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Grandma’s Banana Bread

Grandma's Banana BreadI wanted to make my grandmother’s banana bread this week for Activity Days. I’m so glad my mom still had it, since I had not put it into my recipe book and LOST it!

And the recipe says to bake them in 4-8.5″ x 4.5″ pans, but I actually baked them in the 8″ x 4″ disposable aluminum foil pans. I’ll have to check next time I bake them to see if they are just as good in the pan mentioned there. My grandmother made them into two large loaves, which I’m guessing were in the 2-lb. loaf pans. And her original recipe says to bake them at 325℉ for an hour, but because I had just baked 10 mini loaves at 350℉, I kept the oven at the same temperature and baked them for less time. So I’ll have to check that next time as well!

Hope you enjoy making this recipe!



Last year I hurried to the high school to watch my daughter, Rebecca, perform in her a cappella group for the first time in a school assembly. They sang “The Star Spangled Banner,” and I was so touched.

I was touched by the respect I saw. On that day each year, my children and most of the students dress in Sunday clothes to honor those who lost their lives on 9/11. I remember well that attack and what was happening the morning of it. We were just getting ready to send our children to elementary school when we got a phone call (I think from Lane) telling us to turn on the news. We did so and witnessed what all our nation saw that day. It was such a tragic, sobering moment. We immediately knelt to pray, as we always do in a situation of great concern. I will never forget that day.

I don’t know that Julia or Rebecca or Eliza remember that moment. They were too young or not born yet, but still they honor the victims by dressing up before they go to school. I love that respect and reverence. And I love the Star Spangled Banner. I loved how Rebecca’s group sang it that day. I am so grateful we can use our voices for things that matter, singing songs that matter, and honoring lives that mattered and still matter.


Screen Shot 2016-08-30 at 7.45.21 PMThis week was Julia’s first week at college. (We actually have TWO college freshman right now, but Nate started in May. More about him on another post.) She and I sat down last night for a few minutes to put together a menu plan of meals she can easily make and afford. (It helps that college is so close that you can run home to grab some wild rice or get your bike tires fixed.) As usual, I’ll laminate these little menu plans. The blank column is for writing in something else she plans to make that day instead, when she sits down to plan before going grocery shopping. Now we understand that she won’t follow the menu exactly every week, but she’s like me: cooking isn’t her passion, so it helps to have a framework in place ahead of time so she doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel each week.

Watching her pack up reminded me of how exciting it was to move to college my freshman year. (I took WAY too much stuff!) I was proud of Julia for cleaning out her room and only leaving her 4 storage tubs behind (that was what I told each child they could have for home storage: 4 bins). And her sister was ready to move into her spot before the day had finished after her move!

We had a few special moments together before she left, including one night when I called all the girls into my room (the boys were on a father and sons trip) and they all climbed into my bed. I had a couple of my old journals on my lap and opened randomly to read snippets from our lives. Talk about time travel!

I turned to August 25, 2003, Monday. At that time, I was two months away from my due date with Peter, so that means that we had 5 children: Sarah (9), Nate (7 1/2), Julia (5 1/2), Rebecca (3 1/2), and Eliza (6 weeks shy of 2). It was fun to discover my account of Julia’s kindergarten assessment (in which the kindergarten teacher tries to see where a child is in terms of basic letter recognize, reading skills, counting, etc.). Julia REALLY left an impression:

Lane asked Julia how her [assessment] interview went today. She said something like, “I told the teacher I didn’t know anything, and she gave me a treat!” I didn’t get to hear the assessment this year–the teacher sent me into the hall–but it was quite short….I admit to having prepped Julia just a little on the way to school by way of review: our address, phone number, spelling of last name, etc. 🙂 Oh, the pride of a mother!

We all cracked up hearing what Julia told the teacher, especially when a treat would be involved. Julia has been our biggest sweet tooth since day one. We love that about her! And speaking of eating dessert, isn’t it just how it goes as a mom: you teach a child all kinds of things, but when you ask them to perform, they won’t. It helps us moms eat humble pie now and again.

Here is another part of that entry:

Last night Rebecca was in bed when she had to get out to go potty or something. She said to Lane, “Save my spot.” Oh, survival of the fittest in a large family!

I remember bedtimes well, when Lane and I would hold our children’s hands on the side of their beds after kneeling in prayer with them and tucking them in. It can be tricky getting that many children to bed, but it’s even harder to get them to bed now! Now they have curfews, and we are the ones in bed when they come in to report that they are home!

The part of this entry that made us all laugh the most was the Family Home Evening (FHE) story:

Well, tonight we had a family night on contention….I made a chart with a lamb and a heart on one side and a wolf on the other. We listed things we’ve been doing (to contend) under the wolf, and ways we can show love under the lamb side. The idea was good, but the children were having a hard time being quiet or taking it seriously. I started to cry, and then the little girls all came over and smothered me in hugs, kisses, and Kleenex wiping. I shared how I hated the contention in my home when I was growing up and I really didn’t want it in our home, and how we have to work together as a team to make it work….

After the prayer….we had dessert and an interesting teaching moment came up again. Julia had asked for a gumball before FHE instead of having ice cream after with the rest of us. Well, when we started scooping, she declared that she’d spit out her gum since she wanted ice cream. Nathan and Sarah shouted, “No fair!” and wanted no such allowance, unless they could be equally compensated. Lane & I said this was a chance for us to think about what we’d just discussed, and we’d let the whole family vote. (Julia, of course, voted yes.) We said we were voting just to show love with no compensation of fairness to anyone else. Nathan held his ground and said no. I couldn’t help it, and started crying again. Julia ran upstairs sobbing. Sarah asked Lane if she could give Julia her ice cream cone, to which he consented, and she ran up after Julia. Lane talked to Nathan, but I didn’t hear much since I went to put away the ice cream and went to the bathroom. In the bathroom I saw a page showing our Fall schedule and remembered how Nathan, without having earned TV today, watched it after school, without permission. I had an idea to talk to him about justice and mercy. I went back to Nathan who wanted to apologize, and who came to sit by me. I did have a little conversation with him then about how we all will have to pay for all our mistakes and sins unless we repent and forgive others. I asked him about this afternoon, and what would happen in the case of justice. He said he’d have to be punished (and immediately started suggesting lenient punishments). We talked about what we’d rather have–justice or mercy. He agreed on mercy. I told him I wanted to forgive him and let him have another chance to do right. I asked him what he thought he’d want if he were in Julia’s position with the ice cream…

Lane said Nathan prayed tonight to be more merciful and kind and to serve a mission…. He is such a good boy. 

Oh, I wish I had time to find a photo from the archives of them at these ages! They were such an adorable tribe! Now they are all grown up and saving China. (One of our favorite quotes from Mulan.) Sarah is starting her “Super” Senior year and Nate is continuing his freshman year. This little ice cream story reminds me of the time when Nate took Julia to get ice cream at the grocery store–I think he learned that sharing ice cream is a good idea. Love that they are all such good friends.

It’s an awesome time for the whole family. We are so proud of each of them.


Family Trip Prep List

Family Trip Prep List PDF

I found this in my kitchen clipboard when I was looking for something else. I thought perhaps it might be helpful to some of you who are getting ready to go on trips and want to include your whole family in the team effort trip prep! Just click on the image for the printable PDF. And bon voyage!


Home Repair: Have you seen this?

Loved this!

To see more awesome videos like this one, go here.


So today I ran my first 10K. It was a perfect morning to run it (with the exception of being sick with some sore throat/ear thing that is going around which made it harder to sleep this week). The race started late, meaning that under the beautiful sunshine, the temperature was rising fast. All in all, my stamina was not what I hoped. BUT I prayed before and during the run and went out determined to run the 6.2 miles without stopping.

I did it. 🎉🎉🎉

I felt help from heaven to complete it in about an hour, and sprinting at the end was hard, but I did it. I have to sprint to the end!  I always think of my mission president telling us to sprint to the end. So I honor him and his wife by doing that. There was a wierd thing with the time recording. Maybe this is the way it always is with races? I’m too inexperienced to know. The big timer by the race gate time and the chip time were not the same: by the timer, I was under an hour–about 57 minutes–but the print-out chip timing paper said 1:01:34. My phone tracking app said I ran 6.40 miles in 1:02:12 (that was when I stopped the tracking after I crossed the line and had walked around for a minute or so). Who knows? That’s why I said about an hour 😄 . I averaged about 9:42 according to my phone, and 9:55 on the chip–interested in those discrepancies (being detail-minded)–but either way, I was happy with my pace. So, I have room to improve! But I felt happy that at my age (46) and after all my body has been through, by the grace of God, I did it.

Now that I have showered and gotten my children off on a road trip and eaten, I’m enjoying the quiet of sitting in bed resting and typing.

My hips ache, which is a normal post-run thing for me. I guess one hip is higher than another, so when I run longer distances, they hurt, along with the SI joint on one side. But I’m learning to stretch better, and cross-training has been really helpful. I didn’t do much of that last week with our family reunion and feeling sick, but this coming week I hope to get back on track.

I feel very soul-satisfied at accomplishing a pivotal part of my 2016 goals, which was to improve my stamina and physical fitness by exercising 5-6 times a week and to run a 10K. Ironically, my desk is such a disastrous mess that I have no idea where my goal binder is to mark the date on my page. Ha!

Now that I finished that goal, I picked another one: I signed me and Sarah up for a sprint triathlon. Yikes! She told me it’s time to start doing bricks: bike to run training.  OK. Ready on Monday.

Enough of exercise reportage. 😴 That kind of journaling can be BORING to anyone besides myself. On to other topics! 😉

NEWSFLASH: Nate got a hair cut!

I came home, tidied up a bit, hung the washed beach towels (well, 12 of them) on the kitchen chairs to dry, showered, took Peter and Nate to get hair cuts and grabbed some groceries for their trip. Home again, I watered flower pots and fruit trees, had a family prayer with the children, resolved disputes, and tossed out last-minute mom instructions on their road trip to Idaho, where they will see their cousin before he takes off on his mission next week. Hopefully we’ll get to see him before he goes, since we aren’t that far from the Missionary Training Center. (And I won’t get their family sick by going today!)

I had a quiet lunch by myself (Lane is toiling under the hot sun, weeding, fixing the tree shredder and sprinklers and who knows what else–his work stamina is just incredible) and came up to rest. All around me is evidence of having played with extended family for over a week. Unfolded, clean laundry is stacked on my rocking chair and ottoman with another basket full next to it and a fourth pile on my bed. Eeek! Piles of papers (bills) and unread newspapers and magazines are on my bed for perusal tomorrow. Bags from trips to the pool and other adventures on my dresser needing to get put away.

But back to solitude! I’m delighted to push it all aside to read a few verses in the Book of Mormon, to remember the Anti-Nephi-Lehies who buried their swords–

And this they did, it being in their view a testimony to God, and also to men, that they never would use weapons again for the shedding of man’s blood; and this they did, vouching and covenanting with God, that rather than shed the blood of their brethren they would give up their own lives; and rather than take away from a brother they would give unto him; and rather than spend their days in idleness they would labor abundantly with their hands. (Alma 24:18)

I think of seeing some of my siblings again last week and then watching my own children interact today and wondering if I have taught my own children to get along, andif they understand how utterly critical it is that we speak kindly one to another. The seed of kindness is the foundation for happiness in families! If we can only be kind to each other, in our words, in our actions, then there is SO MUCH beautiful fruit born in the end. You WANT to be together, because it is so NICE to be together. No one is afraid that anyone else is going to hurt the other person with their criticisms or sarcasm, with unhealed wounds hiding beneath the words. It is such a safe, calm feeling to visit together and have people be patient one with another, tolerant, positive and praising. It is just heavenly. There is so much room for laughter and enjoyment in the midst of kindness, with no one leaving sad or troubled. No bitter-tasting leftovers.

Being with (some of) my sisters was truly fun, and watching our children have such a fun time together was so rewarding! Cousins are the BEST! They played for hours happily! We had such a great time swimming, hiking, watching the parade, playing games, singing at the piano, painting fingernails, helping Grandma clean out and pack up her house, putting on a garage sale, cooking, eating, chatting, cleaning up the kitchen, repeat. Writing a play and putting it on. We went to see “The BFG” (which I thought was charming, except for the green fizzy drink and consequences, because spotlighting bodily functions in movies are so hackneyed and coarse these days). Listening to my niece play “

It’s all recovery time: recovery for me, for my house, for our sense of order and sanity. Hooray for A/C that got repaired this week and is working so nicely!! First world life. I feel like apologizing when I write about my life because of what so many around the world live with every. single. day. The millions of refugees in tents. People who toil under the sun all day, every day. I am in awe of their patience and stamina. I hope that I am doing something good with what I have that can in some extremely small way help them.

Tomorrow we have the viewing of our neighbor who passed away. I won’t write more. Some things are just private, but the journey their family has been on the last month has been so ever present in our minds each day that it bears mentioning. I have learned much being an observer of the outpouring of love and compassion toward them. I learn so much from my neighbors. I live amongst people of such good character. No one here is perfect, but I feel blessed to be amongst those who care deeply about those around them.

My mom is arriving with jars of pickles. My life is so funny! Probably not to anyone else, but to me it’s like a curio case of odds and ends of comical, serious, inane and banal. Every day is different. Full of variety.

Just the way I like it, I suppose.





Summer meal plan

My simplest meal plan so far

This is my newest meal plan.  (To download the PDF, click here.  For a PDF with the Wednesday part in a darker yellow, click here.)

It’s my simplest so far. (I ❤️ SIMPLE.)

The left side is for when I want to be more creative, and the right side is for when I just need to get the job done without a million different options.

I cut up the two plans and laminated them back to back, with a piece of cardstock in the middle to make it easier to write on (see below). I’ll display the side that I feel up to that week–the more creative side where I choose different recipes, or the specific plan when I don’t have time or desire to plan. (I can still write down adaptations according to the week’s needs on either one). I’ll keep a photo on my phone of my list in my Notes app so that if I can use it if I forget or don’t have time to make a specific shopping list for that week. The list will look similar to the one I had yesterday (below) except that I won’t come up with something new for each day at the end of each week:

fridge meal planning card

Here is “my simplest meal plan so far” (on the non-creative side):Simplest meal plan so far

I’ve written about meal plans so much because I am constantly trying to simplify. I started out with very detailed lists and now am down to one week pattern, with meals that basically any one of my family could make.

You see, I like doing so many other things besides planning, shopping, and preparing meals. I absolutely love my family and enjoy eating, but it is not my passion nor great joy in life to prepare meals. I want to get it done well, but I also want to get it done with the least amount of stress possible.

That’s my job! Since I have nowhere near the budget to subscribe to a fresh meal plan delivery service for a large family, where the food arrives in a nice box with a recipe and instructions. (It sounds kind of dreamy, I’ll admit.) So I need to do my part. That’s reality. The good news is that I get to reap the satisfaction that comes from doing the work and the happy feeling that comes from healthily filling the tummies of those I love. It’s one of those mental and emotional benefits of work that you just don’t get when someone else does the work for you!

In a sense, posting this is kind of funny, since I have never been able to use other people’s meal plans/shopping lists. BUT looking at other’s meal plans has helped me learn how to make my own. I hope this helps you have ideas of how to solve your own grocery budget/meal planning challenges.



Keeping math going during summer

Summer math IXL

I pay for a subscription to a math website called IXL.com for my children to do math during the summer. I like this particular website because it is progressive and tracks everything they do. I get email reports of what they have mastered, how much time they have spent, etc. With so much going on, following up on each child can be a challenge. I take at look at their summer scholar journals and get this. The best thing, though, is that they like to work on this website each day. 15 minutes is a short time (they often go longer because they are enjoying it), and it keeps their math knowledge base maintained and growing.

Xtra Math website summerAnother great website is XtraMath! Anna used this is third grade and it was great! It is FREE. I haven’t looked into it recently. I need to do that to save money! I’m embarrassed to say when I couldn’t remember it after googling/looking for it, I defaulted to IXL because we had used it in previous years and liked it. I may try the mobile app and see how that goes, just for waiting moments at the dentist or wherever when my children are waiting without a book on hand.



Click on this image to go to the video at values.com.

Click on this image to go to the video at values.com. (Want to have a fun date or family night? Spend an hour watching their great commercials!

Last night, Lane started out our FHE lesson with this commercial for love–lasting love. It was his lesson on setting attainable goals, but he started out with this commercial to make a point: most people don’t want to spend their lives alone. Most people have the desire to find someone to love and cherish for all of their lives. But strong, lasting love doesn’t just happen. You have to work, sacrifice, learn to be selfless, and repent and forgive to have that kind of love.

That was where goals came into the conversation, and he shared some absolutely great thoughts from President Kimball, Elder Ashton, and President Uchtdorf. He asked the children what big goals they have, and one of them said eternal marriage. So we talked about the steps needed to obtain that goal. He reviewed the “SMART” goal acronym and invited each child to set one goal for this summer that is a “SMART” goal that will help them obtain a bigger goal that they dream of attaining.

I especially liked the clip he shared from Pres. Uchtdorf’s talk on how focusing on a tiny lightbulb caused an unnecessary and tragic airplane crash, and the question that Lane asked us each: What are the “lightbulbs” that get in your way of accomplishing your dreams and goals?




Planning page for season changes

Click on the photo to go to a printable PDF.

Click on the photo to go to a printable PDF.

When we’re getting ready to transition to summer or from summer to fall, I pull this laminated page out and start making up the new schedule. Then I keep it posted on my kitchen white board until we all have the schedule in our heads (especially me!). Then I rinse it off (I write on it with wet erase markers) and put it away for the next time I need it.

Visual communication is helpful for me and the rest of the family. No one can read my mind (except God), so I need to communicate what is going on somehow, right?

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