Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

If you have any bananas like these laying around, let me suggest this easy and very yummy way to dispose of them. Max and the girls whipped up this chocolate chip banana bread in no time.

What you will need:
1 3/4 cup flour
2/3 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup mashed ripe banana(2-3 medium bananas)
1/3 cup butter
2 Tbsps milk
2 eggs
3/4 package chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl combine 1 cup of the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add mashed banana, butter, and milk. Beat on low speed until blended, then on high speed for 2 minutes. Add eggs and remaining flour and beat until blended. Hand stir in chocolate chips until well blended.
Pour batter into a greased 8x4x2 inch loaf pan and bake for 45-55 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack. Remove from pan and cool thoroughly. Wrap and store overnight OR if you are like us, cool for one hour and dig in!!
You can see the left over of Karlie's bread on her cheek. Enjoy.

Karlie's Un-1st Day of School

Today was supposed to be Karlie's first day of Pre-school. We took her to the doctor for a physical, filled out all the paper work, and paid the registration fees. I even took her on a special Mommy, Grammy, and Karlie shopping trip to pick out her first day of school outfit. All last year she would beg to go to school, to have a teacher just like Hailey, and to have a backpack for her homework. She seemed ready and eager to go. While I was reluctant to send her, I didn't want my desire to keep her home to hold her back, so we charged full speed ahead for her to start Pre-school. Over the last week when the topic came up, suddenly she changed her tune and was adamant that she did not want to go anymore. We pushed and encouraged her and told her how much fun she would have. We told her about all the yummy snack she would eat, the new friends she would make, the playground that she would get to play on, and all the new toys. But she was steadfast that she absolutely wanted to stay home with me. Twist my arm!!! I unenrolled her yesterday and she and I couldn't be happier. She has 13 years of school ahead of her at the very least, 17 hopefully, and possibly 21 years if she follows in her dad's footsteps. No need to start now. I think we will both get a lot out of this special time together.

Monday Quote

At church this Sunday I read a powerful quote that really caused me to stop and reflect. It is a pretty harsh quote, so I will save it for later and start out with one a little softer. I thought I would start a Powerful Quotes Link for every time I come across one that inspires me, makes me stop and think, moves me, or that I can identify with.





In every conceivable manner, the family is link to our past, bridge to our future.
- Alex Haley

Hailey's 1st Day of School

Today is the big day! Hailey started 1st grade! I had to wake her up to get ready. I guess no anxiety or jitter bugs in her. She is so much like Max. Here she is with the outfit she picked out for the special occasion. Is that really my little girl?
Heading to her class.
There were a few tears shed, but none by Hailey. She was excited and eager to go this morning. Not a trace of nervousness in her. She jumped in her seat and started pulling out her journal like she had been doing it all year. Me on the other hand.... Let's just say I made it out of the school building before the tears started to drop and on the drive home my sunglasses disguised my sadness so much that Karlie didn't even notice. No heavy sobbing like when the horse trailer broke loose, just a few bittersweet tears. What a crazy emotion it is to watch them turn into little people, to slowly gain their independence and to no longer need the watchful eye of mom who looks out for their best interest at all times. Heavy stuff. I have cried more this month than in the entire last year with losing teeth, sleep overs, and back to school. It almost more than this mom can handle and I still have Karlie's 1st day of school next week. YIKES!
At her desk.

Sock Monster

We have a very hungry sock monster in our basement. He does not discriminate by size, color, gender, or type. Although, it does appear he has a thing for pinks. Now if I can just find out where he is hiding all my socks, my laundry life will be a lot less frustrating!!!

GRRRRRRRR!

This morning Karlie asked me why my flowers go "GRRRRRRRRR" and she gave me this expression.




I responded that they do look like they are growling. She said, "so I guess thems is awive then." Yep, thems is awive. That's Karlie for you.

One Heck of a Day

Yesterday was a doozy of a day. Luckily at 7 in the morning on Saturday there is not much traffic. As I was headed home from work and on the overpass of the freeway, a truck pulling a horse trailer became unhitched. We were both descending the overpass in the left, fast lane. The driver must have felt something happening because he quickly got into the right lane looking for a shoulder. Unfortunately, there was not much of one due to being on a narrow overpass. He was far enough ahead of me that I was catty corner by the time the trailer broke loose. The trailer started to careen over into my lane headed straight for me. Then the left wheel caught and spun it around causing it to violently crash into the right guard rail just as I passed it. It all happened so fast yet seemed to be going in slow motion. The driver had slowed enough to pull to the side about 200 yards from the wrecked trailer. The first vision I had flash before my eyes was of my babies and Max. The second was that I feared there were horses in the trailer as I saw something brown crash against the small window in the rear. I imagined maimed and hurting horses. I pulled to the side of the road to help if I could. Due to the lack of the shoulder, I was half in the right lane. The passenger jumped out of the truck and came running toward her load, which was just stuff and thankfully not horses. She thanked me for stopping but urged me on for fear of me being hit by traffic that could not see us as they came over the top of the pass. I made sure they had a cell phone and I cautiously pulled back into traffic. (Photo from http://www.booksfast.net/denalimountains.jpg)

There were so many what ifs. What if I was in the right lane instead? What if I was going a little faster? What if the wheel hadn’t caught and turned the trailer? What if I was sleepy like usual and not as alert? What if there was someone behind me? As these thoughts flooded my mind, the adrenaline left and I felt weak and shaken. I began to cry. Not that beautiful soap opera style cry with sweet little tears rolling down. No, this was the deep sobbing kind that you can’t talk through, get all red and have snot streaming down your face kind. The picture of beauty. I called Max in this state and scared him half to death. After repeatedly trying to talk enough to tell him I am ok, I was able to tell him some of the details of the near miss. I arrived home and hugged all of them tightly. Today, I am down on my knees thankful that God has given me one more day to be a mommy to my precious girls and a wife to the most wonderful man I have ever known.


Well, if that wasn’t enough for one day…. I had an emotional ending to my day too. Hailey had her first sleep over at a friend’s house. Let me preface this by letting you know that Max and I are very protective parents and probably shelter our kids more than we should. But they have their whole life to be disillusioned and calloused by the reality of the world. Anyway, these are family friends and we have spent weekends together on vacation. So we knew she was in good hands. As we drove away (we had all been over for a birthday party) and watcher her excitedly wave I had to once again fight off the tears I felt welling up. The drive home felt empty with only two little ones babbling in the background. After getting the other two tucked in and getting in bed ourselves, the phone rang. I thought, ‘oh she is not ready and she is going to need me to come pick her up’. The mom tells me she is a little teary and wanted to talk to me before going to bed. I hear my little girl trying to be brave and not cry and whispering that she misses me and wants to come home. I encouraged her to stay and hug her bear and her friend and to remember that they are getting doughnuts in the morning. She brightened and decided she would stay. I tell the mom to not hesitate to call me. About 30 minutes later the phone rings and I get up ready to go get my baby. Wrong. The mom was just calling to let me know that after story time and her singing to them Hailey fell fast asleep, so I don’t have to worry. It was a bittersweet moment. You want them to spread their wings and fly, but it's so hard to let them out of the nest. I am proud of her for having her first sleep over and I am at the same time sad that we have crossed into new territory. I officially have a big kid; there is no keeping her small and sheltered. It’s a big, big world.

Princess Parade






Did you know one of the most important things we can do as parents is to let our kids play? Yep that's right, PLAY! According to an article I read, the American Academy of Pediatrics claims free play is part of healthy brain development and has the following benefits:
"*allowing kids to use their creativity and develop their imagination, dexterity, and other strengths
* encouraging kids to interact with the world around them
* helping kids conquer their fears and build their confidence
* teaching kids to work in groups, so they learn to share and resolve conflicts
* helping kids practice decision making skills
* that it is fun"
Taken from "The Importance of Free Play".

I think it is a skill that is lost on many kids today that are all too easily entertained by passive activities like watching cartoons, playing on the computer or playing video games. It is a true delight to watch the magic that comes out of their little minds and to see how they resolve conflict between themselves. While we were "cleaning" the basement the girls decided they needed a play break and turned on the imagination. Before my eyes royalty appeared and a parade was underway. Nothing but the finest in costumes. A prom dress from the 80s for Hailey and a thrift store find for Karlie. A couple crowns and some silky fabric, throw in a boa and bam Princesses with royal steeds! Even at her young age, Kaitlin had to join the parade. It is nice to know that old fashioned make believe and play is still good for kids.

You Are My I Love You

This is my all time favorite children's book. We had borrowed it from the library when Karlie was a newborn. One night Hailey picked it for her bedtime story. I had a difficult time getting through the story as I was tearing up. Maybe it was all those postpartum hormones out of whack, but I still find it touching and tender today. It is beautifully illustrated and sweetly depicts the all encompassing love between a parent and their child. I always keep a few on hand as it is one of the gifts I routinely give to expecting moms. It gets the five star rating and should be on the bookshelf of any home that has a child. The best price I have found is on Amazon.

Star-Spangled Blueberry Pie

Oh, say, can you see, by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly I hail'd at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, thro' the perilous HEAT,
O'er the BLUEBERRIES I watch'd, were so gallantly BUBBLING?
And the OVENs red glare, the BLUEBERRIES bursting in air,
Gave proof thro' the night that our PIE was still there.
O say, does that star-spangled PIE yet COOL
O'er the land of the HUNGRY and the home of MKHKK ?

Crust
2 cups flour
1 and 1/2 stick of butter cut into pats
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1/3 cup ice cold water

Mix flour and salt together then mix in butter with an electric mixer until a sand like texture. Add lemon juice and slowly add water until dough balls up. Kneed dough and separate into two equal parts. Cover with Saran wrap and store in refrigerator while preparing the filling.

Blueberry Filling
4 cups of fresh blueberries
1/2 cup white sugar
2 Tbsps cornstarch
2 Tbsps lemon juice
1 Tbsp lemon zest

Mix sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice and zest together. Add the blueberries and mix gently until blueberries are covered with sugar mixture.

Take first ball of dough and roll out for the pie shell. Roll second ball of dough out and use any shape cookie cutter you like to cut out the crust top. I used stars and made sure to have the tips over lap. Place filling in prepared pie shell. Add cut out shapes starting on the outer edge being sure to overlap the edges. Brush with egg wash. Place pie on a foil covered cookie sheet on the lower third of oven rack.

Cook in 400 degree preheated oven for 20 minutes. Turn oven down to 350 degrees and cook for an additional 35-45 minutes or until juice is bubbling and crust is golden brown.
Allow pie to cool for several hours on an wire rack.

We like ours served warm with vanilla ice cream. Enjoy your summer treat!

It Happened!!!!


All week we were certain Hailey's tooth would fall out, but it defied us and hung on for dear life. Then last night as we were brushing teeth before bed she gave it one final yank and out it popped!! My baby has lost her first tooth. We have been waiting weeks for this momentous day and I found myself unprepared. Oh, don't worry, the Tooth Fairy was prepared, but I was not. It was so poignant to me that she is really growing up. I have a little lady on my hands. She will be going to first grade this year and gone all day. The losing of the first baby tooth just symbolized all to harshly the end of my baby. So before I cry yet again, I will show you her loot and her classic little kid smile.

Day at Steamboat Lake

We went to Steamboat Lake this year to try our hand at kayaking and canoeing. The drive to the lake was breath taking. It was so beautiful it seemed impossible that people could really live there. A perfect meadow land surrounded by mountains with rivers running throughout it. The grasses were near emerald green. The lake itself was just as impressive. We were surprised that something so remarkable had such little activity. Just a quiet, little marina and a small beach. It was a perfect afternoon filled with exploring the lake, building mud castles, catching minnows, and napping in the sun.

Gondola Ride

The whole crew took the gondola up to the top of Mt. Werner ( 10,568 feet) and had lunch while over looking the valley. Jeanette made matching shirts for the girls and they were so nice and neat for about 5 minutes. First Karlie dripped strawberry juice on hers, then Hailey brushed off the dirt on her hands on her shirt. Kaitlin tripped and landed in the dirt to complete the undoing of the shirts. Kids!
The views were incredible and worth having to ride up in a little car that hangs perilously on a cable from hundreds of feet in the air. Karlie was with me and didn't exactly like the idea of the Gondola but we had fun exploring and making friends with a chipmunk once we got to the top.

Steamboat Fishing

We had a wonderful trip to Steamboat Springs with Pops, Gramma Nette, and Aunt Anna. We packed in as much as you can in two days and the kids had so much fun. Here are the fishing pictures with more Steamboat posts to follow.
Max giving Hailey some pointers.
Hailey with the first catch of the day!

Karlie with her first catch.

Karlie trying really hard to not think that fishing is gross. LOL. She would hide behind be every time Max pulled out the hook and got very upset at watching them be strung on the line.

Karlie with her whale of a catch. It was the size of her torso.

Kaitlin on the other hand was not afraid of the fish at all and even gave this one a kiss.

Karlie and Anna right before they reeled in the whale.

Anna and Hailey fishing.

All the girls checking out the pink colored trout.

Hailey showing off her success.

Karlie with her catch for the day!

You will notice there are no pictures of Gramma Nette or Pops. That is because they were on grasshopper duty. There was a shortage of worms in Steamboat. We called and went to numerous stores only to find out they were sold out or had frozen. After a while of fishing with neon green and pink trout bate with not even one bite, Gramma Nette came up with the great idea to catch grasshoppers and use them. Within 5 minutes of casting out the first grasshopper we had our first fish. So the wise one saved the day! I attempted to catch grasshoppers and found that if I had to be a true angler that my family and I would starve. I couldn't even catch a stinkin grasshopper. Luckily Gramma Nette had perfected the hat-whack technique and she and Pops supplied enough grasshoppers to allow us to catch our bag limit of 6! What a delicious dinner we had.