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My Top 10 reasons for going to Disney World with kids 3 and under

Cinderella's Castle at Magic Kingdom.

Cinderella’s Castle at Magic Kingdom.

Since we’ll be going on vacation to Disney World soon, and it happens to be one of my all time favorite vacation destinations, I want to do a series of posts about Disney World.

My daughter, Kayla, will be turning 3-years-old in November. The week before she turns 3, we are taking her to Disney World. This was my decision, and my husband has gone along with it. I don’t think it mattered to him if we went now, or two years from now. He said it was completely up to me when we go since I was going to be the one planning it, I’m the one primarily paying for it with some money I had set aside, and because Disney World means so much to me.

Ever since I made the decision a year ago that I was not going to wait until Kayla was older to go, I’ve been bombarded with questions from family and friends about why I am going when she is so young. Everyone has their own opinions about it. These opinions range from, “you should wait until she’s old enough to remember it,” to “you should go when she’s older so she’s easier to travel with,” to finally “you should go when she’s old enough to understand where you’re going.” The last one is almost laughable to me because Kayla completely understands where we’re going and is super excited. She talks about our trip all the time.

Kayla in front of our countdown to Disney chart.

Kayla in front of our countdown to Disney chart.

I figured I would make a list for everyone to explain my top 10 reasons for going to Disney World with young kids. Maybe this will end up being helpful to those of you out there who are going through the same questioning by your family, friends, and co-workers. And maybe it will help all the negative people out there understand a little better why some of us want to take our young kids to Disney World.

So here we go:

10. If you talk to your youngster about the trip, show them pictures, show them videos, and get them involved, they can completely understand that you are going on vacation to Disney World. My daughter has known for a few months now, and she is totally and completely excited about it. We talk about it every single day. We have a countdown to Disney chart. We watch You Tube videos of the rides and of the parks in general so she knows what to expect. And we read Disney travel books together. She has her on Disney World for Kids travel book that she loves. My husband is blown away by how much Kayla knows about Disney World. She knows way more than him, and he’s 36. Kids can understand a lot more than we give them credit for, so don’t underestimate your child.

Celebrating my 3rd birthday in Florida at my grandparents' house.  This was in 1983.  We always stayed at their house because it was a great way to save money, and we'd get to spend time with my grandparents on our "resting" days.

Celebrating my 3rd birthday in Florida at my grandparents’ house. This was in 1983. We always stayed at their house because it was a great way to save money, and we’d get to spend time with my grandparents on our “resting” days.

9. It can be a wonderful learning experience. Your child can start learning long before you even go on the trip by teaching them about going to the airport, flying on airplanes, staying in a hotel, and the concept of going on vacation. (It helps if you’ve taken a mini trip before where they already have an understanding of vacations and trips.) You can have your child get involved with planning by showing him/her pictures and videos of various things and getting their input on what they like and don’t like. Then once you get to Disney World, there are so many learning opportunities there. Take your child to Animal Kingdom where they will get to see all types of animals, go on a safari ride, and learn about helping animals. Then take them to Epcot where they can go around the World Showcase and taste foods from all around the world. Epcot has some great educational rides, like Universe of Energy where you can learn about the history of energy, how energy is produced, and searching for new energy resources. The best part of the Universe of Energy ride is when you’re seated watching a video, your seat turns into a moving vehicle, and all of a sudden you are on a ride with animated dinosaurs. I remember loving this ride from a very young age. There are several other educational rides at Epcot that are fine for young kids to go on. New experiences are essential to a child’s development. So why not give them some new experiences that the whole family can enjoy?

Epcot

Epcot

8. My parents took me to Disney World for the first time when I was 2-years-old. I was turning 3 that summer while we were on vacation. My family used to go down to Florida twice a year to visit relatives. When I was younger, they would leave me with my grandparents while they took my older sister to the theme parks. I believe they wanted to be able to focus on enjoying all the rides with my sister for another year or two before having to take me along and focus on me.

Despite what most people think, I do have memories from my first trip to Disney World. No, they aren’t completely clear memories, but they are vague memories that I have carried around with me all my life. I can remember the feeling of excitement. I can remember sitting on my grandpa’s shoulders to watch the parade. I remember loving the parade, even though I can’t tell you anything about the parade now. I remember resting in my stroller while people in my family took potty breaks. I remember that my grandpa never went to the bathroom the entire time we were there and my mom kept telling him he was going to have bladder problems. I remember wanting a big pinwheel sucker and my mom saying no. The sucker was so colorful. I remember feeling a sense of awe when I went on rides. I remember that my favorite ride was It’s a Small World, and I loved singing the song. I remember being very tired at the end of the day and my dad carrying me to the tram. I also remember the smells. The smell of sweets and popcorn.

These memories may be vague and I may not remember a lot of details, but they are still memories. These are not memories that came from pictures, or even from family stories. They are things I have asked my mom about over the years and she has confirmed as being real memories from my first trip there. Now that my dad and grandpa are gone, I cherish every memory I have of them, even the vague ones. For the things that I don’t remember about my first trip, I can see in pictures in our family photo albums. I love looking at our old vacation photos. And lets face it, we never know how long any of us has on this planet, so why put off the opportunity for great memories?

My mom, my dad, and me standing on the steps of the Mexico Pavilion at Epcot.

My mom, my dad, and me standing on the steps of the Mexico Pavilion at Epcot.

Me with Tweedledee or Tweedledum.

Me with Tweedledee or Tweedledum.

7. Young kids can eat, stay, and fly for free. If you get the Disney Dining plan with your Disney resort package, you don’t have to pay for kids under 3. They can just eat from a parent’s plate. They don’t even offer the dining plan to kids under 3. You have to pay for the dining plan for kids 3 and older. Even most off-site hotels allow kids to eat for free. Kids also stay for free at hotels/resorts. And If your kid is really young, you may opt not to buy a seat for them on the airplane and just have them ride on your lap. You can always make the choice to pay for a seat for them and bring their car seat for safety reasons, but it’s not required when they are under a certain age. (Beware of bad turbulence.) I believe if they are under 2, they can ride on your lap. These three things alone are huge money savers.

6. Disney World is the perfect place to expand a child’s imagination and offer plenty of stimulating experiences. Having a good imagination is important for kids. It’s good for kids to be able to dream, learn to make wishes, and to gain an appreciation for great storytelling. Disney World has live shows, play areas for kids, splash zones, and kid activities. Do some research. There are a number of things for young kids to do that will help them use their imaginations and be creative.

5. The Magic Kingdom caters to families and young kids. Out of all the rides and attractions in the park, there are only four that my daughter will not be able to go on. There are 30 something rides/attractions at the Magic Kingdom. Not being able to do four things is hardly a reason not to go. Granted, my daughter is tall for her age (38 inches), so the majority of the rides she can’t go on are the roller coasters at the theme parks. Luckily, Disney World isn’t a big thrill ride place, so most of the rides can still be enjoyed by kids who are 3 and under. A good portion of the rides are slow moving rides, which is perfect for young kids.

4. The hotel/resort is as much of an attraction as the theme parks at this age. They enjoy exploring the hotel, playing in the pools, checking out the gift shop, and hanging out in the hotel room. With a young kid, you can easily spend a whole day at your hotel/resort and they’ll still be happy. Older kids usually don’t enjoy “resting” days as much as younger kids.

This is me on one of our "resting" days when I was little.

This is me on one of our “resting” days when I was little.

3. The photo memories you can capture are priceless. Have you seen the beautiful pictures of a baby being held by Mickey Mouse, or a toddler walking up to her favorite Disney character for the first time? What about the pictures of 1, 2, and 3 year old little girls wearing a princess dress and getting their very first hug from a Disney Princess? I’ve also seen some wonderful family photos taken around Disney World. I am hoping to get a nice picture of Kayla, my husband, and myself for our Christmas card this year. Those photos capture moments that your child may not be able to remember, but will be able to look back at later. They are pictures that parents, grandparents, and friends can enjoy. You can show your child the pictures over the years and discuss the trip often to help secure the memories in their mind. The pictures are once in a lifetime photo opportunities that may not be quite the same when your child is older and more aware of what is really going on. Part of the beauty of some of the best Disney pictures I’ve seen is the pure innocence of the children in the pictures.

Me eating my Mickey Mouse ice cream.

Me eating my Mickey Mouse ice cream.

I loved seeing Chip and Dale in person for the first time.

I loved seeing Chip and Dale in person for the first time.

2. When you wait until your kids are older, some of the magic may already be gone. The older your kids get, they start to understand that all the characters are just people dressed up in costumes. They may not be as excited about half the rides there because they may want more advanced rides. They may not even be impressed by fireworks and parades anymore if they’ve seen them at other places, like at home on 4th of July. As much as this Disney Lover hates to admit it, I have known quite a few people over the years who went to Disney World when they were older (or have taken their older kids to Disney World), and they weren’t as impressed. Especially if they are older kids who enjoy going on really fast roller coasters. Kids who have already experienced going on numerous thrill rides tend to be less impressed by Disney’s slow moving dark rides.

I’ve also noticed that boys tend to grow out of Disney World faster than girls if they don’t obtain an appreciation for it when they are younger. When I was little, three of my male friends went on a trip to Disneyland in California. I was so excited for them, and I couldn’t wait to hear about their trip when they got home. To my horror, they came home very disappointed by the whole experience. They thought it was boring, and that the rides were too kiddie. At first, I wanted to believe this dislike was due to the fact they went to Disneyland instead of my beloved Disney World. I was wrong. They didn’t realize before they went that there wouldn’t be lots of roller coasters and thrill rides like at Six Flags theme parks. They didn’t enjoy the traditional Disney rides at all. They had no interest in meeting the characters. They also thought the shows and parades were cheesy. I was horrified. I’ve gone through life telling myself that I have to take my kids to Disney World for the first time while they are still fairly young so they will appreciate the magic.

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Show in front of the Castle.

1. Kids under 3 are free at all four theme parks and the two water parks. Yes, FREE! You can save hundreds of dollars on admission tickets by going to Disney World when they are under 3. Once they turn 3, you have to pay for admission to everything.

Ok, so those are my top 10 reasons for taking kids 3 and under to Disney World. Sure, there are reasons for waiting until they are a little older (4, 5, 6, etc), but I think there are plenty of reasons for families to consider going while they are younger.

Please feel free to share your reasons for taking your young kids to Disney World, or on other vacations. I would love to hear about your experiences with taking your kids for the first time. What was their favorite part? Do they have any memories of it? Do you think it was worth the trip? How did you prepare your kids for their first Disney vacation?

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Countdown to Disney World Chart – A creative visual display

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I think I mentioned awhile ago that we have a vacation planned this year to go to Disney World. We’re taking Kayla there the week before her 3rd birthday.

My plan was to tell my daughter about our trip about 90 days in advance. It wouldn’t be too, too early, but it also would give me some time to explain to her exactly where we’d be going and what to expect. This will be her first time going on a plane, spending more than one night in a hotel, and going to large theme parks. She’s been to carnivals and a small kiddie theme park, but never anything this massive.

My plan didn’t work out. My mom decided to record an episode of Windy City Live (a Chicago-based show) where they went to Disney World. My mom was excited to show it to Kayla to get a reaction. Kayla was literally in awe of what she saw. She had tons of questions about this place called Disney World.

A few weeks after that, my sister and her family left on their vacation to Florida. One of their vacation destinations was Disney World. Kayla was ready to pack her bags and go with them. Not only was her favorite cousin leaving on vacation without her, but they were going to the same place she wants to go. She was devastated. For two weeks, all she talked about was how she missed her cousin, and that he went to see Mickey Mouse. This started her obsession with Disney World. She started asking to see books, to watch videos (on You Tube) of Disney vacations, and even grabbed some brochures while at the Disney Store. She asks me every single day if we’re leaving to go on vacation to Disney World today. Or tomorrow? And I’m not lying when I say that she started wearing her new princess Jasmine costume around our house all day. She even does forward rolls in this costume.

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I tried to show her a calender and explain that we have four more months until it’s our turn to go on vacation to Disney World. The calendar seemed to be too confusing for her. She didn’t like that there were multiple pages to look at that she had to flip up to see the day when we’re leaving. That’s when I decided to look into Disney Countdown calendars. I thought there would be tons of them to buy, but I was having a hard time finding one to buy or print from the internet. I did, however, find a ton of cute ideas on pinterest. This is when I decided to just be creative and make my own.

I looked around the house to see what types of Disney stuff we have laying around, then I decided what I would need to buy. I cut up an old Disney gift bag that Kayla had from one of her birthdays. I used that to create a big board. Kayla and I used her paint to paint clothes pins with the colors of Disney character’s clothing. (The main characters like Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Donald, Daisy, and Goofy.) We painted enough clothes pins for each day we still have before we leave on our trip. I then used a 12 x 12 sheet of red scrapbook paper to create a little sign to represent the number of days we have left until our vacation. I used a small piece of a dry erase board to attach to the sign so we’ll be able to change the number of days left on a daily basis. I then let Kayla decorate the sign and overall board with some of her Disney stickers. Now we have a really big board/chart that clearly displays how many days we have left until our vacation begins.

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Kayla was able to be completely involved with making the board, which she is super proud of right now. It will show her the exact number of days we have left on a daily basis, and she will be able to remove one clothes pin each day. The clothes pins will help her visually see for herself that we still have a long time to wait, but she will also be able to see the number of clothes pins go down each day. This will be a great visual learning tool for her, and it will give us an opportunity to work on counting and numbers. I know she will feel better when she sees the number of clothes pins decreasing.

We even made a special clothes pin to represent our last day before we leave. I know she will be super excited when we finally get to that clothes pin.

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I hope this idea inspires some other parents out there to make their own creative countdown charts for upcoming vacations, events, or holidays.

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Countdown to Disney chart with Kayla

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Dance, Gymnastics Class 1 Day 5, etc 070

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A Summer Full of Reading

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My daughter absolutely loves books. I was one of those pregnant women that not only talked to my baby while she was in the womb, I would occasionally read to her too. From the time she was born, I would read to her at night before bed. Of course when she was a newborn and infant, she would mostly just look at the pictures, try to eat the book, and stare at me while I read. The older she got, the more she started to get excited when I got out a book. From the time she could crawl, she would bring me books. I would be sitting on the couch in the middle of the day and she would crawl over to the coffee table, pull one of her books off the table, and push it back to the couch while crawling. It was pretty funny to watch. The moment she learned to walk, she would bring me book after book to read.

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A few months before her 2nd birthday, I started taking her to storytime at the local libraries. She was in love. She would get so excited when we would walk into the building and she would see all the books. She would listen intently to the librarian read the books during storytime, and she would clap and cheer when the story was over. The librarian seemed to get a kick out of her enthusiasm.

After storytime, they encourage you to stay in the children’s area and let your child explore by playing with the other kids and picking out books. The first few times we attended storytime, I found it interesting to watch Kayla. While the other kids would run to play with puzzles, games, puppets, blocks, etc., Kayla would gather up a few books and sit down to look at them. She’d go into one of the reading cubbies, or climb onto a rocking chair, and she would just sit there and look at books. The other kids would be laughing and playing, while Kayla would be completely caught up in all the books. She would walk around gathering books to look at, and for me to read to her. She quickly caught onto the fact that we could check these books out and take them home with us. Once she figured that out, she would load up the basket on her stroller with books. Eventually, she did notice that there are toys and activities to do in the library as well, and she now plays with the other kids. She usually starts out playing with the other kids, then goes around looking for books to check out. We typically leave with a stack of 8-12 books, all for her.

I am a big reader myself, so I am overjoyed to see Kayla’s love for books. We read books together at least once a day, if not two or three times. On average, we read 10 books a day. And as she gets older, the books are becoming longer and with more words.

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A couple of weeks ago, I took Kayla to our local library. When we were checking out our books, the librarian asked Kayla, “are you going to read all of these books?” Kayla’s response was, “yeah…I love books!” The librarian laughed and asked her, “are you going to sign up for our summer reading program?” Kayla happily responded with an enthusiastic “Yes!” The librarian said “great,” and provided me with some information on the program.

It had crossed my mind in the past that I should sign her up for one of the summer reading programs, but I wasn’t sure what was required and how old you have to be to participate. Although I worked at a local library in the children’s section when I was a teenager, I couldn’t remember all the rules and requirements. It was nice to find out that these reading programs through the libraries start from birth. You can have your child participate at any age. And most of the libraries either allow you to set your own reading goals for the summer, or they set a very low goal for young children. They make it very easy for even busy parents to be able to help their children accomplish their goals.

After some thought and research, I ended up deciding to sign Kayla up for several summer reading programs at different libraries. Over the last few weeks, we’ve been to three different libraries on six different days. The more I thought about it, I figured why not sign up for programs at a few libraries and use the books we check out from each library for their particular program. Each library will be hosting their own summer events to get the kids involved at the library, and they are offering different prizes and incentives. The first program we signed up for gave out “Dig into Reading” t-shirts to the first few hundred people. Kayla also got to color a few pictures, put her name on them, and have them hung up in the library. She was so proud. The library staff convinced me to sign up for the adult summer reading program, and I received a convenient re-usable library bag. Sure, I already carry a few re-usable bags in my purse for carrying library books, etc., but it was still nice to get one that has a picture of someone reading a book on the front.

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My husband, who isn’t a reader, has always been surprised by Kayla’s love of books. I think he was downright shocked when I told him the other day about how I asked Kayla where she wanted to go (when we were leaving the house), and her response was, “to the library…to get books and see kids.” He doesn’t really understand it, but he does encourage it.

I personally enjoy our time reading together each day. It is such a great way for Kayla and I to bond on a daily basis. I love to see her eyes light up when we read a book that she likes. There is nothing like having her snuggled next to me in bed (or on the couch) while we read a book that warms the heart, makes us laugh, or starts a conversation. One of my new favorite things is when Kayla wants to “read” to me. She will go page by page telling me a story based on the pictures, or what she remembers from the book. Sometimes, she even has parts of books memorized. It brings a smile to my face every time. She is already showing several signs of being ready to start learning how to read. I can only imagine how her love of books will grow even more when she is able to read to herself. But even then, I will look forward to our daily time spent together reading.

Please, if you are looking for something for your kids to do this summer, consider signing them up for a summer reading program. It’s worth it.

After storytime last fall.

After storytime last fall.

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Healthy Banana Ice Cream that is perfect for little kids

This is super creamy and good.

This is super creamy and good.

If you’re like me, you’re always looking for ways to add a few healthier food items to your child’s daily menu. I love ice cream, but it’s something I shy away from most of the time now because it’s not always the healthiest dessert option. And when I do eat ice cream, I tend to get the ones with half the fat, or I simply opt for sorbet instead. But sometimes…I just have to have a bowl of ice cream to satisfy the craving. Not to mention, I love the pure look of joy on my daughter’s face when she is eating ice cream and saying, “mmm, this is yummy…it tastes goooood.” That cracks me up every time. Especially when she adds her little happy dance. Pure joy.

Okay, so this is going to be the easiest banana ice cream recipe you have ever seen. Seriously, it is so easy my toddler could probably do it. (Well, she does help do half of it.) There is only one ingredient. I’m not kidding. All you need is bananas (and a strong blender).

Banana Ice Cream Recipe

– Frozen bananas

This is as healthy as ice cream can get. There is nothing else added. All you have to do is peel a couple of bananas. But them in a freezer safe container and freeze them for 2-4 hours. Take them out of the freezer and let them sit on the counter for about 5 minutes. I wouldn’t let them sit out for longer than 10 minutes. Put them in your Vitamix (or other high powered) blender on Variable 2 or 3 and blend for 30 seconds to a minute. All you want to do is blend it until it becomes the creamy consistency of ice cream or custard. It will become very creamy. This is a cold, refreshing treat on a warm day. It tastes like you made homemade banana ice cream, but without any added ingredients. This is super healthy, and kids love it.

We could barely stop eating it long enough to take pictures.

We could barely stop eating it long enough to take pictures.

This is really just the base of the recipe. You can add other frozen fruit to the blender to make different types of ice cream. Try frozen strawberries to make a strawberry banana ice cream. My daughter likes when I add peanut butter to it and make a peanut butter banana ice cream. You can also add your favorite toppings. I like mine with dark chocolate syrup. Yum! Of course, adding a special topping may make it a little less healthy, but considering the fat and calories you are saving by not making this with cream, sugar, and eggs…I think you can allow yourself to add something special on top. Maybe some caramel and/or crushed nuts. When you’re making the ice cream, try adding some oreo cookies to the blender for a take on cookies and cream ice cream. There are so many combinations you can use to make this delicious, healthy treat.

With dark chocolate syrup on top.  This was my bowl.

With dark chocolate syrup on top. This was my bowl.

My recommendations are to always use frozen bananas as your base, and if you are adding other fruit you should freeze it first. Other ingredients you may add to the blender don’t need to be frozen, such as oreos and peanut butter. Have fun with this recipe, and let your kids help make this with you. They will love being able to get involved and help make their own ice cream creations. And it’s so good that they won’t miss the “real” thing. Enjoy!

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Benefits of gymnastics and other sports/activities for young kids

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There are many benefits of physical activity for young kids, and kids of all ages. Physical activity is a great way to develop fine motor skills, as well as social skills. Fine motor skills are a prerequisite for learning and mastering the movements and coordination required in sports. When kids start these activities early (at a young age), they are better able to acquire the skills necessary to achieve higher levels of success. More importantly, when you encourage your children to start these activities when they are young, they still have that fearless mindset that allows them to be able to explore these activities without the fear of getting hurt. Sure, as their parents, we have to worry for them and try to make sure that they are learning in a safe environment, but their fearlessness is an asset.

Between the ages of 3 and 6 is a good time to start paying attention to what sports and activities your child is interested in. During this period, if a child’s interest in a certain sport or activity goes unnoticed, they may have a difficult time achieving higher levels of these skills later in life. (This differs with every child, of course.) At the end of the day, the most important thing is to find activities that your child enjoys doing. If they aren’t having fun, then it isn’t worth it. I think we all just want our kids to be happy.

Here are 10 ways boys and girls of all ages benefit from gymnastics from the USA Gymnastics’ Guide:

1. It’s fun
2. Develops strength
3. Develops flexibility
4. Develops coordination
5. Teaches listening skills
6. Gains self-esteem and confidence
7. Provides social interaction with peers
8. Teaches goal setting
9. Develops cognitive abilities to help in the classroom
10. Develops skills to enhance other sports

Gymnastics will also help enhance a child’s social skills. During a gymnastics class, children will able to observe, practice waiting their turn, follow directions, respect each other and listen. All of these skills are very important for a child to practice to enhance their social skills. As a child achieves new skills and is encouraged by their coach/instructor, they increase their self esteem, gain a sense of control over their body’s movements which then increases healthy self empowerment and body awareness. These are valuable skills for young children to learn.

The minikickers soccer class my daughter is signed up for advertises that they aim to use soccer as a medium for children to develop their balance, agility, coordination, color recognition and numerical learning, along with increasing their confidence and social skills. These are just some of the benefits of being involved in sport activities. Each sport offers unique skills and benefits to children, along with keeping them active and healthy.

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Take the time to ask your children what interests them. If they say they would like to take a karate class, look into signing them up for one at your local karate studio or through your local park district. As parents, we sometimes want to pick and choose what activities we’d like our kids to be interested in, but it’s important to get their input and let them pursue their own interests. Let your child find their own passion for sports and other activities. There are a wide range of activities young children can get involved in. Just do the research for activities in your area. Most areas seem to offer dance, softball, gymnastics, soccer, karate, crafts, basketball, swimming, tennis, etc. Some areas may even offer things like horse riding lessons, junior farmer camps, nature classes, and baking/cooking classes. When kids are really young, usually under 3-years-old, most classes will require parent participation. This a great way to bond with your child.

Some tips for exposing younger children to sports and other activities:

– Provide a wide variety of experiences that improve object handling skills and promote hand-eye coordination.

– Focus on gross motor skills at first, such as standing, balancing, walking, running, etc. Remember that skill learning takes time, practice and repetition. Choose some activities that are directed, and others undirected. An undirected activity would be one where a child is free to use their on imagination or do free play without being directed to do it a certain way.

– Focus on activities that your child shows a natural interest in, and encourage them.

– Provide plenty of positive reinforcement to encourage self esteem to reduce the fear of failure in physical activities.

– Check with your local parks and recreation district to find affordable sports and activities for your child. You can also look into local studios, companies, and gyms that specialize in a certain sport or activity, such as a dance studio or your local aqua center.

– Make sure the activity you choose is taught by coaches/instructors that are good with kids and have a good reputation in your community. Above all, we want our kids to have positive experiences.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about any activities my daughter has been involved in. I would be happy to share our experiences with you. Over the past year, we have attended storytimes at local libraries, taken a dance class, and she is currently taking gymnastics and soccer. I strongly believe that if your child doesn’t enjoy a particular activity, don’t force them to do it. These experiences should be about having fun while doing something new.

Kayla at the library after storytime.

Kayla at the library after storytime.

This was taken last fall during her dance class.

This was taken last fall during her dance class.

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Toddler gymnastics and soccer

Kayla having fun at Tumblebear Open Gym at Patti's All American in Indiana.

Kayla having fun at Tumblebear Open Gym at Patti’s All American in Indiana.

It’s amazing to me how fast this month has been going by. I’ve blinked and it is already the middle of the month. The last several weeks have been extra busy for us, and I can’t seem to find the time to keep up with my blogs…writing my own blog posts, and reading posts from other bloggers. I keep telling myself every day that I will find the time to write a post, and then I don’t. I’m disappointed with myself, but life has a way of taking over at times.

With that said, we’ve been busy doing lots of fun and exciting things, so that makes up for it. I pride myself on exposing Kayla to new experiences and activities. I think it’s important for kids to be exposed to various activities in order to be well rounded. I love taking her to the zoo, to children’s museums, to kiddie amusement parks, to different stores and restaurants, etc. I also enjoy getting her involved in a variety of classes so she has an outlet to burn energy, to learn something new, be around other kids her age, and experience something she may end up developing a passion for someday. (You know, just because I homeschool, doesn’t mean I don’t believe in socialization. I just believe in going about it in a different way.) It’s also quality mommy/daughter time since at this age (two-years-old), parents are required to participate in most activities.

Over the last couple of weeks, Kayla has started taking a gymnastics class at a local gymnastics gym, and taking soccer through a local park district. We’ve also attended two open gyms at other gymnastics gyms (besides the one where she is taking a class). It feels like for the past two weeks, I’ve been driving around all over the place taking her to different activities at different places. It’s fun, but it takes its toll.

I’ve been thinking about signing her up for a gymnastics class for awhile now. She’s extremely coordinated for her age, she’s bursting with energy, and she’s a bit of a daredevil. Gymnastics seems perfect for her. A friend from high school recommended a gym (Gym-Kinetics) to me last year, and I did a lot of research before signing her up for a gymnastics class. I wanted to make sure I picked a good gym with great coaches that work well with children. To my delight, she loves it. It seems to be a perfect fit for her. She bounces around like a bunny the whole time, full of energy. By the end of class, I’m a little tired myself. Who knew spotting a toddler and following her around a gym could be so much work? Kayla seems to get more hyper from being in class, and I’m ready to take a nap afterwards. Go figure. The gymnastics coach is young, playful, and the kids seem to adore her. So far, I am happy with how the class flows, and I can already see Kayla learning new things. I do worry a little bit about safety, but they have the place pretty well padded with all types of tumbling mats. I think toddler gymnastics is a great idea for parents looking to get their kids out of the house and doing something active. Plus, it gives kids their first glimpse into the world of gymnastics. Kayla loves watching the older kids do flips. She watches them in awe. Only time will tell if Kayla has any skill as far as this sport goes, but for now it’s all for fun. Having fun is the most important part anyway.

Gymnastics class at Gym-Kinetics in Illinois.

Gymnastics class at Gym-Kinetics in Illinois.

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I was thrilled when I found a soccer class for young children a few weeks back. One of our local park districts offers Mini Kickers Soccer for kids 5 and under. The class is taught by a British company that works with the park district. I thought for sure Kayla would enjoy this class because she absolutely loves kicking balls and running around. The week leading up to our first class, we practiced kicking the ball everyday and she got pretty good at it considering her age. Kayla would ask me every single day if we could practice. The day of our first class, she woke up excited about going. Once we got there, it was another story. She was a bit overwhelmed by the size of the class. The way the class works is they eventually divide the kids up by age, or at least that’s what the description of the class says. They are supposed to put the 2 and 3-year-olds in one group, and the 4 and 5-year-olds in another group. When we arrived at our first class, there were about 15 kids running around a big gym kicking balls with 4 coaches hanging around. As we walked farther into the gym, we saw all the parents/caregivers, remaining kids in the class, and younger siblings sitting in the bleachers. There was a massive amount of people there for this one little 45 minute class. Kayla was looking around at all of the people and her enthusiasm seemed to slip away. We sat down on the bleachers for a few minutes so she could observe her surroundings before class started. I encouraged her to go and kick a ball around with the other kids. She didn’t want to venture too far away from me. Once class started, she got excited again and did really well for about 30 minutes. After that, her attention seemed to start slipping away and she seemed to be overwhelmed by the amount of people moving around in the gym. I will admit it was a bit chaotic, and I hope the coaches are able to rein things in a bit in the future.

Observing the other kids when we first arrived for soccer class.

Observing the other kids when we first arrived for soccer class.

The soccer class was the biggest class we’ve taken so far. Most of the classes we’ve taken, and the storytimes we’ve attended, have had 10 kids or less, plus one parent for each kid. This soccer class had about 20-25 kids, plus some kids had two parents with them and younger siblings. I can see how a toddler would have a hard time adjusting to this type of class size. She also seemed confused by the fact that there were four coaches. She didn’t seem to understand who she was supposed to be looking to for directions. I think she’ll do fine once she gets used to it. Once the first class was over, she was ready to leave. Usually I have to practically drag her out of a place after class is over. This was a new experience having her grabbing my hand and leading me toward the door. The fact that she still wants to practice kicking the ball at home gives me hope that she’ll still want to go back each week.

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On days when we don’t have anything else going on, I’ve been taking Kayla to open gyms. Some of the local gymnastics gyms have open gym once a week where members and non-members can come in to use their equipment in a supervised environment. Some of the open gyms are for all ages up to 18-years-old, and others are only for younger kids. The first open gym we went to was at a very nice gym, but it was crowded with older kids. We didn’t have any issues with the older kids. They mostly kept to themselves and were considerate. From watching them, I would say most of them were students at the gym, and they seemed very focused on what they were doing. The majority of them seemed to be there to practice and have fun with their friends. With all the older kids around though, I had to watch Kayla very closely to make sure she didn’t get in anyone’s way or get hurt. Most of the equipment was geared toward older kids, so Kayla was limited on what she could use. Not to mention, she doesn’t have much patience for waiting her turn. The open gym was on a Sunday, so there were a lot more people there than if it would have been during the week. I would recommend to this particular gym that they do a separate open gym for younger kids.

Walking around at the open gym at United Gymnastics Academy in Illinois.

Walking around at the open gym at United Gymnastics Academy in Illinois.

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Inflatable at open gym

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The second open gym we went to was on a Wednesday afternoon and it was only for kids 6-years-old and under. All of the equipment they had set up was for younger kids. They had a very friendly coach in there supervising. Kayla seemed to like the coach right away. It was a welcoming and caring environment. I was surprised by how much I liked this open gym compared to the first one we attended. This particular gym is known for being a gym that focuses on classes and development for young kids. The decor is kid friendly, the staff is inviting, and they have a wide variety of unique classes offered there. I’ve been considering signing Kayla up for a few classes there, but was hesitant about doing it without seeing the place in person. If I’m going to drive 25 minutes or so to take Kayla to a class, it better be worth my time and money. This place would definitely be worth it. It’s a wonderful environment for kids.

Tumblebear open gym at Patti's All American in Indiana.

Tumblebear open gym at Patti’s All American in Indiana.

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I don’t want to fill up our schedule too much, but I am glad that Spring is here and we’re finally getting out of the house again to have some fun. I no longer have to worry about cold and flu season. (We got sick 4 times in 3 months at the end of 2012. Whatever Kayla gets, mommy gets too.) It’s so nice to get back to doing some activities outside of the house besides shopping and going out to eat. And Kayla loves being able to see other kids. She lights up when she sees all the other kids running around. She sees one of her cousins a few times a week, but there is nothing like seeing a bunch of other kids her own age. I can’t wait until all the June dance recitals are over so that I can get her back into a dance class. That was a class we could both enjoy. Until then, gymnastics and soccer will keep us very busy.

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The Easiest Spaghetti and Meatballs Ever – Made with the Ninja 3-in-1 Cooking System

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Ok, so this is my third post with a recipe using my new Ninja 3-in-1 Cooking System. I got this easy spaghetti recipe from the cookbook that came with my Ninja. I really wasn’t expecting to be impressed since making regular spaghetti isn’t that hard. You boil pasta, drain it, add sauce and meatballs, and you’re done. No big deal. Simple. But somehow this easy recipe from the cookbook managed to impress me. And it doesn’t even use fresh meatballs. The recipe calls for frozen meatballs. (Even though you can easily do this with fresh ones, if you want.)

The recipe has only four ingredients. You put them in the cooking pot, set the unit to oven, and let it cook for 25-30 minutes. When you take the cover off, you have this delicious spaghetti dinner that took NO effort. Seriously, it takes no effort at all to make. If you have older kids, they can make this meal for the family with no problems.

Easy Spaghetti and Meatballs Recipe

– 4 cups water
– 1 lb uncooked spaghetti noddles, broken in half (Or just put them in whole.)
– 1 jar pasta sauce
– 1 package (24 oz.) frozen meatballs

Pour 4 cups water into pot. (I used 4 1/4 cups because the pasta soaks up all the water and I didn’t want it to burn.) Stir in spaghetti, sauce, and meatballs. (The recipe says to break spaghetti in half, but I put it in whole.) Put unit on OVEN at 300°F for 25 minutes. (I suggest 30 minutes. When I checked at 25 minutes, not all of the pasta was tender yet.) Cover and cook until pasta is tender and meatballs are hot, stirring occasionally. NOTE: When using thinner sauces, use 3¾ cup water. For whole grain and thicker pastas, increase cooking time by 2–4 minutes, or until pasta is tender. Serve immediately.

All the ingredients in the pot and ready to be cooked.

All the ingredients in the pot and ready to be cooked.

About to stir it and check to see if the pasta is getting tender.

About to stir it and check to see if the pasta is getting tender.

Ready to eat.  Yum!

Ready to eat. Yum!

That is literally all it takes to make this meal. I let my Ninja pre-heat while I got my ingredients out. I added the water to the pot and put the spaghetti noodles in without breaking them in half. I put a little sauce directly on top of the noodles, then added the meatballs, and covered the meatballs with the remaining sauce. I stirred it all together, just a little bit, then covered. It is important to stir this at least once during cooking to make sure the pasta is cooking evenly and isn’t sticking together. Other than that, there is nothing else for you to do. Just sit back and let it cook.

There is no need to drain any water. The pasta soaks up all the water. The spaghetti noodles are infused with the pasta sauce. I was a little surprised with how well it turned out, even with frozen meatballs. I think my daughter said it best when she said, “mmmm…yummy!” Yes, it was quite yummy.

This is a wonderful recipe for busy parents. You can easily come home from work and still serve a great meal in only 30 minutes. This is something that you can even have your teenage kids prepare for you so that there is a ready-to-eat meal when you get home. As a mom of a toddler, I appreciate easy recipes that can be made in a short amount of time. I am at home with my daughter, but you would be surprised how fast the day goes by when you’re taking care of your home. This recipe will be going in my collection of go-to recipes when I need to make something quick.

Note: You can make this recipe in a regular slow cooker, but it will take longer than 30 minutes and you will have to watch closely to make sure it doesn’t burn.

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Game Day Chili for the Whole Family – Turkey Chili with Corn Bread Crust made in the Ninja 3-in-1

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As stated in my previous post, I recently got the Ninja 3-in-1 Cooking System and I am currently trying out different recipes from the cookbook. I ordered my Ninja through QVC and it came with the cookbook, Cooking Easier, Healthier & Better. I will be posting my thoughts and opinions about how the Ninja performs and about the recipes. My intent is to stick pretty close to the recipe instructions in the cookbook so that I am getting a good feel for whether the recipes are good, bad, or okay.

Since this is Super Bowl weekend, I thought it would be fitting to do some Game Day food. One of the first things that comes to mind when I think of game day food is Chili. My husband enjoys eating a big bowl of chili with tortilla chips. It’s the ultimate game day meal. I’m not really into football, but I do appreciate game day food. And I love a bowl of chili on a cold winter day.

The cookbook has a few chili recipes, but I opted to try out the Chili with Corn Bread Crust. (It had me at corn bread.) The recipe calls for using either ground beef or ground turkey. I used ground turkey in an attempt to make this a little bit healthier. I made a few other minor changes and/or additions, but I stuck fairly close to the recipe.

This chili screams comfort food. The corn bread baked on top of the chili is a genius idea. I’ve baked biscuits on top of soup before, but never thought to use corn bread on top of my chili. (Silly me!) What makes it even better is the fact that it was easy to make and didn’t take much prep work. My favorite part was being able to cook the turkey and veggies in the Ninja cooking pot on the stovetop setting, then just add the remaining ingredients to the pot and switch it to the slow cook setting. There was no need to cook the ground turkey on the stove, then transfer it to a slow cooker. That is the beauty of the Ninja 3-in-1 Cooking System. Everything can be done in one pot. (Woo Hoo!)

Chili with Corn Bread Crust Recipe

– 1 tablespoon vegetable oil (I used olive oil.)
– 1 1/2 lbs ground beef or turkey
– 1 large onion, diced
– 1 green pepper, diced (I used red, yellow, and orange bell peppers.)
– 1 tablespoon chili powder
– 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
– 1 can (about 15 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained (I used two cans instead of one.)
– 1 can (about 15 ounces) kidney beans, rinsed and drained
– 1 tablespoon tomato paste
– 1 package (8.5 ounces0 corn muffin mix
– 1 egg, beaten
– 1/3 cup milk

Additional ingredients I added

– 1 teaspoon salt
– 1 teaspoon garlic pepper
– Dash of hot sauce (I like a little kick to my chili.)

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Pour oil into pot. Set unit to STOVETOP HIGH and heat oil. Add ground beef/turkey, onion, and pepper to the pot. Cook uncovered for 10 minutes or until beef is browned or turkey is no longer pink, stirring occasionally. Spoon off any fat. Add chili powder and cinnamon to the pot. (This is when I added in my salt and garlic pepper.) Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

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Stir tomatoes, beans, and tomato paste into the pot. (This is when I added a dash of hot sauce to the pot.) Set it to SLOW COOK HIGH for 4 to 5 hours. Cover and cook.

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After 4 1/2 hours cooking time, stir corn muffin mix, egg, and milk in a bowl. Uncover pot and spoon batter over chili. Cover and cook 30 minutes or until corn bread is cooked through.

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This chili was awesome with the corn bread crust on top. The chili and corn bread alone is a great meal. The cookbook suggests serving it with sour cream and cheddar cheese. I did try it that way, and it made a great meal even better. It was hearty and satisfying. Just thinking about it is making me want to climb out of bed and go fix myself a bowl. Mmmm… Thankfully, I have some self control.

I understand that the recipe would have been healthier without my addition of the salt and pepper, but I personally couldn’t wrap my head around the idea of not having the extra seasoning. I like my food very flavorful, and I know from experience that ground turkey can lack some natural flavor. Sorry, but I am going to have to agree with all the TV chefs when they say that meat needs salt and pepper to bring out the natural flavors. This is just my opinion. If you want to stick to the original recipe to keep this healthier, please do so. I’m sure it is great either way. The hot sauce addition is just something I always add to chili. I considered not adding it, but then I couldn’t help myself. Chili has to have a little kick, right?! Maybe it’s just me.

I was happy with how fast the Ninja heated up on the stovetop setting. The ground turkey and veggies cooked up without a problem. I could see steam coming from the pot and hear the food sizzling. Once I switched it over to the slow cooker setting, everything settled down and it was ready to cook like a regular slow cooker. I didn’t have any issues with the liquid evaporating too much while cooking the chili. But I will say that once you add the corn bread, it seems to make most of the liquid disappear. If you are someone who prefers a chili with more liquid, you may want to add some water to the pot. I don’t have much of a preference between a chili with lots of liquid and one with hardly any, so this wasn’t a big deal to me.

This was a satisfying meal that left me wanting more. The first thing my husband said when I told him what I made for dinner tonight was, “Mmmm, that sounds good.” And then the next thing he said was, “is it spicy?” I was glad I decided to add the hot sauce to the chili. Apparently, he’s like me and likes his chili with a little kick. This chili was the perfect way to kick off Super Bowl weekend in our house.

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Apple Cider Pulled Pork Sliders, and Ninja 3-in-1 Cooking System Review

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I got my new kitchen toy this week, and I was excited to finally get to use it. My newest kitchen appliance is the Ninja 3-in-1 Cooking System. The Ninja 3-in-1 combines your stove top, oven, and slow cooker into one appliance. It can sear, bake, roast, steam, saute, simmer, and slow cook all in one pot.

The Ninja has a 6 quart cooking pot. It has a programmable slow cooker, a digital oven control mode, and the stove top function has low, medium, and high settings. It comes with a variety of accessories. The included accessories are a roasting rack, a multipurpose baking pan, a loaf pan, a mini muffin pan, and silicone oven mitts (that just cover your hands…fingers and palm). The accessories can all be conveniently stored inside the unit. Depending on where you buy the Ninja, it also comes with a cookbook with 150 recipes. The Ninja is currently sold at Bed, Bath, and Beyond, Walmart, and through QVC. I’ve heard that if you buy it from BB&B or Walmart, you will need to purchase the cookbook separately.

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This unit is quite large. I was half expecting it to be around the same size as my old slow cooker, but this thing is a beast in comparison. This is not a small, cheap kitchen appliance. The Ninja is a good quality piece of kitchen equipment. The approximate measurements of the unit with handles and dials is 18″L x 13″W x 8-1/4″H; cord 24″L. So be forewarned that this does take up quite a bit of counter space if you plan to keep it out like we do.

The cooking pot is dishwasher safe, but the accessories are hand wash only. That’s not a big deal with me, but I know that can be off-putting to some people, so I thought it was worth mentioning. I cleaned the cooking pot by hand and it was super easy to clean. The pot has a non-stick coating, so it took me about two minutes to clean it in the sink. I didn’t even bother putting it in the dishwasher. I haven’t used any of the accessories yet, but I’m not concerned about having to clean them by hand.

There is a vent on the cover of the pot. Depending on what setting you’re using, you may want to watch the liquid in your pot. The vent will allow liquid to evaporate some while cooking, which may require you to add more liquid. I didn’t have this issue at all with the recipe I used, but I think it is worth pointing out so no one burns their food on accident.

The moment I got the Ninja, I started flipping through the cookbook. I was happy to see that it has a lot of recipes I’d like to try out. Most of the recipes are simple and don’t have a bunch of ingredients. As a mother of a toddler, I am very appreciative of quick and easy recipes. I don’t have much time to spend slaving away in the kitchen. And now that Kayla is getting more interested in helping out in the kitchen, I prefer to do stuff that gets us in and out of the kitchen fast. There is nothing like having a busy little toddler trying to help out in the kitchen when you’re trying to do 5 things at once. The easier, the better.

After going through the cookbook a few times, I decided to start with pulled pork. I make pulled pork all the time. My favorite is BBQ pulled pork. I love making it in a slow cooker because it comes out so tender and you have the juice/liquid to pour over the meat. It is one of my top 25 comfort foods, so what better way to test out my new toy than to make pulled pork.

The cookbook has a recipe for Pulled Pork and Apple Cider Sliders. I thought it was an interesting twist on a pulled pork sandwich. I also took the cookbooks suggestion about preparing sweet potato fries to go with it. I followed the cookbooks instructions exactly (well, almost) and it came out great. No complaints in this household.

I went to the grocery store this morning to pick up all the ingredients I would need, as well as stuff for other recipes for later this week. I was eager to start cooking. I really wanted to sear the meat first, since I have that option with the Ninja, but decided to stick to the recipe exactly as it is written. That way I can not only tell all of you about how the Ninja works, but I can share my thoughts and opinions about the recipes in the cookbook.

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Pulled Pork and Apple Cider Sliders Recipe

– 1 boneless pork shoulder roast (3-4 lbs)
– salt
– ground black pepper
– 2 teaspoons paprika
– 1/4 cup spicy brown mustard
– 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
– 3 cloves garlic, minced
– 1 cup apple cider or apple juice
– 1 package slider or mini sandwich buns (12 count)

Season pork with salt, black pepper, and paprika. (The cookbook does not state how much salt or pepper to use, so it really depends on how much you want to use.) Stir mustard, brown sugar, garlic, and cider/juice in the pot. Add pork and turn to coat in mixture.

Pork going into the pot to start cooking.

Pork going into the pot to start cooking.

Set to SLOW COOK HIGH for 5-6 hours (I used a 5 lb pork shoulder roast so I cooked it for 6 1/2 hours.) Cover and cook until pork is fork tender. Try not to lift the lid while you’re cooking because it can add time to your overall cooking time. If you’re like me though, you won’t be able to resist checking on it a few times, especially since the lid isn’t glass. It’s impossible for me to not check on things at least once.

Pork ready to be shredded.

Pork ready to be shredded.

Using two forks, shred pork in the pot. Spread additional mustard on buns if desired. Divide pork mixture among buns and serve.

In the process of shredding pork.

In the process of shredding pork.

Pork after it's been shredded.

Pork after it’s been shredded.

Since I used a bigger roast, I shredded my pork at about 5 1/2 hours, then let it continue cooking in the juice for the last hour. When I assembled my sliders, I poured just a little bit of the juice over the meat on the bun. I think this made a world of difference. Don’t add too much or your bun will get soggy. A little juice will go a long way. I opted not to put mustard on my bun. I just added a dill pickle to my sandwich and I was a happy camper. From what I was told, the sandwiches with the mustard added were quite tasty too. I just wasn’t in a mustard kind of mood.

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I was very pleased with the outcome of this meal. It is easy to make and tasted great. I didn’t have any issues at all. The liquid didn’t evaporate from the pot. The pork was tender and had a nice, light flavor. Since it was a slider, it was easy for my daughter to try to eat. Nothing stuck to the pot, and the pot was a breeze to clean. The unit is pretty straight forward to use. If you’ve used stoves/ovens and slow cookers before, you won’t have any problems using the Ninja. If you’re a beginner, this will be quite easy to understand. I think even my husband could figure out how to use this, and he rarely cooks.

At this point, I would definitely recommend this cooking system to my family and friends. It is a wonderful idea to have a unit that can cook in various ways, and all without heating up your house. No more using multiple pans to cook, and feeling like you may pass out from the heat of the oven. This summer, I plan to use my Ninja so I can avoid using my stove/oven. This is a wonderful product for busy moms who want to be able to prepare simple and easy meals. To make this unit even more appealing is that you can use it to cook healthier meals for your family. Like steam baking a cake and only having to use half the oil. Yes, I said it. Only HALF the oil you would normally use in a cake.

I have four more meals planned for the next few days. I will keep you posted on how they turn out. I’m excited to try out a few more recipes.

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Making a cake for Grandma’s Birthday

Sunday (January 27th) was my mom’s birthday. Last year she told me that she would have liked a red velvet cake, so I decided to make one for her this year. I had a silicone bundt pan that I’ve been meaning to use forever, so I figured I’d make a red velvet bundt cake with a cream cheese filling and drizzle cream cheese frosting on top.

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Kayla was my little helper in the kitchen. As soon as she saw me start getting out the stuff to make the cake, she told me that she needed her ladder. We have a little step ladder that she likes to stand on when she helps me cook. Two of her favorite things to do in the kitchen is help stir things and help use the electric mixer when we’re baking. I explained to her that we were going to make grandma a birthday cake. She didn’t really care why we were going to make a cake, she just wanted to help. I put all the necessary ingredients in the bowl and let her use the mixer. While she did that, I prepared the cream cheese filling. She helped me pour everything into the bundt pan. We put 2/3rds of the batter in the pan, then added the cream cheese filling, and topped it off with the remaining batter. I put the cake in the oven to bake, and my little baker stood pressed against the oven watching the cake bake. I had to bribe her out of the kitchen with an episode of Scooby Doo. Otherwise, I think she would have been happy to stand in the kitchen the entire time. (Have I mentioned that my 26-month-old daughter is currently obsessed with Scooby Doo?) She loves to watch cakes and cookies bake.

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Once the cake was done, I told Kayla that the cake would need to cool before we could add the drizzle topping. She wasn’t happy about this news, but went along with it anyway. I think the most upsetting part was when I had to tell her that we couldn’t eat the cake until the next day…since we made it the night before grandma’s birthday. She looked so sad. She perked up once I had her color a Donald Duck picture for grandma. My mom is a big Donald Duck fan, so it was fitting. Later on, we even made a special birthday card for grandma. Kayla was so proud of herself. It was a nice moment when she got to present everything to grandma and tell her, “Happy Birthday!” I think she was most proud of the cake. My favorite part was when she saw the cake after we had cut into it, and she said, “Aww…the cake is broken!” She was so serious and sad. She cracks me up. I promised we would bake something else this week, so that cheered her up a bit.

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Kayla did a good job helping drizzle the frosting on top of the cake. The only problem was keeping her from licking the spoon until after she was done. I have to admit, that was always one of my favorite parts of helping my mom bake. Licking the spoons and licking the electric mixer utensils. Now that I know my bundt pan works well, maybe I’ll use it more often. Maybe.

My mom had a great birthday, and we all enjoyed the cake.

*** Hopefully, I’ll get a chance to post the recipe for this cake on my other blog, Kayla Kakes. If I do, I will add the recipe on here as well.

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