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Andrew Pollock


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Friday, 31 January 2014

Day 4, Brazilian jiu jitsu, Science Friday and the Lunar New Year

I want Zoe to do one "extra curricular" activity per term this year. Something dance-related, something gymnastics-related and maybe some other form of sport (I'm thinking soccer). My girlfriend and I were wandering through Westfield Carindale on Saturday, and we happened upon a guy from Infinity Martial Arts touting his wares.

I thought I'd suss it out, and they had an introductory offer where the sign-up fee and uniform fee were significantly reduced, and they had a pretty flexible timetable. They were just starting up their East Brisbane location, and the close proximity to home along with the reduced price sealed the deal.

Long-term, I'd like for Zoe to learn Tae Kwon Do, for self-defense, but BJJ seemed as good as anything to get her introduced to the idea of martial arts. The class for 2-4 year olds was billed as "Fun and Fitness 4 Kids" so it's really a combination of listening to the instructor, some basic gymnastics-style stuff and a little bit of martial arts.

We biked over this morning (going up Hawthorne Road is a slog) and got there in about 15 minutes via the direct route. It's in the upstairs of a gym in the middle of an industrial area, but it was pretty easily accessible by bike. They're still waiting on some of the equipment, so the space was a little spartan.

It was just Zoe and I and a mother of two not quite 2 year old twin girls taking a trial class.

First up, we got her uniform, and she looked so cute. There were pants and a jacket and a belt. I'm going to have to video the instructor tying up the belt next week so I can learn how to do it the right way.

The class started with the kids standing on these flat coloured circles ("mushrooms") and effectively playing "Simon Says" ("instructor says") without being caught out. It was a pretty sneaky way of doing a bunch of warm up exercises like rotating the knees and ankles. Zoe did very well, but there were a few that she just point blank refused to do.

Next the instructor set up a bunch of "stations" around the room. The first station involved me crouching in a fetal position with a football and Zoe had to try and tip me over to get the football. That was a load of fun. The next station was a few steps and foam-filled vinyl ramp, and Zoe just had to do a somersault down that. The next station was pretty much the same but taller, and Zoe had to do a "sausage roll" on her side down that. The next station was just a small exercise ball and Zoe had to do some "donkey kicks" on it. The final station involved me waving a couple of cut-off pool noodles at arm's length, and Zoe had to run in covering her head and give me a bear hug. We did a few rotations of these stations. It was heaps of fun.

Next, the instructor got a whole bunch of ball pit balls of different colours, and scattered them over the floor, and put a basket at each end of the room. The kids were then instructed to retrieve specific colours as fast as possible. Zoe started out trying to get as many as possible in her arms before returning to the basket, but the idea was to do it one ball at a time. A lot of running back and forth.

Finally, we did some actual BJJ (I think). It was called the "sleeping crocodile hold" or something like that. I had to lie on my back, and Zoe had to sneak up to me from my side and grapple me with one arm behind my head and the other around my waist and a knee in my side.

I have no interest in Zoe learning mixed martial arts, but this class was so much fun. I was feeling a bit tired this morning before we headed out, but by the end of it I was so pumped. It was just the right combination of daddy/daughter rough and tumble, with a bit of gymnastics and following instruction. I'm pretty certain Zoe enjoyed it. I liked that the instructor stopped for a water break between each activity, so the kids were kept well hydrated throughout.

We took the "scenic route" home, because we had no particular time constraints. It was more like 25 minutes and involved the Norman Park Greenway. I was so glad we went that way. It was a beautiful ride that I didn't know existed. Very indirect, it involved going through Woolloongabba, Coorparoo and Norman Park, around the back of Coorparoo State High School along the side of Norman Creek. It was semi-wetland conditions.The only part that was a bit annoying was where Norman Avenue met Wynnum Road. It was quite steep and the green light didn't last very long.

I had wanted to do story time at Bulimba Library at 10:30am on Fridays, but I'd rather bike home via the Norman Park Greenway instead, because it's a nice ride. I've since decided that I'll just use the story time at the library during wet weather, when we'd be driving to BJJ anyway, and be able to make it to the library in time after class.

I've also got to figure out where I'm going to fit doing some Science into the schedule. Fridays are going to be busy I think.

I managed to get Zoe down for a nap by a bit after 12:30pm today. She was pretty knackered after the class (as was I from biking home) so I let her watch a bit of TV while I prepared lunch. She was funny, she saw how sweaty I was when we got home, and suggested I take a shower while she watch some TV.

I was a bit unprepared for my first Science Friday, though. I'd been considering going to the Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium after BJJ, but I discovered it's closed until February 7 for maintenance and an upgrade, so that cunning plan was thwarted.

I used her nap time to order 365 Science Experiments and 50 Dangerous Things (you Should Let Your Children Do). I should get plenty of inspiration out of those two.

After she woke up, we did the old "vinegar and sodium bicarbonate" trick as our science experiment. I've finally got a use for my Google Labs Founders' Award lab coat. I need to try and find some child-sized safety glasses. The adult ones barely stay on her little nose.

After that, we went for a walk to our local toy store to see if they sold child-sized safety glasses (they didn't) and then Zoe watched a little bit of TV and then we walked to the CityCat to go to Teneriffe to catch a bus to Chinatown.

I couldn't have timed it better if I tried. Just as we got to Chinatown, they started doing a thing with the Chinese dragons, and I hoisted Zoe up on my shoulders so she could watch. I wasn't sure how she was going to take it, with all the noise from the drums and the dragons themselves, but she was enthralled. We watched other acts and then my girlfriend joined us, and we went to a Chinese restaurant for dinner.

I bought Zoe these training chopsticks a while ago, and she's taken to them like a duck to water. I brought them with us so she could use them at the restaurant, and she ate the biggest dinner I've ever seen her eat. After dinner, we caught the tail end of a procession and had some ice cream. We were starting to leave, and there was another dragon, and Zoe was brave enough to go and touch it on her own, for good luck. We then made our way back to the bus.

By the time the bus arrived and got us back to Teneriffe, and a CityCat finally arrived, it was very late, but Zoe was pretty good the whole time. It was probably the latest night she's ever had with me while we've been out on the go, and she only got a bit ratty once we were home. It didn't help that she'd forgotten that she'd put Cowie in a cupboard this morning and we burned some more time tracking her down.

Today was a fantastic (and very full) day. I enjoyed it a lot, and I think Zoe did too. Fortunately, Fridays won't always be this full on.

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