Monday, 30 April 2012

How To Tell You’re Living With A Scientist

GrumpyDaddy and I met when we were both working as scientists. I have ‘temporarily’ (with seemingly increasing permanence) put my career on hold to look after the 3 troubles…..but GrumpyDaddy is still very much highly involved in science and he doesn’t take his metaphorical lab coat off the moment he leaves the lab…oh no, our house has become a mere annex to his lab….

…let be show you some of the tell-tale signs….

  1. Extremely questionable things stored in the freezer
In my house you need to be very wary when you undertake the seemingly innocuous task of removing meat from the freezer for dinner. Careful inspection may reveal that what you are about to cook for dinner may not be 5-star mince from Coles…but…a bulk pack of frozen blood worms for feeding GrumpyDaddy’s collection of  Australian native fish and other creatures.

Also, lurking in the back of our freezer are  many bizarre species of fish purchased from the net catch at the local markets…never have I seen uglier, smellier fish in my entire life…these fish are not to be eaten for dinner…by anything!!

  1. My nail scissors and tweezers go missing from my drawer.
…I then discover them in the kitchen….they have been used for some bizarre dissection ritual on the unthinkably stinky fish…scales and bits of fish fin, still stuck to the blades……never get a hang-nail whilst visiting our house!.....

  1. Highly original décor
Our book shelf is decorated with a vivid display of creatures collected around our garden and from many field trips. The locations of said field trips are usually smelly, muddy, boggy drains that contain ‘great’ scientific specimens….just so you know, that strange man splashing in the drain with a net has nothing  to do with  us….. and that is not me trying to hide in the car………

  1. A room crawling with bizarre coloured beetles
I walked into the toy room to find every surface crawling with bizarre looking bugs. Apparently, GrunpyDaddy had collected them from the tomato plants and wanted to take them to work for analysis….he’s humanely left the lid off so they could breathe/escape and run rampant around the house (I have now moved them outside!).

  1. having the companionship of a blue tongue lizard.
When I’m typing away on my blog in peace and quiet in the  middle of the night, I am not alone….there are all manner of life forms keeping me company, kept in tanks through the house. Even though I am a seasoned campaigner, their sudden movements, hisses, splashes, and scratching sounds can sometimes scare the bejeebas out of me!

Stripey,  our pet blue-tongue

  1. Finding snails everywhere
Stripy the blue-tongue likes to crunch on snails…and my kids delight on scouring the garden for them. One day my daughter decided to keep her catch of snails warm for him by keeping the box of snails under her pillow!! ....visitors to our house will be excitedly invited to watch the lizard’s party trick of snail crushing, sucking and swallowing….

I am often finding snails crawling around the walls, munching on the pages of my beloved books. It is a little known fact that snails are seasoned escape artists who make a ‘run’ for it in the middle of the night when they figure out their fate

  1. You find scary things on your computer after your children have been using it.
Now, in most families, scary things may consist of “One Direction” fan pages and the like…but not in our house…this is what I found on my computer after my 9 year old daughter had been using it.

Blue poison dart frog
The blue poison dart frog only lives in
South America. The blue poison dart frogs poison
is so toxic that if you get poisoned by one you won’t
be able  to breath and you will die.                                                   

tomato frog
Tomato frogs are frogs that are round like tomatoes. They live only in Madagascar and burrow in the ground.  They are not poisonous but can ooze yucky sticky white mucus

  Yellow banded poison dart frog
Yellow banded poison dart frogs are found in the rainforests of northern South America. The poison is thought to come from beetles that the frogs eat.

Perhaps being a Scientist is genetic……oh dear….

So now you are aware of the subtle, tell-tales signs that indicate that a person has the great pleasure of living with a scientist…, who wants to come and visit…


For this 'tongue in cheek' Tuesday post...I'm linking up with #TeamIBOT at Diary of a SHAM  for I blog on Tuesday...pop over and read some terrific blog posts!

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Active Kids Weekend: Growing Up With Soccer

This weekend my 9 year-old daughter Flash, had her first soccer practise for the 2012 season. I watched Flash and her team mates confidently take to the field as if they owned it. They ran around completing their drills. They played games of one-on-one and practised shooting, dribbling and tackling. The team are getting better at positional play and are starting to really play interesting and competitive games.

It dawned on me that this is Flash's 6th year in soccer. She started as a four year old  in the pee-wee's. I started to reflect on those 'good old days' of the pee-wee's and how much the kids have learnt and improved.....
 First ever soccer game  

   As a big 9 year old!

   ......The kids would move around the field in a little pack with the ball stuck in the middle. Sometimes the kids would not even notice the ball as they were more interested in the mud puddles, the clouds in the sky or a blade of grass.

Playing in the mud....what soccer ball??

The most common instruction given to the players by the coaches was to correct the direction in which they should be kicking the ball!

This way!

You may be wondering what is the point of starting kids so young in soccer. Well, with the help of the wonderfully patient coaches and weekly repetition the little ones just learnt so much. There was such an incredible difference between the first game of the season and the last!

The kids began to understand the fundamentals of the game (and slowly got better at kicking the ball in the right direction!). They were taught simple skills such as passing and dribbling. The coaches even instilled in the children the importance of shaking hands at the end of the game...the basis of good sportsmanship.

Learning the fundamental skills of soccer was not the only benefit to the kids from pee wees. The kids enjoyed being out and chasing the ball. The kids were getting fresh air and exercise. They even learnt about the importance of regular water and fruit breaks. ....and they looked so cute in their little uniforms :)

Of course everyone seems to have stories of horror sports parents and coaches. But my experiences with Pee wee soccer was very positive. both the coaches and parents were encouraging and supportive.

 I remember that my daughter was scared and nervous the first time she played. She was not the only one. There were quite a few tears on that first morning, gentle encouragement was all that was needed to get the little ones smiling again! But as the weeks progressed the kids became more skilled and confident....the sheer thrill of scoring their first goal was such a confidence builder (the kids had no idea their scoring opportunities were being surreptitiously set up by the coaches... so every child had a turn).


I would really recommend early soccer programs such as pee wees as a great introduction into sport. It is easily done in retrospect, but I think it's important for parents not to have their expectations set too high at the beginning of the season. With children so young sometimes a little encouragement and persistence is required. However, trust your instincts and if you know your child really doesn't enjoy the experience, it may be better to stop and try again when they are a little older.

Flash ended up have a wonderful soccer season with her little friend
One of the aims I have for this SportyMummy blog is to create a community of parents interested in sport and a healthy lifestyle for their children.

If your kids have participated in a sport or a fun energetic activity this week, I'd love to hear about it in the comments. You can also comment on the SportyMummy Facebook page. If you have written a blog post about a sport or activity your children have participated in this week, you can add it to the linky tool at the end of this post. It is my hope to create a supportive community that will also motivate others to get involved with an active lifestyle.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Go Fly a Home Made Kite!

In the spirit of ‘Winnie The Pooh’, yesterday was definitely Winds-day at our house. So,  I thought that it was the perfect day to embark on some aeronautic engineering with the kids.

My kids and I have been kite flying many times using commercially purchased kites and it’s a lot of fun. When I was a kid, we couldn’t just go to the shop and just purchase a kite…it was a different, more frugal time and we lived a long way from a department store! But I always loved flying kites as a child and I have fond memories of trying to construct my own with all the other barefooted kids in the street …even using a plastic bag with string tied around the handles…(times HAVE changed…you can’t just get plastic shopping bags in Canberra anymore!)

With the help of my assistant, Dr Google, I researched the internet for the best home made kite. I came across this wonderful kite that promised to be the best home made kite EVER…and it was simple, all it required was…

  1. a piece of A4 printer paper
  2. sticky tape
  3. a kebab stick
  4. a piece of ribbon, or similar for a tail
  5. string
  6. a toilet paper roll (Well, OK, this is my contribution to the science of aeronautics…I thought the toilet paper roll would make a good kite spool…and it did!)
  7. if you try the kite at home, reinforce the string hole with sticky tape before you hole punch. I also suggest reinforcing  the nose of the kite with tape too, as this is the first part to get ripped.

You can find the video tutorial and more information about this amazing kite here

It really took no time at all to make 3 kites and they were out the door like a shot…bolting up and down the road to get that kite flying. It took us a little time but were soon able to get the kites flying well without even running up and down the hill….When I was flying my kite, I just couldn’t keep the smile off my face…gosh it felt good to see that kite sailing above me in the breeze. I can’t really explain why.... It just felt really good!

After our successful kite flying mission we decided in that universally human way to make our kites ‘bigger’ and ‘better’. First I tried a piece of small newspaper. It worked a dream…the weak spots had to be reinforced with sticky tape but the lighter larger kite caught the wind better and flew for longer. I have to say we were quite chuffed with this stroke of engineering brilliance!

Buoyed by or success the kids excitedly begged

 “…lets make a bigger one mum!!...”

So we used a large piece of newspaper. But sadly, I think we reached our limit. The wind keep causing the kite to fold in on it’s self and come crashing to the ground….well, even the best scientists have failed experiments right??

OK, so we might have taken things a little too far!

These kites were a fantastic school holiday activity and the whole deign and appraisal stage of the project was just as much fun as the actual kite flying….

…so what are you waiting for???....Go fly a kite!

Today I'm sharing our Aeronautic engineering for the last time and with Glow and I'm also sharing for flash blog friday over at Twinkle in the Eye. Come and see some great blogs!!!


Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Thankful for a Perfect Pajama Day

There is an odd game that people play in Canberra. It’s called  “….Try not to put your heater on until ANZAC day….” Well, on the day before ANZAC day,  I can report that the heater was defiantly on…(it may have even  been on a few times before, shhhh don’t tell anyone around here J)

Usually it is pretty hectic around the Sporty household with work , school and then after school activities of swim squad, gymnastics and soccer…then there is home work X 3, choir, piano practice……

But, thankfully we are still in our school holidays and I have been enjoying the relaxed mornings without the getting ready for school rush routine. Outside the weather was  bleak. Cold wind, rain…Brrrrr. So we rugged up…still in our PJs and watched Puss n Boots…well the kids watched Puss….I listened to his voice *sigh*

After the movie The kids and I were relaxed and happy (again, *sigh*), so I thought I’d treat them by going out to get some lunch….but they didn’t want to go! They just wanted to stay at home and relax…this is when I new it was serious…because my kids love to eat!

Still in Pjs, We stayed in and cooked up some piping hot macaroni and cheese instead…and when that wasn’t enough we made gingerbread men as well….the smell of ginger wafting through the house more than made up for the icy wind beating on the windows and sneaking in under the windows and doors.

The kids stayed in the pajamas all day…and it was surprisingly such a lovely day. Usually cabin fever sets in and the kids quickly get board and start to fight and  bicker. Usually I have to get  me them out of the house to preserve what sanity I have left!  But thankfully, the planets must have been aligned because they played together, re-discovered old toys and had an absolute ball.

Relaxation..... swimmer style....with flippers!

I’m not originally from Canberra, I came to this city for University and after 20 years I’m still not used to the cold. Usually I view the start of winter with an impending sense of doom and gloom. But on this day I was actually thankful for the icy weather. I’m thankful the cold had given us a fine excuse for kicking back in our PJ’s and shirk the usual grind of our domestic routine and responsibility. I am thankful we have had this opportunity to spend some lovely time together and recharge before the hectic routine resumes next week.

The kids were so excited to be in the pajamas all day. If you are wondering if I hung out in my pajamas as well…

…Hell no!!…

I got changed a few minutes before Grumpy day arrived home from work….

….Well, I didn’t want him to think that I’d been lazing around in my pajamas all day!

Sharing over at the amazing Kate Says stuff for thankful Thursday. Kate and some other bloggers are creating a wonderful community called 'Autism: In Our Own Words' as a resource and support for parents of children on the autism spectrum. Pop over to Kate's and have a look!

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Girl vs Wild

Over Easter, the men of the Sporty Clan, and my daughter Flash, set of on an intrepid expedition to the high country in search of the ever elusive fresh water trout........I bet the levels of testosterone, posing, boasting, scratching and grunting were high...but guess who came away with the fish?

The photos were taken on Flash's iPod...the boys didn't pack a camera.......

*no urine was drunk in the filming of this Wordless Wednesday post (thanks Bear Grylls!!)

For Wordless Wednesday I'm joining in with  My Little Drummer Boys, Sakura Haruka and Tina's pic story. and for the first time with Twinkle In The Eye. Pop over and see some great Wordless Wednesday photos!

My Little Drummer Boys

Monday, 23 April 2012

More annoying than an indoor play center

Well, I think I’ve done it! I’ve found a place more annoying than an indoor play center. A place with more noise, more unsupervised screaming children. A venue of  impending dread when it comes to every party invitation brought home. A place that I am more relived to leave than any other……

…You must be asking ..What is this hellish location? What could possibly be worse than smelly unsanitary play equipment, smeared by endless nappied bottoms and sticky fingers…. not to mention what is lurking at the bottom of the ball pit….a place where in a ‘Lord Of The Fly’s’ way children appear to push, hit pull hair, bite, stab others with forks (OK I’m exaggerating a little here…I hope!)

In a way, I’ve almost come to like indoor play centers now…they are tame. In days gone by I would be the mum sliding on the slides and playing in the ball pit with my toddlers…squeezing through tight tunnels and jamming myself into impossible locations (often whilst pregnant) to retrieve a crying distraught child…I would be the one needing a nap in the afternoons….

….nowadays, my kids are older and I can almost drink a coffee in peace, and maybe even read a few paragraphs of a book…(I send my eldest child in to the fray to defend the youngest…hee hee hee).

So, what could be worse than an indoor play center???......

A games center….

A Games center has recently opened in our part of town. It contains seemingly hundreds of arcade games and side-show games (think pizza planet in toy story). It also has a dodgem car track, a lazer- tag gaming maze, even a few lanes of 10-pin bowling!
Sounds fun doesn’t it?.......

Now factor in the most awful doof-doof-doof music at a volume that is impossible to hear yourself think, let alone hear the voice of your child! The center is swarming with hundreds of excited kids trying to win it ‘big’ on the games machines…many of which seem to be shooting games that I really really dislike!  It is dark and stuffy and there are flashing lights everywhere…talk about over-stimulation! Everything costs so much money…you could easily go though $50-100 with a couple of kids and be left with a few trinkets as ‘prizes’. In my opinion these places are way worse than those tame indoor play centers….

You may well be asking why do I go to these places at all…why put myself through the pain and frustration….well, I do it for my kids. Just like when they were toddlers at the play center, their happy red smiley faces…hair stuck to their foreheads with sweat…the excitement of anticipation of being taken to one of these places and their sheer joy is hard to begrudge…so like thousands of other parent, I dutifully take my kids…once to play centers…now to games centers.

Because the games center is my kids favorite place at the moment, I took my niece and nephew there along with their unsuspecting parents…Hee hee!

You can see in the pictures the kids had an absolutely fantastic time…us parents…not so much. I think they headed off in their car, back to county town Australia, thankful to be diving far far away from the doof-doof of the games center…

I’m just glad that I won't be teaching my nephew how to drive!!

Sharing today over at Diary of a SAHM for #TeamIBOT....Have a great Tuesday and pop over to read some awesome blog posts!

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Active Kids Weekend: Some Local History on Earth Day

A post formally known as Youth Sports Weekend*

This morning we woke to very ordinary weather. It was cold, heavily overcast and drizzling with rain. We started off enjoying a lazy Sunday of reading the papers and lounging around in our pajamas.

But there is only so long before cabin fever set in…..We really needed to get out of that house and get some fresh air! Luckily, by about 3pm the sun began to peak out from behind the clouds…. so we headed out to enjoy the last hours of sunshine…..But what could we do??

Well, just next to our suburb there is a little waking track that I have driven past countless times. Today, as a way to celebrate earth day, I thought it would be lovely to take the family on a walk in the beautiful autumn leaves.

I was surprised to discover that the site of the walk was actually an old village called Palmerville…and is actually the namesake for the suburb I now live in. Throughout the walk, the track was signposted with interesting little local stories

I guess this is why the autumn colours were so picturesque as the early settlers had planted many deciduous trees. There was even a gigantic bay tree and we guessed that’s where an old kitchen must have been! The kids just loved collecting acorns.

There is a new suburb being built just beside us called Crace. Much to the somewhat morbid fascination of my children, the signs described the fate of poor old Mr Crace. Apparently, he was found floating in this very creek after flash flooding from a severe storm…..The things you discover!!

Our family really enjoyed our walk…the kids even enjoyed learning about the history of the local area that was described on the signs.

 I think it gave them a sense of place and perspective to know that only 100 years previous there was an entire settlement on this very spot….but now nothing remains save for the trees they had planted.

It gave us parents a great opportunity to talk  to the kids about how important it is to look after the earth and preserve it’s beauty for future generations.

*Sports wise,  we are in a bit of  ‘in between time’ at the moment as it is the middle weekend of the autumn school holidays here in the ACT.  The little athletics and summer season of swimming is over for the year. The winter short-course swimming season, the soccer season and school sports  has yet to start.

But having an active lifestyle is much more than organized sports.

Getting out and going for a walk, exploring nature, finding the beauty in ordinary things, playing at a park or in the back yard, and the list goes on. These are all ways to participate in an active and healthy lifestyle.

…’s truly amazing what you can discover and learn…..

So, I have decided to rename my little weekly meme to…..

‘Active Kids Weekend’.

I will often be posting about Youth Sports. However, I will also be posting about having an active lifestyle outside of youth sports.

If your family has participated in a youth sport or in an different activity such as a nature walk, going to the beach and horse back riding are just a few examples. You could tell me about them in the comments,  or on my Facebook page….I’d just love to hear them. If you write a blog post about your active weekend, you could even add it to the linky tool at the bottom of the page. Together, the posts could serve to motivate other families to enjoy an active lifestyle. Wouldn’t that be great!

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Yummy, Warming, Slow Cooker Toppings

It’s that time of year again in Australia….the days are getting shorter, the leaves are turning and the creeping chill of the overcast days can’t quite be managed by wearing a jumper (by jumper, I mean sweater ;)). This is the time of year when the wonderful fragrant and warming meals from the slow cooker really come into their own!

I have written about my love affair with our slow cooker before and how I credit it as having a big role in my recent weight loss….

…Since it’s time to bring out the slow cooker again I though I'd share some great ideas for making the meals even more delicious.

I just love these recipes because they remind me of my Grandmas cooking. She passed away when I was only 5 years old, but I remember loving her more than anything. I remember the wonderful smells of her kitchen and I remember just loving Grandmas special dumplings. I know these recipes are a little old-fashioned now but my family just loves them. I think it’s time to bring them back into fashion!

  1. Herb and cheese dumplings in the oven

These are by far my favorite slow cooker topping. You need to transfer the your cooked casserole into a oven proof dish….but baking the dumplings in the oven creates a gorgeous brown crust. The soft scone like dumplings soak up the slow cooked juices….. And just transports you to that happy place…..

2 cups self-raising flour
60g chilled butter, chopped
1 tbs chopped fresh chives
2 tbs chopped fresh continental parsley
¾ cup grated cheese
½ cup milk
1 egg lightly whisked

Place flour in a bowl and use your fingertips to rub the bitter into the flour until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the chives, parsley ½ cup cheese. Pour in the egg and milk and use a knife with a chopping motion until the mixture is evenly incorporated and holds together. Transfer your slow cooked meal into a large casserole dish. Roll the dough into golf ball sized dumplings and arrange around the top of the casserole dish. Sprinkle the dumplings with the left over cheese and cook at 200degreed Celsius for 25 minutes

  1. Dumplings straight in the cooker

These dumplings are much softer than the oven dumplings and are really easy to add just to the top of the slow cooker.

85 g self-raising flour
25g butter
Fresh herbs e.g. chopped flat leaved parsley, chives or rosemary
Salt and pepper to taste
50ml milk

Combine ingredients in a large bowl. Roll into balls (about the size of golf balls)  with floured fingers. Arrange on the top of your slow cooker stew. Cook for 40mim/hr on high until dumplings are cooked through.

  1. Sponge topping

This recipe is from Grumpy Daddy’s mum. The kids grandma makes slow cooker meals extra special by topping them with this delicious light topping….and any recipe that asks for a ‘well’ in the center makes me feel all nostalgic and must be good…right?!

1 cup plain flour
½ teaspoon salt
2 eggs (separated)
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons melted butter

Sift flour and salt into large bowl and make a well in the center
Beat the yolks with the milk and pour into the flour
Add the melted butter and stir until smooth
Beat the eggs whites until stiff and fold into the mixture
Add to the slow cooker and cook for 2 – 2 ½ hours on high with the lit tilted just a little.

  1. Puff pastry pies

My kids just love the concept of a ‘pie’ They will ravenously devour chicken hot pot or a beef or lamb stew presented this way

Transfer slow cooked stew to one large casserole dish or smaller individual ramekins. Top with a piece of shop bought puff pastry. Cut a cross in the middle and fold back the pastry a little to let the air escape. Brush the puff pastry lightly with milk. Bake at 180 degrees until the pastry is crisp and golden brown.

You can use these topping with your favorite slow cooked meals….this is one of my favorites….or you can try some of my others in the slow cooker tab on my blog header.

The perfect fragrant slow cooked cinnamon beef

500g gravy beef cut into 3cm cubes
2 brown onions chopped
2 carrots chopped
2 sticks celery chopped
2 bay leaves
4 garlic cloves finely chopped
1 can tomatoes
½ cup red wine
1 cup chicken or beef stock
1 cinnamon stick (or 1 teaspoon cinnamon)
1 sweet potato chopped into 3 cm pieces
Salt and pepper to taste

½ cup frozen peas

Combine all ingredients into a slow cooker and cook on low for about 8 hours, stir in frozen peas ½ hour before required

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Rollerblading: A Parenting Dream

A long, long time ago (in a galaxy far, far away) I had a boyfriend who had an 8 year old daughter. On his week-ends with her, one of their favorite things was to go rollerblading (in-line skating) around the lake…..well, it was the late 1990’s and rollerblades were almost trendy…almost!)

She would have so much fun skating with her dad and me. She had big rosy red cheeks and such a beautiful smile. I think it really bought the two of them closer together.

The relationship ended a long, long time ago, but I have often thought, that when I have a child, I’d love to take them rollerblading around the lake too.

I know that other mums dream of taking their little girls shopping, doing their hair and make up, cuddling with them in bed and sharing songs and stories. I dreamed of these things too (well....maybe the shopping, hair and make up not so much :). It’s been a long time coming, but my parenting dream has been fulfilled!

My 7 year-old daughter, Muscles and I set off around the local lake on our rollerblades. The blades were a Christmas present and she has been slowly building up confidence skating around on our driveway. She was a little hesitant at first and held my hand in a ‘death-like grip’. Every small hill was met with trepidation, ever bump was thoroughly examined and cautiously navigated……

……But, little by little her confidence began to build as we started to skate faster and more fluidly. I love the feeling of skating, the motion, speed and freedom. I could see by the smile on her face and the look in her eyes that she loved it too! We skated around the lake, surrounded by the reflection of the pale blue autumn sky. The trees have just started to turn yellow and they looked simply stunning glowing in the sunlight.

I think she really felt special too. We got to spend some wonderful time together, just the two of us. Other kids would point and say “….look dad, those skates are so cool!...”. I took my camera (of course!) and she loved posing for photographs…basking in 100% attention….and flattery from her adoring Mum, who thinks she is so beautiful, inside and out!

So today I am thankful for my brave little skater girl…..Muscles. I am so thankful for the wonderful opportunity of sharing this fantastic experience with her. I am extremely and forever thankful for my three amazing kids but I am thankful that I have had the chance to spend some one-on-one time with my little girl.

For Thankful Thursday I'm sharing with Kate Says Stuff. I just love to sit back and take stock of what I am thankful for....It really makes those niggly little unimportant problems fade right into the background......What are you thankful for today?

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Wordless Wednesday: My Daughter's New Love

....well, it seems we have entered 'that' phase, common to girls all over the world


Today I'm sharing Wordless Wednesday at My Little Drummer Boys, Sakura Haruka and Tina's pic story. Pop over and see some great Wordless Wednesday photos!

My Little Drummer Boys