We’re kicking off the summer with a fancy cheese sandwich

Happy Summer!

This weekend a lady brought a snake to our yard sale and didn’t buy anything, I got a sunburn on my right arm and a bit of my right leg because the sun weaseled in around my shady spot at the pool, and I discovered that the lid to my grill is about to disconnect itself and fall off as I prepared to make fajitas for Father’s Day dinner.

Alas, poor Akorn.
Alas, poor Akorn.
All of which might sound like it wasn’t a good weekend, but it was actually a very nice weekend indeed. The snake lady left quickly, the rest of my person is not sunburned, and I have faith that the Chargriller people will email me back any time now to help me figure out how to fix the grill.

After a nice weekend of playing video games and lounging around at the pool, the children are continuing Operation Busy Summer this week with a half-day church camp. The crew at church is loading the kids into the van every morning and taking them off to a charity organization to spend a few hours volunteering. Today they’ll be working in a garden that provides fresh produce to a local food pantry. Pete wasn’t particularly thrilled about the idea, but he signed on when he found out they’re going to the pool on Friday. And also I told him he could download a Pokemon game if he went without complaining. I’m not proud of resorting to bribery, but there you go.

Here’s what I will not be grilling for dinner this week:

Monday: Grilled cheese
Tonight is Poppy’s Choice night, and she’ll be having the standard-issue American cheese sandwich. The rest of us are going to have something we sampled a few weeks ago at Trader Joe’s. It’s a sandwich with white cheddar, some greens and a little bit of bacon jam. Bacon jam sounds like a disgusting idea, doesn’t it? But it added the perfect sweet-salty note to the sandwich. I don’t know what greens they used, but I’m using spinach because I have some in the fridge.

Tuesday: Fish sticks and mac & cheese
This is never my favorite meal, but fish sticks were on sale and I already had some mac and cheese in the cabinet. There’s a good chance I’ll just have cereal.

Wednesday: Tacos
We can always count on Pete to pick either tacos or cheeseburgers on his night.

Thursday: ???
I ran short of inspiration when I was making the grocery list. I’ll figure this one out later this week.

Friday: Pizza
I’ve been enjoying the meatball parm pizza from the place down the street. We’ll probably order that this week.

Still hungry? Check out the Menu Plan Monday linkup at OrgJunkie for more menu plans.

I just realized I never posted this yesterday

Monday: Spaghetti & meatballs
Poppy requested this one. I think she’s just in it for the garlic bread.
Tuesday: Sushi
Our book club is discussing Cynthia Kadohata’s “The Things About Luck,” which is about a young Japanese-American girl and her family. I don’t recall them actually eating any sushi in the book, but sushi sounded more appetizing and season-appropriate than the sandwiches and chili that they do eat.

Wednesday: Southwestern Chopped Salad
I’m going to make The Garden Grazer’s Southwestern Chopped Salad and add a rotesserie chicken to fill out the meal.

Thursday: Sloppy Joes
I have these scheduled to appear on the menu plan every seven weeks, I think.

Friday: Pizza

Hungry for more? Check out a whole bunch of menu plans at OrgJunkie.com.

How to prepare for your children’s first sleepaway camp

Poppy and Pete are just a few weeks away from their first sleep-away camp, an event for which I have been mentally preparing myself for months. I know that they’re going to have a wonderful time, but that hasn’t stopped me from envisioning all manner of unfortunate events. The full extent of my personal experience with summer camp as a youth was watching a lot of “Salute Your Shorts,” so most of the unfortunate events in my head involve Budnick-style hijinks.

So anyway, I’ve had to do what I always do when there’s something a little panicky on the horizon: Lots of research. The following list is the result of that anxiety-driven study.

9 things to do before your kids go to camp
  1. Scour the camp’s website for information. Read and re-read the “Day in the Life” and FAQ sections at least once a week for a month.
  2. Print and memorize the “What to Bring to Camp” list. Find other summer camps’ packing lists. Compare. Contrast. Make your own hybrid packing list for each child. Do or do not color code the lists based on what you need to purchase, what you might be able to borrow and what you already have.
  3. Realize your 10-year-old has outgrown her sleeping bag. Add new sleeping back to your ever-expanding Amazon cart.
  4. Worry that your daughter’s new sleeping bag will be too warm / not warm enough.
  5. Label everything. Label their toothbrushes. Label their socks. Label their Claritin.
  6. Wonder if the camp’s nurse will track them down when they forget to stop by for their Claritin.
  7. Sew your 8-year-old’s second-best blankie to the inside of a pillowcase so: (a) it doesn’t get lost; and (b) the other 8-year-old’s don’t make fun of him for still having a blankie even though you’re pretty sure they probably also have a blankie or lovely or something.
  8. Purchase post cards. Apply stamps. Address them to: yourself; every grandparent; the aunts and uncles; and a few friends. Assume every postcard will return to your house, crumpled and unused in the bottom of a duffle bag.
  9. Wonder how you’re going to fit everything from your possibly overwrought hybrid packing list into a duffle bag.

It’s possible that some of these items might be ridiculous, extreme and helicopter-parentish. But a few of them are absolutely essential. Particular the one about Labeling Everything. I’m hoping that some of the kids’ belongings actually make it back home with them after camp, and I figure one way to help that happen is by making sure they know exactly which left sandal et al is theirs.

I used to use a trusty ol’ Sharpie to label the kids’ stuff. It eventually wears off, but I always figured it would last longer than a certain-to-peel-away-at-the-slightest-provocation stick-on label. Then a few years ago I went to a Type-A Parent conference and met the folks at Mabel’s Labels, and with one generous sample they proved my labeling hypothesis wrong.

I’ve been using their Write Away labels on our water bottles for years. They get tossed around the soccer field, the tennis court, co-op and the car, and I always run them through the dishwasher. I don’t know what sort of alchemists they’re employing over at the Mabel’s Labels laboratory, but they’re doing some Hermione-level wizardry because those labels do not come off.

Mabel's Labels sleep-away camp setSo this year, instead of hand-writing the kids’ names on every T-shirt, flashlight and poncho, I bought some of Mabel’s Labels Sleep-Away Camp labels. Despite my best efforts to lead them toward the raccoon, the sloth or the narwhal, Poppy chose the cupcake design and Pete went with the puppy. But it isn’t too late for your kid to get a set of snazzy sloths, because the lovely folks at Mabel’s Labels want to give one of you a Sleep-Away camp set!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. I just like Mabel’s Labels a lot, so I asked them if I could give away some labels. And they said yes.