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!

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Review: "Abi Nako, or So I Thought" by Jhoanna Lynn B. Cruz

I can't stop thinking about Abi Nako, or So I Thought by Jhoanna Lynn B. Cruz. Her memoir is so full of life and death, love and loss, horror and humor that I thought this more than once as I read her book, "This should be made into a movie!" But to say that seems like I'm reducing Joy's life into mere entertainment. It's not. It's profound and very sad. It's also very funny. It's a life so alive! It's a really good book!


Okay, I've gotten ahead of myself! This week's book review is Abi Nako, or So I Thought by Palanca awardee and creative writing professor Jhoanna Lynn B. Cruz. Well, she'll always be Joy to me because I met her at the 1999 U.P. National Writers Workshop in Baguio, the same workshop where I met my husband. She is wildly funny and deeply serious all at the same time. But that was all I knew of Joy and nothing about her life until Facebook happened. And until Abi Nako. And oh wow what a life!

Abi Nako, or So I Thought is a collection of essays Joy wrote about love - her pursuit of love from men and women, her love for her children, her love for this country, her pained love story with her mother, her love for words and their meanings. It's a series of raw and brutally honest confessionals. It's quite the page-turner, but there were chapters that were so heavy and sad for me that I had to put it down. 

Yes, as with all of us, Joy suffered heartbreak many times over, but unlike most of us, Joy is so brave and relentless to wrestle with her demons and learn from them and then write about it with no fear of judgment. Joy writes about the Cebuano phrase "abi nako." In Tagalog, it means "akala ko", and diba there's a saying, "Maraming namamatay sa maling akala"? "Akala ko" is never a good thing. Joy writes, "The Binisaya dictionary tells us that 'abi' means 'to misconstrue, misread,' while 'nako' means 'mine.' In this language, my misconceptions are not only my own, I must also own them. Thus, I am not just misreading it; it is my own misreading."


Joy's book is all about her experiences of hoping for a better life and then getting her hopes dashed again and again. This is the man for me, or so I thought. Marriage will settle me, or so I thought. Moving to Davao for my lover is romantic, or so I thought. Abi. And then because Joy writes about all these hurts without whine or blame, she also takes responsibility for them. Nako

But it's not all gloom and doom. If there was bleakness to Joy's life story, it's swept away by her persistence to believe in new beginnings even if it means beginning again and again and again. It's her refusal to give up that makes this book so inspiring. It is full of hope. It is full of forgiveness. 

Please get a copy! The language is beautiful. I love words and this book was a love affair with words. 

Abi Nako, or So I Thought by Jhoanna Lynn B. Cruz is only P450 and may be ordered from press.up.edu.ph. It's also available in the UP Press shops on Shopee and Lazada.

*Visit the blog every Wednesday night this June for my reviews of books written by Filipino mommies! Support mommies! Support literature! Support local! 

Sunday, June 20, 2021

The man behind the scenes

I wasn't able to take a proper Father's Day photo of Vince and our boys today. That's because they got excited about the gift we got him (a Dungeons & Dragons Castle Ravenloft board game!). While there are no pictures, I'm glad to report that today was a very happy day for my husband.

So on Facebook and Instagram, everyone's posting their Father's Day appreciation essays and of course I had to join because I had to show proof my kids have a father hahahaha My husband is very private and so I only get to show him off maybe twice a year - Christmas and Father's Day. He doesn't forbid me, but I know the spotlight makes him uncomfortable. It's Father's Day today, though, and he had a wonderful day so maybe we can celebrate him today!

Since I didn't have new photos to post, I shared old photos of Vince being a dad. I didn't have many pictures, which says a lot about Vince. Here are the unspoken meanings behind the photos I shared:


#1 He's always the one behind the camera.

Vince is always taking pictures of the kids. I know I'm some sort of mommy blogger but I wouldn't have any pictures to share if it weren't for my husband. He's the one who's endlessly fascinated with our sons and making sure there's a record of how wonderful they are. 


#2 He's the kids' best teacher.

My kids learned tons of stuff from their Papa. From toilet training and cutting their own nails to reading and world history, it's Vince who is their Google, coach, and all-around go-to guy. I'm a pretty good source of information and skills, too, but I can't claim everything. And that's the coolest thing! That my kids are learning so many things from their father simply because he's always there for them, for me!


#3 He's the best in arts and crafts!

Vince never lost his ability to appreciate raw materials. Where I see trash, he sees something he can create with the kids. It's a child-like wonder with cardboard and boxes and sticks and old vacuum tubes and toilet paper rolls. And the boys adore their father because he's forever churning out stuff for them and for me. The kids' creativity is always piqued! 


#4 He's the best daddy stylist.

There's a reason why I'm not a mommy influencer who parades her kids in the latest fashions. I'm simply not stylish! If you see my kids dressed up, that wasn't my doing. I let the kids go out of the house and they'll look like they just rolled out of bed. My husband makes sure their shirts are pressed, their outfits coordinate, and their socks match. 


#5 He's the one who cares for everything we use at home.

All the advertisements say it's the mommy who's pihikan. She's the one who chooses what's best for her family. Not in my house. It's my husband who picks out the best products. He's so very picky! He's the one who tells me what brands to buy when I'm writing down the grocery list, especially when it comes to what his sons eat, drink, and bathe with!

Vince is all these and many more. I'm so glad he loves being a daddy. It makes being a mommy so much easier because he took on many of the things moms are supposed to do. I didn't toilet train my kids. I didn't teach them to read. I don't even give them baths. Supposedly mommy duties, right? I didn't have to. Vince took care of those and more, allowing me to be a more rested, more happy mommy.

Many times, we moms are just so exhausted because we're responsible for too many things. Too many. And we're not supposed to complain because we're moms. We're supposed to be superheroes. We're not. But when the responsibilities are shared - no "mommy duty" or "daddy duty", just "parental duty" - then parenting is so much easier and better. So much better!

Dear Vince, you are the most steady and stable influence in my life and in our boys' life. Because you're such a behind-the-scenes father, there's hardly any photographic proof of you and you're silent on social media, but oh how your presence and influence pervade every pore of our family's being. You have shown me and the boys how valuable it is to have integrity, to know oneself and to be at peace with who you are, and to make all of your decisions based on who you are and what you love. There is no inconsistency with you. There is no fear, no insecurity, no doubt because you are our rock. 

And this year, the past years even, and most probably the future may be hard and uncertain but I am not afraid. When we are together, I am most appreciative of my life. When we are together, I don't feel alone. But it's when we are together with our boys and I see how wonderful a Papa you are to them, that's when I feel most in love with you.

Happy Father's Day, Vince!