Showing posts with label Fun & Games. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Fun & Games. Show all posts

Monday, October 18, 2021

My hobby: Solitaire card games! (plus a confession)

Let's get the confession out of the way: I play online games while I'm working! Yes, and it's okay. Much of my work as operations manager of a communications agency based abroad is waiting for submissions to come in from our writers and artists. So when I approve copy and wait for the artist to lay it out, I switch to the tab where Solitaire is on and I play a few card games. 

It's better than toxic Facebook, believe me! Social media reels you in and you go up the heaven of cute corgis and kittens or down the hell hole of news and negative comments, and then you're too distracted to go back to work. So I've gone back to my childhood hobby of playing cards, but this time online.

I actually still have a deck of cards on my bedside table and I play solitaire sometimes on the bed as I chat with my husband. If he's reading or working and can't talk, I sing the Carpenters' song, "Solitaire" while I play. It's one of my favorite sad songs. 

Solitaire is a game my grandparents taught me to pass away afternoons, listening to radio dramas. My Lola said you can ask the cards a yes-no question and if you win the game, then it's a yes. So that's another confession. I ask the cards stuff!

So anyway, let me tell you about my new find, Solitaire.org. It has dozens of free solitaire games like Klondike, FreeCell, Spider, gin rummy, crazy eights, hearts, and more. Like a LOT more. But I usually just play solitaire because it's my favorite. It calms my mind and helps me focus. Makes me better at remembering deadlines and editing work. So it really is a good way to while away the time when I'm waiting for work to come in.  


What doesn't calm my mind is another game on the site called Zuma Ball Shooters and oh my goodness it drives me crazy! It's only 10 levels and I'm on Level 8 and I just can't get past that level! The goal of the game is to line up 3 balls of the same kind which will make all those balls disappear. I'm supposed to shoot out all the balls before they get to the end. It's so maddening!!! 

I don't dislike it. In fact, I play it every day because I just really want to get to Level 10! But I definitely don't play this game when I'm working. It doesn't relax me. It brings out all my killer instincts and I just want to blast those balls to kingdom come!!!

So let me reiterate that I don't play Zuma Ball while I work. Instead, when I'm not playing solitaire, I play this: Candy House. It's like Candy Crush but slower and more mellow. So again, makes me feel calm. which is great when I'm working.

There are dozens more games at Solitaire.org. Sometimes I let my kids play the games, too. For school! Patterns are part of math, you know! I highly recommend these games for your kids as a fun way to recognize patterns. 

And that's my little secret! And my new online find. Try Solitaire.org, too! Happy Monday and I hope you have a great week, everyone!

Thursday, September 09, 2021

When I made my son's dream come true

This week was extra busy for me and my second boy, Iñigo. For a few years now, my kids have been saying that when they grow up, they want to be YouTubers. It's a dream I frown upon. But because my parents discouraged me from becoming a writer, I wasn't going to do the same thing to my kids. Nope. 

My husband said we won't discourage them but they have to prove that this is what they really really REALLY want. And then we'll support. We told them the best YouTubers loved doing something first and they shared that something with the world. So cooking, video games, toys - what's important was they had a hobby, job, interest that they made videos of. They were Someone first before they were a YouTuber. So we encouraged them to have a Something and be a Someone, and then vlogging will come easy.  

We also never said they can't be YouTubers. We told them they have to figure out how to be one because neither their parents were vloggers so we really didn't know how to help anyway! And for years, their dream was all talk, no action. So we didn't think they were serious about it.


This summer, however, my boys learned to program. And my second boy, Iñigo, took to it like fish to water. He was churning out video games in a few short weeks on Scratch, and other kids were telling him his games were cool. I'm so proud of him. Even more important, he's so proud of himself.

Last month, he announced he wanted to start his YouTube channel. He said he wanted to share his love for Scratch and Minecraft. He has found his Something and his Someone was he was going to be a teacher. 

I resisted because I didn't know how to make videos myself! But finally last week, I promised we'd figure it out together. But when the weekend came, I backed out. I was tired. I wasn't interested. And I really didn't want him to be a YouTuber.

Iñigo got sad. He looked betrayed. But he said he understood. And that made me feel worse.

So what the heck, let's do this! So I sat him down and had a heart-to-heart. I told him why I didn't want him to be a YouTuber. I said, "The internet is an ugly place filled with mean and hateful people. I don't want you to go out there and they'll say mean and hateful things about your work and about you. Or what if no one 'likes' your video or no one comments? That hurts, too. You're a kid. You can't handle these things yet. Even me, I'm a blogger for 15 years now and my grown-up heart gets very hurt at mean comments."

I also told him that the opposite can be a bad thing, too. "There's also a danger in getting lots of likes and fans. You'll start building your self-worth on likes. But what if you made something they didn't like? Then you'll always want to make something that will make others happy when you should be creating work that makes you happy," I said. 

We talked late into the night and he agreed that I'll screen all comments first. He'll tell me if anyone was being mean or threatening or making him uncomfortable. I also told him it's important to not take things personally. But, my goodness, he's a kid! How can I protect him from the world? 

We talked about internet safety and many other things. He told me about his dreams, his plans for his videos, and that he'll be responsible and always tell me and his Papa everything. Finally, I was convinced. I conceded that he really wants this YouTube channel and so what's a Mama to do? We make it happen!


We Googled everything! We set it up, we troubleshot, we plotted and planned. And I was annoyed sometimes. I really didn't want to do this and I was sleepy and frustrated at all the things we had to learn! But he was so happy and excited. He was going to do Scratch tutorials and let me tell you, I'm not his market at all. I told him to make this or that instead, but he said, "I'm not doing this for likes, Mama. I want to help kids like me!" 

So I went through with it, researching with him, guiding, explaining, and finally... Iñigo launched his YouTube channel.


At 3 AM on September 7, 2021, Iñigo sat back, exhausted but bright-eyed. He said, "So this is how it feels like when your dream comes true."

My heart exploded! It was worth it. He fought for his dream. He worked hard at it. And that made his accomplishment even more amazing. I'm so proud of him. Even more important, he's so proud of himself.

In two days, he made FIVE videos. That's how excited he is. And I may not understand his dream but I realized that's not what's important. All he needs is for me to support him all the way. 

I learned a lot this week. How to set up a channel, make and edit videos, fiddle with all the settings. I also learned how to be a supportive parent. And that's the best lesson of all. 

Saturday, July 10, 2021

5 safety tips for a fun summer


Look at how cute baby Vito and baby Iñigo were in the pool! How I wish we could have a summer holiday. My kids and I have all of July to enjoy our school break. It's only a month because we're moving to a new homeschool provider that has an earlier back-to-school date than our previous one. So that's just 3 weeks of summer! 

To be honest, it's not a very exciting summer because it's not like we can go anywhere. There's still a pandemic out there. I'm already fully vaccinated but my husband isn't yet so until that happens, we'll stay home and stay safe. Still, summer means a break from school and plenty of time to just play and have fun. But it's been very hot and humid so we're basically doing nothing, just hanging out near the AC and fans. So bummer summer! 

I wish we lived somewhere cold right now. So this lazy Saturday I was looking at houses (Loyal Readers know I love looking at property listings!), particularly at houses in cold climates, and just look at this charming home I found while scrolling through Banff homes for sale (Banff is in Canada). You can almost feel the cool and crisp mountain breeze blowing out of these pictures!  

More photos of this listing here

Anyway, while I sweat here in sweltering Manila and dream of colder climes, I know many of you are roaring off to beaches and AirBnB's outside the city. I won't stop you but I truly hope you're fully vaccinated! Summer has always been a fun time but it also brings many dangers. Heat exhaustion, sunburn, sunstrokes, drowning. And now COVID! Here are a few safety reminders from Mommy Frances so you and your family can enjoy - not regret! - your summer 

1. Practice sun safety. 

Summer is hot. Obviously. So don't forget to protect yourself from the sun. Slather on the sunscreen. Don't stay out too long in the sun, especially from 10am to 3pm. Stay in the shade. Wear sunglasses and protective clothing. 

2. Always hydrate.

I read somewhere that thirst is a sign of dehydration. You're never supposed to get to a state of thirst. So drink those 8 glasses. Sip throughout the day, especially on a hot day. It's also important to drink the right liquids. For example, sugary, caffeinated, and alcoholic beverages may be refreshing but they're actually dehydrating.

3. Have fun... but safely. 

Avoid strenuous activities in the hottest hours of the day. That means exercise during the early morning or late evening. If you're going swimming, make sure there's a lifeguard. If you're hiking on a mountain trail, be ready with the right gear. Remember to drink water!

4. Watch out for heat-caused conditions.

Prolonged exposure to sun and heat can cause dangerous conditions like dehydration, heat exhaustion, and heatstroke. So pay attention to what your body's telling you. Look out for excessive sweating, thirstiness, high body temperature, rapid and shallow breathing, a feeling of confusion, nausea, headaches, and more. 

5. Don't forget there's a pandemic!

We're all fatigued from the warnings and reminders but it bears repeating especially if you're stepping out of the house. Please practice social distancing. Wear a mask properly. Avoid crowded places. Wash your hands for 20 seconds. Don't let your guard down! 


The kids and I actually want to go back to Baguio. Anywhere cool. Manila's just roasting these days. We may be stuck at home but I still have to make sure we're hydrated and not suffering from heat exhaustion (I am exhausted by the heat, though). For those of you who have plans to go out and have fun, stay safe!

Sunday, June 27, 2021

My fun mom find! Free educational online games for the kids (and me!)

It's summer for us! We are lazy bums right now, just really enjoying the no-school days until we have to hit the books again in August. That doesn't mean I'm letting the kids' brains go too idle. I kinda tricked them into playing online games at Plays.org. It's a site I found a couple of months ago and it has hundreds of games - many of them educational! - and you can play them all for FREE!!!


So just a brief description of Plays.org: It's really a simple place where hundreds of online games are listed and you simply choose to play the ones you like. It's easy to navigate because the games are in categories. There are arcade classics like Tetris, Pac-Man, space games, and the like. There are simulation games for your kids who want to imagine how to run a restaurant or fly a plane. There are war games, shooter games, sports games... There's a lot so if you're looking for online entertainment that's FREE, I highly recommend Plays.org!

So now that I've told you about the site, let me tell you about the games I'm playing. Yes, I play, too! And of course I started with this classic, which I used to play perfectly on my old phone: Snake!


It's called Neon Snake here and it sure is a lot prettier than the black pixels on my old Nokia. Sound effects are better, too. But aside from those, it's still pretty much the same old Snake.
   

Another classic is Tetris! Here it's called Super Tetris and I love it! Tetris has always been my favorite game. I like pattern games. But this game's blocks are all glowy and the music is so relaxing. I play this one on my phone all the time!

Okay, as a homeschooling mom, what I found really fantabulous about Plays.org is the number of educational games for kids. This site lets me meet two important goals: I want my kids to have fun learning, and I want them to do something educational while I go take a nap hahaha

Here are just a few games you can let your kids play. No-guilt involved because your kids will be learning as they play: 

Logic games

Math games

Music games

I even used some of these games when we were homeschooling and I had to meet a work deadline. Everyone's happy!

There you go! My happy #momfind! Try out Plays.org, too!

Friday, August 28, 2020

5 ways to encourage your kids to be more physically active

The last 6 months have seen our kids quarantined in our homes to keep them safe from the novel coronavirus. Unfortunately, kids need sunshine, exercise, and lots of play to be healthy, too. So if you're lucky enough to have a garden or a roof deck, do go out and play there! I live in a condo so it's been tricky. What I do is tell my kids they have to exercise first (and finish their list of art, literary, music activities, plus chores) before they can play on their gadgets. So that's really pushed them to work out!

But today is the weekend! We can go to our condo's amenities deck and play there! Today's guest post offers 5 other ways to encourage kids to be more physically active.

* * * * * * *


GUEST POST - There are invaluable benefits that your children can receive from regular exercise. Physical activity is crucial for your child’s health and development, but in the social media world we live in, your kids may be more interested in their news feed than getting outdoors and taking up a hobby or sport.

As parents, we want to do what’s best for our children, so if you’re concerned about their behavior, weight, or general wellbeing, here are 5 ways to encourage them to be more physically active.

1. Find Fun Activities

If your child doesn’t enjoy a particular activity or sport, the chances of them sticking to it are slim. It’s important that they find something that stimulates their brain and keeps them entertained. Otherwise, they are more likely to throw a tantrum, which no parent wants to deal with. There are tons of hobbies and sports that your child can partake in, such as swimming, tennis, and baseball. If your child loves to play baseball, installing fencing will keep your neighbors happy

2. Make Time for Exercise

If your children are of school age, it’s likely that they have a mountain of homework and other planned activities to adhere to, but that’s not to say that they shouldn’t exercise as well. Scheduling time for physical activity is crucial, regardless of how busy their schedule is. Children need time to get outdoors and play, so if they’re spending the majority of their day indoors, putting other things on the back burner and letting them have breaks is a good idea. This is extremely important for their mental health and wellbeing.

3. Get Rid of Distractions

Whether you like it or loathe it, social media is used by many children across the country. While there are some benefits to social media, if left to their own devices, children will spend every waking hour behind their smartphone or tablet. Distractions like the TV and computer emit blue light and can have a negative effect on your children, such as difficulty getting to sleep and mood swings, so switching off the TV and eliminating distractions at various intervals is key.

4. Set a Good Example

You can’t expect your kids to be physically active if you’re not doing so yourself. Children pick up on their parents’ patterns of behavior, so if you’re preaching about the benefits of regular exercise but are lounging around the house, this will set a bad example to your kids. Children who see their parents regularly participating in sports and physical activity are much more likely to try it out themselves. There are lots of activities that you can do as a family, which can be a great opportunity to bond with your kids, as well as reap the health benefits of exercise.

5. Speak to Your Child’s Doctor

If you’re struggling to get your child motivated to exercise, it may be wise to book an appointment with your child’s doctor. They will have a better knowledge of what sports and activities are suitable for your child, as well as what strategies you can implement in your home life to get them interested in physical activity. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, especially if you have major health concerns about your child’s weight, as your doctor is there to help you, rather than judge.

Regular physical activity can be a great opportunity for your kids to socialize with others, improve their fitness, and boost their concentration levels. All children can benefit from regular exercise, so while it may be hard to motivate them at first, as long as your kids find hobbies and sports that they enjoy, you will notice a huge difference in their behavior and health.

* This is a guest post, with my edits. To place a guest post, email frances@topazhorizon.com for my rates. Photo by Robert Collins on Unsplash

Monday, February 17, 2020

Your family will have a super fun day at Cheeky Monkeys - just like we did!

My kids love Cheeky Monkeys play place! I feel like it's a family secret because everyone else goes to other indoor play areas and they're already really crowded, which, for me, takes out a lot of fun from the play. So when we discovered Cheeky Monkeys and its vastness and newness, we fell in love! Here's a little peek!


First of all, we love Cheeky Monkeys because they thought of parents. They set aside this large area called the café just for us. We can wait for our kids within the establishment. We can have coffee or merienda. We can even work since there's free WiFi. We're accessible to the kids all the time but it's separate from the play areas so it doesn't feel chaotic. I really like that Cheeky Monkeys thought of the most important people—the parents paying for everything!!! Hahaha

Joking aside, parents really should leave their kids alone when playing. That way, the kids learn how to figure out what kind of play they like, how to play on their own, how to play with other kids, share toys, resolve conflicts if the other kids don't want to share haha

I like that the Café makes sitting down and leaving our kids alone sooooo attractive. I think it discourages helicopter parents from forever hovering over their kids. "Baby, play here. Play like this. Share that toy. Hey, other kid, share that toy with my baby! No? Bad kid! Baby, let's play somewhere else!" Good grief. But if you truly are a helicopter parent or you want to take photos of your kids playing, that's fine! The interactive play area is big enough to accommodate grownups!


Now, let's check out the 3000-sqm interactive play area! Mamas, I have more photos than these. But my kids have told me they really don't want me to post so many photos of their faces so these are the only ones I have where their faces aren't so visible. So here's what I can share:

The slide!!!
Lots of places for little arms and legs to climb!
This is quite a physical challenge as the kids cross to the other side while hanging on for dear life!
Obstacles to avoid, tunnels to crawl through!
Trampoline joy!
Twisty slide!
Bridges to cross!
Run and swing swing swing!
The pictures below are of the Clubhouse. It's separated from the play place. It's a 2-story building that houses the role-play area so your kids can play house, pretend they're shopping, stuff like that. I like that it's on the other side of the room so that the kids there can play in peace.


Now behind those doors are the party rooms. They're big and cute! I think it'll be super fun to have your kid's birthday over at Cheeky Monkeys! I know they have party packages so do check them out when you drop by.



Okay, other stuff I loved at Cheeky Monkeys:

1. The toddlers have their own area. I didn't take photos because none of my school-age kids visited the toddler area. But I think it's thoughtful—and safe!—that they separated the big kids from the little ones.

2. The kiddie activities! When we visited, there was a face-painting thing going on but my kids weren't interested because they were having too much fun playing.

3. The bathrooms. They're in the facility! No need to get a stamp, put shoes on again, walk out and run to the faraway CRs! The kids need to pee or poo? No problem! The bathrooms are clea, too. And very child-friendly.

4. It's sooooo affordable! On weekdays, it's just P350 for the first hour and the accompanying adult is free! I don't understand those play places where they won't allow you to leave your kid alone but then they'll charge you for accompanying your kid. So unjust!
    Now, to clarify, it's one kid-one adult for P350. If you have only one kid and you bring daddy, yaya, lolo, lola, auntie and uncle, well, they have to pay an entrance fee of P200 each.

5. They accept credit cards!!!

Cheeky Monkeys really have thought of everything! The only negative thing I can say about it is it's far from us. Actually, it's not. It's the traffic that makes it far. But if you're from Makati, Manila and thereabouts, MET Live at Pasay (just before Mall of Asia if you're coming from EDSA) isn't that far. Plus, there's parking!

For more details like weekend rates, check out their website: Cheeky Monkeys PH. I think they have classes and arts and crafts and stuff that your kids will love. Plus, summer is coming up fast so if you're looking for activities for your kids, check out Cheeky Monkeys!!!

Cheeky Monkeys is on the 2nd floor of MET Live Mall of Pasay City.

Monday, June 03, 2019

Iñigo and Piero love Ready, Steady, Go!


Summer was super fun for my two younger boys, Iñigo and Piero, because of Ready Steady Go Kids! Every Saturday, we trooped to the 9th Avenue School at BGC, Taguig, for an hour of fun and fitness with other kids.


You know how people call play the real work of kids? Well, this is exactly like that! The kids may seem like they're just throwing and catching balls or jumping up and down or chasing each other. They look like they're just playing but really they're developing eye-hand coordination, learning what their bodies can do and how it moves, building strength and flexibility, learning focus and patience and determination, learning to listen to instructions and pay attention to others—and doing all of that while having fun!

Ready Steady Go is Australia’s largest and most reputable multi-sport and exercise program for preschoolers (aged 2.5-7 years). We have been with RSGK since they launched here in the Philippines 5 years ago. At first, we were skeptical because it was just play. They can play at our playground for free! But at the very first session, when Vito was just 4, we saw that Vito learned motor and social skills fast. We were converted to the Temple of Play!


RSGK offers a high-quality, physio-designed program that teaches children the fundamentals of 10 different sports in a fun, non-competitive, team-based environment. There are 5 sports covered in each term. Each class focuses on a specific gross motor, hand-eye/foot-eye and/or balance activity to complement the sport component. The program has a structure repeated each week so that the kiddos become familiar and comfortable with the routine. It's not drastically different from each class, which is good because kids like familiarity.


So far, my kids learned basketball, golf, and tennis. But not in a competitive way. It was really just taking the basic moves of the sports and then using them to teach kids how to use and develop their muscles and social skills. It's really fascinating to watch the coaches apply sports to instill useful life skills! 


The classes run for 45 minutes. Best to go early so your kids can settle in. We also stay and play with the other kids after the class ends so we spend about an hour to an hour-and-a-half at RSGK. Super fun, mamas!


If your kids have summer vacation now or if they have classes but you want them to improve their motor skills or if you have a preschooler, please enroll them at Ready Steady Go! Super highly recommended! Topaz Mommy-approved! Register here: http://readysteadygokids.com.ph/enroll/

You can also follow their Facebook page to find out more: https://www.facebook.com/ReadySteadyGoKidsPhilippines. I can't say enough good things about RSGK! Please enroll your kids na!

Friday, April 19, 2019

Boys chasing birds and birds chasing boys

This is my favorite time of the year in Manila. On Holy Week, the streets are empty and quiet. The sky is free from smog and is a piercing blue. Well, except this Holy Week. I think it's the first ever Holy Week that's cloudy and rainy!

This rainy holiday reminded me of our trip to Tagaytay a few months back. I only told you about it on my Instagram but never got to share the truly fun photos from our really wet weekend. But no rain can dampen the spirits of my boys. Nope!

They ran and played under the rain, in the mud, in the puddles, chasing ducks and geese, then screaming when the big birds started chasing them.

It was raining hard when they fed the birds.
But they refused to go under the umbrella with me.
They enjoyed this so much and I enjoyed just watching them!
Watching the boys and the birds chase each other was fun too! Although I went closer... just in case!

When they did stay inside, they played and drew and chased each other and hugged and tickled each other. Many days they annoy each other to tears, but just as many days they spend on being absolutely the best boys a mother could ever ask for.

Posing for Papa's camera!
Then ignoring everyone as they get to work on their chalk art.
Piero's obsessed with sharks.
Iñigo's obsessed with Piero!
Happiness!

I liked this vacation. We should go on holiday again. I miss the days when Vince and I worked from home and only when we liked and we could just up and leave whenever we wanted to. Of course, those days were when we didn't have such huge expenses (a.k.a. tuition haha).

We usually stay in the city during Holy Week because we LOVE the empty city but the kids want to go hiking and camping. Do you have any suggestions for kid-friendly places like that? I'd like the boys to go on an adventure again!

P.S. Vito's not in the photos because he's already avoiding being photographed. And that's okay. I always ask the boys if I can take their photos and share on social media. And when they give their consent, that's the only time I share!