{SQT} Camp, Cooler Fires, French Eating And A Free Piano

And now we find ourselves at the end of June.

1. That means my next newsletter will be out this weekend (UPDATED: More likely, early this week. You still have time!).  After several inquiries from this post, I’ll be including information, and a handy printable, to help you craft your own homeschool mission statement. I’ll be answering a couple of questions, sharing some saint books recommendations for July, along with a desktop background for the month of the Precious Blood. Sign up so you don’t miss out! Plus you’ll get a free kit designed to help your family get in the habit of praying together (and unsubscribing is always easy if you get tired of me.)

2. I was so anxious to share about my childless week, I didn’t get into any details about Fulton and Teddy’s week at MDA camp. Teddy, thankfully, is already talking about going back next year, and despite throwing up from consuming too much junk food on movie night, Fulton was happy to bring home the title of ‘Camp Snackmaster’. Teddy’s counselor said Teddy really started to open up and have fun after the second day, and Fulton enjoyed playing games with his cabin mates, and riding in a motor cycle sidecar, but not crafts. Fulton still wants everyone to know that he hates crafts.

Both got to sit behind the wheel of a fire truck!
Next time we go to Atlantic City, we’ll take the boys with their newly acquired card counting skills.
Sorry, we can’t give you real money for those chips. How about giant sunglasses? #daymade

3. These are only a few of the photos Fulton’s counselor happily shared with me. I’ll be adding them to my somewhat more organized photo collection. With everyone away, I wanted to try to tackle at least one “project”. Since organizing and backing up the photos on our desktop (and other devices) has been a new year’s resolution for two years, I decided camp week was the time. After much back and forth, I decided to save all our photos to Google Photos. It’s free when you save everything “high quality”. The next day I uploaded the Google photo app on my old iPod touch, which I haven’t used in almost two years since getting my iPhone. I had about 4,000 photos on there that weren’t backed up anywhere and I was terrified of something happening to them. With the app, I got everything moved over to Google in a few hours.  Then I installed the Google Photo Backup application on my new(ish) laptop which I’d been saving all the photos from my new phone on (plus any photos emailed / texted to me). Once installed, it automatically went to work copying all the photos over to Google.

I still need to go back and finish uploading all the photos from our desktop. Plus, I found the CD-ROMS with all the early digital pictures of Addie and Byron and I want to upload them as well so I can actually get them printed and enjoy them. I haven’t uploaded the Google Photo Backup application on our old desktop because it’s ancient and I’m always weary to burden it with one more thing. With Google Photo open in my browser, I’m manually selecting all the photos, and moving them into folders organized by year. Since I never culled the photos on the desktop, I’m using this opportunity to weed out all the blurry shots I don’t need to keep anyway. Photos uploaded through the app or desktop application are pretty easy to search by year, though I might go back and move some into other category folders. Hopefully, it’ll be easier to finish the job this summer now that I’ve started.

4. Last Saturday we hosted our annual Nativity of St. John the Baptist Party. Thankfully, because I’m crazy, I hosted another picnic at our house earlier in the week for some of the moms in our local homeschool group That means we were doing last-minute yardwork on Tuesday morning rather Saturday morning. It was a smaller than usual crowd, but that just means I have an easier time talking with everyone and remembering to eat. We had a wet sponge fight, sack races and for the first time ever, a fire in our alcohol cooler.


A napkin caught fire on a can of Sterno and a quick thinking dad threw it in the cooler assuming the ice, water and lack of oxygen would extinguish it. However as we stood and waited, and kept opening the lid, the napkin continued to burn until finally my husband stamped it out. Thankfully, no alcohol was injured.

5. Fulton’s ninth (!!!) birthday was Wednesday and we celebrated with a beach trip. The first of the season where it was warm enough to get in to the ocean (but not for long because MAN the Atlantic is still chilly!). We scarfed down boardwalk pizza and because Tony was along, the boys got to really enjoy the games at the arcade vs when it’s just me and they ask me to play shooting games like “Aliens” and I wind up screaming and waving the gun around wildly (because I start panicking like I’m actually under attack). The big kids mysteriously wander off while Fulton and Teddy think my performance is HILARIOUS and then request that I put quarters in a different, more violent shooting game for them to watch and enjoy.

Quality time at the arcade I can actually enjoy.

Then we came home and I was wiped out and sunk into my usual post beach trip “DON’T ASK ME TO DO ANYTHING” grumpy mode. My husband always wonders why I love to go to the beach so much when it obviously exhausts me, and the kids now prep for a beach day by being extra helpful (so I don’t overdo it) and then help me decompress by hiding.

6. I finished reading ‘French Kids Eat Everything’ and, just like my older kids predicted when they saw the title, I’m now trying to make everyone in the house eat like a french child.

The book, I think, is geared towards helping parents encourage their picky eaters to try new foods. But I picked it up, and couldn’t put it down, because of the wonderful story telling the author does regarding her family’s year living in France near her French husband’s family. French parenting is so different from most mainstream American parenting advice when it comes to child rearing and eating. I found it fascinating! I consider myself to be a pretty strict parent, but even I wondered if my children could pass muster with most French parents. And the whole national identity the French have built around food and the proper way to enjoy it, seemed extravagant and almost over the top. Like, snacking in France seems to be a greater sin than smoking. I’m amazed at how much the French stress self-control when it comes to food. It’s such a contrast to America and I wonder if our country couldn’t learn just a bit in this regard. (Especially since snack food, and snacking in general, hasn’t been a habit of Americans since the 1970’s, something I learned about in-depth from another recent read, ‘Three Squares.’) But one of the main ideas I took away from it was to sit and enjoy meals together as a family. We’d recently gotten in the habit of rushing through meals with everyone darting off as soon as they were done (and the table sloppily cleared). Now I serve each part of the meal as a course and we all sit through each course. It’s helping everyone to slow down and eat more carefully (and neatly) but it also means Fulton and Teddy aren’t always left last at the table eating supper while the older kids mill around in the kitchen grumbling about dessert. I also did away with the morning snack, which no one needed anyway, and made the afternoon snack fruit only. The first course of lunch and dinner is now always a vegetable or salad, and, served by itself when everyone is hungriest, it’s amazing how much more they all eat or try. I still wouldn’t feel comfortable inviting a native of France to dinner, but it’s certainly piqued my curiosity about French food culture. What say you French readers? I know I have at least a couple of you. What advice would you give to an American who wants to learn more about your gastronomique (and can’t read French)?

7. Do you guys remember the piano I mentioned I was trying to sell back in December 2015???? I still have it, though now I’m trying, once again, to unload it for free on Craigslist. I got a bit desperate with the ad this time.

Yes, it’s a beautiful piano, but I really need the space for another couch (because guests get grumpy when you tell them to fold out and sleep on the piano). Someone responded to my latest ad within ten minutes and I showed Tony and we laughed and Addie was like, “Wait, isn’t that good? Someone already wants it.” And I replied, “Do you know how many people email me saying they want to get this piano and then never show up?” She was surprised to learn A LOT. A LOT OF FREAKING PEOPLE EMAIL AND DON’T SHOW UP! Ah, the joys of Craigslist!

Longest Quick Takes in awhile. Thanks for sticking with me to the end. Now it’s your turn. Write something down then link it up below. Be sure to include a link back to this post so your readers can find the rest of the Quick Takes. I look forward to reading your posts!






  1. It’s so great that you read French Kids Eat Everything! That book is so good! Although I can’t use it for my child yet (he’s still doing lots of breastmilk meals, and unlike many of the French, I have no rush to quit breastfeeding), but I started utilizing the various ideas in my own life and it’s been awesome. The big one is snacking. Even though I’m an adult, I give myself a small “gouter” each afternoon, and possibly something late at night if I need sustenance for late-night breastfeeding sessions, but that’s it for snacking. I’ve definitely felt energized and have been enjoying my meals a lot more because I’m hungrier for them! If you liked this book, you may be interested in “Bringing Up Bebe,” by Pamela Druckerman. It gives a fascinating perspective about French parenting vs. American parenting, and I thought it was a really good read.

  2. The picture I have of you waving that gun around, screaming is just hilarious!!! At our Sisters’ Weekend last year, there were some games and 1 was a “hunting” game. I might have gotten carried away and cussed like a sailor. (We have the same cabin this Sept.: I hole away with 4 of my sisters-1 never comes- and 3 sisters-in-law for the weekend. We laugh, we drink, we eat: perfect weekend!)
    Pianos are expensive to move. Apparently I got quite the deal in March when I moved my mom’s baby grand up the street to my house: $275 ( was quoted $400 from another piano mover). Our choir director was in awe that I was quoted that price.
    Looks like Teddy & Fulton had an amazing time at camp! That has to give you piece of mind (and something to look forward to next year). I’m always amazed at parents of exceptional children: I don’t know how y’all do it 24/7/365. God definitely gives exceptional children to exceptional parents! 🙂

  3. I have a couple “getting rid of the piano” stories as well, including one when I was 38 weeks pregnant and living in a 3rd floor walk-up. I am under a lifetime ban from acquiring any more pianos … theoretically. 😉

  4. I discovered google photos earlier this year and I’m in the process of backing up everything on there too! It’s so convenient! I even downloaded it to my mom’s phone since she had over 10k photos stored on her iPhone and didn’t know what to do with them. ? I have French Kids on my waitlist! I have been loving all books French lately 🙂

  5. Pingback: 7 Things (June 30)
  6. We finally took apart and burned our piano-that-nobody-wanted. I wasn’t even a little bit sad and it was sort of fun (but mostly disgusting – what do they put in cheese sticks that causes them to petrify?!) to discover all the myriad items the children had hidden inside over the course of the years.

    Oh, except for the big metal thingie from the inside. We made the man that bought our old utility trailer haul that off. (Lest you worry about him, we gave him a discount on the trailer in exchange). I forgot about that…

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