Friday, January 27, 2012

BeeBop, the Bubble Robot

He's not Danbo, but he comes pretty darn close.
Family Project Weekend presents... BeeBop, the Bubble-blowing Robot.  Technology has never gotten so cute!

It's a gift from Tita Lulu, and my boys (father included) jumped on it upon seeing that shiny Kidz Labs logo stamp on the box.  My boys and Kidz Labs --they're like THIS tight.  *makes closing in and bumping against each other movements with 2 index fingers*

And how can you not go giddy with a toy that comes with a blueprint?!

And small parts that prove to be choking hazards to kids 3 and below!

And wires!  Kids gotta love messing with wires!

Needless to say, this kind of toy is something your child should build with a parent in tow.  Specially when it requires certain tools which only a father has.

I'm giving this toy a thumbs up on the father-and-son bonding meter.  My boys were just all praises for their Dada the moment they heard the robot's inner mechanism whir to life.

Doll 'em up with some hi-tech-looking stickers and fill 'em up with  bubble soap and ...BAM!... BeeBop, the Bubble Robot lives!!!
No, seriously, he DOES live.  In fact, he's already had a rather terrifying run-in with a curious Super Mario toy right after production.
Plush toys and mechanized bubble-blowing robots --they just don't see eye to eye.  *makes sad, slow motion separating movements with 2 index fingers*.

Thanks, Tita Lulu!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Letting go and Letting grow

The moment Miro turned 10, everything just changed.
Suddenly, he's moved up to Middle School.  Suddenly, he'd stay a little longer in school to hang out with his friends.  And suddenly, he's going on an overnight camping trip to Iruhin Camp, Tagaytay... without me!  Not that I'm excited to go anywhere close to nature.  Nature messes up my hair and hiking does madness to make-up.  (Haha!)
But, seriously, Miro's never gone out of town without his family.  Let alone for 2 days.  That's just... crazy.

Anyhoo, this camp is the school's reward to Middle Schoolers who have finished all their goals way before the end of the last quarter.  And my 10-year old boy deserved this.  So Jing and I were all for letting him experience the great outdoors and his independence.  Well, Jing was more all for it.  I, on the other hand, was ok but a ball of nerves about it.

The night he was gone was the hardest.  I fought myself from texting him.  I know how kids can be mean when they find out that your mom has been checking up on you.  So I sat at home and wept (once, while watching the news and caught the segment about missing children... Ugh!), and wept (the second time at bedtime when Kenji started asking for his brother because he missed him --That was a short-lived drama, by the way.  Kenji slept like a baby a few minutes into it.  Lol!)

To keep my mind off the worry, I also took on tons of writing projects to distract me.  I successfully channeled my stress elsewhere, somewhere more productive.  Sure, I didn't get much sleep, but it was a better call than spending the night in a whimpering fetal position.  Ha!  Workaholism rocks!

When Miro got back the next day, hugs all around!  He had an awesome time at camp hiking up the hill, making kites, playing outdoor games, cooking barbecue and marshmallow over a fire, and setting up tents.  He admitted he got extremely homesick at bedtime.  But he fought the fear.
Just like that, and my boy is officially more mature.

There will be a time when you just have to let go and let them grow.  Despite a couple of short weak episodes, I think I did well in making that happen for Miro.
And Jing is laughing at me as I said that.  Creep.  :P

Saturday, January 21, 2012

What A Mother Wants Is Walgreens

This post is brought to you by Walgreens. All opinions are 100% mine.

Whenever the flu/colds/strep throat/chicken pox/sore eyes (insert other household contagious common illnesses here) season hits, I always get a small scale epidemic in my hands.  Everyone –and I mean, EVERYONE-- signs up for sick bay all at the same time.  From the hubby, to the kids, down to the dogs.  Very expensive!

That’s why my motherhood mantra has always been Health and Savings, Health and Savings.  Ask any random mom walking down the street and they’ll chant the same. I want to keep my family well, and I want to do it the practical way.  Not an easy combo to come by, but it will always be in the wish list.

Well, like-minded practical moms, your wish is Walgreens command!

My latest discovery-share: America’s biggest pharmacy chain is offering a special discount on annual membership for its Walgreens Prescription Savings Club!
Oh, believe me, this deal is a steal.  For $10 a year, you can already get yourself a family membership that covers everyone –and I mean, EVERYONE-- in your immediate family.  This includes your spouse, dependents 22 years old and younger, even your beloved pets!  If you’re going for solo membership, you can join in for only $5.  From there, you can just sit and relax and receive discount prices on your prescriptions, no questions asked.

Imagine getting savings on more than 8,000 brand-name and all generic medications.  Discounts on flu shots, pet prescriptions, nebulizers, and diabetic supplies  Bonuses when you purchase Walgreens brand products and its photofinishing services.  Can you see how neat it is to be part of Walgreens’ Prescription Savings Club now?  I mean, come on, 2 million members can’t possibly go wrong!

Moms, if I were you, I’d stay updated by liking Walgreens on Facebook and following Walgreens on Twitter.  When it comes to Health and Savings –and keeping everyone (and I mean, EVERYONE) in your family well in any given season— there’s more in store when you're hooked up with America’s number one drugstore.

Visit Sponsor's Site

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A Pet Death in the Family

One of the first heartbreaks your child can possibly go through is the death of a pet.

While we buy pets for our children to teach them responsibility, compassion, and the value of companionship, it also teaches them two valuable lessons --mortality, and moving forward.

While losing a distant uncle or a grandparent seems surreal to a child, losing a pet is all too real.  A child knows that even without one family member, there are other family members who will care for him.  Moving forward, although still painful, can be a little less difficult when surrounded by a strong, loving support group.

However, when a child loses the pet he's played with on a daily basis, got in trouble with regularly, picked up after day in and day out, cuddled with when the closet monster threatened to come out every night, a pet he was responsible for --it's not that easy to say good bye and walk on.  At one point, a pet escalates its status from mere housemate to best friend.  The child may even escalate his own status to big brother or father to the pet.  He's already invested time and effort in caring and disciplining his pet that it's no longer just an animal in his eyes and heart.
And that's when the bond between pet and child becomes unbreakable.  Until now.

How do you become an even stronger support group during this kind of loss?

  • Understand your child's pain.  Don't --and I mean, DON'T-- laugh at him or joke about how he's getting all emotional about a little thing.  Death isn't little, no matter whose it is.
  • Remind him of how awesome a pet owner he has been.  Usually, part of a child's mourning is burdened by guilt.  Stomp that bad feeling immediately!
  • Do not rush your child to move on by getting him a new pet.  That's like saying, "Oh, your shirt's ripped.  Here, I got you a new one."  Give your child time to go through his stages of grief.  He'll tell you when he's ready.
  • Offer happy family distractions --without being pushy.  When a child is grieving, all he really needs to know is that life must go on.  And that he's never alone.
  • Just be there.  When he feels like talking, listen.  And then talk about his pet's happy memories so he doesn't wallow in the sad ones.  Because, really, it's the happy memories that will keep his little best friend 'alive'.

Goodbye, Duckie!
Hope you're just as well taken cared off in that heavenly flock in the sky!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Darling Danbo

No, I'm not talking about the semi-soft, aged cow's milk cheese from Denmark.

THIS Danbo is a wonderful discovery I had while in the grips of a miserable day.  This little dude cardboard-handedly turned my frown upside down.
Danbo isn't really new.  He's a cardboard robot that originally came out in the Yotsuba anime comic.  Later on, Amazon Japan commissioned him to be the company mascot.  Eventually, he's become the all-time favorite muse of amateur and professional photographers worldwide --with his adorable snapshots splattered all over Flicker, DeviantART, and Tumblr.

There's something about Danbo that pushes one's picture perfect creativity.  The world of scenarios these photographers cook up are sometimes funny, sometimes somber, always darn cute.

I'm sure you've got the "Awww..." going on right now, and wondering where you can buy the darling little Danbo.  Well, sadly, you can't.  Amazon isn't selling him.  Can you believe that?!  But there are websites that tell you how to MAKE him.  From the easy Foldable Danbo to the hardcore Semi-sculpted Danbo.

So DIY Danbo away and DIY your own Danbo Gallery!  You know you love to.

*None of these photos are mine, which makes me severely jealous of their photoraphers' awesomeness.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Nothing says Winter Fun like Snow World!

For our quasi-Winter finale, here's Star City's Snow World!

Ok, I'll be very straight here and tell you upfront that I wasn't too comfortable about going back to Star City this year.  The huge, mass-based amusement park has always turned me off with its crowded areas, its dilapidated rides, and its disgruntled staff.

Well, its Snow World attraction had me changing my mind big time.  Compared to Ocean Park's Snow Village and MOA's Santa Snowville, Star City's Snow World pulled the concept of bringing Winter fun to tropical shores to the hilt!

Snow World is ginormous, and thoroughly planned and chiseled to great art direction!  The tour starts with a hallway decked with beautiful ice sculptures.  It then leads you to a blizzard area where snow blasters freeze your goony, smiling face in a second.  Kids can play snowball here.  You then course through an igloo-like tunnel made entirely out of ice blocks.  This then takes you to the tour's major highlight --the ice slide.  Here, you ride little rubber sleds down in rocket speed.  My boys totally loved it!

I also liked how organized the whole tour was.  From the entrance, you get parkas and mittens (Yes!  Finally, mittens!).  Your gadgets are carefully wrapped in plastic at the line.  You are taken to a containment room where you're briefed on snow safety.

One organizational turn off, however, was the 'No Pictures Allowed' rule.  Yeah, you know how I am with that rule.  You'd think they wrapped your gadgets in plastic for your own gadgets' protection (which is how they explained the crippling rule), but inside, I was nearly --seriously-- nabbed for whipping out my camphone to take a quick shot of my boys.  Alright, I know I broke the rule.  I'm criminal and all that.  But the way the staff stopped me was almost as if they were protecting something from being documented.  I'm thinking it must be the ice sculptures --just like how the Legofest fiercely protected their Lego sculptures.  Again, I can never understand that.

They did have an in-house photographer who took your pictures for Php100 a pop.  And I mean ONE photographer, in ONE sit-down nook.  My suggestion is this:  If they're going to be completely gung-ho about a phototaking prohibition and would want to maximize business with in-house photography, by all means, make it worth it.  Station one photographer per fun area (except the ice sculpture area if it will kill them).  That way, each family still gets to keep a memento of Snow World's WHOLE Winter experience, and Star City gets to pocket more moolah from the picture business. 
But hey... that's just me.

Even without a richer, tangible memory of Snow World, we did have fun.  The most awesome fun in all our snowy adventures the past 2 weeks!  Star City has earned a notch-up for me.  Good, good show!

Now... if only its staff would learn how to smile...

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Fun at Snow Global Proportion

How do we celebrate the start of the year?  With even more snow!
This time at the Mall of Asia's Santa Snowville, an extended holiday exhibit at the mall's main atrium that runs until the 6th of January.

The area displays a pretty ginger bread house and a Santa factory which families milked for photo ops.  But the real big thing here the giant snow globe.

Yup!  It's huge!  And people lined up for the very rare 5-minute experience of being the 'little people' in the popular shake-for-snow souvenir staple.

But the only shaking happening with this snow globe is you.  Inside the small space, the temperature drop is a shock!  You have to jump around to get the heat moving back through your body.  Quite a contrasting feel to the globe's cozy white picket fence design.

Overhead, a contraption dripped snow and ice.  You go under it to experience first hand a light snow drizzle... or the exact feeling of being sprayed on by shaved ice at Manang's halo-halo stand.

It may seem like a shallow gig for kicks, but I give MOA props for creativity.  While everyone's riding the snowy theme park attraction trend --with Manila Ocean Park and Star City both offering the vast winterland concept for theirs-- Santa Snowville gives you the compact snow globe.  A unique way of maximizing the small space they have to work with.  And it IS quite enjoyable.

Very important tip though:  Make sure you bring jackets for your kids and a fresh change in clothes.  With all that snowfall, your kids are guaranteed to come out of the globe happily soaking wet.