Reviews

Mommy Ginger shares reviews on great products that would make a mom’s life easier and definitely happier!

The Essential Guide To Heading Off The Beaten Track

With coronavirus forcing us to adapt to a new normal, we have had to revolutionize many different aspects of our lives. Travel is no different. Less than six months ago you could have hot-footed it to wherever you wanted on the planet without a care in the world. Fast forward to today and you need to check out quarantine legislation, R rates, and temperature checks.

Travel has become more daunting for the ardent backpacker and the holiday-maker. This doesn’t mean that travel is off the cards forever. For the foreseeable future, we may be planning our trips rather than embarking on them, but in the near future, you will be able to take a jaunt overseas again. However, you may not want to be among the tourist crowds and the busy hotspots. Instead, you might want to venture somewhere off the beaten track to stay safe and reduce your risk of catching Covid-19. Take a look at this essential guide to help you head off the beaten track.

Photo by Porapak Apichodilok from Pexels

Look At A Map

When you plan a travel adventure overseas, the chances are you have an idea of where you want to go in the world. You might want to trek the Inca Trail in Peru, do some temple hopping in Kyoto, Japan or take a drive along Route 66 in the United States. To head off the beaten track successfully, you need to be close enough to activities and sites without being smack bang in the middle of them.

Our trip to Japan last 2017

If you are heading to Japan, Hiroshima is a must-see city. Where the atomic bomb dropped at the end of the Second World War, this city is full of history and optimism. It’s also busy. Instead of staying here, why not hotfoot it to the neighboring island of Miyajima. Beautiful, picturesque and idyllic, you are just thirty minutes away from the city, but you can stay in a traditional Japanese ryokan far away from the crowds. The floating shrines are stunning and there are some wild deer and monkeys to get to grips with. You might even want to scale Mount Misen to see the temple on the peak.

If you fancy Thailand, don’t head to the hustle and bustle of Bangkok, and take a jaunt to Nonthaburi instead. The city is rarely visited by tourists, yet it’s not far from the stunning temple-laden Lat Phrao. You could even save money by finding a cheap house for rent in Nonthaburi rather than staying in an expensive hotel in the region. You can be somewhere less dense, stay for a longer period of time, and enjoy a quieter pace of life.

GPS

If you are planning on heading off the tourist trail, make sure that you have safety as your top priority. While you might love the idea of being free from the shackles of social media and off-grid, it is still prudent to have a smartphone and GPS device on you. If traveling solo is your thing, a GPS device is vital if your set of wheels breaks down or if you get lost. A quick lookup of your coordinates can help emergency services locate and rescue you.

Smartphones are also necessary for those just in case moments. You don’t have to be scrolling through Facebook every hour of your travels, but posting photos now and again and staying in touch with family is important to many travelers no matter where they are in the world.

Image by Jonathan Valencia from Pixabay

Follow The Locals

If you are keen to see the authentic side of a destination, it’s not a good idea to go on tours set up for foreigners. You’ll see the bland and expensive face of a nation. Instead, follow the locals. If you want a great bowl of pasta in Rome, go where the Italians go. If you want some incredible dumplings in Beijing, forget following the Americans and venture where the Chinese go. They may not look the most salubrious of restaurants, but the best and most authentic eateries rarely are. 

To help you stay off the beaten track, you need to converse with the locals. This means you need to commit to learning a little bit of language. Doing this will help you earn the respect of the locals. There’s nothing more embarrassing than shouting slowly in English, expecting a local to understand you. It’s arrogant. Don’t do it. Instead, be a responsible and caring traveler, learning some of the lingo, making friends with the locals, and finding some hidden gems.

Heading off the beaten track can be exciting. Follow this guide and you can stay safe while traveling in a post-pandemic age.

Any other tips? Share it with us!

My COVID 19 Personal Prevention Tools

We spent my daughter’s birthday at Marco Polo last weekend, and we got home last Tuesday. And since Tuesday, our entire family have stayed at home. We never stepped out since then.

Like our fellow Filipinos, we’ve been monitoring the news and the DOH website: https://www.doh.gov.ph/2019-nCoV Please get information from them. There are a lot of fake news that’s being circulated at this time. Like this morning, Ate Len (who helps us take care of Zeeka) told me, “Maam, sabi nila, saging lang daw katapat ng virus na yan (All we need to do is to eat bananas to prevent the virus)”. I told her if that were the case, then we wouldn’t have all of these COVID 19 cases! haha! I then told her to just check information from the Department of Health and not to readily believe information from elsewhere.

So anyway, today, I wanted to share with you what my COVID 19 prevention tools are here at home.

Xiaomi Mi Air Purifier 3H (White)

I actually got this from EJ last Christmas. No, I don’t have any psychic powers. I wanted it for my allergic rhinitis. I heard that this helps alleviate allergies. It just so happened that we (the Philippines) had that Taal volcano Ashfall concern to deal with after, and now this, Corona virus.

It’s primary filter removes the basic dust that’s in your home. Then it has a HEPA filter that eliminates smoke, household dust, mold, pollen and other fine particles up to 0.03 microns in size.

It also has an activated carbon filter that removes toxic substances.

Its pPurification Capacity (CADR) is at 380 sq. m per hour. We actually placed it inside the Master’s bedroom, but I transferred it this week to the sala. This is because we’ve been having a lot of deliveries lately that it made sense to put it there.

Does it work?

I hope so. I’m not sure if it works on virus, but it definitely helped me reduce my allergies.

Meo Mask

As for the mask, we didn’t hoard masks or anything like that. We got this super cool mask from https://www.mightybaby.ph/meo. The thing is though that they don’t have stocks of these anymore. What I like about it is that it’s washable.

It fits snuggly also on the sides. At the same time though, because of its design, you can breathe comfortably. The design protrudes in the middle so you have space to breathe. You can also change the filters every week. I forgot to buy the filters from them (although it came with two filters), so I just place the PM 2.5 filters that I got from Lazada.

We don’t use it as much anymore since we don’t go out of the house.

USB Charging Portable Creative Mini Air Purifier Necklace Air Cleaner Pendant

When it comes to being the best at discovering unique finds like this and protecting the family, my mom and sister probably would probably make it to the list.

They bought air purifier necklaces like these for the entire family.

So researched about this air purifier made in China and it works to purify indoor air, remove fine particulate matter (PM2.5), formaldehyd, odor and dust, bacteria.

These necklaces also release anion groups, improve air quality effectively. It only has one button to either turn it on or off. It also has a rechargable lithium battery. The working principle around it is it being an air ioniser. According to wikipedia, Air ionisers have been used to eliminate the occurrence of airborne bacterial infections and to reduce static electricity build-up in electronics.

It helps purify the air surrounding the person up to 10m². It’s light weight and safe to use around children and infants. Just don’t put it near any heat source, since it may break the device.

Hand Sanitizers

Since we frequently wash at home, if we do use sanitizers, we want them to be as mild as possible. These are the two hand sanitizers that we use at home for Zeeka, our daughter.

Aromavibe Essentials Defense Hand Sanitizer with Essential Oils 50ml

  • Aromavibe Essentials Hand Sanitizer are made from Ethyl Alcohol and Essential Oils. It contains the combination of cinnamon, clove, rosemary, lemon and eucalyptus essential oils that is really know as a germ protecting mix. Inspired by the mix of Thieves, On Guard, Fighting Five and Germ Destroyer of essential oil brands. Effectively removes germs while non-drying on the skin.Non-sticky 
  • Pocket-sized 
  • Can be used to clean toys and surfaces 

This is the link to order the product:

https://www.lazada.com.ph/products/aromavibe-essentials-defense-hand-sanitizer-with-essential-oils-50ml-i599152581-s1642796157.html?spm=a2o4l.10450891.0.0.752ff777ra1x3w&mp=3

Belo Baby Hand Sanitizer

I got this from the grocery. Zeeka loves it because of the scent.

So there you have it. These are the “tools” that I have at home. How about you? What do you have at home to prevent the spread of COVID 19?

Summer Online Activity for Kids – Learn Filipino

For those looking for an “online” activity for their children where they don’t need to leave the house, I want to share with you this online Filipino class by The Learning Library.

This summer, they launched their course called Wika’y Galing! Online.  It’s the very first online program for children learning to speak Filipino as a second language. 

When Zeeka was 2, she was really good at speaking Filipino. For some reason though (and I heard a lot of kids are in a similar situation), they forget how to speak Filipino and would rather speak in English. I guess it’s because a lot of the content that we see online are in English. I also think that we haven’t really exposed her enough also to Filipino content.

This summer, I decided to enroll her to this online class of The Learning Library. She had her assessment already. She knew how to read and say Filipino words like our body parts, but when it came to words like Maaliwalas or Maaraw, etc., she had to practice more.

This course was created by The Learning Library in cooperation with Adarna. Once your child is enrolled, s/he will have access to over 100 Adarna books. Also, the course will have a teacher that your child will interact with. You will need to choose a schedule so that you’ll have a teacher who can guide your child.

For more information, you can visit www.wikaygaling.com 🙂

Happy learning!

Creative Writing for Kids: 5 Surefire Ways To Boost Skills

Creative writing is an important skill for our kids. 

In this age of smartphones and handheld devices, creativity and writing remain as top requirements to ensure our kid’s future.

I should know. In my years as an entrepreneur, it took creativity to resolve issues I’ve encountered.

It also takes creativity to get people to be interested in you and your product.

That’s why I also try as much to increase my daughter’s creative writing skills.

Creative Writing Benefits for Kids

Our kid’s generation may be tech-savvy, but science backs up the fact that the act of writing is more beneficial for the brain.

Writing on pen and paper can keep our brains sharp and can also influence us into more positive thoughts. Hand movements during writing activate a huge part of the brain responsible for healing trauma, language, and working memory.

Here are other benefits of handwriting and creative writing for our kids. 

1. It helps manage stress. 

Stress is a natural occurrence in everyday life. Children, for example, go through the pressures of school, their homes, and relationships with their peers. 

Writing poems, short stories, or creating cartoons can unload a lot of stress for kids.

It also helps release unwanted tension and encourages them to divert their attention to something more productive and creative.

2. It encourages deep thinking

I love it when Zeeka does her drawings and shows them to me. Watching her draw and create a story out of it is such a great joy for me.

Every story she tells lets me take a peek into what’s going on inside her head. And I’m really glad to hear how much her stories are growing.

Check out our drawing time here: 

Now that she’s six years old, her stories are becoming more complex.

Her characters are becoming more intricate. And I’m really glad I’m getting to witness her progress.

3. It increases comprehension and learning 

Creative writing also helps kids do better in Math and Sciences.

Studies show that writing helps the brain create the same patterns one needs to learn Math and Science.

One needs sharp observation and documentation skills when it comes to learning Sciences and figuring out equations.

Both can be improved through systematic approaches and observations which can also be developed through creative writing.

4. It helps them process big emotions. 

Children go through a lot of stress even as kids.

Every now and then Zeeka tells me she feels sad or angry, even frustrated when she doesn’t get what she wants.

Sometimes she tells me she’s lonely without her friends.

Even if it doesn’t sound as serious to us, it’s a big deal for them.

That’s why it’s also important for them to learn how to recognize, process, and handle their emotions.

Creative writing helps them write down what they feel through stories, characters, and situations. 

Child psychologists have used similar techniques in therapy to help children open up and share details about them or their trauma.

Doing so helps kids focus on their strengths and the good side of things rather than dwell on their negative emotions or trauma.

5. It increases focus 

Children are naturally curious. And it’s perfectly normal for them to have concentration issues because of how they’re exploring the world. 

They get bored easily when things aren’t fun and they shift their attention somewhere else. 

While creative writing may not be a part of your kid’s priorities yet, there are some exercises that can prepare them for writing. 

These include doodling and drawing.

Drawing helps them visualize their materials better. This is a great exercise in developing characters and settings.

Harvard Health Blog also confirms the health benefits of doodling, especially for kids.

Doodling, it turned out, is like our brain’s last attempt at staying focused and awake.

It also eases psychological distress and activates the brain’s “time travel machine”.

Doodling puts us in a relaxed state where our minds attempt to find lost pieces, make sense of the present, and help us visualize our future. 

Gamifying Creative Writing for Kids

Gamification has been a huge buzz word not only in the tech industry but also in other areas like education.

Educators from all around the globe have turned to apps and games to help students maximize learning and make it fun.

But did you know that board games also help in boosting creativity for kids of all ages?

Yep, you got that right. Board games. And I must admit, I’m a board game fanatic.

In fact, we hold regular board game sessions at home with friends and family. 

Here’s what it usually looks like at game nights… 

What I love most about it is the challenge of quick thinking, and the strategies it takes to win. 

I’ve been reading a lot about how old school role-playing games like Dungeons and Dragons help improve children’s creativity through storytelling. 

Even the world’s greatest writers and novelists acknowledge the impact that Dungeons and Dragons have on their writing skills. 

Goerge R.R. Martin, Dan Harmon, and even Stephen Colbert admit that a huge part of their creativity stems from playing the game in their youth.

The game can last from three hours or three years.

How is it played?

A ‘dungeon master’ gets to run game and create critical situations where the players respond with their own narrative.

Players can also choose the characters they portray. Each one has its own strengths and weaknesses, and the characters respond to crises according to their powers. 

Check out this fun tutorial from The Try Guys:

So how exactly does playing board games like D&D help in boosting creativity, especially with kids? 

For one, it’s an endless story with unlimited possibilities. Children get to come up with their own stories and characters. 

It also develops quick wit and enhances situational awareness. 

Playing the game encourages teamwork and promotes complex problem-solving skills.

So how does it make your kid become a better writer? 

Studies show that the highly social and collaborative nature of role-playing games has a huge effect on learning. It helps improve crucial soft skills, like listening intently and responding to the challenges set by the game master.[1]

It also taps into the player’s abilities like decision making, invention, calculations, negotiation, active spatial visualization, and storytelling.

UEC Philippines: A Unique Way to Teach Creative Writing

One of the reasons why I like UEC Philippines is because they make writing fun. 

Unlike traditional schools, Unique English Classroom provides kids with a chance to run wild with their imagination.

Children learn the basics of reading to the intricacies of storytelling, reading, and writing through four progressive programs. 

UEC also focuses on the more important aspect of communication: reading comprehension and confidence in communication. 

Headed by Catherine Khoo, children under the Unique English Classroom program get to explore the English language through practical application. 

They also use different ways to fire up your kid’s imagination and improve their storytelling and creative writing skills.

Younger kids learn reading and writing through storytelling activities.

Later on, they progress to drawings and illustrations to tell their stories. 

They also do comic books with their own stories.

They even play Dungeons & Dragons and learn how to develop their own world and characters. Dungeons & Dragons will be available in all UEC Centers this coming summer. This activity is for kids ages 9 to 16 yo. I told Zeeka about it and she said she can’t wait to be 9 years old! haha!

Check out the kids of UEC San Mateo as they play it here: https://www.facebook.com/UniqueEnglishClassroom/videos/1486421058176426/

Help your future writer excel in creative writing. Learn more about UEC Philippines today. 

For inquiries, check out their website here: https://uecyoungauthors.com.ph/

VR+ NEXT GENERATION VIRTUAL REALITY at S Maison

Summer vacation is almost here! Being a mom, I am starting to look for different activities that Zeeka can do this coming summer vacation. Aside from the occasional trips to Kidzoona, Kidzania and the Mind Museum, and aside from the dance classes with Teacher Mia Cabalfin that she has joined (HipHop Hooray), I’ve been looking for other cool things that she can do.

One of the activities that we stumbled upon was the VR+ Next Generation Virtual Reality place at S. Maison. It’s located on level 2.

#TheATeam at VR+ Next Generation Virtual Reality

What happens is that you are led to a small room, given weapons and the headset (with really clear graphics and audio). Their games are powered by OMAS Entertainment and ONIK Entertainment. Aside from that, their are moving floors and rumbling sounds that make it seem more realistic.

The game that’s most popular from VR+ Next Generation Virtual Reality are their zombie games. Since we had Zeeka with us though, we had to choose Box Man, a game that is more fit for kids like Zeeka.

#TheATeam Inside the Box Man Game

Each game is around Php 400 to Php 450 pesos per person for the Zombie games. Here are the updated prices (2020 rates) from their FB page:

Being the OC parent that I am, I asked if they clean the equipment. They said that they disinfect equipment every time after a game is played.

Check out our experience in this video!

Verdict: We really liked it. If it were a bit closer to where we live, we would probably be there more often. What we like about it is it is definitely more immersive than that ride in Glorietta with the VR glasses. This has better graphics, sounds and weapons.

Like VR+ on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/VARLivePH/