Several times this spring, after I explained what summer vacation was, Dan would incredulously ask, "You mean, we have 90 days with no school at all?" I think he thought he was going to have to go to school every week for the rest of his life.
I'm pretty sure Dan understands the concept of summer vacation now. The kids have thoroughly enjoyed a summer of sleeping in, leisurely breakfasts, collecting bugs, learning to swing, running through the cornfields and getting their calves ready for the county fair.
Now that the fair is done and all the show calves are back in their pens, I'm finalizing plans for our trip to the Minnesota State Fair. And – gulp – that means summer is almost over. It feels like it barely just began.
Try as I might to pause this last month of summer, I know I can't. The school bell will soon ring and the big yellow bus will once again stop at the end of our driveway. Dan will be in first grade this year; Monika will be in pre-K.
I haven't been shopping for their school supplies yet, but I have been trying to ease them back into our school year schedule, which requires earlier bedtimes and earlier wake-ups for them.
Last year, our school principal started the school year with a note about the importance of the three Bs for school children: bedtime, breakfast and backpack. Get them to bed on time, make sure they eat breakfast before school and check their backpacks every day, he wrote.
Two out of three isn't that bad, right? We stick to a fairly consistent bedtime during the school year and I always check their backpacks, but breakfast can be a challenge.
Neither Dan nor Monika is a morning person, so neither of them gets ready very fast on school mornings. On top of that, Dan usually doesn't have much of an appetite. There were many mornings last year when half-eaten bowls of cereal were cleared from the table before I rushed the kids out the door.
Determined to find a better way to get something into their tummies, I started trying other breakfast foods – homemade breakfast cookies, granola bars, breakfast crackers. Then, one weekend I tweaked a new recipe for banana oatmeal muffins. The kids loved them and the leftover muffins made Monday morning's breakfast a breeze.
Finally, we had a breakfast that the kids liked and could eat quickly – and that I felt good about serving. Plus, the kids can take the muffins with them on the extra pokey mornings.
So, when I make my list for the back-to-school shopping trip, bananas will be on it. That way I'll have enough ripe ones on hand to start the school year off with a batch of muffins.
If you, too, could use a quick, tasty, wholesome breakfast, here's my recipe for banana oatmeal muffins. Enjoy!
Banana Oatmeal Muffins
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (half stick) butter, melted
2-3 ripe bananas (about 1 cup)
1 egg, lightly beaten
3/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Heat oven to 400°F. Grease 12 muffin pan cups or line with paper baking cups; set aside.
Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl.
Mix together bananas, butter, egg, milk and vanilla in a medium bowl. Add dry ingredients and stir until just combined.
Spoon batter into prepared pan. Bake for 17 to 20 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let stand 5 minutes; remove from pan.