homeschooling, parenting

Interactive Fun at PlayLab Cebu

Our family spent about two years living in Cebu because of my husband’s work. Although it’s been about four years since we moved back to Luzon, Cebu will always be close to our hearts.

We jump at the chance to visit whenever we can. Even H, who was barely three when we left, gets giddy with excitement. Cebu is still home to her.

Fortunately, we were able to make the trip recently. We stayed at Summit Hotel, a relatively new location for this established hotel chain. The hotel itself wasn’t anything special and it featured a disturbing trend — doorless bathrooms! Why? Although the shower and toilet stalls had cubicle doors, I would still rather have a real one than I can close behind me.

But, whatever weird taste the room design left in my mouth was negated by the fact that Summit was right beside PlayLab,  Touted as the first digital playground in the Philippines, it features 14 exhibits where children can use technology in interactive and creative ways.

The first thing you see when you enter is this giant screen with lights. The lights react to your movements. This must have entertained the kids for a whole hour.

In this activity, you transform into different animals. I think the animals are based off the animals in the Chinese calendar. H was obviously ticked at the thought of being an ox.

R is trying to target the trash with a ball. The trash is supposed to explode in a cloud of bubbles, but he wasn’t strong enough to throw it with enough force. He tried to remedy that to no avail. His frustration was palpable.

A lot of the exhibits had the same concept. Design something and then watch it on a screen. Here, we designed butterflies. They also had one where you can build tangram rockets and launch it into space. In another exhibit, you can scan pictures of animals you color and they run around a forest.

The was R scrambles to try to catch up with his sister cracks me up.

The kids obviously had a grand time. They liked it so much that we returned the following day. Although since that was a Saturday the place was packed. We didn’t get to enjoy the exhibits as much. Friendly advice: if you’re going to go, better go on a weekday when the crowds are more manageable.

PlayLab Cebu is open daily from 10am to 9pm at The Greens, Level 1, Robinsons Galleria Cebu. Entrance fees are P200 per person for two hours during weekdays and P250 per person for two hours on weekends.

 

 

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parenting

Grass Hunting (Part 1)

One of the first things people learn about the Philippines is that we are an agricultural country. As a student, I remember memorizing the main crop products of each region. Bicol grew abaca and Bacolod was known for sugar cane. When in doubt, you can always say copra since those are grown everywhere. In short, land is our lifeline. Filipinos should love earth and soil and plants.

But, the cities are starved when it comes to green, living spaces. We live in a condo and we are about five minutes away from a mall in every direction. When it comes to parks though? Good luck with that.

Lately, I’ve been on a mission to find places for them to experience nature. I’ve set the bar pretty low. I’m not looking for wildlife parks or forests. I just want a place where they can run without mom yelling at them to slow down lest they hit their heads in the concrete.

Our first stop was the park at The Ayala Triangle in Makati. It’s close enough to our place, especially on a Sunday when traffic is more forgiving. Parking is easy, because there’s paid parking right beside it. Entrance is technically free, but there are so many food options it’s almost impossible to walk away without buying anything.

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The grounds are well-maintained. But, pets are allowed in the area so you have to be mindful not to step on dog/cat poop.

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Lots of space for running and dancing. Security was also pretty tight. There were several guards stationed at the park and they were quite vigilant.

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Large trees mean that there are lots of interesting things to fixate on like sticks.

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I love seeing them come alive when they have space to run. Seeing them curious and carefree makes me want to pick up a sign and lead a rally, “Less malls, more parks!”

food

“Ow, you’re squishing me!” Bento

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What is it about kids that they are programmed to be picky eaters? My daughter dislikes egg yolks, milk, chicken, and carrots. My son dislikes everything except doughnuts and ramen.

One trick that I use to make them eat better is the Do As I Say rule. Usually, this involves telling them the story of how the Pharaoh was cursed by God with 10 plagues because he kept on disobeying.

But, I want the kids to have pleasant memories of mealtimes. They should have a positive relationship with food. Not associate it with rivers of blood.

So I make these little bento lunches. It’s cute so they’re interested. My daughter makes up a whole scenario where the faces are going to a party inside her tummy. My son roars like a dinosaur sometimes; other times he makes up dialogue like, “please don’t eat me.” Then he gobbles them up.

For this, I just shaped rice into balls and added nori for the eyes. I have a puncher to make it easier, although scissors work just as well. The rice comes with humba, a vinegar and soy sauce pork stew, and sauteed vegetables.

It’s not as complicated as it looks, but it does take some time to assemble. Say, 30 minutes? But, it sure beats having to make angry faces just to make the kids finish their lunch.

 

 

parenting

How to Have Time for Yourself When You Have Kids

I love my kids, but sometimes I really need a break from their child-like ways.

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Since necessity is the mother of all invention, I accidentally came up with a way to get some peace and quiet. Want to hear?

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First, ask the kids if they want to play hide and seek. Say that you’ll hide first. Make sure the kids see you rush into the bedroom. Rush to arrange the pillows and the blanket to make it look like someone is under the covers and then hide somewhere nearby. This is phase one.

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The kids will naturally check the bed. Their surprised faces will signal the start of phase two.

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When they leave the room to check somewhere else, it’s time to relax on the bed.

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You’ll have about 10 minutes before the kids come back to the bedroom looking for you. Honestly though, there are some days when even the shortest of breaks already feels like a vacation.

Bonus: When they find you, ask them if they liked your trick of shapeshifting into a bunch of pillows. Their little minds will explode.

You get some time for yourself and they have proof that mommy is magical. Everybody wins.

 

 

parenting

None of Your Beeswax

Parents, raise your hand if you have ever encountered someone who acted like their sole purpose in life is to comment on how you raise your kid.

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They can be family members, total strangers, and my personal favorite, people who don’t even have kids.

neverletMost of the time, I just give a small nod to make it seem like what they said is of consequence to me. Have you ever tried to engage anyone in a debate over parenting?

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It’s pretty much pointless.

There’s a notoriously judgmental parent at my daughter’s school. Both my husband and I have been on the receiving end of her disapproval, in varying degrees. Maybe she’s the grandmaster wizard of parenting, so she’s entitled to point out what other parents are doing wrong., but I seem to have missed the memo.

What I am certain about is that parenting is such a personal experience. It’s hard to say that what works for you will work for another. Love is shown in so many ways.

My kids are happy and healthy, and when they throw their little arms around me, I would like to think that means that we’re doing well. So what if another parent makes a snarky comment?

You know what happens when you give enough snarky comments, right? It gives the rest of us the chance to whip out Mean Girl references.

 

A Definitive Ranking Of The Best "Mean Girls" Quotes

 

 

 

 

parenting

Mommy is Worried

I used to joke around that the great accomplishment of my early 20’s was perfect attendance at all the EDM events held at that time.

Now, it seems that my little three-year old has inherited my love for the genre. She’s currently obsessed with Zedd, who she calls Zoo. In particular, she loves this “party song”

Party song. Hannah would ask for it and say that “she wants to party”

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I feel like I’m having a heart attack.

I’ve written about how I will never be the cool parent. This prediction has never rang more true now that my sweet little girl has expressed music preferences that mimic mine. Are you sure you don’t want to listen to the Philippine Philharmonic instead, sweetheart? Enya, perhaps?

I know that at this age she just appreciates how it sounds like and will not be running off to the clubs.

But still.

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And when she’s older and actually going out, so what? Lots of people went out to party and remained perfectly safe and made sound decisions their whole lives.

But still.

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As parents, we do what we can to raise responsible adults. We teach. We discipline. We say yes when it’s for something good and no when it’s necessary. Right now, I’m teaching Hannah the importance of being clean and organized. At some point, we’ll have to have a conversation on things that are far worse than Play-Doh crumbs on the bed.

I am absolutely terrified at the thought that I won’t always be able shield her from the evil influences in this world. My worries run from exposure to secondhand smoke to lecherous men. Oh, the lecherous men. Keep them far, far away from her.

But I know that eventually, it won’t be my role to shoo away the bad from her life. She’ll have to do that for herself. When that happens, I would have to trust her and trust myself that I raised her well.

But despite this knowledge, I reserve the right to worry about her.

That is why I I hope that her concept of party animals be of this kind for as long as possible.

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marriage

Having Children

Kids. They change things.

Before we had tiny human beings in our household, my husband and I were able to do things without much thought.

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But with kids around, spontaneity needs careful planning.kids3

When it was just the two of us, showing affection was as easy as reaching out for his hand.

kids4But now, our hands seem to be always full.
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Just kidding. As if they would ever stay still like that.

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My husband and I used to curl up on the couch and watch movies after dinner. It was sweet.

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Now that we have two kids, we still watch movies after dinner. But the movies we see have become less varied. Specifically, a cute little movie named Frozen, which we have watched approximately 3,562,125 times.

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Lately, my husband and I have been talking about how important it is to set aside time to be out of the parenting zone.

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So we tried.

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… and ended up talking about grown up things.

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What can be more grown up than being parents, right?

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Like I said, kids: they change things.

P.S.

Having kids did this to her marriage.