I sat up late the other night watching sport on the television (bet you never thought you’d hear me say that, Meredith).
For those that don’t know me, I should clarify that I’m not a sporty person, probably because I am not an outdoors person and most sports seem intent on forcing people out into the fresh air. Or perhaps it’s because I’m horribly unco-ordinated and my dislike of sport is rooted in the public humiliation that was a plump unco girl in school sports lessons. Feel free to pull up a chair and psychoanalyse that if you want.
Last weekend, my 10-year-old daughter was able to take part in a coaching session with the Australian Diamonds netball team. She has been playing netball this year for the first time with her school team and has loved it. They were an inexperienced group of girls (only two had played netball before), but they made it to the semi-finals in the local schools competition, which was a great achievement.
When the opportunity came up to spend some time with the Diamonds, my daughter was very excited. Personally, all I could see was the possibility of me being able to avoid having her play in the local comp next year fade slowly from view, but being a loving mother I encouraged her to go along anyway. Gold star for me.
The coaching session was great. There were enough girls in my daughter’s age group to make up two teams and the players from the Diamonds moved around so that all the different team members spent some time with each group of girls. Without fail, the Diamonds players were friendly, encouraging and positive with the younger girls. They smiled and chatted with the girls and seemed genuinely happy to be there.
After the coaching session there was an opportunity to get signatures. My daughter had taken along a netball to get signed and decided to also get the poster from her Diamonds gift bag signed. As we moved along the line of players with the ball and poster, the Diamonds were friendly and smiling, happily posing for photo after photo and finding something encouraging to say to the younger girls as they met them.
I was up Wednesday last night trying to get some work done when I noticed that they were televising a Diamonds game against England. I decided to record the game for my daughter, but ended up watching myself as well (so, not so much work done after all). Having met the players, I found that I was so much more invested in the game. I know my daughter will get a real buzz watching players that she ‘knows’ playing well and winning their game.
Thank you to the Diamonds players who were involved in the Coaching Clinic in Newcastle. My daughter had a fantastic morning and you made a difference to the girls who attended not only with your sporting ability and tips, but with your enthusiasm and friendliness. To show you just how much she enjoyed her day, here is the netball that the team signed. It would seem that she thinks it is quite special:
I’ve been a little serious here of late (once again), so I thought I would lighten the mood by introducing you all to our holiday guest.
The original plan for 6M was that they would have two class pets, two female guinea pigs which were named by the students (Summer and Mojo). Definitely two FEMALE guinea pigs, thus ensuring that there would still be only two guinea pigs by the end of the year.
Because the class has two female guinea pigs, it came as somewhat of a surprise when Summer gave birth to little guinea pig babies. I know what you’re all thinking, but you’re wrong. Mojo wasn’t a boy guinea pig in disguise. How do we know this? Because two weeks later, Mojo had little baby guinea pigs as well. Either these things work differently in guinea pigs than they do in other mammals or (and I’m inclined to think that this is more likely) Summer and Mojo were pregnant when they came to live with 6M.
Because we are the most boring family in the class and never do anything exciting at all in the holidays (apparently), we have Summer visiting us for two weeks. Unfortunately, the increased number of guinea pigs means that there wasn’t a large portable cage for Summer to live in while she was with us, so she was cramped up in a small carry cage (to the right of the new cage in the first photo below).
I’m not inclined to go all misty-eyed over little furry creatures (I’m more the great big gallumphing dog type of person), but even I couldn’t leave her in that tiny little cage for two weeks. So, one trip to the pet store later, we became the owners of a Guinea Pig Palace. Not only does it have more than twice the floor space of her original carry cage, it has a mezzanine level. Seriously.
What I’ve learned about guinea pigs this holidays
- Taking kids with you to a pet store to pick up ‘the basics’ for a temporary pet is a BAD IDEA. You will not come home with the basics. Imitation carrot chew toy, anyone?
- Guinea pigs may be small and cute but they can be disproportionately loud if they are not happy. Who knew that such a small creature could make so much noise?
- If you generally put a few fresh greens in the guinea pig cage when getting everyone else breakfast, expect your guinea pig to go crazy if you forget. See point 2.
- Googling ‘what can guinea pigs eat’ will do your head in. One site says just about everything. One says most things but then adds additional notes about how too much of specific foods will result in kidney problems, liver problems, flatulence and/or diarrhoea. Other sites give very specific food regimes which include the types of expensive fresh fruits and vegetables that I don’t even buy for my children. I thought guinea pigs were supposed to exist on scrappy bits of lettuce and carrot tops.
- 7-year-old boys can believe that it is possible to have meaningful communication with a small furry creature that has no ability whatsoever to change their facial expression. “Look Mum, she just looked straight at me and she thinks that I’m her friend.”
- Buying a Guinea Pig Palace for a temporary pet guinea pig fills your children’s heads with expectations of acquiring a permanent guinea pig. (Should have seen that coming.)
Do your kids have class pets? Has anyone else had a visiting class pet lead to something more permanent?
A random conversation on Twitter this afternoon about passionfruit (started by the ever controversial @AlTait of Life in a Pink Fibro) inspired me to share this family recipe for Passionfruit Slice. The recipe comes from my husband’s Nanna and is actually for a passionfruit tart, although we always make it in slice form for family gatherings.
When my mother-in-law asked what she could bring to my husband’s recent 40th birthday party he didn’t hesitate before requesting this slice. Negotiations about who would get to take home the leftovers went on for some time. It is easy to make and absolutely delicious. Eat as a slice with tea or coffee or add whipped cream, double cream or ice-cream if you are eating it as a dessert.
The slice is in three layers – a basic biscuit base, a creamy condensed milk centre and a passionfruit jelly topping. It works equally as well with tinned or fresh passionfruit. A word of warning – the passionfruit layer does take some time to start to thicken. The first time I made this slice I was starting to wonder if I had done something wrong. Eventually small clear flecks appeared in the custard mix and then suddenly the whole mixture cleared and thickened. Be patient.
Nanna’s Passionfruit Tart
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
1½ cups SR flour (or enough to make it press together into soft dough)
1 tin condensed milk
½ cup lemon juice (use ripe yellow lemons)
2 cups water
1 cup sugar
4 tablespoons custard powder
1 tin passionfruit pulp (or pulp from 6 – 8 passionfruit)
Mix all ingredients together to form soft dough.
Press into slice tin and bake in moderate oven for 10 – 15 minutes.
Remove and allow to cool.
Mix well together.
Spread onto cooled pastry base.
Mix water, sugar and custard powder together in a saucepan.
Stir over low heat until thick and smooth.
Add passionfruit pulp and mix well.
Spread over first filling.
Refrigerate slice until set.
If doubling mixture, use only generous ½ cup of sugar for base.
As part of our cleaning-because-visitors-are-coming frenzy over the long weekend, we (finally) unpacked the table tennis table that we gave the kids for Christmas. That’s right, it has taken us almost 6 months. In our house, we like to unwrap our gifts s-l-o-w-l-y (either that or we are simply chronically disorganised).
The kids loved helping to put the table together and then spent all Sunday afternoon playing. When our guests arrived for a BBQ lunch on Monday, the table quickly became a focus of attention with children and adults having fun challenging each other with lots of laughs all ‘round.
My three children were playing table tennis again this afternoon after school. Their technique leaves a lot to be desired, but they are had a great time and they have already improved quite a bit since the table was put together only two days ago. They aren’t quite as good as they think they are (I think I may have heard one of them mention plans to play ping pong at the Olympics), but they are having fun, they’re active and they weren’t arguing. Sounds like a triple win to me.
I can remember playing table tennis at a friend’s house as a child and in recent years we’ve had lots of fun when we have visited friends with table tennis tables at their homes. I guess in these times of electronic gadgets and complex computer games, it’s kind of nice to have some simple fun. Don’t get me wrong, I love the gadgets too (I’m still waiting for the iPad2 Fairy to visit me) but I think this gift is going to help us create some great memories with family and friends.
Do you play table tennis/ping pong? Do you have Forrest Gump-esque skills or are you usually giggling so hard at your own ineptness that you have very little chance of hitting the ball (like me)?