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Ilsa is having such an American summer. I think this is to make up for last summer, when we were basically moving the entire time and people, specifically Ilsa, didn’t actually have very much fun. She brought it to my attention a lot at the time. And even though I didn’t intend to make this her best! summer! ever! , it seems to be working out that way.
First, as always, we had to suffer. And you don’t know suffering until you are forced to do 3 months worth of Spanish class in 5 days while on vacation at the grandparents, with that sparkling chlorinated swimming pool just calling to you out the windows. That was a dark night of the soul, let me tell you.
But then we finished Spanish (and there was much rejoicing…YAAY!). And then we went to the zoo. And then we drove back to Oregon, and a few days later, there was Jr Hi sports camp.
Ilsa is not what you might call a sporty girl. She thinks soccer is boring, and volleyball is hard. (She’s also 4’3”) I had asked her if she wanted to go and she said no, so I had decided to just send the boys. This is a low key sports camp; 3 hours a day, 4 different sports, ending with a huge water fight on the last day. She wasn’t interested until she found out that Amy was going, then we couldn’t keep her away.
This week, it’s Art Camp. Again, this is pretty low-key; a friend of ours is doing it. “Ilsa has to come; she’s the kid that’s most excited about it,” Lisa told us. So off she goes every morning, coming home with canvases and clay fairies (she’s in a fairy phase) and mosaics and all sorts of things.
Next week, it’s summer camp–swimming and horses and cabins of 6 giggling girls and one giggling counselor and (hopefully) leather crafts. Cuz nothing says “You’re having a great American summer!” like pounding a flower into a leather circle and calling it a coaster.
However, once these camps are over, I expect the whining to start. You all know it. “Mo-om, I’m bored,” they say. One summer, in Mauritania, I had prepared a lecture that I could deliver at the drop of a whine–super fast, rattling it off, a fairly typical “this house is full of books and toys and computer games and you have so much more than those around you blah blah blah” This works great on kids, let me tell you. They inevitably responded with, “Oh thank you for correcting our thinking, Mum, you’re so right!” And then they would skip happily off to build imaginative forts out of household objects and do science experiments. Of course they cleaned up after themselves.
In real life, they did have a bit of a point. Mauritanian summers are hot, and dusty, and boring—all their friends have left, sometimes the electricity goes out, it’s too hot to play outside till about 5. I was bored myself. But I still hate the whine.
This summer, I have a new weapon in my arsenal. We got copies of the Pocket Editions of the Dangerous Books…The Pocket Daring Book for Girls: Things to Do and The Pocket Dangerous Book for Boys: Things to Do. They are both subtitled: Things to Do. So now, instead of my lecture, I just hand them the books. It’s simpler, and they’re more inspired.
Most of the content of the books are also in the large versions, so you might wonder “why bother?” However, the smaller book is much more portable and travel friendly, and it does include new things as well. Thanks to this book, we have paper hats and airplanes all over the house, slingshots have been attempted, and secret inks sprout like mushrooms. I’m thankful that so far, no one has tried their own zip line or home made geyser, but I’m fairly certain it’s only thanks to a lack of materials. There are even instructions about how to fry an egg on the sidewalk and how to make your own stink bomb. Should be an interesting summer.
Seriously, I love these books. They are so fun! Almost as much fun as crawling into bed, exhausted, and finding my little active, engaged, imaginative monkeys have short-sheeted it (instructions also in the book).

Shannon (whose blogs was one of the first I ever read) hosts a weekly “works-for-me” carnival, in which people all over the blogosphere contribute ideas that, uh, work for them. (Get it?) This week, it’s a recipe exchange–5 items or less. So I decided to contribute, for the first time, because I do make some really tasty nachos PLUS this is the only recipe I have ever made up totally on my own! (You’ll be stunned at how original it is–stunned, I tell you) Plus it’s a fun, fast supper, any time of the year but great in the summer, quick and easy after a long afternoon out berry picking or at the pool.
This recipe is always good but it’s best if you are in America and can get boneless, skinless chicken breast. Also, go ahead and splurge on the Kettle Tias and the Emerald Valley organic salsa–it’s so worth it. You don’t need toilet paper this week.
Ok. Here’s what you do:
Saute chicken breast (cut in little chunks) and green onions until the chicken is cooked through and a little browned. Now glob in sour cream–lots of it. Do not substitute Trader Joe’s nonfat yogurt–it will curdle. I don’t care if you use fat free sour cream though. Do what you want! It’s your house!
The sour cream will melt into a lovely, creamy light brown sauce.
Put a layer of chips in a pan. Add a layer of creamy chicken sauce and a layer of cheese (I like pepper jack myself, but regular monterey jack will do. Cheddar is not the best–it‘s too yellow) Layer it all again and again till you run out of ingredients. Bung the whole thing in the oven till the cheese melts. Eat with salsa and more sour cream. Simple, but super yummy. Trust me on this. Go make them tonight. Your kids, your husband, and you will ALL like them! Or you can eat the whole pan yourself.
(Yes, these are the nachos Ilsa wanted)

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