First of all, let me just tell you that it was hard for me to type that title. I kid you not! I just don’t really ever say “ain’t” and, apparently, it doesn’t even flow well when I’m typing. Ha! I probably should have gone with, “August? That can’t be true!”
Anyway, August arrives this week and I am not really thrilled about that. I’m just not ready to admit that summer break is more than half over. Boo hoo! Still, we have plenty of hot, sunny days ahead and I plan on enjoying them to the fullest!
Here’s the plan for what we’re eating:
B–Cheerios, Bananas, Milk (for A, before 7:30AM Mass– my girls were with my parents)
Or, just the other week, I talked about this? I meant it. Health needs to be the focus.
But, I’m sort of ashamed to admit that there’s a part of me that might not completely subscribe to all those espoused theories. There’s a part of me that refuses to get totally onboard with all of those logical conclusions.
There’s a part of me that’s simply relieved.
I’ve told some people in real life before… always sheepishly, always with downcast eyes, always with just a whisper of being a ashamed.
I’m glad it’s my son who is wildly tall.
I’m glad it’s my daughter who is waifishly tiny.
I mutter it, cheeks pink, expecting rebuke.
I never get it.
Now, some is that is undoubtedly that most people, at least in real life, tend to be pretty kind and don’t immediately jump down your throat. These are also people who know me and know my heart and, I would hope, realize that it takes a lot for me to even admit that.
But I think, no, actually, I KNOW, that some of it is because people agree with me. On some level, there are pre-wired societal preferences of which we’re all aware.
A. is the tallest one in his class. He has been since kindergarten. He still rides well above the “6’3″ line on the doctors’ charts. I hear– over and over and OVER again– about how tall he is.
You know what being crazy tall has meant for him? It hasn’t been feeling awkward. Or self-doubt. Or getting picked on.
Nope, being the tallest boy in the class hasn’t posed one problem. If anything, other boys respect him simply for being the “biggest” (<– tallest, just tallest, but that makes him one kind of big.) Honestly, their dads comment on it, too. “Who’s that kid a half a head taller than everyone else?” they ask and then nod approvingly when I mention he’s mine.
The nine-year-old girls are starting to catch the boys, and will continue to until high school, if I remember my own experiences correctly. They’re steadily creeping above the boys in their class. But you know who they’re NOT creeping past? A. He remains the boy they get to look up to, just a tad.
And they like it.
I don’t blame them. I still remember the ONE boy in my eighth grade class who was taller than me that year. Nevermind that the very next year in high school there was a wide array of tallness around me– I still remember Adam. He made me feel girly and not gangly. And A. does that for the tall girls around him.
C. is tiny. She’s not particularly tall and she’s very slim. On top of that, she is very, very small-boned, which makes her look more delicate than she really is. The overall impression is that she’s very little.
You know what being tiny and fragile-looking has meant for her? It hasn’t been getting picked on. Or being treated poorly. Or being left behind.
Nope, being a small, fine-boned girl hasn’t posed one problem for C. She’s perceived as sweet and dainty and girly. She’s smaller than her friends and they, even at the tender age of eight, place some value on her lightness and “cuteness.” I’m not saying that’s right– but it’s very real. Her tiny feet and little face are both praised, not criticized.
The boys around C. act protective. Now, there are admittedly times that this annoys her, but it’s not mean or nasty at all. They are more likely to hold doors for her, carry things for her, and make sure she’s okay. Her tiny stature triggers something in them that makes them try to take care of her. And you know what? Some of them like it.
I feel like such a hypocrite. I hate having to admit this.
I don’t see short, tiny boys and think anything bad about them. Why would I? I know it doesn’t matter.
I don’t see tall, strong girls and think anything bad, either. Not at all. Heck, *I* was a pretty tall girl, myself.
But I’d be lying if I didn’t say that, given the choice, I’d pick my supertall son and tiny daughter over a short, small-boned son and a girl who was the tallest in her class.
I’ve got a one-pan wonder for you all today, friends! Perfect for a busy day when you don’t have a lot of time and don’t want a lot of dishes.
This Fajita Penne is highly adaptable– the meat and cheese can be switched up, and red or yellow peppers would be gorgeous, too. Use what you’ve got! I used some local grassfed ground beef and it was awesome, but steak strips or chicken would work beautifully, too.
When A. was an infant, he had the biggest thighs you can imagine on a baby. You can get a peek at them here:
So big were his legs that we couldn’t zip regular blanket sleepers over them. We tried sleepers from Walmart, sleepers from Kohls. Sleepers from Target, sleepers from Sears. We had a giant stack of fleecey jammies that did us not one bit of good since there’s no way A. would fit in them without serious risk of getting caught in the zipper.
The only exception? A red fleece sleeper that my aunt and uncle had purchased him from LL Bean. The legs of that sleeper were roomy enough to accomodate his chunk-a-lunk thighs without issue. I used to wash it over and over and over again because it was such a relief to have a garment that FIT.
Now, the average blanket sleeper comes in around $10 or less, typically. The LL Bean sleepers? Were $26. And this was nine years ago.
Nonetheless, A. got two more of them because, when all was said and done, we spent less on those than we had on the giant pile of useless jammies that wouldn’t zip over his legs.
Every child is built differently and some are more challenging to fit than others. When you have a child who doesn’t fit well into “standard sizing,” it can be a bit of a treasure hunt to find the garments that actually work well. And, once you find a brand and style that works? Well, in my experience, it’s sometimes best to just become loyal to that brand and roll with it.
These days, A. has an entirely different build: he is tall and very slim through the waist. He is not, however, one of these overall skinny kids. While he doesn’t have a big rear end or legs, they’re also not non-existent or stick-like. His shoulders are on the broad side, nine-year-old-boy-wise, and he’s starting to get some little ropy muscles on his chest and arms.
If you, too, have a very tall boy with a very slim waist, I’m here to help. Having been through dozens of brands, styles, and stores, we’ve culled through a lot to arrive at the ones that seem to truly work for this build, while not breaking the bank. So, without further ado:
Boys with this build can usually wear standard size tops. For sweaters and oxford shirts, we look for a description that says something like “slimmer cut through the body” or “this garment fits more closely.” That’s a good thing for a long, slim kid, but true “slim” sizes often aren’t necessary if the child doesn’t have particularly narrow shoulders.
We’ve been through a lot of jeans. A LOT OF JEANS. The best brand and cut we’ve found, by far, is Wrangler (available at Walmart, Target, and many other stores.) Both the straight leg and cowboy cuts (in slim sizes) are fantastic for the tall slim set, and, if the child has fuller thighs or rear, there are more relaxed styles that retain the nice small waist.
The very best khaki pants we’ve found come from Old Navy, in the uniform section. No, our son does not have to wear a uniform to school. Nonetheless, I wait eagerly for the “uniform sale” every July/August and then stock up these pants in a slim. They are sturdy, affordable, and adjustable, even in the higher sizes (like 12 and 14.) The size 12 slim, for example, is the length of a standard 12, with a size 8 waist. This is super helpful as a starting point for a tall, slim-waisted boy so he doesn’t wind up looking like he’s wearing a cinched paper bag.
Here’s the deal– dress pants are WAY hard to find for this build. Just trust me. I spent hours upon hours looking for them before A’s first communion. In the end, I bought black uniform pants from Old Navy and my mom pressed a crease into them. They looked great.
We’ve had success with both Old Navy and The Children’s Place for boys’ slim shorts. Old Navy runs a tad larger than Children’s Place and is a bit longer in the rise, just so you know. Both typically have functional draw strings on the boys’ athletic shorts (unlike what is typical now for girls– don’t get me started), but we have been fooled by The Children’s Place a time or two, so be sure to read the reviews! Do not think that buying a very long style short in one size smaller will solve the problem– the waist will likely still be too big and the rise too short. (Ask me how I know.)
All of the stores mentioned above have very reasonable prices and excellent sales– Old Navy and The Children’s Place, in particular, run phenomenal sales quite frequently.
So there you go. There is all I’ve learned after years of attempting to find just the right fit for my tall, slim-waisted son. What other recommendations for or questions about this body type do you have?
We dragged our toes through the sand, watching the grains spill over painted toenails– hers berry, mine bubblegum pink.
“It was just so NICE to get away. To steal those quiet moments with the waves crashing in the background, knowing our kids were safely tucked in nearby. To just enjoy each other, you know?” I was enjoying filling her in on the vacation we had taken.
And she smiled.
She knew. She definitely knew. Even in the throes of parenting three children under five, she knows that joyful jump in the belly of getting to be with the man you love.
I watched her narrow her eyes as she gazed back out over the water.
“How’s Allyson?” I asked, knowing they had been friends since before she had given birth to her first.
She sighed. “Oh, you know, more of the same. They’re not happy. I feel so bad for their little girl. She just doesn’t see love and happiness in that house.”
I shook my head, “That’s just so sad.”
She nodded sadly. “And I have another good friend who’s getting divorced. She just up and left– said he was an annoying jerk. It’s just so hard to see all these marriages suffering and falling apart.” She gave a short, slightly bitter, laugh. “My mother-in-law says I need happier friends.”
* * * * * * * * * * *
Later, I poured shallow glasses of icy white wine while her husband grilled and mine ran to the car while watching the baby.
“Sweetie, want me to just toss this in the car?” he asked me.
“Sure, hon, that’d be great.” I smiled back.
It was the briefest of exchanges. Nothing to it, really.
But, again, she smiled.
“What?” I asked, a curious half-grin on my face.
“I just love that he calls you ‘Sweetie’,” she replied, shrugging a bit.
I laughed. “Oh, man, I don’t think we even think about that. I didn’t even notice. I think it’s just habit. It doesn’t really mean anything.”
She looked down. Spoke softly.
“I think it means more…”
I waited for her to continue.
“I think it shows that you have such deep underlying affection. Fondness. Love. All that. I think it shows that, even when you’re totally unhappy with his behaviors– and, you’re my best friend, I know sometimes you are– you’re still happy with HIM.”
It was on the tip of my tongue to make a light-hearted joke. To diminish the meaning of a simple “sweetie.” But she wasn’t quite done.
“You aren’t afraid to share the happy.”
We focus so much on “keeping it real.” We praise authenticity and honor those who aren’t afraid to reveal the grit and divulge the struggle.
And that’s good. That’s a good, good thing. It is critical that we not paint some glossy, perfect image that is, at the core, utterly false. Our imperfections and tribulations make us dimensional and relatable. These are beautiful things.
But there’s something to be said for sharing the happy, too.
In a world where she watches her friends’ marriages fall apart and she hears all the terrible, horrible, devastating angles, she was almost afraid to feel her own happy. Who knows how long it will last? If everyone else’s marriage went from good to apathetic to awful, what hope does she have?
Yes, we should be honest about challenges.
No, we shouldn’t pretend everything’s perfect.
But we also shouldn’t be afraid to say, “It’s good. Yeah, sure, it’s hard sometimes. Yeah, he’s annoying as hell from time to time. Sure, I wish he’d knock off *insert bad habit here.* But it’s good. I love him and I know he loves me. At the end of the day, the annoyances are totally outweighed by the joys. I’m happy.”
Because, in the end, maybe that’s how we’ll all wind up with happier friends.
We do swimming lessons at the lake. I believe I’ve told you all that before. The lessons are through the American Red Cross and we love the instructors. They offer two different sessions during the summer, each lasting three weeks.
In the past, we’ve done one 3-week session. That’s what most people do.
This year, however, we missed the first week of the June-July session due to being in the Outer Banks. We also missed the last class when the kids got hit with a virus. As a result, two of my three kids were right on the cusp of moving up to the next level, but maybe not quite there. The other child? Remains terrified of the water and needs all the exposure she can get. Soooo… we elected to sign them all up for the second session.
All that to say? We’re back in swimming lessons this week (and the next two weeks, too!)
Here’s what I plan to feed the perpetually starving masses:
B–Migas, Bacon, OJ, Mixed Fruit (in Massachusetts, with our friends)
L–McDonald’s (on the road)– not great, but at least we got to play The Fry Game
Around here, the “at-home date night” is a regular staple. How we pull this off is really rather simple. I prepare supper for the kids early on, we go through our regular evening/bedtime routine, and then we reconvene for a grown-up meal where we eat, sans kids. Sometimes we grab take-out from one place or another, others I prepare a “fancier” dish just for us. Either way, we both really look forward to these evenings together.
Deciding what to eat as a couple might be the easy part, however. For many people I talk to, it’s more of an issue to figure out what to make for just the kids.
If, like me, you’re a bit averse to the idea of serving up chicking nuggets or mac and cheese every week, let me offer a list of suggestions for great quick suppers that typically please little people:
1. Cheesy Beans & Rice– This dish is a HUGE staple around here. My children all absolutely adore it and I love the flexibility of it. It’s super easy to customize the amount you cook and leftovers are tasty on nachos or in a burrito. My kids love black beans or pintos with their rice and cheddar or co-jack as the cheese. Two out of three eat it with ranch dressing. This one is quick, cheap, and easy and can be made mild or spicy to suit your kids’ preferences.
2. Egg Wraps– Eggs cook in a flash and provide a nice dose of protein. Most kids are pretty content with eggs and cheese on tortilla. Using pre-sliced cheese (cheddar, jack, American, whatver) makes it come together even faster!
3. Homemade Cheese Pizza– Since you can make a pizza, with a fresh dough crust, in 3 minutes (minus baking time), this one is a great, kid-pleasing option! No need to wait for delivery or serve frozen pizza. Making your own can be a piece of cake.
4. Cheesy Peas & Rice– I cook rice in chicken stock, stir in frozen peas toward the end, and fold in abundant shredded sharp cheddar cheese once it’s done. Sound boring? I think so, too. That doesn’t change the fact that almost all kids I know scarf it up and, well, it’s crazy easy to make.
5. Hummus, Carrot Sticks, Pretzels, & Cheese (in photo above)– Sometimes, you don’t even have to cook to make a good, balanced, kid-friendly meal! The dip-ability level is high with this one and that makes it all the more appealing. I made my own hummus here, but you can absolutely buy it and save yourself a step.
6. Cinnamon-Sugar Oven Pancake– Serve this alongside some fruit and a slice of deli ham, and you’re good to go. You can even make the batter ahead of time and have it ready to pop in the oven.
7. Cheddar Apple Chicken Salad Wraps– These can be served in lettuce leaves if you’re kids are cool with that or tortillas is they’re not. There’s nothing “funky” in it and it’s a great summer meal.
8. Pasta Salad– My kids love pasta salad. I think lots of kids do. You’ll likely want to use a milder dressing like ranch or creamy Italian, but you know your children the best! You can add chicken or diced ham, carrots or broccoli, diced tomato or even chopped apple. The sky’s the limit! Pasta salads are highly customizable and they not only CAN be made ahead of time, they actually taste BETTER when made ahead. Perfect!
Feeding the little people needn’t be complicated! It also doesn’t have to be boring.
What are some of your favorite quick and kid-friendly meals?
Have you MISSED this series?? I’ve missed writing it! I need to put it on a calendar or something. I’m such a “fly by the seat of my pants” blogger that I do a horrible job remembering it on my own. Sorry!
Anyway, it’s been about 4 1/2 months since the last segment of JL Answers the Search Box. Let’s go take a look and see what sorts of questions people have had for me…
JL Answers the Search Box, volume 6
1. “I loosed the back of my earring so what to use now”
I feel like we’ve been over this one approximately 852 times already but, again, the short answer? Use an eraser. Just break it off your pencil and put the part that you haven’t been using to erase up against your ear. Now that we’ve solved that problem, can we just talk about your use of “loosed” here? I mean, I know it’s a Google search. I know people don’t use proper punctuation and are prone to omitting words. But, see, the thing is… you made the word LONGER than it needed to be. And that makes me think that you weren’t trying to save time. Perhaps you really thought that, when your earring back went missing, you had “loosed” it. But, alas… no. You LOST it. It goes like this– you lose it, you’re losing it, you lost it, you have lost it. Loose is a totally different word. You could say, “I lost my loose earring back.” You cannot say, “I loosed my loss earring back.” Okie dokie? I feel a little better now that we’ve cleared that up.
2. “I lost the backs of my ears- help”
Gah!!! I’d cry for help, too! But, for heaven’s sake, get off the computer! If you lose the backs of your ears, you need medical help, not my blog. (p.s. Good job using “lost” instead of “loosed.”)
3. “my hair is much too long”
I’m a tiny bit worried about this person. I mean, there are some problems out there that are hard to solve. And I am a big fan of googling for answers. But, is it just me, or is this one kind of an easy fix? No? Hmm…
4. “burning breast exclusive pumping”
OUCH!!!!!!! Burning breasts are not good. Not good at all. I can think of no circumstance in which this is a good thing. I’m thinking the very important word “calories” was left out somewhere here and, in that case, yes, pumping burns a lot of them. And shouldn’t be nearly as painful as burning breasts.
5. “long fingers hand photo”, “sexy long fingers”, “super long hot thumbs”, “long skinny hands”, “pretty hand photo”
Sigh… I wish I were kidding. I get these searches every week. There are whole websites dedicated to hand fetishes and I find photos of my hands there fairly frequently that have been lifted from my site. “You have beautiful hands, but that’s just weird,” my husband says. It is weird. And I don’t get it. But I’m no longer surprised by the searches…
6. “many a man feed one chicken”
I kind of love this search term. I makes my “5 Meals from 5 Chicken Breasts” post feel like an old adage or something. Although, really, it kind of sounds like a whole bunch of dudes gathered around throwing feed at a single bird. But, anyway, it has a nice ring to it.
7. “Is Adam Lanza in hell?”
I have no idea. But I lose no sleep over it, either. (LOSE no sleep, not LOOSE no sleep. You see how often this comes up???)
8. “what to serve with brazilian cheese bread”
What’s Brazilian cheese bread? I’ve never heard of such a thing! And, well, I kind of have a thing for cheese bread, so I find this appalling! Hmmm… Brazilian cheese bread…
9. “sluty negglijaye”
Not even kidding. Sigh… where to start. Okay. First of all, I’m not slutty (or sluty)– sorry. Second of all, you will find no lingerie shots here, including negligees. And, finally… “negglijaye”???? REALLY??? You make that “loosed earring” person look brilliant.
And, finally, you knew it was coming…
10. “I love playing with balls, but my wife doesn’t”
Oh, the great “playing with balls” quandary that every marriage must face… Ha! I kid! This is an easy fix, my dear man. I recommend you either play ball with your kid, assuming you have one, or toss a ball around with a friend. Happily, your wife’s distinterest in ball-play should not prove to be a make-or-break in your marriage. Now, go forth, have fun, and play ball!
I took G. in for her five-year-old well-child visit yesterday. I’m guessing it will suprise no one to learn that she is a very healthy little girl.
In many ways, G. is the child about whom we’ve had the fewest worries. She was born full-term, has had no developmental delays, and seems to blend well with her peers. She is sparkly and flirty and sweet and, well, well-liked. Is she perfect? Of course not. But, blessedly, she hasn’t had any major bumps in the road as of yet.
She is also our most average-sized child.
As a baby, A. was gigantic in both length and weight. Now, he’s still super tall, but, even though his weight is higher than the median (he’s about the 65th%), he would never in a gazillion years be considered “big” or “thick” or “chunky” or even “sturdy.” Ribs sticking out and six-pack abs… that’s my boy.
G. rides right around the 50th% for both height and weight. Sometimes one number will slide up or down a bit, but never significantly, and she follows a very steady “middle-of-the-road” curve.
And then there’s C. She’s actually never the shortest in our class– her height places her in about the 10th% for her age. Her weight hovers on that bottom line, but that’s HER line. She’s healthy and it’s fine. She’s so fine-boned, she comes across as very tiny and delicate, but she’s totally healthy and that is just who she is.
G. weighs exactly the same as C. right now.
Honestly, it threw me when the nurse told me G’s weight because it sounded so familiar to me, but I couldn’t figure out why. Finally, we sorted it out– my girls are the same weight, to the pound.
Now, to be honest, that’s kind of comical. I mean, G. is three and a half years younger than C. Surely no one would expect them to perfectly balance a teeter totter!
And, right now, they think it’s cool. They both get a kick out of the fact that they share a number on the scale. And that makes me smile.
But I also worry.
Because there’s a part of me that suspects the day is going to come when G’s number passes C’s. Maybe even next year. I anticipate there will come a day when my “average-sized”, incredibly capable gymnast who’s so amazingly strong her coach calls her “Muscles” will be heavier than her willow-wispy older sister.
And I wonder how that will make her feel.
Our children are all healthy. They’re also all well within what any doctors consider “healthy weights.” Not even once has anyone expressed the slightest hint of concern over G’s size. She’s, well, she’s kind of “average”, really. That’s what the 50th percentile is, after all, right?
She’s healthy. She’s strong. She should be wildly proud of all her strong body can do.
But… will she?
Or will she fret that she’s “big” compared to her whip-slim sis? Will it no longer be “cute” or “funny” when people point out that she’s just as heavy as someone years older and inches taller than her?
Even a fit woman who wears a size eight can feel big next to the lady who wears a size two.
And that’s so sad.
Right now, it’s all good. And we’re not making an issue about their being the same weight. We try hard to emphasize how proud we are of all of them for eating good foods and being active. The focus needs to be on health and not size.
Yet, as I watch my youngest child pull herself up onto a tree limb with strong, capable shoulders, I see the muscles in her back bunch. I watch her toned thighs engage as she climbs and I’m in awe of her abilities…
… but those abilities, that muscle, make her heavier.
And I worry that, one day, that number being more will make her feel like less.
Though I cook and bake all the time, I would have to say I’m a bit of a minimalist in the kitchen. You’ll find no bread machine, no salad spinner, no garlic press, no pastry bag, no… well, lots of stuff.
There are a couple reasons for this, from the practical– I don’t have much cabinet space, to the personal– I’d rather chop garlic with a knife than have a press rolling around. At the core, though, it comes down to this– I really don’t like keeping something around if I don’t totally feel like its earning its real estate.
For example, I’m not going to let a bundt pan clutter up the precious space in my baking cupboard just so I can bake a fancy-looking cake, what, once, maybe twice a year? I just can’t justify that.
But what if I could use that same pan to make, not just pretty baked goods, but also meat, potatoes, and side dishes? What if I could take a seldom-used item and turn it into a regular workhouse in the kitchen?
Are you tired of wasting your money on the latest kitchen tools and cleaning products? The things you already own can go the extra mile for you if you let them, saving you all those steps and keeping your money where it belongs – in your wallet. In Coffee Filters to Cheese Graters: Creative Ways to Use Just About Everything, you will find lists of 10 or more new uses for 44 everyday household items. Including everything from using your bundt pan to bake potatoes to making mini meat loafs in your muffin tin to using salt to clean coffee-stained mugs, this book is the answer to questions you didn’t even know you had!
I love that book is helpful to a vast array of personality types in the kitchen–
–> For those who are apt to buy the latest and greatest gadgets and tools all the time, this book helps uncover new ways to use things you likely already have, thus saving money and space.
–> For those, like me, who are apt to cast things aside as “not useful enough”, this book helps reveal all the hidden “bonus” uses that can be found, if you really look.
Now, I’m going to be honest with you all. I consider myself pretty darn kitchen-savvy. As such, I didn’t really expect to find a whole lot I didn’t already know in this book. And, again, speaking truthfully, I did know some of these tricks and ideas already. HOWEVER… I was floored by just how many totally new-to-me uses were suggested and I found myself looking at some dusty, cast-off items with new appreciation. (Also? There are some fun looking recipes peppered throughout and I love that Tara lists them right in with the appropiate item so you’re not searching around.)
Now is the best time to act if you’re interested, since the price is $4.99 from 7/14 through 7/17, then $6.99 from 7/18 on.
But wait! There’s more!
Everyone who buys between 7/14 and 7/20 will get a set of bonuses – 10 pages of printables (a cleaning checklist, a list of recyclable items, and an alphabetic index of all the recipes in the book) and access to a 10-day Getting Started challenge during which you can win a $50 Amazon gift card. After 7/20, the printables will be $2.99.
And, while you’re here, tell me this…
Are you a kitchen minimalist or a gadget girl?
Disclosure: I was provided a complimentary copy of the PDF version of this ebook to faciliate my review. I’ve also known, and liked, Tara for years now! Neither of these facts have anything to do with my opinion, however, and I would never suggest or recommend an ebook I didn’t truly feel might be beneficial to some of you.