We’ve reached the end of our summer adventure! School is back in session, and the pace of life has started to pick up again. When I look back on my list of cooking challenge ideas for the Ninjas, I giggle a little: Croque En Bouche, Sea Scallops, Souffle…. I had high aspirations. Reality doesn’t always meet our aspirations, does it, now? But overall, I’m pleased with our results, and I learned some things along the way, as I’ll share with you after recounting our final adventure.

First of all, let me tell you that I wanted to do something fresh for our last challenge, a salad perhaps, but as our Ninjas only enjoy their leafy greens blended up in a smoothie, I figured it wouldn’t go over so well. About the time that we were planning our final mission, Sammi over at Grounded and Surrounded posted the prettiest little fruit salad you ever did see. You need to check it out to fully appreciate the rest of our story. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

Did you see? Did you see the perfect little watermelon stars and the melon flowers? Couldn’t you just taste the plump juicy blueberries? I figured that this would be a big hit in our family, since we all adore fresh fruit.

That’s when the dreams began…. no joke, I actually dreamt about this fruit salad. Happy dreams? Unfortunately, no. In the dream I was using my tiny cookie cutters (yes, I really have them) and trying to cut these beautiful shapes except they were all coming out wonky. The star only had four points, the flowers were crooked, etc. Did I heed this warning from beyond? No, I did not. I dismissed it as start-of-a-new-school-year anxiety and proceeded with the plan.

Confession time… I never buy watermelon. I hate the mess it makes when you cut it, I never know how to pick a good one, and where in the world do you store it?! My poor children are terribly deprived and really only get watermelon at picnics and church potlucks. (Or Grandma’s… always at Grandma’s.) But I was bound and determined for us to make this beautiful salad, so I stepped out of my comfort zone and brought home a watermelon. Upon cutting a nice, even slice to create a perfect canvas for my beautiful little star cutters, the entire middle of the watermelon flopped out on the counter. It was so gooey and mushy on the inside it was inedible. This, folks, is why I don’t buy watermelon. I will head right back into that comfort zone, thank you.

So now what? We needed something fresh to go with our Thai Chicken Satay dinner. We also needed a task for the Ninjas to tackle. Friends, I, frankly, am done. We are onto new things this fall, and I wasn’t about to go searching for a new recipe, so I decided to raise that white flag then and there. We would make that fruit salad with whatever we had on hand.

Mark used his “up and over, soldier” knife skills to cut all the grapes in half.


Then, into a big bowl went: a jar of pineapple, all the grapes, a carton of raspberries, and a carton of blueberries. Done, y’all, done.


Now I will share with you the wisdom I gleaned from this summer’s adventure: cooking with kids can be great, but you need to let it come naturally. If you’re forcing them to sit down and cook with you, it will be more of a punishment than a lesson. Let them want to help! If you make it fun, they’ll think it is fun, too. Also, when they ask to help, let them! And don’t worry about things not being as perfect as you would do them. Mark is a legitimate help to me now in the kitchen – I can say, “Mark, can you peel and chop these potatoes while mom pounds out the chicken?” And he will do a fantastic job. Chase is still learning, but I can see his skills improving all the time.

And as for my adventure in blogging? It was fun, but more work than I had anticipated! I like writing, but I don’t like HAVING to write. I will leave blogging in the capable hands of others for now.

Thank you SO much for joining us on this adventure. It was such an encouragement to us to get your likes and comments. Chase even said, “Mom, we’re famous now, right?” 

Much love to you and yours as you head into the fall. May your lives be filled with peace, grace, and lots of pumpkin-flavored desserts.

-The Ninjas and their Mom


4 thoughts on “The Ninjas’ Last (Not-So-Much) Challenge

  1. Yes, Chase, you are famous now!
    I enjoyed following your blog, and it looks as though you all had a good time, and you certainly eat healthy. Sorry about your luck with watermelon; it is a gift from God in this house, and certainly one of your Grandma’s favorites. But I understand, as I have not had a good peach in decades. Bad fruit is very frustrating.
    Have a wonderful school year, you wonderful boys!


  2. Are you trying to wreck my day, girlfriend?! haha I have enjoyed your blog SO much, I hope you will blog again in the future…or write on mine???

    The watermelon disaster….ugghhh, I am so sorry about that. Total bummer that it was rotten in the middle. Boo! Here are some useful tips as I hope you will give watermelon another chance. I do believe it is one of my favorite fruits 🙂 https://www.facebook.com/BarnesHeartlandFoods/posts/1835356910026231

    And last, but not least, thank you times a million for the shout out in your post. If you ever come to visit, I will make you that delicious fruit salad, stars and all 😉


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