Anya Resort

We spent the last two days at Anya Resort in Tagaytay. It was our first time to visit this place as a family thanks to our friends, Lou and Thea, whose wedding Edric had the privilege of officiating. They got us two Veranda Villa Suites to accommodate our family. (Thanks guys!)

What a beautiful resort! I just had to post photos and do this review because the kids thoroughly enjoyed our stay, and Edric and I were pleasantly surprised by our experience. 

Suites were very spacious with extraordinarily large bathrooms. I love big bathrooms! 

They also had a kitchenette area (but no stove). A generously sized living room area gives kids ample space to romp around.

The kids hung out in the living room before their swim…

There were nice decorative touches in the bedrooms. Edric noticed details like the Bticino switches, Samsung flat screen tvs, Koehler and Grohe bathroom fixtures, and Mitsubishi ACs. His comment, “Wow, they didn’t scrimp.” 


Each Viranda Village Suite has a balcony area as well. Although this place doesn’t have a view of the Taal Lake, it is a cozy and classy oasis of a resort, and it’s great for families. 

Service was quick, and staff were very attentive as well. They proactively asked if we were comfortable and needed anything. Upon arrival, a security guard greeted us with a big smile and said, “Welcome Home!”
The personalized touch is one of the reasons why I often prefer the smaller resorts to big hotel chains. They make you special and prioritized. Plus there’s the element of privacy which Edric and I appreciate. 


There were several areas to eat meals, but I didn’t get the chance to photograph these. The only meal we ate was the breakfast buffet. Yummy! 

Of course, Edric and I found time to check out their gym. It’s not a big gym, but it’s got a great selection of key equipment, like the kinesis one that Edric is using, which uses resistance cables that you can adjust to do a total workout. I used the weights and mat for floor exercises. 


One of my favorite places (as well as the kids’) was the library. Floor to ceiling shelves were lined with curated books arranged by color… always a good idea. We enjoyed lounging around. The kids checked out the books, played chess, colored, drew, and Edric busied himself with homework for his education course. 


Tastefully lit up at night…

We were sad to say goodbye but we hope to be back! 

Here’s my rating for the different aspects that matter to our family. I am going to start doing this since we do a fair amount of traveling:

Amenities (Considers kids’ interests and safety, well-maintained, encourages family time, has a nice pool, gym) – 4/5

Food (taste, priced well for families) – 4.5/5

Service (attentiveness and responsiveness) – 5/5

Accommodations (comfort, cleanliness, spaciousness, privacy, tastefully decorated) – 4.5/5

Price (family-friendly) – 4.5/5

Overall feel (I can’t explain this. It’s just that something special that makes you like a place) – 5/5

For more details, check out their site, Anya Resort

Grade 9 Materials

My balikbayan box finally arrived and it was like Christmas in July for our homeschooling! There were specific materials that I couldn't get locally so I sourced them from the U.S. for my kids. Plus, they are so often my guinea pigs for experimental material so that I can also give recommendations to others.

Here's what Elijah's 9th grade homeschool year is going to look like:

Bible: Continue daily bible reading. Use I Don't Have Faith to Be an Atheist Curriculum three times a week.

Language Arts: Fundamentals of Literature by Bob Jones University Press for reading three times a week, and Student Writing Intensive Continuation Course Level C by Institute for Excellence in Writing for writing and grammar twice a week.

Math: Algebra 2 with Khan Academy four times a week.

Science: Exploring Creation with Chemistry by Apologia three times a week.

History/Geography: World History Observations and Assessments from Creation to Today by Master Books four times a week.

Electives:

Computer Technology Node.Js by Udemy for building servers and AI Deep Learning by Udemy for creating artificial intelligence and exploring its applications. We got these courses for just 10 USD each! They were majorly discounted.

Sports – Swimming and Tennis

Art – Painting with Teacher Camille Ver through Learning Plus

Music – Violin classes through Learning Plus

Others: Local social studies using books I sourced on my own and Filipino using Rosetta Stone.

Books to read: Fantasy novels with Christian themes for Elijah's leisure reading time. He really enjoys this genre.




It's going to be a full year! I will post about my other kids' materials soon!

The Family that Gardens Together…

Towards the end of last year, Edric and I decided that we want our kids to be more involved in chores around the house, specifically gardening. This would allow us to approach two needs simultaneously – getting our kids outdoors to exercise, and instilling responsibility.

We canvassed for a grass cutter since the Carabao grass in our backyard was getting out of hand, and found a great deal at HMR in Cubao. After calculating how much we would save by utilizing our own grasscutter versus paying a gardener to come in once a week, we jumped on the opportunity to buy a motorized lawnmower that was sold for ¼ of the cost it usually was. Plus, Edric nostalgically recalled the days when he mowed his aunt’s lawn in the U.S. over the summer, and was excited to relive this experience.

In fact, he fended off the kids when he first got the lawnmower working, even if they eagerly asked to have their turn! Eventually, he entrusted the machine to them (and even to me) and we all got a chance to test its efficiency.

I must say that mowing the lawn can be very therapeutic and fun.

When Edric and I spent those days time outdoors, the kids naturally followed our examples. Over the holidays, Edric recruited our sons to perform gardening duties with him beyond cutting the grass and they thoroughly enjoyed their bonding time. They also got to exercise which was a nice bonus.

The girls and I assisted by sweeping, using the shears, pruning, and collecting trash. Surprisingly, even Catalina found the experience of yard word engaging and worked hard to do her role. She didn’t complain at all. It was an afternoon well spent together.


Neighbors’ househelps looked on curiously as our family worked together. I don’t know what they were thinking but I’m guessing it’s not typical to see five kids and two parents gardening in Metro Manila. I’m hoping our family can do this consistently and take it to the next level by doing some crop-growing and small-scale farming.

Kids, including my own, may default to indoor activities because of gadgets and media, but once they get outdoors with the family and do something productive, they actually enjoy the benefits that these experiences provide. 

I’m really thankful that this gardening initiative began with Edric. His pull on our boys is much greater and he knows how to turn grass-cutting, weeding, pruning, and garbage collecting moments into a good mix of fun and challenging. The kids, especially the boys, operate like good soldiers when he is around! If you haven’t yet considered gardening as productive family bonding, you might want to give it a try! 
 

Ludo Board Game Bar & Bistro

Board Gaming isn’t something that people may commonly associate with intellectual, emotional or social intelligence but after visiting Ludo Board Game Bar & Bistro for the first time today, I was convinced that is a healthy and worthwhile pastime for children and adults. 


For one thing, board games are a better substitute to online games and media. They aren’t bad for your eyes in the same way screen time is. Although some board games can be addicting, more often than not, it’s hard to get hooked on a board game that requires two or more players to make it fun. 

Unlike most online games, many board games require you to participate in a physical manner, where you actually use different body parts and not just your thumbs! 

The intellectual challenges vary depending on the type of game, and sometimes you will need to apply logical thinking skills, memory, strategy, cunning, language, science, history, math skills, or a mix of all to outsmart your opponent. 

However, one of the best things about board gaming is the way it brings people together. You have to socialize as you play with and against others. There’s a lot of interaction on a personal, face to face level. In the process you get to know the personalities of your family or friends and enjoy conversations as you compete against one another. Plus, there’s the laughing out loud part and screaming when any match becomes intense! 

“Ludoloy” is the discipline that studies games. Ludo has culled games from all around the world so that there’s something for every personality type and age. 

From the hard core gamesters who can play 8 to 12 hours, who like  complicated strategy games, to the attention-deficit people who prefer quick-paced, loud, and physical, everyone will find someone who is just like them to enjoy some healthy competition with. Or, you can make Ludo a regular barkada-bonding habit. Even if you lose, the food will be worth it! 

Of course, for homeschoolers like us, we see Ludo as an extension of our kids’ learning, where they can pick up new skills or apply what they know in a fun way. 


What you won’t find in Ludo are the kinds of games you can purchase in a local toy store like Monopoly, Chess, Uno, etc. If that’s the extent of your game knowledge, Ludo has game gurus who help to facilitate and explain board game rules to guests. And if you walk in alone, they try their best to find you people to play with. There’s also an option to purchase games they have on hand. 


We spent a few hours at Ludo as a family with friends from Cetaphil, and the owners, Crissy and Aaron. What surprised me about Crissy and Aaron is how personally and passionately involved they were in their business. They loved each game they introduced to us and even played with us! The experience felt short-lived for our kids who didn’t want to leave, but I am sure there will be a next time. 


http://www.ludogames.ph

QUEZON CITY BRANCH:

No. 26 Scout Torillo St. Corner Scout Fuentabella, Quezon City

Tel: +6327918634 (Reservations and Inquiry.)

(Please call during store hours)

Operation Hours:

Mon – Thu: 4:00 pm – 12:00 am

Fri: 4:00 pm – 2:00 am

Sat: 12:00 pm – 2:00 am

Sun: 12:00 pm – 12:00 am

Holidays: 12:00pm – 12:00am
MAKATI BRANCH

No. 38 Jupiter St. Corner Planet St. Brgy. Bel-Air, Makati City

Tel: +6328107125 (Reservations and Inquiry)

(Please call during store hours)

Operation Hours:
Mon – Closed

Tues – Thu: 5:00 pm – 12:00 am

Fri: 5:00 pm – 2:00 am

Sat: 12:00 pm – 2:00 am

Sun: 12:00 pm – 12:00 am
 

Creative Play Unboxed

I always enjoy new finds that can enhance my kids’ homeschooling experience. Last week, I met Stefanie Lim at a speaking engagement I was at, and she handed me a box called Oli Boxship as a gift for my kids. Stefanie’s the co-founder of Oli’s Boxship, which is a box of craft surprises delivered to your door, for kids ages 4 to 9. 

The idea behind Oli’s Boxship is igniting creative play and educating children about science, language, math, and social studies at the same time. 


The box we received covers the five senses. It came with all the materials we needed and a story book, too!


Everything in the box is neatly packaged by activity. There is also a booklet of instructions to guide kids.



My kids haven’t done the projects yet but they are excited to! So I am planning to use the box as a reward at the end of our homeschooling week.

I also checked out Oli Boxship’s subscription options and I have attached them below: 


For more information, you may also contact:

Homemade Ornaments 

Pinterest has such great ideas for DIY stuff, that sometimes I just have to try some of them! 

We just made our own salt dough ornaments. 

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups flour
  • 1 cup salt
  • 1 cup water 

Supplies: rolling pin, wax paper, barbecue stick, letter stamps, string (twine looks better)

Procedure:

Mix and then knead dough 


Roll out, cut and design. 



Bake on low heat for 1 hour. 


String ornaments and hang them up! 



I got my twine at Kamuning last year. And I bought my letter stamps in Quiapo. However, I have seen similar stamps in bookstores. 

I am going to try this with air dry clay which is smoother and doesn’t require baking. Amazon sells them by the pound. 

Happy crafting! 

Amorita is a Place of BIG Love

We arrived on the island of Bohol on Thursday morning, eager to spend the weekend at Amorita Resort on Panglao Island. After a hectic October, this vacation proved to be the R&R our family needed to reconnect with one another and benefit from the quiet away from our busy lives in Manila. 
For our family of seven, stress-free vacations don’t come very often. We haven’t quite left the stage of parenting little children, so I am normally on edge and preoccupied with organizing all the kids. However, Amorita Resort cared for our family on such a personal level from the moment we arrived, that I felt the liberty to exhale and actually enjoy myself. 

Now I understand why they got 2016 Traveller’s Choice by Trip Advisor!


From the warm, and attentive personnel, to the thoughtful and organically designed sprawling outdoor and luxurious indoor spaces, Amorita Resort charmed us all over. 

We were escorted to our two-bedroom suite by Winston, who oriented us on the features of the rooms. The suite was delightfully modern without compromising inviting or cozy. 


On the dining room table sat a note from the manager welcoming our family. 



Every night we received personal notes from Noel, the manager, whom we noticed paid careful attention to each resort guest. On the first day we arrived, he chatted with every visitor during lunch. 


Even the housekeepers wrote us a note after they made up the rooms and sculpted animals with towels for the benefit of our kids, who were pleasantly surprised by the swans, elephants, and dogs they saw on our beds. 


Amorita is also very private which our family valued very much. I wasn’t worried when our kids were left swimming in the pool or when they roamed around the resort. Our suite was easily accessible from the ground floor and the amenities were situated near enough to it so that the kids felt very confident finding their own way around. 


The beach area is shared with other resorts and open to the public but it still felt rather secluded since there weren’t too many people wandering to the end of the beach where Amorita is situated. Most of the visitors to the beach at this time of the year are foreigners, too, who tend to keep to themselves so you don’t feel bothered at all. 


We left our three boys playing on the beach without us around at one point because Edric and I had to attend to the girls. But we asked the security personnel to keep an eye out for them while they lingered for thirty minutes longer and eventually made their way back to us. They were perfectly fine.

The kids spent most of their days at the beach or swimming in the pool. When they weren’t in the water, they kept themselves entertained. With the exception of Catalina, who needed a little more supervision, no one really required my help too much. I was in bed by 7PM, unwinding in front of the television, something I don’t really get to do, or taking my time in the spacious master’s bathroom (which was larger than most hotel rooms)! 

We ate the majority of our meals at Saffron Restaurant. I especially liked the drama of the high, cantilevered ceiling. 


Saffron is part of a building that also houses the tapas bar and function room which both have a spectacular view of the water. 


The resort also arranged for our tours. We rented a driver and van for our family visit to see the Tarsier, Lomboc River Ride, Chocolate Hills and the Bee Farm. 




Our only disappointment was that the dolphins were a no-show during the morning when we took a bangka out to see them, but that was a minor thing. According to the boat man it’s uncommon for the dolphins not to exhibit themselves.


At present, the older side of the resort, where the original reception area used to be is under renovation and will be ready to receive guests by January. Some of the villas are targeted to be done by December. 

In the meantime, the new wing is fully operational and available to guests, as well as the spa, gym, pool, diving facilities, lounge areas, restaurants and function room(s). 



Amorita Resort’s exceptional quality is its ability to make guests feel special and important. From courteous and accommodating staff, a very hands-on General Manager who reaches out to guests and mingles with them, to thoughtful details like bamboo speakers for your phone, touch lamps, Buri bags and slippers to take to the beach, milk & cookies for the kids at night or sweet desserts to end the evening, Amorita is a “little darling” of a place that gives BIG LOVE to its visitors. We left it with our hearts full, and we are already nostalgic! 

Happiness According to Trolls

“Trolls” is a fun loving movie about the power of positive thinking. It has an uplifting message for kids and parents — that happiness is a choice. 

We got to preview it as a family yesterday which was a real treat! The kids thought it was so cool to sit in a private theater with their 3D glasses and popcorn! (Thank you, Mae Vecina!)



In one pivotal scene, the main character, Poppy, declares, “There’s always a bright side,” as she encourages her friends to keep hoping for a favorable outcome despite the odds against them. 

However, the ever-pessimistic, Branch, presents himself as a complete contrast to her perky self, unable to relate to her perpetual optimism. Unlike the rest of the loving, hugging, singing, and dancing Trolls, Branch has allowed tragedy to turn him into a disappointed, cautious, and distrustful Troll. He doesn’t celebrate life the way his fellow Trolls do.


Branch represents those of us who cannot move forward because of the pain in our past. He remains a victim of circumstance and isolates himself from others, cloaking his vulnerability with cynicism and sarcasm. 

There is another group of characters in the story called the Bergens, the antagonists who see happiness as something external, something that they must take from others. They believe they can never be happy unless they eat Trolls. 

The musicality, colorful graphics, and plot will keep parents and kids blissfully entertained. This is one sparkly, tenderhearted story that doesn’t need a complicated plot to weave in it’s valuable message. Happiness is not something that needs to be conditional. And genuine happiness is contagious. 

Anna Kendrick stars as the voice of Poppy while Justin Timberlake plays Branch. 

I am not a Justin Timberlake fan but his singing voice was just, wow.

Directors Mike Mitchell and Walt Dohrn’s goal was to make a movie about happiness, to explore where it comes from and what happens when you lose it. 

As a follower of Christ, I would like to add that true joy is found in Him. Even if the movie doesn’t highlight this at all, the main character, Poppy, shows us what someone who is full of the joy of Christ out to look like. She is a great example of someone who…

 …is an optimist about circumstances

…believes the best about people 

… stays connected to people she loves and cares about 

….thinks of others as more important than herself 

…is a blessing to others 

…laughs a lot, hugs, sings, and dances for joy

…makes the right choices 


​“Trolls” opens November 2 in cinemas nationwide from 20th Century Fox and will also be available in 3D screens. The movie’s voice cast includes James Corden, Gwen Stefani, Zooey Deschanel, Russell Brand, Christine Baranski, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Swedish pop music duo of Caroline Hjelt and Aino Jawo, Kunal Nayyar and Ron Funches.

Junior Preneur 2016

This is our children’s first time to join the Junior Preneur event. It’s been a difficult two weeks for them because they did a project that was technical and involved many stages. They made concrete geometric forms to hold succulents.

 First, they developed templates for the molds, measuring them out meticulously. Then they created the molds using cardboard, duct tape and polycarbonate. (The polycarbonate was a pain to cut. That was my job!) Afterwards, they mixed several batches of concrete, both light and dark, with sand and without sand, depending on the desired effect. Once the concrete was ready, it was poured into the molds and left to cure for several hours. Twenty four hours was the ideal time period. At the beginning we were all so eager to see the finished products that we prematurely opened the molds. This was a disaster!

   
   
After multiple tries and fails, they finally got a cement mix formula that worked well and they followed the right curing time. The succulents were placed in the geometric planters, ready to be sold. 

   

 The final step was preparing their booth concept. Thankfully, Pinterest is a treasure trove of ideas (both for the geometric designs that inspired the kids and how to create an organic look for their display). 

    
 I don’t know if this product is a repeat but the hard work and character training was certainly worth it. Furthermore, I got to know my kids’ personalities better in the process. 

My eldest, Elijah, is a perfectionist and struggled immensely each time we failed. He had to deal with disappointment and follow through even if it wasn’t easy to keep going. Edan, my second son, experienced getting dirty and uncomfortable which he usually avoids. Mixing the concrete and pouring it into the molds was a messy activity. He also got to execute his sense of orderliness when he set up an assembly line system for the finishing stages. Titus, my third son, tried his best to contribute where he could and he didn’t complain even if some of the tasks were beyond his ability level. My daughter, Tiana, was positive and cheery as usual but it made a big difference when she would sing spontaneously to lighten everyone’s mood. Catalina got in everyone’s way but her siblings decided to give her tasks to keep her productively busy.  

As for me, I had to block off the past two weeks to prioritize helping them. So there was no writing for me. Plus I smelled like concrete powder almost every day! But I thoroughly enjoyed the bonding and fellowship that transpired between the kids and me. And I never get bored doing artistic or craft-related things. 

At the end of it all, the struggle to come up with a business idea and execute it was obstacle-ridden, exhausting, and discouraging. But, as my husband, Edric, so wisely put it, “Hard work is a reward in itself.” This is so true. 

    

  
 The kids may not recover their monetary investment (or mine!) but they invested in a learning experience that taught them skills, character traits and values that will allow them to be wiser entrepreneurs in the future.

The 6th Milkshake Run

 Family time is always important. We always look forward to weekends and holidays because it is an opportunity to spend time with family and loved ones, build new memories, and lasting relationships. I think you will all agree when I say that there is no amount of money and success that can take the place of time spent with family.
Mommy Mundo always promotes a healthy family life and finds different avenues to create unique activities and build lasting experiences with families. With this in mind, Mommy Mundo decided to bring back the Mommy Milkshake Run, now on it’s 6th year, this family fun run was first organized in 2007, and lasted uptil 2011. 

This year, they are bringing it back to complement their active parenting advocacy and bring the community together to celebrate active play and bonding. Come join the fun run on Sunday, March 6, 2016, as families bond together with other families to celebrate togetherness and the outdoors.

 The 6th Mommy Milkshake Run will be a 3km and 5km run along the BGC area. This fun run is a relatively relaxed run where every member of the family can join! Including, but not limited to, expectant moms, moms & dads (with or without slings and strollers), toddlers & kids. The run will have no time limit.
This will be a family friendly event with Portable Toilets, a Breastfeeding station and lounge for the nursing mom, a diaper changing area for parents with babies and toddlers, and ample water stations along the route to provide hydration for all participants. First Aid stations and Medics will be available for any untoward incidents

You won’t need to carry your little one for the entire race, as you can bring a stroller for them. However, they will not allow the use of bikes, skateboards, hover boards, and roller skates during the run. Pets are also not allowed.

Mommy Mundo will not be liable for any loss, we will have baggage claim area for all your belongings.

After the run, everyone will receive a certificate of participation, as well as a bag of goodies from the sponsors. Stay longer to enjoy a family fair with games, music, raffle prizes, food carts, special awarding ceremony, and an inflatable section for all the kids.

Here are a few things to remember from Mommy Mundo:

1. Registration period is from January 25 to February 14. We will accept payments until
February 15. We will follow the No payment, No run policy, so please be prompt. Registration is required for every participant, including children.

2. On February 13 and 14, you can register and pay at Planet Sports, BGC, from 12 noon to 8pm.

3. Registration Fee are as follows:
Children ages 2-12 years old = P300
*Children below 2 years of age can enter for free, but has to be registered. Adults
3k = P500
5k = P650

4. You can claim your Race Kits from February 22 to March 4 at the Creative Juice office in 2F Fun Ranch, Frontera Verde, Ortigas Ave. Pasig City. Other pick up sites will be announced in our social media pages.

5. Race kits include The 6th Mommy Milkshake Run Singlet, Map of the venue, and the 3k/5k route.

6. On Race day, it is important to know that registration will start at 5:30am, location of meet up, to be determined. Race bibs will be handed to you upon registration. For our pregnant participants, please provide a medical certificate from your doctor/OB Gyne, allowing you to join this race.

7. Opening Program starts at 6:00am, where we will stretch and warm up our bodies before the run.

8.Race starts at 6:30 am for the 5 km run and 6:40 am for the 3 km run.
For more details, please visit www.mommymundo.com/milkshakerun2016
The 2016 Mommy Milkshake Run is supported by Curves, Gatorade, Hi-Precision Diagnostics, and Growers.

Media Sponsor: The Fort City, Working Mom, and The Bull Runner

Venue Sponsor: Bonifacio Global City Estate
Medical Sponsor: Ambucore

For more information, please contact:
Monica Santiago | Creative Juice Communications Landline: (02) 5707827
Mobile: (0998) 5399216
Email: monica@creativejuiceph.com

Future Park

We just visited Future Park, an interactive technology-based play center for kids.The kids had a blast! There aren’t too many stations yet but the concepts were really cool!  They gave us a glimpse of what future play will be like. 

 
   

 

  


   

     

Sketch City was my personal favorite and it was designed by the Philippines! You add your own details and color to sketches of different forms of transportation and your final drawing is scanned and uploaded into a program that animates and displays your work.    

 

This board of lights sense your heat and changes color accordingly.
 The best days to visit are weekdays. It’s 200 pesos cheaper!  

“Future Park is the Philippines’ first digital interactive play space – a dazzling exhibit of games and installations powered by cutting-edge tech and your imagination!” (Source: Century City Mall)
 
   

Eagle Point Resort

We spent the last couple of days at Eagle Point Resort with Edric’s family. The beach is always a hit with the Mendozas. Our kids can never get enough of sand and water. 

    

This was our third time to visit Eagle Point. The food has certainly improved over the years. Buffet meals are reasonable and kids can eat at 50% off. The rooms are Spartan but they are affordable and they can accommodate large families (which works great for us). Plus, who stays in a room when the beach and sun beckon? 

Eagle point is more of a dive resort even if it has direct access to the sea. It doesn’t haven’t a decent beach front. But there’s some great snorkeling, diving and kayaking right off the “dock”.  Two sets of pools with waterfall elements keep the kids busy, plus there’s a pool with baby sharks to swim in, too. To maximize our stay, we took a boat to Sepoc Island where the beach was very wide. We rented snorkels and masks at Eagle Point (better to bring your own). 

Just a few meters from the shore we saw all kinds of fish and coral. This time of year the shoreline was pebbly because of corals, but closer to the tree line, the sand got very soft. The little kids spent an endless number of hours digging and building in the sand.        

  

    

    
My father-in-law organized a series of feats and games for us. He likes being a game master and he knows how to rally everyone together to engage in healthy competition. Some of his bible study group came along which added to the fun.
  

 

It was a tie! “W” for winners!

To end the day, Edric, Elijah and I ran to the peak of the hill where the panoramic view was spectacular.
  

    
2015 came to a close, and after 20+ get togethers/parties, this was the best way to ease into the new year…with the family I love, reveling in the beauty of God’s creation!