BaNANA Nut Bread

We are under the weather over here with poor Olivia's first case of hand, foot and mouth virus. That means lots of snuggles, oils and Sofia the First. Since I'm parked on the couch next to baby girl while Jack naps I thought it would be a good time to share our Banana nut bread recipe. 
This is Nana's (my mom) recipe. I promise you it is the best banana nut bread ever! 
We buy bananas simply so they can turn brown and we can make this bread. Olivia loves to be my "helper" and cook with me. Bonus if she gets to use the mixer. Extra bonus if she gets to put her hands in the sugar jar.

BaNANA Nut Bread

4 ripened (dark brown) bananas 
1 stick softened butter 
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 cups self rising flour, if it ain't white Lilly it ain't worth using ;)
1 cup of nuts (we like walnuts or pecans)
Splash of vanilla

In mixer cream sugar and butter.  Add eggs one at a time. Mash bananas with fork in large bowl. Add bananas to mixer slowly. Turn mixer on low and add flour 1/2 cup at a time. Add splash of vanilla. Mix in nuts last. 
Now here is the special part that makes this bread amazing. 
Spray two loaf pans pretty heavily with Pam non stick cooking spray. Next sprinkle sugar, coating the inside of the pans. Pour batter into pans. Sprinkle sugar on top of batter. 
Bake at 350 degrees for 45-55 minutes depending on your oven. 
Remove pans from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Using a butter knife carefully separate the bread from the pans along the edges. Flip bread out of pans and enjoy!!! 

This is a family favorite and it literally melts in your mouth! It is delicious for breakfast or dessert. It is such an easy recipe and Olivia's favorite part is definitely sugaring the pans. My favorite memories of my childhood were made in the kitchen with my mom, my Ru (my grandmother) and my little sister.  It is so special to be making those memories with my own daughter. Holiday baking season is just around the corner a girl can dream in this 100 degree heat. 

Hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do! I would love to hear your favorite easy baking recipes too! And maybe a little prayer for my sweet girl if you remember :)

First Birthday Fiesta

You know I cannot let a birthday pass by without a little celebration, even if we did already have a big party.  You only turn ONE once, right?
We love Mexican food so we decided on a first birthday fiesta!
On the menu: quesadillas, cilantro-lime rice with black beans and corn, homemade guac and of course salsa and cheese dip with lots of chips.  I did some simple decorations in the dining room and I am just a little proud of my chalkboard.  I want to be able to write pretty so bad, but I am so so bad at it.  You win some, you lose some.  The kiddos enjoyed all of the festivities, especially the balloons.

Jack loves quesadillas, but his love for cupcakes is fierce.  He ate every single crumb, except for the ones on his sweet cheeks ;)

I made homemade guacamole and it was da bomb so I thought I would share the recipe.
3 ripe avocados
1 lime
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
1/4 red onion
1 tablespoon salsa
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Chop onion fine and set in a bowl of warm water (to keep the taste from over powering the dip)
Peel avocado and put in bowl (save one seed for later)
squeeze juice from lime on avocado and mash (I used a potato masher)
Chop cilantro, drain onion and add to mixture
Add sea salt and salsa, mix well, add the avocado seed back in (to keep dip from turning brown, remove before serving), chill for 20 minutes and ENJOY!

Nana and Grandaddy came to celebrate with us.  We missed the Vaughn clan, but they are under the weather so they kept their germs at home.   It was a perfectly laid back celebration for my super easy going little guy. 

I always want my kid's birthdays to be special all day long.  We took a trip to the zoo with some of our best friends earlier in the day.  After being there for two minutes and having my entire body covered in sweat I quickly remembered why we don't visit the zoo in this crazy heat.  The kids couldn't have cared less about the heat.  They had such a fun time.  Jack missed his afternoon nap and still managed to be the happiest kid there. 

This was also our first trip since he's been walking and he loved being able to get down and explore. I still cannot believe my baby is one.  I had to do a little birthday sleep stalking because it just doesn't get any sweeter than a sleeping baby.

Happy birthday to my big, sweet guy!

I realize this post has been super random and disorganized. I think I have had too much caffeine, is there such a thing?!  hashtag momprobz
Happiest Friday to you all!

Jack turns ONE

Oh my little happy Jack, how are you already one year old? This year has passed by way too fast, but has been the best year ever.  You are seriously the most happy, chill baby ever.  You love to sleep more than any baby I know, but when you are awake you are full speed ahead.  Life has definitely gotten more interesting since you started walking.  You are into everything.  Your love for the vacuum cleaner amazes me and you get to see it often since you are the messiest little eater around.  You never meet a stranger, you smile and wave at everyone you see.  Your precious spirit is just so sweet and everyone loves you, how could they not? ;)  I am truly blessed to be your mama!
We haven't been for your check up yet, but you are around 26 pounds according to the bathroom scale.  I believe it too since I am the one toting you around all day aching my back.  You are definitely going to be a big boy and that is just fine with me.  In most clothing you wear 18-24 month and still a size 4 in diapers.  Also a size 4 in shoes.  I don't think your hair is going to be curly like your sis, but it definitely has a little flip to it.  I know it is almost time for that first hair cut, but I am just not ready yet, sorry bud!
The transition to whole milk went great!  I mixed half formula and half milk for a couple of days and went straight to whole milk after that.  I was nervous because Olivia would never drink milk, but you seem to love it.  Favorite foods are blueberries, spaghetti, watermelon, waffles, peanut butter crackers, quesadillas, strawberries and bananas in that order.  You eat pretty much anything we put in front of you and still eat a little baby food now and then.  You are a carb-a-holic, but you come by it honesty.  I like to think we balance it out by all of the fruit we eat.

Favorite toys include any kind of balls, tucks, cars, trains and anything you can push around.  Without ever being shown you immediately get down on your knees and push cars around.  It must be a boy thing.  It is the cutest.  You love to explore around more than playing with any one toy.  You are into my cabinets and drawers always digging for something you can bang around and make some noise!
Sleeping is your jam.  You wake up around 7:30/8am and take your first from 9:30 to 11:30 then another nap around 2:30 and I usually have to wake you up by 5:30 so you will go to bed at 7:30.  You still miss me around 4am and I happily come rock you and give you a bottle sometimes.  I love our middle of the night cuddle sessions and even when I am super sleepy I don't mind getting up for that one bit. 

You jabber all the time, but still only say a few real words.  Mama, Dada, uh-oh and bye. You try to say a lot though.  You always try to repeat what I tell you to say even if it just sounds like baby talk. And really, what is cuter than those sweet first sounds?
You are walking everywhere these days.  Olivia has been waiting to be able to hold your hand and have you follow her around the house pretty much since the day you were born so she is loving it.  Watching you two love each other is the best part about being your mommy.  I know we have years of tattling and pestering back and forth coming so I am soaking all of this sweetness in for now.
My little champion teether.  You have your front four teeth in on the top and bottom and 3 molars.  You ran a little fever with the molars, but remained super sweet and happy.  That sweet toothy grin gets me every time.  You explore the world with your mouth.  I have pulled so many nasty things out of your mouth including a wasp, grass, rocks, bark and the occasional my little pony.
Everyone was right.  There is just something so special about little boys.  I love your slobbery kisses and your snuggles are the best.  I love how you lay your head on my shoulder and pretend to be shy. You give love on demand and lean in for more even when we stop asking for it.  I am pretty sure you will always be "baby Jack" to us.  You have brought so much joy and laughter to our family.  You are such a special little man and I know God has big plans for you.  You are loved beyond measure dear one.  Happy Birthday!
Photos by mama in our back yard :)

Fourth of July

Lake, family, friends, fireworks and way too much food is how we celebrated the 4th of July.  The kids skipped naps, played in the water until their fingers and toes were perfectly shriveled up and stayed up way past all of our bed times.  I am sad to report that Jack is not a water baby.  I am not sure where this came from and I don't like it one bit.  Olivia would float in the water for hours, but Jack fusses the whole time he is in the water for the most part.  Since he is the happiest, easiest baby ever he gets a pass on this one for now.  Everyone else enjoyed splashing and playing the day away.

We took the big girls inner tubing, but Olivia and Ava weren't feeling it.  They liked hanging on the boat with the mamas just fine.

Big news! Jack started walking last week!  He wobbled around all weekend with his patriotic self.
We did fireworks and sparklers Sunday evening.  Olivia was mesmerized by all of it.  Just one more holiday that is exponentially more fun seeing it through your child's eyes.
Before we left I took Olivia and Jack down to the waters edge and let the play on the rocks and sandy beach there.  Jack was of course trying to eat sand and drown himself so Chad took him back to the house.  Olivia and I stayed down there and threw rocks in the water for a while longer.  She had the best time.  I love her adventurous little spirit.

We had such a fun weekend with the whole family and I feel so blessed to live in this great country.  I am so grateful to all of the men and women to give their lives so we can live in the land of the free!
Happy Birthday America!

I am headed back to the lake this weekend for a girl's trip.  This is my first time to leave the kids and I am kind of nervous about it.  I am so excited for some adult time, but I sure am going to miss my babies! I don't know if the lake will be the same without this sweet face there with me!