they scare the hell out of me because they imply that something bad has happened. Something dangerous. Several times I have received these types of phone calls from my girls and each time, my head flashes with visions of broken bones, totaled cars, muggings, or other scary events.

“What happened?”

“I could have been seriously hurt and I am shaking right now but luckily I’m ok...”

“WHAT HAPPENED?” I yelled into the phone.

She began explaining to me her morning events. A Pyrex baking dish had violently exploded, sending a million shards of lethally sharp glass all over her kitchen and living room. I remembered that I had had a similar experience when cooking Yorkshire pudding in a newly purchased Pyrex pan last year but thought that it was a fluke.

“The amazing thing is,” she continued, “not one piece of glass touched me. But my carpet and linoleum melted from the hot glass.”

She sent me pictures of her kitchen and after seeing her ruined carpet and linoleum, I was shaking, too—but grateful beyond belief that she was miraculously unscathed. I had bought her that pan when I helped her move into her apartment in August. And I had just bought an identical one for Rebecca after taking inventory of her kitchen and noticing that she didn’t own a 9X13 inch baking dish.

The first thing I did after hanging up with Rachel was to throw Rebecca’s pan in the trash. And the next thing I did was to search the Internet for information about Pyrex. Only a few minutes into my search revealed that there is a serious problem with today’s Pyrex products, and I have to admit, I was kind of appalled at the dozens of scary testimonials. Pyrex dishes and measuring cups explode in the oven, the microwave, on the stove, when taking food out of the oven, or if heated on the stove. Here are a few pictures and youtube stories. Also this.

The problem is, most of us have in our head that Pyrex is safe because it used to be… when it was made by Corning. In those days, the glass was made out of a shatter and heat resistant glass called borosilicate (still used today in European manufactured Pyrex cookware). I have a Pyrex baking dish that I have had for 30 years and it has never cracked, even at temperatures above 350 degrees. Today, Pyrex is made out of an inferior glass that can’t be trusted, and when tested by Consumer Reports, shattered in every heat test performed.

Why there hasn’t been some massive recall I cannot understand, but the good news is that the Consumer Product Safety Commission is in the middle of an intensive investigation and you can read people’s stories here. If you have had a problem with your Pyrex exploding, call the CPSC at 800-638-22772, or email them at info@cpsc.gov. Consumer Reports wants to hear about it, too. (Send your stories to them at TellCR@cro.consumer.org.)

My conclusion from all of this is: PYREX CANNOT BE TRUSTED TO COOK WITH, PERIOD!!! Maybe it doesn’t always explode, but it seems to me, cooking with Pyrex is kind of like playing Russian roulette. And with grandchildren around while I am cooking, that is not a game I ever want to play. I replaced Rebecca’s pan with a metal one the same day Rachel called—just in time to cook this roasted ratatouille recipe.
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Ratatouille comes from southern France (Provence) and is usually made with a combination of tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant, garlic, onions, peppers and herbs, tossed in a casserole and baked or simmered on the stove. I have been making it for years, but what I don’t like about traditional ratatouille is that often the zucchini gets mushy by the time the eggplant is cooked through and it is often watery. Because I am such a fan of roasted vegetables these days, I have come up with a quick and, in my opinion, far superior roasted ratatouille. (I leave out the zucchini because I like it better without it, but if you want to add it in, cut it into 1 inch cubes and add to the other veggies). This dish has been a huge hit up here at the GGC home. Even Archer and Fable love it tossed with pasta. It is also great served on rice or quinoa.

Roasted Ratatouille
2 large red peppers
1 large onion
1 large eggplant or several Japanese eggplants
about 4 T olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
5-6 fresh tomatoes, diced
1/3 cup fresh chopped basil leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 425. Cut eggplant into pieces (about 1 inch squares) and thinly slice onions and peppers.
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Toss vegetables in olive oil and salt and pepper until coated. Spread evenly in two METAL pans, being careful not to crowd the vegetables.
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Cook for about 12-15 minutes, or until onions start to brown and eggplant is tender. Add tomatoes, garlic, and basil, evenly dividing them between the two pans.
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Stir to mix and roast another 5-10 minutes, until the tomatoes are soft.
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Serve tossed with your favorite good quality pasta (I like it on lanterne pasta) or on rice. Dust with freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional).
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Note: For a variation, add the ratatouille to your favorite prepared marinara sauce and serve over pasta.
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with vodka marinara sauce

Enjoy! AND PLEASE BE SAFE!

Love,

WWW*

*The Erin Brockovich of glass cookware

66 comments:

Heidi Oran | 9:44 AM

I had a Pyrex crack on me too! I was roasting something and I added wine and the whole thing shattered.

Thanks for this post!

Martha | 9:45 AM

I have exploded two pyrexes and my toddler broke my pyrex measuring cup (that was really scary). It is so sad that they aren't what they used to be - my husband is from Corning and the Pyrex/Corelle line was such a huge source of pride there!

Aly | 9:48 AM

HOLY CRAP about the Pyrex! All I have is glass bakeware...most of it is thrifted and older. If it's the older stuff made by Corning, is it safe? Just last night I was taking meatloaf out of the oven with my baby playing in the kitchen. I feel a little sick. I had no idea about exploding Pyrex.

CML72 | 9:50 AM

I had this happen to me as well last year. Very scary situation. I had two pyrex dishes in the oven, one exploded and sent pork roast and glass shards all across my oven and kitchen after I added lukewarm water to it for gravy.

Kris | 9:55 AM

Just last night I remarked that I needed a new pyrex pan for lasagne...ours has gone missing. I often have my two year old by my side in the kitchen (clinging to my leg, actually). I'll go with something else. Too scary. Thanks so much for the tip!

GIRL'S GONE CHILD | 9:57 AM

Yes, Aly! If it's made by Corning then it's safe! Older PYREX and European distributed PYREX are safe. I bet there's a way to order from a European distributor? More expensive but CLEARLY worth the extra.

Thanks to everyone for sharing your Pyrex stories. Important stuff. xx

Over the Rainbow | 10:05 AM

Yikes! This happened to me, too, and I attributed the problem to cooling the dishes too quickly. I guess I'll be asking for ceramic or stoneware replacements for the holidays!

L.L. | 10:07 AM

I'm just guessing here but maybe there hasn't been a recall because they are not claiming the new Pyrex can withstand those same temperatures, so technically its not defective. Its just that people still have it in their heads that the dishes can still be used in that way, because they used to be. Also, I am guessing they aren't making it abundantly clear that the newer dishes are different, because they don't want to advertise the fact that HEY we make a lesser quality/less functional product now!! This is some seriously scary stuff though, thanks for sharing.

Aly | 10:10 AM

I read the CPSC page about exploding Pyrex and I and throwing all mine away, old or not. The picture of the dish expoding gives me chills because last night I put a hot dish on the counter JUST LIKE THAT. Thank you fot the information.

Wendy Woolf | 10:10 AM

LL...you are right about the fact that they are less functional...basically they aren't functional AT ALL. I read one story where a pan exploded at 350 in the oven. How can you cook with a pan that can't be cooked in?

Amanda | 10:12 AM

I love moms. Also, pitching the pyrex as soon as I get home tonight.

Aly and Elroi and Avie | 10:17 AM

A friend posted this blog to FB which is how I came to it. I'd heard about this issue and have since used my pyrex for food storage only. I got rid of all my nonstick pans a few years ago b/c of the teflon problem. Now I mostly use silicone though I worry that that will eventually found to be toxic too!

Arnebya | 10:19 AM

Amazingly, the oven isn't the only place Pyrex has shattered recently. A coworker had hers burst in the dishwasher during the drying cycle (perhaps it was close to shattering the last time she cooked w/it and the drying of the dishwasher sent it over the edge). Regardless, it's unfortunate that the dishes made today are inferior. I tend to only cook with cast iron though I have a few glass sauce pans. Kudos to mom for throwing it out immediately!

Suzanne | 10:27 AM

Wow, thanks for the info. I was just planning to stock my kitchen for the holidays but will think twice before purchasing any Pyrex. Scary and glad your daughter is okay!

ste | 10:30 AM

Any idea what year the switch happened?

lizzie | 10:34 AM

I had a pyrex pie plate explode as well . . . luckily it was in the oven, so the shards were contained and easy to clean up once I turned off the oven and it cooled down.

Beth | 10:37 AM

Yikes! Thanks for letting me know. The ratatouille looks yum!

Nicole | 10:40 AM

very scary, but this snopes article breaks down all the claims - and it really looks like these are just accidents from not using the pans properly. Old or new, they are still glass, and subject to the laws of thermodynamics.
For instance, adding room temp or cool wine to a hot pan could absolutely crack it - it's just not made to be used that way.

http://www.snopes.com/food/warnings/pyrex.asp

Wendy Woolf | 10:54 AM

Nicole... believe me I read the snopes article, too, but I do not agree with their argument. Too many people have shared stoties where the pans exploded under recommended usage guidelines. And, the old
pyrex could withstand high temps and changes in temperature, so all of us raised with the old Pyrex trust the brand. What good is cookware if you have to worry about how to use it, how cold the surface is when you bring it out of the oven, etc? It just doesn't seem worth the risk.

Milena | 11:05 AM

Ratatouille - hmmmm - love this easy dish. I usually do it on the stove and add black olives and towards the end some sheep cheese (the soft white kind). It's perfect with rice or just pita bread.

My Pyrex, obviously the european kind, is still use -no cracks!

Auf Wiedersehn

from Germany

Wendy Woolf | 11:06 AM

Oh...and ste, I cannot find a reliable source as to when the switch was made. I think it was fazed out during the 90's. All I know is my pyrex at home is from the 70's and early 80's and it is fine...it even looks different.

Nicole | 11:11 AM

By all means, throw out cookware that you deem dangerous - I'm taking a closer look at my glass pans too.
I think the salient point made in the snopes article is that far far more people are injured by dropping and breaking pans than from temperature related shattering - and the new pyrex dishes are harder to break, as well as less expensive to make and more environmentally friendly. Maybe the old kind could take a little more abuse from the freezer to the oven, etc. You just have to be mindful of the limits of products.
The end of the article also quotes that many of the people reporting exploding pans admitted to using them incorrectly.
I just don't think this is some big cover-up of shoddy craftsmanship.

Now melamine in baby formula. That was some bull.

Hespyhesp | 11:16 AM

This happended to me, too. I had pyrex given to me as a wedding gift in 2007. It says it is microwave safe and I had mine in the microwave when it cracked. Thankfully it didn't explode.

Sarah | 11:39 AM

Wow, I thought it was a fluke too, I shattered one once when 1 drop of water hit it while it was hot. It broke into a million pieces. Thanks for the info.

Mandolin | 11:58 AM

The very same thing, an EXPOLDING PYREX dish, nearly ruined thanksgiving last year! Exploding shards of glass were all over the kitchen floor, as well as whatever food had been in that dish (I can't remember now). Thankfully no one got hurt, but after it happened we heard several other stories of the same thing happening!!

Heather | 12:00 PM

I was once roasting chicken in the oven. When it was nearly done I decided to finish it with some wine. The minute the liquid hit the pan the entire dish EXPLODED, out of the oven, onto me and the floor. Glass, burning hot chicken grease... it was really scary. I am still shocked that nothing got into my eyes.

I thought it was a fluke, or that I caused it by adding cool liquid to a hot pan. But I guess not. Thanks for sharing this. I'm getting rid of my remaining pan.

Noelle {Aloud} | 1:09 PM

Oh, God! This is terrifying! I put two 9x13 Pyrex pans in a 500 F oven just last night, with my son playing in the kitchen! I'm pretty sure my Pyrex is old Pyrex, but, just...yikes!

Rebecca | 1:09 PM

Thank you so much for the info! I've been cooking in new Pyrex for the last few months and am now going to throw it away. Glad no one was hurt!

Lynne | 1:17 PM

Just last week, I took a Pyrex dish out of a 350 degree oven and it exploded while sitting on my counter. Glass was everywhere. Good thing my kids and dog were all outside when it happened.

Anne-Marie | 1:58 PM

I've never been so grateful that most of my glass cookware is over 30 years old and inherited from my grandmother's house. Jeez. Deregulation is certainly a bitch!

hsw | 2:15 PM

I use mine for storing leftovers but sometimes I make vegan and gluten free lasagna, probably wise to stop. So glad your daughter was unharmed!

Shannon | 3:17 PM

yep! This happened to me last year. I took a picture, emailed it to Pyrex. Never heard a word back. Maybe you should send them a link to this post?! So scary and dangerous.

Jenn | 3:39 PM

I have never commented, but I am a long-time-ish reader. I wanted to say that I had a pyrex dish shatter spectacularly in my oven. At the time, I attributed it to it being too cold when I put it in the oven, but I'll never cook with it again after reading this!

Sachi | 4:55 PM

We bought Pyrex pans recently and this happened to us too. We were at my mom's house and she had just baked some things for my dad. She got the tray out and right when she put it on the counter it just exploded. Thankfully no one was hurt. On the other hand, the much older Pyrex trays that we have have never malfunctioned or broke. Must be something with the new ones made.

Ethel | 8:40 PM

In college one of my roommates made brownies in a pyrex glass dish. She set the pan on the top of the oven to let it cool, and walked out of the room. At that instant the hot dish exploded all over the kitchen burning the rug and the counter tops! I was on the third floor of our house and heard the explosion and ran down the stairs to see my roommate standing in the doorway of the kitchen stunned. It's amazing that no one was in the kitchen at the time seeing as how there were 6 of us that lived there! I thought it was a fluke thing, but after seeing this post and your links, I'm tossing my pyrex! Thanks for the insight!

CASSANDRA | 8:43 PM

I have had a pyrex dish shatter on me too it was scary and disappointing because the dinner I had cooked in it was going to be yummy!

Wendy | 11:05 PM

I was under the impression that Pyrex shattered when you put the hot dish on a cold countertop. But seeing these photos suggests otherwise, doesn't it?

Anonymous | 11:12 PM

so then, what are people planning to use now instead?? a tin pan? what a bummer!!! are there other brands out there that people would recommend??

Anonymous | 11:12 PM

Ok, I know ya gotta do whatever it takes to get by, but... you're HIRING someone? Really? My God, I can't imagine hiring someone to help me take care of my kids. Good Lord.

GIRL'S GONE CHILD | 11:33 PM

Yes, Anon. I'm a working mother. I hire help so that I can work from home. I can't imagine how I would do it otherwise. Can you?

Catherine | 2:04 AM

Yikes, all of these comments are terrifying! Am hereby offering my services as Euro-Pyrex-trafficker.

mackenzie | 5:34 AM

Wow, Anon, that was a little cold. Do you work and take care of four children without any help? I work full time from home and send my ONE child to daycare so that I can get work done to help support my family and do a job I love. I do not have the luxury of doing anything else. I don't think that Rebecca really deserved that "good lord" part - it was a little nasty.

Aine | 5:45 AM

So, Anon, you've never hired a babysitter, ever? Hmm, the only people I know who've never done that...don't have kids!

Molly | 7:17 AM

A pyrex dish also exploded inside my oven inexplicably two years ago, and I googled it and found exactly what you did. Looks like nothing has changed since then! For the most part we try to stick with ceramic now.

Anonymous | 8:25 AM

As a matter of fact, I raised four children, (daughter, son, and twin sons) and worked from home. It seems that mothers nowadays can't do anything without "help" from every direction. I also live two states away from my family so I never had any help from them, and certainly not from my work-a-holic husband. Hell, my husband never even took time off from work when our kids were born, except for the actual delivery day. I can understand the newborn adjustment time, but ongoing help just to get through the day I just don't get. The hiring of nurses, and live-ins is becoming so common, it's ridiculous really.

Over the Rainbow | 8:49 AM

Wow, Anonymous, that sounds like a lot of work. Kudos to you if you did it all without help because you wanted to, but I'm sorry if you did it without help because you had no other options. Help is not a new thing, though. Since the beginning of recorded history, women have been coming together to share child care and other domestic tasks. The idea of ruggedly doing everything on one's own is actually a Western neo-liberal capitalist invention of the last 150 years, and the idea of women needing to raise children and work for pay is equally contemporary. I think that all women an families should able to have whatever support they need, and I am particularly sad that that help is less and less available to families without significant disposable income. Please don't judge other people because they make different decisions or have different options than you; we should really be working to open up these options for everyone.

Anonymous | 10:17 AM

I was raised to take care of my own children. It was hard, but I made it work. A friend of mine had three kids and she could not do anything without "help" (not even her own damned laundry). It was very annoying and made me wonder why she had more children than she could take care of. And I get the old history and tradition of "it takes a village" and family and friends lending a hand. That is VERY different from today, where so many mothers think they have to have a live-in, or some kind of assistant. I say "ridiculous." That has been, and will continue to be MY opinion.

Anonymous | 10:29 AM

Rebecca~

1) Holy shit with the Pyrex explosions

2) Your mom is the coolest woman ever. I know I've said it before but she is.

3) There is no doubt in my mind that your family is made better for the woman you allow yourself to be. Please, please don't for a second be anything but proud of your choices. Your kids are incredibly lucky to have you.

Peace~
Karen

Chiyiyite | 12:16 PM

Love this: my verification word is saysma. 'Says ma.' THANK YOU, WWW!

I looked at my pyrex - the old one that I use nearly every day says "Corning" on the bottom. I will keep that one. But the rest don't say it, and I believe they are from the new line. Will recycle.

Has anybody had luck thrifting old pyrex products? What do you look for? Is there any sturdy alternative that heats evenly?

Mammy P | 12:17 PM

Scary - exactly the same thing happened to my Mum once; I was upstairs when she was cooking and it sounded like a bomb went off! Millions of little cubes of lethal glass all over the kitchen. Luckily the kids and pets weren't home at the time.

And Wendy - I did a gasp at you cooking Yorkshire pudding in a glass dish :-) you must do it in the grubbiest, oldest, bashed up tin you can lay your hands on. :-)

Wendy Woolf | 1:29 PM

Chiyiyite....Any ceramic casserole will act just like the glass while cooking but can take the heat. I have a Le Creuset one that I got at Home Goods and it even has a cover! And thank you for all of your testimonials, everyone. Please contact the CPSC with your stories...they are trying to make a case and unless people tell them, they don't have any idea how many people are having the problem.

Mindy | 4:37 PM

Just made this recipe for dinner and it is fabulous!! I can not believe I've never had eggplant before. Thank you for sharing.

Anonymous | 4:58 PM

I have had 3 Pyrex dishes explode. 2 in my kitchen, and 1 in my car. Fortunately, no one was hurt. I also had a glass vessel sink explode in the middle of the day sending shards everywhere. I have bad experiences with glass things. I am on my 10th windshield in various cars, too. :-(

Amber | 5:33 PM

I cook everything in my 13 x 9 pyrex. It was a hand me down so I think it's probably a corning but I'm scared to use it now! Oh well, I guess it is a good excuse to get some new ceramic cookware.

Anonymous | 7:07 PM

I have never had this happen to me but now I'm a little scared WWW! I have always tried not to make it go through sudden temperatures changes though, and I always handwash. I even have one with a lid (also glass) with it. It sounds like I am in the minority here...

Chiyiyite | 9:06 PM

Thanks! I've always loved my glass bakeware because I can easily tell when the food is done. However, I will happily shop for ceramic this weekend, especially as I remember you writing favorably (read: waxing poetic) about your Le Creuset cookware. Thanks again and best wishes, Jennifer

Diane/ It's All Good - Until You Burn Dinner | 10:48 AM

Very interesting. A few years back, my daughter was eating COLD cereal out of a Corelle bowl and the bowl snapped into about 9 pieces in front of her. Unbelieveable! It had come straight from the cupboard so it wasn't hot...it just decided to shatter. I KNOW what that Pyrex looks like when it shatters, too. Millions of tiny pieces of glass that gets into every nook and cranny! Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous | 7:25 PM

Dear WWW: Just want to tell you that I love and adore your food posts! Made your ratatouille recipe tonight, over pasta, to RAVE reviews! Please keep the amazing recipes coming. Your collaboration with Rebecca is so wonderful to follow - thank you, and all love to your amazing family! xo

Jen | 4:20 AM

Same thing here with the pyrex. My bf at the time took a roast out of the oven, laid it on the stovetop, walked out of the kitchen to tell me something and boom. Everywhere! Thankfully he wasn't in there or we would have spent time in the hospital for sure. I too thought it was a fluke. Thanks WWW, with a toddler myself, I'll be buying metal pans today.

Anonymous | 12:57 AM

Oh wow, I thought when this happened to me it was a fluke!
I was 19, in college, and cooking my very first Thanksgiving dinner for me and my boyfriend. I had made my mom's stuffing and baked it in a 9x13 pyrex pan specially bought for Thanksgiving.
I pulled the stuffing out of the oven and set it on top of the stove (none of the burners were on, although the stove was slightly warm from the oven baking) and walked across the room to grab something. I heard this loud POP! CRACK! and then a million little pieces of hot glass shards flew all over the dorm kitchen. There was hot glass all over the floor (carpet!), counters, sink, etc. I was shocked the carpet didn't catch on fire! It melted in several places, but not horribly. Of course, there were glass shards in all the finished dishes I had set on the counter, so the entire meal was ruined. I had always blamed it on me being a novice cook, but now I'm pretty pissed at Pyrex. I won't be buying anything else of theirs!

--Yael.

Expat Mom | 2:47 PM

Just made this recipe and it turned out great, though I had to cook it a bit longer than anticipated. Thanks!

Jess | 11:43 PM

I just made the roasted ratatouille and it was fabulous! My tarte tatin not so much, but still looks edible. Thanks for this great recipe series. I am no whiz in the kitchen, but these recipes are great and easy to make. I also made the mango, blackbean and quinoa salad.

Marika | 8:47 PM

I've bookmarked almost all of your mom's recipes, but this was the first one that I actually made. OMG. I think this is the recipe I would choose if I could only eat one thing for the rest of my life. I'm currently having to restrain myself so I don't just finish off the whole thing. Roasting just makes everything better. I served the ratatouille over quinoa. Which made it more filling, but I really could have eaten the vegetables by themselves. Straight from the pan.

Suzy | 7:10 PM

UGH! I read this when it was first posted and I told EVERYONE I KNOW that they should rethink their Pyrex! I failed, however, to get rid of my own. Learned my lesson tonight. Cracked a dish that I had cooked in YESTERDAY just while gently washing it. My thumb is shredded and I am finally convinced!

Anonymous | 7:16 PM

UGH! I read this when it was first posted and I told EVERYONE I KNOW that they should rethink their Pyrex! I failed, however, to get rid of my own. Learned my lesson tonight. Cracked a dish that I had cooked in YESTERDAY just while gently washing it. My thumb is shredded and I am finally convinced!

Anonymous | 7:53 PM

I am way late to this party but wanted to look up this thread to educate myself on Pyrex (I had a hazy memory of this post but when my hubby pulled out ye old lasagna pan tonight, I panicked and wanted to recall the exact details). In the process I am now scrolling through the comments and Holy Hell, Anon. needs to chill. I have a lot of help and yet I RAISE MY OWN KIDS. As does Rebecca (clearly). Having help is a blessing and, by the way, makes your kids better...meaning they become well-adjusted and used to encountering different (nurturing, loving, attentive) personalities who all make them feel their best. Impossible for a mom of four or five to actually provide undivided, unilateral, mindful attention to each child around the clock (IMHO). Why not bring another fantastic female role model on board (or male, whatever), who helps your kids shine? My mother taught kindergarten for 35 years and said repeatedly that without fail, year after year, the kids of stay-at-home/do-it-all martyrs were the most self-absorbed and least adjusted of her students. So please stop being so judgy, there are many different views on this issue and the one that is right is the one that works for YOU *and* YOUR KIDS.

-- Holly