During my children’s school years, I subscribed them to a variety of magazines and book clubs. My daughter’s favourite was The Magic School Bus club.
Such excitment when every few weeks her package arrived containing all sorts of goodies: a glossy book filled with the latest adventures of Ms Frizzle and her students, a colouring activity or two, and of course a science experiment usually requiring bicarbonte of soda and red food colouring.
I also loved exploring the educational section of toy shops, always on the look out for fun-filled family activities, although not much beats Lego as far I’m concerned. But that’s another post.
We had a great deal of fun, but we also had our fair share of disasters.
Take the Butterfly Garden for instance. What a wonderful idea I thought, as I gift-wrapped it for my six year old Eldest Son. We can watch beautiful butterflies burst forth from their cocoons and fly happily off into the great outdoors.
Following all the instructions, things started off well, but when it came time for them to burst forth, it was not a pretty sight. Several of the Painted Lady Butterflies looked malformed, leaving us to peer into the garden and for me to answer questions like “Why is that butterfly stuck in its cocoon Mummy?” And “Why is that one missing one wing?”
Thankfully, enough butterflies hatched normally to make it an overall happy experience.
Not to be undaunted, I then bought the kids an Ant Farm. We couldn’t wait to watch the ants tunnel their ‘city’ in the sand, while we observed through the perspex walls of their ant home. Again, we followed the instructions, making sure to give the ants sugar-water, only to find them a few days later shrivelled to a crisp. So much for the Ant Farm.
But the biggest disaster by far involved quail eggs. Intrigued by an advertisement in the back of Boy’s Life magazine urging Boy Scouts everywhere to ‘hatch baby quails in the comfort of your own home’, I, as usual, relented. We had free-range chickens at the time, so I thought why the heck not?
We sent off for the kit which included an incubator of sorts, an extremely precise set of instructions and the coupon with which to send off for said quail eggs. The eggs arrived in a box through the post, yet the first instruction very strictly advised:
‘KEEP THE QUAIL EGGS STILL AT ALL TIMES UNLESS TURNING AS DIRECTED.’
We monitored the temperature, turned the eggs as directed, and waited. When hatching day came and went, and the next and the next after that, I took a closer look by cracking open one of the eggs, only to confirm what I already suspected: not only was it empty of any sign of a baby quail, but the contents were rotten.
Time to bring out the Lego.
But, as we all know, life is full of surprises. Twenty-something years later and a few months ago, my daughter added to her menagerie a pair of Chinese Button Quails.
Notoriously bad at breeding, she didn’t expect them to do so, but thanks to her excellent farming skills, not only did they breed but ‘Cookie’ (Mummy) brooded for the given 16 days and look what happened:
These are the first two, held in my daughter’s hand one hour after they hatched. Aren’t they adorable? There are six altogether:
Daddy – ‘Mooncake’ – had to be separated at first, but now they are all back together in their perfect quail home, one big happy family. At night, the parents settle down and the babies sleeps around and on them.
Quite what we’ll do with them when grown I have no idea, but for now we’ll enjoy their feathery-humbug-uber-cuteness.
Quails at last. Who would have thought?
‘Post a photo each day for five consecutive days and attach a story to the photo. It can be fiction or non-fiction, a poem or a short paragraph and each day nominate another blogger for the challenge.’
(I can’t manage the consecutive bit, but they will continue next week).
Just to mention too, and keeping with the theme of this post, for parents with school-age children looking for a resource guide to learning with lots of fun during the school holidays, I highly recommend Norah’s excellent post here.
Finally, I nominate lovely blogging pal Jenny over at Characters From The Kitchen for the challenge. I can’t wait to read her stories. Coincidentally, when linking to her blog, I noticed that today’s post is about, of all things, the amazing merits of Lego. Seems we are once again on the same wavelength. Thanks Jenny for taking part!