Monday, May 31, 2010

Got Game?

One day, for lack of anything better to do, my boys decided that they've been playing with the wrong toys and games all along (much to my chagrin). And proceeded to 'revise' what they already have to something even better. Or, in Miro's words, "I'm gonna make this right because they got it wrong." :D

First up, Kenji. Kenji loves writing and drawing and he's hogged all the art supplies in this household all summer. "It's more fun when you mix everything together!", he said as he made up his own board games with characters from Up, Toy Story, Super Mario Brothers, and Pacman. He asked me for a little help in drawing the characters but the game artwork and challenges ideas --all his. And he's thought of quite a lot!

Board game 1:  The Maze.  You pick a card to make your move through the spirals while being chased by a flesh-eating Pacman.
Board Game 2:  The Haunted Bakery. You have to go through every process to bake a delicious cake without being caught by the Pacman ghost.
Board Game 3:  Choose your own adventure with a huge floating house strapped with balloons in tow.

Meanwhile, Miro is more technological in his approach to fixing what isn't broken. Instead of making different games, he zeroed in on Super Mario and made levels for his rectified video game --which involved more brain work this time, in contrast to the original's main game trials of jumping on toadstools, and kicking and punching everything in sight to save the princess.
Level 1:  Mission Control.  Mario and Luigi have to be space men, of course.
Level 4:  Diamond Decoder.  You have to figure out the right arrangement of the colored diamonds to stop the laser from going off.
Level 9:  The Evil Penguin.  A new villainous character who challenges you to find the red key hidden in the red laser streaks under time pressure.
Level 12:  Final Stage.  With more new characters (including a Miro robot).  But the Super Mario winner flag is still there.
Speaking as a mother who used to spend her summers playing jacks on the curb or running around naked for a little game of tag (I was MUCH younger then), i am amazed and proud of what my boys had done. And somewhat disturbed. I think my kids need to get out more. Hmmm...

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Alpha Bounces Back

Atta girl!

After 3 months of being in a cast and seriously abused by a vet botch-up job --Alpha kicks her heels and RUNS AGAIN!


And is generally, the HAPPY, BEAUTIFUL PUPPY AGAIN!

Yeah, she still has the scars and the fur isn't ever going to grow back in those patches.  But she's back and that's all that matters.

The boys are delighted to bits!  We've moved her to a different (a lot saner) vet.  And she and Kenji are just crazy-glue tight and roughhousing all over again.  

I was tempted to shout, "It's all fun and games until someone pokes an eye or breaks another leg!"
But a smart friend's words echoed instead, "It always works out in the end..." 

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Lego Mindstorms: Attack of the Robots

You see this?
It's a robot.  A fully-functional, sensor Lego Mindstorms robot.  And who designed, built, and programmed this beast to do his bidding?  Miro!  At the Tech4Kids Robotics Camp.

So this is me biting my tongue and kicking myself in the shin for saying I wouldn't put Miro in such a mega high-tech program.  Pester power beat old school.  And thank goodness for that because Miro had the time of his evil genius life!

Open to kids 8-14 years old, you start off as a Mechanic, then an Engineer, work your way up to Advanced level, and then Athlete Tech Guy Superhero God!  It's perfect for summer camp but the program runs all year.

All Miro needed was creativity, a damn load of patience during construction, and MY laptop.  The Tech4Kids guru taught the class the basic commands, but the kids have to do the computer-to-robot programming on their own.  What followed was a series of daily heart-thumping, nerve-racking competitions.

Just to mention a few, there's the Maze Maneuver Match.

The Bumper and Slasher Battle.

The Windmill War.

The Crane Quest.

The Cable Car Competition.

The camp doesn't have that gigantic, graduate-and-celebrate-my-ass-off culminating event in the end unlike most summer programs.  But screw that!  Tech4Kids and Lego Mindstorms give kids daily fulfillment!

Now, allow me to chew my previous Tech4Kids blog to shreds.  Tech4Kids kicks ass!  It's the real, bad ass, hardcore robotics deal.  Perfect for future mad scientists like mine.


And so I finally reach the Acceptance stage of my 7 month-running Stages of Grief. Granted that I did take a detour and totally left out the Bargaining stage and took Depression by a mere few hours. I stayed the longest in the Anger stage though. I love getting all worked up. It's defense and coping mechanism for me. No, it's not temporary insanity. I've always been angry. Lol!
So how did I finally dump that stage and waddle aimlessly into Acceptance? As tired and as cliche as it sounds, it was an Epiphany. It was a logical deduction of facts and occurrences that lead me to it, but I'm not hiding the fact that I do give full credit to the Big Guy for all of it falling into place.

It was the first summer that I've ever been a WFHM ('work-from-home mom', coined the ex-rabid career witch).

It was the first summer that my boys didn't need to take catch-up classes in school (in fact, they were both accelerated! Yeah!).

It was also the first summer when I poured all my energies into planning their summer camps. (Usually --at the time when I was, er, busier-- I just dump them in their schools where their summer classes had arts and crafts activities included in the package. Bad mom. Bad!)

It was the first summer when we didn't have the resources to buy new toys, toys, and more toys to keep the boys occupied all throughout the vacation. (Again, bad mom! Bad!)

The result: more family bonding time.

More mommy-involvement at daytime when I needed to kiss a knee booboo my little one got from football... or when my bigger boy had to proudly show me every single robot he's built and programmed for destructive purposes at camp.

More movie and popcorn nights.

More hugs that were long and tight as opposed to the rushed 'gotta go or I'll be late for a meeting, hun!' hugs.

More talk. And I mean MOOOORE talk, which typically meant the boys yapping away as I listened with undivided, 'no checking the phone for business calls' attention.

Evidently, if there's any purpose to this sudden change in my life, it's this. It's experiencing a totally different connection with my boys that I never had in 8 years. What I used to call a crappy speed bump in my life is actually a blessing, a gift --and you don't complain about a FIRST like that.

When you think about it, God really knew what He was doing.
It would've helped if He'd sent me a manual of his Plan though so I wouldn't have been kept guessing. Lmao!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Boo to the Zoo!

I was really pumped when Jing suggested we bring the boys to the good ol' Manila Zoo.  Geez, man!  Manila Zoo!  One of the biggest foundations of my childhood!
I spent the whole morning psyching the kids up for the trip.  The fact that it has been announced that the place has done major renovations got me all the more excited.  Of course, this wasn't the first time Miro and Kenji would be seeing animals up close.  But hell, this was Manila Zoo!!!

In the mere few seconds in the colossal world of animals... I was in awe!  The facelift they did on this place is beyond marvelous! 

And then, in a mere few seconds after that ...all that build up plummeted to the ground.

There used to be 2 elephants here.  Now it's a lonely one.

There used to be a giraffe's pen right beside the elephant's.  Now there's a brand new, brightly-colored playground.  No giraffe anywhere on the premises.

There were a few tigers, but they wouldn't come out because there was a total lack of shade.  See the dried-up 'greenery' around this guy?

There was a brand new wall of lush curve leading to what I remember would be the lion's cages.  But when we got to the end, no lions either. 

The saddest part is this pen for painfully malnourished horses.  What is up with that?!

Even the solo happy camper hippo looked a bit too obese, don't you think?

Seriously, the Manila Zoo never looked so great.  The make-over and added structural features like this scenic walkway are quite breathtaking.

But I hope due consideration would be given to the animals come the next fix-up.  They need care, God, they need presence!  After all, at the end of the day, kids do go here to see the animals. 

I was hoping my boys would leave the place just as invigorated as I was many years ago when I first came here.  But they didn't.  Instead they had questions, and frustrations. 

Manila Zoo, maybe next time?